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In case you are wondering, Tabata is Japanese for “why can’t I feel my legs?!?!”  Okay, not really. Actually, it’s a short but intense bike interval workout, named after Izumi Tabata,  a Japanese physiologist. I actually discovered them a year or so ago in an article from Triathlete magazine.  I did a few and then forgot about them as I moved on to the excitement of outdoor cycling.  Now that it’s cold enough outside for your sweat to freeze before it hits the ground, the trainer is out again and so are the intervals.

I did some more tonight, and YOUCH they work you!  Only takes 9 minutes, and that counts a 5 minute easy spin warmup.  This is the gist of it:

  • 5 minutes easy spinning to warm up.
  • 6-8 reps as follows: 20 second all out sprint (that’s ALL OUT every time), 10 seconds passive rest, repeat.

I think I feel better afterwards if I spin down a bit.

I know it sounds easy, but TRY it.  I remember the first time I tried these. I hopped off my bike and my legs felt like they were made of Jello.  I’m going to experiment with the intervals again this season and gauge my progress.  The Triathlete Magazine article cites a study which claims substantial increases in both VO2 max (almost 15%) and aenerobic capacity (over 25%).

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Leg sleeves to be precise. And I don’t know what’s going on in this photo (which is not of me by the way).  Anyway, tonight I decided to try out the calf sleeves my brother and sister-in-law gave me for Christmas.  They are made by Zensah (the sleeves, not the in-laws), and one thing I can already say about them is that they feel very VERY nice.  I may just start wearing them around the house.  Are M&Ms less fattening when you wear compression sleeves?  Are the excess calories forced to flee to less constricted forms? Not likely, so back to the review.

What a striking image I made – rocking the old school mailman look on the treadmill in my garage, tucked between the fridge and assorted stuff .  So what do I think of compression sleeves so far?  Well, I didn’t fall of the treadmill, I guess that’s one check in the pro column.  The main thing I hope to gain from them is reduced muscle cramping.  However, those tend to strike me around June or July.  I’m guessing my garage temp was somewhere in the 40s, so cramping wasn’t really a problem this time around.  I did get that great “pro” feel when wearing them.  Good enough for Kona, good enough for my garage!

Seriously though, running folks in the know highly recommended these.  Although I only did a short run, I felt good.  I’ve appreciated the compressive qualities of tri and cycling shorts I’ve used in the past.  I wore some tighter fitting knee warmers for the iron distance race I did this past November, and perhaps it was more psychological that physical, but I thought my legs felt better for those 112 miles than in most of my previous training rides.  At this point I’m hopeful. The real test will come when I unleash my latest fashion statement on the open road – just as soon as the temps get out of the 20s.  Look out Cliff Claven, here I come!

My wife and I stayed up late last night watching the BCS College National Championship game, Texas versus Alabama.  It was set to be the showdown of the year, and for a handful of drives it was.  That soon came to an end when Texas quarterback and Heisman candidate Colt McCoy took a hit that would end his game, and mark the end of the senior’s college football career.  The game went on, and it was still a show stopper, but to me the scoreboard did not tell the whole story.

Due credit has to be given to the Crimson tide.  They played hard, and Mark Ingram was nothing short of super human.  I hate to admit it, but if he had been recruited by my alma mater (Auburn) years earlier, I’m sure I would be wearing the Mark Ingram Pajamas my brother-in-law always jokes about.  In the end it was the Tide who got to chalk up a “W” and storm the field, but their team was far from being the only winner that night.

It’s hard for me to imagine what Colt McCoy must have been going through for most of the evening.  The culmination of years of sweat and blood, and ultimately a chance at the national title, had just been yanked from his grasp.  Forced to watch the game unfold from the sidelines, he was helpless, unable to assist his teammates in their greatest hour of need.  Despair and disgust must have been lurking at the doorstep, just waiting for an opportunity to consume him.  He had so many options at his disposal; rancor, malice, rage, self-pity.  Instead he chose grace and humility.

In the after game interview, McCoy seemed to be holding back tears.  After composing himself, he was quick to give credit to the Tide for their win.  More importantly, he was quick to give credit to God and acknowledge that his Creator was the one in control.  McCoy didn’t cry out, “why me,” but rather chose to accept the situation and continue trusting in the “Rock” on which he had taken his stand.  Was McCoy disappointed? I’m sure. Who wouldn’t be? But disappointment doesn’t have to define you. He moved ahead in spite of it and showed us what he was made of. We saw a similar attitude displayed by Tim Tebow at the Heisman presentation, which followed Florida’s devastating loss to Alabama.  Character.  That’s what these two men displayed.  Just like their high school glory days, their college football careers are now a thing of the past.  Will they play in the NFL?  Who knows, but if they do those careers will also eventually come to an end.  What will they have when their physical gifts, fans, and fame have left them?  Character.

Everyone loves to win, but it’s how we respond to defeat that ultimately reveals who we are. We should be careful not to place either of these young men on a pedestal, they are human, and they will fall from time to time.  However, what a great example they have set for us.  That’s how I want to handle defeat.  But how does one develop that type of character?  I’ve often heard that you start to look like who you spend time with.  That makes sense.  That’s also God’s plan.  He wants us to look more like his Son, Jesus, the Rock.  Now THERE is the ultimate example of character.  Many saw a picture of defeat and failure on the cross so many years ago, but we know better.  God and the world often view success and failure differently.  So behold the cross, to the masses a symbol of death and defeat, yet in reality the path to true life and victory.  Let’s be thankful that God doesn’t always make us winners as we would have it, but allows us to use our worldly defeats to achieve real and lasting success that endures.

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