Saturday, September 26, 2015

How To Retire at 30

Note: Just discovered this in my archives - it's ~15 years old. I worked on it for a long time, super hard with back n forth edits - I was trying to get it into Men's Fitness where you earn a few grand for a short article, but it never made it in. So it makes the blog instead!

How To Retire At 30
By Brad Kearns

My first real job after college graduation was as a lowly staff auditor for the world’s largest accounting firm. Ten years later, I was retired. Not as a big shot CPA, but as a professional triathlete. What was it like to trade security, salary, and a business suit for a bathing suit? Well, when I went fast, it was great. I got to travel around the world and stay in beautiful resorts for free. There was substantial prize money and notoriety for winning races. Companies actually paid me to use their cool stuff. I could scoff at my miserable peers, slaving away for corporate America, making less money in a month than I made in 1 hour and 50 minutes of doing something I loved while people cheered.

Of course that was when I went fast. Sometimes I went slow. Or got disqualified from a eight hour race (that I won by 15 minutes) for running a stop sign. Or broke a pedal while leading another race. Or got sick, tired, or injured and had to watch someone else win. After nine years of piling up memories like those I realized it was time to hang it up. Of course it wasn’t that easy. I had to have the concept of the “R” word beaten into my head from all sides for me to take notice and do something about it.

Looking back, it's hard to blame myself. Winning is intoxicating; the confidence and sense of well-being I got from reaching the top of my profession clouded my view of reality. But gazing into the mirror and accepting my own athletic mortality was perhaps a more valuable lesson than anything I learned when I was victorious. When I was finally able to embrace the end of my career, I felt as ready for the real world as anyone who had slaved in it for the entire ten years I was avoiding it.

The second level of sell that kept me swimming, pedaling and running for ten years was my brief exposure to the real world after college graduation. Call me strange, but as a kid I dreamt of becoming a professional quarterback, not a Certified Public Accountant. The quarterback dream lasted until I was 12, when I got my first crack at tackle football. My 77-pound frame got crushed repeatedly in practice and rarely saw game time. My NFL dreams were soon replaced by delusions of running in the Olympics.

However deluded, I still hadn’t found anything to replace the power and allure of the career goal I’d had in some form since age seven. I decided to get my CPA, then go to law school, bribing the dream out of my consciousness with big bucks. What was I thinking? By the time I got my college diploma I had no idea. I decided to shun the CPA scene, especially after not impressing the on-campus recruiters enough to get a single job offer. I think it was those darn first impressions. I didn’t see the need to wear the strongly recommended business suit just for an interview; I’ll buy a suit after you hire me buddy!

So I sold frozen yogurt machines. More accurately, I drove for three months in heat, smog and traffic all over the Los Angeles basin trying to sell a frozen soft serve non-dairy dessert called Yodolo and the accompanying machine. Even though this was the ‘80's - the heyday of frozen yogurt - I didn’t sell a single unit. Motivation flagging, my boss set up a meeting with a star associate of his who was averaging 2.3 Yodolo sales a week. After a brilliant and inspiring pep talk, he then explained that his 2.3 sales per week at a thousand bucks a pop were barely enough to live on, due to the high cost of “babes and blow, man; the money’s gone before you know it.”

Soon after the pep talk, I bought a suit, crawled back to the accounting firms with my tail between my legs and secured the auditor position in downtown Los Angeles. I knew I was in trouble on the first day. Orientation was so boring that I could barely keep my eyes open; my fellow recruits were taking copious notes on riveting subjects like the firm’s retirement plan. Retirement plan....No, don’t go gently into that good night! I raged by getting serious with my triathlon training, waking at 5 AM to run before work and then swimming after work. As I pondered my future in gridlock traffic for two hours every day, my fantasy of a professional triathlon career appeared less and less ludicrous.

Intoxicated by 8 AM from freeway carbon monoxide, I spent workdays performing legendary tasks like photo copying for eight straight hours, double-checking a computer printout of bank account balances for 20 hours (somebody’s got to do it, he’s an auditor), and running errands for my superiors. I think the only reason that I had to wear a suit instead of a cap and overalls was that they were billing my time out at $65 per hour.

The last straw came on a Friday evening of Valentines Day. My two female superiors and I were working like crazy to finish a two-week audit job at a bank. My girlfriend arranged for a delivery of balloons to the bank, an event that distressed my bosses on seemingly too many levels. Highly motivated by sympathy, I brought them a small Valentine’s gift after lunch. One of them said, “Thanks, but bear in mind that this will have no affect whatsoever on your P-66 (employee evaluation).” The two Chips-On-Their-Shoulders and I finally finished around 9 PM. Dinner plans with my girlfriend were shot when the Chips ordered me to drop off a dozen file boxes at the firm’s downtown offices. The Chips rushed out and I was left , in the pouring rain, to stuff every inch of my car with these boxes.

The six-mile trip took 45 minutes. Our firm’s temporary parking garage was a quarter-mile away from our new offices. Each trip along the outdoor walkway to the office building left me and the cardboard boxes drenched. On my final trip, the dolly hit a bump and the boxes and contents went flying all over the puddle-filled sidewalk. Cramming everything into what was left of the rain-soaked, tattered boxes, I headed straight for the office of one of the Chips, dumped the soaking boxes and headed back out into the rain.

Monday I called my boss to give him two-weeks notice. He couldn’t schedule me for a week and a half, so when the meeting came I announced: “I’m quitting Friday.” “Friday the uh, fourth of April?” “No, Friday.”


Eight months later, as a struggling, unknown rookie pro, I upset #1-ranked duathlete (Kenny Souza) and #1 ranked triathlete in the world (Scott Molina) in the same race for my first pro victory. That and other highlights surpassed anything I had ever imagined. So did the financial, physical and emotional hardships I endured over the course of my career. Dreams may not always end up as you want them to, but that isn't the point. What’s important is to chase them with all your might.

November 1986 Desert Princess World Championship Duathlon Series race #1: No clothes, no sponsors, no competition on this particular day...

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Runnin' in the 50's at 50!

You may know I turned the big 5-0 back in Feb, so I want to challenge the aging process with some track&field efforts. Placer High School just installed a brand new track, which I broke in today with a 400-meter effort in 59.8 seconds. Not an easy effort to do solo, although my dog Stu was there to trip and faceplant me at the finish line.




This YouTube is from 400m attempt #2, trying to improve my time, but landing at 60.18 instead -ouch!

** 

Back in March, I cleared 5'3" (1.60 meters) in the high jump, qualifying for USA Masters Track&Field All-American standard and (unofficially, not from a meet) matching a tie for 12th on this year's outdoor list. Here is a 5'2" clearance from March on video. Here are the 2015 USA National outdoor rankings for old guys. Next up for me is the World Speedgolf Championships in Chicago, Oct 19-20. I am looking to improve upon my 20th place finish in the pro division last year in Oregon. 





I am inspired by other longtime friends who are still performing magnificent athletic feats. Here some of them (at right in photo) are pictured after an epic pool basketball battle versus three high school varsity superstar athletes (at left in photo) from Northern California. The old guys pictured are also preparing for the annual Extreme Sports Camp, a weekend battle royale in 11 different sports to crown the best jewish or goyim athletes in west Los Angeles over age 40.


Another guy who is defying the laws of aging and gravity in assorted water sports, from competitive curling, to skeleton to wake surfing is Ray "Big George" Sidney, Prime Minister of Lake Tahoe. He makes the very difficult sport of wakesurfing to look easy, even with a dog involved, on this video: Big George Wakesurf's Lake Tahoe


Hopefully those of you in the advancing age groups are starting to think more and more about delaying the aging process and reducing disease risk factors that have become all too common in modern society. Check out this post, Brad's Primal Style Anti-Aging Tips, for an overview of the primal philosophy and a detailed discussion of my diet, exercise and lifestyle routines. 




Brad's Primal Style Anti-Aging Tips



Following are details of my personal diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits, and an overview of the principles of the Primal Blueprint and the evolutionary health movement. In 2008, I started working on The Primal Blueprint book and movement with Mark Sisson. I immediately transitioned away from the Standard American Diet (SAD) high in complex carbs to a Primal eating pattern that is comparatively very low carb and high in healthy fats. Emphasis is on natural, wholesome plant and animal foods that fueled human evolution: meat, fish, fowl, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Concurrently, I ditched my lifelong emphasis on endurance training to pursue more broad and health-promoting fitness goals. 

OVERVIEW of primal lifestyle tips (details follow)
  1. Eat primally: Ditch processed carbs in favor of nutritious primal foods, especially healthy fats.
  2. Move around more: Walk places, take frequent breaks, do structured cardio workouts at a comfortable pace of ~75% of max heart rate or less. 
  3. Use it or lose it: Include brief, high-intensity strength workouts 2x/week and all-out sprints 1x per 7-10 days. Preserve muscle mass, reduce body fat, and delay aging.
  4. Sleep/relax: Align your sleep habits with your circadian rhythm. Dark, mellow evenings; natural, energetic mornings. Alert: minimize digital screen use after dark! Find times during the day&week to relax instead of go go go.

DIET
  1. Ditch grains and sugars: Pro-inflammatory, accelerate aging, promote fat storage. This will minimize insulin production, the #1 health risk of the Standard American Diet. 
  2. Ditch vegetable oils and processed boxed/packaged/frozen foods: Pro-inflammatory, causing free radical reactions, accelerated aging, and cancer.
  3. Emphasize primal foods: Meat, fish, fowl, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts & seeds. Very low carb (no sugars or grains) and high in healthy fats (by comparison to SAD).
  4. Flexible: When you become fat adapted instead of carb dependent, your meal habits can become more sporadic. Intermittent Fasting optimizes fat metabolism, enhances cellular repair, and delays aging. 

Primal Blueprint philosophy counters the "diet" concept of prescribed meals and regimented schedule. Caloric intake and meal choices can vary wildly each day. Meals are predominantly fat and stimulate minimal insulin response, keeping my energy, blood sugar, and appetite stable all day, even when meals are skipped/missed.

My eating routine: Morning smoothie w/ coconut milk, protein powder, avocado, fresh produce, frozen fruit - macronutrient balanced, high antioxidant. Sometimes a late breakfast of eggs and bacon or just dark chocolate macadamia nut bark busted out around midday. Afternoon or evening large salads with vegetables, meat, nuts and olive oil dressing. General effort to find grassfed or organic animals, wild caught fish, locally grown or organic produce. Total elimination of all grains (wheat, rice, pasta, corn, and all derivatives), sugars/sweets and sweetened beverages. Beverage of choice is water or Kombucha sparkling probiotic drink. Snacks of coconut or macadamia nut butter and dark chocolate.

My macronutrient profile:

~66% fat (grassfed meat/fish/fowl/eggs, coconut products, macadamia nuts&nut butter, olive oil, avocados, dark chocolate)
~20% protein (1g/lb of lean body mass is the goal. Easily accomplished when animal products are emphasized)
~14% carb (under 150 grams/600 calories per day is the critical Primal goal. Easily accomplished when all grains and sugars are eliminated. This amounts to heaping servings of vegetables and moderate intake of fruit, only when in season)

If you wonder if you are eating too many carbs, chart what you eat on a notepad for a day or two, trying to measure or estimate quantities as best you can, then visit fitday.com and input your data. It will generate a nice report with macronutrient and caloric breakdowns. 

EXERCISE
For the past 10 years, I have modified my fitness regimen away from narrow endurance focus (including the extremely health-destructive chronic cardio training regimen that I followed as an elite competitor for 15 years) to a more balanced regimen featuring comfortable aerobic workouts (i.e., jogging daily with dogs), regular brief, intense strength training sessions , and occasional all-out sprints:

My fitness routine:
1. Daily very comfortable jogging (HR 130 bpm max) of ~:30 min with dogs
2. Brief strength training sessions lasting from 5-20 minutes, 2-3 days/week. Extremely high intensity full-body exercises (Schlepmo type-stuffgo hard or go home!) in gym or outdoors.
3. Occasional all-out sprints (Schlepmo style). ~3x/month and usually just 4 x 100 meters on grass, along with 10 minutes of quite challenging technique drills.

Lifestyle
Insufficient sleep ranks right up there with crappy diet as the #1 modern lifestyle health offense. Avoid excess artificial light and digital stimulation in the evenings. Using f.lux (download at stereopsis.com if you insist on working on computer after dark), yellow lens sunglasses, and orange "bug" light bulbs (home depot or lowes). Goal is to create as dark and mellow an environment as possible in the hours leading up to bed. This will trigger Dim Light Melatonin Onset, a genetically programmed response where we become sleepy soon after dark in alignment with our circadian rhythms. 

Introducing excess artificial light and digital stimulation after dark suppresses melatonin, elevates stress hormones, increases sugar cravings, and compromises optimal cycling through all phases of sleep. This in turn compromises immune function (healthy intestinal flora flourishes at night, while you sleep; as does cell repair and recovery from stress of daily life). Lights Out - Sleep, Sugar, and Survival, a fantastic book on the subject, recommends we all sleep 9.5 hours per night in the winter, and can get away with 8 hours per night in the summer.

My goal in sharing this information is to garner awe from my fan base as well as inspire and hopefully assist you with achieving personal health and fitness goals. Please contact me if you have any questions or further interest!