June 27, 2012 posted by

Surviving Summit

The Straight Dope is a balance between work and play, indoor training, nutrition advice, and outdoor sports, and it’s got followers on every side that’d prefer it to be more of one and less of the other depending on their personal perspectives. So for all of you, today’s post has a bit of everything: training, diet, work, sports and even birthday challenges.

The Beachbody Coach Summit is always a challenge for me. My de-facto job is one of a walking FAQ and I spend my week basically roaming around answering questions, which usually leaves me drained of energy and an audible voice by its end. This year, with 5,000 attendees and 2 days of P90X Certification tacked on, it promised to be a colossal task. An impending race and training schedule heightened it, which I amped up slightly by decided to attempt a “birthday challenge” on my way home.

Vegas in June is no picnic when you’re trying to train. Rides would have to be early and, en route, I did an interval session on a dirt road outside of Mesquite as a test. Finishing just shy of 8am, with the thermometer already north of 90, I concluded that late nights would not be on the agenda—or planned agenda anyways.

Summit is actually quite fun. I don’t mind answering questions. In fact I love it. Helping people better understand fitness is something I can go on about endlessly. In the moment it’s not tedious or tiring and I wouldn’t mind spending my entire job doing it. I did my best to clean up my plate of projects so that I could be as available as possible all week long. The key was then staying ultra hydrated and fed, kind of like a race, to sustain my voice and keep my brain turned on (your brain runs on glycogen, making the entire event not so unlike a week-long ultra).

much easier to hear and converse in the latter setting

Thursday I had two presentations, which I actually found easier than my general schedule. It seemed efficient to speak with a group instead of one on one, I had a microphone that saved my voice, and, most importantly, I didn’t have to speak over music or a crowd or anything else. Made me think I should just have an area where I answered questions all day but that would negate some of the coolness of Summit, which is a social environment where anytime you might run into Carl or Tony or someone else you’ve seen on TV.

louder than a bird or a plane, it’s super workout!

Things went more or less perfectly until Sat, when a screaming crowd interrupted a perfectly peaceful dream at 5am. At first I thought it was partiers but looking out my window I saw that there were already hundreds of people gathered for the Super Workout that wasn’t starting until 6:30. Did some yoga and made my way down, which was the start of a long, long day punctuated by a “business” dinner with Dr. Marcus Elliott sometime after 2am.

with super coach and X2 cast member monica and super trainer and long-time friend marcus

The Finale

After sleeping far too little I rolled out of Vegas early. I was now hammered. Training is not just about recovering from muscle breakdown but hormonal and nervous system balance and the latter two were clearly in distress. Still, I was keen to keep to my schedule and I had a hard ride planned that day, which you can read about here:

Tiger Funk’s Birthday Challenge

I figured that a good long ride, especially if I could keep it somewhat aerobic, would bring things back towards homeostasis. I’d planned on over 5,000’ of climbing but given it was a 13-mile climb it seemed reasonable. However, Tiger’s challenge was, well, challenging. It ain’t birthday pretty hard.

On Utah Mountain Biking Dark Hollow is listed as a downhill trail. There isn’t a single mention of it being ridden uphill. This would have kept me off it if not for Tiger’s account. In fact, while he said it was hard his report didn’t sound too bad. Since it’s also a “must ride classic” I was expecting gentle meandering single track, perhaps tightly wound around Aspens. Instead, I was greeted with steep, loose rocks and dirt with big wide tire tracks, at least when it wasn’t mud or trees draped over the trail, or both.

Dark Hollow’s a big bike trail. While rideable on anything its forte is clearly for those who like to point it down and let er rip. Tiger’d ridden it on a light Moots hard tail, similar to what I was on, which while way less fun for the descent was crucial on the ascent since it’s easier to carry, and there was no shortage of bike portaging.

I spent most of the last 5 miles carrying my bike. If it weren’t for my Nepal race I would have bagged it. Not knowing how far I had to the summit, or if the trail would ever be more rideable, I wanted to turn around the entire time but was simply too intrigued about Tiger’s adventure not to keep going. “who would do this for fun?” I kept thinking over and over. It was the kind of shit they add to adventure races to make you hate them.

Near the end I finally hit some proper trail. It was beautiful, making me glad I’d persisted. And while the little adventure added to my overall fatigue it did kick me back into my default mode and out of the bizarre reality that comes from any trip to Vegas. And while I survived another Summit in reasonable fashion, one of this years I’m going to nail it and finish stronger than when I started.


  • thanks for the reminder that these events take a toll on your system too. It makes sense, too, that a hard ride would bring your body to homeostasis. But why? or how?

  • Awesome post Steve! I don't know whether to feel completely inadequate or absolutely stoked to plan a better trip to Summit next year. One bookended and perforated with balls to the wall fitness excursions.Thanks for making this year's Summit so incredible. Chapeau.#coachsummit

  • A hard ride is good for MY system but not necessarily everyones (more like necessarily not). This is because long physical outputs are so natural for me that it kind of resets my entire system as a default state. When you push yourself physically the body has no choice but to be efficient and, with me, I often just need exercise when everything else is running amok. The exercise analogy is true for everyone but too much overload can make things worse. I, however, revert to a steady aerobic state easily and have a massive capacity for endurance work after years and years of practice. But contrast socialized steadily day and night is causes stress, even if it doesn't feel stressful to do it. This is why I said your trip to Peru would likely do the same for you (assuming you're that Barbie) because you'll won't have the pressure of being "on" like you do at Summit. Exercise is my place where I'm able to shut out the world and relax and, thus, is what I do to reboot my system.

  • I mean socializING. If that is still muddy and I can go into more depth. I do have a post coming up analyzing why the "calories in, calories out" cliche is both true and misleading at the same time, which will go into some of the scientific principles at work here, so you'll want to look for that.

  • It was great to meet you at Summit. Something I've been looking forward to for a while. I'm glad I got a few minutes to pick your brain. I'll keep you up to speed on my Birthday Challenge planning.

  • Steve, great presentation in the core about the Beachbody Fitness pyramid. Any chance you could post that picture of the pyramid? I think it is a great tool to teach people how to work into the beachbody system and how they can graduate up to sports specific programs once that have their foundation intact!

  • Yes. Look for an upcoming post on it.

  • Yes. Look for an upcoming post on it.

  • thanks man!!

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