Pensacola Cycling Classic

October 16th, 2018 by tcoffey

Team Athletic Mentors Tim Coffey goes on a road trip from Brevard, NC to Pensacola, FL

 

With Hurricane Florence ripping through North Carolina I decided I wanted to skip town and go race my bike somewhere sunny and warm.  A week before the race I watched this massive storm gain strength in the ocean off the coast and decided it wasn’t a good idea to spend the weekend in Brevard while the storm rolled in.  I was looking on USA Cycling and I found a stage race in Pensacola Florida. There was a solid payout and with forty people pre-registered for the race I decided to sign up.

 

I was able to get one of my collegiate team mates to come and race with me.  Shortly after we both signed up we realized me needed to find a place to stay. We looked at staying at a campground on the ocean but after looking at the weather and the heat advisories I knew it wouldn’t be a good idea.  I emailed the race director and he was able to find a place for us to stay. Now with a place to stay and money on the table the race was a go.

 

We loaded up the car on thursday after class and headed south.  The drive ended up being about eight and a half hours counting time for stopping.  After a long drive we rolled into Pensacola. Our host family greeted us and we went to sleep right away.

 

Saturday morning came very early.  Our alarms went off at 5:30 am and it was time to get ready for stage one of the race.  Stage one was a three mile time trial. After a thirty minute warm-up I was ready to go.  I felt super strong during the time trial with my Giant TCR kicking a lot of TTl bikes butt and ended up in 4th place,  12.38 seconds back from first. I knew going into stage two that I would need to win to make up lost time.

 

Stage two was a 50 mile road race through the rolling hills of northern Florida.  There were a lot of attempts of a break away trying to go but nothing stuck. I burnt a lot of matches trying to break away from the field but nothing stuck.  After about two hours of racing the whole field was still together and we were flying down the 1k long finishing straight with a group of about 30 guys. In the massive group sprint finish I ended up finishing fourth, topping my sprint off at forty miles an hour with my TCR pulling off another top 5!  My result in the road race was enough to stay in fourth overall and I did not lose time. After the road race I was down 16 seconds from first place but I still was in the running for the overall.  

 

The final stage was a forty minute crit.  I did a little warm up before the race but it didn’t take too much riding to get warmed up because the heat index was over 100 degrees.  During the race before mine a guy crashed in the last corner and was hurt pretty bad so my race was delayed because of it. When my race finally started it was full gas from the gun.  

 

The race leader attacked about four laps in and another guy went with him.  Everyone in the peloton looked around at each other and no one chased. I moved to the front and pulled for two laps trying to bring back the breakaway.  After pulling for two laps I pulled off the front and everyone sat up and looked around at each other again. This kind of racing is called negative racing.  It’s not fun when this happens.

 

After being frustrated with the negative racing, halfway through the race I got a flat tire and almost fell in a corner.  I rolled to the start and grabbed my backup wheel and I was back into the race. After doing one lap with the new wheel the peloton came upon one of the guys that were in the break and he was on the ground all bloody.  Turns out while he was sitting on the other guy’s wheel he had his head down and went straight into a barrier. After seeing the guy on the ground the field lit up and the speed got ramped up since the second place was open.  

 

We ripped around the course for another ten minutes there was one lap to go.  The field slowed down in the first two turns and then the next three were super fast.  We went into the last corner and everyone was fighting for position. I ended up finishing around twenty-fifth in the field sprint which was good enough to keep in fourth overall and I went home with some cash.  Talk about an awesome weekend, I had a blast.

 


Three Cheers for Greenware Sponsorship

April 11th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  JoAnn Cranson

What does drinking beer, cycling and environmental stewardship have in common?  Greenware!

Greenware not only sponsors cycling events, they also provide cyclists with a refreshing cup of beer served in their eco-friendly and brag worthy renewable cups.

Greenware is a line of disposable cups, lids, portion containers and on-the-go boxes made from 100% renewable plants.  Greenware is passionate about promoting active, healthy lifestyles.  They do this by partnering with Athletic Mentors to sponsor Team Athletic Mentors and its youth development programs as well as sponsoring multi-sport events including the Barry-Roubaix gravel road race, Michigan Titanium and other community outreach events.

Greenware’s forward thinking and passion to preserve the earth’s resources has not only created a great line of disposable and renewable products but it enables us to enjoy a cold one with friends after a hard race. Thank you to Greenware and co-owner, John Kittredge for supporting the events and lifestyle we all enjoy!

Greenware containers are crafted in the USA supporting local farmers and manufacturing.  Greenware is a registered trademark of Fabri-Kal, a Kalamazoo packaging company.   If you want to learn more about these products, check out Fabri-Kal’s website http://www.fabri-kal.com/brands/greenware

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Yankee Springs Mountain Bike Kid’s Race – Let’s Go!

April 4th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson
By Amy Kimber This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Yankee Springs Time Trial on Saturday, April 27th. This is the longest running mountain bike race in the state of Michigan, beating Iceman by about 7 months. This is an awesome event for all ages! Whatever your ability, we have something for you, and it’s free for our young racers to compete!  Make it a family event! Athletic Mentors is proud to be running the Kids Race and Team Members will be there to support and motivate the young riders.   This event has been known to attract around 80-100 kids ages 2-12 years old (we will let older kids race too).   These races are  free, but make sure to sign up the day of the race. Strider racers will have their own grass loop, it includes a small uphill and some big pine trees to navigate around.  There is plenty of viewing for family and friends. Our youngest pedalers will have a challenging loop with a combination of single track and a grassy field, it’s about a ½ mile in length. The older kids will choose between one or two laps on the famous 2 mile Yankee loop known to the locals as the “warm-up loop.”  It’s 100% single track. The course offers rocks, roots, and some challenging sand pits for kids to navigate. Come out and enjoy the day to expose your kids to the sport of mountain biking and trail riding at 2526 Yankee Springs, Middleville, MI 49333.  We will have plenty of volunteers to monitor and supervise your kids during the race.  All the kid racers will receive an award! Along with being a fun event, all proceeds go directly towards maintaining and building the many wonderful trails right here in Western Michigan. The race schedule is listed below or visit http://yankeespringstt.org/race-day/ for more details. Strider Race – 11:30 The Striders (bikes without pedals) will race multiple loops on a grass loop with plenty of opportunity for families and friends to cheer. This race will last roughly 15 minutes. Beginner Race –  12:00 The beginner race will be 1/2 mile long and will consist of a mixture of single track and double track.  Beginner racers should feel comfortable riding on trail and uneven terrain. Intermediate Race – 12:30  The intermediate race will be 2 miles long and is mostly single track.  Intermediate racers should have the endurance to race 2 miles and the ability to handle single track on uneven terrain.  The single track is mostly hard packed dirt but does have some sandy spots with a few rocks and roots. Expert Race – 12:30 The expert race will be 4 miles long and is mostly single track. Expert racers should have the endurance to race 4 miles and the ability to handle single track on uneven terrain. The single track is mostly hard packed dirt but does have some sandy spots with a few rocks and roots. The post Yankee Springs Mountain Bike Kid’s Race – Let’s Go! appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.

Yankee Springs Mountain Bike Kid’s Race – Let’s Go!

April 4th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By Amy Kimber

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Yankee Springs Time Trial on Saturday, April 27th. This is the longest running mountain bike race in the state of Michigan, beating Iceman by about 7 months.

This is an awesome event for all ages! Whatever your ability, we have something for you, and it’s free for our young racers to compete!  Make it a family event!

Athletic Mentors is proud to be running the Kids Race and Team Members will be there to support and motivate the young riders.   This event has been known to attract around 80-100 kids ages 2-12 years old (we will let older kids race too).   These races are  free, but make sure to sign up the day of the race.

Strider racers will have their own grass loop, it includes a small uphill and some big pine trees to navigate around.  There is plenty of viewing for family and friends.

Our youngest pedalers will have a challenging loop with a combination of single track and a grassy field, it’s about a ½ mile in length. The older kids will choose between one or two laps on the famous 2 mile Yankee loop known to the locals as the “warm-up loop.”  It’s 100% single track. The course offers rocks, roots, and some challenging sand pits for kids to navigate.

Come out and enjoy the day to expose your kids to the sport of mountain biking and trail riding at 8833 Twin Creek Dr, Middleville, MI.  We will have plenty of volunteers to monitor and supervise your kids during the race.  All the kid racers will receive an award!

Along with being a fun event, all proceeds go directly towards maintaining and building the many wonderful trails right here in Western Michigan.

The race schedule is listed below or visit http://yankeespringstt.org/race-day/ for more details.

Strider Race – 11:30
The Striders (bikes without pedals) will race multiple loops on a grass loop with plenty of opportunity for families and friends to cheer. This race will last roughly 15 minutes.

Beginner Race –  12:00
The beginner race will be 1/2 mile long and will consist of a mixture of single track and double track.  Beginner racers should feel comfortable riding on trail and uneven terrain.

Intermediate Race – 12:30 
The intermediate race will be 2 miles long and is mostly single track.  Intermediate racers should have the endurance to race 2 miles and the ability to handle single track on uneven terrain.  The single track is mostly hard packed dirt but does have some sandy spots with a few rocks and roots.

Expert Race – 12:30
The expert race will be 4 miles long and is mostly single track. Expert racers should have the endurance to race 4 miles and the ability to handle single track on uneven terrain. The single track is mostly hard packed dirt but does have some sandy spots with a few rocks and roots.

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Change Your Perspective About Food…

March 28th, 2019 by Jennie

“The fate of your health, including that of the brain, is a choice—not a destiny dictated by your genes. Food is medicine and we can actually change our gene expressions with the foods we eat.” -Nutrition expert, Dr. David Perlmutter, a renowned neurologist and New York Times best-selling author of Grain Brain, The Brain Maker and The Better Brain.

Food is fuel and medicine. Every one of your dietary decisions throughout the day impacts your exercise and mental performance. Most refined carbohydrates contain no minerals, enzymes or nutrients. This makes them an ANTI-nutrient. Choosing the vending machine over fresh produce is not only void of nutrition, but also causes damage and leads to disease and poor productivity at work and home. Your body needs fuel, not calories. More importantly, you want to live a vibrant life rather than fretting missed weight loss goals. There are so many reasons to eat healthy other than losing weight!

 

When you fuel yourself with healthy foods over your lifetime, you give yourself a strong heart, body and the power to stay free of disease. It is never too late. Research shows that there are foods that can actually reverse some damage and most definitely prevent further damage. When it comes to preventing some cancers, healthy foods are going to fight for you. Sugar is food for cancer cells. They love it. Starve them by eating a diet free of processed foods. Good fats and plenty of veggies will inhibit cancer cell activity to slow tumor growth.

Consistently getting the hydration, vitamins, and minerals you need keeps your body primed and ready to work its best. Eating nutrient-rich foods are critical to keeping your muscles and mind strong so that you can do whatever it is you want to do, whether that’s bench pressing your body weight or taking the stairs at age 90. People who eat well day in and day out are more productive than are junk food eaters.To keep your muscles strong and brain high functioning, now and as you age, start meeting your nutritional needs!


How to bring your bike from a muddy mess to race ready in 30 minutes (or less?!)

March 20th, 2019 by Marie Dershem

Written by Bobby Munro

Cyclocross and wet gravel grinders are not kind to someone who likes a clean bike. If you cannot stand to have anything other than a well-oiled machine here is a step by step process to do it quickly. It won’t be perfect, but it will be close enough.

Tools:
Hose (A bucket can be used but this will slow you down)
Bucket
2 Rags
Dish soap
Chain lube

Step 1: Hose down
Go outside and blast that grit away! Don’t forget to hit your pads (disc or rim). Also pay attention to your rims (especially with rim brakes). This is also the time to blast as much crud out of your chain as possible. While spinning the crank backwards, blast your hose downward over the chain. This is the best way to get a lot of grit off your chain. There are a few “Chain washing machines” (like the park tools CM-25) on the market that work OK but high pressure seems to do a good job as well. It is also a lot faster.

Step 2: Soap
Fill your bucket with water and dish soap. Use one of your rags to wipe the bike down. Get into all those nooks and crannies. I like to do a little intermediate rinsing to make sure I am getting everything. Save the chain for last as this will get grease on the rag that will wipe off on your frame.

Step 3: Rinse
Rinse the bike with the hose. If you only have a bucket, then this will take a bit longer. It usually helps to not use too much soap in step 2.

Step 4: Dry
Admittedly you could skip this step. But since you are already out there you might as well do it. Use your second (clean and dry) rag to dry off the bike. It is usually worth it to add a little elbow grease in a few spots. Save the chain for last for the same reason as earlier. Your goal is to get your chain as dry as possible.

Step 5: Lube
Now that you blasted all the lube out of your chain, it needs to be replaced. Go a little heavy then wipe off excess. You can use the “dry” rag if it is indeed still dry. Otherwise you will need a third. Paper towel works. But try to stick to washable rags when possible. It is also advisable to hit all the moving parts of your derailleurs and brakes. You should also try to get some lube inside the jockey wheel cups if you do not have sealed bearings.

Step 6: Ride! And know that a clean happy bike is only 30min away.

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Traumatic Injury Life Saving Tips

March 8th, 2019 by Marie Dershem

Written by Dawn Hinz

Sadly it seems there are more car versus cyclist accidents. In 2006, 772 people were fatally injured in cycling accidents. Where as in 2016, that number was up to 840; including 5 local cyclists. (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts)

We do everything we can as a cyclist to minimize the danger. We wear bright clothes, our bikes look like Christmas trees and most importantly, we follow the rules of the road. Unfortunately that doesn’t guarantee that we aren’t seriously injured. What should you do if tragedy strikes you or your group?

  • Everyone should carry a cell phone on their body. I do not agree with keeping your phone in a bag on your bike. If you are thrown from your bike you may not be able to reach your phone.
  • KNOW WHERE YOU ARE. You should know your route and where you are along that route. This way when you call 911, emergency personnel can find you as quickly as possible, when every minute counts. Go one step further and set up an activity tracker that relays your location to a reliable person who is not a part of the ride. This way they get a notification if you stop moving and can call for help.
  • Know how many people are in your group. 911 will need to know how many patients need an ambulance. Then, go help your friends. You should know any help you render will be covered under Michigan’s Good Samaritan Act (MCL 691.1501). This law basically states that a volunteer trying to help someone cannot be held liable if those actions cause further injury; excepting gross negligence.
  • Do not move someone unless the location causes further danger or harm. I.e. Perhaps you need to slide someone off the road if traffic is not slowing down or giving you space.
  • Do not unnecessarily adjust the patient’s head. If you hear snoring, gurgling or no breaths then gently place the head in a “sniffing” position.
  • If you see blood, control the bleeding with direct and continuous pressure. Put your hand or hands over the wound and keep pressure on the wound until help arrives. Every red blood cell counts.
  • If it is cold or even slightly chilly outside keep the patient warm if possible. Hypothermia causes shivering which wastes precious ATP. Even slight hypothermia will worsen a trauma patient’s outcome. Give them your jacket or get blankets from bystanders.

With these actions you have given your friends a fighting chance in the Emergency Room. If you would like to take it one step further then it is time to find a First Aid and CPR class. Stay safe out there.

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Athletic Mentors Athlete Nathan Williard Wins Gold

February 28th, 2019 by Athletic Mentors Staff
On Saturday February 23rd, Nathan Willard competed in his very first power lifting meet, and ended up winning it all! Nathan finished with some very impressive numbers. He had a 305 pound bench press, which was the heaviest at the meet! He also squatted 305 pounds, and pulled a whopping 440 pound dead lift!
Nathan started training with the Athletic Mentors team back in April of 2018 originally for football and re-hab after ACL surgery. He wanted to get an edge on his competition by getting some extra strength training, along with some speed and agility. Right away we noticed Nathan’s mind blowing strength. The more he worked with us, the more his numbers continued to increase in all of his lifts. After his football season ended, Nathan reached out to us about an interest in power lifting.  Mark Olson started a program for him, and as a team,  we all got a chance to work with him as he prepared for his competition.
Congratulations Nathan…hope this meet is just one of many to come.  AM will continue to raise the bar!  Best of luck to Nathan on March 9th at the high school state championships!!! 

What Is Processed Food and Why Is It Bad For Me?

February 27th, 2019 by Athletic Mentors Staff

Get into the habit of reading every food label to look for added sugars and corn syrup. If you cannot pronounce the name of the ingredient, chances are you shouldn’t put it in your body. Processed foods are to blame for obesity rates, high blood pressure and the rise of Type 2 diabetes. If you have to unwrap it or take it out of a box, it is a processed food. Processed foods fall on a spectrum from minimally to heavily processed:

  • Minimally processed foods — such as bagged spinach, cut vegetables and nuts — often are simply pre-prepped for convenience. They are good for you and often make it easier to eat healthy.
  • Foods processed at their peak to lock in nutritional quality and freshness include canned tomatoes, frozen fruit and vegetables, and canned tuna. Just read labels and buy items without added sugars. Doing your own canning is far more tastier, healthier and rewarding!
  • Foods with ingredients added for flavor and texture (sweeteners, spices, oils, colors and preservatives) include jarred pasta sauce, salad dressing, and yogurt. These foods aren’t the worst offenders, but be aware that most of these pack as much sugar as a candy bar.
  • Ready-to-eat foods — such as crackers, breads, granola, chips and deli meat — are heavily processed and lack nutrition.
  • The most heavily processed foods often are pre-made meals including frozen pizza, boxed macaroni, drive-thru meals and microwaveable dinners. You are getting zero nutrition from these meals, they are calorie dense and there are a number of adverse side effects to your health.

A good, general rule of thumb is to “keep it fresh”. If you are sticking to foods that would go bad within a week or so in your refrigerator, you are making good food choices. Salads, fresh vegetables, fresh meats, eggs and cheese won’t stay fresh too much longer than that. If it does, be skeptical of its’ nutritional value and effect on your health. The “real foods” are the foods that are going to keep you healthy and thriving for many years!


Off-Season Goals

February 16th, 2019 by Kaitlyn Patterson

-By Brian Reynolds

It’s winter in Michigan and you know what that means for us triathletes.  It’s the Off-Season! Hopefully most of you are back training again after taking a break from the season.  I’ve always enjoyed the off-season because you can make big gains to set yourself up for a good season. The best way to make big gains is to work on your limiters because let’s face it we all have something to improve on.  So the question you may be asking yourself is “What should I work on this off-season”?

A good place to start is determine what your big races are next season because this will give you a better idea on what to work on in the off-season.  What are your goals for your big race(s)? Do you want to win or podium in your age group? Do you want to qualify for USAT Nationals or Kona? Do you want to set a new PR?  Whatever you want to accomplish at your race you need to determine what it’ll take to meet those goals. For example, if you want to podium in your age group you can look up the podium finisher’s past results to find out their splits per each discipline.  Base on those race results you can figure out which discipline you need to improve on to become more competitive. It’s also important to assess if the time improvement needed is realistic per that discipline because if it’s not then you may need to get faster in the other areas.  When you know what it’ll take to meet your race goals you’ll have a better understanding on what you need to focus on during the off-season.

It important to have off-season goals to help keep you on track and accountable to your training.  You want to make sure that your goals are measurable. For example, some measurable goals could be to increase your FTP on the bike, threshold swim pace, or threshold run pace.  What should I target for my goal paces and power? Good question! For the bike you can use tools such as Best Bike Splits to help estimate the power required to do the bike course in a certain amount of time.  If you know roughly the power you need to sustain in the race then you can correlate that to a FTP number. For the swim you can compare your paces to the paces of your competitors. If your competitors are swimming 5 – 10 sec per 100 faster than you then you can set your threshold pace goal to be 5 or 10 seconds faster.  Similar to the run you can check out your competitors run paces.

When you have your specific goals set for the off-season the next most important question becomes “How are you going accomplish your goals”?  For the bike if you are not too familiar training with power you probably need to consider getting a training plan or better yet getting a coach.  For the swim if you are swimming between 1:40 to 2:30 per 100 it would be a good idea to look at improving your swim technique. Athletic Mentors offers a video swim analysis and have experts on deck to help critique your swim stroke and will provide helpful tips and drills.  Better yet you can join a winter swim program to work on technique, speed, and stamina such as the program that Athletic Mentors offers. If you are proficient swimmer (under 1:40 per 100) then you can consider joining a master swim program to swim with other faster swimmers. Finally for the run you can join a run camp or if you are a experienced runner the best bet is to hire a triathlon coach to help optimize your running while balancing the other disciplines during training.

Finally if you fall short from hitting your off-season goals don’t sweat it you have time during the race season to continue your improvements.  Remember that the most important question is that “Are you faster than you were exactly one year ago from today?” If that answer is “Yes” then you made progress which is what all endurance athletes are striving to achieve.

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Be Nice to Your Nervous System

December 16th, 2018 by Kaitlyn Patterson

-By Kaitlyn Patterson, Team Athletic Mentors cyclist

I’ve been intrigued by the endocrine system and nervous system for quite a while and after the grand tour of the major medical fields over my second and now third year of medical school, they continue to be my favorites. They are dynamic and responsive, influencing our eating patterns, sleep, body composition, happiness and performance. The endocrine system works through pulses of hormones – growth hormones, stress hormones, insulin – all with different patterns but always dynamic.  In fact, the hallmark of a dysfunctional endocrine system is a stagnant or non-responsive hormone. The nervous system is also constantly changing- toggling between different modes: the sympathetic, commonly referred to as “fight or flight” and parasympathetic or “rest and digest.” Similarly, there should be a cycle to this as well since either one isn’t meant to be always on. The nervous and endocrine system work together to make sure your physiology matches whatever situation you happen to be in. Quite impressive really.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

One of the themes I have been struck by during my clinical training is the number of medical problems associated with chronic stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. Most of these are common chronic diseases- sleep apnea, COPD, congestive heart failure, type II diabetes. It is an appropriate response by the nervous system as it is answering to a real threat- be it a lack of adequate oxygen entering the lungs, episodes where breathing stops, or a heart not pumping adequately. However, the constant activation of the sympathetic nervous system eventually creates its own problems- including reduced sensitivity to hormones like insulin and even depression. A sustained stress response is actually one of the possible mechanisms of the high rate of depression after heart attacks or strokes.

As athletes, we depend on our sympathetic nervous system every time we jump on the bike, in the pool or lace up the running shoes. It helps orchestrate the physiological response to exercise to allow us to do physical feats, feel good doing it and induce health benefits. As long as the stressor is episodic and followed by a shift to parasympathetic (recovery) mode for a time, all is good. However, it can be all too easy to abuse the sympathetic nervous system. Whether it be becoming greedy about training volume or intensity, additional life stress, lack of sleep, or under-fueling, sometimes the balance can be tipped into spending too much time in “fight or flight” mode.

At first, this is not obvious and we can get away with asking a lot of our sympathetic nervous system and even feel good doing it. However, it is ultimately unsustainable and can create the same type of maladaptive changes as seen in chronic diseases discussed earlier. Although performance might not decline initially, the first signs  can include waking up too early and not being able to fall back asleep, feeling irritable, hungry, or losing motivation to train. If it continues it essentially can create a state of nervous system exhaustion when performance is significantly impaired. This spectrum is often referred to as “overtraining syndrome” although it is still a poorly understood phenomenon.

I personally believe this process is what many people refer to as “burnout.” Burnout is a bit of a buzzword especially in medicine right now, but it is often used as an ambiguous term. However, it appears there are parallels between athletic and professional burnout and both consistent with a maladaptive stress response with a big factor being the constant sympathetic nervous system stimulation.

I am guilty of phases of nervous system abuse, but feel I have gotten better at both identifying and respecting it. One hurdle for me is admitting I’m tired (even if I don’t think I “deserve” to be) and actually resting in response. For me and probably many endurance athletes, resting can take more discipline than training and it can initially be difficult to trust that resting more can lead to going faster and feeling better. Although race results are not everything, still being able to perform well while training less provides positive reinforcement. This process requires constant attention and I think it is one of the biggest challenges of being an athlete and a future physician.

Although a constant vigilance for this phenomenon is important for athletes and people in high pressure careers such as medicine, this is an important awareness for everyone. Unfortunately, the society we live in does not necessarily have built in cycles of rest and recovery. I think everyone should be aware of the need for natural ebbs and flows and the importance of respecting and protecting our nervous systems, not just to be good athletes or professionals, but to be healthy, fulfilled people.

 

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