Adventures in life and photography out West

Archive for December, 2013

Taking a turn

So, got this new gig a few month back. I am a counselor tech at a 28-day rehab. It’s entertaining. Some guys come in shaking like jello in an earthquake. Some seem to be in relatively good shape. All are damaged to some degree. My job is to help them take steps in a new direction. Ironically, it’s a new direction for me, as well.

I get guys who are, generally, only about seven to 10 days off of what ever substance they have been abusing and try to introduce them to a new way to release endorphins and dopamine. The guys are required to get in at least 15 minutes of any exercise each day. I get them if A) they come asking for advice, or B) they didn’t get their exercise in the day before. I have to be careful as some of these guys have never exercised before, but occasionally I get an honest to goodness athlete. Regardless, I have to figure out what is appropriate and challenging. I tell them I’m here to torture them, but not injure them.

I had a great mentor, as far as this was concerned. Eric Adams at CrossFit Estes Park has an unusual population for whom he has to program. The average age in our little mountain town is in the 50s. He figures out scales that work for his mom and step-father, both of whom have had great benefits and results, as well as a SEAL candidate, a nationally-ranked swimmer and the Alpine Hot Shots. It’s a big range. What works for the firefighters might hurt the retiree. What challenges and even shells the local chocolate shop owner won’t make the national park trails guys break a sweat. Eric has it down.

The root of his success is stressing form. Form can be perfected at any age and any ability. He leans heavily on mobility to achieve proper form and seems to easily spot the mobility shortcoming that leads to the bad form.

Eric stress form, function and pushes mobility. He identifies problems in his athletes’ mobility and helps them correct the movements. I had been a competitive power lifter ( a long time ago) and thought I had the motions down pretty well. He corrected my form and I’m squatting what I did in high school.

This is my sixth fitness-related certification, so I have been studying this for a while. This is also my third time applying my knowledge. Confidence makes a big difference when training other athletes. It seems to be working. One guy who left a couple weeks back reported he had pulled his belt in two notches. I haven’t even suggested anything nutrition-related.

To help myself get better, I’ve just picked up Kelley Starrett’s “Becoming a Supple Leopard” and his buddy Brian Mackenzie’s book “Power, Speed, Endurance.” I have been familiar with both of their philosophies and have followed both of their websites. Starrett, known as K-Star, has a doctor of physical therapy. His big idea is that humans should be able to do basic maintenance on themselves. He spent more than a year producing short videos demonstrating how to prevent and fix various injuries. His book distills this knowledge and makes a great reference for athletes and coaches. While his stuff is still available on YouTube and his MobilityWOD.com, I like having a reference book at my fingertips.

Mackenzie is a CrossFitter and coach working with endurance athletes. He takes the CrossFit philosophy that you should be able to get a productive workout for your sport without wiping out your whole day. Lots of relatively short intervals cover the sport side of his CrossFit Endurance  website. Workouts as short as the dreaded Tabata Protocol, to longer test time trials at shorter distances.

With my beautiful daughter now swimming competitively, and wanting to spend time with her, we’ve been swimming together for a couple of years. Mackenzie’s book allows me to help my daughter improve. It’s a challenge, as I’ve never swum competitively outside of triathlon. It may help me identify problems in her form and help correct them. I am also looking forward to applying the better form to my own swimming. I really want to hold her off as long as I can. She already has a better kick than I.

K-Star’s book is a no-brainer. I would recommend it to any athlete or coach. It’s available through his website, local bookstores or various internet entities. Mackenzie’s book I need to look through, though I have been doing the workouts from his site for a couple of years and felt the benefits in unusual ways. I recover faster, even from crashes requiring ER visits.

Have a bright and warm holiday season. Have fun, be safe. I’m going reading.

Zoe and I lounge on the couch.

Zoe and I lounge on the couch.


Checking In

I’m sitting on my coach enjoying my DVD of the ’04 Tour. Everything that has hurt for most of the season has finally gotten to the point when I have made an appointment with a proper medical professional. I’ve written about how frustrated I get when I can’t ride or lift. Thanks to my wonderful daughter, however, I have an alternative.

I’ve been telling anyone who would listen how much I’ve enjoyed swimming with my little 12-year-old mermaid. I may have a year before she’s faster in the water than I am. It is a fabulous thing to see her excel at an athletic endeavor. Now, I’m swimming more as it’s pretty much my only outlet. Pain in knees, shoulder and back have eliminated my favorite exercises, CrossFit and, of course, cycling. Of course, our high temperature of 5 degrees also sucks all motivation out of the outdoor cycling idea. The water in our local poo was better than 80 degrees. Warm after walking in from single-digit temps.

Swimming, by it’s very nature, leads me to stretching out and focusing on my hallow body position, a position I am required to hold quite often while lifting. The focus on position is also an exercise in meditation. It is calming. It also motivates me to sign up for the http://www.lovelandlaketolake.com/text/information.html. It’s my favorite tri in the area. It’s long enough to be challenging. It’s pretty enough that participants won’t be bored. When it’s all done, they organizers have the best feed of any race. Four years ago, the last time I was able to race, they had a build-your-own-breakfast-burrito bar. Giant brownies included. The organizers have also done their best to keep the entry fee relatively low. You can jump in for $85 now, $105 a little closer to the race day. Compare that with the Boulder Peak Tri, same distance, $100 now, $125 if you wait. Still, not that bad if you look at the Boulder Ironman, $675, had you signed up in time, $1,350 right now.

The Lake to Lake is a swim in Loveland Lake, about 35 miles on the bike from Loveland High School to Ft. Collins’ Horsetooth Reservoir, the other lake in the race’s name, and back. Then, a 10K around Loveland Lake. More shade than the Boulder races, better food than any race I’ve done and great for the price.

I did get one new piece of cycling clothing. I haven’t worn it outside, yet, but it’s been cold here at 7,522 feet, so I’ve worn it quite often. The Castelli Thremo Head Thingie is like the “Buff”, only with thermal fleece inside. It can be worn like a bandana, a balaclava, a neck gater or beanie. The packaging has instructions so anyone can figure out how to twit and tug at the tube of stretchy, warm fabric into whatever a rider might need.

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A warm and versatile piece of clothing.

Next time, with any luck, I’ll be able to write about my homemade Plyometrics box. The owner of my gym won’t let me jump up on the clutters, anymore, so I had to make a box. 

Have fun, be safe. I’m going swimming.