Yesterday afternoon, I decided to add some more bike miles to my monthly tally.

At about the halfway point, I stopped at the Naples (Florida) Pier, the area’s public beach, for some water and people watching.

Although the town of Naples rivals any place in America for the number of millionaires per capita and there is currently a real estate listing for $44M (let me know if you’re interested), the broader Collier County has any number of more modest areas where the average house costs south of a few $100K (or stay where we are and pick up a park…


Until just a few years ago, I always thought of myself as just a not-very-good sleeper who could perform at a high level without a lot of zzz’s.

As a kid, my natural state was “pretty wound up,” some combination of anxiety, energy, and ambition, that became most obvious after the lights went out and the tossing and turning began.

In college, I chose a major (computer science) that I was wholly unprepared for and surrounded me with hyper-competitive geeks whose pale and sickly countenance as a result of long nights pouring over code was a badge of honor. …


In early January 2010, I went to Jupiter, Florida to ride in my first U.S. qualifier for Paris-Brest-Paris. The 200K distance was a challenging yet doable ask after a snowy east coast off-season. I reckoned that some southern sun and significantly higher temperatures would provide a temporary reprieve from the winter blues that always seem to grip me like a vice and not let go until the first green shoots of spring.

The day before the ride was t-shirt and shorts weather — bright sun, blue skies, and a radiating heat. But the weather report for the next day was…


Happy New Year and welcome to the first edition of Squaring the Curve for 2018! My holiday season, along with practically everyone else’s (or so we’re led to believe), was predictably hectic and further complicated by a variety of family illnesses both large and small including a particularly close call from the Grim Reaper for Rosie the family mutt (who has thankfully recovered). Hence the long overdue continuation of a series of posts on the five things that we need just to survive — oxygen, water, food, stable body temperature, and sleep — on the assumption that if we can’t…


Water is a vital component of survival, performance, and long-term well-being. How long can we go without water? Basically, we need to find a source within about three days (depending on activity level and environment) or we’re in big trouble. We intuitively know that water must be important (think about the last time you were truly parched and how desperately your body signaled its distress) but we probably don’t know just how much. Our bones are over 20% water and blood is over 80%. It composes 75% of the brain, 70% of muscles, and over 70% of lungs. In fact…


In last week’s post, I presented five things that we need just to survive — oxygen, water, food, stable body temperature, and sleep — and proposed that we should consider fulfilling our basic needs of these requirements before moving on to more sophisticated ways to enhance and optimize performance at any age. Let’s start with oxygen. The current world record for static apnea, or holding your breath in water without moving, is 11 minutes and 35 seconds, set by Stéphane Mifsud in 2009. If a breath of pure oxygen is allowed before the attempt then the record nearly doubles to…


No matter how old I get, I hope I never stop trying to “get better”. But the other day, while checking out some complex new discovery claiming to improve brain function, I thought to myself, “What’s the use of complicated approaches to getting marginally better at something if you’re not getting the basics right first? Am I doing enough to establish a good foundation for future growth?”.

As Thoreau wrote in Walden, his masterpiece on simple, thoughtful living:

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. …


“So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains. And we never even know we have the key.” (The Eagles, Already Gone)

I co-teach a class in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon every fall where, to facilitate the formation of project teams, we ask students to reflect on a variety of questions. One of those questions focuses on fear and distinguishing between healthy fears and the kind of “barrier fears” that stem from personal insecurities. Every year, the responses display an amazing level of self-reflection, honesty, and humility. …


In 2011, I qualified for Paris-Brest-Paris, a 1200 km (~720 mile)-in-less-than-90-hours cycling sufferfest. It was first run in 1891 and some say it was the precursor to the famed Tour de France. In fact, the winner of the 1901 PBP race, Maurice Garin, subsequently went on to win the inaugural Tour de France in 1903 (read more about the fascinating history of PBP here: https://rusa.org/pbphistory.html).

As I waited with my group at the starting line, after years of training, personal sacrifice (which I often unceremoniously shared my poor wife and family), and the special kind of pain that accompanies single…


Like most people my age, particularly those who have been physically active for a long time, I’ve had LOTS of injuries over the years — severely sprained ankles, calf muscle tear, torn ligaments in both knees, bad back, fractured ribs, partially dislocated shoulders, busted fingers, torn trapezius muscle, broken nose…and probably some other stuff long forgotten (hmmm, maybe a concussion?). Every morning welcomes me with at least a little reminder of a “life well lived”, even on my best day.

Earlier this week, I “re-tweaked” an injury sustained a couple of weeks ago during a workout. As much as we…

Tim Zak

CEO — Grittopia LLC | Host — In Search of Lost Mojo | Human Performance Coach | Professor | Venture Advisor | Speaker | 4th Degree Black Belt | www.timzak.com

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