Over-training, moving house, or finishing up exams; there are a bunch of stressful life events that typically bring on a bout of sickness. But what if they don’t? What if you never get sick?
It seems like a contradiction, but individuals who don’t regularly experience sickness may actually be suffering from prolonged stress.
“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.”
– Hans Selye
Overcoming sicknesses is a vital process for your health. Every time you experience an ailment, your body’s immune system not only destroys the bug, but adapts from the encounter and prepares for the next crisis.
This process gets compromised when you’re suffering from long-term stress. Chronic stress can be detrimental to mental and physical health because of the way it affects your immune system. There are three main ways that stress has a negative effect on your immune system:
It creates chronic inflammatory conditions
It lowers your immunity to other illnesses
It masks symptoms of disease
People who live in a constant state of stress are forever in fight or flight mode.
Over time this lowers your body’s response to vital stress regulation hormones like cortisol and can cause severe adrenal fatigue. When you’re in adrenal failure, you’ll experience everything from loss of appetite, to dizziness and a low sex drive. Adrenal failure makes a lot of things difficult, and makes training impossible.
To properly recover and return to your fitness program, learning to better manage stress, as well as seeking professional medical help, is key.
Some simple lifestyle practices we encourage all our clients to do to keep stress to a minimum include:
Meditation – Practicing mindfulness daily can help relax both your body and mind.
Deep Breathing – Stopping and taking a few deep breaths can take the pressure off you right away. Breathe into your belly, not your chest.
Eliminate Your Triggers – If you’re able to identify the triggers, see if you’re able to eliminate them from your life, or at least reduce them.
Allen is proud to announce its support of the 30th East Coast Piers Race, which raises funds for “The Cirdan Trust” to further support their important work with socially or physically disadvantaged children. Starting from the Marconi Sailing Club on the River Blackwater, the long distance race sailed by high performance dinghies and catamarans, covers a maximum distance of 48 miles up the East Coast to Walton Gate and back.
The ECPR has three courses that can be chosen by participants, as well as two inshore races the day before – The Bradwell Race, added in 2015 which is more manageable for dinghy sailors, with a course length of around 13 miles. The Bradwell Race competitor’s sail to the Bradwell Gate, back to the start area, half way back down the river and then back to the finish. The Colne Point Race, which is 27 miles long, is always available for smaller cats and fast dinghies. The full 48 mile East Coast Piers Race is only sailed by the quickest big cats and there will be “Mother Boats” moored at every mile of the course. The competitors will be able to stop at any point to moor up and won’t be penalized for it – handy if you have to fix something or if you just need a rest. The full course has been shortened for the past few years due to the wind forecast and beach works past Clacton.
Andrew Dowley, one of the organisers of the ECPR, hopes for an entry of around 80 boats and commented “For spectators we would always recommend coming down for the start of the race. It’s the best view and a very good sight! I expect this year could be a big one as we have Allen involved and Sail Racer helping us promote the event, we also have GPS tracking this year, courtesy of GJW Direct.”
Liz Adams, Managing director of Allen Brothers, said “We are really looking forward to seeing how much time competitors can shave off last year’s time. By working with high level sailors from the British Sailing Team and youth sailors showing particular talent we continue to develop our equipment to push the boundaries and take sailing to new levels.” The company has recently released the “Quint” mainsheet system which is designed to work on a wide range of fast cats, from Tornados and F18s to the latest foiling A Class and Nacra 17s.
Why sun exposure is Vital to your health and performance.
The nature of our sport requires that we work, train, commute, compete and socialize in the outdoors. Of all the outdoor sports, we likely have one of the highest exposure times to the sun consistently through the year than any other.
What does this mean? Are we at higher risk for skin cancer? Or are sailors actually deficient of vitamin D, which plays an important attribute towards improved athletic performance?
Well, to be honest there is not a lot of research being done about this within our community. However, what we do know is that one of the most direct correlations between the developments of melanoma in the sailing community is from the incidence of sunburn during childhood. A majority of one’s total lifetime exposure to the sun comes during the first 18 years of life, especially with junior sailing programs training kids under the sun all day, every day during the summer months.
Thus, there definitely is a higher risk of skin cancer for our sport with the extreme duration of sun exposure during a lifetime of sailing. And certainly best practices for decreasing sunburn while sailing should be implemented.
With longer days and shorter nights signaling the beginning of summer, most sailors are either embracing the summer months and hours on the water with either little concern for sunburn or total coverage 24/7. Both of these attitudes are unhealthy but how much is enough when it comes to sun exposure?
Our life is influenced by our orbit around the sun making sunshine important to our health and physical potential. Sunlight can help regulate our sleep cycle and promote deeper recovery. Another important benefit that comes with sensible sun exposure is Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps strengthen your bones, which can prevent bone fractures and chronic muscle pain.
But don’t just take our word for it.
Pro sports teams are now wise to the athletic benefits of Vitamin D too.A 2015 study of the Pittsburgh Steelers published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that Vitamin D levels were significantly lower in players with at least one bone fracture. Players who were released during the preseason due to injury or poor performance also had significantly lower Vitamin D levels than those who made the team.
Another study conducted on the Chicago Blackhawks proved consistent sun exposure strengthened fast-twitch muscle fibers, stopped inflammation, and reduced the chances of contracting a respiratory infection.
Enette Larson-Meyer, an associate professor at the University of Wyoming who studied the Blackhawks notes said, “We know lack of vitamin D can compromise athletic performance. The week before a fit event, you may want to get some sun.”
But how much sun is required for optimal athletic performance?
OPEX Coach, Sean McGovern explains it depends on the shade of your skin…
“Generally speaking, the paler you are, the less time you need to spend outside in the sun to get the suggested amount of Vitamin D. The darker you are, the more time you need to spend outside.”
Darker skin is a protective evolutionary adaptation response to excessive sunlight, while paler skin is an adaptation response to less light in the environment. This means two things, those with darker skin won’t burn as quickly in the sun, but require more time in the sun to produce optimum amounts of Vitamin D. Conversely, those with paler skin will burn more quickly in the sun, but don’t need as much time in the sun to get the optimal level of Vitamin D.
The distance from the equator, season, and time of day also dictate whether Vitamin D is available from the sun. Cloud cover, pollution, sunblock, sun protective clothing and age also influence production of Vitamin D from the sun.
Even with individuals such as sailors, who spend ample time outdoors, may still need vitamin D supplementation to maintain adequate levels during the winter months. While the sun is the most plentiful source of Vitamin D, there are also some dietary sources. Some common foods contain significant levels of vitamin D, naturally, including salmon, fatty fish, and egg yolks. While these dietary sources may appear significant, the process of absorbing dietary vitamin D is only about 50% efficient; therefore, much of the nutrient value is lost during digestion. The lack of dietary vitamin D is yet another factor that increases the risk of vitamin D insufficiency.
That is why as OPEX coaches we look at each individual athlete’s case to determine how nutrition, digestion, sun exposure and supplementation might play an effect in an athlete’s levels of vitamin D for performance.
Reaching your performance goals requires an awareness of what takes place outside of the gym, as well as in it.
Source: Sail Performance Training
Importance of the Long Game Perspective… 
Disappointed in competition? Mike Kuschner provides some insight:
Losing a competition, getting an injury, not advancing to the series final; disappointment is synonymous with competition.
This month, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup qualifying competitions in Bermuda has seen many professional sailing teams eliminated from moving on to challenge the defenders, Oracle Team USA for the legendary America’s Cup trophy.
Only a few months ago the Next Generation USA youth team was selected to represent the USA in the Red Bull Youth America’s cup and I started to work with each of the team members to bring them up to the physical requirements needed to compete in the challenging AC45F boats. I can’t say enough of how proud I am of how the athletes on the team have taken on the challenge of gaining the functional requirements needed to sail these high performance boats. As a result many of them have a new perspective in how to train, eat and perform as athletes, which for a 20-24 year old in our sport is a huge leg up into becoming an elite performer in their careers. While it is disappointing the team couldn’t make it happen on the water with their results, the lessons learned from the process and journey will help propel them into their next sailing endeavors.
It is important to have perspective during these times of where you came from and what your ultimate potential is. The key is to understand that to perform in any sport is to buy into the long game. Anyone can participate with little or no preparation, however, to perform in sport requires training and strategy over the span of years, sometime decades.
You’ll know when you have the characteristics necessary to excel in high level sailing when you can look at an event and each race saying, “I’ll show you how this is done”. When you can truly challenge the boat, the other competitors, and not have the conditions, physical requirements and strategic racing circumstances effect the end result, you know you are near your highest potential. It’s all about playing the long game…
While in Bermuda the last few weeks, it has been inspiring to see the humility of each of the individual athletes and teams as they are eliminated from competition. Below, I’ve included specific words from each of the America’s Cup teams post event interviews showing how putting disappointment into perspective and playing the long game is the most effective way elite athletes’ excel in their performance and create longevity within their careers.
“I have mixed emotions because personally I am a competitor and as a team we consider ourselves fierce competitors and we just lost a contest, so clearly we are hugely disappointed. We felt we could go all the way this time and we haven’t, and ultimately that is why we started this campaign. At the same time, we did start this campaign three years ago, as ultimately a new team… and have climbed a huge, huge mountain together and have gotten ourselves to a point were everyone can see undeniably that we are right up there with the best in this great sport of sailing and so we do take pride from that. Its hard for me to describe how those two emotions can marry themselves today. With a bit of time and reflection I think every member of Artemis racing will be very proud of the last few years.”
“What we have achieved so far as a team I couldn’t be more proud of… yes we wanted to win the America’s cup, but we are going to be around for a long time to come and we will do that, we will get the America’s cup home”.
Fitness, just as much as fashion experiences, fades. As coaches we’ve been privy to them all, answering questions from our clients on everything from the ab roller to hot yoga and ROMWOD. As crazes make their way through the gym, rather than entertain each one, we see it as an opportunity to re-visit the client’s fitness program and explore what’s sparked their curiosity.
Given everyone is physically unique, at OPEX Fitness we specialize in individualized training. A coach will take into account a client’s fitness background, present and future goals, plus lifestyle considerations like work, sleep, nutrition and stress levels before designing a fitness program that’s bespoke to them. If a client is asking for a tweak to their program, irrespective of the nature of the tweak, it’s our task to discover why they’re asking and ultimately, whether their current program is meeting all their needs. We may consider for instance, whether an inquiry about ROMWOD, is an issue with the client’s mobility, a desire to emulate someone they admire, or something else entirely, like a lack of trust in the training process, themselves, or their coach.
It’s hard to keep on the ball when it comes to fitness, which is why we believe in pairing our clients with a professional coach that can do just that. Our coaches ask questions, as well as answering them placing emphasis on good communication, transparency, accountability, resourcefulness, as well as good program design. If you’re uncertain if your coach is the best fit for you, here’s a quick checklist of must-haves.