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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Goof Review – Newton Energy & BOCO Running Shoes

Goof Review – Newton Energy & BOCO Running Shoes

Here it is again, a long time since my last post.  Life happens and when it does, watch out.  It can really mess up the things you want to do versus the things you must do.  I am learning to prioritize what is absolutely important to me versus what is important to everyone else.  I hope to soon have that under control, but I digress.

Newton was nice enough to send me both a pair of the Newton Energy and the BOCO.  I am reviewing them together since I have found they are the same shoe with the only difference being the BOCO has a tread that is made for the trails and the Energy is made for the road.

To be transparent and honest, I am a certified Newton Coach, so I am a little biased towards Newton.  However, I rarely train in Newtons, as running is very personal I have my favorite running shoes to train in.

I do however, love the methodology behind them.  For those that do not know, Newton running shoes have 5 lugs in the front of the shoe directly under the ball of the foot.  The lugs have a higher or lower profile depending on the shoe.

The lugs serve as a reminder for running form by automatically driving the foot to land on the fore or mid foot, reducing the impact dramatically.

When paired with Newton Natural Run training, the shoe will decrease the effort level of transitioning to a mid or forefoot runner.

In my experience, after the runner has developed the habit, they no longer need to be running in Newtons, but most do not only due to muscle memory, but they also last about 4 times longer than other running shoes.

Prior to the release of the Energy, the core products Newton produced were the Motion, the Isaac, the Gravity and the Distance.  These models needed a transition period for the runner to get used to the way the lugs lifted the heel causing some calf soreness.

The Energy now has a lower profile of lug, and a transition plate which actually allows the athlete very tiny transition period, if any, before the comfort of the shoe settles in.

The EVA foam that makes up the sole of the shoe is extremely comfortable and highly accommodating to the road.

The only conflicts I have heard is the heel cup is a little shallow for some, causing some slippage during long runs.

Since one of the core beliefs of natural runners is that shoes should be tied just tight enough to secure the heel, this could be a problem.  I have always taught, the athlete needs nothing to support but themselves.

In other words, if the shoe is tied too tight, the shoe ends up supporting the runner.  By tying the shoes very light and only tight enough to secure the heel, the feet, the calves, the ankles are strengthened with every activity.

I personally have not found an issue with the heel cup even without the help of a runner’s lace, but I have heard of the issues.

I did get an eleven-mile run on the trails with the Newton BOCO and was I surprised at how well the tread grabbed the terrain.  

The trails I was running were meant for Mountain Bikes and that meant steep climbs and steep downhills and there was not a moment I did not feel secure.ZOE_0005.jpg

For new runners or for athletes transitioning to more efficient technique, I believe the Energy is the perfect shoe.  They are the perfect shoe to transition with before trying one of the core Newton models.

The BOCO is a great trail shoe for anyone wishing to start or continuing a journey into trail running.  They are comfortable, supportive and made me feel completely secure on the trails.

That’s my opinion and I am sticking with it.  Happy Running!

 

Carpe Viam!

How to Run Faster by Running Slower

How to Run Faster by Running Slower

I can hear it now….”Know wonder they call you a Goof…you are crazy.”, “So, if I run slower I will get faster?  You are out of your mind.”  It was not to long ago I used to think the same thing, but as with everything I post, there are reasons and science to back it up.

Let’s face it, logic would dictate that pushing the pace of your easy days, as close to race pace as possible, would help you get fit faster and help you speed up, right?  A lot of coaches, including myself, will tell you to run slow on your easy days, and easy days should be making up anywhere from 50-75% of your weekly mileage.

I have clients continuously asking me, “why are my easy days so slow?”  The latest is my famous sit downs with my runners telling them to slow down after examining their data and finding them running tempo speeds during an easy day.

The answer to the question is what Arthur Lydiard and most other coaches would call the aerobic system.  The aerobic system, or aerobic development, is the one of the most important fundamentals into unlocking your true potential.

Let us first check the stats on the energy contribution the aerobic system provides for races.  As you can in the chart below, even the shorter events like the mile, over 80% of the energy required to run the race is produced via the aerobic system.image

 

Aerobic System?  What is it?

Aerobic training is the scientific fact that to move your body at higher intensities, the body needs to break down sugar and convert it to glycogen so it can be used as energy.

The aerobic system plus oxygen starts a chemical reaction known as Aerobic Glycolysis which continuously powers continuous endurance activities.  In the aerobic system energy ATP is produced through Pyruvic Acid and Lipid/Protein fragments entering the Kreb Cycle and the Electron Transport Cycle.

Uh…what?

During aerobic respiration (yeah, that’s breathing) the body uses all the oxygen it needs to power the muscles.  When you are running in your “aerobic zones” (easy runs), your muscles have enough oxygen to produce all the energy they need to perform.

See?  Improving your capacity to transport and efficiently use all the available oxygen to produce energy will enable you to race faster since this makes up 85-99% of the energy needed to race.

Since running easy is aerobic development, what better way is there to train the aerobic system?  There is none.

What goes on in the body during aerobic development?

Capillary development – capillaries are the smallest of the body’s blood vessels and they help deliver oxygen and nutrients to the muscle tissues while exporting waste products out.  The larger the number of capillaries you have surrounding each muscle fiber, the faster you can transport oxygen and carbohydrates to your muscles.

Aerobic training (easy running) increases the number of capillaries per muscle fiber, thus improving how efficiently you can deliver oxygen and fuel to your working muscles and how quickly they can clear waste products.

Myoglobin Increase

Myoglobin is a protein in the muscles that binds the oxygen that enters the muscle fiber.  When oxygen becomes limited during intense exercise, myoglobin releases oxygen to the mitochondria to produce more energy.

The more myoglobin you have in the fibers of your muscles, the more oxygen is transported under aerobic stress.  Like, uh, during a race.  Aerobic training increases the amount of myoglobin you have in your muscle fibers.

Mitochondria creation

Mitochondria are microscopic organelle found in your muscles cells that contribute to the production of ATP (energy). In the presence of oxygen, mitochondria breakdown carbohydrate, fat, and protein into usable energy.

Therefore, the more mitochondria you have, and the greater their density, the more energy you can generate during exercise, which will enable you to run faster and longer.

Aerobic training increases both the number and the size of the mitochondria in your muscle fibers.

Suffice it to say that aerobic development is the single most important factor to long-term development.

Of course, track workouts, VO2 max sessions, tempo runs and cross training will increase your fitness and are still incredibly important to racing faster.  However, nothing will help improve continuously like developing the aerobic system.

Aerobic development is dependent upon running in your aerobic zones (for my runners Zones 1-3).  This is why running faster on your easy days develop the aerobic system.  Once you step out of those aerobic zones, on easy runs you diminish development of your aerobic system, but you also increase the chance for injury.  Nope, two negatives do not make a positive in running.

This is one of the single biggest mistakes runners of all experiences make in their training.

As a coach and trainer I have always distinguished myself because I am always able to give my clients and readers the “why”.  (Sometimes my clients end up telling me to just shut my mouth. when I am training with them because I am continuously telling them why they are doing each movement of an exercise or workout.  I guess it may not be an advantage all the time.  Go figure.)

Optimal Aerobic Development 

Scientific research has been able to identify how the aerobic system adapts and responds to certain training paces.  Physiologically we know:

  • Capillary development appears to peak at between 60 and 75 percent of 5k pace.
  • Maximum stimulation of myoglobin in Type I muscle fiber (Endurance Muscles) occurs at about 63-77 percent of VO2max. 63-77 percent of VO2max is about 55-75 percent of 5k pace.
  • Two researchers, Holloszy (1967) and Dudley (1982) published some of the defining research on optimal distance and pace for mitochondrial development. In short, Holloszy found that maximum mitochondrial development when running at 50-75 percent of V02 max. Likewise, Dudley found that the best strategy for slow-twitch, mitochondria enhancement was running for 90 minutes per outing at 70 to 75 per cent V02 max.

optimal-easy-run-pace

It is pretty clear now right?  Your optimal easy run pace for aerobic development is between 55 and 75 percent of your 5k pace, with the average pace being about 65 percent.

It’s also evident that running faster than 75% of your 5k pace on your long run has very little additional physiological benefit.

In fact, the research indicates that it would be just as advantageous to run slower as it would be to run faster.  Running around half of your 5k pace is pretty easy right?  Wouldn’t you know it, the evidence is clear that it still provides near optimal aerobic development.

Feel free to let me hear your feedback.  I welcome any other case studies, personal experiences and other research as I am always learning.  I provide you with the best content I can, but I have an open-mind and know that there may be other research out there that may negate information I post.

Carpe Vitam!

~IronGoof

The Ultimate Guide to Compression

The Ultimate Guide to Compression

It has been a while, and I have a ton of ideas that I am anxiously awaiting to share with you. Unfortunately, time has been getting away from me. Between training myself, a full-time job and being at capacity with 15 individual clients I am struggling for time to post. I promise I will figure out a way to make time. I am so lucky to have such great people to bounce ideas off of, that sometimes, by not posting, I feel like I am letting all of you down, so I promise to post more even if the posts end up being a lot shorter than usual. (Which the length is probably not your favorite part of it anyway. I know I ramble.)

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of my personal opinion of compression, a disclaimer.
I am not a medical professional. The opinions that are shared on this post come from research, my own experiences and the experiences of athletes I have personally witnessed and information I have researched. Every athlete/person has a different body and some products and/or methodologies may be advantageous for some and may even be dangerous for others. This post deals with my beliefs and my research. (Was that clear?)

Lately, most of the questions from other athletes, including clients of mine, have asked about compression. This usually centers around calf sleeves, but does include some of the other compression apparel as well.  My answer is usually, for recovery and for temporary use they are great, but not for training.   Why?  Great question.

I am going to use calf sleeves as my example.

While running, biking, swimming or any major activity using the legs, the muscles are constantly in motion.  That motion is what naturally makes the muscles stronger.  The muscle moves and is loaded with either more repetitions, or with weight.  The full range of motion of each muscle is imperative to the strengthening of the muscle.  Compression holds that muscle in place and limits the movement therefore limiting the range of motion.  While compressed the muscle cannot fully develop while training.   Let’s take a look at the anatomy of the lower leg in the running position.

As you can see the gastrocnemius muscle and Achilles tendon, when the knee is flexed, both constrict and then elongate when the knee straightens.  Here is the epitome of the range of motion naturally occurring when running.  The more flexion and constriction that take place the more they are stretched causing the breakdown of the fibers.  After the recovery period the fibers wrap tighter and in more abundance aiding in a strength and endurance.  Now imagine that gastrocnemius muscle remaining constricted due to a calf sleeve.  It seems to me that this would dictate that it would not have full range of motion also causing the Achilles tendon to remain stretched without the full ability to absorb the impact.  This could unintentionally damage the Achilles tendon, the gastronemius muscle and the soleus muscle.  If not damage, it will limit the ability to be strengthened.  This is why I personally do not recommend calf sleeves during training workouts.

Recovery
I do however do not mind wearing compression while in recovery to include immediately following the cool down of a workout.  I mentioned the healing of the fibers earlier.  In order for the fibers to heal and become stronger after the breakdown, blood must be pumped through the muscle and with it water for hydration.  Compression does help to isolate that area helping to keep the majority of the blood and water being pumped through the body to the point of  the compression.  With the legs either elevated or even walking around and at that point limiting the movement, it would allow for the blood to pool in that area helping to re-hydrate the muscle thereby helping to heal faster.  In turn, an occasional training run or race, with compression at the tail end of an injury, might also benefit, but in a very limited quantity, and duration.

Carpe Vitam! 

IronGoof

Sarasota Half Marathon – Race Recap

Sarasota Half Marathon – Race Recap

I am a little behind on posts, and now need to add three more due to being sent and then utilizing three new products during the race; the Hoka One One Biondi S2 running shoes, the Jaybird Sport Strap bluetooth headset, and Wrightsock Stride running socks.  I will do my best to get those reviews completed as soon as possible, but for now let me tell you about my experience with the US Road Races Sarasota Half Marathon.

I learned a lesson first thing because I ended up running a tad bit late in the morning. The drive time to Sarasota usually is 45 minutes and I thought I was going to be fine until two miles from the race start.  The traffic came to a dead stop.  I drive a Mini Cooper Clubman, so while maneuverability is not an issue going over things like medians become either not possible, or the consequences may turn out to be expensive.  I was stuck behind a tractor-trailer semi trick with my right lane blocked and a huge median to my left.  No way out.  After a while, of being a little stressed of missing the start, I noticed the median curb height had changed to regular curb height so I took the chance and allowed my little car to climb over it. Luckily I found an alternate route, and parking pretty fast, but a ways from the start, so involuntarily I sprinted a quick warm-up mile prior to the gun.

I could hear the National Anthem being sung as I was running to the start, which told me it was going to be tight making it, and of course there were close to 5000 runners, so I ended up starting in the 13 minute/mile corral.  At first I was a little disappointed, but it gave me a little time to stretch and calm myself down.  I usually start up near the front of the pack, and end up getting passed throughout the race, however this time it was me who was doing the passing.

Miles one and two ran along Tamiami Trail and over a bridge which wasn’t very steep, although it felt long, but it did allow for some recovery on the other side.  Some coaches worry about their runners as they run downhill, but the form I teach really allows the ease of just letting the legs do what they will allowing for a nice recovery. Of course I also coach a way on the uphill that makes the effort feel a lot less as well, but that is for another time.

The 5k split ended up in a circle downtown and according to my split time, it wasn’t bad.  23:24, less than an 8 minute mile for the first three miles, I’ll take that.  Miles four and five were back over the bridge and past the start/finish line.  Unfortunately, my sock started slipping in the circle, so after mile 5 I actually had to stop, and take off my shoes so I could re-position my sock.  I couldn’t believe it.  Because I was product testing my shoes I did not put lock laces on, so I even had to untie and re-tie the laces.  I think it was 3 minutes wasted.  It wasn’t a huge amount of time, but it still irked me.  I will talk more in my review of the socks.

After that it was just a lot of fun.  I caught up with some friends along the way, Holly Tripp, Teresa Gadient, a couple of others and chatted and then continued on my way.  It was a beautiful course that ran inside a nice residential area and then back to the finish.  The view was not anything spectacular, but a decently scenic throughout the course.  The weather held to mid 60’s throughout the morning, which is perfect for me.

facebook_-1105763679

Nick Z, Ben Mena and the Goof

The last couple of miles were back down Tamiami Trail and then turned back into the community center and into the finish shoot.  I picked up the pace on the last couple of miles and actually had enough for a little sprint kick at the end, which I haven’t had in a while.  I wish I could figure out what I did, that made that difference.  It could have been the steel-cut oats I had that morning, or even a new natural supplement I started a month ago, but I definitely had a little more than I thought.  This would have been a nice PR race, but my strategy was negative splits, and very conservative.   Next half I’ll do it.

There is one thing to be said about starting in the back and passing people up versus getting passed.  Positive/Negative reinforcement.  It shouldn’t feel that way, but I believe I also had some energy build from passing everyone except for three whom passed me.  Positive conditioning.  Starting in the front and getting passed no matter what I tell myself, still has a negative effect on my semi-fragile ego.  Do not get me wrong, I know my place.  I have always preached strength before speed.  I have stated over and over again I am not fast…yet, but I am a strong runner and at a comfortable pace I can run forever.  Unfortunately, that pace is pretty slow right now.

sarasota half medal

I met up with Ben Mena, Nick Zivolich and some other athletes and, Beth(B.o.B) joined us a bit later after finishing herself.  I will say the medal is huge and beautiful and athletes running in the other US Road Race Half Marathon series, receive an extra medal with the number of races they ran in the series.  If the athlete competed in 2 of the series they received a 2 inch number 2, for 3 races a 3 inch and so on.  I like the concept and those medals were gorgeous too.  It may be something to ponder trying to complete next  year.

That was the glorious morning of my St. Patrick’s Day.  I cannot think of a better way I would’ve spent it.

How was your St. Patrick’s Day?

Carpe Viam!!

 

Goof Review: Outspokin’ Bicycles-Tampa

Goof Review: Outspokin’ Bicycles-Tampa

A couple of months ago, I was lucky enough to catch the first sign of my favorite bike store coming to Tampa.  At the time the stand-alone store was completely gutted without any sign of what it was going to look like.  Last week, after the store opened I was privileged to get my first look.  In the past I had to visit the Clearwater store strategically around training and races in the area.  Now, I am finally able to have the service and quality I enjoy, quite a bit closer to home.  What I didn’t expect, when I wandered in for the first time, was the bike store of my dreams. Outspokin has everything that could possibly be needed, and/or wanted, by bicycle enthusiasts and triathletes.

As owner, Val Tavanese, gave me the tour, she explained this location is the store she always dreamed of opening, because it had all the services, products and amenities that she personally wanted for in a bike shop.  The reason I continue to make the trip to 35 mile trip to Clearwater is not just because it is the location where I purchased my own Cervelo P2, but it is because Val and her team have always continued to provide top tier service and expert advice when I needed it.  Val assured me she is determined to continue the same tradition here in Tampa.

Enough of my praise and rhetoric, let’s get to the gears and chains of this amazing store.

Right outside the entrance double doors sits a nice table and chairs that providing a shady spot to relax after a long bike ride.  Walking into the sliding door you immediately see the front desk with smiling Outspokin team members surrounded by by bright colors and cycling accessories of all kinds.

Outspokin signFront SignFront Door View

Cycling manufacturers enforce their own rules and guidelines for retailers carrying their line of product.  Most cycling lines will only allow retailing of their product within a certain distance between stores carrying the same line.  For example, Cervelo only allows a store to carry their product within a 50 mile radius another bicycle shop in order to keep the shops from competing with one another.  Outspokin Tampa is carrying three amazing retail lines in Road, Cyclecross, Mountain, and touring bikes; BMC, Giant and Scott.

BCMGiantScott

What sets Outspokin apart from most bike specialty stores is their services.  The most important service, in my opinion, is maintenance.  Bike parts wear out, cyclists fall, and a good portion of the time adjustments need to be made do to change in technique, training regimen or even transport of the bike itself.  Outspokin has always had a great team of mechanics, and they need some room to work in right?  Well, the mechanics bay in the Tampa store is immense and Val has outfitted all of her maintenance team with a complete new set the tools necessary to assemble, repair and adjust their customers equipment without any sacrifice to quality.

Maintenance Tools Fixing

The next superior service is fitting.  In my experience, fitting the bike to the person is crucial for comfort, power and speed, especially in a road and triathlon bikes.  Outspokin spares nothing when it comes to fitting.  The fitting room is outfitted with the Retul system including Muve bike accessory.  Retul is a complete system for measuring every length, and angle of the rider to the bike which determines the athlete’s personalized adjustments.  For instance, when a riders leg is extended to the very bottom of the pedal, there is an optimum angle for the knee to be bent.  This system will measure the distance of the seat post and calculate what the precise height and the horizontal position of the seat is optimal in order to achieve that angle.

The Muve bike accessory to the Retul system allows for quick changes to those measurements which then can be transferred to their bike.  When I was fitting utilizing the Retul service, the Muve bike was not available, so for every change in angle I had to dismount and the technician had to pull those parts off my bike and replace them at the right measurement.  With the Muve bike, when the angles change the tech can adjust with the rider still on the bike.  This makes those adjustments faster and more accurate, because the computer will provide the adjusted angles and measurements as the tech is making those adjustments in real-time.

Two more advantages to do a fitting with Retul, are all of the adjustments are saved in Outspokin’s database, so when doing routine maintenance the techs can re-assemble the bike with the personalized adjustments.  Also, when cyclists travel with their bike it needs to be partially disassembled.  A print out of the angles and measurements can be placed with the bike, so either the rider or a mechanic can reassemble the bike without sacrificing personal comfort or performance.  What about those customers shopping for a bike and really have no idea what brand or geometry is best for them?  If a Retul analysis is completed, the measurements can be compared in a database that will then determine the line and models that will be the best fit for comfort, power and speed for that individual.  Pretty cool, am I right?

FittingRetul

Do you want to ride in the morning, but it is raining, cold or you just do not have the time to drive out to a safe place to get a good workout in?  Outspkin to the rescue with their CompuTrainer room.  Eight CompuTrainers are connected to a HDTV and will allow you and a few of your fellow cyclists the ability to ride a stage of the Tour de France, or the bike course of the Lake Placid Ironman on your own bike.  The CompuTrainers have the ability to add or remove resistance matching the elevation of the course as you are looking at the screen which is projecting exactly the point of view as if you were actually riding the course.  Pretty Sweet, right?  Outspokin makes it sweeter by providing showers, so you can ride that stage of the Tour and still make it to work that morning.  Tampa to France and back in time for work. (It is almost like transporter rooms were finally invented.)

Computrainer room Computrainer Room Shower

These are just a couple of services that are being provided.  Other services that are coming soon include in-store Lactate Threshold and VO2 Max Testing.

I am thrilled to be able to give such a glowing review to Outspokin.  I hope you get a chance to visit soon and take advantage of all the products and services they are offering.

Outspokin’s Grand Opening is this weekend, March 15 & 16th, and there will be plenty of events and vendors at the Tampa location, so check out the store, take a look at some the products vendors will be carrying and take a test ride on a new bike.  Oh, and tell them you heard about it from the IronGoof. Maybe, just maybe they will reward you for it.

A place to relax, and for the kiddiesEveryone Loves ShoesMultiple Ironman Triathlete Celeste at your service.

www.Outspokin.net

Carpe Viam!!!