Runners always find dead bodies

July 17, 2007

I love my Pearl Izumi cycling shoes.  They are pretty old school, ugly, and don’t breathe.  I still love them. What I didn’t realize is that they are more than just a cycling brand.  And now they are really pushing this angle.

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June 15, 2007

My new favorite store. This is a store for the serious endurance athlete. I don’t even think you can work there unless you are heavily involved in running, triathlons, or some similar fitness variant.

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Daddy needs a new pair of shoes!

June 14, 2007

I hate shopping. More than anything. I hate spending money. I hate pushy salespeople. I hate trying things on. I hate not finding things that I need or want.

There is one exception to the rule, though, and that’s when it comes to buying sneakers. I love sneakers. I have 11 pairs sitting in my close right now. It’s not that I necessarily buy a lot of sneakers, it’s just that whenever I replace my running shoes, I keep my old ones, because I guess that I hate getting rid of things also.

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May 14, 2007

Is it just me, or does it feel like there is a higher concentration of douchebags in a workout environment than anywhere else; at least in real world day to day life. It kind of makes sense, after all, people tend to get into cramped quarters, get all sweaty, energized, and to some extent, completely self-involved. Social norms such as politeness or even basic etiquette tend to get thrown out the window. Maybe it’s the elevated levels of testosterone, or hey, maybe it’s just the fact that some people are complete douchebags.

Allow me to provide a few examples:

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Spring has (finally) sprung

April 24, 2007

A very, very long time ago, I had written about how I was going to be spending a whole lot less time in the gym, and a whole lot more in the gorgeous spring sunshine, riding my bicycle or running along the West Side Highway in NYC. After all, it was almost the middle of March, and I was ready to stop spending so much time inside of the gym, and a whole lot more outside. Boy, did Mother Nature totally NOT get the memo.

Wait, some might ask, “but FitFiend, we thought you liked working out, what happened?” Well, I do, but there is only so much time you can spend indoors with a bunch of machines and a bunch of other smelly, sweaty people, some of whom probably contributed to my feet issues. These are same people who wear gym clothes too many days in a row without washing, and the same ones who sometimes forget that just because you are listening to your IPOD, doesn’t mean that nobody else can hear or smell when you are baking brownies (Disclaimer: I am by no means 100% innocent of any of this).

Also, I will certainly still be hitting the gyms, but just not spending as much time in them as I had to over the colder months. While most of my cardio will be outside, there are still certain spin instructors who make life worthwhile. That’s right, a great spin class can be the highlight of my day, sometimes even week. Sure, some spin instructors revel in their classes pain, but if they are any good, I usually like it!

That said, these last 3 days in NYC have been gorgeous. I was trapped inside working on Saturday, so I couldn’t enjoy a run or a bike ride, but I have made up for it the last few days. Unfortunately, I have checked up on the weather, and I think that Mother Nature was just teasing us, because it is going to be headed back into 50s and raining later this week. This means, I will have to back inside and aside from lifting, and probably spin, I will be stuck to the treadmill or stair mill, both of which I hate. If only running on a treadmill was as much fun as this looks.

High Intensity Interval Training

March 20, 2007

People take this type of training very, very seriously. I am not an expert on it, although, as someone who grew up playing as a competitive athlete, I can tell you we did a lot of this type of training. I don’t remember hearing the phrase “High Intensity Interval Traning” being used, though it was referred to, circumspectly, by coaches and trainers. For example, we knew the way to get the most out of a run was to throw in some sprints, then actively recover.

I suppose indoor cycling does incorporate this as the class is generally run on an interval principle.

When I say that people take HIIT very seriously, I don’t only mean those who do it get really into it, I also mean that there is normally a huge disclaimer that is only for people who can handle advanced training and who have no medical or health issues. The main reason is that your heart is put under stress by spiking your heart rate and then bringing it back down, then repeating the cycle several times.

I would guess your average FitFiend who incorporates cardio into their regimen, barring any underlying health problems, would have not problem doing this.

Aside from doing spin classes, which I generally do 3 or 4 times a week, I have been trying to do HIIT on the Stairmill. Over the course of about 30 minutes (after a warm up, of course), I would spike the setting to Level 20 for 30 seconds, and at the end of 30 seconds, I would bring it back down to Level 7. For the 30 seconds on Level 20, I would basically be running up the stairs (running, not sprinting). It would get me pretty winded, and my heart rate generally did spike. It certainly was a great workout, although, for the sake of true HIIT, I think that doing it off of a machine is probably better. With a machine, you have to wait for it to increase to the desired level, etc. Also, since I was running up the stairs, I could have still worked harder, but the machine was at capacity.

Results wise, I definitely felt like I had gotten a great workout, and did so in less time than for a comparable jogging workout. Calorie-wise, I am a little skeptical, but maybe if the machine could bring me to a sprinting level, it might have been more comparable.

I know I have been saying this for weeks, but winter is finally over (I hope), and will try to do more HIIT outside, the way it should really be done. It makes a long run a whole lot less boring, trust me. For more information on HIIT, check out this link. HIIT is becoming more and more popular, but it has been around a long time. 

No Pain, No Gain

March 15, 2007

This is an antiquated theory I wholeheartedly subscribe to. However, nowadays, if most people hear these words, especially people who are experienced in fitness, they freak out! If they do, it’s my fault and I should be more clear.

When I would come home from college for the summer, I taught at tennis academies. Part of my teaching involved leading the conditioning sessions for the kids, most of whom were 12-18 years old, competitive tournament level players. However, many of them were also lazy, and needed to be pushed; that is why they were training and also why I led the conditioning. Sure, if one of them had an injury, they wouldn’t have had to participate in conditioning, but if they were too injured for that, they wouldn’t have come in to train that day in the first place. Kids would stop, and I would do everything I could to make them keep going.

When I say “no pain, no gain,” I refer to mental toughness. This is what you need to push yourself through a marathon or even when you are lifting. Obviously, you need to discern between physical pain and mental pain. However, a lot of what you need to achieve physical results is driven by how mentally fit you are.

Now, I am not suggesting that you train through an injury. That would be stupid, er, and something I might do, like I did in early January.

If I am sore from doing squats or dead lifts one day, I still go running the next. Yeah, soreness does not feel good, but I find that the cardio actually helps to get rid of the soreness. It is a kind of physical pain that I believe can be worked through.

Still, there should be a differentiation between an actual physical injury and mental toughness when people say “no pain, no gain.” There is a huge difference between when you are super fatigued and you push yourself to keep fighting on, vs. when you are hurt.

Unfortunately, a lot of people mistake feelings of fatigue with feelings of physical pain. So much of what we feel is mental, and when people realize this they can see much more in the way of physical gains. Those kids I taught all would get tired, but it was only the ones who realized that mental toughness could make them keep fighting who actually progressed further in their tennis careers. This is a lesson that anyone can apply and this is what I mean when I say “no pain, no gain.”