Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'll Miss Coaching My Son In Football

I’m not usually a SAD person, but I am this year.

This is the last year I will coach my oldest son, Jay, in football. I’m BUMMED! I will have a terrible time getting over this.

For the past five years, I’ve spent four to five days a week in the fall helping to coach my son’s football team. It’s been a great experience. Our head coach, Tait Hines, has been an absolutely phenomenal individual to serve.

We’re 42 days into this year’s practices, and our prospects are geared toward another successful season. But I’m really worried about how I will react to next year’s absence of the whistle around my neck or the clipboard at my side. I’m sure I’ll end up heading over to the field at Stilwell Junior High to see how the practices match up to the ones we’ve put together over the past five years.

I have great faith in our varsity football program at Valley High School. I hope the quality of the coaching my son will receive in the interim will match the passion he has received with the Packers’ coaches over the past five years.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Staying Motivated And On Track With Your Fitness Goals - Part II

Once I started thinking about this topic, it was easy to come up with more ideas!

This can be a tough situation to beat. I serve as a primary example. Case in point – no sooner then when I posted my last entry, I slept through the Bosu aerobics class that I was very excited to attend the other day.

So, here are few more hints on overcoming this problem –

Got an Ipod Yet?

When I was given my Ipod last year for my birthday, it offered a whole new lease on fitness activities. Having the ability to easily program your own music that inspires you really helps your motivation. It almost serves as a new and fun activity to build the next playlist of songs. I highly recommend the purchase of an Ipod if you don’t have one already. Invest in the attachment that logs your runs – it’s about $30. Trust me; you will be glad you did.


Take a look at other physical fitness activities. There’s running, biking, swimming, weightlifting, aerobics . . . the list goes on and on. I added weights to my routine about six years ago when I joined a health club. After I joined the club, I was inspired by other members that I befriended to try swimming, biking and aerobics classes. Next thing I knew, I was signing up to participate in triathlon events.

As we age, it’s important to vary our physical activities – particularly if you’re a runner. If you’re like me and many other 40-somethings, we just can’t put in the miles we used to.


I like to gloss over the Internet and other material that I find to give me new ideas about training. There’s a wealth of information throughout the web – just type in a topic on Google and off you go! There are also plenty of health-related magazines offering suggestions for alternate forms of training. Personally, I never miss an issue of Runner’s World. While this magazine focuses more on running, it provides a never-ending source of ideas for personal motivation, new training strategies and crosstraining ideas. Runnersworld.com is an excellent resource as well. Plus, if you’re looking for easy-to-follow training plans for any running race you desire to complete, it’s all available at halhigdon.com. I recently stumbled upon a blog written by Christina Luff -- http://running.about.com/mbiopage.htm. Visit her site and you’ll find she has some great training plans along with some valuable advice about crosstraining.

Try a Change in Scenery
Try a new running or biking route. Here again, it’s all too easy to fall into the rut of consistently doing the same routes over and over again. If you’re swimming, have you tried an “open water” swim at a local recreational area? We fortunately have one near my workplace and a quick, half-hour swim in this scenic venue is great stress relief on a hot, sunny workday.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Staying Motivated And On Track With Your Fitness Goals

I'm back from a great trip to Philly and ready to blog again!
It’s pretty easy to hit a “rut” in your training. If you’re “tired,” “sore” or whatever; excuses abound when it comes to trying to establish a plan or routine.

Whether you’re training to lose some weight or do a marathon, I’ll share some of the strategies I’ve used to keep myself on plan –

Set a goal and plan ahead (and be flexible)

You really need to establish a goal that allows you to benchmark your progress. For example, you can set out to lose 10 pounds in 30 days, run in a 5K race or participate in a triathlon. Setting a goal that YOU wish to attain is important, because only YOU will see to it that you reach your desired goal.

Set a training plan to reach your goal. I plan my training out anywhere from three weeks to three months out, depending on my goal. Make sure to be flexible with your training plan because we all have other issues that arise. For instance, if you’re traveling for a few days where you know you will not have access to a pool for scheduled swimming workouts, make accommodations for those situations in your plans.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

This is a mistake far too many people make. If you’re a beginner just starting a running program because you were motivated by the Olympics, don’t set your goals toward a marathon just yet. There are dozens of plans available via the Internet for beginner 5K races. Also, remember that if you’re over 40 and overweight, it’s important to consult your physician as to what type of physical activities would be good for you.

Find a workout buddy

To me, there’s nothing more motivating to show up for a workout than knowing a person or group of people are waiting on me. When you agree to meet someone for a run or bike ride, your chances just increased by about 50 percent that you will be there.

Join a club

By joining a fitness center or running/biking/swimming group, you will network with like-minded individuals who will “keep you on task.” The YMCA is great because it’s economical and you can find one nearly everywhere. Take this a step further by participating in classes at a fitness center. Spinning, yoga, aerobics, pilates or whatever. Not only are classes a great way to meet “workout buddies,” but they are also good for cross training.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Can We Keep Our Athletic Facilties Clean Please?

78 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, no wind and a beautiful baseball field. Ideal conditions for a little hitting session with my sons this past weekend, right?

Not exactly.

It is very upsetting to visit a ballpark and see all of the trash people leave behind. Beverage bottles, wrappers, cups, plates, and utensils - you name it -- folks just leave it behind as though there's a guarantee mom is coming along right behind to pick up after them.

Not so.

Jay, Matthew and I spent some time picking up before we left, so it looked a little nicer. Plus, I thought it was good to instill the values of "cleaning up" for my sons. Those who know me well know that I have no environmental agenda of any kind. But it's time for us to start taking better care of the "footprints" we leave in the spaces we occupy. Although our clean up work was minimal, at least we were making an effort!

The following day, my faith was restored. After Jay’s football game, the home team’s parents, coaches and players were asked to pick up the trash in the stands as they had participated in the final game that day. It was good to see the players, coaches and their families enthusiastically embrace this chore. With everyone’s cooperation, it took less than 10 minutes.

I’m going to have to take a few days off from blogging due to a trip I need to make, but look for more entries late this week.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Wanting To Be More Competitive In Your Training? Try A 5K

Looking to take your training to another level? A 5K race is very attainable for anyone who has spent a few months in training. Plus, competing in a race will offer you a benchmark from which you can work toward improvement.

There are numerous training programs for 5K. Try Runner’s World at http://www.runnersworld.com/subtopic/0,7123,s6-238-244-259-0,00.html. Hal Higdon has some great programs at http://www.halhigdon.com/5K%20Training/index.htm. Very easy to follow. Many of them won’t require a huge bite out of your busy schedule.

If you’ve been doing middle distance running for a while and are seeking a personal best time in a 5K, there’s a program to consider at http://running.about.com/od/5kracetrainingschedules/a/5Kadvanced.htm.

You may find training for a race is a good time to add some crosstraining. Many plans offer days for crosstraining or rest where another activity like swimming, biking or walking can be inserted.

If you’re truly feeling like an overachiever and have extra time, you can add a few weight training sessions per week into your routine. Runningplanet.com has a variety of strength training programs for runners at http://www.runningplanet.com/training/strength-training.html. Finally, look to select the right 5K event. The most complete event schedule for the state of Iowa and beyond resides at http://www.fitnesssports.com/.

Find that 5K event, train and good luck!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Is Your Child Enjoying The Sport They've Chosen?

It’s that time of year where you’ve taken in a few full weeks of fall sports’ practice along with adjusting to the school schedule. This time of year can pose a big question for some children – are they ready for the fall sport they have chosen?

It seems particularly difficult at this time of year because two of the top fall sports – football and soccer – are physically demanding and children are still adjusting to their schedules for school.

This poses difficult decisions for coaches and parents alike.

Coaches, if a child appears particularly miserable and disengaged after two to three weeks of practices, it’s probably time to make sure the parents are aware of this. Gently explaining the situation will help the parents properly assess the situation and make the appropriate decisions with the child.

Parents, be ready for this message from a coach. If you’ve observed that your child is making excessive excuses to avoid practices or the child is not talking positively about the experience, it may time to reassess the situation. It may be REALLY time to reassess the situation if a coach informs you that he or she has noticed the same behavior in your child.

As a parent, I always like to teach the value of “never quit.” However, if a child is particularly miserable in his or her effort to play a sport they don’t enjoy; this isn’t helpful to that child, the coaches, the parents or other players. Check out these two blogs and what they have to say about "pushing" children too hard in their activities (very interesting) -- youthsportstips.blogspot.com and parents.berkeley.edu/advice/playing/sports.html

We have so many other options for activities that our children can pursue. As long as coaches and parents are consistently steering children toward activities where they will excel, then nobody is quitting and everybody is winning.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Be Careful When Practicing In Heat

Practice during the heat. Let’s be honest – it sucks!

Today it reached 85, so we are still in that zone for some warm practice time. Let’s review a few pointers that might help with HOT practices.

- First and foremost – water, water, water! Make sure to give the players water breaks every 15 to 20 minutes. You might have to err toward 15 minutes on days of 90 degrees or more. Furthermore, encourage players to drink water throughout the day before practice as a form of hydration.
- While you can encourage players to bring their own water bottles, bring a water cooler and cups yourself to ensure there’s water for everyone – even those who forget!
- Cramps are common during the heat, so be ready to assist those requiring extra stretching as a result of the heat.
- If a player is reacting negatively to the heat, let them recover. So often coaches rush to the judgment of “you’re a wimp” or “you’re not hustling” when oppressive heat is hindering the performance of a player. Allowing a player to “work through” or “rest” a bit through excessive heat will most often yield positive results. Remember, early in the year of fall sports, players may not be in primary condition for intense practice in intense weather.

Chris Stewart, ready to be a star on the Douglass High School team in Oklahoma City, passed away recently after suffering from heat stroke at practice. (http://www.medpagetoday.com/PrimaryCare/PreventiveCare/tb/1564)

With a little attention and care, we can hopefully prevent these tragedies from happening.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Physician/Runner's Medal Project Inspires

Sometimes it’s truly inspirational to learn about the extraordinary efforts of those in the running world who do things to make the world a better place. If you haven’t caught this month’s issue of Runner’s World, it’s worth reading about the efforts of Steven Isenberg, M.D.

After competing in the 2003 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon, Isenberg visited a colleague hospitalized with prostate cancer. He gave his ill friend his medal from the race indicating, “You are running a much more difficult marathon than the one I completed.” His friend so treasured the medal, Isenberg started Medals4Mettle, a non-profit organization that collects medals to give to those fighting serious illness. The effort has even attracted the medals of Olympic athlete Brian Sell for donation.

What an out-of-the box approach to bring comfort to those who are truly in need. Check out medals4mettle.org to see how you can donate a race medal. Medals4Mettle accepts medals from all events; however, they have to be earned from event finishers.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

GOP Rebounds At Convention

Occasionally, I'll write some opinions about other issues beyond coaching and training. I wanted to share my thoughts about the recent Republican convention.

What a rebound! The GOP can truly be excited about the energy generated from the second half of its convention.

I wrote some thoughts last week indicating that the first half of the Republican convention was nothing short of disappointing. Questions about Sarah Palin’s past and botched responses to those questions left the top of the ticket looking a bit fatigued. After Tuesday, there were serious questions as to whether John McCain had made a wise choice in a vice presidential candidate.

Following refreshing speeches by both Palin and McCain on Wednesday and Thursday, the tide seemed to turn. Americans seemed comfortable with the outsider approaches Palin and McCain pitched last week and in subsequent post-convention speeches.

A new USA TODAY/Gallup poll appears to validate the success of Republican convention. Read about it on No Quarter -- http://tinyurl.com/6h3xx7.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Coaching And Bad Weather

It's an age-old question. It's been raining throughout the day and parents are wondering if that fateful e-mail will come from the coach that says, "Today's practice is cancelled."

A steady rain today reminded me of this topic and some issues for coaches and parents to consider.

Coaches – by all means, use common sense. If there’s lightening, there’s no question – practice is cancelled – period. No sense in jeapordizing anyone over one practice. (Take a look at the policies for camps conducted the U.S. Sports Institute - http://tinyurl.com/62v9we)

Parents – understand that if there is no lightening, many coaches will proceed with practice despite rain because in most sports, games will not be postponed due to rain. Football and soccer are prime examples – I can’t remember how many football games where I have stood through steady rain without lightening. There was never discussion of postponing these games.

Baseball is really the only major sport where practices and games are postponed due to rain.

Another point for coaches to consider – snow and/or ice. If travel conditions are hazardous, again it’s probably best to err on the side of common sense and postpone or cancel the practice. One practice does not a great team make.