Sunday, October 16, 2011
I decided to take a rest day today. I did exercise four days in a row and am looking forward to taking an outdoor run tomorrow. Today my muscles were a little sore from the uphill walking.
I spent some more time thinking about stress and what causes it. There is acute stress, where the body reacts to a challenge and this kind of stress happens in training and leads to the body developing endurance. This kind is not a problem.
The kind of stress that is of concern and interferes with aerobic training and performance is a high level of chronic stress. This kind of stress can reduce memory, negatively affect aerobic function, reduce immune function and fat burning and affect blood sugar.
Phil Maffetone asks his readers to make lists of stressors in their life and to distinguish between those that can easily be changed and those that can't. Then he recommends to take the ones that can't or won't be changed anytime soon off the list and focus on a few of the ones that can be changed.
This made me think about the difference between seemingly stressful events and things I choose to get stressed about. Doing too much, even of fun activities, falls in the second category. Perfectionism, whether it's in the area of work or of eating and exercise or hobbies also falls in the second category.
For those stressors that are unavoidable sometimes meditation or prayer as well as breathing exercises are very effective ways to manage stress. But we only think of these things if they are a regular part of our lives, which means we need to practice them in times of low stress as well.
Foods that increase adrenal stress are refined carbohydrates and sugar and caffeine, a good reason to avoid these, especially in combination or in higher doses.
Phil's book mentions not only Zinc but also Choline as nutrients that are beneficial for people with adrenal stress. Choline is the easiest to get from egg yolks, cauliflower, wheat germ or grains like amaranth or quinoa.
There is much more information in the book and I think I need to read it several times to put more of it into practice.
Avoiding most sugar and caffeine and increasing my intake of Zinc and Choline looks like a good place to start for me.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Today I thought about taking a rest day but by afternoon I really felt like some more exercise than the dog walking I had done in the morning.
I decided to do some uphill walking on the treadmill and it turned into my "long, slow walk" rather than the usual long slow run, after all who would want to jog even slower than at 3.5 miles per hour.
This time I used a different approach. I did not measure speed but incline (elevation) on the treadmill. I started with a 15 minute warm-up where I increased the incline slowly from 2 to 9 at which point I reached my target heart rate. I should add that I decided to lower my target heart rate by two points after reading Phil Maffetone's description of how stress (physical, mental or emotional) will affect your pulse. Given that I was a little too busy this past week and did not eat very healthily plus did not get quite enough sleep I thought adjusting the target heart rate would help. It seems to have worked because after 5 miles of walking I felt great and could have easily kept going.
Here are the results:
Mile 1: incline 9
Mile 2: incline 8.5
Mile 3: incline 9
Mile 4: incline 9.5
Mile 5: incline 10
Why I was able to increase the incline I am not sure. I was on the treadmill this time that was right next to a fan so I may have stayed cooler. This is not an exact science.
There was another benefit to walking, apart from the one Phil Maffetone mentions, that exercising in an even lower cardio range has additional benefits: I was more able to focus on my thoughts and spent the time I was walking analyzing the things I had just read about: stress, cortisol production, diet and the adrenal glands.
More about that in my next blog. For now I just want to share that eating foods that are high in zinc, like pumpkin seeds, benefit the adrenal glands and promote better sleep.
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