Monthly Archives: May 2012

TRX Suspension Training

By Pete Williams

Six years ago, we were contacted by representatives of a new product called the TRX Suspension Trainer. They wondered if we’d be interested in reviewing the TRX and talking with one of their founders on our Fitness Buff Radio Show.

If only we could buy stock in some of these companies we’ve been among the first to publicize, a group that also includes the Perfect Push-up, Five-Hour Energy, and Powerplate. We’ve been big fans of the TRX since 2006. With help from Sophia Zayfman, who has three TRX certifications, we demonstrated the TRX on ABC Action News over the weekend.

Leave a comment

Filed under ABC 28 TV Fitness Tips, Training

A Cardio Wake-up Call

Editor’s Note: David Adams, a University of Tampa student and U.S. Army veteran, is comparing obstacle race preparation and other endurance regimens to the training he underwent in the military. In a series of stories for EnduranceSportsFlorida.com this summer, he’ll write about his progress.

By David Adams

Off road at Picnic Island

On Friday evening I participated in my first obstacle course since leaving the Army, the Picnic Island Adventure Run in Tampa.

Hundreds of competitors showed up, and the starting line was crowded. The course design was challenging, and many elements of the race were similar to obstacle runs and competitions I took part in while in the military. I finished the 3.6-mile course in 101st place overall (out of 274 men) with a time of 35:35.

My conditioning (or lack thereof) played a major role in my finish and although I am in good physical condition, Picnic Island was a cardio wake-up call.

Picnic Island is a beach park offering amazing views of Tampa Bay, nestled behind a small industrial district at the very end of Westshore Boulevard. The course was designed with endurance running in mind as right from the start we were running in sand. After a short distance, the route led us into shin-deep water, soaking my shoes and ensuring the rest of my run would be completed in wet footwear.

From there, the race took an uphill turn and led us from the beach into the park. Other obstacles were set up throughout the race in addition to several areas where runners were forced to wade through waist-deep water. The obstacles included a small area of dirt hills, a low crawl underneath cargo netting, a tire run, and a small “wall” jump. At the very end of the race we were required to swim out into the bay around a floating buoy and back to shore.

Compared to the obstacle courses and competitive runs I took part in while in the military, Picnic Island was very challenging. The major difference was the obstacles. Those in military competition were usually more physically demanding. For example, instead of crawling in sand under a cargo net, during my training in Air Assault School we conducted an obstacle course that required trainees to low crawl through mud underneath barbed wire.

Other than the difference in obstacle construction, there were no other glaring differences. If anything, the course design of Picnic Island took runners on a more demanding route than any of my Army runs.

Runners must wade around a buoy

My conditioning at the start of this race was not what I was hoping. I twice had to stop for ten-second breathers, which was very disappointing. Although I run regularly during my training schedule, I never thought to run off-road. I paid the price as I was gassed by the end of the run. I have made the decision to change my training regimen and tailor it more towards endurance and cardio training over the summer in hopes of improving my run times over the summer.

I had a great time at Picnic Island, and I view it as a valuable learning experience.  I am going to strive for improvement on my run times, and am planning to start off-road running on a regular basis in an attempt to improve my endurance.  While 35:35 might not be the fastest time, I am happy with the results of my first adventure run, and look forward to seeing marked improvement after my next race.

1 Comment

Filed under Races, Running, Training

How Do CrossFit, Boot Camps and Obstacle Races Compare to Military Training?

Editor’s Note: How do popular fitness regimens such as boot camps, CrossFit, and obstacle race preparation compare to actual military training? We’ve assigned David Adams to find out. A U.S. Army veteran who was twice deployed to Iraq, David now is a University of Tampa student and avid fitness enthusiast. For the next three months, he’ll train via every popular fitness routine and enter Central Florida obstacle races to see which is the best preparation – and if any of them measure up to actual military PT. David will compete in the Picnic Island Adventure Run in Tampa Friday night (May 11) and write periodically on his findings. He’ll also report on endurance sports news and trends. Here’s his preview of the next three months.

By David Adams

I joined the Army in the spring of 2004 and left for basic training that September. While I always considered myself athletic oriented, once I arrived at boot camp I was introduced into a new world of fitness.

My fellow trainees and I were subjected to a full range of physically demanding activities during 16 weeks of training. Long-distance running and road marches left me nursing large blisters, shin splints, and other lower body injuries.

The first few weeks of basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia were hell. Never had I trained at such an intense level. The intensity had its payoffs, though, and when I graduated basic training in December I was in better shape than during any of my athletic seasons in high school. Being in shape took on a whole new meaning. Instead of hitting the gym and throwing iron around, my world became cardio oriented as I hit the roads and fields running, ruck-marching, and sprinting.

After basic training, I was permanently stationed with the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Although I had received an Army Physical Fitness Training award for my scores on the fitness tests, training at my unit was more intense than basic. CrossFit-like routines and long distance runs occurred daily. Our company held regular competitions, pitting platoons against one another. Obstacle courses, forced march-and-shoots, Humvee pushes or pulls, tire flips, and water drum sprints were the more elaborate innovations and, as always, no competition would be complete without pushups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and lots of running.

I developed a love-hate relationship with these events. I hated them because they were physically demanding. It was a common sight to see soldiers running to the bushes or hunching by the side of the road to deposit their breakfasts, and it happened to me more than a few times over the course of my 5 ½-year Army career.

Although the workouts took the word intensity to a whole new level, nothing was more rewarding than finishing, unless of course your platoon finished on top. After the competitions we felt as though we had accomplished something great. Those are the moments I will always remember, celebrating with my fellow platoon mates after we finished at the top of our company, going out for a victory meal with the guys.

The Army opened my eyes to a different kind of fitness, one that has more real world applications than any other type of training. After two Iraq deployments, hundreds of physical training competitions, thousands of “fun” runs, and what felt like millions of pushups and sit-ups, I was released from active duty.

In January 2010, just two days after my release, I enrolled full-time at the University of Tampa.  I try to go to the firing range on a regular basis to keep up with my shooting skills, but I would be lying if I said I was anywhere near the same level as when I was a full-time soldier.

One facet of the military is so engrained in my head I doubt I will ever lose it: the need to be in the best physical shape possible. The Army educated me on the importance of living healthy, and although I am no longer a soldier, I always try to keep myself in constant “fighting” shape.  Physical training is important, not just for the body, but for the mind as well. Intense training helps with focus, mood, and concentration. Completing rigorous training gives an athlete a feeling of accomplishment unlike any other.

Over the summer, I will be competing in various athletic events in and around Tampa. Since my enlistment ended, I have not competed in an obstacle course, CrossFit competition, or adventure run of any kind.  I am curious to see how these civilian-designed events match up with the intense training I handled during my time as an infantry soldier. My first run will be on Friday, May 11th, when I compete in the Picnic Island Adventure Run.

I’m looking forward to pushing myself and chronicling my latest training journeys here at EnduranceSportsFlorida.com.

1 Comment

Filed under Running, Training

The Amazing Story of Matt Miller

By Pete Williams

Matt Miller had no business surviving a bicycle accident in November 2008. The 20-year-old University of Virginia student and triathlete collided with an oncoming Porsche along the Blue Ridge Parkway, smashing into the vehicle with his face.

He broke every bone in his face, essentially lost all of his teeth, and experienced severe brain trauma. Remarkably, the first person on the scene was an anesthesiologist, who knew how to position his head. That was the first of a series of fortunate circumstances that got him alive to the University of Virginia hospital, where doctors gave him little chance of surviving 72 hours, at least without permanent brain damage.

Instead, Miller walked out of the hospital in 25 days, scored a 95 on a makeup physics exam with a class average of 65, and two years later completed Ironman Cozumel in a top 10 percent time of 10:30 — during his first semester of medical school, no less.

As an undergraduate, he shadowed a doctor at the University of Virginia hospital. His family’s medical background goes back to his maternal great, great grandfather, a Civil War surgeon and Virginia graduate.

If Matt Miller’s story was a work of fiction, it would seem too farfetched. That might explain why Michael Vitez, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who chronicled Miller’s recovery for The Philadelphia Inquirer, was rejected by fifteen New York book publishers who no doubt are waiting for the next Kardashian book proposal.

Thankfully, Vitez decided to self-publish the book via CreateSpace.com and the result, The Road Back: A Journey of Grace and Grit, is an adrenaline-charged book that I read in one sitting after downloading Monday morning. Vitez won a Pulitzer for a series of stories on five people as they dealt with the end of their lives. He also wrote a book called Rocky stories, spending a year interviewing people who ran the “Rocky steps” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Those themes resonate in The Road Back, where Miller’s family spends three agonizing days wondering if he’s going to make it. Miller even has a shy, pretty girlfriend, Emily, who for weeks spends nights at his hospital bedside even as his face is mangled far beyond anything Rocky endured. (The two are still together, fellow medical students at the University of Pennsylvania, and, well, we won’t spoil the ending.)

Miller, a walk-on swimmer at the University of Virginia who quit the team after one year to focus on triathlon, showed a superhuman tolerance for pain and proving medical experts wrong. He was studying his physics texts in bed within days of emerging from major brain trauma. He found a way to consume nearly 4,000 calories a day with his jaw wired shut and underwent eight root canals in one day with minimal painkillers. While still in the hospital, he got his former swim coach Mark Bernardino’s calves burning as they walked stairwells together.

Vitez, a University of Virginia graduate who in the late 1970s edited a Cavalier Daily student newspaper staff that included classmate Katie Couric, learned of Miller’s story early in 2009 while playing poker with a co-worker of Miller’s father. A gifted storyteller, Vitez soon was in Charlottesville chronicling Miller’s recovery and marveling like everyone else at his upbeat personality.

Perhaps the most poignant moment in the book is when someone finally handed Miller a mirror in the hospital. He just shrugged at the sight of his disfigured face that would require many more surgeries.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” says Vitez, who joined us on The Fitness Buff Show. “I sent a draft of the book to my agent and she sent it back. She didn’t believe it and told me to go back and talk to him some more. She thought there must have been a point where he was devastated and I wasn’t going deep enough. And I went back and asked again and again, but I found that Matt felt that as long as his girlfriend was with him and that there was no hesitation on her part, that he was fine. He said, ‘I’m a vain guy. I used to be upset about a pimple on my face. It’s not that I don’t care how I look, but I’m up thinking and walking, living my life, and Emily was still in love with me and the rest didn’t matter.'”

Three months after the accident, Miller jumped into a pool for the first time, swam a 100 free in 59 seconds, and vowed to do an Ironman triathlon. He started with the Charlottesville Half Marathon, posting a 1:27:28 – 10th among the 436 men entered. In the fall of 2009, he finished 28th among the 2,500 competitors in the Nation’s Triathlon in Washington.

Most cyclists and triathletes can recall every detail of bicycle accidents and struggle not to think of them while riding. Miller, who remembers nothing of his crash, scared his family and girlfriend by getting back in the saddle – of his repaired bike no less – agreeing to wear a motorcycle-like helmet and ride on roads without automobile traffic.

Miller completed Ironman Cozumel among the top 10 percent of the field and vowed to do another – after medical school. He still competes in shorter triathlons and other races. Over the weekend he completed the 10-mile Broad Street Run in Philadelphia in 59:26, a pace just under a 6-minute mile.

Not bad for a guy wrapping up his second year of medical school.

Vitez says he still struggles to explain how Miller got through the ordeal with such an upbeat personality.

“I think he put his family through such a horror that he was determined not to complain or let anything slow down his recovery out of respect and love for Emily and his family since he had caused them such pain,” he said. “There are such great qualities in this kid and it was a thrill to share it.”

(To hear an interview with Michael Vitez, author of The Road Back, click HERE)

2 Comments

Filed under Fitness Buff Show Radio, Triathlon

Race of the Week: Streak the Cove 5K

By Pete Williams

Streak the Cove II

Endurance athletes looking for a bucket list event the weekend of May 19-20 in greater Orlando have several options. There’s the Goruck Challenge, perhaps the toughest event in endurance sports, and Ironman 70.3, which has moved this year from its longtime Disney home to Haines City.

We’re big fans of Goruck and triathlon, but when it comes to memorable, brag-to-your-friends events, we’ll put our own clothing-optional Streak the Cove 5K up against everything. Our second-annual race, which drew 170 runners last year, returns for a two-loop run through the tree-lined neighborhoods of the Cypress Cove Resort on Sunday, May 20 at 8:30 a.m.

Though more than 80 percent of runners go nude, you may wear as much or as little as you like. (Shoes and sunscreen recommended.)

When Cypress Cove opened as a nudist resort in 1964, it was nestled on a two-lane road among cow pastures and orange groves. These days, there’s a Lowe’s home improvement store across the street, part of a bustling Orlando suburb. “The Cove,” meanwhile, has upgraded its facilities over the years and now has a sprawling pool complex and 80-plus hotel rooms to go with its beautiful lakeside setting

Name of Race: Streak the Cove 5K

History: Second-annual event that drew 170 runners last year. Streak the Cove is organized by Enterprise Media LLC, which also puts on the popular Caliente Bare Dare 5K, which takes place Sept. 30.

Format: Two-loop course through the shady neighborhoods of Cypress Cove. Race ends at the resort’s sprawling pool complex.

Amenities: Red Tultex T-shirts. Commemorative mini-bottles of wine to the top 20 male and top 20 female finishers age 21 and over. Goody bags before the race and post-race refreshment poolside, along with deejay and raffle drawings. Entry fee gets you into the resort for the entire day.

Signature Features: Um, it’s a clothing-optional race.

Projected Turnout: 200

Cost: $30 via online registration which closes at 11:59 p.m ET on Thursday, May 17. Raceday registration available for $35.

Sign-Up: Via IMAthlete

Read fitness blogger Meghann Anderson’s first-person account of racing the 2012 Streak the Cove 5K HERE.

1 Comment

Filed under Race of the Week, Races, Running

Compression for Your Joints

By Pete Williams

Compression socks have been around for a few years and many runners swear by them.

Now a New Jersey company has created a line of orthopedic braces that leverage a three-dimensional knitting process to provide compression, support and therapeutic relief to athletes who deal with aches and pains.

BRD Sport orthopedic braces, previously available only through hospitals and medical suppliers, now are available to runners, triathletes, and other athletes looking for support for their injured joints.

BRD braces combine the comfort of traditional braces with the snug fit of athletic tape. Made at the family-owned company’s New Jersey factory, the braces come in black with an orange stripe in seven sizes to fit the ankle, knee, or elbow. BRD braces seem to solve the problem of traditional braces, which make you feel slow, clunky, and uncomfortable.

Over the years we’ve been among the first to report about certain products when they were virtual unknowns such as Powerplate, the TRX Suspension Trainer, the Perfect Push-Up, and Five-Hour Energy. BRD seems to have the similar feel of something that could succeed big-time by providing a simple solution.

1 Comment

Filed under Running, Training

Cardio Core 4×4 Released

By Pete Williams

We’re proud to announce today’s release of Cardio Core 4×4, a book I’ve had the honor of writing with Jay Cardiello, who has trained a number of celebrities and pro athletes.

Jay’s program is a simple 20-minute routine that combines elements of Pilates, yoga, martial arts, and even breakdancing. It requires no equipment and as little as a four-by-four foot space. Jay developed the program while working with celebrities in movie trailers, cramped hotel rooms, and tight New York apartment spaces.

Don’t let the simplicity of the program fool you. This program is challenging and will leave you gassed after just 20 minutes. It’s a 40-day program that will transform your body.

Leave a comment

Filed under Training