November 29, 2010

2010 Thanksgiving week recap – Kinect Fever, Disneyland and a day with Jeff Galloway

Kinect For Life!
Kinect fever has taken over our XBox time (usually spent playing RockBand and Halo Reach of recent months). Kinect is an add on for the XBox which the hubby and I are both finding to be an excellent and FUN resource for some intense cross-training.

I’ll start out by disclosing we had difficulty just moving in general due whole body muscle soreness for 3 days after buying it. We unintentionally played various games for more than 3 hours the first day we bought it. Every game requires getting your butt off the couch. Your body is the controller – you are completely hands free of any devices. It was nice to take a little hiatus from running last week (only a 10-miler and a 7 miler early in the week) and concentrate on other aspects of training elements I’ve been meaning to add to my weekly schedule. I guess maybe I should have introduced them at a slower rate as opposed to all at once. I am still laughing about how sore I was. I had to use the handrails on our staircases for support, going up and down. I ran 10 miles that next day no problem. But try to get me to stand from a sitting position, raise my arms overhead or walk up and down stairs and I was completely useless. Specificity of training in full effect!

Kinect Sports is a blast. Want to play Beach Volleyball? Be ready to get low to dig that ball barreling towards you and then pop back up so you’re ready to jump high towards the net and spike it back over after your doubles partner gives you a great set. How about Boxing? After 30 minutes, my husband was sweating so much that he was flinging sweat everywhere. Just for kicks, he wore his Garmin to track his HR over the weekend. It reached as high as 180 BPMs at times. Ready for Track & Field? Better run in place quickly with high knees if you want to win the sprint. Coordinate jumping in place with sprinting for the hurdles and the long jump.

Not really into the sports games? Try out Kinect Adventures. This is software that comes with the Kinect system. Two of these games wear me out very quickly because they require jumping, ducking/squatting and sliding side to side to avoid obstacles, steer your raft zipping down a fast moving river and other fun activities – all the while maintaining complete control of your movements through isometric contractions and balancing. It is a lot of short explosive work that my endurance-trained muscles are not trained for (yet).

The one Kinect ‘game’ (I have a hard time referring to these as games for some reason) I absolutely had to have was the Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout. There are so many different features to this program. The highlights for me so far are a) being able to choose and personalize workouts, and b) choosing which trainer you want to guide you through the workout. A Challenge menu option allows you to earn extra points by competing in challenges, just like you see on the show. The more points you earn, the more activities you unlock. There is no room for form errors when you’re working out with a trainer. They ‘see’ everything. The Kinect sensor is constantly analyzing your body positioning and movements in 3D. Get it right, or get a good talking to by your trainer. Think you can avoid the weekly weigh-in? I know I’m not looking forward to mine this week. Shouldn’t we get a pass on holiday weeks? Or at least a “you gained less than 3 pounds this Thanksgiving” reward? I’ve only scratched the surface with this program and I am really looking forward to a continuous butt-kicking and fitness reality check by both Bob and Jillian for months to come.

Thanksgiving at Disneyland
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of year. Four years ago, my husband and I decided to start our own tradition of spending Thanksgiving day and the dreaded Black Friday in a ‘real world’ escape in Disneyland and CA Adventure in Anaheim. We look forward to it every year. Although this time is one of the resort’s busiest of the season (people are always so surprised to hear that when I tell them), the park itself is transformed into a holiday wonderland that overshadows the crowds.  Starting just before Halloween, the Haunted Mansion is completely redecorated and designed with “The Nightmare Before Christmas” theme.

We found out earlier this year when we were at Disneyworld in Florida that this is not done at the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom park (what we know as Disneyland in CA) because of the number of first-time and/or ‘once in a lifetime’ guests that visit each year. Apparently, there have been complaints in the past from guests that they wanted to see the traditional Haunted Mansion. I think I would probably feel the same way, especially if I had saved up and flown down there from another country (which is very common).
We had the most delicious Thanksgiving feast for dinner at the Hilton where we were staying. A fresh, gourmet-style buffet and free champagne. The Apricot-glazed hand-carved ham was unbelievable. Need I say more?

Thanksgiving Dinner for 3
Make no mistake, cooking for 3 is no less work than cooking for 10. We (I) cook our traditional Turkey Day dinner on the Saturday following the actual holiday. Spending 1.5 days at the parks can be over-stimulating and tiring with the amount of walking and standing that goes along with it. It’s nice to be home, relax, cook (not always the most relaxing part of my day) and most importantly, eat!

I even managed to squeeze in a 68 minute whole-body circuit training session on the BL Kinect game between getting the turkey in the oven and making twice-baked mashed potatoes and stuffing from scratch. Unfortunately, my shower had to wait until later in the afternoon, but I was working up a good sweat in that kitchen anyway!  My sis-in-law joined us in the evening. She was staying overnight with us in preparation for the ‘big day’ with Jeff Galloway on Sunday. As a brand new runner, the nerves were kicking in for her in anticipation of how the next day’s events would unfold.

A Day with Jeff Galloway
Jeff is an extraordinary person. He is engaging, passionate, kind, supportive and an encyclopedia of the sport of running. As I am the Program Director for the brand new Ventura County Galloway Training Program chapter, Jeff wanted to help bring more visibility to our program and since he was going to be in Southern California the weekend before our big Kick Off meeting, we worked together to organize a free group run with Jeff early Sunday morning, followed by a 3-hr running school and finally a Meet & Greet/Book signing.

Fun run group with Jeff (far left in black)
Essentially, I was fortunate enough to spend 6.5 hours with a legend whom I have had so much respect for since my introduction to long distance running. With few people coming to Foot Pursuit (the running specialty store where I am basing this new program out of) after the Running School ended, a group of 4 of us (2 store employees who have been an integral part of helping spread the word, my sister-in-law and I) talked running, families, shoes, inserts…. you name it. I didn’t want it to end. I floated all the way home on Cloud 9. I get to be a part of this. I am a part of it. Me. I’m using the same passion I developed for running using Jeff’s training methods and paying it forward. If I can inspire and instill a passion for running in just a tiny fraction of the number of lives that Jeff has touched (and will continue to do so) with his training programs, I will consider my chapter a success!

Running School with Jeff at Foot Pursuit Run Shop
As a side note, early in the morning before the group runners arrived, we briefly talked about his running days with Steve Prefontaine back in the day on the tail end of a conversation we were having about the heel strike, midfoot/forefoot strike topic that is so hot within the running community recently. Of course, he’s seen this debate come up time and time again over the years. Jeff is among those who believe you should land on the part of your foot that is natural for you. His belief is that forcing your foot into an unnatural position strains muscles unnecessarily and sets you up for injury.  He mentioned an old picture he had of him and Steve running together. I just happened to have it with me since the National Program Director trainer included it in my Program Director manual. So, I take it out and as the hubby and I are looking at it with him, Jeff immediately points to Pre’s foot which is in full on heel strike position in his landing phase. I almost broke out laughing. Pre was a heel striker. A big-time heel striker.

I know there are plenty of current-day elites who are heel-strikers, but in a time when there seems to be so much talk about the importance of lower heel-toe ratio and minimalist shoes, concentrating on landing more on your mid or forefoot for optimal performance, etc., I was reminded yesterday about what is truly important in running and that is coming back to fundamentals. What feels natural? What feels good? Lighter, flatter shoes won’t make you a faster or a more efficient runner if they are impeding or do not lend themselves well to your natural gait. The only way you’ll know what’s right for you is through trial-and-error. Yep, that can get damn expensive, especially when your favorite shoe gets discontinued every other year. But if it means avoiding injuries and interruptions to your training schedules and racing goals, I think it’s money well spent. This is your passion, your hobby, and it plays a big role in your day-to-day life. And you my friends, are worth every penny.


Johann said...

I hope to visit Disney one day with my family. You certainly stayed active throughout Thanksgiving! Those games can be intense. I agree 100%. Don't force yourself to run in a different way.

Greg Strosaker said...

Nice post Vera, wide range of topics and glad especially to see your passion for your involvement with the Galloway program. Eager to see your updates on how it goes. We have a Wii but really haven't gotten it out much, not enough time at night after putting the boys to bed.