Exercising in the Cold and Attitude

Great times come from some adversity. I’m not sure who coined that term, but darn tough times create individuals that can withstand some of the hardest storms thrown at them. Well, it is without a doubt that getting through a winter with some bone chilling cold workouts is a cause and effect to anyone involved with athletic endeavors here in the upper midwest. We don’t have Mountains but we have cold spells that can challenge some of the most ardent winter warriors out there.

Winter is mild here without much of a sprinkling of snow (< 3″) at any snow fall, and usually disappearing within 3~4 days. This is where that chill comes in. See, with snow we can be assured of some sort of buffer from the chill that comes along in January and usually stays until maybe mid March. It is comical you see. Here we want a bed of snow to help damper the effects of the bone chill of the cold that comes along around this time of the year. I believe it does help keep the dew point a bit low keeping that chill going through you like an ice pick.

Well, we’re patiently waiting for the day when we get that damper of snow fall to see us through the early morning workouts since it is freaking icy cold as soon as you step out of the house and you’re cold as hell right from the start. Getting out of the car I get a chill going down the back of my neck as if I had a little snow drift going inside my jacket even though there is no snow around. Funny how perception is in the mind of the individual. I for one begin a breathing tempo no matter what exercise I’m about to perform from just walking with my ruck on or performing an exercise to breath only through my nose. Deep inhale, pacing / tempo of 3 in with 3~4 out. Nothing via the mouth.

I have to slow down a little more than usual to catch my breath if I go faster than my breathing pattern allows, and it mitigates discomfort than just mouth brings. I have to admit and be transparent on this method. It clears my mind, makes breathing feel good, watery eyes are not always an effect of nasal breathing. However snot rockets are NOT unheard of. Make sure you perform the ‘farmer john’ really well. No half assed attempts on that issue since you don’t want to wear snot on your clothing/beard/mustache. Or even worse blowing it out while a runner/rucker is going by as you do it. Funny as hell, but dangerous also since it’s your health that will be affected if you don’t miss that said individual.

Since temperatures have been dropping we’re having to move with a bit more intent. Getting warm, and keeping warm are two things that meet in the middle. Difference is effort and effect. You can walk and get warm, and to some extent while warming up for exercise / workout you can be specific on movements to mimic what you’re about to perform on said workout to get your muscles and connective tissue to move better without the possibility of injury. Rucking is so unique a movement when just putting on the ruck weighted to specific weight for the workout is more than enough to warmup said body within a certain period of time and movement that it feels more comfortable and you’re breathing a little more labored than just plain ol’ warm ups do. Trust it will do the same for you.

Living in a cold climate is something that many have learned to adapt to, and to some extent thrive in. As I grew up watching people dress differently in changing climates there was always a fringe few that really did not follow the norm. I found them to be interesting how when the temps dropped to 30 F /1C they’re still wearing freaking shorts!!! Ok, do they know something I don’t? Like what rocket fuel is in their bloods that precludes them from wearing normal clothing like me (2~3 layers) to get warm. I mean, come on. I’d love to be able to do that. Then, I stumbled upon none other than the Iceman himself Wim Hoff, over a year ago and I have learned that you can become more than what you perceive you are limited to being.

This should come as not surprise to anyone that there is health to be had if you fix yourself, not just by resting, and eating right. Not only exercising alone will help and according to Mr. James Nestor who’s done some serious research and paid his dues/cut his nails on said subject matter on this subject. What subject is that? Breathing. Yes, breathing will get you squared away. Don’t take my word for it. I’ll not be paid for not expect to be paid for expressing my desire for you to try it. Firstly read his book. Breath – The New Science of a Lost Art. Secondly, practice it. You will be leaps ahead of your peers in health, and stamina. Don’t take my word for it. Just try it.

These past couple of weeks at RuFF we’re getting a little more comfortable doing things in the cold, and frigid temps are not going away any time soon. So, layering and moving will continue to be our focus. Getting and staying warm through breathing, and moving is key. Then coffee (for me) is essential post workout. Enjoy.

New Years Day Workout not too cold really (~30F)

Colder (~20F) RED Friday WOD

Stay warm, but get cold to start. It’s important and beneficial for you to exercise in the cold. I will change your outlook on winter dramatically. Trust to process, do the work, and reap the benefits.

See you next time,

Mi A Gi

Take this cold weather…

Waking up every morning to a dark, cloudy (mostly), and cold day is what makes working out a little challenging yet very fulfilling. Why you ask? Why take it outside when you can rightly stay indoors and follow along to a live feed/zoom fitness class in the comfort of your own home?

Well, it is very simple. The people you surround with is the defining element in the chemistry of getting uncomfortable with like minded individuals to see these workouts through. It has become a truth to all of them involved that fitness is not a part time, or even less than a portion of their lives, but a staple to keep not just stress away but illness.

Leading by example to sweat, laugh, swear (a lot) these individuals I’ll call out right here. For the sake of not going in order of tenure with us there is :

Breath right strip Eleni, gear lugging Mike, Humble Matt, in the wings Courtney, Tall drink Al, the ever leading and not catchable Selene. My SgtMaj (USMC Ret) Weber that never has a stop nor idle in him, the Ironman (it’s too dark) Brian, the newly found youth Ron, the endurance go getter Liz, our EmpanadUs crew of Kevin, and Leslie (bro and sis) that are stellar athletes, it’s too cold Jae, our spark-plug athlete Jessi (i miss CA weather).

They are worth getting up and leading such a crew as this to make their lives, and those they interact with from immediate family, to co-workers to show that there is an alternative to just a regular life of just getting by but making a difference. A major difference in their health, and those they Love and care for.

Become a light in darkness so that others may follow and make a change for the better. There is nothing more rewarding than making people healthy, and happy.

The video links below shows a group of individuals tackling tough R.E.D. Friday workout. Getting into the fun of things while huffing, puffing, encouraging each other during the process.

Video link one – Thanksgiving WOD

Video link two – 12 Days of Christmas RuFF style

Get up, go out regardless of the weather and get it done! Be in the moment for you will get warm and the benefits outweigh the temps. Trust the process, for you will see very good returns.

Be safe, be strong, be smart and be willing!

See you out there!

Merry Christmas!

Mi A Gi

Changing Seasons & Time

Working on getting myself adjusted to time change is not as bad as I thought it’d be this year, and it has not really been bad at all the previous years. What has made this year a little different though is that most to all of the time has been spent close to home unlike other years where I travelled a little more often, and camped a tad more than this year for sure.

The seasons were obviously thoroughly enjoyed via my porch, park, trail, and unlucky / lucky me no beach. I’m not one to be in a crowded beach any time of the year so I don’t apologize for it either. Big crowds of people just laying down absorbing a beautiful sun on a cloudless sky isn’t too attractive for me. On a day like that I’d be out working out, hiking, or just enjoying outdoors doing something other than that. I know it’s an abnormal thing to state out loud to some, but hey not everyone does the same thing every time nor like the same things.

Hiking, camping, working out outdoors is better for me mentally and emotionally. Thus I’d like to enjoy my time communing with Mother Nature in here grandest while absorbing all I could in a day in the woods/mountains helping me make sense of the atmosphere the world finds itself in. We do have outlets that have taken to Virtually running a marathon, an Ironman, or trail race to make do until a certain pesky Virus is taken care of. Some have been able to “race” virtually on the Honor system to garner trophies, t-shirts, swag and an award to post on ‘social’ media and get their proper congrats they’d otherwise get in person at the end of such an event.

The time commitment to train for said events on a regular year is monumental due to life events if you have kids, are married, and have a job or two. Training takes a life of its own. Biking a few times a week, swim (Good Luck) if you can find a pool that’s opened and even admits a single swimmer in to start. All of the pools by me have been closed since last year in the Fall. Now, Running has taken a front seat for more of the population due to the ease of participation on time of day/week and duration/distance anyone can choose to participate in.

It’s a social/anti-social event. For the introverts running alone is AWESOME!!! For extroverts – I thought about the types of conversations they have with themselves since they’re running alone, and how many people they truly miss being around. It is a very difficult time for many. I do figure that the Introvert is like ‘so, you’re alone and having a hard time’ Hit me up, and I’ll give you some guidance or an ear/shoulder for you. They truly are empathetic to your (extrovert) self.

Now, with all of that being said take time as the season is changing once more to the fall, then winter to manage the cabin fever that comes with it. Eat well, hydrate often, exercise more and get a good sweat going. Consult with a nutritionist, find a Personal Trainer to guide you in this journey, and by all means reach out to a Mental Health professional if you truly feel you’re at wits end!

No one can do this alone, and it takes a team to make you successful.

Reach out to help or get assistance. No one on the wonderful planet is ALONE in this.

Stay healthy, and here are a few pics for you!

RED Friday Partner WOD

Chilling at Tenaya Lake, YNP 2016

Chicago Veterans Ruck March 5/24/19

There are times where you feel anxious, or butterflies prior to an event that you’re participating in that will make your preparation for such an event either fruitful or regrettable. I’m happy to state that my butterflies were there, but not so much as a nervousness due me questioning whether or not I have trained properly, and am I wearing the right equipment for this event.

The morning started at Chicago’s Union Station for our ride to the start line which was at Henry Kalk Park, Glenco, IL. Just getting off the train and the registration/ check in tables are 100 yds away. Well, one good thing deserves another right? Well, the morning of the event it had been forecasted to be gloomy, rainy, and cool. What we did get was very rainy, lighting, and thunder.

While getting off the train, it opened up on us. Yes, it just kept on coming, and not a shelter in sight except for the volunteers, and food areas. With standing water, mud, and a bit of a wind we just had to come to terms that we were going to be uncomfortable sooner than later.

Everyone involved had a great attitude towards the situation fully knowing that being uncomfortable was par for the course so we all took it in stride. Heck, once the colors were presented, our national anthem sung, and a speech given it was time to ruck and roll. A 20 mile ruck with weights of your choosing is what makes this event all encompassing. We’ve had children, and adults with their school bags and gym shoes , and the elderly with nothing on their backs. You get this done the best possible way you can in the time you can.

Our team of five had a two females, and three males. Each wearing a ruck or backpack that suited their ability to accomplish the goal of 20miles. We had no illusions of trying to keep up with the ROTC HS / College kids. Nope, my ego was checked when I registered. With that being said we did pass many people on the route who were much younger than us and finished much sooner also.

Typically due to improper footwear I’d lost nails the last two years, and no I’m not posting pics of them although I did take pics of my feet. This year I wore the shoes I’ve been training in for over six months I’ve broken them in, so they’re so comfy and wide. I’ve worn many brands of shoes for training, and have found them to be very solid, zero drop, wide toed, and look odd. I dig them. They’re the Altra Superiors 3.0, but the link will give you the 4.0’s. I’m gonna grab them next for my trail half marathon in October.

Selene, she wore the Altra Lone Peak 3.5. Solid shoes, and man do they make a difference. Not having any foot issues is a big deal in such an event as this, and we’re two happy people because of it. They did not break down with 50lb on my back, and that’s not including water, food, or extra gear.

We rucked through beautiful neighborhoods, and walking past the Baha’i House of Worship It’s a beautiful building outside, but you’re gonna drop your jaw when you go inside.

Our lunch stop area (designated) in Evanston, IL we had a chance to do foot care. Change socks, check for blisters and such items to be taken care of. Someone decided to get a little warmer by using a garbage bag to get warm.

Well fed by our volunteers, we donned our gear and headed out. Warm? Not really, still a lake breeze keeping the temperature at 55F/13C all the time. The wind at times was nasty, until we were on Sheridan Rd, by Rogers Park until way past Loyola University. Once we got to Hollywood beach, game on for windy, cooler, and a little sunny. By that I mean that it was brighter and no rain. Rucking on the lakefront path is always a treat except when the idiot bike riders think their higher level of riding a bike fast is greater importance than the pedestrians they barely miss hitting. Dickweeds!

Once we passed the uptown area, past Montrose harbor, and cricket hill the Rucker’s were very spread out, and you could tell everyone was determined to make it. No matter what. Blisters, and body aches be damned! Supporting each other whether or not we knew each other is of more importance than being a lone wolf in this event. Words of affirmation is one thing, but get words of encouragement from strangers really lights their, and my fire. That’s why I keep coming back, to give back.

Once passed the Nearing The totem pole we were stopped and greeted by a bud of of Weber’s whom he had served with and started to give us beer. Heck, I was thrilled and thirsty so I of course enjoyed a can, and carried another just in case I felt thirsty sooner than later. Actually I felt good after that, I had just taken my CrankSport eGel. So, my carb load went up and I felt goooood!

Once we made it to our last obstacle, which happened to be a bridge to cross over Lake Shore Drive at North Avenue Beach, we were feeling it for sure! My legs ached pretty bad, but we were determined to either hobble or crawl to the finish!

Selene took a video of struggle but we were laughing at our level of discomfort. Old geezers doing work! 😂

One the funniest things that happened was when we were resting waiting for others to finish and hydrating with my beer of course I started to get cold. So I said I’m going to put on another shirt to warm up. While trying to put in over my head I couldn’t lift my arms and got stuck. As if on cue Weber, and Selene began to laugh hard at my demise but wouldn’t help. My inability to don a shirt was due to the crush line injury on my traps by the ruck. So, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

They laughed so hard they couldn’t reach their cameras to take a pic. Good thing.

As far as equipment this year as last events went here is the load out.

My faithful ruck from GoRuck in the GR1 has been such a sturdy piece of well made equipment that has been dragged, thrown, swung, smashed, soaked, and in all weather conditions to boot. It’s tough I tell you. Very much so, that hauling this ruck for prolonged period of time (7+ hours) it does not lose its shape. Shoulder pads are very well padded, and my suck factor was well reduced as I lugged 50lb for 20 miles that day.

It may sound like a product review, but not my intent. It’s a statement of fact to instill in anyone starting out in any endeavor such as this to go out and try out many rucks, and read plenty of reviews. One purchase, no regrets, and plenty of time had working out with or using it as a EDC bag.

I hope to have more participants next year to join us, maybe it’s you?

See you then,

Magister Nosce