Even Closer To 20 Pull-Ups

I am pleased to demonstrate that I have moved even closer to 20 pull-ups – that long-sought-after goal of mine. I have been doing pull-ups fairly consistently for the past weeks. I have been doing pull-ups maybe twice or thrice a week, though in the individual workouts, I have not always done the 5 sets expected by the Recon Ron plan (that I still generally follow).

Here is my performance last week:



About Distance Running and Pullup Progress

Last month (October), the Nairobi Marathon was held. I have not participated for two years now. I sent a congratulatory message on Facebook to those who ran. Turns out a number of my friends did not run this year either, though a number of others did run. Maybe next year I will run, just for the challenge and to improve my time.

I once read an article that pointed out that it is only human beings that engage in distance running. Animals in the wild run to catch food, to avoid being caught, or to play. All this running is normally relatively short distance sprints (especially if the animal is about to be eaten). Animals sometimes play by chasing each other in small areas, and the movement is somewhat similar to various ball games that humans play like soccer or basketball. Such playing involve short runs and turning this way and that, and not continuous running for a long time. In other words, long-distance running isn’t really natural. Long-distance running also often comes with injuries . In fact, two avid distance-runners that I know have been off running for a while now due to injuries. For fat loss and fitness, high-intensity interval training, such as sprints, are more effective than distance running. However, like I mentioned, I may participate in next year’s run just for the challenge and to be part of something big.

As for my pullups, I was away from home for a few nights and my pullups stalled a bit, but I resumed. I did the Week 9 workout of the Recon Ron program. I completed the first three sets without getting off the bar, but had to get off during the last two sets. I was about 4 weeks behind schedule.

On Friday the 13th I did Week 11 and on Monday the 16th, I did the Week 13 workout. I am now about two weeks behind schedule. I think I will be able to get back on track and achieve 20 pullups before this year ends.

Renewed Goal of Twenty Pullups

I have decided to again go after my goal of 20 pullups. I intend to achieve this goal by the end of December 2015. I think the reason I did not succeed the last time was simply that I did not have sufficient motivation. This time, I have two things motivating me:

One is the realisation that time is passing by and I should not keep on putting off my goals, or else I will one day realise that the window of opportunity has closed or narrowed considerably. (This realisation seems to dawn on many people when they turn 40, like I did in 2014).

The second thing motivating me is that I’d like to blog more on pullups and I think actually getting to do 20 pullups myself will give credibility to what I say.


So I have been doing pullups, following my favourite program, the Recon Ron Pullup Program. Counting backwards from the last week of December 2015, I saw that I would need to start at Week 7 of the program, so I did. That was the week of 21st September.

Today, I was able to do the sets for week 7 as specified (10, 8, 6, 6,6). I’m supposed to be on Week 9, but I was still quite pleased.


20 Pullups Progress Update

After deciding to prepare to do 20 pullups straight on my birthday, I have not been consistent in my pull-ups. (Yeah, what’s new?). Today I decided to do some, before things get too far out of hand. I thought I had reached Week 13 on the Recon Ron Program. When I counted backwards on the calendar from the week of my birthday (Sep 11th), I realised that I am supposed to be on Week 15.

However, I did the Week 13 pullups as specified (14-10-8-8-8) without breaking any set, so I was happy about that. I think on Wednesday I will jump to Week 14 and hopefully on Friday I will be able to take on Week 15. So this week or next week I should be back on track to doing 20 pullups straight on my 40th birthday.

A US Marine Doing Pull-ups.

A US Marine Doing Pull-ups. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Keep working out!


Goal: Do Twenty PullUps In A Row

The Goal
I will be turning 40 on September 11th 2014. That is 77 days, or 11 weeks, from today (26th June 2014). On that day, I want to do twenty pullups in a row. That is my goal.

The most I have done in one set is 19 pull-ups. That was in 2012, I think. I have since not done pull-ups consistently until I reached 20 pull-ups, though more recently – in April 2014 – I did 16 pull-ups (video below). So I have a goal and I have a time-frame.

The Plan
I use the Recon-Ron pull-up program. On the program, 20 pull-ups in the first set appears on Week 21. Counting backwards 11 weeks, I should start on Week 10 today.

Week 10 says 12, 9, 7, 7, 7. I should be able to pull that off.

Let’s see how it goes.

Keep working out!

UAP Ndakaini Half Marathon 2013 Report

Cast and some background:
Jack – The Running Writer
This guy runs! He had promised George and I KShs. 2,000 to each one that beats the time of 2:25 and 500/= to whoever beats the other (between the two of us).
George – the guy I beat at Stanchart 2012 and was keen on beating again (and again)
Jack was also to drive us to Ndakaini.

Maq – Another runner of Jack’s calibre.

The Story
I had gone to bed around 11:00 p.m. I had intended to go to bed around 9:00 so that I would get a full 8 hours of sleep by 5:00 a.m.
I woke up. Stayed in bed a bit. Reached for my phone and checked the time 01:46 a.m. Only? Back to sleep. Woke up again. A few minutes past 4:00a.m. Ok. I must have been anxious. Slept again. Finally woke up to the alarm at 5:00 a.m.

I got up, took a cold shower, since I had not showered after a journey on Friday. Woke my wife up and she made for me oats. I carried two bananas to eat after the run. We told the nanny we were leaving and went to the car. Someone had parked in such a way that his car was blocking our way out. I told my wife she could squeeze the car through. We tried, but no. She said I should run to the gate and ask whose car that was. I did. I sent text to Jack, saying our exit was blocked. He exclaimed. we went to the car owner’s house and knocked. The guy came and moved his car and off we went. I called Jack and he said George was yet to show up. I felt a bit better. We reached Jack’s car around 6:25. Tried calling George, and just like last year, he was unreachable. We set off at around 6:40. George sent text a few minutes later, saying he had gone to bed at 3:00 and had woken up at 6:45, but he was still coming.

I was mostly quiet during the drive to Ndakaini Jack, Maq and James were discussing various running-related things.
“The good thing about this sport, is that you only need shoes.”
“Another good thing is that you put in (the training) and you get out (the results).”

It was interesting. I asked to see Maq’s Garmin and he showed me the features briefly. It gives a report of the time taken and speed with every kilometre, can be set to help you run at a certain pace, stores best times, distances covered and so on. And you wear it on your wrist like a watch. Neat. Jack and Maq said that it can be disadvantageous as it may not allow you to speed up or slow down depending on how you feel as you run and may result you in straining or under-performing.

I thought Jack was driving a bit slowly and that we were going to arrive after the 21km run starts, but I was afraid of saying anything since I had kept them waiting. I thought the 21km was to start at 7:30 but when we finally reached the venue, I saw that it was to start at 8:30. Phew!

We changed, went to the loo, took some photos etc. Jack had said he was not going to leave early as he had intended, so I did not need to run with my bag with my stuff in it. Phew again!


The starting point was quite a walk away, thought it later turned out that we had arrived early and parked comparatively near the start. Other vehicles were parked easily 3km away!
The gun went off and the run started. I looked at my phone 8:33 I followed Jack’s advice and ran slowly. I saw James running with a limp ahead and caught up with him and ran with him for a while. I heard someone calling me and saw Eve. We chatted a bit as we ran then I left her. I ran for 20 min non-stop and started walking when I reached an incline. The race was going well. I had been warmed on two hills in particular: at 5km and ay 16km. I barely noticed the 5km one.

There was a guy who had a device in his pocket. I heard a female machine voice say something like”…you are below your target pace by 1 minute 26 seconds per kilometre…” I don’t know if such reminders are good or bad, especially when you are feeling spent and battling your way uphill.

I asked some lady if were past the 10km mark and she said she had no idea. Shortly after we passed the 12km mark. Good. I was still feeling quite okay. The training actually paid off. We passed the 15km mark and began a descent. This must be the much talked about hill at 16km coming up. The descent steepened, meaning the ascent was going to be serious! And indeed it was. I remembered Jack’s blog posts where he said that Ndakaini has wall masquerading as hills. I walked up, as did everyone else I could see. The hill was quite long. There were other hills after that as well, but this was probably the steepest and the longest.

Throughout, as much as I could, I ran downhill and on the flat stretches and walked uphill.

Upon passing the 20km mark, I started thinking about beating the 2:25 time and collecting 2,000/= from Jack. I took a turn, saw the length of road still ahead and gave up on that particular quest. My hear sank a bit, but I still had a chance to better my Stanchart time. I approached the place we had started and saw people milling about it. I think it was the 5km about to start.

I wondered How come the finish is so unceremonious?

I passed the start point around 11:09 and started walking towards the parking. But I could see guys still running on the road. I went under the ribbon and asked a policeman where the finish for 21km was. Up ahead, he said, and I started running again.

I was a bit annoyed that it was not clear where we were supposed to go. I crossed the official Finish line at 11:13. My time, 2 hrs 40 minutes. 10 minutes better than my Stanchart time.
I saw Eve and she asked if she had beat me.

I don’t know, what was your time?

2:35, she said.
Neither of us could remember her passing me.
There was a queue and I joined it, thinking there was Lucozade being given at the end. Turned out we were only having our names written. Sigh!

Making my way to the parking lot was another task, but I reached.
I ate my bananas. There was a guy taking photos of guys and printing them on the spot for 100/-. I contemplated taking one, but did not. Jack paid me the 500/= I earned by George’s no-show, minus my contribution for transport.

Off we went to Nairobi.

Lessons and Achievements

Training pays off. I felt much better than I did  during and after the run than I did at Stanchart.
I achieved my goals: I felt better, and I technically beat Ogutu. (I am pretty certain I would have beaten him, since I did better than I did at Stanchart last year, which is a bonus achievement. I did better at this tougher race than at Stanchart 2012.

Jack’s report

Maq’s report

Njenva’s report  10km (I follow her blog)

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My tracking of my workouts has been a bit erratic the past few days.
Wednesday 28th August 2013
Did not workout on Wednesday, save for 50 squats carrying my 10kg son, done with breaks.

Thursday, 29th August 2013
15 min continuous run. 90 sec x 4 with 1 min rest. Included uphill sections.

Did some pistol squats at night, a total of 10 per leg. I think I should increase the number I do.

Friday, 30th August 2013

Line art drawing of push up.

Line art drawing of push up. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did 40 press-ups within a minute, and total of 25 more in the next two minutes. The goal of 75 push-ups within three minutes seems tough to reach.
Did pull-ups as follows:

Tuesday 3rd Sept 2013
15 min?

Friday 6th Sept 2013
Pushups and squats

Saturday 7th Sept 2013
22 min run followed by 4 x 90 sec

Monday, 9th Sept 2013
40 pushups in 1 minute!
62 in 3 minutes

Wednesday, 11th Sept 2013

15 pullups in one set, wide grip
8 +1 +1 – about shoulder width grip
9 – parallel
8 right palm facing me and left palm facing away
7 + 1 right palm facing away and left palm facing me

I decided to go and do my final run before the Ndakaini Half Marathon that will be on Saturday. Since today is my 39th birthday, I decided to attempt 39 minutes. Yes, that is a leap from 22 or 24 minutes, and is against exercise guidelines, but why not? At a minimum, I wanted to do 30 minutes.
So off I went, After a five minute walk, I started running, slowly, knowing that I had a long way to go.
The tough part was the uphill sections, and thinking I still had like 20 minutes to go! But I was keen on getting the 39 minutes done, so that I can be able to say “When I turned 39, I ran 39 minutes non-stop.” Failing and attempting later would mean starting again from 0 and running a fresh 39 minutes.
I added an extra stretch to the route I normally take, so that I would not get back home before the 39 minutes were up (and also to explore).The plan did not work fully. I reached the gate of where I live about 2 minutes before time was up, so I ran on past then back and I did it! I completed a run of 39 minutes and about 44 seconds! This is the longest I have ever run continuously. Even when I used to run 5 or 10 kilometres regularly, I used to run a maximum of about 30 minutes non-stop. I actually felt that I could have gone on longer, but I was satisfied with my achievement.

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Half Marathon Training and Other Updates

My friend George and I have been having some sort of rivalry, and I told him I would beat him in every race that we both took part in. There is Ndakaini Marathon coming up in September and each of us intends to beat the other in the half marathon. Our mutual friend, the Running Writer, promised whoever beats the other KShs 500/=. In addition, he promised KShs 2,000/- to whoever finishes the half marathon within 2 hrs 25 minutes. I have been building my running endurance so that I can ensure I beat George and so that I am better prepared for the Ndakaini Half Marathon and the Stanchart Marathon in October, than I was last year.

I have been working out fairly consistently in the last five weeks or so. The Running Writer told me to be updating this blog for accountability. I will try to do that, and I will also stop slacking in sharing other fitness stuff I come across.

So here is what I have been up to. (I currently work at home, so I sometimes work out or run  during the day).

Sunday, 25th August 2013
Did run 11 min, rest 1 min, x 3. The hill was tough, but I was glad I did the full minutes required.

When I got home, I was hesitant to do Friday’s pullups, since I was rather spent after the run, but I did the 50 required.

User:Extremepullup performing a standard dead-...

User:Extremepullup performing a standard dead-hang pull up (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Later, my wife, our son and I went to a nearby shopping centre. One of the shops there had pushup stands on sale for KShs 2,500/-.
They also had something else that I did not recognise. When I asked the shop attendant, he said those were wrist exercisers.

Monday, 26th August 2013
I did 50 pullups. Was supposed to do 15, 10, 9, 8, 8.
I only did 13 then two more in the first set.
I did 6 then I think 2 and 2 for set two.
I did the other three sets as specified.

Later, I did bodyweight exercises – push-ups, pistol squats, squats.
I did 35 push-ups in one minute then added 15 diamond push-ups (not in one set) to make a total 50.
My current goal here is to do 40 push-ups within a minute without getting up.

After a while, I tried to do something I recently read somewhere – a total 75 push-ups within 3 minutes, taking as many breaks as needed. I only managed 55, but this was after the 50 done earlier. I will try again when I am fresh.

English: Pfc. John Jones, Troop B, 3-89th Cav ...

English: Pfc. John Jones, Troop B, 3-89th Cav Reg, performs as many regulation pushups as possible in two minutes on Mountain Field. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tuesday, 27th August 2013
I tried the push-up challenges today. I managed 40 push-ups in one minute, took some breaks but only managed 62 in the 3 minutes. This was partly because I got a bit lost in thought during one of the breaks.

I went running and did 11 minutes x 3 with 1 minute breaks between runs.

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