Motivation for a man, sex

James, my editor, asked me to write something about men’s health for this week’s piece as you have no doubt seen that the paper is doing a whole section on it. 

‘Men’s health, where to start?’, I asked myself. So I did what most intelligent, fitness professional do, I went straight to Google. After typing men's health in search a common theme came up, sex. This did make me smile. Out of curiosity, I thought I would do a search for women’s health. For some strange reason sex did not come up, they seem to be a lot more interested in pregnancy, healthy bones and all that boring stuff.  

Don’t worry I’m not going to give advice on sex today, as if I could, but I thought I could cover how being healthier can help your performance in this vital area. Basically I’m trying to use this as a form of motivation for exercise.  

When you think about it sex is a physical act and while there are lots of factors that create good sex your physically wellbeing is definitely a contributing factor. The lifestyle choices we make do play a big part in the experience you will have. Poor nutrition, smoking, high stress, too much alcohol and being overweight have all been scientifically proven to cause problems like suppressed testosterone, depressed libido, erectile disfunction to name a few. 

If you do find that you are struggling to function in this area it may be time to have a good look at the lifestyle choices you are making and see if you can improve on them. What I find interesting is that when you ask most people about healthy choices they do know what they need to do, the hard bit is the doing. Spend some time identifying the areas you need to improve on and develop a strategy that will help you make better choices. Once you have a strategy – start implementing it, you may need to enlist the help of family, partners or professional support. 

It may be a slow process but if you commit to assessing your lifestyle regularly and continually changing your bad choices into healthy ones there’s a big chance you will see an improvement in your sexual experiences. And if my research, well the google search I did, has taught me anything, this seems to be pretty important to us men.


Half Marathon tips

With the Christchurch Marathon fast approaching I thought I would write a piece for people doing the Half Marathon. In giving advice I’m going to make the following assumptions: You have actually stuck to a programme where your body is physically prepared for this challenge, you will have tapered for the race and you have some understanding of what kind of time you will do.  

The first piece of advice I want to give is know your pace. When you are physically prepared and have tapered for a race you should be feeling great on race morning.  Many people start the race and go faster than they normally would because they feel so good. This mistake that can cost you time plus also make the last part of the race a negative experience. To avoid this happening, set your goal time based on your training times and then use a marathon calculator (search google) to help you figure out your kilometer splits. This way you will know how many minutes you should take to complete each kilometer  (the race has markers out for every km in the race so it is easy to gauge). You want to be sitting on an exertion level of about 7.5/10 in the first 10-15km of the race. This is where you are a little bit uncomfortable but you know you can hold this pace for a long time. Then around the last 5km you can aim to pick up the intensity for a strong finish.  

My next piece of advice would be: control what you can when the going gets tough. Around the last 5km of the race you may start to physically and mentally battle. This is when we can often lose focus which can cost us a lot of time. The first thing you want to do is identify when you are starting to struggle. Once you have done this you then need to ask yourself ‘what is the best thing I can do right now to achieve my best result?’.  This question is designed to get you to do a mental checklist over all the things you can still control. For example focusing on good technique, setting small targets, getting some fluid in and so on. By controlling what you can there’s a better chance of achieving  result you will be happy with.  

A Half Marathon is a wicked race, go out and enjoy it! 


Even Lance Armstrong gives up

A couple weeks ago there was a piece in the paper about mental toughness and how certain endurance athletes can mentally push their bodies to extreme physical limits. This got me thinking - how can we improve mental toughness?  

The people in this world who we think of as ‘mentally tough’ seem to have the ability to hold on for longer periods than most. Lance Armstrong for example, is considered to be one of the best cyclist of all time and is known as being mentally strong. But while he was mentally tough he would have ‘given up’ plenty of times in his career. We all give up, it’s just that some people can hold off on ‘giving up’ for longer. One of the reasons Lance won so many races was he held on to a high level of intensity for just a little bit longer than his competition.  

So what about you? Can you improve your mental toughness? Well the good news is you can. A good way to start improving is to learn to put targets in front of yourself in your everyday life. For example let’s say you drink way too much coffee, perhaps around 8 cups a day, and you know you want to reduce this. First you need to set a target and time frame, for example you could aim to have just 6 cups a day for the next week. The good thing about this target and time frame is that it isn’t unrealistic, while it could be a challenge you do think it is possible.  

Over the next week there will be times where you will want those extra cups of coffee but as you learn to resist them you are learning a new level of mental toughness. Make sure you mentally reward the behavior you use when you resist those extra cups, this way you will be learning the behavior patterns that create success and mental growth. Once you have completed this week you will have made a small improvement in mental toughness. Now it’s time to reset your target and timeframe.  

Think about how you can add this tool into different areas of your lifestyle. Over time you will become mentally stronger which will open up possibilities that you would have never thought would happen. Who knows where this will take you?