Monday, March 31, 2014

How to Begin an Active Lifestyle -- Family Edition

This post is for parents of young families that want to improve their fitness, maybe lose weight, be more active and spend time with children all at the same time. That is a tall order but certainly doable. My suggestions are inspired by a text message I received from Melissa. She said,

So I read your blog. And took your survey. At first I was just doing it to help one of my favorite people out. But it made me think a little bit. I'm not into any of the things you are targeting but I would be interested in a blog that gave ideas of how to become involved in more active activities. Specifically of activities that a whole family can be involved in. Kind of a where to start blog and how to find  an activity that might interest you. I grew up where we worked hard together. And we played but it was always stuff like boating or things that you couldn't  do every day. We didn't hike much or stuff like that. I don't really know where to start to get my family into more recreational activities that keep us active. I don't know if this makes much sense but a few blogs I have seen talk about running or like yours on biking from people that are really advanced and into the activity and who love it and dedicate a lot of time to it. Maybe that is their audience. But what about the everyday average person. It seems to me like you could include a bigger audience if you talked about where to start.  I don't remember you always being into biking. Maybe you were. But what got to motivated  and where did you start. And how can you start affordable and make it a family activity. Maybe that isn't much help and maybe not very clear but that was the train of thought I had. I hope your blog has much success!  Oh and my favorite guest blogger. Would of course be Angie. She could give advise on balancing your active hobby with being a mom and how to make it work. She has done a good job with loving to run but always putting her family first but also making the time for what she enjoys.

Melissa, right back atcha on the fav person designation. There are several things to consider when working on a family identity that includes healthy activity. I say family identity because that is what you need to get to if you are to be successful. One measure of success is that your children will include in an explanation of "what we are about," that the family likes to bike, or run, or hike, or climb rocks, or rappel or whatever. 

Which One

There are basic guidelines in your selection of which activity to get into. Here are some:
  • Does participation in the activity require an elevated heart rate (biking) or heavy muscle work (rock climbing)? If not, then don't bother. You are doing this for health, fun, fitness and bonding. The health part is tough to achieve if there is no requirement for consistent physical exertion. 
  • Can you do the activity most of the year? I can run and bike all summer and winter long. 
  • How much money can you spend? Skiing is expensive. Gear, lift passes and gas to get to the resort cost a lot. If you have a lot of money, you could do two sports. Ski in the winter and mountain bike in the summer. If you are budget constrained, consider something like hiking. 
  • Test the water. As parents, you should try the activity for a while. If you don't like it, it does not matter if your kids do or not. It will not last. 
  • Pay attention to the culture. Do not, under any circumstances, buy your child a BMX bike. You and your children will be associating with strangers that have similar interests in the activity but not necessarily similar interests in associated activities. Your family will take on the culture of the community to some degree. Know what you are getting onto.
  • Don't judge too quickly. It is an entirely different thing to run a 5K or half marathon in shape and at 16% body fat than it is to run the same out of shape and at 35%. Take your best guess at what you might like and give it some time. 
  • You are more likely to be successful getting into biking than running. Kids like to bike naturally. It is easy to get into and easy to progress to the next level. 


Besides running, skiing, and other obvious ones, there are some activities that are good but may not get noticed much. Here is a partial list.
  • Fencing (My cousin's family is into this. It is a big deal with tournaments etc.)
  • Karate and other martial arts
  • Rowing
  • Ping pong
  • Badminton
  • Tennis
  • Rollerblading
  • Power lifting


I favor cycling for several reasons:

       1.  You can take children as young as zero with a child carrier. 

       2.  Every kid should have a bike.
       3.  Start-up costs are moderate
       4.  Maintenance costs are low to moderate
       5.  You can go do it right outside your front door.
       6.  There is epic stuff waiting when you are up to it

       7.  It satisfies all of the requirements to have health benefits.
       8.  You can do it long into old age. This guy is 100.

       9.  There is an instant community.

Now That You Have An Activity...

  • Know your activity. If scuba is your thing, know what is so great about Cozumel, Coco Island and Belize even if you never go there. Know about the latest technology advancements.You will want to have videos readily available, subscribe to magazines, follow pin boards, facebook pages, G+ communities and follow Twitter gurus in the field. We have completely worn out our Kranked 5 DVD from so much use. Here is a cool clip. 

  • Make pilgrimages to epic places. For mountain biking, it is Moab. Though I have places I like more, going there is part of the mystique. When my kids are asked, "have you done the Slick Rock trail?" They can confidently answer, "Yea. The first time I did it was when I was three on my tricycle."

  • To save money and promote the activity, every Christmas and birthday for the next several years should be used to purchase and gift equipment. Once you are equipped, hand-me-downs kick in. This applies especially to bikes. 
  • Purchase a GoPro camera. Take tons of video. Load it up on social platforms. Show home movies about events you have filmed. Learn how to edit videos. You can use these when they get their Eagle or at their wedding reception. 

          Go Pro's can go anywhere and can film anything. They cost $199 and shoot great HD video. 
  • Do your activity often. This cannot be a vacation thing. You can build vacations around it, but it should be a lot more 'every day.'
  • Find another family that does the activity and ask them for tips, pointers and ideas. There is a community of people that do that activity within a one mile radius of you. Find them.
  • Get to know your specialty shop and make friends with the owners, sales people and mechanics. I pay up to 20% more at a local specialty shop than I can buy on line to keep the relationship solid and the people in business. You will need to call in favors from time to time. The relationship will help make it happen. 

  • Reward the epic. If your child does something epic in the activity, make sure you reward them. I told our youngest that as soon as he could sustain a weelie (pedaling with the front wheel off the ground) for a for about three seconds, he would be ready for me to take him to Gooseberry Mesa. It became a rite of passage. Riding Gooseberry requires the ability to keep the front wheel off the ground several times. For our middle child, the reward was that I would call out "Golden" on a very difficult obstacle as I went over it. If he could do it too, we would go to Golden Corral for dinner. He has since gotten far better than I am. Just as a side note, our youngest broke his arm showing off his new weelie skill. 

         Since I can't resist, here is a clip of Gooseberry Mesa. 

There is not a reason that you cannot start today. Grab as many kids as you can and start walking. They will like it more if you do it in the hills. Do that at least once each week for a while and see what happens.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Good2Go Bars. The Best Energy/Protein Bars, Me Thinks

I was given a Good2Go protein bar at an organized ride this year. I expected it to taste like cardboard and contain bad stuff like palm kernel oil. I was pleasantly surprised, and now it is the only bar I will eat. It tastes good, has no yucky stuff and digests well.

I like the almond fruit ones the best, but they are all good. Oh, and you do have to refrigerate them if you are not going to eat them soon. No preservatives means they have a short shelf life.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Trail Run 3-29

I had a really good run today. Here are the data and pictures. I felt great, kept hydrated and wore the right stuff.

I topped it off with this for breakfast: 

4 egg whites
1/3 cup carne asada leftover
1/3 cup shredded cheddar jack cheese

Before the run I ate a banana. During the run I had Gu Electrolytes in my water and ate Cytomax energy drops.

Another 20 - 30 days and the hills will be green. Can't wait!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Mountain Biking 101.2

As a continuation of Mountain Biking 101, we discuss trail etiquette, baby wipes, dehydration and other matters.

11.  Right of way

On tight single track (a trail where only a single bike will fit side to side), the etiquette is for the down hill going bike to pull off to the side of the trail and allow the up hill going bike to proceed unimpeded. The logic is that it is harder to go up, so the uphiller should be given the right of way. I disagree with this. I think that mountain biking should be primarily based on fun. Since going down is so much more fun than going up, we should be more concerned about not interrupting the fun of the downhiller. I am not sure what group of people set up this rule of etiquette, but I'm sure it included roadies (more on that in an upcoming post). I still yield anyway; I just do it with a scowl. 

12.  You can ride on deep snow. You just have to wait until some snow shoers and cross country skiers have been over the trail a few times. You don't even need big tires.

13.  Check your brake pads frequently. If you don't, this could happen to you. 

14.  Your knees, hips and ankles are your best shock absorbers (or suspension in MTB language).

15.  It hurts. Get used to it. Even if you never crash, there is quad pain, glute pain, calf pain, back pain, arm pain. It takes about three weeks to get your sit bones used to a saddle. For a while, it will be painful to sit at all. But most of it is good pain. 

16.  Learn to 'roid buff.' Roid buffing is an MTB term that describes where you put your rear end when you are descending something ridiculously steep. You throw all of your weight back so that your rear end is practically touching the rear tire. Roid buffing can save you from an endo. 

17.  Carry both TP and baby wipes. You will thank me.

18.  If you have dangerous allergies, along with your epi pen, carry Benadryl in tablets, not in capsules and Pepcid. The Pepcid enhances the effect of the Benadryl.

19.  Carry more water than you think you might need. Running out is at least uncomfortable and can be dangerous. 

20.  Don't do anything to harm the environment. Pick up every wrapper. Stay on designated trails. Do not take any petrified wood home. Do not harass any wildlife. Be an ambassador for the sport. 

More next week.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Power Muffin Recipe

I make a batch, freeze them and take them on rides or to work as a healthy snack. They are yummy and so good for you.

Power Muffins

1 1/2 cups oat bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup ground flax seed meal
1 cup wheat bran
1 TBS baking powder
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt

Mix the above and set aside

2 peeled oranges
1/2 cup brown or raw sugar
2-3 ripe bananas
2-3 cups buttermilk
3 eggs

Mix the above in blender for a short time
combine wet and dry ingredients and add 1 1/2 cups golden raisins and a cup or so of nuts. I have also done variations with shredded apples and carrots as well as blueberries. Each muffin = about 250 calories. 

Bake 350 for 23-25 minutes

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mountain Biking 101.1

In case you were wondering, this video will help you understand mountain biking. After the video, I give my own analysis.

Mountain biking is one of the best exercises you can do. It is far safer than road biking in that there is a much lower possibility of death. Unlike running, it is gentle on joins and feet. It does not get much better.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do need to state that I have had the following experiences:

  1. I separated my shoulder while trying to cut a tree in half. It did not require surgery.
  2. I was unable to drop off a ledge because of a rattle snake that was in the way.
  3. I have endo'd multiple times.
  4. I have hit my head so hard that I nearly passed out.
  5. I have been dehydrated to the point of suffering chills in 90 degree weather.
  6. I have hit my shin with my pedal so many times I have permanent scars.
  7. I have had my calf impaled by a chain ring.
  8. I have bled, been bruised, scraped, poked, jabbed and smacked more times than I can count.
  9. I have taken a handle bar to the chest and have had trouble breathing for several days.
  10. I have been impaled by a very large cactus. 
That said, the trade off is more than worth it. Here are ten rules for mountain biking that will help avoid some of the pitfalls and increase success.

1.  Power is safer than timidity. People get in trouble when they are timid, hesitate and go too slowly. 

2.  When you are going down a steep hill, only feather your front brake. If it is really steep, do not use your front brake at all. If you do, you will endo for sure.

3.  Take kids frequently and remember, it is all about them. This will pay off in the moment and later.

4.  When a kid crashes hard, get them back on the bike again as soon as possible.

5.  Go with good friends. Focus on them and the riding will take care of itself.

6.  Enjoy the scenery.

7.  Go with people that ride better than you do and try to keep up.

8.  Spend as much time with your cute wife as possible. Make her riding experience as good as possible.

9.  Don't shift when your chain is torqued. Anticipate the need to shift and shift while you are free spinning.

10. There is no need to wear a kit, shave your legs, have a cool jersey, have carbon soled shoes, wear the right sunglasses or have an expensive helmet. Just put on some shorts, a T shirt, then go grip and rip. There is no need to be this guy:

I will continue the list later. This should get you started; now go ride!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

One of Altra's Latest. I Need a Pair for Fast Trails

Typical Breakfast

While I am in weight loss mode, I eat fairly strategically. I pay loose attention to fat, carb and protein percentages over the day and favor protein on rest days and carbs on training days. Breakfasts however are fairly generic. They consist of a mostly egg white omelette and a green smoothie. Here are the recipes.

Egg White Omelette:

1 Whole egg
2 Egg whites
1/8 Cup shredded cheese
1 Thin slice ham
Tabasco sauce to taste

Green Smoothie:

1 T frozen concentrated OJ
1 Banana
1 Cup frozen fruit (Usually Wawona Festival Blend)
2 Cups fresh spinach
1 T chia seeds

I will occasionally mix in a scoop of protein powder, but that takes a significant amount of taste pleasure out of the experience. YOLO, right?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Runnerazzi Video

Thought y'all might like this...

Strava is so Awesome!

Strava is a dream. You can download the free app onto your smart phone and you are in business. Using GPS technology, Strava records my rides and runs, gives me calorie burn, pace, maps and much more. The activity below shows my activity on March 15th and 18th.

Details of my afternoon run are shown below. I get PR's and rankings against myself and every other runner who has ever done a particular segment.

The table below shows a segment that I Pr'd. I climbed the hill in 7:04 which is a personal best and 15th out of 22 runners that recorded the same segment. I am slow going up by comparison.

I fared better in the ride below. Gravity is a great equalizer for me. I rank 48th out of 737 for this segment. There are few better trails in the world than Bear Claw Poppy in St George Utah. It is ear to ear smiles every time I ride. Hitting 25.3 mph on a mountain bike is a fine thing.

Strava allows me to follow friends. I can send kudos and messages to them when they do epic stuff. Did I mention that the app is free?

Once I have my run (ride) time and calorie burn number, I log those into My Fitness Pal. The combination of the two apps is wicked cool. Strava comes in ride and run versions. I give it five stars for sure! I would love to follow you on Strava. Please send me a note with your info or just follow me and I will follow you back.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tough Long Run March 22nd 2014

I ran a section of the trail marathon route today. Here is the Strava data:

The slow pace is due to three things. One, I was doing a lot of scouting. Two, it was a lot of elevation gain, and three, I am slow no matter what. I started with a backpack that I took off and hid at the 1.75 mile mark. I also took my fuel belt that contains two six ounce bottles and two ten ounce bottles. The crazy climb depleted my water and put me into deep snow. Forgive the shameless selfie.

I ran down to a parking lot and found a couple getting in their car. I asked them if they had any water. They had maybe an ounce left over in a water bottle. I gladly accepted it. I ran to the next canyon and found a cute group of teens and advisers getting ready for a training hike for trek prep. I asked them for water, and they gave me two bottles. I downed one on the spot and filled two of my fuel belt bottles with the other. They also offered me an orange which I did not want to offend them by not accepting. When I do that run again, I will have to plan better. I am getting an Ultraspire Solace pack that should solve some of the problem. I will do a review on the pack once I have used it a few times. I still may have to drop water or Gatorade the night before.

I ate some caffeine infused Cytomax drops and some Stretch Island fruit leather. I was famished when I got home and have not stopped eating.

I should note that the water I started with was electrolyte infused by Elite Water.