Monday, December 31, 2012

Rebuild and Refocus for 2013

2012 was an interesting, eventful and very disappointing year for me in a lot of ways.  It started out as did the last 5 or 6 years with me being the walking coach for Robert's DisneyRunning community.  I had started the year with hopes of patching up the friendships that had been strained with Robert and members of other communities.  That all changed when he and his wife Linda were run down and killed, the day before they were to leave, for the Disney marathon weekend.  DisneyRunning for me was a way to give back to adult athletics by helping others get ready for their races.  It was sad for me to walk away from that but it was over.

I decided that I would get more serious about my own competition dreams, so I asked for help from some very good race walkers.  I got the help and coaching I needed and started improving by leaps and bounds.  I had some good training and a couple of my best distance races ever during April, May and June.  But I made the tragic mistake of not taking enough rest days and slowly began to get into that hell for athletics called "over training".  I was improving so much and so quickly that I didn't want to stop and looked forward to each workout.  Every effort was a hard effort.  By the end of June when I had the Indy 5K and half marathon back to back I was starting to feel the strain on my body from the hard training.  Had I listened to my body and not done that race but took a week off instead then the rest of the year would have been very different.  Instead I did those races and suffered a serious Achilles tendon injury.

The second half of the year was all about dealing with that injury.  I went to PT and would get better and then have a setback and that defined the time from July to the end of Sept for me.  By the middle of Sept I couldn't even wear a shoe without discomfort and race walking was impossible, I could barely walk at all without pain.  I went to DisneyWorld to rest for a week and hope that I could recover enough to compete in the State Senior Games and try to get a slot on the Ky. team for the National Senior Olympics in 2013.   Disney was lots of slow walking around the parks and lots of pain.  It was there though that I got the idea of doing all the strengthening exercises for the injury in the pool.  That made a difference and two weeks later I had a good enough race at State to qualify for the national race.

I have spent the time since then in slow and steady recovery to get ready for the January DisneyWorld marathon.  As I write this that race is only 13 days away.  I'm not totally ready but I plan to take it slow and easy and just get through it.  The goal is a fun event  and good fellowship, not a fast time.  When that marathon is over I will rest for a few days and then begin a slow but steady training plan that will allow me to be get to the national race well trained but not over trained.

2013 will be a year of rebuilding and refocusing but also a year of training smart.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Caution Grasshopper!

We see a lot of motivational stuff written for runners, walkers, bodybuilders, tri athletes and just about any sport or fitness passion you can imagine.  One of the most popular and one that's been around for quite some time is, "Just do it".  That is a great one for getting you off the couch and out the door, especially in the beginning phases of training.  That phrase has probably motivated millions to lace up the running shoes and get out on the road.

But if one is to lead a life of motion and fitness then you have to add wisdom and caution to the motivation.  "Pain is only weakness leaving the body", "It will only hurt for a while till you warm up", "Put your big girl/boy pants on and get it done".  All are wonderful at the right time but they can be exactly the wrong thing to hear at other times.

When you have been an adult athlete for many decades and have lived a life where being fit is the norm and sometimes being super fit has been achievable then you eventually learn that less can be more and rest can be better.  One of the ills that athletes deal with are tight sore muscles at times.  A tight sore place can mean a lot of things and dealing with it the wrong way can make it worse.

When I have a tight sore area, not an injury, but just for example a tight calf muscle or a very sore spot somewhere, I have a technique that usually works well.  The best fix is a visit to a good massage therapist, you don't usually have one in the house before your run or in the hotel your staying at and it's race morning.  Next best is to fill the tub with hot water and massage and work that muscle with kneading and long deep strokes with your thumbs.  Often that sore place is a buildup of waste from the last time you worked out hard or waste that has been building up for a while.  You need to push that waste out of the muscle so your body can deal with it.

That sounds simplistic but it's, I think a good lay explanation of what's going on in your sore muscle.  Muscles are like engines, food and oxygen in, combustion and waste (lactic acid) expelled form the cells.  That lactic acid builds up and causes soreness and pain.  If you can't make a place better with heat and massage then you probably have more going on that might need extra rest or a visit to the doctor or chiropractor.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Make This Place Your Home

I truly believe that we adult athletes have something more inside of us than just the desire to be healthy or the fear of not being healthy. I believe that just maybe there is a part of us that is not and never will be tamed and civilized.

Our world if we follow the news is in sorry shape.  But is it the world or the people in it that are making it that way.  My vote is that it's the people.  Greed, hatred and desire to own and control have turned our planet into a pretty sad place.  But for us, the adult athlete, it doesn't have to be that way.

When we train it's just us and mother nature or some like minded people.  When we are putting in our miles the state, of the man made part, of the world really doesn't have any meaning.  Moving our bodies and becoming one with that untamed side of us is all that matters.  The corruption and the greed have no meaning when we are gliding along through God's creation of beauty and wonder.  How much money we have in the bank, what kind of car we own are not even a thought as we will our bodies forward.

We the athletes have learned to transcend the trouble and bigotry of our world and find the peace that is there.  We become more like the wolf loping tirelessly along for the pure joy of just being in motion.  Our training allows us the opportunity to escape the madness and instead find the magic, we see just how amazing our world is.  We are able to truly be at home the way we were meant to be, free and healthy people, not asking anything of our world but to pass through it in peace and harmony with nature.

The rest of mankind may never understand what we have found, but we can continue to be the example of what's right about the world instead of worrying about controlling each other. Train for health and sanity, fall in love with the beauty around you.  Let your untamed side out to play and be truly at home and at peace with our world.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Step One: Don't Give Up!

Two months ago today I was returning from Disney World and the most miserable vacation of my life.  Shortly before I left I had another setback in my battle to recover from an Achilles tendon injury.  When I got to Disney I was hurting so badly that I couldn't wear a shoe and could only wear flip flops and even then walking was very uncomfortable.

They say you can go down no further than bottom and I figured I was there.  I had the State trials for the National Senior Olympics coming up in two weeks and a marathon in three and a half months.  I had a few choices;  I could just rest and eventually get to a point where I might be able to walk without discomfort.  I could give up on the goals and just quit being an adult athlete.  Or I could figure out a way to beat this injury and accomplish my goals.

I had been going to PT for three months and that was a series of get a little better and then have a setback and have to get back to where I could function again and then have another setback.  Two days before the Disney vacation was over I made the decision to beat this injury, qualify for the Nationals and be ready to do the marathon in January.

I started doing the exercises, the PT had taught me, but in the pool instead of on the floor.  That took some of my body weight off the injured Achillies and allowed me to do them without the danger of over stressing the tendon again.  Another setback wasn't an option so I took it slow but continued to increase the reps.

There are many videos on line that demonstrate how to treat that big sore knot that was once my left Achillies, with deep tissue massage.  I have been doing that since.  After I have finished training that is the last step before applying ice and or heat.

I started back with my race walk training, but only every other day, no back to back days.  Instead I alternated between walk training days and pool training days.  Then I added two rest days into the plan.

I'm currently 2 months into this recovery plan and doing very well.  I'm qualified for the Nationals and up to 6.5 mile training walks over a very difficult route.  Next week I'll be increasing to 8 miles.  Along with that walk I'm doing a couple of good 4 or 5 mile training walks.

When I come to the start of that Marathon in January it will be as a strong and ready adult athlete, not as an injured and defeated man.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

It's what we do

A lot of us are preparing for yet another round in our endless battle with the road.  Whether it's a 5K, a half marathon a full marathon or all of the above at once, we challenge the distance to test our selves.  Some of us even throw a swim and a bike race in the mix and make it a Triathlon.  We need this, it's what we do.  It's our passion and our desire, for happiness we must know that our minds and bodies are trained to take on those challenges.

It's a never ending passion, our plan is to "Go the distance", for as long as we are blessed to live.  We train when we can, we rest when it's earned and we heal when it's necessary.  Those periods when we can't train and compete make us want it even more.  There is such a sense of joy when we can once again train after a forced layoff.

It's what we do and it's a good thing.  It keeps us healthy and humble, yet it makes us feel like we have super powers as well.  When we are firing on all cylinders we are a force of nature and all is right with our world.  There are no negative thoughts when we are performing at our peak, we are as we should be, at peace.

Train smart, eat healthy and rest well, we have a life to live, a life in the fast lane, not on the side watching life go by.  It's what we do, our destiny and our mission, being a positive example.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Walking to race walking step 5

Walking to race walking step 5.

This week I'm going to talk about the straight leg that is one of the big features of race walking.  When your rear leg comes forward and the foot lands mostly on the heel then the leg straightens and you keep it straight until your body passes over it and it becomes the back leg.  The best way I've had it described to me is to imagine your vaulting with the straight leg and your body is riding the leg like a pole vaulter rides the pole.

This same motion is the way extreme mountain climbers walk when going up hills since it allows your legs to go forward the most efficient way and use less energy.  Going uphill with thin air and a pack requires that you walk as efficiently as possible.  That same motion helps the endurance walker do long distance races while maintaining a brisk speed.

So straight up posture, motion starting from the hip going forward, imagine that you are being pulled forward from a rope tied around your hip area, keep your feet going in a straight line and now straighten that front leg untill your body rides over it.

The straight leg is part of what a judge looks for in a race walking competition but for doing our races the straight leg is for better form and faster forward motion without using as much energy.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Walking to race walking step 4

So far we have explored getting our posture upright and proud, leading with out hips and counterbalancing the forward hip motion with the arm swing going further to the back.  Now this week I want to talk about what the feet are doing.

When we walk more efficiently our feet are going to be landing in a straight line in front of us, as someone mentioned like the drunk test that the police give you.  When you bring that hip forward the leg and foot are going to be there anyway when your doing it properly, but this week it's time to concentrate on that.  Your front stride will seem short to you but it is NOT as short as it seems.  It's just a perception.

It helps to practice the straight line foot steps when you have a line in the road to follow or on a track that has lane lines.  If you go to a track try going down the stadium steps a few times or just walk thinking about going down steps like that.  You walk down steps automatically in a straight line because it's the most stable and balanced way to walk down those steps.

As you walk this week, with straight up posture, being pulled forward by your hips, with good arm swing, getting that elbow back and concentrating on your feet landing in a straight line, the whole motion should begin to smooth out for you.

Your foot plant should be more of a heel first plant, on the forward foot, then the foot rolling forward to the toe when your foot is back and then the toe push off to bring the rear foot forward.  We will discuss this part more next week but for this week a good exercise to do is to walk on just your heels for about 25 yards, alternate back to normal walking and then 25 more yards on just your heels.  This is a good warmup exercise also for before a race or training walk.

Thanks for reading and good walking this week.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Walking to race walking step 3

Those of you that have been follow this progression from walking to race walking have so far explored the difference that good posture makes and have now become acquainted with paying attention to your hips.  The hip forward has probably made you feel a little out of balance with your stride.  I wanted you to feel that way a little so that when you start practicing this weeks step with the two previous steps it will begin to smooth out for you.  Still a long way to go but each new step should make the whole stride feel smoother and more effortless.  By Marathon weekend you just might be able to take a couple of minutes per mile off your time with about the same effort.

Ok this week concentrate on your arm swing.  As that hip is going forward the elbow, held close to your body, is going back.  A walker's correct arm swing is more to the back than a runners because your stride is more to the back.  So concentrate on that elbow going back as your hip goes forward and keep the posture straight.

You should feel that your stride is short in the front, (it's not as short as it seems), because your not striding out like a runner, your sending that hip forward and that elbow back.  The elbow is going back further than the hip is going forward and your legs will be following that.  So your stride will be longer in the back, on the average a 60/40 split but that varies with each person and isn't important, the important thing is that the stride is longer in the back.

You should also begin to notice that your feet are landing more in a straight line now if your hips are leading the stride.  Remember that rope that is pulling you forward from the hip and as Tracy said your walking tall as though you have a wire attached to the top of your head that is pulling you to perfect posture.

Thanks for reading and good training this week.  "Remember to stretch after eaxh training session.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Walking to Race Walking Step 2

Last week we discussed the benefits of having good posture when you walk.  Another advantage of keeping that back straight and chin up and level is that you don't get a lot of the aches and pains from exercise.  When you walk or run with your head down, the force of gravity is pushing on the back of your neck instead of on top of your head.  When you lean forward the gravity force hits you somewhere in the lower back.  So along with this weeks step to concentrate continue to keep that posture straight up and walk proud.

As Tracy mentioned our core, center of strength and where the power for fast and efficient walking comes from is a few inches below the navel.  So, for this week imagine that you have rope tied around your waist and you are being pulled forward.  The rope is pulling you forward from that core area so you are leading with your hips.  Straight up posture and you are being pulled forward by the rope around your hips.  Concentrate on each hip going forward and starting your walk step from right there in the hip as it moves forward.

A big part of big successful with fast efficient walking is how you perceive a motion.  What has worked well for me is concentrating on driving the hip forward.  I used to think swinging the leg forward and that was impeding my efficiency, thinking driving the hip forward helped me get the motion right.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Transitioning from walking to race walking.

Several of our Wish members walk their half and full marathons.  I want to offer those that are interested an easy transition from regular or "power" walking to efficient race walking.  The advantage is that you can walk at a faster pace with less effort than you can with regular fast walking.  You don't ever have to compete in judged race walking competitions to get the benefits of efficient walking.

Each week, starting tonight and then every Monday I'm going to give those that are interested an efficient walking step to work on when they walk that week.  Then each week you will get another piece of the puzzle.  You will lean something new to work on and continue to use what you have learned so far.

I will answer questions and offer individual tips to explain and clarify the techniques that I will present to you.  We have another race walker in our group, Tracy who has offered her help as well.  Tracy will be giving a slightly different view of the technique detail that I talk about each week.  How well you can perceive a technique move will determine how successful you will be with the race walking.  Having a couple of slightly differing views helps a lot since not everyone feels a move the same way.In addition I will post videos and commentary from accomplished race walkers and coaches. 

This weeks focus is posture.  Posture is extremely important to efficient walking.  Gravity pushes down on us all the time and the most efficient way to move through gravity is with a straight up walking posture.  Back straight, chin up and walk tall.  Good posture also allows you to get more motion form your hips which translates to a longer stride.

This week when you walk concentrate on posture, back straight, chin up, walk tall.  Try to get in at least two training walks before Monday.

Another good habit to get into right now is to stretch regularly, at least 3 times a week.  Stretches for the back, different leg muscles, hips and groin are all very important.  You will probably be sore for a while if you haven't been stretching regularly.

Lastly it's time to do some house cleaning.  Make a deal with your self to stop drinking soft drinks and drink cold water instead.

Please respond to this post if your interested in learning to walk more efficiently.  You can post your questions on the weekly thread or directly to Tracy or I on the Wish board or on Facebook.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Travel Tips

I know that a lot of you that travel probably already do this but for those new to traveling to races and traveling in general, here are some tips.

I buy two of everything I use, toothbrush and paste, deodorant, electric get the idea.  I put together a kit with all the stuff in it and then when it comes time to travel then all I have to do is throw that kit in the suitcase and not worry about that kind of stuff.  The other day I lost my comb so I just borrowed the comb from my travel kit till I had a chance to get to the store and replace it.  It helps when you unexpectedly run out of something to.  But the main thing is that is one less thing to think about when I travel.

Another thing I do is buy vacation clothes off season and put them away already washed and pressed or folded in a suitcase ready for a trip, I have one suitcase for each season, already pretty much packed.  DisneyWorld in January has been a challenge the last few years since it's fluctuated between 21 and 85 degrees.

I keep a gym bag packed with race stuff and exercise stuff in general  I use it pretty much everyday and keep it packed with a couple of sets of shorts tech shirts and socks.  I also keep it stocked with safety pins, bodyglide and extra shoe laces.

So when I'm ready to take off for a weekend race I just need to throw the shaving kit in the pretty much already packed suitcase, grab the gym bag and I'm ready to go.

Thanks for reading and please share your own tips for making travel packing and preperation less of a headache.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Focus for Fast

When I'm preparing for a race that I know is going to be tough I often use a mantra to get me over tough spots in training or to help me in the race it's self.  Unfortunately when you let your mind wander you tend to back off on your pace.  We can all go harder and faster than we think we can but it requires concentration.

I thought about this topic as I was reading over the results of the women's 20K race walk olympic trials.  The young women who won had a mantra, "Dream-Believe-Become".  That is just awesome and so very true.

To go fast we must focus on our pace, for some of us fast is a lot slower than it is for others but to stay on our personal fast we have to keep focused on it.  I had one of my best races ever this spring in Louisville, it was 10 miles and the middle 4 miles were in some serious hills.  As I was going as hard as I could up that steep hilly road I was hearing that song from Madagascar in my head, "Got to move it move it".  A Disc Jockey on the side of the road was playing that and it stuck and it worked.  I never let up on those hills and had a great race.

When you need to motivate your self to get that one more interval on the track or one more mile on the treadmill or need to pick up your pace for a kick at the end of a hard race, think of something or someone that inspires you.  For me it's my friends that win races from around the world.  Or I will think of my goals and tell myself "Ok if you want it then right here is where you earn it".

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Secret Sport

As I write this Ameria's finest women race walkers are waking and preparing for the Olympic trrials.  The men have a 50K race and a 20K race contested at the games but the women only the 20K.  Some of those American women are on the mission of changing that.  Yesterday a young American man earned a slot on the team by winning the trials and breaking records along the way.  Sadly most Americans don't know anything about this news or for that matter even what race walking is.

I was a runner, I started in the early seventies when our sports heroes were Frank Shorter, Bill Rogers, Bruce Jenner and Jim Ryan.  America had some runners and they were breaking records and were a force in the running world.  America loves winners and wanted a piece of that action, here was a sport that everyone could do, and anyone could go to races and compete.  The running boom had started and is still going strong today.

A young man named Lance Armstrong made America notice bike racing.  America loves a winner and we watched him race that gruling Tour De France every year.  Once again everyone knew who he was and we loved to watch him win.  I bought a bike and put in a lot of miles as did a lot of Americans.

We have had American's who dominated the Boxing ring, the Karate Tournements and the growing sport of Tri Athalons.  But we haven't been a force in Race Walking.  That could change this year.

I came to race walking as a 55 year old injured runner looking for a way to continue to comperte in races but without the impact that running puts on our bodies.  I had seem some local race walkers compete and thought that might be worth looking into.  I was only planning to do that for a short time though cause "I was a runner, not a walker".  That was amost 6 years ago and I'm still learning the sport and technique of race walking.

I have discovered that when your moving properly it feels like running with the exception that your keeping one foot in contact with the ground and keeping a straight knee as your lead leg goes back.  Sounds a bit awkward and it can be but as you develop as a walker it all smooths out.  There is a big difference between a race walker and a walker, not only in the speeds they are capable of achieving but in the whole mechanics of motion.

I have come to love the sport and plan to train and compete well into my senior years.  But when I tell most people that I race walk they have no idea what I'm talking about.  I might as well be speaking a different language.  Maybe when our newest champions compete and do well in the Olympics the media will finally notice and show the people what our sport is all about.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

America Needs Heroes

The Olympic trials for track and field are coming up and with them the chance of a life time for those athletes that have earned the right to throw down against the nations best.  I know that some of those athletes will see what this old man has to say and I'd like to put what this means into perspective as I see it.

This nation was battle born, against all odds we won our freedom.  We have throughout the years since been the nation of winners in every possible way.  We blazed the trail for the rest of the world to follow in industry, innovation, learning and making our dreams reality.  We also were the nation to beat in national sport competition. 

I've pondered the question for many years as an adult athlete, what does it take to be a winner, I have had that discussion with some of those athletes who will be competing in these trials.  We have some amazing athletes going to the trials this time.  Many of them have what it takes to stand on that platform and get the gold medal placed around their neck while the Star Spangled Banner plays in the background.

Our nation is in a slump right now and we need heroes, we need to reconfirm that we are still the great nation that can still blaze a trail for the rest of the world to follow.  Our elected politicians are not getting it done so maybe what we need is for our athletes to show what America can do again.  We need that!  We need heroes to rally us and get us thinking like winners again.

From the 20K race walk to the 100m sprints we have a strong field of athletes that will be competing in this years Olympic trials.  I believe that some of those athletes will be the heroes that we need to get us back to thinking like winners again.  We never truly know what our destiny is but please remember this when you toe that starting line, you are more than just someone competing in a foot race.

Good luck and God speed to all of you and to those that make the decision to hold nothing back, we will be cheering from our living rooms all across this great land when they place that medal around your neck.  Maybe then we as a nation can get our own act together and start moving forward again.

Thanks for reading

Friday, June 15, 2012

Racing for all the right reasons.

A dear friend mentioned on her Blog that she had ran a personal best at a 5K and had someone tell her that it didn't count because the course was mostly down hill.  That got me thinking about why we race or rather we do the group events that are commonly called races.

All courses are different, no two are ever going to be identical.  Some are measured by a certified race course official, some are measured by someone using the odometer of their car, others are simply guesstimated.  Some have a lot of hills and others are flat as a Denise Austin's tummy.  But every course has it's own personality and visual stimulus.  There are courses that are very peaceful, others with breath taking views, still others with nothing but urban streets.  What is important is that each gives us the opportunity to gather with other adult athletes to celebrate our hard earned good health and our fitness.

One of the best ways to gauge your speed is to go to a measured track like those at a high school or collage and do the measured distance.  You can also look at races you do regularly and log your time for that particular course.  Or there is absolutely nothing wrong with calling your fastest time at an event as your personal best, for that distance, like my friend did with that 5K. 

There is a wonderful 5K that I do annually in Franklin Ky that has a walk category and draws some good competition, but the course has changed 4 times in the 6 years I've been doing it.  One of those was my personal best for the 5K, I personally don't give a flippin frog whether the course that day might have been a little short or a little more down hill, I was awesome that day and I took home a second place trophy and $60 in prize money, I also took home a personal record.

My all time favorite was a race at our airport that went along with the annual Hot Air Balloon Fest.  The instructions went like this:  Y'all see that truck parked way over there?  You circle around it and then go to that man standing over there by the blue and white air plane, then you head straight back here.  This was a walk race and I race walked that "2 Mile" in 11 min and 34 seconds, I think it might have been a tad short.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Days to Remember

In the second movie of the Crocodile Dundee series, Dundee is talking to the leader of a street gang and asks, "What did you do yesterday"?  The gang leader responds, "We didn't do nothing".  Dundee, "What did you do the day before that"?  The gang leader, "We didn't do nothing".  Is that kinda how your life goes?  Is there anything special that you will remember from day to day or is life, except for some vacations and other significant events, just a blurry haze?

If your life is boring and your just going through the motions it's time to change.  Usually when we need a change we need a big one.  Lots of living wrongs need to be turned into living rights.  When we just exist we miss so much.  We shouldn't go through each day with nothing to look forward to except what's for supper and what show is on TV.  We shouldn't have to wait to have fun and adventure, we can make our lives so much more with just a few changes.

When you choose to follow a path to better health and fitness, each day becomes a new opportunity to get stronger and happier.  Yes happier.  We can wake each morning with a plan for the day, a plan as to what we are going to eat, what exercise we are going to do and what goals we are going to chase.  We live like we are finally in charge of our lives and not just a target for life to have it's way with us.

If someone asks you tomorrow what you did today, would you answer, "Nothing", or could you say, "I explored my limits, I experimented with a new recipe for a healthy meal and I went to bed with the glow of having had a full and productive day".  Choose well because once today is gone we have lost it forever.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Living Wild

There are those that live differently than most. There are those that expect more from life than just another day of breathing, working, eating and sleeping.  There are those that feel they have to earn each day.  There are those that must visit their limits.  Those people are adult athletes.

We may not all be as fast or as strong or as powerful, but within each of us burns a desire, a need,  a driving force to be more tomorrow than we are today.  We are all of us in training not just to be better at our chosen sports but to be a better person.

We may be the only one who cares if we have a personal best or reach a long awaited goal.  Doesn't matter, it's sweet and it empowers us to try even harder.  There is a difference in us, we are called crazy, fanatic or chasing rainbows.  But we know better, we know that the pot of gold, at the end of that rainbow, is real, it's the magic that keeps us young and strong.

We live a life that's wilder, because a part of us was never tamed, within us breathes a person that is a throwback to wilder times.  Times when we fought with the strength of our will and the muscle in our arm to live.  Times when we earned each day with our sweat and our courage.

Be proud brother and sister athletes, we keep the flame burning to light the way for others to follow and to hope.  We may never know who we inspire when we train, race and live strong.  But never doubt for a second how important our example is.  Some of us are already champions with bodies of steel, others of us are just starting out, but each of us are positive examples of a better way, a path to follow away from obesity and sickness.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Moving Forward

It's 5am and that old military guy that is inside has me up as usual ready for what ever the day brings.  I haven't used an alarm clock for almost 20 years now.  There are advantages though to getting up early, especially if you're a person that likes to get their exercise in early with plenty of energy to really let loose.  I can't wait to get up in the mornings and get started.  I'm like a child with hopes and dreams that need attention and laying in bed isn't going to make them happen.

I'm just recovering from a bad Achilles tendon injury and it was touch and go for a while.  But now that I'm back to training again, easy training with a lot of stretching and strengthening thrown in, I can't wait to get going again.  That demon had it's shot and I lived through it, they say, "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger" and in this case that's true.  I'm coming back stronger, more limber and smarter.  We guys tend to learn way to much by trial and error, but such is our way.

There is a song with the lyrics, "The future is wide open", that's how we should feel every morning when it's time to get up.  Each new day has the possibility to be day that you break through to a new level in what ever your dream is.  But that new level is never achieved if we don't go after it.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Officially Injured

It would be nice to do a blog about injury without experiencing it first hand but such is life when we dare to push our limits.  As most of you know I've been challenged with a chronic Achilles tendon injury for about seven years.  During that time I could usually train virtually pain free if I warmed up properly before starting my training session.  Well over the last couple of months I've increased the intensity of my training and my scared tendon couldn't keep up.  But as the Blessed Panda's life goes, when I need something it is usually provided.  I have the retired military health insurance, TriCare and when they realigned this year I had to get a new primary care provider.  This new doctor got me a referral to an Orthopedic Surgeon, who in turn referred me to the Physical Therapy department.

Now I'm getting some much needed help for my injury and also learning a lot about the muscles involved in my chosen sport of race walking.  I had a choice I could either grieve over lost training time or look at this as the chance I needed to become a better athlete.  So far the treatments are all about reducing swelling in the tendon and strengthening the muscles that connect to it.  But for the first time I'm also strengthening all the muscles involved in the push off of my rear foot to make it propel me forward in the most efficient way.

Now I have a new set of exercises to add to my daily routine of exercises and stretches.  A big player in the moving forward motion and a muscle that I haven't been strengthening directly is the small inner calf muscle.  This calf muscle hooks directly to the Achilles tendon and in my case can become much weaker than the big calf muscles that we see.  Over the next few weeks I will be strengthening this muscle as well as increasing my range of motion throughout my legs and hips.

Two exercises should be added to every walker and runner's routine.  The first one is to stand backwards on a step so that your heels are hanging off the step.  This is important, bend your knees, now do a set of 25 calf raises with the knees bent.  During each raise make sure to go slow and controlled on the down motion as well as the up motion.  The next is to go up with both feet but down on only one foot.  Do both of these for 3 sets of 25 each.  The Achilles is a weak link for most of us but if you include these 2 exercises along with the others you do then your tendon will be much stronger and since it's directly involved with the push off, it will make you a more powerful athlete.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Heat Games

The Panda Endurance race Walking Team has just returned from doing the Indianapolis Half Marathon.  It turned out to be a lesson in not being invincible, for me.  We went to do the 5K and then immediately after that we crossed to the start of the half for a total distance of 16.2 miles.  What happened to me had nothing to do with the race, it was awesome and I highly recommend it.

We drove up on Friday so we could relax, get to bed early and be well rested on race morning.  That worked great and we had a good dinner at a place called Champps.  The next morning I got up, had some coffee and took a hot shower to wake up and get loosened up for the race.  The hot shower helped loosen up my calves and injured left Achilles tendon.  I had a couple of granola bars and met one of my team mates and headed out.  We were about a mile from the start so the easy walking there helped me loosen up my Achilles even more.  We got to our starting area and after about 20 min of gentle stretching we were off on the first leg of our dual adventure.

It took a mile or so for me to get into a comfortable race walking stride and that left tendon was just a minor ache.  After that I felt good and the remainder of the 5K went great.  We finished in about 39 min which is what we had planned as a good warm up for the half.  Sally was waiting for us with our new race bibs and we changed them out.  We met another team member at the transition area and we all three went over and jumped into the mass of athletes doing the half.

It was starting to get hot and the race officials had posted warming signs about the heat and humidity danger.  I wasn't worried the heat had never bothered me and I planned to drink the sports drink at every aid station to stay hydrated.  That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped since the sports drink and water stations were separate.  But I did manage to drink something at each station.

Mile 5 I stepped in a pot hole when I was passing a group of slower runners and walkers.  That hurt and it was a couple of miles before I was able to walk it off.  Then we went to the race track where they have the Indy 500 and got to race on the track for the next 2.5 miles.  I was starting to get really hot and by mile 10 I was running out of steam big time.  I told my team member I was going to have to back off the pace for a bit.  I stopped at the next sports drink station and got two full cups and walked slower while I drank it.  I started feeling better and picked up the pace and headed on to the finish.  I crossed the line and went through and got my medal, a bottle of water and a couple of cookies and staggered over to the "K" area to meet my group.  By the time I got there I was very dizzy.  I just dropped everything and sat down.  I ate my cookies and drank the water and just sat there, till the rest of my group arrived.  I tried to stand and was so dizzy that I couldn't go.  I had to just lay flat for a few minutes before I could get up.

I was very close to going into hyporthermia.  I hadn't trained in the heat yet this year since all my training walks are in the early morning before it got hot.  The high heat and humidity took it's toll on me and taught me a lesson.  I won't take it for granted like that again.  Just because I have been an endurance athlete for about 40 years didn't make me imune to the dangers of over heating.  After I got back to the hotel Sally made me a recovery drink that we had got samples of at the Expo and then a good nap helped a lot.  I was finally able to think more clearly and over dinner my team mate and I discussed what had happened.  A warning sign that I was having trouble was that even though I was moving along well I was not not acting normally.  I was uncharacteristicly bad tempered with people blocking the road and doing other minorly irritating things.  I had also stopped talking a lot like I normally do during a race, I was just zoning and in my own world.

I think I was very lucky that I didn't really get in trouble till I had already finished.  If I had become dizzy like that during the race I could have had a nasty fall.  This race taught us to take it more seriously if one of us starts acting out of character even if we are still moving along well.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Attitude of Age

This writing today is for all my fellow adult athletes who have made the journey into the adventure of the senior years.  Perhaps I'm a fool and need to get my bag of chips and crawl back to the recliner, but I think not.  I do think that when you stop believing in yourself and your abilities you have indeed become OLD.

Yeah when we achieve the senior status we may not be as speedy as we were as young adults but that doesn't mean we can't be a force in the arena of age group competition.  We do have to be more careful and pay more attention to our body and give it a little longer to heal after we abuse it. But make no mistake even a senior body thrives on motion and lots of it.

When we move that body just as hard and fast as we can it feels just as sweet at 50 and beyond as it did at 25.  Maybe just maybe, we still have plenty of improvement and potential in us if we have the courage to look within and seek that part of us that was never tamed and domesticated, that part that longs to be unleashed.

We all age but that doesn't mean we have to stop moving forward, I for one would rather be looking ahead to the next competition that grieving over the past that is gone.  We have lived the past and if we were paying attention we learned from it.

Aging is inevitable, relax and enjoy the ride.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Moving Forward

"Step back now believers or the gains will never come", You hear me speak of believing in ourselves, even when no one else does.  You hear me talk of the magic that is all around us if we have the courage to reach out with our minds and believe.  You also hear me preach that there is more to use than we can ever realize unless we seek our limits and learn to control our own thoughts and actions.

Greatness really is within us all, you hear other people say, "It's all in your genes, if you don't have the right genes you can never be a great athlete".  Well genes are 15% of the equation, the other 85% of what it takes is there for us to use.  You hear, "Without a good coach and the best training facility you can't hope to be the best".  We regularly get our butts kicked by endurance athletes form third world countries.  We need to learn to be our own coach and tell ourselves to seek out the hard routes.  We need to learn to push the pace and learn to love the hills.

Most of all we need to learn who we are and what our bodies are capable of.  Everyone can't be the best in their chosen sport but all of us can be much better.  Start out by knowing, right now, that you are a great athlete, you're just not done with your training yet.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Free Lunch

There is an old saying that there is no such thing as a Free Lunch or a Free Puppy.  When I was a kid I wondered how that could be true, but when I became an adult and a father I found out.  When someone offers you a free lunch there is something they want from you.  And of course we all know that raising an animal is an ongoing expense, even if we do love doing it.

I wanted to use the free lunch saying as an example of pretty much the way life is.  There really isn't anything free.  But the true secret to happiness is having the rewards worth the price we pay.  There is also a couple of other old sayings that apply here also, "You get what you pay for"  and "You get out of something what you put into it.  All of these apply to virtually everything we do.  They go double for adult athletes.

When we buy cheap equipment to train with we have problems with it and can even injure ourselves.  Especially shoes.  A good pair of training shoes is the single most important piece of equipment we buy.  Going to a store that specializes in fitting athletes is a must to get at least that first pair and every couple of years it's good to get that expert opinion again.  As we get stronger and leaner our foot shape and our gait can change and a shoe that once worked fine isn't right for us any more.

Another old saying I like is "Sweat Equity", when we have a super race we are spending that sweat equity that we have been building up.  It's pretty hard to have a great race when you haven't paid your dues with the proper training.  I have helped people train for a half marathon and they will say when they finished that it was a breeze, because they put in the training.  I have personally done races that I hadn't been able to train for properly and they became a lesson in survival rather than the celebration of health and fitness that they should be.

If there is a secret to success as an adult recreational athlete it's buying into the entire package and paying what it costs:  Do the training, not as a chore but as a labor of love.  Don't take the easy route, put some hills in that equity bank.  Buy good shoes properly fitted to you and training gear that fits.  Most of all make health and fitness your lifestyle, you have to first want it then practice it.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Empty Cup

Bruce Lee had a theory about training that is as true for race walking as it is was martial arts.  He phrased it; emptying your cup so you could refill it with the new knowledge.  I have been in the process of learning the skills of race walking for the last 6 years and it amazes me that not only am I still learning but that there is still so much more to learn.

I came from a background of running, I started running in the 70s when there wasn't a lot of information out there like there is now.  Now we have the Web and hundreds of good books and videos on just about any and everything we want to learn about.  But in the early seventies you had to pretty much wing it on your own.  I started my running career in the army, we ran in uniform pants, cotton T-Shirts and combat boots.  Sometimes we ran with a rifle and or a full pack.  That wasn't a lot of fun and you just got through it.

When I decided to run on my own and not as part of military training, I put together what I thought was a good running outfit.  Cotton was the exercise fabric of the day so I had cotton pants and shorts as well as shirts to run in.  I wore canvas 'deck shoes', since those were my favorite style and they were cheap.  I ran on my toes since that was how I had always run.  As you can probably imagine a mile of going as hard as I could go for a mile on my toes like a sprinter was pretty tiring.  I couldn't get my mind around how people could actually run distance.

Then I bought a Runner's World magazine.  It happened to be the shoe issue and I learned about shoes and also about running where I landed more on the heel and mid foot area instead of the balls of my feet.  That was the big turning point for me actually becoming a runner and an adult athlete.

Leaning to race walk has been like that also.  I've had to relearn how to move forward.  I'm still learning and have become smart enough to realize that no matter how simple a sport may seem to get good at it you have to keep on learning the moves.  You also have to strengthen the body parts that make that motion happen.  Stretching is also vital to keep everything moving in the proper direction.  Now everyday I try to learn and grasp just a little more about this amazing way of moving forward.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The competitive spirit of our youth.

We have a very unique outlook here in the United States concerning how we approach youth sports.  When we have a youth program we are more concerned with our children's feelings than with enhancing their competitive spirit.  We teach our children that everyone is a winner and of course everyone gets a trophy.  We don't tell them, to kick butt and WIN we tell them to do "Just do your best".  There are several good reasons for this, because it enhances the child's self image and sense of belonging.  No one's gets their feelings stepped on and everyone is a winner.  It enhances pride in Team and the whole working with others thing that is so important later in life.

But does the "There are no losers, only winners" attitude help or hurt our nation's competitive spirit.  Do we lose sight of the fact that it's a tough world when schools out and there really are winners and losers.  Both in athletics and in virtually every other aspect of our lives it takes every thing we have not to fail.  We have a reality now where we are not as competitive with the rest of the world as we once were, not just in athletics but in business, education and economic advancement.

Maybe it's time we told our children again 'To Win"!  Instead of "just do your best".

Comments welcome.

Thanks for Reading.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Magic Within

You see me write and hear me speak of the magic that is all around us, the wonders of our world and the happiness that is there for us if we just have the courage to believe in our selves.  When we can do that, believe in our selves and know that we are worth the effort to continually improve our fitness, knowledge and goodness that the magic becomes part of our lives.

As adult athletes we have the opportunity to harden our bodies and strengthen our determination by the healthy lifestyle and regular exercise that is part of our daily routine.  Healthy living must include healthy thoughts and being positive.  I know all of us have experienced trying to exercise when we are mad about something or at someone.  When we do that the effort is much harder and doesn't give us the feeling of a job well done that our training should.  The time we spend mad is wasted time, we need to learn to become the master and not the slave to our feelings.  I know that sounds easy but it's in our nature to put way to much energy into being mad sometimes.

There are many things that we can have more control over if we start monitoring our feelings more.  Learn to realize when your mad, feeling sorry for yourself, wishing for something that you can't afford, feeling like your worthless and just generally sad.  We often expect more of others and not ourselves.  It's an old saying, "Do your best", but it's very powerful.  Get in the habit of asking yourself, "Is this the best I can do"?  If you can answer truthfully that it is, great, if not then do it better.  Whether it's the work you do to earn a living, your training any of the countless other aspects of your life, doing your best does take a conscious effort.  Although after a while doing your best can become a habit.  Don't get in the mindset, "Is this worth my best effort", if your going to put your energy into doing it then yeah it's worth your best effort.,

When we can truly take responsibility for our actions and thoughts then we can start seeing the world around us differently as well.  It becomes a much better place because we are no longer just wondering lost but in control of our own happiness.  You really do see things in a different light and maybe just maybe you will begin to see yourself differently as well.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Sometimes it appears that it's useless to dream and set goals that are seemingly impossible.  You look at the record books and see that the current records are not seconds faster than you currently are but minutes, many minutes, faster.  It's mind boggling and just beyond comprehension.

You race against competition that you can't believe you can ever catch.  The same people beat you every time you race.  What were you thinking even daring to dream!  How dare you even think that you could ever be that good, or even worse thinking you could be better.

Well, why the hell not?  You already know how fast those others are, but they haven't seen the best of you yet.  They haven't seen you "train insane", they have not seen you crazy.  That record book is ready and waiting for the next person to come along with the desire and the burning need to be the best that ever was.

Don't be afraid to dream, every step, every mile, every workout, go like you are the one that will break records.  Go like you are the chosen, go like you are not to be denied.  Believe that you will get better and better and you will!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Life in Motion

My mission statement for living is wellness through motion.  Our bodies were designed to move and be strong.  We do ourselves a huge disservice when we don't allow our bodies to get regular exercise.  Not only do we need the motion to keep our body weight down and our energy level up but every one of our biological functions are enhanced by regular exercise.

Our bodies are like engines, fuel and oxygen in, work and then exhaust out.  Each of these functions are made better with regular use.  Just like with any engine, the quality of the air and fuel in the better the work we can do and the less waste we have to expel.

Everyone who exercises regularly knows that we often solve problems and make decisions when we are exercising.  It seems that our brains work better when we are in motion.  Well it does.  When we are breathing good clean air deeply and quickly we are supercharging our whole body, brain included with oxygen.  Think about this:  One person is sitting on the couch, sucking in cigarette smoke in a house that is dark and the only sensory input is the television.  Compare this to the person moving smoothly through a wooded area, the trees breathing out good filtered clean oxygen, surrounded by the beauty and serenity of nature.  Which person's brain do you think will be more efficient?

We the civilized people in our high tech world have the knowledge available to us for good healthy supercharged living.  We have the web and we have the regular exercisers to be examples to follow.  So why do we still die of things that most of the world doesn't, why are the majority of us over weight and why do we eat so poorly?

We have become a world of ease and letting things do our motion for us.  We have gotten better at avoiding motion to give us more television and computer time, we are great at letting those medias be out brains and the center of our universe.

The cure is those many thousands of us that have learned that we feel so much better and our whole body performs better when we have the courage to break away form the couch and the entertainment and get back to the motion.  Motion and the effort that goes with it is setting out bodies and minds loose to be the wonderful engines they were designed to be.  Please each of you reading this, take a moment to realize how amazing you are and how important your example is.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What it takes

This morning I laced up my new heavy cushion shoes and drove to the park. On the way over there I was going over in my mind the advice that I had received from friends. I had posted some video of me race walking on facebook and asked some friends to evaluate my technique. I value their opinions very much since they are not only some of the best race walkers on the planet but hold down full time jobs and have responsibilities of family as well.

I know a thing or two about fitness myself since I've been involved with health and fitness and helping others get fit and keep their weight down since the 70s. But one of the best things I ever learned is to surround yourself with people who can make you a better person. If someone has over come hardship and recovered with their head held high and on top of their game, they are the one I want to know. Knowing people like that makes you want to be the best you can be yourself so they will approve of you also. Because if you are going to surround yourself with people who are going to make you better, then you darn well better take that to heart and get better.

When I got to the park, I warmed up good and then set off on my training walk. One of my friends said that my left arm was coming to far forward. I worked on keeping my left arm back more and remembered that my right side is much more limber than my left so that was probably why my left arm was going more forward since my right leg was swinging easier and the left arm was counterbalancing it. So from this I'm now determined to get my left side as limber as my right.

Along with this advice I put together some other suggestions I had recieved from the last video, I had posted and set a new personal best time for the route. I have been setting new PRs almost ever week for different routes. But it's not just because I'm training hard but it's also because I listen to those people who's opinion I value.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Earn This.

In the movie, "Saving Private Ryan", a squad of troops all dies to save the sole remaining son of a family after his two brothers are killed in WWII. At the end of the movie as Tom Hanks is dying he tells private Ryan, "Earn This". That phrase is so powerful and so meaningful.

Although this is a christian holiday, no matter what faith you are or are not, it's a good day to remember that life is a gift and should not be wasted. We all have the duty and the opportunity to earn our gift. We can earn it by striving to be the person we wish we were. We can't all be rich and famous but some of the most ordinary people have throughout history changed the world by doing extraordinary things.

Each of us can be extraordinary in our own life simply by living our live as we know we should. We are in control of what we do and we can set the example. Most of my friends are adult athletes and we strive through the opportunity of sport to improve our own minds and bodies and through that hope to better understand ourselves. As we continue on in our journey we can better understand why we are and what our destiny is. But that understanding only comes when it's earned, it can't come from a bottle or a drug. That knowledge is blocked by hatred, bigotry and self doubt. To truly be that positive example we have to be able to clean out the garbage from our minds.

I wear a charm around my neck with the Serenity Prayer ingraved on it. "Grant me the serenity to accept what I can not change, the courage to change what I can and the wisdom to know the difference. That is knowledge I like to keep before me at all times to remind me of the power I have over my own thoughts and actions and the limits that I face.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Training in the fast lane.

Most of us dream of being a better athlete than what we are. There is nothing at all wrong with having goals of being better, whether it's in athletics or any other area of our lives. But dreams and goals get old and sour if we don't do what it takes to achieve them. The bright spot is that it's never to late to go after our dreams. The wonderful thing about age categories is that if we wait till we are masters or seniors to get motivated we can still have success.

What matters is not what we can accomplish with our feet but what we can accomplish with our minds. We can choose to be successful or we can grieve over not being born talented and with the perfect athletic body. We can train hard, eat clean, rest strategically do all the right things and enjoy the resulting improvement or we can feel defeated because doing the right things didn't transform us into a world class athlete.

I know a lot of very good athletes that will never be the fastest or the strongest but they are amazing athletes that are inspiring and wonderful role models. They are there for the love of what they can do and for the unique adventure that each training session or race bring. It's the love of motion, the desire to be better tomorrow and the need to feel the freedom that sport offers.

When we have warmed up properly and get into a good groove, we are truly free and at peace with our world. That is what we must look at as success, being able to achieve that freedom of motion and feel the love of finding what we are capable of. Then when we can push our limits to a new level, it's just amazing.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Louisville Papa John's 10 miler Race.

Today was the beginning of my racing after making a lot of changes in my life. I'm eating cleaner, sleeping more and training more intensely. I felt the difference that losing 18 lbs and staying focused made. My training took this new turn at the middle of January after returning from the Disney World Goofy Challenge.

This race is very hilly, it's three miles of flat course through a residential area and then starts up some serious hills for the next 4 miles. Then the course goes back to the flat area until the last mile where there is a long hill over a tunnel. Regardless of the the hills each mile was faster for me than the last.

My goal was to race walk the course under 2 hours. At the 5 mile point, right in the middle of the hill area, I was at 1 hour. I took a quick inventory of how I was feeling and since I was feeling strong I attacked the hills and had a great time passing runners who had resorted to walking up the hills or were running slowly. I keep up the assault on the hills and then back on the flat I kept up the pace. I ended up finishing the last 5 miles in 58 min.

At the end I was glad to see the finish line but kinda wished it was a half marathon instead of a 10 miler since I was on pace to have a good PR and had plenty of energy left. I have definitely reached a new level in my racing ability.

We had pizza, nice Cinnamon buns and a fruit waiting at the end. Highly recommend this race for a fun inexpensive destination race.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lock and Load!

There is a phrase that every member of the military knows, "Lock and Load". It means lock in the magazine and slam the bolt forward to strip a bullet off the top of the magazine and into the chamber ready to fire. It's the prelude to combat. In a sense that is a proper way for an athlete to view going into a race, locked and loaded, ready for combat.

We should look at preparing for a race as going into combat, we are going in prepared to give our all and feel proud of our effort. All the training is great for our body and our heart, but going into a race and giving it the best you have is good for your soul. When you cross the finish line and you know you held nothing back then you won, regardless of where in the pack you came in.

Indeed racing is combat, your going toe to toe with some pretty tough opponents, your facing down your own demons of self doubt, your fighting for true self respect, since no one but you knows if you did give your best effort. You have trained your body, hardened your muscles and built a will of iron, now your ready to turn that inner warrior lose.

Racing is our reward for all the hours and all the miles, we have paid our dues and now it's time to join our brother and sister athletes in this celebration of health and fitness.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Peace Love and the Pursuit of Abs.

Most of us that exercise, indeed most people period look at having definition in your stomach muscles as a milestone on the road to being fit. Once a person has achieved that milestone they love to show off that flat tummy with the well defined muscles. To many of us will never have that tummy like a champion bodybuilder or a fitness model. There are to many factors involved in having that feature.

To start with a flat tummy is a result of reducing your total overall body fat level. You can't just take off the pudge in the places you want to, it's an all over thing and unfortunately our body likes to store it's fat reserves around our middle. You can do sit ups and crunches till you're blue but till you reduce your layers of pudge around our middles the abs will never come.

Once you have allowed yourself to get heavy around the waist it's double hard to ever have that tummy definition. Our bodies will make new fat cells, storage sheds, to hold the extra food we take in since the body looks at our over eating as preparing for lean times ahead. Once the fat cells are produced our bodies will not destroy them, they will allow us to empty those storage sheds of their stored fat but the fat cells remain, ready for refilling when needed. So if you have in the past gone through periods of gaining weight you will have those fat cells for always and forever.

You can have a trim waist but those layers of empty fat cells will hide your abdominal muscles even when they are good and strong from regular exercise. It can be disheartening to work your tummy regularly and not get to see the results but we do pay for our past habits. So a trim waist and strong core should be your goal rather than the definition, when and if that does come it's a plus but don't stress over it if it doesn't happen.

Another roadblock a lot of us face is our body type. Some body types put on weight easier, others put on muscle easier. We are who we are though and we can't change body types. We can however make the most of what we have. Some people will have a harder time of it than others. If you accept who you are and what you have to work with then you will have a easier time making the changes in your fitness and strength.

Finally we have to do our training as our lives allow. Some people will have an easier time fitting exercise and living healthy into their schedule. It's important to do the many activities that being fit requires, the stretching the strengthening and the cardio. Some days are not going to allow it, so no use stressing over it.

The best plan and path? First the best plan is the one that fits your life. Then work on the big three; getting your weight down to a healthy level, cutting out the unhealthy habits, like smoking, drinking sodas and eating highly processed food and finally getting regular exercise. Doing these things will make us healthier and stronger. Once you have made good progress on the big three then you can start thinking about sculpting.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


The hardest part of living an athlete lifestyle is motivation. That is because you have to keep on the right path day after day, month after month and year after year. It's OK to stray off the path occasionally to eat a decadent dinner, be lazy for a few days and rest or just take short trips to pursue other interests. But the motivation gets you back on the path to your healthy active lifestyle after your side trips. It sounds easy and actually it can be, but it does require some thought and planning on your part.

Motivation can and does come in many forms. Your friends are a wonderful source, but you have to choose friends wisely. You want and need to be around people that make you a better person and not hang with people who drag you down into their own pity parties. Someone who is positive and happy will be a good influence on you and keep you believing that tomorrow really can be better.

There is a limitless amount of motivation on the Internet for most anything and everything, especially athletics. I often just read some of the quotations that my positive Facebook and WISH friends have found and posted, to get my own head straight before going out to do my miles or going to work. If your in the right frame of mind everything goes better, the day just seems to flow.

Motivation must also come from within. You have to have dreams and goals that you want to achieve and a path that you can map with land marks along the way. They can be a certain body weight, times for going a specific distance or just finishing an event like a marathon. They can also be lowering your blood pressure, stress level, cholesterol and resting heart rate without drugs.

Many times during the day we have to make choices, the good choices are easier if your not looking for the easy way or the comfortable way. But each time we make the healthy choice we have made ourselves tougher and mentally stronger.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Making Changes.

Most of us say there are things about ourselves we would change if we could. Well since we control only two things in our lives, our own thoughts and actions, then maybe that would be a good place to start.

To many of us grew up with bigotry, prejudices and hatred for certain other people, places and religions. I grew up in Japan since my father was a career Air Force man. As such I lead a very sheltered life. We lived on military bases and had only one TV channel that played programs in English. I went to a lot of movies since they were very inexpensive on the base and there wasn't much for a kid to do. This was in the 50s and early 60s and there were not the sports programs for children that we have now. We went out side to play, that and school was pretty much our life.

So because of my unique upbringing I missed a lot of the prejudices that were going around during that period in our countries growth. But when I returned to Kentucky, my birth place, in the mid 60s I was suddenly exposed to all the hatred and mistrust of others that I had been missing. Wow what a shock to the system. I was now supposed to look down on black kids as poor trash and not play with them, and Japanese, (Japs), we not to be trusted. Well I never did buy into that but I learned to keep my mouth shut since I would get put in my place if I questioned the local bigotry.

Over the last 45 years since then, our attidudes have changed somewhat and we have gone through different people to hate, the Commies, the Chinks, the Gooks and now the Arabs and the Gays. It never ends, seems like we have to have someone to hate to justify us being better. I think that was what Hitler used to get into power, "it's all the Jews fault".

Well if we only control our on thoughts and actions, why can't we change them? Why can't we wipe the slate clean and start over, looking at things properly. Judging people as individuals and human beings just like us. Yes there are some real bad, even evil people in every color, and every size and shape. But there are some damn fine ones in every color, size and shape also. So why not make this the day that we stop looking at people as groups and start looking at them as people.

We can change our thoughts, and we can change our own personalities if we really want to. We can teach ourselves to be more patient, more understanding and more caring. We can teach ourselves to be more helpful and more caring. We can start training to be the person that we want to be. We don't need a life changing event like a heart attack to remind us that we are only here for a short time, we can make a decision to make our selves better and be more the person we want to be.

We can change our level of fitness, we can eat better and we can be the poster children for good health, but if the inside needs a good cleansing that should be a priority also.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

How Bad "DO" You Want It?

"How bad 'DO' you want it"? Wow is that phrase ever powerful. I'm writing this today for my fellow adult endurance athletes and track and field athletes. We are the poster children for the spirit of sport. There are no variables in our game, with all the team sports the outcome isn't entirely up to us, but in our chosen sport it's our bodies and desire against the distance, period. It doesn't matter what the other competitors brought, only what you bring.

There is nothing wrong with working out, running, walking, swimming, biking.....just for health and fitness. I applaud that, it's awesome to have that in your lifestyle. But, there comes a time for most of us when we want to know, "Just how good can I be"? We get that desire, it starts as a daydream and evolves into a need, a burning to know.

With the sport we have chosen, we are a team of one, we are our own champion and we go toe to toe, one on one with the distance. To do that we have to build ourselves into the total package. We have to do it all if we want it all. We have to train in our sport and we have to train those parts of our body that our sport doesn't develop. We have to do the stretching, the strength building and we have to do the miles. We have to build our endurance and our will. When we reach our limits in a race then it's our desire and determination that takes over. It's not the strongest that wins a race it's the toughest.

It's a hard fight to reach our potential. It's a battle with our schedules to find the time. It's a war with our fat cells that often have had their way with us for way to long. It's a fight to control our natural tendency to look for the easy path. But most of all it's a constant struggle to stay the course, to keep moving forward. Motivation must start within then we can look for more logs to put on the fire from our friends and those athletes we admire for their accomplishments.

Let this be the weekend that you take that spark of a dream and turn up the heat till you have the flame of desire burning strong.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Defining Moment

I was a hobby runner from about 1979 to around 2006, a runner not a walker, as most of the old school runners I wouldn't think of walking during a race. Jeff Galloway's teachings were for the newbie without the stamina to keep up the pace. Walkers in races were just runner wannabees or worse in the way. Then one day while running down the hill at WKU, I tore some tissue in my left Achilles tendon. Being a purest I still tried to continue my running. A slow three miles would require a 3 day recovery, PT helped but as soon as I tried to resume running the pain would begin again. My last attempt at running was a local 5K on grass, half way through I could no longer tolerate the pain in my tendon and I had to limp in.

We have a few race walkers here in my town and I would see them doing their race usually prior to the run portion and sometimes along with the runners if there wasn't a separate walk race. I decided to give it a try. So I taught myself to walk within the rules of the sport. I was pretty good at it to and did well in local races. So I decided to go to the state Senior Games that are held every year.

I arrived at the track, at the KY Wildcat's sports complex, in Lexington Ky, ready to do my first judged competition. I signed in early and was doing some easy walking to warm up when I heard a group mention race walking. There was a group from a Louisville race walking school there to compete. I walked up to them and introduced myself. The coach, teacher, of the group asked me where I learned to race walk and I told him I was self taught and this was my first judged event. He said, "Well this is the qualifier for next years National Senior Olympics and my students are going to get the slots to go. The best thing for you to do is watch us and learn and then practice for a year then come back, you don't belong at this level of competition."

I slinked off and kept up my continual slow walking laps around the track to keep warm before our race. Then when it was time we lined up for the race. The judge gave us the rules and then we were off. I was dead last and pretty discouraged, at that moment I made a decision, I was going to go as hard as I could go till I couldn't go anymore and see what happened. I decided it was time to find out if I belonged out there or not. So I did the race walk equivalent of a sprint and started passing other walkers and at the finish I was third and had a slot for the Nationals.

The other walkers were a lot friendlier after the race. I took what happened to heart and vowed to always encourage other walkers especially ones new to the sport of race walking. I went to the nationals the next year and placed 8th in the 5K and 9th in the 1500m. Then life kinda had it's way with me for a few years and this year I'm ready to qualify again for next years nationals and hopefully now as a much better and more experienced walker, try for a medal.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The High

You hear a lot about that elusive feeling the 'Runner's High'. Just what the heck is that and how does one make it happen more often. Everyone who has been involved in endurance sports for a while has felt it. Your running/walking/biking along and suddenly the pace becomes so much easier, your flying along like your not even touching the ground and it feeling effortless. You realize that you are a lot farther along in your distance than you realize and your energy level is amazing.

It's almost as though someone stuck your mind in the body of a stronger athlete. Like there really is a stronger more powerful person inside you and you are finally letting him/her loose and letting them run. You can't believe how far along you are in your distance, you don't even remember getting this far. You're moving so effortlessly, like it was what you were born to do.

Everyone has probably experienced this,' you are going home from work, your tired and the drive is long, all of a sudden your home and you realize you don't remember the trip, like you were transported there'. That is because when we do something that we've done a lot of times like driving at night on a long road that we have driven many times, the auto pilot portion of our brain takes over, the same part of our brain that controls breathing and the other automatic functions of our bodies.

We are uniquely wonderful design, we have way more to us than we understand. It's said by those that study that sort of thing that we only use about 10% of our brain power. I believe that is true for our bodies also. I think we have way more potential than we realize. Were it not for that we would never have athletic records broken the way we do. I believe that when a new athlete starts breaking records that they have somehow learned to stop controlling their every action during their performance and let go.

When we are experiencing that 'High' we have let go and turned our body loose to just do and not be controlled like a puppet on strings. When records are broken and broken badly, often the athlete has made it look effortless. Perhaps it was effortless and that athlete had a peek into that magic that we all posses inside of us.

Thanks for reading

Monday, March 12, 2012


To race your best and peak when you want to for important races it helps to have a plan. Most of the famous runners and race walkers will sell you a plan off their web sites. The problem with those are that they are for that "average' person, whatever that means. They also are on a set time table that probably will not fit your personal schedule. I know a lot of people that used a canned marathon plan and it took so much time out of their lives to train that they never did another marathon.

It's good to have a plan but it needs to be customized to you not that average person. to start with you need to decide how much time you can comfortably spend training and still have a normal life. You shouldn't have to give up having a life to make a life style change. You have to have time for a normal family life, working full time as most of us do and have plenty of time to sleep and recover from hard workouts.

Sounds impossible doesn't it? Well it's not. Making life style changes can be Incorporated into your normal life so you still can enjoy all the positive things you don't want to have to change. To start with look at a daily schedule of you current life obligations. I find that if I do my hard workouts on my days off that I can get everything accomplished and still train. Next look at your goal races. If your only going to be racing 5Ks then you don't need a lot of distance workouts. You also don't need to train like an olympian if your plan is just to finish a half or full marathon.

Even if you want to train to race and be competitive there are really only three basic workouts that you need to make sure you get in every week. The first is a track day where you do measured distance at speed. The next is a long slower day to build endurance. The last is kind of a mix where you go further than your target race, unless it's a half or full marathon, and mix in speed ups. An optional good fourth day for competition training is to do your planned race distance with each mile faster than the last. A fifth day of training if it fits into your schedule is a free form day where you just go for a run/race walk of 3 to 5 miles at whatever pace you feel like, even untimed, just let it flow. Then the last 2 days at least should be active rest. Those are the days you get errands done, do family things and get the chores done.

For marathon training you can combine workouts to get the time in motion. Like doing a slower 10 miler and then your yard work. Or a 10 miler and a walk/bike ride with your spouse. Give it some thought and you can come up with more ways to make a life style change fit your life.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, February 13, 2012

New World Of Knowledge

We live in a very interesting age. Every single person who wants to start an exercise program, lose weight or just heal their body of a life time of abuse has a world of information available to them. So ummmm, how come we are fatter and more out of shape than ever before in the history of the human race? We sure can't use the excuse that we don't know how. Or can we?

Let's just for arguments sake that I just wrote a book about losing weight and getting in shape. The main change you have to make to follow my program is to sit on the couch and watch TV while you eat chips and drink beer. However you must buy my supplement that absorbs all the fat and extra calories you are taking in. My supplement is made up of grass that is processed into powder form. Will my supplement work, I don't know but I can with good conscious tell you it will do you every bit as much good most all the other supplements out there. I'll just get me a couple of well muscled people to say they use my product and look what it did for them.

So ummmmm, there might be some information out there that's useless? Yes the above scenario is not that uncommon. There is a lot of crap out there promoted by people trying to get your money and make you think that they have the magic pill that you have been looking for. If you have never heard this before, the magic pill doesn't exist. Oh there are steroids but they are dangeous and they don't give you the body you desire without you doing the right stuff along with taking them.

So what is a person to do? To start with you have to start moving. No lifestyle change begins on the couch. Motion has to be the corner stone of your program. If you haven't exercised for a long time or ever, start with walking. Do not begin a running program if you haven't exercised for a long time. Begin walking 30 min, 5 times a week. Every two weeks add 5 min to your walk time until you are walking an hour at a time for 5 times a week. By the time you get to that point you are ready to look at branching out into another form of exercise if you want to, like running or race walking. If you try to go right into running you will probably hurt yourself and quit, so walk first.

Along with motion, start cleaning up your mind. Sweep out the negative. Start teaching yourself to look at things more positively. If you have friends that drag you down, stop hanging around with them. Stop watching so much TV, there is a lot of crap on there. Reality shows are filling you with the wrong outlook on life. Spend more time improving your knowledge of the good in "REAL" life instead of the made up world.

I just read something written by a champion race walker that just won a major world competition. His advice to others, stop drinking soft drinks and eating junk food. Gee what a concept, wonder if that helps? Yes start eating food that is fresh and fresh frozen rather than highly processed to the point that it's not really food anymore. Those soft drinks are chemical mixes, they are made to taste good but give us no nutrition value at all and very likely cause a lot of the health problems we civilized people are plagued with.

Get in motion, hang with positive people, improve you knowledge of the real world and eat fresh food. That sounds simplistic but that is the real magic pill to becoming a healthy, strong and "well" person.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Not Entirely Tamed

We see a lot of movies these days about were wolves, creatures that are people with a wild untamed side. The animal within. Perhaps that isn't entirely fiction, perhaps there is a part of each of us that has never been tamed.

Wild things must move and endure more than humans. In wild nature, the swift escape being eaten and the swift predator eats. There is no lazy in the wild. Those of us that choose to become athletes have a lot in common with the wild things we share our world with.

We learn to push ourselves to accomplish more and more, not because we have to, not at first anyway. Later after we have hardened our will and our body, yes we have to, we are no longer satisfied unless we have our time of play and motion, our wild time. That wild time puts us in touch with that part of us that has not been tamed by the good life. We tend to get lazy with all the ways that society has made life easy and comfortable for us. But for adult athletes, we crave our wild time.

Work is a necessary fact of life for most of us. It's easy to get in a routine of work, TV, eat and sleep. When we are in that mode we still have that wildness inside but we become very good at ignoring it. But once we discover the joy that comes from regular motion we can never entirely go back to the couch. It's like for a short time we are set free, free to be wild and untamed.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

I will not win because I have better stuff than them, I will not win because I have a fancy health club to go to, I will not win because I'm more talanted than they are, I will win because I train harder than they do. When that starting gun sounds it doesn't matter who you are, what matters is what you did to earn this day.

War Panda
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