Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

By Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.

Nearly all training athletes experience some post workout muscle soreness. Non athletes and newcomers to physical exercise may wonder if it is even worth the agony. To people who are unaccustomed to the transient pain that often follows high intensity effort, and those with low pain thresholds, it may not be. To the committed veteran, elite athlete however, garden variety muscle stiffness, soreness and other soft tissue aches and pains are just an acceptable feature of the sport – like thorns amongst the roses. Moreover, a certain level of pain goes with the territory, and veteran athletes come to accept the post workout mix of fatigue and soreness as a sign that in the recovery, the body is assimilating, repairing and restoring to come back stronger, tomorrow or next week.

Macho stoicism can help you cope with such pain to a certain point, but even the toughest athlete performs better and is happier when the recovery passes rapidly and the sore, stiff feeling doesn’t linger. Here are some simple techniques for handling, managing and minimizing the distracting, if benign muscle pain virtually all athletes come to know in due course.


Learn first how to tell the difference between pain that will go away promptly after a few ibuprofen and some rest and pain that has decided to take up long term residence in your body. If pain has taken a long time to build, slowly increasing in severity over time even though you’ve tried to ignore it, chances are, it will take just as long or longer to go away – assuming you will give it the proper care and rest. The worst that you can do is to try to banish the pain as an act of will. You will not recover from a chronic injury if you continuously repeat the trauma, whatever it may be and however subtle. You would think the idea is too, too obvious. Unfortunately, many athletes, especially those hooked on endurance training all too often allow the triumph of blind hope over experience and common sense.

Simple muscle soreness that fades after a day or so does indicate that your soft tissues are going through a training cycle in which, all else being equal, they will be stronger when they feel better. Trick is to train just hard or long enough so that the soreness does go away after a reasonable recovery, say, 24 to 48 hours. To enhance your recovery, always be sure you have plenty of water in your gut before, during and after every training session. The hotter the outside temperature and the more intense the training, the more important good hydration is. Especially when it is hot and humid and the effort is going to last more than an hour or so, do consider adding specific electrolytes before, during and after. They can keep you from cramping, bonking and just feeling crummy.

Warm ups:
Failure to ease into hard effort may be the most frequent cause of lingering muscle pain. Muscle fibers flex and stretch against one another in an infinite number of interfaces underneath those ripples. To work efficiently, they need to be thoroughly lubricated. When you warm up, that is what goes on inside your muscles and explains why you can make some muscle soreness go away by easing into a workout with a long warmup. Almost as important is a gradual cool down that keeps your heart rate up at a fairly high, albeit sub-aerobic level for at least a few minutes at the end of the session. That permitsthe blood to carry away the accumulated lactic acid in the muscle tissues, a biochemical cause of muscle soreness.

Although there are still doubters around, the general consensus among trainers and rehab specialists on the efficacy of stretching for athletes is in favor of it. If you stretch deliberately and regularly when the muscles are well warmed, it will enhance your flexibility and will probably reduce a lot of exercise related pain.

Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin are favored by many trainers and athletes for sore muscles and do seem to provide genuine, if temporary, relief. As a general rule, however, prudent athletes try to take these apparently benign, over-the-counter drugs only when they are really needed.

firm, deep manipulation of your muscles before and after exercise will almost always make sore muscles feel better, and some times, under skilled hands the results are dramatic. If you are a serious, training athlete, seek out a good, regular massage therapist on whom you can call both before and after important races and training sessions.

In Good Health,
Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
The Pressure Positive Company®


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By Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.

Overuse injuries, although they often seem quite straight forward, can be, in fact, quite complicated in that they are often caused by a combination of factors that vary widely from person to person. So, whether you are a weekend jogger and spend your work days at a desk or a bench or you are an elite, daily training, competitive athlete, there are some ways you can safely navigate around and through the many risk factors that will threaten your continued mobility, fitness, good health and longevity in the short or the long run.

So, as you make choices about your exercise, how often, how intensely and at what activities, here are some things to think about:

Form and style:
Much athletic coaching and training concentrates on the details of movement. If you are fortunate to have been taught by a skilled and experienced athletic instructor as a young person in, say, junior high or high school, you will have learned all about how to run, how to breathe, how to pace yourself. Now, as you may be contemplating your athletic renaissance, remember all that good advice and put it to use.

If you are just now starting from scratch, find a trainer or an experienced mentor coach or friend to help you get it right.Very often a local club is a good place to start with club runs or rides among contemporaries. Keep your eyes and ears open for tips on how to move smoothly and efficiently. In running especially, economy of movement follows form and style very closely and will minimize early fatigue that will in turn help to forestall injury from inefficient form.

Frequency in balance
One of the earliest decisions you may have to make is how often you are going to challenge your body in the activity you select.Be aware that one of the most serious risks in the early stages of most quality exercise programs results from an early excess of enthusiasm. It doesn’t take long for the beginner jogger or cyclist or walker or weightlifter to start feeling the uplifting effects of physical activity. You will know it by the giddy feeling of exhilaration and invincibility that recent converts often demonstrate while in the “honeymoon phase.” It is typically a happy time, but, as rewarding as regular exercise can be, it is not without its hazards. So it pays to be aware that injury can sneak up on you. Your best defense is to listen to signals from your body and to schedule your program so that you allow an appropriate amount of time for recovery after every effort. For a normal workout that may be only a day or for something extraordinary like a marathon, it might require a month before you are back to a normal.

Learning curve:
In time you will accumulate knowledge about your own limits and what works for you and what doesn’t.Always be open to learning more – more about yourself and more about everything that bears on your well being from diet to rest, stretching to cross training. Although exercise is not like neurosurgery in its intellectual demands, it greatly benefits from a basic academic knowledge of anatomy, physiology, nutrition and any sports medicine you can absorb. These days extensive research information is widely available on the Internet.

Taking your time:
Look first at your carefully structured plan to become permanently more fit and strong in the longer term. Consider the stepping stones towards whatever goal you decide to aim for. It may simply be to remain upright and moving for the next twenty or forty years.If you are aiming for something more dramatic and shorter term, your accelerated schedule will demand more intensity as well as more discipline and caution. In terms of your daily activities, try to get in the habit of easing into your training mode of choice with deliberate restraint. One technique that you may soon discover on your own will increase your endurance significantly: Simply warm up slowly for twenty minutes to half an hour before starting any demanding activity.

Muscle balance:
Every experienced athlete knows that the exercised muscle inevitably becomes stronger, and the unexercised muscle does not. Accordingly a sport in which only a limited number of specific muscles are engaged may leave you with neglected, relatively weaker muscles.That difference between opposing muscles can easily result in an imbalance that often leads to acute muscle strains and other injuries that are entirely preventable by a regular, balanced strength training regimen. Maintaining a basic muscle balance is not difficult and does not necessarily involve an extraordinary time commitment. At the outset, however you may have to alter your habitual routine in order, for example, to begin a twice a week weight training program.

With the help of a trained exercise therapist or athletic trainer, you can create a sequence of exercises appropriately tailored to your own, specific needs and goals.

Become an adventurer; mix it up:
Once you are in the habit of training regularly, you can start experimenting with new ways to add variety to your exercise that will enhance your enjoyment. Increase your resistance to overuse related injuries and improve the efficiency of your form. This approach is often referred to as “cross training.” In concept, cross training is simplicity itself: you exercise your primary muscles and allow plenty of time between workouts to allow your muscles to recover and repair; but instead of taking a nap, you go workout at something entirely different. Of course cross trainers can wear down, become plagued by chronic fatigue, reduce their resistance to colds and other infections, but by spreading the stress around your own, more vulnerable trouble spots, you reduce the risk that any one will break down.

Outlook and simple pleasures:
Always keep in mind that whatever you do to attain and protect your health and fitness, it should be something that yields you intrinsic rewards.That is pleasure from the sheer pleasure of the experience. Never let that thought go.Everything else is gravy.

In Good Health
Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
The Pressure Positive Company

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Taking it To the Limit
by Bernard L. Gladieux Jr.

Within each of us is an explorer, and within every explorer are visions of new frontiers.

In a very real sense, exploring the limits of our own, individual capacity and capabilities gives every one of us a great, ever-new territory to discover.  For the action oriented and outdoor athletes the options can be deeply rewarding, occasionally life changing.

Whatever your vehicle in, say, endurance sports like running, cycling or swimming or  adventure sports like hiking, climbing, kayaking or wilderness travel, just what you choose to do is less important than that you take to the journey with all your heart and make it your own.

Here are some thoughts on the inner exploration that will be the precursor to whatever path you take:

Try Something New: 
You needn’t do anything foolhardy or truly dangerous, but be bold; be adventurous.  It will help to ease your thinking into new channels.  Start by preparing yourself mentally and physically.  Read something entirely new to your experience – a book or a magazine even something as prosaic as the travel section of your Sunday newspaper.  Dare to dream, and then allow your dreams to grow and develop into preliminary planning.  It may be a rafting adventure, a safari, back packing, ocean kayaking, ballooning or skiing.  Adventure can be as exotic or as taxing as you decide to make it.  Just choose intelligent, gradual changes in your preparations like physical and technical training, as necessary, to move toward your goals.

Push to Your Limits:
But don’t break your physical budget.  In time everyone begins to wear out parts and gradually to slow down.  Some quickly use up their physical capital in fast living and bad lifestyle choices, age fast, fade and retire from life.  Beware of these traps.  A couple of years ago Joe Henderson, a prodigious endurance runner and sensitive, talented writer noted that the three questions he was asked the most often were: “How to run faster, how to run longer and how to get over the injury caused by running faster and longer.”

In endurance athletics, as in other areas of human endeavor, generally the best information comes from those who have been at it the longest.  They are the ones who seem to have run smartest, kept their balance about it and survived.  You don’t have to believe everything you hear from these old-timers, but listen well.

Take Your Rest:
Rest should be a part of every phase of your physical training.  Take it whenever your instincts tell you that you require it. Long term success and happiness from activity requiring physical endurance and strength depends a great deal on self-knowledge which includes knowing when to ease up and when to lay off.  Rest is the critical flip side of effort.  If you are in the daily, hard, training habit or use the high-powered training program developed for a world class, elite runner, there is a good chance your improvement will be frustratingly slow or that you will find yourself on the edge of overuse injury.  The problems you experience may not be due at all to your own, inherent limitations, but could be just the result of a training routine that is unremittingly and inappropriately intense for you.

Injury, fatigue, boredom, tension, depression and a variety of other early signs of burnout will invariably cut short any voyage of self discovery and exotic exploration.  The best remedy, happily, is the most pleasant and the easiest to carry out.  Simply let go, and play as if you were a child, and the world were your playground – which it can be if you make it so.

In Good Health,
Bernard (Bun) Gladieux

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summerBy 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.

But 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:


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 Heath,
Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
President, The Pressure Positive Co.

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To many, perhaps most, of the under-achieving observers out there, it may seem that competitive athletes are an unfortunate lot.

To outsiders, the serious runner, cyclist or other high intensity athlete must appear continuously sore, aching, injured, misguided and masochistic, a driven, monomaniac, doomed to a short, miserable, lonely life. Maybe, but what cynics forget, cannot grasp or simply ignore is that, for the seriously competitive athlete, routine encounters with the physical realities of weather, the demands of training and racing, managing within personal physical and psychological limits offers, in return for the effort, incomparable resilience and mental balance.
Some might mistake such aplomb as smug contentment (a state easier to take from the inside, than from without, I am told.) But in fact, if you race or train for very long at any of the truly demanding, physical sports, you eventually develop what we might call coping skills as surely as you build up your wind or your quads.

Here are some ideas on managing and coping to think about as you slog along on your own journey.

This is serious business. It is, after all, living, and, as far as we know, this is your only shot at it. So you should really try harder than just to make do. On the other hand, though serious, life need not be grave. Make yourself take your training seriously. Stay with it as long as it enhances and strengthens. If you start questioning your own sanity because you have begun to feel you are taking it all too seriously, you probably are. Stop, step back and reorient yourself. This process can take the form of a vacation, a new approach to cross training or just a few days off.

Make them great ones. Aim for as high as you can see, but make sure your feet are planted firmly on earth when you look. Some of the most self-destructive behavior grows out of illogical, unrealistic self delusions of grandeur. Beware of pipe dreams.

WIND DOWN OR BURN OUT: For most athletes at this latitude (the Mid Atlantic states,)
the racing season in many sports starts in the spring, glides through the summer and ends or quickens again in the fall before the race schedule finally dries up before winter sets in. For competitors who stay with it for nine months or longer, the danger of burnout becomes ever more real as the season grinds on. Race it if you must and can stay healthy and happy. But if you are beginning to feel the strain either in your working mechanisms or in your head, take the message to heart and ease up to recover your energy and enthusiasm.

If you have trained well and have stayed out of trouble – meaning injury free – you are certainly entitled to have some pure fun beyond just hammering yourself to numbness.

Take some long hikes in the woods, start going on some club rides, break out your ATB and attack a mountain. This can be a beautiful time to reap the fruit of your athletic labors over the past few months.

TRIUMPH VS P.R.: Winning in endurance sports is a great deal more than coming in first. Most athletes come to understand that fact early in their careers. Sometimes just finishing a race can give you the heady experience of high achievement every bit as much as taking a gold medal. Nothing is so uplifting as going back on the road after a long and painful recovery from a seemingly intractable injury. But take it easy, and don’t let yourself be seduced into over-stepping your deconditioned state.

ADVENTURE VS DRUDGERY: Even when grinding through the last phases of training for a marathon or a century ride or another heroic effort, your daily routine can still hold a sense of mystery and adventure for you. Pick a new venue, a new time of the day, a new training partner, new gear. If you should ever suffer from feelings of despair or of being a powerless, innocent victim, turn your thinking around. Practice taking on the mind set of an explorer in which you see the world around you as if for the first time. Think of how you would describe it to a complete stranger.

STICK TO THE POINT: Skeptics have asked, “what’s the point of doing what you do?” To a degree, one supposes, if they have to ask, they may not comprehend the answer. The fact is that just being here is the point – to live, to experience life, to be there when the future happens. Where better a place to be than on the journey, aware and ready for anything?

In Good Health,
By Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
The Pressure Positive Company®

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By Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.

Stress, in the conventional wisdom, is an inevitable feature of modern life. Some might call it a pandemic. It may well be true that even with our labor saving devices and efficiencies now so much a part of everyday living, we moderns still experience more everyday stress compared with our ancestors of even one, two or three generations ago. Given that contemporary stressors are not likely to diminish in their influence over us any time soon, our only hope must come from how we learn to cope and adapt to the tension building vagaries of our world.

Personality, character, upbringing and the luck of the draw have a lot to do with how you respond when it all seems to be caving in on your head. But techniques for coping and managing stress can also be learned. One of the best, as any athlete will tell you, is just to go out and have a successful workout at whatever you do and like the best.

Here are a few thoughts about using your athletic training or fitness exercise as an approach to personal stress management.

For physical activity to work as a stress countering measure, you do actually have to go at it with vigor. Thinking about it, dabbling or playing at it won’t work. You can’t go to the Nautilus center and hang out as if recovering from a hard set for an hour and a half and get any real benefits. You can’t expect too much out of your first and only work out in six months. For exercise to impact on your stress level, you need to be trained enough at it to sustain at least minimum of a half hour of uninterrupted, serious effort.

If your base activity is aerobic, and it is not physically self destructive, it matters a great deal less what you actually do than how much you enjoy it. Even if you have a masochistic quirk steering and a puritan ethic driving your enthusiasm, you probably won’t be able to support a long term commitment to your exercise program unless it yields you some level of reliable, escapist pleasure. If you have not yet discovered such an exercise pastime, get creative and keep looking.

Once you have settled on a favored physical activity or, even better, a variety of them, you can choose at will whatever suits your day and circumstances for medicinal, sedative or preventive purposes. You say your loud, opinionated hard drinking, smoking in laws are all coming for the family’s Labor Day picnic when it is supposed to rain, and you are all going to be jammed into the back porch for the day? Go for a long run, Lose yourself in it; come back refreshed and at peace. When it’s all over you know you can go out again tomorrow and leave any lingering nasties out on the road. It may not improve your picnic much, but you’ll be tougher

One of the few psychological problems habitual athletes encounter is the addiction to regular training that can develop over time. Most medical and behavioral experts discount the seriousness of athletic addictions because they are considered positive and healthful. However, if you are aware that you have addictive tendencies and are likely to continue training even though doing so, for example, will aggravate an injury, take special pains to seek out advice and. or other training alternatives before it controls you.

If physical training is a valued part of your coping strategy, it doesn’t make much logical sense to otherwise dissipate your health or your energies in wasteful, counterproductive pursuits like smoking, excessive partying or overwork, all of which can load on your stress. Usually age brings with it some common sense along with physiological imperatives that help veteran athletes keep to the straight and narrow path of virtue. But beware, there are few who would not agree that we grow to soon old and too late smart.

In Good Health,
Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
The Pressure Positive Company®

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Fall Can Be the Best of Times
Bernard L.Gladieux, Jr.

For a lot of outdoor activities, the autumn season can be the happiest and the most productive of them all. It is fitting that it is so. After all fall is the traditional harvest time, so when better to reap the fruits of your training and hard work than now?

Here are some thoughts on autumn and making the most of it for yourself.

If your training schedule takes you out either early or late in the day, one of the first signs of the seasonal change you will no doubt notice is the shortening of daylight hours. At either end you may have to make schedule and venue changes to accommodate. If running on the road at twilight carries undue risk because of traffic or the surface underfoot, for example, consider moving your run to a local track or to an earlier time of the day. If you can’t avoid being on the road in the dusk or dark, run defensively. Wear reflective materials, and carry a flashlight. Fall-Leaves

Cross Train: If darkness does chase you off the road, this might be a good time to get into another training mode by adding an indoor weightlifting or swimming workout day or two to your week. You can, then, take your longer daytime run or rides during the weekends when you might enjoy more schedule flexibility.

Along with the darkness and less intense sunlight comes the gift from the jet stream. There is no inherent reason to change your outdoor training habits just because it isn’t warm out – even when it is downright ugly, damp and bone chillingly frigid. Mental and physical preparation in combination should get you through the worst Mother Nature can throw your way. If you run or walk only, think hat, gloves, inner layer, windbreaker, and something you can live with for your legs if it is truly nasty.When the temperature goes below freezing, consider adding a layer of poly or wool especially to cover your torso. Gearing up to bicycle in the cold is somewhat more of a technical challenge, If you are not already equipped and experienced for cold weather cycling, start by checking in at your most serious local bicycle store.

Prepare. The season is almost upon us. It almost always brings distractions from your training and temptations in food and drink. To the extent that you are strong, rested, training well and internally balanced and together, you can handle anything the holidays can dish out, so to speak. Get into your training, eating, resting rhythms as soon as you can if you are not already there now, and take the upcoming disruptions in stride.

With the fading away of hot, humid days, the dangers of heat exhaustion during races and long training activities fade also. But do not be lulled into the fool’s paradise of dehydration. When you run or cycle long and/or hard, you sweat and lose fluid. Drink before you go out and then up to 8 ounces for every half hour of activity even when it is cold and when a lot of the moisture you lose is in the humidity of your breath.

Many athletes experience pollen allergies during the spring and late summer hay fever seasons, but allergens abound during the fall too. Molds grow on fallen leaves and their microscopic spores blow around in the air. These spores can be extraordinarily potent allergens when they are breathed in, producing upper respiratory and asthma like symptoms. If you notice a persistent wheeze or cough or other signs of allergies, especially when you are exercising outside during these months, get to a physician, and have it checked out. In many, even acute cases, medications will control the problem and will keep it from spiraling out of control.

Fall races can be a lot of fun. The weather and scenery can be the most enjoyable and rewarding of the year. So maybe you are up for running a PR. Go for it. If not, just settle back and enjoy the pure pleasure of the hills turned to purple, reds and gold, of brilliantly clear autumn air. Then too, you might consider your own good fortune at being upright and healthy. Indeed, that’s a pretty good thought for any day of the year.

In Good Health,
Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
The Pressure Positive Company

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