Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Best Running Partner!


I have ran with a lot of different people throughout the years. Don't get me wrong I love running with other people but my best running partner is not human. I actually have two dogs that are great runners. Below is a picture of me with the best running dog you will find. Daisy will run forever, never complain, never talk, protect me at any cost, and absolutely loves it! She is the happiest dog when she is running and very tired when she is finished. Tigger my other dog will run and is a good running partner but he always has to poop and gets tired after 3 miles. That being said he is my second favorite running partner. Some days it is a challenge to fit in time to walk or run my dogs. I have to be at work at 5am most days. In Las Vegas morning or late night are the ONLY times you can take out your pets because of the heat. I usually get up at 3am so I can take them walking or running for 30 minutes before I leave. That sounds crazy but I have a commitment to them. So I do it just about everyday.
It may not be something you want to do but you have to make time to keep yourself fit and your pet fit. My dog Daisy is a mix if Doberman, Dalmatian, and Shetland Sheepdog. That combinations equals extreme amounts of energy! If I don't run or walk her everyday she gets bored and destructive and she is just not a happy dog! She is a dog bred to work. How unfair would it be if I made her sit home all day! She would be a miserable dog!

I am always amazed when I see very fit people with fat dogs. I don't understand why someone is so dedicated to their own fitness but they neglect their animals fitness. These people usually will go to the gym and walk on the treadmill for their own fitness while their dog is at home. They don't even consider walking outside with their pet because it may not be convenient for them. Obesity in dogs is just as much an epidemic as obesity in the human race. When I took on the responsibility of becoming a pet owner I knew it was a serious thing. It is a commitment for a long time. It is not easy but the joy they will bring you is well worth it. Your pets health is so important so please don't neglect it.

An obese pet can be an expensive one. Many other health related problems may occur because your pet is overweight. Then there are the pets that may not be overweight but they have behavioral problems. Most of these problems are because they are bored and need something to do. So many animals are euthanized each day because of behavioral problems related to the simple fact that they need something to do.

You might be wondering why I am talking about obesity in animals. I am not a dog trainer or vet but I am a dog lover. I am also a fitness enthusiast. I want people to get moving with their dogs and have fun in the process. That is why I am starting a program to do just that. It is called, Get Fit With Fido. It is for all levels of people and dogs. I guarantee your dog will be a tired dog by the end of the hour long workout. In the process you will have gotten a great workout! The program will be starting in about 2-weeks. We will have 3 sessions each week. The sessions will take place at Prosperity Park off of Flamingo/Rainbow. Your dog will need to be current on vaccinations and must be friendly. All dogs will be required to be on their leash.
You can contact me if you are interested in the program.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Adapting To Changes In Your Training

In the past few years I have taken on new challenges in my life. I have done endurance or ultra running and recently endurance or ultra swimming. They have required my body to adapt to a different type of training than I was accustomed to. When training for a triathlon (which I have done for almost 10 years) the schedule typically rotates between the three disciplines. That is the great thing about triathlon training. Rotating the disciplines gives your body a chance to somewhat recover from each training day. If you have a long run one day it is not too difficult to do a long swim the next day. My body became very comfortable with training for triathlons throughout the years. Last year and this year I decided to take on a few new challenges. I completed a 50 mile run last August. It required me to focus on running only for several months. I progressed my training and maxed it out with several weeks of 60 miles of running per week. This was a lot for me being a triathlete. The most I ran in any one week was about 40-45. I was very surprised to find out my body adapted really good to the increase in mileage. The first 60 mile week was tough there is no question. But once I got into the groove my body adapted remarkably. I noticed the same thing when I recently started training for a 8K swim. The most I swim in a week is usually 3 times a week when training for triathlons. In preparation for this 8K swim I have swam up to 6 days a week and about 20,000 meters a week! That is a lot for me being a triathlete and NOT a swimmer. Once again the first week that I increased my swimming my shoulders were really tired. I wondered what I was thinking signing up for this long swim. But once I got into the groove I starting feeling great. I now swim back to back days and don't have any fatigue in my shoulders. I swam 5,000 today and felt really strong and could have easily kept going. I am excited to compete in this upcoming swim because I feel my body has adapted very well to my increased swimming.
The Ultra Run and Swim events like the ones I am doing have become more and more popular. Not everyone adapts as well as I do. A lot of people are sidelined with injury, sickness, fatigue and mental road blocks that prevent them from getting to their goal. Here are some reasons why my training has worked and things you should consider before embarking on a new type of training:
  • I have a lot of base in swimming, biking and running. I have years and years of training under my belt. Some people start competing in triathlons and then one year later think they are super human and take on too much. I have been training for most of my life starting at the age of 15 with working out in a gym. I have been competing in endurance events for just over 10 years.
  • My training progressed slowly for each event. I developed a progressive training plan. I didn't just start running 60 miles a week. I slowly built up to this with recovery weeks incorporated into the plan. I have done the same thing with my swimming event that I am currently training for.
  • I listen to my body better than anyone I know. If something starts bothering me (even slightly) I take action immediately. I will either take a day off or go easy that day instead of hard. I will get a massage, focus more on stretching, or get ART (active release therapy).
  • I have a great support team. I get stretched once a week from Nancy Dickenson. She is a client I coach and a great asset for me and an expert in flexibility. I get massage from Jessica who is the best massage therapist and does great work for athletes. I get ART from Dr. Satterlee at BioMechanics of Las Vegas.
  • I have incorporated strength training in my schedule for over 20 years. Strength training is one area most endurance athletes overlook.
  • I make sure I get enough sleep when I have heavy training volume. I sacrifice going out with friends because I know I need a minimum of 8 hours of sleep. Lack of sleep means lack of good recovery. This will lead to lower immune system and injury. If your muscles don't recover then they can be more susceptible to injury.
  • I have always taken great supplements to help my body recover and keep my immune system strong.
  • I mentally plan my events in my head as I complete each training session. This gets me mentally ready for the event. To wrap my mind around running 50 miles or swimming 8K is tough. I think about the race during my training sessions and it helps me believe I can finish the event. For example today I swam for 90 minutes. When I was done with my swim I thought to myself that I could have easily kept going. This gives me more confidence as my race gets closer.

Remember when you make changes in your training you need to listen to your body. Your body will adapt well if you take care of it. Learn the difference between good fatigue or muscle soreness compared to something is wrong type of fatigue and muscle soreness. There is such a fine line between those that at times it is hard to distinguish. It is better to be safe then sorry. Being sorry can set you back for months at a time. Taking one day off to let your body recover is better than being forced to take months off because of a sickness or injury.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Goal Setting

I have always been a person who sets goals and works hard to achieve them. I think most people should live life like this but unfortunately they don't. I think because they don't really know how to set goals. People can get caught up in the day to day activities in life and plug along. By setting goals people can continue to improve their life and feel better about themselves.

In my job it is essential that my clients have goals to achieve. I train people that want to live healthier lives and improve their health and fitness. The best way to do this is through long term and short term goals. It is essential that your goals are something that you can achieve. It would not make sense for me to be out of shape and overweight and say, "My goal is to do a 50 mile run in 6 months." A better approach would be to give a 6 month goal to running a 10K or half marathon and progress my goal from that point. Sometimes it might seem like you can achieve a goal and then something sidelines you and you may need to modify it. Rather than just saying I can't do it, you should re-evaluate it and modify it. I have had to do this many times in my life. It is OK to change your goals if things are not going they way you planned. This is life and it happens. The important thing is that you don't forget about it and give up!

I am challenging all my clients that I train in the gym to set a short term health related goal. Each goal will be a goal that could progress into a lifestyle change. Each person has their own challenges with living a healthy life. Just giving up something for a month is great but what do you do after that? Losing 5 lbs is great but can you keep it off? Likely you can't if you have not made significant changes and continue to set goals. My clients will begin with a 30 day goal.

In talking to my clients about this monthly goal they will be working towards we discussed a variety of things they could do. Some clients are challenged with drinking wine several times a week. Giving up wine for a month seems like a good goal but I disagree to a point. It is a good goal if you can maintain it. But do you have to give it up forever? NO not at all. As an example I like to drink beer sometimes. I don't drink it weekly or daily. I may have a few in a month. So I don't limit myself totally but I do not drink it every weekend. If I did I am sure I would have a weight problem. Another client said her goal is to make it to all of her training sessions. This is a great start for her because she has had a hard time getting to them lately. Everyone has such different challenges toward their goal of living a healtheir life. I have many clients that come to EVERY training session but their challenge is food related or not getting enough cardio.

When setting a health related goal ask yourself the following questions:
  • Is it something I can achieve?
  • Do I have a timeline?
  • Is it something I can sustain overtime?
  • If I accomplish it how will I feel?
  • Do I have a good plan to help me achieve this goal?
  • Do I have a good support system to help me with this goal?
  • What is my long term goal related to this short term goal?

I am excited to hear some of the goals my clients will have. I will talk about them on an upcoming blog post. I will also talk about the success stories at the end of the 30 days. I am confident there will be many of them.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Triathletes - to spin or not to spin?

You would think being a spin instructor I would tell everyone to take spin classes. Well the triathlon coach side of me will tell you something different. Spin classes are great for some people but not triathletes. There are many different reasons why triathletes should not take spin classes to improve their bike endurance.

Some important reasons are listed below:

  • Most spin instructors NEVER ride outside and would not know how to design a workout specifically for a triathlete. Even if they did most people would find it really boring.
  • Spin classes are typically fast, high intensity, high aerobic effort. When you are just beginning to build your endurance on the bike you should do some training at a lower intensity. People flock to spin classes because they love the fast pace, group environment, specific music each instructor chooses, and they love to sweat.
  • You will get ZERO bike handling skills. How will you learn to maneuver your bike if you are never outside on it? You need to get this experience to be safe when riding outside around other cyclists.
  • Spin bikes are impossible to set up like a triathlon bike or your own bike. I see people that try and set up their spin bike with handlebars really low and they lean on them like a tri bike. This is NOT necessary in spin class. You have NO aerodynamics and don't need to add the stress on your back by leaning over like that for an hour. I ride outside and I set my spin bike so I am comfortable. I don't even try to simulate my tri bike because I could never do it.
  • Some instructors will do really crazy things like trying to get you to work your triceps, abs, or butt on the bike. If you want to work your abs then don't try and do it why you are doing your cardio! It should be done separately.

Triathletes need to be outside on their own bike. It is so important to learn bike handling skills on your own bike. If the weather does not permit you to ride outside then the best option is to get a trainer for your bike. You can find trainers between $150-$2,000. Most beginners will do great with a trainer in the price range of $200-$300. Kinetic is a great brand. The fluid trainer is less noisy then the wind trainer. The comutrainer is a great trainer but is much more expensive. If you are riding indoors on your own bike on your trainer you should look at getting Spinerval DVD's. These provide you with great workouts designed for cyclists and triathletes. You can find them at http://www.spinervals.com/.

Spin classes are great for the some people. They are great for runners or other athletes who want to do cross training on non-running days. They are also great for people looking to lose weight and add variety to their cardio.

I would avoid instructors that do the following:

  • Isolation's - holding specific movements for long periods of time with lots of tension. This puts unnecessary stress on joints.
  • Pedalling super fast with very little tension. I am not sure how people do this but they do it and seem to like it. It is so bad for your knees and does not really do anything beneficial.
  • Trying to isolate any specific muscle group while riding! This is really stupid. As I said before if you want to work abs then do abs, if you want to work triceps then work them with weights. You get the point. Spin class should be a form of cardio not strength training or a core workout.

Spin classes can fun but if you are training for a triathlon skip them and get outside on your bike! Don't forget to get properly fit on your own bike. If you are riding on your own bike and not fit properly then you could be doing more harm to your body then good. The investment of $300 to get fit properly will be well worth it. It will save you a lot of money that you may spend on doctors or physical therapists if you are not properly fit on your bike. If you live in Vegas you can use Gregg at http://www.endurocoach.com/. He is the BEST!