Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fit friends may help you lose weight

So, I was reading my latest copy of Men's Health and one of their little tidbits in the margin caught my eye. It referenced a study in the journal Obesity about how hanging out with fit friends may help you lose weight, even if you're not trying to.

Now, I'm pretty sure that hanging out with fit friends is already PHYSICALLY good for me. I run more/farther/faster, bike more/farther/faster, swim more/farther/faster, etc. But it's interesting that even if you aren't trying, there's a subconscious benefit where you try to emulate their behaviors (hopefully the good eating and exercise habits).

Now for a rant

WTF, we have an obesity epidemic and the frikkin journal that, literally, writes the book on the topic charges 32 dollars for a single article! You can get a year's worth of Men's Health (full of good information) for like 10 or 20 bucks. Maybe I'm not the target market for the fancy "journal". Guess I'll stick to my glossy magazine that shows up for nearly free in my mailbox every month.

Then again, I just read a bit of the abstract about the article...here, take a look

Despite significant efforts, obesity continues to be a major public health problem, and there are surprisingly few effective strategies for its prevention and treatment. We now realize that healthy diet and activity patterns are difficult to maintain in the current physical environment. Recently, it was suggested that the social environment also contributes to obesity. Therefore, using network-based interaction models, we simulate how obesity spreads along social networks and predict

blahblahblahblahblah. If the whole article is that long and drawn out maybe i should be happy with the 50 word version they stuck in my Men's Health

Oh yeah, thank's to my future brother in law Rob for the subscription-- great x-mas present bro

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cold, wet, miserable Triathalon (oh yeah, it was awesome!)

Bib number 125 didn't do nearly as bad as I thought I was going to at the Brookings "I'm Ready for Summer" Triathalon.

I woke up and looked outside this morning and said to myself

"Self--it's gonna be a cold, wet, miserable day".

And ya know what, I was right!

I loaded up my bike (in the car) and all my gear including essentials I'd packed last night like a sun visor (and neglecting unnecessary items like a stocking cap). After grabbing a quick breakfast to eat in the car and some coffee I was off-- headed north, jammin out to my new mix cd. About an hour later I showed up in Brookings and found the college wellness center and HPER. I looked at the drizzle and decided to leave my stuff in the car awhile while I looked around. Eventually I set up my bike in the transition area (with a plastic bag over the seat) near the exit.

A little before 10 (starting time) they gave us the pre-race instructions. Swimming was going to be 10 laps, 2 to a lane. They had a mat setup to walk across to start timing, then you could dive (or jump) in the pool to start swimming. After 9 laps the lap counter would put a kickboard in the pool to signal 1 lap remaining. I had a horrible lap partner (lane hog) which pushed me into the wall and ladder a number of times. grrr. My swim time ended up 11:36, or 65th overall.

After swimming I ran over to my clothes and towel and dried off as best i could, then slipped on my 2XU compression calfguards, socks, bike shoes, and long sleeve shirt. Down the stairs and outside to my bike where I put on my Heart rate strap, bike jersey, helmet and gloves(it was cold-- wish i had full coverage gloves). Out the T1 exit took just a few steps (I had a good spot) and I mounted up. I couldn't see anyone ahead of me to pass, so I just set my own pace. The heavy cross wind (from the east - 20mph or so) made the aerobars too tricky to use so I rode in the normal rode bike position. 3 miles in we turned East, directly into the wind. The aero bars were great on this stretch, letting me get lower on the bike. I kept seeing people coming back from the turnaround zone, but still nobody was around to pass (Did I mention I was 3rd from the last person in the water). I think if there'd been some rabbits I'd have gone faster on the bike.

Finally the turnaround zone beckoned, and I braked and pulled a quick U turn. Thank goodness the guys at Spoke just gave my bike a once over, the brakes (on such a wet day) worked great.

The next few miles until I turned south were fantastic. I averaged 25-26, slowing down to 22 on the gradual uphills. I passed one rider like he/she was standing still... and it felt GOOD!

After the turn south to town I saw another rider in the distance. I used the tree belts to drop in the aerobars and accelerate (rising back up when the wind came back) and caught & passed this rider as well. Eventually I made it in to T2 and hung up my bike. I pulled off my shoes (which were SOAKING wet) and debated changing socks- but then looked down at the puddle I was standing in and couldn't figure out how to change into dry socks and keep them dry. I ended up slipping my shoes on and taking off, ripping into some sport beans as I went.

The run around campus was wet. W E T. Well, to be fair, it was raining the entire time on the bike, but I didn't really notice it. Now I was cold and approaching miserable.

I kept sneaking glances behind me and saw 3 runners. They kept me going (the one guy blew by me-- he wasn't very fast on the bike but he sure could run)-- every time I thought they were catching up it'd give me another minute or two of running. At one point I could hear them talking and panicked, bursting forward for 100 yards or so. The folks putting on the tri had stationed college kids at nearly all of the turns- to check off as runners went by and to give encouragement/directions.

The most depressing stretch was when I saw the cone marking 3 miles and I couldn't see the finish. 3 miles! that's long enough. Where's the damn finish.

I hit the corner and turned and saw the finish and sprinted (just like Carl Lewis.. you should have seen it!) for the end. All my fans were cheering (oh wait, it was just the guy timing). I stumbled over to the door and heard them announcing winners and prizes inside. Apparently they figured I wasn't in the running and decided to start prizes without me.

Unfortunately, my times weren't in the computer when I left, so I had no idea how I'd done.

When I got home I pulled up my results on the computer

Swim: 11:36, 65th
Bike: 44:02, 40th
Run: 44:25, 90th (ouch. this needs work)
total with transitions 1:47:15, 75/95 overall

They didn't do a full breakdown by age, but I didn't do too bad for the 30-39 bracket. I did really well for the 30-39 Clydesdale bracket (pretty sure I would have gotten 1/1)

Now I need to figure out what race is next. The 10 day forecast for Siouxperman says no rain and 67 degrees... but can you trust a forecast 6 days out?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

running shoes unnecessary

"I wanted the world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won with determination and heroism" -- Abebe Bikila, 1960 Olympic Marathon Gold Medalist. Barefoot.

I've been reading more about running barefoot (or nearly so). I saw on slashdot today an article where a ton of research was done (interviewing a bunch of runners before a race about their injuries). The biggest cause of injuries was not training, or age, or weight, or health-- but shoes. The more a person spent on expensive running shoes, the greater the injuries. Our foot was designed/evolved to need no padding or pronation control or shock absorbers. Also, the more expensive running shoes have big, heavy, powerful heels which make it nearly impossible to run without landing heel first.

Probably the most interesting part of the article is below-- I've copied the paragraph

In a paper for the British Journal Of Sports Medicine last year, Dr Craig Richards, a researcher at the University of Newcastle in Australia, revealed there are no evidence-based studies that demonstrate running shoes make you less prone to injury. Not one.

It was an astonishing revelation that had been hidden for over 35 years. Dr Richards was so stunned that a $20 billion industry seemed to be based on nothing but empty promises and wishful thinking that he issued the following challenge: 'Is any running-shoe company prepared to claim that wearing their distance running shoes will decrease your risk of suffering musculoskeletal running injuries? Is any shoe manufacturer prepared to claim that wearing their running shoes will improve your distance running performance? If you are prepared to make these claims, where is your peer-reviewed data to back it up?'

Dr Richards waited and even tried contacting the major shoe companies for their data. In response, he got silence.

There's also some interesting information about the Tarahumara tribe (apparently a short game of soccer/football for them is a couple hours of nonstop running. A longer game might last a couple days without stopping. They'd also hunt deer and other animals by literally running them to death-- as much as a hundred miles or more.

Another article from the New York Times discusses running shoes. A quote from the Doctor who's the medical director of the New York City Marathon, states

“Barefoot runners show up in my office very often because they’re not getting any control of their foot strike,” Maharam said.

The lesson here (which I've been focusing on) is that you can't just take away the padding and expect to have the same experience. Running barefoot (or in Vibrams) requires landing differently and (over time), strengthening the previously atrophied muscles. Walking and jogging barefoot it something that has to be worked into gradually-- a couple times a week.

On a side note, I decided since my calves are taking such a beating working far, far harder than normal, that some compression socks (minus the foot part) would be a good idea. My friends/workout partners/triathaletes Gabe and Jon have a triathalete supply store (www.trinationsports.com) hooked me up with a pair of 2XU Calf Guards (with personal delivery!).

I'm wearing them now and they're really cool. I think they work (they feel good) so if they only give me a placebo effect, it's still probably worth it.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


If it starts out with begging, it's probably not going to end well.

Wish us luck that the plane takes off and we get outta the state before it gets any worse here :)