Thursday, May 17, 2007


I walked the half-mile to my substitute hotel last night (favorite place The Edgewater was full), my bags slowly carving a bruise into my shoulder. Ahh, the Waterfront Marriott. Maybe I'll go for a walk and enjoy the water view.

Nope. Their "reservation desk" made a mistake and overbooked the hotel by about 15 rooms. Apparently the American Association of Orthodontists is in town.

So they tell me they'll schlep me up to the Madison Renaissance up the hill. Way up the hill. Friggin' fantastic. No nice walk on the waterfront for me. Room on the 6th floor. Not bad, but noisy as hell. Went to bed early, slept in late.

Today I just feel blue.

Various deserving co-workers are getting multiple promotions. Assorted colleagues are having great success in their musical endeavors. And that is great. They have all worked hard, or at least worked, to achieve these goals.

I work hard, too. Sometimes. But these sorts of things are not unfolding for me. Lately I feel like I'm not getting anywhere, or not getting there fast enough. Or something.

I was programmed early on to be competitive, to be the best, and have spent a good portion of my life trying to unwind some of that. Per Chapter 22 of the Tao Te Ching:
Because he competes with no one, no one can compete with him
I have that posted in my office and think about it a lot. Of course, at times I just consider it the ultimate winning strategy, which means that I'm still competing at heart. But most of the time I really try to embrace its true meaning and let go.

It is a daily challenge. I am so used to beating on problems as intensely as I can. Sometimes the best solution is to just do nothing.

All I know is that right now, I feel like this.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Am I overtraining?

Recently I've been dealing with some minor physical complaints - my left leg's vastus lateralis muscle has been sort of tight, achy, and just "not right". Sometimes when I'm in bed trying to sleep it spasms and keeps me from falling asleep. And it seems like my sleeping has been off - had a hard time falling asleep, and either not getting much or having a hard time waking up.

This morning when I woke up at 5 am to catch my Seattle flight, my upper chest was dripping with sweat, having left a lovely 4" diameter sweat mark on the sheets.

I just haven't felt "right" lately. I was chalking it up to Claritin and allergies, which have been hammering me for the last few weeks. But I made myself stop taking Claritin a week or two ago and haven't felt any better.

Looking back over a bunch of draft posts for this particular blog, I see topics and notes like "What do I want to accomplish with my life?" and "What am I doing?". Clearly, I am not happy. A far cry from early March.

I've been working hard at a bunch of projects at work and at home. I've also been continuing to try and stay in shape. But I haven't seen much improvement lately (even some decline). Feels like I've been living underwater.

In poking around asking my friend the Internet, I have started to think maybe I am overtraining.

Workout Symptoms
  • Usual workouts feel more difficult (can't say, been changing things up. It's always hard)
  • Early fatigue during workouts (same)
  • Increased heart rate even though not working as hard (haven't been monitoring)
  • Decreased strength (a bit)
  • Decreased coordination (not sure)
  • Physical challenges seem too hard (oh yeah)
  • Decreased performance on strength, speed, or endurance testing (yup)
Physical Symptoms
  • Persistent fatigue (yes, but I feel like I'm always tired anyhow)
  • Ongoing muscle soreness (not much)
  • Loss of appetite (yes and no)
  • Increased aches and pains (yes)
  • Increase in overuse injuries (yes)
  • Frequent colds or infections (nope)
Nonphysical Symptoms
  • Difficulty sleeping (yes)
  • Feelings of irritation or anger (yes, unfortunately for my friends, family, and colleagues)
  • Feelings of depression (yes)
  • Lack of motivation (OH yes)
  • Fear of competition (I still don't fear competition)
  • Difficulty concentrating (what? Sorry, I wasn't paying attention. Yes)
  • Increased sensitivity to emotional stress (some)
I suppose at any given point during the last few months or years I might have answered "yes" to many of these items as well, but lately it seems worse. It's just like the color saturation of life has been dialed down a bit. The list just seems to resonate.

Maybe I need to take some time off from the gym. I've been basically trying to go every single day I could stand to go, and hitting it hard when I'm there, sometimes doing "bonus" cardio work if I felt like I hadn't been enough in a given week.

Like many other things in my life, I've probably been expecting too much (of myself and the world) and going overboard. Then again, maybe I'm just being lazy. Maybe it's all in my head?

So what to do? Overtraining is dealt with by resting and some "alternative training". Even the thought of it makes me nervous. I'm in Seattle now, I brought my running shoes (which certainly need replacing) with me so I could work out. 40 minutes of hardcore intervals, baby!

Maybe that anxiety/upset over potentially "slacking off" is indication enough that I'm burned out.

I wish I had someone I could bounce this off of who could relate (Isaac?) - but like many other pursuits in my life, I'm pretty sure I'm all alone here - I don't think any of my friends work out or exercise regularly, or at the level and intensity that I do (Joi?). Even talking about "overtraining" would result in laughter for most of them.

Regardless, I need me some serious sports medicine leg massage. And maybe a bourbon.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Review: Ultimate Ears

I don't shill. Never have, never will. I only suggest things to my cohort if I actually like and use them. So I'll start documenting some of those things here.

First off: Ultimate Ears Super.Fi headphones. I got a pair of these for free several months ago, and I love them. These are in-ear headphones - they actually slide into your ear canal - with silicone rubber earpieces. They are very small, and provide very good isolation.

Those last two points are critical for me - I've been doing a lot of traveling and this has typically meant lugging 2 pair of additional headphones. One "noise-cancelling" set for the plane rides, one "normal" set of Sony StreetStyle cans for regular walking around (the noise-cancelling 'phones are enormous, not that good, and require their own battery!).

The Ultimate Ears have replaced everything. They fit in a tiny metal box not much bigger than an Altoids case. Their isolation is so good that they remove the need for any noise cancelling. And because the drivers are so close to your ear, they don't suck up a ton of power.

They also sound really, really good, if a bit bass-shy. There are fancier versions one can purchase that have better bass response, but hey, these were free, and a little "custom EQ" on the ol' MP3 player fixes that right up. They are some of the clearest headphones I've ever used, and in my 20+ years of making music, I've tried a lot.

They're also not entirely suitable for working out, as the fit is so tight that foot impacts cause conduction noise - the vibration from your feet/body shakes the earpiece which shakes the air in your ear canal. It's not awful, but I'll stick to my "workout" headphones.

Note also that some people really hate the feeling of having things stuck in their ear canal, and it takes some experimentation to find out which of the 4 types of plugs they ship the headphones with work best for you.

Regardless, I liked these so much, I gave sets as gifts last Christmas.

Highly recommended.