How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

Maintaining your fitness and wellness habits can be challenging, especially when life gets
busy. However, developing simple and effective strategies will help you stay on track and
keep your health a priority. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to
staying fit and healthy, complete with tips and techniques that you can implement in your
daily routine.

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6 Tips For Quality Run Training

6 Tips For Quality Run Training

Tips for Quality Run Training Train no faster than one pace quicker than the race you are training for. For example, 5k pace is good for an Olympic-distance race, while half-marathon pace suffices...

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The Goof at the Races

The Goof at the Races

There is a few races that I have neglected to report on.  I decided that being most of them were smaller and very…well…uneventful, I thought I would just give the highlights.

Escape from Ft DeSoto Sprint Triathlon

Taking part in brick workouts at the North Beach at Ft DeSoto allows for familiarity of the surroundings, so when competing in a race in the same location, it is like having home field advantage, unless the course goes off the path.

The swim was 800 meters which for me is usually pretty slow, but the current was decent and I was able to stick nextEFFD to the bouys so I felt like I improved on the swim, but it still wasn’t fast enough.  I was able to sprint out of the water and head to transition with energy to spare.

The bike was one simple loop around Ft. DeSoto with a familiar headwind on the way out and a tail wind on the way back.  I averaged over 21 mph, so I felt pretty good, but I overdid it just slightly because I felt it on the run.  The run was slightly longer than a typical sprint and the second half was on the beach, so I really felt it on my legs.  I still had enough to sprint into the finish line, but it was a lesson learned that even on a ten-mile bike leg, I still need to take it easy at the start and ride negative splits in the second half.

Afterward the finish line was filled with excitement sharing stories of the race with friends and watching a few of them at the award ceremony on the podium.  It was a fun race and while I am not huge fan of Sprint Triathlons, I will definitely be taking part in this one again.

Tampa Corporate 5k

This race was put on by my friends Ben Mena and Beth Shaw (MenaShaw Races).  It was incredibly well-organized with numerous tents for vendors and a line of food trucks preparing everything from smoothies to homemade doughnuts.  Of course a beer truck was strategically placed near the finish line to provide access to exhausted runners looking to replenish their carbohydrates.

Police Run2It always amazes me when Ben and Beth pull these races off.  I know it was basically the two of them doing all the organizing, fundraising and negotiating with vendors and sponsors, so when I walked up to the site and saw an enormous amount of people and activity, I was overwhelmed with pride and honor just to know these two personally.

I was on Nick’s team, No Limit Marketing, so he gave me my shirt and we took a couple of photos and lined up for the race. I really wanted to just take it easy during this race, but the energy got the better of me.  The course was interesting, as it led out of downtown, then off the beaten path where the terrain changed to broken pavement and then a turnaround back to the start.  I was on track for a PR, but the course turned out to be 3.4 instead of 3.1 due to a last-minute logistical changed ordered by the city.  Interesting enough, I only know this due to a conversation with Ben after the event was cleaned up.  There was no mention of it during the event which is a credit to my friends, because it was seamless and no one really cared, because everyone was having a great time.

Our team actually came in 4th but just a couple of minutes.  St. Anthony’s Triathlon was going on that weekend, so Nick decided to just coast through it, which was smart, but he kicked himself later because if he would have actually ran it we would have placed.  We still had a great time.

St. Anthony’s Olympic Triathlon

It was a crazy day for St Anthony’s this year.  The expo was as expected with numerous vendors all giving free swag, free trials, and providing goods for the race and future races.  They all kept the excitement of the race consistent.  I could not keep my heart rate down during the expo.  After a quick bike, run and swim I walked over to check-in and aMCSTA press conference was taking place.  On the panel were a number of champion triathletes and NFL superstar.  Hines Ward, former NFL player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was on the panel due to his upcoming entry into the 2013 World Championship Ironman Triathlon in Kona, October 12th.  He has never competed in triathlon before so on his road to the Ironman he is competing in the different distances and St. Anthony’s was to be his first Olympic Distance Triathlon.  My favorite triathlete, Mirinda Carefrae was sitting right next to him, because they are both sponsored by Chocolate Milk.  That was a huge treat for me, especially since I was able to talk to her and I got a hug from her afterward.  (Awww.shucks)  She was on her way to a meeting, so unfortunately I didn’t get a picture, but maybe she will recognize me at a later date and at that time I will get a pic.  But I digress.

The next day the expected wave of anxiety especially since the water looked a little choppy and being my confidence in the water is a little shaky, I was even more anxious.  I guess my feelings were correct because after the pros started Phil LeHaye, the race director, came over the loudspeaker and stated the course would be shortened for safety sake.  I really thought  that I would be happy due to my limited swimming confidence, but I was amazed at how disappointed I was.  To me it was no longer an Olympic Triathlon.  I ended up doing this exact same course two years prior when they moved the swim but I was even worse at that point.

2013-05-06Truth be told that was the most unusual part of the race.  I completed the swim without any real issues, the bike was uneventful with an average of 20.8 mph and I even was able to complete the 10k run with only one hitch; my bladder told me after mile 4 that I needed to empty it.  I told it that we only had two more miles, but I had already held it for a while and it just wasn’t going to allow me to keep going for another two miles without relieving it.  I ended up using a port-o-potty on the route which took even longer because I was wearing a one-piece tri suit that Zoot had sent me with their new technology.  I usually am not a fan of one-piece tri-suits but this one even though it was black, was cool and comfortable.

I finished in 2:43 which was 37 minutes better than two years prior with the same distance.  If it wasn’t for the stop it might have been up to 7-8 minutes faster.  Either way I was happy with my performance and I felt really strong crossing the line.

Police Appreciation Run

My friend Rich texted me a few days before this 10k race.  I had no intention of running it, but

PArun

I had not had the opportunity to hang out with Rich for a while and I wanted to catch up with him.  Of course Rich is really fast genetically, so even with all the training I had been doing I still couldn’t catch him, but I enjoyed the race.

This is a Chris Lauber directed race, whom I just have the utmost respect for, not to mention the race was dedicated
to the current and fallen Policemen and women in the area.  Great cause, and a great race, even with the 10k going off course for a bit.  We didn’t know this until we returned to the finish line, but Chris was lucky because even thought we drifted, it was still exactly 6.2 miles, start to finish.   There were plenty of vendors afterward, with food and recovery fluids.  I highly recommend it to anyone.

Miles for Moffitt

I believe I have stated this in other posts, but to make money to live I contract myself out as an IT Program/Project Manager for large firms.  What exactly do I do?  Well, companies hire me to manage projects that usually have over million dollar budgets, like re-designing an online banking site for a well-known financial company, or the development of a government website with over 50,000 pages and applications.  I identify the scope of the project, procure the resources both human and material, set the schedule, manage the budget, mitigate the risks, serve as a liaison between the business executives, IT department, internal and external vendors and worker bees, and manage the tasks in order to complete the project.

MMSBMy latest contract is with Gerdau Steel and they are a major sponsor for Miles for Moffitt, which is a very popular event in the Tampa Bay Area.  Gerdau was nice enough to allow me to run the 5 mile race for them.  They have basically three races the 5 miler, the 5k and the  1 mile run/walk.  The 5 miler and the 5k can be run either timed or untimed.  This was a well-organized event with a relatively flat course on the campus of the University of South Florida.  Surprisingly enough there was a couple of hills, but nothing that felt terrible.  I saw a few of my clients while out there and hung out with Rich again.  I averaged 7:30 miles as I did the week before during the Police Appreciation 10k, so I was content with my performance.

After the races concluded, and the thank yous are stated, they have a parade for the cancer survivors that ran the race.  It was a really awesome site to see all of these people who were diagnosed with cancer now running in a race.  it was inspiring and motivating to know they came back from as close to hell as one can get, and stronger than before.

The Dunedin Sprint Triathlon

I have completed this race for a couple of years now, and since my first triathlon is no longer around, the Morton Plant Mease Triathlon, I decided to make this one my annual “remember how it all started” race.

DTRI

This race is held on Honeymoon Island which is a great beach with usual minimal issues, but this year we were told that the bottom was a little rocky and we should bring water shoes.  I decided to wear my Vibram 5-fingers because they do not hold a lot of water and  I thought they would be easy to get out of.

The swim was pretty much a water run due to the shallowness of the  water.  I usually incorporate some water running during my swim sessions so I know the resistance that water can put on your legs, so I dolphin dived/swam most of the way.  I was going to be using my legs enough during the bike and the run, I didn’t need to be wearing them down, prior.  I came out of the water in the faster 10% of the wave, but was slowed down by two things.  The first being getting out of my shoes.  While there was no water giving me issues, the shoes had constricted around my foot so I had to fight to get them off, and then exiting transition had a very narrow trail, so there was a line of us only able to shuffle to the start mat.  Other than that the race went great I finished in 1:05 which was another PR for me by a couple of minutes.

And that brings us up to date on race reports.  My next race is the NYC Triathlon which is an Olympic distance triathlon in the heart of New York City July 14th.  I am really looking forward to this race due to the course being around my favorite city.

Carpe Viam!

Don’t Swim in Open Water

Don’t Swim in Open Water

Unfortunately, the triathlon season started on a tragic note this past weekend at the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. Not long after diving into the frigid 50-degree waters of the San Francisco Bay, 46-year-old Ross Ehlinger, from Austin, Texas, suffered a fatal heart attack despite the heroic attempts made by the San Francisco EMS.
Unfortunately, Ehilnger was not the first to die of heart problems in the open water swim portion of the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlontriathlon. Deaths have been on the increase in triathlons and the vast majority of them occurring during the open water swim leg. This post is not intended to scare into never swimming in open water or ever competing in triathlons, but provide information about the precautions to prevent these types of accidents from occurring.
1. Check yourself: If there is knowledge of health and/or heart problems or genetic predisposition to cardiac irregularities, get cleared by a physician before starting a training program and then again before racing.  An EKG(Electrocardiogram) will depict any irregularities that may be cause for concern.
2. Warm up: Enter the water before the start to acclimate to the water temperature. If it is not an option, do jumping jacks, push-ups or jump squats to get the blood pumping. 
3. Prior Wetsuit Swimming: If this is the initial open swim in a wetsuit, make sure to get some experience swimming in it to understand its somewhat constricting feel. Even a few laps in the pool helps.
4. Practice in open water: Open water swimming is very different from swimming in a pool and can be quite frightening  It is therefore important to get some experience in open water; it might help unburden the uneasiness and nerves. Make sure to swim with others and there is a lifeguard nearby.
5. Work on the mental game prior to the next open water triathlon. There are a lot of things people tend to stress about, but with a little mental preparation, most situations that appear will not come as a surprise and can be dealt with.
These are a few small details I have gathered from Kevin Koskella, Tri Swim Coach, which are mostly common sense, at least to most triathletes, but if it can help one athlete be more prepared, I will quote Kevin and every other swim coach until my fingers fall off. (Then I’ll use my toes, and then my tongue.)
There have been deaths surrounding not just triathlon, but marathons and other endurance races as well.  In my opinion it comes to preparedness.  Evaluating skill, fitness and injury should take president over our ‘Go Hard or Go Home’ attitude.
Of course after the evaluation is complete and the fear of finishing has been quelled, ‘GHGH’ is  a great mind frame.

“Just don’t DO IT…Do It RIGHT!” 

Carpe Viam!

Paint Wars Mud Run

Last weekend I participated in the Paint Wars Mud Run in Oldsmar, Florida. Well, mud run is not necessarily an accurate term, most of it was just wet, but it was fun. The obstacles were more nature made with some added ropes for safety, some hay bales and of course paint.

When registering for the run I was taken in by the description of the race which was, of course, a little exaggerated. The paint was to be squirted by Paint Ninjas at a lot of different points in the course. I only came in contact with two, but the anticipation made it fun. Let me start at the beginning.

I drove into the Whispering Oaks Horse Ranch with my little Mini Cooper Clubman where a volunteer pointed me in the right direction of the parking lot. Thank goodness I was driving my little car, because I ended up having to make a spot down a dirt road, but it just added to the suspense of the run. Upon following the signs to the registration table, we, Sarah and myself, were told to sign a waiver for the property, ok no problem. As we made our way to the registration line however we were then told to sign a waiver, this time it was for the race. One waiver for the property and one for the race? Whatever. We then got into a line for the registration and goggle pick up. It didn’t seem all that long, maybe 10-12 people, but it took almost 45 minutes to get through it. When we finally had a names checked and were given a SWAG bag with two promotional flyers in it, we moved over to the t-shirt line where we gave the volunteer our sizes. The next words out of his mouth floored me. “That will be 38 dollars.” What? Really? For a cotton t-shirt? Yeah, thanks but no thanks buddy. We went back to the car to drop off our phones and bags and headed to the start. We did receive a decent introduction to the course, basically letting us know that there was a few river crossings where if we decided to take them, we should know how to swim, because the depth was not shallow. At that point, my progressive 4b friend Sarah and I, took off at a decent pace.

It started with a trail run for about 500 yards and then a dead stop to wait for an obstacle. A tree crossing where the tree was underwater. I guess a lot of people took there sweet time, but Sarah took it like it was not even there and I just a tad slower. (Sarah is about 18 years my junior, so give me a break.) The crossing ended with a steep climb both up and sideways, with the recent rain adding to dirt making it a little slippery. Sarah was nice to her old partner and waited up a bit. I didn’t fall but I realized my agility is a little less than I would like it to be. (I think I need to get back to boot camp. As a matter of fact all the way through this course I was thinking that.) The next couple of obstacles were through the trails over trees and up hills till we came to another stop. We actually couldn’t see why we were stopped until we reached the top of this hill that then returned back to sea level, but in the middle was a rope swing that dropped you off into the water where you then swam about 100m to the other side with a strong current that could definitely keep you from reaching the exit point if you didn’t have some sort of skill. I think I had just enough.

I will say I wore my New Balance Minimus’ during the race which didn’t hold much water, but I think I might have been happier with the five fingers. The minimus’ would be great for Tough Mudder where there isn’t a lot of hill climbs, but here I think I would have liked the extra traction my toes would have received, but I digress.

After the swim there was a nice trail run with only a couple of puddles and a few hay bale hurdles to include a run through the ‘WAR ZONE’. OOOOOHHHH….we thought we were going to get it bad, we actually wore white so we would get it bad, but…nothing. Not a single Paint Ninja anywhere. SOOOO disappointing. Oh well, we kept running and a real nice pace. Sarah is has ridiculous stamina and while I was right on her tail the whole time, I was starting to feel it, luckily we hit another line for another tree crossing. This one was elevated over the river. We crossed that with ease and headed through another long trail run, through the war zone again, and with the same result, no Paint Ninjas, right into the one and only mud obstacle where our shoes got muddy, and it sprayed a little on our legs, but that was it. We crossed the finish line and went to the beer line.

We got in line and saw that athletes were paying 3.50 and we both decided to forget it. We found the cooler with gatorade had a couple of dixie cups and headed back to the car.

Was it fun, yes, but I wonder was it because of the race or because I had a partner who was very enjoyable to run with. I am going to say the latter, or maybe a little of both. Sarah said this was her break from studying for the third test out of four for her CPA. Sarah if your reading this…thank you for inviting me, thank you for running I had a great time, and I really hope you were extremely successful on your test.

and After

Hogwild Mud Run

I completed the Hogwild Mud Run this last weekend. To tell you the absolute truth it was a combination of fun and frustration. While I did enjoy the race, there were a couple of issues that would have made the experience better. Let me share my experience with you.

I arrived at the venue in Dover, a little outside of Plant city, around 11 am, following the advice of the email I received. Since my heat wasn’t until 12 pm the hour I had was more than enough time for me. I say “for me” because since I picked up my packet at Fit2Run the day before, which turned out to be smart. When I arrived, I walked up and saw this long line, so I jumped in and started talking to some of the other contestants in front of me. A group that had camouflage bandannas that had the word “FUBAR” on them(F***ed Up Beyond All Recognition), which I thought was totally cool. After realizing the line wasn’t really moving I asked a volunteer what was going on and was told the organization at the sign-in/registration table was really unorganized. It turned out since I already had my number I did not need to wait, I could go to a different table and just pick up my chip. Whew! There was no way I wanted to wait in that line in the 90-degree heat. I picked up my chip and headed back to my car since I also found there was no bag check. I dropped my shirt, put on my chip, grabbed my gloves and headed to the “expo” since I had plenty of time before my heat.

The “expo” wasn’t much but a few product vendors, the beer tent, and some food trucks, so I just decided to proceed to the start line with a quick stop at the porta potties. The start line was nowhere near as prominent as the Finish line and I almost had to ask where it was. Without issue, I found this small, area of ribbons which held a table and the start mats. I warmed up and stretched a bit and then headed into the start chute. While hanging out I met a couple that was in the military and another veteran race couple who were very nice and conversational. One of the veterans and I agreed we would like to see what we could do with this race time-wise just for curiosity sake so I set my watch and was ready to run whenever I could at a decent clip. After a bit, the official finally stated we had a few seconds until our heat started to, be ready. He blew the start horn and we were off.

This was the first time I decided to run in my Vibram Five Fingers, so I was a little hesitant at first, but after a few strides, I realized I felt pretty light and sped up a bit. The first couple of obstacles included a mud crawl, a small hurdle and a jump into a creek. The water was somewhat cool which was refreshing but there wasn’t really any markings to tell us where to go from there. We could move up onto a trail, but previously we were told by an official to stay in the creek and move to our left, which was still kind of confusing. I decided to do just that and took the lead. The water felt pretty heavy with debris but I pushed through and wouldn’t you know it but there was an arrow pointing out of the creek about 400 meters in front of us. We jumped out and I started running through a trail. I felt pretty good at this point and I was running at pretty good speed and felt pretty light because my shoes didn’t hold any of the water. I thought I am really going to enjoy these shoes. It turned out running was a waste since my next obstacle was a fifteen-foot rope wall and it had a line of people waiting to get over it. There was one rope on the far end that no one was using. After talking to one of the military guys, we decided to try it. This was a rope and the wall, while the other three ropes had some thin pieces of wood nailed to the wall to help this one had nothing. I thought what the hell, I did this before, I can do this. I had my gloves and my shoes, no problem, right? Wrong! I climbed about halfway up before my grip slipped due to the rope being soaked. I wrapped my arm through the rope for a second try but I realized I didn’t have the grip strength to pull myself up. What a wuss. I ended up getting back in line and using the medium level rope with two thin boards only on my left side to get over. Of course, I had to go back to the end of the line and waited about 10 minutes to get to it.

The next obstacle was a reverse ladder wall where the rungs where on an incline backward. It wasn’t hard for me and I got over it pretty quickly and since most people in front of me were adept to this one I only had to wait about five minutes to start. There were a couple of mud pits to run through a quick cargo wall and then a sandbag carry about a quarter mile around a lake, of which I actually ran. the bag was about 25 pounds give or take so I didn’t feel it was all that difficult. Awkward but not difficult. That ended with sliding down these tubes into deep water where you had to swim to the far end to get out. There were also ropes to pull yourself across if warranted, but seeing as though I needed to get in as much swimming as possible, I just swam it.

Continuing on from there was pretty fast. There were some trails in-between getting over barrels in the pond, another mud pit, and a haystack. I was surprised running after the obstacles. I expected to be somewhat winded but I was able to keep a pretty good pace running though. Of course, I was stopped dead at the monkey bars waiting another 15 minutes. The monkey bars were on an incline up and then back down. My arms were a bit exhausted, but I thought I had enough strength to get through. No such luck, 2 rungs to go and they gave out. Since I have been training more legs and core than anything else due to the triathlons, here is where I decided I need to get my upper body strength back, but I digress. back to the race.

Continuing on was a rope climb over a trash compactor, a very slippery hill, and another cargo net. The Vibram’s did not let me down during the climbs, when other athletes were slipping back I had no problem maintaining a grip in the mud. I was thinking how much of a believer I came to be in these shoes during those obstacles.

The next mile or so coming to the conclusion of the race included a long trail run with hills, moguls and a hay bale climb. I started passing people up during the run. I was really surprised how comfortable I felt out in the trails. It really felt like a nice change from the asphalt of Bayshore and Davis Island. I thought to myself about adding some trail runs to my training, just to break it up a bit.

The conclusion of the race ended with a muddy hill climb to a slide into a puddle, and finally a mud crawl under electrified barbed wire. The interesting part was the first ten feet, or so, was dry compacted dirt, but the last was wet, nasty, thick mud that clung to me like white on rice. I was caked and covered with this grimy, thick, gross mud that weighed me down as if I was carrying twenty-five-pound kettlebells. To make matters worse it smelled so bad I was wondering if maybe it was not mud at all.

I took a quick picture and headed to another line where there were some man-made showers where people were hosing off. That line didn’t move either, so I followed some other athletes back to the creek and jumped in. After the race, it was not only great to get the mud off, but the water was cool and felt so awesome I could have hung out there forever. All good things come to an end.

I was a little surprised that of all the races I participated in, this was the one race where I didn’t come across a single person I knew. It was kind of lonely actually. I must make a better effort to coordinate to run with friends next time.

On my way out of the park, back to my car, I did see something I never saw before. A bull decided to run right through the expo into the woods. Mooing and galloping like you see on TV but never in real life. He looked pretty majestic and strong with a brown and white coat and a full set of horns. I did see him through the trees trotting away until he stopped to graze a little. It was definitely an interesting experience.

Just a quick epilogue. The last heat was scheduled for 1 pm but at 1:30 as I was heading out I noticed a new heat just getting started. After talking with some other athletes, it turned out that if I had not picked up my packet early, I would have had to wait over two hours in that line. I would have missed my heat and had to start much later.

Due to the waiting, I ended up with a time of 91 minutes and change. Not the best. I will have to sign up a little earlier for the next mud run and obtain an earlier heat in order to actually compete and find what I could actually do. I do, however, encourage all my running and triathlon friends to give these mud runs a chance. They are really a lot of fun despite the 45-minute shower needed afterward.