Training plan and recovery

I'm still developing my training plan as I go. I guess what I'm doing right now is a combination of Dr. Gabe Mirkin and the book Heart Zones Cycling: The Avid Cyclist's Guide to Riding Faster and Farther by Sally Edwards and Sally Reed.

Dr. Mirkin advocates working out in sets until the muscles burn and keep repeating sets until you feel them stiffen. I'm not sure about the stiffen part but I am just doing 3 sets of each exercise. Within each set I am trying to beyond just starting to burn and go to as much discomfort as I am willing to take. I try to pace myself so I can do my entire circuit without becoming exhausted. What Dr. Mirkin says also confirmed what I said in a previous post about liking to feel sore and not taking ibuprofen for it. When I feel adequately sore, I know I have worked out hard enough the previous day. Also, he says you should not work those muscles again until the soreness goes away. So you don't want to take a pain killer cause you won't know when the muscles are fully recovered.

In a similar vein, as it relates to a hard cardio workout, Edwards and Reed advocate using resting heart rate as a guide to when your body is sufficiently recovered. I haven't implemented this yet because it's a little hassle for me to get my resting heart rate. The best way to do it is to measure it when you first wake up before you get out of bed. You can count your pulse but that's out for me cause I can't keep my eyes open for 10 seconds to look at a watch when I first get up. Especially since I had a stye that I believe left some scarring on my eyelid that makes it very hard to keep that eye open in the AM. The other method is to wear my HR monitor to bed and just check it when I wake up. I tried that once but I kept waking up all night to check it. It is kind of uncomfortable to sleep with although you probably can get used to it. I think I'll keep trying the second method and see if I can get used to it.

Pushing it - I violated my own rules

Today I violated my own stated principles. I was doing my upper body workout at the gym and pushing it even though I've been having some non-muscular pains in my right arm.

I mean I was trying to be very careful with form and so on but I was still getting some pain. Not a lot but enough. This pain is around my elbow and I suspect it comes from using the mouse at work. Mostly if I'm doing tasks that have a lot of repetitive mouse motions to them. I do have some arm and shoulder stretches that I do.

Also, I noticed that my recovery heart rate was a little high. In between sets it took awhile to get it to drop below 100bpm. The last time I worked out, my heart rate was dropping down into the high 70s between sets! Admittedly that is uncharacteristic but I hope it's a trend. It would mean I'm getting fitter.

Another factor might be that I have been slightly sick over the last few days. A mildly sore throat and an unsettled stomach. I have taken it easy during that time but maybe I was a little too antsy to get back into it today now that I'm feeling better. That could account for the higher recovery HR.

Idea for a recovery drink ...

Here's an idea I had for a recovery drink when there's nothing else available:
a cup of sugary hot chocolate made with skim milk instead of water.

I make it full strength per the instructions on the can. It's got the high GI carbs from the sugar and the protein from the skim milk minus the fat.

This has less carbs and protein than the home brew drink I described in a previous post but I don't work out that hard yet anyhow so it's probably fine for me.

Here's how it breaks down:
38g carbs and 10g protein.

Joe Friel's recovery drink recipe consists of 5 tblsp of sugar and 16oz of skim milk.

That translates to: 60g carb from the sugar and 22g of carbs and 16g of protein from the milk for a total of 82g carb and 16g protein!

Ski Monday! - Plattekill Mountain ... hidden gem of the Catskills

Monday is usually ski day for Mrs. MTBMan1 and me. And today was no exception.

Today we went to Plattekill Mountain in the town of Roxbury in the Catskills.

Mainly because this week lift tickets are only $10!

But we really had a great time.

This is a sweet little mountain. It's not very big. Family owned.

Their snowmaking is not extensive so they really depend on natural snow so only 9 out of 35 trails were open today.

But we don't care. We pretty much stick to one or 2 trails that we like best anyway.

Anyhow the trails that were open were in excellent condition. Well groomed granular. The thing about this mountain is that because so few people frequent it, the snow stays great all day. It seems like there were only 15 people on the mountain. In any event it is NOT crowded.

If you read the customer reviews the place really rocks when they get dumped on. Great powder that stays because it's not over skied.

Some people complained about not having high speed lifts but I didn't think it was too bad. I've seen worse.

It was a beautiful sunny day, about 30 degrees all day.

Here are some pics:

Lift at the top

Shot from the lodge

This is me at the top

Your's truly

Another shot from the lodge

View of main mountain from "Powder Puff"

This felt cooler than it looks!

I Love Being Sore!

I love being sore. I mean muscularly sore a day or 2 after a hard workout not sore joints and connective tissue from overuse or improper form.

Because that soreness means I accomplished something. I accomplished what I intended to do when I worked out the previous day.

And that is, I damaged some muscle fibers.

Sounds bad. And it is kind of gross to think about the tearing and bleeding of muscle tissue.

But if I allow for proper rest, recovery and nutrition, those damaged muscles will repair themselves and adapt to my regimen by making themselves just a little bit stronger.

And that's my goal: to get just a little bit better each day. A little bit stronger.

So when I am offered pain relievers when I comment (not complain) about my soreness, I usually decline.

Because I like the soreness. It's a continual reminder that I am accomplishing what I set out to accomplish.

You don't often get feedback that quickly and continuously in life's endeavors (at least not the positive feedback ;-)).

I think, perhaps also, that I get a feeling of aliveness, awareness of the muscles. An awakening if you will, of muscles I didn't know I had.

Maybe I'm weird.

Some say that I am (those who know me - with affection - others - well......).

That's OK.

I'll take weird to mean unique.

And we all are, you know. I mean unique.

But that's a subject for another post!

Rest - it's as important as exercise!

It was really a revelation to me that rest was an important component to fitness training.
I read in one mountain biking book that you should try to ride as much as possible; ride everywhere you go. Of course, that writer meant as far as being comfortable on the bike, riding skills and so on but I translated that into workout riding every day as long and hard as possible. After reading Joe Friel's book Cycling Past 50 I learned about the necessity of rest and recovery after hard training. You need to rest the muscles stressed after a hard workout so that they can repair and rebuild themselves. That's how they get stronger. I guess I knew this in relation to weight and strength training - you are not supposed to work the same sets of muscles 2 days in a row - but I didn't translate this to riding the bike. Recently, I discovered an article by Dr. Mirkin that advises not working the same muscles until the soreness goes away! Makes sense. I guess that's what your body is telling you by the soreness! This doesn't mean you can't train on consecutive days or even more than once a day. It's just the intense workouts where you get sore that you've got to be careful about.

Maximum Heart Rate - formulas useless!

I just read something which I think is astounding; that maximum heart rate is fixed for life and the commonly used formulas for calculating it are useless! This from the book Heart Zones Cycling by Sally Edwards & Sally Reed which I am currently reading.
I mean I know that a formula is only going to be an approximation and I've already proved the most common one wrong; the one that says your MHR = 220-your age. For me, at age 59, that is 161. I've already observed higher rates while cycling with my heart monitor. But the concept of the formulas is that your MHR declines with age or varies by age and weight. These authors claim that research shows that MHR is fixed and does not decline except in cases of chronic unfitness. The only way to determine MHR accurately is to test it. The authors use the Foster Talk Threshold Test where you find the point at which you are starting to have trouble reading a 30 second test and then you can calculate your MHR and Threshold Heart Rate.


I started a training program this week. I've wanted to do this for awhile and now seemed the right time.
I'm using the program suggested in my HRM manual and I'm starting at the beginner level with modifications.
I modified their training because it's just too easy for me. I've been working at a harder level for months. It actually requires some discipline to hold yourself back. As I said in my previous post "Be Less Than You Can Be", it's important not to just work flat-out as hard as you can. It's a common mistake that highly motivated exercisers and even athletes make. The body requires adequate rest and recovery between workouts otherwise there is a great risk of injury and burnout. Rest doesn't have to be doing nothing. Easy exercise for fun is ok as long as you keep the intensity down. This can be harder than you think once your fitness level increases because you get a lot of your "fun" from the intensity. I guess I should differentiate between fun and the enjoyment and satisfaction you get from physical achievement.

Anyhow, the beginner's training program consists of 3 days a week with 1 day (or more) of rest in between. The workout days are as follows:
1. 10-15 minutes warmup at or slightly above ambient heart rate (walking pace)
2. 20 minutes workout in the Health Zone (50-70%MHR)
3. 10-15 minutes cooldown at or slightly above ambient heart rate

Increase time in Health Zone by 5 minutes each week until you are doing 45 minutes in the zone.

What I have been doing in addition to this, is a morning upper or lower body strength training workout at the gym on workout days, plus an easy walk, cycle, xc ski or downhill ski on "rest" days.

My ambient heart rate is already in the Health Zone according to my monitor. The monitor says that 50% of my MHR is 88bpm and I'm usually over that once I get out of my chair! :-) So really, I'm already doing 50 minutes in the zone but I'm only counting the 20 minutes. Not sure about that.

The final mod I'm making to the plan is that I will work out Sat and Sunday. An hour bike ride on Sat and 1-1/2 hours on Sunday.
This is kind of a compromise between the HRM manual beginner's plan and a starter plan I got from a cycling book that I think is geared toward fitter, younger people. It suggested 70-75%MHR for 45min to 1 hr, 4 days a week plus a 1-1/2 hour ride on Sunday @70-80. So I'm kind of using their frequency with the lower heart zone of the beginner's program. I do intend eventually to advance to the more aggressive plans and achieve as much as I can. I would like to be able to compete in a half-century by the end of summer.

Be Less Than You Can Be

I think I referred to this in a previous post, but in my youth (and not so youth) I have tended to put pedal to the metal in anything I undertake. The result was that I could sustain this level for weeks, even months but eventually lose all interest in the activity (and sometimes alienate those around me).

In these latter years, applying this tendency to physical pursuits has also resulted in injuries; nothing that serious but enough force me to stop exercising in that particular mode.

I think (I hope) that I'm finally learning the lesson that consistency at a lower intensity is preferable to inconsistency and burnout at a high level. The goal is to change my lifestyle ... permanently. Patience is the key. That's why finding a fun activity is so essential. You have to be able to exercise because you enjoy it for itself, even if (and this is crucial) YOU DON'T SEE ANY RESULTS. Of course, I believe you will see results if you follow this path. I am starting to reap this benefit. First and foremost, I FEEL GREAT! This alone is enough to spur me on to exercise every day. I can feel the change in my body even if I am not losing weight as fast as I would like. And because I'm taking it easy, a lot of the aches and pains that have thwarted my efforts in the past have gone away.

So please don't kill yourself! Seek out something fun that is also healthy. If you don't find it, keep looking, keep trying. Enjoy life!

Exercise before Dieting

I once read in an interview with Oprah Winfrey's personal trainer, Bob Greene, that it is very important, before beginning a calorie reduction diet, to begin an exercise program. Most people commonly begin dieting without increasing their level of activity through exercise and are shocked and dismayed to find they don't lose weight or even gain weight while eating less. Additionally, they may feel tired and lethargic. The primary reason for this is that if you begin by reducing your caloric intake, your body thinks "hard times are coming" and slows down your metabolism to conserve energy and body mass.

Conversely, if you begin exercising for several weeks before reducing food intake, your metabolic rate will increase and you will begin burning more of what you eat rather than storing it as fat.

An added benefit is that exercise is an appetite suppressant. What do I mean by that? Well, of course, you're going to have a healthy appetite after exercising but I find that it becomes natural to stop when satiated. In other words, I am ravenously hungry after working out but find that I want to stop eating after a reasonable amount has been consumed. The reason this works is because eating and exercise both release endorphins, those substances that make us feel good. A lot of times we eat just to get that little kick from the endorphins. When we exercise we get the endorphin dose from the activity instead and don't need the extra food to give it to us.

Another thing I have found is that I'll just think twice before putting junk in my mouth or overeating because I have developed such a sense of well-being from the exercise that I don't want to jeopardize it. Also, you are more aware of how what you eat affects the quality of your workouts.

So, the correct sequence is: begin an exercise program first and give it time to become a routine you look forward to, then start looking at your diet.

It worked for me!

Fit test and VO2 Max

Yesterday (Sunday), I performed a "Fitness test". I used the "Rockport 1 Mile Walk Test" which is defined in the following manner:

  1. Warm up for 5 minutes.
  2. Begin walking as fast as possible for 1 mile.
  3. Record heart rate and elapsed time at end of mile

Then, using a formula, you calculate your VO2 Max level and thereby assess your level of fitness.

My heart-rate monitor (HRM) has a predefined function for this purpose. I used the local high school outdoor track for the test as it is a measured 1/4 mile.

My result, according to the HRM, was overall fitness level: AVE (average.)

The possible outcomes according to the HRM are poor, fair, average, good and elite.

I'm ok with this result. It seems about right for where I'm at.

At the end of the fit test, the HRM displayed "317 level". Nowhere is it explained what this means. VO2 Max is given in a range like 20 to 50 so that number doesn't fit that format. The manufacturer's web site doesn't explain it either. So I don't know what my VO2 Max is except in very general terms.

According to one website, "average", for men my age, equates to a VO2 Max of 25-37.9. So I will assume thats my range for now.

This was the first time I did this test. Next time, I will record my ET and ending HR for the test as there are VO2 Max calculators on the web that will work with these values along with weight, age and gender.

Home brew recovery drink recipe

Mix five tablespoons of sugar (!) with 16 ounces of skim milk.
Here's a link to the full article by Joe Friel with more detail about recovery nutrition. Good stuff! This guy is the man!

Recovery Drink -WARNING!

I was searching for the recipe for that recovery drink i mentioned in that last post and found this as a warning about using any recovery drink (emphasis mine):

You don't need to use such a recovery drink after every workout; only after those that include a significant amount of high intensity or those that are 60 to 90 minutes or longer. The more fit you are the longer the workout, which triggers the need for such a recovery drink. After short and low intensity workouts you can make the homebrew drink without the glucose. Be careful using this recovery drink when you don't need it as the high glycemic load is likely to add unwanted pounds of body fat.

Excerpted from The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Joe Friel and Dr. Loren Cordain

I can eat anything

One thing I like about athletics is that I can eat just about anything as long as I eat it at the right time. Maybe I should qualify that a little bit. I mean there are really some "foods" you should avoid although I can't think of what they might be right now. For example, during and within 1/2 hour after an intense workout is good time for all those high GI foods that I should normally avoid. With the exception of the "fasting cardio" workout first thing in the morning which I wrote about in a previous post, I can and should drink some kind of sugary liquid like Gatorade during and immediately after a workout. In this type of workout, your muscles are using available carbs which need to be replenished along the way. Of course, water is sufficient if your workout is not longer than an hour. So I just usually do this on my Sunday rides which are about 2-1/2 hours long. At the end of a workout your muscles are really receptive to recovery of glucose in the first half hour. I am trying to do a medium to low GI diet in general and really had a hard time figuring out what to do for breakfast since I didn't want eggs and bacon every day. But if I work out in the AM I can and should have things like a bowl of cereal with a banana and even (horrors!) a teaspoon of sugar right afterwards. Don't head for the shower first, head for the fridge. Joe Friel in his book Cycling Past 50 suggest a homebrew recovery drink made with a ton of sugar and skim milk. I haven't tried this yet. Maybe add some flavoring too like vanilla. Apparently a 4:1 carb to protein ratio is good. Accelerade sports drink uses this ratio. The protein is from whey which is one of the best and most digestible sources.
So you see, sometimes "bad" foods in one time and place can be good in another! It works for me!

Cheap skiing alert!!!

$10 lift tickets at Plattekill, Jan 28-Feb1.
Click here!

Fasting Cardio

I just heard about this from Jon Benson who wrote a book "Fit Over 40" which I promote (see recommended eBooks in the left hand column). I signed up for his free 10 day email "Fat Burning Tips" course which includes a lot of other intriguing exercise and nutrition ideas.
Anyhow this is the gist of the concept: After you go to bed at night, you are fasting (hopefully you don't eat while sleep walking) and your body is therefore in fat burning mode. After you get up in the morning, do a cardio workout before eating anything and you will be burning primarily fat. More so than at any other time of day.
Additionally, Benson suggests having a cup of coffee before your cardio workout as this will burn fat even more by increasing thermogenic effect (internal body heat).
The workout should not be too intense (I like that part), only 65-75% of your maximum heart rate (MHR) so that you don't consume muscle (muscle wasting). He also recommends taking 5 grams of L-Glutamine powder (an essential amino acid) to further protect against muscle loss.
Why I found this especially intriguing is that I'm already doing this by default. Here's my morning routine (and I love it!):
Stage 1: get up, pee, weigh myself, start coffee (we use a one cup at a time maker) and flop down on the couch and try to go back to sleep.
Stage 2: coffee maker sputtering wakes me up, wait 2 or 3 minutes for coffee to finish dripping, fix coffee, sit back down on the couch, propped up on some pillows, eyes closed and sip the coffee.
Stage 3: Finish coffee one, fix coffee 2 if time permits.
Go to the gym or bike ride, weather and light permitting.
So, except for the L-Glutamine, I've been doing this for years.
Now, even Benson admits, fasting cardio has been a subject of controversy and continues to be to this day. However, he believes in it.
I did a little Google research myself to see what other people are saying about it and what the cons are. The major objections that I read were about the potential muscle loss. No one was saying that increased fat burning didn't happen but just were concerned about catabolic muscle wasting. Also many who had this objection stated that consuming protein or an amino acid like L-Glutamine before the workout would probably mitigate the catabolic effect.
The best advice I read about this technique was to carefully measure your progress to see if it was working for you. This would involve tracking your percent body fat. A little tricky and perhaps a subject for another post!
I will continue to do "fasting cardio" because I like doing it that way. Now I have a name for it!

More "over fifties" skiing than ever ...

Here's an article I found that is right on the money regarding us "oldies" getting into fitter and funner lifestyles:

More Over Fifties Skiing Than Ever
posted by Sarah Brown on January 16, 2008

Proving that age is nothing but a number, research conducted by internet insurance agents has indicated a massive rise in holidaymakers trying a skiing break for the first time who are over the age of 50. This huge and growing group of groovy grannies and grandpas are putting their couch potato, younger family members to shame by maintaining fitness levels, leading an active lifestyle and remaining keen to try new things.

However, a significant proportion of these mature adrenaline junkies are taking dangerous risks: despite the growth in popularity of skiing holidays for older skiers, there are also figures from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) showing 65% of over-50s skiers did not take out winter sports travel insurance this year. Jack Harris, from stated: “While some may not realise they need extra cover for winter sports, it seems many are prepared to take a huge financial and physical risk. It’s far better to play it safe than risk a huge bill and the consequent worry if something goes wrong.”

The growing ranks of senior skiers are creating yet another booming marketplace as these silver surfers turned skiers are hitting the slopes on a regular basis. The numbers of 65, 70 and even 80 year old skiers are increasing such that certain USA snow resorts that previously offered discounted or even free skiing passes to ‘retired’ skiers are removing these incentives in light of the significant revenue streams they are currently passing up from this growing spectrum of the market. According to the National Ski Areas Association, 31 percent of downhill skiers in the United States were older than 45 in the 2004-05 season; the figure was 21 percent seven years earlier. In 2006, 12 percent of skiers were 55 and older. These figures can be credited to higher numbers of seniors who stay healthy and active well into retirement and beyond.

Savvy ski marketeers are picking up on the Senior ski trend. Skiers aged 50 plus, they say, have more spending money than 20- and 30-somethings, and resort developers recognize they are critical to supporting slope-side amenities such as vacation homes. Many resorts also moving towards building active year-round retirement communities, offering skiing in winter and golf, hiking and boating in summer. Given that seniors often like to holiday with children and grandchildren, their spend per head goes up if you calculate the overall income that they bring to second home ski resorts not to mention restaurants, shopping centres and other onsite amenities.

To help keep these skiers on the slopes there has even been a move towards improved ski equipment — especially a new generation of shorter, shaped skis that make turning easier on ageing muscles and creaky joints!

Full article at

Smugg's is Better than Drugs

Today Mrs. MTBMan1 and I visited Smuggler's Notch Ski resort in Vermont. As I just started skiing last year at age 59 and my wife is resuming after a 30 year hiatus we usually stick to the easy (green) to low intermediate (blue) trails. Upon examining the trail guide for Smuggler's Notch we noticed that one of the three mountains into which the resort is divided, Morse Mountain, was almost entirely green trails!

This, we thought, was a no-brainer for us. Of course we would head straight for Morse and probably remain there for the day, which is what we wound up doing. We took the Village Lift to the top of Morse. This is a slow, two-seater lift which takes about 15 minutes to get to the top although there is the option of unloading halfway up.

From the description on the resort website we decided that for the first run of the day we would take Midway to Meadowlark. This was billed as the easiest way down the mountain, and it was, in a way, but in another way, not so easy! This route was in fact the gentlest on the mountain but with several flat spots where we had to resort to poling or skate skiing to keep going, actually very tiring and not much fun for us. However, I do see how it would be an excellent learning slope for beginners because of the shallow grade. Perhaps if conditions were a little faster it would be easier on the upper body. One run on Midway and Meadowlark was enough for us.

After a brief rest, we decided to try Garden Path then straight down the lower lift line. This proved to be just the ticket for us. The sign at the top said that Garden Path was the easiest way down but I'm not sure relative to what. From the top of the mountain the trail makes a few curves down a moderate slope.

After a brief flat where you can keep gliding if you've entered with enough speed the trail makes a deceptively rapid descent down some intermediate terrain. Initially, it doesn't look too steep at all but somehow you pick up speed very rapidly and then the trail does become fairly steep but it is quite wide at that point. After a few more turns and one short steep section Garden Path meets the lower lift line and this is what I found very enjoyable and profitable for learning. The trail at this point until the end is extremely wide and gives me plenty of opportunity to practice garlands while traversing the slope or, if you like, you can pick up as much speed as you want although you need to slow down before the end because this is a slow speed learning area.

There are several other green trails on Morse which I didn't check out because I was having too much fun on the Lower Lift Line and wasn't yet thinking of writing this review.

It 's obvious that Morse is a learner's mountain if you observe the skiers as you ride the lift. It seems that most of the skiers are beginners and for that reason makes me feel less conspicuous about my own clumsiness. You will also notice people constantly gathering for or participating in classes of one kind or another all day long. Smuggler's promotes their resort as a family friendly one and that it certainly is.

It is definitely the best I've seen in my brief career for a first time skier to get comfortable on the slopes with their equipment. I would highly recommend Morse Mountain at Smuggler's Notch to anyone for that purpose.

More Meads Lane

Stats for this workout:

Total Time: 1hr 15min
50-70%MHR: 49:52
70-80%MHR: 18:42
80-100%MHR: 7:07
AV HR: 122
Weight: 201Nice hill at the end of Van Dyke before Meads

Meads Lane
The Helderberg Escarpment from MeadsThe Helderbergs
Farm Country with old graveyard

Meads Lane

This is one of my favorite routes. The Meads Lane Loop. It's about 10 miles. Some flat stretches, a few rollers, just enough to make it interesting.

The trusty Trek 4100: entry level mtn bike, cheap and heavy components but I like it.
The bike path.
VanDyke. Between the bike path and Meads.
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Friday's workout

Too dark and rainy for riding the bike so ... upper body workout at the gym it is!
Total time: 25:38
50-70%MHR: 23:27
AV HR: 97
Weight: 200 lbs. (you can check out my weight history here)

Check my complete workout stats history here.

Today's workout ... Thurs. 1/10/2008

Today I rode my bike for about 1/2 hr. I was going to do a 1 hr ride but was having trouble finding my riding clothes so I gave up and made myself another cup of coffee. But you know, I haven't ridden for about a week and I really had a jones for it so after one sip 'a' joe i thought, hey, why do I need just the right clothes? I've got my padded shorts, base layer, warm socks with my hiking boots (no clipless pedals). What else do I really need for a short, easy ride? I only had 1/2 hr left by that time but anything is better than nothing, right? I wasn't really jonesin' for a hard workout, just needed to get back on the bike. Also, it was still pretty dark at 6:30 and I wanted to ride the Trek 4100 which doesn't have any blinky lights on it so waiting a bit for the light was a better idea anyway.

So, let's see, here are the stats:

temp: 37°, clear skies, 7AM

total ride time: 25:02

Average heart rate: 102

Time in the HZ (health zone, that's 50-70% of my max HR in the terminology of my HR monitor): 23:51

Wounded Warriors return to Windham this weekend!

This is another reason why I like Windham Mtn:

Wounded Warriors return to Windham this weekend!

The Adaptive Sports Foundation and Windham Mountain will welcome up to 30 soldiers injured in battle and their families to the resort this weekend.

Soldiers will enjoy ski/snowboard lessons, apres ski parties, and snow tubing. Over the course of the event, it is our hope that participants will discover that they can still participate in many of the activities they did before their injuries. ASF volunteer instructors will guide soldiers through experiences that will give them the skills to ski or snowboard and will also help them build their self esteem and confidence.

On Friday, we will be joined by Lieutenant Governor David Paterson and Congresswoman Kristen Gillibrand, both of whom will help us honor these soldiers' sacrifices.

Come on out and lend your support.

(Also, when we were there Monday we saw staff helping a couple of disabled people have fun on adaptive equipment. It certainly gives you a good feeling about the place!)

My workout log ...

Todays workout ...

7AM - 1 hr at the gym for a lower body workout. av HR 88. weight 203.
12PM - 1 hr walk on the Corning trail in downtown Albany. av Hr 104. beautiful day. forgot my camera!

Skiing on the cheap

As I mentioned in a previous entry, I just took up downhill skiing last year although I have been cross-country skiing since I was in my 20s. My reluctance to try downhill stemmed from several reasons, not the least of which was cost. Equipment and lift tickets can get very expensive. New boots can run into 7 or $800 and skis anywhere from 500 to $1000 (I know they can get much more expensive but this is just what I see as the midrange in shops and ski magazine reviews, etc.)
Lift tickets run $50 to over $70 per day at the major resorts. Too rich for my blood! Last year we spent $330 skiing not including gasoline and that was 7 times for me and 8 for my wife. That includes rentals for me each time plus two lessons for me. We've gone twice so far this year and spent about $380 on equipment and $0 on lift tickets. Here's what we did.

1. Someone turned us on to Warren Miller films last year. Warren Miller has been making one ski film a year for the last 50 years! We paid $22 each for the movie. With that you get coupons for 4 or 5 free lift tickets to resorts in your part of the country plus a free subscription to a ski magazine and a discount coupon to a local ski shop. I'm sure the giveaways vary depending on your venue. One free lift ticket pays for the movie 2 or 3 times over. Can't beat it. Plus the movies are great. Click here for the website.

2. This year we attended the Ski and Snowboard Expo here in Albany, NY. For the $6 admission we got one free lift ticket and 2 buyonegetonefree coupons. There are other chances to win lift tickets and prizes like skis too. Plus there are good deals to be had on new and used equipment and clothing. Check out similar events in your part of the country.

3. I bought my own equipment this year. I got a used pair of skis for $129 and new boots for $189. I got mine from a regular ski and bike shop but I saw skis on Craig's List for $40! Make sure you get parabolic (curved) skis and not the old straight sided kind. The is also a chain here called Play It Again Sports that sells used stuff. My wife got her skis there last year for $149.

4. There are always some small, family oriented local hills that have cheaper lift tickets, especially later in the season. Last year's spring season was awesome here in the east. We found $20 lift tickets in March. A nephew worked at a great resort in Vermont last year and we got $10 tickets on employee appreciation day. Sadly, he does not work there this year. :-(
We used our 2 for 1s at a place that had $30 tickets in March.

I could go on and on but the bottom line is, if you really want to ski (and you live in an area that gets snow ;-) search around and you can find a way to do it.

The Ski Bum's Guide is free and it's a fun read with some usable ideas (but watch out, some ideas, as the author's readily admit, are borderline or outright illegal or may get you banned from the resort).

So I hope I have helped with some good ideas. If you have any ideas that I haven't mentioned, please leave them in a comment. I'd love to hear it!

Carve it up!

Day at Windham

My wife and I went skiing at Windham Mtn. in the Catskills of New York today and what an unbelievable day it was! The forecast this AM was for fog and rain showers. When we got there it was overcast but very quickly the section of mountain we were skiing opened up into blue sky with threatening dark storm clouds to the west.

We had this little patch of blue over us the whole morning and the dark clouds just never got here.

Then after lunch the sky completely cleared! And it must have been 60 degrees! What you call a bluebird day in the spring: blue sky, warm temps, soft snow.

We had a great day although I should have quit when my wife did. As usual, I had to do just one more run cause I was feeling so great. Anyhow I did wipe out and my quads were killing me. It was fun anyway. All the more so cause we had free lift tickets from the Warren Miller film. More about that later.

Low GI Diet ...

I've read a lot of books on biking lately so I'm not sure where I saw this, but it was in either Cycling Past 50 by Joe Friel

or Bike for Life:How to Ride to 100 by Roy M. Wallack and Bill Katovsky

(both excellent books, BTW). Anyhow, someone mentioned that they almost exclusively eat low glycemic index foods except during riding and recovery time (up to 1/2 hour after riding). Your muscles need to use high availability carbs during an intense workout (sugar, as close to glucose as you can get) and almost immediately after as muscles are most receptive to refueling up to 1/2 hour after a hard ride. Otherwise, complete recovery may take days which means either you can't do another intense workout or race or if you keep doing this, you risk eventual burnout. So I'm trying to do this although I'm not doing very intense workouts yet. :-)
Also, I'm finding it a lot harder to break the carb habit than I thought it would be. I did Atkins for about 2 years and had no cravings for carbs during that time but I'm off that wagon now ... hard! Actually, now that I think about it, I'm doing OK at work. I'll usually bring 2 apples with lunch and use those for snacking. The real problem comes with the free food that inevitably shows up frequently on the job. Leftovers from meetings, training, lunch'n'learns, etc. I have a hard time turning free food down! You can get a list of food GI levels here.

Why "Fun" and Fit?

Like many people, I have struggled with improving my fitness and losing weight over the years. I have tried many diets and exercise schemes with some initial success but after while I hit the wall. The wall consists of things like boredom and discouragement. Maybe an illness or travel for work interrupts my schedule and I lose ground and then lose heart.
Last year my wife convinced me to try downhill skiing. At that time I had been primarily going to the gym and not getting much out of it nor enjoying it much. Well I really got the skiing bug and we wound up going as much as we could that year. After the season was over, I really wanted to stay in shape until the next year of skiing. Especially since my quads were killing me. They were the limiting factor as to how long I could stay on the slopes. I read that biking was a good activity for off-season skiers so I got out my bike and started. We lived in a great area for biking and I really got into it. Also, I found that I had more motivation for going to the gym since it wasn't just training for training sake but it helped me on the bike. So I guess the long and the short of it is to find something that you enjoy doing first and foremost and the fitness will follow.

High Heart Rate

For my working out today, I went to the gym in the AM for a light workout. No problems there. AV HR: 94 over 50 minutes. But at lunch time, at work, I took my xc skis to the local bike path downtown which runs along the Hudson River. They plow the path but there is a nice long stretch alongside the path that I wanted to try making some practice tracks on. Actually, somebody got there ahead of me which made my job easier. Anyhow, I drove down to the path and by the time I got there my heart rate was up around 127! This is just driving the car, mind you. I expected to have an easy workout. A few days ago when I went out xc skiing for 1/2 hour, I didn't even break 100bpm. So I just shuffled around for a half hour trying to keep my rate below 120. I certainly wasn't even breathing hard. Got up to 140 at one point. My AV HR turned out to be 124 over 30 minutes. Very strange. I felt OK. Now, as I write these words at my desk, I'm down around 83bpm. Gotta keep an eye on that!