It’s race day, the alarm clock goes off at 5 a.m. and you jump out of bed. Today is the day that all of your hard work is going to pay off. Although you were unable to get a good night sleep last night, you feel energized because today you are one of the select few who get the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon. For the past six months this race has been at the center point of your life. You have sacrificed a lot to get to this point but it’s worth it because as a runner this is your chance to stand side-by-side with the some of the best runners in the world.
As you await the start of the race in Hopkinton you are filled with so many emotions. On the one hand, you are nervous and you ask yourself, “Should I be here with all of these great runners?” On the other hand, you say to yourself, “I deserve to be here, today is going to be a great day.” Because once I cross the line, I will forever be known as a Boston Marathon finisher.”
As the gun goes off, you race down the hill with 35,000 runners, all of whom have the same goal, which is to “just get to Boylston Street.” As you go through the towns, you are greeted by cheering fans who offer you high fives and drinks. You are greeted by signs that make you both laugh (Kiss me, I’m gluten free) and cry (26.2 miles for the kids from Sandy Hook). Over the course of the next 26.2 miles, you have a roller coaster of emotions, but that is to be expected because nobody said this would be easy.
As you arrive at Boston College, the crowds begin to grow and the course becomes more challenging. You attack Heartbreak Hill with everything you have and the cheers and college kids help you get the top. As you approach the city, you see the Citgo sign and you know that you are getting close to your destination - Boylston Street - it’s there where the final 200 yards will be easy.
As you make the climb to Boylston Street, all that remains is a sharp left turn and 200-300 yards to one of the best moments in all of sports: the finish line of the Boston Marathon. This is the easiest part of the race for the runners. They know that this is where their family and friends have been all day for a glimpse of greatness.
This is where, as I ran with my wife last Monday, everything changed for so many people.
My wife, Mary Jo, crossed the finish line approximately 30 minutes prior to the bombing that we all witnessed on television last week. She is one of the lucky ones able to experience one of the greatest finish lines in all of sports. She was lucky and I thank God that she was lucky. As we all know, so many others were not as lucky as Mary Jo.
As we stood in our hotel room and watched what was happening approximately a quarter of mile away, our hearts were filled with such sadness for the victims of this tragic act. How could this be? Thirty minutes ago, I was running down Boylston with my wife ready to celebrate all of her hard work and dedication. In a moment’s notice, tragedy struck so many people and changed a city forever.
As we watched the news unfold, I looked down at my phone and I had over fifty text messages from friends and relatives. People wanted to know if we were okay. It was amazing to me that so many people dropped everything and reached out to me to make sure that Mary Jo was OK.
Over the course of the next day, we see several people showing incredible love and support to the runners. My wife spoke to a girl who had not finished the race; however, she was given a medal by a stranger who had crossed the line before the bomb. He simply walked up to the girl and, without hesitation, gave her his medal because he realized she did not get a chance to finish. Runners are an interesting group of people. We are known for having some pretty strange habits and tendencies (i.e. We consider GU food). I am a runner and I can attest to this. However, one thing that I have witnessed firsthand over the years is that runners are good people. We support each other during the race and shake hands at the finish. We stop if a runner is hurt, even if we are having the race of our life.
What makes the Boston Marathon the greatest running race in the world is that everyone who lines up in Hopkinton realizes that the people next to you have made the same sacrifices as you (months of training, stricter diet, long runs in the rain, snow and 20 degree weather), and with that comes respect and admiration. You see runners helping one another at the end of the race, cheering each other on to continue, some arm and arm holding one another up as their tired legs are cramping all having the same idea… “We finish and we finish together.”
We all witnessed the amazing courage of so many people last Monday. In an instant, spectators ran and helped total strangers just so they would not have to suffer alone. As I stood on the street in Boston last Monday, so many emotions were running through my head but I kept coming back to the innocent people who, on a picture perfect day, thought they would be hugging someone at the finish line and instead were hanging on to their life. Having three kids of my own, I was numb to the fact of what could have been.
Too often we get caught up in the little things in life. One of the keys to having optimal health is knowing that people genuinely care about you. I hope that everyone who reads this has a network of friends like my wife and I because I realized last Monday that when you’re scared, you need to have people who you can turn to for help.
For the people who lost loved ones, I can’t imagine what you are feeling. However, I hope that you realize that you are not alone and that the running community will always be there to support you.
Have a question for strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller? Leave a message in the comments below.
As a society, we want information fast. Given all the technology at our fingertips we expect to see instant results. When it comes to your health and fitness I’m sorry to say that it takes time to see results. A good hard workout does not get you in great shape. What gets you in “shape” is a well thought out program and plan done consistently over time. With that being said there are some ways you can help jump start you fitness plan.
Below are five things that you can do this week that will get you headed in the right direction and improve the way you feel.
1. Get quality sleep: I tell people all the time one of the best things that you can do for your health as well as your body composition is to get quality sleep. What does this mean? Get into a routine where from Sunday until Thursday night you fall asleep every night around the same time. Why is this important? Because when we sleep our body produces growth hormone, which allows us to recover and repair damage that we have done. Over time the better sleep patterns we have the better our body will be able to recover. I would recommend that you strive for 7-8 hours each night.
2. Get some vitamin D: In the book "Athletes Faster, Quicker, Stronger with Vitamin D" the author John Cannell states, “As things stand today, more than three-fourths of all Americans are vitamin D-deficient”. The reason that having adequate levels of vitamin D is important is that it has been shown to reduce your chances of getting certain cancers, reduces stress fractures and may increase your reaction time. An interesting fact stated in his book says that 90 percent of vitamin D comes from the sun. Now, I know people are going to say that the sun “causes cancer”. I’m not ready to say that we should not use sun-screen, however, I believe that 10-15 minutes of daily exposure to sun is very beneficial to our body. If you are afraid of exposure to the sun then I would recommend a good quality supplement because if you think you are getting your vitamin D from the milk you drink, think again. Dr. Loren Cordain author of the book The Paleo Answer states that you would need to drink about twenty (20) eight ounce glasses of fortified milk each day to meet the daily requirement of vitamin D (2000 IU’s).
3. Lift weights: What’s wrong with being strong? For some reason a lot of people just want to ‘tone’ their muscles. Okay, so you want to tone but you don’t want to get strong? Are you afraid of getting too big and too fast from lifting? I’m sorry to tell you that if you are afraid of getting ‘big and bulky’ from lifting it simply will not happen (Most of us who train regularly wish it were that easy). What will happen by starting a lifting program is that you will increase lean muscle mass, improve bone density, as well as rev up your metabolism. Implementing compound movements (i.e. front squats, deadlifts, kettlebell movements as well as body weight movements) will leave you feeling refreshed and stronger. So, my advice to you is to hit the weights. However, like anything follow the proper progressions and start slow.
4. Shop the perimeter of the store: When you walk into a food store do you feel overwhelmed? Do you look around and say to yourself where do I start? Here is a tip that I am sure that you have heard. If you spend 90 percent of the time on the outside of the store in the produce, fish, meat and dairy sections you will be well on your way to feeling better. Here is where we find fresh foods that are loaded with vitamins and minerals. At the checkout counter you should be walking to your car with more clear bags than boxes. Whenever possible purchase the best food that you can afford. If that means organic and grass fed, then fantastic. If you are on a tight budget then look for the freshest food that you can afford.
5. Improve your breathing patterns: As we get older we tend to lose our mobility. We often feel tight and stiff from sitting at a desk for 8-10 hours. If you have a job that requires you to spend 3-4 hours at a time in a car, I would be willing to bet that you have back and/or neck pain. Would you believe me if I told you that by improving the way you breath, you could potentially reduce your pain and increase your mobility? I was very fortunate to take a course by the Postural Restoration Institute (PRI) last November at Endeavor Sports Performance and one of the big take home messages from the course was that by implementing diaphragmatic breathing patterns you may be able to increase your mobility, reduce stress and potentially reduce pain. Up until that seminar I always knew that breathing when you run or lift weights was important, but I never realized how big of an effect that diaphragmatic breathing can have on an athlete or a person in pain. A simple drill to do each day is to take in 10 deep breaths. Inhale through your nose (your belly and sides should expand) and then exhale through your mouth. Try doing this after a workout to speed up your recovery process.
The five items listed above if implemented correctly can kick start your training program. Remember, one workout does not get you in shape. Optimal health is about being consistent with good habits as well as having a balanced plan in place.
Have a question for strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller? Leave a message in the comments below.
I would like to welcome you to my first blog post for the Philadelphia Union. Over the course of the season I will be providing a series of tips, videos and articles that will hopefully help you improve your overall health and lifestyle. As the strength and conditioning coach for the team one of my roles is to assist the other members of the technical staff in ensuring that the players are fully prepared for game day. Each week I offer players tips on nutrition and recovery as well as oversee their strength and fitness program with the other members of the staff.
My hope for this blog is to be able to provide to you practical tips that you can implement if you chose to into your routine.
Before I share my first post I want to talk briefly about my philosophy. When it comes to having a healthy lifestyle I think this means different things for different people. For me I like to focus on the following areas:
- Ability to manage stress
- Being happy with what you do on a daily basis at work.
- Having a balanced nutrition plan in place.
- Having a vision for what you want to accomplish.
- Being consistent with an exercise program.
We could talk all day about what “being healthy” means but for me it has nothing to do with just being “thin or eating organic food”. Yes, nutrition and body composition play a role in your overall health however there is much more to it than that. When it comes down to it I believe in order to improve your overall health you need to be consistent with your day to day choices and you need to be really good at the basics. I’m sorry to tell you but there are no “quick fixes”. Just like sports, it takes time to develop good habits. Over time you will see changes that will hopefully improve how you feel and your outlook on life. Hopefully over the course of the 2013 season I can share some insight for you that can help you achieve a more balanced and healthy lifestyle.
For the first post I want to talk briefly about setting performance goals. This time of the year it’s really hard to get motivated to get to the gym and train or go outside for a walk. The weather is colder than normal and your motivation levels are probably pretty low. The summer is still a few months away so it’s hard to motivate yourself to get to the gym. If this describes how you are currently feeling I may have a solution for you. One of the best ways to get motivated to change is to set a performance goal for you to achieve over the next 1-2 months. People talk about goals all the time but rarely do most of us ever achieve them.
For example, people will say “I want to lose 20 lbs.” but after three weeks they get really tired of eating salads (FYI, this is not how you lose weight, more on this later). Other people say I want to run a 10k but after they develop shin splints they stop (We’ll talk more about running in the future and how to avoid this). Either way we have good goals in mind but 9 out of 10 times we fail. I’m guilty of this as well. So, how can you ensure that you will obtain your goal that you have set forth? You need to write it down today and set a performance goal. It needs to be something that you can MEASURE.
Here are three examples you can use:
1. My goal is to run an 8-minute mile pace at Broad St this year: This is a great goal if you are running the race. Ok, you now have something you can measure. You know exactly how fast you have to run. In order to accomplish this you will need to do speed work and time yourself. There are several ways to do this you just need to make this a priority. Get out on the track, time yourself and see where you are TODAY and where you need to be on race day.
2. My goal is to take 10,000 steps each day: In order to improve your health you don’t have to run. By simply walking and moving you can improve your health. All you have to do is TRACK your progress. There are several devices that you can purchase that can track the number of steps that you take each day. If you sit at a desk for eight hours each day there is a good chance that you have low back pain and may have put on a few pounds. Get up and move. Have a goal of 10,000 steps each day.
3. My goal is to be able to do one pull-up. This sounds pretty simple right? For a pro athlete, yes it’s rather easy however for the majority of people it’s a very challenging task. I am not talking about using the pulley system at your gym to help you accomplish this goal. I am talking about 1 full hanging overhand pull-up. If you currently can’t do this than this could be a great goal for you to try and obtain. Take the next month and train towards this goal. I guarantee that if you can go from zero pull-ups to one pull-up over the course of the month you will feel much stronger at the end of the month. Again, we can measure progress for this goal.
These are just three examples of what you can do. In the end if you want to change the way you look and feel about yourself you have to set goals. I believe setting performance goals is a much better way to improve your overall health than by just saying “I want to in shape”. Start today, right down one performance goal and don’t make any excuses. You’re the only one who really knows what you want so get started today.
Have a question for strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller? Leave a message in the comments below.
The Philadelphia Union Foundation held its Inaugural “Cocktails and Cleats” Celebration on Wednesday, March 13 at the Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philadelphia, PA, where the Foundation netted over $50,000 to benefit its Building Blocks. The sold-out event included both a live and silent auction to benefit the non-profit organization. The Foundation’s goal is to positively impact local children, specifically with regard to their character development, academic performance and physical well-being. The Foundation mission is to provide opportunities for children through the power of relationships to offer transformational change in the areas of education, community, health and recreation.
Items sold included autographed Philadelphia Union memorabilia, paintings by local artists, an assortment of fine jewelry and select aged wines. The event also hosted a Red and Yellow card game, in which participants had the opportunity to win two all-access passes to a Philadelphia Union home game.
The entire Union team and technical staff attended the gala along with over 400 guests. The Foundation also took advantage of the event to honor Patricia (Pat) Trippley- Demiranda, the Co-Founder and Chairperson of the William Trippley Youth Development Foundation (WTYDF) and Chester City United, for the work she has done in the community in recent years. She received the organization’s “Building Blocks Award” as an individual who represents a key component of the Foundation’s “Building Relationships and Changing a Generation” attitude. Radio personality and comedian Joe Conklin also provided entertainment for the evening as well as supporting the live auction as guess auctioneer.
The Foundation and the Philadelphia Union would like to thank all who attended and made the night such a success.
Written by Grace Flynn.
Please allow me to both congratulate and thank you for partnering with Philadelphia Union and The Philadelphia Union Foundation as we celebrated our Inaugural Cocktails & Cleats event last week at the Hyatt at the Bellevue, Philadelphia. Through your generosity the net proceeds for the event were in excess of $50,000. This will allow us to continue to support our four foundation building blocks within Chester and the Greater Philadelphia Region.
A sold out crowd of over 400 friends, that included the entire Philadelphia Union team, technical staff, club ownership, foundation board members and the players and families of Chester City United, gathered together with city, county and state officials and were treated to a wonderful evening of community, that continues to spearhead our efforts of “Building Relationships & Changing A Generation.”
A cocktail reception, dinner-buffet and live auction which was sprinkled with the comedy of Joe Conklin was a huge success. Some of the live and silent auction highlights included, a Pele Signed Print, Full access PPL Park experience including dinner for 12 at Alla Spina, golf for two at Merion Golf Club on Media Day prior to the US Open, signed Union jerseys and a Philadelphia Sports Executive Power Lunch at Osteria for (2) with CEO & Operating Partner of Philadelphia Union, Nick Sakiewicz, Peter Luukko, Comcast Spectacor, Rueben Amaro, Phillies and Don Smolenski, Eagles.
The foundation was proud to have Pat Trippley-Demiranda honored as the first recipient of the “Building Blocks Award” for her service to the children of Chester through her selfless dedication that has seen her launch The Will Trippley Youth Development Foundation and Chester City United, which currently serves over 400 young boys and girls.
This chance to thank our partners that have shared in our beginning and welcome new partners to our work galvanizes us as we look forward to continuing the good work that is so vital to our youth. We stand on your shoulders and say thank you for walking this walk with us.
PHILADELPHIA UNION FOUNDATION Award Recipient
Patricia (Pat) Trippley-Demiranda
Patricia (Pat) Trippley-Demiranda is the Co-Founder and Chairperson of the William Trippley Youth Development Foundation (WTYDF) which was created to honor the memory of her son, William H. Trippley III, a Chester native and college soccer player who was fatally shot at age 20. The WTYDF offers at-risk youth a year round program focusing on education and soccer. In 2006, the WTYDF engaged 50 children from the Chester community at the first William Trippley Soccer Camp. In an effort to ensure that the youth of the community will have opportunities related to education and healthy choices, the WTYDF has launched soccer camps at both Widener University and Swarthmore College for local athletes. The WTYDF is currently serving over 400 at-risk youth year-round and has been a partner of the Philadelphia Union since 2010 and a Philadelphia Union Foundation partner since its inception in 2011.
- Pat is a founding partner along with the Philadelphia Union of Chester City United, the club soccer organization for the City of Chester, which provides the opportunity for children to learn the fundamentals of soccer in a safe and fun environment. This program is supported by the Philadelphia Union Foundation.
- In 2010 Pat received the Community MVP award from the Philadelphia Union and was also honored with the National MLS W.O.R.K.S. Community MVP Award at the MLS Cup Finals.
With the help of Major League Soccer (MLS) W.O.R.K.S., the Philadelphia Union Foundation, Chester City United and the Chester Upland School District, Pat was instrumental in the planning and volunteer recruitment for the building of a local KaBoom playground along with AT&T Community Field, a small sided pitch at Science & Discovery High School. The project was completed in conjunction with the MLS All-Star game in July 2012, which was held at PPL Park.
The Philadelphia Union Foundation launched in March 2012, has worked since its inception on creating a better community in the city of Chester. The first year of the Foundation is soon wrapping up; but before it does the Foundation will be once again involved in the “Coats for Chester” program.
The idea for the “Coats for Chester” initiative first came into being three years ago during the Sons of Ben annual Food Drive. “People were coming in hoodies,” Bob Kozlowski (President of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Soccer Hall of Fame) stated, “The Sons of Ben had the food Drive; we wanted our own way to give back.
For the third straight year the Philadelphia Union partnered with Bob Kozlowski and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Soccer Hall of Fame in its annual “Coats for Chester” program. At the final two home games of the Philadelphia Union’s season fans donated over 600 coats from the different donation stations throughout the Toyota Plaza at PPL Park. In the past two months additional drop-off locations were set up across Delaware Country for others to donate their slightly worn coats. At the conclusion of the “Coats for Chester” program on November 30th the Union and the SEPA Hall of Fame could proudly say that1,450 coats far surpassed their goal of 1,000 coats making this year’s total the largest collection to date.
Today,-December 14th the Philadelphia Union Foundation with the help of members from the SEPA Hall of Fame and volunteers from Father Judge High School hit three different locations around Chester, PA to drop of the collected coats. These locations included Bernadine Center, City Team Ministries, and St. Catherine’s.
At the Bernadine Center we were greeted by Sister Sanders and the unloading began. After all the bags of coats were unloaded I got a chance to speak with Ms. Sanders. “If people have clothing, than that is one less thing they have to spend time worrying about,” she said. Collecting coats is just one of the many ways in which the Bernadine Center shares with the Community of Chester. The center also hosts a number classes focusing on topics such as education, anger management, and even parenting. “These are ways to help people move up in the world, we are helping people by lifting them up.” The next stop on the list was City Team Ministries.
Upon arrival at City Team Ministries an assembly line was formed and the unloading began. John Clifford, the liaison of the drop off, was incredibly thankful. “Our long-term goal is to see this city transformed,” Mr. Clifford said. “We want to make a difference.”
The last drop off of the day was at St. Catherine’s church, just a few blocks away from PPL Park. Sister Barbra Anne was waiting anxiously and the unloading began for the last time as “Coats for Chester” came to an end. Beyond coats, St. Catherine’s Church had also been collecting food and toys for the holidays. “Seeing children come in and not only getting food but toys to play with!” a Sister from St. Catherine's began, “the parents are so grateful.”
With the drop-offs over and done with, and a rewarding feeling in our hearts the boys from Father Judge High School returned to class, Bob Kozlowski and his team headed for home and we, The Union went back to work. Before Mr. Kozlowski left, I asked what the plan was for the future of “Coats for Chester”. He replied, “We won’t stop until we collect the same number coats as the number of people in Chester.” Even though our total this year was nowhere near that number, The Foundation, can proudly say that “Coats for Cancer” was a success.
With donations and support from Dunkin Donuts, the Philadelphia Union Foundation set-out, on three different occasions, to bring hot coffee and donuts to the Crossing Guards of Chester, PA. as a part of their new initiative: C.A.U.S.E. (Community Action Union Soccer Efforts).
On Friday November 16th at 7:30am, 4 Union Staff members drove the Union Toyota to 6 different stops in Chester, PA. Crossing Guards, children and community members, including Linda Johnson on West 7th and Jeffrey Street, were delighted to receive a freshly brewed cup of Joe and a donut to start their morning shift. Many shared stories about their job and how they’ve loved seeing the children grow up. “Ms. Puddin,” one of the first stops on the third drop, said, “these are all my children, I keep them safe.”
Another run occurred on the same day during the afternoon shift. Finally on November 19th, a chilly Monday morning, the third, final and largest Joe and dough drop occurred. It was an excellent opportunity to meet neighbors and to show thanks for continued hard work and dedication in Chester.