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Purpose Sticks

 

While going around to the various road races this summer, I found something very interesting to me. That was the stories of how people begin. Many of us know that sometimes starting new things can be hard not only physically, but mentally. Making something a habit is not easy. The best way that I have found to do this is to hold myself accountable for my goal. This is usually by sticking some sort of reminder right out in front of my face. That is how we came up with Purpose Sticks collection.

Basically you take which ever Purpose Sticks that meets your goal, say 13.1 you put it on your calendar, insert it in the edge of your mirror or any other crazy place that you sit and stare at. Then when you feel very unmotivated you’ll be forced notice your goal, and you’ll remember why it is you started. This will hold you accountable for your goal. Then when you meet this goal of yours, you take the sticker and slap it on your car, your water bottle or whatever else and you proudly show off your accomplishment.

Ideas of where to post it for motivation maximization:

  • Fridge
  • Mirror
  • Bathroom wall
  • Bedroom wall
  • On your office calendar
  • Prop it up on your lap top
  • Outside a cupboard door
  • Anywhere you look every day

Ideas of where to sport it once you’ve met your goal:

  • Car
  • Laptop
  • Water bottle
  • Your shirt for the day (they don’t go through the wash well) J
  • Your motorcycle
  • Your kayak
  • Golf cart
  • Lunch box
  • Trapper keeper
  • Anywhere! Just let it be known, you’re awesome!
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Cyclists and Cyclocross

When I was in Utah at OR (Outdoor Retailer) back in August of this year, I stayed with a former teammate of mine Mindy. It didn’t take me long to realize, after being picked up from the Sault Lake City International Airport that this girl was into cycling. She used to be a skier and runner for Northern Michigan University, which is where I ran my freshman year. She had recently finished grad school and like everyone else at that point had to get a big girl job. For Mindy skiing turned into running marathons and she started dropping time which encouraged her to push it even harder. It wasn’t until Mindy had a stress fracture in her back and knee surgery in 2005, that she began cycling.

Mindy’s boyfriend Ben was also a former skier and cyclist as well, but he had entered into the competitive sport called cyclocross a few years earlier. For those of you who don’t know cyclocross, it is a 45 minute race where the athletes cycle in a circular course and much like track it is great for spectators. During the race athletes try to see how many laps they can get in the allotted time, while jumping off their bike, picking it up, and running over barriers (sometimes double barriers). The course is always different and it depends on the creator how it will look. Sometimes they incorporate picnic tables and foam pits.

 Mindy says, “Ben and his friends kept bagging on me to try cyclocross”. Mindy’s first race was also the first time she had ever went over barriers. This would be like just showing up for the hurtles. She said, “The only practice I had with barriers was right before the race, gingerly stepping off my bike picking it up and jumping over”. The gun goes off and not 15 seconds in Mindy approaches the first barrier, she unclips and somehow gets her handle bar inserted into the spokes of the women’s bike next to hers. Then the women began to drag her bike along with Mindy’s through the barrier. Side note: Mindy actually won that race.

I asked Mindy what made this fun for her? She said, “Cyclocross is like road biking and mountain biking combined. Some cyclocrossers come from a mountain biking background and are really good at technical riding. Others come from road biking and are great at straight-aways. Cyclocross is the best of both worlds, with a crowd that brings great energy. The cyclocross season starts at the end of summer and finishes December 8th so you get all the elements: rain, snow and wind.” She also loves how fun of an event it is. For example, on Halloween competitors wear costumes. In addition to this every race has a gourmet Belgium waffle maker, last week it was pumpkin praline.

Mindy says, “Just go for it! It’s fun and full of surprises. It is easy to get involved and you don’t need a team. Some states are sanctioned and require you to get a license, but you can always get a per day pass”. Utah is not sanctioned, but it may be one day as the sport seems to be growing. She has noticed an increase of women racers in her A group going from 8 to 16. Men have always had a larger following, but their event is growing as well.

Mindy has improved a lot since she started, she has joined a team and does a clinic every week that works on practicing getting on and off the bike and over the barriers. The step to get back on the bike is almost like a hurtle over the bike. Good technique is something that can save you tons of time. She says, “That every time I finish that clinic my hip flexors and delts are burning.” That is a workout that makes her feel more confident about her racing. Mindy is currently ranked third with several pro women in her group. She was moved up to the A team this year. This allows her to get into bigger races which will also help her improve, but she is right on the pro’s heels as it is.

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Caffeine Craze by Tiffany

In today’s health-trend enthused society, we get a lot of conflicted messages about the effects of what we’re putting into our bodies and caffeine is no exception. Depending on whom you ask, caffeine is either a panacea of energy or an addictive villain, so what should you believe?

Surprisingly, research has affirmed that caffeine can be beneficial for endurance athletes. Studies have shown that caffeine decreases the mental and physical onset of fatigue, especially in sports like soccer, running and cycling that require sustained stamina. This occurs because instead of burning up glycogen stores to fuel muscles, caffeine causes them to burn fat, especially in the first 15 minutes of exercise. The result is delayed depletion of glycogen stores which allows you to go longer before you hit the wall.

Once caffeine enters the bloodstream, it causes increased transfer of electrolytes like calcium, sodium and potassium, into your cells which increases membrane potential. The result is more powerful muscle contractions which are going to help you train or race harder for longer. Caffeine also increases reaction speed by sharpening focus, an effect which lasts about 1-3 hours.

In addition to performance enhancement, caffeine can also boost recovery time after workouts. Researchers have shown that a recovery drink including caffeine can increase glycogen store replacement by 66%. Caffeine also acts as a mild pain killer and can enhance the effects of pain relievers. Sources of caffeine like tea, coffee, kola and cocoa are also good sources of antioxidants which will amplify the recovery boost seen with caffeine.

So how do you achieve these benefits and what precautions should you take? Ideally, caffeine should be taken 2-3 hours before competition because it takes several hours for the fat burning effect to kick in. You should also refrain from using caffeine 3-4 days before competition in order to sensitive your body to its effects. However, typical caffeine use should be taken into consideration because withdrawal can result in headache, fatigue, depressed mood, and difficulty concentrating.

Also, you should have a good idea of how caffeine affects you before you toe the line hyped up on three cups of coffee. Caffeine can have side effects including nausea, cramping, anxiety, fatigue, headache, GI distress and dehydration which can be crippling to performance.  Typically, you can have up to 550mg of caffeine before dehydration sets in.

Although caffeine can be addicting, it is processed fairly quickly by your liver, with 75% being entirely eliminated from your system within 8-10 hours. Some researchers have voiced concern for bone density losses but urinary excretion of calcium and magnesium, two minerals essential for bone health, does not increase unless you are consuming more than 744mg/day. That being said, you don’t need to feel guilty about reaching for the coffee maker in the morning: A cup of joe only packs about 150mg of caffeine. Overall, when used responsibly, caffeine can help you maximize your training and give you an edge in competition.