Morning Workouts – Here I Come!

September 1st, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson
By:  Belinda Vinton One of my biggest struggles as a working, single mom is finding the time to fit in my workouts. Over the years I have come to find that the best time for me is the early morning hours. This was not something that came easy to me, but over time I have learned to appreciate my early morning workouts. Getting that workout in early means that I have the rest of the day to accomplish all of my other duties. I don’t have a workout hanging over my head. I don’t have to worry about whether or not I will be too tired in the evening. I can eat and drink without having to check the clock. I actually have more energy for the rest of the day by getting an early morning session completed. So how can you become an early morning person? Here are some tips from my experiences!
  1.  Plan ahead. I pack my gym bag the night before. I then lay out my clothes so I can change right away. I even set a snack on the kitchen table to get me going.
  2. Set an alarm…on the other side of the room. Yes, I set the alarm on my phone which is on the headboard. But then it is too easy to hit snooze. I have an old-fashioned clock radio on the dresser across the room. That means I have to get up, walk over, and turn it off. That’s half the battle! Now I’m out of bed. And my clothes are right there, ready to dress for my workout. I'm glad my gym happens to have the best workout equipment.
  3. Set small goals to start. I started out by setting a goal of one morning a week to get up early. I planned mine for Wednesday. I told myself that I could sleep late on the other days, but hump day was early workout day.
  4. Find an accountability partner. It was a friend who first convinced me to meet her for a 5:30 am class. I wasn’t feeling great about it, but I knew she was counting on me. Text your partner to make sure they are up! It was so much easier coming to the gym during the early hours knowing that I would be able to see my workout partner. Even during the quarantine, I looked forward to seeing my friends on Zoom workouts!
  5. Don’t give up! I started the once a week routine in October and by springtime, a strong habit had formed! Not only was I enjoying my early workouts, I liked it so much that I began to do it every day! 
I am now a fitness instructor and personal trainer at the Jackson YMCA. My favorite time of day is still 5:30am! I feel refreshed and ready to face the day with that workout under my belt.  The post Morning Workouts – Here I Come! appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.

Should I Wear a Bike Helmet?

August 24th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson
As summer progresses and more people start to venture out of their houses, especially after being locked up for so long, I see more people out and about on their bikes. And that’s great to see, both from enjoying the summer perspective but also from a healthy one! 
 
However, every year I am shocked to see the vast majority of people not wearing helmets. When I started learning to ride, many, many years ago unfortunately, helmets just weren’t a thing. Then in 1990, Australia came out with a law that said you had to wear a helmet while riding your bike. Anyone. not just ‘proper’ cyclists but any person who swung their leg over their bike had to strap on. And after the initial push back, it just became a thing. And this was before I took up triathlons. Everyone wore a helmet. You never saw any different. 
 
Leap forward to 2011 and we arrived in the US.  Like so many other new experiences we came across, the lack of helmet wearing cyclists was the norm. It was so strange to us. As I continued my love affair with triathlons I would religiously wear my helmet and saw the same everywhere I went with my fellow triathletes.  However, what changed with us was that my husband (also a triathlete) and I became more relaxed about wearing our helmets while riding recreationally and especially when out with our children. There was no conscious decision to not wear one, and we always made sure the girls were wearing theirs whenever we went out. We just slapped on a cap and off we went. It wasn’t until a gentlemen came upon us riding one day that we reverted back to our helmet wearing ways. As we cycled along he yelled at us to “put your helmets on Mum and Dad”. At first I was outraged at being called out for not wearing a helmet when so many others don’t. In my most obnoxious Aussie accent I told him to go mind his own business and stop scaring my kids.  Then he said, “Well if you don’t wear one, take them off your kids”. 
 
Hmmm. That got me. I wouldn’t put my kids on bikes and have them ride on the road without one. Ever!  So it got me thinking, whilst I would protect my children with everything I have, why wouldn’t I display the same behavior myself. And to my fellow riders point, if I don’t wear one, how can I ask my children to wear one?
 
Fast forward again to 2020. My little kids who dutifully wore a helmet are now teenagers and are still required to strap on the helmet while riding their bikes. Even since our run in with our stranger years ago, we have also been very diligent in wearing helmets no matter where we are riding. And very conscious of the fact we are in the minority among recreational cyclists. Our teenagers know they can’t fight it. But on almost every occasion love pointing out that they are typically the only ones among their friends who are ‘forced’ to wear them.
 
So it made me wonder, should I wear a helmet?
 
When I am on my own riding, or with my husband we are typically on the road and going at faster speeds than with my children or friends. We are riding with the traffic and sometimes the roads are busy. When I am on the Fatty on trails, I am on uneven ground and being an upright challenged mountain bike rider, often getting up close and personal with a tree root. I wouldn’t risk the ride without a helmet. I believe that they offer a better chance of protecting my head should I have an accident that might result in a head injury. And obviously you have to wear them when you race. 
 
But what about other times? So I did some research. What are the statistics for helmet vs non helmet injuries? What do the experts say? What about countries outside of the US? I read a lot and learned alot.  Here are a few links about the stats: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Bicycle Helmet Statistics
 
Whether from US or other countries, I learned depending on the research that 50-79% bike accidents normally involve head injuries.  The New York research gave the worse result of 97% fatal accidents were not wearing helmets.
 
Accidents on bikes can happen if you are 100 miles in or 1. If you are riding to a friends or on a solo training ride. 
 
Not every road has a sidewalk, not every path is free from debris. Whilst my children have ridden enough miles with us to know the rules of the road in relation to safely riding a bike, others have not. I also know that accidents can happen if you are riding 40 miles per hour or 4. I know that not everyone who rides a bike will be involved in an accident. I know that some accidents are just little scrapes and some are deadly. 
 
But I also know that I am not willing to take the chance with my head and especially not that of my children. I have adopted the phrase, the only reason to not wear a helmet is if you have nothing to protect between your ears. My kids hate hearing it. But I don’t care.
 
I know that my stance on helmets is not for everyone. I am not trying to change anyone’s mind. It’s just a topic that has arisen again as we are out riding more and something that I was wondering about more and more. I will admit that I think it’s stupid to not want to protect your head from something that could have a serious impact on your life. I choose to protect the brain I’ve got. And am ALWAYS proudly wearing my helmet! 

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Transitioning from Athletic to an Athlete

August 11th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Christina Vipond

It still seems surreal to me that I am a sponsored athlete for the first time in my life at the age of 48. When I tell family or friends, the response is usually something like, “I’m not surprised, you have always been athletic”.  I respond by saying “but now I’m an athlete!” This is usually followed with a look that says “what’s the difference?”

Great question, what is the difference? Do the definitions give a simple answer?

Athletic is an adjective meaning physically strong, fit and active.

Athlete is a noun meaning a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.

Not really an answer there. 

I played softball in high school. As an adult, I played  rugby and currently spend the winter season playing hockey. These sports do require some athletic skills, there is definitely some level of physical fitness required to play 3 periods of ice hockey,  but I don’t train or practice. I show up at the ice rink one time a week. I competed in a body-building show in 2010. This did require intense training and a strict diet but I didn’t think of myself as an athlete while doing this. Body building was mostly about sticking to a rigid diet and lifting weights for a couple of hours every day. 

So back to the question, what is it about racing for Team Athletic Mentors that makes a person go from athletic to an athlete?

One obvious answer is that I have a contract. I committed to fulfilling certain criteria and wearing the team kit that has the names of team sponsors. I don’t have to sign a contract to play hockey, I show up when games are scheduled and if I can’t make it one night, I let the captain know so she can get a sub. Getting a sub is not an option when I sign a contract.

The training is specific as an athlete. I learned with this training where my strengths were and how many weaknesses I needed to improve. I quickly learned how my body felt and reacted to workouts.  As a club rider, I would ride everyday so when I was told I had to take days off to rest, I bulked and proudly stated “I don’t need days off”. It didn’t take long before I was grateful for a rest day. I had no idea my legs would be so tired when training as an athlete. 

Nutrition is also different as an athlete.. I had to learn what and when to eat food that allowed me to maintain energy, repair muscles, and keep an ideal weight for racing. The diet for body-building was strict but it had a specific purpose: decrease fat, increase muscle mass. This diet was extreme and could only be maintained for a short time. The diet as an athlete, and one who may be doing hours of riding on any given day, has to be sustainable during the training and racing season, which is the entire year. 

I also had to be pushed out of my comfort zone and learn the nuances of racing. Braking around corners was okay as a club rider. I didn’t have to ride with other cyclists right next to me. The thought of continuing to ride on single track while someone passed me never crossed my mind, nor did the thought I might actually pass someone on a trail.

How is being an athlete different than being athletic? Athletic means I can do certain physical tasks. Being an athlete requires so much more. The training and nutrition are specific to achieve maximum performance. The education is continuous. Being an athlete requires commitment, dedication, and perseverance. I am honored to be an athlete. 

 

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GREENWARE Creates PPE

July 21st, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson
Submitted by: Dawn Hinz Team Athletic Mentors/Greenware is proud of all of our Sponsors for stepping up and adjusting to the dynamic changes of this year. We thoroughly appreciate the support we have received from them. It enables us to encourage healthy living; albeit from a distance this year. In past years, Team Athletic Mentors gave back to the community by volunteering at multiple events including Team Athletic Mentors Greenware’s Youth Programs.  Along with Greenware’s willingness to give back to the community, they stepped forward during this critical time to create Personal Protective Equipment to keep people safe and healthy amidst the COVID Crisis. Fabri-Kal is a local company that was incorporated in 1950 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, when they purchased the Kalamazoo Paper Box Company’s plastic segment and set up shop in 5,000 square feet.   The first products Fabri-Kal produced were paint cups for the paint-by-number industry. The company soon expanded into manufacturing polystyrene meat trays and pizza lids and then diversified into proprietary stock packaging products, including plastic cups and lids.  In 1961 the company expanded to a 25,000 square foot manufacturing facility on East Cork Street in Kalamazoo.  In 2005 Fabri-Kal recognized the need to create plastic-like products from renewable sources. That’s when they created GREENWARE; a plastic made from annually renewable plants, not petroleum. Greenware is created from PLA; polymerized lactic acid from corn sugar. PLA is perfect for making biodegradable products such as cups, lids, and to-go boxes. When COVID struck in early 2020 there was a surge in need for Personal Protective Equipment. While Greenware’s PLA is a fabulous product, it is not the best choice for every application. It’s too brittle to form plastic face shields. That didn’t stop Greenware from moving forward to find a way to manufacture face shields by the thousands. Greenware under Fabri-Kal collaborated with Tekna and Schupan, who are experts in design & manufacturing of medical products to create a new product; face shields. They quickly decided on using Pete #4 Plastic which is flexible, clear and perhaps more importantly highly recyclable. Since late January Greenware has sold out of the 4,000 face shields it produces daily!   The post GREENWARE Creats PPE appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.

The Wetsuit Test

June 30th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By Brian Reynolds

A question I get asked often by triathletes is “what is the fastest wetsuit”?  I usually just shrug my shoulders and say “you just have to try out different wetsuits to find the fastest one”.  It’s not the answer most people want to hear but it’s true especially based on a wetsuit test I did this year.

The wetsuit test I did was 5x 100 at race pace effort with about 10-15 seconds rest.  This test set needs to be done in a pool to ensure an accurate/repeatable distance.  You need to wear a different wetsuit per each 5x 100 set to determine which wetsuit is the fastest.  Ideally you should only test 2 to 3 wetsuits at a time.  Any more than 3 wetsuits and you risk getting fatigued which will negatively affect your 100 pace later on into the test set.  When doing this test you need to have someone time you so it’s a blind test.  After the test you take the average time for the last 4x 100s and that is your 100 pace for that particular wetsuit.  The first 100 doesn’t count because it’s usually the fastest and it could falsely inflate your “true” 100 pace average.

When I did my wetsuit test my friend, Eric Abbott let me try out two of his wetsuits which were the Blue Seventy Helix ST and the Roka Maverick Pro II S.  To test the wetsuits I did a baseline test with my current wetsuit which was the Aquaman Goldcell.  I did the 5x 100 at half ironman effort with 10-15 seconds rest in between the 100s.  Below includes my warm up and 5x 100 results:

Warm up:  250 swim, 3 x 50 strong

Aquaman Goldcell

Comments: The shoulder mobility was poor because I could feel the suit pulling down on my arms.  During the swim my arms were getting fatigued.  There was water filling up in my suit and arms.

4 avg 100s – 1:12.47

Blue Seventy Helix ST

Comments: The shoulder mobility was good.  The fit around my neck and torso was snug.  The suit was pulling down around my neck which may be due to the fact I didn’t have the suit pulled up all the way.  No water got into my suit.  The suit was made with a stiffer material which helped keep my body taunt.

4 avg 100s – 1:08.93

Roka Maverick Pro II S

Comments: The shoulder mobility was good.  It felt like there was extra bounce in the legs and a better torso fit.  No water got into my suit.

4 avg 100s – 1:09.15

Conclusions:  The 100 pace times between the Blue Seventy and Roka were almost a dead tie.  The Roka was a little more comfortable around the neck area.  Both wetsuits were 3.5 seconds faster than the Aquaman wetsuit.

I was surprised by the results.  I did not expect a 3.5 seconds difference between wetsuits! If you do the math that calculates out to being 1:06 minutes faster in a 70.3 Ironman and 2:13 minutes faster in a full Ironman swim.  As they say “free speed”!  I probably couldn’t shave this amount of time from 1 year of swim training only since it becomes harder each year to shave more time especially when you’re already a proficient swimmer.  Hopefully when the gyms and pools open up you can give this test a try!

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Athletic Mentors Youth Triathletes

June 18th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By Jacob Florey

The Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Program is a great opportunity for kids who have never done a triathlon and for kids who have done a tri to improve their skills. In the program you learn about the rules of a triathlon, along with the equipment you’ll need. They teach you about proper Swimming, Biking, and Running techniques. The coaches train you for the Shermanator Triathlon specifically. The Shermanator is a great first triathlon because it is a fun laid back course with lots of volunteers making sure it is well marked.  It also has a shorter distance for young athletes.  Unfortunately the Shermanator Triathlon and Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Program will not occur in 2020 due to Covid-19, but we look forward to them in 2021!

You only need four items: Swim Goggles, a Bike, a Bike Helmet, and Running Shoes. Most people already have these four items.. You can get these items at varying prices but in the end a bike is a bike and a helmet is a helmet.

The coaches will teach you proper swimming techniques in the pool and open water. Once you have your swim stroke down they will teach you about sighting for buoys. Sighting helps ensure you’re going the right direction.

They then teach you about effective transitioning. Your transition is a very important part of a triathlon. Once you get out of the water you need to be able to get everything you need for your bike on quickly.  Then when you are done on the bike, you need to be able to get ready for the run.

Biking was always my favorite part because of how fast you can go. But no matter how fast you go you have to be aware of your surroundings like cars, bikers, and even runners. This program teaches you about how to be safe while you are racing.

Training-wise; you will learn about bricks, bricks are teaching your body to transition between activities, like running after biking, or biking after swimming. Running after biking can be challenging because your legs will feel like bricks. One way to deal with this feeling is to practice.

Finally the coaches help you put it all together on race day. The coaches are at the race to help you and cheer you on. It’s honestly the best feeling once you finish the triathlon because all your hard work paid off. This program helped me train for future triathlons and taught me everything I needed to know. I’m very glad to have done the program because of how much I learned.  If you want to learn more about Athletic Mentors Youth Tri-Coaching program, click on this link to learn more:  Athletic Mentors Youth Tri Programs

 

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Workout Recovery is Fast with Ultragen

June 11th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Chelsey Jones

To reach my workout goals, I need to use all the help I can get!  I want to be able to push my body in my workouts over and over again.  To achieve this I need a reliable, quality Post Recovery drink to restore my muscle breakdown, build back up my fuel reserves and rehydrate my body right away!  Research shows over and over again that for the best results to repair your body is to give it nutrients within 30 minutes of exercise.

First Endurance does a fantastic job creating a product that I can get in my body ASAP!  I have been using Ultragen RS-Recovery Series after my hard workouts. It has fantastic flavor, and I notice a significant difference in my recovery afterwards. Ultragen has several components including fast sugars, complete proteins, amino acids, five electrolytes and key vitamins all designed to work together in order to fully maximize recovery. Ultragen is formulated with 6 grams of Glutamine and is the only endurance recovery product on the market that includes this essential anabolic and anticatabolic ingredient.  First Endurance prides itself in all the research they continue to use to always be improving their products.

My favorite mix is the Cappucino flavor blended with almond milk, banana, and a few chocolate chips. It is so yummy! It is a great treat after a hard workout. Ultragen RS is also gluten and lactose free, making it a great option for those with specific intolerances.

 I highly recommend First Endurance to those looking for nutrition.  They not only have a recovery drink but they have a pre-race drink and plenty of drink mix options (including a liquid shot product) to keep you at your peak during your strenuous training/racing events. 

 

 

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Workout Recovery is Fast with Ultragen

June 11th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Chelsey Jones

To reach my workout goals, I need to use all the help I can get!  I want to be able to push my body in my workouts over and over again.  To achieve this I need a reliable, quality Post Recovery drink to restore my muscle breakdown, build back up my fuel reserves and rehydrate my body right away!  Research shows over and over again that for the best results to repair your body is to give it nutrients within 30 minutes of exercise.

First Endurance does a fantastic job creating a product that I can get in my body ASAP!  I have been using Ultragen RS-Recovery Series after my hard workouts. It has fantastic flavor, and I notice a significant difference in my recovery afterwards. Ultragen has several components including fast sugars, complete proteins, amino acids, five electrolytes and key vitamins all designed to work together in order to fully maximize recovery. Ultragen is formulated with 6 grams of Glutamine and is the only endurance recovery product on the market that includes this essential anabolic and anticatabolic ingredient.  First Endurance prides itself in all the research they continue to use to always be improving their products.

My favorite mix is the Cappucino flavor blended with almond milk, banana, and a few chocolate chips. It is so yummy! It is a great treat after a hard workout. Ultragen RS is also gluten and lactose free, making it a great option for those with specific intolerances.

 I highly recommend First Endurance to those looking for nutrition.  They not only have a recovery drink but they have a pre-race drink and plenty of drink mix options (including a liquid shot product) to keep you at your peak during your strenuous training/racing events. 

 

 

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Smith Optics – My “Go-To” Sunglasses

June 1st, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson
Smith Optics has been my “go to” glasses for the last 5 years and have been amazing in terms of allowing me to continue in this sport with no issues due to my declining vision. My favorite is Parallel Max 2 for Triathlons. The ability to wear light and stylish frames that have interchangeable lenses that are easy to carry with me makes the decision to continue buying Smith glasses simple.

With the option of different frames, lenses and styles no matter what your activity, from hanging out at the beach, driving, hiking, biking, running or fishing, there is a pair for you in their collection. Smith has a proprietary ChromaPop™ lens technology, that helps you see detail and color beyond normal capabilities. They finish the lenses with multi-layer mirror, Anti-Reflective (A/R), anti-scratch, and Hydroleophobic lens coatings. With the wear and tear of racing and training, these lens just don’t scratch like other lenses I’ve had in the past. If you experience a manufacturing defect in materials or workmanship Smith Optics warrants your sunglasses for the lifetime of the product, and will repair or replace at no charge.

As an endurance athlete, much of my time is taken up with training and focusing on the races that are ahead of me. I have been doing this for a long time and up until recently everything that went along with triathlon was just something that you got and made decisions based on price and comfort.

However, as I age, albeit reluctantly, I have had to think more about my equipment and how that can help me train and race to the changing elements of age. In the last 5 years as my eyesight has become more of an issue, I looked for sunglasses and eyewear to race and train in that could support the difficulties I sometimes faced with my vision. As I wear contacts when I bike and run I needed eyewear that could be versatile with the light and light enough that I didn’t notice I was wearing it. Also, it had to look good!! Smith can also convert to prescription eyewear and that is definitely something that I will be looking into in the future.

Its great when you find a brand that works for you and does what you need it to do. Being a part of a team that is sponsored by Smith Optics, we have the experience in wearing these top quality sunglasses daily and know they hold up under all conditions. Faced with more choices than you can handle, I find that being loyal to a brand like Smith is easy and I have never been disappointed with the decisions that I have made purchasing and wearing their product.

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A teen’s prospective: Accidents happen and Goals change

May 28th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By Hunter Maschke

As a teenager in my third season in 2019, I decided that I wanted to start training more in order to improve. Even though I still had school during the day, I tried to ride every evening to get my miles up. My goal for the season was to win overall in the MiSCA JV category.   Michigan Scholastic Cycling Association (MiSCA) is focused on the coordination of youth mountain biking teams and races throughout Michigan for elementary, middle, and high school-aged students.

About a week after school got out, I went up to Michigan Tech to participate in a mountain biking camp. During the camp, we rode the Tech trails, Copper Harbor, and the Adventure Mine. Doing this camp drastically improved my handling skills and stamina. After the camp, I felt connected to my bike and unafraid to ride anything. I was grateful that I had the opportunity to do this camp, and I felt ready for the upcoming races.

Over the summer, I raced in several MMBA races, including Fort Custer, Hanson Hills, Island Lake, Pontiac Lake, Sweat Shaker, Big M, and Glacial Hills. I love doing these races because I feel that they give me a head start preparing for the MiSCA races since they are longer and more challenging. In September, I completed my first century ever. I rode my mountain bike and did Milford trail, Highland, Island Lake, Proud Lake, and Hickory Glen. I was really excited to ride that many miles, but I underestimated how hard it would be to keep pushing. I felt that completing this ride made me a better rider and showed me what hard work really is. Around this time, the MiSCA races finally kicked off. 

My MiSCA race season did not go as expected. I had a good first race at Addison Oaks, coming in second.  My second race did not go as I planned, and ended my season. During the second MiSCA race at Fort Custer, I fell and broke three of my fingers. I was devastated that I would not be able to finish my season or complete my goal of winning the series. I was in a cast for around a month, and during that time I could only ride my trainer. Riding my trainer was not a fun experience, since it wasn’t a smart trainer and I couldn’t interact with anyone. I lacked motivation, but I did my best to put on some miles. During this time, I set a new goal to do my best at Iceman. Once I had my cast off, I had to wear a splint for an additional month. I was not supposed to ride until I was fully healed, but I started riding again in order to prepare for Iceman. 

Preparing for Iceman was very tough, I was getting ready for ski season to start, and I had to try to make up for a month’s worth of riding.  It was difficult to keep riding even though I knew that riding more would help me perform better at Iceman. I was ready for bike season to end and ski season to start. The weekend before I was cleared to start riding again, I did my second century.  I just hoped that all of the training that I had done earlier in the season would carry me to a successful race.

Racing Iceman was a very interesting experience. It was my longest race, and I was not as prepared as I would have liked to be after the injury. I also did not bring any food or enough water. In the end, I finished fourth in my age group, and I now know that to sustain a good pace, I need more water and food. I was slightly disappointed with my performance, I felt like if I hadn’t had my injury I could have done much better.

At the end of my third season, I learned that I have to train as hard as I can, while I have the opportunity, in case I am not able to ride. I need to make the most of the time I have to train, because life is full of surprises and I don’t want to be unprepared. I also learned that goals can always be changed, if I am unable to fulfill my goal, I can always set a new one and work for it. Goals are an amazing way to motivate me to be my best, but I need to remember that they can always change.

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