Having Faith

Faith, having it during the brightest times and keeping it close during the times when you question your courage and strength.

It has been quite a year; bilateral pulmonary embolism and 2 neuro surgeries … but I choose to look forward and not in the rearview mirror.

I have been taught courage, more than I thought I could be taught and more than I thought anyone could have. I was forced to step out of my comfort zone. A comfort zone I was completely uncomfortable with and still am. I heard something on Rich Roll’s podcast yesterday that made so much sense to me. At times many endurance athletes find the physical discomfort of their sport much easier to quiet than the emotional discomfort they are facing. That can’t be more true. It is this noise in our heads that forces us to think deeper than we want at times, makes us look at our future and examine our past. It causes us to analyze our relationships and dig deep to discover the type of energy transmitting from those relationships. There is much dialogue but, it is often silent.

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I could never express how blessed I am for the people God has put into my life over the last year. So many friendships that I know will grow and the good times have only begun. Without Faith, I have no doubt I would not be where I am today. The last few weeks have been filled with many hours of soul-searching and decision making. One must ask of themselves what they want to accomplish and what it will take; it is then they must do whatever it takes. I know now, I have the courage and with Christ, all things are possible.

I hope I can help many of you to remember that despite any and all adversity; you must find that inner courage and strength. I know that it is often much more internal than external. Take a walk, get out of the house, read a book, call your best friend. It is NOT going to always be easy. Life is not easy. But don’t be like me and isolate yourself, I am working on not doing so much of that and pretending that I can do all things. Count on those that care for you.

It is how we see the picture and not how it is drawn. See it in a positive light! 

Building a Foundation. Quantity AND Quality

The importance of a foundation…

I was asked the other day by an athlete on my opinion of quality of quantity. What is better? What do I believe in?

That is not a simple one word answer sorry to say. Said athlete seemed frustrated. There is a method to the madness of getting to the starting line whether it be a 5K, 10K, marathon, sprint triathlon, or ironman. It’s a process and you need a foundation.

Do I believe in quantity? Yes

Do I believe in quality? Yes

I have coached hundreds of athletes and have worked with athletes from ages 5 to 65 … those that can’t run a mile to those that are training to run close to 100 miles at a time. There is not an athlete out there that does not need to build a foundation (base) of muscular strength and aerobic capacity as he/she starts their training. If I see one more article stating that there is absolutely no need for easy aerobic training and only HIIT (High-intensity interval training) for endurance athletes will improve their performance, I will simply loose my mind. HIIT training without aerobic conditioning can just as easily lead to over-use injury and over-training syndrome. Think of it this way…

If the foundation of a house (an athlete’s muscular strength, connective tissue strength , tendon/ligament strength) is not strong enough; would it be intelligent to put a roof on top. The roof could and most likely would cause the foundation to crack and break down. This is exactly how athletes break down. When additional stimulus is added and the foundation of strength (or lack of) is not there to support it.

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How can this be fixed?

Athletes can build a good foundation with a combination of SMART training build-up. I was listening this morning to a podcast with Rich Roll (an extremely talented triathlete and Ultraman) and Vinnie Tortorich (a ridiculously talented ultra cyclist and personal trainer for decades). Both these athletes have awesome podcasts on itunes that I highly recommend. I was listening to them agree on the importance of building a good base for further develop.

Whether you are a runner, cyclist, or a triathlete. Building a base need not be difficult, painful, or dreaded. Run easy, listen to your body. Pick some new routes, head for the trails, meet a friend. If you are going for a really long ride or run. Start out early. Get in an hour or two, then meet up with friends for a bit, then after they are done if you need to finish up on your own just get it done.  Remember though that the payoff is that you will have the foundation that you can add the roof to.

Quality? Yes, that is EXTREMELY important as well. In the past with my own training I have sometimes overlooked the quality component and hung on to the quantity component a bit to long. It is because I am a “distance” runner and athlete at heart. I love the endurance component but what I have found is that when the adequate foundation is built by adding quality work, this is where huge gains can be made. I often see athletes, especially distance runners and endurance athletes making the mistake of trying to maintain high training volume when training intensity increases. This can spell disaster. One component of your training will and should give a little. Make sure you keep balance in your training. If intensity increases, volume should decrease a bit.

There is such a delicate balance and fine line and unfortunately it is a bit different with each athlete. The concepts are similar, the individual athlete specifics differ. That’s why there are coaches.

With every athlete I coach, communication is the most important component! Listen to your body. Athletes have mastered the art of denial. If something hurts, listen to it. If you are not seeing improvement despite focused consistent training, you need to take a serious look at what you are doing and see what needs to change. But most important you need to have fun while doing it.

I had to laugh when Vinnie told a story on the podcast I was listening to. He told of a time when someone pulled over and asked if if he needed a ride while he was out training, he commented back something like “No, I want to be out here”

Reminded me of a time just a few years ago I was out doing a long run in the rain, a beautiful Sunday morning in Wisconsin just before sunrise. A little old lady pulled over on her way to church and said “sweetie, you are awfully wet, I will dry you off and take you home now”. I could not have been in a more happy place out there running in the rain, I smiled, and said “no thanks, I’m good :-)”

Whether it be training or in life. We need a foundation.

As I face a pretty scary neck surgery in less than 2 weeks and I think about foundation. Building yet another foundation starting 2014. A foundation I will build on and take to great places in 2014!!! Huge huge goals lie ahead and I’m excited.

I want to thank my amazing family, friends, coach, church family, doctors & pt, and followers! So great having you all around during this scary and uncertain time.

Starting to Feel Like An Athlete

This week I see progress. Progress in health, sport, energy, and simple things like for the first week in months I don’t have any scheduled doctor appointments. Such a blessing.

I am starting to feel a bit better. I was found to be anemic and have started on iron supplements which I think are helping, I am working on my nutrition, finding a good balance of consistant training without over-training, and am back to  physical therapy a couple times a week (2-3x).

This week I have already gotten 2 runs of 5 miles each on the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill at 80% bodyweight and will get another (fingers crossed) on Friday. I will get a couple easy runs outside this week too and a few days of cross-training. Today I have a hard workout at Endurance Rehab. doing some core and lower body strength training. Crazy, how much strength one loses with a month or so off. But I am determined to not only come back but come back stronger, fitter, and faster in the long run.

I am also so so excited for my trip to Wisconsin in a month to see my best friend Chrissy and her little one, Julia. I have not seen them since I moved last July. WAY TO LONG. We will have a blast and it will be nice to get out of the heat for a few days. Can’t believe it’s really suppose to be 108 here by the weekend… seriously?!?!?!

Other than that, plan to start working harder on writing my book and building the coaching business, also raising awareness of my non-profit for neuro research and treatment (Support Barrow). Busy times ahead but life is good!!!

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How to Best Recover from Training

Depending on an individual’s physiology, mechanics, and background, he or she will be more vulnerable to adapting to training stimuli and preventing a possible injury. Most injuries occur because of the 3 T’s (to much, to soon, and to fast). Below are what I have found through the years as some of the best tools in recovering from demanding training weeks and hard workouts.

Compression:

At first I was not a believer. I simply could not justify $50 compression socks to run or recover in and thought they just looked funny. WOW, I was wrong. They work, legs feel better and recovery is quickened. Make sure to choose graduated gear (highest compression at ankle), avoid cheap nylon and elastane materials. Make sure to air dry and do not throw in the dryer and AVOID medical grade which may actually inhibit blood flow. Leave medical grade to the medical professionals. The best time to utilize compression gear is on long flights and car drives, during intense or long workouts, and when on feet for extended periods.

  Ice Baths:

Ice decreases inflammation and training increases inflammation. Inflammation is not all bad but if you get to much, you hit some big diminishing returns. So…. cold water immersion. All you really need is a tub, cold water, possibly a bag of ice OR a cold river/lake. After a hard or intense workout, submerge yourself waist down into a min. of 55 degree cold water and stay put for 10-12 minutes. I have been known first to grab a hot drink and at times have put on a hooded sweatshirt and ski hat. it’s your legs that need the chill.

Massage and Trigger Point Therapy:

ie.. foam rolling… a love and hate relationship. Knots and adhesion’s occur as a natural part of training. Massage, trigger point therapy, foam rolling are all ways to minimize and relax the trauma created by training. A happy muscle is not one with knots and trauma but one with fluidity. These techniques also increase circulation which promotes recovery within the system.

Hydration:

Dehydration leads to poor lubrication in the tissue and muscle fibers. It is imperative anyone training stays hydrated as hydration is an important part of homeostasis in the many systems of the human body, muscle function, organ functioning, etc. Also a simple drop off 2-4 % of bodyweight in dehydration can affect performance and lead to impaired recovery post training.

Rest:

There is just no substitute for a good recovery or rest day and decent sleep. We all have different thresholds of required sleep. Some can function and recover on as little as 5-6 hours/ night. I need at least 7-8 hours for adequate recovery. It is at rest that our bodies adapt and get stronger. Without rest, we might as well not even train.

Stretching:

It’s all about the timing. Dynamic stretching before training to increase circulation and improve range of motion. Some good exercises are walking lunges, skips, high knees, and lateral shuffle. After training, one can use static stretching to lengthen shortened muscle fibers that were shortened and broken down from the previous workout.

CORE:

A strong core (all muscles along the spine and involved in the pelvic girdle) is possibly the most effective weapon against overuse injuries which primarily occur in the small stabilizing muscles or tendons & ligaments that support and power the larger muscles during work.

While I could have easily written a long post on each one of these tools in recovery, I have found that it takes a combination of all of them to create a happy and successful athlete. Remember to listen to your body and that Mother Nature is undefeated. 

Happy Recovery! 🙂

Progress and pain

Wow, was reminded by a friend it’s been 13 days since I posted last. Crazy but true !!! I will say the last 47 days since I had major spine surgery have in some ways flown by and in others have felt like eternity. There has been both amazing progress and pain. The pain has centralized in my left foot. Nerve pain which can only be described as burning pins and needles. The weirdest thing… It is a circulation thing. When up and training it feels a lot better, almost unnoticeable. When relaxing or TRYING to sleep it is unbearable. We are trying numerous remedies and I only hope
it gets more manageable soon!

Progress … YES! I’m feeling good. Pretty amazed what I can do. Today a great workout! I’m so grateful to have been doing the elliptical, walking, AND tomorrow will start the Alter G anti-gravity treadmill at 50% bodyweight. So incredibly grateful for the friends, coaches, and medical team guiding and motivating me. You all rule!

Moving?… Yes!!! 32 days to paradise! Well maybe 35 days, moving days are tough but once into the new place it will be amazing. 2 bedrooms, dining area, 1.5 bathrooms, washer/dryer, balcony, garage, and insane closet space (I

might have enough room for my shoes) Can you say super EXCITED? I’m also very grateful for those offering to help me move. I’ll buy you beer I promise 😉

Also so grateful for my place of employment. Vita in Fox Point is just simple a complete pleasure to go to every day. Great client, awesome employees, top tools for training clients, and always a fun and motivating atmosphere! Just shows if you are patient, the right thing comes along!

Well, a busy week in the making. Athletic training/performance enhancement/Alter G.. 3 days this week. Clients to train, a visit to the barn, 2 follow-up Dr appt.’s, social get together with best friend possibly while enjoying some sushi, working on an e-book and a couple new programs that hope to offer at Vita, and becoming an affiliate with a couple amazing companies offering products that will blow your mind away!!!! And if I find a second or 2, will be working on the non-profit!

Times like this my wish is to just be able to hug and have a chat with my Grandpa Don! He always had such logic and positivity and always made me feel I could accomplish the improbable with my attitude and perseverance. I love you Grandpa more than anything and miss the hugs and candy in church curdled up to you sharing the hymn book! You will forever be my angel!

That’s all for now! Remember one thing! NEVER stop believing in yourself and your dreams!

Speedwork outside in shorts :-)

Well today was yet another first (minor) but taking what I can get. After feeling less than stellar I headed out late this afternoon for a 6.5 mile run and through in 12 x 200m at mile race pace. Effort felt fairly easy but hamstrings were on complete protest, especially the infamous left hamstring which then affects knee and back to some degree. BUT it was the first uptempo work I have done at both 100% body weight and outside. Oh, AND in SHORTS and sunglasses. Yeah, that was pretty awesome. Spring just might be coming. SWEET.

I continue to have on my hand in marker “4 Smashing Sally” …lately it is helping me in pushing forward with my dreams.

Heard some inspiring words from a friend today… “We can find peace and hope through his grace that he gives us.”

I have re-focused on what is important, what are my gifts, passions. I have new energy on working on my book (a motivational tale of overcoming the tallest of mountains), training athletes to both enjoy what they do and accomplish their established goals, helping those find fitness and wellness and make it part of their lifestyle, and most important be there to inspire those that don’t think it’s possible. Yes, I am a Certified Personal Trainer. Yes, I am a USA Track & Field Certified Coach. Yes, I have 17+ years of competitive athletic involvement and over 8 years of coaching experience for endurance athletes. BUT, I am a human and child of God. I wake up, have coffee, dread cold weather, have days where I lack motivation and drive, and sometimes am just lazy. BUT I am here to make you better, to prove you are better than you think and can accomplish far more than you believe.

I am now personal training at 2 locations, soon to be 3. (Grafton, Germantown, and soon Fox Point). Let’s smash those obstacles and accomplish those goals, one step at a time. For more information on how I can help you become fitter, faster, stronger, and achieve substantial weight-loss with a “real food” diet contact me at ultimatestamina@gmail.com … There are affordable and customized opportunities for whatever you are searching for, and I’m ready to stand by your side as you succeed.

-Cristin