Decompressing After Greek Races

After the “2015 Greek Islands Adventure,” we flew to Munich and then took a train to Hinterthal, Austria to visit our Sarasota friends Jim and Nina (who are spending the summer in Austria). Due to their generosity and hospitality, we were able to enjoy such a special time in Austria. We went sledding down a glacier, biking/running/hiking in the Alps, and visited the picturesque city of Salzburg. Here is Jim and Nina below an amazing rainbow…

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After Salzburg, we went to a Mozart concert in Vienna, flew to beautiful Prague (my favorite city on our trip), and finished up in Frankfurt. We flew back to Florida this past week for a couple of days of recovery and reloading.

I fly up to New England tomorrow to hike “The Grand Canyon of Maine” with my older brother, Richard, and my niece, Aubrey, who is soon off to college. I have been doing some killer workouts this week in Florida trying to prepare my new hiking boots. The main focus was on doing a few thousand stairs a day on my gym’s stair stepper. New boots on a multi-day hike can be quite treacherous. I hope the boots are sufficiently broken in for the trek.

I will write again in a couple of weeks answering the many questions I have had about my training for the Greek Islands tour. Did I train differently at 52? What was the overview of my weekly workouts? What was added or removed?

Peak Performance Or Injury?

Athletes walk that tightrope of peak performance on one side and injury on the other. I am two weeks away from Race #1 of the 2015 www.OneMileRunner.com annual event entitled “The Greek Islands Adventure.” I definitely was on that tightrope this week.

After traveling to Maine last weekend for my niece’s high school graduation, we had our usual dress rehearsal prior to each of my mile event tours on Tuesday. The half mile course is nearby my house and is not an easy course to run on with many twists and turns. I have had difficulty in the past years breaking 2:30 on this course. In 2012, I thought my training was right on schedule, but I posted a 2:32 time in our dress rehearsal. I went on to race great solid times in 2012 on “The Isles Mile Challenge.”

I have tweaked a couple of things in my training at 52 years old, but I felt confident that my training has been on schedule leading up to my race season. On Tuesday, I ran 2:28 at about a 90-95% effort, I was shocked and discussed the run with my team. So I decided to go back to the starting line and run it again…how can I run faster than the 2012 dress rehearsal? I ran the course again and posted another 2:28. It freaked me out a bit, but I will share the changes I have made to my training in August when I return from Europe. So that was one side of the tightrope – peak performance. Then came Wednesday…

On Wednesday, I ran an easy 6 miles on the shell trail at Benderson Park. Just after the 5 mile mark, I accidentally stepped on a pine cone and landed on the side of my foot. I yelled at the pain and shock of the errant landing as I have never before missed the bottom of my foot completely. I felt like I “dodged a bullet” as I limped around avoiding serious injury. The next morning my lower left extremity felt worse, so I soaked in the hot tub and took two days off from running. Yesterday I ran 7 miles and did some barefoot sprinting in the Siesta Key white sands. I was back. Repeat 1/4 mile sprints this Sunday morning, followed by a full body weight workout, and then hit the massage table to have my massage therapist, Lori, check my lower leg.

It was a strange week of walking the peak performance/injury tightrope two weeks away from race day. Let’s hope I can avoid other pine cones this week…

Does Hydrotherapy Really Work?

The first month of training is complete for the 2015 “Greek Islands Adventure” race series. It has been a wonderful month of workouts and preparations. One of the new recovery tools I will be trying this training season is hydrotherapy. I wanted one of the most powerful, 2-persons spa hot tubs on the market. This lead me to the purchase of a Vita Spa called Amour. I have soaked every night this past week. Foam rolled every night this week. And had my massage therapist, Lori, over tonight to see how my body is doing after two weeks of intense workouts. I want to see how my body recovers over my five months of training. Does the hydrotherapy help? Does it hurt? Does it not make a difference?

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Here is what hydrotherapy claims to assist with:

1)  Soothe overworked muscles.

2) Diminish stress and tension.

3) Remove aches and pains.

4) Warm inner core.

5) Provide therapeutic massage.

6) Stimulate blood flow and circulation.

I will keep you posted over the next couple of months to let you know if hydrotherapy actually works. As I have done in the past with graduated compression socks, visualization, or nutrition, I have arranged a personal laboratory to test out this experiment. If anyone of you have comments about hydrotherapy or want to share your personal experience with hydrotherapy, please write us back with your input.

How To Optimize Your Off-Season Workouts

I have really been enjoying my off-season workouts after spending the summer training in the mountains to prepare for the Grand Canyon this past September. Off-season training is a very important part of success on my various tours. Here are a few ideas to make the most of your off-season and get you ready for a fabulous 2015:

1) Have a very detailed and measured plan of attack. Off-season is the time to address areas of your training that need improvement. Whether it is a nagging, repetitive injury that will not go away or a perception that is holding you back, the time to work on your weaknesses is now. Your planning will create a purposeful off-season.

2) Establish a great foundation. Your off-season is the first building block to success in 2015. Be certain that your workouts reflect your needs for your upcoming competitions.

3) Hit the weights. The goal of your resistance training program is not hypertrophy. Your desire is to balance your body and to strengthen your ligaments and tendons in preparation for the tough workouts ahead.

4) Work on making your form the most efficient as possible. My 3 speed workouts per week begin in March, but I work on my sprint form every week in the off-season to compose my entire body for quickness and pop. I am not running with the high school track teams until the spring, but I concentrate on my sprint form during my “give and go” workouts on the beach.

5) Write down your 2015 aspirations. Once you put them in writing, you will begin to wrap your mind around your quest. Every year I begin by saying that I think my aspirations are too big to accomplish, but as the off-season progresses I begin to digest my goals and begin to visualize the process for a successful tour. I believe in the process. My state of mind will be totally locked and focused by the conclusion of the off-season.

Just got news that I’m a featured plant-based athlete in the brand new book Vegan Vitality by Karina Inkster. Check it out at http://www.amazon.com/Vegan-Vitality-Complete-Plant-Based-Lifestyle/dp/1629143642.

Wishing you the best with your off-season workouts and have a wonderful holiday season!

When An Injury Becomes a Godsend

To start 2014, www.OneMileRunner.com wanted to share an inspiring story of recovery and performance…here is an article by Jim Burnett, resident of New Hampshire and member of the Upper Valley Running Club:

October 20, 2013: “Turn and burn,” Joe, shouted as I carved my way around the final turn, hugging the curb and peeking back to see who was creeping up on me – 200 meters to go. This race, the Granite State 10-Miler, was to be a tune-up for the Manchester City Marathon two weeks hence, which in turn was to be my final race for the New England Grand Prix Series on which I had pinned my hopes for a top five age-group final standing. I sprinted down the home stretch, my pursuer licking at my heel and then, with 20 meters to go, my hamstring suddenly “popped.”

December 8, 2013: Seven weeks after the hamstring injury I floated along the coastline of Cape Ann wearing a smile that wouldn’t go away. I had done my rehabilitation homework, passed strength and agility tests week after week and 49 days post-injury, I raced the Half MerryThon in 1:37:07, twenty-two seconds faster than at the New Bedford Half Marathon nine months earlier. I was not only “back”, my hamstring was stronger than ever.

Honestly, the hamstring injury scared me. Could I fully recover? I was also embarrassed for desperately flailing and over-striding down the home stretch and I paid the price. I was unable to run the Manchester City Marathon and, as a result, slipped from 5th to 7th in the series age-group standings. It was a stupid mistake, but with the help of some running friends, I learned a valuable lesson. If you put your mind to it and you are patient and careful, an injury can become a godsend. You can recover and come back with a vengeance and become stronger than before.

As fate would have it, a few days after the injury I was to meet with Laura and Greg Hagley to discuss coordination of the Upper Valley Running Club Tuesday Night Track (UVRC TNT) workouts for the upcoming winter months. I mentioned my injury and within five minutes Laura and Greg (both practicing physical therapists) diagnosed the severity of the damage and recommended an article for rehabilitation from the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (Vol. 40, Number 2, February 2010 entitled, Hamstring Strain Injuries: Recommendations for Diagnosis, Rehabilitation, and Injury Prevention). Greg asked if I felt pain in the middle of the hamstring or at either end where the tendons attach to the bone. The good news for me was that I had partially torn fibers in the middle of the muscle and I had not ruptured the muscle or its tendon. Laura liked the journal article and recommended it because it lists 3 phases for rehabilitation in which the injured runner performs a series of exercises and movements, such as side-stepping, pedaling a stationary bike and doing body bridges, until he/she meets the criteria for progression to the next phase. In order to progress from phase one to phase two, for example, you first have to be able to perform a normal walking stride without pain and be able to jog at very slow speed (10-12 mpm). I liked the program because I could start right away, even in my injured condition – walking and pedaling and doing slow speed agility drills. I also followed the typical rehab routine of icing and elevating the injury. Within a day I was seeing progress, and I was convinced I was on the road to recovery. I also knew that I needed to be patient because it would take 4 to 12 weeks to get back to competition. I was told that many come back too soon and reinjure the muscle and make things much worse.

Earlier, during the summer and before my injury, I became interested in Dave O’Meara’s Body Protection Program – Injury Prevention Training for Competitive Athletes (www.BodyProtection.com). I met Dave when, at the invitation of Kim Sheffield, the UVRC Summer TNT coach, he came to observe one of our afternoon track workouts and to give a presentation about his Body Protection Program that evening. After my injury, I started to gradually incorporate Dave’s methods into my rehabilitation program. I bought his instructional CD, communicated through email and followed his advice. He suggested that I start with Foundation Training then move into the strength, endurance and flexibility exercises. Systematically, I began to introduce my body to the Body Protection movements and as a result I gradually got stronger (legs, arms, core), improved my balance and became more flexible. Combining the advice of Laura, Greg and Dave I have successfully worked my way through, rehabilitation and recovery – I believe that I am now “back” and better than ever. But, for me, this is just the beginning. Like building a pyramid, I have established the first tier, the foundation, and the work continues. I now plan to add more layers of Body Protection – strength, endurance, balance and flexibility – in order to improve my performance and remain injury free. I only wish I had committed myself to this path sooner. But, sometimes it takes a serious injury to open your eyes wide.

At the age of 63, I continue to try to improve my running performance – speed for the mile run and endurance for the marathon. I love to workout at the track and run short, fast races – the mile, the 1500 meters and the 3000 meters. After my hamstring injury I put my plan to train for the 1500 and 3000 at the Dartmouth Relays in January 2014 on hold. About every two weeks during my rehabilitation, I emailed updates to Laura, Greg and Dave. Their feedback and encouragement played an important role in my recovery. It’s much more difficult to recover alone, without advice and reassurance. After six weeks of progress, I told Dave I thought I was ready to run the Half MerryThon in December. I reassured him I would not run under 7:00 mpm and there would be absolutely no sprinting at the finish. He gave me the green light and after its successful completion, I began to think that maybe I could run the 3000 at the Dartmouth Relays. I ran it by Dave and he agreed.

January 12, 2014: Rob and Geoff had run the 1500 and now stood by the finish line to watch their wives Cindy and Nancy and me run the 3000 and count laps. Rob held out fingers for laps remaining, 6…5…4…3… running round-and-round in the hypnotic swirl, I felt the exhilaration of speed afoot…2…1… around the far turn and down the back stretch – Mike and Betsy cheering – down the homestretch, no flailing this time, 12:19 on the clock, one year older and 6 seconds faster than last year. Yes, an injury can become a godsend.

By Jim Burnett

Recovery Begins On The Inside

Recovery is not only a big part of a successful racing tour, but also of a successful workout week. When does recovery begin? It starts immediately after you cross the finish line. What you do to cool down, rest your mind, and nourish your body is the key to how soon you can train or race again. The first thing I reach for after the race is water and my Vega Performance Protein. This natural plant-based product builds and repairs my muscles and reduces recovery time between my training and races. It is dairy, gluten, and soy free and I love the chocolate. I mix this Vega Sport powder with rice milk, almond milk, or just water to begin the repairing process with its 26 grams of protein per serving. If I do not have the powder, then I reach for water and the Vega Sport Protein Bar with its 15 grams of protein.

Below I am having a Protein Bar after our 8 mile Saturday workout, strength exercises, and flexibility. We were soaked in the Florida heat, but it was good preparation for our 2013 Body Protection Tour that begins in the Middle East early next month.

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(Photo by Wayne L. Johnson – waynepacer.smugmug.com)

I have been using Vega Sport products since my first running tour in 2008. I take the Vega One nutritional shake first thing in the morning when I awake and then the Vega Sport recovery products after every workout.  Treat your body right and start your recovery from the inside first so you will be able to successfully perform again later!

Cool Down?

A new study published in The Journal of Human Kinetics claims that a cool down does not relieve the pain from workouts. The test compared individuals after exercise. There were three groups: Group 1 that warmed up before exercise but did not cool down,  Group 2 that did not warm up before exercise but cooled down, and Group 3 that just exercised. The study states that the group with least amount of muscle pain was Group 1 emphasizing the benefit of a warm up. Groups 2 and 3 were found to have the same degree of muscle pain emphasizing the lack of importance of the cool down. Please check out the article by Gretchen Reynolds from the NY TImes: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/24/do-we-have-to-cool-down-after-exercise/

At www.OneMileRunner.com, I have gone into great detail about my extensive warm up, mobility program and the difference it makes for me to avoid injury. In addition, even if a cool down does not assist in post exercise muscle pain, it is an ideal time to increase your flexibility as your muscles are filled with blood. Our 3-D flexibility program is a wonderful way to work on your range of motion. So do you take the time to cool down or not? The choice is yours. I will choose to open up my range of motion at the completion of my workouts with 3-D Stretches, hurdle walk overs, a foam roller, The Flex-N-Go, and The Stick to loosen my tight areas.

Recovery Workouts

Since my return to Florida, I am trying to listen to my wife and rest a bit more. I have to admit that I have had difficulty “decompressing” after every one of my tours and this year is no different. A little down time, an occasional nap, and a swim in the salt water are very much in order for September. Also on my return, I try to help out a few of my running buddies in their workouts.

We try to take advantage of our natural surroundings in Florida and workout/run on the beautiful flat beaches in Sarasota. I was assisting one of my running buddies in a six mile run on Saturday and we ran by four manatees in the shallow waters of Siesta Key. Manatees are as big as cows and are very friendly. It was one of the many blessings in our early morning workout.

Even though I am not training for competition this fall, I hope to enjoy the simple pleasure of running and to inspire the other runners preparing for competition. Maybe this fall I will do a little better getting accustomed to life not on tour…

How To Achieve Peak Performance

We wanted to share what we learned in this 2012 Isles Mile Challenge experiment  that could help you perform at your peak. Remember this is a “buffet” of ideas, please pick or choose what you want that could help you reach your highest level of performance.

1) TRAINING – Our focus in the spring on running up and down the Ringling Bridge to prepare my body for the up and down conditions of the islands worked out great. My training buddy, Wayne, and I set up sprint work, tempo work, and interval work on uneven terrains. We live in Sarasota and train most of the time on surfaces that are very flat, we call the conditions “Florida Flat” (as I have raced in California on so-called flat courses, but they are very up and down compared to Florida).

2) RECOVERY – After 30,000 miles of travel through various time zones, my body held up surprising well. With races every week, one pulled hamstring and the tour was over. No Advil or ice was used  to recover – just massage therapy and my Body Protection program. During an interview the other day, the reporter did not believe me at first when I said that I used no medicine at all on the trip, but after he heard of my training – he understood. Not only on this tour did I not get injured, but I also did not get sick. My immune system stayed strong throughout the travel. I took my Vega One shake every morning, followed a strict vegan diet, and had no alcohol.

3) RACING – Prayer, visualization, and a present focus mentality prepared me for the various race conditions. Each race was different, but my mind was the same. There were times I spent hours on the road race course going through the turns and 1/4 mile splits over and over. I wanted to feel like I had raced on this new course before. Getting familiar with the conditions really assisted me in my racing confidence. Also,my focus on my racing form and technique really helped me to stay fast and strong. Charlie Olbrias (our official timekeeper) said that I looked as fast as I did 3 years ago when he followed me to 27 races in 2009. My mile race times this year backed up his observations and assertions.

Now that the summer is over, it is time to set up your fall training, recovery, and race schedule. Please feel free to ask me any questions on how to optimize your efforts as you try to peak in the last quarter of 2012.

How Nutrition Plays A Vital Role In Your Recovery

We had the special opportunity to hear Brendan Brazier speak in Sarasota on Sunday afternoon sharing snippets from his new book, Thrive Foods. A former professional Ironman triathlete and author of Thrive and Thrive Fitness, Brendan is the creator of a whole food line of nutritional products called Vega. In the photo below, Brendan and I are flanked by Sheri and Leslie from Sequel Naturals.

 

 

I have traveled all over the world the last few years as a Vega Ambassador with my nutritional packets of Vega to start my day with Vega’s Health Optimizer – thus replacing any other supplements. Then I finish my workouts with Vega Sport, a natural plant based performance protein, for my recovery phase. These are the main products that I use in the Vega line. Vega products are a great example on one of the topics that Brendan discussed yesterday – high net gain nutrition vs. low net gain nutrition. He believes that with athletes of similar talent, workouts, etc. – the difference is the recovery phase for improved performances. He went on to say that the key to the recovery phase is nutrition – about 80% of the recovery phase is your nutritional intake between workouts.

Please check out his new book, Thrive Foods, on how nutrient dense foods can change your life and the lives of others.