Monday, March 30, 2009

Not Much To Say Except...

So there isn't really much to say. I have a dislocated bone in my foot. I know why I have it. Not because of shoes, or overtraining. I have it because I've been working on detoxing my body and had some structural deep tissue work done at around the same time. Basically, toxins and cause tendons to weaken and in this instance because of gravity and some integration work done on my feet at about the same time, I didn't let everything shake out before going back to my normal routine. So until the bone gets taken care of I won't be running. I had it worked on last week and got it partially back in place, but I still have pain. On a scale of 1 to 10 it is a 9. 10 being I'd want to shoot myself to put myself out of my misery.

But this is giving me time to finally sit down and write out a schedule for my workouts. Minus running of course. The running is on the schedule, I just won't be doing it. Funny how I can find time to put this on paper now. I think what has happened is I have a better handle on my external commitments. Probably because I've moved some things around and let others go completely. Now I'll work on the actual build in volume and intensity. I should have the whole year planned out by Wednesday. Honestly I feel much better knowing what I will be doing each day versus just "winging" it like I have since my work schedule changed in November.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Monday - Strength Work Ace Style

So yesterday was Boot Camp at Hill Country Fitness. I lead these so, technically I don't have to actually do the workouts. But in an effort to maximize my time I do participate. This makes sure I get some much needed strength work and cross training in without having to go to the gym. ;)

Here's what we did.

1) Start out with 50 Hindu Squats - These are good for loosing up the joints and warming the body up in a hurry while also building endurance.
2) about a 2 min trot over to the Town Square in the Galleria.
3) 1 min of Shuffle Squat Touch - A low side shuffle to the right in basketball stance, squat down touch the ground, then repeat other direction
4) 30 seconds Jump switch squat - Wide legged stance, squat down touch the ground in front of the front foot, then jump, turn, squat and touch ground behind you with the opposite hand.
5) 30 seconds Revolved Warrior lunge pulse. (30 seconds each leg) So Warrior II with the back heel up (technically Anjaneyasana or high lunge) but you bring the arm opposite the lunging knee to the front and pulse into the bent front leg. Core, balance, endurance and strength just like we like it.
6) Repeat exercises 2 through 5.
7) Trot over to the parking garage ( about 2 min) then 5 min of running up and down 2 flights of stairs. ( I "float" these meaning I skip 2 steps and explode off my toes the instant they come into contact with the stairs)
8) 1 min incline pushups
9) 1 min dips
10) 1 min modified Hindu Pushups (Dive Bombers)
11) Repeat 8-11
12) 1 min Towel slides for core ( stand on a towel with palms flat on the floor, slide the towel back to a plank position, slide the towel forward to a standing forward fold.
13) 1 min Cross leg Crossover Sit up - on your back legs out straight in a V right hand behind the head left arm points up to the ceiling. Taking the left hand straight up is if you are being pulled up, hinging at your waist come up to a seated position, legs still in the V shape. Once you are in the seated position, take the left hand over and touch the right foot, recline, switch the hand/arm position and repeat.
14) 1 min In/Out - seated on the floor, palms at your sides, knees bent feet hover just above the floor. Move the legs out, then back in toward the chest.
15) Repeat 12-14
16) Cool down.

Later, I taught a yoga class. Needless to say I was tired. The plan was to ride in between the Boot Camp and Yoga but life got in the way. The winds were too high and it was threatening rain. Plus I had an acupuncture appointment to go to. I'll try to squeeze the ride in next week. As it stands I was pretty tired at the end of the day so I'll count it as a strength day in my log.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Yoga For Triathletes - Uttanasana

Uttanasana, or standing forward fold, is an asana that is good for all athletes. The pose is benificial because it releases the muscles of the low back and the hamstrings. Notice I said "releases," not stretch.

When I started thinking about what poses could benefit us as athletes, Uttanasana was one that I didn't immediately include in my list. The reason for this wasn't because it was too simple, or too well known, (all you do is bend over, who couldn't do that?). What came to mind as I thought about Uttanasana, or standing forward fold, was the risk of an athlete injuring his or herself in this pose far outweighed the benefits to be had from using it. But then I read something on Lucho's blog in the comments that caused me to rethink things.

Basically, this boiled down to two things. First, Lucho (Sorry, can't locate his original post) cautioned athletes about stretching, and yoga in particular, citing the potential for injury. And second was Lucho's saying he could put his palms on the floor without feeling any pull in his hamstrings at all. Personally, I completely agree with both of these positions. But I have a couple of caveats to add. After having practiced yoga for over 5 years, I've discovered there is actually no stretching of muscles going on in an "informed" practice whatsoever. Yoga demands the development of coordinated muscle activity. As such, a pose like Uttanasana is as much a core cultivator as it is a hamstring release. And it is that ability to learn to consciously let go of the hamstrings that allows this asana to bestow its benefits on those who chose to explore it more fully.

In life we spend a great deal of time accumulating things for a variety of reasons. Tension and the illusion of control are among these. The standing forward fold, while a good pose for releasing accumulated stress and tension in the body, also provides a framework to allow us to experience the process of releasing our unconscious hold on the hamstrings which in turn usually results in a tight lower back. Instead of "stretching" the hamstrings, what we are learning to do in this position, is to mindfully release them. By releasing the hamstrings consciously, we deepen the fold and our experience of it, but we also gain access to more direct control of the working muscles in our bodies.

This is the process I feel we go through as we progress as people and as athletes. Each workout provides us with more and more insight into the inner workings of our own bodies and how they respond to various training loads, meals/fueling, and rest patterns. In the forward fold there is a point in the body, especially when the folds are new and your limits seem set in stone, where as you reach your limit, you begin to hold on for dear life. You lock certain muscles in place so that you don't break, lose your depth or fall over. If you don't take stock of where you are at this point to see exactly what is going on, how you are using the muscles in such a manner as to actually build a very substantial (albeit mental) wall between you and your goal of moving your nose closer to your shins, you will have reached the limit of expression in the forward fold for you. But if you are able to stand at your edge, breathe, observe, and take stock as to where you are holding on, you will in time begin to notice some of the muscles you have been using in your "fight to maintain" your current depth are actually the same muscles holding you back from a deeper expression in the fold. It is when you realize this, you can begin to consciously release these muscles one by one. It is at the very point you decide to let go of these muscles that have been useful in keeping you at your current edge, you discover you can move deeper and express more fully in the pose.

The same can be said of any other aspect of our lives. Once we realize our own perceptions -- fears really -- are the only thing between us the realization of our dreams, we are then capable of remarkable things. In yoga, the act of folding forward is a physical "bowing in" to and an acknowledgement of the self.

To come into Uttanasana poperly stand with the feet together, hands on the hips. Bend forward at the hips, using them as a hinge, versus bending at the waist which strains the lower back. Bending at the hips your pelvis should articulate backwards slightly and as you fold forward there should be a small inner rotation of the upper thighs. This rotation will create space for the torso. Once you feel any pull in the back of the hamstrings, this is as far as you should fold. Explore this point either with your arms folded over head, hands cupping the elbows, or hands at the shins, or fingertips or palms on the floor. In time as you explore your individual edge, you can work on relaxing and releasing the hamstrings consciously. By focusing on the role of the core muscles once you have released the hamstrings, you will be able to find a deeper fold.

You can find a picture and more details on the pose here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

So Here's What Happened Today...

Nothing. Unless you count my taking a picture of this bench. Sort of cool, I think. My goal is to sit on it next time and watch the ducks. After running ;)

I planned to work out but my friend's jewelry show/exhibit started today and she was nervous. So I stayed put, sat by her side and sent vibes of encouragement. Basically why I came to Colorado in the first place. I'm cool with that. Tomorrow, however will be a different story. I'm going swimming.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Today's Running And Thoughts About The Boulder Running Company

So the idea for today's run was 30 minutes easy. Of course easy is relative when you are dealing with becoming used to how your body responds in a new environment. It has been 9 years since I was in Boulder last or at altitude unless you count the 30 feet needed to travel from the street to the second story in my home in Austin. The run wasn't what I'd call brutal unless 28 degree temperatures and 5000 feet elevation is new to you.

Being from Austin, I'll consider it new.

It was the oddest sensation. My legs felt like they were actually stronger than normal. But my heart and lungs were another story altogether. I couldn't get my breathing in line. I wasn't hyper-ventilating, but I felt off. This was manageable. My heart rate was another story, however. It was just flat out high. It has been high since I got here. About 5 to 8 beats. I'm not sure this is altitude related and I know I wasn't sick when I left. But it could be the fact the heat runs constantly, which isn't the case at home, and sleeping somewhere conditioned air is blowing over you the entire night. I'm going to try this again tomorrow and maybe I'll fair better.

I'm not usually one to dismiss a retailer and perhaps the fault here is mine. My expectations in a city with a community like Boulder's may just be too high. I'm not going to belabor this but I was very disappointed with my experience at the Boulder Running Company store located on Pearl Street. So here's what happened. I walk into the store and find some socks. The socks I brought from Austin were not working too well at keeping my toes warm. I asked the salesperson about the socks I was looking at and he could not tell me anything about them other than what he read to me from the packaging. He did say he didn't think I would need the pair in my hand because he thought they were for people who ran a lot... Ouch! Apparently I don't look like I run a lot. Even though I'm wearing a pair of Nike Free's.

It gets better. So once at the counter I ask the price of the Polar Foot Pod (the device you attach to your shoe to tell you how fast you run - a pretty fancy pedometer that syncs with the Polar watches). He hands me the Polar Foot Pod after scanning it for the price and then proceeds to tell me that while these Suunto monitors are good Garmin's are the next wave in technology. Ok, I'll admit he may have been right about the Garmin but what was that about Suunto? I was asking about Polar Foot Pods, the register that gave him the price was displaying Polar, I'm wearing a Polar wrist watch... You get the picture. Needless to say I left the store vowing never to come back (I wouldn't want that guy trying to sell me shoes) and to find out where the true runners in Boulder get their stuff.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

In Boulder For The Week...

So I'm in beautiful Boulder Colorado for the week. Even the 18 degree temps when my plane landed this morning in Denver wasn't enough to keep me from being exited. I'm gonna start tomorrow off with a run. We'll see how things progress from there. Maybe I can find a yoga class somewhere. Any suggestions?