Winter is Coming

When we lived in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, being Southerns, we had pretty much the same opinion of Winter approaching as projected in the “Game of Thrones.” There would be snow on the ground around October and there it would sit until March or April. In Cleveland there are two seasons, Winter and when they repair the roads. Pittsburgh road repairs seemed less – just less.

When I write of cold I’m serious. When a Great Lake (Lake Erie for the geographically challenged) freezes that is cold. Aside from cold Winter brings shorter days.

Early morning on the trails

Down home, we finally made out of the ice, Winters are milder. Georgia is a far cry from Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Winter is milder but the days still produce abbreviated daylight.

The headlight I use does a good job

In preparation for darker evening and morning runs of the colder months I’ve illuminated the trails behind my house with solar lights along paths. That is fine in the evening when the lights are still powered. In the morning runs require a headlight to avoid trees.

The light also illuminates spider webs. A bonus to be able to avoid them

Running in the morning in Cleveland in February was awful. The temperature was always way below freezing. When I mentioned to some folks I’d been out running on a typical artic morning in Cleveland someone asked, “Wasn’t it freezing?” I replied, “No, it wasn’t that warm.”

As Winter approaches (…its coming) the Fall in Georgia will be nice for running. Some runners look forward to the colder weather. Personally, I am just fine shuffling along in the heat. Although, Fall and Spring aren’t too bad.

Muscle Fatigue

Pain. You hear about it all day long. It’s on TV, there are billboards for pain clinics, commercials for pain management pop-up on Facebook and there are ads in newspapers and magazines. It seems like there are a lot of Americans suffering and there is a lot of money to be made by selling drugs for pain relief.

I wonder about pain. I’ve experienced pain. I’ve crashed while cycling, been hit by a car, broken bones, messed up a knee playing football,  tripped while running and smashed into rocks, jumped and landed on a nail that went through my foot, jumped onto a steel rod that slid into my leg, and a host of other cuts and bruises that led me to the ER. There they’d patch me up and most times send me home.  The steel rod that I jammed in my leg required surgery and a 3 day hospital stay before they sent me packing.

A good friend of my is an ER Physician. He’s father to a pile of boys that play hard and frequently there’s an accident.  He tells them, “You’re not having fun until someone is bleeding.” When they get hurt he fixes them and sends them to find the next interesting trauma.

I suppose I have a high tolerance for pain. The physicians treating me always gave me a supply of drugs for the big injuries. I never took them. I maintain a different type of ache.

It seems like I have been sore all my life. That is muscle soreness. Not the delayed onset of muscle soreness – I get that too. (Have it right now from racing a few days ago.) My soreness is that non-stop post workout feeling one gets from exertion.

To be fair, I don’t really mind it. Being sore says to me I gave, whatever the training or practice I completed, a solid effort. You think, being an archer, it is my shoulders and arms that ache. You’d be correct. I shoot a lot, trying to catch the grand master archers that have decades of a head start. It makes me sore. But, it doesn’t end there.

My legs and feet are achy from running and riding a bike. I’m also sore from hacking down trees with an ax and hauling them away. I’m sore from both play and work. (Both seem a bit like fun to me.) And to be honest, I enjoy the ache. I rest well and sleep solidly.

When I consider people that don’t work their bodies I feel sorry for them. I’ve enjoyed hard play all my life. Picking up archery didn’t mean ending other forms of fitness training. They have become an adjunct to shooting.

Sure, if you add cardio to archery you’re likely to end-up becoming sore. You may find that it isn’t pain you’re experiencing. It is a warm glow that reminds you that your engine can still run. (You won’t need an opioid to deal with it, either.)

Okay, that hurt!

I’ve been sorer following a race. The most sore I remember being after a race was following the Las Vegas Marathon. I’ve run 3 of the Vegas marathons. The painful memory was from the first time I’d run that particular race. I was in Las Vegas for the American Associations for Respiratory Care’s (AARC) annual meeting. I’m a former respiratory therapist and attended the AARC meetings to earn continuing education units. During many of these meeting I was invited to speak on whatever research I was working on at the time. I’d also schedule meetings with other investigators during that week long Vegas event. The first of those meetings at that year’s congress was in the afternoon following the marathon.

It wasn’t so bad, the soreness from the morning’s marathon or so I thought. Then, I needed to walk down several flights of stairs. Going up them hadn’t been bad. The return trip was a bit of a shock. Over the next several days I climbed down those stairs over and over. Each time my legs screamed at me. It wasn’t at all bad going up, but going down hurt for days. I think I was recovered by the time I needed to fly home from Vegas.

There’s a marathon as the last leg of an Ironman. Of the several Ironman (140.6 miles) triathlons I raced none had me as seized up as that Vegas run. Then, I don’t remember needing to walk down stairs after any of them.

On Saturday I raced only 5K. It was hilly. On Sunday when I started my morning run I noticed my legs were a bit sore. During the morning’s two-hour archery practice I felt the previous day’s race.

140 meters walk after each end. 12 ends and 2 ends for warm-up. 1920 meters of back and forth walking. It was rougher than I thought it would be.

In no way did the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) of the 5K rank among the top ten of post-race DOMS I’ve experienced. But, it sure made the back and forth 70 meter hikes to retrieve arrows a tedious chore.

Athletes Run

John Kruk was a great first baseman and outfielder. His lifetime batting average is .300. He was an All Star multiple times and played in a World Series. During an interview he was asked about being an athlete. He responded, “I’m not an athlete, I’m a baseball player.” Kidding aside, he was an athlete. Archers, too, are athletes though some may have a more Krukarian opinion of themselves.

Coaching tip

Should you look at a training plan provided by USA Archery you’d note a section for weekly cardio/strength/conditioning sessions. While cardio is not exclusively running it remains exercise intended to develop cardio-fitness. Running is likely the first form of cardio that comes to mind.

Running is cheap. A pair of running shoes, which you probably already own, shorts and a t-shirt and you’re equipped for cardio.

Why do cardio? First off for your health. Look around at your next archery competition. You will notice a lot of overweight archers. Being overweight you know is not healthy. Secondly, as your fitness improves your heart becomes stronger. Your resting heart rate may lower. In archery a calm easy heart is better for shooting than a heart that is pounding away. Finally, if you are fit you may increase the years you have to live and thereby increasing the time you have to enjoy archery.

US Olympic Archers, London. A fit looking group

If you can’t run, due to poor fitness, you can walk. Start walking and see if it leads to running. If running simply isn’t your thing, there’s cycling. You might think about swimming. If you shoot a lot you’ll find swimming won’t give your deltoids and shoulders much of a break.

Archers are indeed athletes. As an athlete you need to consider the total picture of your health and fitness. Running or other cardio workouts might improve that picture.

Having a Training Plan

Each week I look over training plans. These cover the daily, weekly and monthly practice sessions. The plans are arranged around tournaments. Those tournaments are graded as A, B, or C events.

Coaching tip

‘A’ events are the major tournaments such as a State, National or World Championship. ‘B’ are typically local tournaments where I want to do well but leave some room to try new things and make adjustments. The ‘C’ events are mostly league shoots where I want to do well but may not have exactly what I need to provide the best score.

River surveying range before practice

During a ‘C’ event, such as indoor league, I might compete with outdoor arrows rather than the wider indoor arrows. In these events I focus on applying skills yet to be mastered that I worked on during the day at home.

The archery training plans I follow have blocked time everyday for fitness. Each morning there is a stretching routine followed by running before I pick up a bow. In the afternoon, before shooting I ride a bicycle. On one to two days a week, depending on the training cycle there is time allocated for lifting weights.

Nearly everyday includes a morning and afternoon archery practice. On days when there is an evening league shoot I might shorten the afternoon practice allowing for the additional time spent on the range at night.

The chase is on

The training plans are associated with specific goals. Improving, as an archer is best accomplished with exact plans in play for each practice. Incorporating general fitness is an important adjunct to being a complete athlete – even for archers. By following written training plan archers can increase the likelihood of accomplishing their goals.

Again, thanks for reading

In July 22,187 visitors read 40,185 pages at Puttingitontheline.com. Over the past 11 months 200,221 visitors read 505,486 pages here.

Looking over how long folks stay on this site most people are here for 3 minutes and 18 seconds, which is about how long it takes to read a post or two. There are (which surprised me a bit) 2.4% of readers that are on this site for 30 minute to one hour. Hopefully, these are folks that have found the site through some search and are catching up. Maybe you’ve read here and uncovered a pearl or two.

Something I really appreciate are your comments. Thanks for reading.

David

These old Newtons don’t owe me a dime.

Runners often get caught up in the latest shoe that is marketed to make them run faster. Personally, I like a shoe that feels good. I want shoes that have a wide toe box and won’t rub my toes wrong.

Time to say goodbye

Once, after a 1/2 marathon in Delaware, I took my shoes off to learn the more narrow toe box had chewed away a toe nail during the race.  Others followed after a few days of unsuccessfully trying to hang on. Since then, I’ve worn wider shoes.

The Newtons I wear seem just about perfect for my feet. Like must of us, my feet aren’t exactly the same. There not mismatched to the degree where one foot needs another size. Both feet are either 9.5 or 10.0 depending on the shoe. A little wider shoe compensates for the minor difference in my two feet.

Hello my new friends

I’ll run in a pair of shoes until they fall apart. Over time my shoes do fall apart. Those old Newtons (the red pair) had about a year of running in them before they gave up the ghost.

Being a Fit Archer

Coaching tip

You and I may have never met. It is an easy assumption considering 15,000 readers come to this site every month. Chances are you are an archer. Odds are you may not be in the greatest shape of your life.

Nearly every week I see a lot of archers. A good many of them are better archers than me. (To be fair – not that many) Here’s the thing, some of you are a bit overweight.

Archery takes a lot of practice and many hours to gain the skill you have and need. Most of you have a full time job, or in school, maybe have a family to support, and must find time to practice with your bow. You’re lucky to get an hour’s worth of shooting in a few times a week. There’s no time to do cardio work that will help keep your fitness. Therein lays the problem.

Eagleman Ironman triathlon

Over years and years of archery practice 3 – 4 times a week, working all day, and skipping exercise adds to your health in that it takes a toll. You’ll one day end up that old geezer flinging arrows huffing and puffing while trying to walk the range. Overtime, your waist sort of ballooned, your blood pressure increased, and sleep is intermittent at best. You may already be there.

I know I’m describing some of you. I’ve shot with archers in their 20s and 30s that had to stop and rest between targets on a 3D range. More than once I have been in a group where we needed to wait while an archer sat down and caught his breath before we could continue.

Ironman World Championship, Kona, HI

It is common to see “chunky” archers. I mean archers need to not move to be good. Hence, our sport isn’t going to burn the calories the way a triathlon does. But, being fit can help you stand still when you need to and stay an archer longer.

If you are concerned that you may be headed down the road of obesity, sleep apnea, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, find help now.

There’s a pro archer I knew in Europe. Three years ago he said, “The only time you’ll see me running is if I’m being chased.” He may have tried to run, but he’d not have gotten very far. A year later, after some health issues, he rides a bike, takes walks, and has improved in diet. He has, at last count, lost 50 pounds. Has his shooting improve, no he’s still really good. However, his health has improved significantly.

Someone yelled, “Get him” and I ran. Yes, that is grey in my beard

He may get slightly better as an archer in that he’ll have improved stamina toward the end of those long, shoot-a-lot tournaments where he finds himself in a shoot down. The weight loss and physical conditioning is going help make those long days shooting feel a bit less taxing.

It is hard work to be fit. It is a lot easier to not worry about fitness, practice archery only, and roll on down a path that leads to health problems. Those problems, by the way, will reduce the time you have to enjoy archery.

I don’t shoot for Elite. That “E” was a coincidence.

If you aren’t taking a total fitness approach to archery consider it. Overall, it will be good for you.

Get Some Sleep

It is too easy to stay awake after a long day. Too many of us don’t want to miss a night out or a night watching a favorite show. While at the time your doing whatever it is that is keeping you away from the sack it won’t help your athletic performance.

Coaching Tip

As a species we’re becoming more sleep deprived. How many hours do you sleep per night? Six, seven, five? That generally is not enough if you are looking for peek sports performance.

There are e numbers of studies that suggest humans need from 7.5 to 8.1 hours of sleep per night. It is my opinion athletes are better off on the more is better end of time sleeping.

Dr. Cheri Mah, of UCSF, took a look at what happens to athletes with they get more sleep. In her study, the subjects (college basketball players) were averaging 6.5 hours of sleep per night. They increased their sleep time to an average of 8.5 hours of sleep per night. (1)

By the end of the study the basketball players had increased their free throw percentage by 11.4% and their 3-point shooting by 13.7%. (2)

Image what you could do with an 11-13% improvement in you shooting.

Reference:

Lifting Weights

I took about 8 months off from the gym. It was a matter of a move, getting settled and finding a convenient and moderately price facility. Now that we’ve landed in Georgia a gym membership and weight lifting program is off of my to do list and part of my weekly training.

The gym I joined.

Lifting weights is an important adjunct to any athlete. After the Master’s Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia Tiger Woods was interviewed. During that Tiger pointed out the work it has taken him to try and bring himself back into competitive professional golf. One of his comments referred to time spent in the gym.

In nearly every sport there is an avenue among the training regime that leads the athlete to a weight room. Archery is no exception. It is obvious that not all or even most archers spend time at a gym.

Spending time lifting weights can become an asset to you during long tournaments where the weight of a bow and the drawing of an arrow can become physically draining. Not only can the arms and shoulders benefit of weight lifting, but also your core and legs (support the shot) should be part of your conditioning program.