For the better part of 30 years, I exercised 20-40 hours per week. 45-60 minute runs were the norm, and I never rode my bike for less than 90 minutes. Like many of us, I became committed to a mindset that believed a 15-30 minute run or ride was a worthless endeavor.
In 2004, after transitioning into life with a real job (sort of) and a family, not only was it hard for me to accept that I only had time for 3-5, 30’ runs and 2-3 hours per week instead of 20-40 hours per week, but it was hard to fathom that 3-5, 30’ runs was even worth the effort.
Fortunately, my wise friends who had busy schedules yet realized the value in exercise, convinced me that when it comes to fitting a workout into our busy schedule - every little bit counts. It took a year or two, but I eventually embraced the “short and sweet” mentality with regard to working out. Fast forward 10 years, and I’m still fit, faster, relative to my former self, than I thought I’d be, and my love of exercise has continued to grow.
I like to repeat this message over the holidays because free-time is limited and stress levels are high. As a result, many athletes who are used to spending more than 5 hours per week training, throw in the towel for the months of November and December, convinced that a, relatively speaking, nickle and dime workout routine is not worth the effort.
Don’t do that this holiday season. Accept that a reduced (yet more intense) workout schedule is not only fine, but may even help to get you out of a training rut, and leave you recharged and in a better place when you do commence your event specific training plan during the New Year. Accept the notion that keeping exercise in your life will make you a better parent, partner, friend, more productive at work and at home, a better holiday shopper, and allow that short and sweet exercise bouts of physical activity count as exercise.
Take advantage of any opportunity to move or get the heart rate up for a minute or five. Furthermore, if your exercise bouts are short and sweet - and it doesn’t matter how old you are or how slow you are - put some umph into it! Run back to the car after dropping the kids at school or extracurricular activity. Walk with a purpose when holiday shopping. RUN up the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Walk around your office while talking on the phone. Run 1 mile instead of 4, when you don’t have 30-40 minutes to spare - don’t even waste time putting running clothes on. Just step into a pair of running shoes and go!
Here’s some additional reading on the subject.
The bottom line: Just because circumstances prevent you from training as much as you’d like, doesn’t mean you should abandon exercise entirely. Be creative with your exercise, and remember that every little bit counts.
France Camp, first and foremost, is about cycling. Food and friendship, however, are a close runner up.
Cycling up and down the mountains of the French alpes inspires tales of heroism and woe (the good kind), fosters comradery and a sense of community, and whets the appetite.
The France Camp dinner table provides both the remedy for ravenousness and the pulpit for tales. The kitchen, of course, is the source of its delicious delectables.
At the heart of the kitchen are Chefs Michael and Alex who enthusiastically combine their love of all things food and wine, to expertly prepare what I like to call, France Camp cuisine – mostly French dishes with an English flare.
Their daily interplay, occasional debates about the source or origin of the night’s creation, and their knowledge of food, wine, and local history, are a big part of the France Camp culinary experience.
I hope you enjoy this glimpse into the France Camp kitchen and hope that it entices you to come and ride, eat, and tell stories with us next July (click here for France Camp details).
If you’re in need of some new stylish and functional cycling and/or triathlon apparel, I’ve got you covered.
I’ve been using Squadra Cycling apparel for as long as I can remember. It’s durable, functional, fashionable and comfortable - all of the things I demand from my workout clothing, and it’s why I chose Squadra.
The tabs at the top of the store provide plenty of information about the fit and technology of the clothing, but I’ve included a few general comments of my own below:
The short sleeve jersey is very comfortable whether its 45F or 105F outside. For temperatures between 45F and 60F, I typically pair the short sleeve jersey with a base layer, arm warmers, and a wind vest. If you live in an area prone to cold weather (below 45F), in September I will offer a long sleeved wind jacket and a thermal vest and jacket which will provide significant added warm versus the wind vest, as well as protection from the wind and rain.
The triathlon apparel is comfortable, form fitting, quick drying, yet provides coverage from the elements. The fabric has a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of 50+ and shields both UVA and UVB rays.
Click on this link to take you to the store: Riccitello Coaching Cycling and Triathlon Apparel. Apparel will be shipped to the address you provide. Do not select the “Will Call” option unless you want to personally pick up the clothing at Squadra in Carlsbad, CA. If you’re a France Camper, remember that I am providing you with a cycling jersey and shorts (but grab a functional and fashionable wind vest and arm warmers for the chilly descents!).
Should you choose to wear my clothing - I’m honored beyond words and look forward to seeing it on the roads and trails.
I know you’ll enjoy it and thanks!
We start each day Riccitello’s France Cycling Camp with coffee from a French press and a wholesome breakfast (except for the Nutella - which is not that wholesome but tastes very good) of fruits, mueslix, cereals, yogurts, breads, eggs. This is usually washed down with more coffee (when in France ... ).
Then we chamois up (French for shammy) and ride the famous climbs and descents of the Oisans valley in the French alps. To try and describe the quality of riding would be insulting.
Lunch is eaten on the bike (thank you Clif for your tasty Clif Bars and the sweet and savory Mojo Bars and your Shot Bloks and gels).
Most rides are followed with a snack and a nap.
Upon waking up to a view that never ceases to amaze, most campers will soak up some sun while lounging on the porch with a good book (or electronic version of a book). There may be a midday glass of wine or three.
Then come hors d’oeuvres - usually local sausages, cheeses, olives, cakes, tea, and such.
Appetizers are often followed by a hike along rugged sheep, goat, and cattle trails with views of Pic Blanc and the ever enticing 21 turns of l’alpe d’huez.
Then dinner - salad from your host’s garden, some kind of animal that was probably hiking on the same trail you hiked early in the day or pulled from the pure and crystal clear waters that rage down from the mountain tops (fear not, vegetarians - there are meatless options), pasta or rice, wine - and then desert - and more wine.
After finishing desert many campers gather at the village bar for a digestif (night-cap) and to watch the day’s Tour de France stage on the big screen (thankfully, there are big screens in the alps). Some play boules (bocce ball) with the locals. Others gather on the chalet porch for wine and to talk story.
Then we sleep, and dream of the next day in cycling paradise.
(I have a couple double occupancy rooms open this year - look here if you’re interested).
Listing New Year’s Resolutions has been a family tradition as far back as I can remember. My mom was big on the list. She would ask us kids (at least four and sometimes six, if you count the “steps”) to sit quietly and list ways in which we could better ourselves. I remember the hour or two that it took to compile a list of 3-4 resolutions seeming like a torture session. When you’re eight or nine, there are not a whole lot of things that you feel like doing or changing that will make you a better person.
One thing that many years of New Year’s Resolution lists makes me realize is that the older I get, the easier it becomes to make a longer list – at least for me, anyway. It’s funny, but shouldn’t it be the other way around?
Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve made a comprehensive list of New Year’s Resolutions. The last few years I’ve chosen to focus on one or two tasks usually associated with health such as: going to bed earlier/sleeping more, not eating as many “sweets,” or quitting chewing tobacco (I know – gross).
However, on the eve of 2014, it feels like a more ambitious list is in order. There are many reasons for this feeling. Among them, the milestone of celebrating 50 years of life, the contemplation of what 20 years of marriage means, and the knowledge and perspective that comes from 12 years of parenting.
But there’s a bigger reason. Resolve is an important quality and tackling a comprehensive New Year’s Resolution list strengthens one’s resolve. Over the last few years my resolve has faltered. The fear of failing to follow through on a long list has caused me to take the easy way out – the safe way out.
I wasn’t as afraid when I was younger because I had less to lose.
Life seems to work in cycles and for whatever reason (I’ll figure out why, later), I’m getting my nerve back. I realize that a long New Year’s resolution list presents conflicts – to work on one item, sometimes takes time and focus away from others. But that doesn’t mean I need to shy away from going big. So here’s my list for 2014 – The Year Of Resolve.
1. Be a better husband
2. Be a better father.
3. Be a better coach.
4. Be a better referee.
5. Be a better friend.
6. Be a better son.
7. Be a better sibling.
8. Don’t be afraid to try ideas/dreams.
9. Be kind(er).
10. Laugh more.
11. Eat more veggies.
12. Exercise more.
14. Go to bed earlier.
15. Live more.
16. Be a better businessman.
17. Listen better.
18. Be neater/more organized.
19. Read more.
20. Write more.
21. Get more sleep.
Happy New Year to everyone reading this. I hope 2014 brings you happiness and success and love.