Thursday, January 31, 2013

Miles of Shame, Bodyweight Exercises Video, Johnny Rotten

Miles of Shame Super Bowl Style

Since I picked only one team to win correctly during these NFL playoffs, I won't be participating, but head over to Miss Zippy's to get more info on how to participate in Miles of Shame -- Super Bowl Style.

Bodyweight Exercises Video

Holy cow, this guy is just amazing -- pretty neat to see how little gear is needed to get into amazing shape!

Happy birthday to John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten!

"I'm not here for your amusement. You're here for mine."
-- Johnny Rotten

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mobility WOD

Mobility -- the quality, power, or ability to move freely

Mobility Posters
From Rogue Fitness

One of the things that CrossFit has taught me is that my body is incredibly compromised in terms of mobility. If running is your primary sport, much of the lack of mobility can be hidden or overcome by compensation, but eventually you are going to get hurt. After discussing with Coach Mike what the most beneficial exercises would be for me to do on my days off CrossFit, we agreed that Mobility would benefit me the most, both for CrossFit and running (as well as any other activity I might be doing).

The best way to work on mobility is to look at the planned activity and then work on mobility to maximize your effectiveness for that activity. As an example, if you're going to be doing thrusters or deadlifts, you might work on tricep or back mobility. For running, maybe foot and hips. My problem is that, with CrossFit, I don't always know what the WOD will be ahead of time. To begin, then, I'm going to just plan on moving down my body on a daily basis, working on general mobility, and emphasizing specifics if I know the planned session.

To start, I took a look at Kelly Starrett's chapter in Power, Speed, Endurance -- it's chock full of great information, much like his website MobilityWOD, but almost overwhelming in terms of science. He breaks down the body into three general areas to work on, with specific exercises to improve mobility:
  • T-Spine and Shoulders
  • Upper Leg, Hip, and Trunk
  • Foot, Ankle, Calf
Just  by luck, a few days ago I received a copy of Kettlebell Rx: The Complete Guide for Athletes and Coaches, by Jeff Martone. The first chapter has just what I needed, with simple drills to improve mobility from the neck down. How perfect is that? As I get more comfortable with this as part of my routine, I can start to incorporate more of the MobilityWOD exercises.

What kind of mobility exercises do you incorporate into your training?

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Yaktrax Run

"Yaktrax was originally conceptualized when an outdoor adventurer who was exploring the Himalayas encountered a seasoned Sherpa striding confidently across the slick, icy surface. What was seen on the Sherpa's feet sparked a revolutionary invention - the Yaktrax patented coil traction device. Named after the sure-footed Tibetan Yak, Yaktrax is proud to offer a wide array of ice traction devices for your shoes in addition to winter accessories."

Yaktrax Run

Yaktrax sent me a pair of their Run winter traction aids, which are designed for running on packed snow and ice with the Yaktrax Run's combination of removable spikes and steel coils. Made of high strength natural rubber, 1.4 mm steel coils and carbide steel spikes, the anatomic right/left design keeps slipping to a minimum. A strap over the top of the shoe keeps the device snug to your foot. For additional safety, a reflective heel tab makes you more visible in low-light conditions.

We set a record here in the Chicago area for how long we haven't had at least an inch of snow (which I was glad for). With snow Thursday, Laima and I headed over to Maple Woods to try out our Yaktrax Runs, which we received to review way back on October 26th!

Yaktrax Run

Putting on the Runs for the first time wasn't overly easy, but neither was it particularly complicated -- you just have to trust that the rubber will stretch to cover the entire sole. It does. Minor adjustments were all that I needed to get it into place, with the strap adding assurane that they would not fall off during my run. Maple Woods is an ideal testing ground, with wide crushed gravel paths, cement bridges, and root-filled singletrack, all in one place. The Yaktrax Runs had no problem with any of the surfaces and, while snow filled the space underfoot, no loss of traction was felt. Even walking across the parking lot felt fine. Yaktrax does caution against using these on pavement and ice, which will damage the coils and also lead to possible falls. Apart from those two caveats, I would bet that the Runs would work in most every other situation. If you're looking for a simple addition to your winter running safety gear, consider the Yaktrax Run.

A huge benefit to the Yaktrax is that they can be used on multiple shoes.

More information can be found on the Yaktrax website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Disclaimer: This item was sent to me for review, free of charge. All opinions are my own.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Training: 1/21/13 - 1/27/13

Mini-WOD 1-12-13

Monday: Run, then mini-WOD
  • Sunny but COLD at less than 10 degrees! Got a slight ice cream headache at first, but didn't last long. Thought I might be overdressed, but was glad for many layers, though balaclava and thicker gloves stayed in my pockets. Followed up with a mini-WOD to try CrossFit out at home and also introduce it to my 12 year old son -- he liked it, I think:
    • 1 Handstand Push Up
    • 2 Pistols
    • 3 V-Ups
    • 4 Burpees
    • Done in the "12 Days of Xmas" style
Tuesday: CrossFit
  • AMRAP (the WOD style I like the least) in 12 minutes:
    • 3 Handstand Push-ups (I did a handstand hold)
    • 6 Pistols
    • 9 Pull-ups
  • Post Workout: Perform 1 max Ab Plank for time.
AMRAPs are the worst, because just when you feel like you're going to die, you look at the clock and there is still time remaining. No one wants to just stand there looking foolish, so somehow you don't pass out, but instead keep adding reps. Really tough mentally.

Thursday: CrossFit

Didn't think I'd make it today -- out of sheer laziness opted to skip the 5:30 AM session, but then the 9:00 AM and 10:00 weren't possibilities because the plumber was here and Munchkin had tee-ball at 10:00. Afternoon was out because Laima and were going out to dinner for a restaurant review (tough life, I know). Happily the plumber finished quickly and I scooted over to the 10:00 AM. Only 2 of us, which was nice from getting personal attention, but it also meant I couldn't hide either.
  • Strength: Front Squat – another new one for me
  • Conditioning
    • 21-15-9 Reps For Time:
      • Thrusters
      • Ring Dips
  • Post Workout:1 minute max sit-ups
Even with bands assisting me, the ring dips were tough!  So happy I found CrossFit -- even though I get my ass kicked regularly by the workouts, it's exactly what I need: more strength and better overall fitness.

Yaktrax Runs

Friday: Run
  • Hard to believe, but this morning we saw the first measurable amount of snowfall - we set a record here in the Chicago area for how long we haven't had at least an inch of snow (which I was glad for). With this opportunity, Laima and I headed over to Maple Woods to try out our Yaktrax Runs, which we received to review way back on October 26th!
Sunday: CrossFit

  • Really tough WOD today, but since we were partnered, Mike was able to pick up some of the slack, thankfully. 20 minute cap (changed to 25 towards the end):
    • 60 Thrusters
    • 80 Pull-Ups
    • 100 Kettlebell Swings
    • 120 Burpees
    • 140 Sit-Ups

Decent week overall -- still having to take multiple days off between sessions, especially when I learn a new skill. Taking the long view, not expecting results overnight, working on form and staying uninjured to the greatest extent possible.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

The CrossFit Garage Gym: Pull-Up Bar

One of my favorite things about CrossFit is how many bodyweight exercises are part of the program. The problem for me is that I am nowhere near bodyweight fit. Pull-Ups are my nemesis -- pretty much every other exercise I feel like I'm making progress, but not so much in the pull-ups (of course it's only been a month or so since I started CrossFit, so there is hope...). Even though I'm not too keen on them, I recognize them as a weakness, and the need for more practice. One of my goals this year is to do an unassisted pull-up by my birthday in March, and 10 or more unassisted by the end of the year. Hence the pull-up bar in my garage.

Since this garage gym is all about DIY and keeping the costs down, I headed over to my local hardware store to purchase some black pipe and end caps -- total cost about $23.00. I didn't have the proper drill bit size for the pipe, so I added a spade bit for about $10. Luckily, I had screws and miscellaneous lumber hanging around, so I was able to reinforce the rafters without any more outlay.

One last thing I added was the Rage Pull Up Assist -- it comes with a bar strap, quick link and three resistance bands, making it very easy to change the level of assistance.

Rage Pull-Up Assist

I also put up a pull-up bar in the basement for my kids to use (I had an old door mount version from before) -- I imagine my kids will be doing kipping pull-ups in no time at all! They love the idea of CrossFit Kids.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ragnar Trail, Ryan Gosling, Kitchen Remodel

Run. Camp. Sleep? Repeat. Ragnar Relay Races have never been that  interesting to me, but the addition of a Ragnar Trail series has piqued my curiosity. A team overnight running and camping adventure sounds a lot more fun to me than sitting in a smelly van. Nothing near us for 2013, but maybe they’ll add something in Wisconsin or Southern Illinois in the future.

Ragnar Trail Relays

I have to admit that I don't really get the whole Ryan Gosling thing, but this CrossFit-based "quote" (I originally saw it on Pinterest, but then couldn't find it again) made me laugh.

Ryan Gosling CrossFit WOD

Last stages of the kitchen remodel! Tuesday the countertops were installed, so now come the electrician, plumber, cabinet guys, and painter. Hopefully by the end of the weekend (or earlier) we will have a complete kitchen.

Kitchen Remodel

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Running Safety in the Dark

During our Midwest winters, the sun rises pretty late and sets pretty early, so there is a good chance that some, if not all, our running is done in the dark. Unless you drive to a gym and run on the treadmill or run on an enclosed track, safety in terms of visibility should be a priority. There are two ways to accomplish this, passive and active.

RoadID Reflective Wrist BandsRoadID Reflective Shoe Laces

Passive visibility involves wearing bright clothing with reflective panels. RoadID's business is first and foremost to provide information in case of accident, but they are also dedicated to protecting people. Two products I've received recently are prime examples of this:
  • The Reflective Wrist is constructed with neon yellow elastic and a super-reflective 3M Scotchlite reflective stripe. The reflective material wraps around the entire wrist - 360 degrees of visibility!
  • The Reflective Shoe Laces allow you to increase your visibility by practically turning your entire shoe into a reflective surface.

Dorcy Headlamp

Active visibility means wearing a light, either a strobe or lighted vest, but more commonly a headlamp. There are plenty of specialty headlamps on the market, in every price range imaginable. The 41-2097 134 Lumen Headlight Spot Beam from Dorcy is a good example of a headlamp that works for multiple uses: running, work around the house, pretty much anywhere. Full power, half power and strobe mode give you 3 brightness modes that will work for a variety of situations. Yu can also try one of the Dorcy LED flashlights if you prefer a handheld.

I find it's best, for me, to have a combination of passive and active measures -- the headlamp is especially useful when running on trails, ensuring a better chance of avoiding pitfalls and staying on my feet.

Disclaimer: These items were sent to me, free of charge. Some information was taken from the company websites. All opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sleep to Perform: Technogel Anatomic Pillow

All of us make sure we plan our training (sometimes overplan), most of us focus at least somewhat on nutrition as part of our overall efforts (to a greater or lesser extent), but how many of us think about recovery, specifically sleep. I do, though with 4 children I don't always have full control of the results.

The Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests six reasons to get enough sleep:
  1. Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
  2. Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
  3. Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
  4. Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
  5. Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
  6. Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.
Technogel Anatomic Pillow

I was really excited to be able to test out the Anatomic Pillow from Technogel, a benefit of being a FitFluential Ambassador. Comfortable pillows are the most difficult aspect of sleeping for me to find -- it seems when I do find one, it's not long before it flattens out, hardens, or somehow is no longer as comfortable. Another thing I find maddening is how hot my head gets, necessitating flipping the pillow for relief.

Since it was suggested by Technogel that the Anatomic version was best for those who sleep primarily on their sides or on their back, that is the one I chose to test out.

Technogel Anatomic Pillow

First impressions: this pillow is HEAVY! It also felt damp when first laying on it, which was unusual but not unpleasant. For me, the Anatomic ridges were very pleasant, but felt too strange for my wife and son, who both sleep on the world's thinnest pillows (think a pillow cover within a pillow cover). Only negative? The cool-looking gel is covered by a cotton cover.

The gel in the pillows, which has been used in a variety of products since the early 1990s, has several key beneficial properties:
  • 3D Deformation - Technogel moulds itself differently depending on the person using it. This means that my experience will be markedly different than my kids, for instance -- I love how supportive the Anatomic pillow is, whether sleeping on my back or sides.
  • Thermal Regulation - true to its word, the Technogel kept my head cool - the heat generated by my head was transported through its mass and partially dispersed.
  • Durability - Technogel promises the gel will not harden or age, but will keep its elastic and mechanical properties. With 6 people lying on it at one time or another, so far so good.

Technogel Anatomic Pillow

Technogel asked us to sleep on the pillow for more than a week before writing the review, as it can take a few nights to get used to the feel, and sleep quality improves with time. Two nights in, I had to travel for work, and it became immediately apparent how much of an impact the pillow already made for me. Two nights on hotel pillows were excruciating! Besides seeing my family again, sleeping on the Anatomic pillow was one of the things I was most looking forward to. Two nights after returning from the trip, I had my best night's sleep in a long time! Having the kids sleep through the night probably helped as well. :)

One warning -- Technogel pillows are designed to enhance your sleep and not for other activities like propping up in bed or pillow fights—which their pillows are not intended to do. Not sure how you'd use the pillows for either of those, but I suppose it's worth a heads-up.

More information can be found on the Technogel website, by liking on Facebook, following on Twitter,  and subscribing to their YouTube channel. Interested in buying a Technogel pillow? Head to their store locator or search for a site that sells online.

Disclaimer: I was sent this product for review purposes, free of charge. No further compensation was offered or received. Some information was gleaned from the company website and all opinions are my own.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Training: 1/14/13 - 1/20/13

CrossFit Amplify WOD 1-15-13

Tuesday: CrossFit
  • So nice to finally be back! Was a bit worried that I would strain the arm again, but Coach Mike worked with me to make sure everything stayed fine. Power Snatches were the strength move of the day, nice to learn a new lift. I used PVC pipe, so no weight, minimal strain. Almost asked for a barbell, but why hurry?
  • The WOD was modified for me in that I did no Power Snatches, but instead did sit-ups - ugh, I think I would have preferred the Snatches instead. 12 box jumps, 24 sit-ups, then a 2 minute plank to close it out. Looking forward to Thursday already and a chance to test the arm again!
Thursday: Run
  • After our TM starting spewing black smoke a month or so ago, I stopped using it for a while before trying to fix it. Opening up the motor and vacuuming the accumulated dust was the first step, followed by oiling the machine per instructions. Today I tried it out, but think it might need more serious attention from a professional. The speed seemed inconsistent, speeding up and slowing down. After about 20 minutes, I also started smelling the burning odor from before. Bummer. With the kitchen remodel, no funds are available to have this fixed, but luckily the winter has been pretty mild so far, so outdoors has been relatively comfortable.
CrossFit Amplify WOD 1-18-13

Friday: CrossFit
  • Definitely more mobility has returned, soreness mostly gone, but the arm is still swollen, kind of bizarre. Headed over to CrossFit Amplify, and, after consultation with Coach Mike, decided to go with a low weight today. Used just the barbell today, no additional weight, felt pretty good, glad I'm staying patient -- power snatches were not too difficult with minimal weight, my form should be a bit better when I do add weight. Learned how to do doubleunders today, turns out the jump has to be a lot higher than you think for them to happen.
  • WOD today: 7 rounds -- 30 seconds doubleunders, 30 seconds power snatches, 1 minute rest. I ended up with 51 total reps, 27 doubleunders and 24 power snatches, pretty happy with it being two new moves learned and taking it easy on my arm. 
Saturday: Running
  • January 19th, 39 degrees -- I ran in shorts, who'd have thunk it? By mile 2, no longer needed gloves, jacket, or ear protection. Really nice run to and then through Maple Woods Forest Preserve on the trails, then home. Feel like CrossFit overall has made running easier, though it's still not easy, but feel stronger longer.

Sunday: CrossFit
  • WOD: Team Fight Gone Bad -- (Scaled) with a partner, 3 rounds of 30 wall balls, 30 sumo deadlift high pulls, 30 box jumps, 30 push presses, 20 calorie row, 10 minutes per round, then 1 minute rest. My partner Jason and I managed rounds of 6:45, 6:42, and 5:55 -- he really pushed me! 
A good week overall, feeling pretty good about the recovery from my arm injury -- the swelling is still hanging around, but it's not interfering with the WODs or running. Making decent progress towards my goal of CrossFit 4 times a week, with 2 or more runs. As I get stronger and the weather improves, I hope to run or cycle to CrossFit, to add more running and bring back cycling.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Cro-Mag Triathlete, Goals and Dreams, SI Sportskids OTY

Cro-Mag Triathlete John Joseph

If you were a fan of punk rock in the late 1980's, it was hard to miss the Cro-Mags. Kind of neat that they are still around, though it's been a while since I listened to their music. Turns out that their frontman, John Joseph, is a triathlete -- featured in the February 2013 issue of Triathlete magazine to boot. "John Joseph swims, bikes and runs by day and stage dives by night. The hard-living frontman of the 80s seminal punk rock band The Cro-Mags, Joseph may seem like an unlikely triathlete. But beneath the tattooed surface, there's a fierce competitor answering the universal appeal of a life-changing challenge: Ironman." Love when disparate parts of my world collide.

Love this image and quote -- such a simple way to look at goals and dreams.

Imagine being so young and so with it -- amazing story! "9-year-old Conner Long wanted to get closer to his brother Cayden, who has cerebral palsy. So while most brothers are playmates, and friends, these two have become teammates by competing in triathlons together. The Long brothers are the 2012 Sportskids of the Year."

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Altra Zero Drop Superior Trail Running Shoes

Life's short...Run Natural!

Altra Zero Drop Superior Trail Running Shoes

ALTRA is a group of passionate individuals committed to reducing injuries & better running technique through biomechanically proper footwear. Over 30 years in running specialty we felt the need in the market for something different. Bringing Zero Drop, Foot Shape, Gender Specific Running Shoes. Zero Drop™ footwear offers runners the world's first fully cushioned, foot-shaped, training shoe without an elevated heel. This unique platform allows for a more natural foot strike and a more efficient, comfortable ride.

I’ve been tinkering with running shoes (or barefoot) for some time right now, and I honestly believe that “minimalist” shoes should be a part of every runner’s training plan. While barefooting it is fun and definitely useful, it’s not going to be comfortable for everyone, nor practical – I’m not going to run sans shoes in mid-winter!

What is Zero Drop? Video

Of the minimalist shoes I’ve tried, the Superiors stand out for several reasons – the shape is clearly anatomical, with no pointy toe and a wide forefoot, which allows the toes to spread out. The Altras also have great cushioning, important for a big guy like me, without sacrificing ground feel. Yet they also felt protective on the trails – we don’t have rocky trails around here, but plenty of ones filled with roots, and I never felt like my feet were exposed to injury like some other shoes (the removable StoneGuard™ rock protection system works!).

The Superiors are really a mystifying shoe. Incredibly lightweight, yet rugged, cushioned, and protective. Plenty of room in the toebox for natural foot movement, but snug around the instep and heel. How does all that happen in a single shoe? The Superiors are also a fun design – I especially liked the footprint on the soles! The one design element that puzzled me was a “tongue” that stuck out at the back of the sole, not sure what its function is.

Altra Zero Drop Superior Trail Running Shoes - CrossFit

Nowadays, my running shoes sometimes do double-duty, as I rotate through my stash to find ones that also work for CrossFit. I would say that the Altras rate at the top – the groundfeel is so helpful during lifts, as the feedback tells me whether my balance and weight placement are correct. The lightweight shoes also don’t weigh me down during box jumps and, of course, are great for the running portion of the WODs. In short, even if you don’t run, the Superiors are a great choice for CrossFit!

The Superiors do run a bit small, so size up a half or full size -- I went to a 14, which was very comfortable, with plenty of room. Judicious lacing meant the shoes remained snug.

More information on the Altra Zero Drop websiteFacebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

These shoes were sent to me at no cost, for review purposes. No further compensation was offered nor received. A positive review was not guaranteed and all opinions expressed are my own.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Midweek Motivation: Attitude

Attitude Quote Lou Holtz

Ability is what you are capable of doing.
Motivation determines what you do.
Attitude determines how well you do it.
-- Lou Holtz

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

HYLETE - Performance CrossFit Training Apparel

HYLETE - Performance CrossFit Training Apparel

HYLETE's vision:
Continuously create innovative, performance cross-training apparel that captures the spirit of the cross-training hybrid athlete.
HYLETE's creed:
train to push yourself both physically and mentally;
compete so as to improve yourself, as well as those around you;
and live to be healthy in mind, body, and soul.
train. compete. live.
As I started CrossFit in December, I got a surprise opportunity via FitFluential to try out and review some apparel from HYLETE, who make performance CrossFit apparel. A company that has a public vision and creed appear to be professionals, so it was exciting to see if the apparel lived up to my initial impressions.

I ordered the Cross-Training Short 1.0, Cross-Training Performance Jacket 1.0, 1.0 tee, Compete Performance tee, and the Compete Short 1.0. If they had been in stock, I would have also gotten the Compete Performance 1.0 Hoodie, but that will have to wait for future purchases.

HYLETE Cross-Training Short 1.0

I’m a relatively big guy, but when these arrived, I thought it was a mistake – they looked HUGE! Yet, when I put them on, just right, maybe even a little big (I ordered them in XL and hope they’re too large very soon). Lightweight, yet ultra-durable fabric stretches with your every movement and doesn't impede any motion, not even deep squats or box jumps. The right pocket holds a smartphone or small camera, with a pocket for security or sleeve for quick access. A smaller left pocket is designed to store items such as keys, ID, and credit cards. Fly gusset is constructed with power-mesh to provide exceptional comfort while maximizing breathability. This was the only thing I didn’t really care for – the laces often caught on the hook-and-loop fastener, not a big deal, but a zipper might make more sense. As with their other products, the shorts are guaranteed to survive your training regimen for 2 years. I think I wore them for every CrossFit workout since they arrived – I’ll give that 2 year guarantee a good run for its money!

HYLETE Cross-Training Performance Jacket 1.0

This 100% Polyester Jacket will soon become your favorite, albeit in warmer weather if you wear it on it's own. Designed for a snug, athletic fit, this is a lightweight fleece jacket that moves with your body. Mesh panels on the back, under arms, and side-panels allow for plenty of air movement – I wore this as a second layer on some of my cold weather runs, and it really worked well for that purpose. While designed for training, I wore this jacket as a casual piece as well – the long ribbed cuffs were a nice touch, especially useful for extra warmth or folded out of the way. Guaranteed to survive your training regimen for 2 years, but I’ll be wearing this for a lot longer than that.

HYLETE 1.0 teeHYLETE Performance 3.0 tee

I'm old enough to remember when we all wore cotton tees for everything, including what was then called "jogging." There is nothing like the feel of cotton against the skin, until it gets saturated, clingy, and droopy. That's where the new tech fabrics really shine. These tees are the best of both worlds. The tees (60% cotton, 40% poly) are incredibly soft, dry quickly, and appropriate for both fitness and casual wear (and you’ll want to wear these ALL the time!). I wore them for both CrossFit and running and they performed admirably for both. Top that off with a guarantee that these will survive what you throw at them for 2 years and you have a perfect tee.

HYLETE Cross-Training Compete Short 1.0

As a comparison to the Cross-Training Shorts, I ordered these in the High-Cut version – I like shorter running shorts, so I thought these might work as well. These shorts are also made in a lightweight, ultra-durable, wicking fabric. An interesting design detail is the Inner Drawstring, which is located within a fabric pocket for a secure, low profile fit. An open interior fabric pocket is large enough to accommodate a Smartphone is included, as is the HYLETE 2 year guarantee. Frankly, these shorts didn’t work for me, though it’s not the design’s fault, but my own – I just don’t have the level of fitness to give these shorts justice. I wish I was fit enough to look good in these, but that’s some time off.

HYLETE video: Cross-Training Shorts

Besides fit and performance, design details really pushed this apparel from good to great. Small  details such as the comfortable waistbands, heavy duty stitching, and appropriate materials make a huge difference. I especially enjoyed hidden details like the creed on the inside of the Performance Jacket.

More information can be found on the HYLETE website, by liking on Facebook,  following on Twitter,  and subscribing on YouTube.

HYLETE - FitFluential Discount

Interested in purchasing? Enjoy a FitFluential discount code! The code is FF25 and is good for 25% discount. Certified Trainer? Get another 40% off when you sign up!

This product was sent to me free of charge for review purposes. No further compensation was given. A positive review was not guaranteed and all opinions are my own.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Training: 1/7/13 - 1/13/13

Kovas Palubinskas

With my arm injury healing slowly, thought I might end up with a goose egg this week. My arm has gone from outright pain to a mix of aches and pains, to general soreness. Definitely not ready for weightlifting yet. But Miss Zippy said something along the lines of "Run, Forrest, run!," so I ran on Sunday. Cold, with scattered ice, some wind, not a beautiful morning for it - kind of a tough run, but I'm glad I got out.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Funny: CrossFit and Your Mother

Friday Funny: CrossFit and Your Mother

If squats were easy,
they'd be called
"Your Mom."

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Three For Thursday: Top Fitness Blogs, CrossFit Beauty, Kitchen Remodel

2013 Top Fitness Bloggers

A list of 100 Top Health and Fitness blogs to watch in 2013 was published recently, and the public is voting for the winners! You can see the contest page at and vote for Midwest Multisport Life, Miss Zippy, Shut Up and Run, plus many more (97 to be exact).

CrossFit - Beauty in Strength Video

"CrossFit can change how a woman both defines beauty and feels about her body...Through CrossFit, these women are confident, stronger and fitter. They are mothers, tomboys, coaches. They are CrossFit athletes." My daughter is lucky to have her mother as a fit and healthy role model -- I love how strong Laima is! Imagine once she starts CrossFit. :)

Kitchen remodel

The kitchen remodel is moving apace, looking forward to having a more normal semblance of life back. There is only so much time before brewing coffee in the bathroom seems exotic. :)

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Progression of an Arm Injury

Progression of an Arm Injury

Something I had feared finally happened -- I injured myself doing CrossFit. Last week, we completed a WOD that, on the surface, seemed simple enough: 3 rounds of runs, dumbbell push presses, and ring rows. This was preceded by back squats -- of the 4 activities, I had only run before, so I was excited to try all these new things.

I'm always sore after CrossFit, sometimes more, sometimes less, but it's a given. I'm pushing my body to do things I haven't done for years or ever, and strength training has never been my forte, it's the reason I started. The soreness Friday was no different than usual, I even went for a run Saturday. By Sunday, I knew there was more going on, barely slept and my tricep was actively was hurting.

I was loath to take pain relievers, but Sunday night I also wanted to sleep better, so the ibuprofen came out, and has continued, so far without end. Watching the Baltimore Ravens play in the NFL Playoffs was worrisome, as Ray Lewis was coming back after a multi-month rehab for tearing his tricep -- my imagination was running wild! The swelling and soreness has abated each day, though a short (half-day) soreness of the forearm and then a swelling and redness of the pectoral muscle made me worried I was actually regressing.

It's been somewhat disconcerting to be sitting on the sidelines, waiting to get better, but, as I've gotten older, I've become wiser and more patient in allowing my body to fully recover when it needs to. Even though I want to, I'm not going to rush back before it's time.

Probably the best thing that has happened because of this is I have realized how much I miss heading for the Box, learning new skills, pushing myself to new limits, and making my weaknesses less so. It'll be good to go back.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Power, Speed, Endurance Book Review

I’ve only been participating in CrossFit for about a month, give or take, but two things have become crystal clear: 1. You absolutely, positively, need guidance (a good coach), and 2. Mobility is critical in completing the exercises correctly and for full benefit. I get some of that at the Box, but could definitely use more of it at home. As a runner primarily, I naturally wonder how CrossFit is either benefiting or substituting for practice in my chosen sport. For others, there are no Boxes nearby and as for mobility, most have no idea what that entails. Enter Brian Mackenzie’s (with Glen Cordoza) book Power, Speed, Endurance (Las Vegas, NV: Victory Belt Publishing, 2012), which describes how CrossFit Endurance can benefit you as an endurance athlete and not just your core fitness.

Power Speed Endurance book cover

“[CrossFit] is defined as ‘constantly varied functional movement executed at high intensity,’ and the goal is to improve fitness by ‘increasing work capacity across broad time and modal domains.” CrossFit Endurance (CFE) takes this further:
“[F]unctional movement is replaced with sport-specific activity.
CFE is defined as: Constantly varied sport-specific movement executed at high intensity.
CFE is a delicate balance between CrossFit and running, cycling, and swimming (or whatever endurance sport you are focusing on).”
This book is like having multiple coaches at home, with step by step pictured instruction, key for moves that you may not have access to – nothing wrong with all the videos on YouTube and so on, but there is still something to seeing a movement broken down on the printed page that can’t be duplicated. The guest coaches are obviously high quality and are sure to help you with your bike, swim, and run.

I’m not a fan of people changing their running gait – my thought is that too many people have injured themselves trying to do so. I’m more of the school that putting the time in will result in more efficient form, like depositing money in the bank. That being said, if you do want to change your running style, this tome’s explanation of Romanov’s Pose Method is succinct and clear, appearing easy to follow.

One thing I know I need help with is mobility – I’ve checked out Kelly Starrett’s MobilityWOD website, but there’s just too much information there. His chapter in this book is a superior introduction to both mobility in general and in specifics. The website will be a great resource once I have some basics down.

“Performance…can be brought to an abrupt halt by dysfunctional movement patters and underlying restrictions in mobility.” Kelly Starrett is the author of MobilityWOD, and the innovator of the Movement and Mobility Method, which resolves pain, prevents injuries, and optimizes athletic performance. “Mobilization, on the other hand, is a movement-based integrated full-body approach that addresses all the elements that limit movement and performance including short and tight muscles, soft tissue restriction, joint capsule restriction, motor control problems, joint range of motion dysfunction, and neural dynamic issues. In short, mobilization is a tool to globally address movement and performance problems.”

The book concludes with an Appendix of CrossFit Endurance programming, with sport-specific plans, as well as a CrossFit template to create WODs at home.

If you don’t live near a box or can’t afford one, if you’re a sport-specific athlete unsure how CrossFit could fit into your training, or if you just need some extra help at home, this book is a must-buy. From the amazing illustrated training for a variety of skills to the clear explanation of myriad scientific processes, this book is literally like hiring several coaches to help you improve not only your fitness, but your specific sport as well.

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me free of charge, for review purposes, courtesy of CrossFit Endurance. No other compensation was received; a positive review was not requested nor guaranteed.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Training: 12/31/12 - 1/6/13

New Year's Eve WOD
CrossFit Amplify New Year's Eve WOD

Monday: CrossFit
  • A great way to end the year (is it 2013 already?), today's WOD was relentless - not difficult technically, but 5 rounds of anything is still tough for me. 400 meter run, 30 wall balls, 30 box jumps, that was one round. 28:00 time limit, one penalty burpee for each rep not completed. I got up to the 5th round run and finished 3 of the 5 reps. This meant that I had 31 burpees to do  (I didn't complete 2 runs, 30 wall balls, 30 box jumps = 72 missed reps divided by 2 = 31). Tough to do when you're already worn out from the WOD, but I broke them down into sets of 5 and it wasn't too bad.

Tuesday, New Year's Day: Trail Run
  • Cold, but sunny, really a beautiful day for a run, and a nice way to start the New Year. Enjoying my new Altra Zero Drop Superiors, easy transition to the zero heel-to-toe drop (review next week).
Thursday: CrossFit
  • Planned on hitting the 5:30 session, but a rough night was followed by falling asleep on the couch until just after 6:00. New plan is to go tomorrow, maybe 9:00 or 10:00.

CrossFit Amplify WOD 1-4-13
CrossFit Amplify WOD 1-4-13

Friday: CrossFit

Excepting the run, every single thing we did this day was new to me! Probably my favorite part of CrossFit, the amazing variety, strengthening me in so many different ways and also keeping it interesting.
  • Strength: Every 40 seconds for 5 minutes perform: 5 Back Squats - I used 95# for my first time
  • Conditioning: 3 Rounds For Time:
    • 3 Down and Back Turf Runs (~200m)
    • 10 Dumbbell Push Press (#45/25) - used 20# for my first time
    • 15 Ring Rows
    • Time - 7:57, plenty of room for improvement
Saturday: Run
  • Upper body still sore from yesterday's CrossFit session -- bit of a struggle today. 22 degrees but dressed correctly again, maybe a bit warm but I'll take it.
Sunday: CrossFit
  • Really wanted to go today, but feel like I pulled or strained my triceps and possibly other muscles in my left arm, so will take today off and try for tomorrow evening instead. Hoping it's just a strain or pull - watching the NFL Playoffs, hearing that Ray Lewis was out for like 10 games with a torn triceps muscle - ouch!
One of the things that CrossFit has taught me is that 1. my ability to recover is really compromised when I do these exercises I'm unused to, and 2. lifting weights is going to result in serious soreness and/or injury, even minor. By design, lifting weights tears muscle, and recovering allows them to heal and grow stronger. Even though I'm impatient, I've been doing a good job of really listening to my body and taking it easy on days I need to. My goal was to go every other day or so, building up to 5 days a week, but right now it appears my body needs 3 days of recovery, and I'm okay with that. Increases will come as I am ready.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday Fluff: Ultrarunning, Paleo, Wine

Ultrarunnng Magazine December 2012

Kind of fun to see, in the December 2012 issue of Ultrarunning Magazine, my name (along with Kim and Rachel's) in the results table for The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K!

What is Paleo?

Delving into CrossFit, one runs head-on onto Paleo eating, which got me thinking about whether or not it could be done as a vegan. Unfortunately, without relying very heavily on supplements (something I don't want to do), it's just not possible. I guess I'll stick with (or, truthfully, more fully embrace) my clean-eating, plant-based, eating plan.

Missing Person Wine Bottle

Not being a dairy user, this definitely makes more sense for me. :) Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Polar USA FT40 Product Review

Polar USA FT40

Polar has been leading the way in technological innovations and heart rate monitors since 1977. They attribute it to a combination of expertise in sports, physiology and electronics, along with an understanding of customer needs. Polar controls its own operations and pays attention to the environmental aspects and impacts of its products throughout the product life cycle (development, manufacturing, delivery and customer service). Products include basic heart rate,timing, cycling, fitness improvement, cross training, and guidance.

I tested out the FT40, which features Polar’s Clear Training Guidance, for active exercisers who want clear guidance and to monitor their fitness level. No GPS, no foot pod, just the watch and a heart rate strap, very simple. Right out of the box, set-up was simple, with the watch guiding me through some inputs to set the watch to my personal attributes. Features include the EnergyPointer (whether you are improving fitness or fat burning), displays calories burned. The Polar “World’s Easiest Fitness Test” measures your aerobic fitness at rest and tells you your progress as you repeat it at intervals of your choosing.

It was a bit strange to use a watch that lacked GPS, as I love to track distance, pace, and view the resulting maps, but the multiple uses of this heart rate monitor quickly became apparent. One of the first fitness activities I tried was to climb the stairs at work, 33 flights! Had anybody been able to see me, it probably looked pretty comical as I struggled into the heart rate strap in a bathroom cubicle, especially after wetting it in the sink. The strap is something that I’m not wholly comfortable with, even after repeated wearing, though that will probably change with time. I put the monitor through its paces for running,really interesting to wear it along with my GPS watch and not know which wrist I wanted to look at. Finally, wearing it at CrossFit -- so great to have technology that assigns data to my pain level. :)

Polar USA FT40Polar USA FT40Polar USA FT40

I wore this inside and outside, with consistent communication between watch and heart rate monitor. Even a run in 13 degree weather was no problem for the FT40. The watch strap design allows for the watch to be cinched tight, with no worries that it will come undone during a workout. That’s peace of mind when you are in the middle of a killer WOD!

Oddly enough, Polar does not include a way to download data to your computer. Using the optional FlowLink does allow that, however.

Polar USA FT40

If you’re a diehard GPS fan, this watch might not be the right one for you. But if you cross train, and who doesn’t these days, you can’t go wrong with this watch and heart rate monitor. Simple and easy to use out of the box, unobtrusive enough to wear as a daily timepiece, Polar makes it fun to track your fitness activities.

More information can be found on the Polar USA website,  by liking on Facebook,  following on Twitter,  and subscribing to their YouTube channel.
(Disclaimer: I was sent this item for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Polar USA, via FitFluential. I did not pay for the item, receive payment for this review, or agree to give a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

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