Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fitting workouts into your BUSY schedule

I've gained 25 lbs. in one year.  That's right, 25 lbs.  That's what happens when you STOP training hard and continue eating the same.  At least that's what happened to me.  So, here I am a year later wondering how the hell I'm going to get back into training- like before.  Especially since my BUSY schedule doesn't allow me to workout like it did before.  I have a new job..that's part of the problem.
For me, my day begins at 0500.  I'm out the door and on the road by 0520.  I have an hour drive into the City (Philly)..a drive that is nerve-racking to say the least.  If anyone has ever driven on the Blue Route (I-476) or I-95 in Philly, during rush-hour, you know what I'm talking about.  The road is littered with morons who either don't know how to drive, nor care how to drive, or they have sh$t falling out of their truck while driving 75 mph down an interstate.
Lunch is normally at 1130 and lasts an hour.  I usually walk (fast) a mile to grab something to eat at lunch, bring it back to my car and listen to Sports Radio for 1/2 hour- perhaps catching a 15 min. catnap.  I leave work at 330pm and I'm home by 445pm.  When I get home I'm usually so tired I laydown for an hour before my wife gets home from work.  We normally eat around 6pm.  After dinner, the last thing on my mind is working out...especially if I have a glass of wine or beer with dinner (which I normally do).  I'm usually beat/tired with little motivation to do anything but laydown and read a book after dinner. 

The weekends have been just as busy up at 0600 either enroute to a bike race that I'm officiating at, or out the door bass fishing (at our new house on Lake Wallenpaupack).  Again, by the time I get back to the house it's late and I'm dead tired from being out in the sun all day.  The last thing I'm thinking about is getting on a bike and working out.

If your schedule sounds like mine..there ARE things you can do to fit a workout into your schedule.  I'm going to start doing some of them.  Here's what you can do:

Use your lunch hour.  Lunchtime is a great opportunity to get away from your desk, stretch your legs, and refresh your body and mind.    But yet 90% of the people in my office eat their lunch at their desk during lunch hour (while also claiming they're working which they use as an excuse to leave an hour early each day- but I won't get into that).  If you're in the habit of working through lunch, look for a gym nearby where you can get a quick workout in.  Or, perhaps, you can go on a long walk with a colleague or quick run..provided there is a shower nearby like there is for me in my office building.  I think I'm going to start jogging at lunch.

Commute to work.  I know this isn't possible for everyone, but most of us can manage to get some exercise in during our commute to and from work. If you don't have far to go, can you walk or cycle and leave the car at home? (You'll save on gas and parking too.)  For me, this is NOT possible because I'd be taking my life in my hands with the traffic- not to mention some of the shady neighborhoods I'd have to ride through. 

Exercise first thing in the a.m.  With my last job, this was possible.  With my new job, NO WAY!  I'm not getting up at 0400.  But, if you don't have to be in work until 0900 there is NO EXCUSE why you can't get up at 0600 and get an hour workout in BEFORE work. 
If you get your workout done first thing, you won't end up putting it off or deciding that you've just had "too busy" a day to go to the gym.  Plus, working out in the a.m. gets your body to start burning calories straight away.
Exercise right after work.   How often do you head home from work, fully intending to go out to the gym after dinner, only to find yourself still slumped on the sofa at 7PM? It's often hard to get up the motivation to move once you're home and comfy, so try going straight to the gym or the pool after work.  It's even better if you can rope in a friend or two to meet you at the gym.  Because there ARE going to be days when you don't feel like going to the gym after work, where your friends will motivate you to go..and after your workout you'll be glad you did.  You'll also sleep more soundly at night after an evening workout.
Exercise with your dog.  If you don't have a dog, get one.  My dog (Rhodesian Ridgeback) Kali (God rest her soul) used to be my favorite workout partner.  We would swim, take long walks, go on jogs and even rollerbladed together on the weekends.  Working out with your dog is a great stress-reliever too.  Hell, just seeing my dog after a long day in the office was a stress-reliever.  Plus, it's healthy for your dog.  God knows today's dogs are as fat and out of shape as their owners/handlers are.  Working out with your dog will benefit both of you.  If you're still not crazy about getting a dog, ask a neighbor (who never gets their dog out of the house) if you can borrow their dog for a quick run or walk.  They'll both love you for it.  You can go on nightly walks/jogs with the dog when the Summer temps have cooled down.
The important thing here is to fit exercise/workouts into your schedule in a time slot where you know you won't blow it/them off.  If you try to schedule your workouts AFTER dinner, chances are you're not going to do them.  So, plan workouts into a schedule that you know you'll meet. 

Good Luck.  Power ON! Coach Rob

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

If you can't stand the a cooling vest!

Regardless of where you live in the USA I'm sure you've been experiencing the Heat of the Summer recently.  Unless you live in Anchorage,'s HOT!  Stinking Hot! 

I'm also sure you've all heard the time-worn expression, "if you can't stand the heat..get out of the kitchen".  For me, that's pretty much my motto when it comes to training in the heat of the Summer.  And, I normally "get out of the kitchen".  If/when I train in the Summer it's normally done in the early morning hours or at night (with a light) beat the heat.  If I can't train in the cooler hours of the day, I'll retreat to my cool basement and workout on the trainer for an hour..or so.  But, one thing I will NOT do and that is train during the mid-day heat.  For me, it's more physiological than psychological.  When I'm hot and working out, I sweat like a pig..and no matter how much I hydrate myself..the sun just has a way of baking my brain..and putting me down for the count.  I just can't seem to re-hydrate quickly enough. 

There are articles upon articles written about the physiological effects of heat and its effects on power output.  There is no doubt that heat will quickly zap power.  So, what are you to do as an athlete when you're faced with a choice of a) training outside in 100F temps where you know your max power output will be way down or b) training inside in 70F basement temps where you know your max power output will be reached?  This was a recent question asked of one of the athletes I coach.  I know what I would do, and that is opt for choice b) above.  That's because "mentally" I hate the heat..and physiologically (as forementioned) my body doesn't deal with it very well.  Additionally, if I train indoors in the cooler temps I'll be able to apply higher loads/force to my muscles.  And, isn't that how we get stronger?  Don't we increase the load and let our body adapt to it?  At least that's how I see it.  But, rather than give the athlete my opinion, without any data to support it, I figured I'd ask my mentor, Hunter Allen to see what he thought.  This is what Hunter said, " It’s a tough balance and part of that balance is the mental aspect. If you stick him on the trainer, then it will be mentally challenging more so than the heat in my opinion, unless he’s just one of those nuts that loves the trainer!  Tell him to ride when it’s coolest and do the best he can.  When it’s super hot, give him the option for riding indoors."
I agree with Hunter..ride when it's coolest.  But, what if you can't..and what if you just don't like the trainer?  Well, there is another option and that is to buy and train/ride with a cooling vest.  There are a bunch of cooling vests designed specifically for cyclists: Kul Lite, Sta Coolvest, Hyperkewl, Cooline, Fros-Tcooling, etc.  They range in price from $50 to $300.  I haven't had time to research which is the best bang for the buck..but I'm sure it's only a matter of time when I do.  You can use the vest for warming up for a race and take it off BEFORE you race.  Or, you can leave it on for the race.  You can also use the vest for other sports such as: fishing, motorcycling, running, etc. 
I'll post a future blog on which vest I think is the best bang for the buck- for cyclists.  If anyone out there trains with one (or races with one) let me know which brand you have and how you like it.  I'm interested in knowing.
Until then, stay Cool.  Power ON!  Coach Rob