Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday: High Intensity Workouts Are Good For You

>> Thursday, January 29, 2015

I was alerted to this article in an odd way. The New York Times recently featured this article about the benefits of high intensity exercise, and a former co-worker James O'Brien did the illustration for the article:


Nice work, Jim! (If you're wondering: yes, Jim's a runner too!)

Anyway, on to some of the points in the article. Here's some of what it had to say (with some parts bolded by me):

Many people with chronic health problems resign themselves to lives of modest activity or no activity at all, thinking vigorous exercise is unsafe or that they lack the stamina for it. But recent studies are proving just the opposite.

They are showing that high-intensity exercise may be even better than regular aerobic activities for many patients with conditions like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, pulmonary disease, arthritis and Parkinson’s disease.

The studies strongly suggest that a more demanding but more efficient and often more enjoyable form of exercise known as high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is not only safe for most patients but more effective at preventing or reversing the deficits associated with many chronic ailments.

Whoa. Not just for athletes. And with possible major health benefits!

Researchers have found that repeatedly pushing the body close to its exercise limits for very brief periods, interspersed with periods of rest, is more effective than continuous moderate activity at improving cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic and mechanical functions.

Instead of continuous movement for 20 or more minutes, as is typical for exercise walkers, joggers and cyclists, HIIT usually involves 30 to 60 seconds of exercise near the peak of a person’s ability, followed by a comparable recovery period of easy activity, with the sequence repeated for a total of about 20 minutes three times a week.

“We know that exercise is good for people at risk of chronic disease, but people tend not to exercise,” said Jonathan P. Little, a specialist in exercise physiology at the University of British Columbia at Okanagan. Yet he and other researchers report that study participants find interval training more enjoyable than continuous aerobic exercise, making it more likely that people will continue it on their own.

I'm actually one of those people that find it "more enjoyable." And I think the crossfit trend is full of people who feel the same way too. (Not that I do crossfit.)

The authors of the study go on to say that high intensity training ISN'T for everyone, just for "low-risk individuals" or "moderate-risk individuals who have been cleared for vigorous intensities by a medical professional." And it's good for LOTS of people:

“We’ve seen, for example, that interval training is remarkably effective at lowering glucose levels in people with diabetes,” Dr. Little said in an interview. “Just one session improves a person’s glucose level.”

[…]

By making blood vessels better able to expand, HIIT can improve the cardiovascular system’s ability to respond to added exertion. Oxygen-carrying blood can flow more smoothly through arteries that are wide open, which also reduces the risk of a vessel-blocking clot.

And they say these physical benefits can be seen “after as little as two weeks of training” with high-intensity! And an earlier study done by researches in Canada, France, and Switzerland pointed out that “HIIT appears safe and better tolerated by patients than moderate-intensity continuous exercise” and more effective at increasing patients’ peak oxygen uptake, blood vessel flexibility and pumping ability of the heart.

So don't shy away from those intervals!

CLICK HERE for all posts tagged with "Thirsty Thursday" - posts about body science, training tips, or other informative things.

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Semi-Wordless Wednesday: My 2015 Racing Kit

>> Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ole' swimming buddy Julia is on to something here...



Julia's right - I'm gonna need to lube up. Time to place an order for this.

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A Weekend Lego / Train Project

>> Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pharmie had to work this past weekend. Henry and I spent late Friday morning through late Sunday morning making this (watch it full screen for best effect):


Direct link: http://youtu.be/IpOdOrq4i5g

I used a lot of Legos at the start of the project (and used less and less as we went along) because I had no plans of it being this big. At first, it was just going to go up to that first short white Lego table with the red and green top. Then it looped onto the end table. Then it crossed the Lego table again. Then it crossed over a gap to the train table where it finally ended.

Here are 6 pics of the current set-up in the playroom:


Also showing the big "figure 8" on the ground (and note Charlie on the far left).


The tallest sections on top of the heater and stool, with Henry for scale.


The ramp up (and Charlie on the left again).


The long, tall, straight stretch.


The final curves (on top of the train table that I built
for Henry last year with scraps from our new garage).


What a weekend! :)

Oh, and the majority of these legos, trains (only 1 pictured but we have LOTS), and track pieces came from a Craigslist STEAL last summer. We got much more than was pictured in the ad, and it ended up being $600+ worth of trains and Legos for $50 or $100 (I can't remember how much exactly). Here was a photo I Instagrammed back then showing all 143 new track pieces set up in an endless loop (with 3 tunnels, 2 dump sites, 3 mini bridges, and 2 places where cranes can fill up trains):


June 2014.

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The Tale Of Two Triathletes

>> Monday, January 26, 2015

ONE: BFF Pro Triathlete Devon Palmer is turning Amateur.

After earning tens of dollars in the illustrious world of pro triathloning, Devon has announced his new amateur status for 2015. Here's an excerpt from his post last week:

I am very excited to announce that for the 2015 triathlon season I will be taking a big step forward and racing as an amateur! This is a huge move and a major decision and something that I am confident will impact the sporting world from top to bottom. I am leaving behind the rough and tumble rodeo of professional racing for the glitz and glamor of amateurism. Am I ready to race in the big leagues? After spending five years developing in the salt mines of pro racing I know I am crusty enough to finally bark with any of the big dog age groupers out there. Why make the leap now? It’s my time.

When he announced this on Facebook, there was a lot of feedback. Allow me to direct you to a few of the 45 comments:


But seriously, those 6 comments were made within 5 minutes. DOES NOBODY WORK?

Devon's 6 years younger than me, so we won't be competing in the same age group. UNLESS it's a small race that has 10-year age groups, in which case we could be going head-to-head for the first time in the summer of 2017 (he'll be 30, and I'll be 36). Stick around 2+ years to see if that happens...


TWO: Local Speedy Amateur Triathlete Heather Lendway is turning Pro.

As Minnesota loses a slightly-better-than-average-looking male pro triathlete, we are gaining an amazing female pro triathlete. I've mentioned Heather a bit since this past summer when we officially met at the Trinona Triathlon. She is insanely speedy, completely humble, and has little body/facial hair. (Sort of the complete opposite of Devon.) And her Dad makes a mean apple crisp.

She started tris in 2012, doing 6 races and finishing 3rd at the lowest. (Winning a few too.) She was named Minnesota's Rookie of the Year.

In 2013, she won 8 out of the 10 triathlons that she entered, and 4 of those wins came with course records (INCLUDING a course record and win at the USAT Olympic Distance Age Group National Championships).

Then in 2014, she entered 13 races, won 12 of those, and 9 of those wins came with course records! She got a ANOTHER course record at the National Championships (making her a back-to-back National Champ), but failed to get a course record at the ITU Olympic Distance Age Group World Championship in Canada. But she still won. Yep, WORLD CHAMP. It will be fun to see what she can do as a pro.


U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! (At the ITU World Championship race in Canada.)


After having won the World Championship!


Her pro card.

I like this because stinky Minneapolis loses a pro triathlete, and awesome St. Paul gains one. Nice.

Sidenote: Heather's only non-win in 2014 was a 2nd place finish at her first draft-legal race in Michigan. I don't know this for sure, but it seems like she was thinking about going pro and decided to try her hand at an ITU draft-legal race before making the leap. Very few people around here knew she was doing that race: I think only her family and the guys at Gear West Bike and Tri knew about it (because she borrowed a road bike from them so should would have legal equipment to race an event like that). Again, I don't know that for sure - I'm just sharing my speculations as if they were facts. I'm like "The National Enquirer" or the "STAR Magazine" of Minnesota triathlon news (but with less celebrity crotch-shots).

Check out Heather's race reports and blog posts on her website, and follow her on twitter.

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Look What I FINALLY Did!

>> Saturday, January 24, 2015

This FINALLY happened:



That's right! I finally did my first trainer ride of the winter got my bike put on the trainer.

Yeah, that's all. It's ready to go, but it hasn't "went" yet. Soon. I hope.

I was finally prompted to get this ready because my workouts at the Y have been cut short all month. Charlie - however adorable - has been really "growly" lately. He's just noisy. He doesn't really get upset, but he's loud enough to get the other young kids riled up, and then the Y daycare employees have to get me. He's rarely crying, but he's just growly. He's been this way at home too. I don't know what's up. He's stopped doing any baby talk, and now just grunts and growls. So maybe, MAYBE, one of these days at nap time if my Y workout is cut short, I can take the baby monitor downstairs and spend a little time on ole' Goldilocks. We'll see. But don't hold your breath.

Unrelated: former student / running race buddy / 2-time triathlon teammate Jeremy was 7th overall at the Securian Run Half Marathon this morning. Before the race, he Instagrammed this photo:



Sorry about your blue splash, but nice running today, Jeremy!

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Friday Funny 863: A Perfect Watch (and funny links)

>> Friday, January 23, 2015




Like I do every few weeks, here are some of my recent favorite posts from my tumblr page:

7 Athletic-Related Funnies:

Doing planks.

A sports t-shirt for your non-sports-watching friend.

Running in a nutshell.

Training vs racing.

Everyone who works for the Patriots right now.

A running flow chart.

A running shirt.

A Bunch of Non-Athletic Funnies:

Me and food.

Who else is getting ready for tax day like this?

My fav ice cream.

Who needs a mirror?

[GIFs] This looks like an awesome thing to do to your home (but I bet this guy will not have sex for a week).

How to trick your body while eating pizza.

Honest "back soon" sign.

Cute nicknames for your girlfriend.

Breastfeeding in public.

My life with cats.

[GIFs] A stand-up comedian's take on her bout with breast cancer.

Sex positions that get weirder and weirder.

THESE are the powers I want from "Frozen."

Reasons for dying in Call of Duty.

Adulthood in a nutshell.

Proper ways to mis-spell Matthew McConaughey.

A depressing thought about Fridays.

And as always, stop by steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com for funnies all week long. Happy weekend!!

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Friday Funny 862: Things You Can Say About Your Drink But Not Your Partner


















Lots more funny stuff posted all week long at steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com.

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Friday Funny 861: NFL 2015 (A Bad Lip Reading)

I LOVE these "bad lip readings," and this one just came out yesterday. Turn it up, call over your friends, and hit play. (But why didn't they dub over Tony Romo's voice?)


Direct Link: http://youtu.be/OTRmyXX6ipU

"... turns out he's a coke dealer." I'd love to really hear Ed Hochuli say that.

More funny stuff on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com!

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Friday Funny 860: Runners. We're Different.

15 years ago, Adidas ran a sweet ad campaign with the tagline "Runners. Yeah, we're different." Here are a few that I like. (Click here to see larger versions.)





















Lots more funny stuff (some running related and some not) on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com.

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Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday: Foam Rolling Advice

>> Thursday, January 22, 2015

I recently came across this article that lists the 5 biggest mistakes people make when foam rolling. This was written by Chris Howard, who's a NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and a Licensed Massage Therapist. I'm not ready to take this as ABSOLUTE FACT, but he's got some interesting points. Here they are:

Mistake #1: You roll directly where you feel pain.

When we feel pain, our first inclination is to massage that spot directly. However, this might be a big mistake. “Areas of pain are the victims that result from tension imbalances in other areas of the body,” says Sue Hitzmann, MS, CST, NMT, manual therapist, creator, and author of The MELT Method.

Let’s take the IT band, for example. Foam rolling is a commonly prescribed remedy for iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS). While religiously rolling out your IT band might feel good, “the idea that you are going to relax or release the IT band is a misconception,” Hitzmann says. The phrase roll out your IT band itself makes it sound like you are rolling out a piece of dough, but your IT band is anything but pliable. It’s a remarkably strong piece of connective tissue, and research has shown that it cannot be released or manipulated by manual techniques such as foam rolling. “If you iron out areas of inflammation, you can increase inflammation. And if you are in pain, your body will be too stressed to repair itself,” says Hitzmann.

A lot of people in the comments of the article disagree with this point, and I KINDA do too. There are times I go in hard where it hurts (like on my calves), but there are other areas that refer pain other places (like my current hip/sacrum issues). I've always been told to roll my calves when they hurt. I don't really buy into this point.

Mistake #2: You roll too fast.

While it might feel great to roll back and forth on a foam roller quickly, you’re not actually eliminating any adhesions that way. “You need to give your brain enough time to tell your muscles to relax,” says Monica Vazquez, NASM certified personal trainer and USA Track and Field Running Coach.

YES. Coaches/Docs have always told me to go slow over tender areas. And that leads to the next point...

Mistake #3: You spend too much time on those knots.

We’re often told that if you feel a knot, spend time working that spot with the foam roller. However, some people will spend five to 10 minutes or more on the same area and attempt to place their entire body weight onto the foam roller. If you place sustained pressure on one body part, you might actually hit a nerve or damage the tissue, which can cause bruising, according to Vazquez.

My go-to ART Doc whom I'd trust with every part of my body (don't take that TOO far, people...) has always told me to do 10-12 slow reps on my IT band or my calves, and then call it quits for a couple of hours. Really work that area, but then take it easy and let it rest.

Mistake #4: You have bad posture.

Wait, what does your posture have to do with foam rolling? A lot. “You have to hold your body in certain positions over the roller,” says Howard, and that requires a lot of strength. “When rolling out the IT band, you are supporting your upper body weight with one arm.” When you roll out the quads, you are essentially holding a plank position. If you don’t pay attention to your form or posture, you may exacerbate pre-existing postural deviations and cause more harm.

This seems pretty random to me. Sure, I can see it as a point, but it's not the most important. Again, don't roll for too long (point #3), and you shouldn't be throwing something off by rolling with potentially imperfect posture.

Mistake #5: You use the foam roller on your lower back.

“The thing that makes me cringe is when people foam roll their lower back. You should never ever do that,” say Vazquez. Hitzmann agrees. “Your spine will freak out and all the spinal muscles will contract and protect the spine.”

The fix: According to Vazquez, you can use the foam roller on your upper back because the shoulder blades and muscles protect the spine. “Once you hit the end of the rib cage, stop.” If you want to release your lower back, try child’s pose or foam roll the muscles that connect to your lower back — the piriformis (a muscle located deep within the glutes), hip flexors and rectus femoris (one of the main muscles in your quads).

People in the comments section of the article seem to be unsure of this last one as well. Some people are like "oh yeah, don't do that," while others are like "hey, I roll my lower back and it's helped a lot!" What Howard and Vazquez say SEEMS to make sense, but I don't have a big opinion on this either way.

But what I can "second" from this article are these reminders:
- ROLL SLOW.
- DON'T ROLL OVER THE AREA FOR TOO LONG.

That article makes foam rolling come across as kinda scary and something you could screw up. Buy give it a try if you haven't. Follow the 2 "big" rules above, and try to rub out those legs!

CLICK HERE for all posts tagged with "Thirsty Thursday," which contain training tips, info on training gadgets, etc, etc.

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Semi-Wordless Wednesday: Oops!...I Did It Again

>> Wednesday, January 21, 2015






Yep, I'm signed up for the "Loony" weekend again in October: 10K and 5K on 10/3, then 10 Mile on 10/4. I figure I have to try to defend my title. Oh, and my lovely Pharmie signed up for the "ULTRA Loony" again (10K, 5K, and Marathon):


And Matt and Angela signed up for the Loony and ULTRA Loony like they did last year too!

Good times await! Race with us if you dare! :)

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More Photos of my Bright Team at the Trinona Triathlon

>> Monday, January 19, 2015

I recently found more photos from the 2014 Trinona Triathlon online. Here are 25 I wanted to share: some of my relay and some of friends:


Heather Lendway is so fast because she gets a good look at the course pre-race.
(She SMASHED the course record at Trinona and just turned pro for 2015.)


Heather can also walk on water.


The elites off and swimming... and HEY, THAT'S ME in the corner taking video.
Note the pink plaid shorts. :)


TT start.


I don't know who Jake was, but he had an awesome cheering section.


Now THAT'S a productive dolphin dive!


Swimming in beautiful Lake Winona.


Me waiting to start as the relay swimmer for my team (the "R" of Trinona is on my knee).


I started with a pre-pubescent girl.


The young girl and I starting. You can see how gingerly I'm running in because of my sprained ankle.
(And I also like to make sure my crotch is the first part of me to enter a room/vehicle/lake.)


A pregnant woman starting behind me who POSTED A BETTER SWIM TIME THAN ME.
I'm still kinda worked up about this not bothered by this at all.


It was a beautiful morning for a swim!


The lake went from deep to shallow QUICKLY right before shore.


Me running out.


The pregnant swimmer just behind me.


Relay biker Jenn ready to rock!


Climbing THEE hill!


Jenn on the course!


She looked good/fast in my shorts.


More bikers on the course.


The sweet, FAST downhill back into town on the Oly course.


More of that downhill.


The run course is nice and flat, just around the lake.


DKT taking the win.


Heather taking the female win.


Jeremy finishing to give our team a win! And as I mentioned
in my race report
, we were just a few seconds from the course record too!


Nice running, Jeremy!


Heather giving Diane and CY a nice shower.


Our team on top of the podium! Beating a team of boys
and a team with a pregnant swimmer. Go us. Don't get in our way.

Here's my race report from June with lots more photos of my brightly-colored team at work, and here's my post from last week with more photos from the Trinona Time Trial. Check them out if you missed them.

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