Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Spring Training: The Beat 20 Heart Rate Monitor and 30 Days of Biking

YES! I signed up for 30 Days of Biking for the month of April. You can too so take the pledge!
NYC/Metro Area  Ah, spring is indeed in the air! I know because my sinuses are draining like crazy but not to be discouraged, I got on my bicycle for the first time this year. There was so much awe that it or I even moved as it's been bitterly cold of late. No matter. I got out there!  Surprisingly enough there were some things that were still functional after a long winter's deep freeze in the great North East.

Bicycle Electronics Check List:

Bicycle Headlight - My Cree 3K Lumen is a super bright rechargeable headlight and has a separate power source which is always disconnected when I finish riding. Bright as ever, it fired right up. A very good investment, I've had this light on my bicycle since 2013.
DiNotte Daytime Red Tail Light

Bicycle Tail Light - Once again, you get what you pay for. Behold The DiNotte Daytime Red. Although installed on my Terry Symmetry when I connected the light to the battery pack, BOOM, beautifully fired up lights. Rechargeable and extremely bright, it can be seen in broad daylight by over a mile. I've also had this light on one of my bikes sine 2013. 

Electric Horn - This extra loud, 105 decibel Megalert Megahorn Bicycle Horn uses one 9 volt battery...forever.  Another relic, I think I changed the battery twice since purchasing it back in 2011.  After a long deep freeze it still blew the doors off the bike garage! 

So having been pleasantly surprised at how well everything still worked, I only had one casualty. The Reflex Auto Tail Light was dead and new batteries couldn't revive it. The CatEye Commuter Wireless Bicycle Computer needed a new battery which I changed and so it is up an running again. Likewise the Planet Bike Blaze 45 battery powered headlight on the Terry Symmetry just needed a new battery. A very well made bicycle light, the PB still rocks. Not bad! After washing the frame, oiling the chain, polishing the saddle and cleaning the rims I was motivated to sign up for 30 Days of Biking this year for the month of April.  All the warmer days in March will be conditioning runs for the daily rides next month. Cycling is a fantastic way to ease your way back into condition after being somewhat sedentary over the winter. You don't have to ride long or far, just commit some portion of each day to a bicycle ride.  You can do this!  Go ahead, sign up and take the pledge to ride your bicycle everyday for the month of April here at 30 Days of Biking.  #30DaysofBiking!

My 30 Days of Biking ride equipemnt + a new cross training accessory

Spring Training with the Beat 20 ECG Heart Rate Monitor

This season I have the chance to try this new ECG Heart Rate Monitor to train with. Unlike other heart rate monitors (that I've attempted to use), this one is easy to set up and get working right out of the box. Comes fully charged with recharging ability via USB cable. It actually shows your real-time ECG wave as if you're in the doctor's office!  Pretty advanced.  Connects to your phone via Bluetooth and the sport app, it will store your training sessions which can be saved and uploaded elsewhere.

The Beat 20 sensor is waterproof, making it suitable for everything from sweaty weight lifting to swimming pool laps.  Also gives you: distance, speed, steps taken, cadence, data storage and analysis with a vibration warning when you are reaching your heart-rate threshold. Your personalized profile within the app shows YOUR maximum heart rate based on age and other individual factors. It can also be paired with your bicycle computer so you can have all that data in one place during your ride. This is a bit more complicated and you'll need to be sure that your bicycle electronics has either Bluetooth or ANT+ connection capabilities.  Perfect also for walking, running or weight lifting sessions at the gym. The chest strap itself is very comfortable and easily adjustable. Quite impressed so far with the Beat 20 and can't wait to start seriously training with it this spring.  Check it out at Shanren Tech

The Beat 20 ECG Heart Rate Monitor by Shanren Tech

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Fall Training Table Essentials: Why Whey Protein Powders Rule

Ascent Native Fuel: Clean Protein for your training table this fall!
After the summer's heat, working out, outdoors looks so much more appealing right now. As we move into the cooler weather, we want to make sure that we are not losing muscle mass due to inadequate protein intake and poor nutrition. Exercise, while important, puts additional stress on your amino acid and vitamin/mineral stores. Just sweating causes you to lose trace minerals and natural body salts. So in addition to a high quality, whole food diet providing all the needed nutrients, you may want to include a healthy protein shake as an insurance policy. No need to go over-board but for a 160 lb person to maintain their muscle mass, they would need to consume between 64-96 grams of quality protein daily. Obviously if your goals are to increase muscle mass and density, you may require a little more or at least fall within the higher end of the protein intake spectrum.

Plant Based vs Whey Based Protein Powders
Vegan diets may be able to combine amino acids in such a way that a complete protein is formed. The only problem is that vitamin B-12 is only found in animal based products such as milk, pork and beef. You will need to supplement with that B vitamin to avoid deficiencies. Likewise plant based protein powders such as those from peas, rice, soybeans, etc. must be balanced to contain all the amino acids necessary to produce a complete protein. The only problem is that even plant based protein powders which claim to be organic have been found to be among some of the highest in lead, arsenic, heavy metals and other contaminants. This is because plants, even when grown organically without pesticides, tend to absorb more contaminants from the soil. 
In March 2018, Consumer Reports cited clinical test findings by The Clean Label Project on some of the top protein powders on the market today. Number one with the HIGHEST levels of pesticides, arsenic and lead was an organic, plant based protein powder. Those with the LOWEST contaminants were essentially all WHEY based brands. You can read the article yourself with its list here: Consumer Reports Arsenic, Lead Found in Popular Protein Supplements

Protein Powders I've Used in the Past
Personally over the years, I've always preferred whey based protein powders such as those by Reserveage Organics. Their Grass Fed Whey Protein mixes easily, is delicious and easy to digest. The only down sides are the amount you get, (only 24 ozs at @ $43.99) and the somewhat boring flavor choices: Vanilla & Chocolate. The container is not air tight so towards the bottom of the can, you can expect oxidation and clumping. Still overall it is a very pure and well formulated whey protein supplement.

Rainbow Light's Whey Protein Energizers

Another favorite was in fact a RICE based protein powder that I had used for many years: Rainbow Light's Protein Energizers. These needed a bit more than a fork to mix but came in three flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla and Acai Berry Blast all formulated with Spirulina. The resealable pouch kept the product fresher but alas you only got 11 ozs.  Not really enough for a serious fitness enthusiast or bodybuilder. It appears this product is no longer available or has been discontinued.

Garden of Life Organic Plant Proteins
I first tried Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein vegan powders back in June 2014. I recall that they were very easy to mix into most anything despite their being pea based. One downside was the flavor. You could still tell you were drinking peas even though they tried to offer better flavor compilations!  Once again, points for resealable packaging which is great for maintaining freshness. The amount you get per packet however, is not for a serious athlete who would go through it in about 10 days. You're looking at 9.4 ozs for @ $21.99.  
NOTE: GOL was listed as one of the 5 worst protein powder supplements tested in the Consumer Reports article previously cited in this article and the Garden of Life supplement sector of the company which makes the Organic Plant Protein has recently been sold to Nestle Foods.

Ascent Native Fuel Whey Protein Powder

My Favorite Whey Protein Powder Today
I tried Ascent Native Fuel Whey Protein Powders about 18 months ago and was very impressed with the formulation. Naturally flavored with NO artificial ingredients and naturally sweetened with Monk Fruit extract. It does contain some soy lecithin so beware if you have any sensitivity to soy and of course milk due to the whey. Made with minimal processing, this whey protein contains higher levels of naturally occurring leucine, which is a key amino acid known for stimulating muscle protein synthesis. Ascent whey protein mixes very easily without the need for a shaker cup or blender. I just use a fork. Prang...ready to drink!
Five delicious flavors: Vanilla Bean, Chocolate, Cappuccino, Raspberry Lemonade and Lemon Sorbet 
You get 29 servings per bag (or 54 servings with the 4 lb bag) with each scoop offering a whopping 25 grams of easy to absorb protein. (2 lb bag @ $41.99)

Whey, (milk as well as egg based) Protein supplements overall ranked purer in the Clean Label Project's findings than even the "organic, vegan and plant based" protein powder supplements.  This is because the grass fed cow acts as a secondary filter or buffer against unwanted substances and materials. Plants such as peas, soybeans, rice, etc. all will absorb more soil contaminants and heavy metals even if they are organically grown. It's just the nature of the beast. However, I am glad to have found Ascent Native Fuel Whey Protein Powders as they have made a positive addition to my workout protocol and training table supplements. They check all the boxes for me and if you do not have milk or soy allergies, you should be good to go. Want more information? Visit Ascent online HERE. You may also order now on Amazon via my affiliate link below:

Friday, April 20, 2018

2018 15th Annual Shape Women's Half Marathon Recap

2018 Shape Women's Half Marathon in Central Park, NYC. Official Logo Tee by New Balance and Leather Bondi Road Shoes by Hoka One One. XTreme XTraining is once again Media Partners with ABC News's Good Morning America and Shape Magazine.

NYC, NY Sunday April 15th was cold,windy and damp at only 40 degrees (real feel 30 degrees) in Central Park. That didn't dampen the spirits of thousands of women, (6,120 completed the race), who showed up to run nonetheless. The start line is near Tavern on the Green at Central Park West. This year we had news correspondent Megyn Kelly and Jen Widerstrom of NBC's The Biggest Loser running as well as other area celebrities and bloggers as part of the relay teams.

The opening ceremony started off with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner which always gets me, (such a patriot I am), and a few words from our host/organizers, the NYRR and their President/CEO Michael Capiraso, pictured below. Michael has been president since May 2015 and under his tenure has expanded the youth outreach program to include thousands more NYC children interested in running and competing. He has also worked out a relationship with New Balance running shoes who provided the sporty Shape Women's Half Marathon race jerseys both last year and again today for 2018. Michael Capiraso and my friend Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives have worked to return Central Park to its auto-free beginnings. According to an announcement in Central Park by Mayor De Blasio, the roadways will become an auto-free reality this spring.

New York Road Runner's President and CEO, Michael Capiraso waiting to address the crowd before the race starts.
Michael, a seasoned runner himself, just completed his 26th NYC Marathon
New Balance also sponsors the NB Run Hub which brings events, training and fitness resources to runners of all levels. The race starting temperature was in the low 40's and windy with many runners wearing heavy insulated winter jackets prior to the run. 

Meghan Kelly at the center of the 2018 Shape Half start line.
Photo: Courtesy of Shape Women's Half Marathon

Olympic Medalist, American Record Holder and winner of last year's Shape Half, Deena Kastor was in NYC at the NYRR Run Center, NB Run Hub on April 10th promoting her new book, "Let Your Mind Run".  However she did not run the Shape Half this year. Since I started in 2015, she has run that year then skipped 2016 and was back in 2017.

Deena Kastor, the race record holder, saying a few words before the 2017 Shape Half

Tripping the START sensors. Women runners cross over the start line to begin recording their time. 
If you've never participated in a timed race like this, it is important to pin your race number in the zone delegated by the race officials. This is because sensors in your badge are detected when you pass through the designated checkpoints along the race route. Runners who do not wear their numbers in the proper position risk not having their times recorded and being disqualified from placement awards and prizes. The Shape Half offers everyone who completes the course a finisher's medal. You have 4 hours to complete 13.1 miles so just as long as you make it in under that time, a medal awaits you.

One of the many watering stations along the race route.
There are 4 upgrades on the park route which loops around twice for a total of  12 miles and then begins a third loop to complete the 13.1 miles.  You end up at the 72nd Street Transverse where the finish line is located and it feels like an eternity getting there!  The worst for me was Harlem Hill which is 1.16 miles long and about an 80 ft. climb so don't be lulled into thinking that Central Park is all flat. The park has hills built into it by design. In fact it is also home to large outcroppings of bedrock known as Manhattan Schist. One large example of the schist is Umpire Rock (also known as Rat Rock), located in the southwest corner of the park. This corresponds to 62nd Street and 7th Ave. If you want to do this race, or run the Central Park loop, definitely build in some climbs during your training. My local park has inclines and hills so the Central Park hills were not such a shock.

Congrats to Askale Merachi of the Urban Athletics Club with here time of 1:15 - 19!
Photo: Courtesy of Shape Women's Half Marathon

The winner of this year's race was Askale Merachi of the Urban Athletics Club with a brisk time of 1:15 minutes - 19 seconds. The record holder for this race is Deena Kastor who completed her 2017 run in 1:08 minutes - 16 seconds. The weather was quite a bit warmer last year with much less wind. As a result many runners were dressed in heavier clothes.

L-R Megyn Kelly, today's race winner Askale Merachi, NYRR President Michael Capiraso and  Biggest Loser celebrity trainer Jen Wiedstrom.

Some of my training table goodies from BroBasket and Limoneira Ranch

XTreme XTraining is pleased once again to be media partners with ABC New's Good Morning America and Shape Magazine. Special thanks to all my race sponsors and supporters namely Hoka One One, Carlson Labs Nutritional Supplements, MitoQ Antioxidants  BroBasket and Limoneira Ranch Citrus

The Shape Half race course near Tavern on the Green