Spiritual Enlightenment on a Hill

Do you want to find yourself? I mean really find yourself… Find what you’re made of… Find what you have in you… And, find your deepest unreachable areas that only come out when you really push yourself and enter a zone of dopamine and endorphine release that can only be found when you go past your comfort zone. WAY PAST your comfort zone… Let’s dabble in this sacred arena… But first:

WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

Back to finding our inner being…

There are many ways to look inside yourself. Most involve some form of calm, soothing, meditation and deep philosophical thought. You might find you get this in the shower, just before going to sleep at night, or even in the car during your long drive to work. However, I have discovered another place. One that might help you get deeper than you ever thought possible. Do you dig? Essentially this one seems contradictory to all of the other “calm” ways of finding you. This one revolves around getting your heart rate near or above 90% of your maximum predicted heart rate (MPHR). If you aren’t familiar with your MPHR, or would like more heart rate information, please checkout my previous post, Heartrate Zones.

There is a caveat… Because we must keep this heart rate for a prolonged period of time (think fifteen or more minutes), you must not hit your lactic threshold (somewhere around 91.5% of your max heart rate). The reason is that when you hit this threshold, you absolutely cannot maintain your current stress level without utter failure within a few seconds. So, let’s shoot for a heart rate between 87% and 91% of our max. I chose 87% for a reason… This is the number when I get into a euphoric zone and my mind drifts into realms that normal sane people don’t wander in to. You can tell when you are around 87% because that is close to when you start hearing your heart beat in your ears. I’m not talking about dull thumps… I’m talking about turn your head and look to see who’s pounding a drum next to your face!

Ok… Let’s assume that you can find that heart rate zone… I call this zone the Third Eye Zone. Because it literally opens a gateway to your soul (alright, that sounds a bit hinky, but you get the gist!) Once there, we must remain there for a while. I prefer twenty or so minutes. This allows us to clear out the daily humdrum. It give you time to stop worrying about the bills, children, marriage, bills, work, bills… you get the point.

So now we’re in the Third Eye Zone (TEZ from this point forward). You will know you’re there because the road will be breathing. Trees and other objects around you will appear to bend and flux with each of your labored breaths. I find the easiest way to get into (and stay in) TEZ is by riding my bicycle up a steep (and long) hill. I need a hill that is steep enough that I’ll easily get into TEZ, and long enough that I can stay there for twenty plus minutes. For me, this means at least an 8% grade for two or more miles. These aren’t easily findable in all areas. I’m fortunate enough to live in an area that offers half a dozen or more of these bad-boys. If you can’t find a TEZ hill then you might want to try and get this euphoric state via biking hard or running hard without killer hills. I find this MUCH harder to sustain and dangerous to get into TEZ because of the high rate of speed it takes to accomplish this. Please use your best judgement if you don’t have a local TEZ hill.

I do not recommend EVER trying to hit TEZ while swimming. That is just sick! But, a stair machine might safely get you there.

Once you find the TEZ hill and get into your desired heart rate spend a few minutes smoothing out your thoughts. This is not hard because true TEZ makes it very hard to concentrate on life’s problems. Calm (or at least steady) your breathing and delve deep into yourself. Focus inward and start thinking those strange thoughts that you don’t like to admit you think. You will find the hills are actually easier to climb when in this state, because you sort of forget your on a hill, let alone riding…

Here is a sample of how my TEZ session goes:

Andrew and I are out on a long training ride (think 60+ miles at a good pace with a few TEZ hills in the middle). As I approach my TEZ hill I already start to calm and free my mind. Andrew and I usually talk throughout the entire ride, but talking stops when you hit a big hill. Instead of a conversation, if you’re near each other, talking on a big hill is more limited to things like, “holy shit,” “I can’t believe you talked me into this,” “I might walk up this one,” “ug,” “Did you say something?” and similar broken sentences. If you are truly in TEZ then you will not hold solid, coherent discussions.

Usually at the beginning of TEZ my riding glasses fog up. Sometimes (for some odd, unknown reason) only one lens fogs up. This happens because your hot head is changing the temperature of the lenses and you simply aren’t going fast enough (unless you’re Lance) to provide cooling wind to clear them. This is my first sign of entering TEZ.

Next, my thoughts wonder. I start thinking weird ideas. And, I find myself asking (internally), What did I just think? This is a good sign!

Finally, the flood of blood pulsing in my ears tells me, “Here we go!”

For me, TEZ begins right around 160BPM. And, my lactic threshold is ~166BPM. But, I don’t need to check my heart rate monitor, because I’m a pro at this stuff. Do it for a while and you’ll see what I mean.

Once the thoughts drift away, a new form of thoughts come in… These are deeper thoughts. More philosophical thoughts. I start working with the thoughts and turn them into discoveries. I find joy and excitement as I uncover mysteries. I unlock secrets and mystical tales. Most of all, I find the inner me. With fifteen to twenty minutes of this, I can really dig in and find some hidden gems.

The cool thing about TEZ is that even though you are suffering with immeasurable pain at climbing this Godforsaken hill, you don’t even notice it. As a matter of fact, if you hit TEZ just right, you will suddenly be at the top of the climb and not realize how it happened so quickly.

Try it! And, please let me know if it works for you.

Cheers,
Rip

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Surefire Way to Beat Your Best Time

Today’s article was inspired by a close friend, Paul. During a casual conversation he mentioned that he’d had an epiphany about something I’d said to him a few months back. Paul has always been fit and healthy, but over the last two years or so, he’s ramped it up a good bit. One of the exercises that he really likes and has done good at are pull-ups. Pull-ups are a great exercise and they can also be very hard to do when you’re just starting out. Several months ago, Paul asked me a simple question… How can I do more pull-ups?

That is an excellent question! I started with my standard personal trainer response… Weighted negatives, lat pulldown, interval training, assisted pull-ups, curls, bentover rows, yada yada yada…

While these are certainly ways to increase your maximum number of pull-ups, I also thought of something else, and said so. “The easiest way to do more pull-ups is to lose some weight.”

Wow! There… I said it! And, it felt good to say!!!

Paul laughed and said, “That actually makes sense.” The light switch clearly clicked in Paul’s head that day… But, he did something for me too. By seeing how simple this idea was, and by saying so, Paul opened my eyes. I decided to do a little investigation; which I am want to do in times like these. Can you guess what I figured out?

Did you know that the average person can do about one to two extra pull-ups for every 5% of body weight loss? If we go one step further, you can do approximately three pull-ups with each 10% of body weight you lose. Think about that for a moment and let it sink in. To make this more real, let’s show an example:

Say a man weighs 185 pounds and has 22% body fat. In order to drop his weight by 10%, he’d have to lose 18.5 pounds; which would take him down to 166.5 pounds and 12% body fat.

During the weight loss period, this “example man” would also be working out and increasing strength anyway, but now he’d have the advantage of a lower weight and do even more pull-ups then if he ONLY increased his strength. On top of that, he would be considerably healthier at 12% body fat instead of a beefy 22%.

Pretty cool huh?

Now let’s talk about my epiphany. To me, counting pull-ups is arbitrary. I mean what does it really mean, except being able to say you can do more than someone else. No real correlation to things in life, unless you challenge others in pull-up competitions. My epiphany was in a totally different area… Racing! I started thinking about it, and realized that I could also trim my run times and bike times by trimming the fat.

Not convinced?

Here’s a simple question. If you ran your fastest mile with a 18.5 pound backpack on, do you think it would be as fast as you could do without the pack? Of course not!! Now imagine that stripping that extra bit of fat off your body (which is what most of us want to do anyway) is a weighted backpack. This gets exponentially more important when hills are involved! You get my point?

Wanna trim some seconds off your 5K time? Wanna get a PR (personal record) in your next triathlon? Wanna finish faster in a mountain bike race? Maybe you simply want to run up some neighborhood hills without feeling like you’re dying! Obviously you need to workout and train hard to continue improving… But, I just gave you an ace up your sleeve. Include a proper nutrition plan and cardio/weight training regiment to properly lose fat, while building muscle and you will beat your competition!!! Guaranteed or 100% of your money back!

I sincerely hope this advice helped skim some time off your next race!

-Rip

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Man’s Best Friend and Fitness

What do dogs and fitness have in common?

Let’s begin with our standard workout disclaimer:

WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body...

Many of us have dogs. And, if you’re like me, you might neglect them a bit… What I mean is; I should walk my dog more than I do. I’m spoiled because we have a fenced backyard. And, unfortunately, I often fall into the lazy habit of simply letting him out there to do his business and then fail to give him the walking that he deserves and needs. On top of that, my dog is a yellow Labrador Retriever and has high energy levels. Not only does he need to be walked, but he really should be run. This was recently pointed out to me by my friend, Eden Ellis, who is a “dog coach.”

This discussion really got me thinking… If Samson (that’s my Lab) needs exercise, why can’t I incorporate it into my daily routine, since I need exercise too. So, I started planning and came up with a routine. Eden told me that Samson needs to run about two miles each day. So, my plan was to do 2.5 miles total with .25 miles of walking on each end of the two mile run. Also, just like people, I knew that Samson needed to work up to this distance. We started with a short half-mile run on day one and did that for a few days before I carefully upped the distance. After a week I was up to a one mile run and I stayed at that distance for an entire week. From there, I followed the same rule that you should follow as a person by adding 10% distance each week. So over the next several weeks we slowly added to our distance and we are now nearing our goal of two miles of running!

Once we have run our desired distance for a few weeks, I’m going to add one more thing that I like to do… I’m going to sprint the last 1/8 of a mile to roll into our cooldown walk with some serious heavy breathing and sweat.

My running clothes and shoes are laid out beside my bed and I literally leap into them and head out after a quick pass through the bathroom. You only need to wake fifteen or so minutes early (depending on how fast and far you run) to get this awesome exercise in. If you have a dog this is a great way to start your day! It has helped me with my doggie bonding. And, it’s making Samson and me healthier and happier.

Eden gave me some great advice and information. She said I could share it…

Tips and Pointers from the Dog Coach

Notify Your Vet
Since dogs don’t complain like us, be sure to tell your veterinarian that you plan on exercising with your dog. They need to pay extra close attention to their heart, lungs and joints.

Know Your Breed
Certain breeds of dog are better suited for distance running than others. Shepherds, terriers, retrievers and other working/sporting dogs are built to run long distances, while others are not.

Build Up Gradually
If the longest you have walked is a mile, you cannot expect your pooch to run a marathon. Start with one mile the first five times and make sure his joints and pads are holding up well. Add a mile every five times you run. (Run 1-5 do one mile, run 6-10 do two miles, run 11-15 do 3 miles). Pay attention to your dog’s calorie intake if you start doing more than 15 miles a week.

Watch the Paws
The pads on a dog’s paws are very sensitive and must be toughened up with gradual increases in mileage. Be aware of the type of surface you are running on. Hot blacktop, jagged ice, glass and other roadside debris can cause injuries. If your dog starts to limp or lick its pads, stop the workout immediately. Salt and dirt from the road can get in between your dog’s toes, causing irritation and even infection. You must inspect your dog’s pads before and after outdoor workouts for cuts. Cleaning your dog’s paws with a warm, soapy rag after your run will take care of this problem

Weather is Important
Remember, your dog is wearing a fur coat. In the summer, don’t run in the middle of the day. If you plan on running long distances, bring water with you. Dogs cool off thru panting, their feet and the back of their neck. If possible, plan your run where there is access to creeks or other water features for them to cool down.

Look for What He’s Saying
Dogs can’t talk, but foaming at the mouth, heavy panting, glazed eyes and slowing down are sure signs that your dog is being overworked and should take a break.

Leash or No Leash
Leashing your dog will keep both of you under control and will ensure your pet keeps pace. Avoid using retractable leashes. A three- to six-foot leather leash should provide the right amount of distance. Able to run off lead is great since it allows him to stop and catch up at his own pace and tell you if he needs to rest. For the first few weeks, bring treats to help them get with the program. When they want to stop and investigate, say “leave it” and reward when they do. This will make a more pleasant transition for everyone.

 

You can find Eden online at: www.pup-luv.com. Also, drop by and like her Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/pupluvdc

In addition to Eden’s advice, some of my tips include:

1. When he poops, I bag it and hide it so I’m not running with a bag full of crap.
2. Remember to warm-up and cooldown with a walk.
3. Run against traffic and remember that a car can spook your dog. Stay alert!
4. If you’re running with the sun behind you, the oncoming traffic is often blinded. Be aware!
5. Wear light colored and reflective materials if you run during the night/dark.
6. Don’t forget to pickup the bag of poop that you hid earlier!

Consider running your dog!

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Jump Start Your Day

What if I told you that if you were to give me 13 minutes, I PROMISE your day will be more enjoyable and go smoother!!! What have you got to lose?

Lately I find that I am slower getting out of bed. Perhaps this is because I’m getting older (I’m 46 years young). Another thing I have noticed is that how I get out of bed affects my ENTIRE day!

Starting NOW, I am going to improve this battle in the morning. Wanna do it with me??

Let’s promise each other that we WILL NOT hit the snooze button. I wish I could disable or remove mine. If you find that this is too tough for you, my good buddy Nino Greasemaneli likes to put his alarm clock across the room from him, to ensure that he has to get up and run to shut off the alarm. I do this too… My alarm clock is on a dresser a litte ways away from the bed, so I have to get up and walk some to turn it off.

Train yourself to jump out of bed immediately, with no hesitation, and start your day with movement. When I say, “jump,” I mean it… Literally leap with excitement and land with crazy eyes and a huge grin!!! (My wife is gonna think I’m nuts… Maybe she already does… HA!)

The next thing we will do together is to keep our shoes and a pair of shorts beside the bed and hit the ground running!

I’m going to start walking my dog, Samson, every morning… So, I will simply jump into my shorts and shoes and head down to take him out! If you don’t walk the dog, go outside anyway and do a brisk walk. I am talking about you being outside within two minutes of your alarm going off. No excuses! Don’t stop to take a pee even! Get up and run for the door! (okay… You can pee if you have to, but NOTHING else!)

Here is the fun part of our walk. Breathing exercises…

Start your walk with a deep breath holding exercise that I learned from Tony Robbins. Inhale briskly and deeply to a count of seven (7). Hold this breath for a count of 28 (you might not be able to do this the first couple of times you do it). Now slowly exhale to a count of 14. The ratio is: 1 in / hold for 4 / 2 out So if you can only inhale for a count of 5, then do 5 in, hold for 20, and then exhale for 10. Get it? Good! Repeat this exercise three times (this will take just about three minutes total).

Then, for the next five minutes of your walk, perform “breathwalking.” Essentially, you inhale four times through your nose, exhale four times through your mouth, and repeat continuously for five minutes. During my exhale, I chant a powerful 4-syllable incantation like “my day is great!” Or, you could try, “I will lose weight!” Just make sure you chant something positive! Mucho thanks to Tony Robbins for teaching me this one too!

Finish the last minute of your walk by calming your body and then do several minutes of easy stretches.

So in 13 (or so) minutes, we have just sealed the deal for a fantastic day!

I plan to follow my “breathwalk” with a 45-minute run (after dropping the boy inside the house) and then a more extensive stretch. On days that I don’t jog, I will go right down to my gym and do 45-minutes of “other” training.

Who’s with me? I want a commitment for at least the 13-minutes to enrichment!

Because I am a CDO (my doctor calls it OCD, but I didn’t like the order of the letters) planner, here is my morning routine that I have setup. If you dig, use it as an example of how you can do your own.

4:25 a.m. WAKE UP WITH VIGOR!!!
4:30 a.m. do the Eagle breathwalk exercise with Samson.
4:45 a.m. run or workout for 45 minutes.
5:34 a.m. stretch for 11 minutes.
5:45 a.m. make and eat a healthy breakfast.
6:15 a.m. jump in the shower and get ready for work.
6:45 a.m. drive to work!

Happy mornings to you,
Vaughn

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Care for a Threesome?

Let’s talk about one of the toughest competition fitness events that you can put your body and mind through. Triathlon.

It’s my belief that triathlon is the single greatest way for you to stay in the best shape of your life. Think about what this sporting event has to offer. Swimming. Biking. Running. When combined, these three activities can’t be matched for building the ultimate healthy body. If you’ve got the guts (and I do mean that), you should give this AWESOME sport a tri.

Before we start… You guys know what’s coming…

WARNING: Working out and exercise can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here (and everywhere on my blog) are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout and/or race, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Now stop making excuses and get in the game!!!

Many people consider a marathon to be the toughest thing you can compete in… Others say that a century bike ride is unbelievably tough… You can imagine what folks say about swimming 2.4 miles… Well… Combining all three of these into one event and pushing yourself in each of them is sick beyond any individual sport. Triathlons will push you like you never imagined possible!

Triathlon is a relatively new sport. It was technically started in the 1920’s in France… But, it is widely recognized that the first “real” triathlon occurred in 1974 in San Diego. 46 people participated in that race, including Jack Johnstone and Don Shanahan, the two guys who came up with the idea.

“Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!”
— Commander Collins, USN (1978)

Standard Distances

  • Sprint: Swim: 750 meter (.465 mi) / Bike: 20 K (12.5 mi) / Run: 5 K (3.1 mi)
  • Olympic (AKA Intermediate): Swim: 1.5 K (.93 mi) / Bike: 40 K (25 mi) / Run: 10 K (6.2 mi)
  • Half-Ironman (AKA 70.3): Swim: 1.9 K (1.2 mi) / Bike: 90 K (56 mi) / Run: 21.1 K (13.1 mi)
  • Ironman (AKA: Ultra or 140.6): Swim: 3.8 K (2.4 mi) / Bike: 180.2 K (112 mi) / Run: full marathon – 42.2 K (26.2 mi)
  •  

    Along with these distances there are several that differ slightly. The one that stands out the most is the “mini-sprint” or “super-sprint”; which is typically about half the distance of a standard sprint. This is the distance I would recommend doing (if it’s available in your area) for your first race.

    First Things First
    To start racing, your best bet is to get a membership at www.usatriathlon.org. This membership will get you access to join most races around the country. And, you get a magazine when you sign up.

    After joining USAT, buy a book… The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joe Friel, who I consider the most knowledgeable and amazing coach in triathlon history!

    Next thing on your list of to-do’s is to find some local races. I’ve found that www.trifind.com is a good resource… But, you can find tons of sites by simply Googling, “local triathlon races” or checking out the USAT website. Once you find one that gives you ample time to train for it (think two or three months if you’re in reasonably good shape), sign up and commit yourself!

    Finally, TRAIN HARD!

    A Few Tips and Pointers

    On my first race I learned a few things and I made a few mistakes… Let me tell you guys about some of these in the hopes that your first race can go a tad better.

    I pushed myself hard in the swim and paid for it as I tried to put my bike shoes on. I nearly passed out… Remember to push yourself hard but then taper off near the end of the first two events; which will make your transition better.

    My swim to bike wasn’t the only problem area… I also pushed myself hard to the end of the bike and found my calves literally locking up during the start of my run. I limped out of the transition area and spent the first five minutes hobbled and hopping. When my legs finally started responding I had lost some precious minutes!

    When I started my run, I had forgotten to take my helmet off. Honestly I would have forgotten to put pants on if that was part of it. I was dazed, confused, and lost… Stay calm and stay focused and you will be fine. Enjoy those first few mistakes you make and laugh at yourself. This is about fun!

    One thing that you can do to avoid the calf problems I had is to stand up out of the saddle during your last mile or so on the bike. Ease back a hair and do the pedaling in a way that you can stretch your calves. You might lose a few seconds because of this slowing down, but it beats the minutes you’ll lose if you don’t do it!

    In your transition area, make sure that you carefully lay things out ready for you to change into them… During your race your mind will be all mixed up and the easier you make the transition station the quicker you can get past it. I like to wear socks for the bike and run (some people don’t), so I wear very short socks to make them easier to put on. When your feet are wet, socks are freaking tough to put on! One thing that helps is to turn them halfway inside-out. This way you can stuff your toes in and then simply unravel them around your moist feet.

    I also bought elastic shoe laces for my tri running shoes, so I don’t have to waste fifteen seconds tying them. It’s the little things that will speed up your transitions!

    Get a tri suit (one piece or two piece is personal preference). The bike seat pad in a tri suit is thinner and won’t absorb water during the swim.

    Practice your transitions!

    Training

    As I mentioned, you should get The Triathlete’s Training Bible. But, if you don’t I can give you a few pieces of training advice. You need to train in all three sports. And, it’s important to prepare yourself for the bike to run transition by following some of your bike rides with an immediate run. These style workouts are commonly referred to as BRICK (Bike, Run, ICK!)

    After some of my swims I like to leap out of the pool and stand immediately. This is a bit of a rush, but it gets you used to the transition to bike.

    Along with training in each sport, I think it’s very important that you do some cross-training… I prefer weight lifting for my cross-training. And, don’t forget some serious core work. The core is the key to ALL three sports and will benefit you greatly!

    I hope that this article was helpful.

    And, let me know what you think. Also, tell me about your experience with triathlons.

    See you at the starting line,
    Rip

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Distraction Tactics

    This article might or might not be what you expected when reading the title. Essentially I was thinking about how we humans use diversionary thoughts and practices to avoid facing the tough challenges we tackle in everyday life. Sometimes this strategy is on purpose and sometimes it is subconscious and we have no control over it. Even more important is the fact that sometimes these daily distractions can be positive, neutral, or downright damaging.

    Examples of bad distractions might include things like eight hours of television (when you should be working on the laundry), hours of video games (when you should be mowing the lawn), reading and posting on the Facebook (when there is a pile of dishes in the sink)… And the list goes on all the way to dangerous distractions like drugs and alcohol as a means to deal with your life problems.

    Alas, I didn’t start this discussion to focus on the negative, neutral, or other down side of distractions. Instead I wanted to offer some potentially handy advice on how to use distractions and diversionary thinking to your advantage in a positive and even inspiring way!

    A good example of this is one I often use to describe riding my bicycle up this particularly tough hill that I affectionately call, Church Hill, because it is a steep and nasty hill that happens to have a small church sitting up at the top. As I approach Church Hill I know that I am about to get my ass handed to me. I mean this in a good way. It is the acme of my workout, because it is very close to the end of my ride and this ascent is always epic. We are talking maximum effort and maximum heart rate for the entire two minute climb up this steep incline.

    It takes serious focus and determination to make it all the way up this hill staying in the saddle and riding the whole way. Just ask one of my many friends who have attempted this hill and found that their willpower or stamina (or both) just are not ample enough to succeed at this daunting task.

    The truth is, I have a little secret on completing this part of my workout. I NEVER attack the hill thinking about the whole thing. As a matter of fact, I break it into five pieces in my head. The initial phase ends at this sort of hump where the incline changes momentarily. As I start pumping up this hill, I put my head down and I grind it out, thinking to myself, I’m just going to make it to the hump today. You probably know where this is heading… Once I get to that hump, I re-gather my spirit and inwardly think things like, “That wasn’t so bad… Let’s keep going for a little while longer.” From there, I know this one particular house that is three houses up on the left from the hump position. I simply decide to ride to that point, then I will quit, pop out of my pedals, and walk the rest of the way up the hill. Of course, I make it there and take a few breaths and decide to move on. There is a street only two more houses up… Surely anyone could make it two more houses and be satisfied with stopping at that point. By now you’ve got my devious plan figured out. That’s right, I push myself a little further to the Dodge truck parked a tiny bit further up the hill. Then finally I set my sights on the church. Once to the church I am home free, and the hill grade eases up a bit and I see the T-intersection mere feet away. I huff it out and finish the hill.

    I’ve been using this tactic and technique on this very same hill for six years now. You’re probably wondering how I can continue to trick my mind, considering that I’ve done this same thing day-in day-out several hundred times. Honestly I’m not sure how my mind hasn’t caught on, but it truly works. Believe me!

    I use this same thing for runs and even workouts with weights! I find myself laying on the bench saying, “Anyone could do ONE more rep.” You know how this story ends.

    Before closing up the post, I wanted to mention that I’m not the only one who uses the strategy and I did not invent it. I’m sure people have been doing some form of this since the dawn of mankind. Recently my buddy, Andrew, mentioned reading a similar usage in a Navy SEAL book where the soldier talks about getting through BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training) and especially “Hell Week.” The author says that he was able to get through Hell Week by going “meal to meal.” Meals came every six hours, so he essentially told himself I will make it to the next meal and then quit. Of course when that meal came, he got some relief and rest and then got back into the training with renewed energy. He would repeat his previous statement and continue working with the intention of quitting at the next meal. He continued in this fashion for an entire week and finished Hell Week!

    I am sure that you have used this idea in something in your life, but hopefully my article inspires you to find other areas in life to use it. Remember, it doesn’t only have to be about workouts. It can be projects at work, yard work, chores, or any number of things.

    If you use this technique, please comment and let me know your super secret plan for success! What could you use it for?

    BTW – I also use this for my writing and even this blog… HA!

    Your faithful meal-to-meal writing buddy,
    Rip

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    Fitness in a Nutshell

    There is a fad that is sweeping across America (and the world for that matter). It is categorized as healthier living. With more than 30% of Americans being classified as obese, it is time for this fad to kick into action!

    Gratuitous Disclaimer: I am afraid that before I talk about this fantastic subject, I must first warn you of the inherent danger associated with it… Working out and exercise can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled or killed. The opinions, stories and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. You should seek a professional medical evaluation before starting an exercise program. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk.

    With that painful dissertation out of the way…

    Exercise is an essential part of life. Without it, our immune system falters, our muscles atrophy, and fat reigns in our bodies. On top of all that hype, I am in really good shape. As I type this Blog entry, my weight is 186 pounds and I have ~12% body fat. I am stronger than I’ve ever been in my life and I am 46 years old. Don’t let my young age scare you away… There are people in their 70’s who are still weight lifting and having excellent results and gains! Join the mayhem!
    me

    There are literally hundreds of reasons to exercise… My top picks are these:

  • Functional Strength – I want to be able to help my friends move into their new house without suffering through three+ days of pain. I also want to be able to jump on my mountain bike on a whim and hang with others without agony and pain afterward.
  • Core Strength – I want my lower back and abdomen to be top-notched. I avoid injury in this area at all costs. It is important to me to maintain a very strong and healthy core, which is where most of your strength originates.
  • Joint Strength – My knees, hips, ankles, shoulders, and elbows used to ache me. Much of this pain stems from bleeds in these joints when I was younger. I fear that the blood has helped to deteriorate my cartilage, etc. Regular exercise has helped to stabilize each of these areas, and I no longer have any joint pain whatsoever.
  • Muscular Body – It is important to me to look good. I do not consider myself vain (not overly anyway), but I do take pride in the body that I have created through tons of hard work. I feel better about myself and more confident when I stand strong and muscular. This conveys in all aspects of my life.
  • Healthy Body – This one doesn’t really need any explanation. My immune system is already in a fight for its life (literally), so every little bit that I can do to turn the tide of that battle I will do. Exercise can lower your cholesterol levels, prevent heart disease, and even stop diabetes and cancer for starters…
  •  

    Those are just some of my reasons for staying in shape, but you get the point… Now, I want to address some of the more popular ways to achieve this so called strength and physical fitness level.

    Anaerobic
    In it’s simplest description, anaerobic training is bursts of high activity that trigger anaerobic metabolism and result in lactic acid creation. One of the most famous forms of anaerobic exercise is weight lifting. Athletes and fitness buffs use anaerobic exercise to strengthen and/or increase muscle. Basically, you work yourself until ample lactic acid builds up in your targeted muscle group and they fail.

    For strength training, most people will try to do between four and eight repetitions of exercise in each set. By doing eight or fewer repetitions, you are primarily targeting the fast twitch (power) muscles. It is essential that you bring the muscle group to complete failure (sometime beyond failure with advanced techniques like negatives, stripping, etc.)

    For mass training (think bodybuilding), most weight lifters will shoot for muscular failure between eight and twelve reps. This allows the fast and slow twitch muscles to be a part of the exercise and gives the most overall growth (hypertrophy) potential.

    Endurance training (and/or trimming) usually entails doing more than twelve repetitions, as this will primarily use slow twitch (or endurance) muscles. And, fat is burned as you keep your heart rate high for an extended period of time.

    Aerobic
    The jury is still out on what type of aerobic activity is better than another. I use aerobic exercise like running to burn fat. I shoot for three days per week (with rest days between each session). During each daily activity, I try to workout for 45+ minutes and get my heart rate into a target area of 75% of my maximum predicted heart rate (MPHR = 220-your age). I should mention that I do not believe in this formula, because I am 46 years old and have had my heart rate up to 189! Your true MHR can be determined by a physician using a standard Stress Test.

    Bicycle
    This is my go-to (favorite) cardio-based training. As a hemophiliac, I find the bike riding is easier on my joints (hips, knees, and ankles) than running, so I can train more often and go for longer times. Also, for whatever reason, I find riding exhilarating and fun!

    Running
    I believe that running is the most popular of all cardio (aerobic) exercises. Probably because you can do it pretty much anywhere and you don’t need any equipment to do it. Heck, many people even run barefoot, although I don’t recommend this. I struggle with the boredom of running long distances, but do like a short 6 mile or so run. If you’re just starting out running, make sure that you don’t increase your distance by more than 10% per week. Otherwise, you’re inviting an injury!

    Walking
    Except to get from point A to point B, I don’t walk much. I find it boring and it takes forever to get what I want from it. Instead, I will run or use the elliptical. I should mention that I do walk before and after my runs as a warm-up and cool down. I also like to do one walk per week with my wife as a “getaway” for both of us, since we’re soulmates and best friends.

    I know that many people swear by walking, so I didn’t want to leave it out… However, it ain’t my cup of tea. To reiterate, I do walk a good distance each day, but not for exercise, I use it to get from point A to point B.

    Swimming
    I swim a couple of times per year. If I had a heated pool (or indoor) I’m sure I would do this on a regular basis. I think that swimming may be the best way to get a serious aerobic workout. If you do this, good on you!

    There are many other forms of aerobic exercise (far too many to list here). I just covered the tip of the iceberg… But, you get the general idea.

    Stretching
    Stretching is great to help relieve muscle aches after workouts and runs. It’s also keeps you flexible, renews energy, and helps to avoid injuries. For this reason, I believe that stretching should be a part of everyone’s workout plan. I stretch on my aerobic days. I stretch large muscle groups by slowly (never go fast, bounce, or jerk) moving into the stretch and holding it for 22 seconds. Near the end of my 22 seconds, I strive to stretch just a little bit deeper. Also, I only stretch after my workouts, as I have found that cold muscles do not stretch nearly as well and you might even invite injury or pain while stretching cold.

    HIT
    Have you heard of HIT (high intensity training)? It is incredible! Essentially, it consists of lifting weights two (or fewer) days per week. Each workout is a full body workout and it only takes 27 minutes to complete. On top of the anaerobic benefits, you also get aerobic benefits too. This is because there is very little resting in HIT and your keep your muscles working the entire time by a neat thing called “time under tension.”

    I know what you’re thinking, How can you get a full body workout in fewer than 60 minutes per week? I’m here to tell you that it works. I have been doing HIT for more than four years now and I have made steady strength and mass gains since starting. For the first time in my life, I am relatively injury and pain free. If you wanna give HIT a try, start by checking out Dr. Ellington Darden’s HIT forum:
    http://www.drdarden.com

    Also, I would suggest picking up his book: The New High Intensity Training.

    What do you do to stay fit? Do you stretch?

    That’s it for exercise… If you would like to learn more, simply drop by my forum and checkout the Fitness board here:
    http://www.vaughnripley.com/forum/index.php?board=14.0

    Cheers,
    Rip

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    Do You Train Despite the Conditions

    We love training. That goes without saying. But, sometimes it can be tough to get training in. There are times when it’s raining outside… Times when it’s snowing… Times when the temperature is over 100 degrees… Essentially there are simply times when the weather does not cooperate with our outdoor activities.

    Before we start tackling this most-excellent subject, let’s get something out of the way…

    Disclaimer: Riding, running, or training of any kind in bad weather can be dangerous. The chance for injury is greatly increased during adverse conditions like rain, ice, snow, extreme heat, and so on. I often choose to workout despite the weather, but my experience level in these scenarios is high. You cannot determine your decision to workout despite the weather based on my opinion. We are all responsible for the things that we do. This is no exception. If you decide to workout in adverse conditions, that is solely on your shoulders and you should weigh the costs and dangers carefully before doing so.

    Caveat: Do not use my above-mentioned disclaimer to pussy out of a workout!

    In all seriousness folks, if you like to exercise outdoors there will come a time when the weather or conditions affect your decision to do so. Once you’ve assessed the situation and figure out if you’re going to do it, there are some things to take into account and be aware of. You already know these things, but I’m going to address them anyway:

    1. Wet streets are slippery. Riding or even running in these conditions can result in a wreck, slip, or fall. Be aware of this and ease your pace and elevate your awareness.

    2. Rain not only creates wet streets, but it also makes puddles and gets equipment wet. Remember to protect your electronics (phone, mp3 player, watch, and so on), wallet, and anything else that shouldn’t get wet. Also, when you’re done with a ride, remember to clean your bike extra well and lubricate all moving components.

    3. Lightning often accompanies rain and can be extremely dangerous.

    4. Mud puddles and slippery conditions usually exist AFTER rain is done and gone. These can create additional hazards like splashing on your riding glasses and blocking your vision (among other things). Also, it is very easy to hydroplane in puddles.

    5. Extreme heat saps your energy, depletes your hydration, and causes a multitude of issues.

    6. Extreme cold can create icy conditions that you aren’t even aware of (think black ice). Prolonged exposure can also produce hypothermia and frost bite.

    7. Wind can not only blow you over but it can also blow you into oncoming traffic. And, debris can become dangerous when blown into your eyes.

    8. The sun can be brutal. Sunburns can ruin an otherwise fun long ride or run. It also can burn your eyes if you don’t don protective sunglasses.

    9. Night time is a condition that we often overlook. Just be aware that not only is your visibility limited in the dark, but so is that of drivers who are out and about.

    Speaking of other drivers and such… Remember that no matter the conditions, if the weather is limiting your abilities and awareness then it’s doing the same for other people on the road. Use caution!!!

    These are just a few of the things to consider when training despite the weather. Honestly, I love getting out to run in the rain. It rejuvenates and invigorates me. Rain is my friend. However, I respect it, and stay aware of consequences. Train smart and always be ready for the effects and your chances for an injury free day are higher.

    Finally, you should be aware that weather can change during a training session (especially longer runs and rides). Be prepared for changing weather and it’s less likely to ruin your day.

    When the weather is exceptionally bad you can always move your training indoors. Sometimes prudence is your best friend!

    Do you train when the weather is bad? Do you adapt or do anything special for bad conditions?

    Thanks for dropping by,
    Rip

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