Monday, February 28, 2011

Ivan Basso happy with early victory

While Ivan Basso’s (Liquigas-Cannondale) season will be judged largely on his performance at the Tour de France, the Italian has started his campaign on a positive note. After a strong showing at the Trofeo Laigueglia last week, Basso took victory at Sunday’s GP di Lugano, the first time in a decade that he has won in February.

“[The last time] was 14 February 2001,” Basso told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I won a stage of the Tour Méditerranéen on Mont Faron.”

Basso was a young professional with Giancarlo Ferretti’s Fasso Bortolo outfit at the time, and a lot of water has passed under the bridge in the intervening ten years. While he counts two Giri d’Italia on his palmares, Basso also served a suspension in 2007 and 2008 for what he termed as “attempted doping,” when his links with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes' blood doping programme were uncovered during Operacion Puerto.

The Italian is adamant, however, that his victory in last year’s Giro marked a turning point in his career and he indirectly credits it for his strong opening to this season. He also admitted that after a quiet start twelve months ago, he was keen to be competitive from the off in 2011.

“Winning the Giro in 2010 was fundamental in giving me back awareness,” he explained. “And then the birth of my third child was the icing on the cake.

“I just wanted to be sharper in the spring because I didn’t like how I was going this time last year. I’m not saying that a champion should always be able to win, but he should always be convincing. I need to be in the thick of the racing, a protagonist.”

Indeed, the entire Liquigas-Cannondale team have collectively been among the most impressive performers of the season so far. Peter Sagan was indomitable at the Giro di Sardegna, where Vincenzo Nibali and Daniel Oss were also prominent at the head of the peloton. Basso puts their good form down to a recent two-week training camp in Tenerife.

“The two weeks at Teide were very important,” Basso said. “All of Liquigas is in great form.”

Next up on Basso’s agenda are Tirreno-Adriatico, the Volta a Catalunya and the Tour of the Basque Country. He has earmarked Catalunya’s summit finish at Andorra as one of the most important test sites of his spring preparation, as it offers him a chance to measure himself against Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) in what he calls their “first, true and anticipated duel.”

Contador recently returned to competitive action without sanction in spite of testing positive for Clenbuterol at the Tour de France. The Spaniard’s comeback has been hugely contentious and prompted widespread questioning of the Spanish Federation’s disciplinary procedures, but Basso has nonetheless declared himself pleased that Contador is back in the fold.

“I’m happy that Alberto will also be there, he’s a rider that I admire a lot,” Basso said. “At the 2010 Tour he gave me a KO in the first round. I’m ready to begin again. Certainly Contador is Contador, and when he attacks it hurts, but this time I won’t start beaten."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon and Half Marathon

Lance Armstrong and Joan Benoit Samuelson

by Tom Whiteside (LIVESTRONG Staff)

History was made Sunday, February 20th when 20,000 runners took to the streets of Austin for the first-ever LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon and Half Marathon. In its 20th year as Austin’s premier running event, more runners than ever toed the line, including over 200 cancer survivors and nearly 500 members of Team LIVESTRONG.

Our runners were treated to a very special Q&A at LIVESTRONG HQ the day before the race with Joan Benoit Samuelson (Olympic gold medal winning marathoner at the 1984 LA Olympics) and Founder and Chairman Lance Armstrong, both of whom ran the Half Marathon. They spoke movingly about the work the Foundation is doing and provided invaluable race tips for our runners.

Race day conditions were far from ideal with humid conditions and temperatures reaching the upper 70s, but this seemed only to spur on the runners. The course was flush with yellow and runners were cheered heartily at the Yellow Mellow (miles 9-10) and mile 18.

All told our Team LIVESTRONG runners have raised over $325,000 (up from 57 runners and $32,000 raised in 2010) to support our vision: to fundamentally change the way the world fights cancer. We are incredibly grateful for their efforts and dedication. It was beyond inspiring to see the sea of yellow among the throngs, battling hills, heat, and humidity for something so much bigger than 13.1 or 26.2: 28 million, the number of people living with cancer around the world.

Thank you to every runner, donor, participant, and supporter for helping to make our first year at the LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon and Half Marathon a memorable one. We are already excited for next year!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lance Runs 1:22 For The Austin Half Marathon

Joan Benoit Samuelson & Lance Armstrong hamming it up at Livestrong HQ. A very awesome Q&A session which ended in Joan talking Lance into running with her in the half marathon the next morning. He finished in 1:22

Laird’s Strength Training Circuit Workout

While Laird was back in L.A. this past week we were lucky enough to film one of his workouts. These are quick demos of the exercises he and his crew did Feb 18, 2011. All of these men are extremely fit and exercise regularly. The moves shown have been practiced many times and are not for the inexperienced.

Some of these moves are easier when they are performed early on in the circuit. Laird designs each unique circuit so they challenge mentally and physically. Laird incorporates exercises he learns from Expert Trainers, Military Commanders, Physical Therapist’s etc. He is constantly evolving and expanding his fitness.

1 Circuit (1 Hr 15 minutes Total)
20-30 seconds in-between moves
22 Exercises In This Circuit – Some Moves are Repeated
15-20 Reps of Everything

Quality Technique, Range of motion, Endurance, and Flexibility. The goal is to do high reps with heavy weight. Laird’s exercises incorporate 2-3 muscle groups per each exercise.

(Video 1)
1. Cable Machine Front Cable Raises - Balancing on Indo Board
2. Over Head Ab Press on Declined Bench - Weight Plate
3. Pull Ups with Legs at 90 Degree Angle on Hack Squat -360 Body Hang Stretch
4. Single Leg Wall Sit with Rotator Cuff (against stationary Object)
5. Cable Machine – Rotating Ab Twist in Squat Position (Middle to Side)
6. Upright Row on Indo Board
7. Golf Ball Stance (Foot Torture)
8. Dips with a Single Dumbbell between thighs
9. Push up to Hop Up (demoed by Hutch) similar to a ½ burpie
10. Stability Ball Balance Squat with Shoulder Flys
11. Cable Lunge Squat with a Chest Fly

[12,13,14 - 3 Circuits]
12. 1 Minute Wall Sit (single leg 90 degree) 1 with rotator cuff
13. 1 Minute Wall Sit (single leg 90 degree) 1 with bicep curl
14. 1 Minute Handstands

15. Lying Sliders Burn Out - In/Out – Side/Side (Hips Up)
16. Bosu Ball Ab Reach Up – Hands to Toes (lift arms up at the same time as legs)
17. Straight Leg Deadlift with Dumbbells (on elevated structure)
18. Wide Cable Lat Pull-down (stand on stability ball or indo board)
19. Back Lunge on Slider with Overhead Shoulder Hold
20. Leg Extension with a Shoulder Press
21. AB-CORE Leg Twist on Declined Bench (bend legs, use hips and core for height)
22. Face Down on Stability Ball on Bench - lift legs up, scissor, lower back down

Hutch Parker, Darin Olien, Jeff Sweet, Rick Rubin, Chris Gough, Laird Hamilton…

Friday, February 18, 2011

Did Lance Armstrong cheat? I don't care

By LZ Granderson

Warning: You may not want your teenager to read this column.

I say this because I don't want my teenager to read this column. At least not until he's older.

You see, I don't want to know the truth about Lance Armstrong, and that could be problematic for me because I've always taught my son to seek the truth. I've always taught him that truth is important. When Armstrong announced his official retirement from professional cycling this week (for the second time) the news stories also mentioned the ongoing investigation stemming from suspicions he used performance-enhancing drugs. I found myself thinking: I just don't care.

Terrible, I know.

But I'm just over it. If he was the kind of guy who sat on his stack of millions and gloated about his out-of-this-world accomplishments, then maybe I would feel differently. But as of now I am having a hard time getting worked up enough to vilify a man whose foundation has raised nearly $400 million to fight cancer. I don't feel like looking for my pitchfork to chase the Frankenstein who successfully lobbied lawmakers and citizens in Texas to provide $3 billion over 10 years for cancer research.

One of the great motifs of gangster movies such as "The Town" or "Set It Off" is that sometimes the audience sympathizes with the bad guy. Should Armstrong be recast from his starring role as cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France winner to that of villainous cheat, I'll still pull for him to succeed in the work that he's doing and feel good about the show. If I'm driving down the highway and hear a report on NPR that Armstrong has been found guilty of lying and using banned substances, it's doubtful I'll toss my yellow bracelet out the window.

If he's poured himself into his foundation as a way to alleviate the guilt in his heart, then so be it. There are plenty of cheating, self-serving athletes who have violated their sport and manipulated the public for what appears to be mostly the benefit of themselves. That is one of the reasons Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez are not sympathetic figures in this ugly era of sports. If Armstrong is indeed trying to buy forgiveness, I feel better knowing there are a lot of people out there whose lives have improved because of it. The end doesn't justify the means, but who among us really can't stomach what Armstrong is trying to do at this point in his life?

Is that distinction a slippery slope? Well yeah, it's an Alpine descent in the rain.

But I have peace with this because I recognize my attempts to instill a clear sense of morality in my son are constantly mocked by society's hypocrisy. (Like telling children education is important, but then funding it as if it's not.) So I will try for a little while longer to teach him the fantasy of a black and white world, knowing he'll soon be joining the rest of us living in the reality of gray. Of compromise. Of half-truths and yeah-buts. Of titles and records that been stricken from the books because an athlete/coach/team cheated.

The Bible says you can't get into heaven by good works alone, but when I look at the philanthropic work of Lance Armstrong, I'm just not that interested in seeing him go through hell either. And essentially that is the reason I hope my teenager doesn't read this column.

The truth is I don't want to know the truth. Not when it comes to Armstrong.

I've already processed his possible guilt and forgiven him for lying. I've already recognized his possible exoneration and forgotten his accusers.

Armstrong's official retirement is not going to deter those investigating from doing their jobs and it shouldn't. This decade-long cat-and-mouse game involving Armstrong and investigators and the media and ex-teammates will eventually provide a more clear picture of an era in which many of the top cyclists had admitted to doping. And once that picture is revealed I hope those involved will be able to live with the findings.

As for me, I've already resolved my issues with Armstrong with regards to the PED allegations. That's one of the reasons I'll be hauling my bike and my situational ethics down to Texas this fall to ride in one of the Livestrong cycling fundraisers. Both my mother and mother-in-law are cancer survivors and I'm participating in support of them. And so if you feel as if I'm on a slippery slope with this whole Armstrong thing, a part of me hopes you are right. I'm going to need all the help I can get trimming my time off the ride.

LZ Granderson is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and a regular contributor to He can be reached at

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lance Armstrong Retiring From Cycling Permanently

Lance Armstrong is calling this one "Retirement 2.0."

Almost a month after finishing 65th in his last competitive race in Australia, and nearly six years removed from the last of an unprecedented seven straight Tour de France titles, the 39-year-old cyclist made clear there is no reset button this time.

This time, he's leaving professional racing behind for good.

"Never say never," Armstrong laughed at the start of an exclusive interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, then quickly added, "Just kidding."

His retirement ends a comeback effort that failed to produce an eighth title or diminish talk that performance-enhancing drugs helped his career. The timing has as much to do with his growing responsibilities and family as it does with the physical limitations time has imposed. He's tired, and tired of being hounded. Armstrong will miss competing — let alone dominating a sport like none before him — but not the 24/7/365 training regimen that made it possible.

"I can't say I have any regrets. It's been an excellent ride. I really thought I was going to win another tour," Armstrong said about his comeback attempt in 2009, four years after his first retirement. "Then I lined up like everybody else and wound up third.

"I have no regrets about last year, either," he added, despite finishing 23rd. "The crashes, the problems with the bike — those were things that were beyond my control."

Armstrong spoke to the AP in a telephone interview and in a videotaped interview from his office in Austin, Texas.

Armstrong zoomed out of relative obscurity after a life-threatening bout with testicular cancer to win his first tour in 1999, then set about recalibrating both the popularity of his sport and how much influence athletes can wield as advocates for a cause — in his case, on behalf of cancer survivors and researchers worldwide.

International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid had high praise for Armstrong.

"His contribution to cycling has been enormous, from both the sporting point of view and his personality. All sports need global icons and he has become a global icon for cycling," said McQuaid, speaking to The Associated Press by telephone from the Tour of Oman. "The sport of cycling has a lot to be thankful for because of Lance Armstrong."

Along the way, Armstrong also became one of the most controversial figures in the evolving battle against doping in sports. He claims to be the most-tested athlete on the planet during his career. Armstrong came back clean every time, and vehemently denies ever using performance-enhancing drugs.

Even so, he remains shadowed by a federal investigation into the sport launched last year following accusations by former teammate and disgraced 2006 tour champion Floyd Landis that Armstrong used drugs and taught other riders how to beat testing. Though the probe is continuing, lawyers familiar with the case told the AP recently that any possible indictments are a long way off.

"I can't control what goes on in regards to the investigation. That's why I hire people to help me with that. I try not to let it bother me and just keep rolling right along. I know what I know," Armstrong said. "I know what I do and I know what I did. That's not going to change."

What won't change, either, is his tenacious campaigning to raise funds and awareness in the fight against a disease his doctors once believed would keep Armstrong from competing at anything more strenuous than gin rummy.

That was 1996. A year later, he set up the Livestrong Foundation and raised $10,000. In the intervening years, Armstrong used his story, his celebrity and hard work to sell millions of those ubiquitous plastic yellow wrist bracelets and enlist lawmakers in Texas and global policymakers on the scale of Bill Clinton in the cause.

By the end of last year, despite tough economic times, the foundation had raised nearly $400 million total. But the real heavy lifting may just be beginning.

After lobbying successfully for a Texas state constitutional amendment to provide $3 billion for cancer research over a 10-year period, Armstrong now has his sights set on California. This summer, he'll work with legislators there to draw up and put on the ballot a measure mandating a cigarette tax with the proceeds to fund further research. Come September, Armstrong will also plead his case before a United Nations General Assembly special session on non-communicable diseases that he provided much of the impetus for.

"We knew we'd be able to have some impact, but we didn't know we'd pick up so much momentum," he said.

That's how Armstrong broke through nearly every barrier the sport had erected over a century and more — by leading with his chin. He spilled blood on the roads, came back from crashes and more than once, crossed the finish line of a stage race draped over his handlebars like a man hanging on for life instead of an unbreakable machine.

One thing that never changed, though, was how Armstrong's withering gaze controlled the pack of riders around him. He doled out favors, like stage wins, or withheld them as the mood struck him. He could command the peloton to speed up to chase a breakaway rider or slow down with an ease the old-time cycling bosses — respectfully called patrons — would have envied.

That was just one reason Armstrong leaves the sport with nearly as many enemies as friends.

"A lot of that has been overanalyzed and inaccurately portrayed, but it's part and parcel of cycling. It's how cycling operates," Armstrong said. "There's too much infighting, jealousy and bitterness within the sport, so everybody tries to pick apart a person or a spectacular performance.

"And some of it," he added, "we bring on ourselves."

Cycling made Armstrong wealthy several times over, and many of the sponsors he brought into the sport continue to use him as a pitchman. A second career in politics someday does not seem out of the question.

"I don't think so. I get asked that question a lot. It's a job. It's probably many times a thankless job. ... If I were to run for any kind of office, it's impossible or very difficult to run right down the middle," he said.

"I would have to immediately alienate half of our constituents: 'Wait a minute, we thought this guy was a Republican. Wait a minute, we thought he was a Democrat.' I think the effect there would be a negative effect for the foundation. For now, absolutely not on my radar."

Armstrong will be at this year's tour, bringing the oldest of his five kids, 11-year-old Luke, back to the race this summer. He may even climb into a team car to do reconnaissance work for some of the Radio Shack riders he used to race alongside.

One thing Armstrong vowed not to do was spend much time reliving his accomplishments on the bike.

"In 10 years time," he said, "if I'm sitting around saying, 'I was so strong on L'Alpe d'Huez in 2001,' then I got a problem."

Ivan Basso Welcomes 3rd Child

Recovox wants to congratulate Ivan Basso on his third child. Ivan just came back from a 10 day training camp in Spain and settled right into baby sitting duties!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Get it Together with Brick Training

By Chris Carmichael

Brick workouts. Most triathletes are familiar with these multi-discipline workouts, but too often, athletes only utilize brick workouts in the final preparation for racing. That’s unfortunate because using them throughout the year can be very beneficial to your triathlon-specific fitness.

Why do “Bricks” need to be incorporated in a training program?

Triathlon is a sport of its own, not just a combination of three separate disciplines, which means it needs to be treated as such in training by including sessions that incorporate more than one sporting discipline. Cycling after swimming is not the same as cycling on its own, and the cycling leg of a triathlon impacts the way you run. Your body needs to be able to effectively and efficiently prepare itself for the next demand (different muscles, different posture, etc.) and then recover from and forget about the previous task. Brick workouts help you get used to this dynamic, and also train your body to handle the aerobic, anaerobic, and muscular demands that you will experience during these important parts of the race.

Brick workouts can accomplish a variety of goals within a training program. As with the rest of your workouts, each brick needs to have a specific goal that corresponds to the phase of training that you are in and targets the physiological system that you are currently targeting.

When should brick workouts be introduced in a season?

Early in your program (the base or foundation period), your goal is to improve your aerobic capacity, build strength, and work on general endurance in all three disciplines. Bricks during this phase should be focused on long, low-intensity efforts, which keep you well below your lactate threshold (max sustainable effort). In the middle (preparation period) of your program the goal is to improve your sustainable speed or power by further improving your aerobic system and increasing your power and pace at lactate threshold. Brick workouts during this phase can start increasing in intensity by incorporating race-pace efforts and intervals. When race season (specialization period) finally arrives, all that is left to do is work on increasing race-specific fitness. Effective brick workouts during this phase of training will be either speed oriented or specific to the demands of your event.

Brick workouts, while they are not specific T1 or T2 practice sessions, can still be a great opportunity to focus on transition skill and proficiency. Working on your transitions across all three of the training phases will make you faster and more efficient in your races. That said, you don’t always have to execute an actual race-simulation transition during a brick workout; you can get a lot of the physiological adaptations you’re looking for by simply incorporating both disciplines into the same back-to-back workout. Try not to spend more than 10-15 minutes getting from the swim to the bike, or the bike to the run during a brick workout, however.

The following sample workouts are divided by the phase in which they would most effectively be included in a training program.

Foundation Bricks

* 2-4 hour endurance ride (below lactate threshold)
* Short transition (10 minutes or less)
* 30-60 minute endurance run (below lactate threshold)

* 60-90 minute swim workout
* Short transition (10 minutes or less)
* 2-3 hour endurance ride (below lactate threshold)

* 2 hour endurance ride with 4×6 minute MuscleTension intervals (low cadence, high resistance, muscular effort, not anaerobic)
* Short transition (10 minutes or less)
* 30-45 minute recovery run

Preparation Bricks

* 1-3 hour endurance ride with 30-40 minutes of Tempo intervals (about a 7 on a scale of 1-10)
* Short transition
* 30-45 minute endurance run with 15-20 minutes of Tempo running (about an 8 on a scale of 1-10, Tempo runs are harder than Tempo on the bike)

* 30 minute cycling warm-up
* 15 minute bike slightly below race pace
* 5 minute running slightly below race pace
* 10 minute rest
* Repeat intervals 2-4 times
* 30-40 minute running cool-down

Specialization Bricks

(sprint or olympic distance)

* 30 minute cycling warm-up
* 10 minute bike at or slightly above race pace
* 5 minute run at or slightly above race pace
* 10 minute rest
* Repeat 2-4 times
* 30-40 minute running cool-down

(1/2 or full Ironman distance)

* 30 minute cycling warm-up
* 30 minute bike at race pace
* 10-15 minute run at race pace
* 0-5 minute rest
* Repeat 2-3 times
* 20-30 minute running cool-down

Brick considerations

Traditionally, brick workouts have been reserved for once-a-week bouts of either high-intensity or high-duration training. But with increasingly packed personal and professional schedules, many athletes are finding that brick training can be more convenient and more effective on an ongoing basis. In fact, many of the athletes CTS works with – men and women with full-time jobs, careers, and families – are on training schedules that consist primarily of brick workouts. This allows for fewer weekly training sessions overall, as opposed to trying to find time for a morning and an evening workout, and is often more specific to the athletes’ actual competition goals than training each discipline in isolation.

If you correctly match the type of brick workout to the goal of your current training phase and utilize adequate recovery and preparation methods, you’ll be able to use them as great way to boost your triathlon-specific fitness.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Little, Lance-a-Lot

By Scott Tinley

Tinley's take on the motives behind Lance Armstrong's return to triathlon and what it will mean for the sport

The most famous triathlete in the world has not competed in almost 20 years. Not in a triathlon, anyway.

Lance Armstrong, the once and (perhaps) future multisport man-child last put his inimitably-strong stamp on a swim/bike/run event in the early 1990s. And if you follow his tweeting alter ego, @JuanPelota, the all grown up Texan is training for a return to the sport from which he sprang.

The online banter is all abuzz about Lance back in the pool. Lance running as well as he did in 2007 when he ran 2:46: 43 in the NYC Marathon. The kid with the cartoon superhero name is rumored to be considering Kona. Suddenly, triathlon was a TMZ connection. A real celeb in our midst. But what are the deeper threads and meanings and motives for Junior to rejoin the tri tribe?

Scenario #1: Juan Pelota’s playful Twitter posts are, in fact, a realistic vision of Armstrong. His competitive cycling career past, the kid from Plano is having fun again; remembering his roots, keeping very fit. He may or may not compete, but winning ain’t the goal for Lance. Lest we forget, he has nothing to prove to the world of endurance sports. Or does Armstrong think otherwise?

Scenario #2: Every athlete who competes at world-class levels leaves their arena with a desire to return—gladiators living to fight again. Armstrong has made two successful comebacks before; one from his own mortality, the other from the tyranny of fame. Perhaps a return to triathlon would signal something even greater—a completion of some circle, some loop of physical culture that saw a kid from Plano High rise to superstar status, fall to the indiscriminate ravages of cancer, return as king, and now faces the abyss of “didn’t-you-used-to-be isms.”

Scenario #3: It’s not all about the bike. As Armstrong has stated clearly in his comeback #2, he wants to race to bring awareness to cancer research. And through his foundation, LAF, he has succeeded beyond anyone’s imagination. LAF now ranks among the top 10 cancer research fund raising organizations in the USA with at least $325 million alone derived from those wonderfully goofy yellow wristbands. Forget the seven Tour de France victories, the allegations of performance enhancing drug use, even the dates with Sheryl and Kate. For the 13 million individuals who are diagnosed with cancer every year, finding a cure is what matters. And if Armstrong can help that cause by swimming 20 X 100 yards on the 1:20 or sneaking in a brisk 6-mile run, nothing else really matters.

Scenario #4: Lance Armstrong will win the Ironman World Championship in Kona. Maybe he believes this to be true. And if his success rate in other, perhaps more daunting life challenges gives this notion plausibility, he can win. This is where the banter among endurance pundits gets curiouser and curiouser. Lance’s past is analyzed, his present observed, and his future brought into the popular culture of What-ifs. Everyone has a take on how Armstrong would fare if he tossed his lot into Kailua Bay. We extend the discourse by asking what his presence would do for the event. For the sport? For cancer research? For his own legacy? Jesus, what if he actually won the damn thing? Then what? A tryout with the Texas Rangers?

Scenario #5: Lance doesn’t need to return to triathlon and he doesn’t need Kona. Certainly the man can stay plenty busy raising his five kids, working for his Foundation, and training as the spirit moves him. Sure there are the ongoing allegations of PED use and perhaps those will diffuse over time or finally come to head if charges are brought against him. It’s a sad scenario. For nothing good can come of indicting Armstrong. Nothing. He lived in a culture that was rife with substance use. Cultural relativism suggests that a top professional cyclist who did not use medical supplements in his era would be considered as deviant; a person deviating from the acceptable norm. To single out an icon suggests more about those working tirelessly to find needled evidence among the hay of past accusations than it does about the nature of 1990s cycling. We know the sport wasn’t “clean.” And we know the culture of pro cycling is making greater efforts to rid itself of PEDs than most other professional sports.

Armstrong must know this as well, and whether his participation in triathlon has any bearing on the public’s thoughts about those allegations remains to be seen. It shouldn’t matter. And perhaps it won’t. Until there is immutable proof of his use of PEDs, we must assume he was clean. Regardless of your own inclinations, most humanistic legal systems are based on assumption of innocence rather than guilt. Try a few months in Myanmar or Somalia if you want to see how it works when you try it the other way around.

So, no different than Armstrong, we are left where we began—watching a very talented man-child playing at sport, wondering about his potential. Everything else that happened in the past might matter, but not really. To spin the Marx/Engels claim, “all that is solid melts into air.” And we follow @JuanPelota and his spanglish training reports, wondering as we have so many times before, can he really do this?

Lance Armstrong, like other grand figures of history, has given us grand narratives. Through his words and actions, he has inspired millions to rethink their own orientation to a physical world that doesn’t always play fair. Through his calculated success, we learned to marshal our own forces when under attack. The myth of Armstrong has never played the insouciant strings of c'est la vie. More so, it is the get-er-done grit of the Great West.

Now, however, there appears a paradigmatic shift in Lance’s new/old sport choices. If we are to believe the rumors, Armstrong wants to win, but he wants to have some fun, to open new doors of athletic perception. And that, I will argue until the cows come home, is what triathlon is all about. The sport was not founded on technology or training regimes but on doing something new, unique; tough but fun. Something not everyone could do.

But you could sure as hell try.

That’s my wish for an old friend from the great state of Texas. Do it for the right reasons and everything else will come. Hasn’t it always been that way, Junior?

Scott Tinley won the Ironman World Championship twice (1982, 1985) and the Ironman World Series three times. He was inducted into both the Triathlon and Ironman Hall of Fame upon retirement in 1999.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Zabriskie zones in on Tour of California

Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervelo) will once again target victory in the Amgen Tour of California, while he has also pinpointed the Tour de France as a race he would like to perform in.

The American has finished on the podium in California three times – twice in the last two years – making the top ten in every one of his four finishes. Last year he narrowly missed out on victory to Michael Rogers.

“California is a good goal,” Zabriskie told us.

“It’s where I live and I’ve always really liked the race. I was very close last year but Rogers rode a good race. This year is going to be a pretty hard race, with a lot of hills and this Mt Baldy is supposed to be pretty challenging, but it’s something for me to target again.”

While Zabriskie will line up in California as one of the favourites, his billing for the Tour is far less obvious. While it’s still no certainty that he will make Garmin-Cervelo’s starting line-up, he has had mixed experiences with the race. In 2005 he won the prologue and wore the yellow jersey for several days. Since then he has failed to replicate that form, finishing in the top ten in just three stages.

However at this point last year his teammate, Christian Vande Velde, and team boss, Jonathan Vaughters, put Zabriskie’s name forward as a possible dark horse for the top ten. But an injury picked up in training meant that he was unable to show any of the form he had built up in California.

“I wanted to come over and do the Tour de Suisse last year and have a good transition into the Tour de France and do a lot better than I did. The problem was that I didn’t have that good transition. You put that many miles into the bike and training and you get sensitive to changes in millimetres and my seat slipped and it jacked my body up,” Zabriskie said.

“I was actually in tears one night at the Tour thinking I wasn’t going to finish. I felt like such a wimp because all the other guys had broken bones and they were continuing. My knee was so bad I was limping on the bike.

“All the physiotherapy staff were hitting me with therapies and they raised my saddle up and I was able to help Ryder Hesjedal for a few days and finish the Tour but I didn’t get what I wanted from it.”

It begs the question as to how far Zabriskie can go in a three-week race and whether he can replicate his previous form of week-long racing into a more sustained block of competition.

“I’d like to think that it's possible for me to do well there but it’s hard to pull off. Look at Rogers, he won California and then he dwindled in the Tour. Look at Janez Brajkovic, he came out of California flying and won the Dauphine but he didn’t really turn any heads at the Tour either. Form is never going to continue on an upward trajectory, it’s going to go up and up but you’re going to have a downer. All I know is that I’d like to go into July and smash that thing now.”

At 32 years of age Zabriskie believes he is in one of the best phases of his career and enjoying racing more than ever.

“If anything I like it a lot more than I used to. You learn so much more over the years. I’m a lot healthier now so if I could go back and be a neo and have a solid base and stability I’d really benefit. I just messed around in those early years, just trying to save money and storing stuff here and there, waste a week, a day, staying here and there and dealing with stress. Now I just get over and the apartment is set up. I know what do to and how to train. I have a much more positive outlook on racing.”


While Zabriskie may be enjoying his riding more than ever he still faces questions after former teammate and friend, Floyd Landis, included his name in a series of letters to USADA in 2010, in which he alleged doping practices during his time at US Postal.

The two were once friends, sharing an apartment in Europe.

“He’s retired now so I hope he can… I don’t know, it’s a touchy situation. I mean I hope he’s healthy and having a good life,” Zabriskie said.

“Back then I wasn’t making a lot of money so he let me move in with him but we were at separate races a lot of the time. It was more like a place to put your stuff. There would be times when we would be there together though. We were friends.”

Landis left US Postal for Phonak in 2005, while Zabriskie moved to Bjarne Riis' CSC team. However it was after Landis’ positive test for testosterone and subsequent fall from grace in 2006 when the pair started to drift.

“Our friendship started dwindling after he went positive and then the last contact I had with him was maybe in March last year.”

Zabriskie knew that Landis was planning on writing letters.

“He said that’s what he was about to do. Whatever. There’s nothing I can do. Who knows if he did the right thing, all I know is that it hasn’t been easy for him. Reading my name in those emails wasn't the most pleasant feeling.”

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Can you go Primal? A Week in the Life of Mark Sisson

By Mark Sisson

First off, I hope you can forgive me for the self-referential blog post title. “A Week in My Life” doesn’t mean much of anything to anyone that only sees the title on the Interwebs, so there it is. In any case, many of you have requested an update to my own personal Primal regimen to give you a sense of what my average day looks like. At the risk of boring you to tears, I thought I’d chronicle a week in my normal life for you today. I’ll start with a few random notes:

1. Art De Vany made a comment a while back that really resonated with me. He said these days he seeks to do as little as possible – to find more time to relax just like our hunter-gatherer ancestors did – and still do. I know where he’s coming from, and I want that too. While I am “working” more now than at any time in my life, I am also constantly looking for ways to cut corners and make things easier. I really do want to play (Law #7) more. Don’t get me wrong – I’m having a blast and am totally immersed in all we’re doing at MDA and Primal, but my goal is still to make my life as comfortable and pleasurable as possible.

2. We have a housekeeper – Diva – who has been with us for eight years and who has trained as a sous chef under my good friend Oren Zroya (the amazing PrimalCon chef). She’s a godsend. She ensures that the pantry and refrigerator are always well-stocked with the right foods and cooking ingredients. As a result, we always have access to healthy snacks, myriad ingredients for a big-ass salad, or several things freshly made from the Primal Blueprint Cookbook that we can simply heat up. Malibu Seafood is located right down the street, which helps when we want to buy fresh fish. I keep a supply of grass-fed beef, bison, pastured lamb and other goodies in my freezer at all times. And bacon.

3. As for training, I’ve said many times here that I really only train these days to be able to play well, play hard and play uninjured. Easier said than done, and at 57 it seems that injuries can lurk around every corner if one is not vigilant. I have chronic hip flexor issues (going back to my marathon days) and a problem rotator cuff from setting a PR on the bench some years ago. I decided to take the first quarter of 2011 to rehab those and really focus on strength and mobility in my hips and my shoulders. Therefore, I do a few movements outside normal bodyweight exercises (PB Fitness) to focus on those areas, and Carrie and I take a “restorative” yoga class at least once a week for that purpose as well.

4. Notice that I often repeat the same schedule or menu. I tend to prefer a routine over new stuff all the time.

5. Supplementation Regimen: Every day I take 3-4 capsules of Vital Omegas (omega-3 fish oil), 2-4 capsules of Primal Sun Vitamin D (when I’m not getting enough sunlight), 1-2 Primal Flora and 1-2 packets of Damage Control Master Formula.

Here’s what last week looked like:

7:00 AM – Big cup of coffee (always French press, Starbucks – anything extra bold) always with heavy whipping cream and a teaspoon of sugar. Read paper, did Sunday Sudoku and Crossword (Primal Law #10 “use your brain”).

9:00 AM - Breakfast: Three scoops of Vanilla Crème Primal Fuel with ice cubes and water in a blender in anticipation of a big Ultimate game.

10:00 AM - Two hours of Ultimate (Frisbee). Warmed-up with some easy runs and throws, and then chose sides for 7-on-7 game. Great game (rained a bit during it) and excellent workout. Most fun I have all week. Probably did 20 full-out sprints of 40+ yards, with lots of stop and go or side-to-side mixed in. My team lost 25-21, mostly due to throwing errors. I always play in VFF Treks (Treks have more grip for grass than most other VFFs).

12:30 PM – Back home after game, stood in unheated pool up to mid-thigh (high 50’s – low 60’s temp) for 10 minutes. It’s part of my new repair and restore program.

1:00 PM – Lunch: Four egg omelet with onions, cheese, and red peppers, mineral water.

4:00 PM – Snack: Handful of macadamia nuts (20ish). Macs are the only nuts I eat anymore – they are so superior to all others.

7:00 PM – Dinner: One pound of ground lamb mixed with sautéed onions and peppers, steamed asparagus spears drenched in butter. 2 glasses cabernet sauvignon. Didn’t quite finish the lamb, but Buddha made quick work of the rest.

10:30 PM – Bed

6:30 AM - Big cup of coffee, read newspaper, did crossword.

7:30 AM – Work

9:30 AM – Breakfast: 4-egg omelet at desk.

10:30 AM – Gym: 3 sets of: 30 reverse rows + 40-50 pushups (with one minute walk/rest between sets)

3 sets of: 12 wide grip pullups + 15 parallel bar dips (one minute walk/rest between sets)

3 sets of: 10 narrow parallel grip pullups + 15 easy dumbbell curls to overhead press @ 25 pounds

2 sets of shoulder rehab stuff (circles, front raises, side raises, etc., with light dumbbells)

11:15 AM – Work

1:00 PM – Lunch: Big-ass salad. Mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, avocado, red bell peppers, browned slivered almonds, large dollop of tuna, dressing with EVOO as base. Ate at desk.

4:00 PM – Snack: Handful of cherries.

5:15 PM - One hour session with Michelle, my pilates/yoga/stretch guru, holding long, easy hip-opening poses.

7:30 PM – Dinner: 1 glass cabernet, 10 ounces grilled Bison “New York Cut”, 2 cups of Brussels sprouts with Hazelnuts (p. 142 PB Cookbook), 1 more glass cabernet, wedge of artisanal cheese.

8:30 PM – Game of Scrabble with son Kyle.

10:30 PM – Bed

6:30 AM – Big cup of coffee, caught up on news, crossword.

7:30 AM – Work

9:00 AM - Breakfast: Three scoops of Chocolate Primal Fuel with ice cubes and water in a blender. No easier way to get 30 grams of protein and a bunch of healthy coconut sat fat.

9:30 AM – Gym: 20 minutes on Precor stationary bike, started easy, gradually increasing resistance until maximum effort at 20th minute. Easy 2 minute recovery spin, then started 8 reps of: 20 seconds at max effort (high resistance and 110+ rpms) with 40 second easy spin rest between sets (lower rpms and a few notches down in resistance). Drenched. Grok squatted for a few minutes after. Went home and stood in the cold pool for 10 minutes.

10:30 AM – Work

1:00 PM – Lunch at local restaurant. Giant pork chop with mushroom sauce and asparagus tips, iced tea.

2:00 PM - Weather was awesome, couldn’t avoid going out for 1.5 hour stand-up paddle session. Should probably have worked, but my friend Eric and the board beckoned. OK. Shouldn’t have worked if my goal is truly to have more fun.

4:50 PM – Snack: Handful of macadamias.

8:00 PM – Dinner: 14 giant shrimp, each dipped in melted butter (maybe my favorite dinner). Steamed broccoli (same butter). 1 glass chardonnay (Sonoma Cutrer). A few pieces of 85% dark chocolate.

11:00 PM – Bed

6:45 AM – Big cup of coffee, caught up on news, crossword, Sudoku.

7:30 AM – Work

9:30 AM – Breakfast: Three scoops of Vanilla Primal Fuel with ice cubes and water in a blender.

9:45 AM – Hiked up Puerco Canyon with wife Carrie and Buddha (my Yellow Lab, if you hadn’t gathered that by now). I wore a 20-pound weight vest to equalize the effort (she’d had an emergency appendectomy 10 days earlier. 1:15 up and back. 10 minute cold soak in pool to mid-thigh.

11:30 AM – Work

1:00 PM – Lunch: Big-ass salad, with cold shrimp left over from dinner as protein source.

4:20 PM – Snack: Half-tin of sardines.

6:00 PM – Dinner: Chicken and fennel stew (PB Cookbook page 84)

7:30 PM – 90-minute deep tissue massage, which I try to get once a week.

10:00 PM – Bed

6:20 AM – Big cup of coffee, caught up on news, crossword, Sudoku.

7:30 AM – Work

9:30 AM – Breakfast: Four egg omelet with the works. Basically, very low carb.

9:45 AM – Gym: Repeat Monday’s workout, adding 50 deep air squats to second series (so x 3) and 90-second planks to third series.

11:15 AM – Work

12:00 PM – Business lunch: Half a free-range chicken and steamed spinach at local restaurant. Admit that I picked at a few potatoes, too.

4:20 PM – Snack: Handful of macadamias.

7:30 PM – Dinner: 1-2 ounces cheese, Kale salad, grass-fed beef rib eye, steamed broccoli drenched in butter. 2 glasses syrah. Who needs desert!

10:00 PM – Bed

More good food, easy hike up Bush Canyon.

More good food, took day off to attend Los Angeles Fitness Expo. Just like the circus only wilder.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Here’s to Jack LaLanne

By Mark Sisson

Jack’s TV show was one of my first exposures to the world of fitness, or, as he put it, physical culture. Growing up in New England, I had spent my days exploring the adjacent backwoods, climbing trees, skinning knees, and getting into trouble, but I wasn’t “working out.” I had no concept of it. I was just doing what felt right and what was fun, and most kids did the same. Jack LaLanne introduced us to the formal concept of physical fitness. He was one of the first to realize that the childhood impulse toward physicality and movement needed to be nurtured and developed in adulthood. I still remember sitting in a chair in front of the TV doing knees-to-chests, just like Jack.

Still, something wasn’t quite right, I thought. Here Jack would be doing relatively light exercises on camera – jumping jacks, jogging in place, various full body movements without weights – but he was completely ripped. I mean, he was huge, especially for the time. Big chest, lats like wings that rivaled Bruce Lee’s, a thin waist, biceps like softballs. The guy obviously didn’t get that body doing the workouts he was showing us. He was keeping the good stuff secret. There had to be an entire other world of exercise lurking out there, and I knew it was a whole lot more intense than what he was doing. And I wanted to know.

So I started looking. Thus began my serious pursuit of physical fitness. Jack LaLanne had it, and I wanted it. Our methods differed, of course. I gravitated toward long distance running, mostly because I was a skinny kid with a propensity for endurance, but I became convinced that pursuing excellence in physical fitness was worth doing because of Jack. I mean, fitness as a concept wasn’t even on my radar before him. It was just something you did as a kid because it was fun, and your mom and dad didn’t do because it’s just kid’s stuff.

Jack changed all that. Yeah, LaLanne wasn’t Primal, but we had more in common than you might suspect:

He famously said “If man made it, hate it.” Jack only ate real, whole food and never touched refined sugar. He shunned red meat late in life and ate egg whites, lean meats (mostly fish) and whole grains, but his emphasis on real food is notable.

He worked out every morning in a fasted state before breakfast and ate just twice a day.

He wore ballet flats that might as well have been barefoot shoes.

Before we had easy access to reams of medical journals featuring research on the link between physical activity and brain function, Jack intuitively knew exercise was about mental fitness and psychological well-being as much as it was about physical fitness. A constant refrain of his was that people were unhappy, unfit, and messed up because we had forgotten how to move and live naturally.

He bucked Conventional Wisdom. All the experts insisted that weight training made athletes slow and bulky, turned women into man-beasts, and was bad for older people, heart disease patients, and the libido. We know this to be nonsense, but it was “truth” sixty years ago. And it might still be if Jack hadn’t opened up the nation’s first gym in 1936, popularized strength training, and got a nation of women interested in fitness.

He fed his dog, Happy, raw ground beef and liver every day.

He valued quality over quantity. “I really don’t give a damn how long I live, but I want to live while I’m living.”

Besides all the overlaps with Primal living and not even taking into account his famous feats of strength (beating Arnold in a chinup and pushup contest at Muscle Beach, towing a fleet of 70 ships across the Long Beach Harbor at age 70) , Jack LaLanne was just an awesome dude.

He had a penchant for sexual innuendo. Check out his seemingly throwaway comment on the famous fingertip pushup video, and note his preceding form: “Get your husband to try it tonight, but not you.” And then there’s his extremely explicit Playboy interview from 1984.

He influenced my disdain for the overly complicated and drawn-out warmup: “Fifteen minutes to warm up! Does a lion warm up when he’s hungry? ‘Uh-oh, here comes an antelope. Better warm up.’ No! He just goes out and eats the sucker.”

Only he could pull off those skintight sleeveless jump suits (paired with those amazing ballet slippers, of course). Actually, this is probably, literally true; LaLanne had to get his jumpsuits tailor made because his body proportions were so exaggerated.

The man was a force to be reckoned with. He was an admitted zealot, a self-described health and fitness nut who, when asked how long he’d live, replied, “The earth will go first.” I will say that he seemed to have a poor opinion of human nature. He seemed to buy into the notion that we are savage beasts, constantly struggling against our animal natures, whether it was lust for drugs or junk food or booze or meat – and copious amounts of training and ironclad discipline and willpower were his buffers against that side of himself. I think for someone who can pull it off and keep it up, the draconian self-regulation works, but I think it can be harmful for a lot of people, especially when they fail or slip up. And that’s his other legacy, one that I shy away from, personally.

In the end, though, all of us involved in physical culture, diet, and health – we’re all fighting for the same goal. Our methods may differ slightly or massively, we may be vegans or full-blown carnivores, but we can all find common ground. Jack LaLanne wouldn’t have agreed with a lot of what I have to say, and I bet he would have agreed that my cookbook was one of the year’s unhealthiest, but we were both trying to make people healthier, happier, and stronger.

Well, Jack, you’re gone and the earth remains, but it’s just not the same. Here’s to you. I’ll toss an egg yolk in your honor.