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Christmas in New York City

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Tuesday, December 15, 2015
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Last weekend I traveled to NYC to see all of the Christmas decorations, Rockefeller Center, and the famous NYC Christmas Tree. As an added bonus I also was able to visit with my daughter who attends school in New York. Based on the crowds I was not the only one with this idea. It was tough going anywhere near Rockefeller Center. This didn’t bother me because I knew I would have full view of what the city had to offer the next morning during my Sunday run.

Many times in the past I have enjoyed sightseeing while running. I have written a few blogs about this in the past (Washington DC, Bahamas). Not only can this be a convenient way to see a city but it also can be very fun. These are no pressure runs where you set up an 8-12 mile run (or more) and tour the sites of a city. I usually bring a camera (my phone) and will stop frequently to take in the sites. (monument, tourist attraction, etc). These runs can also be one way if the sites are spread too far apart. Taking a subway or cab back to the hotel works just fine.

Last Sunday I completed one of these fun runs in NYC. I ran through Rockefeller Center, Central Park, and down Fifth Avenue. The weather was absolutely incredible. I woke up and it was 60 degrees and sunny on December 13th! I wore a short sleeve shirt and shorts and was very comfortable. Maybe even a little hot. Unless you are a runner you really can’t understand how good it feels to be running effortlessly on a beautiful day in a great location. It was an incredible 9 mile run!

I am thankful I am able to enjoy the simple pleasure of running and never take it for granted. All of the training miles, track workouts, and races are fun but at the end of the day the simple joy of seeing a city while running can’t be beat. 

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Running the Noland Trail

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Friday, April 03, 2015
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Last weekend I was filming a race in Newport News, VA and took the opportunity to run in a couple of cool spots. I filmed Race 13.1 Newport News (video not available yet) and the course passed by the Noland Trail. This looked like a great place to check out so I decided to run the trail.

The Noland Trail is a 5 mile loop that completely circles Lake Maury. The course is well marked with mileage posts every half mile. The trail starts/finishes at the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News. The surface of the trail is hard pack dirt with railroad ties spread out along the way. The course is rolling and due to the large amount of railroad ties you frequently have to take short hops to get over them. You definitely don’t want to zone out on this run and trip on one of these jumps.

The trail has numerous bridges that cross parts of Lake Maury. This allows for some nice views of the lake. At one point the trail runs along the James River and this offers even better views along the shore. Race 13.1 Newport News runs along the river at this point as well. This is a great part of that course and I highly recommend checking out that event if you want a fast time in the half.

Another area I ran in was Newport News Park. This is a great park with a 5.3 mile well marked trail through the woods. Unlike the Noland Trail you are very secluded for almost the entire loop. I only saw a few people for the entire run. This park has 30 miles of trails over its 8000 acres and is one of the largest city run parks in the United States. I ran the trail and also explored several other areas of the park and ended up with 7.1 miles.

Being a runner is all about being able to explore new areas. Next time you are on vacation or on a business trip check out the local area and treat yourself to an interesting run in a new place. You will be glad you did!

 

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Winter Running Safety: Where Can I Run?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Monday, February 09, 2015
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Running in the winter can be challenging. I live in New England so during a “good winter” dealing with freezing temperatures and a time period of snow covered roads is a seasonal reality. This winter was incredible until about three weeks ago. We had received barely any snow and I could still see my grass. Since then winter has returned full force and we are now breaking records for snowfall totals. Running on the roads is now impossible.

Some runners insist on running on the roads despite the impossible conditions. Now maybe you don’t understand what I mean by impossible road conditions. Take a look at the picture below. The white line of the road and sidewalk are completely buried in snow. Running on a road like this would be equivalent to running in the middle of the road in the summer. In addition vehicles are now driving on snow/ice and also have limited visibility due to the snow banks.

So why would any runner insist on risking their life to run on main roads? Good question. Running outside in these conditions does not prove that you are tough or some kind of iron runner. It is just plain stupid. Not only are you putting yourself in extreme risk but you also force drivers into impossible situations as they try to avoid hitting you. Please..Please..Please..do not run on these roads until conditions improve.

So where can I run safely?

1)      Treadmill- Most runners hate the treadmill but at certain times of the year it is the best or only option. Join a gym or buy one for your home. Even when winter conditions don’t prevent you from running outside it is not fun to run in sub-zero temperatures or in the darkness all winter. Mixing in a few treadmill runs in shorts and a t-shirt is great when it is dark and 10 degrees outside. Not to mention the risk of slipping on black ice. Embrace the treadmill and many times you can get a much better workout than slipping and sliding outside.

2)      Run in a quiet neighborhood- Once the roads are plowed many people can find a quiet neighborhood where they can repeat small loops without much danger from vehicles. This is fine as long as the neighborhood is virtually traffic free. These type of runs are also boring as you usually have to repeat the same loop numerous times but at least you are not on the treadmill.

3)      Snow shoe running- I am not an expert nor have I attempted snow shoe running but many people enjoy this type of running. Just strap on specially designed snow shoes to your running shoes and you are good to go. This is so popular in some areas there are even numerous snow shoe running races during the winter/early spring.

4)      Cross-training- If your only option is the treadmill and the thought of running 4-5 times a week indoors is not something you could possibly do then consider cross-training. Cut back to 2-3 runs a week and mix in 2-3 alternate workouts such as cycling, elliptical, swimming or some other form of exercise. This will mix up your workouts and help get you through the tough winter months. This is also a great time to try out a spin class, yoga, or any other class that looks interesting at your gym.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that if you live in a winter climate there will be times when you need to adjust your running habits. Runners are creatures of habit and this is tough for some of us but please don’t put yourself or others in danger. I have learned over the years that every winter at some point “treadmill season” will begin and it is just a fact of winter living. Be smart this winter and keep running. Just do it safely.

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How Do We Survive the Holidays?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Thursday, December 18, 2014
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This is a fantastic time of year. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Holiday parties, kids back from college, extended vacation time for many, etc. This time of the year there seems to be a party or get together every week from mid-November until after New Years. Many of these parties include great food, countless desserts, and fine adult beverages. This is a great time to catch up with family and friends and look forward to the New Year.

 

So what is the problem?

The problem is if you are serious about your training this is a very difficult time of the year. For most of us this is the off-season, but we still need to keep up with some base training. The Holidays are geared towards excess in almost every category of our lives with the exception of exercise.  It is tough to keep up with any kind of a training program. After all,  we have every excuse in the book. It is the off-season, Holidays only come once a year, weather is cold and frightful, etc. It is very easy to miss workouts and grab a piece of pie. I am as guilty (or more guilty) than most. If you are guilty of any of the below you probably are already on the wrong road this Holiday season.

1)   How many of you had a piece of pie for breakfast any of the mornings following Thanksgiving?

2)   How many of you had more than one “Thanksgiving dinner” utilizing leftovers?

3)   Is a new part of your routine at work grabbing chocolates out of a dish on someone’s desk?

4)  Are you following the “if I don’t weigh myself I didn’t gain weight” philosophy?

5)  Is it impossible to buy a gift certificate at a restaurant without eating there as well?

6)  Have you missed more than one workout due to staying out too late?

7)  Have you missed more than one workout due to being “over served” at a party?

8)  Have you ordered a donut or muffin in addition to your coffee recently just because it’s the Holidays?

9)  Has a button on your pants mysteriously popped off recently?

10) Worse of all…Have you started to embrace your sedentary lifestyle?

If you are already on the wrong road it is not too late. Don’t write off the last few weeks of this year as a lost cause. Every week lost will take 2-3 weeks to get back. You need to start the long road back to fitness now. Force yourself to get back into a routine of running at least 3-4 days a week. You don’t have to run hard. The key is to get your body moving and start to stem the tide of your Holiday debauchery.

 

Speaking from experience after a few workouts the racing juices will start flowing again. You will probably be disgusted with your weight and your current fitness but that can all be corrected with time. The key is to start now and don’t make everything worse by waiting until after the New Year. If you are reading this and you know you are on the wrong road then get motivated! Make a decision now to run tomorrow…don’t wait! What could possibly be stopping you from running 30-45 minutes 3-4 times a week?

One word of caution…Start running but don’t step on a scale. Since you have lost fitness you may not be able to handle the shock…wait a few weeks and hopefully the number will improve.

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The Importance of Traditions

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Tuesday, September 02, 2014
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Do you have any yearly traditions?   I think it is always interesting to hear how a long time tradition was started. Doing something every year is difficult with this changing world we live in. People are busy, family dynamics change, health/fitness fades, etc. It takes a lot of commitment and determination to keep a tradition alive. I believe traditions are important and can bring people together. It is so easy to let a tradition slide just for convenience.

 


One tradition I have is riding to Newfound Lake with friends every Labor Day. This year was the 8th time we have completed this ride. The ride is just under 100 miles and believe me this is not a tradition everyone necessarily looks forward to each year. No matter how many times we complete this ride, it is still a great feeling when we get to Newfound Lake.

How did this start eight years ago?

Several friends of mine are avid cyclists and mountain bikers.  A friend of mine owns a house on Newfound Lake and we kicked around the idea of cycling to his house on Labor Day weekend 2006. At first it seemed crazy but it didn’t take much convincing to get a few friends together for the attempt. The plan was to ride up on the Friday before Labor Day weekend and then spend the weekend at the lake.

After analyzing a route we determined the easiest roads to travel and found it to be 98 miles. Heading north into NH is very hilly. We tried our best to minimize the hills but still ended up with a tough route. For those familiar with cycling we have 1 cat 5, 1 cat 4, and 1 cat 3 hill on our route.  For our first attempt we had 4 riders and no one made it. We had our first rider drop off around mile 65 and then everyone was done by mile 80. We had our wives drive up ahead of us in case a rider had to drop out. Good thing we did as everyone had to make the call. We ended up with a terribly hot and humid day and no one in the group had done any long distance riding. Not a great plan.

Let me fast forward to 2014. Since our poorly planned first attempt we have done this ride 7 more times and it has become a yearly tradition. A few riders have come and gone but the core group has remained steady for all eight years. I am also happy to say we have completed the ride every time since our failed first attempt. With any 100 mile ride, planning and proper nutrition are mandatory to completing the distance. It is also a big help if the weather cooperates and it is not 90 degrees.

This year we had 4 riders and perfect weather. No one in the group had done a lot of long distance training but that was not much different from years past. The day started with me crashing at the 6 mile mark. I hit a major pothole and crashed on grass/dirt on the side of the road. Luckily I was not hurt and my bike was fine.  I did hear a few comments that perhaps this was a staged crash so I could get out of the ride.   Really?

With temps in the low 70s and minimal humidity we all did great until about mile 80.  This ride is not a race and we try to stay together as long as possible but we are all very competitive. After we hit the 80 mile mark it is understood that the race is on! At that point me and my brother-in-law Mike went ahead and got to the final climb together. Did I mention my friend lives at the top of a category 3 hill?  Mike looked strong all day and luckily for me he bonked on the hill and I made it to the top first by a healthy margin. The other 2 riders in our group struggled but made it about 30 minutes later.

Mission accomplished! The tradition continues!

I have used this ride for Ironman training in the past and finished strong. Other years I was just lucky to finish due to a lack of training. Either way keeping traditions alive is important and should not be easily dissolved. How long will we continue this ride?   You can never predict the future but I can almost guarantee next Labor Day another group will be heading north for the 9th time.

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Another Irrational Fear

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Wednesday, July 02, 2014
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Runners frequently encounter road hazards of all types.  Other than the obvious road hazards such as uneven pavement, weather conditions, crazy drivers (I have been hit by a car) we often have the opportunity to encounter wild life.

Many of us run in the early mornings during the summer months to escape the heat. This is also one of the best times to see wildlife if you run in a rural or suburban area. If you live in the city you also have a good chance to see wildlife of a different type but that story is for another day.

I transitioned from running in the afternoon to early mornings a few weeks ago.  During this time I have seen rabbits, chipmunks, turtles, and countless birds. Basically everything you would typically see in a nice suburban neighborhood at 5 AM during the summer months. With almost zero vehicle traffic it is quite pleasant to get lost in your thoughts and enjoy nature and the warm summer air.

This morning I was running on the bike path and in the distance saw what looked like a person standing in the middle of the bike path about half a mile ahead. As I got closer it seemed strange that the “person” had not moved. Usually people on the bike path are walking or running. One thought that crossed my mind was that perhaps they were waiting for their dog to come out of the woods. Either way I kept running.

As I got closer suddenly the shape moved broadside and I saw that it was actually a large deer. This is not unusual in my area as about once a month I see deer on my runs. Just last week I saw a doe and two fawns near my house. At this point I was getting very close to the deer and it still had not moved. Finally I was only 30 yards away and I had to stop. The deer was standing broadside blocking the path and still had not moved.  I was thinking this was very strange. I clapped my hands and yelled at the deer. No response. I yelled and clapped again and faked running forward. No response.

At this point my expectation was that the deer would take off into the woods. This did not happen. Instead the deer casually moved a few steps away from me and then quickly turned and charged right at me! After I got over my initial shock (.01 of a second) I ran as fast as I could in the opposite direction. I looked quickly over my shoulder and still saw the deer coming so I ran into the woods and came out behind a Dunkin Donuts. I looked back and the deer was gone. I have been chased by a lot of things on the road such as dogs, birds, turkeys, wild geese, etc. but never a deer.  The deer was a doe (no antlers) but was very big and there was no way I was challenging a deer on a bike path.

I asked a veteran hunter about why this happened. I am told that the most logical cause was there was probably a fawn in the woods just off the path and the doe was protecting the fawn. The doe could not leave and run off due to the fawn and as I got closer and closer the doe went into protection mode.

Either way now I have to add yet another irrational fear to the long list of things that could happen on a run. The next time you see a beautiful deer in the woods watch out…you might be next!

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Do We Need to Stretch?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Wednesday, June 18, 2014
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Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. Just because I do not stretch and cannot touch my toes does not mean that is right for you. Please consult your doctor if you are not sure you should stretch. Also I think yoga can be very difficult and can result in impressive flexibility. No offense intended to any of the yogis out there.

Over the years I have heard so many different things about stretching.  Some runners insist that everyone should stretch and that skipping a pre-run stretch will result in immediate injury. Others say that stretching can cause injury especially when your muscles are tight or cold. Then there are the crazy yoga people who think stretching is a religion. You certainly don’t want to say anything negative about stretching around them.

So who is correct? I have a bad back and my chiropractor has told me for years that gentle stretching will help “warm up” your muscles. Once your muscles are warm, you can then slowly start your workout at an easy pace and gradually work up to normal effort.

This type of stretching does not look anything like the stretches I did before cross country or soccer in high school. These stretches are more gradual and do not force the muscle. I tried this type of stretching for years and it seemed to help. Gently rolling your shoulders, knees to your chest while lying on your back, and easy wall stretches for your calves are all classic moves that when done gently can warm up/cool down your muscles.

 

Personally I do not see any benefit to the dramatic stretching done in yoga for runners. Runners do not need to touch their toes or transform their bodies into a random animal position. I do believe yoga is an interesting way to build strength and flexibility but not sure that I would recommend yoga for a runner. Could someone also explain “Hot Yoga” to me? Usually I try to avoid working out in extreme heat.

One of the good things about running is that you really don’t need to be flexible. Basically good running form is a steady slightly forward position. There is no lateral movement, quick stops and starts, or jumping as is frequent in basketball or soccer. Increased flexibility is not a bad thing but is not necessary to run a fast 5k. Unless you have extremely limited motion I do not believe your run times are affected by flexibility. The only times I have felt an issue with flexibility is when I have had to run with a bad back. Not being able to lean forward will definitely reduce your ability to run hard.

What are your thoughts? Do we need to stretch?

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2013 Race Season: Pause for Reflection

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Saturday, December 28, 2013
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The end of the year is naturally a time when most of us spend some time reflecting on the year almost past and the year to come. As we near the end of 2013 I have given a lot of thought to my race results and accomplishments in 2013 and my 2014 goals.

 

If you have read my blogs you know that I completed my dream of finishing the Ironman when I turned 40 in 2012. To be honest, since I completed that race I have not had the drive or motivation required to do anything impressive. Now that doesn’t mean I did nothing in 2013. Check out my race season below. 

February Hyannis Half Marathon Road Race 13.1 miles 1:43:32 361st overall Hyannis MA
March Freeze Your Buns Road Race 5 K 0:20:18 13th overall 3rd age Nashua NH
March Leprechaun Leap Road Race 5 K 0:20:56 6th overall 1st age Nashua NH
April Good Times Road Race 5 K 0:20:15 17th overall 7th age Lowell MA
April Good Times Road Race 5 K 0:20:19 18th overall 4th age Lowell MA
April Good Times Road Race 5 K 0:19:58 22nd overall 8th age Lowell MA
April Firefighters Road Race 5 K 0:20:12 12th overall 1st age Lowell MA
April Good Times Road Race 5 K 0:20:30 14th overall 5th age Lowell MA
April Good Times Road Race 5 K 0:19:58 10th overall 5th age Lowell MA
May Good Times Road Race 5 K 0:20:36 21st overall 4th age Lowell MA
May Good Times Road Race 5 K 0:19:54 19th overall 3rd age Lowell MA
May Good Times Road Race 5 K 0:19:37 14th overall 4th age Lowell MA
May Good Times Road Race 5 K 0:20:04 17th overall 5th age Lowell MA
June Good Times Road Race 5 K 0:20:23 25th overall 6th age Lowell MA
October New Hampshire Marathon Road Race 26.2 miles 4:11:59 80th overall Bristol NH
November Tyngsboro Trot Road Race 5 K 0:21:06 7th overall 3rd age Tyngsboro MA
November Wolf Hollow Half Marathon Road Race 13.1 miles 1:48:18 116th overall Nashua NH
November Thanks for Giving Road Race 5 K 0:21:17 27th overall 5th age Lowell MA

As you can see I did complete a couple of half marathons and the NH Marathon but was not close to my PR in any of them. I had a few decent 5ks in 2013 as well, but overall it was a very boring season and certainly nothing to get excited about.

As you reflect on the past season I think it is important to be honest with yourself. If you were unhappy with your results, what happened? If you truly want to have a better 2014 you need to know why 2013 went wrong. Ask yourself a few questions:

**How did the training go in 2013? Did you miss workouts or spend the required time training to meet your goals?

**Did you battle injuries?

**Did life throw obstacles in your way that prevented you from reaching your goals?  Kids?   Job?   Life Event?

**Maybe you completed the Ironman the year before and decided to play golf and hang out with your friends all year?     (oh, sorry that was my year)

Either way once you figure out what happened you can realistically look at 2014 and decide what will be different. Many of us get excited at the end of the year looking forward to a clean slate and the endless possibilities of the New Year. Being realistic about your life situation will help you make attainable goals for 2014. There is nothing worse than setting goals, signing up for races, and then realize on February 1st there is no way you will meet the goals you set the month before.

 

As I look forward to 2014 I have already made a few modest commitments. I will be returning to the triathlon world in 2014. My training partner and brother-in-law Mike wants to finish a half-Ironman in 2014 and I will be going along for the ride. We have committed to a duathlon in March and a triathlon in April as our first multi-sport events. I am always cautious about signing up for too many early season events due to limited outdoor training opportunities in New England. Look for a number of posts about our early season training progress as we start down the road of returning to triathlon.

In conclusion I am looking at 2013 as a bridge year….it may be a bridge to tremendous success in 2014 or it may turn out to be the bridge to nowhere. Either way I plan on challenging myself in 2014 by racing more often and entering more challenging events. Like a lot of people I am kicking around a few crazy ideas for 2014 but my veteran experience tells me to keep those ideas quiet until I have a few solid months of training under my belt. As you create your plan for next season don’t forget the most important thing….Have a good time and enjoy life! This is supposed to be fun!

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2014 Goal Race Planning

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Friday, December 20, 2013
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After the holidays many us start the process of planning out our big races for 2014. Some of us already have a plan, and others are still trying to decide what they want to do next season. I am a firm believer that anyone can do anything if they commit to it. This is a great time of the year to figure out what you really want to do and then start down the road of meeting your goal. As an athlete and a veteran racer that usually means selecting a big race and then putting together a plan to train for it.

 

5 Steps to Planning Your Next Goal Race

 

1) Self-Evaluation

How did last season go? Are you happy with your race results? Are you burnt out? Proper self-evaluation is a key part of the race planning process. For most of us racing is a hobby and something we enjoy doing. Did you have fun this year? If running and racing has stopped being fun then you are doing something wrong and need to fix it in 2014. Don't make the mistake of signing up for races in 2014 just because "I always do that race". Once you evaluate where you are mentally and physically start to think about what you "really" want to achieve in 2014. What distance do you enjoy the most? What event have you always wanted to race? Make a point of making sure you know what you want to do before committing to a bunch of races.

2) Be Realistic

A big part of making sure you have an enjoyable and successful season is choosing realistic goal races. If you are reading this and have never swam before I wouldn't recommend signing up for an Ironman event next season. Look back at 2013. What races did you complete? Did you leave any "unfinished business" in a particular race distance? As I mentioned above,  I do believe anyone can finish any event. What I am recommending is for you to consider all of the training involved with each event before you sign up. If you barely finished a half marathon this fall signing up for a marathon next year is going to take a tremendous amount of effort. Do you really want to do this? Choosing an event that is so far above your current fitness level is a recipe for disaster. Remember step 1? Self-evaluation....Complete an honest self-evaluation and choose events that are a natural progression from your 2013 season. I guarantee you will be a lot happier in 2014!

3) Timing is Everything

Now that you have completed steps one and two you are ready to sign up for your big goal race. The key to choosing the right race is to make sure you have enough time to train for the event. If you have decided 2014 is the year you want to complete a marathon you need to make sure the timing is right. When do you want to start training? What kind of shape are you currently in? Do you want/need stepping stone events to lead up to the big goal race? Don't make the mistake of rushing to the nearest race calendar and signing up for the race with the best website. Do your homework and find out how long it will take to train for your event based on your fitness level. If you don't plan on starting any serious training until February 1st and you plan on taking 4 months to train for your marathon then June would be the first month to start looking at races. Know in advance how long you need to train before you start looking at events. The worst thing you can do is set a goal and then sign up for a race that is too soon. Make sure you have enough time to train to ensure your goal becomes a reality.

4) Stay Focused

Now that you have selected your goal race don't make the mistake of signing up for major events that are scheduled after your big day. If you are completing your first marathon in June don't sign up for a second marathon before you have completed your first one. Enjoy the process of training and focusing on your big race without having to worry about other challenges. Many people forget or are unaware of the mental and physical strain they will experience after months of training. Once you have successfully completed your goal many times all you want to do is take some time off. After some reflection you also may decide to do something else. Don't lock yourself into another event.

5) Keep Racing

Keep the racing juices flowing! if your big event is 4 months away or longer, break up some of that impending training monotony with some racing. If you are training for a marathon sign up for a half marathon that will fit nicely with your training. Maybe you can even find a 30k or 20 mile race that would also fit. I recommend reviewing your training plan and signing up for a few events that fit right away. Not only will this keep you motivated but completing these secondary races are excellent training for your goal race. These races can be used to test your pacing, nutrition, and pre-race routine. Don't wait! If you wait to sign up for secondary races something will always come up and you will not be able to enter the race.

 

Follow these simple steps and you are well on your way to having a great 2014!

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Zumba for Runners and Triathletes

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Thursday, September 12, 2013
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This is the first of several articles designed to get triathletes and runners to try something new this off-season. All season long we either run, bike, or swim and do very little else. Even if we wanted to try something new, chances are there is just not enough time in our busy lives. As the off season approaches I encourage everyone to take a break from the training grind. This is the time of the year when you are free to expand your horizons and do something other than running, cycling, or swimming for fitness.

I am no different than anyone else. Other than golf I really have not done any other sports or exercise programs outside of my comfort zone. I am probably the least likely person to try anything new. Rather than continue this trend and because I know there are others out there like me I decided to change. My goal is to show that runners and triathletes can try something new and hopefully encourage people that are afraid or hesitant that it can be fun to try something different.

 

What is the first thing I tried? Well, you can probably guess by the title of this blog....Zumba! Now what is Zumba? According to Wikipedia:

Zumba is a dance fitness program created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto "Beto" Perez during the 1990's. Zumba involves dance and aerobic elements. Zumba's choreography incorporates hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, and martial arts. Squats and lunges are also included.

Why did I choose Zumba as my first new topic?  My mother-in-law has been talking about Zumba for several months. During a couple of family cookouts I heard her mention how great Zumba is and how much she enjoyed going to the classes. She mentioned she has lost weight and is now going regularly. Now at the time I knew nothing about Zumba. I just assumed it was like Yoga or something similar. When I decided I wanted to start writing about new things I wanted to pick something I knew nothing about and the first thing that came to mind was Zumba. I figured, "How hard can it be..my mother-in-law is doing it, right?"

I decided the best place to go was the studio that my mother-in-law attends. I contacted Nicole Detellis who is the owner of Fuse Yoga & Fitness in Londonderry, New Hampshire. I explained that not only did I want to attend one of her Zumba classes and write an article about it I also wanted to film my experience. This is View The Race....everything is about video. Nicole was accommodating and agreed to my request.

My Experience

First off you really need to understand I had no idea what Zumba was all about. I purposely did not want to find out much about it prior to attending the class. Again my goal is to show that anyone can try something new and you don't need weeks of planning to get out there and give it a shot.

I arrived at the studio feeling a little self conscious. I was happy to see that the class was small and everyone was very welcoming. Nicole was terrific. She welcomed me and made me feel at ease despite the fact I still did not know what I was in for. Everyone gathered in a room that looked like a dance floor with a wall mirror in the front of the room. A few seconds later the music started and Nicole started leading the first workout set. I was caught a little off-guard as there were no announcements or "starting gun".

Now right off I realized I was not dressed properly. Unfortunately I do not have any workout clothes other than Spandex tri shorts. I figured Spandex would not be welcomed so I decided to wear some old golf shorts and a loose fitting race t-shirt. I wore running shoes but found that for Zumba there are special shoes with no tread that work well. Check out these Zumba Shoes on Amazon. It would have made it a little easier to slide my feet on the floor but it didn't really matter.

 

 My impression of Zumba is similar to the definition. It is basically completing a dance routine for each song with a little aerobics mixed in. Since I had no previous knowledge of the routines I basically had to follow the instructor and try to mimic her moves. This is easier said than done. Nicole is a fabulous instructor with high energy and an obvious dance background. I was very impressed and at times felt like I was at a show watching her perform.

I really have only danced at weddings and have definitely never performed a solo dance routine. Despite this fact I had a fun time. The class was one hour long and time seemed to fly by as I tried to follow the moves for each song. I did not feel overly strained but I started sweating heavily about 20 minutes into the class. By the end my shirt was soaked. I think I would have got an even better workout if I completed more of the moves and really was able to get into each song. Due to my lack of ability at times I was a little lost and ended up skipping some of the movements. I am sure I would do better if I tried it a couple of more times.

My Review

If you like to dance then Zumba is for you. Everyone knows someone that likes to dance and is probably not working out. Encourage them to take a Zumba class or better yet bring them to a Zumba class and give it a try. The energy in the class is great and makes you want to learn the moves for each song. I think this would be great cross training if you want to work up a nice sweat and have fun for an hour. Instead of cycling on the boring trainer or running for 30 minutes on the treadmill try a Zumba class. It was a lot of fun, and I may try it again.

 

Want to see how I did? I am posting a few videos of my experience at the below link. If you promise not to laugh you are allowed to watch this video. Seriously...promise...Better yet focus on the instructor.

Click Here to watch my Zumba experience!

Thank you

Special thanks to Nicole Detellis from Fuse Yoga & Fitness. If you are interested in Yoga, Zumba, or Surf-Set Fitness check out her studio. The welcoming atmosphere and great instructors will make it easy to stay in shape this off-season.

**Fuse Yoga & Fitness is offering a "New Student Pass" for only $25 for 25 consecutive days. This is good for ANY class at Fuse Yoga & Fitness.***  

Conveniently located just off route 93 (exit #5) in Londonderry, NH.

Contact Nicole ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) or stop by to try out a class.

Why wait?

Click here for this week's workout schedule.

 

Fuse Yoga & Fitness

182 Rockingham Road

Londonderry, NH 03053

Phone: 603-432-1626

Website: http://www.fuseyogafitness.com/

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Long Run Nutrition: What Should I Use?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Wednesday, August 21, 2013
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 If you run longer than 1 hour for any of your weekly workouts, you have probably considered what nutrition may be necessary to improve your performance or to complete the distance more comfortably. Fueling for performance during exercise is a huge industry. If you are looking to fuel your body on your next long run the choices are endless. How do you decide what is best for you? What does your body need to perform?

First of all let me explain my credentials. I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. What I have to offer is personal experience and a lot of trial and error. I have completed 6 marathons, 2 half Ironman races, 2 Ironman aqua bikes, and a full Ironman. I have also completed 40 half marathons. During these events I have made every mistake in the book. These mistakes and a lot of experimentation during training have allowed me to "figure out" what seems to work for me on long workouts.

At what race distance do you need to take in nutrition? The reason why there are so many products and different opinions is because everyone is different. We all have different genetic make-up, fitness levels, weight, backgrounds, etc. All of these factors and many more determine what you need to improve performance or just to finish an event.

One of the funniest things I have seen is a number of years ago Manny Ramirez, who was playing for the Red Sox at the time, hits a home run and after running the bases grabs a medium Gatorade and chugs it down. Now, even Gatorade would have to admit you don't need their product after running the bases. So when do you need it? I typically use the rule that if I am going longer than 75 minutes then I probably need some nutrition.  If I am running for 2-3 hours or longer then I need to plan to intake food/drink every 45-60 minutes to make sure I am fueled and hydrated throughout the run.

Ok, I know I need nutrition. What should I eat/drink on my run? There are many factors involved with this answer but I will try to cut through the mystery. Here are the most important factors for me:

1) How does it taste?

If you are fueling during a marathon you are already in enough pain. Don't make it worse by eating/drinking something that tastes like s*%t. The number one thing for me is I have to like the taste. This is especially important in the later portions of the race when you need fuel just to finish the event. The last thing you need is a bad taste in your mouth.

 

2) How does your body react?

This requires experimentation. With so many products and flavors out there you have to know if eating/drinking something will result in an upset stomach or bathroom issues. It is essential that you test your nutrition plan in training before race day. One of the biggest "rookie" mistakes is grabbing something new from a water stop during the race and having a negative reaction.

3) Easy to use?

The choices are endless. GU, gels, shots, bars, etc. It is essential that you are comfortable with the product. Some factors here include things such as:

a) Is it hard to chew?  Is it possible you will have to stop running in order to eat? Especially when you are exhausted towards the end of the event. Breathing and chewing can be labor intensive when you are struggling.

b) How do you open it? Can you open it while running or will you have to stop? Will it melt after a few hours making it impossible to open?

c) How will you carry your nutrition? Some are easy to carry and others are more difficult. Will all of the items fit in your fuel belt?

4) Does it work?

Something could get high marks on all of the above points and fail on the most important. It has to work! If you are fueling properly you are consuming 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour. There are many other ingredients that could improve performance including sugar, caffeine, electrolytes, sodium etc. Again experimentation is key. Once you know something works in training you can enter your big event with confidence.

So you want details....Here is my nutrition plan for my upcoming marathon in October. I use these items for all of my long runs so I know how my body will react.

Breakfast: cup of coffee, bagel with peanut butter, and one Ensure. I eat the coffee and bagel as soon as I get up and then drink the Ensure about an hour before the event. This combination gives me the carbohydrates and enough calories to give me some power. The caffeine jump starts my system.

During the race: Starting at about the 45-60 minute mark I will eat one mini Snickers bar (yes..I said Snickers) and then eat one every 45 minutes until the end of the race. Throughout the race I also drink Gatorade making sure I drink early and often to get calories and to maintain hydration. Eating a Snickers bar is easy to do and has a great taste. I also get sugar and caffeine in addition to carbohydrates.

I also plan on using my secret weapon at the New Hampshire Marathon. Around mile 17 I will have a friend hand me an ice cold Mountain Dew. This is a totally different taste than Gatorade and is filled with sugar and caffeine. Exactly what my body needs to power through the last section of the race. I first started experimenting with soda on long bike rides during my Ironman training. I ate so much junk food during the Ironman my training partner said I was utilizing the "teenage diet" nutrition plan. But guess what? It works....so don't judge me. Watch the Tour de France. You will constantly see the riders being handed cans of Coke. It works.

 

After the race:  Cold beer! Celebrate! You did it!

The bottom line is that everyone needs some type of nutrition for long distance events and you need to experiment to determine what works for your body. Whether you use the latest scientifically tested formula or you use Gatorade, Mountain Dew, and Snicker's Bars if you get to the finish line and meet your goals then one choice is not better than another. I don't use products because they are cool or the latest trend. I use what works and so should you. Start experimenting and find that perfect combination that will keep you energized and allow you to cross the finish line.    

Cool

 

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Cold Weather Running

Posted by Sarah Hardy
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 When the temperatures drop into the teens, running outside can be uncomfortable.  Many runners opt to use a treadmill when the mercury sinks that low.  Being a runner in New England I try to avoid the treadmill whenever possible.  I really don't enjoy it.  When I saw that the weather forecast for Sunday morning was calling for temps in the low teens, I had to decide if I would hit the roads or head to the gym for my 12 mile run.  It wasn't really a hard decision.  I layered up and set out into the cold and wind.  I knew I might be uncomfortable and sluggish, but I'll gladly slog along wearing multiple layers of running clothes than face 12 miles on the treadmill.
 I know not all runners agree with me. I can see how the treadmill has its benefits. It is nice to run in shorts midwinter. You can set your pace, put in your ear buds, and zone out.  There's no doubt that you'll work up a sweat.  However, I think there are a few benefits to running in cold weather that you can't get from running on the treadmill.
 
 -The added weight of your clothing makes you stronger come spring.  Even if you have the top of the line technical gear, you will feel bulky. Your head, neck and maybe face will be covered to block the cold. All of this means more effort to move. When you take away the layers on that first warm day in March you'll feel free and fast!
 -Running in the elements toughens you up.  If you race in New England, you need to be prepared for all types of conditions on race day, so you should train in them too.  Even if you don't race, running through the cold and the wind gives you natural resistance. Every step you take is just a little bit harder than usual. You work harder, so you get stronger. You can't get that on the treadmill without a wind tunnel.
 
 So I managed to run my 12 miles and enjoy them (mostly)!  I have had some miserable runs in the cold, but over the years I've figured out what works for me with cold weather running. Here are a few tips for running in the cold.
 
 1) Wear thin layers that wick away moisture.  For your outermost layer try something that will break the wind and hold in heat. Don't overdress. Use a short run as a way to figure what cold weather running outfit works for you. In general, it's okay to feel cold when you start out. You should start to feel warm within 10 to 15 minutes.
 2) Cover up, head to toe.  Any exposed skin is going to allow heat to drain from your body. If you're wearing a hat, make sure it goes down low enough to cover your ears fully.  Face masks can be helpful, but a neck warmer is a great alternative. You can pull it up over your nose as needed.
 3) My toes are always cold, but I discovered one trick that helps. Before I put on my running socks I put a light coating of vaseline on my toes. It helps hold in heat. Just don't overdo it or your feet will feel slippery.
 4) Run with a friend or a group. The conversation makes the run go by faster. And you have someone to complain to about how cold it is. 
 
 Running in the northeast is always a challenge during the winter months. Although there may be times you will be forced to run indoors due to the weather don't totally eliminate running outdoors. With the proper dress running outside in cold weather can actually be more comfortable than running in the heat of summer. We still have a few months of winter left so if you haven't ran outside in awhile get out there! I guarantee your next run will go by a lot faster than on the dreadmill...(sorry treadmill). Laughing
 
 
 
 
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5 Steps to Planning Your Next Goal Race

Posted by David Hardy
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on Thursday, December 20, 2012
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After the holidays many us start the process of planning out our big races for 2013. Some of us already have a plan, and others are still trying to decide what they want to do next season. I am a firm believer that anyone can do anything if they commit to it. This is a great time of the year to figure out what you really want to do and then start down the road of meeting your goal. As an athlete and a veteran racer that usually means selecting a big race and then putting together a plan to train for it.

 


5 Steps to Planning Your Next Goal Race

 

1) Self-Evaluation

How did last season go? Are you happy with your race results? Are you burnt out? Proper self-evaluation is a key part of the race planning process. For most of us racing is a hobby and something we enjoy doing. Did you have fun this year? If running and racing has stopped being fun then you are doing something wrong and need to fix it in 2013. Don't make the mistake of signing up for races in 2013 just because "I always do that race". Once you evaluate where you are mentally and physically start to think about what you "really" want to achieve in 2013. What distance do you enjoy the most? What event have you always wanted to race? Make a point of making sure you know what you want to do before committing to a bunch of races.

2) Be Realistic

A big part of making sure you have an enjoyable and successful season is choosing realistic goal races. If you are reading this and have never swam before I wouldn't recommend signing up for an Ironman event next season. Look back at 2012. What races did you complete? Did you leave any "unfinished business" in a particular race distance? As I mentioned above,  I do believe anyone can finish any event. What I am recommending is for you to consider all of the training involved with each event before you sign up. If you barely finished a half marathon this fall signing up for a marathon next year is going to take a tremendous amount of effort. Do you really want to do this? Choosing an event that is so far above your current fitness level is a recipe for disaster. Remember step 1? Self-evaluation....Complete an honest self-evaluation and choose events that are a natural progression from your 2012 season. I guarantee you will be a lot happier in 2013!

3) Timing is Everything

Now that you have completed steps one and two you are ready to sign up for your big goal race. The key to choosing the right race is to make sure you have enough time to train for the event. If you have decided 2013 is the year you want to complete a marathon you need to make sure the timing is right. When do you want to start training? What kind of shape are you currently in? Do you want/need stepping stone events to lead up to the big goal race? Don't make the mistake of rushing to the nearest race calendar and signing up for the race with the best website. Do your homework and find out how long it will take to train for your event based on your fitness level. If you don't plan on starting any serious training until February 1st and you plan on taking 4 months to train for your marathon then June would be the first month to start looking at races. Know in advance how long you need to train before you start looking at events. The worst thing you can do is set a goal and then sign up for a race that is too soon. Make sure you have enough time to train to ensure your goal becomes a reality.

4) Stay Focused

Now that you have selected your goal race don't make the mistake of signing up for major events that are scheduled after your big day. If you are completing your first marathon in June don't sign up for a second marathon before you have completed your first one. Enjoy the process of training and focusing on your big race without having to worry about other challenges. Many people forget or are unaware of the mental and physical strain they will experience after months of training. Once you have successfully completed your goal many times all you want to do is take some time off. After some reflection you also may decide to do something else. Don't lock yourself into another event.


5) Keep Racing

Keep the racing juices flowing! if your big event is 4 months away or longer, break up some of that impending training monotony with some racing. If you are training for a marathon sign up for a half marathon that will fit nicely with your training. Maybe you can even find a 30k or 20 mile race that would also fit. I recommend reviewing your training plan and signing up for a few events that fit right away. Not only will this keep you motivated but completing these secondary races are excellent training for your goal race. These races can be used to test your pacing, nutrition, and pre-race routine. Don't wait! If you wait to sign up for secondary races something will always come up and you will not be able to enter the race.

 

Follow these simple steps and you are well on your way to having a great 2013!

 

 

 

 

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What motivates you in the off-season?

Posted by David Hardy
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on Friday, December 07, 2012
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As we get deeper into the off-season some of you probably have not been training much and some not at all. Of course there are probably some of you that have already signed up for an Ironman event next year or an early season marathon and your training is still in full swing. After training right through the off-season for the last 3 years I am faced with my first real stretch of time where I am not signed up for a big event and don't really have a "reason" to train. In some ways this is liberating and in others it is a little scary. My whole identity for years has been focused on my training plan and preparing for either an Ironman or marathon. In some ways I feel a little lost without my training plan "blanket".

After fumbling around training randomly for the first 2 months post-Ironman, I decided to enter a few races to determine my fitness level. I entered a 5k on Thanksgiving Day and 3 days later I entered a half marathon. I did not have stellar performances in either of these events but it got me back in the game. Unfortunately there are not a lot of races to choose from for the next couple of months. Racing every weekend or even every other is very difficult with all of the Holiday commitments and limited race schedule. So now what?

I needed another plan to keep me motivated....Sign up for a big event in 2013? No....not ready....Then I remembered something I always wanted to do. I hesitated to write a blog post about this because it is not that big a deal and also it may not be that smart. I have always wanted to run every day for an entire month. I know....why? It isn't even that cool or exciting...I think I watched a news story about a guy called "The Raven" who has run 8 miles a day on Miami Beach for 35 years in a row. This intrigued me and I have occasionally thought it might be cool to do a very limited version of this insanity. After much deliberation (with myself) I decided I would run a minimum of 4 miles a day for the entire month of December. Now I am not running the same course, I just have to cover the miles. Again I am not writing this because I think this is an incredible feat. This is just something that will keep me motivated for the month of December and then we will see what happens....I post all of my workouts day by day here if you want to see if I make it.....who knows maybe if I am successful I will keep going....Remember this quote from the movie Forrest Gump ?

Forrest Gump: That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I'd just run across the great state of Alabama. And that's what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going.

 

                                                  What keeps you motivated?

 

 

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Running in Nassau, Bahamas

Posted by David Hardy
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on Wednesday, July 18, 2012
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As a runner being on vacation does not mean you take a vacation from training. Many times it is quite the opposite. Being on vacation gives you the opportunity to run in new places and explore new areas. For me this is always exciting.

In 2010 I was able to go to Nassau, Bahamas with my wife and daughter to escape the cold New England winter. If you read my previous post about running in Washington, DC you will know that my family enjoys running from place to place while we are sightseeing. We did the same in Nassau. We mapped out a running route that would take us by all of the sites we wanted to see. The route we ran took us to Rawson Square where all of the government buildings are located, the Queen's Staircase, the Water Tower, Fort Fincastle, and the shops on Bay Street.  The run was about 6 miles long and while we enjoyed the sites there were a few drawbacks to the adventure.

I have traveled to a few Caribbean islands and there is always one thing that stands out while you are running. Dogs!! There are loose dogs everywhere. In all my years of running I have never seen a loose dog in a downtown city area. In the Caribbean this is commonplace. The first time you see it you are shocked. After awhile you try to ignore it but seeing 2-3 loose dogs walking together down a main street in a major city is very strange. The other thing you will notice is that many of the tourist attractions are located in run down areas. On our short run we noticed people living on the streets, broken down cars, and whole neighborhoods of dilapidated houses and trash very close to popular tourist areas.

Beyond our running tour of the island, I ended up running quite a bit to get around. We were staying on the main island near the bridge that goes over to Paradise Island. The very famous hotel and casino Atlantis is on Paradise Island. On the first day of our trip we took a cab over to Atlantis. After a short drive up and over the bridge we arrived at Atlantis and were told the cab fare was $20. After I stepped out of the cab and realized it was going to cost me $40 round trip every time I went to the casino I said...No way!! I was not paying $20 to travel 2.5 miles. Now I love gambling and had planned to go to the casino every day of my 4 day stay in Nassau. I would much rather spend the $40 x 4 = $160 in the Atlantis Casino than on a cab.

So I decided to get myself to and from the casino by running. Each day I put on my shorts, fanny pack (for wallet) and golf shirt and did an easy jog over to the casino, and when I was finished I would run back. Unfortunately the bridge over to Paradise Island is no picnic to run over. It is a very steep uphill followed by a steep downhill. I have to admit it was a pain to have to run a total of 5 miles just to gamble, but I did it. The sweat on my shirt probably wasn't cool when I arrived at the casino either, but I didn't care. I'm a runner, and it goes against my nature to pay for such a short ride.

I did enjoy my trip to Nassau and ended up running 25 miles in the 4 days I was there. If you have never been, it is probably worth checking out. However, with all of the travel choices out there, unless you can foot the high price to stay at Atlantis I would probably look at another location.

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Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner?

Posted by Mike Tang
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Over the next few weeks we will take you through the incredible transformation of Mike Tang. At the end of 2011 Mike weighed 240 lbs (5'8) and was in terrible physical condition. In just a few short months he has lost over 50 pounds and has just recently finished the Bassman Triathlon.  Part 1 of this series starts with why Mike decided to change his life. Part 2 takes you through his 10 day juice fast and other steps that led him to plant based living. Part 3  explains the process Mike went through to determine what to do after the juice fast was completed and how he started the plant based living lifestyle. Part 4 (this post) completes this series with the final results of the biggest loser competition and final lessons learned.

Mike is not a medical professional or nutritionist. Consult your doctor before starting a nutrition or exercise program. VTR does not promote this or any other diet/exercise plan. This story just describes one man and the steps on his journey that led to his incredible transformation since December 2011.

Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner? (Part 4)

Before & AfterIf you eat only vegetables, where do you get your protein? Any vegetarian or vegan will tell you this is the biggest question people have about eating a plant based diet. Will you lose muscle mass? What can you eat that will fuel your body? These questions are all legitimate to ask, and as it turned out I had pre-existing biases about protein and I had been living with these biases my entire life.

I don’t want to say that not eating meat is the right choice for everyone, but I will say we live in a country that celebrates our animal based food production. We as a culture have decided that animal based protein is healthy, and as such we should eat as much as possible. There is a cult like obsession to the consumption of animal protein with deep seeded rituals around all of our favorite activities and gatherings. Sporting event or summer holiday?...Boil up some hotdogs, fire up the grill, and cook some sausages. This 4th of July, how many of us grilled up burgers, steaks, and BBQ chicken, overeating heavy meat based products. The simple truth is this: protein exists in all foods, not just animal products. As long as you are not calorie deficient, eating a balanced plant based diet of nuts, beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will provide you with all of the protein you need. So why do we have this misconception that the only source of protein is from animals? Meat is a complete protein, which makes it a very efficient source of protein. Since it is efficient, it has been labeled as an excellent source of protein. This is why I don’t think that eating meat is necessarily bad, but the amount of meat we should consume is drastically less than we eat.

Back to the competition

I was starting month three, and it was really time to buckle down. I had no real understanding of how much I had to lose this month in order to win the competition.  Was it even possible for me to catch my co-worker? I had it calculated a million ways, and I was worried about all of them. The strategy to not weigh-in was a great one; it was in my head. Then something clicked for me. I had to let it go, this competition was not about winning, but about getting healthy. The only thing I could control for certain was my eating and exercise. I would have to give it my all and let the chips fall as they may. It was around this time I decided I wanted to start to add exercise into the mix to really melt the pounds off. 

One of the lessons I learned in month one was that by working out I gained muscle mass. Muscle is heavy, I didn’t want to gain too much muscle, so I decided to swim and use the elliptical. Both of these exercises would allow me to get my heart rate up, and if I spent the time with low resistance, I knew I would not build muscle mass and my weight would drop. The elliptical became my new best friend. I would eat up hours at a time on the elliptical. Like my new found love of hunger, I started to really enjoy the hours of boredom as my legs and arms moved in circles. I again gave myself no excuses and it seemed to pay off. During this time it was not uncommon to complete an hour and 30 minute elliptical session with no headphones. Hours spent with just my thoughts and me. Thoughts that “if this was easy anyone could do it”; thoughts that “this might just be crazy enough to work”.

Lessons learned this month

It was during a swim session that I was feeling very strong. I had been swimming laps for about an hour with my thoughts, trying to keep my mind entertained, when I thought about what I was really doing. I had limited my calories and I was swimming.  Generations ago, when food was not as plentiful, our ancestors had to do the same thing. Not swimming laps at the YMCA, swimming in the sea in search for food. It occurred to me that the body must condition itself to be quicker and more efficient when not given food in the short term. How else would we have survived?  When we have a surplus of food we store it and get overweight. Our bodies naturally get slower and hunting becomes more difficult. I kept swimming with purpose, my body was tuning for the hunt.

Results

This month the weight loss had become predictable. I would stand on the scale daily and know exactly how much I was going to weigh. I knew what would cause my weight to fluctuate and how much I would lose when I went to the bathroom (I weighed myself before and after every morning). Then came the final day of the weigh-in. I had scheduled to be in late to work that day. The weigh-in was scheduled for noon, and I had booked time at the gym in the morning. I woke up and only drank 8oz of smart water. I didn’t want to gain water weight, and I was on the way to the gym to sweat out the last of my weight anyway. I got to the gym and hit the stationary bike. I threw on a sweatshirt and began pedaling. Two hours later, drenched to the core from sweating, I showered and headed to the office. Was it enough? Did the work of the last three months pay off?

I rushed to the weigh-in and stepped on the scale.....194lbs...I had lost another 21.5 pounds in the month of March, bringing my total weight loss to 19%. So had I won? Well, look at me, I lost over 45 pounds in three months and had more energy than I have had in a long time. By anyone’s definition I was a winner. Then came the news, with a very hard fought and disciplined plan, my co-worker had lost 16%. I had won! Winner, winner chicken dinner! But, not so fast. Being vegan had given me energy to workout almost indefinitely, and working out had begun to show results of muscle definition. Why stop? I liked the way I ate and how I felt, and I didn’t want to gain the weight back so you know what? What started as an aggressive way to lose weight had resulted in a healthy lifestyle. I still have a lot to learn and many years of exercise, but it is now under my control.

Before After

Thanks:

I would like to thank all those at Percussion (www.percussion.com) that were a part of the biggest loser competition and those that cheered us on! Also Audra, for putting up one of the most competitive fights I have been involved with in my life, thank you for driving me to deliver the very best I could. Deidre, thank you for believing we at Percussion should “be healthy” from this competition and the fruit in the bullpen. To the yoga room, thank you for providing the things we need to stay healthy as part of our culture. And finally, a big thank you to my wife and kids. The time invested in changing my lifestyle now will pay off in the future; I look forward to attending all of weddings of my great grandchildren!

Read Part 1: "My Journey from the Atkins Diet to Plant Based Living"
Read Part 2: "The Juice Fast, Into the Belly of the Beast..."
Read Part 3: "The Single Ingredient, Controlled Calorie Diet"

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Bay of Fundy Trail Running

Posted by Sarah Hardy
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on Friday, July 06, 2012
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       The Bay of Fundy Trail is located in the village of St. Martins in New Brunswick, Canada.  It is a park of sorts, with a 10 kilometer path and an adjacent auto road winding along the Bay of Fundy.  Since my husband, Dave, and I are both runners we are always on the lookout for unique places for a long run, especially when we are traveling. A few summers ago while on a trip to St. John, we heard about the Bay of Fundy Trail (BFT) and thought it would be perfect.

 

      It was a foggy July morning when we headed out to the BFT.  We parked at the south end of the trail, intending to run the 10k path to its northern end and then back.  We headed down the gravel path with a light mist falling around us.  The trail was set up high, away from the coastline, surrounded by green and the hushed sound of the ocean far below.

    After running for about 5 minutes we noticed a side path leading down toward the water.  We decided to explore.  Leaving the main trail, Dave and I headed down the steep path that eventually turned into wooden stairs.  At the bottom we had a clear view of the beach below, even though we were still a good 100 feet above it.  It was low tide, and since the Bay of Fundy is famous for its low tides, the water had receded behind a curtain of fog.  We stood still, looking down on the endless beach rimmed with cliffs, our hearts still beating from our swift decent.



    After snapping photos we headed back to the main trail and pressed on.  It became apparent within the first few miles that this trail was woven into a miniature mountain range.  Walking up a steep hill is understandable, but some of the down hills where so steep they also forced us to walk.  It was a rollercoaster of a trail, threading its way through a pine forest with the foggy coast peeking through every so often.

    We took one other jaunt off the main trail at about the 5k mark.  This long series of wooden stairs brought us down to the ocean floor.  It was a continuation of the beach we had spied earlier.  To our surprise, we realized the beach was made up of millions of rounded rocks, not sand.  We marveled over the unusual colors of the rocks, still wet from the blanket of ocean they had recently been under.  We filled our pockets with rocks of all colors: dark blues, rosy pink, iridescent greens, grays with white stripes.  Laughing about the added weight, we climbed the stairs back to the main trail.

    We finally emerged from the woods at the end of the trail to see a visitor’s center.  Fortunately, we’d had the foresight to carry cash, although we’d neglected to bring food or water.  After snacking on candy bars and sports drinks, we set out to retrace our steps along the trail.

 

     It was a memorable long run full of stops and starts.  I used my hands to help me climb up a hill and lost count of the times my pace changed dramatically, from downhill speed to uphill speed.  However, it was the type of adventure that makes me thankful to be a runner.  And even though I was sore the next day, I saw things I would never have had the chance to see if I had taken the auto road.

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The Incredible Story of Mike

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, July 03, 2012
in Training

 

 

The 4th edition of Mike's incredible story will be posted next Monday July 9th due to the holiday week. In order to get the latest info and to receive the newest blog posts "Like" View The Race on Facebook. New blog posts and new race videos are always posted on Facebook first.

 

 

 

Several requests have been sent in to list some of the items Mike has described during his blog posts. Here are the links to some of the items he has mentioned in his posts:

 

juicer (this is the juicer Mike uses)

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead ....(video)

Forks Over Knives... (video)

Smart Water...(Mike's new addiction)

Atkins Bar...(Mike's old breakfast choice)

 

 Enjoy the 4th!!

 

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The Single Ingredient, Controlled Calorie Diet

Posted by Mike Tang
Mike Tang
Mike Tang has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, June 25, 2012
in Training

Over the next few weeks we will take you through the incredible transformation of Mike Tang. At the end of 2011 Mike weighed 240 lbs (5'8) and was in terrible physical condition. In just a few short months he has lost over 50 pounds and has just recently finished the Bassman Triathlon.  Part 1 of this series starts with why Mike decided to change his life. Part 2 takes you through his 10 day juice fast and other steps that led him to plant based living. Part three in this series (this post) explains the process Mike went through to determine what to do after the juice fast was completed and how he started the plant based living lifestyle.

Mike is not a medical professional or nutritionist. Consult your doctor before starting a nutrition or exercise program. VTR does not promote this or any other diet/exercise plan. This story just describes one man and the steps on his journey that led to his incredible transformation since December 2011.

Back to the "biggest loser" competition at work. (Part 3)

by Mike Tang

At this point I had lost some weight but I was still way down in the rankings in the "biggest loser" competition at work.  In the first month the leader in the competition had lost close to 10% of her body weight and I had lost 2%.  Even with the 10 pounds that I had lost, I still only had lost 5% in six weeks, I was still way behind overall.   Juicing had started me down the path of understanding of what my body needs and what my body doesn’t need.  Now I had to push forward, keeping this momentum.  During the week of my juice fast I had started to do research on how I was going to eat after my ten day fast.  It was while researching that I watched a movie that helped me to understand why my body reacted the way it did to juicing. “Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead ” is a documentary by Joe Cross, an Australian who spent 60 days juice fasting while traveling across America and helping communities understand the health benefits from juicing.  In this amazing story he not only loses over 100 pounds in 60 days, but also helps another man Phil Staples, lose over 100 pounds as well; inspiring to say the least.  I then found a second movie that was going to shape how I eat to this day,  “Forks Over Knives”.  This movie puts forth the idea that controlling what goes into the body while eating (forks) is preferable to invasive surgery to correct disease (knives).   Amazingly, it follows the story of eighteen patients with terminal prognosis in regards to heart disease.  These patients follow a whole foods plant based diet and within two years begin to reverse their symptoms, hardening of arteries and heart disease.  Not bad considering that they all were given less than 3 months to live at the beginning of the movie.   Now I have to say, this sounds more like a movie review column than a blog about how I changed my lifestyle, but these movies really framed my research and made an impact of how I changed my life. (for more detail rent them above for a few dollars)

In case you think I am insane (those that know me know the answer to that question), I do not advocate just watching movies and accepting the plot and events as fact.  That would be just crazy, right... “Fahrenheit 911” and “An Inconvenient Truth” fans?  But the nutrition movies continue down the path of “Super Size Me” and “Food Inc.” and actually present working plans on how to approach a lifestyle change to increase overall health.  So I researched some more, “Vegan”, “Vegetarian”, “100 Mile Diet”, “Organic Foods”, there is so much to learn on each one of these plans that it would make your head spin.  I just needed to figure out what I was going to do after the juice fast. The end of the 10 days was approaching quickly and I wanted to exercise to really start losing weight.

 

Single ingredient, controlled calorie diet

After researching all I could about plant based living, I decided I would finish the last 6 weeks of the competition with what I explained to people as a “single ingredient” diet.  I was eating foods that were not processed, whole foods.  My diet consisted of lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and mushrooms.  If I picked up an item at the store, it would have to have only ingredients that I knew were whole foods individually.I had already made the most important fundamental switch, my body no longer craved meat, cheese, or sugar. At this point I was still limiting my intake of whole grains, oil, and sugar. My goal was to eat around 1000 calories a day (I do not suggest this long term, or without the supervision of a doctor). I had just spent 10 days without eating more than 600 calories a day so the culinary world had become my oyster, or at least my oyster mushrooms.  Because most vegetables are low in calories, I was free to eat a ton of food at this time, and again I rarely found myself hungry.  I did not stress over things like “in-season” or “organic”, these are all important, but I had already made the most important fundamental switch, my body no longer craved meat, cheese, or sugar.

Lessons learned this month

So, “never in a million years”, a coworker to this day still remembers my reaction in 2011 to the notion of becoming a vegetarian.  This month I had not only stopped eating meat, I had stopped eating altogether for 10 days and I had not died nor did the world end. In fact, for the first time in my life I did not feel completely controlled by food.  “I don’t like” and “I would never” had become excuses for me to continue to eat the foods I liked to eat, and this month I had challenged those things to the core.  Just as easy as it is to say “I am too tired to exercise” or “I will do it tomorrow” these statements had now all become distant monikers of an old lifestyle.  The body is amazing. It tells you what you need to know, but most of us, including myself, choose to ignore it.  You feel good when you eat junk food, but only for a moment, then you feel terrible.  Your body craves the “feeling good” and your mind justifies the “feeling terrible”.  Eating right, your body stabilizes and starts to crave good food, because you feel better overall.  It is not easy at first, but nothing that really matters is.  You read about great people all the time, but what separates them from you is really nothing more than “action” in most cases.  The results may not be the same, but that should not matter. The confidence of meeting your own goals and sticking to a plan you can control is all that is important.  Good things take time; great things are defined by doing those good things for a lifetime.  There are no shortcuts in life; you still have to live your life until you die.

Results

This month I had really dropped weight, not just around the waist, but also in my overall bone structure.  Not over loading on protein allowed my body to naturally shrink my frame as my body was not preparing to build extreme muscle mass.  My shoulders had started to shrink and my chest had gone from close to 50 inches to 44 inches.  Then came the weigh in.  I was excited to weigh in and see where I was at in the overall picture.  Could I break through to the top 3? How much more would I have to go through to win the competition in March? I took a deep breath and stepped on the scale....  215.5... I had lost another 18 pounds total in February!!! I had lost over 10% in two months, close to 8% in February alone.  How much more did I have to lose to win? I waited for the leader to weigh in, anxious to have a definitive goal for third month.  In a great strategic play, she refused to weigh in.  I had tipped my hat, let here know exactly how much I had lost and the traction I had gained.  I was upset I did not know where I stood, but now knew I was in second place.  One month to go: full steam ahead…..

Next Week (Part 4):  Plant based exercising or “If you only eat vegetables, where do you get your protein?”

Read Part 1: "My Journey from the Atkins Diet to Plant Based Living"
Read Part 2: "The Juice Fast, Into the Belly of the Beast...

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Running on Vacation in Washington DC

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Friday, June 22, 2012
in Training

Over the years one of my favorite parts of a vacation is the sightseeing. Visiting new places, famous landmarks, historical buildings, etc. My preferred way of sightseeing may be different than most. I have always enjoyed running from place to place during my designed "sightseeing tour". Now this is not an official workout. I typically wear a 3 button down shirt, golf shorts, and running shoes.  This is simply mapping out all of the places you would like to see in a city and instead of riding a bus, cab, or rental car I run between each venue. It may be a little unconventional, but luckily my wife is a runner too, so it works for us.

One of my favorite places to go on a "running tour" is Washington DC. I have made this trip with my family several times. In the early years my daughter was small so I would push her in a jog stroller and my wife would run next to me. We would stay in a downtown hotel and map out a route that would take us by the monuments and museums we wanted to visit. Now remember this is not a workout. We would run at a comfortable pace and stop to take pictures and visit the monuments or museums for as long as needed. Once we were done visiting a particular place we would simply start running to the next location. Being the typical runner you know I was wearing a Garmin. That way all of my miles could be calculated....you didn't think I wasn't keeping track, did you?

Here is one of our Washington D.C. sightseeing running routes

We would start approximately at a hotel 1 mile from the mall and then complete the following "tour":
  • White House >
  • U. S. Capitol >
  • Smithsonian Museums >
  • Run along Reflecting Pool to Vietnam Veterans Memorial >
  • Lincoln Memorial >
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial >
  • FDR Memorial >
  • around Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial >
  • ...then run back to hotel.

 

White House

This would total anywhere from 8-10 miles of total running depending on where our hotel was located. Would you be drenched in sweat?  Yes.  Would you be tired? Yes. But was it fun?   Absolutely. There is nothing like being able to get place to place by running and not having to worry about traffic, crowds, parking, etc. Not to mention if you like running this is actually fun. My daughter was in the jog stroller so she didn't care at all. Once my daughter graduated from the stroller I can tell you we had to abbreviate our "tours" to a 4 mile version. She actually "trained" one summer to get ready for our trip to DC.

I have done many trips like this one over the years in different locations. I think it is fun and active and eliminates the boredom of trudging from place to place on a tour bus or going back and forth to your rental car and waiting in traffic. You also get a better feel for a new location and get to see different things along the way that you wouldn't see otherwise.  Next time you travel to a new location, consider planning out your own running tour.

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