Posts Tagged ‘fitness’


I ran the worst timed 5K of my life Sunday afternoon and had the best time doing it.

This fall, my 9-year-old daughter joined Girls on the Run. If you’re not familiar, it’s an after-school program centered on getting girls together to hang out and have fun while exploring ideals like confidence and fitness. The culmination is participating in a real 5K – in this case, held in conjunction with the Nike Heartland Regional high school cross country meet. Same day, same soccer complex, same grass course – mounds, hay bails and all.

The participants are required during the race to pair up with a coach, a friend or a parent. Boom – finally a role I can handle without feeling anxious or awkward or inadequate.

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Mark Covert, I am not. Never heard of him? He’s a 62-year-old Californian who jogged at least one mile every single day for 45 years, a foot-crushing run streak that ended in July.

I’m also not Scott Nelsen, a friend and loser of roughly 100 pounds over the course of a nearly year-long streak that ended cruelly due to a car accident. He’s the inspiration for starting a streak of my own.

On Sunday, it reached 101 days. Again, no big deal in the grand scheme of things. But it’s by far the most I’ve ever strung together – probably 10-times over – and an interesting ongoing experiment.

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Hope you’re in the mood for some first-world problems. Because I’ve got a doozy.

To be clear: I’m not asking for the creation of a House subcommittee or anything. But if we can land on the moon and tightrope across the Grand Canyon, shouldn’t we – meaning science and technology experts – be able to create smart and dependable headphones? Yes. The answer is yes. (more…)


So. How ’bout that election, huh? I bet some of you even stayed up past your bedtime tracking results, flipping channels and analyzing analyses.

Welcome to my world. Not the political part, but the late-night living. It’s rare that I get to bed before 2 a.m. anymore even though I have to be up by 6:45 a.m. to get my oldest daughter off to school. While I could blame the sports-writing profession for this habit, the truth is that I’ve always been a bit of a night owl. My dad used to call me a Midnight Marauder, and that wasn’t a Tribe Called Quest reference. (more…)


Move over, Magnus Ver Magnusson, assuming you’re still alive – there’s a new strangely compelling, made-for-TV sport featuring a cartoonishly buff Icelander.

Have you seen the CrossFit Games? They’re like the old World’s Strongest Man contests with an additional fitness component. Instead of tossing beer kegs, participants compete in a series of exercise-based challenges with confusing names. To wit, The Fran consists of 21 reps of 95-pound thrusters (a combination of squat and military press) followed immediately by 15 pullups then 15 of each and nine of each. With no stopping in between. Scores are based on times.

Best case scenario, you’re done in roughly 3 minutes. Three minutes isn’t a long time to jog, but it’s an eternity in terms of strength training. What’s more, it’s not exactly a smooth motion. Remember in junior high gym class when kids would swing and flop and wiggle in an attempt to squeeze out a single pullup? The CrossFit folks have that awkward motion down to a science.

Of course, The Fran is just one of the disciplines that comprise an entire CrossFit routine. Best I can tell, there are about 12-15 different stations incorporating swimming, running, biking and strength training. The events vary (some seem to favor large humans, while others are cut out for smaller people) and competitors aren’t told in advance what will be included, forcing them to be ready for anything – like studying everything in advance of a test. And you have to survive two rounds of competition before earning entry into the finals, featuring the 50 fittest men and 50 fittest women on the planet.

Does that label hold as true as sponsors Reebok and ESPN would like them to? It’s hard to say. I’ll go with a firm maybe, while admitting it’s entirely impressive. A couple of years ago, I got into a group fitness class at my gym called Xplosion, which is somewhere between circuit training and CrossFit and nearly killed me. Twice. Even though I exercise six times a week. Turns out I’m not very good at breathing while exercising, one of the underrated challenges of such intense and prolonged exertion. The stuff they are doing is legit.

Meanwhile, I find myself being distracted by another question: Are these ladies and gents using performance enhancing drugs or not? At this point, I’m leaning toward no for a couple of reasons: The CrossFit movement seems to pride itself on legit and natural fitness – it’s like the exercise world’s answer to going green. Also, the athletes don’t look as ballooned. Don’t get me wrong: They’re big, maybe even huge (ala Kenny Bania). That’s not hard to determine because what little clothing they wear – lots of sweaty skin to be had – is made of Lycra.

It’s probably easier to see for yourself. Here’s World’s Strongest Man icon Ver Magnusson:

And here’s Rich Froning, winner of the last two CrossFit Games:

There’s a marked difference. The latter is more in line with modern fitness ideals: We know more about training and nutrition and value functional strength and lean muscle over sheer bulk and one-way power.

Are the athletes clean? I’m not sure that it matters, at least not to me, no longer an impressionable youth. I dabbled in supplements in college, and it didn’t go well. But I like the idea that the CrossFitters are grinders more than genetic freaks, not just the children of 6-foot-8 Scandinavians. It makes them more accessible, the show more watchable. Not that I wasn’t all in already.

I’ve been unable to turn away when stumbling onto the CrossFit Games, usually late at night and sometimes when on the treadmill. It’s as mesmerizing as the P90X infomercials and Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. The events are interesting, the performances impressive and the competitors international. The reigning women’s champ is Annie Thorisdottir, a 5-foot-7, 147-pound, 22-year old from Iceland. And, yes, her name seems to indicate that she is the daughter of Thor.

Sounds about right.


I need to get something off my chest, er, arms. Namely, sleeves. When at the gym.

I’ve felt this way for a while, but have kept it to myself for fear of some sort of backlash, accusations of extreme vanity or general Guy Dudebro-ness. Now, I just don’t care. On Wednesday night, I turned another short-sleeve shirt into a cutoff, and the subsequent session gave me the courage to go public. (more…)


It’s so hot, I don’t want our Midwestern readers to have to read a big intro. So this week’s links:

* Former Fury Files guest Kevin Van Valkenburg wrote a superb piece for ESPN about a semipro player in Indiana who was killed during a game in May. It’s not a “football is bad and must be banned” piece. Van Valkenburg played football at the University of Montana. He still loves the game. It’s well-written but also superbly reported with great analysis and insight, into everything from football to life.

* Another fun slideshow from New York Magazine’s Vulture blog. This one is a series of YouTube videos — “The 10 Most Jaw-Dropping Celebrity Workout Videos.” I know, sounds like a Bleacher Report story but this one’s fun. Angela Lansbury? Yes. Milton Berle? Yes. Much more? Yes.

* The Jeffrey MacDonald case haunted me for a brief time when I was a kid. He was the military man convicted in the horrific killings of his wife and children. He blamed it on hippies — this was post-Manson. Joe McGinnis wrote a famous book called Fatal Vision, which became a famous TV miniseries with Gary Cole as MacDonald. I watched it as a kid — was probably 10 — and I kept waiting for hippies to break in to our place and kill me. To make myself feel better, I thought of the Lakers. Anyway, famed filmmaker Errol Morris has a new book coming out about the case and he believes MacDonald is innocent. Here’s David Carr’s New York Times story on Morris and here’s an excerpt from the book.

* Michael Chabon is one of my writing idols and he has a new novel coming out called Telegraph Avenue, his first in five years. I’ll be buying it on its release day. Here’s a lengthy interview with Chabon in Mother Jones. And here’s an excerpt. Now, a word on this excerpt. Two years ago I saw Chabon read at The New Yorker Festival. This is the part he read. It’s extremely graphic and extremely well-written. It’s the graphic part that got to some folks. I wrote about the experience back then and you can read about that evening. I had a coughing fit that nearly ruined the show, and then I saw a man being hauled out after he fainted from hearing Chabon’s words. That’s some powerful writing.

* We all know that exercise is supposed to be good for us, but the Buffer blog (new to me, too) delves into exactly why. Really interesting stuff for workout junkies and couch potatoes, alike. Among the most surprising: The first 20 minutes of exercise are the most beneficial, and the endorphins released during exercise can be as addicting as illicit drugs.

* The latest TVFury podcast of the week: The Jalen Rose Show. (And, no, the podcast of the week won’t always be from the Grantland Network – we’re just starting there.)
Full disclosure: I was a huge fan of Michigan’s Fab Five as a kid. Even saw them play in person during their first NCAA championship appearance in Minneapolis. So I’ve long enjoyed Rose as a player and then as a TV analyst for ESPN. The podcast format allows him to use both of those talents – he can be brash and insightful without having to worry about offending, say, old people. Because old people are not downloading the Jalen Rose podcast. (Unless they are. In that case, my apologies.)
He approaches topics from an ex-jock perspective without needing to be PC – he fully admits that most players “champagne and campaign” during their off time just as he did. The honesty is refreshing. Plus, he’s funny in a Chris Tucker kind of way and co-host David Jacoby is enjoyable as the straightman/enabler. (That old combo.)


By Mark Harming
Guest blogger

I don’t do stuff like this. While I’m (fairly) healthy and in pretty good shape, I never really considered myself a “fitness guy.” For most of my adult life, I’ve been a runner. I was (and still am) proud of being a runner. I liked going outside and pounding the pavement.  Doing a home-fitness program like Insanity wasn’t a bad thing, but it wasn’t for me; it was for other people.

Then, the injury occurred. After reading the phenomenal book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, I decided that barefoot, natural running is the way to go. Hey, it works for the Tarahumara, it will work for me right?

I made the classic mistake of too much too soon and ended up with tendonitis on the top of my feet. At first, I tried to push through and survive with icing and stretching and anti-inflammitories. It didn’t work. So, an extremely slow half marathon this May (a personal-worst time) prompted me to do some thinking. (more…)

The Fitness Resolution

Posted: January 5, 2012 by terryvandrovec in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Stick to that workout resolution or pick a new one.

I don’t need a calendar to know that a new year is underway. It’s obvious by the throng of people – nay, newcomers – at my gym.

This is a complicated thing.

See, I’m not against New Year’s resolutions or people improving their health. Quite the opposite, actually.

However, I’ve been watching this happen long enough to know how it’s going to play out: There will be a temporary spike in exercise traffic, but most of them won’t stick with it. They’ll stop showing up for whatever reason, and things will return to normal at the gym – no more lines or breaches of etiquette. (more…)