Friday, February 28, 2014

Fight The Flu with Fruit

It’s cold, it’s wet and its nasty outside, all the perfect ingredients for an active flu season. Like death and taxes, one thing we can count on is an active flu season.  Let’s face it, every winter we face less than ideal conditions and one runny nose can lead to an outbreak of the flu!
While flu shots are available and practicing good hygiene habits can limit our odds of contracting the flu, what we eat can also play a role in reducing the chances of coming down with one of nature’s nasty little treats.  While nature serves up the flu bug every year, she also provides us some level of protection in the form of fruit.
What I like to call “nature’s candy” fruit has numerous health benefits including the ability to help fight diseases such as the flu.  According to Amy Palanjian of Men’s Health, if you're not eating these recommended 5 fruits and vegetables a day, here's a new reason to head to the produce aisle.

Apples - The most popular source of antioxidants in our diet, one apple has an antioxidant effect equivalent to 1,500 mg of vitamin C. Apples are loaded with protective flavonoids, which may prevent heart disease and cancer.
Papayas - With 250 percent of the RDA of vitamin C, a papaya can help kick a cold right out of your system. The beta-carotene and vitamins C and E in papayas reduce inflammation throughout the body, lessening the effects of asthma.
Cranberries - Cranberries have more antioxidants than other common fruits and veggies. One serving has five times the amount in broccoli. Cranberries are a natural probiotic, enhancing good bacteria levels in the stomach and protecting it from foodborne illnesses.
Grapefruit - Loaded with vitamin C, grapefruit also contains natural compounds called limonoids, which can lower cholesterol. The red varieties are a potent source of the cancer-fighting substance lycopene. Note if you are taking a statin for lowering your cholesterol, please check with your doctor or pharmacist before consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice.
Bananas - One of the top food sources of vitamin B6, bananas help reduce fatigue, depression, stress, and insomnia. Bananas are high in magnesium, which keeps bones strong, and potassium, which helps prevent heart disease and high blood pressure.

Other good fruits and vegetables that help improve your immune system include oranges, black berries, raspberries, blue berries, strawberries, cherries and dark green vegetables. It is also better to consume the flesh of the fruit and not fruit juice such as apple, orange or grapefruit juice unless fresh squeezed at home. Most commercial fruit juices contain as much if not more added sugar than a can of soda while being stripped of many of the health enhancing antioxidants, vitamins and other nutrients.

Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer and exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Le Tour de Spin

“Only five hundred yards to go!  Push it with all you have, only 300 yards, 200, yards, keep pedaling you are almost there and………stop!  Congratulations, you just finished the prologue time trial at the Tour de France!”
Those were the words spoken by the instructor who was leading this particular spin class. Leaning against the handle bars, exhausted and sitting in a pool of my own sweat, I was amazed at what an excellent workout “spinning” or indoor cycling class can be.  In a mere forty-five minutes of spin class I warmed up and completed the prologue time trial of the Tour de France, listened to some awesome music, grunted, groaned and met some new friends.  Not a bad way to start the day.

Spin classes are growing in popularity in health and fitness clubs across the country.  Combining great music, cycling on stationary exercise bicycles, an instructor that leads the session and a host of avid spin participants, spin classes are an excellent way to enhance your exercise routine and an equally excellent way to improve your cardiovascular health.
You do not have to be an avid cyclist to enjoy and excel at spinning. While the opening to this article captures the fun and intense effort I put into this spin class (hey I won the opening stage of the Tour de France) the intensity with which you ride is total up to you. Exercise bikes in most studios that are fully adjustable to accommodate all shapes and sizes, they also come equipped with a wide range of gears that allow the rider to adjust the tension which helps you regulate your intensity.
Classes are conducted by a certified spin instructor that pairs a wide range of music closely choreographed to routine that takes rides from warm up, to peak intensity, to cool down within fifty minutes.  Where else can you get a good workout, listen to great music, meet new friends and do it all in less than an hour?
Spin classes are an excellent way to improve your fitness and here are some of the many benefits of spinning:
Excellent cardiovascular workout
It is an excellent cross training workout out
Low impact aerobic exercise
In fitness centers with a running track it gives triathletes an opportunity to get in a bike/run brick indoors when Mother Nature is not so accommodating.
You control the intensity of the workout to meet your needs
You don’t need a fancy bike or purchase expensive equipment
A great instructor will have a wonderful challenging and fun routine with some killer tunes
You get to meet new friends
I am using spin classes to help me prepare for my first full IRONMAN triathlon in June and find them an incredible fun, exciting and exhaustive way to get in shape.  Not only do you get to meet new friends and share the experience, you get to win a stage of the Tour de France as well!  Where else can you have that much fun while getting in shape in forty five minutes?

Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer and exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

REV 3 Knoxville – Revving up for Another Week of Training

Happy Tuesday!  I trust you all survived President’s Day and the myriad of absolutely horrible local car dealer and furniture ads that somehow make their way into our living rooms.

Last week was a throw away but a great week to be off with a virus and the snow and ice had everything in South Carolina closed down for the better part of three days.  Running outside was not an option either due to the ice and I was not going to risk slipping and breaking an ankle or tearing an ACL.  They always say timing is everything and this was a classic example. Here is this weeks training in prepration for REV 3 Knoxville

Saturday – Started the day with a three hour ride on the training and caught up on Ancient Aliens.  I felt pretty good for being off for a week with a bug. I was surprised I got up as the earthquake the night before and Elli being sick did not lead to much sleep.  I was able to get in about 51 miles and some good interval work.  Added in 400 crunches and 300 pushups.

Sunday – Back to the roads with a 10 mile run at 4:30 am.  It took a bit to get started but I warmed up nicely and it was perfect as I finished Trip Wire, the third book in the Jack Reacher series just as I finished my run. I love taking an unabridged book on my iPod for long runs and it really helps pass the time.  10 miles done and no worse for the wear. Added in 400 crunches and 300 pushups.

Monday – Well this was a true test of the “How Bad Do You Want It” motto. I did NOT want to get out of bed, let alone go for a long swim. They I thought about the REV3 Knoxville 70.3 and IRONMAN Coeur‘d Alene and I got up and headed to the Y.  All the way there I tried to bargain with myself about how I didn’t have to swim 3,600 yards and tried to rationalize how I could only do 1,800 or 900 yards and be happy with  the workout.  Once I hit the water I made up my mind that the faster I swam, the faster I would be done so 3,600 yards it was.  I am glad I stuck with it as it was the best swim I have had ever completing it in 1:29. This is not fast by many standards but for me it is.  My left shoulder was not sore (as it has been on long swims) and I was not completely gassed once I climbed out of the pool. This is progress and they strength training paid off.  I completed a round of strength training in the afternoon and added in 400 crunches and 300 pushups.

Tuesday – This is one of my favorite workouts and I do a bike/run brick at Gold’s. Garrett is an awesome instructor and today we worked on springs and not hills, but mountains.  72 minutes on the bike and then a brisk 9:00 per mile run for 2 miles. I am very, very excited how my legs are feeling off the bike. This was a huge issue last year and I must be getting stronger.  Nice run and great way to start the day. Next week I move to 3-4 mil run after the bike so that will be good to extend the mileage and learn to run on tired legs.  400 crunches and 300 pushups done.

Wednesday – Will be headed back to the Y for another 3,600 yard swim and will work on some intervals. I am so excited that Elli loved her first swim lesson.  I don’t want her to fear the water like I did all those years. I actually look forward to going swimming and there is nothing better to wake you up in the morning than when you first hit the water. Will add in strengthen training, push-ups and crunches in the afternoon.

Thursday – Will run a quick 8-10 in the morning and add in a recovery ride of 60 minutes in the evening.

Friday – What is supposed to be an off day, I may add in Sundays 12 mile run as I am in NYC all next week and may not get many chances to workout.  This way Elli and I can time together for a quick bike in the sun room and brick a run with her in the stroller on Sunday.

Saturday – This is the big one. My first five hour ride on the trainer followed by a 3 mile brick run.  The only thing I’m worried about is staying motivated for 5 hours but where there is a will, there is a way and it will be done. Will probably start around 3:30 so I can be close to done by time Elli gets up and she and Juliet can get me through the last hour.

Sunday – If I run on Friday, I will do a short bike/run brick and will take Elli swimming in the afternoon. May will be at the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend so it will be a fun father/daughter weekend.  We will miss May but we will have some bonding time.

Monday – Plan to get in 3,600 at the pool before I head to a week in the Big Apple.

Happy training everyone and remember “How Bad Do You Want It?”

Friday, February 14, 2014

Percolating Your Workout

For those who love to work out early in the morning a cup of fresh brewed Java is the only way to kick start an awesome exercise session. With the comfort of an old pair of  jeans, a cup of coffee wakes you up, warms you up, stimulates your senses and gets all of your systems moving, literally, not to mention it just smells so good.

While once thought taboo and dangerous to your health to have more than one cup of Joe, there is good reason to enjoy that second and third cup of the morning elixir.  According to Liz Applegate, PH.D, new research shows that drinking coffee has more health benefits than harmful effects.
Not shocking by any means, especially to spouses and children, coffee can enhance your mood, relieve the everyday stresses of life and can reduce the risk of diseases. In addition to the caffeine, coffee also contains rich antioxidants which are also available in decaf.
Here are some health and performance benefits coffee provides athletes and exercisers.
Studies conducted on cyclists and triathletes in the U.K. showed that those given 350 mg of caffeine performed better than those given a placebo.
Arabica beans are rich in antioxidants compounds.  One study showed that consuming three cups of Arabica coffee daily for four weeks can lower markers of oxidative DNA damage that can promote heart disease among other health issues.
A recent study cited by the National Health Institute shows that adults that drink four cups or more of coffee on a daily basis are 10 percent less likely to be depressed than non-coffee drinkers!  In addition to limiting depression, getting your day started with the smell, taste and boost of coffee just makes for a nicer person!
A health heart is important for any individual. Adding three to four cups of coffee to your diet daily, coupled with exercise, is associated with a significant reduction in heart-disease risk according to a study review published by the journal Circulation.
According to the European Journal of Nutrition for every two cups of regular or decaf coffee you drink per day, you risk for type diabetes decreases by 10-12 percent. The greatest risk reduction is in runners with a healthy Body Mass Index.
While coffee won’t turn you into Einstein, research shows that antioxidants in coffee may help protect the brain from cognitive loss and may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Finally, research has shown that drinking two cups of coffee per day has a protecting effect on the liver, especially in those who are at risk for liver disease or have poor liver health.
While coffee has many health benefits, be careful not to overdo too much of a good thing as excess coffee can give you out the jitters, disrupt sleep and rob bones of valuable calcium.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Slow Roll

A good friend of mine wants desperately to qualify for the Boston marathon which will require a 3:15 marathon. He works and trains hard but has only run one sub four hour marathon.  With frustration mounting, he couldn’t understand why he can’t come closer to his goal.
Recently we sat down and reviewed data from his training runs. He typically runs 5-7 miles on any given day six to seven days a week at close to a 7:30 mile.  I asked where his long and slow training runs were and he just looked at me and said, “Well I don’t have any.”  Much to my surprise I asked why not and he replied, “Well I just can’t run slowly! I get out there and I just have to pick up the pace!” And therein lies the problem. He is training at one speed and has not built up his endurance or conditioned his legs and feet to be in motion at a steady pace for three plus hours.
Chasing goals is fine, but you must have a solid plan that provides your body various stresses and recovery. Most importantly you have to have the discipline to follow your plan.  More miles run at your fastest pace may look like a good idea on the surface but in the end diversity will help you achieve your goals.
First you must identify your main goal, such as qualifying for the Boston marathon, and then do some research to identify the best plan to help you achieve this goal.  In my friends example he didn’t have a plan to follow and felt the only way he was going to qualify for Boston was to run every training run as fast as he could. In the end all this did was burn him out and leave him grossly under prepared for the rigors of running a marathon.
Varying your speed and distance run is extremely important.  By adding different distances and paces, you are training your body to adapt to your goal.  Speed work is important but it should only constitute one aspect of your training. You also need slower and shorter recovery runs, long steady runs to get your body used to distance and even rest days, yes I said rest days. 
In my friends case, hard workouts like the speed runs he was doing help train your body to sustain speed over distance.  This doesn’t mean you have to push the pace at the top end of your speed on every run.  According to Michelle Hamilton, you can train your body to use oxygen more efficiently and process the lactic acid better thereby allowing you to run farther faster.  Back off your speed some and aim for more distance.  The relatively slower pace means you still work your lactate systems but you will feel less fatigued which will also make for a more speedy recovery.
Finally enjoy some down weeks where you lower your mileage, slow your pace and even enjoy cross training. My two best marathon times came when I had reduced training miles, was judicious about my speed work, had active recovery and down time and added in swimming. 
Sometimes less can be more, a lot more!
Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer and exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Great Start – Bring on February

January is officially gone and which means only eleven more months to Christmas. Well OK, maybe that is a stretch but it would not surprise me to see the Christmas decorations out in stores before we even get to spring!  It gets earlier every year.
As I write this with much anticipation for the Super Bowl (actually if I was honest it’s not so much the game but enjoying one of the few days I put my diet to the side and enjoy the game like a real fan) reflection on what I have accomplished in the past 30 days in pursuit of my first IRONMAN 140.6 is in order.
My training plan is a 24 week plan that is broken down into segments that move you closer to the performing well at the race.  After a month of training, I am well ahead of schedule. Running the Dopey Challenge at Disney Jan 9-12 in close to PR form really gave me a boost to my training. I am blessed I finished the races injury free and recovered quickly so I was able to get right back to it.
With my running in good shape, my sights have been turned to swimming and biking, both of which are in good shape. I have already completed two, 2 mile swims and today I did 3.5 hours on the bike in our sunroom.  It’s still cold outside and I elect to get the majority of my training done early in the morning so as not to take away family time from May and Elli. It can be tedious but its good mental preparation, not to mention toughening up the old bottom.
While doing intervals and pushing big gears, my swimming has been strong as all the strength training is really starting to pay off. It’s tough to strength train three days a week. Most days I don’t want to do it but then I think about the Ironman and ask myself “How Bad Do I Want It?” and I get up and start pumping iron.  It’s all about perspective, motivation and leaning on God for direction and strength.
Add in 12,400 Ab Crunches and 9,300 pushups and 2013 is off to a great start. I have also been more focused on listening to my body.  With rather high training volumes and diverse training I am trying to gauge if I am just tired or “tired.”  Let’s face it, most days I don’t feel like getting up at 4:00 am but I have been listening to my body if this is normal early morning tired or is my body telling me I need more sleep.  I have learned the difference and am now flexible with my rest days accordingly which has been a huge help.
I have also been more focused on my dietary intake, eating more protein and eating more calories immediately after a workout and earlier in the day.  Getting fuel in my body as close to the end of a workout as possible has substantial positive benefits to recovery, which gives me stronger workouts and the ability to have two workouts a day, three days a week.
For February I am focused on my improving my swimming, getting more miles with interval work on the bike and keeping my running in good shape. I am going to do the Ashville Marathon at the Biltmore in late March and then focus on Rev3 Knoxville triathlon. Will need to get some cold water swims done in April and May and my goal is to swim Lake Windermere lengthwise which will give me 2-3 miles in open and cold water without the monotony of the pool.
Thanks for the support and here is to healthy, happy and injury free training and racing. Remember, you can do this, it all boils down to How Bad Do You Want It?