Monthly Archives: May 2012

He’s Heating Up

This past Saturday in my “brick” workout…(ride, then run….my last prior to this weekend’s Olympic Distance Triathlon), I couldn’t help but think about how hot it was.  While en route to what wound up being a 30 mile ride, I found myself chatting with my two training partners for the day (Derek & Chris) about the heat really starting to drag on me a bit.  It reminded me of this past year’s Boston Marathon….you know, that day that it was almost 90 degrees and humid in mid April…in Boston!

After getting off the bike, I started to think about “heat acclimation”….and what a surprise, almost exactly 1 year ago today, after having more unseasonably hot weather….I wrote the below blog

“If You Can’t Take the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen” – A few tips to stay fit and prevail in the heat ….


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 …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.
Happy & Hot Training……
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This past weekend’s triathlon completion marked a new first for me….well sorta…..having been involved in athletics all my life, the last 6 or so years have been dedicated to endurance sports and events as opposed to the football fields or wrestling mats I grew up on….but not much in triathlon.  After making the jump from traditional athletics to endurance, I quickly took to running and found that, although I didn’t LOVE it, I LOVED what it did for me….providing an opportunity for better health, incredible experiences, a way for me to set very specific goals and go after achieving them…and a way to provide a  little inspiration to some and gain a lot of inspiration from others.

Soon after I jumped into distance running, marathons, etc in 2006. I thought I’d hop in a local “sprint triathlon”…because, after all, I was an athlete…and I was “fit”.  So after what turned out to be about 3 sessions of treading water in my sister’s backyard pool….a run or two, and 1 cycling ride on a ten speed from the 1970’s….my buddy Justin and I decided to go for it.  Race day started with 40 degree air temps, and me…well I knew nothing about a wet suit.  Needless to say, within the first 100 meters in the water…I could feel every fiber of my being  beginning to tighten, cramp, and panic….thankfully, I’m a bit of a worrier so I quickly waived down the rescue boat…and so ended my first attempt at triathlon….a very humbling experience, and a great lesson in sport specificity and training.

Six years later, and LOTS more experience and endurance training knowledge under my belt….and a schlew of friends / family / colleagues and resources surrounding me and encouraging me to give it another “tri”….I decided I’d do it…and it went well….I mean it better have went well….the training principles are very similar to distance running….and another example of “if you put some time in you’ll get results out”.

Now don’t get me wrong…I could have definitely put more time into my training (only really had 1 month to focus after completing the Boston Marathon, but made a point to get in the pool and on the bike almost weekly since February)…but I did enough to overcome my fear of an open water swim, and build enough endurance in the water to get through it.  It went something like this…..

Race day arrived, and after packing the bike in a sedan (I’ve learned really complicated things like how to take off the front tire and inflate a road bike’s tires…sarcasm much?), I made my way to pick up my race packet and proceeded to the entrance to the transition area to be “marked”….and shortly thereafter I made an amateaur mistake giving the race official my age (31) when they really wanted my bib number (65) to write on my left shoulder…..oh well…there are worse things.

After settling into transition next to my younger brother Greg (also a first-timer), and getting advice from my friend Chris (experienced triathlete) and brother Mike (Ironman triathlete)….we decided to get the wetsuits on (not as dumb as I was last time)…and do a brief warm-up….and after jumping in the water….I couldn’t get over how warm I felt, and how much this suit made me float….my confidence was starting to climb a bit.

Soon it was time to go…and as we walked to the start…I promised myself to stay in the back on the swim…I was banking on passing many on the bike and run…and so I did.  The swim went almost as planned…minus the getting kicked in the face, hit in the foot and bumped from the side…and I definitely underestimated the wakes that other swimmers would create, making it much more difficult than swimming in the pool.  It probably took me 600 of the 1000 meter swim to “settle in”…but I got out of the water feeling strong with a smile on my face…mission accomplished.

Running from the beach into transition, I started gathering my thoughts about what I’d need on the bike.  Insert lesson #2….remember EXACTLY where you put your bike or find someway to mark your area clearly.  So after some wasted time in the transition area looking for my bike an stuff….I grabbed my fluids & a sleeve of cliff shots, sunglasses, helmet, slipped out of the wetsuit..dried the feet, into the socks and shoes and grabbed the bike to run out of transition…..50 meters out of transition, I realized I forgot my watch….lesson 3 on the day.

The bike part of the race (20 miles) was very familiar to me, it was around my hometown and I had ridden the course in training….it went as good as I could have hoped…of course knowing when the hills were coming and when they were over helped….I probably passed about 40 people on the ride…which although I was slightly impressed with was probably at least due to my slow swim as it was my fast (for me) bike……and as I headed into transition and off the bike, I was reminded of lesson #2…AGAIN.  Where the hell is that bike.

3 minutes later (or thereabouts), I was on the run….and “at home”.  I flashed a smile at my “fans” (aka family) and said….”now I can cruise”.  This is where I’d start pushing myself (for the next 4 miles) a bit…..and for the first time in a long time…pushing was fun again.  I probably passed another 20 or so on the run, averaging a 6:50 or so pace, and quickly finding myself at the final turn.  At that point…the day’s final lesson….I saw my brother Mike (who had finished about 1o min before) along with the rest of my “fans” and saw him waive quickly yelling “go, go, push-it”…I had a hunch I must be close to some time milestone…so I pushed….lesson #4…don’t underestimate how tired your hamstrings can get on a bike….instant cramp, and a “sprinting limp” led to a sub 2 hr. finish on the clock (1:53:40 net).

Overall – a great experience….something, like any endurance event, I think anyone could do if they put some time in…and for me, a good stepping stone to my first Olympic Distance (1500 meter swim, 24 mile ride, 6.2 mile run) on 6/3/12

Happy Training,


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Dear Mom

So I’m a couple of days late with this post, and I’ve been fortunate to be somehow associated with so many incredible achievements and cool things going on, I wasn’t quite sure where I’d go with this post.

There’s my best friend who, after over a year of training, has just logged his first 50 mile ultra marathon, qualifying him for the “Western States”….what he calls, “The Boston Marathon for Ultra-marathons”!  And instead of giving himself a much deserved pat on the back, he deflected his success, crediting his wife and the community that supported him.  Read his recap here.  How incredibly awesome!

There’s my pending “sprint” triathlon this weekend (oh yeah, conveniently forgot to mention this), where I’ll be entering the open water for only the 2nd time in my life (suffice it to say that my last attempt, with 40+ degree air temps and no wet suit, and next to zero training, didn’t last long and I got the dreaded DNF).  I’m a bit of a last minute entry, but figured it’d be a good test as I get ready for my first Olympic distance on 6/3.  Probably the coolest part of this weekend is that I’ll be doing the race with two of my brothers, and good friend Chris.  And although I’m thinking they’ll probably be so far ahead of me that they’ll be finishing when I’m just getting off my bike (or before)…beware gentlemen, if I see you on the run course, I’m not above tripping you just before the finish if I have to…ha, kidding of course!

There’s my two nieces, who have trained incredibly hard, and have been vying for their spot in the HS varsity chearleading line-up (with three high schools in our county alone placing nationally year after year, chearleading is quickly becoming one of the most competitive sports around), and while it only worked out as planned for one of the two….I’m confident that if each of them continue to truly desire greatness in the sport and stay focused, they have the love, support, and resources available to reach whatever they set out to achieve.

There’s my grandfather, a WW II veteran, who was just flown to DC by an incredible not-for-profit “Honor Flight“, to be recognized and honored along with two PLANES FULL of his fellow servicemen, for the extraordinarily selfless work they did for us overseas 65 years ago.  I am eternally grateful, and humbled for the sacrifices these folks made so that we can live the life we do.

There’s my brother-in-law who just graduated from college….and for those of us who have been there, we know what a hugely impressive…and sometimes daunting next step this can be….after all, with the real world comes real responsibilities and accountability to self…..but not to worry Jeff….what also comes is the real chance of “freedom”….to live the life you want!  Probably the best advice I ever received was to do what you love first, worry about money later….and even though I was too stubborn to listen right away (shocking, I know), after 4 months in a cubicle and some serious life changing events….I quickly realized that if there was ever a time to take a chance and follow your passion….the year(s) immediately post graduate were certainly it.  I urge you to consider the same, and am confident that if you do….you’ll land happily on your feet!

And then, there’s the one day each year when we actually stop for a second, and honor the people that brought us into this world….those so instrumental in giving us our greatest gift…life!  Mom’s may just be the most incredibly strong people in the world.  Somehow, from the moment their feet hit the ground in the morning, they start sprinting with one main mission….to take care of the people they love.  It’s pretty amazing really that they keep their sanity at all….and what may be even more impressive, it doesn’t seem as though they slow or stop as their children continue to age.  And in that, they may be life’s all-time best endurance athletes!

I’ve been fortunate to have had so many “moms” in my life supporting me….from the sister’s and sister-in-law who’ve made sure I’ve always had what I needed (also known as “spoiling”) and do the same for their kids, the Mom’s of friends who have “adopted” me over the years, the clients-turned-friends who have been so incredibly care-taking and generous, a mother-in-law that has treated me as her own from the moment we met (and recently trekked to Boston just to watch her granddaughter and support me in the marathon), and now a wife, who in only 4 months as a mom, has shown me the most incredible demonstration of strength, will, and love that I’ve ever seen.

But of course, this blog wouldn’t be near complete without a testimonial to my Mom.  This woman is nothing short of incredible.  With six kids and 11 grandchildren, she has in some way figured out how to make each of us feel like her favorite.  And it’s not just us…..having spent a career in education, I’m yet to meet someone more devoted to the lives and enrichment of children then her.  She has a gift, an endless love, and I couldn’t be more thankful that God chose her for me.

Happy Mother’s Day all!


The “All-time Momma’s Boy”…Eric

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Is the “E-GO” a Ticket to Recovery? ElliptiGO Outdoor Elliptical Bicycle Review

Taking from an article I wrote for last month’s edition of Pro-Activity’s “ELEMENTS” newsletter, a monthly publication providing education and resources on how to MOVE, FUEL, RECOVER, ENDURE, & CONNECT…..Well!


A little less than a year ago, Wes Knowles walked into our facility looking for some additional guidance, coaching, and rehab to supplement his current training routine, as he worked his way back from painful knee surgery. A lifelong endurance athlete, Wes’ message to us was clear, “After 6 marathons including Boston, NYC, and Chicago, a dozen or so half marathons, and a couple of triathlons, the time shortly following my knee surgery was when I hit rock bottom. I started to gain weight, couldn’t get outdoors to exercise or get the time away like I was used to, and what was maybe even worse, I started to lose touch with my social network….all the friends I had normally met for weekend runs were doing their thing, and I couldn’t keep up. At that point I knew I had to find a way back.” And so we got started, as health & fitness professionals typically do, with an assessment.

Within short-time, as we were completing various tests, measurements, etc. Wes asked, “Have you ever heard of the Elliptigo?”…..”Uh, can’t say that I have.” I stated….”Oh, you gotta try it. It’s like a high-end road bike except you stand upright and propel it with an elliptical motion. There’s no impact, and it’s the closest thing I’ve found that gives me the same workout feeling as running outside, without beating on my knee.” A few weeks later, he brought one over for us to try…Turns out that Wes, who had seen the product months prior at a race expo, was such a believer, he decided to become a distributor of the product.

Now, I must admit, anytime someone approaches me with a new product in the health and fitness industry, I’m extremely cautious to jump on the band wagon, maybe even more so if the person has a vested interest in it. It’s not that I’m not a fan of innovation, it’s just that, well I consider the Pro-Activity brand and my personal brand one in the same in many ways, and at the end of the day, the brand is worth more to me than just about anything in my professional world. So before I “buy in” I study the product, use myself as a guinea pig, and weigh the pros and cons before I’ll even consider recommending it to a client or friend. The Elliptigo being no different in this case. But after a few quick “tours around the neighborhood”, and a 10 mile trek as part of “the REDiculous Relay” (a little 200+ mile human powered event I’ve done with a group of friends the past two years from High Point to Cape May, NJ), I started to think…”Well, this could definitely be a fun alternative to pounding the pavement or great for someone seeking a new enjoyable way to exercise outside, but could it really be an effective training tool for recovery? Can I really get the cardiovascular intensity I need for performance improvement without as much stress on my legs?”.

In the ensuing 10 months, the ElliptiGO gained a a great deal of media exposure (most recently featured on Good Morning America below), and has gained the respect of some serious top notch runners, including Ultramarathon legend Dean Karnazes, American 50k record-holderJosh Cox, and 2011 US Road 5k National Champion Julie Culley, among others. Oh yeah, did I mention Julie’s also one of our coaches on staff here at Pro-Activity, and coached me to a 3:02 marathon PR six months ago!

“I’ll use the ElliptiGO on my long run days or as a secondary run on workout days, I get on the ElliptiGo to add on additional miles without putting the extra miles on my legs,” says Culley. “It saves my body, helps me enjoy getting the extra work in without taking extra out of my body, and I feel more recovered for the next day. Especially if I feel like my form is starting to break down or when I’m trying to build my mileage up, it’s a gateway to getting the time in without the draining effects of those last few miles. Having dealt with my fair share of injuries and set-backs through my career, I’m a big believer in recovery, and understand how important it is to listen to your body and work hard, but be weary of teetering on the edge of pushing too hard. I believe the sooner you can recover and prepare your body for the next workout, the quicker you will progress, and the Elliptigo is a great way for me to do that.”

Soon after Julie’s endorsement, I got a note from Wes in my inbox “Elliptigo Metabolic Testing Study“, stating the Elliptigo induced similar cardiovascular output and rates of perceived exertion as running (click to read full study). I thought, “Wow, these guys are for real with this thing…. maybe time for me to give it a second look!”. So, lucky as I am, I took Wes up on a previous offer for a 12 mile demo ride…but this time I was coming a “prepared guinea pig” with my Garmin 405cx and accompanied heart rate strap. I’d see for myself if I could get enough of a cardio workout (average heart rate between 140-150 is a typical “recovery run” for me) and still have fresh legs (judged by my ability to run around “race pace” immediately following). Away we went, and the results follwed:

Important Personal Statistics & Results:

  • Distance Traveled – 12.33 Miles
  • Time – 50:12
  • Pace – 4:04 min / mile or 14.75 MPH
  • Average Heart Rate = 144
  • Max Heart Rate = 169
  • Energy Expended (Calories Burned) = Estimated 609
  • Running Miles Completely Immediately thereafter – 3 miles
  • Average Running Pace – 7:05 min / mile (5 seconds off “race pace”)
  • Estimated Environmental Impact – minimal, it’s human powered! (had to throw that in there for Earth Day people!)

Done and done…I’m a believer! In my professional opinion, the Elliptigo does in fact hold up to it’s billing! It is a fun way to workout for the “newbie” or someone looking for a different approach to outdoor exercise, especially if running is NOT your thing. And it can be a realistic training and recovery tool for those runners who have been in the game for a while (Wes), those chasing Olympic dreams (Julie), and the “slow to jump” professional out there who wouldn’t mind a little performance boost (me). In fact, I’ve become such a believer that I’m co-championing an effort with Wes and “Run-on-1” to officially bring Elliptigo to Pro-Activity’s BaseCamp 31 training facility, giving clients and passer-by’s an opportunity to test it out for themselves. And if you’re as “MOVED” as we were, consider joining us in celebration of environmentally clean “Human Powered” energy as we Ellipti-GO-GREEN on May 18th, 2012 as featured in the “CONNECT” article this month!

For more information on the EllpitiGO or to schedule a demo ride go to Check out additional product specifications HERE

Happy and Healthy Training…and in this case, no worries, your new “E-GO” won’t get in the way!

-Eric E.

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