Tag Archives: exercise

Enjoying the Journey of Marathon Running

…the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon pushed my physical and mental limits

BY ADAM O’MEARA

Running a marathon isn’t easy. Whether you’re the winner of the race or coming across the finish line in five hours, it will push your physical and mental limits.

And those physical and mental limits is what the sport of running is all about for me. Running keeps me goal-oriented and focused, both on enjoying the journey towards achieving my race goals and demonstrating my ability to focus mentally on daily tasks.

That emphasis on focus is particularly important for me. Without exercise I can begin to exhibit symptoms of the broadly used term of ADHD, which I was diagnosed with in grade 12 of high school. I personally consider this “condition” a blessing as I attribute my energy, zest for life, and never-ending curiosity (attributes of many who are placed into this personality classification) to it.

I work in the natural health and supplement industry and know for certain that physical activity is shown and proven to be a necessity if you wish to live a healthy, happy and long life. Albeit training for marathons puts highly unnatural amounts of stress on the body.  As a response to this big stressor, I am very careful with what foods I put in my body and I rely on high quality natural supplements to help mitigate cellular damage and keep my immune system strong (I am proud to serve as an Ambassador of PURICA and represent the wellness company on Vancouver Island).

On the day of the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon – October 7th – it was cold and rainy in Victoria. Yet as the nearly 8,000 participants lined up to partake in either the 8k, ½ marathon or full marathon events, I did not sense any disappointment or resentment to Mother Nature. The energy at any sporting event is undeniable and it feels good, really good, to be part of it.

I looked to my left and to my right and saw people of all ethnicities, shapes and sizes who were out there for their own reasons. But once that air-horn sounded and we all began our race we each shared one goal – get to the finish line as fast as possible… And then to the pancake breakfasts, Thanksgiving dinners and (for me) a couple cold, locally brewed beers.

Training had gone well leading up to this event.  Back in April I had employed the services of a Canadian running legend and coach, the one and onlyJim Finlayson. With his direction I was able to maximize the available training time and get my body into good enough shape to have a shot at my lofty goal of 2:35:00 for the full marathon.  I had a previous PB (Personal Best) of 2:44:00 for the open marathon and a couple sub-3 hour marathons in the 16 Ironman triathlons I had completed.

With all my running and endurance sport experience, doing an open marathon didn’t seem that intimidating until about 48 hours before the race. At that time all the usual pre-race nerves, excitement, anxiety and rivers of emotions started flowing through my veins, and into my soul.  It is impossible to explain the pre-race feelings you get when you have prepared to your best potential, but it is safe to say that it is a magical feeling that never gets old.

Getting your running mileage up to certain thresholds is important, and I was able to log quite a few 100+ km weeks. This gave me confidence.  And I had nailed some key sessions in the 6 weeks before the event. Upon reflection before the race I found beautiful peace of mind in the fact that I had really done all I could in training, and armed with this confidence I was ready to race to my potential on the day.

About one mile into the race I settled into my own pace and allowed the eager group just ahead of me to drift away. Proper patience is critical to success in any distance but the longer the event gets the more important it becomes. The ultimate goal pace was 3:40/km and this is right where I sat through almost 30 kilometres. Fuelling the body properly with exogenous carbohydrates sources is also something that can’t be ignored at this distance. My fuelling was on track, and stayed on track for the entire event.

At about 19 km I had hooked up with two runners from Seattle and we worked well together for about 15 km. At that time I made a small miscalculation and ran past the table that my third bottle of energy drink was on, I had to turn around and lost about 15 seconds, which is just enough to snap the tie I had with the other runners. For the last 8 km I was all alone. My focus was still good and my physical strength was not yet fading. It is typically the last 10 km of a marathon that really start to hurt, but this is no foreign feeling to me and so I was ready and willing to push on through.

Just before the 39 km point my body started to indicate it was reaching its limit. My quadriceps were both showing early signs of cramping.  When a major muscle group like this starts to threaten to cramp it is a real problem.  The only thing to do is to shorten the stride length, listen intently to your body and go into survival mode in order to not seize up completely and have to walk.

Muscles seizing up due to fatigue and/or inappropriate levels of calories and electrolytes is a horrible feeling that I am familiar and try to avoid at all costs since walking or limping is much slower than running an adjusted pace. I won’t forget that 39 km marker for a while as it was right at that point that my quads packed up and went home early. I drew on my years of experience and was able to manage the damage enough so that I could continue to run, albeit slowly.

The finish line never gets old, and at this race you can’t actually see the finish line until you are about 150m from it, so when you come around that last slight bend and see it the elation sets in and all the discomfort that has infested your body disappears…until you cross the line and stop running. Then, it really hurts for a while.

I knew I had done everything I possibly could have on the day, and so my first real attempt at running an open marathon was an overwhelming success.  The typical feeling of “I will never do that again” was there, but I was in a more peaceful mindset at this finish line than I have ever been in the past. When I competed in triathlon and there was prize money on the line I was almost never satisfied with my performance (even if I had won the race). But as I age and mature I have started to enjoy the journey more since I know it won’t last forever.

I would like to leave you with two last thoughts:

  1. It does not matter how fast or slow you are, the important thing is that you set a goal (in any physical activity) and enjoy the journey to that goal;
  2. Each event in which you participate allows you to set a positive example for the youth and helps build your community.

Train smart!

PURICA ambassador triathlete Adam O’Meara wins Elk Lake Triathlon

Our athlete ambassador and territory manager Adam O’Meara won the Elk Lake Triathlon on August 6th. The “standard” or “Olympic” distance event consisted of a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run. Adam exited the water right on the heels of the first two swimmers, but once on two wheels he quickly took over the race lead and never looked back. Adam’s race splits of 21:08 swim / 59:46 bike / 37:07 run brought him to the finish line just 7 seconds over the 2 hour mark.

Here are Adam’s thoughts on the event. “It is quite the treat to get to wake up in your own bed on race morning, but I was still up at 4:30am to take care of everything in a stress free manner. It took my body a while to warm up but once I got things firing I felt like I was ready to race strong. I led the swim for about the first half, whereupon another swimmer came up beside me, I decided to allow them to take a turn leading so I could relax a bit. I came out of the water in 3rd place right behind the lead swimmer and Karen Thibodeau (a local female athlete who is a great swimmer). One of my main goals for the day was to have a really solid bike, and I felt I had prepared properly to do that. I felt strong from start to finish on the bike and then as I started the run my legs were feeling good – relatively speaking of course! I didn’t know how far behind 2nd place was but I had a pretty good idea since there are stretches on this course where you can look back and see a distance of about 2 minutes. As always there was some rough patches sprinkled in throughout the day but overall I was very strong and very happy to have taken the win. It was made all that much better because my wife, son, daughter, mother and sister were all there to cheer me on and see me at the finish line. Something I have learned over the years is that it is very important to celebrate your successes, so for the rest of the day I definitely was in a great state of mind as we all enjoyed some awesome family time…… and the cold beers tasted extra good!”

This win was preceded by a 3rd place finish at the Great White North Triathlon on July 2nd and a 1st place finish at the Nanaimo Triathlon on May 28th. Adam has completed over 15 Ironman distance events, many shorter distance races and he is no stranger to the podium. This father of two is passionate about living life to the fullest. When he is not working, spending time with is family or training he enjoys preparing healthy food for is family and himself.

Ensuring a “Healthy” Relationship

Ah, when you were single…you had a fixed routine of getting up, working out, making meals for yourself and getting to bed early for a good night sleep. The good old days…

Then you met someone, started eating out, drinking more, exercising less and before you knew it, the pounds crept up and settled in.

What happened to encouraging and inspiring one another to be more fit and healthy? How did you let their bad habits become yours? When did every Friday become pizza night rather than your favourite fitness class?

We all have the best intentions in relationships but the fact is, oftentimes couples enable each other’s bad habits and fall into a rut.

The good news is there are easy steps you can take to get back on track and become a stronger couple in many ways!

If your partner seems unsupportive when it comes to your health, it’s important to have an honest conversation and get to the bottom of why. Sometimes partners can feel threatened or jealous when you have a life outside of them. If they resent you for having fun without them, the easiest solution is to invite them along! Find a couple of activities that you both enjoy and sweat it out together.

When it comes to cooking and eating healthy, you can build a real closeness by cooking together or trying new restaurants together rather than defaulting to their favourite spot or yours.

Sometimes, as much as we want our partners to be as interested in everything that’s important to us, it just doesn’t work out that way…pardon the pun.

If you love getting up early, hitting the gym and starting your day with a nutritious breakfast and your partner prefers to sleep in and skip eating until noon, don’t give in to that.

Stand up for yourself. Get up, get ready and hit the road, without criticizing them for not having the same routine. The best way to inspire someone is through your actions not accusations. Be honest with your partner and let them know that your health and theirs is a top priority because you want to live the best life together. Always ask if they want to join you or if they have anything that they would like you to support.

Relationships should be holistically healthy. If you find yourself in a destructive, relationship or one that’s causing chronic stress that is limiting your body from building, remind yourself you don’t have to be.

Make sure you’re with someone who fits you! Or at least lets you be the healthiest you possible!

Your Metabolism and a Healthy Lifestyle

Contrary to popular belief, your metabolism doesn’t have to slow as you age.

It’s true that we experience a decline of between 2 and 4 percent in our resting metabolic rate with each passing decade after the age of 25. On average, we drop about five pounds of lean body mass per decade from age 25-65.

Yet it’s also true that these declines can be prevented by changing a few simple lifestyle habits. That’s because a slow metabolism is not age related; it is lifestyle related.

A decreased metabolism simply stems from a decrease in activity. That means an increase in activity can help increase your metabolism.

By making physical activity part of your daily regime, along with other smart lifestyle choices, you can rev your metabolism, keep your energy up and maintain an optimal weight and body composition late into life.

The more lean muscle mass you have, the better, especially later in life. When it comes to building and maintaining lean muscle mass, think of the saying “use it or lose it”. Performing a weight bearing routine 3-6 days per week stimulates your metabolism because muscle is metabolically active. You are not made to sit all day; so start moving and don’t blame weight gain on a slow metabolism.

It’s also smart living to support your active lifestyle with a balanced whole food diet. Many people are in fact undernourished and overstressed with fast food. If you’re feeling exhausted, rather than reaching for a caffeine or sugar fix to push through, try slowing down and supporting your cardiovascular system with some deep breathing before your meal to support proper digestion and micronutrient absorption.

The bottom line is: Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.

Do your best to stop filling up on empty calories and start loading up on alkaline and nutrient rich whole foods. If you have cravings, it’s because your body is starving for vitamins and nutrients. The quickest way to add vitamins to your diet is to eat produce.

If a food comes from a plant eat it. If it is made in a plant, don’t.

NOTE: I recommend you consider taking a metabolism-supporting supplement. High on my list are Carnitine and natural formulations such as PURICA Trimactiv Weight Control, PURICA Vitality Adrenal Support and PURICA Provascin Cardiovascular Support.

How to Add Perserverance To Your New Year’s Resolution

Many of us made a healthy New Year’s resolution; maybe to lose weight, quit smoking, drink less or workout more. Unfortunately by mid January more than 95% of New Years resolutions will be abandoned. So what can you do to make this year different than last year’s failed attempt at change?

First you must be honest, with yourself. If you don’t have the courage to ask yourself “Where do I need to change?” and then break the barrier of pride to make that change you are setting yourself up for failure. If you’re not sure what you need to change to achieve success are you willing to ask a coach or the people closest to you, “Where do I need to change?”

Once you’ve set your resolution to change take starting measurements and do a behavior assessment on day one to honestly evaluate where you are and know what you need to do. This is an important step because you can only manage what you measure. If you don’t know the measure of your health, you can’t develop and grow in health. You can only manage what you measure.

Here are some effective strategies to start a resolution any time of year and stay strong when you get the urge to splurge or hit the snooze button instead of the gym.

1. Start with just one thing. If you want to change your lifestyle don’t try to change the whole thing at once. Instead pick one area of your life to change to begin with.

2. Write your goals down and include their due dates to keep you accountable. People who put their goals on paper are up to 86% more likely to achieve them than those who merely think them. It’s also important to record your progress in any goal in a journal. If you’re going to set some health goals or any kind of goal, record your progress throughout the year so you can measure your growth and celebrate your success.

3.Don’t be a loser. Rather than saying ‘I’m going to lose ten pounds’, set behavioral goals like ‘This week I’ll go to the gym three times, take the stairs at work, and bring a healthy lunch every day rather than eating out. Focusing on what you will do rather than what you don’t want gives you an action plan to follow at times when willpower fades.

4. When you feel discouraged, remind yourself how much you’ve accomplished in the past to remind yourself you can achieve anything when you put your mind to it.

5.Treat any failure as a temporary setback rather than a reason to give up altogether. Perseverance is the key to success.

Go Big & Go Home

Building muscle fast can be easy as one, two, three, if you go big and go home.

Here is an effective muscle building circuit that works multiple muscle groups in the least amount of time. One exercise targets your lower body and the Push-Pull exercises build your upper body.

The Workout:

  • Do 8-12 repetitions.
  • Do 3-6 rounds
  • Rest for 75 seconds after each exercise

The Circuit

Barbell Squat:

How To: Set your feet shoulder width apart. Hold bar across your upper back with overhand grip. Initiate the movement by first pushing your hips back, then bend your knees and lower your body as deep as you can. Drive your heels into the floor keeping your torso as upright as possible.

Pull up:

Trainer’s Tip: The difference between a chin up and a pull up is for a chin up, you use an underhand grip and for a pull up you use an overhand grip. Incase you’re wondering, a chin up is a little easier because it uses more biceps to assist with the range of motion. Because of this you can switch between pull-ups and chin up to target your biceps and back.

Barbell Shoulder Press:

What & Why: Shoulder presses target front and middle deltoids and triceps while activating the upper traps, rotator cuff and serratus anterior. Making it a great mass building exercise and improves the stability and mobility of the shoulders.

How To Combat Feeling SAD

During the winter months we tend to eat more sleep more and experience more ups and downs during the shorter days. Winter can cause some people to experience weight gain and a lack of energy but it can also bring on a form of clinical depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Research by the Mayo Clinic reports SAD is diagnosed more often in women than in men, but men may have more-severe symptoms. Young people have a higher risk of winter SAD than older adults. Living far from the equator and having family history of SAD or other forms of depression may increase your risk of seasonal affective disorder.

Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:

  • Cravings for sweets and starchy foods
  • Weight gain
  • Heavy feeling in the arms or legs
  • Noticeable drop in energy
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Oversleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating at work and at home
  • Irritability, Constant agitation and anxiety
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Increased sensitivity to social rejection
  • Hopelessness (including suicidal thoughts)

Don’t brush off these seasonal feelings as simple “winter blues” that you have to tough out or just shake off. Here are some effective remedies to keep your mood, motivation and movement up throughout the winter.

  • Exercise regularly, even in cold weather. A brisk walk outdoors can improve mood and help combat weight gain.
  • Physical activity helps relieve stress and anxiety.
  • A healthy diet rich in Vit D, E and B
  • Light therapy is a common treatment for winter SAD. Light box therapy mimics outdoor light and can improve mood in as little as two weeks.
  • Decreased sunlight hours can lead to a Vitamin D deficiency. Supplementing your diet with a high quality Vitamin D3 supplement can help regulate mood.
  • Mind-body therapies that may help relieve depression symptoms include: Acupuncture, yoga, meditation, Guided imagery and Massage therapy

It’s normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for several days or weeks at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, be sure to see your doctor.

Winter Lifestyle Practices

Winter is the season with the least amount of light, coldest temperatures and very skin drying conditions indoors with furnace heaters etc. Your skin might need more moisture and your body might crave more sleep to keep a healthy glow. Waking up in the dark to go to work and then not having time in the sun after work can create a natural tendency to feel introverted and can trigger feelings of depression or you might naturally want to eat warm, hearty comfort foods. To prevent hibernation pounds from creeping on this winter season here are some Winter Lifestyle Practices to help your health radiate!

  • Stay hydrated and add warming spices such as ginger, cloves and cinnamon to your herbal teas and recipes rather than sugary lattes or dehydrating caffeinated beverages.
  • Increase your fat intake slightly with healthy essential fatty acids found in avocado, raw nuts, fish or chia seeds to nourish supple skin and provide a grounding feeling during the dark cold months.
  • Incorporate more root vegetables such as, yams, pumpkin, squash or sweet potato rich in beta-carotene that will keep skin nourished and bright from the vitamin A conversion.
  • It’s tempting to curl up and not want to move when it’s cold outside, but the combination of dark days, cold temperatures and non-activity is the perfect combo to weaken immune function and contribute to depression. You must stay active! There are thousands of great DVD’s, online programs and apps that you can do at home to avoid the cold and still honor your workout time.
  • If you are limited to the amount of sunlight exposure I suggest taking a high quality Vitamin D3 vitamin, such as the Vegan D3 gummies by PURICA to help keep immune function string, balance moods and maintain healthy bones.
  • Honor your body’s natural tendency to want to stay in and sleep more. A nice relaxing evening in, sipping on some warm Effervescent Magnesium while enjoying a hot bath will help support muscle relaxation, improve your quality of sleep and increase your overall level of wellbeing.

Prime Time IT (Internal Talk)

When you want to achieve optimal fitness success, you need some daily Prime Time to condition your Internal Talk.  What I mean by “prime time” is you need mental preparation time to set your intention for the day and insure your internal talk supports your set goals.

The first thing to do during prime time is identify any self-defeating words or labels you use to describe yourself. These can be words like lazy, fat, or weak. Or they can be limiting belief statements like, “I’m never going to get fit” or “I won’t ever be able to keep up with these healthy habits”, or a very common one, “ I hate my body. “ Dig deep and be honest to discover what self-prophesying internal talk you’ve been trapping yourself with. This step still applies to you even if you’re already fit because we all can create imaginary ceilings that can leave us with “trouble spots” or unconsciously stuck.

Step two is; identify and derail the scenarios that trigger the negative internal talk. For example, if you go to bed saying “ I can’t be a morning person” and you set your workout time to be a six am sweat session, the chances of you fulfilling the self-defeating statement, “I’m never going to get fit” is pretty high. Your subconscious mind is working 24/7, which is why you need some prime time to recondition your intention.

Step three of Prime Time is where you change IT! Changing your internal talk from the thoughts that have been keeping you stuck to ones that perpetuate positive change is how you convince your body to do a workout, even when you don’t “feel” like it.  This can be as simple as replacing the word can’t with can the moment it’s trying to leave your lips. This little swap transforms the statement “ I can’t be a morning person” to “I can be a morning person.” After a couple weeks of Prime Timing your IT, you will build the new positive belief  “I am a morning person.”

If you don’t think such a simple change can create the change you crave, I challenge you to fully commit to applying your new positive self-talk to your daily walk. That’s right walk the talk and refuse to let a bad day change your prime time perspective. Take control of your subconscious and deliberately choose your thoughts. Be intentional with your words and relentless with your actions. Refuse to let your potential life be buried and let your optimized self shine!

The Best Workout For a Crowded Gym

Navigating through the gym during prime time can be a nightmare! This workout is designed to build muscle, burn fat and ensure you won’t have to wait inline for a piece of equipment at the gym.

The only equipment you’ll need is one pair of dumbbells so you won’t even have to change the amount of weight you use as you move from one exercise to the next. As you get stronger week-by-week you can increase the weight of the dumbbells used for the entire workout routine. This routine is designed to take a rest day following the session.

The Workout:  Do 4 sets of 10 reps. Take 60 seconds rest between sets.

Dumbbell Step up: Holding dumbbells at arms length at your side. Stand in front of a step or bench that is high enough that when your foot is on top your knee is bent 90 degrees. Pressing the heel of your foot into the step, push up until your leg is straight and you are standing on one leg at the top of the bench. Lower your body back down to the floor. That’s one rep. Complete 10 reps per leg.

Neutral Grip Dumbbell Row: Grab your dumbbells, bend at the knees and hips, and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor. Keeping your core abdominals tight and spine neutral, let the dumbbells hang at arm’s length from your shoulders, palms facing behind you. Bend your elbows and pull the dumbbells to the sides of your torso, pause at the top of the range of motion, then slowly lower the dumbbells.

Offset Thumb Grip Dumbbell Curl: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, engage your core, grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang at your sides. With your palms facing forward, extended each thumb to touch the outside head of the dumbbell. This forces the biceps brachia to work harder to keep your forearm rotated outward as you curl the weight. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows, and curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulder as you can. Pause, then slowly lower the weights back to the starting position.

Alternating Shoulder Press and Twist:  Hold dumbbells next to your shoulders with your elbows bent and palms facing each other. Rotate your torso to the right as you press the dumbbell in your left hand up diagonally, straightening it above your right shoulder. Pivot the left foot and keep your abs braced as you rotate your torso to prevent injury to your lower back. Reverse the movements back to starting position then repeat sequence in the other direction to target your right shoulder.