Nude Numbers 39

Nude Numbers are my weekly progress reports on my fitness goals. See About Running Naked for the philosophies involved.

Summary

Week 17 of the winter plan. One week to go, and the results are: missed the swim goal, hit the strength goal, and within spitting distance of the weight-gain goals.

Subjective Data

This was a light lifting week, and coupled with some schedule pressures, I missed my weight room time on Friday and my Saturday morning workout (long night…). Still, felt pretty okay for the week.

I did cut back on running as I promised — substituting a tough hill workout on Thursday for my long run — and my foot feels a little better now. I also re-laced my right shoe to take pressure off the top of the foot and we’ll see if that works.

On the advice of a friend, my (limited) swim workouts this week were all at a slow pace and focused on drilling. I’m going to try the same next week to see if I can get any gains that way.

Objective Data

Blue lines == actuals; Gray areas == my target range for that week.

Assessment

This was a very light week, but I didn’t have time to make my Spring plan. That needs to happen next week :) I found that the swimming drills were peaceful at least, and while I didn’t do as much ‘yardage’, I was much less frustrated and felt more balanced in the water. Of course, it could just be wishful thinking.

Plan

I need to create my spring plan, so I’ll try (again) to get that out for next week. I have officially switched to my maintenance diet, so hopefully body fat figures should start falling week over week to cut out the fat gained while I “bulked” for winter.

As for the upcoming week, it’s another light week: 35%, 15-rep, 5-set, 45″ rest in the weight room, and hopefully an increase in swimming, running and biking time over prior weeks.

Reminders

I’m planning to try (again) for the NYC Marathon in November. If you’re interested in running either with me, let me know. Also, if anyone is interested in doing the Philly Triathlon (June) with me, or the Marin Century (August) with me, you’re welcome to join the team!

Presentation Notes

These notes are always presented in SOAP Note format. Click here for all the Nude Numbers posts.

Thanks for reading.

- Art

Nude Numbers 38

Nude Numbers are my weekly progress reports on my fitness goals. See About Running Naked for the philosophies involved.

Summary

Week 16 of the winter plan. Two weeks to go, but at this point I think we can start seeing how my goals will likely shape up….

Subjective Data

J and I had a weekend getaway in the Poconos this weekend (Friday-Sunday) and as a result, I wasn’t able to make it to the gym those days. I subbed in running on Saturday for swimming and spinning.

My running mileage was way up this week as a result of that, and now the top of my right foot is a little sore. Saturday’s 3-mile run was on a ridge overlooking the Delaware River, which was my first time doing hill running since my injury.

This was a hard lifting week (85%/4-rep/5-set/45″ rest), and my lifting ability at that level was pretty low. By my 5th sets on Monday and Wednesday I was dying. I didn’t get a chance to lift on Friday due to the trip to the Poconos, but truth be told I was in no condition to lift anyway.

Objective Data

Blue lines == actuals; Gray areas == my target range for that week.

Assessment

The trip to the Poconos screwed up my Friday and Saturday workouts, and hence my numbers; on the bright side, I got a run, a fun hike, and some yoga in during the trip.

This weekend I took a moment to step back and look at the winter plan. I blew my strength goal out of the water. My weight gain is at the low end of acceptable (and had I not gotten the flu, I’d be on track there). But my swimming is way off. As I said last week, I know I’m going to miss that goal (1,000 yards w/o stopping) for 3/31.

But my ability to hit goals week on week was pretty mixed. I think I bit off more than I could chew, and when pushed came to shove, I spent more time on the weight-training (which I was doing well at) than the swimming (which I’m struggling with).

<vent>That’s a little disappointing and frustrating. I can run 7 miles easily; I can spin all day; I can lift better than any time in my life. But after 100-yards in a pool I’m spluttering and need 3-4 minutes to get my breath back. </vent>

Now, what do I do about that…

Plan

I had originally planned to adjust my numbers for a spring plan this week, but I realize I need to do more research on what’s reasonable. I know that I overshot in my goals for the winter plan, and would like to do a better job of concentrating effort for the spring plan.

The big goal is complete the Olympic distance tri in June, so swimming needs to take priority. I’m extremely worried about my ability to do an open-water 1-mile (1,760 yard) swim, even if wearing a wetsuit. Plus, there is a significant chance that I may have to withdraw because of logistics; J and I are moving cross-country the week after the triathlon and may need that weekend for movers, etc.

But, even if I end up having to withdraw because of logistics, I want to train as though I’m still going through with it. So I expect my goals will have a swimming, a running and a biking component with some weight-training, and a goal to main weight at current levels through June/30.

I’m going to try to find some good tri-training materials this weekend. If anyone reading this has some recommendations let me know at aclarke (at) abclarke.com. I’ll try to have the spring plan posted and be working against it by 4/1.

For the upcoming week: it’s a 30% (woo-hoo!)/15-rep/5-set/45″ rest week. I’m going to cut out running completely this week if there is any pain on my left foot by Thursday. If I’m pain free, I’m going to shorten my long-run anyway (drop from 7 to 5) and try to add in a short run on Saturday as well.

Lastly, I plan to make spring finally arrive in NYC this week; I’ll let you know how that goes.

Reminders

I’m planning to try (again) for the NYC Marathon in November. If you’re interested in running either with me, let me know. Also, if anyone is interested in doing the Philly Triathlon (June) with me, or the Marin Century (August) with me, you’re welcome to join the team!

Presentation Notes

These notes are always presented in SOAP Note format. Click here for all the Nude Numbers posts.

Thanks for reading.

- Art

In Defense of Free Trade


The Context

Recently there was a discussion about free-trade on a mailing list of Caltech alumni that I subscribe to. Part of the discussion actually got me riled up for a rant which I forwarded to the list, and thought I’d post here for good measure as well to spread the debate.

My response was to an e-mail suggesting that “unilaterally violating the WTO treaty” may be the only example the writer could think of where doing that would actually be good for the US (versus unilaterally violating the ABM and Kyoto treaties for example).

The Rant

I’m not convinced that “unilaterally violating” the WTO would be “good for the planet”.  As you mention, there is some evidence that “WTO-related programs have been good for the standard of living in” parts of the world that are less well off than the US on average.  There is also evidence that the free-trade programs have resulted in a “rising-tides raise all boats” phenomenon where the AVERAGE world citizen has seen their lot improve under the regime.  In fact, you are right to state that for the first 200 years the US levied tariffs, but it was with the US’s gradual loosening of tariffs and integration and promotion of free-trade that led to the meteoric rise of the US economy on the world stage (starting the in the early 1900′s and accelerating through Breton-Woods and the 60′s).

But as you point out here’s the rub: While the AVERAGE world citizen has seen their lot improve in the most recent spat of globalization (post 1960), there are some who were previously many standard deviations above average who have seen their lot fall, and yes, those people are the folks predominantly in OECD countries, especially with a focus on unskilled labor.  In other words, US manufacturing and farming workers (a.k.a Hillary’s core demographic).  And without change of some sort, it increases the likelihood that “our kids” will be less well off than us; a first for the US.

Yikes.  What are we to do?

Well, I see essentially four options:
1) Roll-back the free-trade regime under the cover of “it’s unfair to US workers”.

I question the moral correctness of this.  I can just as validly state this option as “continue to support policies that promote huge global inequity in order to ensure US economic dominance.”  Yes, it’s politically popular, but that doesn’t make it right.

2) Keep your pro-free-trade rhetoric but soften it by saying “we need to make sure other countries are fair to their workers by ensuring that other countries have to adhere to the same strict labor, environmental, and anti-monopolistic rules we have.”

This at the surface level deals with the moral problems of #1, but has the same effect, as it allows us to penalize free-traders who don’t run by those rules.  Labor rules in the US took years to evolve and are very US-specific.  Labor relations in other countries tend to develop their own local methods in order to be effective.  It’s naive and wrong to expect our rules work for other countries, and frankly the labor rules that WILL evolve in foreign countries are far more likely to be effective when promoted and fought for by the lower and middle-classes there.  This argument is usually promoted by interests in developed countries purely as a way to protect the developed country, not in the honest desire to improve the lot of the underdeveloped.

Both these options are in the roll-back the free-trade trends of the past fifty years, the second being much more subtle about it.

However, there are powerful forces pushing for free-trade, even if they don’t know they are.  The singles biggest force is not Walmart, or the WTO, or large multi-national-companies.  It’s the folks (like you and me) who, regardless of how much we talk about hating free-trade, continue to look for the cheapest goods we can find and hence do business with those entities.  It’s the folks who have come to accept that clothing should be such a small part of our yearly budget (while clothing prices may appear expensive, as a % of household spending, clothing has fallen drastically over the past 30 years).  It’s the people, some of who make loud noises bashing the era of globalization, but then vote with their wallets to keep breaking down trade barriers.  Now, you should say we should start a movement convincing people to not do this, but I think that’s doomed to fail.  I grew up on a small poor farm in a remote part of Ireland, and I know how much every $ matters when you’re trying to make ends meet.

That’s not to say that going all-free-trade all-the-time is the way to go.  Now the pro-free trade options I see are:

3) Keep going with free-trade as is, recognize that the US will decline from average, but just accept that because it’s morally right.

On this stance, I agree that, if the US went along with it, it would lead to lower income inequality in the world.  And I firmly believe lower income inequality is a good thing.

However, there are many legitimate reasons to suspect the US would not just accede.  You can see already the US starting to pull back from free-trade through increasing protectionist rhetoric and thoughts (much like Jacob’s starting idea).  To me this is worrying for the world but not necessarily frightening.

No what frightens me about this option is that left as is, the US’s relative economic-might would decline in a free-trade world (already happening) but it’s military might would not decline at the same time and in the same proportion.  Much like the Roman empire’s economic-power began to be less Italy-centered around the time of Caesar, it’s hard for me to expect the US to not react by using it’s military might to maintain control of resources of other people   I don’t think this outcome is that unlikely, and it just takes a series of relatively small individual political recalibrations to end up there.  I’ll point out that the Roman people considered that their army was helping spread the rule of law and moral rightness when they invaded countries, similar to our view that a US invasion of Iraq would lead towards “freedom” and “democracy” just taking root.

Which brings me to my fourth option:
4) Recognize that free-trade is overall good for the world, that economic incentives will continue to push us towards that, but that left to the free-hand of the market would likely lead to a less stable world in the short term.  Therefore a more controlled “freeing” is required.

This is the approach that leads me to my current view of what to do with free-trade.  I would like to find some way to maintain the “rising tide rises all boats” rule, but minimize or slow down the rate of the US’s “race to the average.” 

First, the US should position itself to win in the new free-trade and free-movement of intellect world of the future by cornering the market in high-intellect high-margin services.  This is the work that is less easily commoditizable, and the work that today gives the highest economic margins.  And it’s an area that the US is still well positioned to win in.

And secondly, the WTO should invest in retraining or welfare services for those political classes that are left out (apple farmers in WA come to mind), and other countries, even developing countries, should also contribute to a the WTO-fund to help support this (for political cover).  In this way, there is some way to control, or brake, the pain.  The one important tweak I’d make to this rule is that WTO payments cannot go to the children of people who are disenfranchised through free-trade related job-loss; those folks have time to retrain.

Unfortunately we have taken a step back from leading in this area in a few ways: after 9/11 by severely restricting visa input of the best foreign intellects and by becoming increasingly anti-immigrant; starting in the 70′s by passing laws like Proposition 13 (which effectively reduced school funding) and by promoting “equality” rather than “competitiveness” in our school system; and lastly by the rise (accelerating in the 80′s) of promoting the culture of individualistic gain that encourages our best and brightest to see wall-street and silicon-valley careers as “high achievement” rather than public service such as government and teaching.

These are all reversible, but require brave political leaders in the US who recognize that short term pain, for the sake of world-peace and moral-fairness, must be endured.   It also requires pragmatism and patience from leaders in developing countries to see that the moral rightness of reducing inequality must be balanced against the necessity of “the mighty” feeling they weren’t treated too unfairly.

Alas, as I watch the current election cycle, and as I listen to the rhetoric coming from developing countries in the mostly-dead Doha free-trade negotiations round, I fear the consequences of not dealing with the short term pain are going to be avoided, which increases to me the likelihood of much harsher pain for the world in the decades to come.

On the bright side, I’m often wrong :)

- Art

Nude Numbers 37

Nude Numbers are my weekly progress reports on my fitness goals. See About Running Naked for the philosophies involved.

Summary

Week 15 of the winter plan. This week I discovered the flu took a lot more out of me than I thought, and have admitted that I’ll miss my swimming goal by at least a month. Read on for more.

Subjective Data

This was the first week back after the flu, and wow things were really hard. I had intense time pressures from work and some volunteer commitments that made me miss some swimming sessions, but the real reason the numbers were low this week was I felt weak and unmotivated every time I was at the gym. I’m chalking it up the post-flu fatigue for now.

Objective Data

Blue lines == actuals; Gray areas == my target range for that week.

Assessment

The flu wiped more out of me than I thought. Take a look at the weight loss numbers for one (a -3 lb loss). That coupled with my higher-rep/more-set/lower-rest weight routine this week knocked me out. I cut swimming and spinning on Tuesday and Saturday partly due to time pressures, but mostly due to feeling sore and worn out.

I did however start to feel better towards the end of the week, so I’m thinking I just need to be patient and keep at this.

As for the goals, I may now miss my weight goal of 168 by 3/31, and I’m definitely missing my swim 1,000 yards by 3/31 goal.

Plan

I’m also going to move my swimming goal from 3/31 to 4/30.

I’m going to drop the weight-gain goal because I need to transition to tri-training over weight-gain, and my weight will become whatever it becomes as I go there. That said I’m going to stay at a calorie-maintenance level or slightly above while training for the tri, so I may gain weight anyway.

And I’m going to continue lifting because that’s the right thing to do for tri-training anyway, although I may drop the hours I shoot for each week. This week is 85%, 4-Rep, 5 Set, 45″ rest.

I’ll adjust plan numbers next week.

Reminders

I’m still undecided between running a marathon in New York (November) or in Dublin Ireland. If you’re interested in running either with me, let me know. I’m not going to decide until around April. Also, if anyone is interested in doing the Philly Triathlon (June) with me, you’re welcome to join the team!

Presentation Notes

These notes are always presented in SOAP Note format. Click here for all the Nude Numbers posts.

Thanks for reading.

- Art

Nude Numbers 36

Nude Numbers are my weekly progress reports on my fitness goals. See About Running Naked for the philosophies involved.

Summary

Week 14 of the winter plan. The story of last week: Flu. I got hit hard on Sunday and didn’t even venture outside again until Wednesday. Based on that, I took the entire week off to make sure I could recover. Note to those who haven’t gotten the flu this season; don’t get it. The flu sucks much more than a cold.

Subjective Data

Not much to say here beyond I got the flu, but was good and took the entire week off to recover.

Objective Data

Blue lines == actuals; Gray areas == my target range for that week.

Assessment

Well, not much I can say on the training, but have to face facts; it looks like I’ll miss my swimming goal by at least 3-4 weeks. I’m still not calling it, but it’s hard to imagine I can somehow gain enough swimming endurance to go 1,000 yards without stopping (given that 125 yards without stopping is my current record).

My weight gain period is now over, and the plan is to go to a maintenance (but not cutting) diet. This means no more ice cream and cookies. Boo hoo.

Plan

I’m going to try getting back to the gym and see how things go. The weight training plan is 50% of max, 15 reps, 5 sets and 45 seconds rest. I imagine that’ll suck.

Reminders

I’m still undecided between running a marathon in New York (November) or in Dublin Ireland. If you’re interested in running either with me, let me know. I’m not going to decide until around April. Also, if anyone is interested in doing the Philly Triathlon (June) with me, you’re welcome to join the team!

Presentation Notes

These notes are always presented in SOAP Note format. Click here for all the Nude Numbers posts.

Thanks for reading.

- Art