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Archives for July, 2010

What do the Alameda runners do while we are not exercising, planning to exercise or writing about exercising?  We do things like go see taiko drums performed by Maze Daiko at the Rhythmix Cultural Works in Alameda.

The RCW is a nice little place that opened about 3 years ago in an old factory.  The show floor holds about 175 seats with standing room for an additional 30 or 40 people.  It is really nice to see a show in a small local venue.  Before the show we sat around and chatted with other people from the area in a friendly atmosphere that you do not get in the bigger places.  I like going to events where people are social and nice to each other.  Brazen racing events are similar to this.

If you are looking for cultural things to do as cross training, taiko definitely fits the bill.  The girls in the show were in excellent shape.  They were swinging those big drum sticks around for two hours in one night.  They also get into drumming position in a stance that is similar to a yoga warrior pose.

The taiko group was really well organized.  They had the floor marked for all of the different drum scenarios.  When it was time to move the stage setup, a few members would play while the others did the setup.  They did not look at each other and had it timed so the instruments were placed in synchronization no matter how different the travel was.

The show started off with a group of 6 ladies playing powerful drums.  They all seemed happy to be playing in front of their home crowd.  I love the way taiko can change from power to grace.  We went from the 6 drums to two ladies singing while one of them played a single stringed instrument.  In a small venue, you could feel the energy from the players and the bass coming off the drums.  The girls had style, sass and rhythm.  It seem like they could play anything you put in front of them.  I have always been indifferent about xylophones but they were awesome mixed with the taiko drums.

The show we saw had Yoko Fujimoto as a guest singer.  She has a beautiful voice that comes through in any language.  It is really unique to the system going from the power of big drums to Yoko singing “a cappella” (solo without instruments)

If you are planning a trip to the SF bay area, I recommend a visit to see Maze Daiko.  For those of you who are not planning to visit the SF bay area or the United States, I recommend a local taiko show.  If you have seen taiko drumming at someplace like Disney, imagine Disney as a high school basket ball team while Maze Daiko is in the professional league.

It’s quickly approaching late July and we’re all aware it’s summer time here in Alameda.  That means longer days and even more kids and pedestrians wandering the streets.

If you’re an Alameda resident, you’re probably used to seeing a large number of pedestrian crosswalks around the city.  Use them if you plan to cross the street.  Stop for pedestrians if you’re driving a vehicle (or riding a bike).

Alameda Police Department statistics (reported in 2008) indicate the highest number of injury incidents took place in August and September — and it’s a combination of speeding drivers and careless pedestrians.

As a reminder:  If you’re in a crosswalk, you still have to look around.  Don’t assume just because you’re in a crosswalk that vehicles will stop for you.  I routinely have at least five or six cars buzz by me even though I’m clearly waiting to cross the street.

Here is what the APD recommends (April 2009 Alameda Police News Wire):

“Prior to crossing any street you should look both ways, make eye contact with the drivers, and do this for each lane you are crossing.  When lit crosswalks are available, always activate them before crossing the street.”

I can tell which drivers are likely going to stop and let me cross the street — try not to get jumpy to cross the street until the vehicles stop.  Just to show your appreciation, it’s strongly recommended to give the drivers a wave (and thank you) for stopping.

Why Are Events on Sundays?

Many of us are familiar with waking up early on a Saturday or Sunday morning to head to a local race.  Races are often early events that force athletes to wake up as early as 3:00 a.m. to prepare for the day’s events.

Casual athletes to race directors themselves are curious about why most running races are on Sundays, and at such crazy times, with the Runner’s World Ask the Race Director column able to answer the questions.

Aside from the fact that more people are free due to weekends off, race organizers have found it be extremely difficult to hold events on Saturday.  There are more people out on a Saturday morning, along with a higher number of businesses open.

Per the race director:

Even though it’s a weekend day, most businesses are open on Saturday and it becomes tricky to close streets. That may not be a major problem in a 5-K, but it is for longer races. Sundays also allow big races to hold expos and registration on Friday and Saturday, plus I’ve found that it’s easier to find volunteers for Sunday races than for Saturday races.

It’ll always be impossible to cater to all athletes, but race organizers will continue to try to do their best to accommodate as many people as possible.

If you’re approaching your first half marathon race, you’re likely extremely nervous about the 13.1-mile journey.   Did you eat and drink enough?  What should you eat during the run?  These are questions you should know by now, but it’s so easy to let excitement about the event get you distracted.

To help offer some tips, here’s a blog posted in the “For Beginners Only” section on Runner’sWorld.  The article helps describe carb intake, hydration, and other basic tips that many new runners are likely curious about.

Here is the so-called ‘golden rule’ to race day running:

Nothing new; only tried and true! Your breakfast on race morning should be food you are used to eating before running. Plan on eating whatever you normally eat before a long training run. Experiment well in advance of your race to know what foods work best for you and, more importantly, what doesn’t! The right blend of carbohydrates, protein, and a little fat is a good combination. Try eating an energy bar or whole grain toast with peanut butter before your runs. Wash it down with water, sports drink, and coffee.

This is such an important rule that can be extremely easy to break come race day.  The blog also recommends consuming 16 to 24 oz. of water or sports drink around two to three hours before race time — and then drink another  5 to 7 ounces of water within a half hour of start time.

Furthermore, the blog recommends drinking 5 to 7 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes during the race.

It’s up to you to try and figure out what you want… and whether or not your body can hold down certain things. The Runner’s World blog recommends “drinking carb-rich sports drink or consuming gels, chews, or other snack foods on runs longer than 75 minutes.”

Ted’s note:  I drink about 28 ounces per hour during long runs.  Runs over 2 hours require electrolytes and gel.

A lot of the fitness articles published on Active and other major publications are sometimes mundane and relatively dull.  It’s not fun to try to find enjoyable articles only to sift through the boring junk.  I’m going to share a quick article you may have missed but includes some interesting race tips.

If you’re looking for ways to try and reduce your triathlon transition times, Triathlon has a five-step guide that could help give you some new ideas.

In the article, the five following steps are recommended:  apply bodyglide, never sit down during the transition, use triathlon-specific cycling shoes, don’t wear socks when cycling and running, and try using speed laces.

Take a look at the article here.

Of note is the recommendation to not wear socks, which most of us consider crucial to help keep our feet in the right shape.  If you’re willing to use body glide or a similar product in favor of wearing socks, then give it a shot.  (If anyone of you have tried it — or still do it — let me know.)

Speed laces could be helpful as well, and I see a growing number of people wearing them on runs.  If you’re in search of something even more drastic, take a look at shoes using the Boa Lacing System able to render shoe laces obsolete, the company says.

We have two flavors of Athletes Honey Milk, honey (original) and chocolate (light).  The chocolate is a bit chalky but tastes good.  The honey is really smooth with no chalky taste.  Both flavors are loaded with 26 grams of protein, 120mg of sodium and 330mg of potassium in the 11.5 ounce bottle.

Honey Milk is mostly natural.  Milk, honey then  lactase enzyme are the first three ingredients, they are all natural.  All of the regular readers know how much I like natural ingredients.

Back in April, we did an interview with Athletes Honey Milk.  The name and idea put me off at first.  Here is one of my initial thoughts of the product: “He may have to open the box and force it down my throat.”

Between then and the time to review Honey Milk, we tested a lot of bad things so I figured things could not get much worse and I could take one for the team.  I went out for a good one hour run on a warm day.  After the run, I held my breath and tried the honey milk.  It tasted good!  It passed the first test.  It is drinkable with no chalky aftertaste.

I really like the taste of Athletes Honey milk.  It is so good, I can’t believe it works.  I have been drinking it for about a month now and it seems to be working for recovery.  I tend to drink another drink like Cytomax after long days because it I want the additional water.

Athletes Honey Milk is in the bought category for me.  It has moved into the top three sports drinks for me and the top tasting recovery drink.

Mike’s Note:  To see all things AHM on Alameda Runners, feel free to click here.

Review: Brown Cow Yogurt

While on a recent shopping trip to our local Safeway, my wife asked me if I would like to get some yogurt to eat with my lunch.  I looked at the 50 different yogurt selections and told her they probably do not have any real yogurt but I would look anyway.  As some of you may already know, I like natural food.  I looked at the shelves loaded with the usual products that contain artificial flavors and thickening agents and found some Brown Cow yogurt off to the side.  I looked at the ingredient list and found it was all natural yogurt!

I bought the only container they had and took it to work.  It tastes good.

I also believe that a product that I eat should taste good.  I don’t eat things that taste like chalk because they are healthy.  I am all about being happy.  Eating chalk does not make me happy.

I did a quick check on the Internet and found Brown Cow to be owned by Stony Field Farms.  I don’t care who gets the profits form the company.  I want a quality, natural product at a price I can afford.  Brown Cow does that  and they try to environmentally responsible.  The lids are foil tops to use less plastic.  If you can not finish a 6 ounce container in one sitting, you can send them an e-mail to request a couple free lids.  They will also recycle the old containers if you can’t find a place to recycle.  Most people won’t go for something like that but at least the offer is there.

Nutrition is extremely important for athletes.  If you fail to eat proper food while training, you’re more likely to bonk during a race.  As noted in the July edition of Triathlete, counting calories is deal for people looking to lose weight and get closer to an ideal racing weight.

If you’re going to try and count calories, be aware that it can be an extremely time consuming, complicated process.

“Counting calories is challenging for two reasons,” the Triathlete article reads.  “First, it’s a pain the butt, requiring more time and effort than most people feel it is worth.  Second, the do-it-yourself methods of calorie counting are not very accurate.”

The moral of the story:  Pay attention to what you eat, and you don’t need to count calories exactly.  The simple fact you’re paying attention to calories should help you keep better track of what you’re eating.

Ted’s views regarding eating and dieting can be found here.

More from Ted: Counting calories is tough.  The only time I really count calories is when I am out for long durations.  I like to know how much I need to replace after the workout.  A friend of mine could only find Gatorade G2 at convenience stores during a West Coast bike ride.  He kept bonking at the end of the day.  After about 3 days of this, he learned that a 24 ounce container of Gatorade has 60 calories.

Tips to sustain your energy

I am always asked about my energy levels and how I manage to sustain so much energy.  Where to start?  I will start with a list in no particular order.

  1. Get plenty of sleep
  2. Eat well
  3. Eat enough
  4. Do not eat before bed
  5. Get plenty of exercise
  6. Carry your energy with pride

1. Sleep is an interesting thing.  We all know we need to get plenty of sleep but we rarely get enough sleep.

  • Give your body a reason to sleep.  A body that is tired is a body that is ready to sleep.
  • Do not eat before bed.
  • No caffeine before bed.  A lot of people can tolerate caffeine at night but skip it anyway.
  • Clear your mind for a good nights rest.  Take notes at work so you do not have to think about things for the next day.  I write things down in a clear area of my desk.  That way work stays at work.

2. Eat quality foods.  It is not as easy as it sounds to eat good food.  I often eat food that is not healthy but it is whole food.  If I cheat, I like to eat something that they were eating 100 years ago.  Something like sausage, a pretzel or even cake.  I try my best to avoid food with extra stuff.  I think iced tea should contain tea and water.  I will add sugar or lemon if the mood strikes me.  There is nothing wrong with quality foods.  Try to eat a balanced natural diet.  I don’t get all of the vitamins and minerals that I need so I take daily multivitamins to help keep things up.  I don’t think there is anything natural in a multivitamin but I do the best I can with what I have.

3. Eating before bed is bad because it messes up your metabolism and your body will burn the food while you sleep instead of stored energy from fat.  Every now and then you can sneak in some vanilla pudding, vanilla ice cream, apple pie or something similar before bed — but don’t make a habit of it.
A well worked body keeps you invigorated throughout the day.  If you can exercise in the morning, the energy that you build up for the workout will stay with you all morning.  A lunch time workout does the same thing for the afternoons.  Sometimes, if I workout too hard at lunch, I crave coffee late in the afternoons.  A body that gets good work during the day sleeps well at night.

4. Carry your energy with pride.  After a while, people will notice your energy and start to rely on it.  When your energy starts to fade, the whole group’s energy will go with it.  Stand up straight, let the world know that you are here and go.

I could go on for a while but our format has been to keep it short.

Nike Livestrong Inspiration

Love him or hate him — Lance continues to be an inspiration to cancer patients around the world.

I’m not the biggest fan of Nike, but I fully support Livestrong and its efforts towards cancer awareness, research, and funding.