Wednesday, January 28

Coconut Water

Between social media, a recent conversation with a client, product advertisements, and magazine articles, coconut water seems to be all the rage these days. I suppose this isn't a recent development, but all those touch points coming together at once is what spurred this post. Better late than never?



Jessie and I have written about the health benefits of coconut before: both coconut milk and coconut oil --  we are big fans! But what about coconut water? A few things to consider...
  • Electrolytes: coconut water is loaded with electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, etc. These are essential for hydration, which is why many will drink coconut water during or after a hard workout to replenish lost fluids.
  • Sugar Content: coconut water is also loaded with sugar (16g in 12oz depending on the brand), which is part of the reason we try to avoid it. 
  • Sugar Delivery: not only is the quantity of sugar something to be alarmed by, the velocity of delivery is kind of scary -- drinking sugar is typically never a great idea. We've written about this before on smoothies/juicing here.
  • Better than Gatorade? Natural sugars found in foods are always preferable over anything refined/processed. Assuming the coconut water brand you chose doesn't have added sugar or a ton of artificial preservatives, then it's probably better than Gatorade!
Bottom line: Context matters. If you're going to drink some coconut water on occasion after a long workout or when you were sweating a ton, fine. But to sip on it throughout the day because you think it's a health food, we'd advise against it.

What are your thoughts on coconut water? Share in the comments section below!

Tuesday, January 20

Triathletes: Good Exercisers

One of the common criticisms of triathlons is that anyone can do them, they’re merely the demonstration of peoples’ ability to get good at exercising, or as I’ve heard it put so elegantly once before: “Triathlons are nothing but glorified exercise.”

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, including me, and here it is: For those who think triathlons are nothing more than a form of ‘glorified exercise’, you have a huge case of glorified ignorance.

Michael Phelps, sorry, my man, but we’re going to revoke all of your gold medals and merely give you a sticker and a hug. You’re not one of the greatest Olympians of all-time, you’re just a ‘good exerciser.’ Lance Armstrong, instead of calling you a 7-time Tour de France Champion, we’ll just call you one of the best exercisers who ever lived.

OK, but in all seriousness, doesn’t it seem ridiculous to trivialize something like triathlons? Would you say soccer is merely getting good at kicking a ball? How about football is only becoming skilled at pushing people around? This concept of over-simplifying endurance sports isn’t fair, but I think I know where the criticism comes from. It comes from two angles…

First, would be the notion that anyone can do them. I can’t dispute this fact. Yes, anyone can do them. With the proper training and drive, and of course barring any extreme medical conditions, the overwhelming majority of the population could complete a triathlon. However, my rebuttal to that would be that that exact same population can also play soccer, baseball, volleyball, football or hockey. But are any of these less of a sport because of it? As a matter of fact, I’d take it a step further, and say that one random group of people, ceteris paribus, would have a harder time completing a triathlon, than playing an aforementioned sport, primarily because of the swimming component.

Like most things in life, there is a wide spectrum of skill levels. I could go out right now and join a co-ed recreational ice hockey league and play hockey, no question about it. I’d be horrible, but I could play. Then on the other side, you have the elite of the NHL – with quite a wide range of skills in between, no? Similarly, I could join a baseball league. Again, I wouldn’t be good, but I could play. Then you’ve got professionals in the MLB.

And finally, someone right now, right this very second, could do the bare minimum of training and make it through a sprint-distance triathlon. But then there are the elite professionals who complete full Iron Man Triathlons (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, 26.2 mile run) in around eight hours time, this means usually holding around a 6 minute-mile pace for a marathon, after the previous two disciplines.

My point is that OK, anyone can do a triathlon, but so what? Anyone can play basketball, but does that make it less legitimate?

Secondly (and far easier to identify) would be the concept of pride around the endurance sports arena. Most of everyone who’s done an endurance sport race (marathon, half marathon, triathlon, duathlon, etc.) has an enormous sense of pride after accomplishing it. I suppose to some, this is annoying, especially when coupled with their belief that anyone can do it. “Those 13.1, 26.2, 70.3, 140.6 and USAT stickers can get so old!” I can understand this. I can understand what a random person who doesn’t truly get what encompasses a triathlon is thinking: people are bragging about something that anyone can do. But my response would be: until you’ve done one, you have not a clue in the world. There is a sense of pride, in completing events that few have completed, there’s an emotional impact of joy from crossing a finish line, having worked hard to get to that point. This pride is something you simply can’t understand unless you try it for yourself.

Go ahead, I dare you. Plus, anyone can do it.

Monday, January 12

Eric's Race Report

This is a guest post by Eric on running, training and the Las Vegas Half Marathon.

After my first 5k at the age of 21, a distance that was a personal longest at the time, I felt myself becoming interested in running distances longer than regular two mile jogs. Ages 22-27 have now been spent running a variety of distances greater than 5k, including three half marathons.

Two themes have arisen during my running career so far: learn from mistakes and learn from others.

My mistakes came in the form of poor quality training, poor quality shoes which caused injury, and lack of sufficient hydration/nutrition on race weekends.

Sunday, January 4

Resolution Reminders

From the top of a mountain we hiked in Portugal!
It's that time again. The turn of the year gives us the opportunity to establish goals and mentally reset, start over, or reignite the motivation. It's resolution time! This means people will come out of the holiday food coma, shake off the cobwebs, and ramp up their diets and workouts.

Some will come out of the gates hard, committing to a strict eating regimen and an even stricter workout schedule. Some want to set PR's, others just want to look good poolside. While the efforts of these folks are valiant, they're often not sustainable. We've all seen the statistics -- a very small percentage of New Year's Resolutions are achieved. 

I realize you've seen scores of New Year's posts already, so I'll try not to belabor the point. While I can certainly understand the mindset of being "all-in" for 2015, or even kick-starting the year with some form of a program, allow me to bring up a few (perhaps inconvenient) reminders.

A resolution is not a plan

Resolving to make certain changes and accomplish certain goals is a great starting point. But the next step is to determine an actionable plan, one that is right for you. Consider outlining a daily/weekly routine, trying a program, joining an organization, or hiring a coach or trainer. 

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