Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Sitting is the New Smoking - Life Hacks Outside the Ring

I suspect most people writing today are going to talk about what they do for their dogs to prepare for those few brief moments in the ring.  I'm going to focus on what we can do for ourselves, the human part of the team.  And of course some photos at the end of fun stuff I do with my dogs.  But so many agility folks spend so much time and resources on their dogs and such little time and resources on themselves, often to the detriment of their performance in the ring.

Movement/Mobility Practice or 'Sitting is the New Smoking'

This is a new concept to me but it's something I think could be a huge benefit to the agility community.  I'm not talking about yoga or pilates or any of those specific practices but rather the idea of generalized movements that help us maintain range of motion, flexibility and strength that are important for basic quality of life let alone the ability to do a front cross.  There are many examples of this on YouTube but Scott Sonnon's series of videos for beginners is where I'll be starting in a few weeks once I'm through with triathlon season.  Because even though I spend about 10 hours or so a week swimming, biking, running and lifting weights and a few more hours walking the dogs that leaves a good 100 hours per week that I'm largely sedentary and a good portion of that is probably spent sitting.  And if you haven't heard the mantra, 'Sitting is the new smoking' it's only a matter of time until you do.  Those standing desks can help but I can tell you from the personal experience of having a job that required me to stand all the time that that can cause physical problems as well.  The ideal state for the human body is a variety of positions and motions.  Alternating sitting down and standing up and taking little walking breaks is a good start.  But I want more, I want to be able to move like this guy:

Ido Portal


Another good resource is Kelly Starrett.  I finally got his book, 'Becoming a Supple Leopard-How to Hack Human Movement'  from the library and I started working my way through yesterday.  It's a BIG book.  Lots of info. to soak in.  May have to pony up the money for my own copy.

LOTS of free videos here.  And a great interview with him on London Real:

Kelly Starrett

I'm sure there are lots of other sources out there and if anyone knows a good one or if you have a movement practice please feel free to share in the comments.  In the meantime I've got a lot to keep me busy for the winter.  One-armed handstand by spring?  We'll see.  I think I'll start off with a flat-footed squat.  Because I may be able to hike/bike/run up a mountain and sort of keep up with a screaming fast off his head Border Collie but I can't do a simple flat-footed squat.


Sleep.  So important.  I'd like to get the recommended 8 hours but it usually works out to 7.  Falling asleep is no problem.  In fact staying awake to a reasonable hour is the bigger problem.  I'm lucky if I make it to 9:00.  T.V. puts me right out and reading is even worse so I'm not sure what to do at night.  Still working on that hack.  Then I'm usually up by 5:15-5:45 without an alarm.  Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night, more so in winter when I'm not training as hard for triathlons.  If I can't fall back to sleep I'll watch a mindless t.v. show on my tablet and it puts me right out.  This is exactly what the sleep experts tell you not to do but it works a treat for me.  So if you struggle with sleep and you've been following the experts' protocols to no avail then start experimenting on your own.

I've never tried it myself but some of my sleep clients have had success with binaural beats.  I make a CD for them from free tracks I find on the internet.  Of course I can't find the link right now, I downloaded the files years ago, but there are plenty out there, probably loads of apps. as well.

Lucid dreaming is something else I've played around with but not enough to notice any sort of performance advantages.  I did get to the point of being able to control a dream though and it was very cool.  Then I'd forget to follow the steps which for me were reminding myself throughout the day that I was awake and remembering my dreams as soon as I woke up.  Even making an effort to remember dreams is an interesting practice.  I need to leave a pad of paper on my nightstand so I can get in the habit of writing them down so I'll remember to remember.  There are other things you can do to bring on lucid dreaming but those two work for me.

In any case staying on top of sleep is important especially if you find yourself getting up super early a lot for trials.  I see so many short fuses on the second or third day of an agility trial and it's always folks who are complaining about how tired they are.  Hard to stay on top of that Snooker run if you're fatigued.


Also uber important.  Effects pretty much everything.  I could go on forever but I won't.  Last February I started some nutrition experiments on myself and I wrote about them here and here.  In short I've adopted a low carb, high fat, moderate protein diet and it's had huge positive effects on my health and performance.  I eat LOTS of vegetables, little to no sugar or processed food, healthy fats in the form of grass fed meat and dairy products, coconut oil, almond butter, nuts, avocados, some olive oil.

Though weight loss wasn't the purpose I went from around 126-127 lbs last February to around 114 1/2 - 115 1/2 lbs in August (haven't been on a scale in a couple of weeks but those are the last numbers I have).  My blood work has always been good but this past June I had a good drop in triglycerides and a small drop in bad cholesterol, modest gain in good cholesterol.  Again, numbers were already good so they didn't have far to go.  I feel a lot better, I can go for long periods of time without being hungry which is handy at agility trials and during triathlon training and races.  I've not gone all the way to ketosis but it's on my list for this winter once I'm done with tri season.  Mostly interested to see if it will improve mental cognition.  Getting rid of the last bit of processed grains/gluten (whole wheat bread, tortilla chips, burrito and taco shells) made a huge difference in brain fog and energy levels.  I'm curious to take it to the next level.

Everybody's different though and it's important to experiment on yourself and see what works for you.  In general though if you want to be able to perform well at agility, life, whatever - eat real, healthy whole food, and don't eat processed food, grain fed beef and dairy products, processed seed oils, sugar, and gluten and you should be good.  And maybe some Vitamin D supplements if you're deficient.


As for Strummer he enjoys plenty of activities outside the ring.

Isabelle Glacier Bench

Same peaks in the background as the photo above but from a lower, farther away trail

Arapahoe Pass

Boulder Rez

Chatauqua Park/Enchanted Mesa


Wubba!!!  Snow!!!

Watering Can.  Bestest Toy Ever.

Banditing CU's Turkey Trot

Gotta have a rest day

Or two

Grand Canyon

This post is part of Dog Agility Blog Action Day.  If you'd like to read about what other folks are doing Outside the Ring then click here.


  1. Those are some awesome resources--thanks! I work at a standing station but still want more (a treadmill desk when I can afford it). I do use brain sync audio at night to help with messed up sleep. Onward! 8)

  2. Great post, important stuff for us humans and nice resources inclluded!

  3. Lot's of great stuff to think about! Looking forward to diving into some of these movement exercises. Thanks for the great info!

  4. Enjoyed your post. Thank you!