Change of Scenery


Part of me feels guilty for taking a trip while “out of work.” But the truth is, I am on sabbatical.  I am taking the time I need to recuperate and get my head back into the game for a grand 20-year (maybe more) finish to this life.

When I left that horrible job and horrible company, I contacted a great friend of mine and asked if a visit could be arranged.  The response I got back was, “of course, but come in September”.  So, here I am.

I have been in San Antonio for 2-months now, but it feels like so much longer.  Perhaps it is the heat, humidity and general urban experience.  Urban living is so unnatural, at least to me.   Getting stuck in traffic, being separated from my beloved nature (trees, mountains, water), walking the concrete jungle, and facing my fear of crime, are experiences manufactured by the complexities of modern civilization.

After making some arrangements, the cat and I left for Santa Fe, New Mexico on Friday the 13th. Luckily, we didn’t die or get slashed by Jason on the trip, but we did arrive in Santa Fe for lots of rain.

Gorgeous New Mexico, food for the soulThe contrast between San Antonio and Santa Fe is mainly in size, beauty and temperature.  Both towns have a remarkable history with native peoples, the Spanish and numerous governments over the years.  The added benefit of Santa Fe include the nearby pueblos, fantastic scenery, and the milder summers (but cold, snowy winters).

Roughly 48-hours in and my soul is happy for the change of scenery.  The intimacy, closeness of nature, abundant arts and culture, and a culinary scene to inspire wannabe cooks, are taking their effect on rejuvenating my soul. With inspiration and relaxation in abundance, perhaps it is hard to truly feel guilty about taking this trip.  Perhaps this trip is an important stepping to the next 20+ years?

Push Through It!


If working out was easy, everyone would be a triathlete.  Heck, the world would be a much better place as the food industry wouldn’t be trying to cram sugar laden food down our throats. But this isn’t a post about the sins of the major food processors.

No, this post is about the transformation and journey one will experience as they move off the couch and into the gym, outdoors on the jogging path, and/or on the saddle of your bike.  This is also a good time to disclaim the concept of seeing your doctor before doing any rigorous exercise.

Reflecting on the Painful Past

As I reflect on the past few days and the agony of sore quads, a bit of dehydration, and stomach discomfort, I look back to my first journey and the pain, the emotions, and the experience I had when I was in much worse shape.  It was not a walk in the park.  In fact, I was moody, in pain, couldn’t catch my breathe, and wanted to walk away from it all so many times.  But I didn’t.

This time, I know what is ahead.  Right now, it hurts.  Right now, I lose my breathe easily.  Right now, my heart rate peaks very quickly.  Right now, my muscles are fighting to stay in bed.  Right now, I am thirsty and hungry.  Right now, I am drenched in sweat.

But tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that, I will experience these things a bit less.  Pretty soon, I can climb a flight of stairs with vigor without losing my breathe.  Pretty soon, my muscles will be upset when I DON’T exercise.

Don’t Be One of the 95%

As we embark on our fitness journeys, we will go through stages.  I understand why a lot of people go to the gym and give up after three sessions.  In fact, one of my personal trainers told me once that if he could one client through six sessions, they would be a client for over a year!  That conversion rate, less than 5%.  Yup, less than 5% of clients go beyond six sessions.  That’s a lot of people saying goodbye to their fit future.

Take My Advice

Just push through it
from Brainy Quote

For anyone who is new to this and just embarking on their fitness journey, my advice is this:  “Just push through it! The reward at the end is far sweeter than you think.”  It is true.  Becoming a triathlete saved my life and it gave me a life I never thought possible growing up.  Being fit makes it super easy to do things.  Being fit makes you look different walking down the street. Being fit gives you confidence.

While the first few sessions will suck and that voice in your head will try to convince you to go back to the couch, don’t listen to it.  Listen to me, “push through it” because you will thank yourself later.

Let’s do this together.  Subscribe to my Blog, join me on Twitter. Leave a comment, share your goals. Let’s create a community.

Stretch People! Stretch!


stretches for triathletesOMG! It hurts! It hurts so much a grown man wants to cry! Just cut my leg off, PLEASE!

Seriously, it does hurt.  My left quad has a pain like none I’ve felt in a long time.  Why? I overdid my workout and I didn’t take the proper care post workout.

Yes, I had a nice thick luscious protein shake within 30minutes of my workout end.   BUT, I didn’t stretch. Nor did I foam roll.

Stretching is a great way to wind down from your workout.  It is also a great way to get into the workout mindset.  Stretching is about preventing injury to cold muscles and it also helps worn muscles to recover post workout.

So, stretch! Even better, foam roll! A combination of foam rolling first, then stretching will help keep your limbs from cramping up.  Also, drink a protein shake and drink plenty of water.

Stretch again before you go to bed.  Some athletes also start and end their day with a good stretch.  If you need some inspiration, check out these stretches for triathletes.

Stretching and foam rolling is not only a meditative way to keep your muscles in good shape, but they will also keep a grown man from crying. Get to it!

 

Quick Start Apps for Getting Into Shape


Seems the smartphone is the new computer.  You are no one if you don’t have one.  In fact, many Millennials have indicated they would give up their car before they give up their smartphone!!  Thank you Steve Jobs!!  😉

I’ve been playing with a few Apps as I begin my new chapter in multisport and wanted to share some of the ones I really dig.   So, in no particular order:

  • Lose It: While there are numerous Apps out there which allow you to track nutrition, Lose It! is by far my most favorite.  The UI is brilliant, the database is nearly complete, and I love the “scan barcode” function.  You can even set a weight goal and the daily calorie count will automatically adjust.   So far, I’ve lost 8 pounds with this app.
  • EveryMove: Earning rewards for your workouts is nothing new, it has been around for a few years.  GymPact and AchieveMint are the real pioneers.  However, I fell in love with Every Move recently and have been earning rewards happily ever since.  Instead of cash, you earn discounts with online retailers, usually in the 10%-30% range.  I recently saved $24 when I earned a Reward for Kaidel Sportswear and purchased a stylish new cycling jersey.  You can also view a Leaderboard of how you perform in relation to other people your age or other people in your City.   Very cool!
  • FitDeck:  When looking for inspiration for a workout at the gym, FitDeck provides a simple package of workout flash cards conveniently located on your smartphone.  I found these guys originally on an episode of Shark Tank. My experience has been with the Bodyweight deck, which includes Pushups, Bear Crawls, Lunges, and Planks, to name a few.   It provides an illustration of how to do the movement with suggested intervals/counts.  The shuffle feature allows the user to create a random workout at the click of a button.   Other “decks” are available for purchase including Yoga, Vertical Jump, and Core Blast.   Way cool!!

While the App universe is full of millions of Apps which claim to help you achieve fitness, the three listed above are proven to work based on my experience with them.   As always, consult with a doctor before starting any workout routine or altering your diet.   Happy Getting into Shape!

Keeping the Flame Alive


Fire.  It is inside every triathlete. It is what makes us jump into freezing water.  It is what makes us ride 112 miles and then run a marathon!

As strong as the Fire can be, it is also quite delicate.  The Fire can spit, cough and even die out.  When it does, we don’t do the crazy things that triathletes should do.

Here are some quick tips on keeping the Fire alive and well inside you:

  • Track your workouts closely, paying attention to intensity
  • Listen to your body and giving yourself a day off
  • Have a regular yoga session in your weekly routine
  • Hang out with the right people and DON’T listen the over competitive professional wanna-bes out there
  • Eat the right food when you need it, if that means a few bits of ice cream on occasion, so be it
  • Never be afraid to question your coach, sometimes they are driven by testosterone than the good of their athlete
  • Spice up the routine, switch cycling and swimming days
  • Try a new route, services like Endomondo and MapMyTri have libraries of route submitted by users
  • Sleep, and get lots of it.  10-12 hours a night might just what your body needs
  • Set long-term, reasonable goals; if you have never done a 5k, you certainly won’t be running a marathon next month

Keeping that fire alive isn’t that hard. It takes patience, awareness and the long term vision of your goal.   Keep your on the prize and never forget where you have been.

Keeping It Real During the Holidays


The off season provides time to relax and let the body recover from the strenuous racing season.   As triathletes, we live a lifestyle full of activity, healthy food and awesome friends & family.

But, during the winter when the weather is cold, wet and dreary, we tend to focus our activities indoors at the gym and around the house.  To add another layer of complexity, the holidays tease us with a variety of scrumptious foods like pumpkin pie, egg nog, turkey, sweet potatoes, ham and cranberry jelly.   The holidays usually come and go with an increased waist line.

But, you can keep it real during the off season and actually get a head start on the new racing season with a few simple tips:

  1. Pack bands and other small home gym equipment when you travel.  With a body weight workout supplemented by a few bands, you would be surprised how good  of a workout you can get in within the hotel or guest room.
  2. Pack warm clothing and run when it is sunny.  Early morning runs can be breathtaking during sunrise. By wearing thermal gear and layering, those early morning runs don’t have to be cold too.
  3. At dinner, eat the sweets in moderation and have a larger helping of vegetables.
  4. Enjoy every moment you can with your friends and family.  Let go of your goals, the coming season and training.  Spending time with those important to you now will pay off dividends during the new season.

From Aric In Training, Happy Holidays.   I hope everyone has a safe, fun, and memorable holiday season!

How Important Is The Workout Gear?


In this installment of milestones along my journey from office potato to triathlete, I wanted to point out just how important having the right gear for your workout really is.

When I started my journey at 60 pounds heavier, I really had no clue what it meant to truly workout.  Sure, I knew what if felt like to sweat, dripping my saltiness everywhere I went, how it soaked my clothes and even how much bad it made me feel.

During those first few months of workouts, I was so new to this that I didn’t even own a real t-shirt. Shortly before my first workout with my new trainer, I remember scrambling through my closet, looking for something to wear.  I had shorts, albeit more leisurely shorts made of cotton.  So, my first workout gear was nothing more than a cotton t-shirt and cotton shorts.

view more milestones and tips along my journey

You know what happens to cotton when it gets wet?  It sucks up moisture and hangs on to it as long as it can.  When it does this during an hour long workout, your clothes not only get heavier and heavier, but your body is then wrapped up in a wet “towel”, preventing it from cooling off, so it sweats even more.

Aric in Training April to November
Comfortable running in lightweight clothing.

At the end of the workout, you must then extract the soaked clothing from the body.  With a sweating body and sweat soaked clothing, there almost seemed to be a glue that was keeping them together.  No amount of heaving and hoeing would make the clothing give.  Already exhausted from the hellish workout, one must contort in ways never thought of.  I quickly nicknamed this the “sweat dance.”

While my trainer and I had a rather amusing conversation around this topic, he suggested buying some actual workout clothes.   While, I wasn’t wild about investing even more money into this fitness thing at that moment (joining the gym hurt the pocket book enough), fifty dollars for a set of actual workout gear (shirt and shorts) really was small potatoes in the grand scheme of things to come.

After making my purchase and proudly strutting through the gym wearing my new clothes that said “Champion” on them (a champion would settle for nothing less!), I immediately felt a difference. The difference wasn’t just about showing off the new clothes, the clothes made me feel different, especially after my first workout in the new gear.

First and foremost, I felt how much lighter the polyester based fabric was.  By comparison, the heavy cotton felt like wearing a lead vest, whereas the polyester was almost like running around naked.  This translated to even more of a weight difference during and after the workout.  The polyester didn’t absorb the sweat nearly as much and it didn’t stick as badly to my body.  The “sweat dance” quickly became a thing of the past in the locker room afterward.

Next, during the workout, I felt significantly cooler. The heavy, sweat soaked cotton was acting like a blanket, keeping heat in.  The lightweight polyester by contrast, was light and airy, allowing the air to reach my skin and heat to be released.   In fact on cool mornings, the amount of steam coming off my body is sorta like San Francisco in a fog. The fabric also dried very quickly. With improved body temperature regulation, my body could better handle the tough workouts.

view more milestones and tips along my journey

After a few workouts, there was no going back to cotton.  The freedom that well designed, lightweight fabrics can give the triathlete is a huge reason to say bye-bye to cotton.  Sure, the investment is a little more than cheaper cotton, but performance always comes at a price.

This was the first of many gear purchases that would make my workouts more comfortable and, in turn, help me achieve my goals. Having the right workout gear is hugely important.