Posts Tagged ‘Exercise Tips’

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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Your Own, Personal Road to Fitness
By Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
President, The Pressure Positive Company

Choosing a sport or a mode of physical activity for fun and fitness can be as easy as falling off a log. It can also be as risky for your body and spirit if your choice takes you away from your physical or psychic or practical center.

roadtofitnessIt does seem that some of us drift into our sport and fitness activities without much conscious analysis. We just go with the flow. If the flow leads us into a successful path to find health, happiness and fulfillment, Hooray! But if continued athletic success seems elusive, another look at who and what you are just might lead you in a more rewarding direction. Here are some thoughts about making smart, personal choices.

In great measure what you are given controls what you will become. That is not to say that you have no options that will allow you to carry yourself beyond the expectations you, your friends and family might harbor for you. But if you find, for example, that your running or jogging has begun to wear thin or to leave you fatigued or hurting, it could be that your genetic gifts make you more like a Clydesdale draft horse while you have been exercising more like a gazelle or a cheetah. Take a clear, hard look at yourself. You may not want to shift from running 10 K races to pulling a beer wagon, but having a sound view of your physical strengths and gaps will help in setting your track and staying on it.

Childhood sports experiences can create lifelong interests, attitudes and skills. They can also burn you out, sometimes for life. If you have a powerful and positive early sport or athletic background, use what you retain of it to support your activity whatever it may be. If your background is absent or negative, think of it as just another challenge to transcend. If you are athletically inexperienced, no matter what your age, you can begin walking and/or jogging any time. These activities are as far away as the first step. Use common sense and check with your physician if you have the slightest doubts.

A football knee, a touchy sciatic nerve, a Morton’s toe – name your weak spot; we all have at least one. Some of us tend to entire gardens of chronic injuries and anomalies. Know yours, and be able to assess their impact on your athletic viability. Clearly if running invariably stirs up an Achilles’ tendonitis, opting for an activity that spares you high-impact bouncing makes a lot of sense. Serious leg problems need not end a runner’s athletic career, but once they are chronic, they need tending to, and in general, the sooner, the better. Chronic injuries could require a temporary, partial or perhaps a full and permanent shift from running into some other training regimen that maintains your conditioning but affords your body its healing respite.

If there is one characteristic that is common to just about every marathon runner, it is the mental toughness necessary simply to survive the enervating, sometimes numbing hours of training. Doing it, sticking to it and following through are not for the faint- hearted or the tentative. But you can be a runner without ever running a marathon or wanting to run one. Take your training and your competing only as far as you choose and can sustain out of your own, internal enthusiasm and fortitude.

Elderliness seems to be less a barrier to athletic achievement than ever. Still age does demand certain caution and concessions. Know when to quit the racing circuit and head out from the competitive arena into calmer, safer pastures. If you are older and are just thinking about starting to exercise, start slowly, take your time, rest early and often and quit at the drop of a hat to come back another day.

Setting your own, internally directed training and competitive objectives, if any, is arguably one of the most important steps you will take in the months ahead. Be deliberate and sober about it, but don’t shy away from your own best visions of what might be, given who and what you are.

In Good Health,
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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