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Archive for July, 2010

Nothing like a 6AM Brick to wake you up!

July 29, 2010 1 comment

Crawled out of bed at 5:25 AM, had a Rev3 (healthier than Red Bull) got my bike gear on and headed out. My main goals of the brick were; 1) to do it, 2) practice transition 3) make sure “no socks” was doable
Accomplished all 3. Transition was fast and no blisters. The shoes I’m using are Zoot, got ’em on sale at Jack Rabbit during the Seventh Heaven Street Fair. Half Off! Really comfortable and they have quick pull elastic laces.

Zoot Men's Ultra Tempo 2.0 Triathlon Shoes

And I wore my bike shoes sockless, which I had done before and it was fine.  I used this product called Blister shield that I had got a sample from at some race, maybe NY Marathon.  You’re supposed to dump the powder in your socks and it prevents blisters.  I dumped it in my biking shoes instead and it worked great.

Did 3 loops (3.3 mi per loop) on the bike then about a 30 second transition and 1 loop running.  Felt good, didn’t push too hard, good easy pace.  Achilles felt good.

Afterwords went to R & A and got my gears and brakes adjusted, new handlebar tape and aerobars.  I’m psyched.  I’ve wanted aerobars for a while now.  They look cool.  Here’s a pic of the new and improved speed machine 🙂

Souped up bike

YD8T57MXQZXX

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Feeling Old…

July 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Really old. Maybe it’s because I slipped out of shape over the last 9 months. I guess ever since the NYC marathon, I was pretty whipped and after taking time off, my knee got messed up with the meniscus tear. Since then I’ve been just doing enough to not get out of shape, but wouldn’t say my current fitness level is anything to write home about. I’m actually surprised at how well I can still compete in the races and duathlons I’ve been in this year. Holding steady as far as past times have gone, but for some reason, I want more. I’m a competitor, an over-achiever since birth. I have learned to be happy with my accomplishment, but without fail, in the back of my mind, I know I could have done better with more training, better eating, more sleep, etc, etc.

The most frustrating part of the whole process is that when I get the motivation to step it up, I seem to have some setback. Whether its the knee, or stress fracture, or achilles, it seems there is something that prevents me from going full on into training, for running anyway. I have and will continue to step up the cycling and swimming. Biked 18miles on Monday and today swam 15 min in the morning and ran 5 mi in the evening. Achilles didn’t feel great on the run, but after icing, felt fine.

Triathlon is on Sunday. It’s a sprint, 400 meter swim, 13 mile bike, 5k run. The swim is in a 50m pool that we will “snake” through all 8 lanes. Should be interesting.

It is definitely a humbling experience to compete when not fully in the best condition. But I will say that I live to compete and couldn’t imagine not. It always boggles my mind when teammates say that “they aren’t racing because they aren’t in racing shape”, mind you they are saying this while being easily one of the 3 or 4 fastest guys on the team. Sometimes you have to race yourself into shape. I understand that feeling after completing a sub-par race and knowing that you got beat by people that you should beat, have beaten, and will beat in the future. But sometimes you have to put pride aside and put yourself out there. For the good of the team, and for the future motivation that racing provides. Even when you are in amazing shape, you aren’t guaranteed an amazing race. Everything has to line up on that given day. Weather, energy, race course, competition, race plan, all that. I’m not saying race every weekend to go for the “perfect” race, that would cause burnout. I am saying race more often than a few times a year. Vary the distances. Vary the goals. Have fun.

Romaine Salad with Avocado and Smoked Gouda Recipe Video

July 23, 2010 Leave a comment

This is one of my staple snack/lunches.  Quick. Easy. Nutritious.  It’s a great base salad to add more things to.  It already has the healthy fats with the avocado and olive oil.  For protein you could add some hard boiled egg, turkey, or ToFurkey.

Ingredients

One head Romaine lettuce

1/4 Red Pepper, diced

1/2 Plum Tomato, diced

1/2 Avocado, sliced

2oz smoked Gouda cheese, diced

1T balsamic vinegar

1T Olive Oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Enjoy!

Chocolate Raspberry Chia Nutritional Shake Recipe Video

July 22, 2010 Leave a comment

This is a recipe I came up with for a post workout shake.  I usually drink mine in the morning after my workout, whether is be running, biking or swimming. They are hundreds of variations you can use, but this is one I have found particularly tasty.

Here is the printed recipe

2o oz cold filtered water

1 banana

1 cup frozen raspberries

3 scoops USANA Chocolate Whey Nutrimeal

(blend)

1 Tablespoon USANA OptOmega Oil

(blend 3 seconds to mix)

spoon in 1/2 cup Chia Mixture (see recipe below)

Chia Mix

1 cup filtered water

2 heaping Tablespoons Chia seeds

(stir and refrigerate for 30 minutes until gel forms)

Enjoy!! 🙂

Nutritional Breakdown

Calories  543

Fat  19.5 gr

Carbs  80 gr (21g Fiber, 40g sugar)

Protein 20 gr

This usually fuels me until lunch, but I’m 6’1″ and 195 lbs.  You can definitely cut the recipe in half or share with a friend if it seems like too much.  But I think that once you taste it, you’ll want it all for yourself.

International Soccer Game in Vienna

July 17, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m writing to you all from Vienna, Austria, actually just outside in a small town called Tulln.  We (my fiance and I) are here for her cousin’s wedding.  As part of the pre-wedding festivities there was a soccer game.  Poland vs Croatia (her cousin is Polish, and his fiance is Croatian).  I played for the Polish team.  I haven’t played soccer since I was little, and this game was very informal, most of the Polish players took regular cigarette breaks 🙂

Soccer Time!

We got dominated in the game, but afterward I found out that the Croation team had 4 guys who are currently playing in semi pro leagues, so I don’t feel so bad.  I did OK, for being a little rusty. I had 2 perfect headers and handled and passed the ball like a champ.  No goals though.  We lost 8 to 3.   The team called me the “marathon man”, being a runner and all.  I finished the game almost unscathed, I did have a small shin to shin clash which left a mark.  And my achilles tendon wasn’t too happy with my soccer game.  Oops.  The original achilles strain came from my venture with the Five Finger shoes a few weeks ago.  I guess it wasn’t all the way healed, but it is definetely sore today.  A slight case of achilles tendonitis.  I have a wedding to attend tonight, so there will be some dancing.  No break-dancing tonight I guess 🙂

Here is a couple good sites on treating achilles tendonitis.

Time-To-Run

About.com Site about Treatment

I’ve been icing every couple hours with an ice cube directly on the sore area and didn’t run today.

I will be doing more biking and swimming when I get back to the US to let this heal before it becomes chronic.  I’m not worried though.  I’ve had this before, it just takes rest and attention.  A lot of ice, anti inflammatory meds and don’t do anything crazy, like play soccer.

Running in Poland, Fantastic

July 11, 2010 3 comments

Had my first run since arriving to Poland on Saturday.  Although it is steamy hot here as it is in New York, temperature topped out at 98* yesterday, the mornings are amazingly cool.  Woke up this morning and it was only 70.

The sun seems to want to be up at all times, only going down for a few hours a night in the summer.  Sunset was at 10pm and it was back and ready for more at 5AM!  My sleep schedule is all messed up from the jet lag.  Took about 5 naps in my first day here.  Only slept about 4 hours on the place.  Didn’t sleep at all in the shuttle from Berlin to Police, mainly due to the excessive heat and the drivers unwillingness to keep the AC on for longer than 10 seconds.  On, off, on, off, on, off, literally for 2 hours.

I was up at 6AM today ready to go, sunny and very little humidity, I headed out on my favorite path leading out of Police.  There are various trails leading into the woods and I turned down one about 2 miles into my run.  Running in NYC for the last few years, I force myself to forget how much I love running in the woods on trails.  They just aren’t readily available in NYC without a lengthy ride out of town.  I am pretty much relegated to run in Prospect Park for any form of nature.

Entering the path to the woods I was reminded of my stay in Traverse City, MI last summer at my grandparents house where I was able to enjoy some off road running.

I think my favorite part is the solitude, especially appreciated after living in a city of 10 million, it’s nice to get away from people.  But I’m enamored with everything on the trail, the soft footing, the sounds of nature, the ever-changing scents that waft across every 10 meters.  Sometimes wildflowers, then pine, dirt, or just freshness.  In Traverse City I was fortunate to come across several deer feeding on the grass in the early AM, not so lucky in Poland but I’m sure they were there someplace.

It was like an outdoor treadmill, but much more exciting than a treadmill.  It seemed like I could run on this trail forever.  I’m sure it would end somewhere but as far as I ran, it just kept going with side trails breaking off every 800m or so.  Luckily for me the trails were marked.  I happened to be on “39”.  This was extremely comforting to me, as I am locationally challenged.  It’s not that I get lost, I just don’t know where I am for extended periods of time 🙂  So the painted numbers on the trees helped.

For some bizarre reason, when I run in new locations, cities, and mainly in the forests of strange locations my mind wanders to worst case scenarios…what if there are hunters out here and I get shot, what if a wild animal attacks me, what if I come across some criminals that chase me, and on and on.  I often think, if I would injured or wounded, how would I get back to the main road or how would people find me.  How long would it take for a search party to form.  This really only happens in the woods.  Nothing like this has ever happened to me, aside from being lost from time to time,  I’ve stayed fairly safe in the woods.

This “worst case” psychosis does a few things.  One, it keeps me alert, Two, it gives me some good adreniline and I feel like I could run forever, Three, if something ever did actually happen, I think I have a good plan mapped out.  Basically I do it for entertainment, like I am running in a movie, a thriller.  It’s fun, in a weird way.

This run in the woods today was no different.  My entire 7 miles was completely alone, didn’t see another person the whole time.  Great temperature and shaded most of the way.  The footing varied from packed dirt to softer sand on a rolling trail straight into the heart of the Poland forest.  While running I felt like I could go forever and the idea of a trail marathon crossed my mind.  Definitely in my future.  Maybe a 1/2 marathon on the trails this fall.  Not really in marathon shape now, but on the trail today, I felt like it.

It’s going up to 98* again today.  No one in Poland has air conditioning in their house, since this hot weather is very rare and lasts 2 weeks at most.  At the same time screen on windows are rare, so open windows invite any flying critters to the house.  It’s all good, I will gladly take the lack of AC and screens for the opportunity to run on amazing trails just a 1/2 mile from the house.

Do Widzenia (good night)

Your Running Form–Helping or Hurting?

July 6, 2010 4 comments

Disclaimer: The information presented on this site is based upon my opinions and experiences and should not be used as medical, personal, training, or professional advice or recommendations.

I’ve been running for many years, 34 to be exact, and competing for 30 years.  Over that time I have seen many many people with off the wall running form.  I’m not sure how they developed it, or if they are even aware that they are not running with a form that is at all similar to most others.  I want to help these people, but how do you approach someone with that?  “Hey!  Dude, what are you doing with your arms?  Trying to fly?”  I don’t think so.  I’m sure most people would welcome the advice, but who knows.  I wanted to put this post up to help those who seek it, and maybe those who don’t.

When I think of perfect form, or the perfect stride I think of the elite athletes, specifically the Kenyan distance runners who have dominated for so many years.  Very few people ever achieve that level of fitness and efficiency, but if you use that as the goal, it gives us something to strive towards.

ARMS

One of the most common yet easy fixes is how people carry their arms.  Your arms should be bent at a 90 degree angle.  Not 180 and not 45.  I see people that have their arms so bent and held so close to their chest they look like they are giving themselves uppercuts to the jaw.  Then I see others running almost straight-armed.

Here is the ideal.  Arms bent at the elbow with a 90 degree angle (like the letter “L”), swing the arms from the shoulder, the elbow shouldn’t bend much.  The hands should be positioned to just graze the hip bones.  The swing of the arms should come across the body slightly but never cross the imaginary centerline of you belly button.

Note: (If you are sprinting to the finish or racing a 400 meter or below your arms will swing more front to back, with no crossing in front of the body)

HANDS

Imagine you are holding an egg in each hand, if you squeeze too hard, it will break.  If you open your hands it will break.  Keep the egg safe and you will stay relaxed.  If you run with clenched fists, that tightness will go to your arms, shoulders and neck and mess your form up.

EYES

Eyes? Yes eyes.  Where you look is important because your body follows your eyes.   Look ahead at the road or trail in front of you, about 10-20 feet ahead.  Don’t look at your feet, this will cause you to hunch over and put more stress on your quads than is necessary.  Don’t look all around, left and right, this will pull your shoulders out of proper positioning.  This doesn’t mean you can’t EVER look around, but for the most part, if you need to look move your eyes, not your head.

FEET

How you land and push off is very important.  This is the main reason overuse injuries occur, improper form.  First let me tell you what you DONT want.  You don’t want to land on your heel and run heel-toe.  This is a sign of over-striding.  You also don’t want to run all the way on your toes.  This will tire you calves and probably give you shin splits over time.  The ideal is just forward from flat footed.  Landing on the balls of your feet but not on your toes.  Try to land on the mid-foot then roll through to the toes.

OTHER TIPS

Your posture is important, especially when you are tired late in a run or race.  Many runners, as they tire, start to bring their arms up to their chest, their shoulder slump, and the bend over at the waist.  This will make you tense and more tired.  At every mile mark or every ten minutes in training give yourself a “posture check”…

-back straight

-shoulders back, chest out

-arms relaxed, 90 degrees

-hands holding an egg

-mid foot landing

If you can maintain good form, I promise you, you will be passing runners who are in better shape with poor form.

Your cadence is also important.  Cadence is how many times your feet strike the ground per minute.  Elite runners have a cadence of 180, no matter their stride length or speed.  Check your cadence the next time you go out for a jog.  Count how many times your feet hit the ground in a minute.  If your cadence is low, try shortening your stride a bit.

DON’T BOUNCE, try to keep your head level.  If you are 5’9″ imagine you are running in a tunnel with a roof that is exactly 5’9” high, if you run with bounce you will hit your head.  Bouncing is wasted energy, you want to move forward, not up and down.  To focus on less bouncing run lightly, focus on quicker turnover, let your feet spend less time on the ground.  More bouncing means more impact and that can lead to shin splints and stress fractures.

To obtain the “perfect” stride and form takes practice.  You can easily correct many flaws just by focusing on them while you run, but to really master the stride and form takes practice and drills.  It has to be committed to muscle memory or it won’t happen on race day.  Some form flaws are due to muscle imbalance or weakness, so the form correction may require some strength training and/or flexibility work.  Add a comment or email me if you have a specific question about your form.

For a great chapter on running form and stride check out Matt Fitzgerald’s book Brain Training for Runners

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