Jan 31

Barrel Racing

Barrel RacingHere is a sport for everyone. This activity offers to its enthusiasts the relaxation of the outdoors coupled with the excitement of speed and the unparalleled connection with an animal many times larger, stronger, and faster than the individual mounted on top.

The only judge involved is the clock. You won’t find any style preferences, attitude, or subjective opinions here. Either you have the fastest time or you don’t.

Barrel racing has been around for years. It has been a game event in numerous competitions for decades where men, women, and children have enjoyed displaying their expertise at top speed for all to see. Most often the first exposure to it comes from watching the Rodeos.

The cowboys introduced barrel racing into their list of events so their wives and girlfriends would have something to compete in at the Rodeos. However, throughout the rest of the world it is open to and participated in by all.

The race is relatively simple at first glance. It consists of three barrels placed at specified distances in an arena in a triangular pattern, referred to as a cloverleaf pattern. Different associations have their own recommended distances.

A general guideline would be ninety feet from the first to second barrel and ninety feet to the third. These distances vary anywhere from sixty to one hundred and five feet. However, once set, it remains the same for all competitors in that race.

The competitor enters the arena at one end and proceeds at top speed around the first barrel and then proceeds across the arena to the second, which must be turned in the opposite direction from the first. Next they proceed down the arena to the third barrel, which must be turned in the same direction as the second barrel. Then it’s down the centerline at breakneck speed across the finish line. That’s it, fastest time wins.

Barrel racing is a wonderful activity for anyone who enjoys being outdoors, excitement, an adrenalin rush, and the chance to really communicate with horses. When you travel at top speed your communication skills need to be on time and accurate. This is one sport that seems to hold the interest of entire families. Even the teenagers stay with it. That could be due to the fact that most of the time you win cash and not ribbons.

If you think that you’re ready for a little excitement, don’t hesitate, give it a try. Don’t be put off by the idea of competing or even the speed. Many of my students don’t go out and start competing right away. Some never want to compete.

They simply want to enjoy having the ability to do it and the opportunity to give it a try. Most of all they are thrilled to be able to do something so completely different from anything they have ever done before. Barrel racing provides them that fulfillment and excitement.

Jan 24

The Importance of Good training practices

To be a good athlete you must have good training practices. Training practices are more than just what you do on the track; they involve how you live your day to day life.

Coaching – Seeking out someone with more experience then you is always a good idea. There is no sense re-inventing the wheel when someone has already tested several methods and can save you a lot of time leading to greater efficiency in your training.

Be open – A huge part to becoming an experienced athlete is to keep your mind open, both to new ideas and to feedback. Request feedback. Recognize that you don’t know everything and that you can learn a lot from those who are more experienced.

Take it slow – Set reasonable goals. If you’re a twice a week runner, don’t expect to make the upcoming Olympics. Reasonable goals will keep you mentally fit and motivated to keep training. If you try to take things too quickly chances are you will get burnt out both mentally and physically.

Injury prevention – I don’t know of any great athlete that hasn’t suffered an injury at one point in their career, and knows how devastating it can be. An injury can put an end to a season or an entire career.

Be smart in your running training to best avoid injuries. This can be accomplished by using the right equipment. Why take the risk of training in year old running shoes when it’s recommended to buy new ones every 6 months?

Proper warm up and cool downs, can greatly decrease your risk of injury. Not warming up is like driving a car really hard without giving it a tune up. Your playing with fireworks. This can involve jogging to warm your muscles up, stretching and other mobility drills to make sure you are ready to begin your training session.

If you take these things into consideration I have no doubt that you will have success in whatever it is you are training for.

Jan 17

Choosing the Right Hiking Boots

Choosing the Right Hiking BootsChoosing hiking boots and footwear is one of the most important decisions you as a hiker or camper will make. They’ll either make your trip memorable or miserable. To find what’s best for you, ask yourself “What type of hiking do I do?”

Day Hiking (Light-weight) – Do you usually go for short hikes for one to several hours during the week or weekend without a backpack? Then you’ll want to consider these. They’re lighter, flexible, and breathe better because they’re usually made of fabric and split-grain leather.

They’re comfortable for day outings but you’ll become fatigued and your feet will begin to bother you if you try to hike with a pack or for an extended trip because they aren’t designed to support you like the hiking boots below.

Backpacking/Hiking (Mid-weight) – Stiffer mid-weight hiking boots provide more support and protection for shorter 2-3 day trips or even day hikes with or without a light to moderate load. If you hike for a few hours and want more support and/or up to three days on or off-trail on easy to moderate trails get a mid-weight leather backpacking boot.

Extended Backpacking (Mountaineering) – The best level of support, protection, and durability for heavier loads and longer trips, but they’re also usually heavier. Supports heavy loads of approximately 40+ pounds (could vary with hiking boot).

If you hike for more than three days on or off-trail with a moderate to heavy pack on demanding terrain get an extended (heavy weight) backpacking boot. If you need to attach crampons for glaciers check to make sure the boots are compatible before you buy. For cold-weather hiking it’s critical to get waterproof insulated boots that breathe to keep you dry.

Full-grain leather and Nubuck suede take water repellant products well but keep in mind that they won’t waterproof a hiking boot NOT designed to be waterproof in the first place. The repellant will help shed water but if you’re walking through streams or deep puddles you’re going to get wet.


You may or may not need waterproof hiking boots. Consider the environment you usually hike in and how long your trips are. If you do a lot of short desert hiking trips you probably don’t need waterproof boots.

Actually in a dry environment they’ll only make it harder for your feet to breathe (more numerous or heavy layers mean less breathability). Nylon mesh fabric breathes better than leather, but remembers you’re making tradeoffs for durability, support, and protection.

Jan 10

Strength Training With Dietary Supplementation

Efforts to expand the limits of human strength and endurance have kept the scientist and the athlete occupied for centuries. The quest for another pound of muscle, or to lift next couple of kilos has been relentlessly pursued in the gym and the laboratory alike.

As the questions and conquests became more challenging, the answers have become more elusive and complicated. Few concepts and conclusions have withstood the test of time in exercise physiology. Even as we tackle the metabolic and genetic basis of skeletal muscle response to strength training, there are only some things that we know for sure.

Strength is the cumulative expression of the innumerable myofibrils orderly arranged to form the muscle. Strength training attempts to boost these protein motors and the biological machinery that supports them.

Resistance exercises create a biochemical environment in the body wherein the turnover of proteins is optimized and the protein synthetic machinery is primed for growth. All that is needed to trigger a spurt of growth is a protein rich meal. This response occurs in all age groups, although it is less efficient in the elderly.

The muscle is receptive to protein and amino acids for 48 hours after a workout. The only limiting factor for the hypertrophy of skeletal muscles during this period is the availability of high quality proteins.

A few tricks can amplify the growth response to strength training. The synthetic machinery has a ceiling. It can only handle a certain amount of amino acids at a time (specifically, six grams of protein).

However, repeated supplementation with three to six grams of high quality protein during the 48 hours after a workout can optimize the protein synthetic response without topping out the protein synthetic enzyme systems.

Combining protein supplements with adequate carbohydrate (35g of sucrose with every 6g of protein) is also helpful. The carbohydrate acts as fuel for the muscle fibers sparing the protein for growth.

Research into the response of untrained strength athletes has come up with surprising results. The demand for proteins increases in both the trained and the untrained states. However, the relative protein requirement of an untrained athlete per kg per day often exceeds the trained counterpart.

The initial phase of resistance training is exemplified by rapid growth and hypertrophy of skeletal muscles, before it hits the plateau. Another factor is the relative inefficiency of the protein synthetic machinery in the untrained state. Well-formulated protein supplements are thus necessary to sustain even the early phases of resistance training.

This is not to say that the protein requirements of the trained strength athlete are comparable to the sedentary population. By the time the maintenance phase of resistance training is reached, the lean body mass would have expanded exponentially.

The total quantity of proteins that are broken down and reformed during protein turnover in a trained strength athlete is still many times higher than normal levels. This requirement may be as high as 1.5 times baseline levels.

The hunt then is for a high quality protein diet that would supply all the essential amino acids required. Considering the various biochemical principles discussed, this protein supplementation should be rapidly absorbable so that amino acids delivery can be accurately timed to the post-workout period.

Rapid absorption would also enable multiple doses of the protein supplement to be taken during this period. The protein supplement also needs to be in small quantities (3 to 6g) to prevent saturating protein synthesis pathways and to minimize protein waste through excretion.

Protein supplements that meet all of these requirements are used widely across weightlifting communities. The unique constitution of supplements enables it to provide not only all the essential amino acids, but also the specific amino acids used in muscle fiber synthesis.

Supplements promote the synthesis of Glutathione, an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals. These free radicals, produced during anaerobic workouts like resistance training, injure the cell membranes.

Short term insults like muscle sprains to long term effects like aging and cancer have been attributed to free radicals. Supplementing the diet can boost the normal levels of the free radical scavenger, Glutathione and help avert free radical damage.

Undeniably, protein reigns as the supreme building block for strength training. The difference between you and your next pound of muscle can oftentimes be a measurement of the type of protein formula you use in your diet.