Friday, March 21, 2014

Run Baby Run

One of the main reasons I LOVE spring is the ability to run outdoors without layers upon layers of clothing based upon the cruel sense of humor Mother Nature has during the winter.  Having had enough of the treadmill and indoor exercise, running outside in the spring is an absolute treat.
While wearing a lot of clothing in the winter can be somewhat cumbersome,  many times I take for granted the freedom afforded me on the open roads, jacket, tights or not.  It was just recently that I had a new experience with running and one that can keep many people from enjoying a nice jog around the neighborhood.
While May was at Disney World participating in the Princess Half Marathon weekend in late February, I found myself home with Elli for the weekend!  Having never spent more than a few hours alone with Elli, I was thrilled at the opportunity for a father/daughter weekend.  As long as we didn’t have any visits by the fire department or trips to the hospital I would consider the weekend a success.

 As many know I am training for my first IRONMAN triathlon in Coeur‘d Alene in June and my training is ramping up. On Sunday, May and her friends were running the Princess Half Marathon, my training plan called for a long run as well. I thought I would support all those princesses by taking my little princesses along on my run!  I thought it was a good idea and Elli thought it was a good idea so how much better could it be?  I loaded Elli up in the jogging stroller and we headed out for our own half marathon through our neighborhood.

Little did I know I was an increasingly common breed of runner: parents who hit the road with their offspring in jogging strollers, typically single or double versions with two 16-inch inflatable tires in back and a single tire in front? With up to 60 miles of running a week, I was surprised at how different running with a stroller was.
But, experts say, there is a learning curve to running with a stroller, which I quickly learned.
“Running mechanics change and targeted muscles are trained differently while pushing a stroller,” said Fabio Comana, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise. “It’s like learning to kick a ball with the other leg.”
Trying to do too much too soon, especially for a postpartum mother, opens a runner up to injuries, even for runners that log several miles a week.  “It’s not just get up and go,” Mr. Comana said. “It’s not an easy switch from regular running. Runners need to lower their standards of time, pace and distance.”
They also need to find a stroller that suits their size and running style. As with buying a bicycle, it’s important to find a comfortable fit. Experts suggest runners take several models on a short test-run before buying. I prefer a stroller with a front wheel that doesn’t swivel as it makes for a smoother ride.
To learn how to move most effectively pushing something, Mr. Comana recommends that runners first walk, then mix in bouts of jogging and finally run uninterrupted with an empty stroller before taking a child out in it. When runners start working out with a stroller, he said, they lose that forward momentum generated by shoulder drive, for example. To maintain any sense of pace, they have to incorporate quicker foot turnover.
According to Sarah Bowen Shea, when Craig Alexander, the 2008 winner of the Ironman World Championship, runs with his 4-year-old daughter, Lucy, in a stroller two or three times a week, he touches the stroller handle lightly every few steps to keep it rolling, a practice I found very beneficial. 
Strength exercises for your core, biceps, triceps and shoulder muscles will also make stroller jogging more enjoyable.  Jogging with a stroller is also an excellent workout for your core and upper body.
Elli and I finished our run that day without fanfare, crowds or medals.  We had a great time bonding together, Elli learned to say “faster daddy” and I got a great workout and found a new respect for parents that run with a stroller ever day!

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, March 14, 2014

REVOLUTION3 – Knoxville – 70.3 Miles of Family, Friends and Fun

With the weather warming up and the days getting longer (finally) it’s time to get excited for the upcoming triathlon season. With five major triathlons on my calendar for 2014, my season kicks off with the much anticipated REV3 70.3 Triathlon in Knoxville, TN.

This will be my first chance to experience the REV3 series and I have been looking forward to this for a long time.  I have met many of the REV3 team though Facebook and Twitter and what an AWESOME group of individuals to represent the series and the sport in general. I am so looking forward to meeting many of them in person!

What makes REV3 so special is the family friendly environment that encourages those new to the sport to get involved and celebrates family and friends.  One outstanding thing REV3 does is allow participants to cross the finish line with their family. I can’t wait to cross the finish line running with my little Princess Elli as I celebrate my first 70.3 finish of the year.

May and I are also looking forward to spending time with Joe and Ilene Piscatello. We met Joe and Ilene several years ago in Rome, Italy of all places and it’s been too long since we have connected. We will have a great weekend of friends, family and yes fun, something that makes REVOLUTION3 a wonderful series to participate it.  Come join us for some fun!]

Here is a recap from last years event.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Happy Days

Training for the upcoming triathlon season is going well and on schedule.  I have increased my mileage, managed to stay injury free and feel pretty good.  Now if spring would just get here and I could get my bike out of my sunroom and out on the roads, all would be near perfect.

Over the last month I have had some interesting moments in training and racing.  While May was at the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend, I needed to get a long run in so I strapped Elli in the stroller and off we set for a 13 mile romp through the neighborhood.  Easy, right?  Well, not exactly.

I had forgotten how hard it was to run with a stroller, let alone keeping an eye out for all the stuff Elli was throwing out.  I thought I was doing a great job, they to my horror I did a “cockpit” check and could not find the beautiful stocking cap May had knitted for Elli. 

I know it had to be somewhere in the subdivision as that is the only place we ran so mile 6 was my fastest as I desperately looked for the beautiful cap!  Found it! I took a deep sigh of relief and Elli clapped and yelled “YEAH, YEAH.”  Whew…

Elli and I only got in 9 miles. Elli is in the potty training stage and at mile 9 I conveniently heard “Daddy, Poopy.”  That was enough for me. At least she quit saying “Faster, Daddy, Faster!”  I was exhausted and I thought Elli had to use the bathroom but I think it was a convenient phrase to get out of the stroller.  Fair enough. Pushing that monster for 9 miles was akin to 13 so we called it a day and went in the house feeling good about the time together.

Later that day Elli and I got to go shopping where she got some new swim goggles and her own IRONMAN watch.  She also helped me make muffins and mustard encrusted Salmon that sat on cauliflower/sweet potato puree with balsamic spinach. Not a bad reward for a great workout.

Fast forward to March 8th and it was time to celebrate my 48th birthday with a small workout. I had planned to run the Columbia Marathon on Saturday, until my coach Carole Sharpless yelled me out of the full and into the half.  Getting ready to for IRONMAN Coeur’d Alene in June, I had no business running the marathon so I switched to the half.

Never one to shy away from a good workout, I got up at 3:30 and rode my bike for two hours on the trainer before heading down to the Columbia Half Marathon. So far so good? Nope this turned into mistake number 1. With some oat flour muffins after my ride, I was ready for an easy 13.1 stroll through downtown Columbia, SC.

There is a saying about “the best laid plans of mice and men” and although my intentions were good, my race execution lacked good judgment, no it lacked all good judgment.  Sigh.

First I was way over dressed for the race. Yes it was cold in the morning but if I had bother to check the little invention known as the Weather Channel app I would have realized that a low of 30 at 7:00 am would quickly turn into 60+ by 9:30 am. Well so much for use of modern technology. I was bundled up like I was heading out for a month in Siberia.  Yes there are such things as drop bags, and no, I was not smart enough to use it. 

Five minutes into this race and I was in my own personal sauna and steam room combination. HOT does not being to describe how I felt but I made the best of it. I was simply getting use to running in warm weather…well that was my theory and I was sticking to it.  Mistake number 2 in the books!

Now on to mistake number three.  My plan was to run this race at a very easy pace of 10:00-10:30 minutes per mile and use it as a training run.  So much for that novel idea!  I began the race in the back and felt very strong.  My legs felt great so I decided to pick up the pace and see what I could do to this course.  BAD IDEA, VERY BAD!  While I had run a 1:42 on this course last year, I had managed to stay off my bike beforehand and had dressed appropriately.  I cant really explain it other than trying to run slow in a race is like telling a dog not to chase a car, its futile.

The Columbia course is brutally hilly and I love hills so into attack mode I went and since I felt so good I managed to ignore all the fluid/Gatorade stations which leads to mistake number four, bad, no, no nutrition planning.

Feeling good at a 7:50 pace (so much for 10:00) and devouring the hills, and not having any nutrition intake on the bike or during the run and with a two small muffins between sessions, at mile 9 I hit the wall and hard. In fact I looked around to see who hit me with the shovel and who poured molasses on the course that consumed my legs.

Not my most shining moment, I reflected on Finding Nemo and thought of Dory…”just keep swimming, just keep swimming…” so I just kept running and running and running. I thought I would never see the end of that race and lamented on my stupidity in making four key mistakes for the day, mistakes I definitely know better than to make and mistakes I definitely coach people not to make. Being able to rationalize as humans, I told myself this was good practice for Idaho to run on tired legs.

The gracious, merciful and absolutely beautiful end of that race finally came (heck it could have been the edge of the world and I would have run off it) and I was able to sit down, actually eat something.  I ran a 1:53 and was happy with that, knowing the last four miles were closer to my original targets.  Oh well I had time to reflect on what a beautiful day it was and what a special birthday it was going to be.

Later that day I had a wonderful dinner with May and Elli and they got me a new grill, something I definitely wanted and needed and so much appreciated!  I am a blessed man as I have the best family in the world. Love you May and Elli.

With the race behind me and more training to come, today I am happy to report that I had my longest swim ever.  I knocked out 4350 yards (2.5) miles in 1:53:50 which is well ahead of my IRONMAN time!  Although I wanted to be a bit faster (don’t we all) I was happy with this outcome and was steady and strong the entire swim even with forgetting to each before the work out and not taking in any nutrition during the swim. (I see a bad pattern here I need to get corrected!)  Thank goodness for my waterproof iPOD and some good hard rock to keep me going.  And yes, I could hear Dory saying….just keep swimming, just keep swimming and that I did.

Have a great week and if I can do this you can too and I am here to help you….How Bad Do You Want It?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Fit and Trendy

Believe it or not, and by looking at the recent weather you won’t, we are well into 2014 and spring is fast approaching! Spring is a new beginning of sorts, the greening of the vegetation, warmer temperatures and the promise of a wealth fresh fruit and vegetables.
With a new year comes new trends in fashion and entertainment food and nutrition trends are no different.  According to Boulder, Colorado–based brand-strategy company Sterling-Rice Group here are some food trends that will unfold this year.
Give it a lemon squeeze! Lemon in pure juice forms, in pastries and as yogurt flavoring will brighten up our dishes. Lemon juice is also good to help balance acidity in your body.

Tea is not just for breakfast or fortunetelling anymore. Chefs are using tea leaves to flavor ice creams and adding the leaves to poaching liquids, marinades, sauces and more. Tea is also full of antioxidants and green tea in particular can reduce inflammation.
Got nuts? Dairy milk (and soymilk) will take a backseat to nut milks such as almond, peanut and cashew. Nuts are a great source of healthy monounsaturated fat and protein. They are most healthy in their raw from and are easily turned into homemade nut butter.
Animal proteins go alternative. People are gaining awareness that industrial cattle-farming practices are questionable and unsustainable. Expect small-scale, local producers to step forward with offerings like rabbit, goat and pigeon. When purchasing beef, look for organic and grass fed alternatives. This is some of the best beef you will ever taste. For chicken, look for organic and cage free and look to purchase your eggs from local farmers that utilize organic and cage free practices.
Seaweed is rolling in with umami flavor “pop.” In addition to the ubiquitous crunchy seaweed snacks that have emerged recently, seaweed is being produced as a standalone flavor additive to sprinkle over anything that sounds good with it. In fact, dust some onto the next item.
Popcorn has come out of its shell. It’s been a popular snack food for a couple of years already, but watch for imaginative uses and combinations. Kelsey Blackwell, senior editor Natural Foods Merchandiser reported on Tiny But Mighty Popcorn, an heirloom kernel so small that the hull disappears when it pops.  Boost the flavor of your popcorn with melted coconut oil.  Known as the “healthy’ saturated fat, coconut oil is heart healthy and has the similar feel and taste of butter, and a fraction of the cost.
Raw is gaining new ground. Innovators are producing raw-food ingredients such as oils, nuts and fruit juices for convenient use in recipes as well as excellent flavor enhancement and health benefits.
Increasing numbers of people are getting their daily Paleo fix. Whether CrossFit® enthusiasts are driving this or not, it seems to be a trend. Blackwell reported seeing “a handful of Paleo- specific” snacks on the show floor. She also observed that established brands were massaging their messaging to appeal to Paleo consumers.

Adding a fun and healthy diet with exercise can be a new trend for you as well.
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.