training diary

Daily updated training info + stuff #AKtraining

09 January 2017

First day at the gym. Why the gym you may ask? Well I write for a living, that pays the bills... well actually talking pays both the bills AND allows me to write, but I love writing, so I call that my job. And so the more time I have to write the more I can write. Going for a long run in the morning through the dark streets of Bray, then down along the sea front, watching the sun come up etc is amazing, but its also not want I need right now. Getting up early and not having breakfast, then going out, coming back home, having a shower, eating etc is too disruptive. What tends to happen is I go for a run, come home, do all the above, then sit watching Westworld or Fargo all day (I'm a very weak-willed human being), or at least until about 11am, which means if I'm going to the wall after training (I tend to get a lift around 4pm), means a very short working day (but then Fargo series 1 is pretty damned amazing, and series 2..).

Another factor is that what I want is the greatest bang for my buck, I want to do cardio, stamina and strength in one hit, the reason being these things all need to be working when on a mountain. If you want to do 5x5x100kg deadlifts (lifting a 100kg bar 5 times is one set, with each time you lift the bar being a rep), then you need good cardio, that strength training - those deadlifts and squats - reducing your chance of getting injured doing the stuff cardio. Jump off a hard session of cardio straight into the weights may not align with sports science thinking, but it sure makes you a better man for what will come in the future (very tough days climbing, where you don't get a choice). And so I go to the gym, a ratty place that only costs €40 a month, where anything electrical or made of glass is broken, where the showers are moldy and as enticing as a quick scrub in Alcatraz, but where the weights are as heavy as advertised.

I get up at 6:15am, eat a bowl of porridge (1 cup of porridge, 1 cup of water, half a cup of soya milk), adding in honey, banana and maybe some blueberries. I’ve never been a fan of either porridge or soya milk, but living with someone who does - Vanessa - I’ve got into the game. If someone had told me two years ago I’d be chugging down Lidl’s soya milk I’d have thought that idea crazy, yet I do, the biggest advantage being it never goes off, and best of all, if you mix it with tea in a flask it won’t cook like cows milk. As for the porridge, it’s a no brainer that a massive fuck of bowl of the stuff is one of the pillars of a diet. I think that these two sayings, both centuries old, are truth to this (first is English, second Russian):

Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen, and dinner like a pauper.

Eat your breakfast alone. Share you lunch with your friends. Give your dinner to your enemies.

After breakfast I’m out the house with Vanessa (who’s a school teacher) by 7:30, and walk about 5km to the gym.

Once there I’ll train until 10am, the idea to be showered and out the door by 10am. This means I have the full day ahead of me, and stops me over training, as it’s easy to spend all morning training - good of you’re training every other day, but not every day.

I train every day for a few reasons, the main one being it builds - or rebuilds - discipline. Very often, as the training starts to hurt, I’ll wake up and think ‘I need a rest day today’, that weak part of me imagining staying in bed, eating crap, telling myself ‘you’ll be stronger tomorrow’. Well the training itself, the act of training, is really more important than what’s actually do IN the training. How I over come this weakness is I tell myself “sure, you can have a rest day… but only after you train”, after all why define everything in 24 hour periods? Nine times out of ten you get to the gym, feel knackered and beat up, but feel better afterwards.

So down to the training on my first day:

So I call this pre-training, the training I need to do to get fit and strong, get all my connectors reinforced and ready, for the real training to come. Will it come? Maybe not, maybe this pre-training is all that’s needed, but physiologically I find this idea helpful. I see it as if I’m going up an easy but long incline, heading up to a plateau upon which I’ll find the big objective, the steep and craggy stuff, the stuff that will really hurt. But that’s to come, here on this incline, I’m getting my body ready, hurting it just enough to form up that muscle and heart and sinew for the battle.

Pre-training works on a very simple concept based on moving and lifting, designed to work on your base strength, cardio and stamina:

  • 10km of movement
  • 5000 kgs of lifting (I like to think of it as 5 tons)

And that’s it!

With this idea in mind you rock up at the gym and have until 10am to hit that target, and you can do it how ever you want. For the movement you can do rowing (five star exercise, and hitting 10kg in under 40 min is the ideal), running (sub 1 hour in the baseline), or the cross trainer. I could add the static bike, but I’ve never used it as it would be too quick and easy (plus the bike at my gym is broken). I will usually do 10km run one day, then row the next, then cross trainer. If I’m feeling knackered by the end of the week I might do 50/50 row and run, increasing the speed of the run to 11kph and the row to under 20 minutes. If I’m really tired I’ll break it down 35/35/35 and just try and stagger through the distance.

Lifting wise I stick to basic exercises that hit as many muscles as possible (check out old blog posts for related articles) these being:

  • Deadlift
  • Full squat (ass to grass)
  • Military press
  • Bench press
  • Andy press (this has some other name, but is a compound exercise that starts as a clean and jerk, then a military press, then a full squat (bar lowered behind head…I can’t do a front press), then a second military press, then lower back so bar is at the waist, then back to the ground.)
  • Kettle bell goblet squat
  • Kettle bell swing
  • Farmers walk
  • Step ups
  • Chainsaws

I’ll also include (if I have time) press ups (vital for all climbers) and dead hangs (I use the great fingerboard app by Beastmacker, but use a normal pull up bar not a fingerboard).

On top of all that I’ll climb at the climbing wall every other day from 5pm till 8pm.

(Christ I hope future entries won’t be this detailed!)

The Day's Training

  • 10km run (60 min)
  • Deadlift 5x5x100kg (total: 2500kg)
  • Bench Press 5x5x60kg (total: 1500kg)
  • Low Squat 5x5x60kg (total: 1500kg)

Note:These numbers don't include warm up, which tend to be done at 25%, 50% and 75% of final weigh.


As you can see I ended up being ahead by 500kg, but know that tomorrow I’ll probably feel it, as going hard on the legs with weights tends to be tough, but then it’s always worse on day three, but by then I’ll be getting over day two! Fitness wise, by about 7km I was struggling a bit on the run (I looked liked I was on fire, not that I mean I looked good, but that I was sweating so much I had steam coming off me in the cold gym). I could feel that my body and legs wasn’t quite firing as it needed too to be able to run well, but that it would come. Weight wise, deadlift was ok, as was bench, but went light on squats as don’t like putting a lot of strain on my joints to start, trying instead to strike a balance, as in the long terms this kind of squat (your ass is a few inches of the ground), is maybe one of the best ways to reduce knee problems.

Day's Training

  • 10km run (60 min)
  • Deadlift 5x5x100kg (total: 2500kg)
  • Bench Press 5x5x60kg (total: 1500kg)
  • Low Squat 5x5x60kg (total: 1500kg)

Note:These numbers don't include warm up, which tend to be done at 25%, 50% and 75% of final weigh.