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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How to Start Cycling

How to Start Cycling

One of the scariest things for a beginning triathlete, besides getting in the open water, is cycling.  The first image that wandered into my head upon deciding to start seriously bicycling was of a that scary peloton. Those tight formations of bikes moving at ridiculous speeds, during the Tour de France, so close together that one wrong move could cause serious damage to my body or someone else. Scary right? Luckily, triathlon doesn’t allow for huge groups like that, as a matter of fact it isn’t even allowed.  Whew!

Buying my first Bike

I didn’t have a lot of money when I first started in triathlon, and I also didn’t really know if I was going to like it.  I spent a lot of time in bike stores drooling over the expensive bikes, while studying cheaper entry level bikes.  Every bike store had a different angle they played.  One would say, purchase the more expensive bike, gain more speed so when I improved I didn’t have to buy another bike.  Another would tell me to buy the entry level but load it up with expensive components so I could ride faster, and when I wanted another bike, the components alone would warrant a good price, and of course that store would buy it back from me and give me a discount an another bike.  Decisions, decisions what to do, what to do?

I researched different road and tri bikes online and in magazines, and while I was pretty surecannondale_caad9 I would enjoy triathlon, I decided on an entry level Canondale CAAD 9 road bike.  I also included in my purchase, a pair of pedals, cleats, shoes and a helmet.  The helmet was very important especially since I hadn’t actually rode a bike in over 10 years.  Would I really not forget how to ride a bike?  The answer to that my friends is YES.  It is not a skill that is forgotten.  It maybe a little unsteady the first couple of times, but not forgotten.  Luckily I will have my trusty helmet, just in case.

I also read something that resonated with me.  The most important thing that is needed after the purchase of a bike, is the fitting.  At first I thought, “what?  Don’t I just have to find the most comfortable height of the seat and then get going?”  I had no idea that there are so many different adjustments on a bike, to a point that bike “fitters” actually have to be certified in order to properly fit you.  They have to take courses, pass tests and be mentored.  “Really?”, you ask?  Yes…really.

The fitting took about an hour where they put my bike on a trainer, and with my shoes and bike shorts I pedaled, then the fitter took measurements and made adjustments to my seat post raising it and lowering it to a perfect dimension.  Then he took angle measurements from the ground to my hip, knee and shoulder and from the pedal and a bunch of other places.  He moved my saddle not only up and down by forward and back.  He then took my handle bars and put different size spacers on the tube underneath my handlebars to find the perfect height and then was able to move them back and forth to find the right angle, height and most comfortable spot for me.  I had no clue there was this much to it.

Pre-First Ride

As I left the store after my fitting, Jo-el, the general manager and friend from my track club, gave me some good advice.  I had never rode in cleats and pedals before, where my feet were clipped into the pedals where they wouldn’t just simply lift up.  I had to turn my heel so the cleat would unclip from the pedals so I could put my foot down.  Jo-el said to take my bike in the house and put it between a doorway, and practice clipping and un-clipping from the pedals.  Also, I needed to find the most comfortable side to unclip first and then stick to that side no matter what.  I followed that advice in detail.  I clipped, unclipped, clipped and unclipped till I was sure I had mastered it.  Then I took a little ride around the block and practiced even more till I was confident I mastered at least that part.

I had a feeling of euphoria that first little trip in my neighborhood.  I felt fast, free traveling under my own power on this brand new, tuned Cannondale bike.  I was really excited for my first ride the next day in the hills of San Antonio.

The First Ride

I drove to San Antonio…Florida that is, with my brand new bike in the back, my new bike shorts on, bottles ready to put in their cages on the bike, coffee in my cup holder and classic rock playing on the radio.  I remember having mixed feelings about this initial ride.  I had never ridden in a group before, I had never ridden with these cleats and clips before, but I knew I was in good shape but was I fit enough?  After that I just thought to myself, “if you cannot go as far then just turn around and head back.  no big deal.”.

I met a friend at these ball fields and was mesmerized by the amount of bikers getting ready to take their morning ride.  The sea of colors from the different bikes and jerseys was extremely overwhelming.  That anxious feeling came back for a second until my friend mentioned we were riding with triathletes not pure cyclists.  They would understand I was on my first ride and would help me out.  After preparing for my first journey, we found our formation and began the trek.

I was surprised that I was staying in the middle of the pack and with minimal effort.  The wind was in my face,  I was pedaling under my own power and keeping up!  It was an incredibly euphoric feeling.  Unfortunately, when we hit the first long hill, euphoria turned to anxiety and then… embarrassment.

My pedaling slowed, and it became extremely hard to mash down on the pedals.  With very minimal spinning of my legs I tried to switch to higher gear, but I actually ended up in a lower gear which made it even harder. When I did finally gear up, it was too late.  I couldn’t move the pedals fast enough to switch gears, and my chain fell off , so I was at a dead stop. Of course I was so concerned about the gears I didn’t unclip out of my pedals, and I went down on my side.  The only thing that really hurt was my ego as I stood my bike up and examined the chain.  The group was passing me all asking if I was ok, and taking for granted that I was telling them I was fine and to keep going.  By the time I had my chain back on the group was completely out of site.  I pedaled like a bat out of hell hoping to catch up, but I missed a turn and ended up 10 miles out of my way, and lost.

To make a long story short ( I know, too late) one of the faster members of the group realized I was gone, backtracked, and finally found me asking directions at a convenience store.  He led me back to the group and I finished the ride without any other issues, but I learned a lot of lessons that day.

Hints to get started in cycling straight from the Goof:

0103_00504.jpg

On my first bike after a couple of modifications

1. Buy an entry level road bike.  This is usually an aluminum alloy frame.  You don’t want a Wal-mart special, but you don’t need to start with the top of the line bike either.

2. Purchase a set of entry level pedals, cleats and shoes.  The pedals usually come with the cleats and the bike shop will install them for  you.

3. Purchase safety equipment.  Biking shorts, and a helmet to start.  I would also have a set of sunglasses as well.  Not just to keep the sun out of your eyes, but it helps with the wind too.  Make sure you also have at least one water bottle with a cage installed on your bike.

4. Get the bike fit for you.  Have a certified bike fitter make those adjustments specifically for you.

5. Practice getting in and out of your cleats .  Put your bike in a doorway, hold onto the frame and get in and get out of your cleats.  Find the most comfortable side of the bike and then practice getting out of the cleats and putting your foot on the ground.

6.  Take a short ride around your neighborhood and continue to practice getting in and out of your cleats.  When seeing a stop or even a potential stop ahead practice just moving your heel just to the point where you unclip before stopping so you have a quick option that you can pull out of your clip to stop or return your heel to clip back in to keep going.  Remember to always clip out and stand with the same foot first every time.

7.  Understand your gears.  While in that first ride, switch the gears on your right hand and find what lever takes you to a higher or easier gear, and which one brings you to a lower or harder gear.

8.  Take your first long ride with friends and have some fun.

One last thing, you are going to fall.  That is just the reality of it.  You will get stuck in your cleats at some point and you will fall over, but it will be minimal.  The trick is to accept it, get up brush yourself off, laugh at yourself, get back on your bike and have fun.  It’s worth it I promise.

This post was originally published for IR4C for their new media site, IR4C.TV on July 2, 2013.

Effortless Swimming Goof-Out #1

Effortless Swimming Goof-Out #1

In my post Goof Views and News #1 I again mentioned that swimming is my weakest event in the sport of Triathlon.  I remember completing a bike workout with the A-Train and one of our athletes David Nardoski was complaining of how slow a swimmer he was.  When we compared times, he was still 20% faster than I was or, am.  (Just for your information, David did not one, not two, but FOUR Ironman triathlons last year, plus a couple 70.3s as well.)

I also mentioned that I enlisted the help of Brenton Ford from Effortless Swimming and his Swimprove program.  If you are ready for a laugh here is the video I sent him for analysis.

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Interesting right?  Can you see those ankles?  How the heck am I supposed to move through the water with ankles that barely straighten past 90 degrees?  Unfortunately, the video didn’t exactly have the best angles so Brenton wasn’t able to analyze it, so I am hopefully going to enlist the help of a friend to do some more recording.  More videos are on the way. (Oh goodie, just what you wanted to see.  More horrible swimming.  Right?)

Yesterday, I completed the introductory lesson in the Swimprove Mastering Freestyle Program, which was 2000 meters of drills.  While at first glance the drills seemed rudimentary, even for me, they helped tremendously.

The workout when like this:

  1. WU(Warm-up): 250 any stroke
  2. MS(Main Set): 12×25 Kick on Back
  3. 12×25 Kick on Back with 20 degree rotation
  4. 12×25 Kick on Back with arm straight
  5. 12×25 Kick on Side
  6. 12×25 Kick on Side with arm straight
  7. CD(Cool Down): 250 Free

At first glance it doesn’t look so bad does it?  I didn’t think so either until I dug into it.  It was the amount of kicking.  As proof from the video, I do not have what any swimmer would call a strong kick, so it felt like forever for me to move from one wall to the other, but luckily that wasn’t the point of the drills.  It was to learn balance. and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a lesson I learned.  I finally felt what it was like to be able to have a steady plane toward the surface of the water without a lot of effort.

From the second set on, I put on a pair of Zoomers(short fins) so I could at least get through the workout in time for work, and with each set I felt myself feel the water a little more.  Of course all the “feel” in the world didn’t keep me from zigzagging down the lane, at least while I was on my back, but my whole body was at least on the surface without dragging my legs, which is a huge issue for me.

By the time I turned over and was kicking on my side, and allowed my arm to dip below the surface about thirty degrees, I felt like I was really moving.  I even had an epiphany about breathing because while on my side I was forced to exhale out and almost roll completely over to get a breath.  I even started to relax a bit.  The cool down, while still not effortless, was far more streamlined than when I first entered the water that workout.

I think Brenton might have something with his Swimprove program.

Stay tuned, boys and girls, for more highlights from my journey to a faster more efficient swim.

Gasparilla Distance Classic

Runners – Have a great race weekend!

Carpe Viam!

Catching back up with the Goof

My intention for re-starting this blog was to write more often, but the more I want to write, the more I find I have less to write about.  I have been reading a lot of blogs lately.  I enjoy reading them when I have the time, the only problem I am having is I am having way too many “A-HA” moments.  I read a great post and think to myself, “I should have written about that”, or “that was a great idea”, or the famous “I was going to write about that too.”  The issue I am having is being original and unique.  What does this mean exactly (as you may be scratching your head going, ok Goof, get on with it already)?  It means I have two choices.  As I peruse the new group I have been welcomed into, The Tampa Bay Bloggers, I notice two distinct kinds of blogs, the knowledge based, and the journal.  While both can provide very interesting information, I find that the latter can become a little monotonous.   Now for me, it doesn’t matter because I know, or am getting to know, most of the journal type bloggers and I enjoy reading those, but if I wasn’t associated with them, would I really want to read them?  I am not quite sure.

My struggle is that I want my posts to be creatively amusing while being interesting in a way where one of three things comes out of each post for each reader.  1) You laugh (or at least smile), 2) learn something, or at least remember that you learned it, or 3) you are emotional moved to some sort of action.  I don’t care if you end up being incredibly angry or even angry at me, if you are moved in some way I think I may have accomplished my goal.  Now is this too much to ask?

Susan & friend at WHM 2012

Regressing back to the title of this blog “Catching back up with the Goof”, let me give you the latest chronological items.

I was ecstatic to see my friends run the Women’s Half Marathon the weekend before Thanksgiving.  I had the opportunity to go out and cheer once again for a certain group of running and tri peeps and then being surprised to find even more women I knew that were running.  Kudos go out to Kat from Sneakers n’ Fingerpaints, Beka from Rebecca Roams, Anderson, Sarah, Jessica from Jet City Espresso, Elisa, Caitlin from Live, Sweat, Sleep, Repeat, Susan, and all the others out there I am probably missing.  It was a race that was a pleasure to watch and not just because there were a lot of fit and hot looking women in spandex(get your mind out of the gutter), but because the energy was higher than really a ton of races I have been a part of.  Maybe there is something to this “Girl Power” thing.  Can we harness it as a natural resource?  Can we use it in our cars? (Hey – get your mind out of the gutter I said.)

At least my sister,  Millie was happy
to see me.  I think.

Thanksgiving was very uneventful.  Thursday I worked out and hung out by myself for a while and then had dinner at Amy & Erik Eck’s home (my friend and coach).  I had the honor of hanging with a lot of great people to include the little new Godsend, Bennett Erik Eck whom is now just a couple of weeks old.  He is getting to be pretty adorable, if I do say so myself, and I am not being biased because I happened to (almost) be there at his birth.  That may be a whole other post I may need to write. (Note to self – see paragraph 1.)  There was plenty of delicious Paleo based food and a few dishes that were not so much, but everything was amazing.  After a long walk to help the digestion process I headed home and to bed due to my departure from Tampa Bay International Airport on the 6am flight to Chicago and my family’s belated Thanksgiving.  Needless to say Friday, family came over, there was conversation, there was food, there was more conversation, everyone went home, and I went to sleep.  The End.

Sunday, I was privileged to hang out at Moretti’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant with a very good friend from my high school years whom my influence had/has steadily increased his appetite for triathlon(patting myself on the back).  We have been continuing to keep in touch through email, phone and text, sharing information on races, plans and techniques.  He started swimming last year at this time right after the Chicago Marathon and last March/April timeframe competed in his first indoor sprint triathlon, followed by a couple more and finishing with his first Olympic in September.  Needless to say I was pretty proud of Big Guy last year.  Yes, his nick name was, and still is “Big Guy”.  Mine was “Bagelman”…go figure. (Pause for laughter)  Anyway, it was great to hang out eat a little pizza, watch the Bears kick some royal Viking butt and talk triathlon.

That left getting up at 3:30am on Monday for a 6am flight home to be able to put in a full days work.  I really didn’t think we had to leave as early as we did, but I was totally 100% wrong.  I made to the gate with barely 5 minutes to grab some McDonald’s coffee and ascend the jetway before taking off.   Security on Monday was brutal, but the flight was uneventful.  Thank you Southwest Airlines.

That is all I have for today.  I do have ideas vetted out for future posts and maybe some new developments in my coaching career that are starting to take shape.  All that and more to come.

Carpe Viam!

Tribute Tuesday #2 – Pete Amedure

Pete Amedure, Coach, Mentor, Motivator and Friend

Inspirational, motivational, challenging, generous and caring are all the adjectives I would use to describe my personal friend Pete Amedure.

The first time I met Pete I knew I was going to be in trouble of sorts.  Scott Bragan and I decided to check out a brick workout he was hosting with a number of the Team in Training athletes he was coaching at the time, and a couple of other triathletes.  I walked over to introduce myself and at first I was taken back by this big, burly, broad guy talking with this raspy voice that sounded like he just walked off the Brooklyn Bridge.  We didn’t know each other at all, but we proceeded to start our workout on the bike and after allowing Scott and to think we were superior for the first 10 miles he decided to show us who was really in command by zipping past us like we were standing still.  I was at first disgusted at myself and then I was in awe of his  explosiveness on the bike.  I continued to train with Pete and we started to become fast friends.  He also started a informal triathlon club he called the A-Train.  (A for Amedure and the fact he was from Brooklyn off the A line subway.  Get it?)

Pete and the A-Train after a difficult Brick

In 2010, the A-Train club exploded.  Why?  In all honesty because of Pete.  Pete is a spin instructor at L.A Fitness, as well as Certified Personal Trainer, and as he met athletes who were interested in triathlon he added them to an email list.  We all worked out and kept adding friends and other athletes to a point where we were hosting workouts of 20-30 people and the email list grew to about 80 members.  While anyone can pull people together once, these members kept coming back for long, grueling bike rides, harsh swims, runs that felt like they just wouldn’t end, and of course some difficult brick workouts in the middle of the Florida summers with high heat and humidity.  Why did we all come back?  One person; Pete.  He has a way of motivating and pushing athletes of all levels to their edge without making them feel inferior if they couldn’t keep up.  On long rides he would always play shepherd and leader at the same time.  If an athlete was having a bad day and just didn’t have it, Pete would double back and have them draft until they were able to catch up with the group.  The group adopted the US Military’s motto, “No one left behind” during long rides and soon we were all taking turns as the shepherd in order to allow Pete to have a good workout as well.

Not to say that training is all we do.  There have been numerous barbeques, Xmas parties, Greek Easter parties and nights out, but most of those are exceptions to the rule, because when most of us are asked to go out to the bars, or a party or clubbing on a Friday or Saturday night, we decline.  We know that 5am comes very quick and we want to be rested because we know Pete is going to bring us to our edge, and sometimes over it.  The difference between the other clubs and Pete’s A-Train?  We smile and laugh through it and enjoy every minute of it.  Pete turned us not only in to athletes, but a family as well.  We look out for each other and Pete looks out for us.

Pete loves the sauce…well the healthy sauce

DOB:  Sept 13, 1966 – Virgo

POB:   Brooklyn, NY

Grew up: Brooklyn, NY

High School: Brooklyn Tech, HS

High School sports: Swimming

College:  Brooklyn College (CUNY)

College Sports:  DRINKING

When and why did you start competing in triathlon?

2008 – It was a dare, Someone at the gym said HEY, we’re doing a triathlon out at Ft Desoto in two weeks, you should do it with us.  

What is one thing you love most about triathlon?

I love the feeling of pushing yourself to the bitter end no matter what. But most of all the camaraderie of triathletes.  During my first triathlon I remember during the run, I recall seeing an older couple.  They were each in their 60’s and still competing.  They crossed during the run, and stopped, gave each other a warm embrace and a kiss.  He then said, I’ll be waiting for you at the finish line.  It was by far one of the most moving sights I have ever seen in any sport!

What made you start the A-Train?

The A-Train started as just a couple of friends, training together.  Luisa, was one of the first A-Trainers, and shortly there after Mike Walker came along.  Then in 2010, the A-Train exploded and continues to what/who we are today.

I know you teach spinning, how did you start?

I’ve been a cyclist for years and took spin classes to supplement my workouts..  Then realized how much I loved it.  It also drove me crazy when instructors  and just felt the need to get certified and teach people how to do it right!

What is the turning point in your life that made you such a leader and want to move people to their successes?

Not to sound cliche, but I read a book, it was called:  “Its Not About the Bike”  I don’t care about all the other stuff, but that book made me want to change and take charge of my life.

Pete during Ironman Haines City 70.3
What would you say is your greatest obstacle  you ever overcame?

About 10 years ago, I was 270lbs, with high blood pressure, and drank too much.  My biggest obstacle, was ME!

What is your greatest victory?

I have to say last May in Haines City FL.  Running on a stress fracture, and in in a state of total emotional disarray, there were more than a few times I almost abandoned the race.  Coming across the finish line to my waiting friends, A-Trainers and family was the greatest victory.

What are you favorite quotes?

“Victory belongs to those who believe…” 
-Lt Col Jimmy Doolittle

“WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON AROUND HERE” 
– Vince Lombardi

“Do or Do NOT, there is NO TRY”
-Yoda

So how in the world can you not love this guy?

CARPE VIAM!


Nick, Jamie & Pete after Haines City 70.3
The Goof and Pete