Sponsor News

GREENWARE Creates PPE

July 21st, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

Submitted by: Dawn Hinz

Team Athletic Mentors/Greenware is proud of all of our Sponsors for stepping up and adjusting to the dynamic changes of this year. We thoroughly appreciate the support we have received from them. It enables us to encourage healthy living; albeit from a distance this year. In past years, Team Athletic Mentors gave back to the community by volunteering at multiple events including Team Athletic Mentors Greenware’s Youth Programs.  Along with Greenware’s willingness to give back to the community, they stepped forward during this critical time to create Personal Protective Equipment to keep people safe and healthy amidst the COVID Crisis.

Fabri-Kal is a local company that was incorporated in 1950 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, when they purchased the Kalamazoo Paper Box Company’s plastic segment and set up shop in 5,000 square feet.  

The first products Fabri-Kal produced were paint cups for the paint-by-number industry. The company soon expanded into manufacturing polystyrene meat trays and pizza lids and then diversified into proprietary stock packaging products, including plastic cups and lids. 

In 1961 the company expanded to a 25,000 square foot manufacturing facility on East Cork Street in Kalamazoo. 

In 2005 Fabri-Kal recognized the need to create plastic-like products from renewable sources. That’s when they created GREENWARE; a plastic made from annually renewable plants, not petroleum. Greenware is created from PLA; polymerized lactic acid from corn sugar. PLA is perfect for making biodegradable products such as cups, lids, and to-go boxes.

When COVID struck in early 2020 there was a surge in need for Personal Protective Equipment. While Greenware’s PLA is a fabulous product, it is not the best choice for every application. It’s too brittle to form plastic face shields. That didn’t stop Greenware from moving forward to find a way to manufacture face shields by the thousands.

Greenware under Fabri-Kal collaborated with Tekna and Schupan, who are experts in design & manufacturing of medical products to create a new product; face shields. They quickly decided on using Pete #4 Plastic which is flexible, clear and perhaps more importantly highly recyclable.

Since late January Greenware has sold out of the 4,000 face shields it produces daily!

 


Athletic Mentors Youth Triathletes

June 18th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By Jacob Florey

The Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Program is a great opportunity for kids who have never done a triathlon and for kids who have done a tri to improve their skills. In the program you learn about the rules of a triathlon, along with the equipment you’ll need. They teach you about proper Swimming, Biking, and Running techniques. The coaches train you for the Shermanator Triathlon specifically. The Shermanator is a great first triathlon because it is a fun laid back course with lots of volunteers making sure it is well marked.  It also has a shorter distance for young athletes.  Unfortunately the Shermanator Triathlon and Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Program will not occur in 2020 due to Covid-19, but we look forward to them in 2021!

You only need four items: Swim Goggles, a Bike, a Bike Helmet, and Running Shoes. Most people already have these four items.. You can get these items at varying prices but in the end a bike is a bike and a helmet is a helmet.

The coaches will teach you proper swimming techniques in the pool and open water. Once you have your swim stroke down they will teach you about sighting for buoys. Sighting helps ensure you’re going the right direction.

They then teach you about effective transitioning. Your transition is a very important part of a triathlon. Once you get out of the water you need to be able to get everything you need for your bike on quickly.  Then when you are done on the bike, you need to be able to get ready for the run.

Biking was always my favorite part because of how fast you can go. But no matter how fast you go you have to be aware of your surroundings like cars, bikers, and even runners. This program teaches you about how to be safe while you are racing.

Training-wise; you will learn about bricks, bricks are teaching your body to transition between activities, like running after biking, or biking after swimming. Running after biking can be challenging because your legs will feel like bricks. One way to deal with this feeling is to practice.

Finally the coaches help you put it all together on race day. The coaches are at the race to help you and cheer you on. It’s honestly the best feeling once you finish the triathlon because all your hard work paid off. This program helped me train for future triathlons and taught me everything I needed to know. I’m very glad to have done the program because of how much I learned.  If you want to learn more about Athletic Mentors Youth Tri-Coaching program, click on this link to learn more:  Athletic Mentors Youth Tri Programs

 


Workout Recovery is Fast with Ultragen

June 11th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Chelsey Jones

To reach my workout goals, I need to use all the help I can get!  I want to be able to push my body in my workouts over and over again.  To achieve this I need a reliable, quality Post Recovery drink to restore my muscle breakdown, build back up my fuel reserves and rehydrate my body right away!  Research shows over and over again that for the best results to repair your body is to give it nutrients within 30 minutes of exercise.

First Endurance does a fantastic job creating a product that I can get in my body ASAP!  I have been using Ultragen RS-Recovery Series after my hard workouts. It has fantastic flavor, and I notice a significant difference in my recovery afterwards. Ultragen has several components including fast sugars, complete proteins, amino acids, five electrolytes and key vitamins all designed to work together in order to fully maximize recovery. Ultragen is formulated with 6 grams of Glutamine and is the only endurance recovery product on the market that includes this essential anabolic and anticatabolic ingredient.  First Endurance prides itself in all the research they continue to use to always be improving their products.

My favorite mix is the Cappucino flavor blended with almond milk, banana, and a few chocolate chips. It is so yummy! It is a great treat after a hard workout. Ultragen RS is also gluten and lactose free, making it a great option for those with specific intolerances.

 I highly recommend First Endurance to those looking for nutrition.  They not only have a recovery drink but they have a pre-race drink and plenty of drink mix options (including a liquid shot product) to keep you at your peak during your strenuous training/racing events. 

 

 


Smith Optics – My “Go-To” Sunglasses

June 1st, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson
By Michelle Dalton 
Smith Optics has been my “go to” glasses for the last 5 years and have been amazing in terms of allowing me to continue in this sport with no issues due to my declining vision. My favorite is Parallel Max 2 for Triathlons. The ability to wear light and stylish frames that have interchangeable lenses that are easy to carry with me makes the decision to continue buying Smith glasses simple.

With the option of different frames, lenses and styles no matter what your activity, from hanging out at the beach, driving, hiking, biking, running or fishing, there is a pair for you in their collection. Smith has a proprietary ChromaPop™ lens technology, that helps you see detail and color beyond normal capabilities. They finish the lenses with multi-layer mirror, Anti-Reflective (A/R), anti-scratch, and Hydroleophobic lens coatings. With the wear and tear of racing and training, these lens just don’t scratch like other lenses I’ve had in the past. If you experience a manufacturing defect in materials or workmanship Smith Optics warrants your sunglasses for the lifetime of the product, and will repair or replace at no charge.

As an endurance athlete, much of my time is taken up with training and focusing on the races that are ahead of me. I have been doing this for a long time and up until recently everything that went along with triathlon was just something that you got and made decisions based on price and comfort.

However, as I age, albeit reluctantly, I have had to think more about my equipment and how that can help me train and race to the changing elements of age. In the last 5 years as my eyesight has become more of an issue, I looked for sunglasses and eyewear to race and train in that could support the difficulties I sometimes faced with my vision. As I wear contacts when I bike and run I needed eyewear that could be versatile with the light and light enough that I didn’t notice I was wearing it. Also, it had to look good!! Smith can also convert to prescription eyewear and that is definitely something that I will be looking into in the future.

Its great when you find a brand that works for you and does what you need it to do. Being a part of a team that is sponsored by Smith Optics, we have the experience in wearing these top quality sunglasses daily and know they hold up under all conditions. Faced with more choices than you can handle, I find that being loyal to a brand like Smith is easy and I have never been disappointed with the decisions that I have made purchasing and wearing their product.


Infinit Nutrition – A custom formula just for YOU!

May 26th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Brian Reynolds

Triathletes will tell you that there are four disciplines in the sport which are swimming, biking, running, and fueling.  The fueling becomes especially important when doing a half or full Ironman distance.  You want to have a nutrition strategy that will provide you with enough carbohydrates, electrolytes, and hydration to keep you fueled so you don’t slow down.  In addition, your nutrition should be easy to digest and favorable because let’s face it if it doesn’t taste good you’re not going to keep taking it.

You don’t have to know about nutrition, that is the beauty of Infinit Nutrition.  You will receive free nutrition advice with a custom formula made specifically for YOU.  You will work one on one with a highly trained nutritionist to create your formula.  They also have ready made, tried and true formulas available too.  On top of that, they give a 100% satisfaction guarantee!

I want to share my experience with Infinit.  When I did my first Ironman back in 2016 I used the following race nutrition plan:

  • 1st half of bike – 2 mix bottles (330 cals of Ucan, 20 cals of Ribose, Vespra, 1/2 tablet of Hammer extreme electrolyte per bottle)  Total: 700 Calories

  • 2nd half of bike** – 1 mix bottle and 200 cals of EFS Liquid shot  Total:  550 calories

  • Marathon run – Soda, grapes, redbull, and water

**I was supposed to consume another mix bottle but my stomach got bloated and the flavor of the mix drink wasn’t tasting as good towards the end.

Some improvements that I wanted to make to my fueling plan for my next Ironman were the following:

  • Use an all-in-one nutrition product that had all the carbs, electrolytes, and caffeine that I needed.

  • Use a high calorie drink that is not over flavored.  My taste buds become more sensitive towards the end of the race so I prefer a slightly less flavored drink.

  • Use an all liquid nutrition product that satisfies my calorie needs so I don’t need to carry gels.

The best product that could meet my fueling needs was Infinit Nutrition.  I reached out to Infinit and contacted their formulation specialist to determine the best fueling strategy for me.  The person I spoke with was Colin Riley who is a pro triathlete and a RDN registered dietitian. He had me fill out a questionnaire which included questions like body composition, sweat rate, hunger levels during a race, upcoming races, caffeine use, and etc.  Based on my answers Colin recommended what my nutritional needs were for the bike and run.  The process was very easy and I trusted the service knowing that he’s a certified nutritionist and a veteran triathlete himself.

The bike blend he recommended contained 58g of carbs, 442mg of electrolytes, 3.7g of protein which totaled 250 calories per serving. The blend had everything I needed in it so I didn’t have to add anything else. You mix one serving in a 20 oz bottle or you can also concentrate two servings in a bottle since it mixes with water real easy.  The goal is to consume at least one serving per hour.  The blend also contained protein to help satisfy hunger during long distance races. My run blend contained 54g of carbs, 580mg of electrolytes which totaled 217 calories per serving.  There is no protein in the run blend due to the risk of stomach bloating from the up and down motion of running.  In addition, the flavor level of the run blend is much lower than the bike because I would be mixing it in 6 oz flasks.

When I began using my Infinit blends in training I noticed that it was easier to stomach and it made it much easier to keep track of the caloric intake on the bike.  I just had to remember to drink at least one bottle every hour so it doesn’t get much easier than that!  Another benefit of using Infinit is you can continue to customize your blend over time.  Over the past 3 years I’ve gradually tweaked my bike blend as my taste buds changed and my caloric intake needs have changed.  Infinit has fueled me to two kona qualifications!

If you’re looking for an all liquid nutrition product that is high calorie but easily digestible and flavorful that will lead you to the Win — I highly recommend Infinit!


Rockford Bike Shop – “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”

May 19th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Bob Schultz

Remember the TV show Cheers “Where Everybody Knows Your Name?” This could describe Rockford Bike Shop / Speed Merchants.

They are the shop where you know everyone and they know you because they are part of the biking community organizing rides, racing, meeting on a trail and of course sponsoring bike clubs.

Let me first describe the new name of Rockford Bike Shop. Speed Merchants has been a long-time sponsor of Athletic Mentors. Tragically, the owner, Kim Wood, died almost two years ago. His manager, George Swanzy, kept the shop open until he bought the assets and opened the shop in a new location as Rockford Bike Shop. Different name but same people serving our biking community.

George has sold and serviced bikes almost thirty years for some of the best cyclists in the area, including many of the Athletic Mentor riders. Craig Geitzen, who is well known for his gravel road and cyclocross racing, is working on bikes while George’s wife Katie is at the front desk. When you walk in, they know your name, level of riding and what bikes you own. It is not unusual to put a bike on a rack right there to diagnose it or make a repair while you wait. It isn’t just our circle of cyclists they treat this way. I have seen families come in to get a child their first bike and they still get the same attention.

With their knowledge and experience in cycling, they are on the leading edge with the newest in bikes, components, tires/wheels and accessories. Rockford Bike Shop is the dealer for Trek, but they service any brand of bike you own.  I have had George tell me he would be happy to take my money, but I don’t need that level of a component, and other times don’t be so cheap, because I won’t be happy in the long run.

They are not only a bike shop but they have a number of group rides that leave from the shop.   The most famous is the “Leg Wrecker” weeknight ride/race.  Check out more details about this ride that has grabbed national attention in this recent Velo news article

Unfortunately, just two weeks after reopening, the government shut them down as Non-Essential, just at the busiest time of the year. Now that they are back open it is important we support them. Visit www.rockfordbikeshop.com or call (616) 951-7181. Their address is 169 Marcell Dr NE, Rockford, MI 49341.

It is not Rockford Bike Shop but rather George, Katie, Craig and Jackson (their basset hound).  We know them, ride with them and enjoy a beverage with them. Amazon does not know how I ride nor can they make a quick adjustment on my way for a ride. Let’s make sure we support George and the rest of the crew at Speed Merchants / Rockford Bike Shop just like they support the cycling community!


World Renowned Giordana Cycling Apparel

May 11th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Todd Anthes

I am a snob when it comes to my gear.  Giordana Snob (/jee-or-dahn-oh snäb/)    

  • a cyclist who believes that their tastes in cycling apparel are superior to those of other cyclists.

Girordana is hands down the best cycling clothing I have ever worn. For me, a cycling kit comes down to the chamois and seams. If either of these are not right, the whole thing is off; as evidenced by kits and other gear I have that I have only worn once.

I am also a bibs guy.  I like everything high and tight.  I wear Giordana Scatto Pro bibs. These bibs use a Cirro Omniform pad. The upper layer utilizes a nylon microfiber that incorporates aloe vera. Below that layer is a waffled memory foam that aids in ventilation and perspiration management by moving moisture to the outside of the short where it can evaporate quickly.  Under all that is highly ventilated open-cell padding that is handsewn to the materials above and cut to a unique smaller shape that “protects and supports the rider at crucial points against the saddle.”  And that verbiage simply means to knowledgeable cyclists that your taint doesn’t hurt after a ride.

The leg opening of the bibs do not have any rubber gripping products.  I can’t stand that type of tech as it ends up rubbing my generous leg hair (yeah, I’m not a roadie); and while I can stand to lose some leg hair, losing it in that manner doesn’t feel the best.  These bibs instantly make your muscles feel instantly fresher by the compressive support and cut of the fabric.

I also wear a Giordana jersey. It is not the “tightest” fit Giordana offers, it is the second most form-fitting cut.  For me, it is the perfect blend of aerodynamic and technical fabrics. The shoulder offer an all-way stretch with sleeve panels with just the right amount of spandex for an aerodynamic, yet extremely breathable, fit. The jersey offers seamless laser cut cuffs and mesh inserts under the arms. And what’s better than seams that don’t rub or irritate?  No seams!  

The front and back panels of the jersey wrap the torso with their side-panel-free design which is woven to move moisture away from the body to the exterior of the fabric where it can evaporate quickly. The jersey has three back pockets with pocket lip and a fourth zip pocket for valuables. The construction of these pockets keeps all my gear inside, yet getting items out is a snap and doesn’t require a stop.

Both the bibs and jersey, as well as other Giordana cycling gear, incorporate reflective tabs on all sides. A nice safety feature that is tastefully done.  They also have a UPF rating of 50+, which means 97+% of UV radiation blockage.

If you want to wear what the pros wear, then put on Giordana cycling wear and join many of the top cycling teams in the World!

Giordana started in the 1970s in Italy. And while Italy is certainly known for fashion, sometimes fashion is not synonymous with fit or performance.  However, this is not the case with Giordana gear. It is significant to note that the product development that to this day still occurs in Italy produces what Giordana says is “apparel that works in perfect concert with the human body, giving riders the ability to perform at their highest possible level.”  In other words, the gear fits great, adds to performance, and is stylish to boot.  Want to hear more about the company from the owner of Giordana, check out this video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbctWMy35hk


Total Plastics Int’l Protecting The Frontline

April 29th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Dawn Hinz

Athletes view physical training as a means to sharpen mental fortitude; to see obstacles as challenges to be overcome. This applies to workouts and to life.  Total Plastics Int’l rose to the recent challenge of a worldwide pandemic by creating and producing protective equipment on a large scale. While they might not be interacting face to face with confirmed COVID patients they are doing their utmost to protect those who are.

Overall, TPI’s collective focus has been on getting face shields made and out the door as quick as possible.They started to see serious demand after March 13th, when many states implemented the “Stay At Home” mandate, including school closures. They’ve shipped more than 2 million face shields in the past month, a number that’s continuing to grow. They credit their production teams for getting the face shields into the hands of medical professionals as quickly as they did.

TPI’s sales teams have done an incredible job working with and taking care of customers. In the past month they’ve created more than 600 new accounts in 45 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. In New York and New Jersey alone, they’ve added more than 100 new accounts. They’ve also been working with many long-time customers to supply them with face shields. In addition to hospitals, they’ve supplied face shields to correction institutions, assisted living facilities, medical labs, urgent care facilities and physician offices.

 As the name, Total Plastics, Int’l, implies TPI has produced a broad spectrum of plastic products since 1978. TPI has been in the personal protective equipment (PPE) market for years, so this fell well within their core competencies. They had the capabilities in house and manufacturing partnerships (material suppliers) to quickly respond to the rapidly growing demand. 

 

In addition to the face shields, they’ve also worked on several other products. They’ve supplied clear plastic partitions used at check-out lanes at grocery stores, providing the store employee an added level of protection. Many hospitals have requested “aerosol boxes” to place over patients during the intubation process. The Javits Convention Center in New York was transformed into an overflow hospital and TPI provided the material (white foamed PVC board) that was used to create different rooms.

They’re continuing to work with customers on a daily basis on different applications in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The COVID pandemic is an obstacle many thought we’d never face in our lifetime. TPI utilized their experience to protect others overcoming this obstacle so we may come out stronger. COVID will likely change the world we live in. We will be more cautious about infections and how we interact with others. Total Plastics Int’l will be there to supply many of the essential protections required by our changed environment.


Virtual Care by Armor Physical Therapy

April 29th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By Kathy Braginton

Armor Physical Therapy is a comprehensive orthopedic and sports physical therapy clinic serving the greater Kalamazoo area.  Armor has the only Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy in the Southwest Michigan Area, Scott Miller.  Scott and his team at Armor have been helping patients reach their full potential for over 13 years. Armor is also an active sponsor of Team Athletic Mentors.

During this unprecedented time, it is important to support our local businesses.  Armor is still open and currently seeing patients. Their primary concern is the health and safety of their staff and patients.  Therefore, they have been actively monitoring and following the CDC guidelines in order to refine their procedures and provide safeguards in response to the coronavirus outbreak.  They have modified safety policies regarding patient screenings, as well as, sanitizing policies for patients and equipment. They have limited the number of patients allowed in the clinic and are requiring their staff to wear masks.

One of the great advantages of Armor Physical Therapy is their Direct Access. Most insurances will allow you direct access to Armor, which means you do not need a referral from your primary care physician. This is extremely advantageous today.  Armor is highly recommending you stay away from Urgent Care facilities or ER’s and come straight to them. After completing the GR Half distance triathlon last year, I was able to take advantage of Armor’s Direct Access option. I was experiencing knee pain and knew I needed to have it evaluated before continuing my training.  By not having to see my primary care physician first, I was able to save time and money. Scott and his team at Armor had me back on track with my training schedule in no time.  

Armor is now offering Virtual Care featuring one-on-one video call appointments as an alternative to in-clinic visits. They achieve the virtual connection through the HIPAA-compliant BetterPT platform.  BetterPT is a secure video communication platform designed with virtual physical therapy services in mind. The use of BetterPT, gives their therapists the ability to guide you through live therapeutic exercises and stretches while monitoring your progress.  Most major insurance carriers cover virtual physical therapy the same way they cover an in-person visit, without the need for a referral. For more information, visit the Armor Virtual Care web page https://armorpt.com/virtualcare/.

In addition to the Virtual Care PT, Scott is rolling out a new program that will allow virtual video running gait analysis via their TeleHealth format.  This service will provide the athlete with all the instructions to submit their video for review allowing Armor to provide recommendations on form, footwear, exercises, and more.  See flyer below for additional information.

There are hundreds of reasons patients require physical therapy, but the one place to turn to for quality care is Armor Physical Therapy.  Visit https://armorpt.com/ today to request an appointment.

 


Pumping Iron: Strength Training for Endurance Runners

October 28th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Erin Young

“I’m a runner, why should I strength train?” I get this question often and honestly there is no single, easy answer. But I do believe there is a time for strength training in every athlete’s year. It will look different for every runner. It may be an off season activity while the snow flies, it could be three days a week up until the competition or just 20 minutes a day to work on core, balance or weaknesses.

In the last decade, new research is showing that strength training can benefit many kinds of endurance runners–if the right types of it are done in the right doses. This newer research suggests that strength training can enhance endurance-running performance by improving running economy, delaying the onset of fatigue, improving maximal speed, and increasing anaerobic capacity.

When broken down to its components, strength training temporarily overloads the neuromuscular system, which allows for an improved ability to recruit individual muscular units, an increase in muscle-firing frequency, increased muscle-tendon stiffness (allowing you to have more stored energy with each step), and improved muscular coordination over time. These are all minor physiological changes but together and over time equal running-economy improvement which allows you to run a given pace with a little less effort. 

“But Won’t I Bulk Up?”: Addressing Strength-Training Fears

The most common concern I hear from endurance runners is the fear of putting on bulk from strength training. Now there is something to be said for individual genetic predispositions, but science shows almost a complete lack of muscle growth with strength and endurance training–in correct dosing. Why is this? Muscle growth with concurrent strength and endurance training seems to be blocked on a molecular level.

As we’ve alluded to a couple times in this article so far, there appears to be a dosing ratio at play. When athletes maintain a 3:1 ratio in the number of endurance sessions to the number of strength sessions they perform, muscle growth doesn’t occur. So if an athlete wanted to gain mass while still getting some of the benefits of concurrent strength and endurance training, they would need to increase the number of strength sessions or decrease the number of endurance sessions.

Strength Training and Injury Prevention

A lot of athletes will tell you that strength training helps them feel more durable. There is research suggesting that traditional strength training can reduce sports injuries significantly. This is done by increasing your tissue’s ability to manage load while modifying endurance-training volume and frequency.

For example, one study that replaced 30% of an athlete’s weekly running volume with strength training found that athletes remained injury free while improving their five-kilometer performances. Additionally, hard strength training has positive effects on circulating levels of testosterone and human growth hormone which can help the body repair muscular damage at faster rates post-hard-endurance and post-hard-strength-training efforts.

Maybe that’s what durability feels like? That is, creating enough physical change to more than manage your niggles and instead create more significant physiological adaptations that keep fatigue at bay longer and hold your form together longer because you increased your running economy. That is, you became physically stronger. I’m not certain we will ever have a perfect metric to measure durability, but if being stronger keeps you on the trail more consistently, that might be as close as we get to an answer.

Strength Training for the Aging Endurance Runner

When it comes to aging and declining endurance-running performance, naturally decreasing muscle mass seems to be the main culprit. This is because there is a direct link between the age-related decrease in VO2max and muscle-mass loss. This age-related muscle-mass loss starts somewhere just north of age 40 and accelerates rapidly after 70. Between the ages of 40 and 80 and with no intervention, you should expect to naturally lose approximately 40% of your muscle tissue. Also note that muscle loss in the aging woman appears to happen at a slightly increased rate than men.

What this means for our aging athletes is that strength training to maintain and build muscle mass is incredibly important. The current, best treatment for muscle loss is strength training. The general recommendation is that if you are over the age of 40 and not currently strength training, we should probably change that.

Need help with a strength training regimine for your next endurance event? Fall and winter is a great time to reduce your running load and hit the gym! Visit www.athleticmentors.com to see how we can make you better, faster and stronger on the trail!



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