Running, Biking, Triathlons, Swimming, Snowshoeing; what's next? Sal's does it all.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Quirks of the Human Body

Three days ago I went on a run through our village. The Rochester area has set a record this year with the number of days over 80 degrees. Typically the dew point has also been high, from low 60's to upper 70's, which makes exercise uncomfortable. I suffer greatly in this weather, finding it hard to breathe and sweating excessively, to the point that going more than three miles is futile.

This day the temperature was 81 and dew point 61. My run was a downhill route for a mile, then flat, and ending with some small uphills/inclines/flat over the last 1.4 miles. Jan biked along with me. I felt okay at the start, not great but my legs were willing to move. The first mile seemed like a decent pace, but was actually 30+ seconds slower than normal. The flat section along the canal was worse, 45 seconds off my normal easy run pace. Then we began climbing a bit and my struggle was worse, over a minute off normal pace and not feeling easy.

I made it home exhausted and drank at least half a gallon of water over next couple of hours. After showering I put my pj's on and did no further exercising (it was only 6pm).

Yesterday I didn't feel great, could have easily bagged the run, but wanted to get in a few miles to add to my weekly total. I drove to the canal to run on a totally flat surface. It was the same 81 degrees and 61 dew point. After about five minutes I felt pretty good. My first mile was a decent pace and I began thinking this day might go okay. My legs and breathing got better the further I ran. Instead of my planned simple three miles I extended it to four. I did an out and back route and on the way back did 12x45 seconds hard, 15 seconds easy. My pace for the last two miles was 35-40 seconds/mile faster than usual.

Why the difference? Same temperatures, same dew point. My body actually felt more sore leading into the the second run than the first. This is why racing is so hard. I never know which body is going to show up on race morning. If you have an answer please let me know. I would like to be able to predict my performance better.

Common Swimming Myths Explained


1. Freestyle is the only stroke triathletes need to know.
Freestyle is the fastest and most efficient stroke, so it will be used most of the time when completing a long-distance swim. However, every triathlete should have a “safety” stroke to use when they are tired, need to find the buoys or clear their goggles in a race. Plus, learning other strokes works different muscles and keeps things interesting.
I generally do only freestyle. In a pool I might try up to 200 backstroke.

2. You’re supposed to hold your breath underwater.
Holding your breath causes a buildup of carbon dioxide and promotes a gasping feeling. Instead, constantly exhale a steady stream of bubbles out of your nose and mouth when your face is in the water between inhales.

3. If you always race in a wetsuit, it’s OK to always train with a pull buoy.
Over-training with a pull buoy will never allow you to learn how to balance your body in the water. Instead, do drills targeted on floating and arching your back to keep your body horizontal along the surface of the water.
I use a pull buoy much more than I should. With sinking legs it's tough to get in the distance I need without the buoy.
4. Triathletes shouldn’t bother with kicking drills.
Quite the contrary: The kick is very important for initiating core rotation and balance for the entire body. Triathletes should practice kicking, at a low cadence, to create a stronger and more efficient stroke with their upper body.
I don't do much with kicking drills since I can barely move 10 yards with a kickboard.
5. Swimming continuous laps without rest is an efficient use of training time.
Stroking nonstop through countless, mindless laps isn’t maximizing pool time—it’s wasting it. Every length of the pool should have a purpose that will improve technique, endurance, speed or breathing efficiency. Start each workout with a structured plan targeting specific goals to really make it count.
Sometimes I do this just to practice going long, as much for mental as physical practice. 
6. Bilateral breathing is only important for competitive swimmers.
Breathing on both sides is more important for triathletes than pool swimmers—especially in open water. The conditions can change at a moment’s notice: wind direction, waves and chop, blinding sunlight, etc.
I practice breathing styles a lot, just for the reasons mentioned.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Exercise and Your Brain

Ever wonder if one type of exercise effects a certain part of your brain more than another? Research shows that aerobic exercise, weight training, yoga and HIIT all stimulate separate sections of the brain.

  Read the complete article here; "New Finding: Different Types of Exercise Affects Different Parts of Your Brain". Worried about memory loss? Aerobic exercise is your best bet. "The hippocampus shrinks as we get older, leading to the typical struggles with memory. But aerobic exercise not only prevents this loss — it reverses it, slowing the effects of getting older. Voelcker-Rehage has found that the brain requires less energy to complete certain tasks after exercise. “We would say that points to the fact that the brain is more efficient,” she says. “It works more like a young brain.”

So keep lifting, running, and doing other forms of movement! Don't stop no matter what age you may be. 


Wednesday, August 31, 2016


After several years of visiting rv shows, browsing rv dealer websites and searching Craiglist for deals and pricing, Jan and I purchased our first camper. We probably should have bought a used tent camper back when our children were young but for one reason or another (money, usually) we didn't.

We traveled with tent gear or in small KOA style Kamping Kabins, or when we could afford it, motels. The last time Jan and I tent camped was 2009. It was a rainy weekend, at a campground we thought had electricity at the sites, but didn't. The tent leaked, then flooded. We were miserable. On the way out of the campground the tent went into the dumpster. Since then it has been hotels/motels and once in a while a cabin.

Purchasing a camper isn't a decision to take lightly. What type of vehicle do you have to pull it or will you spend much more money and buy one to drive? What's your budget? How long will you be traveling? Are you going around the country or staying local? What options are really necessary to have with the camper?

We decided a new camper wasn't necessary. The oven I wanted became not so important. A bathroom to end those 3am trips across the campground in my pj's was an absolute. Air conditioning was not negotiable, we had to have it. We figured a tent camper or hybrid trailer would give us the most room for the least money. The camper had to be lightweight and not super long. No matter what my used 2010 Chevy Silverado could pull according to the manual and the rv dealer, I wanted something fairly small and light.

This is what we surprisingly ended up with on Monday;

A brand new 2017 Coachman Clipper, now named "The McClipper". It only weighs 2,500lbs, is 21 feet long, has a queen walk-around bed, no oven, indoor and outdoor shower, full bathroom and lots of storage. So we changed lots of our "must-haves" and got something we hope is perfect for a couple of semi-old people.

Our first venture will be a weekend at a nearby park, maybe Hamlin Beach State Park, just to get used to living in it. Hamlin also is a great park to run and bike in. Wish us luck.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Dewey, Dew, Do

The Jenny Kuzma Bergen race now has the distinct honor of being the only 5k that I was forced to walk part of in order to finish. At race start, 8:30am, it was already 81 degrees with a dew point of 74. At the second mile water stop I stopped and walked for about twenty seconds. My first mile was a decent 7:35, my last mile must have been around 9:00 and that was a struggle.

I think a lot of runners were suffering in the race. The weird thing is, despite the slow race, I finished sixth in my age group, earning some valuable Rochester Runner of the Year points. Mike W also finished sixth in his age group, Pete was third, Eileen second and Jan sixth. We all moved up in the standings, so it was a good day after all.

Jan has moved up to 8th place (top 5 receive honors in each age group at the end of the year). Eileen is tied for 5th, I am in 6th, Mike in 8th and Pete in 2nd. There are five races left in the series and you must race a minimum of four with the best six counting for points. Personally, I will be skipping the half-marathon as I am not in shape for that distance. I hope the temperatures and humidity levels go down so we can all do some great training and race well beginning in October.

September 4Oak Tree Half Marathon 13.1 Miles
October 15 9.3 Miles
October 22 Scare Brain Cancer Away 5K 3.1 Miles
November 5 East Avenue Grocery Run 3.1 Miles
November 24 Race with Grace 10K 6.2 Miles   

Friday, August 12, 2016

Women's Olympic 10k 2016

Mr. Cynical finds it difficult to believe anymore in amazing world record performances without PED’s, but I'm trying. Over 30 women began the race, it was ridiculously crowded at the start and then the lead 10 or so had to constantly weave in and out of slower runners for five miles when they began lapping people.

Almaz Ayana from Ethiopia won handily, breaking away from the the leading 8-10 women at 5k and clicking off consistent 68-70 second laps. She broke a long-standing world record (set in 1993) by 14 seconds winning with a time of 29:17 (4:42 per mile) only her 2nd 10k race ever. She ran negative splits and won by 15 seconds. Ayana has run a 5k in 14:12, so running the first half of this race in 14:46 was not extreme for her.

Second place was Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya, 29:32, third Tirunish Dibaba 29:42 (Ethiopia), fourth another Kenyan in 29:54. Only 5 women had gone under 30 minutes in history before today. Fifth place, in 30:07, was another Kenyan.

Molly Huddle set the American record, 30:13, finishing in sixth place. Huddle ran a great race. She went through the first 5k just 13 seconds slower than her American record for that distance.

So maybe conditions were right, and not drugs. Lots of fast times. If it’s on tv tonight watch it, though I'm sure NBC will cut away during significant times in the race.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Semenya and Too Much Testosterone?

I find the controversy over Caster Semenya fascinating. I remember her bursting onto the scene in the 2009 World Championships. Jan and I both thought, by looking at her and seeing the dominating performance, that she was a he, or at least doping.

It turns out we were/are wrong. Now I'm not sure how to feel. If I were a competitor of hers I might be upset or thinking I have no chance to win. But the same could be true with many athletes who have natural, physical gifts. Some people want to have female athletes who have "abnormal" natural levels of testosterone to take a drug to lower it back to "normal" levels. Is that really fair? Semenya surely isn't the first female athlete who had a naturally occurring high testosterone advantage. Authorities either looked the other way and didn't want to deal with the issue, or didn't have the tests that would accurately monitor a person's levels.

Even if an athlete were given drugs to lower their level of testosterone, would they have to take it constantly throughout their career or just when nearing competition? How would the drug effect their long-term health? If the athlete only took the drug close to the Olympics, say, but didn't have to use it during training, wouldn't they still have an advantage? The high testosterone would allow them to train harder, lift more, run more, than competitors, so they would still arrive at the event with an advantage, similar to the PED users who try to come clean right before a big competition.

Someone will have to explain to me why an athlete such as Semenya really needs to be given drugs to lower a natural occurring substance in her body. Right now I say leave her alone and let her run.