Sunday, December 26, 2010

Preparing for Battle

The new year is a good target time to begin a life style change with better eating habits, regular exercise and lowering your stress level. But a life style change is still a change and it must be prepared for. You have to be thinking now about how and what and where you will begin. When the day comes to begin you should be excited and ready.

Starting a life style change is not going to be easy. Your fat cells are hardened from all the battles they have fought in the past, with on and off diets and even periods of fasting. Your muscles will resist your new demands to move and your mind is going to cling to the comfort of the past. Make no mistake you must prepare for this battle.

You prepare by first making a commitment to yourself that you are going to win, you are going to win because you want a new life style. You must commit for those you care about, your health is a gift to them because you will be around to be with them and not die young or be a burden to your family when you get older. You must commit that you will be a strong and healthy life partner to your significant other.

Plan now where you will do your walks and plan for what you will do on days that it's to cold or rainy to be outside. If your going to join a health club start investigating now, find out costs and read the ratings that the members give. Look for a place that has to offer all that you want, if you plan on swimming as one of your exercise routines that make sure you find clubs that offer a pool.

The last and most important is to "KNOW THAT YOU ARE WORTH IT"! You are worth whatever efforts that it takes to make the changes.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Paying for it.

We are closing in on a new year. This is the time that many make a resolution to regain the fitness they once had or they want to become truly fit for the first time in their lives. Unfortunately for the vast majority this means spending money in hopes that the cost will motivate them to stay with it.

A health club membership costs a couple about $500 to a $1000 a year. Health club owners love January, that's when they rake in the most money for the year. Club members, those that stay around and work at staying in shape hate January because that is when the club is busiest. After January the new members are into that wonderful soreness that just won't seem to go away or they have an injury that has already sidelined them and made them think this fitness thing is just to much trouble.

Buying equipment, the most common being treadmills and stationary bikes seems like a good way to go especially if you live in an area that has long winters. The last couple of years that's been pretty much all of us. But what happens is after a few uses the new addition to the living room becomes just another piece of furniture. Treadmills become a great place to hang coats and to set things that you are just not quite sure where to put yet. The longer they are there the less and less you notice them.

Buying exercise clothes as a way to motivate yourself doesn't work either. Just one outfit, especially if your a woman, can be costly. Shoes, shorts, tights, Capri's, pants, shirts, jackets, sports bras, hats and visors...... The list goes on and on. But just having the clothes doesn't make you do it, you can sit on the couch and think about which outfit you would wear today but that doesn't make it happen.

Ok so what is the magic and that makes it happen? What is the cost and how do you make sure you get your money's worth? Well, tough question and one that has gone unanswered for as long as people have been gaining weight and getting out of shape. That answer has to start and stop with you. How bad do you want it? How much effort are you willing to put into a new life style?

A good start is to put on comfortable clothes and your most comfortable shoes and go out for a walk. Walk for 30 min, thinking about how it feels being out moving under your own power. Do this every other day for a week. If after a week you are still doing it treat your self to a reward, buy you a new pair of walking shoes. After another week buy you another piece of your outfit. Keep doing this, keep doing the time and earn your rewards.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Time to Hunt

In less than a month many of us will be toeing the starting lines of the Disney, half marathon, full marathon and Goofy challenge. Thousands of others will be doing half and full marathons all over the world. These are races to only a few of those thousands who will be there. For the vast majority it's a call to arms. It's a decision to live, to be free of the chains that have bound us all our lives. It's taking a stand, it's over coming the fear, it's our drawing a line in the sand.

We all have our personal demons, the demon of weight, the demon of feeling inadequate, the demon of failed marriages and the demon of never being enough. The demons of fear and doubt, the demon of not being rich enough or pretty enough. We are controlled all of our lives by these demons that have enslaved us.

These long distance events are an avenue for us to fight back. When we train for and complete an endurance race we are proving we are not slaves, we are free. The path to the finish line is symbolically a path to our destiny, we have to fight our way through those personal demons that stand in our way. We have to draw our sword and march forward, each training run or walk a small victory, each sore muscle a badge of honor, every step forward a stab in the heart of our demons.

It's time to mentally draw our sword, and prepare to hunt those demons that plague us. It's time to hit them hard and show them no more mercy than they showed us. It's time to put to rest our feelings of doubt and take charge of our lives. When the marathons are over, if we gave full measure, we will be changed forever. What we do with that change will be our personal destiny.

Get your best Grrrrrrr going and get ready to hunt your demons next month, you will have lots of company.

Thanks for reading

Rambling Panda

Friday, December 3, 2010

Moving Forward

One of America's Elite Dreamers, Walt Disney, told us to "Keep Moving Forward". He reminded us to keep dreaming and to never give up in our quest to realize those dreams. Strong words and words that are just as powerful now as they were many years ago when he coined that phrase.

We are all on a journey. Every step we take is a step toward our personal destiny. Each step is a step into the unknown, we've never been this far before. But we need not fear this unknown or falter because of self doubt. Another wonderful phrase is, "knowledge is power", many others have walked before us blazing the trail with their sweat and determination. We can learn from these others, if we just listen.

Countless Pilgrims before us have walked the same trail and written about what lies ahead, they have mapped their journey from cradle to grave for others to read, evaluate and take from it what they need. We have the journals of many great warriors, dreamers and philosophers, we have the words of those who enjoyed immense wealth and from those who lived in poverty. This journey of life belongs to all of us, no matter our status in life or the size of our bank accounts.

I challenge everyone to not just learn from the journey of others but to blaze trails of their own. There is a lot of life before each of us and it hasn't all been lived before. We are all an experiment of one and a when an opportunity arises to push our personal limits we owe it to ourselves to pursue that opportunity. Be it learning a new skill, taking a chance to accomplish a difficult task or just become more comfortable in our own skin, we should "Keep Moving Forward".

Thanks for reading

Rambling Panda

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Has This Happened to Any One Else

All through my adult life I wore a size 8.5 shoe. Then about age 40 my feet started growing larger, I went into size 9 then 9.5 and now at age 59 I'm having to go into a size 10. I have always been a runner or a walker so I don't think it has anything to do with muscle growth nor does it have to do with body weight since I have fluctuated up and down some over the years.

I have a friend that swears that as you grow older your ears grow larger and of course men's ears get hairier as they grow older. But I haven't ever researched feet growing larger as you age. I'm going to look into it though, since it affects shoe fit and comfort for adult athletes. I may have stumbled onto something that is common but no one has given it much print.

Shoe fit is critical when your an endurance athlete since you spend a lot of hours training and races are often over 2 hours and can last much longer. It's common knowledge that your feet swell as you exercice for long periods so you should wear a half to a full size larger shoe to exercise in than your work and dress shoes.

If anyone else has experienced this please let me know. It will be worth getting some print on the subject if it does affect other people. It may be a contributing factor in a lot of foot issues.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Holiday Stress

At the risk of being called Scrooge I'm going to go on record saying that to many people put themselves under way to much stress over the Christmas season. To start with the Christmas season shouldn't be 3 months long as the retail stores would have us believe. It should be at the most the week before the day.

The first year I was married, in the early 70s, I maxed out my credit card buying gifts for my new wife. The credit card bills still weren't completely paid off when the 8-track player and cassettes I bought her that Christmas had become obsolete. I learned something from that, don't spend money you don't have for gifts. The person your buying for will feel guilty because they didn't spend so much and you will have the ummm JOY of the bills after the holidays are over.

It's much better to give within your means, the people you are buying for have an idea how much money you have so they would feel much better with a nominal gift that says I was thinking of you without being a burden on your checkbook.

A good gift for a family is a vacation. That has worked well for me with the January Disney race adventure. Then everyone in the family can buy something while on vacation, for me that's usually new shoes or some new exercise clothes. People who love Disney like I do can usually find a nice t-shirt that's Disney related and sometimes even one that is race and Disney related.

This year think before you buy and have a plan that saves you the stress and your credit card the big hit. A small gift card makes a wonderful gift and allows the person you give it to the opportunity to get something they want. Don't forget a gift card to a restaurant is a wonderful gift and gives the receivers a excuse to get out for the evening, something they probably don't do enough of anyway.

Let's all make the Christmas season the special time of joy it's meant to be and not a season of stress and worry over gift giving.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Monday, November 15, 2010

Economy Of Life

It's been a while since I blogged but life has calmed to a dull roar so I should have time to write again. Thank you for being patient with me.

My thoughts today are about economy of our resources in all aspects of our lives. Just as we need to turn out lights when we leave a room and turn the shampoo bottle upside down on the shelf so we get every drop, we need to conserve our personal resources.

We have just so much energy available to us each day. If we use that energy for positive uses then we end the day with a satisfied feeling and we probably accomplished something that needed doing. But when we waste our limited energy on negatives like worry and stress then we end the day wondering where the time went. When we are stressed all day we feel like life is passing us by and we are right. We have but one life and it needs to be lived and not spent in worry about things that are not as we want them.

We must empower ourselves to solve our own problems so we can get on with the living and stop the road blocks from holding us back. To many people don't accept the responsibility for their own happiness, they blame others. I've known people who were done with a necessary task as soon as they could think up an excuse for not being able to do it.

There are things that we can't control, but there are a lot more that we can. When we wake each day we have to make a committment that we will live this day and not waste it, I promise that we will never have a chance to live this day again. But each morning that we wake we have another chance and a new beginning.

Thanks for reading

Rambling Panda

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tying the knot

Sometimes when you wake up in the night an idea is there that won't let you ignore it. I had one of those last night. I woke at 3:45am with the strong thought that I needed for Sally and I to say our vows at the pre race staging area before the Disney World half in January.

Last January my trip to my happy place was just horrible. I just divorced my wife of 24 years, I was alone for the first time at Disney, I was totally untrained and it was record cold conditions. This time when I toe the starting line I will be in the company of a lady who befriended me and helped me through the hurt and got me moving forward again. It seems so necessary that I share that happiness with the people who helped me through this difficult time.

I have a lot of planning and getting permission from Disney to do this. I need to find an ordained minister who would like something to do for 30 min before we move to the starting area. I have had a year of good luck and have managed to get a house and save the money for the trip and the races but there just isn't anyway to have a real Disney wedding. But this is a celebration of happiness and a new beginning, money can't buy that anyway.

My journey to this Disney World marathon weekend started back in May of 2006. I had been battling with a badly scarred Achilles tendon for a couple of years and I was doing a 5K cross country race. Every step on the uneven grass was torture. When I was limping away from the finish I decided that I wasn't ever going to go through that again. The Panda was born that day. With every step I limped I became stronger and and more determined that Dave the athlete was not going quietly into the night.

I started on a journey that day with a mission to accomplish along the way. I tried to run hurt for a long time because I couldn't imagine being a walker, that would be just unthinkable. I had to prove to myself that a walker was indeed an athlete. Accomplishing that I wanted to be there for others who needed a life time sport to keep them healthy and strong.

About a year into my journey I was on a training walk up a long hill when a little field mouse joined me and ran along with me for a while before turning off into the grass. That day I had the message on the walking site inviting me to get involved with Disney racing. Up until then I had no idea that Disney World had races or that there were people that made them a part of their wellness plan. I'm very honored to be involved with the Disney racing groups.

Thanks for reading and if anyone knows who I need to contact to get permission for a quick saying of vows at the pre race area please let me know. If anyone reading this is a minister and wants to lead us in our vows I would be grateful.

Marrying Panda

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Most of us use a tremendous amount of mental energy in worry. We worry about everything in our life, our money or lack of it, our relationship, our children and a million other things. We use so much of our mental energy in worry that there is often not enough left for really living.

Often the things we are worrying about are the things that carry over into an argument with our spouse, children or co workers. How dare them not be worrying about the same things we are.

When we carry worry over into our exercise time we can't perform as well as we are capable because you can't have a good workout with negative thoughts. A good way to deal with this is to first recognise it and then tell yourself, "There is nothing I can do about this problem right now so I will not worry about it right now and dwell instead on something positive".

We often make a problem more than it is by letting it become a major concern instead of something that is really insignificant. Many times the fix is easy and quick if we would just do it. For example if your worry is about an issue with another person then it's time to approach that person and put it behind you. Taking a walk with your life partner is a great time to discuss concerns. Extending a hand in friendship is a good way to end old feuds with a co worker or friend. A call to a family member or friend is a great way to say it's time we were part of each other's lives again.

If your worry is over money, worry won't get you any but putting that energy into a liveable solution might. Remember the walk with your spouse or life partner is a good time to discuss solutions.

When you use your energy for living and not spending it in worry you will be a lot happier and a whole lot healthier.

Thanks for reading

rambling Panda

Monday, August 23, 2010

Multi Tasking

Maybe it's generation gap but I'm having a hard time with the new trend of "Multi Tasking", or doing several things at once. Doesn't that mean that we compromise the quality of what we do to get more accomplished?

Trying to do to much at one time is a fine way to be stressed out most of the time. We really don't resolve things when we just do them on auto pilot. If something is worth doing it's surely worth giving it our full attention. Especially if it involves others, like our families and friends. I was just to busy to realize my, fill in the blank, was needing my attention.

Everything you buy works better now than it ever did, but that is because the technology got a lot better over the years, but the quality of workmanship hasn't kept up. You can bet the people that were inventing that new technology were giving it their full attention.

My hero Walt Disney's favorite words of advice were, "keep moving forward", but that doesn't mean full speed a head with out giving it your full attention. We have to slow it down a bit and take some of the tasks off our plate so we can properly do the important ones.

When we get a day off we usually have a whole list of stuff we need to get done, then we hurry through each trying to get it all done. We do a lousy job of trimming the grass, saying "I'll get that other part done next week", (just like you said last week), we hurry through each task and don't give any of them the attention that is required because our mind is on the next task.

Maybe if we decreased the amount of things we were trying to all at once then not only would our quality go back up but maybe it would open up jobs for others. Perhaps it's time we were craftsmen and women again instead of machines going full on all the time.

At least when you are not working and doing what the boss demands, try to slow down a bit and do a better job of what you do instead of a faster job. You might even be healthier for it.

Thanks for reading

Rambling Panda

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Taming of the PF Monster

Well it appears that I've beaten back the planter fasciitis that I've been suffering from for about a month. I'm really tickled about healing it so fast since I've known people who have suffered for years from it. That wasn't an option for me since I had to get back to racing shape before the State Games.

I'll start by recounting how I ended up with PF to begin with. I had been steadily improving by doing my walk training every other day and pool running and good stretching on the opposite days. About a month ago I decided to add two extra days of hard race walking workouts to my training plan. This did several bad things: First it violated the golden rule of training; don't increase more than 10 percent each week and never increase distance and speed workouts both in the same week. Also by doing more walk training I was doing less stretching since I didn't do the stretching after a walk like I did after a pool workout. It took about 3 weeks of this to give me a good case of PF.

PF is pain on the bottom of your foot especially around the heel. It's worse in the morning when you first get out of bed and if you try to train on it. It's constant but those are the worse times. Any time you are on your feet or walking it's painful.

Healing it effectively and quickly required a lot of different actions:

Not walking barefoot even in the house, go from bed to well cushioned shoes.
Wearing compression socks (Tight fitting) to bed, this is like wrapping with an ace bandage.
Buying cushioned insoles for all my shoes, work, play and training. The sock liners that come in most athletic shoes are not very cushioned.
Rolling my foot on a tennis ball several times a day for a massage of the injured area.
Stretching everyday, not missing a day, everyday. I found that going to the gym hot whirlpool was good because it keep the muscles warm since I couldn't warm up with training, but a tub at home with hot water works also.
Taking Advil in the morning for the pain and swelling and then Aleve for all day pain relief.
Icing the bottom of my foot with a water bottle that has been in the freezer.

Doing all these things and resting from training for 2 weeks did the trick, I'm back to training but building back up slowly and I'm going back to the every other day walk training schedule with pool work and stretching on the opposite days.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Change Your Life

Have you felt like you have been just going through the motions and not really living? Life just isn't exciting, nothing but same old routine, day after day? Then it's time for a change isn't it?

There is only one way out of the rut and that's to get proactive and take charge of your life. Take your life and shake it up, start doing things that are not part of your day after day routine.

Today is a good day to start. Everyday you put off taking charge is another day of "Oh Hum". If you don't normally exercise then get some sneakers on and go for a walk, better still grab your significant other and take them with you. Are you a shy person, then be naked in the house for a while today. Been a while since you have been to a movie? Then take your lover and see something powerful that stirs your emotions, share a large popcorn.

Start facing your fears. If there are friends and family members you haven't talked to because of something in the past then pick up the phone and call them. Putting long dead differences behind you is cleansing. Have a coworker that you don't talk to because of disagreements in the past, then extend your hand in friendship, get over it and put it behind you.

Go to the beach, go hiking, go exploring a new city, there are lots of adventures that are close to home and inexpensive. Rent a convertiable, go somewhere on a weekend trip. Get out of the house see new places. Have friends over for and grill burgers, play a board game, anything that isn't on the computer.

There are countless ways to change your life. Gather your spouse, family or significant other and have a planning meeting, the subject, "Where would you like to go this weekend". Take charge and shake up your dull life, it will change you forever.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Super Powers

We have been treated to a lot of movies over the last 10 years, based on Comic Book Heroes. We have met Batman, The X Men, The Fantastic Four and a host of others. We all, adults as well as children have day dreamed of having powers and extra ordinary abilities. What if we really did have the ability to do what others only dream of?

We, humans, are an amazing creation. Most of us have no concept of the abilities we already have. We simply can't comprehend how amazing we really are. To start with most people have never tried to see what their minds and bodies are capable of.

A super power is by my definition being able to do something that others find difficult or impossible. Let's start with the power of patience, very often we do something to soon because we just couldn't wait and we settled for less, when if we could have just waited longer we could have had much more.

Will power is indeed a super power. If you can develop it, and you can, you can accomplish amazing things: you can lose weight, stop smoking and other unhealthy habits, you can even keep form embarrassing yourself by keeping your mouth shut when you would really much rather create a scene.

How does one train their since of patience, self control, will power and other powers of our minds? We already know the basics of training our bodies to develop our athletic powers but powers of the mind are more difficult.

To start with you have to want to have more control over your thoughts and actions. You have to want to resist temptations before you can start training your desires. If you want to be more in control then start by controlling your cravings. "I want a snack, but I'm not hungry and it's to late to eat since I'm going to bed soon", ever thought that and then ate a pint of ice cream anyway? Once you give in your at peace and content with your comfort food.

Wish you had the POWER to resist those cravings? Wish you had the patience to wait without getting frustrated and bubbling over with stress? Well you can, you just have to want it and start developing your powers.

Practice saying NO to yourself when you have an unhealthy craving or desire. Just as you have to force yourself off the couch to train your body you have to learn to say NO to your cravings. I will not eat late, I will not light another cigarette, I will wait till I'm hungry to eat.....

Think about the things you wish you had the power to change and then get started, tackle one change at a time and each time you don't give in you have increased your power.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Monday, June 28, 2010

"Earn This"

In the movie, Saving Private Ryan, Ryan was told to, "Earn this", by Tom Hanks as he was dying. The squad that was tasked with saving him were all killed, but Ryan lived. At the end of the movie Ryan went to the cemetery where Tom Hank's character was buried and told him how he had tried to live a good life and "Earn", the sacrifice that those men made, that he should live.

We all have that opportunity to earn our place in this world. We must earn the right to have words like; courage, honest, honor and kind, describe us. We adult athletes have the means to show our courage, when we choose to go on, in a long race or training walk/run, when we have nothing left we prove our courage and determination. We can't go out and slay a dragon to prove our courage but we can darn sure go the distance.

To a soldier honor is one of the strongest life goals. You are prepared to give full measure for your country. To live without honor is unthinkable. Most of us don't go to battle each day but we go to work. In this day of bad economy having a job is never a sure thing. I'm a firm believer, however, that a man/woman with honor will find work, because to not work is unthinkable. It may take a little time to think it out but they will keep moving forward.

We all need to remember to respect each other. When we are there for others, then those others are there for us. I'm living proof of that. When I was beaten down by a bitter divorce, the people I needed to help me were there for me. Thank you my friends, I shall never forget your kindness and support.

There is no greater disrespect for another than to lie to them. When we lie we live without honor, we live without honesty and we live without courage. An honest person is one who can be truly at peace. We must all strive to live with and promote honesty both to others and ourselves.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Friday, June 18, 2010

Free Form

Today was, I believe, a turning point in my training. It was hot, 82 degrees with high humidity. My plan was to have an LSD to start acclimating to the heat of summer and working on endurance. Then I had one of those moments. The song lyrics, on my iPod, were, "Freedom comes when you learn to let go". Wow, talk about a Revelation, the light bulb came on and I realized something I'd been missing.

I went into free form mode. Suddenly technique was natural not something I was forcing my body to do. Because I just loosened up and let it flow. Now this was my first long distance on a really hot day this year, but the pace was easy, my body was responding to the rhythm. My original plan was 10 miles but by 9 miles I'd had plenty. It was an amazing workout but I didn't force it, I went with how I felt, my body performed well, but when I started running out of steam I stopped.

I had a couple of rough spots, the first when I hit where my normal long distance walks stop, six and a half miles. Then when I passed a fence with a large angry pit bull behind it. My heart rate soared there and finally when I was nearly run down in a cross walk by a couple of guys smoking and drinking beer. The driver had to swerve the old Buick wide to keep from hitting me.

I can't wait to get to the track next week and practice what I learned today about letting go and letting the motion flow.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Monday, June 14, 2010

Heat Training

I have spent a lot of my life in hot climates. Four years in Southern Louisiana, nine year in the Las Vegas desert and five years in Okinawa. All these places were very hot and in the case of Vegas, although not as humid, very extreme temperatures. I leaned a lot about training in the heat from my years of running in these climates.

To start with we were designed to not only survive but to thrive in these temperatures. Human civilization, according to what our best scholars can figure out, started in the hotter climates. We only later branched out to the other areas of the planet.

I learned that you need to stay hydrated all the time, keep a drink handy all day so you can drink some several times an hour. The old rule of thumb of 8 eight ounce glasses of water is a minimum. If you exercise in the heat every day that's not enough. Remember this: It's an old American Indian saying, "it's the water in your body that does you good, not the water in your canteen". Basicly that means if you are heading out into the heat for a hard workout you need to have all your required fluids in you not in a bottle you are going to be sipping during the workout.

I don't drink during a 5K and I will only occasionally take a drink during a 10K. But I will go into the race well hydrated and start drinking again as soon as the race is over. During a 10 mile or longer race I will hit all the aid stops and drink the Powerade or Gatorade, I drink that for the fluid but also the electrolytes and calories. Since you burn a 100 calories a mile, the calories from the sports drinks helps you feed your cells with easily digested sugars. Solid food takes to long to digest to do you any good. That's why Goos and Gels are so popular. Fruit will digest quickly also so a lot of longer races will have bananas and oranges on the course for the athletes.

Another observation I've noticed over the years is that sometime after the heat of the year starts that I will have a workout where I feel the heat really bad and I get a dizzy feeling. I will stop working out when this happens and cool down with water and shade or air conditioning if available. But after this happens once, my body handles the heat much better. It's like I'm feeling my body acclimate to the heat. This has happened many times and I've learned that untill it does I need to stay close to where I can get water and cool down. Once it happens I can start doing longer walks where I cover a lot of distance.

Heat is dangerous but heat is also not a reason to stop training. It just needs to be respected and you need to be prepared for how you will react to heat training. Stay hydrated and untill your sure of how the heat will affect you, stay close to help.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Saturday, May 29, 2010


It was believed for a long time that running a 4 min mile was impossible, couldn't be done and anyone trying was just fooling themselves. Then once someone did it, lots of runners followed. Now it's a right of passage for elite runners to break through that once impossible wall. It was all in how it was perceived. If you believe something is impossible then it is. Now that doesn't mean if you believe something is possible that you can do it, but if you do believe and you have the ability, then you have a shot.

As a senior athlete, I pretty much figured that higher level competition was impossible. Then a famous race walking coach and competitor, Dave McGovern, told me that there were 2 walkers, on the US Team, that were over 50. That was like a lightening bolt striking me. What! I just assumed that level of competition was reserved for the younger athletes.

Now don't get me wrong, I doubt that I will ever be that good, but now I do believe it's possible to achieve more than I thought before. So I've changed my attitude, diet and training methods a bit. I've decided to find out just how much I can achieve. Starting with this years State games and Senior Olympic trials and then next year the Senior Olympics. After that I'll just have to see how far I've come and decide my next step.

There is an old saying, "Your Attitude determines your altitude".

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Being and Doing

There are many phases or levels of walking, running or run walking. The first few months are the times of discovering your own body again. Where you are strong, where you are weak and all that's in between. Those beginning months are when every week and sometimes everyday are new personal records of distance and speed. As your body adapts to the stress of exercise your mind becomes dependant on that wonderful feeling of motion.

The next level of motion is doing the race events. It's a whole new world when we join others. We are no longer just someone out getting in better shape, this is the time we realize we are indeed athletes. We are not fast or lean yet but we are well on our way and we have started to form dreams and goals.

After a few years of doing the races and steadily improving we get to a point where we begin to feel that we are as strong and fast and lean as we are going to get. We are having fun with our training and racing but it's beginning to get stale. It seems that the excitement is not there like it used to be. We enjoy the company of our friends we see at our races and those who sometimes train with us. But something is missing.

The next level is not one that just counciously happens. At this level we differ greatly in where we branch out. Some just quit and take a break for a few weeks or months or years. I have been there several times. Often quiting for years before suddenly getting the desire again to lace up and begin again. Other times we advance to long distance and move up to marathons or ultras. Instead of 5Ks and 10Ks we do the half and full marathons. Races become a good excuse to travel and a race becomes a mini vacation and and adventure.

The next level is one that writers have tried to describe for years. It's like the zen of motion. It's where we are there doing our miles, not because we are training for something but because we just enjoy the being and the doing. It's where we no longer even time our runs or walks but just do them because it's the best time of our day. It's when we meet others to do some miles just because being with good friends in the open air, with the sounds and smells of the world around you is just about the best feeling in the world.

Whatever level we are in our journey to health and happiness, being in motion should be a part of it. Our wonderful bodies were designed for motion not for sitting around watching life go by.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Friday, May 14, 2010

Waiting For Adventures.

I've been on the planet for a long time and one of the things I've noticed is that way to many people spend their lives waiting to live. They wait for vacations, they wait for holidays, like Christmas to get together with friends or family and they wait hoping for others to visit. They can't wait for the days to go by till the event comes up. Even more sad is that a lot of people wait for some happiness that never comes.

I'm an adult athlete, one of the big advantages to that are that my adventures come everyday. Today I'm off work so I'm driving down to Nashville and meeting another race walker to train on the hills. This fellow and I don't get to see each other very often except on Disney trips but this year we decided to do some training together. We only live 60 miles apart so we decided to not wait till January each year to enjoy each others company.

There are some online groups of runners and walkers that do races all over the country. These frequent weekend trips are wonderful breaks from the routine of work and a chance for adventure and seeing friends. I used to just see these friends a couple of times a year and spend the rest of the time longing for trip time to come.

Last year my world was turned upside down by a separation and divorce. I was in a fog for a while there and realized when I emerged from that fog that I'd been in a rut for a long time. I had spent a lot of my life waiting for my fun times and adventure instead of having those good times every week and often every day.

Now I train a lot more with others instead of alone. When you train with others every time you get together is a new adventure. A new chance to be with friends and to have awesome discussions. We have solved all the worlds problems during our walks and vented our troubles with someone who cares. I truly have the brothers and sisters I had never had before.

Each day now is another chance for an adventure, each weekend is a chance for a new trip to see other places and do races in interesting locations. I still do the Disney trip or two every year but now I don't just wait around for them, I'm to busy living.

I have a Disney friend who is a quilter, she gathers friends and family and has sewing "Bees", touching cloth is a stress reliever and a way to explore her creativity. Her quilting Bees are a chance to have fellowship and new adventures.

No matter what your interests are explore ways to enjoy them more often, don't wait for special events. Life is to short not to have fun and adventure as often as possible.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Dear Mr President

Mr President, with all due respect you are looking at health care from the wrong angle. You need to think it terms of making the nation well not making it mandatory to have health insurance.

I'm sure you are asking yourself now, "How do I go about that", so glad you asked, get you a bottle of water and I'll tell you.

To start with wellness has to start at the top. Yep right here with you. Federal incentives for cities and towns that build walker and bicycle paths through out the city. No federal funds for highways unless you make the paths. Businesses that put in showers for employees to use if they bike, walk or run to work, would be able to not only deduct the expense of the construction but would get extra points toward getting federal, state and city contracts. Fitness friendly businesses would be offered tax incentives.

People who purchase a bicycle or bicycles for the family can deduct that expense directly from their federal income tax. Not only is it a step toward health but a step toward lessening our dependence on foreign oil.

All expenses that are fitness related are also directly tax deductible, exercise clothing, expenses related to going to events like walks, runs, marathons, swimming events and bike tours. Each city will provide health clubs that are inexpensive with information and help for new exercisers. Private health club memberships are tax deductible. Low interest loans for someone starting a new health club.

Insurance companies will give healthy person discounts for people who keep themselves healthy. Think safe driver rates for good drivers. Those who smoke will be given free stop smoking counselling and free patches or gum to help with stopping.

I know this is a fantasy but it's how we need, as one of the most unhealthy of nations, to think. We are getting fattier and more addicted to the "good life" every year.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Friday, April 30, 2010

Feeling the Power

I'm writing this for Robert on the eve of his quest for a slot on the team that represents Tenn in the National Senior Olympics. Bob and I train together, but should he make the Tenn team and I make the Kentucky team we will be competing against each other.

Will that be a problem? Nope it will be an honor to compete with him, against him, not at all there is gold, silver and bronze to be brought home.

When I went to the national Senior Olympics in 2007, I was not at all worried about winning, after all there were 3 people in my age group there that had a current world age group record or had previously held one. Just to know, not believe, but to know that I belonged there at that starting line on that day was enough.

I was a new, self taught race walker. A sport where not only speed matters but every motion of your body is under the scrutiny of judges. For me the mere fact that I'd earned the right to call myself an Olympian and have the chance to show I was worthy of being there on that day with the best in the nation, was enough.

I trained to finish the races strong with proper technique and enjoy the experience. I'm training differently now and Bob is a big part of that training. We are training to continually be better, faster and stronger athletes. We share a vision and a passion, we are over 50, but we are not slaves to the number of years we have been on the planet. We look at those years as preparing us for what is to come. A future and a destiny that's yet to be told.

Bob, I salute you and tomorrow when you compete on the field of honor, my thoughts will be with you. Get your best Grrrrrrr on my brother and earn the right to go forward. We have a date with Houston and destiny next year.

Thanks for reading

Rambling Panda

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Timing your training

The absolutely most effective and the most dangerous training is where you go hard to the edge and stop. Going over the edge results in a good chance of injury, but if you time the effort exactly right you get the maximum benefit.

I had a reminder of this fact this week. I often do training walks 2 days in a row and sometimes even 3 days in a row. But Monday I walked hills late evening, Tuesday I walked hard about mid day and Wednesday I did a hard 8 miles, in the early morning. So instead of 3 hard walks over 72 hours, in reality I did them in 48 hours. I woke up Thursday morning quite sore all over and my feet were very sore on the bottoms.

I think I stopped just in time, any further training would, I'm sure, have resulted in some type of injury. I just did pool workouts the next 3 days and stayed off my feet as much as possible. I was finally feeling good again by the next Monday. I probably came back stronger but I almost over did it big time. That foot pain felt like it could easily have become a PF strain.

When a muscle is asked to preform when it's tired and hasn't recovered from the last workout it's very easy to strain or pull something. Once you pass that edge a long recovery is usually required.

It's like weight lifting, if you have a really super lifting session you will come back stronger, but if you try to lift again before the muscles are rested they can easily fail. Slow but steady progress is the best way to train whether it's weight lifting, running, walking or biking.

Along with that slow and steady progress is getting enough rest between workouts and not trying to squeeze in extra training.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Sunday, April 18, 2010

World Affairs

There are a lot of natural disasters happening on our planet here lately. Now I know that there isn't a lot we can do about the earth quakes, floods and volcanoes but our personal fitness can be our salvation.

When we are so out of shape that day to day living is a physical struggle how can we possibly hope to survive a disaster. Our fitness can be not only what carries us to safety but our loved ones also.

Ever watch one of those disaster movies? The heroes in them are in good shape and very fit, that isn't just a made up movie thing, to be able to help yourself and others you have to be strong and have good endurance.

Those miles you walked/ran and those hours you spent in the pool, weight room or the exercise class can be the difference in your survival and the survival of those you love. These disasters are not just in the movies, just watch the news.

We have the potential every day to be in a dangerous situation. Not just natural but man made. Terrorism, personal attacks, attempted rape or arson, there is an endless list of possible situations where your fitness can mean survival. A car wreak in a blizzard can become a life or death situation.

Each of us have the responsibility to keep ourselves fit enough to survive and to help our loved ones when necessary. Ask yourself if it were up to you to be the hero when a hero is needed, would you be up to the challenge?

Think about this the next time your having motivation issues.

Thanks of reading.

Rambling Panda

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What does it take.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be one of the best athletes in your sport? Ever wonder about the guys that win their age group in the races? Ever wonder what they did that you didn't? Have you ever thought that's where you wanted to be?

I have no idea what it takes but I'm on a journey to find out. I may never arrive there but I'm learning with every strep on that road. I'm learning that the first hurdle is myself and my personal motivation and determination. I've learned that it has to start with believing in yourself, even if your the only one who does.

It takes attention to the details. It takes accomplishing all the parts. The stretching, the resting, the intensity and the healthy eating, for weight control. There are no magic formulas and we are all different. We have to train to strengthen our weaknesses. Some of us have tight calves, some have weakness in certain muscle groups and some of us have imbalances that we need to correct.

We have to commit to do the training regularly, that means every day is part of our training even if the plan for the day is rest or recovery. We need to keep training in perspective and fit it in where it belongs. Make some part of your day, your time and use your time for your training and not for TV.

Many things are more important than our sport, our family, our work and for each of us the ranking of stuff is different. But our health and self esteem are important also. That's what sport gives us, an outlet to push our limits and shoot for goals, goals that are only important to us.

Life gives us nothing but a chance to be, what we do with that chance is up to each of us.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Remembering our place.

As adult athletes we often get to feeling real good about ourselves. That is a good thing, actually a great thing. But we need to keep it in perspective to. Yes regular exercise makes us a better person in a lot of ways, but it doesn't make us better than others, just healthier. To often we begin to look down on others as we feel better about ourselves. Yes we have a good idea and we need to spread that knowledge to others. But all to often we come across as arrogant rather than as helpful.

It's better to be an example of what can be than a preacher of "the way", we are not Prophets we are just people on to a good thing that makes us healthier and hopefully happier than we were before we started. The benefits of walking, running, biking, swimming ect.... are amazing, it really can seem like a miracle but it's just us taking charge of our own lives. Yes everyone can benefit from regular exercise and as examples we can show those wonderful results.

Anytime we try to force someone to change, they are going to resist, it's human nature to resist change. We all have a comfort level that we want to protect at all cost. But fellow adult athletes we should spread our ideas of how to be healthier, we just need to do it in the right way.

By being a positive example you can make a difference in those close to you. You can be a source of knowledge on how to get started, you can help someone else stay motivated once they do get started. We can be strong in supporting what we believe in. I personally no longer give my business to restaurants that allow smoking. As far as I'm concerned having a smoking section in a restaurant is like having a peeing section in the pool.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Saturday, April 3, 2010

New Walkers

It's beginning to become spring weather in America, finally, and with the weather change a lot of people start thinking about getting in better shape. Being a beginner is the hardest and most rewarding time for an adult athlete. When your starting out you actually start feeling better and improving every day. When your an old seasoned war horse like me improvement comes only through hard regular training.

It takes your body about 15 to 30 minutes to warm up. Your gauge that your body is warmed up is when you begin to sweat. This is important to remember for a lot of reasons. First of all what happens when you warm up is that blood is channeled away from places like your digestive system to your muscles that are doing work. That is the time when you actually begin to train your body. These programs that tell you to walk 3 times a week for 20 min are missing the boat. You need to walk easy for 15 to 30 min until you begin to sweat and then walk for 20 to 30 min with your body warm and efficient.

Having said that any walking is better than staying on the couch and if you're in very bad shape then perhaps you can only walk to warm up yet. So let that be your first goal, walk to warm up 3 times a week. Work up to walking for an hour 4 to 5 times a week. Just like lifting weights when you can walk easy for 10 min, then the next time try to walk for 11 min and so on. Like weight lifting you have to regularly increase the weight, (distance) or (speed) to get improvement.

Walking is a complete sport, it differs from running in lots of ways; To start with when you run you do it by lifting your knees and landing on your feet. Your basically pounding your feet into the ground to get your forward motion. I was a runner for 30 years so I'm not anti running, just pointing out a fact. Preparing for a long event like a marathon is much easier for a walker than it is for a runner because your body recovers from training much quicker. Walking uses more muscle groups than running. When you walk the stride should start from your hips and butt and continue down your legs. Your arms and shoulders are worked with your arm swing which should be mostly to the back. Along with gentle stretching after you exercise, walking will work all your muscle groups.

In my next blog I'll talk about finding the right shoes and attire for walking. YES it makes a huge difference. Your shoes and sock combination will make or break your walking future.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rest as Cross Training

I decided to write on this subject when I fell asleep last night doing a blog entry. No matter what sport you train for, even if your sport is just living a healthy life style, the best cross training you do is getting enough rest. Without adequate rest your just continuing to tear your body down not build it up.

When we do a hard workout we tear up our muscles, the muscle fibers actually get microscopic tears. They get lactic acid, the waste from doing the motion, pooled around between the fibers and you feel soreness. When you don't get enough rest all these things continue to happen without your body having a chance to repair the damage and remove the waste.

When you do get enough rest, especially sleep, your body will repair the damage and build the muscle tissue back stronger that it was before. That's what Training is all about, getting stronger and being able to exercise longer.

Your muscles are like car engines, they get fuel and oxygen delivered to them by the blood stream, they do their motion, and expel the lactic acid (exhaust) back into the blood stream. When you do this over a long period your body can't keep us so you have more lactic acid built up than the blood can remove. But during rest your body can get rid of the lactic acid that was left behind. When it continues to build up you feel it as soreness. The soreness becomes deeper and more uncomfortable the longer you go without rest.

Some people wrongly think that more and more exercise is required to get stronger. You just compound the damage when you workout even harder with out getting enough rest. So make rest a part of your training routine and you will not only make better gains but feel wonderful while your doing it.

Rambling Panda

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Training to Walk Faster

This last couple of months has been a experiment in the art of walking fast while keeping legal race walking form. The faster you walk the harder it is to keep all your parts performing like you want.

There is so much to think about, I try to imagine I'm going down steep stairs no matter if I'm on flat road or going up a hill. That keeps me walking with my feet in a straight line and helps get the hip drop right. That hip drop is good for a few extra inches of stride.

Being old and stiff I will never have that smooth rolling gait that you see on the worldclass walkers. But there are things even I can do. Keeping a good, mostly to the rear arm swing is good for keeping my stride flowing and keeping me from feeling like I'm walking on stilts or like a robot. The other is making sure I'm landing heel first instead of getting up higher on my foot. I'm walking with another walker who breaks into a shuffling run when he starts landing more toward the middle of his foot.

The stride has to start from your glutes and hips and not just your legs. When you start trying to go faster this gets harder, you have to start the stride by moving your hip forward with power. I've noticed that when I do a hard race my upper glutes are pumped like when a bodybuilder works on one muscle group. Hip forward and knees raises , not like a runner raising and lowering his knees for speed hip forward and knee is raised as your leg pushes forward not up like a runner.

I've been getting in some good 200m and 400m times but I need to have someone video me to make sure that my technique is as I think it is.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Saturday, February 27, 2010

To Abs or not to Abs!

Ever wonder why you can tighten your stomach and it feels nice and hard but you have no definition? You do feel a thin layer of soft pudgy covering it though, right? That thin layer is what is causing you to not see any definition. So what do you do about it?

Your body doesn't know that you make a good living and can eat regularly and when ever you want to. That's because it's designed for survival and you keep sending it the wrong messages. Your body is always prepared to help you survive the hard lean times and when you tell it the lean times are here it goes into overdrive to protect you.

Your body doesn't know that you are trying to lose a little weight, it only knows that when you cut down on your intake of calories that you must be going into a lean time so it slows down your metabolism and starts storing fat, fat for you to live on now that the lean times are coming. The bad thing about this is that the body can make all the fat cells it feels you need and fill them, it can't destroy them. A fat cell is like a storage balloon, your body can make it and fill it, but then it can only empty it not destroy it.

So when you do lose weight to where you have a nice flat stomach, you still have that layer of empty fat cells covering your hard earned abs. So what do you do? All you can do is remove as much of the fat stored in the cells as you can. The only way to get rid of those empty cells is to have them removed by surgery.

What is one to do then if they want to get as close to those defined abs as possible? You need to convince your body that it's ok to empty the fat cells. Always eat a little something before you start your workouts. That way your body knows food is available so it will release the stored energy you need. Then when you have finished your workout eat a little something shortly after so your body is content that food is still available. Yep it's as easy as that.

When you do a hard workout and you haven't eaten anything since the day before your body thinks the hard times are here and will not release anymore stored energy (fat) than it has to. That means less energy for you and a workout that's harder than it should be.

Then during the day eat small meals about 5 hours apart. If you just eat a few large meals the body is going to take advantage of the extra calories to refill those fat cells with energy for later.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Monday, February 22, 2010


Crosstraining means exercises that are different from your primary form of training. For a walker or runner that means activities other than walking or running. Crosstraining should make you better at your primary sport, unless you are just seeking overall fitness in lew of practicing a primary sport.

The first thing you need to do to plan your crosstraining is determine which muscles you are using with your primary sport. I'm a race walker so I use the leg muscles that propell me forward more than the muscles that raise the knee. So I do an exercise like running in the pool with a high knee lift to work those muscles.

I walk on level hard surfaces normally so an exercise like hiking trails or even just walking on grass will work my legs differently. In addition walking or hiking works the stabalizer muscles that help with balance. You can't go fast on grass or dirt but you can build strength.

A good way to crosstrain with your primary workouts is to vary the speed and the elevation. I do hills at least once a week and if I can I'll do some hill work with every workout. Hills not only build strength but they make you faster in races with hills. The muscles used for hills are used differenty than the same muscles on flat land.

When you vary your speed you work different fibers in your muscle, everyone had heard of the fast twitch and slow twitch. When you do accelerations, sprints and interval track work you are working the whole range of muscle fibers.

Hummm, sounds like you can crosstrain and do your primary sport all at the same time, what a concept. A walker uses more core and upper body muscles that running but you still need to make sure you are as well rounded as possible. Classes like pilaties and muscle pump are great for hitting all the upper body muscles if the instructor's routine is a good one. But you can do a routine that works everything with just a little thought as to which muscles are working when you are doing a routine.

Our bodies have muscles on the front, back and sides so you need to make sure you get some twists and bends during your exercise. A good way to do that is to add trunk twists to your warm up and toe touches to your cool down. Remember don't stretch before exercise stretch when you have warmed up, or better yet after your training to cool down.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Finding Me, Am I Out There?

This year has been a time of mixed emotions and mental healing for me, I was officially divorced a month as of yesterday. I have had ups and down but the ups are getting longer and the downs are getting shorter. So to celebrate the one month anniversary I decide to make some changes.

To start with I went through my cabinets and evicted the junk, out went the trail mix, the Pringle's BBQ chips and the peanut butter crackers. When I go to the market again there will be no more large frozen pizzas or Hot Pockets. That phase of finding comfort in food is at an end. I don't need it and I was eating it pretty much because it was there anyway.

I was feeling sleepy last night after I got home from work, I had been up since 5am anyway, so I went to bed at 7pm. I'd been fighting off a cold so the extra sleep helped with that to. I slept through to 5am this morning and woke feeling refreshed, optimistic and without the cold symptoms.

After my morning banana, vitamin, glass of water and cup of coffee I headed off to the mall for a 4 mile walk. My energy level was amazing and I had one of my fastest mall walks ever. It's hard to go fast in the mall because of the turns and the other walkers. I should be able to walk regularly outside again soon, since hopefully the weather is changing.

What does all this have to do with finding me? Well I've been using to much mental energy wondering about where I'm going to find another companion and not enough energy finding out who I am. I've decided to let the princess finding just happen when it will and press forward with being the best me I can be.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Friday, February 12, 2010

Winter That Seems to Never End

A lot of us here in the United States are suffering through a record amount of cold and snow. Winter will end, I'm sure of that, it always has before. Till it does though all of us, especially my adult athlete friends need to keep our spirits up. We are all not acclimated to this like our brother and sister athletes in the northern states and Canada, but we can get through it and come out stronger.

Most of us had been training well before this last round of cold and snow so our muscles are strong and our endurance base solid. It takes about 3 weeks of inactivity to begin to lose a significant amount of fitness, so an occasional rest period if not over a week straight will probably do most of us good. It gives us a chance to heal the little nagging injuries and rest our bodies for the coming of spring and more intense training.

So just what does one need to do to keep from being totally out of shape by the time winter is over? For one thing we need to stay as active as possible and keep our schedules regular. If you normally get up at 5am (or whatever time is normal for you) to begin your day and get your miles in, keep getting up at 5am. Even if you can't get out and do your miles you need to keep your regular schedule so as soon as you can get out your ready. Getting in the habit of sleeping in will become a habit that you have to break later and that can be hard to do.

When you are snowed in or it's just to cold out, it's been in the teens here seemingly forever, you need to use the extra time you have, from not being out doing miles, to do other constructive things. Read a book or catch up on the magazines that interest you. Runner's world is a good one to keep up with the exercise world. Read one of the books that motivates, like John Bingham's "The courage to start", even if you have already read it before. Watch stuff on TV that is real world like the Discovery Channel, NOT reality TV junk.

If you create then now is a good time to catch up on that. If you sew, paint, write....... then do it, create something. We all have stuff we wish we had more time for, so now we have some extra time for it. Keeping our minds sharp is just as, or more so, important than keeping our bodies hard over the worst of winter. If we are mentally as well as physically rested we will be able to get back to hard training easier.

Keeping limber is important. Stretching and using your stick is important to keep your muscles feeling good. We don't want to start back training stiff as a board. That's especially important for us over fifties athletes. We tend to stiffen up with inactivity, so for us some type of stretching routine is very important.

I know we all want to growl at the weather but it's part of life and we have to sometimes just get through it. We will come out of it stronger.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Monday, February 8, 2010

Football Games

Yesterday was the Super Bowl, where the best teams form the two leagues meet to battle for bragging rights to who is the best of all. There is usually a team that is favored to win and another that is expected to lose. So many times though the team that is the underdog will win and win big. So what happens, do the people giving the odds not have a clue what they are doing? Or is their something else going on?

Perhaps there is no way to predict the spirit and determination of the people playing? Sports have a way of imitating real life and that's why we love our sports, both watching and playing. Throughout history the underdog has proved that through the power of it's spirit that if you want it bad enough you can overcome seemingly impossible odds.

The United States is a prime example of how a group of people with a dream and a fighting spirit can beat the odds. Our rag tag army of farmers and businessmen took on the most powerful nation and the invincible war machine of the British Empire and won their freedom. History is filled with such stories. The mighty Mexican army was stopped stone cold by a small Garrison of warriors at the Alamo, our own version of the 300 Spartan warriors that became the inspiration to the Greeks and gave them the grit to overcome certain defeat.

We are, most of us anyway, not warriors facing an advancing army or a team taking the field of honor. But we are all of us warriors of life, we go to battle everyday, carving out a life for ourselves and our families. We have to do this by a set of rules set out by our societies. But can through our sports live by our own rules. We can decide what risks we are willing to take, we can decide how far we will push our comfort zones.

When we train for races like the half and the full marathons, we decide we are going to take the risks. We decide how much we are willing to suffer and how much we are going to sacrifice. We decide how tough we can be. We decide that "Hell Yes We Can". We might start out carrying a lot of fluff or we are horridly out of shape, but we decide that we are going the distance and nothing is going to stand in our way.

Last month we gathered by the thousands to face conditions that would have most people thinking we had lost our mind. Maybe we had, but it was our decision. We chose to stop watching from the sidelines and get in the game. We decided that we were what was happening, and we decided we didn't give a rat's whisker of the risks we were going to win our freedom. Our freedom to choose our risks and overcome them.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Being Again

There is an old saying, "I'd rather be a has been than a never was", but what if you could, "Be again"?

A lot of us are pretty beat up by the time we are in our 40s and older. We either have years of inactivity to over come, if we are going to start living a healthy life style, or our bodies are feeling the miles. Either way we have to reevaluate where we are and where we are going.

When I retired from the Air Force I was a lean Warrior with years of hard physical exercise and thousands of miles of running under my belt. My body was feeling the miles to, my Achilles were damaged and I had heel spurs on both heels. I retired and did nothing physical for 7 years.

When I did start back exercising it wasn't long before something started giving me problems. For me it was my left Achilles. I had been back to running for a couple of years and I tore it causing scar tissue and making running painful. Every race was a personal worst. Finally after trying to run hurt for a year, yeah dumb I know, I switched to race walking. I could do that without hurting and could still enjoy the racing I love.

I'm going to try to qualify again for the National Senior Olympics by placing in the top three at the state games. I have good memories of past races but I want to keep making memories. So now my focus is on race walking rather than running which is part of the past. It's never good to live in the past, regardless of how good the past was.

There are lots of ways for adults to stay active and competitive without having to endure pain and discomfort. I have a lot of friends that have turned to bike riding or swimming. The events that draw the most competitors at the senior (over 50) Olympics are the swimming and tennis competitions.

If your getting ready to start a new career as an adult athlete or wanting to start back again after a long layoff or injury, there are a lot of activities that will work. You just have to decide what you want and then go after it.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Friday, January 29, 2010

Staying comfortable in the bitter cold.

I just returned two weeks ago from doing the Goofy Challenge at DisneyWorld. Several of you went with me and did the half, full or Goofy. We froze! The problem with Disney and many of the larger marathons is that you have to be in the staging area for a couple of hours before the race even starts. Including wait time may of us were in the cold, unprotected except for the clothes on our backs, for over 9 hours.

Almost everyone took off their heavy layers once they took off and got warm. Problem is, a marathon is a long race, as you get nice and sweaty, you also get soaking wet from the sweat. Once your wet the cold air and wind begins to make you feel cold, even though you are moving and burning calories. Those athletes that stripped down to shorts and just a thin shirt, once they had that initial warm up, were off the side of the road hunting stuff that others had thrown off so they could put something on and get warm.

I was unprepared for being cold for that long. I have done training walks several times with my walking group in temperatures as low as the teens. The difference is we don't stand around very long before we start and we usually are done within an hour to and hour and a half. So even though we are soaked with sweat we are quickly warmed up in our cars on the way home.

Once clothes get wet they don't insulate you from the cold like they did when you were dry. I wore a pair of Nike dryfit gloves, medium weight. They work fine for my cold training walks but once they got soaked through with sweat my hands were freezing in them. Layering matters with gloves also.

I took a trip to Gatlinburg after Disney and picked up some nice stuff from the hiking stores there. I bought two hoods, a light weight and a medium weight. That covers the ears and also that exposed skin of my neck. I bought a pair of light weight dryfit gloves to wear under the medium weight gloves so I would get a layering effect. I tried the light hood and glove layering this week on a 19 degree 6 mile walk and was very satisfied with the protection.

It's not hard to layer on your upper body by wearing several shirts, starting with a tech layer first. Then ending with a wind proof shell. But if you neglect your hands, neck and face you are going to be cold during a long event in the cold.

Next time I race a long cold event I will be better prepared and have a more comfortable and much warmer time of it.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Living in Balance

Our earth is an ecosystem, one of the truths about ecosystems is that they must stay in balance to survive. Our own bodies are also ecosystems and the same rule applies. Many of the problems we have with our health, fitness and happiness, is directly related to that balance.

There is a Asian belief of Yin Yang that is all about balance in life. A theory of physics is that for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction. Even in the very core building blocks of matter is the balance of negative and positive.

One of the gauges for us to measure our own balance is through our happiness. If indeed balance is fundamental to our well being then if we are out of balance we would tend to be stressed and unhappy. Ask yourself are you happy. If you answer truthfully that you are not as happy as you would like to be then perhaps it's time to do some self evaluation. What needs to change to make you happier? Maybe your not getting enough sleep, or perhaps your working to much, or even in this current economy not working enough to keep your bills paid.

If your caught up in the economy and perhaps lost some portion of your income, God bless you, I don't know the answer. Perhaps starting on a new career path? On the flip side if your working to much and you have no life outside the workplace then you need to work on changing that.

I have a wonderful friend who catches sexual predators who pray on children through the Internet. He buffers the horror of his job with a love of travel and Disney. He even takes his lunch in a Disney lunch box. He balances his job, which is filled with stress and negativity with the magic and wonder of Disney.

Another problem is our eating habits, ever hear the term "Balanced Diet". That means you better keep the veggies coming. The old American Heart Association guidelines are still far better than any "you buy it" diet system out there. It's a simple matter of making sure you are getting all the vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins and carbs you need.

When your stressed it can often be directly related to your life having an imbalance. Are you getting enough love and affection? How about your feelings of belonging? Are you content with your life, think about what needs to change to make you feel more content. It may be a matter of getting back in balance.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Training: To Plan or not to Plan!

I want to address a concern I have with training plans for races. You can download or purchase a hundred different canned plans for finishing a race distance. You can get plans to train for every distance from a 5K to a Marathon. Plans are like diets there are plenty of them out there and they all have in common that they are not a life style change but a means to an end. The vast majority of people that even finish a plan will do their race and will be so tired of the long training and the being accountable that they are overjoyed to stop doing it.

A better way is start a life style change that works into your schedule and be in shape for a race anytime you feel like doing one. The person that has the willpower to follow a training plan can certainly instead put 5 workouts a week into their schedule. There are two good times to do your workouts, before work or after work. No brainer there huh? Mornings are the most convenient for most since you normally have to shower before work anyway so all you have to squeeze in is the hour of motion.

I said an hour of motion, 5 days a week. Twenty minutes ain't gonna do it if you want to see good results and improve. It takes an average of 20 min of easy exercise to warm up to work out. Then you need 3o min of moderate to hard effort and 10 min easy to cool down.

So let's analyze that for our walkers. You walk comfortably brisk for 20 min, then pick up the pace to where you are feeling the effort but can maintain it for 30 min. Then you slow back down to the comfortable warm up pace for 10 min. You are in motion for an hour and most people can do that from the beginning. Time and not speed is the goal. Speed will increase as you get into shape.

Partner this program with eating better. Make a commitment to cut out a lot of the junk calories and replace with nutrition. Sodas are just chemical mixes and can be replaced with plain water for a huge health boost. Same with snack foods, replace with raw veggies or real food like fruit, nuts ect. Cut out the deep fried food for another heath benefit. Changes like these will compliment your exercise very well.

Now just doing this 1 hour a day 5 times a week will prepare you for a 5K within a very short time. Not to race it but to finish it. Then after a few months you will really start feeling good and your endurance will improve by leaps and bounds.

Then when you want to do a longer race like a half or a full, the first thing you need to do is decide how much more time you can spend training on one of your workout days. Working up to a walk of 2 hours every other week along with walking your hour the other 4 days will prepare you for walking a half and a 4 hour walk every other week will prepare you nicely to finish a full marathon.

A life style change will be much better than a race plan. It's at your pace since your going by time and it's not going to burn you out like a plan that doesn't fit your schedule.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Sunday, January 3, 2010

We really don't know

In this day and age it's hard for some of us to believe how much more we could learn about our selves and the world around us. It appears as though we have most everything figured out and for people like me a lot of it is stuff I can't comprehend anyway. Telephone, TV and especially Internet are just plain magic to me. The hints that something like nano technology is just around the corner is just an extreme WOW. Heck I still try to touch the stuff in 3D movies that seems like it's flying around me.

But do we really know as much as we think we do or do we just put it in neat little boxes so it looks like we have it down pat. I'm going to use a well known example to make a point here. For hundreds of years China was completely cut off from the rest of the world. So stuff like medicine and healing took a whole different path than it did in the rest of the world. They developed the amazing acupuncture techniques. It's still used today because it works, in many ways better than our own medicine that is based on giving drugs to treat our sick and wounded.

A problem with advancing technology is that we share our results, so everyone is going on the same path. The history of China should show us that if you don't share technology then you find more paths. That can be a lesson for all things. Even in the world of sport and fitness. We in the "Developed" countries have it down pat with our technology. If that's true how come so many of the "Third World" countries are dominating in the sports of endurance? A Kenyan runner who has never seen a computer or driven a car can beat runners from countries that have the latest in high tech training methods.

Yes we should share what we know but we shouldn't make that mean that we should stop looking for answers to the same questions. We really know very little about our world and our bodies. The next big advancements in health and fitness thinking could very well come from the person who is getting off the couch today and taking their first steps to get their weight down and get in shape. That's why your panda is always looking at what he sees working for himself and others and not so much what's written.

When we start believing we know it all, we usually have a hard time learning more. Just like the Kenyan runner winning the race, he really is glad that the runners behind him have such good high tech training programs. To him he sees it as holding them back, could be he is spot on right.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda