Injuries


Injuries

As far as injuries are concerned, my policy is prevention, prevention, prevention. I observe a number of basic principles when it comes to injury prevention and management. The first is listening to my body and learning to respond to it quickly and appropriately. Every time I train, I create some injury. Through the work I do, I deliberately break down my body. Our bodies respond by rebuilding themselves stronger than before. By managing minor, self-inflicted injuries (my training), I will grow stronger over time. Building up tolerance by increasing very slowly is crucial. For example, if I am going to run a marathon this year, I would need to have a base to start from. I would need to demonstrate consistent mileage without injury on the kinds of running surface I would be training and racing on. Injuries generally occur because the body is not responding well to the increase or not recovering quickly enough to do the increased volume.
Using the proper equipment can help prevent injuries. Analyzing body mechanics is another important tool for injury prevention. Using a professional trainer can be indispensable in this area. A trainer can show me how to set up a stationary bike to avoid injuring myself over the long term. A trainer can show me the proper way to lift weights to avoid injury and to gain the most benefit. Using a lower weight with good mechanics and low injury potential is more productive than using a higher weight that might look better to my friends but risk injury. Competing with others in the gym while lifting weights will be counterproductive in the long run. In fact, I apply this principle to almost all physical activity.
Longevity as an athlete is dependent on body mechanics. To increase my chances of a long, productive life, I treat myself as a finely tuned athlete at maximum performance. Poor body mechanics can set me up for injuries—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly over time. It is up to me. Using proper technique, for whatever activity, is essential to perform efficiently and to prevent injury. I believe in getting expert advice on as many of my activities as possible so as not to shortchange myself with an injury.
Goals then come into play. If I cannot increase my workload as quickly as I want because it would possibly cause an injury, then I must revise my goals. I may need to scale back to run a half marathon this year and a full marathon next year. This would be realistic.
I am not in the results business. I must keep moving my feet and trusting that the results are what they are. This includes injuries. If I really believe I am exactly in the place where I am supposed to be, then the lesson for me is waiting in whatever process I am engaged in. There will always be a timely solution and a gift from the issue. With this in mind, if I do sustain an injury, I can try many different solutions for my recovery. I know that being proactively involved in the process will help me to heal as quickly as possible.
Poor nutrition, unrealistic goals, misplaced priorities, uncontrolled ego—each of these can play a part in causing injuries. When an injury occurs, look at all the factors that surround it. Have I tried my own solutions? Is my injury beyond my help? Do I need a professional?
The acronym RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This is the rule of first aid to follow immediately after an injury. After the initial shock wears off, I can then evaluate what to do next.
When I am injured, I have a whole host of resources to draw from. First is myself. I am the only true expert on my body. No else lives in my body or my head but me. Am I getting out of my own way? When analyzing a situation involving injury, I must stick with the facts as they are, not as I would like them be. No drama or minimizing. What kind of pain is it, and how is it affecting me?
I am not best judge of myself, so I use people around me to provide a mirror to see myself more clearly. For example, when I walked into my physical therapist’s office not too long ago, she told me within 10 seconds that I looked tired and asked me what was wrong. Because I was wearing my fatigue on the outside, she could plainly evaluate me and provide feedback.
Every injury teaches me a lesson. Protecting something that is weak only makes it weaker. Many times, a physical symptom is a manifestation of a deeper emotional issue that is surfacing and crying out to be dealt with. The underlying issue may not be evident for some time, but it is always there for me. Everything happens for a reason, and it is my job to figure out the lesson. Sometimes God is telling me to slow down, to change my thinking, to be more sensitive, or to be there for someone else. To think about the higher purpose, recognize it, accept it, and act upon it is the key.

I tell an in depth story in my book that deals with my knee surgery three months before the Olympic Trials and demonstrates all these principles and what I learned, good and bad.

One day after Knee surgery July 2009, 3 months before US Olympic trials.

One day after Knee surgery July 2009, 3 months before US Olympic trials.

24 Lessons From: “Faster As A Master”, Part Two


24 Lessons From: Faster As A Master Part Two

In my upcoming book “Faster As A Master” each chapter has a summarization of what I learned in the form of “Lessons:”

Here are the second twelve. Last week was the first twelve.

Each chapter has one or more stories, philosophies, and principles to illustrate my points. The statement of “Lessons:” is a summarization of what I have learned and apply to my journey of breaking down barriers and journeying toward wholeness.

Continued from last week…..

13. By enjoying the journey as well as the finish, I use goals as my vehicle forward to external and internal work toward wholeness.

14. Recognize and deal with the ego and emotions to your advantage.

15. Discipline to do bring my “A” game to everything I do, sets up the best outcomes.

16. Proper nutrition sets up the body and mind to do great work. Discipline with nutrition will pay great dividends internal and external.

17. Be coachable, find and foster a coach – athlete relationship.

18. Build the motor and learn how to apply it to your endeavor. Utilize the principles of, practice, warm-up, cool-down, volume, intensity, strength, cardio, periodization, stretching, mental training, and rest.

19. Prevention first, then apply RICE, learn from the event and move forward with changed expectations.

20. By continually reevaluating our plans and adapting we can uncover new ways to enjoy the journey and achieve our goals.

21. Competition can reveal our true selves providing growth and healing.

22. Balance is a great barometer for all parts of my life internal and external.

23. Honest mindful attention to my thinking will guide me through all of my internal and external activities toward wholeness.

24. Take the risk, keep moving with courage, practice gratitude for the journey toward wholeness.

Longs Peak Colrado

Longs Peak Colrado

Building A Network For Support


Congratulations to my fellow American skaters competing at the World Cup Level this weekend on the short and long track.  Great work!  All of you!

Also, Happy Veterans Day!  All gave some, some gave all.

When standing on the podium, we rise on the shoulders of our support system.  None of us can accomplish what we do without support.

Parents

Parental support is desired but not absolutely necessary.  My brothers and I had the gift of compassionate, loving, and giving parents.

I thought  that what my brothers and I had, was normal.  As an adult, I realize it was exceptional.

As a masters athlete I need support.  Support comes in many forms.  When growing up, the most important support was from my parents.  My father is still supporting me today, not only emotionally through encouragement but financially.  Because he wants to, and I let him.  My mother passed away in 2000, she is still with me always. I still try to make my parents proud, even though I know they are.

Spouse

My wife is the most essential person in my line of my support.  Without her support most of what I do would not be possible. She holds me up when I need it.  I hold her up when she needs it too.  It goes both ways.  Since we share everything, then she must share in the victories too.  We try to share the journey as well.  Training very hard, for a very long time, for a few minutes of racing each year.  I spend a lot of time everyday preparing to train.  Clean workout clothes, shopping and food preparation, driving 75 miles each way to the rink in Milwaukee three times a week.  The list goes on.  Health maintenance, maintaining a home, keeping focus on what is important, God, family, work ,recreation.  Maripat helps me keep balanced with all these. She does so much of the behind the scenes work, so I can concentrate on training and competing.  Shared goals, balancing of priorities and time, are essential to having support from your spouse.

Coach

My coach helps me keep balanced as well between the intense training, recovery and rest.  She is also a great friend that I can talk to about anything. She has the technical knowledge and wisdom to apply it to my situation.

Children

I am reminded of the movie “The Rookie”.  This movie was on television the other day and I had to sit down to watch it.  It has so many important messages.  One of the most important part for me was when the Dad, a middle-aged rookie pro-baseball player, was going to call it quits and come home.  His wife reminded him of what would his young son think and what would he take away from his action.  The Dad then re-thought his decision and decided to stay with the farm team and see where he could go.  He wanted to show his son what was important to him.  Perseverance, dedication, courage, discipline, goal setting and follow through were some of the qualities that he demonstrated to his son.  My kids learn way more from what I do than what I say. This is how my kids can provide me with the motivation I need for my own support.

Fellow Athletes and Training Partners

I need to belong to a tribe of like-minded athletes who train like me.  Grateful that I have a great group of Olympians to train and skate with.  They help keep me young.  I can almost do the volume they do, just need a longer set rest.  I bring some of my wisdom to the group.  Not their coach, I can listen and help in ways that our coach cannot.   What I get out of this group is way more than what I bring,  We all share and benefit in the process.

I wish my fellow competitors and peers good luck.  I want them to do their best.  I try to do my best, and the outcome is, as it should be.  The outcome of a race was probably decided months before, based upon workload volume, training, techniques, talent, focus, and a host of other factors.  The execution of a race on the spot is important, but being faster than someone who is not at their best is no victory.  Competing more against myself than anyone else, the support of my peers can be very valuable in a number of ways.  It is hard to quantify what that support can mean.  More relaxed, perform more to my capabilities, when I am not conflicted.  With the support of the people around me including my peers then I do better.  If I want respect from my peers then I must give respect and earn what they give me.

Mental Support

When I consider that everything I do starts with a thought, then it is important to look at the health of my thought process. My inner thought life is inextricably connected to my outer life. With a number of resources that I have developed over the years to support my mental state, one the most important things I have learned is that I am not alone in my quest in this life.  I have a relationship with a higher power that I call GOD.  I believe in an underlying collective unconscious pattern to the universe.  In this way I have connected to some men that help me to discover the essence of this connection to all around me so that I do not feel alone.  This is very comforting to me as well as provides avenues for knowledge, wisdom, and growth.

Health Professionals

I have a whole slew of people who help keep me on track to my goals.  They all know my goals and are grateful to help in my endeavors.  Enlisting their support not just from their professional knowledge but their friendship through a shared vision for the goal of being as healthy as possible.  I appreciate all their input on my journey.

Volunteers

Speed skating requires a lot of volunteers to run the competitions.  I am very grateful to all the people who donate their time to help in running the sports that we participate in.  When I am running a race like a 5K, I thank the volunteers that hand out water, check me in, compile the race data, clean up, etc.  These are people who give their time so we can do what we love.  I need to recognize their contribution.  I also run a competition each year and this is my way of giving back to all those who have helped me.

Employers

I need to also enlist the support of my employer.  Time off for an important competition, sponsorship, etc.  As a masters athlete I am a better employee, more focused, goal oriented, productive, and a good example to others.  In my case I have been told I am a credit to my profession.  That goes a long way in the benefits section of the relationship with my company and public perception.

Network Building

What I have described is what we all have to a certain degree.  As part of my journey towards a goal is to develop and foster this network.  In turn, the network supports me.  It usually comes back to me in many ways better than I could have imagined.

My Skating Family. L to R, Jeffrey Swider-Peltz, Nancy Swider- Peltz, Jr, Brian Hansen, Maripat Conner (wife), Bruce Conner, Nancy Swider-Peltz, Sr (Coach)

My Skating Family.
L to R, Jeffrey Swider-Peltz, Nancy Swider- Peltz, Jr, Brian Hansen, Maripat Conner (wife), Bruce Conner, Nancy Swider-Peltz, Sr (Coach)

Ice In August! Yes!!!


Ice In August!  Yes!!!

This is an Olympic year.  A special year.  Speed skating takes a main stage this year with the Olympic games in Sochi, Russia during February.  The Olympic trials also will be a main event for my sport.  There will be 13 hours of TV coverage between short track and long track events.  The long track trials start December 27th in Salt Lake City.  I will be racing the 500m on the 28th and the 1000m on the 29th.  The short track trials follow and are done on January 5th.

Since this an Olympic year we get ice early in Milwaukee.  In non Olympic years we get ice around the middle of September.  The US Olympic Committee helps the Pettit Center with the extra cost of opening early so we can train longer on the ice before the trials and the games.  This year we will have ice on August 15th.

Pumped about getting on the ice this year, training with my group of Olympians.   Getting to apply the off ice work to skating.  The weight workouts, the hard bike training, the slide-board, yoga, swimming, recovery, all working in harmony to apply to the ice skating that feeds my soul.

Loving every part of this process.  Refreshing cold. Smell of the ice.  Speed.  Wind in the ears.  Pressure into the ice while balancing on a 1.1 milimeter blade.  Back together with my skating family, coach, and training partners.  The physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of speed skating are what feed me.  I get to utilize all my tools for skating.  Building a network for support, goals, nutrition, coaching, training, competing, balance,  mental support, and courage all are in play.  Juggling all the pieces and getting the most out of the effort.  Being rewarded on  the journey my making me better.  Happy in doing this work, joyous in my pursuit of excellence, free in being totally absorbed in the moment.  Total concentration on skating, single-minded effort, peace in the knowledge of what is right for me.  Doing this work that feeds me.

Skating this week!

Masters Us Single Dist Championships January 2012, photo by Steve Penland

Masters Us Single Dist Championships January 2012, photo by Steve Penland

9 Tools To Breaking Down Barriers


9 Tools For Breaking Down Barriers

Breaking down barriers is essential to make progress, to grow, and live and thrive. Using these tools will give you the best chance for successful outcomes and a rewarding journey through life.

1. Building a network of support.

All successful people have support. Everyone needs help. Feeling self-reliant at times is important. The most successful people I know have support.

2. Goals

A necessary part of making progress is setting goals. Make your goals specific, realistic, and have a time frame. Changing your goals is ok, make the commitment by setting a goal and start your journey.

3. Nutrition

If you want to go fast you must put jet fuel in your tank. Give yourself the best chance by using the best raw materials for your mind and body.

4. Coaching

What ever your goals are, there is probably someone who has already done it. Get expert help. This will save a great deal of energy, time, and frustration.

5. Training

Practice what you do, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Build gradually your volume, and intensity. Have fun with it!

6. Competing

Competition brings out the real you. This can be scary at first. The most important competitor I face is myself. Embracing competition is extremely rewarding on many levels.

7. Balance

Learning to prioritize the different parts of my life helps to achieve and maintain balance. Good decision-making is the foundation of balance.

8. Mental support

My eyes only see out. Having another set of eyes and perspective can help me adjust my thinking. Sharing thoughts with someone I trust, I find out that my thinking is not so different. Everything starts with a thought, proper support is essential.

9. Courage

Are we worth it? Change is hard. We begin with the first step. If we keep climbing, look up every now and then, the view just gets better. Gratitude for the work can be its own reward. Doing hard things will reap untold benefits. Courage is doing all the little things and making progress. Before you know it you have broken down your own barriers.

On a personal note I am almost done with B-777 school in Denver. I will be flying between Chicago, Washington D.C. and Frankfurt Germany in July. Skating training is going well with solid progress in all areas. Looking forward to the Olympic trials in December in Salt Lake. Breaking down more barriers!

dry-stone-walls-steeton-moor-55907-1

Nutrition, What I would tell my 19-year-old self


Update:  I would like to know from all of you what you would like this site to look like in terms of content.  Please let me know what you would like for me to write about.  I can do more personal information, training tips and techniques, or stories.  Chime in about what is important to you, Speak UP!!! I would like this to be an exchange of information among us.  Please click on the comment link below this post and he heard!  This is your site too!!!

Nutrition, What I would tell my 19-year-old self.

If you want to fly a jet you must put jet fuel in the tank.

I want to tell my 19-year-old self back in 1975 what I have learned about nutrition.  Like a reverse time capsule.

The lessons I have learned have been mostly through trial and error.  I am the expert on my body, how I respond, and grow.

My wife Maripat is instrumental in my nutritional support.  She does a great job of looking out for me, keeping me balanced and adding variety.  About 4 years ago I did a nutritional analysis.  I sent a sports nutrition expert a one week food diary, my workload, and my body composition analysis.  The conclusion was that I was getting exactly what I needed and in the right proportions.  I was taking a protein supplement at the time.  The supplement was over and above what I needed.  I was afraid I was not getting enough protein from my diet.  When I was not eating well, l I needed the supplement.  As I started eating better, the supplement  was not needed and was in fact hurting me.  I was having kidney, liver, and bladder issues.  It took about a year for my body to be re-balanced after I stopped the supplement.

I am going to use an example of my normal routine and what I have learned through the process.  I live in a suburb of Chicago.  The skating rink that I train at in Milwaukee is 75 miles away.  The drive takes about 90 minutes in the morning.

I wake up at 5am and take my heart readings with my ithlete device.  This device tells me how well rested I am, and how hard I can train today.  Then I start the coffee and get ready to leave.  I eat breakfast at 6:15 and in the car by 6:30.  Breakfast is usually granola cereal, oatmeal, or eggs.  I sip coffee on the drive.  I arrive at the rink about 8 am and start the warmup process.  I do stationary bike, dynamic stretch, static stretch, some slide-board, and imitation turn strokes.  Then I change into my skin-suit to get onto the ice.  I am on the ice around 9am.  It has been almost 3 hours since I ate breakfast.  I eat half a banana as I walk a short distance through the tunnel to the ice.  I have found out the hard way that if I do not fuel now I will surely bonk in about 30 minutes.  My ice workout usually lasts about 90 minutes. When I train on the ice I am doing warm-up laps, technical work, intervals, sprints, etc. I sip water with some natural grape juice mixed in for a little flavor and sugar.

When I am doing anything for more that 20 minutes I need some type of liquid that not just replenished my fluids but adds sugar as well.  When I am doing long runs or a triathlon I need to consume something besides water every 20 minutes or so like “GU” or I run out of gas.  I have tried Gatorade, etc, but water with a little grape juice works best for me.

Then after I get off the ice I immediately eat the other half of my banana.  I need to start refueling right away or my body will start eating its own muscle to replace the glycogen I just burned.  The last part of my workout on the ice starts the flushing process of the lactic acid I have built up during the workout.

Then I change out of my skin suit and into bike shorts and I am on the stationary bike again for 30 minutes at low heart rate (110 for me) to continue the flush and I keep sipping my water.  After the bike cool down, I do my static stretching for increased flexibility and injury prevention.  Then I change for the drive home.

Next I head for a restaurant.  I like a burrito with no tortilla, rice, black beans, chicken, lettuce, cheese, and guacamole.  The guacamole is a good fat to help with the protein absorption.  If I wait till I get home to eat, my body will eat its own muscle to replace the glycogen.  That would be counter productive. I need to eat now, not later.  The banana that I had coming off the ice held me over till I could get something more substantial.

This is what has worked for me.  My mantra has become, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”.  I got that from a book called “In Defence Of Food”.

I make several dozen decisions every day that affect my heath and they are mostly around food.  I am healthier than ever.  This in turn affects my skating performance in measurable ways.  This example illustrates many important applications of my nutrition strategy.

Bruce, my 19-year-old self, line up on the centerline of the runway, release the brakes, push the throttles forward and get ready for takeoff.

I would love to hear from you what is your best snack between meals!  I will announce which is the most popular.  Please chime in and be heard!

P.S. I have turned the corner with my over-training and am back on track, training harder, and ready to race again soon…

Bruce and our dog Lilly on our front deck, she is a Yellow Lab mix 85 lbs, about 15 months old and adopted 6 months ago. Who rescued who?