Knowing Your Limits

I’m sure I’ll catch some flak for this post but, hey, who am I to sidestep my real thoughts and feelings on a subject? Besides, I think some people really need to hear it.

Sometimes, it’s perfectly fine to JUST SAY NO!

With the latest extreme endurance events popping up all over the place these days, more and more people are signing up for races and events that they are in no way prepared for. Never was that more evident than this past weekend at the Spartan Beast/Ultra Beast in Killington, Vermont. This would be my third year taking on that mountain. In 2013, I did the Beast with my wife. In 2014, I took on the Ultra Beast. This year, I again took on the Ultra Beast.

Regardless of how the course has changed the past 3 years, one thing remains the same, the carnage! Every time I have stepped on that mountain, I have seen thousands of people who just have no business being out there, period! Yes, I am all for pushing outside your comfort zone and I am all about challenging oneself but, to what point?

Personally, I do not see the glory in putting yourself in an extreme state of stress, just for a possible medal. I actually view it as somewhat disrespectful to the toughness of the event when, someone signs up for the race, finds out they are in way over their heads, then makes up a million excuses as to why they skipped obstacles, skipped their penalty burpees, blame the race venue/directors for their own poor planning. “If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail”.

It seems that these days, everyone believes they are this remarkable and amazing athlete, just because they have the ability to pay for and register for any race of their choosing (for the most part).

Not that my voice matters that much in the sport but, I have voiced my opinion numerous times that I believe certain races should have criteria that must be met in order to register. Maybe you need to run X time over Y distance in a race and prove it. Maybe you need to do X number of Y type of races in order to register. I am utterly amazed how just anybody can sign up and register for some of these races, without having proven they’re capable of handling it.

Every year, you have people going on social media and complaining because they didn’t meet a time cutoff and were pulled from the course. To me, that is crazy!! Sure, you didn’t quit but, you failed to prepare, thus, you should be prepared to fail. If you don’t make the cutoffs (which are quite lenient), then you didn’t train like you should have and, need to train harder next year and maybe give it another go.

This doesn’t just include OCR’s though. For me, this includes marathons, ultra races, etc. Unless you have a disability of some sort, there needs to be minimum requirements to participate in such events, in my opinion. What are those requirements? Well, i think there needs to be a progression over certain distances and I think there needs to be standards met, so that it proves your commitment to achieving the next rung on the ladder. Before being able to register for a marathon, I feel as though one should have to run a sub 2 hour half marathon first. To sign up for an ultra, I believe one needs to have had run a sub 4:15 marathon first.

For new clients who want to be a part of The Endurance Project, I have them do an initial questionnaire. In this questionnaire, I am looking for past athletic involvement, current fitness, short and long term goals, timeline to achieve such goals, availability to train, etc.

If anyone has come to me and said, “I just want to complete this distance”, then I usually try to convince them that we need to first focus on something smaller, then work our way up so that they can give their best efforts. Aside from getting the most out of an athlete so that they can reach their own max potential, I am most concerned about keeping the athlete injury free, as well as design a program for them that will still be fun and exciting, not arduous and burdensome.

Social media is starting to ruin athletic achievements. Gone are the days where people work their asses off to accomplish something. Now, you basically just pay the money, toe the line and, “see what happens”. Aside from Boston, Western States and a few other events, there isn’t much in the way of having any prerequisite performances to prove that you are capable of such a feat. People doing these extreme endurance events with chains around their neck, cinder blocks on their shoulders, etc. If you want to make the race “harder”, then run it faster. Stop beating yourself in the fucking ground just so you can look like a “badass” on Instagram.

Though it isn’t as glamorous or Facebook worthy, I have far more respect for an individual who is willing to train their ass off for months or years to accomplish a certain goal. To me, foolish pride is not noble or respectable. This serial “racing” that people do, just to get a medal and a t-shirt, doesn’t impress me in the least. What is impressive is, an individual who trains hard in order to perform their best, not just to sign up, week in, week out, to complete an event.

Yeah, yeah, i know…we all do this for different reasons and it’s #WhyIRace but, lets be honest, pretty much all of us want to do well and to do our best, right? I see the same individuals on social media, complaining about how their times are regressing and how they were so much faster a year ago, two years ago, etc. They just “can’t seem to figure out” why their performance is declining, all the while, signing up for long distance events nearly every weekend, often times running 2-3 events per weekend.

Hell, I had a guy message me a few weeks ago about how he has a goal of “getting on the podium” at a Spartan Race and then asked if I could help him get there. When I told him that I could help him but, he’d have to stop racing so much and actually train, he said “well, I don’t know if I can do that”. Ok, well, then I’m not the coach for you and, you’ll never see a podium as long as you’re continuing to beat yourself up, for no real reason other than to be told how BEASTLY you are.

So, I close with this. Set a goal(s). Make them short and long term and attach time frames to them. Compile a training program and or hire a coach that will make your goals achievable. Respect your body and understand that it’s a finely tuned machine that needs quality attention.

Remember, if you don’t give your body the rest and recovery it needs, your body will take it on it’s own, whether you like it or not, often in the form of injury or over training syndrome.

Think about the big picture, not just the instant gratification that you can post all over social media. Get the best out of yourself.

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good, to go for the great”


I have no clue where the words BEAST and MODE came together to become one of today’s most famous hashtags but, if you’re using such a term to describe your workouts, then it is likely that could be the greatest factor in why you’re seeing no significant improvements and/or even some regression.

You see, when training for a goal, you MUST be methodical in your approach. The way to eat an elephant is, one bite at a time. Meaning, that in order to achieve your greatest potential, you must set your sights on small incremental mile stones that all add up to the end goal.

When you see an Olympic champion standing on the podium, all you see is the amazing achievement and the medal that is draped around his/her neck. What you don’t see is the years and years of the daily grind. You’re not seeing the early morning training, the early to bed on a Friday night, the sacrifice of fun and good times, the clean and calculated eating habits, etc.

Everyone has a goal but, not everyone is truly willing to work to obtain it. Or should I say, “not willing to work smartly”.

This is where the word BEASTMODE pisses me off! ANY idiot with a functioning body can go out and crush themselves a couple times per week, or even daily, for a while. It takes no thought, no intelligence, no understanding, to go out and put together a handful of hard exercises that will have you lying on the floor, dripping in sweat, gasping for air. The REAL work is done by the individual who can train consistently for weeks, months and years, steadily chipping away up the mountain until eventually, they are at the top.

The problem with the latter approach is that, it’s not glorious. Most of that kind of work is not social media worthy. While BEASTMODE is the flashy Ferrari, SMART training is the old trusty VW station wagon. They are the classic examples of the tortoise and the hair.

Speaking of BEASTMODE, what the hell does that even mean? Though I don’t regularly hangout with others members of the animal kingdom, I’ve never really heard of other “beasts” just walking around and going fucking crazy everyday. How often have you heard of a gorilla chugging down his pre-workout mix and then going and crushing a hardcore workout? When’s the last time you heard of a lion going BEASTMODE on all the other jungle dwellers?

3 and 4 workouts a day don’t make you a beast, it makes you stupid. Especially when those workouts do nothing to progress your training toward your end goal. Pushing yourself so hard in one workout that you are essentially useless the next day, is NOT beast mode, it’s ignorance and ego.

When you’re designing and structuring your training, you should ensure that the workouts and efforts are geared toward that end goal. If your goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon, 4 hours on your pogo stick isn’t likely going to help get you there. If your goal is to deadlift 3 times your bodyweight, 3 hours on the elliptical isn’t going to produce that goal, EVER!!

When you hear the old adage “practice makes perfect”, it doesn’t mean practicing one thing will produce great results in the other. Tiger Woods didn’t become a great golfer by playing catch in the backyard with his dad. This means that your training needs to target specific systems so that it warrants the desired adaptations that will eventually lead to improvements in that particular area.

If I were to define BEASTMODE, it would look like this;

BEASTMODE – the practice of wearing your body out and generating massive amount of stress, for no reason.

What’s worse about this new BEASTMODE mentality, which is essentially today’s version of the NO PAIN NO GAIN mentality that plagued the 80’s and 90’s, is that it’s so condoned and supported by the layman social media jockey.

Worse than the actual person doing the particular workout are, those who will continue blowing smoke up the person’s ass by telling them how badass they are, how BEAST they are, how amazing, etc.

Call me crazy but, I’m not going to commend someone for pushing themselves to the point of getting Rhabdo. I’m not going to support someone for ripping layers of skin off their hands or, for completing a marathon when they were already limping to the starting line. Call it tough love but, I’m here to make people better, not congratulate them for being an idiot. Harsh? Maybe. But, people don’t learn anything when they are continuously enabled by everyone. Nobody changes bad habits or practices if those bad habits or practices are constantly glamorized. Crackheads don’t go to crack houses for rehab.

I am all about hard work and pushing oneself but, not to the point that it actually does more harm than good. Call me crazy but, crushing your body just to crush your body, is not admirable. It’s being ignorant!

Over the past few months, I’ve taken on several new athletes. The thing is, several of these athletes had been begging me for months to coach or to work with them and I refused until they made changes and showed that they were actually willing to train correctly. These were the BEAST MODE athletes who’d blow up social media with all their crushing workouts. I warned them for months what would happen. They ignored the advice until eventually, they were too over trained, too injured or too sick of seeing no improvement, despite their everyday soul crushing workouts. Now, after several weeks or months of restructuring their workouts, they are all progressing quite well.

Some of the most common types of feedback I get from my training is that “Wow, the training isn’t really as hard as I figured it would be” or “Wow, I’m completing these harder workouts with so much more energy and feel great the next day”.

Just yesterday, one of the Endurance Project members ran her longest run ever (16.5 miles), only to send me a text this morning to say “what’s the plan today boss, I feel great”. She’ll be toeing the line of her first Spartan Beast this coming Saturday and will be doing it with 0 lingering injury or fatigue.

On the flip side of that, I’ve had athletes who have progressed amazingly from one cycle to the next but then, tragedy strikes! They decide to go BEASTMODE!! For every 10 athletes of the Endurance Project who do great, there will be at least one who decides that our workouts aren’t enough, that they need to do more, MUCH MORE!! Instead of just doing the workouts as prescribed, they decide to run longer, run faster, lift heavier, add more volume, do everything with a 40 pound weight vest, because the enablers tell them to. By doing so, two things ALWAYS happen. 1.) They are removed from the Endurance Project and I stop coaching them after a few warnings. 2.) They are broken within a few months and are no longer performing even close to what they were on a structured program.

Like I said before, it’s often merely just ignorance that generates this BEASTMODE mindset. Many athletes truly believe that is what it takes. Generally, they don’t even know the damage they are inflicting, solely because they just do not understand the principles of training.

The simplest thing to remember is that, MORE is NOT always better. In fact, it’s rarely better. Everyone one wants that huge workout that they can get kudos from their peers from but, just remember this, you won’t get kudos from anyone when you’re standing on the sidelines because you’re too injured or too over stressed to play.

Pride and ego is a good thing but, it can also be your Achilles heel. Let the smart training mindset guide you through your everyday workouts, then unleash the BEAST during your competition. All the soul crushing workouts mean nothing if you can’t perform on race day.

Oh, and more thing!!! If you work out and don’t post it on social media, it DID still actually happen. Believe it or not, your fitness will get no better or no worse by whether or not you post your daily workout for the world to see.

Train smart, train consistent!

#DWEP #DWEPfit #DWEPstrong