Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Natural v. Minimal v. Barefoot v. Traditional: Shoes...

Back in the previous post here on Crashing the Boards, we talked a little bit about what running barefoot does for the body. So, now that you've gotten yourself incorporating some light barefoot work into your running routine, how do you then translate them into your running shoes?

The simple answer is, to steal Nike's thunder: just do it. Remember that your shoes are dumb objects. They can't tell your body how to move through the gait cycle, and they can't dictate how you will land in your footwear. So the idea that you should be going out and buying different shoes right out of the gate (as advocated in this book) is absurd at best, and downright dangerous at worst.

How can it be dangerous? Well, let's think about this as if you have been happily heel-striking your way through miserable miles. You've been transmitting the majority of the shock through initial impact through the heel, which brings that up through to the upper part of the leg, causing more strain on the knee and quadriceps. As you start to move towards midfoot, the Achilles' begins to lengthen slightly, and the strain begins to be placed on the calf. You then utilize this muscular grouping through the rest of the gait cycle. So simply, you've got two different groupings taking care of the three phases of the gait cycle: heel/knees/quads for the initial impact, then calf/Achilles/foot for the transition and propulsive phases.

When you midfoot strike, though, you're changing the emphasis to more of the latter, and a lot less of the former. Much like the first few weeks when you hit the gym, you'll be sore as all hell. The problem that seems to be coming up, though, is too much emphasis on the Achilles/calf. This usually happens because people are landing too far forward on the foot, avoiding the heel entirely. We're designed to use both systems; why else would we have them?

As such, there are four main categories of footwear on the market. It doesn't help that a lot of the companies that are making shoes don't seem to be able to come to a consensus as to what to call it all. So, I'll do them a favor, and do it for them.

Natural: Natural running shoes are not necessarily minimalistic running shoes. Instead, natural running shoes attempt to put your foot into a similar position as if it were barefoot. However, as covered in the previous post, most of us do not have the bone density to be running on pavement every day barefoot. As this is the case, these shoes tend to have cushioning along the same lines as a traditional training shoe. Look for less heel-toe drop in the shoe (under 6 mm, give or take), but plenty of substantial cushioning. Who it's for: runners who have converted to a midfoot strike with no issues; former track runners who have maintained a forward technique; neutral runners looking for a true "flat" for racing. Examples: Saucony ProGrid Kinvara, Newton Gravity, New Balance Road Minimus (name may change, available 3/1/11).

Minimal: Minimal running shoes are merely stripping away at the cushioning underneath the foot. They are trying to providing much more feedback as to the surface you are on. Some would advocate that this teaches you to be lighter on the foot. Your results may vary, but my experience is that these are for people that don't like much shoe underneath them AND have a pretty good bone density. A lot of minimal shoes will still have a pretty high heel-toe drop, though, and will let you land on your heel if you decide to. This is where most "racing flats" these days fall. Who it's for: runners seeking as much road feel as possible; runners seeking a short-distance racer; a runner looking for a speedwork shoe. Examples: New Balance MT101, Brooks T6 Racer, Nike LunaRacer, Nike Free Run.

Barefoot: Zip. Zilch. Nada. Nothing going on under the foot outside of maybe 3-4mm of foam. There's really only two things that fit into this category, no matter what shoe companies will try and tell you. Most people will never be able to use these as their primary footwear solution; however, again, results can and will vary depending on body weight, surfaces used, impact force generated while running, etc. Who it's for: someone looking to begin incorporating barefoot technique into their repertoire, but want something to actually protect the foot in the process from sharp objects; trail runners. Examples: Vibram Five Fingers (KSO/Sprint/Flow for off-road; Bikila for on road), Merrell Barefoot Collection (tentative 2/1 release; partnership with for those who can't stand the toe-separation, here you go!)

Traditional: Big old wedge shape here. Not that it's a bad thing, but will tolerate higher load-stresses on the heel. You can still wind up getting relatively lightweight here as well, but not quite to the same degrees as the categories listed above. Remember, though, that weight only matters when your foot is working efficiently. If in this category, it'll be imperative to get fitted for the correct amount of pronation control (such as this fine-fitting institution). Oversupporting the foot can be just as poor as undersupporting it. Who it's for: heel-strikers; midfoot/forefoot strikers who are running into Achilles and calf issues; those who don't want to change how they run period. Examples (ranging from least pronation control to most): Brooks Launch, Mizuno Wave Rider 14, Saucony ProGrid Guide 3, Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11

So, armed with this information, where do you go now? Start with the light barefoot work and see where it takes you. Listen to what your body is telling you; it will give you the keys as to which of these four categories you will best fit into.

And remember, have fun out there!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Natural Running, Volume I

The hot topic in the running industry, at least for the past year or so, has been what to make of the "natural running" movement. You can point to two specific triggers, at least in the New England markets: the sales success of Born to Run, and an editorial in the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine asking, "What ruins running? Your body, or your shoes?"

Both advocate running barefoot, under the theory that it will force you to run in a specific style that will reduce your running injuries. They all point to a Harvard study that says running barefoot reduces sudden transient forces that occur during heel-striking. Sales of Vibram's Five Fingers exploded. You've probably seen at least a few people in them.

Sounds great, right? So why aren't we all running around barefoot?

Because the theory is wrong.

Here's the rub: that Harvard study I linked to? It does NOT say that barefoot running reduces impact forces. It says that it reduces sudden transient forces. What's that mean? It means the force generated by initial heel impact, transitioning through the gait cycle, which can be an extremely jarring experience, especially if you are aggressive with a heel strike. Well, there's none of that when you are running with a proper "barefoot" stride.

As for a barefoot stride: well, that's dependent on the runner. This leads me to point #2: running barefoot will not change your technique while running alone. Your feet are very, very dumb objects. They have to be told what to do. You alone control their action. This means that you have to be acutely aware of what your body is telling you: does something hurt? Then change it! This is what people mean when they say running barefoot changes their technique. The catch is, you have to be paying attention enough to listen to what your body is telling you. Without that, you'll be happily heel striking your way to a stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, etc.

Now, there's also a difference between barefoot running, and what I call natural running. Let's go with a simple fact: the human body was never designed to be on concrete or asphalt. We were meant for dirt and grass. Think about how you feel sometimes when running on pavement, versus running on trails. Feels softer, right? That's because the Earth was protecting you, absorbing some of the impact itself rather than you having to do all of the work.

If you're reading this blog, you're probably a road runner. So, what's a road runner to do with all of this information? Here's my position on natural running:

  1. If you are injury-free, and have not had problems, do not change a thing. Why try and mess with something that's working? If you are having success with your current running technique, don't add a different variable to the situation. Go with it!
  2. Recognize that natural running may not be for you. There are some foot-types that just flat-out are not going to work. Severe overpronators wearing the Brooks Beast, I'm looking at you.
  3. Barefoot work is a good thing. After reading the above, you're probably thinking I'm totally against going barefoot. That's not the case. I think the strongest point to be taken from this movement is to do a little light barefoot work, on softer surfaces, to help promote your form. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. If something hurts, you need to be changing something! I like to do my barefoot work as a recovery workout. I'm more aware of what my body is telling me when it's a little beat up, and recovery workouts are meant to be run slowly to begin with!
  4. Take this stride to your shoes. Again, your feet are dumb things. Shoes are dumber! They are inanimate objects. They can't tell your feet how to land. You tell your feet how to land. So, after doing some light barefoot work (I recommend once/twice a week, depending on your run volume, and usually no more than a 5K), try and take that stride to your running shoe, which was designed for roads, etc.
Now, what kind of shoe should you be in? That'll be my next post: minimal versus natural versus road shoes. As a teaser: results will vary, depending on body-type, running technique, and personal preferences.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Building the Base...

So, what is base training?

This is something I hear quite a bit through my days at Maine Running Company. People are either looking to start seriously stepping up their training, or they are coming down off the season and want to start getting back into things. I, too, am in the middle of base training.

But what is it, really?

It can mean a lot of different things to different people. As I am entering the world of triathlon, my base training is going to be a little bit different than, say, my training buddy Adam, who has competed at Ironman Lake Placid for the past three years. But that being said, I feel that base training should be comprised of a couple of different things:

Technique/Form Work: This is the time to focus on exactly what it is your body is telling you in your sports. When you are in midseason, it's extremely tough to try and get technique correction into your system. You are too focused on working on speed, or adding distance, or ensuring you grind it through that next workout. Instead, in the off-season, where you don't have a specific end-goal in mind (until you get to the official start of training for the following season), this is where you can focus on the task at hand.

Let me give an example: running form. I won't get into the debating of the merits of running in Five Fingers (that's another blog post for another time), but let's say that you are working on not pointing your toe quite so much through the gait cycle, because by pointing your toe skyward more, you put more stress on the front side of the shin than is necessary. Considering the number of steps in a half-marathon, e.g., that's a hell of a lot of toe raising.

Well, now's the time to get that sorted out. Because you're not focused on running for speed, or running to add significant distance, you can instead be more focused on how to make that happen. Put the same level of concentration into it as you would hitting your splits during speedwork.

This also applies to your swim stroke, your biking cadence, bike fit (more on that in a minute), or whatever off-season applies to you.

Get Your Equipment Sorted Out: This is along the same lines as the technique and form description above. Think about it: if your equipment does not fit you properly, you will not be able to take those form and technique enhancers to your racing equipment. And if there's anything worse than getting to something you've prepared months for, and realize that you won't be able to do that thing the same way you've trained for...well, tell me what it is.

So, check it off: does your wetsuit fit you properly? Does your bike fit you properly? Did you change anything on the bike, etc.? You sure you're in the right type of shoe? Let's get that out of the way now, rather than attempting to experiment with it midseason.

On my own list, my wetsuit fits perfectly (hooray for Slowtwitch Classifieds), I'm switching my running shoe to the Saucony Kinvara, and I'm getting a bike fit from fellow MRCer, F.I.S.T (Fit Institute Slowtwitch) certified bike fitter, and USAT certified coach Doug Welling.

What's that you say? I just got my bike? Yeah, your point? Now is the time to find the position that I can train with, and race with, for next season. And then if I want to tweak it a bit more? Well, that's why God invented the off-season!

Challenge Yourself (a little): OK, remember that whole "not focused on speedwork or endurance?"

I lied. A little.

Here's the thing: this applies to you if you're looking to go faster next year, or if you are going to be trying your hand at a longer distance. Or, if you're like myself, trying to do both in one year. Because you're theoretically insane.

You need to at least put a small challenge into your base training to help break up the monotony of it. For me, I am doing a little bit of speed work in the pool. I know I can swim 1.2 miles continuously, and I know that my current time (40 flat) would put me right in the middle of the pack at Timberman. But I want to go a little faster. So I've been using my technique work, along with some speed drills from Training Peaks to get things together.

However, there's a limit to this: I'm trying to keep all my workouts to heart-rates below 165. Why? Just to make sure I'm not working too hard this off-season. Need to start a training plan fresh, you know?

Of course, with ski season coming up, that's going right out the window. I mean, come on...when you get a view like this:

Well, all bets are off. Nothing like skiing over tree tops.

Oh, and that reminds me...

Do Something Else! I happen to ski. A lot. Like, driving to Rangeley every weekend from next weekend through April. And then some.

As for you? I can't tell you. But branch out and get something else to do for a little bit. It helps break up some of the muscular imbalances that come with the territory of tri, and also just gives your mind a break from the monotony of doing the same thing all year long.

And now, for your regularly scheduled training update:

Just been hitting the pool quite a bit. Haven't really been spinning or running all that much, as I'm trying to remain flexible enough for ski season. Season starts on Dec. 20th. I'll be there rocking along with some Clif Shot Bloks and probably some Hammer HEED to keep me moving right along.

As always, questions are welcomed, whether about my training, nutrition strategies for yourself, or anything else, at this link.

Have fun out there!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Question and Answer Session

As I continue to get some early work in for tri season, which happens to be the last bit of my ski season training, I figured that some people are going to have some questions about me, and why I've decided to venture into the Suffer-fest.

Unlike Bill Simmons, these are not actual questions from actual readers. However, if you have some, feel free to shoot one along to ryanheisler at gmail dot com. (Spelling it out to avoid the dreaded robo-emails.)

1. What is your athletic background?

In a word, non-existent. Although in the previous blog entry, I mentioned how I got my own life going. I've always been kind of a recreational athlete, but nothing more than that.

2. So, then, what are your sports?

Well, I've been skiing for the better part of the last decade. I've been a season passholder the past three years at Sugarloaf. This year, my good friend Josh and I will be passholders over at Saddleback. I've also been running a bit, but with only one true race under my belt: Boston's Run to Remember, in 2008.

3. OK, so what makes you want to enter triathlons?

I can remember, quite vividly, getting excited for the Christmas season when I was younger. And my father and I would always sit down and watch a bunch of the NFL games. (This was back when NBC actually *cough* had honest-to-God football during the afternoon. And no Faith Hill singing some craptastic song to kick it off, either. But I digress.)

Well, one of those afternoons there was no 4 PM football. Instead, coverage of some crazy event in Hawaii had me transfixed to the TV for the next two hours. They swam how far? In the ocean? And then...biked over a hundred miles? In 100 degree heat? And then RUN A MARATHON?!?!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!?

I was hooked. Talk about in awe of people. How could they do this? Well, that memory has stuck in the back of my head. And now it's time to go ahead and open up that can of worms. I'm fond of a quote, that's become part of my motto:

Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible.

4. Why now?

Why not?

Outside of the snark, there really is no better time for me to get into the sport. Triathlon, as you may have heard, is not a cheap sport. You have equipment to buy for three sports, really: swimming, biking, and running. None of the equipment carries over between them. Nor does that equipment really translate over onto snow. So...part of it came down to affordability.

5. Only part of it? What's the rest of it?

This will probably be the hardest section of the blog I'll write.

I learned one hell of a hard lesson this summer: do not take a single day you have on this Earth for granted, for it may be your last. I know it's a well played out phrase, but there really isn't a better way to put it. My father-in-law had a brief, intense battle with a rare kind of sarcoma, which itself is a rare type of cancer. He fought like hell. Yet this was one beast his body could not take.

(Brief aside: He, too, embodied one of the key components of Jimmy V's 1993 ESPY speech: It could not take his mind, his soul, or his heart. It ravaged the vessel that those things were harbored in, but it never, EVER touched that.)

Every single day was a gift. And you never truly appreciate those gifts till they're gone. Or, maybe you do appreciate them, but you never realize how much.

At any rate, it was this kind of appreciation for life that got me going. It's the appreciation of the things around, is there anything better than a ride in late fall, when the trees are ablaze in color as you continue to grind out the miles? Or a run where you get to see the sunset over the ocean? It's those kinds of moments in training, too, that fuel me.

6. Wow. So where are you racing next year?

I haven't decided on yet my tune-up races are looking like in full. My race schedule so far:

May 14, 2011: Waldoboro County YMCA Family Triathlon (sprint race)
August 21, 2011: Ironman 70.3 Timberman, Gilford, NH (70.3)

7. So how will we know who you are if we're watching you race?

I'll be the really tall skinny dude.

Oh, you mean that describes more than just me? OK, fine: I will be rocking the colors of Team Sports Bistro for 2011. Sports Bistro is an online sports nutrition retailer and educator, helping figure out what will help fuel you to a better performance. Considering my own nutrition story, it seemed like a perfect fit. (Shameless mid-thought thank you to Ton, Mike, and the rest of the team for agreeing to sponsor somebody with essentially no experience in one of the two sports I'll performing in this year...)

I'll also be the guy on the bike course rocking a 2011 Felt B16 named Kermit.

8. The bike has a name? Say what?

Yep, the bike is named Kermit. It's not quite Trogdor the Burninator (Jordan Rapp's name for his bike), but it has a ring to it.

9. Erm...why?

Well, there's the patently obvious: the bike has a flat black carbon weave finish to it, except for splashes of frog green on it.

It's also another tribute to my father-in-law. Muppets Christmas Carol AND Muppets Family Christmas remain staples in this household.

And, of course: it's not easy being green.

10. So when does your training begin?

Well, right now I'm in base training mode (follow me on Twitter for the latest updates). I've done all 3 sports to the distance I am racing at for 2011. I've also done a 1.2 mile swim, backed up by a sprint-distance bike and run.

Training officially begins on January 17th for Rev3. I'll be mixing up my plan with some ski days as well. I'll post more details on the training plan as it becomes finalized.

Whew! Hope that helps out quite a bit in terms of where I am headed with this whole venture. And I hope you stick around for the entire ride.


Monday, November 29, 2010

My Own Nutrition Story

I get told a lot of the time that I am one skinny bastard. I don't disagree; I mean, 6'3", 153 lbs. isn't exactly "big dude" territory at all.

But it hasn't always been that way. In fact, me being as thin as a rail is a recent development. It may look like I'm a natural at this weight, but it's still an unnatural thing for me to see on some mornings. Look to the photo on the left, and well, you can see what I'm talking about. (And for those looking for the easy joke, I'm the one on the left. I know, lobbing 'em in like softballs here.)

That photo is from 2000, and it shows what kind of path I was on, all the way through until January 2004. Food was a method of comfort, to make things OK; the different tastes and the

different types of things to enjoy were my drug of choice. What was I running from? Why? I think a lot of it had to do with my own self-confidence, being painfully aware of my shortcomings socially, athletically, name it.

I'd always been large, and had presumed that's the way it was going to be. After putting on the famed Freshmen 15 at the start of my career at Emerson College, I tipped the scales at a groaning 250 pounds.

And I was miserable. Football on the Boston Common was a hell of a chore, reducing myself to a sweating, exhausted, hurt mess. My knees were junk. Everything hurt. My ego? Forget about it. And it was at this point that I made the most important decision of my least, to this point.

I was going to lose weight.

I had attempted dieting in the past. Cabbage soup, no carb, no fat, every kind of fad diet that had existed up to that point outside of Atkins. Sure, I'd dropped a few pounds here and there. But they just went straight back onto the pile, and then some, when I resumed eating again.

No, this was a lifestyle change coming. This was going to be getting exercise every week. This was going to be changing what came into the mouth. Moving food out of the realm of "something to be enjoyed and savored," but instead into "something to fuel my body to do what I want it to do." This doesn't mean that I don't enjoy food, or whatnot; to the contrary, I do. But this is more about recognizing how the body uses it, and enjoying the taste while it lasts, rather than eating just for the sake of the taste of it.

The first few weeks were, shall I say, challenging. The whiff of the fries from the grill area at the dining hall made me swoon. I dreaded my gym sessions, for I hated how I looked in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, but it was always too damned hot for my beloved sweatshirts and baggy clothing. I dreaded my chest-and-triceps days, for I'd feel like I couldn't move for the next three. Ab workouts were hellacious at best.

Yet I kept going. I couldn't stop. My mind was made up: come hell or high water, I was doing this. It was all or nothing: no half-assing it.

Winter turned to spring and turned into summer. Getting home was one of the best things that ever happened, as I was able to get away from some of the dining hall crutches and into my own routine. For the first time ever, I paid for a gym membership. I even bought a pair of *gasp* running shoes. And I discovered how delicious some of the healthy sandwiches at Subway were, including my staple: the footlong turkey on wheat with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and jalapenos or banana peppers. Calories: 580. I was sold.

I also began to tinker with sports nutrition for the first time, enjoying a pineapple juice, strawberry, and protein powder smoothie after my workouts. Hey! I don't hurt anymore the day after lifting! I can actually go the gym the next day! I was hooked.

May, June, July, and August all fell by the wayside. I knew I had lost some weight, as I was told as much, but I really didn't have much of an idea as to how much. That is, until I stepped on the scale about three days before the start of the semester. I lumbered out of bed, yawned, stretched, and said, "What the hell." I clambered on, rubbed my eyes, and looked down.


Is this damned thing broken? I got off. It spun back to zero. OK, so it's set right. Let's try this again.


WHAT!?!?!?!?! Pretty sure I woke the neighborhood up, outside of my brother, who can probably sleep through World War III. I'd dropped 70 pounds.

And it's been that way ever since. Now, the extra weight has fallen by the wayside as I've lost some muscle mass, and with my focus on running, biking, swimming, and skiing. I still lift, and I lift for different reasons now. I'm not looking to build muscle mass; rather, I'm looking to build muscular endurance. That's another story for another time.

Another loss of poundage came when I donated my gallbladder to the big glass organ jar in the sky. I had gallstones like it was nobodies business, and wound up losing it. And 12 lbs. in the aftermath that just have never gotten their way back onto my frame. What I've been told, by a lot of people smarter than I am, is that when you are losing a lot of fat, your body can't process both what it is metabolizing that way, as well as what you are taking in through the mouth. It then collects and forms those lovely little stones. The benefit, I suppose, is that I can't eat a lot of fried food. I'm also now a bit more sensitive to dairy products...but hey, what can you do.

As it stands this morning, I'm just a lanky dude who a lot of people think, "he's born that way." It's definitely not the case, as my story shows. My lessons to pass along to people:

  1. The mind will lead you to many great places. It takes a lot of willpower, and strength, to stay on the road that you wish to achieve. However, keep what you want in mind and you will find a way to get there.
  2. Realize how hard it is. Know that there will be stops and starts. But do not become discouraged. Re-focus on the goal at hand.
  3. Find the thing that you enjoy the most. Look at the photo here. See the smile? I'm at home on snow. So I train year-round so I can get days, and photos, like that.
  4. "Don't give up. Don't ever give up."

Don't ever tell yourself you can't. If anything, I hope my story tells you that you can.


Monday, November 22, 2010

The Injury Guide (or, How Not to Do Things)

Let's get the obvious out of the way: injuries suck.

The hard part, of course, is to not let them get you down. It's one thing to wind up hurt; it's quite another to wind up getting hurt and letting it eat away at you. It's those little things that nibble away at you on the inside until there's no enjoyment to be derived from those activities anymore. At which point, you should throw in the towel, and find something else to do. The lesson, as always: have fun.

The past year and a half have tried my emotional will. On numerous times, it has seemed like my will has been broken. Another obvious statement: thank God for Hannah, for without her I don't think I would've gotten through some of these times. Here's the definitive list:

  • Illotial band syndrome, both knees, July 2009: We had just moved to Portland, and moving that much stuff up and down the stairs was giving my knee hell. I have had an on-again, off-again relationship with my IT, and it was clearly at the "on-again" stage. Kept my running shoes off for a bit, till it finally quieted back down.
  • Stress fracture, right first metatarsal, October 2009: With ski season fast approaching, it was time to get the body into shape. I had also been doing my fair share of the "natural" running craze, so I was rocking Vibram Five Fingers as a secondary running shoe. Nothing too crazy; just two 5Ks a week in them, on a soft surface. However, the score remains: Ground 1, Ryan's bone density 0. I still rock Five Fingers on occasion, but only off-road, or at the gym.
  • Torn ulnar collateral ligament, left thumb, March 2010: Great ski season this past year. Ripping up glades, new mountains, and new trails. However, one trail has always, without fail, eaten me up: Sugarloaf's Misery Whip. The aptly named trail is the former t-bar line for the King Pine area. For those without T-experience, it's probably no wider than 20 feet. Typically includes Volkswagen sized moguls. Always a blast. Well, plant your pole the wrong way with your thumb on the top of the pistol grip and...let's just say you could take my thumb and have it touch the inside of my wrist. Surgery #3 later...and here I am, typing away.
  • IT Band/Patellar femoral/what else can you think of, current: It hurts to bike. It used to hurt to run. Swimming is OK, though.

The things that I've taken away from all this experience?
  1. Never get discouraged. You will come back from this, as much as it sucks currently.
  2. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Your mind will often times get in the way of what your body can accomplish, or what it is trying to tell you. Often times, when you are hurting, it is for a good reason. If it's just a little ache, you can probably go through it. If you're hobbling, or hurting without activity, it's probably time to get it checked out.
  3. Set your goals, but be flexible with them. I wanted to attack triathlon last year, but obviously the hand injury got in the way of things. (It's not fun to run when you have a piece of metal sticking out of you...) I just moved my schedule back a year, and it is probably for the best.
  4. Just have fun: if you got hurt doing something that you love to do, remember the reasons why you love to do those things, not what you did that got you hurt.
Happy training, all. I'll be taking this next week to be thankful, and then it's time to start getting serious. Training program for Rev3 Quassy begins on January 20. Plus, Saddleback opens on December 11.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Welcome all...

Welcome to Crashing the Boards.

Why the title? If you know me, I'm a bit of a hockey fan. Establishing a forecheck means a lot of hard work in the "dirty areas" of the ice: literally, crashing the boards to fight for every puck, no matter how much it takes out of you.

It should come to no surprise, then, that this is the philosophy I employ all the time. Whether it's training, or working, or studying, or just getting out after it, I will fight for every single inch that I can get. It's not always rewarding, but when it all comes together, there is no feeling like it in the world.

This will be my forum for thoughts on studying, trying to find a legal job, my training for next year's triathlon ventures, skiing, and what else have you. I've been lucky enough to receive sponsorship from the great people at Sports Bistro for the 2011 season. And hopefully, I'll be lucky enough to succeed.

Till next time...