Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Best Training Tools I Know

I want to share the best training tools I have for just about every athletic thing I do. I'm going to try to make this useful and information without giving too much detail.

Pace Calculator -
This pace calculator thing is amazing. It can help you prepare for target pace workouts or give you a great breakdown of race performance.

Course Map -
 MapMyRun - Works great and is very accurate. Very few glitches.

Self Therapy -
My wife got me a Trigger Point Cool Roller last Christmas and it has quickly become an invaluable tool. Rolling is a great way to speed up recovery after a hard set or a really long workout. You can roll-out more areas of your body with a traditional foam roller  (cold stainless steel doesn't feel good on my hips and it's too small for my back), but the cold really helps large muscles in the legs.

Music -
I just have a regular iPod shuffle, but a waterproof one might be a good idea if you want to use it in the pool (Triathletes).

Running Headphones - I use iRun earphones and they work perfectly. I love the short cord. I hear great things about JayBird's and YurBuds.

Here's a tip -Combine the iPod shuffle and iRun earbuds (or something similar) and attach them to a thin, elastic hairband (like some soccer players wear) to hold the combo onto the back of your head. It works great for times when you don't want to wear a hat and it works MUCH better than attaching it to your shirt collar.

Protein -
I tend not to like products with 50 mystery ingredients, each consisting of 10-15 syllables, that were all created in a dark lab somewhere (call me crazy), so I steer clear of the typical protein powders. Raw Meal tastes great and is holistically good for you. If you have the wallet, Vega Sport products are supreme.

Diet -
If you have a smartphone, the My Fitness Pal app is a great tool. It has virtually any food you can think of in its database. You should still check the numbers out if you think something is way off. I found a few numbers that were wrong on a kind of pasta sauce I used and corrected my sodium intake by 500 mg.

Note - My Fitness Pal will let you input exercise to measure calories burned, but strength training and such will show up as 0 calories burned  no matter how of long of a session you input. You have to put that time in the Cardiovascular section under Circuit Training. I simply estimate the amount of time I spent "in" activity (not resting) and use that. This gets you "pretty close" and I tend to find it showing fewer calories burned off than seems logical.

I'll try to follow this post up with another installment in a few months.

Please post your favorite gear in the comments so I can try it out.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Why Everyone Needs A Lance Armstrong Moment

Let's get the obvious out of the way. 

  • Lance lied.
  • Lance cheated.
  • Lance fell in love with his perception of control over his life.
  • Lance intimidated, mocked, and ruined the reputations of others to protect his lies.

Lance said several things during his interview that I found to be very revealing: 

  • It was truly win at all costs. 
  • I was used to controlling everything in my life, every aspect.
  • Anger. Betrayal. Disappointment. 
  • I will spend the ready of my life trying to gain their trust back. 

Despite what you might think, even the best of us aren't much different than Lance. In fact, one of Christ's closest followers shares one of Lance's most prominent shortcomings. Lying.

In Mark 14, Peter does what many would consider unthinkable; He publicly denied Jesus while Jesus himself was in the room! He did it 3 times! Lying in front of Jesus is bad, like 2 foot-long chili-dogs before an aerobics class bad, but what makes it even worse are Peter's previous statements about lying. 

 In Mark 14:31, Peter boldly states "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you". And then he does it. He denies Jesus the very night he swears he never will.  Why? To protect himself from certain death. For Peter, it was truly live at all costs. Sound familiar?

I can't make St. Peter out to be the only liar, and none of us should make Lance out to be the only liar. Neither Peter nor Lance has a monopoly on their bad traits. Let's Any why not you? How about every red-blooded citizen of Earth? 

Try speaking these words without lying:

I have never tried to control something so obviously out of my control. 

How did that go? Not so well? Thought so.

For those of you who could use some truth, admit that you fight against God for control. Despite God's obvious power and might (remember that creating the universe bit He did awhile back?) your actions reveal that you think you can run your life better than He can. Admit that you too struggle with control issues.

I could go on with parallels, but I want to get to the most powerful words I heard last night. 

What Lance did was wrong. Lying is wrong. Cheating is wrong. The way he treated others who tried to expose him is wrong. But, he (finally) admitted it last night, 

"I am flawed. Deeply flawed".

He has admitted the truth.

Jesus wants very little from us in return for so very much. He wants us to come to Him and say "I am flawed. Deeply flawed. I need your help. Come into my life and take control. I love  you". In return, we receive eternal life. Nice deal, huh?

Many of us have no problem with loving Jesus. It's relinquishing control and admitting fault that most people struggle with. Without those two things, complete surrender to Christ is impossible, and without surrender, salvation is impossible.  

Take a minute to consider your actions, all of them, thoughts included. Consider them how God might consider them. If you're honest, you won't like what you find. 

Maybe you should think about sitting down and confessing a few things. Maybe you and God need to have a Lance-Oprah type conversation. I doubt it will air OWN, but they'll be running reruns of it in heaven for centuries to come. Trust me, you'll get tons more viewers!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Path Less Traveled

I love trail running. It excites me in a way that road running or track simply cannot. Trail running asks you to make your way back to the place you started following a single path that is always changing. Something about that appeals to me.

I've been reading more about the idea of a path or a way recently. An an Asian Studies major at Furman University (Go Paladins!) I studied many Eastern philosophical ideas that included concepts of a way. Most notably, the Dao De Jing speaks of how all things in the universe are connected to the Dao (way). It also heavily discusses the idea of Way-making.

As I understand it from the Dao De Jing, Way-making is something like living a just or righteous life. A life lived in the Way is a life lived in accordance with the laws of the universe. One of the central ideas is that one should have respect for everything (and I mean everything) in the world because all things are interconnect and depended on one another. There is no secret to Way-making; no step-by-step guide or score card to prove your Way-making worth. It's an intangible ideal at which to grasp.

There is a similar idea in the Christian faith largely based on the idea of righteousness. Christians are called to seek God's will in every decision in their pursuit for righteous action. Many people stress over major life decisions in fear that making the wrong choice will permanently move them off the righteous track and place them on the non-righteous or less-than-optimal righteous track. In this mindset, Christian Way-making, if you will, depends on each and every decision you make being the most righteous one available.

Pastor Ken Wytsma (a new favorite of mine) has taught on decision making and the will of God through Proverbs. After listening to his sermons, I realized that the commonly held belief  that righteous living can rest on any one decision, even a major one, seems at odds with the way God operates. Ken's teaching helped me see that God's view of righteousness is most likely more about staying on a righteous path than taking every single righteous step possible. Just like in trail running, the point is to get to the end, not to take every correct step as you move down the path. Trying to do that would be insane! Yet, that's pretty much what we are trying to do in stressing about every decision we have to make.

Christ's sacrifice paid for all of our sins, forever. His sacrifice protects us from God's wrath no matter how many missteps we made in our trek towards righteousness.The only turn we have to ensure that we make is to repent (Repent is a translation of shuwb; a Hebrew word meaning "to turn back") towards Christ. Once that turn is surely made, if you stay on a courses headed towards Christ, no one step can derail you.

Stop stressing, enjoy the views around you and focus on getting home in one piece.