Flexibility of a Brick

Over the past two years, I have had a never ending series of little injuries.

The injuries stated with a torn plantar fascia.  That was followed by a wicked bout of peroneal tendinitis.  Then the top of my foot started hurting.  Finally it was a sore hamstring & glute.

I was beginning to think that I couldn’t win for losing.  Seemingly, as soon as I started to recover from one injury, another would pop up.

I’ve been a pretty good patient.  Physical therapy, rolling, trigger point treatment, icing, reducing the length and effort associated with workouts.  You name it, and I’ve tried it.

While there may well be some other underlying issues around my running style and gait, shoe selection, weight (yes, that’s a biggie), and more, I’m becoming more and more convinced that the root cause of many of these injuries lies in the fact that my tendons and muscles basically have the flexibility of a piece of stone.

Some history:  I just turned 46, and have been running or cycling since I was 15.  I ran track and cross country in high school and picked up cycling in college.  In high school, we had a regimented stretching cadence that we followed both prior to and following every workout.  We’d do a warm up run, some core work, and then a bunch of basic (mostly) static stretches.  Fast forward a few years, and I essentially stopped stretching pre or post workout.  To make matters potentially worse, I sit all day long at a computer or conference room table.

Don’t get me wrong – I so some stretching, but whatever I do tends to be centralized on something that is nagging me at the moment.  For example, if my calves are sore, I’ll stretch them.  If my shoulders are sore during a swim, I’ll do some stretching.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I was remembered a comment my teammate Ryan Heisler made earlier this year.  His statement was along the lines that everything is connected in your body, and that if you are having foot issues, the root issue may be someplace other than in your foot.

And if you think about it (and remember that Schoolhouse Rock video about the human body), it’s true.  The leg bone is connected to the hip bone, and so forth.  It only makes sense that foot pain could be the result of something jacked up in your hamstrings or hip flexors.

So, I decided to test this theory.  My going-in hypothesis was that I had at least a modicum of flexibility still.  I was going to test my flexibility through a few simple tests:  (1) crossed-foot toe touch (2) calf-stretch and (3) forward lunge.  The highly scientific benchmark was the range of motion that I remembered having back in my high school running days.  (Let’s just ignore the fact that ~30 years difference might have some impact on my level of flexibility for now).

I decided to do each of these stretches twice each leg, for :30 each leg.  The true test would be the amount of pain I had to endure and at what point I started to feel the “stretch”.

And as you might suspect, I failed miserably.  Essentially, I can’t touch my toes without feeling like my hamstrings are going to rip in half.  The forward lunge (apart from killing my quads) made my groin and hip flexors scream as if someone had forced me into a split.  I literally thought that some giant gorilla was shaking me around like an old Barbie doll or something.

So, how am I going to fix this?

For starters, I’m going to start stretching again.  I’ve read that the static stretching that is near and dear to me is no longer in vogue.  Dynamic stretching is the way to go.  And so, I”ll incorporate some of that into my routine.  I’ll stand more.  I’ll give yoga a try (begrudgingly).

I will become more flexible.

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“Performance Nutrition for Swimmers” – an eBook by Jenn O’Donnell-Giles

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A couple of months ago, I had the unique honor of being asked to read a preview of a book that one of my Team Rev3 teammates, Jennifer Giles, had written regarding optimal nutrition strategies for swimmers.

Jenn is a registered dietitian and board certified specialist in sports dietetics.  She has an impressive background – double masters in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Columbia University.  Additionally, as a majorly awesome athlete in her own right, she is, in my opinion, uniquely qualified to write a book advising proper nutrition strategies for athletes…in this case swimmers.

The book is a really good read.  It’s a relatively short read, packed full of good insights and information.  Jenn devotes a full chapter to water & hydration – elements that swimmers in particular often neglect to focus on.  I particularly enjoyed several other aspects about the book – I loved her discussion of both macro and micro nutrients and how we need each.  As a parent, I also really appreciated Jenn’s focus on the family dinner as a training table.

I’d encourage you to go download a copy of the eBook and read it.  I’m sure that you will walk away with the same conclusions that I did – that far too often we are self-imposing limitations on performance through improper diet and nutrition strategies.

The book retails for $19.99, but you can get a $10 off coupon on the eStore.  Click HERE to check out the book.

Scientific Review of Triathlete (homo triathletus)

BOULDER, CO

Scientists from the University of Colorado in Boulder recently published their seminal research on a new species of human.  Their research was conducted throughout the world and was funded, in part, through sales of certain medicinal and recreational plants.

These scientists have called their new species a triathlete (homo triathletus).  The redacted review of research identifying this strange species was recently published in the Journal of Medical Fabrication Dynamics and is included below.

The triathlete (homo triathletus) is an endurance junkie whose native range lies largely within developed areas of the globe, concentrated in the Americas, Europe, Australia, but with smaller populations located in other parts of Asia, the Middle East, and extreme southern Africa.  The average male triathlete weighs around 68 – 90 kg, while the female is generally a third of that size.  Sexual dimorphism does not generally exist in this species, with the occasional exception of clothing styles.  This strange species of athlete has evolved to occupy a narrower niche than its sister species, the swimmer (homo waterwingus), the runner (homo mercurial hermes) and the cyclist (homo rapidus pedalus).  While triathlete has not developed body characteristics that differentiate itself from its sister species, research indicates that this species has developed an affinity for objects made from carbon fibres and neoprene.  Although most triathletes are born on land, they spend at least a third of their time in a variety of aquatic environments.  They are equally at home in saltwater environments, freshwater and free-flowing waterways.  They will often be found inhabiting chlorinated, rectangular ponds.  Triathletes hunt for their preferred food of gels, kale, electrolyte drinks, and soy-based energy bars, often living off of convenience food reserves of pretzels, de-fizzed sodas, bananas and chicken broth.

Naming & etymology

Don Shannahan and Jack Johnston, prominent researchers from the San Diego, CA area, were among the first to identify and classify the triathlete as a distinct species in 1974.  Additional research was conducted and published by John Collins in 1978.  The naming convention was based upon the three primary habitats of these creatures:  in water, upon bikes, and afoot.

Biology and Behavior

Physical Characteristics

Exteriorly, triathlete resembles its distant cousin homo sapiens in appearance.  Specimens are found with a myriad of skin and hair colorations.  A commonality found amongst triathlete is that they tend to clothe themselves in form-fitting brightly colored costumes.  One might question the skull structure of some members of this species, given the proclivity to cover their cranium with helmets.  Research has indicated that some, in fact, have evolved teardrop shaped craniums, which is believed to aid in the reduction of a concept known as drag.

Wide-scale observation has revealed that the male of the species may have an innate fear of body fur.  Observations of triathlete in groupings or conclaves within their natural habitat indicate that the males typically are hairless on their lower skeleton.  Additionally, this species often has strange numeric tattoos upon their arms and, oddly, on one leg.

Some specimens of triathlete have been observed with strange color schemes upon their skin – often alternating darker pigmented skin with areas of lighter pigmentation.  Notably, these color variations are found upon the ankle, thigh, and often upon the upper back (which usually presents in semi-circular pattern around the shoulder area).

Hunting and Diet

Triathlete appears to be an omnivore in general, although there are pockets within the species that abstain from certain foodgroups.  Some are apparently berrytarians, consuming a large amount of berries and fruit – often in mixed up beverages called “smoothies”.  Other specimen of triathlete eat nothing but meat (paleo), nothing but gluten products, and nothing with gluten (gluten free).  Research indicates that a high percentage of triathlete have no idea what gluten is, but they either consume it or they don’t.

Interestingly, triathlete tends to gravitate to thick liquids that come packaged in foil-like shells.  These “fruit” (sometimes called “gels” by triathlete) often come in a variety of flavorings, somewhat dependent upon the variety of plant producing the fruit.  Some of the favorite plants include Powerbar, Gu, Hammer, etc.  Curiously, these plants not only produce the foil-like fruit mentioned herein, but they also produce odd square-shaped vegetation that reportedly provides sustainable nutrition for hours.

Behavior

The most remarkable thing about this new species is the behavior that it displays.  H. triathletus is often found in strange gatherings ranging from around 100 to well over 2000.  It is during these gatherings that the true characteristics of this species are displayed.  These gatherings, however, do not represent the totality of the uniqueness this species brings to the ecosystem.  H. triathletus are often found in small packs in one of their preferred habitat, swimming merily, furiously pedaling, or running as if fleeing from their sole predator, Homo fatamusbottomus.

In culture

Indigenous folklore reflects that triathlete appears to enjoy suffering.  They have been seen stumbling, crawling, and otherwise struggling.  Some of the more developed of the species even has been witnessed completing their unique mating activity – called by some “the Blazeman Roll”.  Other species tend to view triathlete with suspicion, fear and concern.

Five Things NOT To Use TRISLIDE For

What TRISLIDE does for endurance sports-related chafing is what a hungry teenage boy does to a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos.  TRISLIDE makes chafing disappear!

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TRISLIDE is a continuous spray  anti-chafe skin lubricant that is all the rage in the multi-sport community.  This stuff seriously is bottled awesomeness.  This non-sticky all-day lubricant is used anywhere you might have chafing…wetsuit neck openings, saddle area, feet.  Basically – you spray and forget!  TRISLIDE isn’t like that gooey stick stuff that other competitors offer; it’s a spray-on silicone that works wonders!  Ever have a hard time getting out of a wetsuit?  Spray TRISLIDE on the outside of the cuffs and ankle openings, and you will literally fly right out of your suit!  You can share this (without fear of contracting some pesky critters or having someone else’s extra “hairs” latch on to your body).  TRISLIDE won’t stain your Tri-Kit, and it won’t melt in your transition bag either.

I’m not going to lie – TRISLIDE is SERIOUSLY slippery!  The product comes with a warning to not spray Tri-Slide on the floor as it will make the floor extremely slick and could lead to falls.

So, with this knowledge, here are the top five things that you COULD use TRISLIDE for – but you really SHOULDN’T use TRISLIDE for…

# 5:  Rusty bolt un-stopper

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Yes, you could use TRISLIDE to loosen up those rusty bolts – and this stuff would probably work as good, if not better, than your trusty can of WD-40 or a massive amount of elbow grease.

# 4:  Personal….ahem….lubricant

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Now, we all love some lovin’, but please…..don’t go there with TRISLIDE.  It’s for external use only.

# 3:  Saucer Sled Accelerant

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We’ve all watched the movie “Christmas Vacation” and seen what Clark Griswold can do to a saucer sled with his cereal varnish.  TRISLIDE would make Griswold’s varnish look like glue.  Beware if you do try TRISLIDE as an accelerator for your sled.  If you use too much at one time, land speed records could be broken.

# 2:  Hair Pomade

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Every triathlete wants to look great when they leave transition, and who doesn’t like the “slick” look in their hair?  But seriously…instead of TRISLIDE, go to the drugstore and purchase some Dippity-Do or some other hair gel.  Heck, even Vaseline would look good.  Just don’t use TRISLIDE….because if you do, instead of your girlfriend slowly running her fingers through your hair, her hands are likely to slip right off and hit you in the eyes.  And no one wants to get poked in the eye.

# 1:  Flamethrower

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Who hasn’t wanted to light some aerosol aflame and use as a firestarter?  Why not try your hand at a little welding?  Meet a pesky dog on your run?  OK.  There MIGHT be some potential good uses if you could use TRISLIDE as a flamethrower.  But, don’t do it.  Use a can of Aqua-Net Hairspray instead.  Besides, I’m not even sure if you can set TRISLIDE on fire.

OK.  It’s settled then.  Don’t use TRISLIDE for any of those five things.  Do use TRISLIDE to prevent chafing and hot spots.  Do use TRISLIDE to help get out of wetsuits in a jiffy.  Do share your TRISLIDE with others and not worry about some space-suit wearing dude from the Centers for Disease Control showing up to escort your lube away to some quarantined location.

 

Just so you know, TRISLIDE is one of the amazing sponsors of the Rev3 Triathlon AG team.  They periodically send me products to use.  I LOVE their products and would use them even if they didn’t send them to me…they are THAT GOOD.  To learn more about TRISLIDE and other products made and sold by SBR (namely Tri-Swim Anti Chlorine shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion) and Foggies (anti-fog towelettes), click on their website:  www.sbrsportsinc.com.

 

Texting Driver Hits Cyclist and Just Doesn’t Care

Imagine this scenario.  A cyclist gets run over by a vehicle and is left with a broken back.  Allegations are made that the driver of the car was texting and/or distracted just prior to the accident.  The cyclist needs surgery and months of rehab.

That scenario plays itself out literally weekly, somewhere in the world.

What perhaps makes this situation slightly different is that not only was the driver clearly texting while driving, but that she was more put out by the fact that the cyclist had the audacity to cause some damage to her car as a result of the collision.

Here’s the backstory – Kimberly Davis, of Port Fairy, Australia, pleaded guilty earlier this week to dangerous driving as a result of her collision with cyclist.  Phone records showed that Davis had texted 44 times just prior to the accident (with a text message being received less than a minute prior to calling emergency officials indicating she had hit a cyclist).  The cyclist was critically injured and suffered a severed spine.  He spent three months in the hospital recovering from his injuries.  Davis was fined $4500 and lost her license for 9 months.

What makes this whole situation worse is that Davis had the incredulity to not show any remorse, and moreover to be upset with the cyclist.

Davis told police investigators, “”I just don’t care because I’ve already been through a lot of bullshit and my car is like pretty expensive and now I have to fix it. I’m kind of pissed off that the cyclist has hit the side of my car.”  She further went on to say, “I don’t agree that people texting and driving could hit a cyclist. I wasn’t on my phone when I hit the cyclist.”

There are a couple of issues associated with this that concern me.  The first is obvious:  distracted driving causes accidents.  The second is the clear lack of remorse that Davis had.

There’s likely nothing that can be done about the later concern, but there certainly can be things done relative the former.

First and foremost, distracted driving should be a primary traffic offense.  Police should be able to pull over and cite drivers for nothing other than distracted driving (texting, SnapChatting, Facebooking, even just calling).  In far too many jurisdictions, texting while driving is a secondary offense.  In Florida, for example, I can get a $30 fine for texting while driving (totaling about $100 when court costs and fees added) – but I can only get that ticket if I am pulled over for some primary offense – like speeding, careless driving, DUI, etc.  If state legislatures and governments pass laws or ordinances changing this offense to a primary offense and make the fine prohibitive, then there may be a corresponding decline in the incidence rate of drivers committing this act.

In my opinion, cycling can be tough enough of a workout.  We don’t need to continuously be on our guard for distracted drivers as well.