Friday, February 13, 2015

How It All Began

How time flies when you are having fun beating your body to a pulp!  After five years of participating in endurance sports, I used to wonder why I get strange looks from my peers when we discuss what we did on vacations. 

While most people go to the beach or search for posh luxury resort with an emphasis on relaxation, May and I don’t consider it a good vacation unless we have reached a new max heart rate and can’t walk well for a week due to a triathlon, marathon or both!

While I thought my peers were giving me strange looks on our idea of “vacation”, I like to think maybe some of their looks are in response to my wrinkled face when being told about the complete waste of time they spent on relaxation! Oh the travesty!

I often think back on what attracted me to the sport of triathlon and endurance sports in general.  I was never a stand out athlete in school and I never participated in cross-country, track or any other sport that took longer than six minutes. Ah, good old wrestling. Six minutes and that was that…the good old days as some would say.

As an adult facing a receding hair line (well OK no hair line), a growing belly and general state of constant fatigue, a visit to a doctor was in order.  After the exam my doctor told me I was in OK shape for a man my age of 65!  I said “excuse me but I’m 43!” to which he responded “well then you are in awful shape!”

My idea of a wakeup call had been the gentle sound of gentle ocean waves emanating from my phone at 6:00 am. It certainly was not having a doctor tell you your body is ready for retirement, a jump suit and recliner with a built in refrigerator.   It was time to make a serious change in lifestyle.  Hey, how about running a marathon or competing in an Ironman?

Through sacrifice, discipline and hard work, I gradually got back to my biological age and even moved the clock back a few years!  But the rewards of adopting a lifestyle of physical fitness were so much greater. Not only was I able to call myself an endurance athlete and experience numerous health benefits, the friendships I have made are priceless.  I feel better about myself and have met some wonderful new friends in the process.

Speaking of vacations, we need to start planning our adventures for this year. Hmm, should we have a relaxing week on the beach or compete in a half IRONMAN?  Be careful, I can see you shaking your head with that furrowed brow!

HERE’S TO BEING FIT FOR LIFE! Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer, USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, Group Exercise Instructor, exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events.  

Sunday, February 8, 2015

One2 Call Your Own

When I started running in my mid-forties, I made the mistake of not identifying my running form and gait.  Unfortunately, not taking time to educate myself I got a pair of shoes that were not suitable for how I run.  A bad knee injury ensued followed by months of rehab and down time.

What I learned is there are runners who pronate or run on the insides of their foot.  There are neutral runners that have the majority of their foot make contact with the pavement and then there are supinator’s that have a tendency to run on the outside edges of their feet.

Being a slight supinator, through trial and error I found a neutral running shoe that worked for my high mileage, running gait and intensity.  As with many things, the manufacturer completely changed my favorite shoe to the point I could no longer run in them. 

As a slight supinator, I look for a shoe that has a minimal drop (heel to toe offset) with ample cushioning while still being able to have a solid feel for the road.  After many months of trial and error, I decided to give the Altra One2 a try.

A reinvented model for Altra, the One2 is an incredibly lightweight shoe at 5.9 ounces it feels and responds like a training shoe with racing flat performance. I have found the One2 meets the needs you place on it.  Form speed work, long training runs and even long races, the One2 performs the way you need it too when you need it to. The shoe provides ample cushioning for all sizes of runners, yet provides an excellent feel for the road.

While my previous shoe had a 4mm drop, the Altra One2 is a zero drop shoe, which moves your heel in an even plane with the ball of your foot.  While zero drop shoes closely resemble a more natural feeling for the foot like walking barefoot, I found the transition to the Altra One2 seamless and refreshing. Fully cushioned Zero Drop™ technology promotes a more natural foot strike and a more efficient stride.

While many shoes can run narrow in the toe box, especially when the foot is under pressure of running, the Altra One2 has a unique toe-box design that provides more room for your forefoot to breath.  The Foot Shape™ toe box keeps your foot powerful and comfortable throughout long distances.

The Altra One2 even performed well in the pouring rain.  Soaking wet, the One2 never lost grip, performance or comfort.  The Quick-drying, breathable mesh upper and synthetic overlays provide all day comfort and dried quickly.  The plush collar and breathable material make the Altra One2 an option for sockless runners.
Women's Model
Altra hit a grand slam with the reinvented One2.  The only complaint is a limited color selection but if performance and comfort in a neutral shoe is what you are after, the One2 hits all the marks!
You can find the Altra One2 and Velocity Distance Project. and like them on Facebook at

Friday, February 6, 2015


For training programs to be effective there has to be a methodology to the overall program.  Call it a big picture if you will and we label this processes periodization.

A well-organized program focuses on different components of overall fitness during different periods – macrocycles, microcycles, and mesocycles.  The four phases of training – endurance, stamina, economy and speed fit within these periods.  Each of these phases builds on the previous phase.

Endurance is built during your base phase of training and prepares the muscles and cardiovascular system for more intense workloads.  Stamina follows endurance and during this phase you are preparing the body for more intensity and duration of activity.  Economy focuses on doing more work more efficient and the final phase, speed, is increasing the intensity to move the body faster, once endurance, stamina and economy have been developed.

While all four phases are important, the timing of how they are done, increasing work load followed by recovery time are very important. The goal is to peek fitness to its maximize right before an major race or event. This is accomplished through the various cycles according to Roy Benson and Declan Connolly.

A macrocycle in a six-month training program might comprise of 12 weeks of simple, low-intensity aerobic conditioning designed to build an endurance base.

Microcycles are shorter periods with an increased focus on another aspect of fitness.  In a six-month training program in which the first 12 week are a macrocycle, two microcycles of four weeks each might follow. These microcycles might focus on speed work, hill work, tempo runs or flexibility.

Mesocycles are the final part of the periodization process.  These are individual sessions designed to address another particular component or skill.  A mesocycle for a distance runner might focus on pacing, tempo running or mechanics.  For a swimmer it might focus on stroke technique.  Specialization and specific skills are targeted during mesocycles.

The use of periodization forces you to consider in detail the type of adaptations you are looking for during a particular phase of your training program.  It forces you to have an organized plan for your “A” or major events and schedule your activity accordingly. 

Where many people get into trouble is scheduling a bunch of races each year while trying to do them all without an organized plan. This either leads to injury form over use or worse, a “flat” training program that does not produce the fitness or results desired.

As an example, I have two “A” races this year, (one in January and one in October) where I will have peak fitness and three “C” races where I will be somewhere in a macrocycle.  I will use the three “C” races to build endurance and practice specification in preparation for my “A” race in October.

Periodization in the form of stress, rest, recovery and specialization are important for anyone looking to improve their fitness and event success.

HERE’S TO BEING FIT FOR LIFE! Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer, USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, Group Exercise Instructor, exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events.