March 29, 2014
Podcast from: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/fitness-podcasts/minimalist-triathlon-training-program/
[00:00] About Mark Moses
[06:05] Mark's Challenging Tasks
[17:12] On the Tabata Workout
[20:48] On the Sufferfest Routines
[22:54] Mark's Suggested Workout
[25:15] Mark's Nutritional Needs
[29:30] Mark's Journey Lesson
[33:45] End of the Podcast
Ben: Hey folks, it's Ben Greenfield here, and today on the call, I have Mark Moses from markmoses.net. Now Mark coaches 26 of the world's top entrepreneurs, CEOs and companies on how to grow their businesses, how to grow their people, how to elevate their performance and the guy is all over the place. He travels around the world speaking at conferences and events. He started his first company when he was 19, and since then, he's successfully build and sold two companies. He won Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year award, he also won the Blue Chip Enterprise award for overcoming adversity. His last company ranked number one fastest growing company in LA, and it was number 10 on the Ink 500 of the fastest growing private companies in the US. He serves on the board of the Children's Hospital at Orange County and just accomplishes a ton of stuff in terms of the success of his business, but his accomplishments don't really stop there because Mark also won the U.S. National Squash Championships in 1992 and then moved on to a completely different beast. He's completed 12 Ironman Triathlon since then. He's completed the Hawaii Ironman World Championships five times, and folks, when it comes to knowing how to combine success in business with success in fitness and staying in killer shape while still making money and running a successful career at the same time, this guy knows his stuff, so Mark, thank you so much for coming on the call today, man.
Mark: Ben that was a nice introduction, thank you.
Ben: Well there's so many places that we could start, but I'm curious. When it comes to all the success that you've had in your business, what drew you to do something like an Ironman triathlon?
Mark: It's a great question, I had often been training for a marathon, and as I got deep into the marathon process, I had always found myself with shin splinters, calf issues, and one day I was walking in my office, and somebody had a photo that looked like they were crossing the finish line. I said, “Oh, you've done a marathon. Congratulations, that's really cool.” I've been trying to train for one but keep getting injured, and she said, “No pal, that was an Ironman.” And we kept talking about Ironman, and she talked me into signing up for a sprint triathlon. I didn't even own a bike, she arranged to find me a bike on eBay, we bought the bike, and three weeks later, I did my first sprint triathlon which was one of those ones that goes in reverse order, and you swim a hundred and fifty yards in the pool at the end.
Ben: Wow, that almost sounds dangerous to throw the swim in at the end.
Mark: Well it's a pretty short race, but the pool swim was kind of nutty. It was good experience, so that's how I got into triathlon, and it just became very addictive. I really liked it, and this was March of 2004 and I was 39, and in later that year, my son had a brain tumor. It was a pretty challenging time in our lives. I got inspired by my son's recovery. He was four at the time and decided I wanted to do something outrageous to thank the doctors for saving his life, so I decided that I would sign up for an Ironman and raise a bunch of money for the children's hospital of Orange County. And the first race, I raised a hundred and ten thousand dollars, and over the years, I've helped raise over three hundred thousand dollars for the children's hospital. So it's made me feel good, and that's how I got drawn into Ironman.
Ben: Wow, that's amazing, and I think that's something that I think a lot of people don't really do is think about something, maybe bigger outside of themselves when training for Ironman. Do you think that is something that almost helped you stick with it and stay motivated was kind of going after that goal that was a little bit more than just crossing the finish line?
Mark: Well that's absolutely true, Ben. It's interesting because as I was going through the training and sucking down these big rides, it was tough doing the hundred milers and I hadn't ridden a bike since high school so this is a whole new experience. Then of course the running injuries and plantar fasciitis, but because I had made this commitment to raise money for the hospital I was in regardless. So I was doing it despite the injuries, and you know what? Because I was doing it for a cause and I got all my buddies behind me and I was doing it in honor of my son, just the whole experience just made it just truly awesome.
Ben: Yeah, wow. So you know you've gone on from there, you've done obviously 11 more races, you've done the Ironman World Championship several times, and you're running all these businesses as well. So for you, what have you found to be some of the biggest challenges for a successful guy like you to still stay in swimming, biking and running shape?
Mark: I don't know if I'd use the successful bucket as much as for many of us. We just struggle with time, right? Time for work, time for family, travel makes it really difficult to do all of that, and I think the biggest thing is just having a plan and being focused and discipline to get it done. Being disciplined when you're on the road, disciplined at home and having the plan and building the plan around your travel and around your life. Even with my business and my family events, I plan my workouts, and then I build my business around. Fortunately, I have the flexibility that I can do that, but it enables me to do that. When I go on the road, it's a little more challenging, but I always try, depending of course with time I get into town. If I'm getting in at a time that's not too-too late, even a twenty-minute little run. Get into town, over 20 minutes over the elliptical might help adjust the time zone change. I think it's just about wanting to do it, and just being disciplined about it.
Ben: So one of the things that I've noticed about you 'cause we've talked about your training and your workouts is that you have certain groups that you're a part of. Like you do Masters or you have a personal trainer that you meet in the gym, have you found that to be better for you to have those groups or those scheduled activities versus kind of like having your solo workouts that you're able to just do whenever you feel like doing them?
Mark: I love the camaraderie of Masters and doing it with friends, and when I swim by myself, it's hard to push yourself as hard and on those days when you're dragging or on those days where it just might not feel like getting out of bed. Going and knowing you're with a group, big group, and having a decent coach makes all the difference, and I really enjoy Masters. It's amazing how fast and our swim goes by when you're with a group. I'm sure many people listening to this already know. The personal trainer, I'm a pretty disciplined guy, and having a personal trainer, it just pushes me harder than I would push myself, and it makes me stick it out for that whole hour and work what I should, not what I might want to that day, and I like it. I like the discipline, it just works for me.
Ben: Let's say somebody's listening in, and they've signed up for an Ironman and they just suck at swimming or they want that swimming motivation from a Masters class like you described. How did you get involved in that whole scenario? Did you just wander in a Masters class one day? Did you have to work your way up to that level when you started training for Ironman? What's your advice to somebody who kind of wants to get into that scenario?
Mark: Well I think getting a couple of swim lessons, two, three, four, maybe six swim lessons, and then just join up for a Masters class. There's classes that go on all the time at many facilities, and they've got the fast lane with really fast folks. They got the medium lane, and then they got the people that are more beginners. I think there's a lane for everyone, and that group camaraderie and that discipline showing up all the time really pulls you along. Now as you know, technique does matter, and with not that many lessons, someone can be in picking up the technique and can get a lot better quickly for a lot of friends of mine or even clients of mine that got into this. Their biggest fear has been the swim, and it's amazing. It's like the appetizer when you do an Ironman, it's just such a little piece of the whole day, and for many people once they've joined the Masters, done the swim, gotten into swim shape, that becomes the least of their worries in Ironman.
Ben: Yeah, and I know that Masters website, the usms.org, like if you're listening in and you want to go find a Masters in your area, they've got some great little search engines over there. So I'll be sure and link to those in the show notes for people listening in and who want to join up with a group like Mark did.
So you've done 12 races, Mark, and I'm curious how your training has kind of evolved over those 12 races in doing the sprint triathlon and that first Ironman to kind of being a seasoned veteran now?
Mark: Ben, it's a great question. It's a question that I love to comment on. I used to be one of those guys that I've always had a coach, and I've liked having a coach. I believe in it, I want to be able to ask my questions that I have, especially as a newbie, and I started out with the traditional Ironman training plan from the beginning days through to about a year ago. Frankly when I met you, and now I'm doing the minimalist training program. So the old program, or I'll call the old school program is a lot of hours, slogging away in a lot of miles, a lot of time. In peak Ironman season, that was 15 to 23 hours a week. It was a ton, I was tired, and I needed to go to bed early. You know the typical triathlete that people mock, that kind of go to bed early and they're always pooped 'cause they got to get up and work out in the morning. So I guess before I met you, I'm friends with Sami Inkinen that you had done an interview with about him training about 10 hours a week, and I reached out to Sami going, “hey man, is this for real or are you just some kind of freak gifted athlete,” which also is obviously true that he is.
Yes, he sent me his training program. I reviewed it, made a lot of sense, and then Ben, you and I got on the phone. I wasn't certain that I really bought into it whether this minimalist training program could really get me through an Ironman, and even frankly, I thought it could get me through a half Ironman, but I wasn't sure. Well here's the bottom line, you and I started working together in March of last year, February of last year. I had a snow mobile crash in February of last year, and for seven weeks, I was either on crutches, a boot, a cane or some deal where I wasn't walking, and we were able to get me through this minimalized training program when I got going again to do three half Ironmans last year. PR did the last half Ironman in Cosmel and then go back to Kona in October and have my best Kona out of the five Konas that I've done with this minimalist training program, and what I liked about this was even though I wasn't sure and I told you this many times whether it would really work. It freed up a lot of time which I really liked, it probably freed up eight to ten hours a week.
Secondly, I wasn't as tired as I normally would be because the workouts weren't as long. I wasn't slugging away doing six hundred-mile rides. We would do these shorter rides with more intensity in some good, meaningful intervals. As a matter of fact, some of my favorites were the eight or ten, eight-minute hard intervals with two-minute recoveries with a short warm-up, short cool down. I love those workouts and my long ride was done in under two-and-a-half hours, it was cool. To be able to PR, I suppose my Kona experience at the half Ironman in Cosmel, I'm a huge believer in the program when it works.
Ben: Well I got to tell you one thing, now when I have a new client approaching me about coaching, one of the first things that I tell them is never to step foot in your snow mobile ever. That was a tough way to start things off.
Mark: Absolutely, it sucks to roll a snow mobile at one mile an hour.
Ben: Oh I can't imagine. So I'm curious standing on the starting line or in the case of Ironman Hawaii, treading water on the starting line and the water there, mentally when you know that maybe you haven't done a ton of hundred mile bike rides or you haven't run 20 miles multiple times in training or done lots and lots of four or five case swims. How do you kind of overcome that mental question mark of whether or not you can go the distance? I mean how did you tackle that?
Mark: That is a very good question, I wasn't sure. I guess at the end, you just believe that you can 'cause you've done it before and you can do it again, and you've done the work, and at the end of the day, you just have to trust that the training that we get was enough. And frankly, Ben, I was very straight up with you at many times. I said I wasn't sure, I told you many times. I wasn't sure if this is going to be enough, and it was nothing like I have done before. And so sitting there in Kona, treading in water, it was too late to worry about it. So it was game on, and I was just going to enjoy the experience. I wasn't sure, but I was sure and I used to role in an out a PR.
Ben: Gotcha, yeah. One of the same things that I experienced when I started training less and less for Ironman was that concept of standing in the starting line, just wondering if the human body doesn't indeed have that innate endurance that it has, and it does. You just have to put your head down and start racing, and amazingly, the body keeps going.
So in terms of lessons that you've learned, when you talked a little bit about time management and how managing time really is one of the toughest parts about this. You mentioned a few of things like doing quick runs when you get to where you're going, doing short intense interval training sessions, but are there other lessons that you've learned when you're travelling a lot or when you've got a really busy day about how to manage your time and still stay fit, whether from the time management standpoint or whether from kind of like the style of the workouts that you do standpoint?
Mark: I find the Tabata workouts, you can go in and even on an elliptical. You could do it on a little spin bike in 45 minutes. It's amazing what kind of workout you can get in, the intensity that you can get in. Sometimes the two minutes on, the one minute off workouts, amazing how much that carries, especially on the road if all you have is 30 minutes. You can get a good 30-minute workout in the hotel gym, and even if the hotel doesn't have a gym, you could get in a great core workout in your hotel room and do a whole bunch of stuff that will make a difference, and it will carry and help you train it.
Ben: Now for the people who haven't had the extreme pleasure of having experienced a Tabata workout, can you fill us in on how that goes?
Mark: The Tabata workout is intense, it's a five-minute warm-up. It's ten minutes of one minute on, pretty good on and one minute off, and then it's a five-minute steady and then you get the treat of the four-minute, I call it the real Tabata part which is 20 seconds on. Game on, all out 10-second recovery, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, and you repeat that for the whole four minutes. It is amazing how hard that is. It's only four minutes, but it's so hard, and then 10 minutes steady after that and then you repeat that four minute cycle again, and literally, man. If you work hard at it, by the end of that, you are gassed, and yeah. A little steady, and then warm down and then you're done. It's awesome.
Ben: Yeah, it's a key travel session. I know a lot, especially like trainers or coaches who might be familiar with the Tabata set might be scratching their heads right now because you may be familiar with the quick warm-up, do a Tabata set, cool down and be done, but what I found is that for the distance triathletes that I work with, like the half Ironman, Ironman triathletes, we actually got more bang for the buck by doing a long warm-up, getting some lactic acid into the legs, then doing the Tabata set. Then cooling down and then doing the Tabata set again, so it's a longer workout, but frankly, most half Ironman to Ironman distance athletes having expectation of kind of being able to go a little bit longer than a 12-minute one set Tabata workout. The four minutes with the warm-up and the cool down which is why we go through it twice like that, but if you haven't yet tried a double time through a Tabata set or heck, even once, it's a treat.
So Mark, I know one other thing that you did was you used some of the Sufferfest routines. Can you talk about those a little bit?
Mark: Yeah, I love the Sufferfest. I do that at home on my home trainer, doing it often. Sometimes I just print out the program I think one of them, I forget the name of it, but it's like an hour and forty-five minutes long, so if I'm somewhere, maybe on vacation and I want to get a long workout in. Like for example, this year is leading up to the Hawaii Ironman. I spent a month in Europe, I spent a month in Italy, you know, travelling around in Turkey, the access to gyms. It was just a little bit more difficult, so when I found a good gym doing the hour and forty-five-minute Sufferfest one which I think is the longest one. You may remember the name of that one.
Ben: I think that one is the Local Hero, I believe.
Mark: Well I think that was the name, but anyways, a great workout then you'd go on and you'd recover. It's seven out of ten and then two out of ten and then eight out of ten, and then back to three. It's amazing. It goes by pretty quick, but it's a great workout, and it kept me in decent shape. I was trying to do that at least once a week when I was travelling and then worked the Tabata's in other times. It's a great, great workout on the road.
Ben: Yeah, absolutely, and I think, or I know because I did it a few weeks ago. They have a brick workout now where they walk you through, you put a treadmill next to a bike trainer and they walk you through a brick workout back and forth from the bike to the treadmill.
Mark: Hey look, for all of our pals living in those cold winter places. If you got to be on your spin bike or just sitting there, staring at the screen, I'd rather just have a little program in front of me, telling me what to do. It goes a lot by a lot faster, like by just following, or it feels like it does by following the program.
Ben: Yeah, especially when you have travel brain fog and you arrive to where you're going and you just need something to push you through. So speaking of travel, you talked a little bit about staying fit, about doing like a core workout in a hotel room. Let's jump in to brass tax. If you were going to take a busy travelling executive and dished them out one of your favorite workouts for doing something that you have to do in your hotel room to stay fit, to stay trim, work on the abs, whatever. What would be one of your top routines?
Mark: I like some of those workouts you had me do. There are five or six different exercises that you repeat three to five times. So one of those is do a hundred burpees, and then do a variety of different plank positions and then do some crunches, and sometimes I bring my cable so I can do some rows with the cables.
Ben: Are those like the TRX-style?
Mark: I just have these. They're not like TRX, but they're like little pulley cables that you get in physical therapy.
Ben: The elastic tubing or the elastic bands?
Mark: Yeah, they work great. I often bring my foam roller with me so I can roll out a whole bunch of different stuff. I can do that quickly, I've got my lacrosse balls I bring with me, and they roll out any of those aches and pains and then do a bunch of stretching.
Ben: Yeah, and that's really perfect. Again we talked about Sufferfest being like a mindless workout that you just put on and go when you go to the hotel gym on the bike or whatever, but similar thing, and I'm even geeky enough to where I'll sometimes sit on the plane as we're landing. I'll write down for myself, five exercises. Push-up, squat, lunge, crunch, burpee, and when I get to the hotel room, I got to do five times through that. Each of those five exercises, and just doing a circuit.
Mark: Yeah, I've done the exact workout you've described as well. I liked that a lot too, it was great, and it goes by quick when you're rotating through like that.
Ben: Exactly, you pick your poison, CNN or Fox News and just go at it. So Mark, nutrition is something that sadly enough, I actually see a lot of Ironman triathletes kind of ignore because you're working out so much. It's almost like you could put any fuel that you want into your body, and while that may be true to a certain extent, I think that certain foods definitely do make you feel better than others. For you, what have you found to be some of the staple foods, some of the go-to nutrients or the type of diet that's worked well for you in training?
Mark: I'm fairly fortunate, my wife's very healthy, and we really clean at home and I try to eat healthy everywhere I go. Unfortunately, I'm not a big dessert guy, I've never been a big fan of that, so I can avoid that. We just try to eat healthy and eliminate some of the bad stuff. Never eat fried, never eat fast food.
Ben: So for you, what would say like a typical breakfast be for a busy guy starting off his day?
Mark: Shake, it'd be a shake with protein powder, coconut milk, some almond butter, maybe half a banana, maybe a few blueberries and maybe some chia or cocoa chia entered as well.
Ben: So not the weedies with the bowl of milk?
Mark: That's not going to happen.
Ben: So you were saying you guys also go gluten-free?
Mark: Yeah, we went gluten-free about a little over a year ago, and actually we really liked it. We were never big bread fans, but we just eliminated anything with gluten in it, except when we traveled to Italy. We stay on the gluten-free program with one exception, and that's beer. Let's just be a little too eight over ten. If so, we still drink beer.
Ben: Well fortunately, a lot of the beer is fermented. Especially if you drink some of the good stuff, it's not quite as bad.
Mark: Beer is one more thing. Also on the road, try hard to still get my eight-hour sleep 'cause it does make a difference how I feel, and I try to schedule my dinner meetings at six ‘o clock, not seven-thirty or eight. Sometimes clients want to go out, I try to ensure that they want to go out on the early side or convince them to go out on the early side. So I can get back, try not to get one glass of wine, occasionally two glasses of wine when I'm out. I just want to make sure that I can get up and get in a thirty minute workout or a forty-five-minute workout when I'm on the road. I find that all helpful.
Ben: You know I think that the effect of circadian rhythms and having a natural circadian rhythm, kind of going to bed a little bit after it gets dark and getting up. You know some time after it gets light, I think that I found for a lot of folks who are successful physically and mentally. We're able to turn out a lot of work from a business standpoint, but also staying in good shape. I've seen that to be a repetitive thing like prioritizing not just getting enough sleep but you go to bed. It's pretty rare that you're up past 10 p.m., right?
Mark: Ten p.m.? That would be real rare. I like to go to bed at nine and get up at five.
Ben: Yeah, it's almost more like an ancestral circadian rhythm, and I don't think that should be ignored, the importance of Mark's routine of prioritizing sleep. There's so many people that almost pride themselves on lack of sleep, and man, it's tough to combine. You might be able to do one or the other, right? You might be able to be a good athlete, but you might have brain fog the rest of the day 'cause you aren't there mentally or you might be able to perform mentally but have nothing left to give physically, so that's a really good point. It's this sleep component.
Mark: I've pointed that I could do life in work better if I get enough sleep every night.
Ben: Yeah, now for you, you talked about having a plan, we talked a little bit about coaching. Now for you, have you ever compared striking out kind of independently and doing your own thing versus having a coach or having a plan?
Mark: I have the same coach for about eight years, so before I switched over to you, Ben, I interviewed several coaches and thought about maybe doing it myself. I've been a coach for a long time, I pretty much know the process, but I liked the discipline and the accountability of having a coach and I like to be able to talk through whatever aches and pains that I have. I like reviewing different workouts and just continuing to enhance my own learning, so I can become a better athlete and feel better during the journey here.
Ben: Gotcha, now speaking of the journey, kind of a million dollar question here because there are a lot of people listening in who are interested in maybe doing an Ironman, haven’t yet interested in triathlon and haven't done one yet. What's something that you think would be important for that busy person out there to know that you wish that you'd known when you first started training for Ironman?
Mark: I think that busy people find a way to make it happen because they're focused and they're disciplined. You know if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person. I also would say that a triathlon has become a way of life. It's been so addictive and it's been fun, and I've liked all the healthy friends that I've met. I've really enjoyed inspiring others to get into it and clients of mine to get into it and get their management teams involved in it. I love it that my kids have done several triathlons. It's motivating, and they're inspiring their friends. I just think you get to hang with a bunch of really neat people that are fired up about their health, and when you hang with a bunch of healthy people, it helps you to be healthy too.
Ben: Yeah, so kind of the warning for folks that they better be in it for the long haul 'cause it's tough to do this thing and be one and done?
Mark: I thought I was going to be one and done doing Ironman and then be finished, and then I just got hooked. It's so fun being that fit, and it's amazing what you can achieve if you got a bunch of friends that are doing it. If they're all doing it, you quickly believe that you can too, and then I think anybody can do Ironman if they really want to.
Ben: Yeah, well I think that's a great point to end on, and folks for you listening in, I'm going to put Mark's bio and a link over to his website in the show notes along with a great photo and him running down the finish line shoot of Ironman Hawaii, and the look on his face just kind of expresses everything that you feel when you're going down that finish line shoot. I'll also put a link to some of the stuff that we talked about, like the Master Swimming website and the Sufferfest workouts and also the previous podcast that we did that Mark mentioned with Sami Inkinen. So if you want to listen in to any of that stuff, you can head over to the show notes for this episode over at bengreenfieldfitness.com. You can just go over there, and do a search for Mark Moses if you're listening to this post at the time that it comes out. It'll be the first post that appears when you go over to the site, and Mark, I just want to thank you for your time and for coming on the call today.
Mark: Yeah, Ben. It was fun, and I hope somebody gets inspired and takes action as a result.
Ben: Alright folks, well this is Ben Greenfield and Mark Moses signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com.
Mark Moses coaches 26 of the world's top entrepreneurs, CEO's and companies on how to dramatically grow their businesses, grow their people and elevate their own performance.
He also travels all over the world speaking at industry conferences and company events.
Mark started his first company at age 19, and has successfully built and sold two companies. He won Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Blue Chip Enterprise award for overcoming adversity. His last company ranked #1 Fastest-Growing Company in Los Angeles as well as #10 on the Inc. 500 of fastest growing private companies in the U.S. Mark has served on the Board of the Children's Hospital of Orange County for the last several years.
Oh yeah, just a couple other things…
…Mark also won the U.S. National Squash Championship in 1992…
…and he has completed 12 full distance Ironman Triathlons, including the Hawaii Ironman World Championship 5 times.
I'll bet you'd like to know Mark's secrets, eh? Good news, because I was able to pick Mark's brain for this audio podcast. During my discussion with Mark, you'll discover:
-What compelled Mark to do his first Ironman triathlon…
-What Mark has found to be the biggest challenges for a busy and successful guy like you to stay in Ironman shape…
-How Mark's training has changed much over the 12 Ironman triathlons he's completed…
-How Mark tackles feeling mentally confident training “minimalist” vs. putting in more volume…
-Mark's most important lessons he's learned about how to manage your time and still stay fit…
-The #1 hotel room workout Mark does when he travels…
-Where nutrition fits in for Mark…
-What Mark you wish you’d known when you first started training for Ironman…
Resources from this episode:
–Triathlon coaching with Ben Greenfield
-The minimalist “Triathlon Dominator” training plan
-The article: The Zen Of Getting Uber-Fit Without Neglecting Your Friends, Your Family and Your Career.
-The podcast episode with Sami Inkinen “How To Maximize Triathlon Success With Minimal Training Time”