Thursday, October 16, 2014

A product review (No Financial Interest) Now With Updated Content!!!

Cellucor C4 Extreme

Introduction

So I'm a bit of a supplement junkie.  While I'm not, nor ever will be, an elite, I'm a solid mid-packer.  I believe that if there's a supplement that will make workouts or recovery just a tad easier, I'm game. 
 Ever since I started running, I've voraciously read anything about training, eating, supplementation, etc.  The daily supplements that I use are: glucosamine, fish oil, multi-vitamin, vitamin E, and milk thistle.  The milk thistle is an antioxidant, but I use it for liver health.
After runs > 5 miles, I make a recovery drink with 8 oz. of whole, chocolate milk, and a scoop of whey protein.  After a long run, I use a BCAA (branch chained amino acid) in addition to my normal recovery drink.  I've found that the addition of the BCAA is a tremendous aid in lessening muscle soreness.

What I Was Testing









So the new trend in weight lifting is the pre-workout supplement.  What this is supposed to do, basically, is to allow you to do more, for longer.  It has some B12 and Niacin, which aid in turning carbohydrates and fat into fuel.  It also increases NO production, which you can read about here nutritionexpress.com

Previous Experiences

I've used C4 before speed interval workouts, and seen a dramatic effect.  I was able to run the intervals faster than normal, and did not get as fatigued as I usually would during the later intervals.  
I was curious what effect it would have on the later miles of a longer run.

The Test

Today I went out for a 16.5 mile run.  A middle long run, if you will.  I took one scoop of C4 at mile 9.  I was averaging ~ 9:15 minutes/mile up to that point.  Allowing for miles 10 and 11 to be the absorption of the supplement, miles 12 - 16 were run at an average of 9:01.
The fact that I was running faster is irrelevant to me.  I was more interested in the perceived effort.  In that regard, I found that miles 12 - 16 were easier than the first 11, even though I was running 14 seconds/mile faster.

A Better Test

Last weekend, 6 Jun 2015, my long time running companion, Kurt, and I went for a 27 miler on some local trails.  Here is the Garmin data.  1,700 ft. of gain over the 27 miles.
We did an 18 mile loop, followed by two, 4.5 mile loops.  After the first 4.5 loop, we both had a serving.  About one mile into the last 4.5 loop, we both felt better than we had at any point in the run.  Our mile split times were faster than the comparable times from the first loop, and the perceived effort was considerably less.

 Conclusions

I still have to test it on a real long run, which I define of > 26.2.  But my conclusions from this experiment were that:
  • I was able to run faster
  • The run itself felt easier

Updated Conclusions

After testing this product on the trails, and fairly deep into the run, I'd have to give it an endorsement.  We were both able to run faster, and it still felt easier.
On 19 - 20 Jun, we test it on a 50 mile, road run.  I'll update again.

Caution

If you are sensitive to the effects of niacin, I would recommend against this product.  My skin felt a bit prickly and itchy within the first mile after ingestion.  I attribute this to the niacin.
And as with any supplement, consult your doctor first, your mileage may vary, blah, blah, blah.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It's Not Whether You Win or Lose, it's how You Play the Game

A Follow Up

Someone brought up a good point to my post titled Validate Me.  That was summed up in this meme:
Not coming out on top in any type of competition, whether it be as an individual or as part as a team; whether it be against another person or a personal goal; is never a bad thing (unless, of course, you're on the losing side of a war I suppose).
Losing causes you to do one of two things: quit, or try harder.
I used to have a saying in the days of yore.  "If you can't stand losing, don't play."
I'm not the best loser.  I'm much better than I used to be, but that's due to age and maturity.  Losing leaves me with an extremely bad taste in my mouth.
I try again.  I try harder.

I'm not a big fan of quitting.  Quitters never win, and all that jazz.
In instilling values in my daughter, I've developed a new phrase, with the help of my wife.  That is to praise her for working hard, not for being smart.  Ie, "Good job!  You worked hard for that!"  As opposed to, "Wow!  You're so smart!"
Praising her for her intelligence may lead her to resting on her laurels.  Praising her for her hard work will cause her continue the pattern of working hard to achieve a goal.
It does matter who wins or lose.  But it also matters how you play the game.  
Before I started running ultras, I had a goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  My first step in that journey was a personal goal to run sub 8:30 min/mile for 26.2 miles.  
That was the hardest I had ever physically worked for anything.  Four months of training.  Twice weekly speed workouts that would leave me feeling as if each breath was fire in my lungs.
I achieved my goal.  At the end of it, I was a quivering, worthless, wasted piece of junk.  My wife had to help me to the car.
I realized, after that effort, that I did not have the desire to attempt to run 7:15 min/mile for 26.2 miles, which is the current standard to qualify.  So I won my personal battle, learned a lesson, and quit.  The lesson that I learned was that I didn't believe that I was gifted enough, athletically, to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  It was a hard lesson to learn, but as the saying goes, "When God closes a door, He opens a window."  That window was into the world of ultra marathons.
But that's a story for another post.
Only I know if I tried as hard as I could.  I'm either satisfied with my effort, or not.  I've done extremely well at something, and still not been pleased with my effort.  
All of these lessons have come over my 37 years of life.  Age and maturity are great teachers.  The best that I can do for my daughter is to try to impart my wisdom to her.  I suppose that's what all good parents do.  
I know how well I listened to my parents when I was a teenager.  
All I can do is raise her the best that I can.  And try to instill in her that hard work is its own reward.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.  But you always come away a better person.




Tuesday, October 14, 2014

VALIDATE ME!!!

I Run Shirtless Because Society Has Become Wussified

Inspired By True Events

Don't we just love social media?  It gives us an outlet to allow friends to see where we've eaten, to post pithy memes, to share accomplishments.  Perhaps that's where it all started to go wrong.
I'm talking about the apparent need of the majority of society to be validated for doing the next right thing.
"I didn't eat ten Whoppers today!  APPLAUD ME!!!"
"I let someone merge in front of me on the freeway instead of speeding up and making them slam on the brakes!  PAT ME ON THE BACK!!!"
"I was a decent human being today!  LAUD ME!!!"
"I tried!  GIVE ME A REWARD!!!"



With the wussification of society today, everybody wants to be rewarded for doing anything.  For putting forth effort.  "Look at me!  See what I'm doing?  Please notice me so that I can have self worth!"

Rubbish.

There's an entire social media outlet dedicated to the posting of your daily workout.

VALIDATE ME!!!


This is the attitude that has led to kids' baseball games where everybody gets a hit.  Games in which nobody loses.  You know what happens when nobody loses?  Nobody wins, either.  When there's no reward for working hard, then you get a generation of slackers who want to be given a prize just for showing up.
"I came to the interview, so give me a job."  
"I attended some of my classes, so give me an A."

My father told me when I was very young, "I don't care if you're a garbage man.  Be the best garbage man that you can be."  I carry that philosophy with me in everything that I do.

Can we stop coddling our children?  I am a new parent.  My daughter is seven and one half months old.  I understand what it is to love a child more than life.  But as she gets older, and tries new things, all that I'll ask of her is that she try her hardest.  If she doesn't become first chair tuba in the marching band, and she tried her hardest, it's just because she wasn't as good as someone else.  That's a hard lesson for kids to learn, but it's a necessary one.  

Many moons ago (19 years), I weighed 280 pounds. 

 I became tired of being the fat guy.  So I lost weight.  A bunch.  I worked my butt off to do it.  I didn't take to the street corner (social media was not a thing in 1996) and brag and boast about it.  Having put in the work to do it was its own reward.
I'm two for two in running 100 miles.  I worked my butt off to do so.  I got a cool belt buckle that I wear every day.  I've earned it.  I wrote race reports, recounting my experience.  I posted them on various facebook pages, so that those who would be interested in reading about them could do so.
None of these things, wearing the buckle, writing the report, posting it on FB, were done so that I could be validated through other peoples' praise.
I have enough self confidence and self worth.  
When I run, and it's 50 degrees F or warmer, I run shirtless.  I have numerous stretch marks on my belly.  I have a bunch of loose belly skin.  
I worked hard to not be the fat guy.  If my stretch marks and loose skin gross you out, or offend you in some manner, then there is a simple solution:
Don't look.

Let's stop raising our kids to need validation through other people.  Let's reward them for hard work, but also let them know that hard work sometimes only gets you so far.
In life, as in running, there is always someone faster, or better.  However, there will always be someone slower as well.


Monday, October 13, 2014

I Became a Streaker For My Dog

I Became a Streaker For My Dog

Not this kind of streaker

This is my dog.
He's the large, furred one on the right.
His name is Zeus.  He's 100+ pound Great Dane/Labrador mix.  We came into ownership of him on the third of July, 2014.  He's one and one half years old.  He's a good dog.  Mostly.  He's also the neediest creature that I've ever dealt with.
Everything has been fine between him and my family until recently.  During the past week, he's taken to barking at us when we're not paying enough attention to him.  
I'll reiterate the fact that he weighs 100+ pounds.  As is warranted by his size, he has an extremely hearty bark.  There's a lot of depth to it.
I realize that he's not barking out of aggression.  He just needs attention.  The problem lies in the fact that my wife works full time.  I work part time and am taking 14 credit hours.  We have a seven and one half month old daughter (that's her on the left of the above picture).
Just yesterday, Zeus has taken to tugging on my wife's clothes.  He wants to play.  When his tugging becomes more insistent, my wife gets frightened.  Zeus doesn't realize how big he is, or how much force he can exert.  The conversation between my wife and I has started centering around how we might have to return him to Adopt-A-Pet, where we got him, if we can't fix his behavior.
Our daughter, Iola, loves Zeus.  Sometimes I think she loves him more than she loves her parents.  I realize that if we were to return him, she would have no memory of him.  Conversely, if we were to be able to calm him down, she would have fond, pleasant memories of growing up with him.
After some cursory research on Great Danes, it became evident that they are prone to anxiety.  There are a couple of solutions.  One of them is medication.  My wife and I are old school in the sense that we're not going to go to the vet so Zeus can have some doggy Prozac.  Another solution is to start giving him exercise.  We have a very large back yard, which I just recently fenced in so he can run free when we let him out.  I figured that this would be enough.
As a runner, I did attempt to take him with me.  Once.  He didn't do too bad, but because he's not accustomed to it, I had to struggle at times to drag him away from any item that he found interesting.  I really love my daughter.  I would do anything to make her happy. 
So I'm running with my dog again.  
Because it's much quicker for me to run a mile with him in 9 minutes than it is for me to take a 20 minute walk with him, I'm now doing just that.  Including the days that I normally take off from running.
And that's how I became a streaker for my dog.