For those of you who read my previous blog entry. Holiday Gift Ideas for the Fitness enthusiast. (Tested and Approved) You know that I recommended this sweatshirt as one of my 12 best gifts for the Holiday season. This sweatshirt by Under Armour is the most comfortable sweatshirt I have ever worn. The charged cotton material makes you feel like you are wrapped in a blanket and the Storm technology keeps you dry. I can wear with a pair of jeans and sneakers on a cold day or while I am on a run. At first I thought I wouldn’t like having a zip up hoody because it feels more like a jacket than a sweat shirt but the elongated look made me look slimmer than the cut off look of a pullover. The bottom of the sweatshirt has a cuffed ribbing that you can wear flat instead of having to fold under like a normal pullover sweatshirt. This even allows you to wear a jacket over the hoody which many hoodies are too bulky to try. The hood liner is super comfortable and sports a waffled look that is comfortable to wear. It has front hand pockets that are lined. This sweatshirt is even great for wearing while going on a run in the winter months. It kept me dry while the snow was falling and I had no problems staying warm.The material is designed to deflect moisture. This is a do all sweatshirt with style. Under Armour has a whole line of hoodies just in time for the winter months. Bottom line, the Under Armour Charged Cotton Storm Full Zip Hoody is a must have this winter.
Nike plus watch sponsored by TomTom. I have been using the Nike plus platform for almost 4 years with relatively little problem. As a runner I enjoy being able to track my progress. The Nike watch is a good looking watch that you can wear with any athletic gear and not look out of place. It allows you to check your running history and running record with the touch of a button. This is a great motivating tool because it forces you to always think about how you can improve your running habits. Each run has a date, per mile pace, calories burned, and lap times which can be configured in your settings. I choose to break down my runs into mile intervals. This allows me to see if I went out too fast on a 10 mile run or if I need to adjust my splits on a 5k.
When running the watch has a GPS feature which creates maps, and tracks elevation on your run.The GPS can be a little time consuming to “link”. They do have a quickstart button if you don’t like to wait around or if you are running with a group of people you can choose not to use the GPS feature. I have done this when the GPS doesn’t link but if I have the watch I want to use all of it’s features. Without GPS you can still see pace and distance just not your route. You can see pace charts directly over elevation charts and see correlation in your runs. As soon as you are finished simply unhook the watch band and plug the USB into any computer. This will automatically bring up the Nike plus site where you can sign and see your personal running website. Here you can set goals, see trends, and even form social media connections with other Nike plus users. The site also automatically posts to Facebook or Twitter so you can annoy all of your friends and show them when you go on a run while they sit on their couches and watch TV.
The one negative would have to be the Nike site which occasionally has issues with being too slow and clumsy. Although since they updated it this past summer it has been much improved. I guess when you are dealing with a global company like Nike the overall traffic volume just jams up the site.
The Nike watch sells for $169.00 in stores. If running and technology is your thing then I would definitely recommend it.
The Long Run is a book written by Charles Butler about a NYC fireman / fitness enthusiast named Matt Long. Matt was one of the first responders during the World Trade Center attack on 9/11. For a while his parents thought that he and his brother, also a firefighter, might have been missing. He was on of the heroes after 9/11 who stayed day after day and helped search for the missing. He owned a few succesful bars in NYC the most well known is Third and Long. After long nights at the bar, no pun intended, he was an avid runner, cyclist, and swimmer. He considered running his passion. The book begins with him running the NYC Marathon in the annual battle between the NYPD and the NYC Firefighters. He finished 4th among all of the Firefighters and set his new personal record for the marathon. In doing so he also qualified for the Boston Marathon which is an amazing feat. Any recreational runner will tell you how hard that is. Matt Long also ran the Lake Placid IronMan and planned on one day qualifying for The IronMan in Kona, Hawaii.
The book goes into great detail on his upbringing from a large family raised in New York. The author does such a great job painting the picture of Matt as a family man and a firefighter than when his accident happens you really feel for him as if you know him personally. He seems like the kind of guy who you want to have a beer with and just share some stories/
During the NYC Transit strike in 2005 Matt was supposed to meet some buddies for an early morning workout. Because of the strike he has no way to get across town and knew that he would never hear the end of it. So despite it being Winter time he hopped on his bike and headed across town to meet his workout buddies. On his way a city bus made an illegal turn from the wrong lane and without seeing Matt he crashed into his bike. Matt was pinned underneath bleeding profusely with broken bones in his legs, hips, and shoulders. He need almost 70 pints of blood just to keep him alive and the doctors told his family that he had a 5% chance to live and if he did live he would never walk again.
The book then follows his amazing recovery with something like 30 surgeries to follow. The severe bouts of depression that follow and of course the moment almost 3 years later where he finally accepts that he will never be the person he once was. The book even gets into the fact that he wasn’t married and his coming to grips with the fact that he now has serious doubts that he ever would be because of his disability that left him unable to have children.
If the book ended there it would be pretty depressing but the amazing recovery of Matt Long bring him from being completely immobile for almost 3 years to running the NYC Marathon again. It was a roller coaster ride of a book and is a great read for any runner and any person who is suffering from a lack of motivation. If Matt Long can run a marathon after the setbacks that he had than I honestly believe anything is possible. It is a true case of mind over matter. Matt’s mindset that made him a great athlete before his accident as the same determination that made him a Marathon finisher after the accident. This book was a great read for me and I highly recommend it for any weekend warriors like myself.
The Long Run can be found on Amazon.
I love trail running with my dog Wrigley. It is a great alternative to a road run which I do the rest of the year. It is also a great alternative to the gym. A trail run works different muscles than a typical road run. It provides a cross training benefit which can help keep you healthy instead of injury prone during a long running season. When you hit the trails you are probably going to run at a slower pace than you would for a flat road run. I typically run about 8 minutes a mile comfortably on the road. On the trails that number can be anywhere from 10 minutes a mile or slower. But because of the terrain you certainly don’t feel like you are taking it easy. The major difference is your focus. On a road run I can often wear headphones and just kind of zone out. On the trails, you have to keep your eyes on the next step because of the tree roots, rocks, mud, or whatever other terrain can cause you to shift gears. Mentally, you really have to concentrate on a trail run. Sometimes on a downhill part its almost as if you are running put putting on the brakes at the same time. You will have to lead with your heals in short choppy steps in order to prevent sliding down the hill on your backside. If you can you should invest in a pair of trail running sneakers. I use the Brooks Cascadia Cascadia 6. Trail running shoes have a gritty sole that grips when you hit the trails on uncertain surfaces. The bottoms of the shoes are not flat like road running shoes. They also a bit heavier and sturdier than my road running shoes. Just by switching sneakers once a week on a run that provides a great benefit to you feet and lower legs. It will prevent stress fractures and overtraining injuries.
Wrigley is an American Bulldog. They are sensitive to heat because of their pushed in noses. For her, I can’t bring her on a run unless it’s under about 58 degrees. My trail running season usually starts about November 1st. Once snow hits the trails and it is cold enough to stay then I am usually done for the winter because the snow leaves the trails too dangerous and too hard to stay on track. In a typical year I trail run from November 1st until about Christmas. Maybe I will get 8 weeks. This winter has been so mild that I might get an entire season out of it. In North Jersey we haven’t had any snow at all. It’s been amazing for my trail runs. Wrigley is a great running partner because she keeps me motivated. She knows when the weekend is here because we sleep in a little longer. When Saturday and Sunday morning comes and I walk downstairs in my running gear she gets pretty excited. When the hat and the gloves go on then she gets really excited. If I run out of the house without her she gets hysterical. Wrigley had two knee surgeries in 10 months. It is somewhat common for the breed type. So last year she was not cleared to run. After a slow rehab of just walking and then walking on hills she was finally cleared to return to running after about 9 months. It was a half mile at first but this year I have done as much as 7 miles with her. Generally we stay between 3 and 5 miles. When we first started running I used to run her off leash. We never had any problems and she would never run away or anything but I didn’t want to take a chance with her maybe running into another dog or a wild animal. I recently found a leash that the human wears like a belt and it attaches to the dog’s collar with a bungee cord that provides a little stretch. It also has a “fanny pack” that I wear under my shirt. (Don’t worry). The brand name is OllyDog and you can get it at REI. It comes in super handy because I can carry treats for Wrigley which she is thankful and I can carry my phone for which my wife is thankful.
In this area we have quite a few trails options. I love Lewis Morris Park in
Morristown. http://www.morrisparks.net/aspparks/lmmain.asp. It has several trails ranging from short to as much as 7 miles that loop around in circles. If you live in Morris County go to MorrisParks.net. If you are not local to NJ and you happen to have an IPhone. Try this app by Nortface. Trailhead. It can help you find a local trail anywhere by you. So next time you want to go for a run find a trail. It will be a whole new experience and if you have a four legged friend bring her along too. It’s a great bonding experience and it will keep you both physically healthy and mentally sharp.
At trainer’s edge in Denville we have had a TRX strap for close to four years. I remember when we got it. The owner brought it in and showed us this new thing invented by a Navy Seal. It looked like just a body weight strap that we hooked to a squat rack. I tried to do some pushups and some rows on it but after that initial training I pretty much forgot about it. I used every once in a while to add something different. Mostly it was pushups and rows. A few months ago I was in the gym and was having a mental block in creating a workout. I looked at the TRX and immediately went to the computer and looked up the TRX at TRXtraining.com. They had a website with videos. WOW! They were doing things I never even thought of. Lots of core strengthening exercise. Explosive lunges right into an ab workout all with one device. I was obsessed. I immediately started just “playing around” to see what else I could do on it. I could stretch and create a warm up. I could do an inverted hand stand into a upside down pushup. The best thing was the rotator cuff exercises that I always had trouble with in other ways. My entire shoulder girdle feels so much stronger and well put together that it ever has. I can work on scapular mobility which is something I have always struggled with.
I even bought one for myself. As a baseball coach I have always struggled to find a line between building athletes and building baseball skills. With one portable weight room in a bag I can hook it onto a fence anywhere we go. I use it for my pitchers to strengthen their arms and I use it for my position players to build explosive rotational power in their hips and their core. In just today’s practice I grouped the kids by position and in between a bunting station and a soft toss station I had the TRX strap hooked up to a pullup bar and had a position specific workout going on throughout the practice. I could work on hitting offspeed pitches and developing speed with footwork drills. Can you tell I am obsessed with the TRX?
Being a runner myself I often workout outdoors especially as the weather starts to get better I know I will be using my TRX all the time outdoors. It will be in the trunk of my car all summer long.