About a year ago I kicked off my training after 2 years *completely* off. I don't mean off as in triathlete *off* -- I mean off as in very normal, don't work out for a month at a time, then maybe hit the gym 2 days in a row, then repeat. That kind of *off*. To give you an idea in terms of endurance performance, at that time, my body tested out to be only 68% as efficient compared to what I was used to operating at for the first 29 years of my life. That's based on my V02 max numbers which, for those of you who are interested were at 48mL/kg/min vs 70+. When I went to run on the treadmill, I swore it felt like Tempe, AZ and San Diego, CA were all of a sudden at 6000 feet altitude. I was outta shape in every way. This year was about climbing back up the mountain and putting all the pieces, big and small, into place so that come Jan 1, 2009 I'd be ready to roll, for real this time. And it was all that and then some...and yet...
...recently I've been feeling behind the 8 ball.
I took a break after the marathon and next thing i knew, it's been almost 2 months. Anyone else have that experience? Yes I've been enjoying epic adventures here and there, as planned, without much rhyme or reason, for the sole purpose of staying fit-ish while having fun, and feeling great about it. But how about those Facebook status updates...seeing "so and so just got back from a 10 mile run and so and so is going out to climb Mt. Tam and so and so just finished 100 x 100 at the pool..." etc. etc. Ah! It's not that I think I should be doing the training they are doing; I can focus on what I need. But it's the whole: someone-somewhere-is-training-when-you're-not-and-when-you-meet-them-they'll-beat-you thing. It can be a little bit intimidating, but definitely more motivating. Everyone's having so much darn fun and energy when talking about their training I can't help but wanna do what I gotta do to have that same awesome feeling and accomplish what I'd like to!
Today I realized I'm not as far behind the 8 ball as I thought.
I must've been thinking that I was once again as unfit today as I was a year ago. Turns out I'm not! I found that out thanks to an impromptu treadmill session today at the gym. A year ago, it took a lot for me to run at 9 to 10 min/mi pace on the treadmill, and as for intervals, I remember setting the speed to 6min/mi pace just to see what it felt like, and I could barely keep up my leg turnover that fast AND by 30 seconds my heartrate was through the roof. I worked myself up to 3-4min at that pace on the treadmill in my workouts. Amazing to feel my body get more efficient. I love it. Fast forward to today...and after a great movement prep session, I was inspired to hop on the treadmill for some intervals (ESPECIALLY after I found out the gym I'd stopped into here on my holiday travels had Woodways!) I set out to do a set of 10 x (1min @ 10mph + 1min off) yet I got to the first interval at 1min and felt easy! So I ran for 90sec total and instead of needing 60-90 sec of rest (ratio 1:1) I needed only 30sec to recover. Here's how I did the workout (made it up as I went):
10min warm up @ 7-8mph
4 x (90sec @ 10mph + 30sec rest)
4 x (30sec @ 11mph + 15sec rest)
4 x (90sec @ 10mph + 30sec rest)
Pretty typical treadmill session for me: 12-24min worth of work. Goals of the workout: cardio response and leg speed. Over time the goal is to make the hard intervals longer and faster, while maintaining or dropping the rest ratio. Today I hopped off the treadmill for my rest. Next time I might do the same intervals, but try to run easy through the rest (at 6mph for example.)
Still lots of work to do - but this made me happy.
That said, it's midnight here, and I'd like to get another workout in before family festivities get rolling here in the AM...so I'm shutting it down. Hope you too have had some active adventures admist your holiday celebrations!
Just finished up a podcast interview over the phone with Roman Mica @ EverymanTri.com: News Views and Interviews of Great Endurance. Look for a link to the podcast here in about a week! The hardest part of these interviews is the lightening round of questions...keeps you on your toes and and I really do try to be quick and at least somewhat witty when I answer...but I admit, its not my forte! I'll let you be the judge.
Also want to say:
And in case you love Christmas AND the blues like I do, here's a treat for ya!
I'm finally going to get to the SNOW this week! First though, up to San Jose area for my niece's Christening, then out to Tahoe for some skiing and snowshoeing: more than one day of skiing in a row...woohoo...that hasn't happened since New Years 2001. I'm a LITTLE BIT excited!!
I thank my parents profusely for taking us skiing when we were kids, even though we lived in Jersey. Can probably thank my Dad's New Mexico (Albuquerque/Sandia Mountains) roots for that and my Mom for following along with his wild west ways. We did make it up to Vermont and out to Colorado at least a couple of times though too, and I'll never forget the first time I did. I was shocked that there was actually snow on the entire mountain, and not just on the trails, and it was deep. Everywhere. I thought, "Oh THIS is what skiing is supposed to be like!" Either way, I learned the hard way, and it's paid off. I don't get to ski often, but when I do I'm good enough to hang with most (not all) of my friends. I also can see a huge difference in my skiing ability now that I understand how to use my body to get it to do what I need it to do. Unlike when I grew up skiing just screaming down the mountain without a care in the world...!! I love it.
Merry Christmas everyone...be blessed...and I'll hope you get (and take) the chance to get the blood flowing at some point admist all the festivities and food!
Wonderful wishes to you all! Jessi
PS. Here's my wish...the Specialized S-Works Era FSR Carbon:
NOTE: I realized after I wrote this that with the holidays coming up this might not be the BEST time to post it, so I apologize in advance :)
I'm often asked, "What do you eat?"
And my answer nowadays is: "Do want me to tell you how I eat or do you just want me to tell you what you want to hear?"
Haha...That's because it started to feel like every single time I gave my pretty simple, concise, no fluff (and ok, probably boring, but its nutrition, not nunchucks) answer, it just would NOT be enough, and the conversation that ensued always seemed to be trying so hard to justify other nutritional habits albeit with a slight grin or knowing tone that says "AH I know, but...!!" Prefacing my answer with the question above has seemed to help. A bit.
Yes there are guidelines, see below, that are not rocket science; they are not trends; and we've all heard them before.
My number one rule of thumb is to first:
EAT LIKE A HEALTHY PERSON SHOULD EAT...then add on nutrition as needed for workouts/races and overall training load.
Too often I've seen people spending too much time worrying about supplementing, yet not giving their body a great springboard with a simple healthy diet. Check out PhenomeNall Nutrition for just this kind of approach from Olympic Swimmer (and someone i adore) Anita Nall Richesson.
I'll discuss my sports nutrition in an upcoming blog that will feed off this one (no pun intended!)
More often what is more important are the SOLUTIONS that help stick to the guidelines. For example here's one that worked for me:
Pick one rule to stick to first. That's what I needed to do when I was getting back on the wagon after my two year hiatus during which, i'll admit, I allowed myself to have no rules (that said, lucky for me, I was raised with some basic principles - thanks to Mom - that I could never fall TOO far off of good nutrition.) For my first rule I decided on this: "Whatever you eat, eat clean." I didn't care how much I put in my body or when or what, as long as it was always clean food (minimally processed, minimal ingredients, local, fresh, raw when possible.) That alone changed my shopping habits to a degree: It made me explore new products and had me frequenting the smaller, local, healthful grocers, all the time, instead of the big chain grocery stores, which I now utilize only in emergencies, though I realize i'm lucky and have a few great options very close to my home. There is just SO little in those bigger stores that is unprocessed or even minimally processed.
HYDRATE, THEN EAT...
the fewer steps energy has taken to get from the sun to your body, the better.
colors represent vitamins and minerals in whole foods. Make it multi!
brown rice, quinoa or couscous instead of packaged side dishes.
BALANCED MEALS + SNACKS
good protein, carbohydrate, fats every time.
keep fuel on the fire**
Practically speaking, here are a couple of breakfast faves:
2 slices whole grain (local when possible...its SO good!)
1 Tbsp almond butter on the toast
1/4 avocado if i've got it
1/2 cup whole oats (1 cup cooked)
1 Tbsp peanut butter
honey to taste
And one lunch fav for now:
Super Satisfying Sandwich
2 slices local bread...for example...look at these ingredients...SO GOOD!
Julian Bakery's Wonderful Bread: Fresh ground whole grains of golden *wheat, oats, *rye, *corn, brown rice, *millet, seeds of sunflower, flax, sesame, poppy, pumpkin, pinto beans, honey, yeast & sea salt.
Lots of hummus
and anything else you've got like...
roasted red peppers, sprouts, cucumbers, lettuce, tomato, carrots
More to come - but for now - happy eats!!
**I've learned a bit about ayurvedic practices that focus on eating 3 larger meals vs. 6 smaller meals based upon the idea that the body needs the time to fully digest each meal before eating more. Which makes sense. I think as athletes, especially with training sessions throughout a day, eating more often is a necessity. So find a balance or switch it up from time to time and see how your energy level is.
We definitely made the most of our afternoon hike (which was more of a scramble-climb-boulder-run-and-hike.) Didn't leave the house until 1pm, started the hike at 2:15pm and made it back to the car just as darkness set in at 5pm (so early!) The internet is an amazing thing. This being new for me (finding great/hard/seasonal hikes in the area) it has come in very handy! Casey, The Modern Hiker, pointed us in the direction of a small stretch of the San Gabriels that we never would've otherwise found.
Check out these photos:
I can't believe it took me this long to appreciate what was so close to home and even longer to take advantage of it! This hike happened to start at 4500ft and the summit was 6000ft. We took off on the trail running and ohmigosh was out of breath before I knew it. I was glad when I remembered we were at altitude and not just unfit. Made me want to trek out there more regularly. Never a good feeling to think that many of my competitors (those that live/train at altitude) would feel fine on a run like this.
We got to a point where we decided to venture off the trail. Which led to a few holy $%&# moments, most during the stretch you see me on in that first photo. The rock was mostly loose, which was the problem. Lance had ventured up a different way and was able to capture it on camera, while admitting later he was laughing at me for not moving for at least 5min at one point. Haha. I was trying to laugh at it then, and we were joking that it wouldn't end up being as funny if these were the last photos that were ever taken of me if I died! It takes a lot for me to feel scared, so it was interesting for me to feel the way I did. I didn't like it. :) I'll remember to take into consideration what might, and what might not, be in store for me above my eye level next time I decide to start scrambling up a rock face.
Spanish bayonets (think very large porcupine-like plant, photo left) which are otherwise intimidating-definitely-want-to-stay-away-from kind of plants, became my friends. They were the only thing solid enough in the ground that I could pull myself upward with once i reached the brush above the rocks. I just stuck my hand down into their center, trying hard to be steady enough not to get stuck (which happened a few times) and grabbed on. It worked.
After spending a few minutes at the summit enjoying the moment and guzzling water, we decided to head back a different way. After a while though we realized we were heading toward another peak, and not toward our car. And since the sun was setting, we figured that wasn't the greatest idea, so we re-summited, which I was stoked about since I had seen many photo ops on the way down but didn't have my camera in hand. Of course we hadn't realized how far down we'd come and it seemed like a much longer way back up, but was totally worth it. I was in point-and-shoot heaven, with the light of the sunset right in the direction of where we were hiking. Amazing light and colors. The whole time feeling more like we were in the mountains of New Mexico, not 20 minutes outside of Los Angeles !
We also agreed it was WELL worth it to head back that way once we saw what was in store on the descent that was originally suggested by Casey. It was a steep, loose rock single track trail, lined with spanish bayonets, that, if coordinated well, you could actually "ski" down, standing on two feet, and otherwise, sit and luge. It was awesome. We spent a moment at the bottom watching the last bit of the sunset before running back down the hill, super fast, with the most amazing red sunsetting sky and the perfect cool tempurature: so my cold cheeks felt the cool air but my hands were warm. We never saw a soul the whole way.
...but sure that we could.
Hoping life doesn't get too busy in-season to continue venturing. I don't plan on it.
The adventures of an endurance athlete continue...
Thanks to Brad Seng for the Q: Do you have any swim specific movement prep exercises?
The answer is yes. Here are my few that I do before hopping in the water to make sure my body has got the mobility it needs to get through my swim stroke efficiently. Only takes about 3-5 minutes. So worth it! Questions, please email me!
1. Forward Lunge.
In place. Arm of back leg reaching straight overhead and slightly backward to open up anterior chain - including abs and hip flexors. You'll also open up quads and lats. Be sure to keep hips parallel to ground, abs and glutes engaged and hip/knee/ankle in line. 4-6 on each side.
2. Standing T's.
To open up the chest and warm up/strengthen the rotator cuff. Standing in a split stance (step one leg forward about 2 feet) raise arms out to sides, parallel to the ground, turn thumbs toward the back, and engage (squeeze) the scapula in toward the spine and slightly downward. Hold for 1-2 seconds then release and repeat. 6-10 times.
3. 90/90 Stretch.
For rotational stability. Lying on the ground on your side, with the lower leg straight, and the upper leg bent so the hip and knee are both at approx. 90 degrees. Extend your arms out in front of you - to the side you are facing so they are perpendicular to your body and your palms are touching. Press your bent knee into the ground and maintain it there while you take your upper arm up and over toward the opposite side, rotating the spine as you go. Key is to engage your abs/glute to keep the knee on the ground so you can reach as far as you can with your spine (led by your arm.) Ideally you will end up with both arms/shoulders and back flat on the ground, arms in a T, with the knee still engaged into the ground. Hold for 1-2 seconds, return to starting position, and repeat x 4-6 on each side.
a. Quadruped rocking w/ back flexion/extension.
On the ground, on all fours, sit back into your hips while keeping your abs engaged. Return to starting position, flex and extend your spine like a cat stretch. Repeat 6 times.
b. Standing Back Flexion/Extension and Lateral Extension.
While standing, fully flex/extend the spine by doing a forward and backward bend. 2-3 times. Follow that with lateral bends by crossing one foot in front of the other and reaching the arm of the back leg up and over toward that back foot, creating a side bend. Hold for 1-2 seconds and repeat x 4 on each side.
I love San Francisco - and take the opportunity to get up there any chance I can get! The inspiration for this trip started off with my Board of Directors meeting for the ITP Foundation on Friday eve up there.
Conveniently, my good friends and partners in functional fitness, Fitness Anywhere, are up there as well, and I haven't visited since they opened the doors to their new TRX Training Center this summer. They have group exercise classes every morning and evening and there's no better, faster way to start whipping myself into shape than on the TRX.
So I planned my own mini training camp up there and let the gang know about it. Once they heard that - they quickly got their wheels turning and scheduled a photo shoot for Wednesday, a video shoot for Thursday, and an appearance, post-workout on Thursday eve. That's where the "Working and Getting Worked in SF" comes in! Love multi-tasking!
I'll for sure be doing the following class...
Thursday, December 4. 7pm.
TRX Training Center: TRX "Basic Training"
...and sticking around for 30 minutes or so afterward to talk about how I integrate TRX suspension training into my endurance performance training plus some Q + A. You can sign up online at www.trxtrainingcenter.com.
I'll also crash a couple workouts at M2 Revolution - where they have all CycleOps Indoor Cycles equipped with PowerTap technology AND at the Breakaway Performance Center which caters to all levels of multisport athletes. Both are located right in the heart of SF and both high high quality people, knowledge, and great energy behind them.
Every morning and evening I'll be twittering which workouts I'll be hitting, so if you're around please join me!
Of course I'll also hit my fav cafe there, The Grove, for some downtime:
Few last minute things to take care of here in SD, then driving up tomorrow first thing in the morning. Thanks to gas prices, I'll make it up there for only $20 in my Prius. Gotta love it!
BUT...I feel it.
I need to start getting back some of my fitness, but am not yet ready to hit training too purposefully and precisely yet, a lot of which I do in the gym. I'm also more motivated than ever to be outdoors and off-the-beaten path and it's making for some super fun times. Its also made me realize it might be what's been missing from my comeback to endurance sports. I can push myself hard in the gym in my 'perfect' training, but there's nothing like having to get up a mountain, with my legs burning and heart rate skyrocketing while trying to appreciate the most amazing views, and having the innate competitive edge to push on as hard as I can to the au natural finish line that's waiting at the top. Especially when I've got someone kicking my butt up the trail, like I did yesterday. Thanks Lance!!
That, combined with inspiration from Danny Pate - who knows a thing or two about how to stay powerful while having fun - and who has been hitting up the infamous Incline in Colorado Springs - sometimes twice - for workouts when its too cold to be out riding - or just to change things up a bit.
Yesterday we headed out to Palm Springs and ran, climbed, and hiked up Murray Peak. About 10-11 miles round-trip (we took a couple wrong turns that added to the 9 miles it usually takes.) A lot of which got pretty steep, especially near the top. I thought it was the perfect mix of interval training. I needed breaks (we were going pretty hard at times, or so it seemed) but as soon as my heart rate dropped we'd start running again. Lunch at the top was well worth it.
A wrong turn on the way back gave us the choice to back track, or make our own path down the side of the mtn and back up to hit the trail we'd missed, which is what we did. That, of course, turned our hike from awesome into epic. Not sure the photo captures it...but here goes: