Saturday, January 31, 2009

Name Dropping

We are all an experiment of one and we all react a little differently to exercise, eating and the way our daily life affects us. But when good successful people tell you something you should listen. I have had the opportunity to hear a lot of very intelligent people give heir opinions and ideas about training and life in general.

One of my core beliefs is that to be successful in an endurance sport you shouldn't do all your training in that sport but add a lot of cross training that complements your sport but also builds the rest of your muscles to balance your body. The value of this type of training is becoming more and more accepted all the time. For example few marathoners run more than a hundred miles a week any more, but they but in as much time cross training as they used to spend on the road. The times getting faster every year are testament that it's working.

When I was a young Sgt stationed at England AFB, I had a chance to take a run and chat with Bruce Jenner, who had just won Olympic gold. He was touring and giving talks at military bases and universities. He said, "I'm a runner but I do a lot of training in the pool". This was cutting edge thinking in the early 70s.

I had a chance to talk with Denise Austin, who is famous for core (tummy) work, this was back before core training was the buzz phrase that it is now. She was a big believer, just as I am now in the benefit of tightening your abs, holding for 10 sec, releasing and repeating, is one of the best tummy tamers. As she puts it, "your tummy has to be somewhere so it might as well be tucked in and not hanging loose".

From Covert Bailey, I learned about how the body manages fat cells, and heard it in terms that I could understand. I learned that the body will make more but the ones that are there will not be removed, only emptied like little storage sheds and that once you have them it's easy for the body to fill them.

I've spent my life listening to people who knew much more than I do and remembering what they say. Now when I get an email like I did this morning from a fellow forum team member who said, "I was watching a commercial about Hydroxycut fat burner and realized I looked worse than their before pictures". I can pass on knowledge I've acquired and help them get back on a positive plan to accomplish their goals and not just give up.

Thanks for reading

Walking Panda

Friday, January 30, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Weather Fun

Mother nature likes to remind us ever now and then that we are not as far out of the stone age as we think we are. We had an ice storm yesterday that knocked out power and of all things, cell phones. The towers were down from the weight of the ice. It pretty well brought us to a stand still here. You realize just how venerable you really are when you are without power, phone service and the roads are to slick to drive on. Our strength, health and general wellness is still our best defense against whatever mom nature throws at us. For that matter what ever life throws at us.

Life can be an adventure or a trial, depends on your attitude. I stopped at the bank on the way home from the gym today and the teller, an older lady was taking about how horrible it was out there and how much she hated having to get out today in the snow and ice to go to work. I said you got here ok right, and it's a day you will remember always, since this kind of weather is so rare here. she said "Yea I guess so, it was kinda interesting and kept me on my toes driving". I wouldn't choose this type of weather but the snow and ice is very beautiful and it does as she said keep you on your toes.

Days like today give you a healthy respect for our northern friends that deal with the weather every year and keep on doing just fine. Heck they even have fun stuff to do in it like curling and ice skating. A person in good health will do just fine no matter where they live. The secret is in the staying healthy. The cold requires some safety cautions just as hot climates do. Frost bite and heat exhaustion will both take their toll on you. But being strong and healthy will help keep you safe no matter what your environment is like.

Thanks for reading

Frozen Panda

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Training Thread

We have a new training thread on the Forum called, "Train our Prince and Princess":

This is a learning thread for the eventual personal training and wellness coaching available at PandaEndurance. We are taking 2 recreational athletes who have never done a Goofy Challenge and designing a program custom built for them. Their program will include weight training, cross training, walking./running plan and nutrition. We will follow their training with them in this thread.

Everyone knows that training can be hard, complicated and lead to injury, or it can be easy, fun and get you through your goal. The difference is in how you train and your attitude. We hope to make this an easy and fun program for them to follow and see them finish the 2010 Goofy.

So many people start out to make changes in their lifestyle and begin their journey to better health and fitness. Having help along the way can make the difference between success and failure. Just a little motivation can make a world of difference. Actually having a guide for the journey can, I think, ensure that goals can be exceeded.

Please feel welcome to join in this member participation adventure with comments, questions and suggestions.

Thanks for reading.

Training Panda

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Walker's/Runner's high.

Have you ever done a car trip, like driving home late at night and all of sudden you are home and you don't remember making the trip? That is actually a normal thing, you are not damaged, well some would say anyone who does half and full marathons have a screw loose. What happens is that one half of our brain acts like an auto pilot for tasks that don't require a lot of thought, like endurance walking/running.

This doesn't happen when you are really pushing it but it can when you are just loping along at a comfortable pace. You can go on auto pilot and cover a lot of distance effortlessly. It's like the old saying that making love is better if you turn your brain off and just feel. It's the same with exercise, if your dwelling on things like, "I feel ok now but I've done almost 5 miles so I should be feeling it pretty soon". Pretty soon you will be feeling it because you are expecting to. But when you are on that auto pilot you just cruise.

Ever watch someone knit? Same thing they are not thinking about every stitch, they just go into auto pilot and it flows. That is where we should strive to be when we are doing distance, we need to get into that ZONE where it flows. That's one reason music works so well for distance, if you are listening to a good beat and a song that you get caught up in it makes the motion seem more effortless. Good conversation with a training partner can do the same thing. I have done 10 milers that were just a blur because I was so caught up in the conversation that I never noticed the effort or the surroundings.

One reason the treadmill is so tough for distance work is that you can't easily get into a zone because your mind tries to keep focused on what your doing since you are doing an basically artificial motion, you are not in control the machine is, your brain can't easily tune that out.

Next time you walk/run an LSD, try to turn your mind off. Concentrate on anything besides the effort, experience that high where your motion is effortless.

Thanks for reading.

Walking Panda

Thursday, January 22, 2009

How we choose to see our world

Do you have someone you know who you just love to be around? Someone who is so bubbly happy that you wonder sometimes what the heck they are taking? Someone that is just so excited about living that each day is a new adventure and a new opportunity. I'm sure most of you know someone like that. The funny thing is they don't have any more than you do, so why are they so darn happy all the time. Maybe because they live in a different world than you do.

If you have a smile on your face and feel love in your heart then people see you differently and respond to you differently. Try it, put that smile on and see what happens. The world around you really does change. It's amazing, like the old saying goes, "You get back what you give out". If you have a frown or sad face on that is how people react to you. But when you smile and look like you are a friendly, happy person, people respond in kind.

A person can walk into a room full of people with a big smile and everyone responds back with smiles and cheerfulness, but go in with a frown and it's a whole different place. Am I foolish enough to believe that our attitude can affect other people and how they respond to us, yep, sure am. I live that theory. People I work with often say to me, "you are the happiest person I know". I don't sit around taking about other people, no time for idle gossip, I start meaningful discussions when we are not busy at work. Shoot we have discussed some wonderful topics and kept conversations going for days, taking up where we left off the day before.

When you are doing your walking or running, keep that smile going. People will just ignore you as you go by if you have a blank expression but flash them a smile and you will get one right back, I guarantee it. It amazes me how much a persons face brightens when they smile. I walk in "The Bad" area of town, but when I go by the people sitting out on their porches I get smiles and waves because I have been giving them since day one.

Try it today, flash that smile and mean it. See if it's a different world today than it was yesterday. Then decide which world you want to live in. We all have our bills to pay and our trials to endure but they don't have to control our lives.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Panda

Monday, January 19, 2009

Going The Distance, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

We talk a lot about doing half marathons, full marathons and even ultra events like the Goofy Challenge (Disney half marathon on Saturday and full marathon on Sunday) or the 50 and 100 milers. I firmly believe that anyone can train for and run, run/walk or walk any race they desire to. But the active word is to train. Several of us did the half, the full and the Goofy this year with less than optimal training.

But the above statement is not entirely accurate. We were not as trained for these races as we would have liked to be, but most of us are tough, strong athletes that know how to get the most from our bodies. This should in no way influence a person new to endurance sports to take the distance lightly. If you picked an average group of people at random and had them go these distances without proper training, most of them, if they finished at all would be lame or worse.

It's an excellent idea to take your distance events in small bites. Train for and do a 5K, then a 10K, do a half marathon, then train for and do a full. There are lots of books out there with training plans for doing a marathon, some are good some are not. But every person is different and a canned program should be looked at as a guide not as gospel.

An event like a half or full marathon is a lot like an injury. When you are recovering from a marathon look at it as though you are recovering from an injury. Because it is an injury, you have pushed your body hard, it is damaged and requires rest, rehab and recovery. You have lots of microscopic tears in your muscle tissue, think beaten with a meat tenderizer especially if you really had a hard race. These tears require maintenance.

There is a rule of thumb that you need to have an easy day for every mile raced. Not a bad idea, it varies by your fitness level but for the average recreational athlete it's a workable rule. So a half marathon takes 13 days and a full 26 days. Yes world class athletes can train with 100 mile weeks, but they also have a support system that most of us do not. They get their ice baths, daily massage, and a trainer that keeps up with their needs. They also stay off their feet as much as possible when not training, where as most of us have to go to work or care for a house and kids.

Train properly and smartly and most goals are within reach, but you must respect the distance. When the vets talk about their races it often seems like it's no big deal, but yes it is.

Thanks for reading.

Walking Panda

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Look for the New Year

We have talked before about New Years Resolutions, making goals and staying realistic. Now that I'm back from the Mouse House we can continue with that train of thought.

I noticed yesterday that the gym was packed. That is normal for the month of January but by this time next month it will be back to normal again. So many people take that initial step of joining the club and then when the soreness sets in and the results don't come quickly they lose interest, until the next year.

The best way to begin the quest for the "New You" is to take it in baby steps and small easily met goals. You will not be able to go from carrying a little extra fluff to looking like a ripped and super toned athlete in a month or to, it takes a while. But positive change is obtainable with a good progressive program.

You have to know where you are before you can figure out where you are going. Go weigh yourself, take a good look at your body in the mirror and get out the measuring tape. Measure your biceps, waist, chest, thighs and hips. Now you have a base line for where you are. Next is to decide where and what you need to change. Losing weight and inches around your middle is a result of proper eating and exercise. But if you want to add inches to your chest and arms, then you have to target these areas.

A good well rounded program must include your whole body going through it's full range of motion. So it's a good idea to do easy stretches and see how far you can comfortably go with each one. You will easily see from this where you are and where you need to go.

Once you have all your "where I am" stuff done it's time to take a realistic look at what you would like to accomplish. "I want a better body", or "I want to be in better shape", is not a good goal because it's not specific. "I want to lose 2 inches off my waist and 2 inches off my thighs" is a good starting goal because it's specific and measurable. Then you need a time limit like 2 months to reach your first goals.

Now decide how much time and when you can exercise. If you can do an hour 2 days a week or an hour 5 days a week then start scheduling that time for yourself and make your appointments. This is a minimum commitment. You can combine this with other healthy living ideas that we will discuss tomorrow.

Baby steps and easy goals will get you the healthy, strong body you want.

Thanks for reading.

Healthy Panda

Friday, January 16, 2009

Marathon aftermath, Keep Moving Forward

Today was day 5 since the marathon so time to get started again. Today was pool running and stretching. Last year I had Achilles tendon problems following the race and it was the end of march before I could begin training again. This year my Achilles was a little sore along with the bottoms of my feet but all in all I feel great. For those of you who were following my blog last year you know that using the push mower instead of the rider strengthened and stretched my bad Achilles till it was much stronger and didn't hurt any more.

The idea way to train for a half or full marathon is to do progressively longer walks/runs once each week or every other week till you are doing about 20 to 22 miles a month prior to the show. We didn't have the opportunity to do that this year and several of our DisneyRunning team were in the same boat. The ones who stayed active and walked/ran when they could, Even if it was only 3 to 5 milers did very well. This is by no means a scientific experiment but the results were positive. Time in motion seems to take the place of total miles if that is all you can get.

Robert finished his Goofy with a longest walk in training of 10.5 miles. Scott did his Goofy and first marathon to with the majority of his training around 3, 4 and 5 miles. My lady and I did ours with a longest walk of 10 miles which we did three times. I could continue but all are the same story. This year has been bitter cold and most of us had difficult work schedules as well. So the training wasn't idea or text book but we pulled through.

My plans are for good stretching and low miles for a few weeks along with weight training. Then after a month I'll start adding a longer walk each week. I would like to follow a real plan instead of winging it this year. We are signed up for the 2010 Goofy which is a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon the next day. 2010 is also the year I have to win at state again if I want a second shot at the National Senior Olympics in 2011.

Thanks for reading.

Recovery Panda

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Disney Trip

We just returned from the Disney Marathon Weekend. It was certainly a trip to remember. I had promised a group of princesses from the forum that I would help them through their first marathon and that turned out to be the most satisfying and memorable time I've ever had at the marathon distance.

Not being a talented writer I can't make my words paint mental pictures for you but I surely try to give you something to think about from my words. We have many experiences, some that we love remembering and some we sure wish we could erase. But we are all the sum of where we have been and what we have experienced. This weekend was one of those that I will love remembering.

I started out with 2 ladies and one gentleman from Canada that had never done the marathon before as well as 2 ladies that had completed one. We started before daybreak and marched through the Epcot park and out on to the highway going to the Magic Kingdom. Since none of us had really had a good training year it was going to be an interesting race.

Everything went pretty smoothly till about 12 to 13 miles. Then another DisneyRunning member caught up with us and told me that my lady had dropped back behind me. So I turned around and with back a few miles to the back of the race and couldn't find her. I caught back up with my group and one of my ladies was having a hard time of it so I stayed the rest of the race with her.

I finally got Erica on her cell phone and discovered she was a few miles ahead of us instead of being behind. She agreed it was better for me to stay back with our friend instead of catching up to her since she was doing fine. She ended up with a PR and helped another woman through the last miles.

I'm a walker, I was not going to win this race and helping my team mate gave me a purpose instead of just being able to say I finished another marathon. This one was a shared adventure.

I went into this as did Erica with little distance work. We had only done 3 walks of ten miles, the rest were 3, 4 and 5 milers. But we combined those walks with other activities so the time in motion was more that just the time spent doing the ten milers. Several of my team mates did the same and all finished fine. This first experiment with time in motion instead of high miles appears to be successful.

I also completed the race in a pair of shoes I had just bought at the Expo the day before. I'm a firm believer that a good running/walking shoe doesn't need to be broken in. It should be ready to perform right out of the box. I use racing flats to walk my races so I like the maximum amount of cushion I can get, so I race marathons with them when they are brand new.

Thanks for reading.

Tired Panda