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 Sleep and Recovery will Help You Cross the Finish Line

How Sleep and Recovery will Help You Cross the Finish Line

My coaches all have always tried to instill in me the importance of a good night sleep.  Especially as the intensity and duration of my workouts have been increasing.  The issue for me is that I have a phobia of growing older.  What does one have to do with the other?  I always feel like I am wasting my life away by sleeping.  Think about it.  As athletes we all want to experience life to the fullest which is why we train and race.  Sleeping is eight-ten hours of time we could still be experiencing life and what the heck are we doing but laying there.  What a waste!  Or is it?

With an anticipated two Ironman Triathlons on the horizon for me, I decided to dig a little deeper and find out what happens during sleep and what benefits it gives us.  I am not talking about the regular answers that we hear all the time; “it recharges the body”, “muscles grow during sleep not during workouts”, yada yada yada.  I am not going to bore anyone with the “What is Sleep?” lecture.  We all received that in high school biology and health class.  I am just going to hit the nitty gritty about why we as athletes may need more sleep, because that is what I wanted to know.

Hormones & Muscle
During our waking hours, the body burns oxygen and food to provide energy. This is known as a catabolic state, in which more energy is spent than conserved, using up the body’s resources. When we sleep we move into an anabolic state – in which energy conservation, repair and growth take over. Levels of adrenaline and corticosteroids drop and the body starts to produce human growth hormone (HGH).

A protein hormone, HGH promotes the growth, maintenance and repair of muscles and bones by facilitating the use of amino acids (the essential building blocks of protein). Every tissue in the body is renewed faster during sleep than at any time when awake.

Immune system

I have always heard that sleeping more when fighting infectious illness aids recovery.  Getting enough sleep can also help resist infection, as some studies of healthy young adults have shown that moderate amounts of sleep deprivation reduce the levels of white blood cells which form part of the body’s defense system.

A killer of cancer called TNF – tumour necrosis factor – also pumps through our veins when we are asleep. Research has shown that people who stayed up until 3am had one-third fewer cells containing TNF the next day, and that the effectiveness of those remaining was greatly reduced.   So that little factoid hit me over the head like a ton of bricks.

JUST as the world is governed by light and dark, human beings also have an inbuilt body clock called the circadian rhythm.  The circadian rhythm regulates all the processes of the body, from digestion to cell renewal.

Body temperature

Body temperature falls throughout the night. By about the sixth hour of sleep it has dropped to about three degrees  below the temperature it was in the evening.   At the same time, our metabolic rate drops too which if you’re trying to lose weight may not be a good thing, but it serves a purpose.

The skin The top layer of the skin is made of closely packed dead cells which are constantly shed during day. During deep sleep, the skin’s metabolic rate speeds up and many of the body’s cells show increased production and reduced breakdown of proteins.

Since proteins are the building blocks needed for cell growth and for the repair of damage from factors like ultraviolet rays, deep sleep may indeed be beauty sleep.

Digestive system
The body requires a regular supply of energy and its key source is glucose(sugar). This is constantly burned up to release energy for muscle contraction, nerve impulses and regulating body temperature.  When we sleep, our need for these energy reserves is marginal so the digestive system slows down to a sluggish pace. The immobility of our bodies promotes this.  Hence, the reason for not eating too late.  The acid and enzyme levels have dropped to a point where food is not digested as quickly.

Maybe all those coaches were right.  We produce HGH to repair muscles, our immune systems fight cancer and diseases, our skin repairs itself and our digestive system cuts out, so we do not need to burn any sugar.  It sounds like I have been looking at this all wrong.  I should be sleeping in order to extend my life.  Can you say epiphany?  (Hopefully you can say it better than I can spell it.  It didn’t come up in spell check)

After all the reading on sleep I have completed, I am really tired.  Maybe I ought to get some sleep.

Carpe Viam!

(or Carpe Sleepum?)

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!

The Saturday/Sunday Supporter

What does it feel like to come across the finish line of any race with the support of the race volunteers and spectators?   Personally it is a pretty good feeling.  What does it feel like with the support of fellow racers, family, and/or friends?  My emotions tend to be more positively charged, and to a much higher level.  Endurance sports tend to be a little lonely during races anyway, so the support level on the course may even be a determining factor on the outcome of an athlete’s personal race.  How do you feel when you have friends and family at a race versus when you don’t?

I had the honor of being support crew for two races this weekend.  The first was the culmination run for the last session of my Fit2Run 5k group.  The race was Saturday Morning, in Dunedin, at the Our Lady of Lourdes 5k.  I really enjoy having my students at these smaller racers.  Not only does it give them the experience of the race, but it also allows them the opportunity to stand on the podium.  This race, we had an age group winner within my circle.  To no surprise Linda Shutt again took 1st place in her age group even after being out for a small injury.

The course was a little tougher than I expected, but a good experience for my runners.  It was a trail run, that included soft soil, grass, and even sand, so for some of my runners these posed a couple of new challenges.   If you want to know the truth, the marking of the race was a challenge for me as I actually wound up lost on the course and ended up completing a 10k instead.  (Pause for laughter)  Luckily my girls, and Carl,  all came across the finish line smiling and a couple with Personal Records.  If you enjoy small races with a couple of small challenges, check out Our Lady of Lourdes Annual 5k Run.

Tanner, Jessica and Cheryl before the Swim start

On Sunday the first TriRock series triathlon was in Clearwater with the start and finish lines at Pier 60.  Overall, I thought the race was run very well, and seemed well organized for an inaugural race.  The weather was perfect in my opinion.  A little chilly in the morning, with it rising to just under 80 degrees by the finish of the race.  I had three Tri-Peeps running, Tanner Stevens, Cheryl Henderson and Jessica Glover.  This was to be Jessica’s first Olympic, so all of our eyes were on her, not to mention her positive attitude is completely intoxicating and endearing.  You may remember Jessica from my Jet City posting as she is the owner and operator of my favorite coffee hang-out.

Jessica Rocking out on the Run

The race has two distances an Olympic, or as they call it, Intermediate (1500m swim, 25 mile bike, and 10k run) and a Sprint (600m swim, 13 mile bike, 5k run).  All of my friends competed in the intermediate distance, because all of three of them are pretty experienced in all three events.  The race started with music from live bands which only enhanced the energy radiating from the voices of the announcers.  It was the typical mad rush for the athletes to setup their transition equipment, dawn their wet suits and head over to the swim start.  One of the announcers sung the National Anthem, and I was very impressed as it was sung acapella.  As a performer I understand how difficult a piece the Star Spangled Banner is and I was incredibly impressed with his version.   He sang with a bluesy undertone but with a rock attitude.  By the audience reaction I would say it was a success.  In my opinion it was at least better than Steven Tyler version during the AFC Championships earlier this year.

There were a few waves for each distance with the Sprint starting 15 minutes after the last Intermediate wave with the swim being an outer and inner loop.  The finishers did cross in some instances, but the finish line was wide enough to accommodate both.  I didn’t see any issues with transition as it was large enough to handle all of the equipment and runners of turf were actually put down for the athletes bare feet.  (Note to any Triathlon Race Directors reading:  This small detail adds a huge comfort to athletes.  Just sayin’.)  The entrances and exits were clearly marked and even with the two distances using the same course, there was not a lot of crowding.  As a spectator I did enjoy the run being an out-and-back south and then north as well.  I was able to see my friends twice on the run before the finish.

I didn’t explore too much, but the expo looked small, but loaded with great vendors, the beer tent was sponsored by Red Hook which is pretty decent, and the headlining band was an AC/DC cover band, which for me was perfect.  Being a child of the 80’s has it’s perks, obviously.

Overall , I was impressed with the event.  I actually wished I would have been able to compete in it, but I enjoyed being there to support.  Out of our little group we did end up with Tanner on the podium for third place in the 25-29 age group at a time of 2:24:16.  With a possibility of two IMs next year I do not believe I am going to be able to compete next year either, but if I have friends that decide to compete I will make sure to be here again.

Athletes, Support and the Goof
Carpe Viam!


Thinking about Ironman, and help for a great cause.

The political season is over!  Finally, the earful of negative spouting and cursing from each candidate is finished and our communities can get back to the business of living and of course, working out.

I have an affinity for doing my best thinking in the shower.  I know, kind of weird right.  It must be because there is nothing in there except the overwhelming peace of the hot water being sprayed all over….uh…..well, you know what I mean. (At least I hope.) Anyway, I was trying to figure out how can I possibly complete all of my workouts for Ironman without it obsessively impacting my life as it did last year.  I am still having an issue with it, but I think I figured it out to a point.  I know I have three workouts in each event, plus 3 strength workouts, and hopefully 1 yoga class per week.  Here is what I have so far:

Monday – Interval Swim, Strength
Tuesday –  Tempo Swim, Interval Bike (2-a-day)
Wednesday – Interval Run, Strength
Thursday – Tempo Run, Tempo Bike (2-a-day)
Friday – Long Swim (as recovery)
Saturday – Long Bike ( Subst. Bricks), Yoga
Sunday – Long Run, Strength (Subst. Swim Bricks)

As you can see if I can pull this off then I only have two nights a week where I have 2-a-days and they are bike workouts and can be completed in front of the TV using commercials for intervals.  Saturday will still be long workouts, but Sundays should be done by late morning.  It works out within my groups as well, since Wednesday morning is track with Coach Dror,  my interval workout, Thursday, I have been running with Jackie and crew since they do their easy runs which is tempo for me, and the weekends will continue to be long bike workouts and bricks with the A-Train.  I am also contemplating swim workouts on Monday and Tuesday possibly being at the University of Tampa and their masters program which may provide some instruction, but mainly accountability.

I really do not have to start all of this until January if I decide to do Ironman Louisville, or March if I decide to compete only in Ironman Florida, but it has been rattling around inside my brain because I really want to perform much better this time.  I am planning on pushing my body to its limits at IMFL and to find out what I really can do, and that is going to take planning, commitment, desire, passion, but most of intelligence.  It is going to take smarts to know when and how to recover which is not something I have been all to familiar with.

I am not sure whom is all reading my blog but for those of you whom are not followers of Sneakers & Fingerpaints, or Crazy Running Girl, there is a virtual run campaign for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.  I donated my 7.5 mile PR this morning, and I hope you will help as well.

The American Red Cross is still taking donations to help the Hurricane Sandy victims from this past weekend. Also, now not only are they recovering from that storm and rebuilding, but they are awaiting a snow storm on their door step. To Donate, click here.  Any amount, big or small, can make a big difference!

Crazy Running Girl did a post on a Virtual Run to help the victims of Sandy.

With a minimum donation of $10, you can go to the link above to register to run in the month of November – there are also prizes to be won as well & all proceeds would go to the American Red Cross too! Nothing like a great, virtual run, for a great cause!

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