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