Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Tap into an internal fountain of youth to stay nimble & quick.

For all of you old dogs like me out there, and all the rest of you too, I ask “What new trick are you learning today?” Learning skills of any kind stimulates our brains to create new neural pathways  and coordinate with our bodies to develop new motor skills / patterns.

Whether an artist, musician, or athlete, we recognize that learning a new skill requires time and patience. As we get older, there may be a tendency to be less open to trying something new and to be less patient with ourselves when we do. We may get to a certain stage in life where we’ve mastered so many skills that we’re easily frustrated and discouraged when we don’t get something right the first time. And some people as they grow older become close minded, finding comfort (however small) in living a narrow, unchallenged life. Change it up and challenge yourself  and you’ll reap the rewards.

As a beginner triathlete, my biggest “opportunity for improvement” was swimming. Despite surprising myself with 3rd place in my first triathlon, I was the last one out of the water in my age group. (Wearing my heavy surf wetsuit didn’t help me much, but neither did my “muscling the water” style.) I really disliked swimming then, but realized if I wanted to pursue triathlons, I’d have to get with the program. After 6 lessons with a pro coach and lots of practice sessions, I was 5th in my age group out of the water in my next triathlon. Great, right? Yes, improved, but still plenty of room for improvement.

And now, nearly two decades later, I love swimming and am still working on my technique. Yikes, you may say, but this doesn’t discourage me.  It excites me that I still have the capacity to improve. (If you’re a swimmer, you know it’s all about technique.) I swim regularly with a Masters Swim Group and get tips on my stroke whenever I can.

What I haven’t mentioned is that despite all these years of Masters Swimming, I never learned how to flip turn. I rationalized that triathlons are races in open water so flip turns don’t apply to me. Truth be told,  I thought I wouldn’t like it or be coordinated enough to pull them off. I think the translation is FEAR of FAILURE.

“Giving up [or not trying in the first place] is the only sure way to fail.”

 – Gena Showalter

While my swimming technique improvements have made me faster, flip turners gain a whole body length on me at ever turn – very annoying. So this annoyance had to grow bigger than my fear of failure in order for me to do something about it.

Fortunately,  my boyfriend, who taught himself flip turns years ago encouraged me and patiently gave me 3 lessons. The first lesson lasted 45 miserable minutes. I got water up my nose and was so nauseous after so many failed attempts that I was dry heaving by the side of the pool. Anyway, I hated it right away and felt like giving up. We had 2 more fifteen minute sessions where I got a couple partially right. Next, I started practicing on my own – throwing them into the swim workout here and there and actually “nailing” one or two of them. Today, I threw a bunch of flip turns into the workout. At one point, I noticed a much faster gal swimming parallel in the lane next me. (She’s my athletic benchmark across the board.) The only thing is, she doesn’t do flip turns either. She is known for her quick open turns though… So I did my flip and didn’t see her anywhere next to me. For a moment, I wondered if she’d somehow managed to get in front of me. But no, there she was coming up from behind. I’d gained a whole body length! Now she might have been fixing her goggles or her suit for all I know, but I’m counting this as a flip turn victory and proof that any old dog can learn new tricks.

swim pic chiang mai

New skills make us nimble and quick in body & mind. Practice makes perfect.

 

When it comes to keeping our minds and bodies nimble and quick, learning new tricks is our virtual fountain of youth. We are so fortunate to have so many opportunities in this life to learn, adapt, improve and grow.  I’m so grateful for that and for my boyfriend’s patience with me – certainly more than I had for myself.

So tell me, what new skill will you try today?

 

 

Roll out of your exercise rut: 10 tips to change it up for better results

Are you doing the same exercise routine day in and day out? Most likely you’re bored and not getting the results you hoped for. Guess what? Your muscles are bored too- they’ve already adapted to the activity and are at ho hum status quo. Chances are you’ve hit a plateau and your progress has halted.

You have to change it up to get the results you want and to stay committed. The great thing about triathlon is cross training is built in (swim, bike, run), but even triathletes can get in a rut. The solution? Change it up. If you’re not feeling it, forcing yourself into a prescribed workout is not always the answer and can lead to burnout. Substituting a fun activity that you don’t do often is one way to combat exercise ennui.

This weekend, instead of another bike ride, I laced up my roller blades (remember those things?) and rolled out the door. It was quite refreshing and is a great, low impact leg workout that targets different muscles than biking or running.

 

10 Tips to change it up for better results

  • Change your route regularly. If you run / bike on roads, hit the trails. At the beach? Run barefoot in the thick sand.
  • Boost your intensity / speed.  Add interval training, track workouts or hills.
  • Increase your load in the gym.  Add weight so that you can just barely do  3 sets of 8 until you’re able to do 3 sets of 12, then up it again. (And no, ladies, you won’t get too big – that takes a ton more work.)
  • Alternate exercises. Doing the exact same routine every day may make it easy to go through the motions, but unfortunately that’s all your muscles will be doing too.  And you’ll be sacrificing results and possibly inviting injury. Switch out bench presses for chest flys with dumbells, etc..
  • Include strength & core training. It will enhance everything you do and help protect you from injury. Not to mention the vanity dividends.
  • Get outside. A good dose of Vitamin D, fresh air and scenery will do wonders for your energy level and your spirit.
  • Do yoga. Your body will thank you.
  • Try something entirely different – SUP, surfing, skiing, snowboarding, wake boarding, rollerblading, soccer, softball, tennis, dancing,  limitless options.
  • Make exercise time your fun time. What physical activity makes you smile? Starts with S? I meant skipping rope, but yes, of course the other too!
  • Cultivate a handful of activity partners so you always have a playmate for different activities.

 

What do you do to roll out if your exercise ruts?

Iconic N. County Camp P bike route & a chance encounter with the “Starving Cyclist”

A great iconic North County ride and one of my favs is through Camp Pendleton, a US Marine Corps base, to San Clemente State Beach. Bring your driver’s license as they check IDs at the gates both entering and leaving the base. It can be a little tricky merging with traffic to get onto the base from the South in Oceanside, but once you’re through that – it smooth cycling with minimal traffic and very few lights or stops signs. The roads are generally in good shape, but the rain storms have beat them up a bit so be alert to debris and bumps. Just one hill and the rest is flat with a couple rollers. (I’ll have to film it for you.)

Once you exit the northern gate of Camp Pendleton, / Las Pulgas exit off Interstate 5, you’ll be in the blissful no car zone along the old airstrip and out to the San Onofre bike trail and the beach. Cruise along enjoying fantastic vistas of bluffs, beaches, and the Pacific. In the summer, you do need to be on the watch for campers, kids and surfers running amok. There’s camping, picnic and restrooms available throughout the park.20170205_122303

Yay, getting back in the road bike saddle. This was my 5th and longest ride post kidney stone surgery (see my Honoring the gift of health post). (Yes, I drank my H2o on the ride.) I cut it about 10 miles short for a total of 46 miles with 2,015 elevation gain/loss. 20170205_122412

Speaking of camping and biking, I ran into the “starving cyclist” , AKA Greg Valenzuela, on my ride. He’s been on the road for nearly 5 years biking around the world on his Cannondale. Greg didn’t want his picture taken so here’s his rig instead.

I asked Greg some questions about his adventures.

How many miles do you ride a day?

Between 40 and 100 depending where I am and where the next stop is.

Where’s the best place to ride in the States?

Washington and Oregon as there are so many cyclists who live there and the scenery is great.

Where have you felt the least safe?

Mexico and Nicaragua are sketchy (understatement).

Did you get any tickets?

4 tickets in New Zealand for not wearing a helmet.

How much does your rig weigh?

Got it down to about 121lbs…

Have you been in any accidents?

Yeah, a couple, but nothing serious.

Any tips?

If you’re riding in hot climates like Thailand, take saunas in the morning if you can. It will help you acclimate to the heat.

Where to next?

Dana Point on my way to Redondo Beach and then off to Morocco.

Who inspires you?

Check out the inspiration page on my blog.

And who inspires your inspirator? (Some really great sites & videos here!)

http://www.bikewanderer.com/inspiration-1/

Happy adventuring!

Stop making resolutions. Start setting goals and getting off your butt!

Day 5, 2014. How are those New Year’s resolutions going? If you’re already falling short, you’re not alone. (I was supposed to be on my 5th blog by now.) According to the University of Scranton, of the 45% of us who make New Year’s resolutions, a mere 8% actually achieve them. So what’s one to do? Instead of making blanket, generic resolutions – be healthier, lose weight, exercise― get specific.

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Running transforms a man’s life—–from homeless to business owner

http://screen.yahoo.com/yahoo-originals/homeless-business-owner-one-running-154620319.html

We all (all of us runners, anyway) know running is a great cure for pretty much everything that ails ya…Apparently, it’s a cure for homelessness too…. Here’s a quick video about Anne Mahlum, one inspirational runner who has made a difference with her unique running club, Back on My Feet. She uses running to help homeless men and women change the way they see themselves so they can make real changes in their lives. And it works. What can running do for you?

I’ve always believed in the transformational power of running, or any kind of exercise, especially those outdoor activities where you are immersed in nature, to cure whatever ails you…