Archive | September, 2011

So, you think you want to do a mud race??? Part 1

30 Sep

Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Original Mud Run, and so on and so on and so on. These races are popular! If you haven’t done one, chances are that your friends will sign you up for one. They happen year-round. Michigan and Indiana in November? Bundle up and prepare to possibly race in the snow. Arizona or Texas in July? Hope they let you race naked (where will you pin your number??? Ouch!) I have 4 of these under my belt this year and I get a lot of questions about preparing for these races. Here’s a comprehensive guide:

1) “I need to get in better shape before I try one.” No, you don’t. MOST of the people doing these races are weekend warriors at best. You’ll have your serious athletes sprinkled in too (caution, they may take the race seriously). Any race offering free beer and firemen to hose you off post-race is meant to be a fun race. Hint, they usually let you by-pass obstacles too.

2) However, if you want to perform better in the race and do every obstacle, join a bootcamp or, better yet, a CrossFit class. Box jumps, rope climbs, speed intervals (running, rowing, etc.), pull-ups, push-ups, sled pulls, weighted vest runs, and hurdles are all moves that will help you in the races.  If you can’t get to a bootcamp or CrossFit gym, any general physical fitness will do. Most races post the course in advance, so you can get a good idea of the specific obstacles to train for.
By the way, being able to swim a short distance will help you by-pass a lot of people. There’s usually some kind of water crossing in which people wade or pull themselves on a rope. Swimming is far more efficient (and faster) in getting from shoreline A to shoreline B.

A GREAT idea and an observation

27 Sep

I have a client who told me about something she’s started with the local school system and I think it’s a GREAT idea. (Pause for suspense) A recess walking club! Students and parents get together during recess and go for a walk. Simple, but a great way to encourage children to exercise, esp. by having their parents or their peers’ parents setting a good example by walking with them. I’ve read that by the mid-teens, the habits kids have tend to be life-long habits. And think of the other benefits of socialization, relationship building with teachers and other parents, etc.

Now, to switch to another topic – I teach bootcamp classes in a corporate environment and I’ve observed that many of my corporate bootcamp clients have bad posture (i.e., shoulders slumped forward, hunched backs, inability to stand up straight). This is unique to the older clients in the class. It reminds me that sitting at a desk 40+ hours a week is terrible for posture. Hunching forward to type, non-ergonomic workspaces, sitting for long periods of time…it shortens hamstrings and hip flexors, makes shoulders and necks tight, causes lower back pain and so on. My goal with that class is to help everyone with posture, not just the people who need it. The younger ones who are newer to the workforce stand straight and tall now, so the mission is to keep them that way. If you have a desk job, make it your mission to help yourself. Be an ambassador for your office to help co-workers. Learn ways to open your shoulders, hamstrings and other tight spots. Remind each other to get up and move around every hour or so, to sit up straight, to form a walking group at lunch (rather than recess like the kids). Some minimal changes will make a desk job less painful in the long run.

Finally, Someone please hold me accountable to make sure I blog at least once a week!

Milk…it doesn’t do a body good???

17 Sep

Mik is in the news these days as one of the latest “bad” foods. Several of the restrictive diets don’t allow milk. So, is milk, or dairy for that matter, really bad for you? Let me educate you first. (read the long article here: http://www.grist.org/scary-food/2011-09-12-not-your-grandmas-milk)

– Our dairy foods have been highly processed and contain milk by-products in addition to the various other substances that have been added in after processing.
– Homogenization changes the chemical make-up of milk molecules which creates a damaged form of fats and molecules. Oxidized fat and cholesterol have been linked to hardening of the arteries and increases in LDL (the bad cholesterol).
– Raw milk and grass-fed, non-homogenized, lightly pasteurized milk is your best bet for healthy milk (and cheese and yogurt).

So, the answer to “Is milk/dairy really bad for you?” is not so simple. I’m not a doctor or a scientist, but my personal belief is that dairy is one of the best sources of calcium we have in foods (I’m a huge supporter of getting the vitamins and minerals you need from whole, natural foods)…just buy the grass-fed non-homogenized and lightly pasteurized or raw milk and dairy from your local dairy farmer.

Are all humans "born to run"?

10 Sep

I was thinking about this as I was completing a long tempo swim yesterday. I wasn’t born to swim, but with only 3 weeks available, I jumped in a pool and started training to complete a triathlon. The first time, I couldn’t swim more than a lap and I would be so exhausted that I had to catch a breather on the edge of the pool while thinking “What have I gotten myself into?!?” Yesterday I swam a full mile, no stopping. So was I born to swim? Hardly. I invested hard work and lots of positive thinking to go from 1 lap to a full mile in 3 months.

The same has been true for everything I’ve done in my life. I may have been born with some talents or tendencies towards some of the things I’ve done (for example, I have perfect pitch, which made music come easier to me than most kids). Even in the areas of some God-given talent, I had to learn a skill, practice the skill and work hard to become really good at the skill. I wasn’t a born swimmer or runner or weight lifter or chef or musician or wife – I have to continue investing practice and hard work into these areas. I have to keep telling myself that I can do this or that, so as not to get discouraged and take the easier route that requires little or no hard work.

Learn a skill, practice the skill and put a little hard work and positive thinking into the skill. It’s the secret to success. No more living behind the crutch of “I wasn’t born to do that…”. We were not “born to run”, but a little hard work will make it appear and feel like we were born runners!

Cyclists: Wanting to improve your ride PR? I have a secret…

5 Sep

OK, so some of you may know this already. I swear that this will make you a stronger cyclist. It’s my strongest sport in a triathlon and I attribute it to this. What is it? Mountain biking! Riding a mountain bike can make you a much stronger cyclist…why?

1) Mountain biking teaches you bike control. Think you have it already? Try riding on the side of an embankment, uphill over large slippery roots. It’s not so easy…unless you have your bike control down. This includes control at fast speeds, slow speeds, standing, sitting, leaning, riding over roots, trees, bridges, obstacles and so on. This helps when riding in or on less than ideal conditions.
2) A mile on the road is about 4 miles on a mountain bike. I know this to be true from my own riding, but I have also heard many road cyclists say this. 20 miles on a mountain bike will do far more for the endurance than 20 miles on a road bike, even when tackling hills on a road bike.
3) The strength gains from mountain biking will allow for easy overtaking of “spinners” on a bike course. You will be able to sustain riding in a bigger gear. Single speed riders also gain the skill of standing to power uphill. I use both these techniques in triathlon events and I can pass many a cyclist on the uphill portions of an event.

Give it a try. Buy a decent mountain bike (a real mountain bike, not the Walmart special) and start working mountain biking into your training routine. Your PR will thank you!