Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Think of your priorities not in terms of what activities you do, but when you do them. Timing is everything.”- Dan Millman

We all have things that we hold as higher priorities than others (work, families, health, play, hobbies, etc). We also often times use those items higher on the list to "excuse" us from not getting to the others.

As the quote above says, it's not about what you do it's about when you do it. One of the most common things to put on the back burner is our health. By health I mean both exercising regularly and eating healthy. Often times people will do one but not the other, BUT they are one. You can't separate them and expect to see/feel/perform at your best.

In my opinion, health should be up there on everyone's priority list because if you don't have your health, you don't have anything. We've all heard that. But it's true. If you aren't healthy, you will not perform your best and work, you will not have energy for your family and friends, your attitude and mood overall will not be as good as it could be.

If your health (exercise/nutrition) isn't top on your list of priorities, then time it around those things that are. If you know that your days are filled with getting the kids up and out the door by 8, working until 5, getting home making dinner and spending time with family at night. Then get your butt out of bed first things in the morning and pump out a good workout. If you know that after work you have poker with the guys and your weekend is filled with fixing up that old car, then get a good workout in on your lunch break. With nutrition, we've talked about this a ton, it's just about preparation. Have healthy food available so you know you'll be getting proper intake throughout the day no matter what is thrown at you. Whatever your schedule is, lay it out on paper and I guarantee you will find time that you can spend on your health!

For example, as a trainer I work crazy, inconsistent hours, so I have to revisit my schedule book daily to plan for the next. I was up at 4:30 this morning to train clients at 5:30 and throughout the day I have meetings, online training/website work, and more clients. After my morning clients, I took my dog for a run in the park (killing two birds with one workout and my dog's exercise). I had a piece of steak and a sweet potato to chow on after my run. Now enjoying a cup of Joe at a local coffee shop I am getting work done, while also taking in the community (watching cars cruise by, people visit, business' opening for the day). I am having to shower at my friends' house (since I live outside of town where I have to be all day) when I finish up my work here. After meetings and more work, I am hitting up the gym tonight for my strength work and then get home around 6:45 in time to grab some good grub for dinner and chill out on the couch for a few.

Moral of my story...even crazy busy days provide time for our health. You just have to make a plan and stick to it. No one wants to be unhealthy. You just have to figure out how to fit your priorities into a healthy lifestyle. It's about when you do it, not if you do it.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Try something new...

Norcal Strength and Conditioning competitors left to right. Lani, Shawn (coach), John, Myself, Colin, Matt

Almost 2 weeks ago, Marcus and I joined Norcal Strength and Conditioning here in Chico, CA (where we just moved back to). It's been great to be able to have people to workout with since I've been working out by myself for about 2 years now. The coaches are great and the community is very supportive and motivational. See, even trainers need a boost every now and then. ;)

After just a few days in the gym, one of the trainers "suggested" to me that I should sign up for a strength challenge just a week away. I was pretty hesitant to agree because I was clueless as to what it was all about, what my ability level was compared to the competition and even if I was going to be able to do the workouts. But, nervous out of my mind, I agreed to do it 2 days before the competition began.

Friday night I did some prep work...packed my fuel (sweet potatoes, applesauce, chicken, strawberries), my essentials (extra clothes, hair ties, shoes), my first aide (bandaids, triple antibiotic, athletic tape...for my huge heel blister), and then knew I had to get good sleep or I was going to be worthless the next day. To my surprise I actually slept pretty well that night. Saturday morning I woke up before my alarm went off, showered, took Ziggy for a short walk, ate a couple of hard boiled eggs and some fruit, grabbed my bags and headed to Level 10 Crossfit in Oroville, CA where the competition was held.

Pretty much sick to my stomach, the events begins...
The day consisted of 5 workouts with about 1.5 hour or so between each workout. Here's how the day was scheduled.

9:00am- Workout 1
Row 350m, 50# Sandbag Run down 75m hill, drop sandbag, run back up hill and grab 140# for 50m down and back (100m total) farmer's walk, run down hill again, pick up 50# sandbag and run back up to top.

10:30am- Workout 2
7 minutes to get max height box jump and max weight strict press

12:30pm- Workout 3
5 rounds of 20 seconds on/15 seconds rest of...
44# Kettle Bell Swing
Lateral Burpees
15# Weighted Pullups
87# Clean

2:30pm- Workout 4
3 min of max reps 105# Front Squat (getting weight from deck). If drop weight to deck, must do 10 double unders before picking weight back up.

4:00pm- Workout 5
4 rounds for time of...
185# Deadlift - 5 reps
100ft Sled Push High Handles
35# Kettle Bell Snatch - 7 reps each arm
100ft Sled Push Low Handles

Hard, intense workouts, great competition and a lot of fun! I ended up shocking myself and winning 4 out of 5 of the events and getting 1st overall female. I think part of it was my adrenaline, but a big part of it too goes to Shawn Gower, my coach from NorCal that helped me strategize. Also, the crew from the gym that came out to support us and cheer us on the whole day.

So, in a matter of 2 weeks, I joined a gym, hesitantly signed up for my first ever strength challenge, and won it. Most importantly though, I overcame my fear of trying something new. I walked into an event not knowing what to expect and walked away from the event falling in love with a new type of competition than I have ever done before.

Moral of the story guys...try something new. If you're a competitor find events like this, or endurance races, or local adult team sport events. Find something that you're interested in, that's going to be a challenge, that's going to put you out of your comfort zone. You'll be surprised with how you do and you'll be surprised with how good it feels to dive into something new.

Below are some pics from the day...Thanks to everyone that came to support, to coach, to spectate and a big thanks to Level 10 Crossfit for putting the event on.

John crushing the Sled Push Low Handles!

185# Deadlift

Front Squats in 3 min - 41 reps total for me

Adam Mattis killing the Kettle Bell Snatch

End of the day...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Keep those muscles loose...

Summer is pretty much here and that means that people are going to be way more active on the road, on the trails, on the water (running, riding, skiing, etc). This is a great thing! Unfortunately, and I am VERY guilty of this myself, when we aren't in the gym and in our routine, post workout stretching gets put on the back burner.

It's so easy after that grueling 2000 ft elevation mountain bike ascent to just get off the bike, guzzle down the rest of your water, and then get back in the car to hit the rest of your day. Or after your a long 4 hour hike to just want to throw your feet up and call it a day. But, with increased activity level and especially activities that require repetitive motion (like riding, running, hiking, etc) our muscles get really tight. This over and over again ends up causing a lot of problems that can prevent us from performing as well as we would like or even worse taking us out of the game due to injury.

I've talked about this before, but the benefits of stretching are HUGE.

-Injury Prevention
-Muscle Recovery
-Increased Circulation
-Improved Posture
-Pain Relief
-Enhanced Performance
-Stress Reduction

Hips and low back seem to be things that really nap people because our hips are where our power comes from. Below are 3 stretches for your hips and legs that you can do pretty much anywhere and NEED to do right after your done with your workout. Happy Stretching!

-Hamstrings - Lie on back, keep one leg out straight on the floor and pull the other leg straight up by grabbing back of calf or wrapping something around ball of foot.

-Hip Flexors - Kneel down, put one foot out in front so you're in kneeling lunge. Press hips forward and try to straight back leg. Lean back slightly if you don't feel the stretch.

- Periformis - Lie on Back and cross right ankle on left knee. Pull left leg toward chest while pushing out on right knee. Do on both legs.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The heat is on...

Summer is pretty much here (well unless you're in the CO mountains and getting snowed on right now)!! But wherever you are, summer is just around the corner. This means everyone is more motivated to get outside and ride bikes, run, hike, play sports or just be outside.

A few things to remember...

1- ALWAYS wear sunscreen - put on each day before you leave the house!
2- ALWAYS stay hydrated - drink water even if you're not thirsty. 90-120 oz each day and more on days that you're more active
3- Eat enough - sometimes people don't eat enough in the summer because the heat makes us not as hungry
4- Don't eat too much - BBQ season is here...that means lots of food on display...make sure you eat good portion sizes and also avoid the junk (desserts, potatoes, corn, beans)
5- Have fun - enjoy the warm weather activities. Try something new outside that you've not done before (mtn bike, water ski, golf, something...)

The heat is on...enjoy!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Endurance Training Myths vs Truths

*Finishing my marathon in Ft. Collins, legs were done!

Typical endurance training has a way of taking over your life. If you've ever trained for a marathon, ironman, ultra marathon or the like, you know what I'm talking about. I can speak from experience. In the fall of 2006 I was talked into running a 1/2 marathon with my friend...3 weeks before the race! Without much knowledge on how to train for an endurance event, I did quick research and developed a plan that got me up to running 10 miles 1 week before the event. So, in two weeks I went from running max 5 miles, to now running 10 miles in preparation for a 13.1 miler event 1 week later. How's that for gradual training and tapering? Now, I wasn't going into this blind or out of shape. As an athlete my whole life and personal trainer I was active and strong, just clueless as to what 13.1 miles felt like. Turns out my body was okay with it...I placed 3rd in my age group and that sparked a flame for my love of running.

About a month after completing my 1/2 marathon, I decided to go for the full that next spring. I excitedly signed up with an online running coach and went for my initial testing at the Chris Carmichael Institute in Aspen, CO. I found out my VO2 Max was close to that of an elite male, while my lactate threshold needed a bit of work. At the time I was running probably around 8-10% body fat, 140lbs at 5'7". Needless to say, I was a bit shocked by their suggestion that I needed to lose weight to be faster. They said I needed to lose muscle mass, since I didn't have a whole lot of fat mass to lose in order to stay healthy. They told me to stop strength training all together and just focus on my endurance training and nutrition. It didn't seem right to me to lose muscle, wouldn't that make me weaker? But...I went with what the "experts" said and stopped strength training for 5 months and just hit the road for miles, upon miles, upon miles, upon miles.....

Come May, the race day was finally here and I felt great...or at least I thought I did. I beat my goal time of 3:30 with a 3:19 which qualified me for Boston...not too shabby for a beginner, eh? After the race, I did some thinking. Stoked about the fact that I had qualified for one of the biggest running races around, I had this empty feeling in my gut about putting my body through the constant pounding and the monotony of the hundreds of hours of one foot in front of the other for months at a time to prep for the event. I didn't want my life to revolve around running each day. I didn't want my joints to hurt. Not to mention the personal battle I was having with my image. I had gained weight through this whole deal...up to 145 and definitely a higher body fat % due to no strength training and consuming mostly carbs per my coach's instruction for fueling. After all, carbs are our main source of energy, right? WRONG!

Anyways, my waffling of whether or not to tackle Boston resulted in a definitive "NO" for the reason that I was more concerned about walking past the age of 40 (with my own joints) and getting my health and fitness back (leanness, strength, sanity)!

So...where am I going with this story?... prepared for this...if you're an endurance athlete or if you have hopes of becoming an endurance's time to toss what you've thought to be true about training with lots of miles, lots of carbs, and lots of time.

Often times you'll see in an endurance training program some anaerobic intervals interspersed. This a is a great thing!!! But it shouldn't be the majority of your training. Anaerobic training benefits the ATP/Phospho-creatine system, lactic acid system and aerobic system. The time/distance and rest periods determine the system(s) that are stressed. They are all intertwined though and as you are working all three simultaneously you are working the aerobic engine. The good news about this is that you are able to cut back on your training volume which saves you from the pounding the body takes during typical endurance training. So...why not train anaerobically if you're getting the same benefits (if not more) as long slow distance (LSD) training and you're saving your joints and your time?

I mentioned above that I was told to stop my strength training in order to lose muscle mass to be lighter on my feet. Think about that a second, how is losing muscle going to make me stronger? I may be "lighter", but I also will not have the stamina and muscles to keep me going for a long time. So, incorporating 4-6 days of high intensity strength training is extremely beneficial to endurance athletes as well. Now, with strength training, endurance athletes are often told to do high reps and low weight. NO!!! If you are constantly using low weight you are not reaching the systemic stimulus needed to improve and get stronger. It is essentially a waste of time and energy unless you are challenging your body. You have to think that strength training isn't a "supplement" to your sport specific IS the training for it!

The next part that is HUGE and more important than "pushing through", is the recovery time. Rest is where we get stronger and where we recovery in order to work to our maximum capacity when training. Recover comes from fueling right, resting adequate amounts, hydrating well, and sleeping enough each night. This topic is another blog post completely though.
Hopefully this gives you all some insight as to why higher intensity, anaerobic training is crucial to reaching your full potential as an endurance athlete and why constant slower aerobic training can be detrimental.

What do you think...?