2017 Apple Valley Reverse Triathlon

Venturing out into new territory can be exciting. The 2017 Apple Valley Reverse Triathlon gave me an opportunity to get my feet wet (ha!) with a triple event: running, biking and swimming. All in all, it was really challenging, but also really fun especially having support from the whole family.

There is a huge difference between running and triathlons. For one, the community seems much friendlier, probably due to everyone being so relaxed. Breaking up physical activity into multiple events is a great way to calm the nerves and not let your mind burn out thinking about just one event. This picture, one hour before the event, summarizes the relaxed mindset quite nicely:

One hour before the race, I was one of the first ones there. At a running event, the whole stadium is packed already.

Secondly, the physical preparation is a lot different – one would think swimming 150 yards is no big deal. After running 5K and biking for twelve miles, the body gets exhausted, and I could barely keep above water. Lesson learned, get some more endurance swimming sessions!

Having had a taste of triathlons, it is definitely something I’d like to try again. My time was 1 hour and 14 minutes. Next up, I’ll try the Temecula reverse tri.

Let’s do this!


One of the most common questions I get from people interested in fitness is “what equipment do I need?”

The answer is you don’t need much.  You can actually get a really good workout with just using your body, a bench/chair and some imagination.  However, as with all other professions or hobbies, having the right tools greatly simplifies things.

There are several things to consider when deciding on equipment: budget, storage space, transportability, versatility, etc.  This page outlines some of my most used pieces of equipment and briefly discusses the pros/cons of each.

Note: The links below are Amazon affiliate links. This means dadfitness.club gets a kickback if you make a purchase using these links, at no additional cost to you.

This is my home equipment list:

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are the most versatile piece of equipment you can own. They can be used for every imaginable weight-lifting exercise, can be modified to provide more/less weight easily, are easily transported and are very affordable.

Having bands at your disposal is like having a full rack of weights without them being heavy, bulky or expensive. Consider that with bands you can do:

  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep extensions
  • Shoulder presses/lifts
  • Lat pull-downs
  • Chest presses
  • Standing rows (back)
  • And almost anything else you can do with free weights

The one downside is that they provide more resistance towards the top of the motion (when fully stretched) and almost no resistance towards the bottom of the motion (when relaxed), but this limitation can be overcome by using different colored bands (for more resistance), adding a loop to your band during the exercise, or adding more bands (if you have handles that support it).

I cannot understate how awesome bands are – if you have enough room in your budget for only one piece of equipment, this is the one I would get, hands down (in fact, this was the first piece of equipment I’ve ever owned).

The ones I own are pictured here, with handles that support up to 3 bands (and thus more resistance) at the same time.

Buy resistance bands on Amazon.com


A BOSU Ball is an unbelievably great invention. Its primary purpose is to improve balance and engage your core while performing almost any exercises from bicep curls and shoulder presses, to crunches and sit-ups, to push-ups and lunges. One side of the ball is a half-dome (similar to a Swiss ball cut in half), and the other side is a solid platform. When placed ball-side up, it provides a really challenging balancing surface that can be used for core work. When placed platform-side up, it provides a solid-yet-unstable surface to stand on (like a rocking boat or a skateboard) suitable for bicep curs, shoulder presses and the like. BOSU stands for “Both Sides Up”.

The downside to the BOSU Ball is that it is relatively expensive and also kind of bulky and heavy. But the benefits are so great that it is a must-have for any home gym.

A quick safety note: you can certainly find a cheap version of a BOSU knock-off, but I highly recommend against it. A work colleague got one of those, and it deflates quickly and is not built with quality in mind. I believe BOSU balls are patented and trademarked, so when you buy one, make sure it is from a reputable source. If you can’t afford it, get the Swiss Ball instead.

Buy the BOSU Ball on Amazon.com

Swiss Ball

A Swiss Ball is similar to a BOSU ball in some respects, but not the same. Swiss Balls improve core strength, balance, and stability — just like a BOSU ball — but the range of exercises that can be done on them is different.

You can do a bench press on both a Swiss ball and a BOSU ball, but the Swiss ball provides a little extra instability because there is no flat base.  On the flip side, you can’t stand on a Swiss ball and perform bicep curls or squats, like you can on a BOSU ball.

Personally, I prefer the BOSU ball over the Swiss ball, but the Swiss ball is an order of magnitude cheaper, making it an effective alternative.

Buy the Swiss Ball on Amazon.com

Yoga Mat

A yoga mat is useful to have not only when doing yoga, but also a lot of sitting, lying or prone exercises, like core work.  The main function of a yoga mat is that it prevents your bare hands or feet from slipping, even when sweaty.  But it is also cushy, and can be folded over for extra padding on your behind, like when doing sit-ups.

Other than not being absolutely necessary for every workout, there are really no other cons to speak of, which is why it is near the top of this list.

Buy a yoga mat on Amazon.com

Agility Ladder and Cones

Agility ladder and cones are not strictly necessary for your workout, but they are extremely fun. The ladder is used for agility exercises — training your body to move from side-to-side and shift weight in a quick manner.  Some masking tape or even chalk will do a similar job on the cheap, but they cannot replace the tactile feedback of a ladder when you step on it.

Cones are basically markers for any number of exercises, be it running from one field to the other, zig-zagging through an obstacle course, or jumping over them for plyometric traing.

You can buy them separately, or you can get them as a combo, as pictured here.

Buy the agility ladder and cones on Amazon.com

Pull-Up Bar

A pull-up bar that fits into a door frame (as pictured above) is the second piece of equipment I’ve ever owned. The nice thing about them is that they fit in a door frame freely without any screws or nuts and bolts, so they can be removed quickly and used as a push-up bar too. I’ve had the same Iron Gym bar for 7 years so I can vouch for its durability.

The downside is that it’s kind of bulky and awkward, so you’d have to store it in the garage most likely. You also need a standard door frame with lots of space between the sides.

Buy the Iron Gym Pull-Up Bar on Amazon.com

Jump Rope

Jump rope increases agility, quickness, cardiovascular endurance and improves your coordination and footwork.  In addition, it is compact, relatively cheap and above all, fun.  There is virtually no downside to using or owning a jump rope.

Buy a Jump Rope on Amazon.com

Foam Roller

Using a foam roller is like giving yourself a deep tissue massage in all the right places. The benefits of a using a roller for so-called “self-myofascial release” is that it improves flexibility by releasing tension in your muscles, improves joint range of motion, and many more.  In fact, a foam roller was used heavily during my physical therapy rehabilitation sessions for back spasms.

Is it strictly necessary? No. But it’s certainly nice-to-have on days you’re feeling a little extra sore.

Buy the Foam Roller on Amazon.com

Seven Areas of Complete Fitness

In a previous post, I committed myself to becoming a certified personal trainer (CPT). While the preparation for the CPT NASM exam is much more challenging than what I assumed it would be, I’ve learned a lot about how to structure a fitness program for myself and for others as well.

To start with, almost every customized fitness program should touch on seven different fitness areas for a balanced, full body workout. 

  • Flexibility
  • Balance
  • Core
  • Speed, Agility and Quickness (SAQ)
  • Plyometrics
  • Resistance (weight) training
  • Cardio

Notice the practical use of almost all of these concepts simultaneously:

This dad uses his cardio training to keep up with the kid, core strength to chase him while bent down, SAQ to catch him before the kid eats it, and weight training to lift him up while balancing on one foot. Impressive!

Focusing on each of these things not only makes for a better athlete and a quick-reacting dad, but also minimizes injury at advanced workout stages.

In fact, if you dissect almost any popular workout program, you’ll find almost all of these elements are represented in it. For example, P90X has strength and core training three days a week, Yoga X (flexibility, balance, core), Plyo X (for both pluometrics and SAQ) and Kenpo X (cardio).

I’ll discuss my routine for each of these areas of fitness in future posts, so stay tuned!

Let’s do this!

2017 LA Marathon and Conqur LA Challenge Completed!

The 2017 LA Marathon is in the bag, also completing inaugural Conqur LA Challenge! It was definitely a struggle to cross the finish line, just like last year. But this time, I was about 30 minutes faster at a final time of 5 hours and 8 minutes. Like with the Pasadena Half Marathon, I’m happy to finish and break my personal record, but not satisfied.


  • The expectation to finish under a 4:30:00 was unrealistic. I carried this misguided optimism to finish under unrealistic times to my other races too, which I suspect are causing me to start way too strong and lose steam by the end.
  • Training was not sufficient, and I felt it.  By mile 15, my entire body was hurting. By mile 20 it was agony. I had to walk a lot.  People that never ran a marathon are often surprised to hear that the entire body — including hands and fingers — are sore by the end.  This is because a person will inadvertently tense up throughout the race, causing muscles to clench.  In addition, your body undergoes extreme physiological changes during a marathon, not least of which is secretion of sodium which causes muscle cramps as well.
  • If you have  any sort of injury, no matter how small, do not run the race.  I lightly twisted my ankle the weekend before, and foolishly I decided to run anyway.  By the end of the race, my foot was purple and swollen.  This set me back about 3 weeks from any physical activity.

What Could I Do Better?

  • Adjust my expectations.  The more I train, the more fit I will get.  But I forget I am getting older, too. At some point my level of fitness will converge on the age line.  It’s important not to set unrealistic expectations – see Setting Goals.
  • Train more, and more often.  Last two weeks, I did not run much. I completed my 20-mile run a week, maybe even two weeks, too early.
  • Do not run with any injuries.  It will only get worse and sets you back a few weeks after the race. It’s not worth it.

What Did I Do Well?

  • Ate much better than last time, and carbo-loaded ahead of time.
  • Paced myself much better. I did not get out of the chute zig-zagging through people like I was trying to catch a bus.
  • The above two points saved a lot of energy and I ran a lot farther than last time before having to walk.

Nonetheless, looking back at my achievement wall, I am satisfied overall how far I’ve come.

Always, Keep Moving Forward

Will I do another marathon again? It’s going to be a long while. I have another baby on the way which will make training very difficult for the foreseeable future.  While running marathons is great, it is also a giant time commitment – time spent away from family (it’s really difficult to train at night). In addition, I don’t feel as fit as before, and I attribute that to the lack of weight training.

The reason I started this site is to help people, people who are struggling with family-work-fitness balance.  Therefore, I decided to get certified as a personal trainer and really go for it.

So as the marathon running chapter winds to a close and I remember the long-distance runnings days, the book continues to grow.  I am really excited to share the things I’ve learned and hopefully change people’s lifestyles for the better!

Let’s do this!

2017 LA Marathon Training Schedule

The LA Marathon is just one week away. I’ve worked hard to get my running distance in, but admittedly, I was not 100% committed.  It’s difficult to be with 2 young kids, another on the way and no outside help.  There is always something that comes up, something that eats away at my running schedule, and even self-sabotage (diet or laziness).

But my wife is very supportive and understanding, and I got through the 20-mile run in about 3.5 hours a few weeks ago.  Not terrible, but not great either.  I couldn’t have done it without her support – I don’t mean just “letting” me go run, but actively encouraging me and telling me not to quit when I feel disheartened when I missed what I thought were too many workouts.

It’s all about long-term planning. About a quarter through the Marathon Rookie schedule, I realized there are four runs in a week, two of which are completely inconsequential.  What I mean to say is, there is really no strain or struggle, just a “going through the motions” kind of workout.  These are workouts that are designed to just keep you in shape, but don’t really offer much else.  And besides, that much running and that kind of running is boring.

So I switched it up. I biked to work two days a week (10 miles each day) and played competitive league soccer one night a week.  I still ran twice a week: one really long run, and one really short – but fast – run. We shall see how this works out.

Here is my 16-week marathon training schedule, very loosely based off of the Marathon Rookie training schedule:

  • Monday: 5 km run
  • Tuesday: Bike 16 km twice a day (32 km total)
  • Wednesday: Soccer
  • Thursday: Bike 16 km twice a day
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Long run (increased each week until the 20-mile run)
  • Sunday: Rest

As you can see, that’s a lot of working out. I haven’t lost any weight, and if fact gained some.  Probably due to my now-massive quads weighing me down.  But in all seriousness, diet is the key to everything and I still haven’t learned how to control it.

Also, I did not always hit these targets.  Sometimes soccer was cancelled due to bad weather. Sometimes I couldn’t bike. Hell, there are some weeks (like this week) where I only put in two or three runs.

The important thing is to stay active and try to at least hit the long runs.

I’ll find out next week how well this strategy worked.

Let’s do this!

2017 Pasadena Half-Marathon Complete!

The mix of little preparation and cold and rainy weather made it a pretty challenging run. But I beat my previous PR by a minute and 36 seconds at 1:53:00 flat.

It’s 3 minutes short of my goal – I’m still happy even if not satisfied. The hunt for a good time keeps me improving.

The best part is my kids calling me to yell “Go Daddy, Go!” If I didn’t just finish the run, that would’ve given me a nice boost.


My original goal was to follow the 1:50 pace-setter. Right out of the gate, rain was invigorating and I maintained an unusually fast pace, at around 5:00 min per km (and even under 5 min on some stretches).  I ran way ahead of the pace-setter and almost caught up with the 1:45 pacer. “Wow,” I thought. “I’m not only going to beat my record, I’m gonna crush it!”

And then 14K it happened. The Wall. I even had to stop because I got stitches in my sides. I saw the 1:50 pacer pass me and I hopelessly, stupidly tried to pick up my pace which lasted for about 200m. My feet felt like lead.

I ended up taking a shot of GU, some gatorade and water to wash down the nastiness, and surprisingly it perked me back up enough to finish the race under my previous PR.

What Could I Do Better?

Mainly, it was the lack of training and being unprepared physically.  I also pushed way too hard (again!) in the beginning. Overconfidence, in a word.

Things I Did Well

I ate well, carbo-loaded the entire week up to the race and made sure I got at least 7 hours of sleep.  I always stretch plenty, and, having a delay at start, it was a great opportunity to warm up more.

Going into the LA Marathon, I know what I need to do: train more and run slower in order to finish faster.

Let’s do this!

Pasadena 2017 Half Marathon

The 2017 Pasadena Rose Bowl half-marathon is next weekend. My current PR is 1:54:36 at the Orange County half marathon, and I am hoping to get under 1:50:00.

I wish I could say I trained hard, that I’m eating well or that I feel prepared to crush it.

Truth is the opposite. I was lazy. I made excuses. I ate whatever I wanted.

But I’m going to try anyway.  My kids yelling “Go Daddy, Go!” near the finish line is echoing in my head.  I’m ready.

Let’s do this!

The Best Diet

What’s the best diet? Atkins? Keto? South Beach? Goldfish?

None of the above.  In fact, every diet is the worst diet!

“How can you say that?  My cousin lost 35 lbs by eating only raw vegetables!” I hear you say.  Good for him.  But ask that cousin a year later what his weight is.  Or five years later.  Chances are there will be an excuse: “My kids just wouldn’t eat raw kale and celery, so I gave up.”  Imagine that.

I hate diets.  Specifically, fad diets.  They work only in the short term.  But once you get tired of surviving on peanuts and meal supplement shakes, you’ll give up.  That’s because it’s not sustainable in the long term.

Being on a diet has the implication that at some point you will not be on a diet, that there is an end to it.  As if one day you can just go back to your bad eating habits, and all the work you’ve put in up until that point will magically persist.  Every diet is a yo-yo diet.

Eating well is more than just dieting – it is changing your eating habits and conditioning your mind to associate donuts with heart disease instead of pleasure and good eats.

It’s about moderation. Special event, like your daughter’s birthday?  Afford yourself some cake, even if only half a slice.  Just ran a marathon? Go ahead, drink a beer or two.  These things won’t kill you, as long as it’s done in moderation.  Find your balance.

To make it easier to find your balance, we’ll be adding an app to this website soon that will calculate your dietary needs according to your lifestyle. Put in your height, weight and age, and you’ll get a customized daily intake recommendation of calories, protein, carbs and fats.

Stay tuned, things are getting exciting!

Let’s do this!


Setting goals

Getting in shape is like potty-training your kids: don’t expect it to happen overnight.  Setting overly aggressive goals will likely result in accidents, frustration and failure.  Like potty-training, getting in shape takes patience, perseverance, and planning.

But if you are a dad like me, your schedule is probably pretty hectic: wake up early, feed the diapers, change the baby, drive kids to work, go to daycare, come home, etc. It seems like when the dust settles, it’s already time for sleep.

The solution is to set small and attainable fitness goals.  Break up your big goal.  Divide and conquer.  Just ask Conan:

If your goal is to lose 40 pounds by the end of the year, it’s much easier to manage if you aim for roughly 3 pounds each month. And that 3 pounds each month means 1 pound per week, with 1 week of not losing any weight at all!

You can achieve that goal with an hour-long workout three times a week.  Or 6 half-hour workouts.  The beauty is, when you divide and conquer, you can afford yourself more flexibility while still working towards your goal.

Imagine what happens when you have no monthly goals:

  • In January, you are super motivated to attain your 40-lb weight loss goal by the end of the year. You hit the gym, workout out really hard. Even lost more than your goal. Off to a good start!
  • February rolls around, you’re less motivated, but persevere. You force yourself to go to the gym, because, dammit, you paid for that membership.
  • April, March, May come and go. The scale may be moving in the right direction, but you have no frame of reference because you’re not keeping track.  Are you doing better this month than last? Or how about the one before that? Do you need to change your diet? More protein? Less carbs? The truth is, you don’t know.
  • July comes, and on July 4th you totally pig out at a friend’s BBQ: Beer, Ribs, Steak, Chicken, cake, ice cream, hot dogs, you name it. But it’s ok, you lost weight the last 6 months, so you can afford to eat as much as you want.  Hell, even if you don’t hit the gym, the last 6 months weren’t wasted, right?
  • August comes, and the scale didn’t move. You didn’t hit the gym much. Hey, something is better than nothing. At least the scale didn’t go the wrong way.
  • December rolls around, and you didn’t meet your goal, so why start now? There’s always the new year.

And on and on. You end up rationalizing yourself into not working out and into making poor eating choices because you made good progress in the beginning but have no clear path to your goal.

By comparison, if you take that same scenario and instead make a commitment to lose 3 pounds every month (3.3 for the pedants to make the math work), you would evaluate every month: “did I make my 3-pound goal?” and adjust next month to keep it going.

The beauty of this is two-fold: you can clearly see how you did compared to previous months making you much less likely to give up, and, more importantly, even by the end of the year if you don’t hit your goal, you are still better off than before.

Here is a theoretical comparison between these two mindsets:

At this point, it’s easy to say “this is just fiction, where is the proof?”  It’s true, I don’t have concrete weight data over a long period of time. The longest I have is four months before my daughter was born where I dropped from a total of 183.6 to 176.2.  The other recording period was the distance I trained for the marathon, not necessarily the weight.

With that said, I’m going to commit to taking my weight every day and updating my logs. Let’s see where this takes us.

Let’s do this!

Hello 2017!

There’s an old dad-joke:

Q: What’s the difference between a hippo and a Zippo?
A: One is really heavy and the other is a little lighter.

Eye-roll. Heavy sigh. Slight smirk.

Every new year, we all have our resolutions. A lot of people want to make this the year to go from Hippo-to-Zippo – or at least be a little lighter.  I am starting this blog to help myself stay on track and hopefully inspire other dads to get more fit and healthy.

I’m not a fitness expert or a nutritionist. Ten years ago in what were supposed to be my prime years (20s), I weighed 215 lbs and my BMI was over 30, which put me squarely in the “obese” category.

Then my life completely changed – my first daughter was born three years ago.  I realized life is short as it is, and I didn’t want it to be cut even shorter by poor eating choices and a sedentary lifestyle.  My daughters deserve better.

Since then, I ran one full marathon, two half-marathons, and many smaller races. I regularly exercise and play sports. Even though it’s time not spent with my kids, it’s an investment that will pay off in the long run. At my fittest, I weighed 164 lbs, well in the “normal” BMI range.

Today, I weigh 174 lbs with a BMI of 24.8, just barely above the “normal” BMI category.

Clearly, there is work to be done.  And we’re going to do it together.

Let’s do this!