Red Rush Athlete George Gwynn: International IronMan

George Gwynn Triathlete

Red Rush: I saw on Instagram that you were measuring your VO2 Max.  Can you describe that experience?  And what did you learn?

George Gwynn: It was a great opportunity to see where my fitness sat. Having never done a VO2Max test before, it was a great experience. The test was a sustained effort where my power output increased 20 Watts every three minutes until failure. It was very hard but very worthwhile because from the results I know all of my training zones and lactate threshold. My training can be a lot more effective.
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 RR: Can you give us a rundown of your strategy for a triathlon?

GG: Racing triathlons, my strongest leg is the bike, and I’m a mid-pack swimmer. So my strategy usually goes along the lines of: survive the swim, destroy myself on the bike and hold on for the run. I race varying distances ranging from the sprint distance to 70.3 distance but the strategy is very similar, although with a 70.3 I need to leave a bit more in the tank to run a half marathon after the ride.

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 RR: What was it like representing New Zealand in the 2013 ITU World Triathlon?

GG: Going to the world championships in 2013 was an amazing experience I got the opportunity to race in London at the same venue that the Olympics were raced on the year before. Unfortunately it wasn’t a great race for me having crashed on the bike and losing a few places and a lot of confidence. This year, however, I am representing New Zealand again at two more world champs in Italy and Australia.

 RR: How did you get your start as a triathlete?

GG:  Originally I had no experience in triathlons or racing in general. I enjoyed mountain biking as a hobby and when I left school I thought I would have a go at racing my bike. I did an Xterra race and they had a triathlon race on at the same time as the bike race and I decided that I would try the triathlon the next year. I did it and got hooked.

 RR: Between the running, biking and swimming, do you favor one leg over the others?

GG: Swimming is a hugely technical sport and having not grown up swimming, like many triathletes out there, it’s very much my weakest leg, so I probably enjoy that the least because it needs the most work. Biking is my favorite. The speed you can go and you can push yourself right to the edge.

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 RR: What’s your favorite or greatest athletic achievement thus far? Future goals?

GG: My biggest race would have been the World Championships in 2013, but I am most proud of my first Half IronMan last year in Taupo. It was a race I had wanted to do for a few years and to finally do it felt awesome. I also had the fastest bike leg of my age group and rode faster than some of the pros racing.

In the future I would love to race as a Pro as an IronMan or Half IronMan athlete. I think it’s definitely something I can do.

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RR: And how does Red Rush help?

GG: Red Rush is awesome. Racing on beet juice is something that I always do. It gives you that extra boost that you need on race day. When you’re standing at the start line and you have been doing your training and you have been taking Red Rush you know that you have done everything you can to put you in the best shape for the race.

More on Running, Cycling and Swimming:

Interview with Lew Hollander: World’s Oldest IronMan Champion

Frank Sutton: Strong on the Climb

Justin Pangie: Hard Work Pays Off

Top Ten Reasons to Drink Beet Juice

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I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that some of the people that you see on the street, in an elevator, at the barber shop, near a statue of some royal old dude or frantically roaming the desolate countryside don’t drink beet juice on a regular basis.  I’ll even wager a few of my own hard-earned nickels a few of those folks have never tried beet juice in their lives.  It hasn’t even crossed their minds. Like if you blurted out the words “beet juice,” they would go “Oh, yeah. That’s a thing that I know exists but never consider.”

Well, maybe they should consider it. Here are the top ten reasons to drink beet juice. (Specifically, Red Rush beet juice.)

10. To Look “Swole”

A neat but merely aesthetic side effect of drinking beet juice is that it makes your muscles appear larger. The body converts beet juice to nitric oxide, a signaling agent that widens blood vessels and improves blood flow to the skeletal muscles by 38%.  More blood in the muscles and wider veins make the muscles go “all Popeye all over the place.”

9.  Better Utilization of Oxygen 

Beet juice reduces the oxygen cost of exercise by 12%. It has been known to help people cope with high elevations, increase the amount of time one might be able to hold his or her breath and possibly ease some of the effects of jet lag.

8. Antioxidants 

Studies on betalains from beets–the same stuff that discolors the urine–have been shown to decrease free radical damage and oxidative stress.

7. Liver Detoxifcation 

Betaine, from beets, is a lipotrope, a catalyst that helps break down fat. In animal studies, it has been shown to prevent fatty liver and cirrhosis. In human studies, it’s been shown to improve liver function.

6.  Improve Virility 

About ninety percent of erectile dysfunction is caused by poor circulation. In women, it is believed that some sexual dysfunction may be caused by poor circulation but research is limited. Nitric oxide improves circulation and is also a necessary element of sexual health.

5. Weight Loss/Mobility

There is some indication that dietary nitrate may help turn white fat into easy-to-burn brown fat. It may also boost metabolism. However, it will make mobility easier. Researchers have been using beet juice to help people regain the ability to walk and move, so they can exercise regularly, an effective way to get healthier and lose weight.

4. Circulation 

Adequate circulation keeps your brain healthy and functioning well, your skin warm and vibrant, increases your reaction time and helps with nutrient delivery.

3. Recovery

Anyone who has a peak supply of nitric oxide in their body will likely have a more robust aerobic system, meaning your body will have less need to produce lactate.  The aerobic system is also responsible for keeping your muscles clear of lactate build-up, so when the aerobic system is enhanced, it can theoretically do a better job of lactate removal. This speeds up the recovery-from-exercise process.

2.  Lower Blood Pressure

Beet juice has become famous for its well-documented ability to lower blood pressure. (Wider veins = lower pressure). Participants in a study who were drinking beet juice saw an 8/4 mmHg reduction in blood pressure (most blood pressure medications show a reduction of 9/5), a 20% improvement in blood vessel dilation and a 10% reduction in arterial stiffness.

1. Stamina 

In multiple studies beet juice has been shown to increase time to exhaustion by 10%-16% percent. This can make a huge difference for a professional athlete, but it can also help the non-athlete with yard work or extra energy for with-kids roughhousing.

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Red Rush Athlete Justin Pangie: Hard Work Pays Off

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Justin Pangie from upstate New York is an accomplished runner, a former soccer player and running coach. He’s currently training for IronMan triathlons.

Red Rush: On your blog ILL Running, you talk about how you’ve overcome some health problems during your life. 

Justin Pangie: When I was in college. I experienced my first real health issue. Basically, my auto-immune system tried to kill my liver and kidneys. I lost 45 pounds in three days and couldn’t move. My body was starting to shut down.

The second time was two or three years after college, I was having problems with Hashimoto’s disease and food allergies. Since high school, it’s been a randomness of crazy health issues. But I learned that when life beats you down, you pick yourself back up and get back to where you are and then surpass.

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In the last few years, Justin won the Grafton Lakes Super Olympic Triathlon, his age group at the Fronhofer Tool Triathlon and most recently the Saints Race for the Red Cross 5K to name just a few.

RR: You’ve been surprisingly successful despite these illnesses. How have you balanced your health and training? 

JP: I didn’t handle the first one in college well at all. It didn’t occur to me that I might have to start living a healthier lifestyle. The second time I was more mature. I saw a nutritionist. That made a huge difference.

Coaching has helped me pull from my own experiences, being able to reflect on those. It’s kept me on the path. The other thing is to remind yourself that no matter how bad you have it, someone has it worse and appreciate what you do have. You have to appreciate every single thing.

RR: You most recently won the Saints Race for the Red Cross 5K by a pretty hefty margin. Can you give us a recap?

JP: It was kind of a cold day. I went with a bunch of people who I coach with. I didn’t expect to win. I just went out and started running and then I was by myself. I kind of just hashed along to see what I could do.

It was my first race back after dropping out of an IronMan due to dehydration. I’m going to try a half IronMan this June.

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Justin at starting line

 RR: As  a running coach, what are some quick tips you can give novice runners who want to make improvements.

JP: Use every race as a learning opportunity. It’s so easy to get negative. Pick one thing to work on for the next race: a bad workout or not enough sleep. Then find two or three positive things: A good breakfast, you didn’t get caught up in the fast pace at the start, etc.

See it as a learning opportunity. Even professionals and Olympians do that. Be the best you can possibly be. Also, it is critical to have a support structure: Training partners, friends, family who share the same goals as you or support you in your efforts.

RR: What is your favorite athletic achievement to date?

JP: It’s hard to nail down.  It’s always kind of a journey.  Watching my team run is very rewarding. Seeing people achieve their goals. That’s rewarding.

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RR: Do you have a coaching philosophy? 

JP: I deal with each kid individually, kind of work around their lives and skill sets. Basically, hard work pays off.

RR: And how does Red Rush help you? 

JP: When  I was figuring out my health issues, I was taking some supplements. A lot were processed and had gluten or dairy or were made in factories containing allergens. They weren’t really regulated. You couldn’t trust them. Really understanding the quality of a product determines the quality of the energy. When I started looking around, I saw Red Rush. Other nitric oxide supplements had made me jittery. I wanted to have a natural energy source.I was eating a lot beets when I first discovered Red Rush. I was like “that’s a good idea.”

With Red Rush, recovery from workouts is awesome because I suffer from poor circulation. It increased my circulation and decreased my recovery time. It doesn’t hurt to get out of bed in the mornings.

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Follow Justin on Dead Skunk Running and Ill Running.

More on Running

Peter Jones UltraRunner

Josh Thompson: Distance Runner

Mark Wheeler: UltraRunner 

Nitric Oxide May Be as Fundamental as Oxygen to Respiration

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Believe it or not, a new study found that nitric oxide may be as important as oxygen for respiration. For years, people believed that nitric oxide was nothing more than a harmful pollutant that could wreak unwanted havoc on the human body. Then in the late nineties, three scientists won a Nobel Prize for discovering nitric oxide’s role as a signaling agent. It could widen blood vessels and help improve blood flow. Olympians began drinking beet juice for the nitric oxide boost to enhance their performances. But still, a lot of people didn’t really trust nitric oxide. Everyone thought it was an oddball molecule, but it’s not seeming so odd anymore.

New findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demonstrated that nitric oxide is essential for the delivery of oxygen to body tissues.  That’s right. If this study becomes textbook fact, it means that nitric oxide is as fundamental to respiration as both oxygen and carbon dioxide.

One of the big medical mysteries, yet unsolved, was the discrepancy between the amount of air in the blood and the amount delivered to the tissue. The new research may have solved that mystery. According to this research, nitric oxide–embedded within the red blood cells– accompanies oxygen and enables blood vessels to open. Without nitric oxide, the oxygen could not be delivered to the tissues

“Nitric oxide makes the cycle run.”

From Medical Xpress

“The bottom line is that we have discovered the molecular basis of control in the respiratory cycle loop,” Stamler said. “It’s in the hemoglobin protein itself, which has the ability to deliver the nitric oxide together with oxygen. The simplified textbook view of two gases carried by hemoglobin is missing an essential element – nitric oxide – because blood flow to tissues is actually more important in most circumstances than how much oxygen is carried by hemoglobin. So the respiratory cycle is actually a three-gas system.

Red Rush has 500 mg of dietary nitrate. An easy, tasty and affordable way for your body to get what it needs to create fundamental, natural nitric oxide.

5 Reasons to Run a Spartan Race This Year

If you’re into fitness and haven’t heard of Spartan Racing then you most likely live in that space between the refrigerator and the wall. The place where we all secretly dispose of that red plastic strip on bologna slices. There are probably a couple of old forks there, a blue peanut M & M, one half of a pistachio shell and, like, sixteen years worth of rear-fridge dust.  You should not live there.

Spartan racing has taken the athletic world by storm. It’s obstacle course racing at its finest: fire leaps, wall climbs, spear throws, army crawls, plus old-fashioned running over long distances. The word Spartan hearkens back to Mr. Lycurgus of Sparta who instilled the now-famous tenants of fitness, austerity and equality in Spartan culture. Those are the same tenants that helped those 300 Spartan soldiers at the Battle of Thermopylae that everyone is always making meme-friendly movies about. And they are also the same tenants that can help you get through these grueling races.

Here are five reasons to run a Spartan Race this summer.

1. Build Confidence, Expand Your Worldview, Grow as a Person (Fitness)

Psychologically speaking, it pays to do new things.  It can help build confidence and self-esteem and allows you to grow as a person. Also, when you’re hopping over a pit full of fire or crawling under barbed wire, it’s hard to be bored. These things foster mental health. (Yes. I see the irony in jumping over a pit of fire to become sane, but the Mayo Clinic website said so).

2. They Are Everywhere, And They Happen All the Time
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If you live in the United States, there is a good chance that you live a stone’s throw away from a Spartan Race, Unless, of course, if you live in the Dakotas, but if you do live there, then your life is pretty much an obstacle course anyway. (I’m kidding. As an Iowa native, I have vacationed often in the beautiful, obstacle-courseless Dakotas).

And over the next couple of weeks, obstacle course races are happening all around the country. The Charlotte Sprint is April 11th. And on April 18th, you can go to the Tri-State New Jersey Beast and also to the Las Vegas Super.  (Full Schedule)

And let’s not forget that on June 13th it’s the Boise Spartan Sprint. And that brings us to…

3. If You Think You Can Do It, You Can Probably Do It (Equality)

Spartan races are tough, but 90% of the entrants finish. Those are pretty good odds.  Both myself and Red Rush Quality Assurance Biologist Phil Jermann signed up for the Boise Spartan Sprint under the Snake River CrossFit team earlier this year.  Phil and I aren’t quite athletes. We initially got on an exercise kick in order to compete in last year’s Backyard Brawl.  We’ve kept up with it.

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File Photos: Phil Jermann, Josh Peterson

For the past six months, we’ve been using Red Rush and training with CrossFit. I feel confident that we’ll cross that finish line.

4. Red Rush Beet Juice Can Make It Easier, and It’s Now More Affordable than ever! 

Like Lycurgus, we want our pre-workouts to be austere: No stimulants, no artificial flavors, no chemicals, just beet, cherry, lemon and citric acid mixed with water (to keep it from being nigh-undrinkable syrup).  Red Rush provides an all-natural nitric oxide boost that increases stamina by about 15%, improves oxygen efficiency and recovery.   It’s also the most affordable and potent beet juice shot on the market. 

5. Experiences Are More Valuable Than Possessions (Austerity)

A recent study published in Psychological Science found that spending your money on experiences rather than material possessions was linked to greater feelings of happiness, anticipation and excitement.  Would you rather wait for a new couch to be delivered or wait to go on vacation?  Couch-waiting is boring and annoying. Vacation-waiting is pretty awesome.  So invest in a Spartan Race and have fun waiting!

More on Spartan Racing:

Sara Fadziewicz: Red Rush Runner, Body Builder and More

James Olmos: An Athlete in Tune

Jessica Vespertino: Destroy All Obstacles