Pop Quiz! What do the following things have in common?
A small child
A box of stuff
A suitcase or travel bag
Pause to think…
Did you get it? All of those things could be something we need to pick up off the ground at some point in our lives, or perhaps, quite often. Whether or not you go to the gym, we’re all weight lifters. It’s something our bodies are designed to do. Unfortunately, a lot of people do it wrong, and doing it wrong leads to a lot of injuries every year. And believe it or not, yes, people have blown out their backs bending over to pick up a pencil off the ground—literally the straw that broke the camel’s back.
So check out the latest video from Montana Moves! In this video, I talk about a fundamental movement pattern, the hip-hinge, which everyone should practice and perfect. Then we move on to lifting things off the ground and putting them back down properly. When practiced in the gym setting or at home, it’s great for building strength and confidence.
One of my goals as the MUS Exercise & Fitness Specialist is that all of our employees know how to properly do a squat, and lift things off the ground properly. When we lift properly, not only do we minimize the chance of an injury, but we feel stronger and more functional as well.
Here at MUS Wellness, we certainly don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all concept of wellness. We’re all different: different goals, different interests, different motivations, etc. Variety is the spice of life right?
That’s why one of our favorite annual Montana Moves challenges is the Wildcard challenge. It gives our participants a chance to play their fitness wildcard. For some, it’s a chance to go to their wheelhouse, and be rewarded for doing their favorite things. For others, it’s a nudge to get out of the box a bit either by trying something new, or setting a specific goal they’ve been thinking about for a while.
I always enjoy reading how creative our MUS population is, and I find the wildcards to be very motivating. Here are a few highlights. Way to go MUS!
Rain, sleet, wind or snow didn’t keep me from achieving my October goal of walking or hiking outside every day in the month. And I maintained 10,000 steps or more each day in October. Yippee! Also, I went to yoga classes every week in October at least 2 times a week. My body and my future self thanks me.
38 day streak of 10,000 steps or more.
Have been working on strength training and am now able to squat more weight than I ever have and increased my 1RM by 20%!
I kayaked a 24 mile section of river!
I’m playing volleyball again! I’ll be attending every week and bringing my A game! I haven’t played for about 10 years, but it’s all coming back to me!
Agreed to dance in the Nutcracker. Strapping the pointe shoes back on and rehearsing 3 days/week.
Yesterday I had my first consult with my new personal trainer – a first for me is having someone who is keeping me accountable on lifting.
After months of walking and building my strength back up, I made it to the ‘M’!
Did 4 great hikes in Zion and Bryce Canyon over the weekend, which has been on my bucket list for years!
Registered for a half marathon!
Doing a 30 day squat challenge. Some form of squats every day for 30 days.
I hiked the Wonderland Trail around Mt Rainier – 96 miles in 6 days
I am going for a 15 x 15 challenge. 15,000 steps for 15 days. Wish me luck.
Streaks, bucket-list items, registering for new events, or resuming an old activities seemed to be repetitive themes this year. Hopefully the streaks and new habits are still alive as we head into the holidays!
Phew. I’m back in the office for a while now, after eight consecutive weeks on the road. I almost beat winter home, but not quite. Let’s just say it was a long drive home from Kalispell yesterday. My knuckles were as white as the road at a few points.
The weather this year has at some times been extreme, and other times, unpredictable. We seemingly went straight from summer to winter in September, and then fall mercifully appeared in October. November wasted no time declaring its wintry intentions as soon as it began.
Back in mid-September we received our first snowfall here in Bozeman. An overnight storm, it was enough to cover the ground. My 5-year-old came running downstairs with excitement, hopped into bed with me and said,
“Daddy, it snowed! Can we go skiing?”
I loved the enthusiasm. It was a little heart-breaking. So with empathy, I told him that despite the snow, ski season was still a long way off.
This time, it feels different. Ski season is close. Winter is coming. There’s a change in the air, that familiar change of seasons. I recently ran my last important race of the year, and by my own tradition, it’s time for a seasonal change in my training as well. I like to do an off-season strength and conditioning program during the winter months, and for the past couple of years, I’ve also incorporated sport-specific ski drills into the mix. After months of propelling myself around via running shoes, hiking boots, and bicycles; getting in the gym, getting strong, and getting ready to ski is a breath of fresh winter air.
Now might be a good time for you to think about changes to your exercise routine as well. Winter is a great time to build a base of strength and/or cardiovascular fitness in order to tackle those 2018 goals on the horizon. I always get a kick out of fitness magazine covers that come out in May saying things like, “Get that beach body now!” Nope. Too late. Those magazine covers should really be in the grocery store shelves today.
For all of you who share my and my son’s excitement for ski season, here’s a re-post of our ski training video we put out last year. With opening day at most ski hills only weeks out, and snow piling up on your favorite XC trails, sprinkling in some of these exercises will have you ready for fun on Day 1!
P.S. For those of you who are MSU Bozeman employees, just a reminder that the MSU Fitness Center has discounted employee single-day tickets to Bridger Bowl on sale through November 14th.
For those of you who participate in our MUS Wellness Incentive Program, one of our annual challenges is called “Climb On!”, and the challenge is to climb 70 flights of stairs or more per week, which is the default goal setting on many wearable health trackers like Fitbit™.
There are several reasons to climb. First, it’s fantastic for our metabolism. Climbing stairs or hills utilizes the strong, large muscles in our legs and hips, which drives our metabolic rate over 200% of its resting rate, and that’s at a walk. At the same time, climbing develops strength, balance, and coordination in those same muscles, which comes in handy in many parts of Montana, especially when recreating outdoors. So don’t miss an opportunity to take the stairs, it’s an easy way to gain fitness!
Last year, we interviewed one of our employees and learned how she customized this challenge in a way that made her, dare we say, step up.
Jocelyn Larson is part of the MSU Bozeman Recreational Sports & Fitness Staff, and we interviewed Jocelyn last year shortly after the “Climb On” challenge had ended. We waited to post this video until now, to give a little extra motivation to those participating in the challenge, or getting back into a regular exercise routine now that school is back in session. This is a great example of how to take one of our Wellness challenges and tailor it to fit your goals and schedule. Enjoy!
My dad told me that when he played sports as a child and adolescent, there were four distinct seasons: football, basketball, track, and baseball. He, and many of his peers, played all four all the way through high-school. The sports just changed with the seasons.
These days, this kind of sport rotation is less common, with many competitive sports lasting almost the entire year. There is also more pressure for kids to specialize in a single sport at an earlier age in order to be competitive or perhaps even win a scholarship in college some day.
However, there is some evidence in the scientific literature that suggests that this paradigm has some potential pitfalls, and that the most important thing for youth sport development is not specialization, but rather proficiency in the more broad aspects of athletics such as sprinting, jumping, agility, strength, power, and cardio-respiratory fitness. Sadly, athletes that specialize too soon are often at higher risk of burnout and injury before they even reach their prime. Above all, it seems that having fun and developing an appreciation of the games we play might have the most bearing on longevity in a sport.
I think the same concepts can be applied to adults when it comes to physical fitness and exercise. Keep in mind, when I talk about training, I’m just using a word that means preparing. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to be in training. I’m always training for something, and personally, I feel mentally and physically best when my training seasons rotate.
For example, this year my training seasons have looked like this:
January/February: Training for MSU Master’s Mile. Training focus: strength and speedwork.
August-October: Training for Montana Cup, my favorite cross-country race, and a couple of big hikes. Focus: trail running, hiking, speedwork, and strength.
November-December: Off-season/Ski Prep. Focus: general strength and conditioning plus sport-specific ski training.
For me, changing the training focus and stimulus every few months (with the seasons) keeps me fresh and motivated. I’m seldom bored or stale with my training. To be fair, it helps that I enjoy a lot of different activities, and I look forward to preparing for each one.
If you’re really into a single sport, that’s fine too. You can still change things up with cross-training and strength training. Athletes that play one sport usually divide their year into distinct categories each with separate training focuses:
Off-season: general strength and conditioning. High volume, low intensity.
Pre-season: Sport specific conditioning and skills. Moderate volume, higher intensity.
In-Season: Skill development, sport specific practice, competition. Low volume. Moderate to high intensity.
Here’s a good example of a post-season phase from an elite athlete. One of my peers in grad-school was an Olympic distance runner. Every year, after his last track meet in the late summer, he would do nothing but play basketball for a month. He was still being active, but he wasn’t in formal “run” training. He was just having fun and staying fit. After his month of play, when his cross-country season began in the fall, he was refreshed and ready to resume formal training.
I’m always training for something because it keeps me motivated and focused. What are you training for? Remember training=preparing. Pick your next season or event, put it on the calendar, and get after it. If you’re a hunter, you can start training now! If you’re a skier, you can start training now! If you want to drop ______ pounds by Thanksgiving, you can start training now! If you want to run a winter marathon in a warm location, you can start training now! The freedom to choose our goals and go after them is one of our greatest gifts.
I just put the final touches on tomorrow’s “Running Relaxed” webinar, and I can’t wait to share it! One could make an easy argument that my involvement with this whole Wellness thing has its roots in running. Finding a passion for running at a young age led to much self-discovery, many life-lessons, and certainly an interest in how our bodies work and perform.
During the webinar, as the name implies, we’ll be focusing on how to run more relaxed. I believe that a relaxed runner is a better runner, for several reasons. More relaxed runners:
Waste less energy
Run more comfortably
Run faster, farther (because they’re comfortable and conserving energy—see #1 & #2)
Inspire others to run, because they look good doing it
The neat thing is, many of the tips and principles we’ll discuss are applicable at any speed, so whether you’re sprinting or running a 12-minute mile, you can learn to be more relaxed, more efficient, more comfortable, and just plain good-looking. I hope you can join!
Here’s an article we re-post around this time every year. When the temperatures go from mild to scortching in a hurry, it’s always important to review safety tips for exercising outside in the heat. Here are a few tips:
Adjust your schedule. Try to avoid the afternoon sun and heat. In Montana, we have the advantage of lower humidity, and relatively cool mornings and evenings. Start the hike early, or if you can, save the run, walk, or bike till dusk—the sun still sets after 9pm, so there’s plenty of time to do a night session. Midday your only option? Head to a gym for a cool indoor workout.
Hydrate! The most important preventative measure to avoid heat related illness is to stay hydrated. Proper hydration means consistent fluid intake throughout your day. Waiting until you feel thirsty is usually too late! If you are losing a lot of sweat through exercise, consider a sports drink containing electrolytes and a small amount of carbohydrate during and/or after exercise in order to replace nutrients lost through sweat.
Wear appropriate gear. Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and moisture-wicking clothes (shirt/shorts/socks) are must-haves when going out into the heat.
Take it easy. Your body can and will adapt to the heat, but it takes time, usually around two weeks. So if you’re not used to the heat, lower the intensity and/or duration of your exercise to avoid exhaustion. If you feel like you’re overdoing it, set aside your pride and shut it down. Heat exhaustion is a serious condition and can take several days or weeks to recover from.
Want to learn more about heat illness? The Mayo Clinic has a nice article about the warning signs, and more about how to avoid heat illness. Click here to learn more.
Stay cool y’all.
P.S. I’ll have more RAM reports and photos soon. Right now I’m trying to get a little R&R!
Greetings from Glendive! Since my last report, we’ve had some long challenging days, but we’ve made it to the Yellowstone, and should be arriving at the North Dakota border sometime Monday afternoon!
The last few days haven’t been quite as “easy” as the first few. Longer distances, hotter temps, unfavorable winds, and the cumulative wear and fatigue have made the miles seem a bit tougher. Yesterday was particularly tough—a 130 mile slog from Lewistown to Jordan. I stopped at Winnett about 50 miles into the ride at the only restaurant in town, the Kozy Korner, apparently famous for its homemade pies. I opted for coffee and a bowl of Wilcoxson’s ice cream. It cost a whopping $1.50. Later, with about 30 miles to go and the afternoon heat bearing down on us, we found an oasis in Sand Springs that served real milkshakes. I know it’s circumstantial, but it might’ve been the best milkshake I’ve ever had. The milkshake, plus copious amounts of ice water and sports drink, saved the day. So I have to give credit to ice cream and milkshakes for getting me through Saturday. I know Cristin won’t mind in this situation.
To deal with the headwinds we’ve faced yesterday and today, my riding buddy Chris and I have been taking turns drafting off each other. We use mile markers, and yesterday, we switched on the even ones, for 2-mile intervals taking the wind, and then drafting. Today, we were so tired, and the wind so relentless, that we started switching every mile.
I know some of you have been participating in the “Solidarity Challenge” this week through the Incentive Program, and I want to say thank you! There have been several times when the going-got-tough that I’ve thought of those of you who’ve taken up that challenge, and I can’t wait to hear your stories!
Know it’s time to rest. My body has to muster enough energy to make it about 70 more miles. I’ll be making quick stops Monday at Dawson Community College at the Eastern Agricultural Research Center in Sidney, before finishing on the Yellowstone River in North Dakota! I be reporting as usual via Twitter (@montanamoves).
It’s been a wild few days, but I can finally sit down at my laptop to jot down a few thoughts and share a few pics. The route I chose to ride across Montana hasn’t been front loaded with cell towers and wi-fi, but in a way that’s a good thing.
So far, my adventure has been better than I could’ve scripted, and has exceeded expectations. I still have many miles to go, but right now I couldn’t be happier. The first day of real riding turned out to be a lot harder than I expected. It was uphill, into the wind, and hot. By the time I had done 71 miles and arrived at McGregor Lake, I was fairly smoked. A nice meal and lots of water helped. Despite the less-than-optimal riding conditions, my journey along the Kootenai River and the Great Northern Railway was gorgeous.
On Monday, I rolled into Kalispell via an outstanding shared use path created by Northwest Montana Rails to Trails. A few miles outside of the city, I was greeted by an enthusiastic group of a dozen riders from Flathead Valley Community College. It was one of those perfect summer days for riding, and everyone was in good spirits—just excited to be outside, together, and having fun. As we arrived at FVCC, we were greeted by even more employees, and were able to hang out for a while and enjoy some coffee and snacks. I felt overwhelmed and very grateful. Thank you so much FVCC!
After stopping at FVCC, it was on to Glacier National Park. At GNP, I met one of my friends who would be cycling with me from the Park. Camping at Apgar, we had our first real weather event of the trip that night. As I lay in my tent, I heard a few drops of rain.
“It will just be a quick shower that passes right over”, I thought.
Wrong. It poured, for at least 2 or 3 hours. It was a real soaker, but luckily the inside of my tent remained pretty dry. The next day was supposed to be a rest day, but we found out that Going to the Sun Road was closed to vehicles, but open to bikes. We also learned that the road was almost ready, and could open any time. I thought this was a golden opportunity, so we went for it. Instead of resting as planned, my friend Chris and I stared the journey up to Logan Pass.
It was incredible. That’s all I can say. That’s all we kept saying all the way up. Some variation on, “This is incredible” or “I can’t believe we get to do this”. If you’ve ever been to Glacier, you know that photos don’t do it justice, but I’ll post some anyway.
Finally, today we rode from St. Mary’s on the east side of the Park to Duyuper. Talk about some wind. Wow. Fortunately, the wind was at our back for about 80% of the ride and we were flying. For one 10-mile stretch, we averaged 26 miles per hour and weren’t even pedaling hard! Unreal. The fast time gave me some much needed bonus downtime this afternoon.
Tomorrow it’s on to Great Falls College, where I’ll be stopping for another employee meet-and-greet at 3pm. If you’re in Great Falls, I’d love to see you there! My fingers are crossed for more tailwinds tomorrow!