What You See Is What You Get: How to Develop a Strong Mind-Body Connection

By Cheryl D. Hart, M.S. 

When Flip Wilson said, “What you see is what you get,” he probably wasn’t thinking of visualization as a technique for attaining peak athletic performance. However, if you want to give yourself the best chance to realize full potential, it’s essential to incorporate mental skills practice into your training program.

The hot summer months when mileage is at a lull is the ideal time for runners to begin to learn and develop a strong mind-body connection.  Injured runners can gain an advantage over their able-bodied competitors by using the time typically devoted to physical training to become mentally tough.

How you see yourself in your mind’s eye will positively or negatively influence present or future performances.  If you see yourself running progressively slower with each mile, lacking energy and confidence, this mental image will most likely become your reality.  On the other hand, if you see yourself maintaining a smooth efficient stride, powering effortlessly uphill, and surging to the finish, it is likely that you will perform like this in on race day.

Effective visualization engages as many senses as possible while creating or recreating performances in your mind. Paralympic sprint champion, Tony Volpentest described to me his secret visualization prior to winning multiple gold medals.  As soon as he said or thought the word, “snow,” he felt an immediate calm.  He also could feel the mountain’s coolness on his skin and smell pine in the air when visualizing his favoriteColoradopeak, which was helpful in dealing with the heat at the Athens Paralympics.

If the imagery is vivid and employs all the senses, it can actually affect physiological factors such as heart rate, temperature, nervous system as if the movement had physically occurred.  Even though visualization is only completed in your mind, your body can experience it as though you actually raced.  Research has indicated that since your mind can’t tell the difference between a visualized or actual competition, physical performance improves with this technique.  The brain sends a message to the appropriate muscles and those muscles respond.

You create neural patterns every time you picture yourself racing exactly as you would ideally want to perform, which is like making a “mental blueprint” that is etched in your brain. This serves as a messenger to tell your muscles when and how to move when you compete.

Roger Banister, the first person to break the four-minute mile, used visualization techniques to prepare for the challenge that for thousands of years was believed to be humanly impossible.  He knew precisely how the track would feel beneath his shoes as he toed off, the lean of his body from his ankles, the lift of his knees and the bend of his elbows as he powered his arms. He rehearsed the record-breaking performance successfully so many times that his body readily responded to his mind’s command.

This mental picture of excellence is just one example of how runners can maximize their potential by using a mind-body connection. Through visualization, athletes prepare the muscles and the mind for the task ahead, conditioning the body for peak performance. The more detail you include in your mental rehearsal, the more you can teach your brain and body.

If there are certain segments of a race course where you usually struggle, it is helpful to think of affirmations or key words that you can use during competition. Thinking of cues such as “smooth, relaxed, confident and fluid” are examples.  The emotional component is also part of it as thoughts and images precede actions. See yourself performing exactly as you want to perform, mentally and physically working in sync to achieve your goal. A clear, specific goal will provide a solid foundation for an effective visualization session.

It is also important that visualization be done systematically and with careful consideration and control of the images.  I want to caution that if visualization is done properly, it can be so powerful that it could pose risks of physical exhaustion if rehearsed on the day of a competition since the same muscles fired during a mental session are the ones used during the race. Therefore, athletes should design and practice these skills daily, with the help of a coach or sports psychologist, to achieve and maintain a more positive mind-set in the heat of competition.

The visualization or imagery process has been proven to be one of the most important mental training tools. The adage “the mind is a terrible thing to waste” is certainly highlighted here.  The images that you create help to reinforce the belief that your goal is within reach and enhances self-confidence when facing a high-pressured competitive situation. This is what I call, “head over heels training” believing that successful performance comes from the inside out.

Image from: www.health.universityofcalifornia.edu.

Cheryl Hart, owner of 2nd Wind Motivation, helps individuals, teams and corporations establish and achieve goals.  She is a motivational speaker, performance enhancement consultant and life coach.  She is also a certified fitness specialist and has a master’s degree in sports psychology at the University of Tennessee.  Cheryl has run in 40 marathons and is an All-American triathlete and duathlete, competing internationally on Team USA with podium finishes.  She has received numerous awards, including National Inspirational Athlete, Kentucky’s NCAA Female Athlete of the Year, SCAC Runner of the Year and SCAC Coach of the Year.  She conducts workshops and retreats designed to motivate and transform lives and businesses. To contact Cheryl call 693-7443, e-mail offrunnin@yahoo.com or visit www.2ndWindMotivation.com.

 

 

Get a Bikase I-Phone®, Blackberry® or Droid® Holder for your Bike

By Barbara Day

          When I am out cycling, I always carry my cell phone. You never know when you need to call someone in case of an emergency. I saw the Bikase® smartphone holder at Scheller’s when I was there getting a lube job for my bike. What a great idea! You can strap the holder directly onto your bike using two Velcro straps in a vertical or horizontal orientation.  It fits most smartphones like I-Phone®, Blackberry®, and Droid®. Because Bikase® is covered by a plastic cover, your phone is protected in case of rain and the holder can be wiped off for cleaning.  The website, www.bikase.com, says the holder is water and shock resistant. If you were doing a bike tour, you could use you smart phone as a GPS if you got lost. (Probably none of you have ever gotten lost while cycling in an unfamiliar area but I have a bunch of times, so a front mount works for me). Bikase® sells for $24.99 at Scheller’s or you can get it online for $20 but you end up paying for shipping and handling. Scheller’s says they have sold a lot of these holders. Oops! I got the last 2 at the Middletown store!

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N, is a registered dietitian (www.DayByDayNutrition.com) who has been teaching healthy lifestyles strategies to consumers for over 35+ years. Check out Barbara’s new healthy lifestyles website: www.KentuckianaHEALTHwellness.com.  

The Art of Tapering

By Nancy McElwain, M.S., J.D.

With Ironman Louisville right in our own backyard, many athletes in the Louisville area are contemplating competing next year. Here are some specifics about tapering before the actual event. During a taper, physiological changes, such as increased blood volume, increased muscle glycogen storage, and enhanced tissue repair occur that aid performance on race day.  Although tapering for a sprint triathlon differs from tapering for an iron distance race, there are some basic principles that apply to the final weeks before key events.

When to begin?

The length of the taper depends on the length of the race and your fitness leading up to the taper.  As a general rule, the longer the race, the longer the taper.  I like to design tapers of 1 week for sprint distance, two weeks for a half iron distance, and three weeks for an iron distance event.  Some sources suggest as little as a two day taper, while others promote no less than 10 days.  Factors such as fitness leading into the taper, individual recovery characteristics, and relative tapering of the three sports come into play in further designing a triathlete’s taper.

Decrease Volume

The critical aspect of the taper is reducing volume by steps.  A good formula suggested by tri guru Joe Friel is to decrease volume about 20% each week for a three week taper.  For a 2 week taper, reduce volume about 30% each week.  For a week to ten day taper, reduce volume about 50%.  Resist the temptation to” get one last long one in” and it will pay off on race day.

Maintain Frequency

In reducing volume, cut back on the total number of training hours per week rather than the number of weekly workouts.  You want to continue to swim, bike, and run frequently but in lesser amounts so that you do not lose the “feel” of the sports.  The goal is for your neuromuscular system to stay sharp in performing all 3 sports while allowing rejuvenation to occur.

Maintain Intensity

Resist the urge to just “go easy” during your taper period.  Intensity is a key factor in retaining training induced adaptations during periods of reduced activity.  Studies have shown that eliminating intensity leads to lesser performances when compared to continuing with intensity training.  Of course, “intensity” is different for a sprint triathlon versus an iron distance event, so stick with race specific intensity.  The goal is to stimulate the energy systems you will be using during your goal event with intervals at race specific intensity.  You are not doing intervals to gain fitness at this point, but rather to “prime the pump” for full readiness on race day.

Individual Differences and Relative Swim, Bike and Run Tapering

An athlete with a greater fitness base may taper longer than an athlete with a lesser base.  If an athlete has not trained enough to stress physiological systems, tapering is not effective.  In addition, because recovery times for swimming, biking, and running differ, the three sports may be tapered at different rates.  Dr. Phil Skiba presented a study at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting concluding that a triathlete’s taper characteristics should be different for swimming, biking, and running.  In particular, swim volume may be maintained with positive effects closer to race day than run volume and with biking volume falling somewhere in between.

Gremlins

During a taper, many athletes begin to feel little aches and pains they have never felt before.  These “gremlins” appear out of thin air and cause mischief.  You may suddenly feel a pain in an elbow or feel uncomfortable on your bike.  For example, we notice that many athletes request our bike fitting services leading into events, with one athlete requesting a record five adjustments during a two week taper.  In final analysis, most of these gremlins are imagined, and not real physical ailments.

A Final Note – Be Kind to Others

As training volume decreases, you may become increasingly anxious and irritable as race day approaches.  Your pre-race jitters and irritability will likely be most noticeable to others.  Try to lighten up and be kind to those around you.  Remember that they have already put up with a lot to get you to this point of your training, and you want them to still like you enough to cheer you through to the end of the race!

Nancy has a masters degree in Exercise Physiology and is certified as a Level II by the United States Triathlon Association.  She owns Train Smart, LLC, a multisport coaching business that offers individual and group triathlon coaching, swim lessons and video stroke analysis, and bicycle fitting.  Nancy is a triathlon National Champion, All American, and World Long Course Triathlon Champion.  Her fastest Ironman finish was the 2005 Hawaii Ironman (10:59:44).  You may reach her at nancy@trainsmartmultisport.com or visit www.trainsmartmultisport.com.

Image from: www.Iamtri.com

Walking, Jogging or Running Around Louisville

Walking, Jogging or Running Around Louisville

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

take advantage of all the really great parks we have available to us in the Louisville area and there will be more when all the parks are developed by the 21st Century Parks. You can walk, jog or run. Walking burns less calories unless you can walk fast and raise your heart rate. Jogging and running burn more calories in less time but if you have not exercised at all start walking and then walk, jog and then you can begin running. You can use the following calculator to determine how many calories you have burned walking, jogging or running. http://health.discovery.com/centers/cholesterol/activity/activity.html . There are lots of walking/running programs in the Louisville area. Stop by one of the local running stores and they can give you some information on programs in your area. You can use following calculator to determine how many calories you need each day. http://health.discovery.com/tools/calculators/basal/basal.html

 

Use a Pedometer to Count How Many Steps You Take Per Day


Pedometers can track steps, track distance, have 7-day memory or longer, track total calories. You can get a pedometer at discount stores like Target or Walmart, at sporting goods stores like Dick’s or Scheller’s or at any of the local running stores.

 

Here’s an excellent resource about pedometers:

 

http://www.new-lifestyles.com/content.php?_p_=100

 

Every 2,000 steps is equal to about 1 mile, so …

2,000 steps = 1 mile

3,000 steps = a half mile

4,000 steps = 2 miles

10,000 steps = 5 miles

 

Take the 10,000 Steps per Day Challenge.

  1. Fewer than 4,500 steps per day: You Are Very Sedentary.
  2. 4,500 – 5,500 steps per day: You Are Sedentary.
  3. 5,500 – 7,500 steps per day: You Are Moving-but still not enough.
  4. 8,500 steps per day: You Are Doing a Great             Job. Keep It Up!
  5. 10,000 steps per day: Ultimate Goal for Long Term Health & Wellness.

 

Walking & Exercise Paths in Louisville Area

 

Algonquin, Cypress & Burwell Streets (1/4 mile)

Beargrass Creek Greenway, 2001 Lexington Rd (1.33 miles)

Blue Lick Park, 4114 Mudd Lane (1/4 mile)

Butchertown Greenway, From Brownsboro Road to River Road (1/2 mile)

Camp Taylor Memorial, Poplar Level Road & Lee Street (1-mile fitness course; 1/3-mile walking path)

Cane Run Road Park, Cane Run Road south of Lees Lane (0.75 miles)

Carrie Gaulbert Cox Park, 3730 River Rd, (1 mile)

Cherokee Scenic Loop, Eastern Parkway & Cherokee Road (2.4 miles)

Cherokee Park Baringer Path, (0.6 miles)

Cherokee Park, Willow Pond, Grinstead Drive & Lexington Road (0.375 miles)

Chickasaw, Southwestern Parkway and Greenwood Avenue (1-mile fitness course)

Des Pres, Lowe Road off Taylorsville Road (1/2 mile)

Flaget Field, Greenwood Avenue & 45th Street (1/4 mile)

Hays Kennedy, Bass Road off River Road (3/4 mile)

Iroquois, Southern Parkway & New Cut Road (1-1.6-mile fitness course)

*Iroquois, Rundill Rd (3.5 miles)

Iroquois, Summit Hill (0.25 miles)

Iroquois, Toppil Rd (0.5 miles)

Iroquois, Uppill Rd (1.5 miles)

Jefferson Memorial Forest, 11311 Mitchell Hill Rd (1/4 mile)

Jefferson Memorial Forest, 11311 Mitchell Hill Rd (35 miles trails)

Joe Creason Park Loop, 1297 Trevilian Way (1.5 miles)

Joe Creason Park Newport-Illinois, 1297 Trevilian Way (0.875 miles)

Joe Creason Park Newburg Loop, 1297 Trevilian Way (0.5 miles)

Klondike, Klondike Lane (1/3 mile)

Long Run Park, 1605 Flat Rock Rd, (1.7 miles)

Ohio River Levee Trail, From Farnsley-Moreman Landing to north Riverview Park (6.5 miles)

Peterburg Park, Indian Trail west of Newburgh Road (.35 mile)

RiverWalk, starts at 4th and River Road and goes along river to Chickasaw Park (6.9 miles)

Roberson Run Park, Judge Boulevard and Famous Way (.5 mile)

*Seneca Park, Pee Wee Reese at Cannons Lane (1.2 miles)

*Shawnee Park, Broadway & Southwestern Pkwy (1.5 miles)

South Central Park, 2400 Colorado Ave  (1/3 mile)

Southern Parkway Bridle Path, Western Side (2.6 miles)

*Thurman Hutchins Park, River Road and Indian Hills Trail (0.8 mile)

Tom Sawyer State Park, 3000 Freys Hill Road (1 1/4 mile nature trail)
Tyler Park, 1501 Castlewood Ave  (1/8 mile)

Upper River Road Path. From Zorn Ave to Indian Hills Tr (1.125 miles)

Vettiner, 5550 Charlie Vettiner Park Rd (1/4-mile fitness trail)

Victory Park, 1051 South 23rd St, (1/4 mile)

Watterson Lake, 1714 South Wheatmore Dr (1/4 mile)

Wyandotte Park, 1104 Beecher Street (1/4 mile)

 

Cross-Country Trails

Creason, Trevilian Way (3.1-6.2 miles)

Seneca, Pee Wee Reese at Cannons Lane (3.1 miles)

www.metro-parks.org

 

What are the Mayor’s Miles?

Several park paths have green dots along the exercise paths to help you track your progress on the path. Ten green dots equal one Mayor’s Mile.

 

Golf Courses Cart Paths You Can Walk or Run On

According to the Metro Parks Recreation Guide, you can walk or jog on all the 18-hole Metro Parks golf courses cart paths on weekdays from 6 to 8 am.

 

Cherokee Golf Course, 2501 Alexander Rd

Crescent Hill Golf Course, 3110 Brownsboro Rd

Iroquois Golf Course, 1501 Rundill Rd

Long Run Golf Course, 1605 Flat Rock Rd

Bobby Nichols Golf Course, 4301 East Pages Lane

Seneca Golf Course, 2300 Pee Wee Reese Rd

Shawnee Golf Course, 460 Northwestern Pkwy

Sun Valley Golf Course, 6505 Bethany Ln

Charlie Vettiner Golf Course, 10207 Mary Dell Ln

 

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHEALTHWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 11 grandchildren.

 

 

Sprained Ankles, Sprained Wrists, Plague Athletes But Help in on the Way!

Sprained Ankles, Sprained Wrists, Plague Athletes But Help in on the Way!

Try the Arctic Ease Cryotherapy Wraps or Pads!

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

I went to pick up my race number for the Derby Festival miniMarathon Thursday.   I spent a few minutes looking the exhibits at the Expo. What I found was an interesting new product called Arctic Ease. As an athlete, I have had every injury in the book: sprained and broken ankles, sprained and broken wrists, shoulder pain, foot pain, knee pain, back pain, pulled groin muscle, you name it, I have had it. Most of the pain and swelling from these musculoskeletal injuries would have been greatly decreased at the point of impact if I had had some ice readily available. But when you are out running or riding a bike, you typically don’t carry ice with you. But Arctic Ease might be just what the doctored ordered.

What is an Arctic Ease?

Arctic Ease is a specially treated cryotherapy wrap or pad which absorbs heat energy from your body to cool the covered area and can be wrapped around the injured area. It easily conforms to the injury and requires no tape or clips. According to the product information, “the absorbed heat is then lost to evaporation, which allows for the sustained cooling effect of Arctic Ease.”   According to their product information, Arctic Ease stays cold for 4 to 6 hours. It comes in a ready-to-use right-out-of –the –pouch package.

No refrigeration is needed and the fact that it is reusable makes Arctic Ease cost effective. All you have to do is add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water and reseal the bag. It takes about 2 – 3 hours to rehydrate.

If needed, Arctic Ease can actually be worn during exercise. Arctic Ease is odorless, contains no latex or adhesive, and is also eco-friendly. It’s convenient in that you could stuff it in a runner’s belt or bike pouch, ready to use when needed. Hey, this strategy might be like taking an umbrella with you to prevent it from raining!  If you have active kids, you may want to stuff one of these wraps in your car, just in case!

You can get one 4” X 60” online at www.arcticease.com ($12.29) www.amazon.com ($16.64), www.walgreens.com ($11.49) or www.cvs.com ($12.99). The pads sell for a pack of three 4” X 6” pads ($8.79) at www.arcticease.com.

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHEALTHWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 11 grandchildren.