Monday, October 6, 2014

It Makes Little Sense To Run A 10-12 Year Old Soccer Player Through High-Intensity Intervals

I do a little Fall soccer coaching, and once in awhile another coach will tell me about the sprints they did in practice, or I'll hear a rueful tale from one of the young players.  Beyond 20-yard warm-ups or a single "suicide drill" to get the attention of an unruly bunch, I see repetitive sprinting as virtually useless as a training technique for boys.

Athletically, young boys are designed for random play, as in run after each other and the ball, leap, climb, and sometimes fall comically on to the ground, not be systematically exposed to high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

A young athlete's heart rate is very different than an adult's. For example, a 10-12 year-old boy or girl has a resting heart rate  (RHR) of 85-95 beats per minute (bpm) (it can vary, some may go lower, for others it could be 100).  An older, male competitive soccer player's heart-rate, on the other hand, will go at about 36-62 bpm. When I was a young soccer player my RHR was below 40.

To use a hyperbolic metaphor, imagine taking a hummingbird (cooking along at about 1,000 bpm) and trying to blast its heart rate further over and over again, to "improve its cardiovascular condition."

When a 10 to 12 year old boy is sleeping, their heart is beating as fast as a well-trained adult's when they are walking uphill. They don't have the heart rate reserve (maximum heart rate - resting heart rate) of an adult, to accomodate sustained periods of anaerobic sprinting at or very close to their maximim heart rate.

An adult male soccer player's heart rate reserve could exceed 160 beats (200 - 40), while a little kid's may be no more than 100 beats. So using hard sprinting drills for young soccer players is not only useless from a fitness standpoint, it actually goes against the design of their hearts and bodies.

As long as they are not overweight or obese when the season begins, kids will get very fit for soccer simply by taking part in the scrimmages and drills during practice. I've noticed kids make fitness gains much faster than out-of-shape adults getting back into exercise–the soccer conditioning blossoms in a couple of weeks or less.

The scrimmages are also obviously using the specific muscles and movements of the game, which is more useful training than static sprinting, which may tell you more about the coach's ego than work well as a training strategy.

If you feel the need to augment soccer training at the young ages, you'd be better off introducing light weighttraining (like taking a couple of 2 to 5 pound hand weights and doing push presses, or some light weight cable pulls), as it's another modern myth that all weight training is inappropriate for young boys.  And get them out of vitamin D deficiency!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What Factors Promote Peak Days For Weightlifting And Other Athletics?

I had a peak day today.  I felt surprisingly strong, like I could lift more and more…and more, and just about reached my PR with a bench press, which for me is the nirvana of pressing 1.5 times my body weight. Ever have days like that? It's been almost a month since I've had one of those days (is it "my time of the month?"), and I try to ponder the factors that promote these peak performances for the everyday athlete.

Here's what I've come up with for starters:

Vitamin D. Each morning before the peak day I took a 4000-IU vitamin D. My vitamin-D level right now is about 45 ng/ml, and I typically take 2000-4000 IU/day, or just enjoy some sun exposure (but at 57 I don't make Vitamin D naturally as well as I used to).

Vitamin D is an athletic-booster in terms of strength, reaction time, and endurance, and this notion can be found in the scientific literature. The fat-soluble vitamin is essentially a legal, seco-steroid hormone for athletes. This has been known since the East German trainers of the 1970s (and they admittedly did some really weird, illegal things to their athletes, but exposing them to UVB light to boost their vitamin D levels was not one).

I think the D supplements have contributed to my peak days. The only other supplement I take is vitamin K, but I would consider more, including magnesium. Fitness For Geeks will really inform you about vitamins and minerals!

Sleep. This is a no-brainer; I had very deep sleeps before each peak day. Possibly, the brain, where all health and athleticism begins, was more rested and focused for promoting the neurological events that must take place for a high rate of muscle contractions. Or, among other things, the adequate sleep promoted better growth hormone secretions?

Ironically, the day before was a "low" day for me. I had a poor sleep, due to stress and things happening in my life, and felt somewhat agitated with a less than perfect sense of well-being. Could the bounce-back from a low day, psychically and physiologically, help promote a peak day? It's an interesting concept, at any rate, and perhaps when you're feeling lowly, you can give yourself a kick in the pants by realizing, "tomorrow might be peak!"

Rest. Another no-brainer; I did not have heavy training days prior to the peak day. There's no way you can train day after day and expect a lot of peak performances in return. In fact, the "less is more" approach to training is one of the smart, beneficial fitness concepts that has come to the fore. I lift weights about four times per week, which for me is necessary for muscling up, but I often feel stronger when scheduling conflicts have forced me away from weightlifting for a week or more.

Fasted workout. Both peak days came during a fasted workout with coffee and vitamin D only. Caffeine is also a performance enhancer. However, virtually all my workouts are fasted this way, so I might have to discount this factor.

Night before meal. I had a healthy, home-cooked Paleo-ish kind of dinner with roasted chicken and lots of veggies, and one large glass of wine. This is the way I almost always eat, so I'll almost have to discount that factor, in terms of promoting a peak day. However, sometimes I put myself back to sleep with a glass of milk when I find myself waking up in the dark (ahh…aging…), and I didn't do that the night before, so perhaps I had very low fasting insulin and higher growth hormone at lifting time (milk, I drink whole milk, will probably elevate your fasting insulin).

Peak days are definitely not solely due to luck or coincidence; it's what you do in the 48 hours or so leading up to them that matters.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Local Biking Hill On Which I Occasionally Bludgeon Myself, With Beautiful Views

I record my mountainbike rides with the Strava app, which gives you all the tasty stats to ogle afterward. I didn't need to be reminded about the weather, however, which while crystalline was cold for September, at times a windchill of about freezing (0 C. or 32 F.). The cool weather made me feel strong going up the final hill, however.

I'm doing pretty well on this "segment," which is a section of a route that Strava sets aside as a kind of race course for its users. You can create a segment yourself in the app, and suddenly the leaderboard starts filling up with anonymous riders who have hammered up your beloved terrain. I'm the only 55+ geezer on the list at the moment; bragging over. To make it fun, the app gives each segment a Tour de France type category (fairly accurately, BTW), as in "category 4."

This is Fuller Hill in Warren, Vermont. The *other* side of the hill is a lot more savage, with extended sections of 20% elevation or more. I've stayed away from it, in deference to the integrity of my heart and its associated arteries. I walk it all the time, especially on a bright summer night to visit the tony pub in the village below!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Before You Get Waxed By A Lyme Tick, Read These Tips First

I'm experienced at something I *don't* want to be a veteran in, and that is getting deer ticks stuck on me, including the nymphal variety that might be carrying Lyme Disease. It happened to me again a week ago, and it was my third time dealing with that, and as they say "Three Strikes You're Out!" right?

One time I ran in a 5k road race with, unbenownst to me, a tick stuck on my rib cage. Afterward, I called it "reverse doping," because I was actually having red blood cells removed from me during a race, not adding them to me beforehand.

Since I appear to be every tick's favorite date, I've had a lot of experience in "response." I'm like anyone else; I read up on things like CDC web pages when it happens to me, and forthwith are some of the things I learned:

* Remove the tick with tweezers when you discover them, and follow-up right away by cleansing the wound with propylene glycol (or rubbing alcohol). Apparently, the tick has the microorganism in their saliva and when removed they kind of panic and "spit in the wound" as it were. The alcohol can kill the contaminant before it has a chance to enter the bloodstream.

One time my wife was sitting in an airport and we found a tick stuck on her ankle (thank you, infested Massachusetts…). Believe it or not, I went into one of those Hudson News stores that have stuff like compact travel kits and found some propylene glycol (duty free vodka would have worked, I guess). The Hudson News usually carries the Financial Times, not emergency medical kits. Anyways, it worked (thank you, Hudson News).

* Get a protective, or prophylactic dose of doxycycline or Doxy, right away. If it's the right kind of tick in a high-risk area, the doctor will prescribe this, a one-time 200 mg dose of Doxy for an adult (the prescription might be, probably is, different for kids). One time I ran off to an emergency room just to get it, and they were kind enough to provide me one right away. I must have made a convincing "expert victim."

When you take the Doxy, don't take any calcium, iron, or magnesium-containing foods or supplements, because these minerals will apparently bind to the antibiotic and make it less effective. So don't have a steak and a glass of milk right around when you take the Doxy. Even 100% cacao chocolate has a lot of magnesium, iron, and calcium; so much for my feel-good chocolate as I reel from a tick bite!

* Eat anti-microbial foods, like garlic, tumeric, and lemons. I really believe in holistic, commonsense health practices to defeat a microbial attack. Get a lot of sleep. I almost never get sick (knock on wood) anymore anyways. You can bet I've been powdering my eggs with tumeric, eating lemons (yeah, I actually do that anyways), and cooking garlic of late. I haven't gotten Lyme, and this may have nothing to do with it, but you never know…

The gestation period is about 3 to 30 days, so I'm not sitting on my laurels yet. Actually getting the infection entails the now infamous bull's-eye shaped rash, usually around the bite, but it doesn't have to be there, or actually appear with the infection.

I don't have any experience with other tick-borne diseases (yet…), but the CDC site has fairly comprehensive information: http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/

Epilogue: I did not get Lyme from this latest episode (I passed the 30-day dormancy date), but you can bet I still get paranoid when I see those little black flecks of something on me!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Read Gone On Kauai With a Scribd Subscription

The equatorial noir novel Gone On Kauai is now available for reading via Scribd. Here's the link: http://www.scribd.com/book/202761214/Gone-On-Kauai.

Kirkus Reviews–Perry reprises his Karl Standt character here, but this novel can easily stand on its own. The island of Kauai is a character in itself (“the flat river moved with a hypnotic slowness, like heavy floodwaters”), and Perry effectively describes its culture, including the super-rich who view Kauai as a trust-fund playground, the surfing locals who personify the laid-back island vibe, and the plague of drugs that are harvested and sold there. Perry depicts the different sides of island life through the perspective of New Yorker Standt, who’s out of his element but relies on his instincts…it eventually provides a thrilling revelation.

Also available on Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes And Noble.

Read Barbarous Coasts too!  @Scribd. http://www.scribd.com/book/202757411/Barbarous-Coasts

Also available on AmazoniBooks, and Barnes And Noble.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The New Crime Novel Compulsion, As Reviewed By The Book Magazine Kirkus Reviews

Third in the Karl Standt detective series, Kirkus Reviews has a new review of Compulsion. Along with Gone On Kauai, the book has a limited $0.99 sale through the first week of August 2014.

The book may deal with the contemporary topic of the perils of online dating, but Standt keeps it old-school with his way of conducting meetings in diners and following leads, no matter where they take him or how grisly the details become.

Perry delves into characters ranging from Vlad, a former imprisoned Russian rebel to iz, an animal lover with platinum hair, and their stories are captivating and plot-driven. Although it’s the third novel in the series, this book makes a good introduction to Karl Standt’s adventures. Perry delivers again in a novel in which ritualistic murders link the deaths of rich New York men.


Compulsion is available wherever ebooks are sold.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

KT Tape: Does It Work, Or Is It A Placebo?

Like many, I first noticed the kinesiology or "kinesio" tape on the various limbs of olympic athletes during the 2012 London games.  The "KT Tape" is almost picturesque, like dabs of paint on athletic forms. The product has definitely taken the pro to everyday banged-up athlete by storm. But is this just another pretty gimmick? We're used to those in the fitness and nutrition world. Does KT really work?

I know what doesn't always work, and that's my right knee, victim of a torn MCL from soccer years ago and much wear and tear. Knees don't "heal"; it'll never really be the same. Still, I do everything on it, weightlifting, hiking, mountainbiking, light soccer (or futbal!), skiing…So I decided to try the tape on the knee, to see if it worked in place of a bulky old neoprene knee pad.

I put a strip over the old MCL and another across the knee. Then I went off to play a little soccer and the next morning, lift weights. I was pleasantly surprised with the results. No swelling, pain, or anything, and I have even kept it on. It seems to be a very subtle, almost weightless form of support.

It's very easy to cut up into strips and apply yourself, despite the creative forms bordering on fashion statements. It turns out that the tape and technique was developed in Japan during the 1980s.

The specific issue I used KT Tape for is not a muscle or tendon tear, but a dysfunctional joint that is easily irritated due to loss of cartilage. So maybe Kinesio Taping isn't optimally designed for my knee, leading me to think that it feels great due to the many wonders of the Placebo Effect. Or, the strong belief that the measures you are taking will heal you.

Here are the scientific rationale, and at least the basic concepts and claims behind KT Tape:

Supporting the muscle -- Proper taping improves the muscle's ability to contract even when it's weakened, reduces a feeling of pain and fatigue, and protects the muscle from cramping, over-extension and over-contraction.

Removing congestion to the flow of body fluids -- Kinesiology tape improves blood and lymphatic circulation and reduces inflammation and excess chemical buildup in the tissue.

Activating the endogenous analgesic system -- "Endogenous" refers to something that is self-originating, and calling something "analgesic" means that it can relieve pain in a conscious person. So, this requirement means that the tape must facilitate the body's own healing mechanisms, a central focus in chiropractic medicine.

Correcting joint problems -- The goal is improving range of motion and adjusting misalignments that result from tightened muscles.


My issue seems to fall into the latter category, so I'm sticking to KT Tape (no pun intended) for now. It seems like a keeper.