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