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Archive for the ‘MultiSport’ Category


Yep, I’m back.  No, I didn’t go anywhere.  I’ve just been busy.

Since the first of this year, my family’s budget has been much more strict.  That can be problematic when you’re a triathlete, clydesdale or otherwise.  It’s kind of normal that in the 21st century, everything is an industry these days.  So, yes, there is the running industry, the triathlon industry, and I even work in the healthcare industry.  Side note: In my own personal opinion and belief, healthcare of any kind should never be considered an “industry” in any sense.  It should always and only be considered ministry, regardless of your religion.  We should be working ourselves out of a job, not creating permanence and profit. That being said, industries have one primary goal in mind: setting their followers free from the green stuff in their pocketbooks and making them feel good about it.

That’s not cynical, people, it’s just true.  Industries are in it for making money.  They exist because they have constituencies; followers.  Runners need shoes, shorts, shirts, gels, sleeves, compression gear…and the list goes on and on.  Get it–runners NEED this stuff (feel free to substitute cyclist, triathlete, etc.).  And, it’s true that there are times when we do need the stuff, or it may help us in one way or another.  However, many times, we just want it.  Of course, for many triathletes, what we  most want is the next race, or ride, or whatever event there is down the pike.

Previously, during most of the year, I was budgeted to one event per month (except for special instances). One race or one ride.  Now, even those will be hard to come by, so I am doing with less of them.  I attended one ride this Spring, primarily because it was inexpensive and we didn’t have to travel far (and there was something for sweetie to do while I rode).  I was able recently to sign up for the Dallas Half Marathon in December because of a birthday gift.  No, I am not complaining, but I am learning a lot more about what it means to be a runner or a cyclist this way.

I’ve learned I can do without Clif bars.  I’ve learned I can do with just Gatorade.  I already reported that while funds were available, I pre-bought two pair of running shoes so they would last.  I’m keeping my 400 mile pair in service for short runs to make them last even longer.  I’ve also learned to get more out of my workouts than just a notch up for the next race or event.

Usually, by now, I am into full swing cycle mode for the Summer.  That hasn’t happened this year.  I have switched to doing long runs on Saturdays instead of going out and riding.  Mainly because I can’t get any medium length ones during the weekdays.  I was finding that if I got up at 4AM and did 6 to 8 miles, I was wasted for working that day.  Also, by waiting until Saturday, I can run longer and get into better condition, all while seeing the sun come up.  Much better, I think.

But, I’ve gotten some riding time in as well.  I’ve just had to be creative.  I’ve loaded up the bike on the car and driven out to a large trail where I can ride safely on Sunday afternoons sometimes.  Yes, that may be anathema to some, but it is better than nothing.  A friend recently started up his Sunday morning group ride around town.  Since I don’t have to be at church at 7AM any more, I can now ride.  Also, much better.

I’ve been working on a better running workout that is doing me some good right now.  My weekday runs are limited to about 3 and no more than 5K at a time.  Then on Saturdays, I’ve been working from 8 to 14 miles.  I just finished the first cycle a couple of weeks ago and now I’m going from 9 to 14, then 10 to 14, then 12 to 14.  After I finish that cycle, I’ll go back to 8 and start over again.  I’ll let you know how it goes, but so far it has felt very good to get out and do the longer runs like I was doing for the marathon.

I’m trying to hold 1,000 yds. in swimming, but I waffle some.  I’m down to just one day as Mondays are seniors only at my pool.  It’s a lot less busy that way and I can swim better.  An Ironman friend of mine had been doing a workout where he ran to the pool, did his swim, then ran home.  I’ve started doing that some.  It’s a killer workout, to borrow a cliche, but well worth the effort.

I hadn’t really been a running clothes horse.  My only few important things I’ve had for a while; a couple pairs of compression shorts, and some really good socks, plus a pair of winter woolies and running pants for Winter.  Almost all of my shirts are race shirts or were bought at Wal Mart or Target.  You can get decent stuff there.  I haven’t need any clothes this  year, but if I did, I know where to look.

It’s been different not racing or going to rides as much.  I’ve been blessed with more great runs this way than usual.  I am still getting to do new things.  I’ve noticed I am running much faster than I used to run.  It’s decently exciting to finish a long run on Saturday and discover you didn’t take as long as you thought.  It’s also good to be able to run by the grocery store on your run and see folks you know.

Running and working out is about a lot more than just the events.  You really don’t have to have a lot of money to do it.  You do need to have really good shoes though.  There you cannot scrimp.  That just requires planning and budgeting to make it work.  I’ve been reminded a lot more lately of just what it means to be an athlete (or “late onset athleticism as John Bingham calls it).  At my new job, I have been able to put into practice all those things I believe in about being a craftsman such as doing a good job just because it’s the way you do a job.  Now, I’ve been able to apply those lessons to running, biking, and swimming.  Doing them well just because you should and because  you can.  Triathlon training on a budget does work.  Happy running, ya’ll!

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I hadn’t done any serious cycling since last Summer.  Though I had gotten out on the bike a few times this Spring, it’s been difficult trying to find time and place to do everything.  I was concerned whether or not I was ready to ride 60 miles at the Head for the Hills rally this past weekend. But, I was anxious to get out on a really long ride.

This ride is in Cedar Hill, TX; very near where I live.  I think this was my fifth year to ride it, but I’m not sure. It has always been a fun ride that is not too challenging.  I even got lost year before last and ended up in Mansfield, TX and had to make my way down a major highway just to get back to Midlothian.

I checked the weather the night before because wind can be a major factor on this ride.  My Weather Channel app said that the wind would be out of the north-northeast at 10 to 15 mph.  That didn’t sound bad.  However, the weather man ( or my weather app) lied about the wind speed.

I actually ran into a couple of folks I knew and lined up with them for the start.  They were talking about riding together, but when the start happened, there was too much waiting, so I took off.  Times a wastin’, ya’ll.

The whole first 35 miles or so was not only good, it was scary great.  We were moving fast.  I knew we had the wind at our backs, but it was only 10-15 mph, right?  We must just be moving well.  NOT.  The wind was at least 20 mph, and probably gusting higher. On some descents, it made it white-nuckle scary.

The back roads around Cedar Hill and northern Ellis County can get pretty narrow.  Many of these are chosen for the Head for the Hills ride and they are chosen well.  The twists and turns make the ride fun.  However, when you are dropping into a tight downhill turn on what is really only a one lane road at about 24 mph, the fun dies back somewhat.  I was fortunate in that I was in a large group of riders and could depend on them hollering back if any cars were coming.

I ran across one lady rider that was down just after a curve.  She had a lot of help around her, but I still thought it appropriate to ask if she was alright as she was being helped to the side. “Nope, not really.  Everything’s not quite alright,” was her answer as I peddled away.  I saw another guy go down in front of me.  I still don’t know what happened to him.  He was about 100 yards in front of me with his partner when he just flipped out and went down; on a straight road.  He was OK too, so I rode on.

When we made the turn back to the north, all the fun stopped.  Facing a 20 mph wind on a bike is a chore.  But, I’ve done it before and the ride still had to be finished, so I dropped the gears and the speed and just kept it up.  We made it up to the 40 mile rest stop fairly soon after the turn.  I decided it was time for a good rest before tackling the wind and the hills back to Cedar Hill.  This is a good rest stop because it is at a glider airport.  This time I got to see a glider get pulled up into the air.  It was a good day for gliding.  Lots of wind.

The last 20 miles or so were uneventful.  Just slow gutting it out against the wind.  Did I mention it’s all uphill back to Cedar Hill?  But, near the finish of the ride, things picked up. One guy near the finish that said he was going to draft off of me for a while.  I thought that was funny.  I’m not usually fast enough to draft from.  I also got a crack out of the two ladies that had just decided to stop at the Dairy Queen at the highway and have some ice cream before finishing.  Then there was the group of guys that turned back into the ride about a quarter mile from the race.  They had stopped to have lunch at Babe’s Fried Chicken before they finished.

I finished up in 5 hours even.  Certainly decent and typical for me at 60 miles.  However, we took off at 8AM and I was at 20 miles at 9:12 and 40 miles at 10:40, so you can get an idea of how much the wind slowed me down.  Five hours put me back in exactly at 1 PM.  You can see that it took from 10:40 to 1 PM just to get the last 25 or so miles done. Whew!

Cedar Hill is always a good ride.  I’ve hardly ever had any rain beyond just a few sprinkles.  It is often windy in one way or another.  A north wind in May is unusual and its a little better on this ride to have a south wind.  In addition, this ride helps a lot of folks in their area with the proceeds.  I’d recommend this one to anyone in the DFW area, especially because it’s close to us.  Most rides are much further out.

I’m probably going to be writing less for a while.  I’ve got several things I would like to work on besides just this blog.  I’d like to get a tech blog going and see how that works.  I’ve lost some of the motivation I used to have for writing, but thankfully, people keep actually reading what I write.  That always helps me remember that there is a good reason for what I’m doing.

I think I’ve finally gotten together a workout plan that works for my new schedule.  I run on Monday and Thursday mornings before work.  I spin on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to take off a little of the pressure from running.  I am doing my long runs on Saturday mornings (unless I have a ride).  That has helped in getting the longer miles in without getting up at 4 AM.  Now, I ride on Sunday afternoons when I can by taking the bike to Campion Trail.  I’d rather ride out myself, but the traffic just doesn’t work well.  I round this off with one or two evening swims, if I can.  That schedule should keep me fit and ready for whatever I want to do.

That should be enough for now.  My next ride is the Tour de Pepper in Dublin, TX in early June.  I’ll probably write again after that ride.  Happy running and cycling!

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The past week or so has been good for running, though in a weird sort of way.  I thought I’d relate my week to you all because as I reflect on it, I realize it’s time to take down my shingle as a “newbie“.  I write this to encourage anyone that can still safely and proudly display their shingle as a “newbie” runner, cyclist, or triathlete.

It’s February in North Texas and that means I am completely ready for Spring to be sprung, but the weather just doesn’t cooperate.  We go from warm humid days to freezing and raining overnight, it seems.  It can make one’s planning for morning run preparations quite difficult.  In addition, I usually try to ride early on Saturday mornings right now, but have found that below about 40 degreesF is just too cold. So, what to do?

Last week, I got in a full four days of running as is my usual bent.  On Thursday, it was the coolest of the week, I think.  I had to run a four miler to finish out the week and thought I’d run an old route I used to run.  It has a few hills and I discovered via an achilles problem that it’s not good to run hills every day.  But, my usual route is so flat and boring I just needed the change.

Being a cool morning, I could take out fairly quickly but figured I’d lose it pretty soon.  I’ve been working on pacing since last Fall during marathon training.  I’ve always tried to run by feel, but have found out that I can get lazy.  If my fitness, distance, and time is going to improve, I need to keep my pace in a range that keeps my body challenged.  So, I’ve been working on finding a pace that is comfortable, but at the edge.  It’s a bit like threshold running, but without going quite that far.  I am doing this so that I keep my pace improving as my fitness improves, and that I don’t get lazy.

This was a good morning for that.  I know that if I feel myself speeding up during a run and that it’s not correspondingly hard, then I am doing well.  On that morning, despite the cold and the hills, I was speeding up.  During the last mile, I was wondering if I would break a goal of mine, 4 miles in under 45 minutes.  For the longest time, I’ve been a 50 minute 4-miler.  During the last half-mile, I did my best to run nearly as fast as I could.  My final time was a little over 44 minutes.  Just a little over an 11-minute mile average.

This week, I was hopeful for a full week of running, but the weatherman wasn’t.  After two good days, I had to stay home on the trainer for Wednesday and Thursday because of cold and rain.  Although, the weatherman’s doom and gloom forecast for Thursday morning was behind schedule and I could have run.  Since Saturday was forecast to be sunny but cold in the morning, I thought I would console my missed runs with a real long run.  Cycling down near freezing is just uncomfortable to me and running is doable. I planned an 8-miler, longest run since December.

The first three or four miles seemed normal for this distance, but that was probably the hills.  At about 3.5 miles, I hit a flat spot that holds for a while.  I felt that same increasing pace again.  I was able to hold it and it was doing fine.  I was expecting to see another 11-minute or so average.  Imaging my surprise when I finished out and looked at the Strava reading: 1:30:29 and a 10:30-ish AVERAGE pace.  I cannot ever remember or believe I could have run this distance that quickly.

No it’s not real fast, relatively.  Yet, for me it’s speedy.  It hasn’t been that long since I was just doing 13 minute miles and if I had a really good day, it might be a 12:30. So, 11’s and 10’s of any sort seem like I’m burning rubber.  I guess after four and a half years of running, I might better quit considering myself a beginning runner.

Someone I know that just started a fitness regimen recently asked me, “How do you run for 26.2 miles?”  They couldn’t imagine running that far because it hurt so much to run just a little.  Well, when I started, it hurt then too.  But, I didn’t quit.  I adjusted and my body adjusted also.  If we keep going our body will continue to improve and prepare itself to improve even further.  But, we also have to watch out for plateaus where we become content with what we have done and forget to continue to improve.  If you’re a beginner or a “newbie”, then be proud you are.  Carry that title with honor and just keep going.  Tell yourself that one day, you will have to take that title down and put up a new one.  But, until then, even though it’s just a cliche’, you’re lapping everyone still on the couch.  You’re a runner.  You’re a cyclist.  You’re a triathlete.  Those are much better titles and having beginner beside them is no problem.  Happy running or cycling!  Remember, Spring will be here soon.

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Lots of folks that are running or cycling have used GPS watches (is that the right term?) to record their routes, pace, training, etc.  For a few years, I also used a Garmin 305 that I was given at Christmas.  It is the one piece of gear that is hard to give up.  We runners especially often want to know our pace and distance.  I have seen that quite a few folks have switched to using their smartphones for the same purpose.  I also tried to use mine in place of my Garmin, but wasnt’ very satisfied.  That was until a friend suggested I use Strava.

In early September, my faithful Garmin gave up the ghost.  Since they are kind of pricy, I couldn’t just go out and replace it.  I needed another option to carry me through marathon training.  Yes, in keeping with Murphy’s Law, it chose to die right when it’s really needed.  I had used another app, which shall remain nameless, when I first got my smartphone.  However, it was kind of a memory and power hog on my phone.  It required access to the GPS and the 3G at the same time.  Therefore it was not a good option.

I spent a good deal of the Fall just using a stopwatch app and running already well tracked routes.  I could probably write a whole post on low-tech running, though I think there are many other proponents already.  It was enjoyable.  I had to run just on my own pace monitoring my breath and body to do things correctly.  For the most part, it did work, but that’s another story.  I missed my Garmin, but I needed a quicker, cheaper alternative.

Then, a friend told me I should try Strava’s app.  Strava.com is one of the newer on-line ride/run loggers.  I had looked at them briefly, once, but didn’t think about trying them further.  When my friend gave them a good mark, I thought I’d try them out.  Now, I see why.

Rather than a large unwieldy app, Strava breaks theirs into two apps, one for cycling and one for running.  Their basic screen isn’t any harder to use than a Garmin or a watch.  What sold it to me was it’s ability to run in airplane mode.  On smartphones, there should be an “airplane” mode where you can kill all of the radios for wi-fi and 3G/4G (whatever they’re calling it today).  However, since GPS doesn’t usually transmit, it’s still on during airplane mode. Getting to use Strava during airplane mode means a great power savings during my runs and rides.

The app is alright to be disconnected during airplane mode and when I press pause on the screen, it doesn’t automatically try to upload the data.  Instead, there is a separate button to do so.  Therefore, I have time to put my phone back into regular transmission modes and then allow Strava to finish the run/ride and upload.  You can view all your routes and workouts on the smartphone or on the web.

The second feature that I like is that on the phone, it provides splits and speeds.  Since I use Linux and Garmin does not have a Linux version of Garmin Connect, I cannot view my splits across my runs.  I don’t have to worry with that now since I can see mile splits on the phone as soon as I’m through running.  In addition, on the cycling app, I can view a graph of the instantaneous speeds and see if I’m travelling well.    With the speed graph, I can see where my speed is peaking during the ride. This is kind of important since I’m an urban rider and getting your average speed which includes all your traffic stops is misleading.

The only problem I have run into with Strava, and it is a small thing, is that it counts movement time.  I would prefer a setting that allows me to deselect that feature.  I like to measure myself the same as it would be during a run or ride where all the time counts.

I’ve used the Strava app for both running and cycling for a few weeks.  It has been as easy to use as my Garmin was.  Since I carry my phone with me, it might as well be doing something useful.  Strava works simply and without drawing on as many resources as some other apps do.  I think I’ll keep using it.  Merry Christmas to all and happy running!

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2012 MetroPCS Dallas Marathon Finisher's medal

2012 MetroPCS Dallas Marathon Finisher’s medal

Yep, here it is folks.  Another runner that I follow on Twitter posted this pic of the finisher’s medal for this year’s MetroPCS Dallas Marathon.  I finished my last long run yesterday for my training plan and only have a few short easy runs and some rest days before race day on December 9th.

In addition to getting ready for this race and thinking back over all the training I’ve done, I thought some this week about my cross-training.  After having several injuries mostly relating to over-used or inflamed muscles and tendons, I learned about cross-training.  Of course, as a cyclist, I was cross-training already, but since then, I’ve added in swimming as well.

My cross-training with running really helps with my muscles.  I can always tell after riding, spinning, or swimming how much looser my muscles feel.  This has to be good for my running and I think it has helped.  Along with remembering to stretch after long or hard runs, I haven’t (knock on wood) had any issues this year after my swimming injury healed.

I’m getting just a little bit excited to run come Sunday.  Now the really obsessive part of racing takes hold.  Checking on the weather every five minutes.  Pouring over the race map to visualize the race neighborhoods and where I’ll be at about what time.  Figuring out six days in advance what I’ll wear and need, then changing it several times. Fretting over meals and calorie counts.  If I forget anything to be obsessive about, please send me a comment and remind me.  I don’t want to miss even the smallest obsessive detail you know.

I pulled the marathon card on my algebra teacher this week.  I signed up to take college algebra this semester as I need more discipline hours in order to be able to teach on the college level someday.  Wouldn’t you know I’d pick math, right.  I have this saying, “Dave always has to do it the hard way.”  And, I’ve proven it with math.  I’ve really struggled this semester with this course, which shouldn’t be all that hard.  I took algebra in high school, right; thirty something years ago.  Mostly, I seem to have some kind of numerical dyslexia.  My difficulties are often in getting all the numbers written down without transposing something.  In any case, I spent all day yesterday doing two tests, and I do mean all day.  I’ve been close to giving up and withdrawing.  Instead, I sent my teacher an e-mail and told her I was a marathoner.  We don’t give up.  And, I wont’.  Might go down in flames, but I wont’ give up.

If you already have a follow for me on Twitter, I’ve set up tweets while I’m running next Sunday.  If you haven’t and if you’re really that bored for tweets on Sunday, I’m @abigmanrunning over there.  Strangely enough I do have followers on Twitter as well as here on WordPress.  I thank you for that.  I started writing this for practice, but I realize it’s writing and we do like for folks to actually read what we’ve written.  I found out how important that was this week when I helped out another writer.

Discovered a new app to use this week.  Another friend messaged me about using Strava for cycling and running.  My garmin has been broken for all of this Fall.  I just haven’t wanted to spend the money on a new one nor mess with it while training.  Mostly, I just need an easy way to record my miles, times, and paces.  I’ve been using another app on my android phone, but it’s really a power hog.  Strava so far doesn’t seem to be.  I’ve only gotten to use it once, but it’s really simple.  It works while my phone is in airport mode.  The GPS signal still receives during that mode, but it really lowers power usage.  I’ll keep everyone posted on it.

Well, I told you it was going to be a bit random.  It happens every now and then.  I just heard today there are chances of rain showers for next Sunday.  I don’t need to hear that after last year’s race.  I sure hope that goes away.  I’ll be updating on the post race recap next week, after I rest up a bit.  Remember, the first 20 miles is a training run.  The last 6.2 miles is the race.  I think I said that somewhere before.  Merry Christmas, and Happy Running!

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Hello all.  As I sit in my easy chair late on a Sunday afternoon, I am reminded I haven’t written a thing all week.  Usually, that would bring a fit of guilt and my mind going into overdrive trying to come up with a decent topic.  Well, today, I think I have one that while old, is still relevant to many big-ger athletes like me…counting calories.

When I began cycling and even when I first began running, I didn’t do anything about my diet.  I was seeing results in the weight department just by continuing my workouts and adding in more of them over time.  I started over 300 and made it down to 270 with just this method.

Yet, after a couple of years running, I realized that I was going to have to do more than just work out.  With a busy schedule and a real life outside of cycling and running, I couldn’t add in enough extra workouts to overcome my eating.  Additionally, I had been on a plateau for at least six months.  I still weighed 270.  I needed to lose more weight because I wanted my running to improve, and I still needed to be lighter in general.  I was at a crucial point and the one thing I didn’t like changing was going to have to change.

Can I say right here how much I hate dieting of any kind?  I do.  It’s horrible to me.  It’s not because I haven’t dieted.  I’ve used a few different methods and they do work.  I’ve used Weight Watchers.  It worked.  I’ve done a faith-based program that also worked.  Though, it worked mostly because I included regular weekly and monthly fasting periods.  They all work in a sense.  If you limit calories at the right levels (less calories in than you burn each day), you will lose weight.  What I dislike about dieting is that it requires actual thought about eating.  I don’t like to think about eating.  It also requires you actually being hungry sometimes.  After spending a year fasting a lot, I don’t really like being hungry that much.

So, I was going to try something that didn’t require too much thought and that didn’t require me to be hungry all the time.  I was just going to count calories.  With the new technology of the Internet, it should be pretty easy, right?  Well, sort of easy.  I started using my workout tracking site, mapmyride.com.  They had recently added a calorie tracker section and it was linked up with my workout tracker.  So, as I worked out, it would automatically update my daily calorie limit with extra calories.  And, I’m all up for extra calories.

I set up a daily allowance of 1,800 calories by plugging in the weight I wanted to be at, 200 pounds.  That’s how the site worked.  You put in your height and weight, and it figures your daily regular calorie allowance.  At six feet, and where I wanted to be, it gave me the 1,800 calories.  I elected not to use the feature of ‘how active are you’ because it added in workout calories and didn’t turn off the ones you earned doing workouts.

For example, if my daily allowance is 1,800 calories and I chose the setting for ‘moderately active’, it would set my daily allowance at something like 2,500 calories.  If I then went and did a 3 mile run, it would give me another 300 or so calories for the run.  That would skew my daily intake too high because the activity setting actually took care of that already.  In addition, you couldn’t turn off adding calories from workouts if you chose an activity level.  Therefore, I set it at ‘not active’ and stuck with just the daily allowance plus workouts.

For several months, this actually worked.  I dropped slowly and steadily from 270 down to 245-ish.  And, there I have been for probably close to a year now.  It may go up a pound or two for a bit, but I haven’t had any drops below 244.  Once again, I am back to having to think about eating again.  How much does that cost?  Can I have the extra taquito with my breakfast?  One bowl of pad thai is how many servings?  Really?

Though my chosen web site did a good job of making it easy for me, I needed to do something different.  I had noticed, through the average daily calories that were counted at the end of each week, that I did better on weight control as long as I stayed near 2,200 calories.  The difficulty with mapmyride.com was that if I did a really long run or ride, it gave me a huge extra amount of calories that I wanted to use.  But, their site didn’t let me set a daily allowance and turn off the calorie bonus from workouts.  Time for something different.

A few weeks ago, I switched to the My Calorie Counter on everydayhealth.com.  I don’t know if I’ll stay here for good, but for now it’s working, sort of.  I haven’t lost any weight yet, but it allows me to set a daily allowance with an activity level, and even adjust from there.  It said that with my current weight and moderate activity level that I should be able to have 2,500 calories per day.  I didn’t really trust that number and set it at 2,300 calories.  I got to override the settings!  Yippee!  That is really important in these things because none of us are the same.

At the end of a week, I had zero change.  That didn’t bother me too much.  It just means I need to adjust.  I am now on a week with 2,200 calories.  After a week, if I still see no change, I’ll lower it again.  Eventually, I should find the magic number.  Then I can maintain with that level until I see a drop off in weight loss again.

That is kind of the point with weight loss.  It varies.  As I lose weight, I will have to lower my calorie intake even more.  Lighter people need less calories.  In addition, I’m not perfect all the time with daily intakes.  There are some days that I have really good control and choices and I come in under the goal.  There are other days, that I can’t.  The benefit of something like an online counter is that if I can get everything entered during the day, it tells me how much is left for the day.  I know that if I have made it to dinner and still have 100 calories left, then snacks are out.  If by chance I’ve got 300 left, maybe I can have a small snack.

Losing weight is a job in itself.  It’s not easy for anyone.  Trying to balance your meals and your activity takes thought, effort, and discipline just like in your running or cycling.  I do have to remember at the end of the day that my weight loss is not the only thing I have to work on.  I’ve lost a lot already and I am healthier now than previously.  Not that I am allowed to rest upon those laurels, just to not stress over when things don’t go right.  The consistency of working on it each week is the important part of the battle with the scale.

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Every other Sunday, I participate on #runchat on Twitter.  Now, if that doesn’t sound bizarre coming from me, it should.  Even more bizarre is that through #runchat I managed to find a very good company making a great product for runners and other athletes to use.

Before I start blathering about the review, allow me to explain #runchat for those that may not know.  Every other Sunday (actually tomorrow is the next), at 8PM EDT, two runners organize and moderate #runchat.  By using the hashtag #runchat on your Twitter feed, (there’s the bizarreness again) you can answer the questions posed and talk with a lot of other runners about something important to most of us, running of course.  In addition, there is always a sponsor along for the ride as well.

One of those evenings, it was Premier Nutrition.  They make a line of protein shakes and bars for active athletes.  They were quite responsive to most of the runners present and offered many folks a sample of their wares.  So, I signed on.  Free is always good and you never know what you might find.

Most companies offer samples of a little bit, like one bite, or a really tiny try out size.  I was surprised when my box (yep, a box) arrived from Premier Protein soon after the #runchat.  They sent a good selection of shakes and bars to try out.  There were chocolate and vanilla shakes and several flavors of protein bars.

I don’t know much about the benefits of using a protein supplement.  I wouldn’t ever try those big can types with the muscle guys on the front.  Somehow I think there is more than just protein in those cans.  However, I do know that one of the best things a runner can do after a run is to drink a glass of chocolate milk.  It helps put back a good quantity of protein in your system and it tastes good after a run.

As I understand it, running tears down muscle a little.  When you rest, the body goes to work trying to repair that muscle.  It needs protein in your system to do so.  Therefore, the reason for a glass of chocolate milk after a run.  But, a good glass of chocolate milk can be 300 calories!  Only on my long run days could I afford to take in that many extra calories.  I still have weight to lose so I have to be careful how I use them.

That’s one reason why I like Premier Protein shakes.  It puts protein back in your body, but does it with only 160 calories.  They also taste good and the price and availability are not bad either.  I found mine later at Sam’s Club, but they are also at Wal-Mart.  Yes, when my samples ran out, I actually bought some.  I’m partial to the vanilla myself.

So, did they make me run faster, jump higher, bike longer?  I don’t know.  It would take a really well controlled experiment to find that out.  I just liked them because they had a good flavor, lower calories than chocolate milk, and a decent price.

I don’t do a lot of reviews, but these guys were worth it.  Not only were they willing to stick their necks out with a bunch of runners, but they do social media pretty well.  I’ve talked to them since the first time and I’ve noticed many of my friends doing the same.  They involve themselves with their consumers and that leads to trust between us, which is a good sign of a quality company to me.  And, nope, except for the samples, I don’t get paid for doing this.

OK, yeah so there were protein bars in the box too.  I did try them out.  But, it’s fair warning that there is another energy bar I’ve used for a long time and you would have to be really, really exceptional to beat them.  The protein bars were alright, but they didn’t beat out my other bar.  That’s still a win-win to me as I now have an added tool in the nutrition tool box that helps to fuel my runs, and bikes, and swims.

I’m giving Premier Protein shakes an ‘A’.  They are a lower calorie alternative to chocolate milk for getting some protein back in your body after a workout.  Their price is acceptable and availability is good.  Anything I don’t have to special order on line is a plus. They keep well too.  I only refrigerate them so they are cold when I want one.  Well worth trying out.

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