jason shen workout routine early 2012
(click to enlarge)

Over the past 6 months or so, I’ve gotten into a pretty great rhythm when it comes to working out. With no races coming up, I thought I’d drop a line on how I’m working and what I think it’s doing for me. Hoping to follow up on this post with an update on my 900 minutes of meditation which I started in April and perhaps another post in general on morning routines.

Disclaimer – I’m not a fitness, nutrition or medical expert. No certifications or anything. I’m coming at this as a former competitive athlete, biology BS/MS and an experimenter with N=1. I am still figuring things out and sharing what I’m learning.

My workout goals

Everyone works out for different reasons – they might overlap but hold different priorities. Here are mine (in order of importance)

  • To keep my body healthy and functioning well
  • To maintain a high level of energy
  • To train for a marathon
  • To stay in shape and look trim/fit

My Constraints/Requirements

I think there are a bazillion number of ways to work out and stay fit. What matters is finding one that fits the constraints of your life. Getting into a routine of working out every morning is awesome, but it means having a few constraints including:

  • Easy on my knee – I don’t do plyometrics or any activities that involve a lot of pounding, side-to-side cutting, etc.
  • Morning availability – I like to workout in the morning, at my own pace, so that means most classes are a no go at the moment.
  • Affordable – Right now I am not willing to budget for classes, bootcamps, trainers, expensive equipment, etc. I work out at a nearby cheapo gym and my biggest expense are race entrance fees.
  • Sub-hour workouts – Since I am working out in the morning, shorter is better for me. My gym is 2 blocks from my apt and only one of my workouts lasts more than an hour door-to-door (the long run).

Workout 1: Heavy Weights

When I was a gymnast, we only did a tiny bit of lifting in the beginning of the pre-season. Otherwise, I generally stayed away. After reading about the work of Pavel Tastasouline (kettlebells) and Brian MacKenzie (CrossFit Endurance), both featured in Four Hour Body, plus reading about Jason Fitzgerald of Strength Running and his gym workouts, I decided to make heavy lifts a cornerstone of my workouts.

Typical workout:

  • Deadlift – 3 sets (6x 225lbs, 6x 245lbs, 4x 265lbs)
  • Benchpress – 3 sets (6x 185lbs, 6x 205lbs, 4x 265lbs)
  • Squat – 3 sets (8x front squat 135lbs, 8x back squat 135lbs, 8x front squat 135lbs)

Why I do it

What I’m learning is that heavier lift but lower reps is a really efficient way of building and maintaining strength without building mass. I want to short circuit the heavy mileage running programs that most marathon training guides advocate and I can only do that with a strong frame achieved through heavy, compound lifts.

In re-reading some of the literature like the “rule of 10”, I am considering raising the amount of weight lifted, reducing reps to 2-3 and increasing my rest time from ~2mins to ~5mins.

Workout 2: Tempo Run

This is the shorter run I do during the week, which should push me a bit aerobically and leave me breathing pretty hard at the end.

Typical workout:

Why I do it

You can’t train for a marathon without doing some running. Long runs obviously help build tolerance for distance, but my tempo runs are for going a bit faster and keeping me from turning into a plodding, slow jogger.

Workout 3: Bodyweight

As a gymnast, I used to warmup and end my workouts with a ton of body weight exercises. At one point, I realized the 45 min routine we would do to warm up for gym practice was hard enough to be an entire workout for me now as a non-athlete. Kind of a sad feeling, but just the nature of my current lifestyle.

Typical workout:

  • 10 mins on bike machine
  • 2x 50 pushups
  • 2x 15 pullups
  • 50 hollow rocks + 50 arch rocks
  • 1 min handstand hold + 5 handstand pushups
  • 1 min plank hold + 1 min side plank hold (each side)

Why I do it

Bodyweight exercises is like a medium-light workout that doesn’t tax my legs too much, works my core and upper body, keeps me active and my blood moving during the week.

Workout 4: Interval Training

High intensity interval training is where you switch between doing really hard activity followed by really easy activity on repeat for some number of cycles. Studies have shown that vigorous exercise burns more calories than “steady state exercise”, increases your post workout metabolism for longer and can even increase your endurance/aerobic capacity in less time than longer, easier workout. Check out more on intervals via this infographic by Greatist.

Typical workout

  • Elliptical: 6x 1 min easy on Level 10, 1 min really hard on Level 14

Why I do it

I do intervals partly as a way to build speed without doing track work or hill sprints. It’s a lot more convenient and it’s nice that it only takes 12 minutes to do the whole workout. I do wondering if I’m getting the same benefits because I am worried about running being too different from “elliptical-ing” and thus not getting that speed boost. But my aerobic capacity should be benefitting. I think I’m going to start doing more cycles (maybe 8?) while taking the easy portion even easier and seeing what happens.

Workout 5: Light/Rehab

This is a mixed bag. I want to be in the gym but not kill myself before a long run.

Typical workout:

  • 20 mins on bike machine easy
  • Rotator cuff exercises with 5lbs dumbells
  • Single-leg balance Romanian Dead Lifts (no weight)
  • 100 ups (which after watching the video, I realize I’ve been doing wrong)

Why I do it

Most people don’t do enough preventative rehab. I don’t use my upper body as much as I used to but it’s really good to work out some of those smaller muscles in your shoulder and back. Same for the lower body – just doing some drills, some stretch and staying loose.

Workout 6: Long Run

I love this workout. It’s my big test every week – my test of progress. I am constantly trying to extend my long run until I’m easily running some faster paced half marathons and can handle a 15 or 18 miler without issue.

Typical long run

Why I do it

I’m training for a marathon in late July and this is the best way I know how to track my progress. I want to be comfortably running longer distances without blisters or major soreness before I go all out on that 26.2 miler.

I really enjoy my long runs because – 1) I’m usually extra well rested from the day before 2) I blast electronic dance music and get my jam on 3) my runs are along the waterfront of San Francisco and 4) my long runs are usually are also on my cheat day (more on that in another post) so I eat very well afterward

I may write an entire post devoted to the long run later on, but we’ll stop here for now =)

Final Thoughts

When reviewing my workout program, it’s like someone made a smoothie out of running, powerlifting and gymnastics. I realize I may not be realizing the full gains of doing heavy lifting or interval training by only doing it once a week. Perhaps my need for variety is preventing me from getting stronger/faster as efficiently as possible. Writing this blog post has been great because I already have some ideas for changing up my routine.

I will say though that I’ve been doing this routine for a few months and it’s been great. I feel good everyday, never too exhausted during the weekdays and full of energy – and I haven’t suffered any major injuries or illnesses (minus the foot issues and cold symptoms before the half marathon) so it’s achieving my goals.

What’s your workout routine like? How do you structure your exercise? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Amelia Strader of GoGo Craft
Amelia Strader

I went out for drinks one evening at a bar in San Francisco which was pitching a free “mobile crafting workshop” — and it was awesome. There was fabric, stuffing, sewing materials and space-themed cutouts and tons of grown adults acting like 8 year olds in arts & crafts.

When I met the woman behind it all, Amelia Strader, and heard her story, I knew she would make for an awesome kick ass interview. She operates Gogo Craft, a mobile crafting workshop/business, as her main occupation and puts on events for venues, parties and other types of gatherings. She was a wonderful crafting teacher and I love how she’s built this business.

Let’s dig in!

[alert style=”grey”]1) You’ve been knitting and sewing from a very young age! What are some of your favorite memories of crafting as a kid?[/alert]

My favorite memory is of my early attempts at trying to make my own designs.  I was about 10 years old and really into tap dancing, so I was eager to make some sparkly dance costumes.  I never wanted to buy patterns, I wanted to make my own.  So I would have my younger sister lie down and I would draw an outline of her on my fabric, and cut it out in the shape of a skirt or top and sew it together.  Of course my poor sister had to wear the crazy outfits I made so my parents could show them off to friends and family.

[alert style=”grey”]2) You got a BFA in Fashion Design and then worked in the industry. What was the coolest parts about that? What did you learn from 8 years in the “biz”?[/alert]

The coolest part was seeing a garment that I had helped to develop either for sale in a store or being worn by a stranger on the street.  I learned so many valuable things working in the garment industry that I use in my own business everyday.  As a technical designer I had to alter patterns and create instructions that factories would then use in order to make the garments.  So I honed my skills as a pattern maker and learned how to describe making a garment in easy to follow words and images.  I use this all the time to create the patterns and tutorials that go along with each of my GoGo Craft workshops.

[alert style=”grey”]3) How did you get to the idea of Gogo Craft? I know these stories can go in twists and turns – can you walk us through some of the experiences and thoughts you had when dreaming up this business?[/alert]

It all started in 2008, when I got laid off from my job in the garment industry.  Of course it was a bummer, but I was actually relieved.  The job I had wasn’t very creative, and I wasn’t sure it was the right career path for me — a really difficult and scary thing to admit to myself.  At first, unsure of what else I wanted to do, I started teaching some knitting classes, in order to make a little extra cash while looking for another job.

At the same time a few of my sewing projects were featured at a monthly craft workshop that I helped to create and organize, called Craft Bar with Etsy Labs, at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in SF.  By doing the knitting classes and organizing these workshops I remembered how much I really loved creating and teaching.  As I was coming to this realization, I was offered a tech design job at Old Navy with a good salary and benefits, but accepting the position would have meant I would not be able to teach anymore.  So in 2010 I decided to throw caution to the wind.  I turned the job down and started GoGo Craft, a mobile craft workshop in the Bay Area.

Crafting at the King Kong Bar with Winnie KaoCrafting at the King Kong Bar with Winnie Kao

[alert style=”grey”]4) We first met at a GoGo Craft event you had going in the King Kong Bar (a popup bar inside Escape from New York Pizza). Is that a typical “gig”? What other types of gigs do you throw? How does it usually work?[/alert]

I can’t say that I have a typical gig.  The cool thing about GoGo Craft gigs is that they have taken me to all different kinds of events and spaces around the Bay Area.  I’ve taught workshops at Treasure Island Music Festival and at the California Academy of Sciences.  My event locations have also included birthday parties, street fairs, holiday fairs, retail spaces, and libraries.  GoGo Craft provides the project, supplies, and expert instructor, the customer provides the space.

[alert style=”grey”]5) What is your favorite part about running this business? And what is the hardest part?[/alert]

Favorite part of the biz is that I’m getting paid to do something that I love.  I still can’t get over how cool it is that I get paid to teach people how to make SpaceCraft plushies at a bar or teach a group of kids how to make superhero masks.  The hardest part is dividing my time between my job working at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, running GoGo Craft solo, and maintaining my personal life .  I’ve learned to be very organized in order to balance all three, but there are crazy weeks that I just have to bite the bullet and put my nose to the grindstone.

[alert style=”grey”]6) What are your favorite hacks (aka neat tricks) you can pass along to people who want to craft better?[/alert]

My favorite piece of advice to share with beginning crafters is that you don’t need expensive materials and tools to make something cool.  Some of my favorite projects are upcycling (re-using) ordinary household items like paper towel rolls, old magazines, cardboard boxes, and old sweaters.  I just made a small puppet stage from a cereal box, markers, scissors, and a glue stick.  Using ordinary materials doesn’t put a big dent in your wallet and is much less intimidating to beginning crafters.

[alert style=”grey”]7) How can we get in touch if we want to learn more?[/alert]

Just shoot me an email at gogocraftinfo@gmail.com and I can answer any questions you might have.  Or contact me through facebook or twitter.

I don’t often have an opportunity to share what we’re doing/thinking at Ridejoy but once in a while an opportunity comes up. This time it’s actually three – an article about Ridejoy’s website design, a blog post about how we build community within our team, and a story that mentions how we hired a designer.

Talking about Ridejoy’s Design in the New York Times

Ridejoy in the New York Times

We were connected with David Freedman who wrote a story in his small business column in the New York Times about how we’ve thought about the form and function of the Ridejoy website. Thanks to our cofounder Randy Pang, the site has a very clean look. But design is not just about how things look, but how they feel and how they work.

As David puts it:

Ridejoy is hiding a lot of high-powered complexity behind the intended simplicity of the home page. Consider, for example, that an offered or desired ride can start anywhere, end up anywhere, and happen on any date or time. That means the chances that everyone or even most people who come to the site will find an exact match are not high. So the site’s computers churn through all the possibilities to find the closest matches — perhaps a ride that leaves from a nearby city, or that leaves a day later. If nothing clicks, a notification service lets you know if a new listing comes along that might meet your needs.

Read the whole article at: Would You Trust Ridejoy’s Web Site? (NYTimes.com)


Building the Ridejoy Team’s Culture and Community Through FoodFood Matters - Building a Startup Office Culture One Meal at a Time

We strive to build a culture at Ridejoy that’s supportive and based on mutual respect, trust and hopefully, friendship. One of the ways we try to create that kind of a community is through shared meals. We recently wrote a blog post that attracted some attention about our Happiness Manager Camille.

Inspired by Thumbtack’s Food Rules post, we decided to experiment with home-cooked meals based on my experience as a cook and kitchen manager in 100+ member housing cooperatives. It’s worked out great and the Office Hero evolved into the Ridejoy Happiness Manager.

Read the whole post by Camille at Food Matters – Building a Startup Office Culture One Meal at a Time (Ridejoy Blog)

The International Search For Our Lead Designer

In Silicon Valley, designers emerge as rock stars

As discussed earlier, design and culture are really important to us. So when it came to finding our lead designer, we scoured the planet to find the right fit. This article published in Reuters describes the challenges that companies face when hiring for designers and my cofounder Kalvin Wang shares his thoughts on the topic:

“You do really have to look outside Silicon Valley,” Wang said. “For Bay Area designers, they have literally hundreds of options and they’re going to work at a place where they know people, or a big name like Google.”

Read the whole article at In Silicon Valley, designers emerge as rock stars (Reuters)

I have a great deal of respect for Jim Collinshe’s a former professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, has written 4 incredible books that dive into why businesses succeed or fail in the long term and by all accounts, leads a life of integrity, vitality and meaning.

I spent over a dozen hours writing a super detailed summary of his newest book – Great by Choice – which looked at the specific practices and behaviors that separated super successful technology companies (like Intel, Amgen and Microsoft) from similar companies with only middling success.

The secret? It’s not bold risk taking, better technology or even good luck. It’s much simpler: Discipline. The book is a fantastic read and you should read the whole thing if you have time. But if you don’t have time right now and just want the bottom line, you’ve come to the right place.

I’m happy to let you know that my summary of Great by Choice has been published as a Quicklet by Hyperink.

Now, normally this book would set you back $2.99 but I worked out a special, limited-time offerwith the Hyperink guys just for you:

Download the Great by Choice Quicklet in PDF format – free.

Great by Choice Quicklet  

If that wasn’t enough, they’re also offering another awesome deal: get the Ultimate Jim Collins Bundle for just $1 (that’s 83% off the normal price of $5.99) which includes the Good to Great and How the Mighty Fall Quicklets in addition to mine.

Now I’m not just a Hyperink author, I’m a customer. I pay for their Netflix-style all you can read package (access to 500+ books!) and have read the entire Jim Collins series – so you can know I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

This deal isn’t going to last so get in on it soon – I believe everything ends on Friday and prices go back up. This is your chance to learn from the greatest business teacher alive – Jim Collins – for less than a cup of coffee.

Download the Great by Choice Quicklet – Free!

Download The Ultimate Jim Collins Quicklet Bundle – $1 (83% off!)