Monday, August 31, 2009

Could Usain Bolt Win Race Against House Cat?

You probably find the question as perplexing as I did.

However, the subject serves as a great for an op-ed piece recently written in the Wall Street Journal by New York School of Law Law Review Publisher Cameron Stracher. Stracher raises some interesting points in the athletic battle of humans versus animals.

A key ingredient in his argument is that humans run for fun, while animals run to eat or to avoid being eaten – a distinct difference indeed! Check it out and see what you think at --

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Don’t Let Fear Take Over Your Training

Many friends I’ve made on the road to fitness have shared common fears prior to a race event –“Am I going to finish?” or “I don’t want to be last”.

These questions are often prevalent, particularly when you’re doing an event for the first time. Triathlon coach Gale Bernhardt offers some useful advice on this post from to address this issue at

Coach Bernhardt has it right - the biggest move toward successfully completing an event you’ve entered is planning. There are many resources available through the web to help you plan for an event. If you do the proper research and homework, developing a plan is not a difficult exercise. Barring any unforeseen difficulties, you should be successful if you follow your plan.

Check out this article and learn more about developing your plan. While this post is triathlon-specific, the principles apply to any fitness event really.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Trouble Getting Your Children To Exercise?

Talk about frustration.

It’s hard having a son who is a talented, 13-year-old athlete and convincing him of the benefits to conditioning activities beyond regularly-held practices.

I don’t know that I have an answer to this dilemma, but I think my son is starting to get it. He did run with me to the gym the other morning where we did a weight workout. His mother came to pick him up while I ran home. However, mom took him to Target and he proceeded to run home from Target. So, maybe the message is finally getting through!

It’s tough for youth to understand the importance of, as I refer to it to my son, “practice beyond the practice”.

Perhaps the best thing we can do as parents is continue setting the example to our children that a healthy lifestyle is a good thing! Let’s be honest, our children often emulate our choices whether good or bad. Additionally, we need to continue talking to our children about the importance of healthy lifestyle activities.

It’s often difficult due to busy schedules, but make an effort to do a healthy exercise activity this week with your children – you will not regret it!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Go Off The Wagon For Once - Eat BAD Food!

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’re probably thinking this is a contradiction to the normal message I preach about food intake, but it’s true. Once in a while, we just need to make time to eat the foods we really love!

While a regular diet of healthy nutrition is the stuff of most athletes, I don’t know anyone from the long list of people with whom I train who doesn’t enjoy a vice of food. It could be ice cream, fried chicken, pie, chocolate, turkey legs – all kinds of things. Everyone has a taste for different things they enjoy that simply aren’t healthy. Yet, we’re constantly being told that we should eat protein, natural carbohydrates, grains and on and on.

While you’re making plans for healthy nutrition, make plans for some unhealthy nutrition too. Taking a weekend off to enjoy the fruits of a football tailgate event is a great idea. What about your vacation? Instead of worrying about healthy eating during a time you should enjoy, maybe make it a time where you continue to do some exercise, but go deep on enjoying the food you love.

For myself, I totally took the last week off because my job takes me to working many hours at the great Iowa State Fair. As you can imagine, the finer foods of the Fair are not the healthiest, especially my favorites – meatballs, grinders, fried cheese curds, frozen peanut butter bars covered in nuts and chocolate, salted nut rolls, chocolate chip cookies and the list goes on from there. I weighed myself today and I gained a couple of pounds, but they’ll burn right off over the next week. I enjoy that food of the Fair so much, that it’s just not an issue.

I think as long as we can maintain a healthy lifestyle for the majority of the time, we’re okay with taking a little time for well-deserved indulgence!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Des Moines A Great Place To Live

I think I’ve made an important realization this past week.

Des Moines is an awesome place to live.
Chicago is a great place to live.

After traveling to visit my sisters last weekend, I can't help but think how wonderful it would be if we had Shedd's Aquarium, the museums, Navy Pier, the beaches, Michigan Avenue and on and on and on . . . in Des Moines. But that's not going to happen.

Here's another thought -- imagine driving into Des Moines on I-235 with a traffic jam and being entertained by an air show that featured the “Blue Angels”. That happened to us as we made our way through Downtown Chicago traffic last week!

While there is a never-ending array of things to do in Chicago, I still love the pace of life here in Des Moines. We’re probably never going to have the flair of cities like Chicago, but what we do have is great.

Fine restaurants, trails, schools, attractions and activity venues. By no means to the extent of Chicago, but who can't love the less frenetic pace of life here in the Des Moines area? We’ve made some great strides over the past few years with the additions of Jordan Creek, West Glen and the improvements to the western and eastern edges of Downtown. Being at the Iowa State Fair yesterday, I noticed what great enhancements continue to be made at this fine facility – probably the largest attraction in our state!

We should be happy with our community for what it is - a great place to live and raise a family.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Training Nutrition

Training to meet your goals can be challenging. Are you trying to build muscle? Are you trying to lose weight? Your intake should vary based on your fitness goals.

For example, if you’re looking to build muscle, you want to increase your caloric intake. But if you’re looking to lose weight, you probably want to decrease caloric intake.

The following post from offers some great direction as to how to eat based on your training goals --

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More Reason Not To Take Time Off When Traveling

Okay, okay. I know I sometimes repeat myself. Or maybe I sound like your pastor on Sundays. But I think this point is worth repeating . . . again.

Today, my point – AGAIN – is “don’t use travel as an excuse to take time off from your fitness activities.” That being said, if you’re using a trip or some well-deserved vacation to rest that weary and overworked body, that’s awesome. However, as I travel, I make it a challenge to myself to find new running routes or ways to work out on the road.

This past weekend’s travels to Chicago to visit my sisters proved my point. My youngest sister helped me find a trail out in the Oak Brook area for a 10-mile run that was a great diversion from my normal routine. Normally, I wouldn’t expect a scenic route like this in suburban Chicago, but these trails are everywhere in the area.

Another short run provided a much different backdrop as I ran in my other sister’s North Shore neighborhood near the campus of Loyola University. The truly urban route offers another great diversion for me as I pass many different faces (as opposed to just two to four on an early morning run in suburban West Des Moines) with the sounds of the big Chicago air show in the background.

Take advantage of these opportunities to run, ride or exercise in surroundings that are different. It’s refreshingly exciting! Heck, I even saw a sign for a place just off Lake Shore Drive for an outdoor spin class. Look around – the opportunities are endless in new places!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day At Wrigley

Not a Cubs fan, but I am a BASEBALL fan. And there are few better places to spend a Saturday afternoon than Wrigley Field if you’re baseball fan. Especially, if your six-year-old nephew is along for the ride!

Taking the train to Wrigley is definitely the way to go. You don’t have to worry about the horrible parking or traffic and I don’t know many six-year-olds who don’t enjoy riding the train.

As you exit the Addison train station, you immediately stumble upon the “Harry Caray” statue. This poses the opportunity to share baseball lore with little nephew, Noah. Again, not a Cubs’ fan, but there are some things you just grow to respect as a baseball fan. And seeing the words, “Hey, let me hear you . . . one, two, three” brings tears to my eyes. I have goosebumps as I write this post. The way Harray Caray brought the “friendly confines” to its feet was nothing short of the magic of the great game of baseball.

We sat in the bleachers, the ultimate Cub fan experience. It was 90-plus degrees and humidity. Fittingly, Noah embraced true Cub bleacher culture in the fifth inning when he asked, “Uncle Joe, I’m hot, can I take my shirt off?” There was only one answer to that question to which there was no hesitation.

After sunburn, Cracker Jack, cotton candy, the batting cages at Slugger’s and a 3-1 Cub’s victory; the day was complete. On the train ride home, I said, “Noah, that was kinda fun, huh?” He responded, “Kinda fun, that was AWESOME!”

This baseball fan says, “Mission accomplished.”

You can get upset about steroids and highly-paid, “mamby-pamby” athletes, but a day at the ballyard with a six-year-old is still pretty hard to beat.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Recovery Training

I recently ran across some great advice for training activities while recovering from injury in the August issue of Runner’s World. But I cannot find it online.

If anyone can find a link to this article, please share. It features a great eight-week recovery plan designed by three-time Olympic marathon qualifier Tom McGlynn that includes a variety of cross-training activities. The article is titled ”The Back-Up Plan” and is written by Erin Strout.

This article is very informative if you can find it!

Taking a little time off to visit my sisters in Chicago, so I’ll be back next week.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tips For Running A Faster Marathon

If a fall marathon is in your future this year, you’re probably still on the early stages of your training plan. It’s not too late to take advantage of some training advice that could help you get that personal record you’re seeking.

Are you doing interval workouts or repeats? Are you doing any tempo runs? What about fartleks?

These are all training tools designed to get you used to running at a faster pace for a longer period of time. This post from Christine Luff - - will get you started on learning to apply some of these training strategies. Additionally, if you have not checked out the marathon training section of, it’s not too late. These folks have really bulked up on information to help you perform better in this year’s event.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Run Somewhere Different

Hard to believe, but yes, I’m a very stubborn, set-in-my-ways, middle-aged American male. I can be proud of this fact or perhaps venture out of my “comfort zone” once in a while.

While it’s great to just get out on one of your “tried and true” running routes to get the day’s workout off the “to do” list, how long has it been since you sought out a new route? I had this experience yesterday and really enjoyed the run.

A friend I run with often on weekends talked me into meeting for the Capital Striders Saturday training run. It was a scenic route through two local parks and various trails. Plus, there was water and support along the route. Who can top that on a humid day that started at 81 degrees at 7 a.m.!

Make a pact with yourself to seek out a new route for an upcoming weekend training run or bike ride. If you check with a running group in your area, perhaps you can hook up with one if their future activities.

This site will help you map out running routes throughout the world. Use this search feature on the U. S. Track and Field website to identify a running group in your community -

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Try This Exercise – Running On Water

Looking for a new form of exercise?

Robin at offers this new form of “running on water”. Check it out - She says this is a pretty challenging exercise.

Give it a try. Perhaps it’s something to use if you’re recovering. I also find “running in the water” a great form of recovery exercise. Grab a bungee rope, tether yourself to the side of the pool and off you go. Water running really helped me through some hamstring soreness I had earlier this year.

My advice for you if you try water running would be this – try to get a partner or two. It can be a little boring alone.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Take Caution Practicing In Hot Weather

The fall sports season is just "heating up".

"Heating up" is not a joke. Hot weather can make practices difficult for fall sports like football and soccer that come with vigorous physical activity. We've all read the horror stories about athletes collapsing or even dying because proper care wasn't taken to address heat conditions.

A few words of advice -- Make sure to have plenty of water on hand at practices and encourage players to bring their own as well. Go without or light on the equipment for the first few days. Also go light on the physical activities until athletes adjust to the heat. Finally, it's never a bad idea to have some towels and ice on hand for players who are overcome by heat.

These articles are reminders of some of the tragedies that can strike by not being careful in hot weather and they offer some additional information about ways to help keep your players healthy in the heat. Read this article by Laura Yao from the Wall Street Journal - about high schools working to ease heat-related sports injuries and this one by Selena Roberts in Sports Illustrated about the tragic heat-related death of former Minnesota Vikings player, Korey Stringer -

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Remember To Rest Your Body

As I wrapped up a busy tri training season today, I found myself looking forward to some much-needed rest.

Perhaps I should not have even entered the Big Creek Triathlon as I caught myself thinking that I may have overdone things a little bit this year with three events. In any case, it’s done and I survived.

However, I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about getting some rest here over the next couple of weeks. Going back to getting started with tri training back in January, I’m just tired!

Rest is so important to training. This post by trainer Thomas Tadlock is a great reminder about why rest is critical to effective training -

So, as I contemplate my next event (this probably won’t last too long), I’m going to take a little time off!