How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

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

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6 Tips For Quality Run Training

6 Tips For Quality Run Training

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

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The Goof at the Races

The Goof at the Races

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

Escape from Ft DeSoto Sprint Triathlon

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

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

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

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

Tampa Corporate 5k

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

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

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

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

St. Anthony’s Olympic Triathlon

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

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

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

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

Police Appreciation Run

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

PArun

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

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

Miles for Moffitt

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

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

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

The Dunedin Sprint Triathlon

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

DTRI

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

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

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

Carpe Viam!

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?)

The Nutty No-Excuse Goof

The line to register for IMFL 2013

To coin a bad phrase; “Oops, I did it again.”  I signed up for Ironman Florida for 2013.  The energy of Ironman is intoxicating and if you have any ambitions of competing in one you have to go and either spectate or volunteer.  You will either be so overwhelmed that you end up scared out of your mind, or you become so energized you sign up the next day.  I again had no intention of signing up.  I was planning on doing another Ironman, but I was thinking another location like Arizona, but between Pete, Jaime, Kat, Stan, Tom, Ken, Chuck, Todd, (and probably a few others I am missing), I couldn’t help but think how much fun it would be.  I basically trained mostly on my own for my Ironman in 2011, but this time it will probably be a lot more fun.

Anne, Marai and I after they both crossed the Finish Line

What also helped was volunteering the day before and getting to be right there for my friends and watch them compete.  Anne, Marai, Eve, Summer, Kat, David, Rick, Iron Rick, Mary-Ellen, Carola and Jessica all did amazing.  A few of them with PRs if not for the IM distance but for this course.  I was so honored to be able to sneak in and put Anne’s Medal around her neck.  It seemed to mean a lot to her, and it meant a great deal for me as well.  It also helped to be there when Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae ran past me and I cheered for her through the bull horn I was yelling through for gear bag numbers.  To be so close to someone with her talent is so inspiring.  She took 2nd and locked up her spot for Kona 2013, so I imagine her off-season will be nice and relaxing now that she is engaged.

Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae as she zipped by me

Being that last year my goal was to do an Ironman, and I accomplished it.  This year, I may have to up the ante by adding Ironman Louisville to the list to make this the year of two Ironman distance races.  I am still not quite decided yet as there are logistics that have to be worked out, but I have heard good things about Louisville and because it is in the heat of August and is not the most popular Ironman, the registration stays open longer.  This allows me a little bit of time.  (Of course, I just put out a chunk of money for both the IMFL race and the deposit on the rental for next year, so I need a couple more weeks to save to pay for it.)

I feel like I am stronger than last year and I am definitely faster on the bike and run.  The swim still has a lot to be desired, so my focus on the off season will be a lot more swimming.  I am setting up my goals for next year.

The Goals

The Three of us…again.

Swim: 90 minutes or less (Aim: 1:15) – 1:15 – 1:30
Bike: Avg 20 mph or higher (Aim 21.5 mph) – 5:15 – 5:40
Run: Avg 9 min/miiles or less (Aim: 8:00) – 3:45 – 4:00
Transitions: 5 min or less – 10:00
Total: 10:40 – 11:20

The Plan:
Swim: 3x Week (Drills + Intervals, Tempo, Long)
Bike: 3x Week (Intervals, Tempo, Long)
Run: 3x Week (Speed, Tempo, Long)


The Periodization Cycle:
Strength: 3x Week (Heavy, Supersets, Endurance)
Yoga/Stretch: 2x per week (possibly more in Recovery Weeks)
To include A LOT of BRICKS!!!

2 Week – Base (Low Intensity, High Duration)
2 Week – Build (Med Intensity, Med Duration)
1 Week – Peak (High Intensity, Low Duration)
1 Week – Recovery (Low Intensity, Low Duration)

I decided last night to put my own plan together with the help of a bunch of resources to include what worked for me over the last year.  I will definitely be building in weekend workouts with the A-Train and speed workouts with Progressive, but besides that, if anyone wants to work out with me during the week, you are more than welcome.

The Goof’ On-Duty

I wanted to put this out there to not only give a glimpse into what goes on inside a goofy brain like mine but also to make myself accountable.  I hope to continue to blog about this new journey and while I am learning and experiencing I may be able to bring an ounce of motivational inspiration to anyone whom thought doing an Ironman was beyond their reach, because let’s face it; if I can do it, anyone can do it.

CARPE VIAM!

(Seize the Way! or Seize the Road)

Food Friday – Paleo

There is a trend I jumped on early in January, right after I finished the Goofy Challenge. The Paleo Lifestyle. Most people would call it a diet, and if it was temporary than I would say they were right. At first I was a little spooked by it, but my friend and coach Amy Bennett Eck, dared me to try the lifestyle for 30 days and see what results I obtained and how I felt.

Before Paleo

The first week was tough.  I was lethargic, my workouts suffered, and I felt like I had lost a lot of strength and endurance.  (Of course that might have also been from the Half Marathon and Marathon I ran the weekend before I started.)  Something happened about the middle of the second week.  I woke up on Wednesday and I felt better.  Interesting thing was, it was immediate.  I went to bed Tuesday night after strictly following Paleo for a week plus two days and I woke up on Wednesday, feeling like myself again.  I’ll talk about the hi-level science in a minute, but let me just tell you I thought I could take on the world.  The following Saturday I ran ten miles faster than I ever had.  It was just amazing the energy I had.  I don’t have that energy all the time, but I did for the next couple of weeks at least.  Ever since then I have keeping a pretty strict Paleo Lifestyle at about 85-90%.  The other 15% I attribute to pizza, beer, the occasional ice cream and a few items in my race nutrition.

On Paleo

So what is Paleo?  The word Paleo comes from the Paleolithic Era or the caveman era.  It is basically eating as the caveman did, before processing, before grains, before even beans and legumes.  It basically, consists of meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.  There are some items that are what I would call, “on the line”, specifically, milk and butter only if they came from a grass fed cow.  There are no grains, no legumes, and no other dairy.  I really thought it was going to be tough and the first week was, but after I toughed out the first week, I really didn’t even miss the bread, pasta, corn, cheese, yogurt or rice.  Sounds like a lot doesn’t it?  Well let me give you my results; I lost 12 pounds and 4% body fat in that first month.  Crazy huh?  Because of the Goofy Challenge, my workouts were even cut back that month.  Since then I have lost another 5 pounds, 3% more body fat, my race times are faster, I can run, swim and bike longer and I have found my love for cooking again.

Let me tell you about the results of my friend Susan Johnson-Velez.  Susan is a lawyer and single mom that was a little overweight, and had a severe case of asthma.  She started two months prior to me with just removing dairy, and then started Paleo strictly in December and January like me.  Now, she is down 35 pounds and the three medications she took for her asthma has been reduced down to a seasonal herb.  Isn’t that crazy?  I watched this beautiful woman go from baggy dresses and jeans to mini-skirts and dresses and skinny jeans, tight tops and boots.  She came with us as our sherpa for the Chicago Marathon last October and when I saw her again at Jet City Coffee in January, my jaw hit the floor.  The difference was amazing, and she has only gotten more fit, thinner and hotter since then.

My instruction book for this lifestyle started with The Paleo Diet for Athletes first printing, but since then Joe Friel and Loren Cordain, Phd have updated it.  For the edition I was using, Joel Friel, the father of triathlon training, was instructing the Paleo diet for everything except for pre and post workout meals, and race nutrition.  I have not completed my read of the second addition, but from what I can tell, Joel is not adding suggestions for those meals to be Paleo as well.

Why Paleo?  The theory is, that grains have two major disadvantages; One, they breakdown into sugar, which if  you do not use the carbohydrates right away they end up creating imbalances which increases your insulin levels causing the metabolism to slow down and store fat.  Second, a lot of grains contain gluten which is basically poison.  If the grain, for example oatmeal, does not naturally contain gluten, then there is more than a possibility that it was packaged a facility that also packages grains that do have gluten causing transference.  Interesting enough there is another risk of transference of gluten; through meat.  If a cow is grain fed, then the meat may have a high level of gluten along with the milk produced.  I have actually started buying meat from a farm in Texas that has only grass fed meat.   Slanker’s Farms also has chickens, buffalo, and some fish as well.  All of it natural without antibiotics, pesticides or hormones.

The benefits of Paleo start by eliminating all the excess sugar your body doesn’t need or use, and then instead of using sugar for energy it uses fat.  Since fat is a lot more dense than sugar, the energy production lasts a lot longer, which means you last a lot longer.  Can you imagine working out and being able to go a couple of extra miles, just because you want to?  Can you imagine a new outlook on life, not to mention cooking?  I found a lot deeper interest in cooking since I started Paleo.  Also, depending on your body and where you are at the moment, for every pound of excess you rid your body of, it could translate into a 10-12 second per mile decrease in your running time.

There are a lot of resources out there on Paleo.   I personally am only fond of books and articles written by Loren Cordain, Phd and Rob Wolf.  There are plenty of great resources for recopies on the internet.  Do you think you have to give up brownies?  Here is my favorite recipe for Paleo Brownies;

Ingredients

  • 1 16oz container Nutbutter (recommend MeeNutButter)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup agave
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate, cut into chip sizes
  • Coconut Oil, melted for brushing

Directions

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

    • In a large bowl add container of NutButter, cocoa powder, sea salt, baking soda, eggs, agave and vanilla.
    • Using a hand mixture blend until all ingredients are combined well.
    • Using a spatula combine dark chocolate chips into the mixture.
    • Take a 9×13 baking dish and brush with the melted coconut oil. Add mixture to the baking dish and bake for 40 minutes.
    • Let cool, cut into square and enjoy

    They are awesome, trust me.

    Check out the books and articles online and see what you think.  I suggest just thirty days, knowing that the first week to two weeks you will probably not feel great, but the energy will hit like electricity once your body converts from burning sugar to burning fat.

    I hope you are able to extract some good information and that it may at least increase your interest in this healthy lifestyle.

    Carpe Viam!