Archive for June, 2007

Moving from Winter to Summer
By Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.

By now the winter doldrums should have blossomed into the full flower of spring fever, and dreams of an extended period of outdoor activity should be lighting up the thoughts of veteran athlete and tender neophyte alike.

fitness-statusBut seasonal change is also a good time to think about where you are going and how you are going to get there, particularly when it comes to your physical fitness and your own exercise and training routine.
Here are some guidelines that might help in making the transition work best for you:

Do an honest mental evaluation of your fitness status. For example and to be blunt, in terms of where you want to be and can be, are you too fat? Are you too Soft? Have you lost that athletic spark you nurtured so carefully last summer? How about your old, lingering injuries? Are they really mended? Or are they loitering along your future path, just waiting to ambush you at the most inopportune moment? Be tough on yourself, avoid rationalizing, and don’t panic. As long as your body is still warm and you are still breathing, there is hope. This is the time to be brutally frank with yourself.

It is not too early to set your objectives. If the big, long range ones seem too daunting, pick more friendly, closer goals that you can reasonably accomplish say, a fitness run, a 10K or a metric century ride before the Fourth of July or Labor Day. While there is nothing inherently wrong with selecting multiple and even grandiose goals, you will have a better time of it if you focus on goals that are compatible with your talent and temperament and that will require nothing more than a coherent, achievable lifestyle for yourself. Distinguish in your own mind the difference between real purpose and day dreaming.

Draft Your Routine:
Once you have decided where you want to be at some point down the way, develop a rough training program that will lead you there. If your goals include some specific race or event that entails a major effort, it should be easy enough to work backwards from it in setting a training program. This kind of scheduling is especially important for such a major challenge as a marathon or similar, singular athletic event in which proper preparation and training count for virtually everything.

Some athletes, like normal people, sometimes have trouble keeping their quest for goals in check and in perspective. There is certainly something to be said for losing yourself to the enthusiasm of the moment and stepping beyond your own limitations. But in the end, the successful athlete keeps a healthy, internal equilibrium at the center.

Perhaps the most difficult, most elusive virtue of the committed athlete with a goal-oriented agenda at any level is patience. Those very energies that charge you up to pursue a path are the very ones that tend to make you dissatisfied with the status quo. Yet patience is often the athlete’s most valuable internal strength. Knowing when to back off, when to taper, take a rest period, or a breather or a nap is typically a more critical sense than the ability to eke out just one more lap before packing it in for the day.

In Good Health,
Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,


Read Full Post »

By Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.

Periodically pronouncements emanate from the mountaintops of the life sciences citing some new evidence of a new minimum standard of hours or minutes per week or day of aerobic or anaerobic exercise necessary for minimum fitness or health or longevity. It can be confusing – even if you listen carefully.

RunningThe looser standard may be good news for folks who don’t like or who can’t perform or who are too busy for regular, vigorous physical activity, and it may help to allay some of the stress producing anxiety that haunts the reluctantly inert. But for those of us who have accepted the twenty minute, thrice a week paradigm, the shifting sands of minimum workout prescriptions are a stirred pot that leave us to wonder how much is enough. The answer, of course is…”It depends.”

For Longevity:

If your primary objective is to stay alive as long as possible, it does appear that regular, moderate physical exercise improves your chances of not dying prematurely from the various diseases and conditions that are associated with being sedentary. It does seem that rather short and rather moderate physical effort, done daily may give you the best shot at living a relatively long time, all else being equal.

But being active will work to extend life best when it is practiced in combination with good dietary habits, a healthy environment, low stress, not smoking and with hereditary factors that you are born with. So, if a long life is your first priority, it is probably wise to stay modestly active with the minimum of excess in any area of your lifestyle.

For Good Health:
Staying healthy is associated with, but is not the same as, being fit.Being healthy means traditionally, being free of sickness and injury; it also means being resistant to these risks, as in robust and careful. Research has shown that fairly vigorous aerobic activity does make the body physically stronger and, at the same time, it enhances the body’s immune responses. Modest activity of the kind that seems to enhance longevity may not provide these effects in the same degree as more vigorous activity. On the other hand, seriously intensive physical training and competition tends to suppress the immune system and to produce tissue injuries. Marathon and ultra-marathon, Iron Man Triathlon and Tour de France level cycling, both training and competing fall into this category.

The challenge to the lifelong athlete is to find the optimal balance between too much and too little at every stage in the athletic career and to know when to make adjustments to accommodate changes that come with age, the seasons and other interests and responsibilities that vie for attention along the way.

When you train for serious competition or an unusual challenge like a marathon, you soon discover that your health and fitness cease to be ends in themselves. Instead they become prerequisites for the achievement of your personal, often intangiblegoals. These are the goals that drive the athletic will. Under control and in balance, they can be among the most powerful motivational forces, instruments both of high achievement and great satisfaction. Unchecked they can lead the unsuspecting athlete down a primrose path to disaster.

It is best to know where you are and where you are going at all times. When such knowledge is not immediately apparent, keep your antennae up, ready to receive whatever signal is in the air. In the meantime, as long as you enjoy your active lifestyle and feel good, keep moving.

In Good Health,

Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
The Pressure Positive Company®

Read Full Post »