Sunday, November 23, 2014

So where have I been?

You will have noticed that this blog has been quiet for a while....  There are a few reasons for that, reasons that I thought I'd list here:

WORK -  my day job has been incredibly busy and stressful this year. Working 10-14 hour days the last thing on my mind when I got home was putting something on here. 

FACEBOOK/TWITTER - I suppose I've been using other channels to do some of what I used to do here. Quick fire posts pointing to interesting studies or news etc tend to get posted to Twitter (@chrishighcock) or to the Facebook Hillfit group 

REASSESSMENT - I've found myself less comfortable with some of the positions I've taken in the past. Sometimes I'm embarrassed by some of the things I've promoted. I'm not Paleo or low carb. I think Tabata and intervals are misunderstood and misapplied. I cannot really claim to be HIT.   I find myselfunable  honestly to post things on here and pretend that I am some sort of expert. 

REJECTING CONSPIRACY- I'm no longer liable to be suspicious of the mainstream. Generally the consensus is right. For example with respect to diet it is not complex - I'm pretty agnostic except that cutting calories below maintenance leads to fat loss. 

However, to give a list of things that are currently interesting me:

Phil Maffetone 
Pain Science
Kettlebells that nice food is a great pleasure 


Anonymous said...

I find myself unable honestly to post things on here and pretend that I am some sort of expert.

In my humble opinion, this makes your voice much more valuable. I would rather hear the opinions of someone willing to change his mind than someone just insisting on the same dogma.

Stuart Gilbert said...

I'm of the same opinion as Anonymous above. This freedom to adjust makes you a critical thinker, which I admire far more so than someone who dogmatically clings to the mast of an opinion and refuses to budge an inch.
I'm interested to see that you have looked into ultra running and Phil Maffetone, despite posting the video presentation on here by James O'Keefe. His presentation about running mileage and morbidity made an impression on me, and I'm wondering where you stand on that. How much of Maffetone's views have you adopted? I'm also curious to know more about how you think interval training and it's use is misunderstood and misapplied by many.
Keep up the good work Chris. Hope the training and the other areas of your life are going well.

Chris said...

Thanks for the comments. One thing that I am wary of is being seen as an expert...I'm not at all and am aware that there are real experts out there that know so much.

I'm also less dogmatic as I see lots of approaches that work. What at first seems to be some new revolution in health or fitness usually ends up as just another fad. I might sound old and grumpy but I do get a bit cynical on an "I've seen it all before" way.

With respect to Maffetone, what I take from him is the danger of too much intensity, training too hard. Some lots of easy - not necessarily slow - running and walking. There is also an openness to polarised training ie lots of low intensity stuff plus a little high intensity.

I'm still doing weights but more to maintain. My focus is on regular running to relax at the moment.

Re o Keene, Id have to revisit the video, but I think 3 or 4 easy 25min runs and a weekly easy longer one or some intervals are safe enough

Stuart Gilbert said...

Thanks for the answer Chris. I think your current running probably falls within O'Keefe's recommendations ( his statistics showed that mortality benefits dropped off after 20 -25 miles of running a week, if my memory serves me correctly. It's just that you listed ultra running in your new list of interests, and I had visions of you doing 20+ Having read part of the book 80/20 Running, which I bought after you said that you were reading it, I have adopted a few of the sessions, but I must admit that I wouldn't do anything more than the Level 1 5K training program, if I was to follow one out of the book. Partly due to anything longer having the potential to bore me quickly, and the other reason because of O'Keefe's recommendations, plus I have no desire to run competitively ever again (although for personal satisfaction I would like to get my 1 mile time down). I am like you I think when it comes to weight training. I don't see myself as HIT, rather HIT inspired.

Chris said...

Hi Stuart

Ultras fascinate me. Not that I am about to run one, but they fascinate me as feats of endurance.

The West Highland Way race is the one that I really follow. 95 miles and the current record is 14 hours something. I walked it in 4 days and I can't imagine what it would take to run it in under 15 hours...and there are lots of people doing it in around 24.

Have you read Brian MacKenzie's new book, Unbreakable Runner? It is an interesting approach. His training programmes are all intervals, crossfit and time trials.

Blackthorn D. Stick said...


For what it's worth, your writing has been a definite plus for my household. To make a long story short, my wife has diabetes and the usual weight problems that go with it. Trying to keep her on a fitness program was something that could usually only be measured in a couple of months to a few weeks.
A little over a year ago I convinced her to do your Hillfit program. A little warm-up, the 4 basic exercises and some stretching and shes done in 15 minutes or less and she never has to leave the house.
And the best part is, she has stuck too it now for over a year. She's added some walking and biking to the Hillfit routine.
To be clear, she has not "blow-torched off the fat", nor has she become a 'world class athlete'. What she has done is drop some weight and lower her blood sugar numbers as well just finding herself feeling physically better than she has in quite a while.
I'm just telling you this so that you know you just might be more effective and knowledgeable than you think!

Take care!

FeelGoodEating said...

Hi Chris,

The wonderful comment from blackthorn pulled me over the line to also comment and put in my 2 cents.

I do agree with you (mostly always have) and your humble and sensible approach overall, however....

As much as I agree that "you" don't know anything... I do strongly feel that "you- DO" on a very regular basis. There in lies the difference.
It's extremely helpful for others to tap into the "experience" of others that have come before. We certainly don't become knowledgeable from that endeavor, but one of the basics that CAN come about from sharing that "experience", is that the route to "mastery" can be shortened and come with less frustration along the way for those new to the game.

I fervently hope that even though you don't consider yourself an expert by any means.... the experiences you have garnered over the years are quite valuable to many and ought to be shared.

Trust all is well with you Chris!


Chris said...

Blackthorn D

Thanks very much for that comment. It is humbling. I am glad to be able to help. Amid all the the confusion about what is best I think there remains a simple truth that some basic, safe strength training has great beenfits.

Thanks again

Chris said...

Thanks for your comment and encouragement Marc.

We've both been at this for a long time now, from back when there were fewer blogs and fewer voices.

I've had a challenging year with work which has pulled me away from a lot of this but I appreciated your words

Best to you and your family


Stuart Gilbert said...

I echo the comments above from both Blackthorn and Marc. I sometimes think that you don't realise how many people that you have influenced in a positive way and helped with your blog. Yes, you might have taken a few wrong paths, and hit a few dead ends on your journey, but writers like yourself have blazed a trail and either made the path easier for us to follow, or enabled us to create our own paths with greater confidence. We appreciate the fact that you have made errors in judgement, as this has meant we have learnt along with you.
You spoke about maintenance in your strength training. May I recommend the last three issues of Master Trainer ( August, October and December) where Richard winett writes about his experiments and issues with the same topic.

tomas said...

Honestly I like the Maffetone approach to training. I'll give it him that he's an expert in that area. What puts me off a bit is his dietary recommendations, namely the concept of "carbohydrate intolerance", including the laundry list of symptoms which makes him resemble to any quackery/miracle cure proponent out there...

Anonymous said...

There are many of us, Chris, who have appreciated what you and this blog have contributed to many readers. There is nothing wrong with posting up some information that then becomes a topic of discussion. And adding your own humble opinion to jump start things is all the better.

I couple of thoughts of support for you and commenters:

While Paleo has been conscripted by too many "special interests" lower (not low) carb eating consistently helps those who are pre type 2 diabetic. No need to apologize there.

And as far as exercise is concerned humans are ideally suited for brief periods of high intensity and long periods of low intensity (a body in motion) activity. Throw in a moderate amount of moderate activity and you have all the bases covered. No need to get fancy and this still leaves much room for discussion.