Monthly Archives: May 2011

If You Can’t Take the Heat, Get Out The Kitchen!

Welcome to Hunterdon County NJ, the land of 3 seasons….Fall, Winter, and Summer….aww crap!  That’s right friends…seems like less than two weeks ago it was in the 50’s and raining non-stop…..then last Tuesday it started, as an inspirational friend Kyle Cyphers led a group of friends and gathered our community in a 25 mile ruck (full gear) march to raise awareness and care package donations for our armed forces before his deployment to serve, the heat rolled in and seemingly hasn’t stopped.  And after a concerned call from Kyle’s mom came in when his sister Krystal (second from right in orange Team Pro-Activity shirt) was experiencing swelling of the hands (a potential sign of hyponatremia) as she kept up with her brother…..a few tips to prevail in the heat while staying fit seemed appropriate for this week.  Oh….and I’m back in training now too…so hoping to practice what I preach a bit.

Hydration

First – keep in mind that over 60% of your body is made of water and effective hydration is a key component to allowing your body to cool itself.  Actually, if you’ve been reading since the beginning, you might remember me mentioning that some anthropologists believe our ability to cool ourselves via sweat was key in our ability to survive, and when needed, run our prey to death.  HOWEVER, also remember that as we sweat excessively we lose liquid and therefore blood volume…adding additional cardiovascular strain (heart has to work harder to get the body what it needs via blood supply), AND we also lose a considerable amount of sodium…and when the sodium concentration in our body is lower outside the cells within our body vs. inside, the body compensates and pushes water into the cells…causing cell swelling.  And while some cells can handle the swelling (like those in Krystal’s hands)…some don’t do so well…like those in the brain, putting us in a potentially compromised and even dangerous situation.  But don’t just rush out and replenish excessive sweat loss with water alone…this might just make matters worse.  Read my colleague Justin’s blog for a further explanation of hyponatremia…and know this – dehydration equal to even a 2% weight loss (3 pounds for me) can have a detrimental performance effect…..and as much as a 5% weight loss (7.5 lbs if you weigh 150) has been shown to decrease performance capacity by up to 30%…yikes!

Some simple tips I put into place…keep liquid readily available while exercising in the heat….I drink about 3-5 ounces (few good gulps) ever 15-20 minutes.  But taking it one step further…when exercising for greater than one consecutive hour…or possibly even less in excessive heat….consider replenishing with a sports drink that contains the sodium, potassium, and other electrolytes you’ve just sweat out.

Training in the Heat

Don’t be afraid of it, just be smart.  It’s important to get acclimated to the heat, but starting out slow and short…some recommendations indicate starting with 10-20 minutes, and working up to about 60-100 minutes over a 10-14 day period.  And most research will point to 10-14 full days before your body full acclimates….but what does that really mean?

  • Blood plasma increases compensating for the blood volume lost via sweat
  • Lower core body temperature…meaning the body has further to go before “over-heating”
  • Lower resting heart rate & more efficient cardiovascular system
Further, some recent studies indicate that heat acclimation training has shown to provide performance benefits in both hot and cold environments!
For me – I try and do my interval work (bursts of higher intensity followed by a recovery period)  in the heat, but ensure I’m well hydrated and fueled prior to attempting.  I’ve found it to be a key in successful summer fitness and endurance events, and a competitive advantage vs. those who have taken the early morning “beat the heat” approach to training.  But I caution you, it’s not something to be taken lightly.
Bring the heat!

 

 

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Life’s Little Miracles

Well Blog-o-friends…..since April 18th and my experience in Boston, I’ve been looking for “that next thing” to focus on and blog about….I’ve had a great few weeks playing spectator, and watching from the sidelines as my colleagues, friends, and family have taken on and conquered some of life’s (self-imposed) challenges.  And while I finally got off the bench this past weekend in the Runamuck race (and actually was in first place for about 2 of the 3.1 mile race, until I took a wrong turn and went about a mile out of the way)….and oh yeah….I’ll be running to break 3 hours at the Marine Corp marathon in October…….BUT…..

I’ve been sitting on some news for a few weeks about an even more important, new test of will, passion, love, and commitment that is now upon me……it’s sure to take all I’ve got to be successful, and from what I can gather, it’s one of those things that once you’re in….you can’t get out….it’s the test of ultimate endurance….it is parenthood!  And my wife Amy and I couldn’t be more excited.

It’s funny, I feel like both Amy and I have been pretty well prepared for this news….having been surrounded by some of the best mentors and role models  on the planet….but I’m sure all parents would agree that one could never be totally prepared, and we’re in for the ride of a lifetime!

But one thing I’m 100% certain of….now maybe more than ever, Amy & I must remain “Fit 2 Be Live”….we must be strong in mind, body, and spirit…we must continue to do the little things right….move regularly, fuel appropriately, recover adequately, endure faithfully, and love unconditionally…….and if we can do this, I’m confident that we’ll be worthy of the most power titles in our language….”Mom & Dad”!

Keep us in your prayers!

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Eye on the Prize

Ok, it’s 1:30am, and I’m over 7 hours late for when this blog should have been done (typically I get this posted prior to 6pm on Tuesdays)….and for the last few days, I’ve had a few things blocking me from getting this posted.  The first…well, after such a monumentous (don’t think that’s a word) last few weeks with so much going on and write about…..so many stories to tell, and life lessons to share….I found myself at a loss for words, or original thought…………I know, shocking right?  I mean, it’s not like I’ve haven’t had that much going on….far from it…..and then tonight….as I was driving home about an hour ago after a pretty long day….it hit me….”Keep Your Eye on the Prize”!

I know what you’re thinking, “Far from an original thought!”…but still relevant for me.  You see my business partners, colleagues, friends, clients, and family (some of whom are all the same people….making things pretty confusing), and hopefully some of you….are closing in on the start of the next phase in our journey together……we call it BaseCamp 31…..and while this project will always continue to evolve, version 1.0 isn’t quite ready so that I may unveil it and share all the details with you,  the masses, (ok, so there are only like 50 of you who read this thing regularly….thanks by the way)……..

But, after spending the past 5 nights there till 11pm or later….learning my fair share of construction skills I could have gone without and diligently, desperately scrubbing our way to a (hopefully) pending certificate of occupancy …..just know this…..it’s much more than just bricks and mortar….or a few pieces of exercise equipment sharing a common wall with a place that serves tasty “Fuel”….it’s more than a handful of therapists and trainers who like to push you to your limits…and then a little past….in the few times we’ve invited a few in for a sneak peak, it’s proven to be an environment filled with community where you can let your hair down and be yourself, where one day you may be running on a treadmill next to a friend, only to be rocking out with them to some “classic” Karaoke tunes later in the week…a place to enjoy a cup of coffee and catch up with old friends…..it’s that “third place” in life that the social beings in all of us seek….it’s a space to strengthen your body one minute, and “fuel-up”, recover, pick up a favorite book, kickback and strengthen your mind the next….sound strange?….maybe…..quirky….probably…….unique….very likely…….an AWESOME PRIZE….DEFINITELY!  It’s been an great deal of work, and we’re pushing through the final stages and working what feels like “marathon hours” (so fitting that a marathon has 26.2 miles and a day only has 24 hours).  Hope you’ll consider joining me in starting the next phase of this journey there!  Stay tuned!

p.s.  Maybe on the verge of sappy here, but special thanks to my Mom….she’s been over there with us every night… up and down on ladders painting, down on hands & knees scrubbing…and bringing a meal here and there when needed most….not bad for a 60+ lady only 5 months post hip replacement.

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Taking It To Another Level….

One of the things I love most about my job is that I frequently get to witness first hand as people strive to take their “game” to the next level.  Be that the middle-age folks doing there best to get their bodies to a level of fitness that allows them to work long hard hours and still have the steam to keep up with their kids…the weekend warrior hitting the pavement to get “back to their old form”, the senior who will be damned if that walker is going to get in the way of their daily activities, and the youth athlete who’s working diligently in the classroom to then only spend the rest of their waking hours focusing on some combination of training on the field, in the gym, or behind the books so that they may excel into the college of their choice.  And what’s even better than watching them strive…..is how frequently I’ve had the opportunity to be their when they’ve ACHIEVED!  For me, it’s pretty inspiring and makes it a little easier to stay motivated to walk the walk.  But what I love most about this game….I guess the game of life…..is that no matter how far along you think you are in your endeavors….no matter how advanced your education is, no matter what your salary is, no matter how much you give to charity, no matter how strong or fit, driven or determined you may be…..there is ALWAYS ANOTHER LEVEL.

This past weekend, I was honored to watch those at “another level” compete before my eyes.  For those that know the Pro-Activity family, you’re well aware by now that one of our own (and my brother) Mike E. competed in and completed the St. George Ironman…dubbed by many experts as the hardest in the world!  And if you’re part of our greater family (and if you’re not, you should be), you well know that we’re all glowing with excitement, pride, and inspiration from his recent accomplishment.  But to me, what’s most amazing…. even past the “red”iculous amount of training time (1.5 years for Mike), energy, personal sacrifice, and money that must be invested to complete the 140.6 human powered miles required in an Ironman….is the amount of mental toughness, determination and sheer grit these athletes possess on race day.

You see, I consider myself a decent amateur endurance athlete, and with my recent little jog through Boston….I’m even starting to consider myself a “runner”….gasp…did I really just say that.  But while standing in 93+ degree heat, in the middle of the Southern Utah desert, at the bottom of a 6+ mile climb that wound itself through the red rock mountains, I couldn’t help but think….”Holy Cow…these guys have to climb this AFTER a 2.4 mile swim AND 112 on the bike, AND in 90 degree heat….AND turn around and do the whole thing again after climbing back down!”…..That is impressively…well, almost sickeningly AWESOME!

A incredible climb and demonstration of grit!

Oh there were amazing stories of human performance and perseverance….the one about the men in their 70’s who raced….the eventual winner who ran the 26.2 mile course under 3 hours (better than I ran my most recent marathon…and I didn’t have to do it in the desert or after a swim or 112 on a bike)…..there was the story of the former Triathlon champion who was recently getting back to the sport after an auto accident, and completed the event as an AMPUTEE!…..and then there was our boy…..pushing through the swim, powering past people on the bike with a smile, nodding his head at the 2 mile run, shaking his head in frustration at the 11 mile mark, walking with head held high after the dreaded halfway point (where other racers were finishing), but overcoming all obstacles, staying focused and jogging the final 5k as a model of strength for his family, friends, and our Pro-Activity Family!

Congrats to all finishers….and Thank You….you have yet again shown this amateur there is ANOTHER LEVEL!

UNBELIEVABLE!

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“Do Unto Others…..”

This past weekend will go down in my personal record book as one of the more inspirational, enjoyable, and rewarding experiences of my life…..it epitomized the core message of this blog, and summarized it’s purpose in a few incredible moments spanned over a 72 hour period.  If you’ve been following us on Facebook or reading some of my colleagues blogs, by now you’re well aware that a group of ordinary people embarked on the extraordinary this past weekend as our PACER team officially kicked off the 2011 season!  It was incredibly uplifting to be a part of a group that brought their “fitness (a)live”……we had walkers and runners, PR’s and “Loudmouths” (our name for those that line the course and cheer on the participants), first-timers and veterans, competition and socialization……..we had early mornings focused on hydration and late nights filled with pasta and karaoke (what!?)………there were stories of  monumental steps forward in personal health journeys, highlighted among others this weekend on Saturday by a one-time walker who jogged the down-hills and sprinted the finish and into the arms of her friends slashing her previous best by 15 minutes

There were stories of adversity and perseverance…the one about a new mom making her way back to her old form in a 13.1 mile race she hadn’t done since before giving birth to her first….the one about the lady who never thought she could run even 6 miles, let alone 13.1, who pushed through having had less than ideal training circumstances prior to race day…..there was the one about the now-veteran half-marathoner coming back to her inaugural race more prepared and more fit, who battled an unexpected injury at mile 6, regained her mental composure and fought tooth and nail for the last 7 miles to again conquered the 1/2 marathon….and we could never forget about the guy who stated only one year ago that he couldn’t even run down the hallway….but now, 12 months later and a 100lbs. lighter ran alongside his brother for 13.1 miles as a healthier, stronger, and fitter Dad-to-be!

Yes, there is no doubt these “ordinary” people did something truly extraordinary this weekend….but maybe this next part of the story pushes it over the edge…..a true “Golden” moment.

You see…a few years ago we got a call from a somewhat shy woman named Wandy…a woman ready to take the next step forward in her health journey….she had recently won a raffle and secured herself a free month of training with us, and was confident that being healthy, strong, and fit was just what her family needed at the time!  She locked in early on, working hard to improve her health and fitness as did her family.  Some even mistook her husband for an endurance machine….and in a short-while, even her young-adult children were catching the bug.  Things were on the up, when she was dealt an unexpected, unwanted, and serious health obstacle.  But, in her words, determined “not to let Cancer win” she pushed through a challenging 2010 with an unwavering commitment to a healthier and more fit 2011.  And man has she come out of the gates strong….with 4 months of rigorous commitment to healthy lifestyle on her side, this woman was ready to take the next step (or lots of them as you’ll soon find out)….moving from walker to runner in what would be her third half marathon this past weekend….but what made this one truly “Golden” is that she didn’t do it alone.

Now if you’ve ever heard of the “Golden Rule” you know it can be summarized by the following “Do Unto Others as You Shall Have Done Unto You”….or put simply, “Treat others the way you want to be treated”!  I’d like to say I’m pretty fortunate to have a great deal of folks that live by this around me……back to the story….

A few months back, one of our trainers (and one of my best friends), Nick, decided he was ready to train for and compete in the Ultramarathon races (greater than 26.2 miles)…but suffered a minor injury set-back a few months into his training.  Having already registered to complete this past weekends 1/2 marathon…and feeling decent, he contemplated going for it….knowing he could likely complete it in not his best, but a respectable age-graded time nonetheless.  But more recently, Nick came to the decision that there was more to this race that than his age-graded score….and he was driven to a higher cause…one that was self-less…and whether he realized it at the time or not…an opportunity to be “Golden”.

This past Sunday Nick and Wandy ran alongside one another cheering and motivating each other on the way to a 30+ minute personal record for Wandy!!….Nick giving to another the encouragement that is often required to push when you think you can’t, and Wandy giving back the self-fulfillment that comes when you know in your heart that you’ve played a small role in another’s Extraordinary Experience!  This is what “Fit2be(a)live” is all about….this is what we are all about….I am humbly honored to be a part!

Honored to be a part! Nick, Wandy, and I cross the finish line together after they run to a 30+ minute PR!

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