Looking Cool – I’ve Failed

Runner’s World recently published an article; seemingly aimed toward men, describing how to look cool while running.1 It came as a bit of a surprise to me. All these years of running and I never knew that there was a “look”. Reading over the work I learned I am far from looking cool when I run. I suspect my uncool running appearance crosses over to other sports like cycling, shooting, hunting and no doubt swimming.

In my naivety it never occurred that I should get ‘fixed-up’ to work out. The Runner’s World example of the man, appropriately attired for running in the magazine, is vastly different than my misconceived notion of work out attire.

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I’m just not feeling it

The model male runner, per Runner’s World, is neat, clean, and wears expensive colorful clothing. His hair is done up and he wears a sweet little wrist bracelet. I fail on all accounts – not even close.

My shirts are worn out covers picked up from some race. My jackets, for cold weather, aren’t washed after every run, or for that matter every month. The jacket’s sleeves are littered with snot and none is newer than 6 years. I don’t ‘do up’ my hair. That makes no sense because I can cover it with a hat. I don’t own a bracelet. Even if I did the thing bouncing around on my wrist while running would drive me crazy (crazy being a matter of degree.) The only jewelry I wear is a wedding ring, a Crucifix and St. Christopher on the same chain, and a watch. I don’t always wear the watch.

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The hat was a gift, the t-shirt a hand-me-down from my father. The sweat and snot all contributed by yours truly.

When it comes to cycling, I wear the same team kits I got, in some instances, a decade or more ago. My cycling outer winter gear follows the same rule of running gear when it comes to washings. I admit I never wear the same cycling shorts more than once without washing them.

When it comes to tournament shooting, if possible, I’ll wear some t-shirt in the summer. It is Africa hot in the Southern States and there’s no point in making myself less comfortable. If I must wear something with a collar, typically indoor tournaments, I’ll grab some old shirt that will pass official judgment by the most minimal standards. Because, I am unsponsored by anyone that supplies those bowling shirts so many archers wear I am free to express myself in more luxurious ways.

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Looking sharp at the 2014 IBO World Championships. (Failed on the bowling shirt)

When it comes to hunting I’ve made very little investment into camo gear – one pair of camo cargo pants from Wal-Mart. Why bother with a lot of expense camo if you are hunting deer? They probably won’t see you unless you are in the open waving your arms. Deer can see colors and many camo pattern colors match what they see best.  Squint your eyes so that there is just enough of a slit to see through. Everything will be quite blurry. That’s how a deer sees. Deer are great as seeming movement. Remaining still and quiet are my top priorities when sitting in a tree stand.

I even fail at swimming dress. My ‘jammers’ (competitive swim trunks) are often worn out from the chlorine saturated pool water and all swim caps look stupid. I replace the jammers when I can push a finger through the fabric. Granted, by then they are thin – but, who is really looking?

Despite my failure finding a need to feel “pretty” or “fixed-up” to train, compete or hunt I gain a lot of pleasure from sports. You can rest assured I will never be that guy looking in the mirror to check himself out prior to a workout.

Reference:

  1. Runner’s World, Nov 2015, page 34.

 

 

Something Easy to Improve Your Shooting

We live very close to Virginia. So close that our daily newspaper is “The Virginia Pilot.” In today’s edition there was an article, which got me well “fired-up.”

Sleep medicine has been a huge part of my life. So, whenever I see an article in print about sleep it catches my eye. Flipping through paper, this morning, there was ‘Advice’ published by Dear Abby related to a matter of sleep.

The sad writer wrote to describe an issue related to sleep and detailed the sleeping behavior of each family member. Dear Abby responded in 83 words. Dear Abby missed potential serious sleep problems.1 Well, Dear Abby isn’t a sleep expert and all I can do is forget it, move on, and give you some free advice about sleep that will improve your shooting.

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Who better to provide expert opinions on anything?

Let’s image for a moment that your form is flawless, bow tuned, arrows perfectly balanced, you’ve been shooting and winning a lot of local and regional events. You’ve even got your Jedi mind game going to ensure every shot hits the mark. However, you feel that you’re simply not living up to your potential or that occasionally the ‘Force’ isn’t with you.

Even if you think you are performing your best what I’m going to tell you will improve your shooting. Not only that, it could improve your health. It is simple and like Coach Bela Karolyi said to Kerri Strug during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, “You Can Do It!”

What is this simple activity? We all do it, but most people don’t do it enough – Get some sleep!

The majority of us sleeps 6.8 hours per night. 2 The average person, ages 26 – 64 needs 7 – 9 hours of sleep.3 Chances are you need to more sleep. Odds are you’re slightly sleep deprived – maybe even a lot. There is a wealth of information describing the negative impact of sleep deprivation on the Internet. If you are interested do a search, you’ll have enough information to get you on a path to better sleep hygiene or medical evaluation for a possible sleep disorder. But, little is available regarding the matter of getting more sleep – how does that improve performance?

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Several years ago my path crossed with Dr. Cheri Mah of Stanford. We were both interested in post-operative pain management and the use of opiates. At that time, I later learned, she,  Bill Dement, MD, and others had studied basketball player and sleep.4, 5 Dr. Dement and I had once prepared a research study to look at sleep deprivation and performance in cyclists during the Race Across America – we didn’t get funded. Soon afterwards, a similar study was funded. (You win some and you lose some.) So, I am always interested in what he’s doing in sleep research.

What Mah and her team’s study revealed is that college basketball players gained a 9% increase on free throws and a 9.2% increase on 3-point shots simply by getting more sleep. Those are huge increases in performance. 4 Can this analysis be carried over to archery – absolutely. Sleep is a key element of archery performance.6

You might not be able to increase your sleep time by 110 minutes, the mean increase in the study, but you can try. Most of us can’t get up later, so go to bed earlier. Really, there’s nothing worth watching on televisions and Facebook isn’t a job. By increasing your sleep you will find improvement in your performance.

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According to sleep scientist Cheri Mah, many pro athletes get more sleep than the average person. Credit: Zeo(ref, 4,7)

By the way, never watch television in bed. When I interviewed patients with sleep problems I always asked if they went to bed and turned the TV on. It was alarming how many said they did. The bed is good for two things and sleep is one of them. Practice good sleep and see if it doesn’t help your shooting.

References:

  • 1 Dear Abby, The Virginia Pilot, Oct. 20, 2015
  • http://www.gallup.com/poll/166553/less-recommended-amount-sleep.aspx
  • 3 https://sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need
  • 4 Mah CD; Mah KE; Kezirian EJ; Dement WC. The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players. SLEEP 2011;34(7):943-950
  • 5 M: Faster, Higher, Stronger. The New Science of Creating Superathletes, and How You Can Train Like Them. Chapter 9, Hit the Snooze Button. Pp 164 – 172. Plume, NY, NY 2014.
  • 6 http://www.esdf.org/discover-archery/from-the-basics-to-the-podium/high-performance-tournaments/
  • 7 http://www.technologyreview.com/view/424608/extra-sleep-boosts-basketball-players-prowess/

Darleen’s Flamingo 5K

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2014

When I ran Darleen’s Flamingo in 2014 I knew I’d run it again.  It’s a 5K.  I really like 5K runs.  This one was really special.  The race benefits the Shepard Cancer Foundation in Washington, NC in honor of Darleen Smith.  It is held in Belhaven, North Carolina.

In 2014 I ended up 3rd in my age group and 31st overall.  This year I’m hoping for some improvement over 2014.

What captured me was the spirit of the crowd.  The race was one of the happiest 5K’s I’ve ever participated in. What’s more, the post race food was the second best of any race.  The best was in Tampa following a race I’ve forgotten other than the food.

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They’ve moved the time from the evening, which was also cool, to 9:00 am.  It’s a 90 minute drive from my home and doesn’t require a super early wake up call. All things considered, I am looking forward to this event.

Rain, Rain and More Rain

 

12036673_873278652767872_5329785065186097861_nThe race scheduled for tomorrow has been canceled. Not because a hurricane is going to descend upon us, rather because the course will be partially underwater. The heavy rain and high tides have conspired to ruin our fun.

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IMG_0568It sucks when races are canceled. Aside from the 5K here in North Carolina the Ironman Maryland was canceled. Man, what a mess. Entry fee for that event is $650.00. The entry fee is only part of the cost. Those triathletes invest in equipment, sometimes years of training to prepare, hotels, travel expenses and food. The race canceled here in North Carolina was far less pricey. Still, I’d like my money back or have it applied to another event.

 

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We’ve been stuck inside for the most part of everyday for the last two weeks. I’ve not been as vigilant remaining indoors as my wife Brenda. Foul weather gear and boots or disregard and contempt have opened the door of escape for me.

Thankfully, there is an indoor range not too far away.

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End of a scheduled break

Today is the end of a rest period. That means I haven’t picked up my bow in four days. Frankly, I needed the break. In all sports athletes need to make certain that rest periods are included in training.

I do the same for running, swimming and cycling. With a race on Saturday I am tapering a little for that event. As part of that taper I’ll run 3 easy miles this afternoon. On Tuesday I won’t run, Wednesday will be speed work in the form of intervals, then short easy running on Thursday and Friday. But, for archery – I truly needed the break.

Shooting twice a day for months on end can wear down joints and muscles. Granted, I make sure I have rest days throughout my training. However, four days in a row was the longest break I’ve had in months. Believe me, it wasn’t easy.

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1st shot a little too high, 2nd a little too low, 3rd just right

By the end of my scheduled break I was more than eager to get out shoot. I was a little off, but not much. We have a storm off the coast and the winds have been steady at 25 mph. In order to shoot I had to ‘hide’ behind a shed. I still got pushed around a bit but did fair at 35 yards. Any closer or further from the target and I was standing in a wind tunnel.

Riding the Computrainer

images-1A close friend of mine is Savannah, who isn’t a competitive cyclist, asked me, ‘What is a Computrainer?” I’d mentioned my Computrainer in a post and she wanted to know more about it. While she isn’t a bicycle ‘racer’ she does ride for fun. So, Cathy – here is a bit about a Computrainer:

Computrainer is a product by Racermate, Inc. located in Seattle, Washington. It is a ‘trainer’ whereon you can attach your bicycle. This allows you to train indoors when going outside isn’t an option.

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Looking down while training, control display on my handle bars, Ironman Texas on the Computer

Riding a trainer for hours is a mental bore. However, Racermate has designed a system that creates a entertaining interface for your bicycle and a variety of computer enhancements.

Their software displays many sports physiological bits of data, such as power, revolution per minute, average torque angle, caloric output, heart rate and other useful information. There are methods to evaluate each legs performance, set training course, set an avatar, race others and my favorite ride an actual course while viewing it.

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View of the some of the data provided during a training session

Of all the training tools I’ve ever owned the Computrainer is the best. In fact, some triathletes train exclusively on the Computrainer and leave outside riding for race day.

Recently, I converted a shed to house my training set-up along with some of my other bikes, archery equipment, swimming gear, and ham radio. Personally, I appreciate riding the Computrainer while watching other races. Sometimes, I’ll watch the DVD of Ironman Kona, another Ironman event, or Tour de France stage  while racing the course. Or I can watch a movie while data is displaced on the   controller attached to my bike’s handle bars.

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Some of my bikes and my Computrainer set-up

If you’re a cyclist or triathlete you probably already know about this product. If you’re an archer – believe me there is nothing in our sport that matches what a Computrainer can do to improve your performance.

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This is a tough workout

Solo Morning Practice / Afternoon Practice

Shooting practice is often a solo activity. That can be good, but there are times it would be nice to practice with company. Livings in very rural North Carolina odds are that nearly all my practice is solo.

An advantage I have is I never need to what for range time. I can step outside and shoot at paper targets or 3D. During the winter or when there is bad weather having somewhere to practice indoors is nice.

In Elizabeth City, NC a new indoor range has opened. Brenda, my wife, was heading to the Y for an extra workout. I wasn’t, my workouts were up to par, and so I headed to the new indoor range.

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One lonely bow on an empty (well nearly empty) range

Cost for an hour of shooting is $6.00. The range is marked at 20 and 25 yards. I paid my fee and decided on 20 yards. I had the range all to myself. Another solo day and this day I was glad to be alone.

Shooting a 5-spot indoors, no wind, no pressure, I shot like crap. I don’t think I ever shot five Xs in a row. Lately, that’s how my shooting has been running.

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This cat is always hard to see in the afternoon.

Back at home; in the afternoon I shot 3D. I’ll admit, there are some days that are better than others, and some months that are better as well. I think shooting with other folks adds another dimension to archery that makes me take it up a notch. For now, the best I can do to find other folks to shot with is head to as many tournaments as possible.

Another Good Day in the South

It was a great day to be outside. The high temperature was 76°F and the humidity was low. It won’t last and winter will be here soon enough. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy fall and plan for winter.

When I awoke this morning there was no wind coming off the river. I made a breakfast of waffles and bacon then took this as opportunity to shoot holes into paper targets.   I saved my run for later in the morning.

That run would follow a swim and weight lifting. The swim was a bit of a bust. All the lanes were filled with folks whose vibe and thrashing style swim stay make sharing a lane unlikely. There were only four lanes being used. One third of the pool was reserved for “Family Swim.” With school in session not too many families are at the pool. Actually, there were no families at the pool.

There was one elderly lady floating in the third of the pool reserved for “Family Swim.” The Y had this portion of the pool blocked so that there was no possible way to swim more than 12.5 yard before swimming into a lane divider.

The elderly lady was sort of bobbing around in an area no more that a couple of yards circumference. She had 1/3 of the pool to bob up and down but needed only a few yards. When she finally completed her bobbing the lifeguard removed the lane divider and I was free to swim. Still, I’d lost 20 minutes waiting so my time was cut short leaving only enough for a kilometer swim before I needed to meet Brenda to lift weights.

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After we finished lifting weight we both got on treadmills. This was my delayed morning run. I don’t enjoy treadmills, but they allow me to set a pace and hold it. Running outside is more fun, however I  daydream and before I know it my pace has slowed. You can’t do that on a treadmill.

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Once Brenda and I got back to our home on the river we took our Carolina Skiff out for a spin. There are many little creeks that feed into Little River and they’re always fun to explore. We spent over an hour heading up one creek before returning to the main river and heading home.

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I’d wanted to get back with plenty of time to shoot 3D. I got in another two hours of shooting before it was time to head in and start preparing dinner. Before I called it quits outside there was a shot I’d wanted to take and today I took it.

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There’s a bear in them woods
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This is cropped from the above photo. If you look real hard you can just imagine seeing that bear target

I’d noticed that I could clearly see my cinnamon bear from the back yard. At 80 yards there was a shot. The worst that would happen is I’d lose an arrow. In fact, I didn’t lose the arrow and popped a 10. Like I said, it was a great day to be outside.

 

 

 

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80 yards and on the line for a 10.

Running With the Dogs

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The girls taking a break in a water filled ditch

Prior to shooting this morning I ran. River, my dog, ran with me. After about a mile we were joined by Coco. Coco (the light coat Lab) is a good friend and joins us on nearly every run. For the most part River and Coco sprint and chase one another while I plod along for the next mile or so. Then, as they get hot, winded, and begin to slow I plod past them. By mile three they are inline and running at my pace. In fact, they often take breaks in water filled ditches to cool down. When it comes to running long distances in the heat it is good to be human.

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At the turn around point – my running partners ready to head home

Time to Review Goals and Plans

Throughout my life in sports when I trained there were goals.  Whether the goals are personal or professional it is good to have them set.

Once a goal has been reached the question becomes – what now? I manage goals and the “what now” dilemma by setting short-term, intermediate, and long term-goals. My ultimate goal is to have my cremated remains shot out of a cannon across the river where I live. In the meantime, there is a lot to be done.

A short-term goal I had was to compete as a professional archer at a World Championship. By qualifying as a professional I was able to accomplish that this August. Yes, that was a “short-term” goal.

In archery, many of my goals were established to create a forward momentum and to learn. Part of the learning is to gain a ‘feel’ for the various levels of competition and an understanding of tournaments. That is, to become comfortable shooting despite the conditions.

Becoming comfortable during an archery tournament is more important that many people might consider. If you’ve been competition for decades, you’re probably comfortable. You probably have a group of your friends that you shoot with during a tournament. Your arrangement is social, easy, relaxed and supportive.

When I land at an event I never know whom I’ll end up shooting with or against. Where I’ve shot multiple times, I do better. I am more comfortable there. However, for the most part, it is always a little awkward.

For that reason, one of my goals was to shoot at least 2 competitions per month in the 2015 3D season. That activity and that goal would help in the mid-term when I arrived to qualify for a spot to compete at the IBO World Championships. On that day, I would be shooting with guys I knew in Delaware and Maryland. I’d also be shooting further away from the target and didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my friends. At times, it can be more difficult to shoot with friends that you haven’t seen in a few months than when shooting against strangers. When the shoot was over, I wasn’t embarrassed.

I didn’t win the World Championship –it wasn’t a goal for 2015. Being realistic and having first picked up a compound bow 23 months and a week prior to the IBO event my plan was a bit more realistic. The plan was to shoot against the best in the world and to become more comfortable during that level of competition. My goal to win isn’t until 2017.

In the meantime there are goals and milestones. Along the way, experimenting and learning there have been some humiliating moments. Those times are when I shot a 5 or, as happened 3 times this year, missing the target entirely.

Thus far, in 2015 I have shot 500 arrows during competition. Since January I’ve competed 19 times or just over 2 tournaments per month. Of those I took 1st four times. That means that 21% of the time – I win.

There were also some rather sad days where I didn’t perform to par. Fifty-three percent of the time I ended up 4th place or lower. My second worst shooting of the year came at the 2015 IBO World Championship. During practice, on the Defense Range, I shot great. Apparently, I left all my good shots there. When shooting for the money, I shot badly.

That is one of the reasons I went to the tournament. Not to shoot poorly but to get the feel for the level of competition. I was uncomfortable which was entirely a mental error. One of the goals is to overcome mental stress during competitions. That comes, in part, with competition at all levels.

As I review the upcoming fall and winter tournaments, I’ll be looking at the tactics involved in achieving my goals and the plan itself. During this phase I may realign goals or completely change some of them. As with all sports, athletes should set goals, have tactics to help achieve the goals and evaluate performance. During the process adjustments will be necessary. Don’t be afraid to change things up a bit.

Good luck with your plan.