Thursday
Oct212010

Are Old MX Riders Athletes?

Of course we are. If anyone doubts that have them ride a few laps on any MX track. MX takes physical skills, fitness and mental toughness. Athletes......you bet!

I recently discovered a group that is all about remaining an athlete no matter what your age. I have included their list of secrets for remaining in the game. These secrets apply to any sport for any age group.

Let's go racing!

The Ten Secrets of Forever Athletes™

1. Realize you are never too old or too young.

2. Understand that your body adapts and regenerates.

3. Collect your winnings from the genetic lottery. (Over 99% of us won!)

4. Reject inverted social norms.

5. Practice the delicate art of self-discipline.

6. Be a cheerleader and surround yourself with cheerleaders.

7. Start now. (It’s always the right time).

8. Dream big; get there one baby-step at a time.

9. Create your own (happy) reality.

10. Bask in your rewards.

The 10 Secrets Briefly Explained

1. Realize you are never too old or too young.

The human body is designed to last a hundred years or so and remain fairly robust the whole time.  An old age that includes dementia, walkers, nursing care, assisted living, etc. is not inevitable.  In fact, the human organism is capable of functioning at a high level mentally, physically, and emotionally up until the very last moments of life, however long you live.  The decrepitude that we commonly associate with “old age” is brought on by the abuse of consistently following poor lifestyle habits, e.g. not exercising, being overweight, overindulging in vices (rich foods, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs), too much bad emotional stress, not enough sleep, etc.  Conversely, having a strong mind and body into your later years happens, less from accidents of hereditary genetics, more from consistently maintaining healthy lifestyle habits.

2. Understand that your body adapts and regenerates.

Even if you have spent many years not taking very good care of yourself, as long as you are living, it’s not too late to restore your health.  It should be obvious that “restoring health” must mean different things to different people at different levels of fitness versus impairment.  The important point is that the human organism has a remarkable ability to restore itself, provided that you take the right steps and give your body the chance to do what it will do naturally.

3. Collect your winnings from the genetic lottery. (Over 99% of us won!)

Many people (though no serious genetic scientists) mistakenly believe in a kind of “genetic determinism,” which might lead to something like the following idea, “I won’t live a long and healthy life because I don’t have the right genetics,” as if the die has been cast at birth and, virtually no matter what people do, the healthiness (or unhealthiness) of their lives will play out along certain predetermined lines.  For 99% of the human population this notion is completely false.  The truth is that your health and fitness will be determined predominantly by the way you live your life.  The good news is. . . you have near complete control over your own destiny in this regard.  Paradoxically, the bad news is. . . you have near complete control.  This may be the most vexing “secret,” especially for those who want their health (or lack thereof) to be because of factors outside of their control — basically people who have a problem with self-accountability.

NOTE: We’re not talking here about the kind of genetic heredity that helps one person grow to a height of 6’10”, while another grows to 5’10”.  No, there’s no amount of self-accountability that will help you run the 100m dash as fast as Usain Bolt or play basketball at the level of Kobe Bryant.  But you can probably enjoy close to the same level of health and overall fitness that they enjoy.  And that’s at least as valuable, isn’t it?

4. Reject inverted social norms.

We have, unfortunately, set-up our society in such a way that, generally, athletics have become the province of an anointed class of elites.  Essentially, sports have become something, that for most of us, we watch professionals and elite collegians do on TV, rather than something that we participate in ourselves.  There are many false beliefs that tend to go along with this “inverted” societal norm, e.g. “I’m not an athlete,” “I hate competition,” “I don’t like sports.”

5. Practice the delicate art of self-discipline.

The word “discipline” conjures many unpleasant associations.  Try to disregard those, and think differently about this word.  Try to see “self-discipline” only as what it is: the essential tool of the Forever Athlete™, used to consistently take the actions she wants to take, while avoiding those she wants to avoid.  For her, self-discipline is not some Herculean exertion of will, but rather the practice of a delicate, multi-faceted art.

6. Be a cheerleader and surround yourself with cheerleaders.

We are social beings.  We need each other.  We influence and are influenced by the people around us.  We can do and say things to help build others up, or tear them down.  Likewise, we can associate with those others who demonstrate love towards us; those who know us and have our best interests at heart, who inspire and aid us.  At the same time, we can avoid those individuals (or groups) that tend to work against us.

7. Start now. (It’s always the right time).

A chasm exists between action and inaction.  Although this chasm might be infinitely deep, it is extremely narrow.  Because of its infinite depth it may appear difficult to get over.  This is an illusion.  Actually, it is easy to cross.  We must simply overcome the relatively weak inertial forces holding us in the place of inaction.  And the time to cross it is always now. (read: not tomorrow, not next month, not next year, not when my kids are older, not when I’m less busy at work, etc.)

8. Dream big; get there one baby-step at a time.

Think for a moment about all the “impossible” things that humans have accomplished.  Every single one of these things was achieved the same way.  First, it was envisioned (dreamed of).  Second, the dreamer took the thousands or millions of tiny incremental steps he needed to take along the path towards the ultimate goal.

Having your own impossible dream as an athlete provides motivation that will sustain you over many months and years, many trials and tribulations.  It will tend to give you a “greater purpose” for your daily training.

9. Create your own (happy) reality.

You are the only person who can be you.  You are the only one who can actually mold the clay of your existence.  You are the only one who can know what you really want, what you really like.  You are the only one who can live your life.  And you can believe whatever you want to believe about your life; tell whatever story you want to tell; see the events of your life in whatever light you want to see them in.  Be a Pollyanna.  Tell your life’s story as a happy tale, even if this means practicing a “healthy oblivion.”

10. Bask in your rewards.

Congratulate yourself frequently, many times everyday, for every tiny little thing (or huge magnificent thing) you get right; for every goal – great or small – that you accomplish.  Take the time to note and appreciate every single good thing that comes your way, every blessing.  Give yourself lots of pats on the back.  Love yourself.

 

Learn more by visiting www.forever-athletes.com

Share your own secrets as a Forever Athlete by completing a quick survey: http://forever-athlete.com/survey

 © 2010 The Forever Athletes, LLC.

 

Sunday
Sep192010

An Old Fitness Friend!

Rainy season is just around the corner and winter not that far away. The weather can have an effect on your fitness program. Yes, you can pound motos, run or cycle in the rain but it's not really much fun. Maybe when we were kids but not now. Health clubs today have a wide variety of new fitness programs with all kinds of fancy names. However, if you are old school you might try Rowing.....yes Rowing! This form of workout has been around for ages and you can really get a great workout. Check out this article to see how some endurance athletes use rowing for off season training.

Row Your Way to Better Fitness

By Tawnee Prazak*

The rowing machine is as versatile as the triathlete.  In one rowing workout, major muscle groups for swimming, biking and running are put to work--no transition required.  Rowing develops strength, power and aerobic endurance simultaneously.  “Rowing is the endurance athlete’s secret weapon that no one wants to talk about,” says longtime USA Triathlon coach and triathlete Robert Beams. 

WHY ROWING

   At first glance, rowing appears to be a swim-specific workout.  While this is true to an extent, it’s the bike that gets the biggest boost from rowing. “From a triathlete’s perspective, rowing develops power for cycling better than it does for swimming,” says Will Kirousis, a USA Triathlon and USA Cycling coach. “It’s majority legs; the arms just finish the movement.” Explosive leg power comes into play during the drive phase of rowing. Just look at the triple-digit wattage-arms alone can’t do that.

   Still, don’t discount the benefits of rowing for swimming. Rowing builds upper-body and core strength, and the arm pull-through phase mimics the catch phase of a swim stroke. Beams says he’s seen athlete shave seconds off their average 100-meter pace after taking up rowing. “It can’t improve technique but it does build strength,” he says. “It’s also a great tool for increasing range of motion in the shoulders and back.”

   Then there’s the cardiovascular fitness component. The full-body constant motion nature of rowing is effective for building aerobic and/or anaerobic endurance. Rowing packs a double punch: It enhances cardio fitness while you strength train.

WHEN TO ROW

   Rowing can break up the monotony of swim-bike-run without taking you too far from the specificity of triathlon. Incorporate it into gym days-rowing 500 to 1000 meters before or after lifting weights-or do a brick workout that combines rowing with a spin class, running or even a swim.

   Rowing is a reasonable substitute when swimming in a pool or open water isn’t possible. Also, rowing is non-weight-bearing, making it useful in rehab situations. “It can keep you healthy and in the game if you’re dealing with an injury,” Beams says.

   Just don’t overdo it.”Don’t let rowing replace swim-bike-run, Kirousis says. “Remember, it’s just a cross-training tool. While in season, row after a major event or in a transition period to clear your head. In off-season, use it to build fitness.”

HOW TO ROW

   Like swimming, rowing is highly technical. Physician and rowing coach Thomas Mazzone identified the phases of rowing as catch, drive, finish and recovery. In the catch phase, the arms are extended and the legs fully bent. The legs are responsible for initiating force in the drive phase. When the legs reach the point of half extension, the arms follow with a strong pull, bringing the bar into the chest. The legs then extend as you reach the finish, followed by the arms releasing into the recovery. It’s important to maintain good posture throughout the entire movement; don’t slouch or hunch over, especially during the catch. However, it is okay for the back to have some forward-backward movement to enhance power.

A Few Keys Considerations

» Don’t set the resistance too high-your power output will drop faster than you might think. Set the resistance in the middle and maintain a high velocity and consistent force.

» Don’t hyperextend the knees during the push-back part of the drive, and don’t allow the knees to bow outward.

» There should be no interference between arms and knees. If the bar hits your knees, fiddle with your technique.

 

*Tawnee Prazak is a USAT-certified coach, personal trainer. Kinesiology graduate student and triathlete based in Orange County, Calif.

Tuesday
Aug102010

Is Road Cycling Your Fitness Tool For MX?

Do you use cycling as your main fitness method? Many vet riders have dropped running from their workouts and have gone over almost completely to road cycling. If you are one of those wanting to get more out of your workouts you will find this article interesting.

Mix Up Your Cycling Efforts

By Ian Murray*

If you do all your bike training at one speed, it’s time to challenge yourself to become a better, faster cyclist by incorporating variety into your cycling program. Even a short ride can be extremely valuable to your fitness, as long as you give it purpose and variation in intensity. Before you head out for your next training ride, plan out three key elements:

  • Duration:  Whether you measure it in miles or kilometers, minutes or hours, know how long your workout will be. 
  • Intention:  Have a purpose, a focal point, some element you want to improve. Examples could include holding a steady cadence of 85 to 95 rpm; relaxing some tense area of your body (jaw, shoulders, hands, etc.); pacing each climb so you are stronger over the top than at the bottom; shifting ultra quickly and silently by soft-pedaling for a fraction of a second when you throw the lever; scraping the bottom of the pedal stroke so you have a more perfect circle in your pedaling motion. There are thousands of focus points, and even the tiniest ones are valid.
  • Intensity: One of the many human wonders is our ability to adapt. If you put your body under some physical demand or stress, it will make changes to handle that stress. If you ride every ride on a flat road, with no wind, at 13 miles per hour, your body will get really good at doing that one specific thing and nothing beyond that. Here are a few basic options.
  • Recovery Ride: This is a refreshing, healing time of active recovery - a great ride to do eight to 20 hours after a challenging run or very tough ride. Do it on a flat road, use easy gears and build your cadence slowly so you loosen up as you ride. No matter what metric you use to gauge your effort (heart rate, power or speed), the effort should be very easy.
  • Bike Hill Repeats (BHR): This is a staple workout for many athletes. It is a strength workout similar to what you can do in the gym, but it’s specific to cycling: After a 12- to 20- minute warm-up, climb a hill while seated, with a comfortable effort and using a gear at 55 to 65 rpm. Focus on every degree of your pedal circle. Repeat that climb three to six times with at least 90 seconds easy spin back down between each.
  • Short, Sharp Intervals: This workout, when done correctly, is taxing. It will challenge several aspects of fitness, such as neuromuscular, cardio and speed, with its short intervals of intense effort. After a solid warm-up of 20 minutes easy, and three to five more minutes of moderate riding, find a false flat - a road that rises ever so slightly. In the big ring, stand out of the saddle and bring the bike up to speed for three to five seconds. Then, settle in the saddle but continue to increase bike speed for another five to 20 seconds. Take a full three to five minutes of recovery before you launch again, and don’t exceed five rounds in your first workout. The entire effort shouldn’t exceed 30 seconds in your first few weeks - one short, sharp interval a week is plenty.

            If you are stuck in a cycling rut by training at the same speed, break through to new levels of bike fitness with these elements. Remember to plan ahead so that you depart for each ride with good workout planning. 

 

* Ian Murray is an elite-level USAT coach

 

Monday
Jul192010

My Motivation for Fitness

Friday
Jul162010

Can Diet Help Arthritis? 

UCLA School of Medicine

There’s certainly a lot of hype on this topic.  Some of it is downright nonsense.  But there are good facts among the fiction.

Arthritis sufferers are sometimes willing to do just about anything to take a bite out of their pain, even if it means chasing the latest diet fad.  “People who suffer with a chronic condition that causes pain and discomfort may be more vulnerable to nutrition myths and quackery,”  says Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, assistant director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition.

Arthritis Nutrition Hype

Sorting out fact from fiction in the food-arthritis relationship is a challenge.  Many cure-all “arthritis diets” and supplements are clear-cut frauds, and may result in harmful side effects.  Suspicious regimens include those with large doses of alfalfa, copper salts, or zinc, and diets like the immune power diet or the low-calorie/low-fat/low-protein diet.  The Arthritis Foundation cautions people to watch out for diets that throw out an entire food group, stress only a few foods, produce harmful side effects, or are justified by personal testimonies rather than scientific evidence.

      What about supplements?  Should you pop shark cartilage or wild yam for arthritis relief?  “Many supplements may be marketed to arthritis sufferers because they’re an easy target,” says Bowerman.  “If you’re unsure about a supplement, discuss it with your physician, your pharmacist, or a registered dietitian.”

Best Odds Eating for Arthritis

The good news is that amidst all the hype, there is valid scientific research showing that certain forms of nutrition can play a beneficial role in alleviating the pain of arthritis.  For example, scientists say that diet can alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), combat the side-effects of therapy, and reduce the risk of complications.  Several studies suggest that the Mediterranean diet may have protective effects on the development of severity of RA.

      Some foods may help by reducing inflammation in the body.  Altering the balance of polyunsaturated fatty acids away from those found in corn oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil, and toward those found in fish and fish oil, provides the best documented examples of effective dietary intervention against inflammation.  In a recent study of 43 patients, it was discovered that those who took fish-oil omega-3 fatty acids showed improvement in several areas of RA, including joint pain intensity, handgrip strength, and duration of morning stiffness.  By limiting the intake of meat and poultry, increasing the intake of cold-water fish (sardines, mackerel, trout, and salmon), and substituting olive, canola, and flaxseed oils for corn, safflower, and sunflower oils, you can put these principals into practice.

      There is also evidence of the protective effects of higher consumptions of fruits, vegetables, and betacryptoxanthin (found in yellow-orange fruits and vegetables) in RA.  Lower concentrations of antioxidants in the bloodstream were associated with an increased risk of RA in three studies.  “We know that the health benefits of phytonutrients in foods go beyond antioxidation, and that many do help fight inflammation,” says Bowerman.  “A wide-ranging intake of colorful fruits and vegetables will provide many of these protective substances.”

      For osteoarthritis, the most important dietary consideration probably has more to do with calories than ingredients:  Being over-weight or obese is a major risk factor in developing osteoarthritis.  In fact, recent studies by Stephen Messier, PhD, of Wake Forest University, showed that weight loss, combined with exercise, had a great effect on the level of pain in knee osteoarthritis.  “The pain went down 30 percent,” said Dr. Messier.  “Weight loss decreases the load on the knee joint and inflammatory biomarkers.”

      More studies are needed to understand the relationships between arthritis and diet.  Meanwhile, Susan Bowerman suggests sticking with a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat proteins, and whole grains.  If you’re overweight, losing the excess pounds through calorie reduction and exercise is likely to have a dramatic effect on pain.