Running, Biking, Triathlons, Swimming, Snowshoeing; what's next? Sal's kicks butt.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Prevention of Exercise Induced Muscle Cramps

As an athlete proficient in the art of sweating and cramping I'm always on the lookout for a magic pill/substance that will prevent this disabling, painful problem. I've suffered severe cramps during a few marathons, typically in my calf muscles (gastrocnemius to you technical people) and at times extending to the soleus muscle.
 In my most embarrassing (ass being best part of that word) display of cramping I ended up DNFing at the Florida 1/2 IM several years ago. I was on the second loop of three in the half-marathon and caught up with my daughter on her first loop. It was hot, we were on a dusty path in the back nature trails of Walt Disney World alongside a "canal". I was suffering and had been for sometime. But I was a runner, this was the part of the event I was supposed to shine in. In the swim I was below average, the bike, maybe average, the run was my time. But now we were walking together and taking in fluids.
It was too late to make up for my dehydration. I told my daughter (Amanda) I needed to begin to run again. She didn't think that was such a good idea, that maybe I should just walk to the finish, I had plenty of time until the cutoff. No, I need to run, so I took off, for maybe 40 yards before falling in a heap clutching my right gastrocnemius. I was making noises, it may have been screaming, not sure now.
Luck was on my side.  A medical team was a few yards away and came right over as the left calf and then quads began severely cramping. Now I was making a scene. The team iced my legs, massaged the muscles and tried to get me up and moving. Whether physical, mental, or both, I just couldn't continue. My daughter went on as I was taken on a small medical cart back to the first aid tent and pumped with fluids.
Pete, a longtime runner and member of our Sal's Racing Team, suggested a long time ago that we drink Pickle Juice to stay hydrated during longer runs. The rest of us made fun of him, of course. Pickle Juice seemed disgusting to drink and ridiculous when there were so many commercial options available.
Now there are scientific studies that back up Pete's personal experiences. Never doubt Pete. Here is one section of the study;
 "Regardless of the trigger for ... (fatigue, dehydration, etc.), if cramps are of neurogenic origin, interventions that decrease persistent inward currents and motoneuron hyperexcitability may prevent EAMCs (cramps) from occurring or reduce their severity. This concept is supported by the observation that ingestion of pickle juice significantly reduces the duration of electrically induced muscle cramps (14). The consumption of pickle juice (1 ml/kg BW) immediately after the induction of electrically induced cramp of the flexor hallucis brevis muscle of the foot reduced cramp duration
compared to the consumption of deionized water. This experiment suggests that the ingestion of pickle juice triggered a neural reflex in the oropharyngeal space that activated spinal inhibitory neurons and reduced alpha motoneuron activity to the cramping muscle, lessening the duration of the cramp."

The entire article may be read via this link;

I think switching to Pickle Juice is going to take some getting used to. I'm not sure the taste will be easy to tolerate, plus it will have to be kept cold or yechhh. 

Breaking Bad (or is it?)

Last week Jan and I took a driving vacation to visit friends and family in Florida and Alabama. As we are training for a half-ironman race in September there was some concern on how we would continue to exercise.
We knew some of the longer days on the road meant little time for working out, but we hoped to get in some running, strength training and maybe a swim or two. We stayed at Hampton Inn motels for six of our nine nights (three other nights with our daughter in Alabama). The motels advertised having fitness rooms, which generally included one treadmill, one elliptical trainer and a couple of times a small pool.
We were worried about taking our bikes and trainers so they stayed home. It seemed too much of a hassle to continuously cart them in and out of the truck into the motel rooms for the night. The pools ended up being used by families and, not surprisingly, too small for lap swimming. I had hoped for weights in the fitness rooms and didn't bring my dumbbells. That was a mistake.
We did okay running at our motel in Lakeland, Florida. There was a safe neighborhood to the back of the motel that we ran mile loops in. It was nice running in 70+ degree weather instead of layering our clothes and worrying about icy roads.
In Alabama I ran only once in our three days there. On one day though we did an 80 minute hilly hike on paths in Oak Mtn. State Park that was worth another day of running. Just as important, I didn't fall!

We arrived back home Saturday afternoon after driving about ten hours on Friday and six on Saturday. I had the energy to lift weights, but that was about it after unpacking and the usual post-trip chores.
Sunday Jan and I went to the track for a speed workout. After not running for three days and only four total out of nine I wasn't expecting much. But I actually felt good, had two good warmup miles and then ran 5x800 repeats. Jan ran 200s and 400s. Maybe rest is a good thing, mentally and physically?
I swam at lunch time today and had a decent workout again, feeling fresh, not worn out and struggling. Tomorrow it's back on the bike.
A break can be a good thing after all.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What Not to Wear While Bicycling

A funny video from the Global Cycling Network. Strange (or sad) thing is I've seen MW and LK wearing many of these outfits around Spencerport, even when they aren't cycling.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Spring: Where Are You My Old Friend?

Here's hoping the new colors of my blog help to push in the spring season in Western New York. I don't mind riding my bike in the basement but it would be nice to get outside a couple of days a week.

We should feel lucky that only 1-2" of rain is falling in the 35-42 degree temperatures. The Adirondacks and New England are getting anything from freezing rain to 12" of snow. I truly would be depressed if that happened to us. My Southern Comfort supply is not adequate enough to make it through another snowstorm, wind storm or massive electric outage.

This morning I was at a committee meeting at work. I walked in when a couple of professors were discussing how they don't exercise due to time constraints and other excuses. I stayed quiet and listened and tried to be non-judgmental. Then one of the professors looked me over and asked if I was "one of those people" (the kind that worked out). I'm hoping she thought despite the face of an old man my body looked like it was possible I did exercise. I'm taking it as a positive that there wasn't an immediate vocal display of shock when I said I did.

I mentioned that my wife and I were training for a half-ironman as a couple of other people walked in the room. That got everyone's attention, which actually was nice. A few questions about what the race distance was and my history followed. I really wasn't trying to impress anyone, but honestly I kind of enjoyed some of the attention. After three months of the majority of my running on indoor tracks or treadmills and riding in the basement conversing with "average" people about my activities felt nice.

Training for an event that is personally challenging, whatever the distance, can be mentally as well as physically draining. I seldom talk about what I'm doing unless asked, that can quickly get boring to a listener. It is nice when a person is genuinely interested though. And who knows, maybe we serve as an inspiration?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Lessons Learned This Weekend

As March slowly rolls toward April in upstate New York and the hope for calmer, warmer weather continues, Jan and I made some interesting discoveries over the past few days.

1. We learned how to make our own deep-fried dill pickles. Sunday, after a triathlon training day of grocery shopping, running and biking, we had a hamburger cookout. We decided to turn no-calorie, no vitamin, really having no redeeming nutritional value at all, dill pickle slices, into a greasy, tasty treat. Our first time having deep-fried dill pickles was at a barbecue joint a few miles from our daughters' home near Clanton, Alabama. The pickles tasted great, so why not replicate them at home?

I looked at a few recipes online and then Jan and I kind of winged it. Dipped the pickle in egg, then into a bowl of flour, seasoned salt, ground pepper, garlic, paprika, red pepper flakes. Drop into a hot oiled pan and three minutes later a tasty treat! We didn't even use dip, which typically is a ranch flavor. We are sure the spices added tons of vitamins, along with a hearty serving of grease.

2.Never discount the craziness, I mean dedication of long-time running friends. Saturday was 37 degrees, slight cooling breeze from the east, and a drizzle. Two running partners showed up to run with me. We did keep it short, six miles, but it was nice to have company on the muddy Erie Canal trail. Jan waited until 9am to run, by which time the rain had really started to come down. Hah!

3. The NCAA basketball tournament is much more fun to watch when you have a couple of teams still in the pool from work. Jan picked her final four teams, I filled in the rest of the games and she is in second place in the pool! We were cheering loudly for NC to beat Kentucky Sunday and knock about 10 people out of the top of the standings. We have never done so well. If Gonzaga wins the tournament Jan wins first place. Go bulldogs.

4. The Roberts Wesleyan college pool was empty at 5:30pm Saturday. Strange how people must go out to dinner, parties, or have "better" things to do than swim. Lucky for us our social life mostly consists of exercise.

5. March has been one long month. First a wind storm knocking out power for days to many homes and closing schools, then twenty-four inches plus of snow, closing the area again. Let's hope April brings some nice weather to our area. January, February and March should each be 30 days. Same number of days but March would end sooner. It's all psychological.

Friday, March 17, 2017

St Patrick's Day

9m9 minutes ago
Irish History Fact: We invented whiskey, sarcasm & bare knuckle brawling. All on the same night. In that order.

A few members of our "club", the Sals Racing team, participated in the annual Johnny's Running of the Green 5 mile race on March 11. Just coming off of power outages due to high winds (and thousands in the area still without power) we weren't sure if the race was going to happen. Over 800 people showed up to run though, with another 1,400 registered but not at the race. It was a balmy 15 degrees with the wind averaging 15mph, making a nice cooling effect. 

Save for one large tree that had come down across the road near the 1.2 mile and 3.8 mile section of the out and back course, the roads were pretty clear. Someone had chopped enough of the tree so that about 20 feet was clear for runners to get by, which was nice. Johnny's was the first race in the Rochester Runner of the Year series and we all got off to a good start. Pete won his age group, Mike W was second in his group and I was fifth, Jan was tenth and Eileen third. I'm not happy about getting older but it definitely helped to earn RROY points by moving into a new age group.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Wind Power & Snowmageddon

Last week we had the wind storm of the century in the Rochester, NY area. More than 100,000 people lost power, some for days, with the sustained 50mph winds and gusts of 80mph. Trees and phone/electrical lines came down by the hundreds across the region.Schools were closed, businesses shut, cars and houses damaged by the storm and trees falling.

Here's a question - telephone poles, are they really necessary anymore? How many people have a land line? Telephone poles and assorted wires are good for squirrel highways, bird perches, visual pollution and stopping cars suddenly that veer off the road. Electrical and other utility lines should be underground, this isn't an unusual practice. When a series of poles go down take them away, dig a trench and bury the lines. The process of burying the lines can be done gradually, sort of like TrumpWall, except lines underground will save lives (no cars will smash into the poles), trees will be saved and I will have one less thing to rant about.

We were lucky, our power was only out for about 6 hours. But how do you exercise if there is no electricity or other utilities, especially in the winter when the temperature drops below freezing? If you get all sweaty you can only shower with cold water. Doable, but not enjoyable. It's a bit dangerous outside, especially with 50 mph winds. The treadmill obviously doesn't work. I was able to climb on my bike on the trainer and ride in the dark in the basement with the sound of voices in my head for entertainment. That lasted for an hour. I could also lift weights, in the dark. At least it was something.

A few days later the snow began and didn't stop for two days. We ended up with twenty-four or more inches. Insane for a March storm. The village snowplows tried to keep up, they really did a good job under the circumstances. Our snowblower died two years ago, so Jan and I shovel, which is a good strength workout. We have a nice neighbor who came over yesterday with his snowblower, which helped immensely with the 15 inches that had fallen in the previous 10 hours. We never lost power, hurray! Exercise consisted of biking, treadmill running and weights, so not too bad. We just couldn't go swim. Actually we didn't leave our yard.

Any other exercise ideas in times of no power/storms? Any good or bad experiences with the storms?