Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Are You Fit? As An F.B.I. Special Agent? Part 1

As "fitness standards" go, only a few of them are first-class citizens. Some are too easy to reach, or have been diluted to pass as many people as possible. Others pose a legitimate challenge, such as the standards for an F.B.I. Special Agent, which are freely available for your perusal. I found them recently during a random search, and took an interest.

Why do I like these? Because they are an adequate reflection of speed, power, and endurance. All three. You're required to complete a certain number of pushups, as well as sprint (after those perps down a dark alley in Amsterdam…) 300 meters, up to certain parameters. The situps, meh…but the rest of the standard is legit; a 1.5 mile run within a certain time. That's six times around a track.

I've seen "fitness standards" that involved touching your toes, walking a mile, and other things that humans should be able to do by default. Others put too much weight on being able to run a great 5k, say, at the sacrifice of strength, power, and solid lean mass.

The F.B.I. standards are actually somewhat difficult to achieve, and once you get close, you can make the legitimate claim that you have fairly bonafide, comprehensive fitness.

Another tough element is that you have to score at least one point in each of the four categories, and total 12 points, to pass. You can't knock the pushups out of the park, but fudge the others. You have to be kind of good in all of the categories, and thus reach an all-around level of fitness.

I'm well aware that in the real world, the agents probably think of these standards as a pain, and as far less meaningful attributes next to street savvy and pistol training.

But someone who can run fast in a sprint, not just jog along slow forever; as well as move over the landscape with strength, power, and flexibility (climbing, upper-body strength) is able to cope better with the physical demands of life, rather than shrink from them and sit all day. They may even be able to better extricate themselves from a tough situation. You never know…

The protocols for situps, pushups, 300-meter run, and mile-and-a-half run, are here. So have at it–I am!  Aren't these the goals we are supposed to be setting on New Year's?

Part 2 of this article will show you how to work up to meet this kind of a standard.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Is Vitamin D An X-Factor Nutrient for Health and Fitness? Yes…

A recent study found that vitamin D levels correlated strongly with physical strength and power among soccer players. What made this finding of particular note is that a nutrient that is typically associated with bone strength and immune-system support, is found to greatly benefit elite levels of muscle strength.

The study focused on pro soccer players in Greece. It specifically found that the players who had higher vitamin D levels during the season (from the sun, not supplements) had faster ten- and twenty-meter sprint times, better leaping ability, and higher VO2 max, which is a measure of endurance strength. They specifically measured squat jumps and counter-measure jumps for the leaping piece of the study.

The study indicated a "linear relationship" between tested D levels, and the speed and power measurements, meaning that the higher D test results were invariably associated with better sprinting and jumping ability. These are results that any Everyman in training can hang her hat on. Get your vitamin D levels up, preferably with moderate doses of full-body UVB rays, and supplements when that's not possible, such as living in the northeastern US during the winter.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has the effect of a seco-steroid hormone, similar to testosterone or cortisol. Vitamin D receptors (VDRs) are found in cells all throughout the body, including in muscles. The study authors stated that major muscle groups in the legs specifically benefit from better vitamin D profiles (thus providing the results they found for sprinting and jumping). In other words, vitamin D seems to have a greater benefit on leg power than upper-body strength.

Working out hard seems to lower vitamin D levels, due to "training stress," according to the study. Natural vitamin D levels went up during the off-season, when the players rested, but their power and strength dropped. This indicated that training is still the primary factor in strength and power, but an improved vitamin-D profile will give an athlete the edge, not to mention the injury-prevention factor.

Reference and link to study: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0101659

Monday, October 6, 2014

It Makes Little Sense To Run A 10-12 Year Old Soccer Player Through High-Intensity Intervals

I do a little Fall soccer coaching, and once in awhile another coach will tell me about the sprints they did in practice, or I'll hear a rueful tale from one of the young players.  Beyond 20-yard warm-ups or a single "suicide drill" to get the attention of an unruly bunch, I see repetitive sprinting as virtually useless as a training technique for boys.

Athletically, young boys are designed for random play, as in run after each other and the ball, leap, climb, and sometimes fall comically on to the ground, not be systematically exposed to high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

A young athlete's heart rate is very different than an adult's. For example, a 10-12 year-old boy or girl has a resting heart rate  (RHR) of 85-95 beats per minute (bpm) (it can vary, some may go lower, for others it could be 100).  An older, male competitive soccer player's heart-rate, on the other hand, will go at about 36-62 bpm. When I was a young soccer player my RHR was below 40.

To use a hyperbolic metaphor, imagine taking a hummingbird (cooking along at about 1,000 bpm) and trying to blast its heart rate further over and over again, to "improve its cardiovascular condition."

When a 10 to 12 year old boy is sleeping, their heart is beating as fast as a well-trained adult's when they are walking uphill. They don't have the heart rate reserve (maximum heart rate - resting heart rate) of an adult, to accomodate sustained periods of anaerobic sprinting at or very close to their maximim heart rate.

An adult male soccer player's heart rate reserve could exceed 160 beats (200 - 40), while a little kid's may be no more than 100 beats. So using hard sprinting drills for young soccer players is not only useless from a fitness standpoint, it actually goes against the design of their hearts and bodies.

As long as they are not overweight or obese when the season begins, kids will get very fit for soccer simply by taking part in the scrimmages and drills during practice. I've noticed kids make fitness gains much faster than out-of-shape adults getting back into exercise–the soccer conditioning blossoms in a couple of weeks or less.

The scrimmages are also obviously using the specific muscles and movements of the game, which is more useful training than static sprinting, which may tell you more about the coach's ego than work well as a training strategy.

If you feel the need to augment soccer training at the young ages, you'd be better off introducing light weighttraining (like taking a couple of 2 to 5 pound hand weights and doing push presses, or some light weight cable pulls), as it's another modern myth that all weight training is inappropriate for young boys.  And get them out of vitamin D deficiency!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What Factors Promote Peak Days For Weightlifting And Other Athletics?

I had a peak day today.  I felt surprisingly strong, like I could lift more and more…and more, and just about reached my PR with a bench press, which for me is the nirvana of pressing 1.5 times my body weight. Ever have days like that? It's been almost a month since I've had one of those days (is it "my time of the month?"), and I try to ponder the factors that promote these peak performances for the everyday athlete.

Here's what I've come up with for starters:

Vitamin D. Each morning before the peak day I took a 4000-IU vitamin D. My vitamin-D level right now is about 45 ng/ml, and I typically take 2000-4000 IU/day, or just enjoy some sun exposure (but at 57 I don't make Vitamin D naturally as well as I used to).

Vitamin D is an athletic-booster in terms of strength, reaction time, and endurance, and this notion can be found in the scientific literature. The fat-soluble vitamin is essentially a legal, seco-steroid hormone for athletes. This has been known since the East German trainers of the 1970s (and they admittedly did some really weird, illegal things to their athletes, but exposing them to UVB light to boost their vitamin D levels was not one).

I think the D supplements have contributed to my peak days. The only other supplement I take is vitamin K, but I would consider more, including magnesium. Fitness For Geeks will really inform you about vitamins and minerals!

Sleep. This is a no-brainer; I had very deep sleeps before each peak day. Possibly, the brain, where all health and athleticism begins, was more rested and focused for promoting the neurological events that must take place for a high rate of muscle contractions. Or, among other things, the adequate sleep promoted better growth hormone secretions?

Ironically, the day before was a "low" day for me. I had a poor sleep, due to stress and things happening in my life, and felt somewhat agitated with a less than perfect sense of well-being. Could the bounce-back from a low day, psychically and physiologically, help promote a peak day? It's an interesting concept, at any rate, and perhaps when you're feeling lowly, you can give yourself a kick in the pants by realizing, "tomorrow might be peak!"

Rest. Another no-brainer; I did not have heavy training days prior to the peak day. There's no way you can train day after day and expect a lot of peak performances in return. In fact, the "less is more" approach to training is one of the smart, beneficial fitness concepts that has come to the fore. I lift weights about four times per week, which for me is necessary for muscling up, but I often feel stronger when scheduling conflicts have forced me away from weightlifting for a week or more.

Fasted workout. Both peak days came during a fasted workout with coffee and vitamin D only. Caffeine is also a performance enhancer. However, virtually all my workouts are fasted this way, so I might have to discount this factor.

Night before meal. I had a healthy, home-cooked Paleo-ish kind of dinner with roasted chicken and lots of veggies, and one large glass of wine. This is the way I almost always eat, so I'll almost have to discount that factor, in terms of promoting a peak day. However, sometimes I put myself back to sleep with a glass of milk when I find myself waking up in the dark (ahh…aging…), and I didn't do that the night before, so perhaps I had very low fasting insulin and higher growth hormone at lifting time (milk, I drink whole milk, will probably elevate your fasting insulin).

Peak days are definitely not solely due to luck or coincidence; it's what you do in the 48 hours or so leading up to them that matters.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Few Useful Lyme Tips, Based On Experience

I'm experienced at something I *don't* want to be a veteran in, and that is getting deer ticks stuck on me, including the nymphal variety that might be carrying Lyme Disease. It happened to me again a week ago, and it was my third time dealing with that, and as they say "Three Strikes You're Out!" right?

One time I ran in a 5k road race with, unbenownst to me, a tick stuck on my rib cage. Afterward, I called it "reverse doping," because I was actually having red blood cells removed from me during a race, not adding them to me beforehand.

Since I appear to be every tick's favorite date, I've had a lot of experience in "response." I'm like anyone else; I read up on things like CDC web pages when it happens to me, and forthwith are some of the things I learned:

* Remove the tick with tweezers when you discover them, and follow-up right away by cleansing the wound with propylene glycol (or rubbing alcohol). Apparently, the tick has the microorganism in their saliva and when removed they kind of panic and "spit in the wound" as it were. The alcohol can kill the contaminant before it has a chance to enter the bloodstream.

One time my wife was sitting in an airport and we found a tick stuck on her ankle (thank you, infested Massachusetts…). Believe it or not, I went into one of those Hudson News stores that have stuff like compact travel kits and found some propylene glycol (duty free vodka would have worked, I guess). The Hudson News usually carries the Financial Times, not emergency medical kits. Anyways, it worked (thank you, Hudson News).

* Get a protective, or prophylactic dose of doxycycline or Doxy, right away. If it's the right kind of tick in a high-risk area, the doctor will prescribe this, a one-time 200 mg dose of Doxy for an adult (the prescription might be, probably is, different for kids). One time I ran off to an emergency room just to get it, and they were kind enough to provide me one right away. I must have made a convincing "expert victim."

When you take the Doxy, don't take any calcium, iron, or magnesium-containing foods or supplements, because these minerals will apparently bind to the antibiotic and make it less effective. So don't have a steak and a glass of milk right around when you take the Doxy. Even 100% cacao chocolate has a lot of magnesium, iron, and calcium; so much for my feel-good chocolate as I reel from a tick bite!

* Eat anti-microbial foods, like garlic, tumeric, and lemons. I really believe in holistic, commonsense health practices to defeat a microbial attack. Get a lot of sleep. I almost never get sick (knock on wood) anymore anyways. You can bet I've been powdering my eggs with tumeric, eating lemons (yeah, I actually do that anyways), and cooking garlic of late. I haven't gotten Lyme, and this may have nothing to do with it, but you never know…

The gestation period is about 3 to 30 days, so I'm not sitting on my laurels yet. Actually getting the infection entails the now infamous bull's-eye shaped rash, usually around the bite, but it doesn't have to be there, or actually appear with the infection.

I don't have any experience with other tick-borne diseases (yet…), but the CDC site has fairly comprehensive information: http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/

Epilogue: I did not get Lyme from this latest episode (I passed the 30-day dormancy date), but you can bet I still get paranoid when I see those little black flecks of something on me!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Read Gone On Kauai With a Scribd Subscription

The equatorial noir novel Gone On Kauai is now available for reading via Scribd. Here's the link: http://www.scribd.com/book/202761214/Gone-On-Kauai.

Kirkus Reviews–Perry reprises his Karl Standt character here, but this novel can easily stand on its own. The island of Kauai is a character in itself (“the flat river moved with a hypnotic slowness, like heavy floodwaters”), and Perry effectively describes its culture, including the super-rich who view Kauai as a trust-fund playground, the surfing locals who personify the laid-back island vibe, and the plague of drugs that are harvested and sold there. Perry depicts the different sides of island life through the perspective of New Yorker Standt, who’s out of his element but relies on his instincts…it eventually provides a thrilling revelation.

Also available on Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes And Noble.

Read Barbarous Coasts too!  @Scribd. http://www.scribd.com/book/202757411/Barbarous-Coasts

Also available on AmazoniBooks, and Barnes And Noble.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The New Crime Novel Compulsion, As Reviewed By The Book Magazine Kirkus Reviews

Third in the Karl Standt detective series, Kirkus Reviews has a new review of Compulsion. Along with Gone On Kauai, the book has a limited $0.99 sale through the first week of August 2014.

The book may deal with the contemporary topic of the perils of online dating, but Standt keeps it old-school with his way of conducting meetings in diners and following leads, no matter where they take him or how grisly the details become.

Perry delves into characters ranging from Vlad, a former imprisoned Russian rebel to iz, an animal lover with platinum hair, and their stories are captivating and plot-driven. Although it’s the third novel in the series, this book makes a good introduction to Karl Standt’s adventures. Perry delivers again in a novel in which ritualistic murders link the deaths of rich New York men.

Compulsion is available wherever ebooks are sold.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

KT Tape: Does It Work, Or Is It A Placebo?

Like many, I first noticed the kinesiology or "kinesio" tape on the various limbs of olympic athletes during the 2012 London games.  The "KT Tape" is almost picturesque, like dabs of paint on athletic forms. The product has definitely taken the pro to everyday banged-up athlete by storm. But is this just another pretty gimmick? We're used to those in the fitness and nutrition world. Does KT really work?

I know what doesn't always work, and that's my right knee, victim of a torn MCL from soccer years ago and much wear and tear. Knees don't "heal"; it'll never really be the same. Still, I do everything on it, weightlifting, hiking, mountainbiking, light soccer (or futbal!), skiing…So I decided to try the tape on the knee, to see if it worked in place of a bulky old neoprene knee pad.

I put a strip over the old MCL and another across the knee. Then I went off to play a little soccer and the next morning, lift weights. I was pleasantly surprised with the results. No swelling, pain, or anything, and I have even kept it on. It seems to be a very subtle, almost weightless form of support.

It's very easy to cut up into strips and apply yourself, despite the creative forms bordering on fashion statements. It turns out that the tape and technique was developed in Japan during the 1980s.

The specific issue I used KT Tape for is not a muscle or tendon tear, but a dysfunctional joint that is easily irritated due to loss of cartilage. So maybe Kinesio Taping isn't optimally designed for my knee, leading me to think that it feels great due to the many wonders of the Placebo Effect. Or, the strong belief that the measures you are taking will heal you.

Here are the scientific rationale, and at least the basic concepts and claims behind KT Tape:

Supporting the muscle -- Proper taping improves the muscle's ability to contract even when it's weakened, reduces a feeling of pain and fatigue, and protects the muscle from cramping, over-extension and over-contraction.

Removing congestion to the flow of body fluids -- Kinesiology tape improves blood and lymphatic circulation and reduces inflammation and excess chemical buildup in the tissue.

Activating the endogenous analgesic system -- "Endogenous" refers to something that is self-originating, and calling something "analgesic" means that it can relieve pain in a conscious person. So, this requirement means that the tape must facilitate the body's own healing mechanisms, a central focus in chiropractic medicine.

Correcting joint problems -- The goal is improving range of motion and adjusting misalignments that result from tightened muscles.

My issue seems to fall into the latter category, so I'm sticking to KT Tape (no pun intended) for now. It seems like a keeper.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Digital Body Fat Scales Are Run By Algorithms More Than Anything Else

I've used digital weight and body-fat scales for years now, but I really wonder about their efficacy. I've obviously thought it's important to have one around, since your level of lean mass v. body fat is so closely linked with health, particularly among males.

You want some kind of accurate barometer of whether you are actually building and maintaining muscle, beyond a mirror (which is the acid test for most of us, isn't it?).

There's also a cachet among fit males and bodybuilders along the lines of whether they have body fat far under 10 percent or not, but I've leave that discussion for another time.

Ultimately, behind the scenes, these "electrical impedance" scales use algorithms to estimate your body fat percentage. Many of them claim an accuracy of about 2.5% on either side of the reading; for example, if it says 10 percent, then your body fat probably falls somewhere between 7.5% and 12.5%.

But here's the wrinkle: much of the reading is going to be determined by the preferences you set before you even step on the scale, such as whether you're male or female, your age, and whether you have an athletically cut body or not (I suppose, the classic X shape). When I set up my last scale, my body fat went from something like 16% to 11% based purely on the latter setting, whether I was built like an athlete or not.

The internal software is basically estimating your body compostion based more on settings than any contact with your body.

And that's not all: I've noticed that the ambient air temperature makes a huge difference.  I always get a lower body-fat reading with a room temperature of 70 or greater. I always get the lowest readings during the summer, regardless of my weight at the time.

For some reason, when I weigh more, the scale counts that as predominantly more muscle (how flattering!). Especially when the room is warm. And when you're wet, the BF reading also goes down significantly. The list goes on.

Your body composition does not change significantly week by week. So that when you step on the scale and the day-by-day fluctuations are four percent or more, you know the scale itself is a bit topsy-turvy. My sense is that most people who rely on scales get a big surprise when they test their body fat % in the most accurate manner in a performance lab, using calipers and pools, etc.

The next time you are pondering whether to deploy the plastic for a fancy "electrical impedance" machine, you might reconsider whether the full-length mirror is a more effective and affordable substitute.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cold Water Diving Part II: 4 Ways To Motivate Yourself

Today I dived into a river that was a touch over 50 degrees fahrenheit, 10 centigrade. I did three different dives for only about 10-second immersions each. I feel like I am becoming more cold adapted.

By now we've determined that cold-water immersion (CWI) has beneficial health effects. It is an anti-inflammatory activity that has positive metabolic effects over time (you burn more calories and stimulate BAT–see Part 1 of this article), at the very least. It also counts as hormesis, meaning it "hardens" the cells against other insults or "bad things" such as infections. CWI might even have a strong placebo effect, which means in essence you are fooling yourself into a healthy state (better than deluding yourself into an ill state!).

So how do you motivate yourself to do it?

Keep personal records, your P.R.: Keep track of the coldest water you ever dived into, or the longest time you spent in water less than 60 F. or 15 C., so that it becomes an internal competition, a self challenge. This is human nature; the longest you ever swam, the tallest mountain you hiked, the longest you ever threw a frizbee, etc. This factor may appeal to more competitive personality types, but everyone has used the technique of setting or seeking a memorable goal as the simplest form of motivation. Keep a diary or log of your cold-water swims and dive-ins.

I have a kind of index that I track that combines the ambient air temperature with the water temperature. For example, my record is 100 for the combined cold-water immersion and air temperature (which involved diving into 50 degree waters when the air was 50 F., too). It's another P.R. that you can track. for example, today was a sunny 59, and the water was just over 50, making it a 109-110.

Notify your tribe. Share what you did with your friends and fellow CW swim fanatics or health buffs, such as via email or Twitter.  This gives the event more meaning to you than internal gratification, and can motivate others to choose a new healthy activity.

Along the same lines, join a cold water swim or "polar plunge" club, which makes CWI more of a fun social event. It also makes it less likely that you dip your feet in the water and do the old 180 ("Not today…").

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cold Water Swimming 2014, Redux

I earned a pat on the back today, by doing the 30-yard swim to "the rock" in 53-degree river water. I felt good about it because I had stood in the river for several minutes, getting psyched, and entertaining the notion of actually not doing it. 

The nice thing about this routine is that the swim forces about a 30-second immersion through a mild river current, involves a little scramble on to the rock (which is warm), then forces me to swim back to shore, so I get two cold-water dips.

The river was 46 degrees fahrenheit a couple of weeks ago and I only stood up to my thigh. Then I took two dive-ins this week at 52 degrees, so I feel like I am gradually becoming cold-water adapted again. A man came down to the riverside with his dog the last time, and expressed skepticism (re: fear) about getting into the water ("Gee, only young people do that…"). I've heard this bias against cold water expressed many times.

The "hazards" of cold-water dips, based on the temperature alone, are greatly exaggerated, and derive from an overly pampered population that spends too much time in artificial environments.

The human body can adapt to both cold-water immersion and hot weather. Ancestral peoples of different cultures have used cold river swims, and hot springs, for health reasons for many centuries. Cold thermogenesis, the fancy, science-y term for swimming or immersion in waters of less than about 68 degrees F., is so good at reducing inflammation and tuning the body, that it's now used as an advanced athletic routine (not just after events, but before them too).

Among other effects, cold immersions spur the recruitment and generation of "brown fat" or brown adipose tissue (BAT). This is a kind of fat, unlike white fat which is a storage tissue, that actually has metabolic activity and burns calories, somewhat like muscle or lean mass. BAT is more vascular, thus explaining the brownish color.

When you become cold adapted, you increase body-heat production via non-shivering thermogenesis, which means you burn more calories at rest by means other than shivering. This is called "adaptive thermogenesis." In other words, don't get FAT get BAT!

I'm going to try to swim the cold river five times per week, and to go as late into the year in Vermont as I can. That's the goal, anyway. The next chapter is to spend at least 15 minutes at a stretch in waters less than 60 degrees.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Compulsion: The Third Karl Standt Crime Novel Now Available

Manhattan is locked into a bitter winter, and gripped by gruesome crimes. Someone is killing people through an online dating agency called EliteAirs, in the new crime novel on Kindle, Compulsion.

Months after the Kauai episode, and still healing from his psychic and physical wounds, Karl Standt finds out about the case from his New York Post crime reporter friend, who uses a lurid Twitter feed to keep his followers up to date on felony and mayhem. Standt pursues the killer, with a segue into Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, along with his brave young crew of colleagues, including Church, a hacker, Katie, a Slate reporter, and iz, a goth poet with a taste for nightclub dancing and MMA moves.

Standt also teams up with Vlad, a Russian emigre with a taste for Stoli Elit and a current job with the Detective Bureau.

Compulsion is the third book in the Karl Standt series,  after Barbarous Coasts and the equatorial noir novel, Gone On Kauai.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Montana Postscript 2014: Lone Peak, Mon Amour

In any other culture, say India or Japan,  Lone Peak might be a holy place. A reverent place that is the subject of meditation, paintings, and woodcuts. I like to stare at it, about as much as ski it.

It's not the tallest mountain around (11,160 feet); there are plenty of taller Rockies, particularly south of it in Colorado. But the peak has a perfect conical shape and is covered, now and for much of the spring (given that it still has a snowpack of about 8 to 10 feet), with creamy, flawlessly white snow.

It has a Mt. Fuji-like prominence and vibe.

I took one of the tamer runs off of it on April 9. I've skied from the top every year since 2011, except for one when the tram to the peak was temporarily out of order (I'm only there for a few days, but try not to miss a year). It's one of the places I use to keep me honest as I get older, and I try to do something a little harder every year.

But I also realize, and upon moments of reflection disapprove of, using grand mountains primarly for Type A-ish, competitive proving grounds. As in all high mountains, Lone Peak can be a hazardous place. You wake up in the morning and hear charges going off, as ski patrollers do Avy (avalanche) control.

They do this so that inbounds skiers don't trigger their own avalanches. The ski patrol released one a couple of years ago that roared down the Marx (named trail) flank of the mountain and wiped out a chairlift shed. In commemoration, they've left a toboggan up in a tree to show the power of the avalanche. The mountain, and nature, is always in control.

I always feel better in the winter after skiing, and I always feel better after skiing Lone Peak, so I think this is a physical/spiritual dynamic. If you want to stay fitter and healthier in body and mind, consider taking up downhill skiing, and paying homage to Big Sky. Just don't forget to meditate, or if so inclined, pray.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Big Sky, Montana: April Tidbits

On here my fourth and second to last day, I had a great run in the Headwaters Bowl. I took the Challenger lift up, then skied over the top to the Headwaters area of Moonlight Basin. One of the nice topographical touches on that part of Big Sky is the access to the Headwaters Bowl and lift from the top of the Challenger lift.

Very few people were around, and it was peaceful and windswept and sunny enough for a low-visibility day. It's very steep but the snow was soft and deep (Western Montana has a huge snowpack for April). I made some turns and went through some trees to the skier's right of Alder Gulch, then went faster down the Bowl where the pitch flattens out somewhat.

I've always had my eye on a trail called bonecrusher, which is a bootpack or hike through some woods and up a slope several hundred meters. Coming up not long after my Headwaters run, I saw an opening (the ski patrol had literally opened the bonecrusher trail). So I took my skis off and started hiking.

I was lugging kind of heavy resort skis, not backcountry boots or skis, so it was a reasonably hard workout. Can't beat the view though of the surrounding Montana Rockies and 11,160 foot Lone Peak looming overhead. I used the trail made by two cheerful young lasses with snowboards, who were the only other people plus me who did it that day.

They got most of the way up and made a snowman, while I was grimly stomping uphill like I was finishing Everest or something. I was doing the classic two-step shuffle, then stop to catch your breath. It's very blown off on top and mostly rocks through the otherwise deep snow.  I would guess the top is at least 9500 feet in elevation, hopefully higher for the purposes of bragging rights!

The two ladies eventually stepped into their snowboards and blithely headed off, making wavy marks in the snow. Then came the hardest part for me, which was putting on my skis.

Try it sometime, standing at a fairly steep angle in  deep snow. I dug a little trench for the skis, knocked the sticky snow off my boots, and finally succeeded in clicking in, after imagining how awkward and energy-wasting it would have been to hike down with all that stuff.

The picture on the left shows our bootpack or trail, a little line above the trees.

Then I had my own powder run down after "earning my turns"; very satisfying.

As for a tram run off the top of the peak, there's always tomorrow!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Gone On Kauai, As Reviewed By The Book Magazine Kirkus Reviews

My novel Gone On Kauai has been reviewed by Kirkus Reviews, the New York book magazine. Here's part of what they had to say:

“Perry reprises his Karl Standt character here, but this novel can easily stand on its own. The island of Kauai is a character in itself (“the flat river moved with a hypnotic slowness, like heavy floodwaters”), and Perry effectively describes its culture, including the super-rich who view Kauai as a trust-fund playground, the surfing locals who personify the laid-back island vibe, and the plague of drugs that are harvested and sold there.  Perry depicts the different sides of island life through the perspective of New Yorker Standt, who’s out of his element but relies on his instincts. Although the plot sometimes glosses over details, it eventually provides a thrilling revelation.”
 Gone On Kauai is currently on sale until March 4. You can download it as an ebook on iTunes (.epub), Amazon, Smashwords, and other retailers.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Using Smartphone Apps For Interval Training

Are you a fan of combining workouts and sports tracking devices? Or do you plan to be? Then you will be interested in "Using Smartphone Apps With Interval Training," the first book about setting up and using Endomondo Sports Tracker and Strava Cycling for sprint training.

This ebook includes step-by-step instructions for custom designing your own interval program and using the built-in interval programs in Endomondo. It also describes how to use the popular Strava feature Segments for sprint training.

The book covers sprint-training techniques (e.g., Tabata sprints and various other protocols), as well as how Endomondo and Strava can be used to augment your intervals. It is designed for both beginners and "power users" of the two popular apps. Both have excellent features for helping manage your high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

"Using Smartphone Apps With Interval Training" includes numerous screenshots from both the cell-phone apps and the web dashboards that they offer their users. The chapters include an interval-training introduction; another on how to set up sprint training on Endomondo and Strava, as well as more detailed info on interval protocols, with references to technical papers and other topics such as the Borg rating of perceived exertion (RPE).

"Using Smartphone Apps With Interval Training" is the first in an Inside Sports Tracking series of concise briefings on training and sports tracking apps.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Buying Gone On Kauai And Other Perry Books On ITunes

Gone On Kauai and other books by me are available on the iTunes bookstore. Here are links to finding them there:

The new Karl Standt crime novel Gone On Kauai. Here is a synopsis of this fiction book.

All the rest of my books on iTunes, including Fitness For Geeks.