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 😉

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!

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!

#MotivateMe Monday – A Snapshot of My Training Week

First things first! The winner of the free entry to the 5 Peaks Terra Cotta Trail Run is Casey Barreto!  I’ll be contacting Casey via twitter/email to send her the code.


I’m participating in the #MotivateMe Monday link-up being run by Fitness Cheerleader and Running Rachel; the link-up is “a place for us to share goals, plans, successes and have each other to pick us up to keep moving forward.”


While I don’t like writing posts simply for the purpose of journaling my training for any given week, I’ve been on the Half-Iron Training Plan for 5 weeks now, and this gives me a chance to put some of it under the microscope, share some of the details and logistics with you, and crunch some numbers (math makes everything more fun, right?).  It also gives me a chance to turn my Instagram into a kind of highlight reel.


Monday


I used my Dumbbell Doubles Workout for the most part, though I’m extending to 3 sets of most exercises.  After that I try to address my quads since the Skulpt Aim says they’re weaker than the rest of my legs; while I don’t like using machines, I end up using the leg extension and leg press because otherwise my hamstrings get recruited too, and stay ahead of the quads in terms of strength.


Tuesday

Though Plan A was to get up at 5AM to fit in a run, we had a rough night with the Lightning Kid’s wake-ups, so I didn’t get up for that.  I thought I could fit a swim in at lunch and run at night after my wife got home (I was watching the kids for the evening).  I am simply not a night time exerciser, I like to wind down before I go to sleep.  So no “TwoferTuesday” for me, but I did get 1800m done in the pool (or 42 minutes, since the training plan counts time).


Wednesday

Strength training days are Mondays and Wednesdays, but with an eye to regaining my lost run, I did a Burbathlon workout; that’s trail running, jumping on/over logs and obstacles, plus bodyweight strength exercises on whatever structures I come across.  See the instagram video for some of what I got up to.


Thursday

While TwoferTuesday didn’t happen, TwoferThursday certainly did! But, oof… this day.  I had an alarm set for 5:00 AM, but the Lightning Kid beat it by 5 minutes.  I got him back down, only to hear the cat throwing up at various locations through the house.  By the time I was done cleaning that up, it was 5:45, and I got out of there before something else could go wrong.  The result is fasted cardio; I hadn’t had any fuel prior to the run, so I resolved to take it easy.  Still, I felt good, and the right tunes came on and I ended up with a pace I’m pretty happy with.  I think taking some weight off has helped my speed, which was the plan all along.


I managed a 2000m swim at lunch; I wanted to go longer in a way, but when I look at the clock I know I have to get back to the office.
A photo posted by Axel Kussmann (@apkussma) on


Friday


What I wanted for a bike ride on friday was to do a 40 minute spin class, then tack on another 20 minutes on a stationary bike solo, while watching some Netflix.  I finally finished Season 3 of House of Cards (a little disappointing, to be honest), and I was stoked to be starting Marvel’s Daredevil (who has always been my favourite superhero – and early reviews of the show are very, very favourable).  I got interrupted by a very important phone call (which I really did have to take) before the spin class was over, and by the time I was done with that, I could only afford another 15 minutes of solo spin/TV watching.  Still, I loved what I saw so far and can’t wait for more.


Saturday

This is the day I’m most proud of; I had to get the Lightning Kid to his soccer lessons but I wanted over an hour of running too, so I took him in the Chariot.  By the time I had everything organized to go, I was running a little behind, luckily, I caught nothing by green lights, and really pushed myself.  Of course, that meant by the time I’d helped him score goals and go through drills, and with a significant headwind, there was no way to do a negative split for the run home.

This was a proud moment for me, because I think the days of Stroller running are coming to a close.  Shark Boy no longer has the patience for it, and at age 5, he’s doing most of his own running and biking anyway.  The Lightning Kid isn’t far behind him, but the nostalgia and whatnot are making it hard to let go… in fact, I’ll be participating in #StrollerRun15… National Stroller Running Day 2015 is on May 31st!  See Mom’s Little Running Buddy for more details soon.

Ideally I’d have gone to the gym and put him in the daycare to get my swim in that day; in fact, that’s exactly what I tried to do in the afternoon, only to remember too late that the gym daycare isn’t open in the afternoon.  What I should have done was head there right after my run, but of course, I was a little tired. Instead, I took the Lightning Kid to the park, where I got a little bit of my own exercise in 😉


Sunday





On Sunday, my wife ran the Yonge Street 10k, and we planned to take the boys with us to the starting line, see her off, ride the subway and then the streetcar to the finish line.  It was a great way to spend the morning except for the fact that we were a little unprepared for how cold it was.  Still, I’m proud of how well behaved the boys were, because wrangling the two of them through the public transit system and with a lot of walking to boot was an intimidating task that I wasn’t sure I could pull off.  We got to see some friends who run as the “Justice League Runners” raising money for The Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, and the kids always get a big kick out of the costumes.  We had a nice brunch post-race, but unfortunately, I spent the rest of the afternoon and night feeling nauseated, so I never got my final bike ride for the week in.




Totals For The Week


Strength

Planned: 2:45
Done: 2:00


The plan is a 1:15 workout for Monday and a 1:30 Workout for Wednesday.  I’m past the initial ‘Anatomical Adaptation’ phase of the training plan and into ‘Muscle Stamina’.  Obviously I came up short, but I do wonder what you can accomplish in 1:30 that you can’t accomplish in 0:45 if you use a more efficient, circuit based system.

Swim

Planned: 3:15
Done: 1:32


If you miss a whole day’s workout, you’re going to come up short, but again, with individual workouts of over an hour, it seems excessive.  I get over 2000m done in less than an hour, but a half-iron distance swim is 1900m.  I know I’m not swimming the 2000m continuously in the pool, but still, I guess I don’t get why the workouts have to be quite that long.  I’m hoping that being fairly consistent and trying to keep the quality up with structured sets will be enough for me.


Bike

Planned: 2:15
Done: 0:43


Oof.  The book says that in the Specific Preparation phases of the plan, 40 minute spin classes are an acceptable substitute for an hour’s ride, but missing a day due to illness really killed this goal.  Bike remains my weakest discipline.


Run

Planned: 2:15
Done: 2:59


I actually exceeded the goal here, which might set off alarm bells for overtraining if I hadn’t shorted everything else.  Running is still my favourite, the easiest to get done, and the most fun to keep doing once you start.


Total

Planned: 10:30
Done: 6:26


Just for kicks, I’ve also run my distances (with a best estimate of my bike) through my friend Dan’s points system.  For every 10,000 yards of swimming you get a point, for every mile on the bike you get a point and for every quarter mile you run you get a point.  He was nice enough to make a metric version with a spreadsheet and everything for me, but I found it easiest to just total up my meters and kilometers, then convert to imperial and calculate my points.


According to Dan, a Half-Iron training plan should get you to around 200 points a week, and I totalled 120 (42 for swimming, 16 for bike, 62 for running), so by this measure, (again) I need to step it up.


How was your week? What do you think… am I in trouble training-wise already?

Bike #WorkoutHack – Hill Repeats and Strength Work (video!)

I keep trying to find ways to do it all triathlon fitness-wise: swim, bike, run | speed, tempo, endurance | strength, flexibility.  My first attempt at multi-tasking my workouts was Burbathlon.  
Then I came up with the Swim + Pushups workout.


And now my latest masterpiece madness creation… A WorkoutHack for Bike – doing Hill Repeats and Strength work with the bike.  The premise is pretty simple, you use the bike as a weight to do strength exercises at the top of the hill after every climb.  Now, the reps I show reflect not only my own strength and fitness level, but the weight of the bike.  A commuter/hybrid or mountain bike is good for this (maybe with even fewer reps for bikes with suspension systems), but light road/racing bikes would require more reps.  Adjust as needed.



Note: I am not a certified fitness profesional and all exercises should be performed at your own risk.  Please consult a physician before undertaking a new fitness/exercise program.

Link-Up! Triathlon Beginner FAQ

I keep seeing new triathletes on the internet this year and so many of them have questions.  A bunch of Fitfluentials have decided to tackle a bunch of their questions.  I’ll be keeping my FAQ in a permanent page which you can find here.


Some of the newbies (let’s cheer them on!) include:

Krysten from Darwinian Fail
Megan from Little Girl in the Big World
Erin from Running Tall
Robin from Simple. Green. Organic. Happy.
Lynda from Hit The Road Jane
Smitha from FauxRunner

And our experts include:

Katie from Mom’s Little Running Buddy
Cristina from Triathlon Mami
Amanda from PATD, White Dog & A Blog
Robin from Westford Mommy
Brooke from Redhead Reverie
Wendy from T2 Coaching

Michelle from NYC Running Mama (I think it’s her first year, but she’s too hardcore to fall into the newbie group!)



Announcement

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!

Live long and rock on.

Paintball!

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?

Where Will You Be in 10 Years?

As part of Fitness Cheerleader’s August blog Challenge I’m using her suggested blog topic: Where Do You Want To Be In 10 Years?

Exactly where I am now. The End. Seriously, I’m happily married, with two beautiful boys, a rewarding job I’m reasonably good at (and even enjoy occasionally!). I get around travelling and spend time outdoors exercising and playing (then I blog about it). I eat and drink well (by my own definition, which means variety above all else). Why would I want to be anywhere else? Even less metaphorically, I love my house and hometown.

I guess there could be tweaks.

-I’d like to expand my horizons in multisport to include things like off-road tris and adventure races.
-In that vein, within 10 years there should be opportunities to knock a few off the Race Bucket List
-Which brings up travel. We do fairly well for a family with small children, but I read blogs like Raising Rippers and I know we can do more on the camping and adventure front. The kids’ swimming ability and toilet training will allow us to go on canoe trips and a lot of other adventures.

These few minor tweaks doesn’t seem too daunting over a ten year span does it? The elephant I probably need to address is the Lightning Kid‘s Down Syndrome. Will there be delays that impose limits on his lifestyle, and by extension our family’s? Right or wrong we don’t think about that anymore than we plan on slowing down to accommodate for aging bodies and new aches and pains. You’ve got to shoot for the moon; now, and in 10 years too!