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.

Tribute #6 – Jessica Crate

Tribute #6 – Jessica Crate

It was apparent this was coming, right?  This woman was all over my Rock ‘n’ Roll recap, so the JC1inspiration was already foreshadowed and if you didn’t read the last post, then prepare to be inspired.

Jessica and I met on a set of commercial we were doing for some insurance company.  I never actual saw the final cut, but then again, that happens quite frequently.  We were actually placed in the roles of runners, which is why it made so much sense.  I was in a conversation about running and all of the sudden, I heard this upbeat, sultry voice from behind me enter into the conversation.  I turned around to see this tall, athletically thin, beautiful blond woman behind me.  Her hair in a ponytail, wearing a Newton visor and radiating the intense positive aura all around her.  There was more to this attraction then the minimalistic pure blood American male to the tall, stunningly gorgeous, platinum blond female(See? I am not denying the obvious).  The energy radiating from this woman was intense.

JC6

We conversed in detail all the while waiting for the lighting to be rigged, and shots set up.  I came to find her life as intoxicating as Jessica herself.  This woman is an Elite Runner holding course records in the Gasparilla Half-Marathon, St. Pete Women’s Half-Marathon and the St. Pete Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon.  As of last year she began competing in triathlon only to make it to Las Vegas for the 70.3 World Championships her first year.  If that wasn’t enough, she also coaches other elite athletes, has her own marketing company, and recently created her own Not-for-profit.  She is committed to giving back.

As I have continued to attempt climb inside her head and soul to try and understand what drives her, I have yet to hear her utter a negative word about anything or anyone.  She truly believes in winning not only the race, but in life itself.  If there is ever the opportunity to meet this unbelievable athlete and woman, do so.  Before you know it, you will be winning to.  Let me introduce you to my good friend, Jessica Crate.

Jessica Crate

Birthdate/Sign:  07/25/1985, Leojc10
Place of Birth: Victoria, British Columbia CANADA
Place growing up: Lived all over the US…. Oregon, California, Wisconsin, NY during Elementary School years.
High School: Sarnia, Ontario CANADA
High School sports: EVERYTHING! Lol…. I think I tried out for and was on every team! Basketball, Volleyball, Soccer, Softball, Gymnastics, Swimming, Dance, Cheerleading, Track & Field, Cross-country, I even dabbled in Girls Rugby (big mistake-haha).
College: Arizona State for 2 years studying Exercise Science and Kinesiology and was Academic and Varsity Scholar athlete for Track and XC(Cross Country) both years.
College Sports:  Track and XC, but also dabbled in Soccer, Yoga, Strength training and swimming.Transferred to Florida State University for my last 2 years to pursue Pre- Medical Studies and continued my Minors in Psychology and French. Also ran on the Varsity Track and XC Teams and made it to National Championships all 4 collegiate years. ūüôā
Other Sports:  I currently work out 2-3 times daily and mix up my training with cycling, running, swimming, yoga, P90X, SUP (stand up paddleboarding), surfing, adventure/mud racing, volleyball, waterskiing, snowboarding…. You name it!

 

When was it you started competing and why?
I was born a competitor and my Mom tells me I literally came into this world “running” as I was born 1 month pre-mature. Clearly I was eager to get moving at an early age ūüėČ
I grew up in a very athletic family, so “friendly competition” has been a part of my life since my early years. I love to win and have a burning desire for change for the better. Thus, I’m always looking to improve and hone my skills.

 

What is it that keeps you running after all of this time?
I absolutely LOVE a challenge, I love growing, running is a part of me, and a HUGE part of my life, friendships, relationships and what I do. Others inspire me to KEEP running and in return I hope to inspire others in the process.

 

In our private conversations you have basically told me that this year you have decided to give back.   How did that come about?
 I have been overseas on several missions trips and have had the privilege of traveling the JC7world for racing, training and competing. Being awarded a full-ride scholarship to two D1 Schools for both athletics and academics was not only a blessing, but I felt it a responsibility to essentially “Give Back” all that had been given to me. Upon graduating from college, I partnered with Olympic athlete, Jon Rankin, to launch our own Non-profit organization entitled “Giving Athletics, Inc”, who’s mission is to “Inspire Social change through athletic participation.” It has been so rewarding to help others by fitting them with clothes and shoes that allow them to participate in sports and gain an education. ūüôā

 

If you could give me one adjective to describe the feeling you get when you are working what would it be?
Exhilaration, FREEDOM, accomplishment, energy!

 

When and why did you start competing in triathlon?
Back in April 2011, I had been training hard to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the Marathon. I JC3had raced several marathons already, but my coach believed I was ready based on my workouts and marathon times. However, at mile 14, I side- stepped around some runners at a water station and snapped my foot. The adrenaline, high pain tolerance and my will to finish wouldn’t let me quit, so I ran the last 12.2 miles on a broken foot. I requalified for Boston, but obviously did more damage to my foot by continuing the race. My Olympic Trials dreams were shattered and I was now in a boot, unable to run. I began physical therapy and realized that I was going to go crazy if I couldn’t run, so I picked up swimming and cycling. Long story short, I started sprint triathlons, qualified for USAT Age Group Nationals in the ITU distance and soon I was embarking on tri training. I ended up qualifying for the USAT ITU World Championships and setting new goals, like Ironman 70.3. Now, here I am! Runner turned Triathlete ūüėČ

 

What projects are involved with besides running races?
I currently own a marketing company “CRATE, Inc.”, coach and train athletes in addition to my training, while working with a neutraceutical company, LifeVantage. I have found my purpose and passion in life and live to lead a legacy by coaching, training and inspiring others to achieve their goals and dreams.

 

What would you say is your greatest obstacle  you ever overcameJC9
Breaking my foot in the Boston marathon, overcoming that injury and breaking onto the triathlon scene to qualify for 2 World Championships last year as well as set 3 course records in half marathons throughout the state of Florida.

 

What is your greatest victory?
My greatest victory is overcoming so many failures to continue succeeding. I firmly believe, and as the most successful people will tell you, you have to fail FORWARD. The faster you fail, the quicker you’ll succeed.

 

What are you favorite quotes?
My business partners and teammates know my favorite slogans, amongst many “Jessica-isms” are: “K.I.S.S.” (Keep it simple silly), “Relax, Smile and Breathe”, “Live life to the fullest”, “Go BIG or go home!”

 

If you’d like more information on where she will be next or to sign up for a training session, contact her at [email protected]

Or visit her website: www.jessicacrate.com

Carpe Viam!

JC5

Jessica and the Goof

Goof Review: Starbucks Refreshers

Starbucks Refreshers

Every runner/triathlete has there own, personal routines when it comes to pre- and post workout regimens.  I think I may have found mine, which I am sure a lot of people will find peculiar, but my discovery has been recent.  In my journey to find the perfect post workout recovery regimen I had the opportunity to try the new Starbucks Refreshers.

The summer here in Florida has been typical. Hot and humid, with isolated thunderstorms and the occasional outer band of hurricanes, so  scheduled rides and runs usually end in the stifling heat with no regard to how early they start.   The completion of a 60 miles ride usually will the leave me feeling exhausted and dehydrated.  After the initial recovery of water and recovery drinks and the reduction of my heart rate, I find myself still in the need of a thirst quencher and at that point I have had my fill of gels, recovery drinks and water.  I have been searching for something different, which leads us to my review of the new product line of Starbucks Refreshers.

After a brick workout on the Suncoast trail one morning, (a brick is a workout that includes at least two events of the triathlon.  In this case a 42 mile bike and a 5 mile run) I had thought I was ready for some coffee.  While standing in line I noticed a single sign for refreshers with a tray of samples below it.  Of course I had to try it.  I grabbed the Very Berry Hibiscus first.  Even in this small cup it looked like it would be refreshing.  The deep red color caught my eye and the fruity smell made my mouth water.  As the icy cold liquid hit my tongue it immediately dropped the temperature of my mouth and sent a fruity flavor to my taste buds.  I immediately honed in on the cherry flavor noticing it was not terribly sweet, but was not tart either and while the density was very light, there was a certain thickness to it.  Hitting the back of my throat I noticed a secret almost non-existent after taste that more reminded me of Splenda or Stevia.  At this point I was thinking to myself that this was more because of the my state of dehydration.  It was only fair that I also sample the Cool Lime flavor as well.  It felt a lot lighter, with the density of flavors much less noticeable than the Very Berry Hibiscus.  At first it did seem to calm my taste buds with a nice citrus flavor, but as it rolled down the back of my mouth and down my esophagus, it left that same thick after taste I dreaded.

Being that I understand that working out as hard as we do tends to alter the chemistry of our taste buds and yearning for different flavors, I did give the refreshers a second try. ¬†Prior to another ride a week later I walked into a Starbucks to grab my pre-ride latte, another batch of refreshers were on a tray at the pick-up counter. ¬†In my normal state of being, prior to a workout, my taste buds had the same chemistry as I do at rest so this would be the perfect time to try again to make sure my initial opinion would be correct. ¬†I was not feeling dehydrated, my pulse was at resting pace, the lasting toothpaste film that normally occurs after brushing had disappeared, so there was nothing that would hinder the full attention of my senses. ¬†To make a long story short, nothing changed. ¬†That aftertaste I can only¬†attribute¬†to the green coffee ingredient Starbucks had introduced via this new product line, was thick, long lasting and made me very uneasy. ¬† I¬†couldn’t¬†wait to have my first taste of the thick explosive flavor of the espresso and milk that made up my latte, in order to give me some relief from this film that encased all the areas of my mouth. ¬†The barista at the time, asked me my opinion of the new product and I was honest about them. ¬†She then told me by adding some lemonade to either of the flavors seemed to reduce the after taste. ¬†Of course in my head my question was as it was obvious I was not the only person who felt this way, why didn’t Starbucks¬†include¬†lemonade as an ingredient in the first place?

I am just one person and this is my opinion.  To me, Splenda, and Stevia (and these refreshers) leave an aftertaste that is chemical in nature but these products have now been around for a while so people do enjoy them.

That is my story and I am sticking to it, however, my friend Beth who writes the Discom-BOB-ulated Running blog turned me onto a guilty pleasure that has now been included after those very hot workouts. ¬†This explosion of flavor has been around for decades and has enticed children of all ages including those children of adult ages. ¬†It cools the core on contact and fills the glycogen stores on contact. ¬†It is the perfect completion to a long, hot, difficult ride or run. ¬†Let me re-introduce everyone who reads this to……

7-Eleven Slurpee

(Personally, I only really enjoy the Coke Slurpee but I am sure depending on whatever flavor one may call “refreshing”, will do.)