Two Sides of the Coin

What will your day be like?

Heads

Sunday, my run was awesome. Probably the best run since I’ve gotten back to running. Sundays are my days for my long run trying to increase mileage and of course duration. I woke up early, trying to do that more frequently and made myself some steel cut oats with mixed fruits. This is also working out well as I’m finding eating this is helping in providing that energy needed for the first bit of the run.

My long run this Sunday was 2 hours in duration. Started the run feeling really good almost like it was effortless. 45 minutes in I consumed my first gel pack – still feeling good. 90 minutes in, keeping my pace and consuming water with electrolytes every 20 minutes and have my second gel pack. I tell myself 30 minutes more but I’m not doing it in a reassuring way, not saying it in a manner of ‘Come on, you can do this, only 30 minutes left!’ more just for information to gauge when I should take my next drink. I’m at an hour and 55 minutes and I feel great! I’m thinking do I keep running? Maybe I can hit 2.5 hours but I real back the enthusiasm and remind myself that I’m not even a month into this and I don’t want to injure myself. Doing what I planned to do is enough. I’m trying to be smarter with my training. These long runs are to get the body and the mind used to the constant repetition that comes with running, strengthening the tendons, the muscles, ligaments and so on. I know I made the right choice Monday when I could feel the tightness in my hip flexors. Next Sunday.

But I felt so strong and relaxed I know I could have continued.

Tails

Then there’s today. I didn’t sleep well, woke up 90 minutes before I usually do. Might have been the wind crashing into the window as the winter has turned nasty this last day. I got up feeling alright, cleared my drive way and headed off to work. A couple hours into work I started to feel tired, yawning a lot and feeling somewhat lifeless. Stress started to weigh on me too. I have a hard time  separating stress from what I need to accomplish. I find it can take away what motivates me and it gets flipped, reversed and I then have to fight with my mind to do what I have planned to do.

I went down to the gym telling myself that I have to do this. My fast runs, interval runs through the week are what helps me when I have my slow run on Sundays. I have to tell myself if I’m going to run that marathon I have to do this. But it’s tough. My enemy brain is working overtime to have me turn around and head back up to my desk. ‘Skip today’, ‘You’re tired’, ‘You’ll never do this anyway’, ‘What does it matter?’, ‘Just quit’.

Yeah, those and other things is what my enemy mind tells me. I’m sure you are probably the same, we all have that enemy mind in us. The mind that knows what to tell us to get us to quit doing the things that are good for us, flips the switch so we start doing the things that destroy us slowly or destroy us in a minute. I fought with that voice today and I’m not going to say I won. I’m not going to be that arrogant or cocky. I did do what I set out to do – I did my interval running and got cleaned up and went back to work. Done.

Heads/Tails

Am I stronger today for this? I really don’t know. I think all someone can do is handle each day as it comes. I know I’m not always going to come out of it the way I did today. I don’t think that is a realistic way to look at it.

I do know my enemy mind will always be there tempting me to fail again. Not every day. It’s kind of like that neighbor that for the most part is quiet but some days…

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

Winding up the spring

Explosiveness

If you are the competitive athletic type, maybe you are a martial artist and are always trying to be quicker or you might be looking for explosiveness when it comes to running, a lot of us are looking for the explosive edge.

Or you might not be that type. Most of us are content with our normal workout routines. We have goals of losing weight, adding muscle mass making our bodies more firm and that’s enough for us. But if you fall into the other percentage you might be looking for that explosive edge.

Plyometrics

What

Plyometrics are doing short bursts of exercise with maximum force. Here is the definition from Wikipedia: “Plyometrics, also known as jump training or plyos, are exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, with the goal of increasing power (speed-strength).” Basically what makes a Plyometric is a stretching, or lengthening of the muscle followed by an explosive contraction of that muscle. Think of a jump squat, box jump, or burpee. To do this correctly to get a Plyo benefit, squat down to maximize the stretch of the quads and glutes then explode into the upright position. This is the explosive contraction. Makes sense?

Why

Lets look at the word Plyometric: Plyo, meaning more (Greek) and metrics meaning length (also Greek). More length. Just as I explained above, the muscle being worked is first lengthened, kind of preparing it to explode like when you pull in a tree branch and you can feel it stretch, you can feel the tension build up. Then, after a second, the muscle is contracted and that’s the explosion, like when you let go of the branch. This technique has been around for years used by Eastern Bloc and Soviet trainers back in the 70’s and 80’s. Probably one of the reasons these countries were winning track and field and weight lifting competitions.

Plyometrics also use a key principle: A muscle that is contracted in a short amount of time as possible is a stronger contraction thus producing more energy than a slower contraction. Also, when lengthening the muscle before the explosion more energy is stored in the muscle, like pulling back the string on a bow. Think of it as loading the muscle with energy. Then, the brief pause of a second or just under stores the energy and the energy grows as the muscle is held. That brief pause allows for max storage of energy and also usage of energy.

Options

Most people when thinking of Plyometrics think of box jumps or Plyo Jumps. But you can do Plyometrics anytime where you can lengthen a muscle then explode for the contraction.

Here are some examples:

  • Explosive pushups: Lower your self down just till your chin touches the ground. Hold for  a second. Now explode upwards! Your hands should come off of the ground if you really exploded.
  • Explosive tricep dips: Lower yourself so your tricps are well stretch. Hold for that second then explode upwards.
  • Overhead throw: Standing facing a wall, hold a medicine ball above your head with both hands and bring the ball behind your head feeling the stretch. Now explode as you throw the ball towards the wall. This is great for lats and core.
  • Pull Ups: This is a tough one as you need to have strong back muscles to do pull ups. Holding the bar, let you body relax and stretch. Then, contract your back muscles and explode upwards so much your hands come off the bar. Yes, it’s tough.

And the more obvious ones:

  • Frog jumps or box jumps: just like a frog squat down, pause for that moment, and then explode up and forward. Awesome way to work the quads.
  • Alternating lunges: alternate which leg is forward on your lunge pausing briefly and then explode for the switch.
  • Burpees: Of course burpees, a staple in any full body exercise routine. Think of it as a stationary frog jump. Squatting down and when in that squat shoot your feet behind you like you are in a plank, then shoot them back so you are in the squat position then explode up. Many Plyo’s in this exercise.

Finally

Add Plyo’s to your exercise schedule. A great way to increase fast twitch muscle fiber and a great way to add speed to your body. You’ll be glad you did as you start to see the benefits.

Yours in health,

Darryl

I can lock all my doors

It’s the only way to live

It’s time to embrace the things that help you and the things that enable you to reach your goals and still feel human. I’ve been there myself and from my own hard learned lessons I hope you are able to take some information from this post and make your journey a more comfortable one. If your goal is lofty one, it’s still going to suck but it will help you get through it and come out achieving that goal at the end of the day.

What

As I said earlier I’ve been there myself and I look back at my younger self and I think ‘how stupid was I?”. I was stupid. But I didn’t know better. I’ve always kind of had a bit of a hard head mentality, a ‘I’m going it alone and will get through this’ mentality but that doesn’t always help you. When I used to do a lot of distance running, I would go sometimes 23, 24 miles and replenish only by drinking water. No sports drink, no fuel, just water. Not a good idea especially as I’m a heavy sweater, losing lots of electrolytes. I look back at that and no wonder sometimes I felt like death warmed over when done. But that was then.

Now I’m trying to train smarter. It doesn’t mean you don’t train hard it just mean you don’t feel like yesterdays garbage when doing it and when done.

But I digress. The focus of this post is on using technology to help you achieve your goals and become the athlete you want to be.

How

By taking my knowledge from getting my personal trainer certification it helped me to understand the fuel the body uses and when it uses it. The main source of fuel our body uses is glucose. Glucose, or sugar, is in our blood and is used by our muscle cells for energy. We have only so much glucose and when we use that up, our body converts glycogen into glucose to keep us fueled. This isn’t only when exercising it’s everything we do from breathing walking, and even thinking. Our brain uses a lot of glucose just to do what the brain does. And where do we get glucose from? Carbs baby! That’s just one of the reasons why a low carb diet such as a keto diet is a really bad idea. We need carbs (high quality carbs). Keep it carbed.

So when does this happen, our body running out of glucose and then glycogen? It’s not that long. Looking at the science the recommendation is to consume 60 grams of carbohydrates every hour. To play it safe, if your event is longer than an hour, you probably want to start consuming at the 45 minute point. This will help prevent you from running out of fuel near that 60 minute mark and start to feel the physical fatigue and mental fatigue set in. Think of it as that saying that when you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. And it’s in your best interest to not hit that mark where you feel lethargic. Because what happens? The body is tired and then the mind starts to go. And then it’s an uphill battle, a struggle to get through it.

Endurance sports can be very demanding

Have you heard of the term ‘bonking’? The first time I heard it is when looking into marathons. People ‘bonk’ or ‘hit the wall’ and it’s a struggle to continue. This is the body running out of fuel (glucose). And what does the body do when it has no fuel? Not what you think. Typically when in an endurance event you are working hard because you are competing be it in an event or even against yourself. So your heart rate is not in the ‘fat burning zone’ but in the cardio zone so fat is not an option for fuel. Your body turns on you and starts to metabolize muscle tissue into carbohydrates. You are consuming muscle tissue to fuel your body to complete an event that is to make you a stronger person. When blood glucose gets really low, you may experience hypoglycemia. This is the feeling of extreme tiredness, a near complete loss of energy, the ‘bonk’. When in this state, the body will begin producing cortisol. These hormones break down muscle tissue in order to convert the proteins within to glucose. This will provide the energy to continue exercising, however, cortisol also suppresses the immune system. There goes the muscle mass you worked so hard to add.

No one wants that to happen.

Guide

I’m going to refer you to a web site that has a good guide on how to fuel for your event. I’m not endorsing this company but they do sell the fuel you need. It’s up to you if you use them. This should give you a good idea on what you need for your training or event. Let’s look at an example.

For this example I have chosen an event that takes 5 hours. Here are some of the things they recommend:

  • 2,500 – 3,500 mg’s of sodium
  • 1,500 – 2,000 calories (glucose)
  • 100 – 150 oz of fluid
  • 15000 – 25000MG BCAA (branch chain amino acids)

That equates to 5 gel pouches, 2 energy chews, 2 stroopwafels, a hydration energy mix, 2 energy drink mixes and so on. Go hear to check it out and you can go to the main planner and look at requirements for other events.

Does this seem a lot? It does to me, for sure. Maybe it’s heavy on the requirements because it is a company and they have to make money but they have been around a long time and are well known within the endurance athlete communities. I’ve started using gels myself and I’m going to continue and add more as I go seeing the impact. How do I feel, did they work, did I feel stronger, is my mental will strong and not foggy.

endurance training can be hard

But don’t dismiss this. I’m not getting into science of how our body uses fuel; fatty acid oxidization, aerobic glycolysis, ATP, etc. but this is based on science. Why is it professional athletes and amateur athletes on the olympic level do the same thing? Because it works and it helps them to succeed. That’s how Gatorade came to be. The University of Florida Gator’s head coach went to their team of scientists to address loss of body fluids during football games. This concoction of water, electrolytes, flavour etc. was credited for the Gators Orange Bowl win in 1967.

Finally

It makes sense. Let technology help you. The technology that allows us to no longer have to eat oranges, bananas and other foods to keep fueled during an event. It’s so easy and so much better now and there is no reason to not do it.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

first

Don’t waste it

I was reminded by a few people over the holidays that I’m not big on new years resolutions. It’s true. And it wasn’t until I really thought about it that I realized I’m not a fan because typically new years resolutions don’t last. I read recently that only 8% to as high as 20% of resolutions end up being successful. Not really good numbers. But, what are the changes that people resolved to follow through with? How many of those were to quit smoking, drinking, cutting out junk food? If these are things you do on a regular basis, habits, than the difficulty in following through on them is much higher compared to things such as I’m going to walk for an hour once a week.

Major changes in life style can be hard to accomplish. I think it comes down to the want. How bad do you want it. Do you really want this change. That can help out a lot. I think that’s why people in general are more successful when they are guided along and goals are set for them. Let’s take stretching as an example. I promise to myself to stretch after every workout. Not may people do that. But lets say your workout takes place in an instructor led class. If you are forced to stretch because the instructor includes in it the program than you are almost guaranteed a 100% success rate. But not all of our goals can be addressed this way. So what do we do.

Force the issue

Can you sign up for an event that if you don’t follow through with your goal you will fail or be forced to drop out? If you have read my last couple of posts you see that I have registered for my first marathon. So I know when those days come where motivation is thin (those days will come) I have that reminder, that commitment to follow through on the event.

Letting friends know can have it’s benefits. I bolded the word friends because I want to emphasize that it should be true friends, people that you can count on for support when you have those moments where you feel like you are going to slip. A good friend can help you get past that hump and back onto track. Motivation can also be fear of failure or wanting to prove others wrong. So you can use those people who aren’t really friends too by telling yourself that they will not win, they will not see you fail. For some people this can be a huge motivator. I’m leaning on this a bit myself because I have a point to make that you can do incredible things living on a whole foods plant based diet. Part of my motivation is to prove those people wrong, be a voice for the silent, I already know there are doubters out there and I’m looking forward to crossing that finish line.

Another motivator can be to put yourself in positive role model role. Can your resolution be used to motivate others or be used to show the benefits of doing this? We need good, positive role models out there and you may not realize it but you probably have a large influence in the lives of people you know. Be it that you are around certain people every week or you have a tight bond because they are family can result in a much larger impact. You have more of an influence on these people than some instagram influencer. Hopefully.

You

Why is it you want to do this? Feeling fat, or maybe you are fat? Is there a time where you are at your worst because of this? Then do what you can to remember those things. Put on the clothes that don’t fit any longer. Take pictures of what you look in clothes and what you look like in underwear. Don’t like doing this? Don’t like the fact that you no longer look like what you want? Good! This is your motivation! Use this when you struggle to make the change and keep working on it.

Is there a video you can play that gets you pumped, gets you energized and reminds you of what’s possible? I have one. Watch this if you want some motivation when things get tough. It doesn’t even have to be relative to what you are doing. Two people who could have easily given up on life but decided not to and faced the challenges realizing growth comes from struggle.

It’s up to you. Your destiny, your success lies with you and only you. It’s true! Don’t let the evil part of your mind tell you different. And it will.

All of us have the ability to be what we want to be. You just have to cut out the bullshit and do it. The video above could have easily ended up different, it could have been a whole different story. Write your story the way you want to.

Yours in health,

Darryl