Iron Rogue has joined the Fitfluential Family! Whereas I was a member before, I am now officially a Fitfluential Ambassador (see the badge on the right?). Fitfluential is a blogging network, so this is exciting news, especially in light of my recent looking to new horizons…
What kind of changes does this mean? Not many, in terms of the general tone and content of the blog. While a lot of Ambassadors do regular/weekly posts like ‘What I Ate Wednesday’ or ‘Motivation Monday’ I don’t think that really suits my personal voice. I am, however, looking forward to a better relationship with brands, and hopefully that means more gear reviews and the like. I still want to take baby steps to take the blog to the next level, and this ambassadorship is the best way to get started.
If you have a blog, you might consider signing up for membership, and applying for ambassadorship the next time applications open!
I turned 39 this year, and next year I’ll be racing in the 40-45 age category; since triathlon rules will be deeming me a 40 year-old, I thought I might give myself a 40th birthday present and sign-up for a half-Ironman. You know, take things to the next level. In triathlon training though, you always need the support of your partner, and when the training volume increases and longer runs/rides start cropping up, this is even more true, so I approached my wife with the idea.
She is supportive, especially when she knows it’s something I really want, but she asked me a straightforward question: With the way things are with the kids, do you see yourself being able to train for a half-Ironman in the coming year. That stopped me in my tracks. That past week, the kids had been sleeping well, and showing a lot of development so I think I had projected that into less dependence on me as their parent, and got all caught up in my own ambition. You see, my wife knows me better than most, and she’s seen me get disappointed before; I don’t always take things in stride, and tend to blame myself in a somewhat destructive pattern. Goals are important, but the best goals are realistic and measurable and all that, so some good straight-talk is worth a million ‘rah-rah! you can do it!’s. Still when presented with an either-or ultimatum, the Iron Rogue way is to take a third option.
So many of my favourite bloggers (including, but not limited to Fit2Flex, Healthy Tipping Point, Fit Mom…In Training) have been training for or completing half-marathons that I couldn’t help but catch that fever. I figured (and my wife agrees) that stepping up my running endurance would be a good pilot project to see what our life can handle in terms of training volume. When I saw that Fitness Cheerleaderwas signing up for the Burlington Chilly Half-Marathon, I had my inspiration – I signed up! I’ve already gone on some longer (for me) runs with the Lightning Kid in the Chariot, and I hope to increase running volume all the way to Christmas.
After that, I’ll need to adopt (at least semi-formally) a training program; I’d prefer one that is heavy on the cross-training which not only aids my triathlon ambitions, but fits my ‘Fitness ADHD’ personality… which also has me interested in trying new classes and programs for increased strength. Overall, it’s an exciting time, a season to look to new horizons; I don’t see any reason to wait until the new year. Stay tuned to the blog for new adventures….
Epilogue: Since having that conversation with my wife, we’ve gone through several nights of less than 3 hours sleep due to the Lightning Kid’s teething (not to mention when Shark Boy wakes up too), as well as a daytime visit to the Hospital for Sick Children minor surgery to put tubes in his ears. I think I have a pulled core muscle of some kind and an eye infection, and there seems to be an inordinate amount of coughing and sniffling going on in the Iron Rogue Den of Iniquity household. The chaotic elements in our lives reared their heads again, and the decision to make smaller, subtler changes to my training regimen appears to have been the right one.
With the off-season in full swing, we’re looking at contending with less daylight, and colder temperatures – the temptation to cocoon is overwhelming. Still one of the things you can do from the comfort of your home nowadays is train/exercise/workout. There’s tons of articles and posts about what exercise gear to equip your home with (and I may write one myself soon enough), today I’m going to talk about options for electronic media. Whether you’re on a bike trainer, watching a workout DVD, or simply want tunes while you exercise, you’ll probably need a way to play media. What kinds of tech could you use? Warning: this might get a little technical; leave a question in the comments if something is unclear.
Tablet computer. I managed to balance my iPad quite nicely on my aerobars while I was on the bike trainer. I used Netflix to watch a TV show (can’t remember which one) for some slow spinning, then switched to the Bit Timer app for a Tabata to finish.
DVD Player (& TV of course). There are Workout videos for strength, toning, cardio, as well as Yoga, Pilates and Biking/Spinning. You can play music CDs or even watch a your favourite TV show while on the trainer (or treadmill or elliptical if you have one). Personally I don’t use my workout videos as much as I’d like, and watching TV is something I prefer to do when there isn’t other noise (like my own grunting, or the whir of my bike) to interfere with my enjoyment of it. This option is honestly a little primitive (no Internet?) by today’s standards.
Laptop. It usually has a connection to the internet so Youtube videos of workouts and techniques (and there are more and more of these nowadays), plus playing DVDs and CDs is generally no problem. It could have a music collection on there, or simply display a workout you got from a blog or website. I’m a little nervous about having the laptop around exercise equipment – I have visions of sweat in the keyboard or it simply getting broken. It’s a little hard to find a good spot for it, but it’s still a great option.
Home Theatre PC (HTPC). Ah, the Cadillac option. For a while I had a PC with a quiet case hooked up to the home theatre/TV, and it was bliss. This thing had a video capture card (for recording TV) and was running MythTV. MythTV is free software that implements PVR recording (provided you have that capture card I mention) which automatically flags and skips commercials. So, a PVR that I don’t pay the TV company a rental fee for, and I never see commercials. I also had music and some exercise videos ripped onto the hard drive, so when I wanted a Yoga session, I could press play without waiting for the DVD to spin up and be read – instant access. Unfortunately, the motherboard of this machine blew and replacing it meant basically rebuilding the machine from scratch. I wasn’t willing to put in the time, effort and cash, so I found a cheaper alternative.
Home Media Player – These aren’t fully fledged computers, more like hard-drives that have network capability and the right drivers for streaming/playing various media. An Apple TV might count in this category. The one I’ve been using is the Cirago CMC3000; it has video capture capability so I can record shows, but it’s not as good as the MythTV because I have to manually program what time to record without an on-screen guide – it only records what the set-top box is playing (meaning I have to program the set-top box too to be on the right channel at the right time). The MythTV had its own tuner so I could just pick say, ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and it would tune the correct channel at the right time. Still, I’m using it to record shows and fastforward commercials, so that’s good. It can stream media from my desktop and through third party software I can also play Netflix on it. If I rip my workout DVDs to my computer, I should be able to stream them from the Cirago, or even simply copy the files over to it; it can be a network mapped hard-drive too.
I should inventory what DVDs I have… maybe that’ll help inspire me to play them.
Various Pilates DVDs – some were gifts…some came with the Swiss Ball…
Missing: the DVD that came with our Bosu
That’s a little embarrassing… some are still in the plastic! Let’s hope the season is kind to me and the videos! If I wanted to add to the collection, I thought I’d share that Beachbody let me know that they have some new products. Of the ones they mentioned these were the most interesting (N.B. without having tried these products, I cannot endorse or recommend them, I am merely linking to acknowledge their existence).
Les Mills Combat: They have Les Mills classes at Goodlife Fitness, where I’m a member. My favourite group class is Body Combat; the cardio burn rate is unparalleled, and it’s a heap of fun, scratching my martial arts itch. I haven’t found a class that meets my schedule lately, so having one at home would be pretty attractive.
Insanity Asylum Volume 2: The Insanity series are unique in that they offer drills that are meant to increase actual athletic performance (speed, power, agility, etc.) rather than simply build muscle or burn fat. They would probably be more useful for a performance minded multi-sport athlete.
I hope that gives some of you some ideas…. what kinds of electronic media are you using to stay in shape?
So many of the blogs I read in the fitness/running/triathlon/wellness space do posts on food. There’s even What I Ate Wednesday as a regular feature among Fitfluentialbloggers. I’ve never been interested in following this trend, it just doesn’t interest me to write (nor read) about it (most of the time – I do love food!). Still, I thought I might spend a single post on the very basic nutritional principles I follow. For some of you, it will be old news, but if I open a couple of eyes, it will be worth it.
First off, I am not vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free or paleo. If that’s what you’re looking for, all I can do is apologize. Here are some regular features in my diet:
Whole Wheat. Pasta and breads. I don’t want to do without them, and I will admit, the white stuff tastes better until you get used to Whole Wheat or Whole Grain varieties. The difference is in the Glycemic Index; High GI foods will ‘burn’ (or give you the energy boost) very quickly, but then the insulin overcompensation leaves you sluggish afterwards, and maybe even hungry for more. Lower GI foods burn slower, giving you energy throughout a longer period… guess which is better for endurance sports? The analogy I like to think of is evergreen/soft wood vs. hard wood. As a kid, I always wanted to put pine or spruce branches into campfires and our cottage woodstove, since they caught quickly and made big flames right away. My father, however, knew better, and said they simply went ‘poof’, and made sure there was birch or maple to burn overnight so the cottage wouldn’t get cold while we were sleeping.
Brown Rice. We’re probably not as strict about this one, but the same principle applies. Brown basmati is most popular in our household, it takes longer to cook, and can be a little harder to come by.
Omega 3. I went to Wikipedia to make sure I was up on all the health benefits of this one. I think we started with it for the sake of heart health (which seems to be disputed), and/or pre-natal development, I also like the ant-inflammatory properties, for fighting off the effects of sore muscles or injury. With Down Syndrome Awareness month just past, I’ll point out that Down Syndrome (a.k.a Trisomy 21) occurs at conception, so pre-natal nutrition has no effect on its occurrence, but giving the Lightning Kid every advantage through the nutrient in his breast milk is important. We get out Omega 3 Fatty acids through supplemented milk and dairy products, and make an effort to have fish once a week (good news: that’s the best way to get benefits). We’re also big Sushi fans!
Breakfast. I’m always floored by the fact that eating breakfast is always touted as an overlooked health or weight loss tip; if I tried to skip breakfast I’d be turning into a cannibal by 9AM. One of the best things I eat for breakfast is steel cut oats as oatmeal (not instant). I usually mix it with yoghurt (sometimes greek yoghurt), brown sugar and blueberries. I also always have blueberries on my cereal; Anti-oxidants for the win!
Caffeine – OK, I mostly use caffeine as a drug. In the worst sense of the word, it’s a coping crutch to get me through the day, but I love it so much, my one of my favourite hoodies has a picture of a caffeine molecule on it. It’s worth knowing that there are other benefits to caffeine. Metabolism boosting (fat burning), performance enhancing, pain relieving benefits… it’s all good stuff that I can use to rationalize all those cups of coffee.
Race Day Nutrition
Maybe it’s because I stick to Olympic distance, but I don’t really carbo-load. First, the best way to get glycogen for the race is to have your carbs two days before the race, but my main problem is I think carbs are generally over-abundant in my diet; let’s face it, they are easy to come by in your basic North American diet.
I’m lucky in that my gut seems to be made of iron (I sometimes contemplate having steak and eggs for breakfast on race day as a dare, but never do). My breakfast is often cereal on race day, because I know it’ll be OK. I can take almost any carb gel and be fine – I usually time it so that I take my first about one-quarter into the bike, with another towards the end of the bike to fuel my run.
That’s about all I could come up with for now. They say nutrition is the 4th discipline of triathlon, so there’s lots more that could be explored…
This weekend I went North to an annual ‘Boys Weekend’. A bunch if guys (too old to refer to themselves as boys) get up to whatever guys do at a cottage when freed from family and work obligations. Now, the cardinal rule of this tradition is “what happens on boys weekend stays on boy’s weekend”, so details will be sparse and obscured, but I wanted to discuss the only fitness/outdoor activity of the weekend: paintball!
Faces have been obscured to protect the identity of the… well, I can’t say innocent…
I’ve played paintball a few times before, but most of the time the day goes as follows:
Show up at the facility, rent used equipment.
Then, get your group of novices mixed in with weekend warriors who are there weekly, know the terrain and have superior skill and equipment.
Get overshadowed or simply slaughtered by these same warriors
On this weekend, I was looking forward to playing on a more level playing field. Some guys had used the experience of previous years (I’ve missed a couple of years due to the births of my kids) to get motivated to buy better equipment and get educated about the mechanics of the guns (which are officially known as ‘markers’ and that’s how I’ll be referring to them from here on in). So maybe the playing field wasn’t perfectly level… For my part, I bought a simple starter kit at Canadian Tire, but ended up shelling out a little more for extra ammunition and a light camouflage jacket.
I’m not a big risk-taker, so in prior games, my desire to put myself in a situation where I could get a drop on an opponent leads to a lot of hesitation; being over-cautious means missing out on the action. This time, I vowed to be more aggressive, and I think I can report mild success on that front, though I don’t think it netted any kills.
We played a few rounds, switching up teams and objectives. It’s notable that each round, someone would have to eliminate themselves due to equipment malfunction and we would burn a lot of time between rounds cleaning the internals of the markers or checking the carbon dioxide tanks that act as the propellant. It’s hard to maintain momentum and/or a calorie burn.
A funny thing happened during a game of ‘Capture the Can of Beer’: my marker malfunctioned, and the usual ‘pull the pin back and forth’ didn’t clear anything up, so I was left with nothing to lose. I simply decided to make a run for the can (heh… can) and see what would happen. I made it! Turns out, the marker can be a hindrance to my enjoyment of the game. You catch a first person view of that round below; I mounted my camera to the marker – yes, I am a geek. Warning: I do use a bit of bad language right as I decide that the marker is not fixable during the game and decide to go for it.
In fact, I am such a geek that I also wore a heart rate monitor while playing. I knew I would wind up huffing and puffing and wanted to know how much of that was due to the emotional excitement or the actual exertion. A snippet of the data (representing the round shown in the video) is below.
Occasionally pushing 90% of max HR
So, looking at the rest of the data, you could conceivably burn 600-615 calories an hour doing paintball, though that’s probably being generous. Maybe not the greatest for a fitness activity, but it’s better than most male bonding activities (like golf or poker), and it’s what I’d rather do. Have you ever played?