All Day Training

It was cold enough this morning, 36° F, and windy enough to run me into my shed to practice 18-meters. The space heater inside the shed makes a significant difference and being blocked from wind is a bonus. But, this practice was just part of a long day.

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This space heater on the wall is excellent on cold days.

I shot for about an hour before heading into Elizabeth City for my fitness training. At the Y the first order of business was swimming. For whatever reason the Y here keeps their locker room at meat storage temperature. It’s bad preparing to get into pool; it is awful during the return trip. Being wet walking into that locker room is painful. Not as bad as sitting in a tub of ice, but bad enough.

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I moved the Tower of Targets to face the shed. Typically it sits closer to that leaning pine tree.
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The view from inside my shed toward the target (prior to moving it forward)

There is no break here in the locker room. A quick shower and change for weights. Weight lifting is a Monday, Wednesday, Friday activity. Afternoon archer practice following those mornings can be a challenge. Before getting to that challenge and after weights there was time spent on a treadmill.

Some folks can run on treadmills all day. I have a friend that routinely spends two hours exercising like a human version of a hamster. Six miles is the maximum I every gone on treadmill. If I plan to run far, I prefer doing it outdoors.

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Preparing to ride inside

With the treadmill behind me, it was home for lunch and more archery. Yes, as I thought, my arms let me know I’d been to the gym. While I didn’t shoot any worse or better than par for me, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday archery practice is less of a muscular marathon.

Writing now, I am on a break. Next on the plan is time on a bike. Why all the exercise, well it is good for me and good for archery.

EPO-Boost®

Training for all sports takes a lot of time. In archery, training for me is more than just shooting arrows all day – even though I shoot a lot of arrows all day.

Jerry Rice is the greatest wide receiver of all time and possibly the greatest all round football player ever. He was not the fastest or the biggest to play his position. He was the best at running patterns and he stayed healthy for nearly his entire career. Part of his success in football can be attributed to his off-season training.

All athletes have sports ability. One of the key abilities is “availability” – being healthy enough to train and showing up for training. At the London Olympics 7% of all athletes suffered an illness while at the Games. A sick or hurt athlete won’t perform at their maximum.

Part of my training for archery does include cardio work and weight lifting. My training also includes rest and diet.

I make an effort to hit the bed at the same time every night and awake at the same time everyday. I’d like to sleep more at night but 7.5 hours is all I can handle. I do take a short nap every day, about 30 minutes, after lunch between training sessions.

When it comes to diet one of the top priorities on my list is not eating at restaurants. There are times when that is impossible. Food that my wife or I haven’t prepared is always questionable. It’s not that we worry about germs; we are more concerned with the quality of the food.

My wife, also an athlete, and I eat well. We don’t follow any specific diet, like vegan, and eat what we enjoy. However, we eat food we’ve cooked and we don’t overeat. We consume very little processed food.

Neither of us drinks a lot of soft drinks or alcohol. She has a small glass of wine everyday. I made have a couple shots of whiskey (the good stuff) once every week to 10 days. If either of us has a beer, it is rare. Not that we don’t enjoy an occasional beer, it’s simple we don’t drink often.

Nutritional supplements also are low on our list of dietary intake. I take a multiple vitamin, but I doubt it does much to support health. I will add iron when I’ve been training really hard, say for a long road race or triathlon. I occasionally experience exercise-induced anemia and an over the counter iron supplement gets me back on track.

The only other supplement I take is a product from BRL Sports Nutrition. The product is EPO-Boost®. Before I added EPO-Boost® to my diet I studied it. In that study I first checked to be certain it was not a banned substance – it is not banned. Then, I turned to the scientific data on the primary active ingredient Echinacea purpurea.

Echinacea purpurea comes from a North American plant and was used in Native American medicine. There is research to support that it reduces colds and may shorten recovery time.

What I found is that while taking EPO-Boost®, I was able to train, race the Ironman 70.3 New Orleans, a few weeks later race the Ironman Eagleman 70.3 and a week later race the Mt. Evans Ascent in Colorado. The very next day I raced a 5K in Boulder. What I am saying is that my recovery time seemed enhanced. It didn’t dawn how much the association with the EPO-Boost® may have helped until I reviewed my training and race notes. After that I published two papers on that association of EPO-Boost and performance.

What I find as important is that since I began taking it in 2012 I have not been ill. To be fair, I rarely ever got an illness. But, occasionally, I would catch a cold. I have not had a cold in four years and I do not take flu shots.

How does this help me in archery – availability and recover. Staying healthy means I have more time available to train. Having a fast recovery means I can take a greater advantage of the time I have available.

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Disclaimer: My comments are purely anecdotal. BRL Sports Nutrition is one of my sponsors. They did not ask me to write this post. They do provide me with TriFuel® and EPO- Boost®. TriFuel® is their sports drink. (Sports drinks are an important consideration during long tournaments and training)

Weight Lifting and Archery

This is not a post about which exercises are best for archery. It’s about a heavy day in the gym followed by trying to hit a decent shot afterwards.

It is important for people in sports lift weights.  All sports seem to gain a benefit from lifting.  It is also a good way to protect from the loss of muscle mass as we age.

Today was a long one in the gym.  It felt good and the YMCA where I lift in Elizabeth City was quieter than usual.  Taking advantage of a basically empty weight room I skipped swimming and spent extra time lifting.

Back home, after lunch and a break, it was time to pick up my bow for afternoon practice.  Not for the first time following a heavy workout I shot poorly.  Shooting around 100 arrows at a 3-spot I hit three 8s.  Hitting 10s was more frequent but the winner of the scores where the nines.

Compared to weights in the gym the Elite bow in my hand felt light.  Even so, there was a bit of a post workout tremble somewhat like a muscle vibration during many of the shots.

Tomorrow things will be better and  time in the gym pays off in many ways.

A Rare Day Without Wind

There was no wind. Not even a puff of it. That usually only happens when it is about 100°F. Not today, the temperature this morning was around 70°F. An ideal temperature for running three miles. The lack of wind made it perfect for shooting.

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No white caps today

The next event on my schedule is an 18-meter indoor competition. It starts at 10:00 AM. A 10:00 AM start means shooting through lunch and impacting naptime. You know the first scoring arrows aren’t going off until 10:30 AM. It will take three and a half to four hours to finish shooting. That means by the midpoint of the tournament it is lunchtime. Shortly after lunch is naptime.

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Barely a hint of a breeze

So, I’ve been moving slower in the morning to adjust my body to the cycle of the upcoming shoot. As such, I run a little later. River, my four-legged running partner, doesn’t seem to mind the delay. The issue is that running later means that there is a greater chance the winds will have picked up a bit off the river. Today, at 10:00 AM there was still no wind off the river.

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River is good to run on any schedule or hang out and eat a stick. Either way, no problem.

Not wanting to push my luck I didn’t even change from my running clothes before shooting. There aren’t too many wind-free days here and I enjoyed this one. Once the morning exercise and training were complete I had a nice lunch and took a short nap.   A short 15 to 30 break after eating is a good way to break up a day of training. The break resets the day. Following the break it is time to begin the afternoon training schedule.

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Hurry, hurry, hurry. (I’ve been trail running hence the orange cap.)

At the upcoming competition I will bring a small lunch. The sandwich will be quartered. I’ll eat a quarter every 15 minutes or so starting around 11:30 AM. The idea is not to put a large bolus of food into my gut at once. What that does is shifts blood flow to the stomach to aid digestion and is one of the reasons we might get sleepy after a meal. The tournament judges don’t offer a break for nap time. So, small bites are best.

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Shoot and pull

Once I commented to a judge that we were shooting during naptime. He didn’t respond with a snide remark. He concurred and seemed saddened by the reminder. We both soldiered on.

By shifting my training schedule I hope to get ready to reach peak performance during a specific time of day. There are days where I shoot indoors to best replicate the competitive environment. Travel to and from an indoor range kills about an hour of time that could be otherwise used to train. A day without wind is a pretty good deal when is comes to saving time. Shooting at roughly the same time of a scheduled tournament helps get the body ready to perform at a specific time.

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A problem with running shorts is that the quiver wants to slip down.

As John Kessel of USA Volley said, “The Game Teaches the Game.”

An Eye on Exercise

Archery is not a sport where the athletes involved are going to gain a lot of fitness. ESPN created a method to determine the level whereby sports could be evaluated related to: endurance, strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility, hand-eye coordination, nerve, durability and analytic aptitude. Of the sixty sports measured boxing topped the list of 60. 1 Archery ranked 55th followed by curling, bowling, shooting (non-archery), billiards, and fishing.1 Depending on how you search sports there is some variance in ranking. Archery is never among the most difficult when measuring athletic fitness.

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If you have read the site you may be aware that fitness is a frequent topic. Archers to some degree are not really fit. That is not to suggest that a skilled archer is not a great athlete. It is my opinion that being physically fit is an important adjunct to an archer.

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As a former internationally competitive cyclist and later triathlete I continue to complement archery with the training needed for those sports. In other words, I still run, swim, cycle and lift weights. Occasionally, I log the distances I walk while practicing archery.

Swim Start of the F1 Triathlon in San Diego

On one of those recent occasions I continued to log distances, after running, using my Garmin Forerunner 310XT while I trained against an 18 meter 3-spot. In that session of shooting I walked an additional 1.66 miles.

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Walking less than two miles is not a huge accomplishment. Still not everyone can walk that far. It seems easy, but there a many people who consider 1.66 miles quite a hike. The calories burned per hour, for me, during that session of archery was 238. Obviously, there is more involved with archery than walking, but not much related to physical activity. Without adding archery for the 1.66 miles (walking only) the caloric burn is 203. On average I shoot 4 hours per day and burn 952 calories through archery.

Considering the other exercise I do, I think of it as an adjunct to archery. Being more fit means I can practice longer. It may also help me live longer. Fitness isn’t the sole avenue to longevity but it does help. Fitness and strength training, at least for me, are part of my archery-training program.

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Adding a fitness program to your archery training can be beneficial. If you aren’t already involved in other training systems, it is a good idea to have a physician give you a green light to begin.

Reference: http://www.espn.com/espn/page2/sportSkills

We Need T-Shirts in Archery

It was just a 5K. I run a lot of 5K races. This one was canceled last year because of a hurricane. Runners that had signed up were given entry to this year’s race at no charge – other than what we paid in 2015. They had my money, so I ran.

A 5K is fast. They hurt from start to finish. It’s not the same hurt as a marathon. What is nice is they are over in minutes not hours. You run, you hurt and you’re done.

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View near the start of the race

In most 5K races I finish high, I can hurt with the best of them. Because of my age group, in the 60 – 69 year segment, I rarely hang around for the $2.00 medal. It takes longer to wait on the medal than to run the race. They start handing out the awards for the younger age groups first. I checked the medals out after this race and didn’t pause as I passed them. Mardi Gras beads are more impressive. What I really wanted was the t-shirt. Oh yes, I got my thin neon yellow crappy t-shirt. Man, if it wasn’t for races I’d have very little to wear.

I’ve got stacks of race t-shirts. They don’t give t-shirts to archers, which I think is a rip -off. The fee to compete in an archery tournament is more expensive than a 5K yet there is no swag in archery.

I’ve gotten so many t-shirts I began having them made into quilts to give away. These days my family members remind me how happy they are with their t-shirt quilt and no they don’t really need another. Even my wife, Brenda, has tactfully pointed out we don’t need another, even though I’ve suggested we could always use another quilt in the winter,  Brenda has offered to share a quilt with my dog.  I declined her offer.

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The tide was pretty high under a bridge we ran over (I took this picture before the run)

Since most of the competitive events I’ve done thus far in 2016 have been archery I’ve sadly only collected 7 new t-shirts. All are really tacky looking. Heck, tacky t-shirts and willing sponsors are abundant for running and triathlon. Seems like archers could get in on the t-shirt give away.

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Another nice finish of a run

Overuse

Swimming in the lane next to me at the YMCA was a triathlete. This was evident because of his swim cap, it read Ironman Maryland.

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The green swim cap was laying on the deck at the pool.

Ironman Maryland was once named Chesapeake Man and is held in Cambridge, Maryland. Cambridge is one of the few cities (perhaps the only city) that hosts a 140.6 mile Ironman and a 70.3 mile Ironman race. When the Ironman group purchased the Chesapeake Man event they renamed it Ironman Maryland. The price for the “Chesapeake Man” also increased. Checking the prices to do another Ironman the entry fees ranged from $675.00 to $760.00. At those prices, well archery is a lot less expensive.

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The triathlete in the swim lane next to me was preparing for Ironman North Carolina. Should I decide to do another Ironman this would be a race to consider. It’s the old Beach to Battleship course and the swim portion of the event is nearly as good as the swim segment of the Ironman 70.3 in August where you swim with the current.

Augusta 70.3 Ironman in Augusta, Georgia. Swim scenic image from the 5th street bridge over the Savannah River
Augusta 70.3 Ironman in Augusta, Georgia.
Swim scenic image from the 5th street bridge over the Savannah River

Despite the price, the inconveniences, and early morning swim start time not a day passes where I don’t have the urge to enter another Ironman. Hardly day passes where I don’t run, ride, swim and many days a combination of the three. Granted, I don’t train with the intensity or duration I did preparing for an Ironman but I train hard enough to be successful at shorter distances triathlons, runs, or bike races. In addition, I train and practice primarily as an archer.

Training for archery and competing is essentially a full time endeavor. The triathlon-like exercise is part of my general fitiness plan. That plan includes weight liftng which is beneficial to protect muscle mass and help prevent injuries. Rarely, does a day end that I am not ready for a good night’s sleep even though I try to get a 20 – 30 minute nap after lunch everyday. What I am saying is I do a lot of exercise. However, I’ve never considered myself one of physically gifted people built for sports.

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Unlike me this guy at the Y was built for triathlon. He was tall, lean, and muscular. He looked like a triathlete. See, I’m not tall and somewhat stocky (not fat – only 9% of my weight is body fat).

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Do you know your Body Fat %

As is the case, it’s nearly impossible to cross paths with another triathlete and not exchange war stories. This phenomenon is true with archers as well as all other athletes. Naturally, the swimmer next to me and I momentarily exchanged a few past glories.

What I learned is that the youngster next to me was in the 40 – 44 year old age group. I recall that period most fondly – I recall it as a time when I was in the best shape of my life (at least for long distances.) I am not alone believing that the 40 – 44 years were good, it seems that is one of the toughest age group in which to race. I think after 60 it is more a matter of attrition.

He further explained he was tired and his body was worn out from overuse. That was surprising. That is also why properly planned, scheduled and followed recovery days are critical.

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To be able to compete in several sports for a lifetime requires time off from hard physical activity to allow the body to restore itself.  That doesn’t mean no physical activity, active recover is okay.  Still, there must be times when lounging and sleep are the best forms of training. Part of my strategy is to outlive my competition. One of the tactics is to train hard and another is to get plenty of rest.  Overuse is not good.

Running with the Pack

Before I started archery practice today I ran and then rode one of my bikes. That, in the triathlete’s lingo is known as a ‘Brick.’ The run was a special one today. River and I were joined by Coco, as usual. Today was different, we were greeted by Cornbread.

Cornbread is the Old Dog here on the river. He’s a reddish mix of Labrador and golden retriever. He’s exact age is unknown to me. But, I think I heard he’s around eleven.

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These are truly great friends

Running with a pack of dogs is a treat. Each morning when we gather River and Coco go through a ritual. In that their tails are high, ears are perked, and heads cocked. Then, it is an all out sprint where they jump ditches, sometimes over and sometimes into, as they leap at one another and bump shoulders. They occasionally pause as if to take a breather, check each other for inadvertent damage, and then start the melee again. At times they try to include me where I seem to become a sort of home base. They aim at me, running full speed, and if I am amiss with my dodge I will hit the ground. They don’t jump on me; they try to run me over.

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Pure delight

It was on the way home that our small pack was met by Cornbread. Cornbread is no longer a frisky young dog. He did, however, puff up and give the girls a gallant trot. River and Coco seemed to understand he is a grand old dog. The immediately slowed their run, hovered around Cornbread and it appeared they gave him a slight bow of their heads. There was a reverence to the greeting.

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The girls and Cornbread

The girls, their attention waning, sprinted away and caught me on the final leg home. Once home both jumped into the Little River for a short swim before they got their snack, a Milkbone each.

Coco stayed with us a bit longer than usual. Perhaps hoping for another biscuit or maybe another swim. It’s always sad to watch her walk home alone. Maybe Cornbread came out and said hello again as she made her way back to her house.

There are few pleasures more enjoyable than running with dogs. During my cycling I checked on Coco, she was taking a nap in the shade of a tree. Cornbread, I guessed had gone inside to sleep it off. River stayed home while I was cycling, asleep under my desk where she’s relaxed since she was a puppy.

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River, ready for a nap

Seeking New Mountain Bike Trails

Near my home are ample roads for cycling. There isn’t a lot traffic here in the “sticks.” So, cycling, riding on roads, is a real treat. There are also, as yet not completely explored, off road trails and paths that exit the paved, gravel, and dirt roads here in Perquimans County. About once a week or so, rather than riding a road bike, I head out on my mountain bike with the intention of discovering what lays down those paths and trails that lead away from more substantial thoroughfares.IMG_5405

After my morning junket with River, she likes to run before it gets too hot, I gathered my mountain bike, cell phone and water bottle. I mixed TriFuel for the water bottle before I headed out to where I wanted a closer look.

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Along the way I found an abandon pier that led over a dried-up swamp. Typically, there would be water under the pier. We’ve had so little rain here during the past month the wetlands aren’t as wet as normal.

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Most of the trails I followed led nowhere. There were a lot of dead ends. Many of them terminated at creeks or swamps. What I’d like to have is a nice 6 to 10 mile off road loop. I have smaller loops, 1 to 3 miles, but after awhile they begin to feel like the minor circles they are.

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Even though I didn’t find an ideal loop I did get a fairly nice 8-mile out and back. It was a break from riding around in circles that can easily be double or tripled to make the ride worthwhile.

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