Guest Post: 3 Ways To Better Manage Sports Pain

Disclaimer: this post is sponsored content.

As an endurance athlete, you need to learn to manage pain. Pain is a normal part in the lives of people, who love sports.

However, as an athlete you need to practice the saying “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” This is the primary reason why endurance athletes last long compared with other people who can’t even run a mile. Experts believe that it’s their ability to cope with pain, physically and psychologically.

So why do athletes have better tolerance for pain? A research by the University of Heidelberg in Germany found that athletes stand pain better than non-athletes. The researchers believed that it’s their commitment to regular physical activity that improved their ability to bear pain.

The study found that athletes can deal with chronic pain better. They can stand pain for longer duration because their training has helped them to develop the coping skills they need.

Athletes are often exposed in intense psychological and physical pain, especially before and during the competitions. They deal with pain better than the non-athletes because they know how to apply the pain coping mechanisms that would help them win in the competitions.

Aside from exercise to alleviate pain, the researchers are looking into the power of meditation. Later on, this may help people struggling with chronic pain.

Whether you are an athlete or not, practice these mental strategies that can help you bear pain better:

  • Do the self-talk.

“Mind over matter.” When you tell your brain to focus on the pain, you will surely stop during the game. The best way to fight the pain, especially when you feel that you want to give up in the middle of the competition is to use the rhythmic cognitive behavior. It’s easy to apply this because you just have to say a certain mantra or word that applies to you. For instance, you can say “power,” “fast,” “calm” repeatedly to encourage yourself to go on than to focus on the pain. You can also count from 1 to 10 and begin it again after every step, stride or ride you do. It’s one easy way to divert your mind from telling you that you need to stop because of the pain.

  • Believe that pain will pass.

When the pain starts to consume you during the competition or trainings, your emotions may begin to surface. Those emotions are sending messages telling you to either ask for help, slow down or you need to drink. Don’t ignore those emotions and try to understand what the important message it is telling you. The fastest way to manage this difficult emotion at the height of a competition is to stop your movements. During this time, you need to calm yourself to put an end to this emotion. You need to say a powerful mantra to remind yourself that you are in control of everything. Convince yourself that the pain is just temporary and it will not last.

  • Accept what’s there.

What you’re expecting on the day of your training or competition has something to do with how you will perceive pain. When you begin to think that you can handle the pain that you may be experiencing later during the race will change how you will handle it.

What you feed your brain is what you’re going to believe in. For instance, you will think that “It was the slippery road that caused my injury.” As an endurance athlete, it will help you if you will begin to have less expectations. You should be ready for whatever will happen later and believe that you can handle anything, even facing pain.

 

Frances Hamilton loves writing about developing mental skills as a way to enhance the physical strength. She is a devoted Christian, swimmer and speaker as well as resident counsellor at rehabcenters.com.

Kids Triathlons

Since I last posted, we’ve been in two 5 Peaks trail runs, and two kids’ triathlons.  Rather than try to catch up with 4 distinct race recaps, I thought I’d pair them up by race type – that means you’re going to get an overview of the kids’ triathlons we’ve been involved in this time, and the 5 Peaks races next time.

Furthermore, I’m going to combine observations from both races on a per kid basis; they’re only 2 years apart, but in triathlon, their experiences are very, very different in terms of what the event expects of them, and what they expect of the event.  The races were the C3 Kinetico Kids of Steel and Nicola’s Triathlon (for MFM Research).

 

The Lightning Kid

Swim

The Lightning Kid is currently at the ‘Crocodile’ level in his swimming lessons; that means they’re teaching him to roll from back to front, and combining the front crawl arm stroke into the motion.  He makes forward progress for a bit, but he’s not really staying afloat or getting his head above water to breathe more than once, so for a triathlon he wears a life jacket (at the C3 Kinetico Kids of Steel) or water-wings (at Nicola’s tri) and I get in the water with him to coach and cheer.  For the C3 Kinetico KOS, it was 1 length of the pool for the 6-7 age group (groups are determined by the age on Dec 31st).  It would have been 2 lengths for Nicola’s Tri, but we asked them to bump him down to the lower age group, which aligns better with his physical size anyway.  At both events, he kicked and doggy paddled gamely, and was only slowed down by his need to take in the scenery and ham it up for the crowd – as usual.  I stayed a couple of meters ahead of him and tried to keep his eyes on the prize – or at least the end of the pool lane.

I heard reports that some parents were pushing or pulling their kids through the water, and obviously I’m not going to get bent out of shape about it at a young age like this, but I will say the point of these events is endurance and that getting the job done (i.e. making it to the end) is the bigger goal, not how fast you complete it.  I’d rather have my sons come in last, having earned every inch of the achievement themselves – who knew I was so hardcore about this stuff?

Nicola’s Tri took place 2 weeks after the C3 Kinetico KOS and I was blown away about how the Lightning Kid took to transition, running out of the pool area along the red carpet to his bike like a kid possessed.

Bike

While we have been getting him to practice on a pedal bike without training wheels, we haven’t been brave enough to let go of the handle yet, especially since he seems to steer pretty erratically, and we figured he’d be freaked out during the race if he had a fall shortly before the big day, so we selected the balance bike for both races.  And yes – it’s pink.  The bike leg has a lot of the same Lightning Kid hallmarks, good speed, big smile, hamming it up for the crowd.  Unlike adult races, I think the kids’ events could stand to have longer bike legs – if only because I think it would favour my kids (while longer bike legs in adult races only penalize me and my lack of bike fitness). They were both basically a lap around the parking lot with me running alongside.

I do help the Lightning Kid put on socks and shoes which is extra challenging with wet feet; he did not want to forgo socks, in spite of my advice.   I have to get my own shoes on during transition too so that I can run alongside (or ahead) and cheer and coach (again as usual).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Run

The Lightning Kid has improved his running the most in the last year – it surprises most people.  He’s also gotten familiar enough with triathlon that he knows when you get off the bike the race is nearly done and he gets what Germans call Endspurt – a final burst of speed to finish the race.  With only about 500 m to run, it’s over so fast, it’s hard for my wife to get caught up and grab a picture.  The best we can do for pictures is the finish line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shark Boy

Swim

Every year, the swim length seems to double for Shark Boy.  We knew he’d have to manage 100 m this year, so we took to the pool for the 4-5 weeks before the race (on weekends) and tried to increase his skill and endurance.  Every week, he’d have to pass the swim test of 2 pool widths before venturing into the deep end for more practice.   I drilled him in breast stroke, as I feel it’s  a more endurance paced stroke; make no mistake, front crawl/freestyle is faster once you can manage it in a sustainable pace, but plenty of people starting out seem to prefer it, and I know it’s the stroke of choice for recreational swimming in Europe.  Too bad some lifeguards here don’t seem to feel it’s a valid way to swim – I had one lifeguard arbitrarily try to say he hadn’t passed the 2 width swim test for using breast stroke where his face wasn’t in the water enough, and during the Nicola’s tri he was forced to use a flutter board, which slowed him down more.  I know I have to defer to a trained volunteer when it comes to safety, but I do feel there is a bias there.

Being the slowest in his wave (though not the slowest swimmer in his age group, from what I could see) discouraged Shark Boy, even though I tried to explain before and after the race that the overall time is what counted, not when you crossed the finish line (he was in the last wave of the Kinetico Kids Of Steel).  I’m proud of his swims regardless, because through hard work, we took him from not being unable to finish 100 m of swimming to more than capable.

 

Bike

Shark Boy has gotten a hand-me-down mountain bike that has gears in anticipation of a bike camp he’ll be participating in this summer, but though he’s been warming up with it, he wanted his gearless one for the races.

For the Kids of Steel race, he seemed OK on the way out, but I noticed it was taking him a long time to complete.  As I had mentioned before, he was in last place in his own imagination, and I think he got discouraged and lacked motivation.  It was also very hot that day.

For the Nicola’s Tri event, we had a major problem or two.  The course is looped, and though Shark Boy must have listened to 4-5 briefings where the volunteer had the kids repeat back that the bike course had 3 loops, I’m not sure the info really took hold.  I couldn’t follow him through transition, so once he was out of the pool I raced to a spot on the bike course.  I saw him struggling to gain momentum while pedalling furiously, and I knew what the problem was: his chain had come off.  I ran over, had him dismount and showed him briefly how to fix it, then sent him on his way.

Of course this meant I was out of position to tell him to stay on course when he completed the first loop and went straight back into transition….

Run

…and furthermore, he somehow took a short cut on the run course and crossed the finish line after less than 200 m.  He knows how long a 1 km run should feel like (especially from 5 Peaks races of the past), so I can only surmise that he was discouraged to the point where he just wanted this thing over with.

Though he was given a medal, the official results showed ‘DQ’ as his time made no sense in relationship to his competitors who went much further.  It took some serious mother and father pep talk to cheer him up the rest of the day, as we’ve all had results that we weren’t happy with (including my own DNS) that weren’t always the results of bad performance.

For the Kinetico Kids of Steel event, there was no disaster, but he did walk segments of the run course, and I’m still attributing that to discouragement and heat.

He’s placed better in 5 Peaks trail races, than in triathlons so far.   I guess I’m a little discouraged myself to think that at age 7 (meaning he competes with 8 and 9 year-olds) he’s at a level where the training and mental game have to be already pretty high, but it’s actually a good thing for someone who’s had a lot of things come to him fairly naturally (e.g. riding a bike without training wheels by age 3) to learn about the benefits of practice and work ethic.  I just hope he’ll continue to view triathlons as fun.  In addition to being well versed in the technique of transition, he also knows how to blame his equipment in order to justify further spending – he’s been bugging me to get him a road bike which will ride faster than the mountain bike.

Miscellaneous Event Details

Both events are great days out for the family with bouncy castles, face painting and barbecue.

The volunteers do a lot to make the participants and their families feel welcomed, informed and safe.  I love doing triathlon, but I love it even more when the whole family can get involved!

 

Active Family Travel – Easter Weekend in Mont Tremblant

After getting priced out of a lot of ski resorts for March Break, we opted to put the kids in local camps for that week, and make our winter/spring family vacation take place over an extended Easter long weekend.   We opted to stay in Canada this time and selected Mont Tremblant.   We had skied there as newlyweds with my wife being pregnant with Shark Boy years ago.

It seemed like a good plan, especially once we had excellent accommodations locked down and saw how much money we were saving by going late in the season.  Our first snag was that the convenient local airport didn’t have flights from Toronto past the very beginning of April.  The second was that shuttle service from Pierre Trudeau Airport in Montreal was expensive and not ideal for our flight schedule.  Renting a car (I upgraded all the way to a Dodge Durango to make sure we could fit our skis in) proved the smartest option.

By the time we landed, picked up the car and had dinner, it was dark, but still, driving through the mountains was enough to get me excited.   Our condo was at the bottom of the ‘Village’ right across from the Westin, and had two bedrooms (including a king sized bed in the master bedroom) and a pull-out couch so the boys could sleep separately.

On Good Friday morning, we grabbed breakfast from the Au Grain de Cafe, and then got the kids dressed for their ski lessons.  We opted to put the Lightning Kid in a ‘Mother Nature Camp’ where the morning would be dedicated to learning to ski, and the afternoon would be in a daycare-like environment.  Downhill skis and boots are still pretty heavy for his legs, and it’s been slow going getting him to get the hang of it.  Shark Boy was in a ski camp for both Christmas and March Break holidays and he’s gotten pretty good – to the point of being able to use poles, although we hadn’t been able to secure a pair of his own yet.

Once the kids were squared away, my wife and I stopped for an extra coffee and a treat (which became the daily ritual) before going back to our room to get our own ski gear on, and trudge back uphill through the village to the gondola and get our own skiing done.

Both Friday and Saturday were nice, sunny days, and as skiers from Ontario, we’re not too fussy about snow quality – we were just happy to be there.  All we are really looking to do on these trips is spend some time in the simple pleasure of sliding on snow without worrying about anything more than keeping our skis beneath us.

Shark Boy’s favourite runs were ‘La Crete’, ‘Tascherau’ and ‘Dynomite’.  Mine were ‘La Traverse’, ‘Toboggan’ but of course, I have to give an honourable mention to my namesake…

It rained on the Sunday, and though Shark Boy lasted the whole day, we got pretty miserably wet.  Luckily, we paid a visit to the water park known as AquaClub (which also had a fitness centre which I did not take advantage of).  This place has various pools with a tarzan rope, a small slide and a little cliff to jump off of.  Both boys did everything, though the Lightning Kid always simply jumped into the water by releasing the rope before his swing could start.

The one day we didn’t swim after skiing, we rode a little open gondola called ‘Cabrio’ from the bottom parking lot to the top of the village and back.  And up again, and down again.  And up again…

We were very satisfied with the ski school overall.  Lunches were provided, and Shark Boy really liked his instructor, who had tall (though true) tales from all over the world.   I personally would have liked to see the Lightning Kid get more runs in on the bunny hill (served by a magic carpet), though I understand that when the kids get tired, forcing them into it is not going to yield good results or a positive attitude toward snow sports.  He had 3 different instructors, and they were all warm, friendly and great at teaching the skills.

On the Monday, I got an opportunity to ski with each of my sons individually.  I took Shark Boy for a run from the top of the mountain to the bottom before his lesson.  I should point out that though I claimed we’re not fussy about snow quality, the warm weather generated some heavy slush that really wore on your legs after a while and didn’t always yield optimal technique.  Still, I had a lot of fun skiing with Shark Boy and was so impressed that he stuck with me (not skiing too far ahead or afield) without me having to yell and shout.

At the end of the day, I took the Lightning Kid out, and promised him a ride on the chairlift.  I had scoped out a route of green runs from the top of the one chairlift that is accessible from the bottom and was trying to be optimistic that my back would hold out for the entirety while I held him between my legs.  Sadly, his tickets didn’t include lift access, and though it was the last day and last runs of the year, rules are rules, I guess.  I took him back to the magic carpet to see what he had learned and what he was capable of.

He’s getting the hang of putting his skis into the snowplow/’pizza’ position, and according to the instructor reports he can do some stops and control his speed a little.  He’s also fully independent on the magic carpet, so we’ll call the endeavour a success overall.

FOOD

I figure I’ll call out some of our favourite meal experiences separately rather than try and enumerate them all chronologically in the main story.

Pizzateria

The first night’s dinner was going to be a kid-friendly one.  There were two pizza joints within reach, one small and at the bottom of the village, the other larger around the midpoint of the climb to the top.  The kids chose the latter.  Pizzateria is decorated like a log cabin, and the pizza has a homemade, authentic style I really liked.

La Savoie

I grew up with both fondue and a home Raclette appliance, and we’ve also gotten one as a wedding present that we’ve never used.  Raclette is a kind of Swiss cheese that you melt over potatoes or just about anything else you can think of, and it’s delicious.  We haven’t dared to try eating something like these two Swiss delights for fear of the kids’ pickiness (and how their unruly behaviour poses a safety risk)… until now.  Shark Boy was lured in by La Savoie’s menu because it offered Salami as one of the options for dipping or melting cheese over.  We were really surprised at how well the boys took to the experience, and the restaurant service made the kids feel more the kids feel more than welcome.

There’s an element that melts the cheese onto a plate below
Shark Boy and I fondu-ing it!

 

 

Creperie Catherine

Sweet crepes for breakfast!  Shark Boy and I had their ‘Grand Maman’ which was loaded with ice cream… a bit much for breakfast.  The Lightning Kid had a Nutella and banana crepe and the results speak for themselves….

Le Q.C.

I picked this place for lunch date, just the grown-ups.  They had an interesting selection of tartares; my wife’s tuna was delicious.  Great cocktails too, I had a Dark and Stormy which was like a Moscow Mule only with coke, and my wife had a maple syrup based cocktail.

Samurai Pub

Great sushi, well presented, funky vibe.  Another great lunch date.  I didn’t partake of the Sake Bomb… maybe next time.

 

While ski vacations seem to be a lot of work in terms of planning, logistics, packing and lugging gear, when they’re done, we’ve always enjoyed them and grown closer as a family while living the life of adventure that we’ve always dreamed of.

Loot to Crave, Volume 1

This is going to be a recurring feature here on Iron Rogue, where I share the kind of gear and merchandise that gets me drooling.  I was going to use the word ‘booty’ rather than ‘loot’, but I thought it might attract the wrong kind of audience.

 

 

noun: booty

  1. valuable stolen goods, especially those seized in war.
  2. synonyms: loot, plunder, pillage, haul, prize, trophy, spoils, stolen goods, gains, ill-gotten gains, profits, pickings, takings, winnings, swag, boodle, the goods

 

N.B. As of this writing, I have no official relationship with these brands.

 

  • IAMRUNBOX – This is the kind of product I have been waiting a long time for.  I have commuted by bike, run, inline skate and even cross-country ski.  I have since changed jobs, so my work isn’t as close, but as my running mileage increases and the weather improves, there’s a chance I might return to my old mischievous ways.  If you want to run with a backpack to work, some of the key issues are:
    • Securely keeping a laptop (no bouncing or impact)
    • Keeping your clothes from getting too wrinkly
    • The pack bouncing up and down and generally hitting and hurting you

This is the first product I’ve seen actually try and address these issues.  They don’t seem to have a big North American presence, but they do ship worldwide.

  • NAK Fitness Swim Goggles – I first saw these on the Instagram feed of Heather Rose Scott, who I swear is some kind of triathlon/yoga superhero.  It’s like, if Wonder Woman devoted herself to the swim/bike/run lifestyle instead of fighting crime. goggles-collectionlarge-600x600 Anyway, if she endorses it, that would probably be good enough for me.  I currently swim my pool workouts with a pair of cheap speedos, and I race with the expensive Sable optics, but those are getting a little old and would probably be wearing down and should probably be retired.  These have a nice tint (according to the testimonials) and are on the softer side so that they don’t leave you ‘racoon eyes’

 

  • Smovey – Another exercise gadget?!  This one caught my eye somehow – most of the demonstrated exercises seem to address the shoulders – especially in terms of mobility and stability.  That’s important to me not only as a swimmer, but as someone who experiences shoulder pain and has issues in and around my thoracic spine.  C72Ym7QXQAI6IYkThe device also promises to penetrate “the meridians through the palms of your hands and harmonizes the flow of Qi (energy) through the 3 Yin meridians and the 3 Yang meridians, providing an exceptional healing effect while working out.” Now I’m more on the skeptical side when it comes to non-traditional Western medicine and science, and a full-on debate about Eastern medicine and similar practices is beyond the scope of what I want to talk about here.  My rule of thumb is this: if the supposed alternative benefit isn’t at the exclusion of a more mainstream Western medical benefit, why not? The vibration and instability can give the muscles (especially stabilizer muscles) an extra boost of challenge – that’s the cake; any ying/yang benefit to meridians gets to be the icing.

These are also produced in a factory in Austria by people with “mild physical and mental limitations,” – as a special needs parent I can’t help but applaud that.

 

  • Tap2Tag – If you’re out on run or bike, you tend to pack light and you frankly might not have all the ID and emergency contact info you need.  This wristband uses NFC technology (a wireless link found on most cellphones – think Bluetooth, only shorter range) to transfer whatever info you need to a first responder’s cellphone at the push of a button.  6-bands_col_match_650x650_optIt’s customizable so if you want to list allergies, or multiple emergency contacts, no problem.  We don’t like to think of our exercise pursuits as being risky, but being prepared for a worst case scenario might be something you end up being grateful for.
  • Niche Wipes – There are several ‘baby wipe’ type products for wiping the sweat off your body when a shower isn’t available, but these are by far my favourite. 2pack1-300x300 Simply put, they smell (a little) manlier and they are also man-sized.  My current employer is a small company and there is no shower (nor enough room to avoid co-workers all day) so when I can commute by bike (or whatever as mentioned in point #1), it’s good to be able to wipe the sweat off – and I mean all off.  I’ve used competing products and I run out of wipe before I run out of sweaty back, and I appreciate not smelling too feminine.  These are actually made for men.

 

If you want to see me give more of these a test run (or have other suggested gear/products you’re curious about) please send me a big bag of money 😉

Swim Analysis Via Data – A Tridot Check-In

Here lies Axel “Iron Rogue” Kussmann.  Loved by the best of us, barely tolerated by the rest of us.  Drowned in the moonlight, strangled by his own bra died by exhaustion.

This training program may be too much for me; in fact, I’m nursing a pulled right calf muscle as I write this (a Finding Nemo frozen gel pack stuck under a compression sleeve).  When I wake up tomorrow I’ll know how bad it is.  When I look at the weekly totals it doesn’t seem that bad (though those don’t include warm-ups – the calf got yanked trying to do “butt kicks” for my run warm-up), but you’ll see there are 3 workout days, which apparently is due to me designating Thursday as a day off.

 

I’m not posting to complain though – that’s not the informative writing I strive for, but to tell you about a cool feature of the Tridot system.  When I was putting in initial data like age, height and weight, I also filled out a questionnaire regarding my swimming.

 

Based on these answers and stroke rate (which gets updated from Garmin data), Tridot has diagnoses me as a combination of different types.  I am:

  1. An “Overglider” (55%) – “As an Overglider, you’re likely over thinking your swim form and trying to stay streamlined at the expense of generating propulsion. Swim speed is Distance per Stroke (DPS) x Stroke Rate (SR)–not just DPS. It’s likely you’ll see solid improvements by focusing more on increasing your stroke rate and generating more propulsion even if you sacrifice your streamline a little. Remember that the most streamlined gliding position doesn’t have any propulsion. Make the mental shift from pursuing only form to pursuing fitness too. Work on your prescribed drills, and you’ll find the right balance.”
  2. An “Overkicker” (30%) – “As an Overkicker, your able to swim at least at a moderate pace and may not perceive the ‘need’ for much form improvement. However, with a little more emphasis on generating propulsion form your front quadrant and reducing your kick you’ll be able to swim further, faster, and with less energy. Focus on each of your prescribed drills and be open to re-thinking and re-learning how you swim.”
  3. A “Lightweight” (25%) – “As a Lightweight, you’ll need to really focus on your ooomph and confidence. You may not have much experience in the pool, but that won’t be true for long. Focus on making small improvements each session. Try to relax in the water and focus on strong execution of your prescribed drills. Much of your improvement will come from having a positive mindset as you go into each session. Swimming is not ‘natural’ for humans. It’s learned. You can learn to be a great swimmer!”

The percentages reflect a degree of confidence in the diagnosis, which is why they don’t add up to 100%.  The other types (which aren’t a match for me) are:

  • “Tarzan” – “As a Tarzan, you’ll need to learn to rely less on your strength and athleticism and more on skill and technique. As you execute your prescribed drills, learn to work with the water rather than fighting against it. Focus on reducing drag and having a long, balanced body position. Relax and let your body glide through the water. Improving your swim form can take time. It’s often not a matter of more effort, rather it’s patience as you repeat the movements (drills) over, and over, and over until they come naturally. “
  • “Swinger” – “As a Swinger, you’re already a relatively fast swimmer. Understand that the Swinger form isn’t a ‘lesser’ form than the Classic. You can achieve great results with either. The amount of ‘form correction’ you’ll want to pursue will be relative to your fitness and results. If you’re already turning in strong swim performances and are not experiencing shoulder pain, you may not want to change too much. Work on your prescribed drills as a Classic would to maintain and refine your form not overhaul it.”
  • “Classic” – “As a Classic, you’re already a very strong swimmer. You’ll always want to watch that bad habits don’t creep in and impact your form. Don’t take your swim form for granted and neglect doing the drills that are prescribed in your swim sessions. As a triathlete, you will do well to spend time working on open-water skills such as sighting and drafting.”

I’ve noticed they put a lot of “sink-downs” in my warm-ups.  These are for getting more comfortable in the water – you empty your lungs and let yourself sink down to the bottom.  These are to be immediately followed by swimming a short interval.  I think the idea is to get me more used to swimming with less air in my lungs – I’m probably spending a lot of time getting more air in than I strictly need and it’s hurting my stroke rate.  I also recently got to play with my head position; looking less up seemed to help me be more efficient but the stroke data didn’t look radically different over the short intervals I got to play with that aspect.

 

Air Riderz Trampoline and Climbing (featuring Shark Boy)

I had first heard of Air Riderz from birthday parties that Shark Boy had attended.  I thought the combination of trampoline park and climbing gym was interesting, especially since they had exercise classes (“AirRobix”) for adults – I thought I might try sampling one and doing a write-up here.

Instead, I found myself taking Shark Boy there.  You see, this past weekend my wife took the Lightning Kid to a live Paw Patrol show on the Saturday and a birthday party on the Sunday, so I had my eldest all to myself.  Between Air Riderz and another climbing gym we had visited once, he chose Air Riderz.

I bought us a 2 hour pass (time slots start at the half-hour, and we got there 10 past noon, so I guess we had a little less than that since neither of us had the patience to wait for 12:30).  Unfortunately you need to be wearing official Air Riderz socks to use the facility – this wouldn’t have been so bad, as we have at least 2 kid sized pairs at home from the aforementioned birthday parties, but we didn’t bring them.  So now I have a pair of my own, that I think will also come in handy for yoga in cooler environments like my basement – the soles have little grips.

 

Our pass included both the trampoline zones and the climbing area; you can only put on your climbing harness once, so you’ll want to get your fill all in one shot.  For that reason, I encouraged Shark Boy to enjoy the trampoline zone first.

I’ll be honest, it made me feel old.  Not many adults were jumping, so I  checked multiple times that adults were allowed to partake in the fun too.  There was also the fact that I noticed every bounce in my bones, at least till I got warmed up, so I’d recommend starting slow and not throwing yourself into it till you get more of a feel for it.  I had envisioned myself pulling flips or bouncing from my back, but I just didn’t have the nerve for it.

 

The main area has a grid of small trampolines that are great for individual use, as well as longer strips that are more suitable for running (or flips).  Some of the walls are trampoline-like so that you can throw yourself against them.

There are 3 basketball hoops (of varying non-regulation height), but we only got to try the highest one, and I couldn’t get high enough to dunk; it’s actually pretty difficult to make the shot from the highest point in my jump – even though the distance was short, being in mid-air made aiming difficult.

There is also a foam pit with segregated lanes (with trampolines of course) – you pull your best flip and are guaranteed a soft landing.  I should mention that all these areas have lifeguard-like supervisors to enforce safety rules.  The last area of the jump zone are the dodgeball courts.  One was being used for a toddler area, but the other had games going.  I had half a mind to enter myself into a game and be an avenging ‘big kid equalizer’, but I thought better of it.  I did notice signs for an adult league that I hope to investigate in the future.

After a while, Shark Boy wanted to try his hand at climbing.  There are several walls and one tower that is limited to climbers under 100 lbs.  He did fairly well, and you could see how some walls were easier than others based on his performance, but having tried some of them myself, I can tell you it’s not as easy as it looks.  I think more serious climbers will miss having access to chalk or better footwear, but it was still fun to give it a try.

I had a lot of fun climbing the towers in the photo above.  You’re anchored to 2 safety lines to reduce the amount of swing when you dismount (or fall).  Since I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of good images/video of myself, I decided to let Shark Boy record my climb.  I think he did a fairly good job of it, for his age.  Have a look – you might be able to tell when I made the mistake of looking down.

Once we got tired of climbing, we took off and returned our harnesses, we rounded out the rest of our allotted time in the jump zone.  I wondered if I would be sore the next day, and if I’d be OK to complete some speed work I had planned (according to my TriDot training plan) for the late afternoon.  I can tell you now that yes I was sore in my legs, but I don’t know whether the speed work (which went fine) or Air Riderz was to blame.  According to a little research I did, trampoline (or rebounder) work is good for the core, as well as all lower body muscles (the upper body does get addressed somewhat to as you flail your arms for balance) – sounds great as running cross-training, especially as the impact is much lower than running, skipping rope and other high-impact activities.  There are also circulatory and internal organ benefits.

Between these benefits, and my curiosity about the Airobix classes and dodgeball, it’s probably not my last visit to Air Riderz.

Have you tried rebounding or climbing? What do you think about it as cross-training?

Top 5 Reasons to Run a 5Peaks Trail Race (Starting with Rattlesnake Point)

While the Terra Cotta event is already sold out, you can still get a jump on the second race at Rattlesnake Point.  See my recap for my first time here, and some stories from last year here.

If you want to sign up (and you do), be sure to use the code “Iron Rogue” at checkout to save 10% on all race entries (and if you’re in another part of Canada where 5Peaks races occur, you can still use that code.   My top 5 list of reasons to sign up for this race apply to every one of their events anyway.

  1. Low(ish) Impact: Running is bad for your knees!  NOPE.  However, if you are worried about impact on your joints, natural ground like wood chips, dirt, grass, etc. is much softer and springier and easier on all those joints, so trail running is an excellent way to have the cardio and movement components of running without pounding the pavement.
  2. Higher Intensity: The biggest trend in fitness over the past 2-3 years is High Intensity Interval Training.  The idea being to go super hard and intense for short bursts with slower recovery periods in between.  With its up- and downhills, trail running naturally fits into this kind of profile.  Most people compare a trail race with a road race of at least  10% (though I’m used to hearing more like 25-30%)longer distance, and you only have to do one big hill before you realize managing your heart rate is going to be fundamental to finishing your race strong.  Rattlesnake Point fits this profile especially well, as stepping up some of the big rocks is like a lunge or split-squat.
  3. You need to address your nature deficiency.  From Wikipedia:  “Nature deficit disorder refers to the phrase coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods[1] that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors[2] resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems.”  Though the legitimacy of this condition is in question, you will probably agree that you (and your family – see below) might not be getting enough fresh air.  If you’re  a runner, a lot the fresh air you might be getting is on sidewalks, below streetlights, etc. rather than a forest canopy.  Hearing the birds and listening to the leaves rustle in the wind are things we don’t get to do enough of in our current lifestyle…
  4. You don’t like crowds.  If you’re used to running races like 10k’s, marathons (or half-marathons), you might recognize the following: slot yourself into a crowd of people of similar pace, according to posted signs you can hardly see through the masses, and wait several minutes after the gun goes off to cattle drive yourself through the start line.  5Peaks events are much smaller than road races since the condition of the trails has to be protected.  Though there are starting waves (divided by expected speed/pace), and the single track can mean waiting behind someone slightly slower in the early stages of the race, it’s not long before it’s just you (and any pace buddy you might have invited to join you) and the trail.  And if you consider yourself slow, or would even rather power-walk than run the course, use the last (and always least populated) wave as your start.
  5. Family.  Last but not least; in fact, probably the most important and the reason we keep coming back.  My favourite photos of my sons are those of them running in the kids’ fun run.  Before the adult races take place, they always have a 1km (approximately) fun run.  Parents can run alongside (or even carry) their kids and cheer them on – it’s non-competitive and just a great way to introduce them to the joy of movement and physical outdoor exercise.  It’s not uncommon to see toddlers who are barely walking give it a shot, and they love soaking up the admiration of cheering parents – you can see it on the smiles of their faces.  I’ll admit, some kids don’t finish and have meltdowns, but I feel it’s important to keep introducing kids to new experiences; growth happens outside the comfort zone.

There is also a timed race (3 km or so) for older kids which is a little more serious.  Shark Boy started competing in them last summer, and then this fall competed in cross country running for his school.  After the kids’ events, there are snacks, meeting Buffy the Tiger, and generally having outdoor unstructured play in a wide area, the way kids should.

 

The Rattlesnake Point Race takes place June 10th.  The Sport Course is 5.3 km and the Enduro Course is 12.7 km.  Sign up using code ‘Iron Rogue’ for 10% off!

The Tridot Pre-Season Project (and me)

This post is part of the #MotivateMe Link-up that takes place on Salads4Lunch and Run Mommy Run every Monday.  Visit them to see more great active living content.

Triathletes sometimes refer to themselves as ‘tri-geeks’.  While everyone is a ‘geek’ for what they’re passionate about and will discuss these subjects at great, great length, what I think puts the ‘geek’ in ‘tri-geek’ is the attention to the technical minutiae.  Even though I’m an engineer and an analytical person by nature, I’m actually pretty laid back about the number-crunching aspect of training.  I do like to keep records and quantify things, but that’s about as deep as it goes for me.

I started following Tridot about a year ago.  Tridot is a website/training system that is data-driven at a whole other level.  They’re working at an algorithmic level, and putting a lot of effort into doing things differently – one aspect they’ve been pushing is their Pre-Season Project.  They were recruiting athletes who had

  1. Done a triathlon before
  2. Planned on completing an Olympic, Half-Iron or Full Distance Tri this year
  3. You are not a pro or coach or have benefited from a previous Tridot program.

I qualified for this, and sent in my application for 2 months of free training.  While I’ve been a little anti-coach in the past, under this program I’m still a DIY type athlete – I’m just following a training program that has been  customized to me by complex algorithms.

Once I was selected, I completed a few steps of an ‘on-boarding’ process which included not only my height, age and weight, but benchmark assessments, which I had to take very rough estimates of – 400m/200m swim times, 25km bike time (with average heart-rate) and 5km run time (again with average HR).  They ‘normalize’ a lot of your performance by location (because of temperature, elevation and humidity factors), and ask for you bike weight, arm span, you name it.  Like I said, it’s data-driven to the next level.

I was really impressed by their interface.  It’s not exactly clean,  but considering how much data they’re presenting at a glance, it’s surprisingly easy to navigate and interpret.

I’m still learning a lot about it (between jumping into the training program, writing this up, and the rest of my life, there hasn’t been a lot of time for other reading and research), but I can tell you the little circular graphs show your planned vs actual volume and the colours are mapped to training intensities like Endurance, Threshold etc.  The intensities for each sport are explained on the dashboard, based on your current data.

The day after I was accepted into the program, there were assigned workouts to do, and they were quite technical.  The great part is that each workout has explanations and/or videos for any part of the workout you don’t understand.  I opted for 2 strength workouts per week (rather than zero) and those are included in my schedule with triathlon specific exercises.   You pick your ‘off’ day (if any).

Completed workouts can be manually entered, or you can connect a Garmin account.  While that was convenient, I hadn’t used my account in months, and my a lot of my accessories weren’t working too well.  I’ve made a point of wetting the pads on my HR strap and I’ve replaced my speed and cadence sensor.

The training schedule for my first week looked like this:

The time and effort profiles are easy to see and the logos make it quick to determine what you’re doing on a given day with just a glance.  Clicking on a workout brings up that day’s workout(s).

For strength workouts, you mark them complete as a percentage of intensity, which I found a little odd (I was prepared to record reps).  The great part is not only are there videos to show the exercises, but they’re on the same page, available by selecting a drop-down menu which is populated with only that workout’s exercises (or drills/other terminology for swim, bike, run workouts).

As Instagram will prove, I had a lot of fun with these workouts.

I should also mention Tridot’s customer service.  While the immediate volume and technical sophistication of the workouts was intimidating, they’ve been very helpful.  One issue I had was getting reminders to do my assessments (time trials at prescribed distances) while having a full training schedule.  They explained that my formal program hasn’t started yet, and the assessments were more important than the prescribed workouts and I should slot those in instead.  In fact, the assessment protocol descriptions showed that they can be substituted for a given workout,  for example, when the time trial takes less time than the prescribed workout, you just extend the cool-down period till you get the same time spent.  One thing I’ll have to get better at (besides time-management) is recording the entire workout with my Garmin.

It’s still early days in my Pre-Season Project, and I have a lot to learn, but I’ll report back every few weeks on progress, opinions, notes and the overall experience.

Flashback: Run About Town, November 20th

WARNING: Do not try this at home.  Well actually, you couldn’t anyway, since it involves going outside.  And if I really didn’t want anyone to do it, I’d probably keep it to myself instead of blogging about it.  Still, as you’ll see, this sort of thing isn’t for everyone.  I guess, what I’m saying, is attempt this sort of thing at your own risk.

In late November of last year, we had a stroke of luck in our scheduling I suppose.  My sister-in-law and brother-in-law were attending her company’s Christmas party, and the company had rented out the Better Living Centre at the Canadian National Exhibition and filled it with rides and attractions for kids.  They didn’t have kids of their own, so they invited our kids to take advantage and have fun that particular Sunday.  Normally, my wife and I would take advantage of the time for a date of some kind, but she was otherwise engaged (I don’t remember what).  What I ended up doing, is resolving to go for a run (or maybe rollerblade along the Martin Goodman trail) once I had dropped the kids off.

I found the trail to be a little wet and slippery, so I opted for a run.  I knew I had hours to spend, but I wasn’t in the kind of shape to go far (or fast) so I figured I would do a long, slow distance with plenty of breaks and sight seeing.

 

I even wore a backpack with my laptop and a book in it.  This is the first thing you might want to think twice before attempting.  My pace was a slow jog, so the bouncing around was minimized.  This backpack also has a nice laptop sleeve to keep the hardware still and stable, still the risk of falling and breaking it was there.  The first stretch of the Martin Goodman trail offered some pleasant reminiscing to when I was training for the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon in 2006.

The weather got a little nastier and I felt like I needed my first break so I found a Starbucks and had an Eggnog Latte.   This is risky item number 2.  I’ve never been the fastest or the strongest in body, but I have pretty close to a cast-iron stomach.  I sipped my holiday coffee treat, and started putting things in motion to move this blog from its old home on Blogger/blogspot to self-hosted.  I read a little in a book called Sapiens: A Brief History or Humanity by Yuval Noah Harari.  It’s a really interesting book, but I confess, I haven’t been keeping at it; I’m a very slow reader when it comes to non-fiction.

After I left Starbucks, I turned North away from the Lakeshore area toward the city.  I passed by Old Fort York, which I’ve seen plenty of times, but I also saw something that puzzled me:

That is a canoe – sitting by some old railway tracks, with no water nearby, in the middle of the city.   Stay weird, Toronto.

I hadn’t had lunch, and just the day before a friend had told me about Toma Burger Addiction.  I already knew of the place, I think it had been in the papers even, but my friend was giving me a first hand account of how good it was.  When it comes to gourmet burgers, we live in a golden age.  I had the El Diablo, and it took a while to prepare, not that it bothered me – I was enjoying listening to the Australian accents of some exchange students (I think) at the next booth.  I even had a beer – remember what I said about the cast-iron stomach? That was about to be tested, but first, let me show you the burger:

I honestly didn’t feel it to be that mind-blowingly good (I think Burger’s Priest still holds the championship in my opinion) but still it was a gourmet burger that I got to enjoy…. and then it was time to try to run back to the car.

Not to worry, I didn’t puke up my lunch on the way, but to say I didn’t notice any detrimental effect either would be a lie.   My pace dragged, and my stomach felt like I was dragging a boulder along on the inside of me.  Still I made it into the Exhibition grounds, and took what seems to be a ‘frustrated selfie’… I guess I was tired.

All in all, it was a fun way to spend the mid-day, and see a bit of the city.  The kids were sweaty and exhausted and grinning when I picked them up, so they matched my mood exactly.

Have you ever gone against the recommended practice in your fitness endeavours and NOT regretted it?

Meet the Latest 5 Peaks Trail Crew Leader – Me!

This post is part of the #MotivateMe Link-up that takes place on Salads4Lunch and Run Mommy Run every Monday.  Visit them to see more great active living content.
I’m pleased to announce that I’ve taken my already great relationship with 5 Peaks to the next level!  I am now a “Trail Crew Leader” which is their new term for ambassador; I’ve already sung their praises on this blog and in all my social media channels… but now we get serious.

And not a season too soon either – I’ve managed to convince a few people to try it out, but 5 Peaks is amping up the promotion and swag at their races, so it’s time for me to put a little extra pressure on you dear reader.

Convertible gloves as an example of 5 Peaks new merchanise

I’ll be putting out a series of posts, each one covering one facet of what makes these events so great, and the good news is that I’ll soon have a discount code for you to save money on registration, and this year my code will be usable for any of the races nationwide (there are events in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec).

You too, could have a smile of satisfaction and accomplishment on your face. I might even be able to arrange a hug from the Lightning Kid.

So I ask you, especially those in the Greater Toronto Area: WHY HAVEN’T YOU JOINED ME AT ONE OF THESE EVENTS IN PAST YEARS? TELL ME! I WILL DESTROY YOUR PUNY EXCUSES!!!  Ontario race number one is Terra Cotta on April 22nd; save the date!