Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Coach A's Favorite Training Tool Right Now....

Why I love the TRX right now.

-  It is the most simple and most portable piece of equipment I have ever used.  Using gravity and your body weight there are endless exercise options!

- It will challenge you.  Step closer to the attachment point to kick it up a notch.  Make it single leg.  Add a jump.  Whatever you need to do to work hard.  Even the best athletes can get a killer workout with the TRX.

-  You don't have to be a great athlete to use it.  It can help you balance, stabilize and improve your flexibility.  Hello weight training newbies!

-This evening I brought it to the park with my daughter, hooked it up on her swingset and pushed her between squats, chops and presses.  Does it get any easier than that?

Want to learn how to use the TRX?  You know where to find me!
Coach A  www.sparkmultisport.com

Monday, July 18, 2011

Spark to offer Official Training Plan for Kenosha's All for a Cure Run!

The All for a Cure Run will take place Saturday, September 3rd in Kenosha, WI to raise money for the Leukemia and Lympoma Society.  This race began last year to raise money and awareness for my friend, Ellen Santarelli, who is battling leukemia.  Many runners (and non-runners) participated and it was a great day!  I am looking forward to another great race this year and am proud to announce that Spark will be contributing to the fundraising efforts by providing training plans for interested participants.  See the flyer below for details and contact me if you would like to purchase a plan.

Registration for the race can be done here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fleet Feet Women's 5K/10K Recap

It wasn't a prerequisite to love pink to participate in this female only race, but it was beautiful sight if you did!  Over 2500 women came out to run in this morning's race, despite the 90+ degree temperatures.

The race started at 7:30 am when the weather was still bearable- if you stood in the shade it was possible that you would not break a sweat.  Teams of sisters, mother/daughters and friends milled around chatting and stretching before lining up in the start corral.  Many of the women donned the race t's that came in pink or black, while others (such as myself) had on their own signature pink running attire.

When racing in temps as high as today's, it is imperative that you readjust your goals.  I had originally hoped to break 45 minutes but knew that would be impossible in these conditions.   Just yesterday I read this great article in Runners World about surviving hot runs.  The experts agree that your time increases 10 to 15 percent when running in extreme heat.   That being said, I had adjusted my goal to just keeping under an 8 minute mile pace. 

The race was very well run- it began promptly at 7:30, the course was well marked and aid stations were stocked and run by awesome volunteers.  Kudos to anyone (especially teenagers!) who gets up at 6 am on a 90 degree Sunday to hand water out at a race.  We literally could not do it without you!  I managed to pace with a couple of other girls and come in at 47:46 (7:42 min/mile).  I figure with my knowledge from the article that I would have shattered 45 if it had been a cool fall day.  But it wasn't, so.....

Thank you Fleet Feet for providing me with the most glorious popsicle I have ever tasted upon my completion of the race.  I took my sweaty body and my grape popsicle and sat my butt under a shade tree when I was done.   Five minutes later I was cool as a cucumber.  Runner's World was definitely on to something when they suggest taking in a sweet, icy treat before/after to cool your body temp.

It was great to see all you ladies out there today participating, especially the ones I convinced to register.  Our time may have been way off our goals, but subtract 15% and I am sure you are right there ;).  All you other Midwesterners, do yourself a favor and read that RW article.  This week looks like its going to be a scorcher!!!

-Coach A  http://www.sparkmultisport.com/

Friday, July 15, 2011

Why Interval Training makes you FAST!

The number one training technique I introduce beginner athletes to is interval training.  The number one thing beginner athletes complain about is interval training. It's laborious, it's sweaty, it's HARD- but it works.  Growing up a swimmer that is really all we ever did during workouts.  I cannot remember one practice where we just got in and swam.  But how often do you do that with your workouts?   Just get on your bike and go?  Just lace up your shoes and run?  Below is why you must incorporate interval training into your workouts if you want to get faster. 

Research has shown that interval training with 2 - 10 minute intervals has been shown to cause a 4-6% improvement in speed.   Even shorter, 30 second intervals can lead to improvements of 2-4%.   And this is research with seasoned athletes.  If you are a beginner or new to interval training, you are likely to see even greater improvements.  This is hands down the best way to get fit and get fast.

If you want to run a 10k in 45 minutes, you need to train at that speed.  However, because our bodies need to recover, you cannot run 6.2 miles at that speed everytime you train.   This is where intervals come in- you break it up into shorter distances at your race pace, with rest in between.   Quarter mile, half mile, and mile repeats all allow you to track your time and run the necessary pace, and you allow recovery in between.  

Why does interval trainig work?  It recruits fast twitch muscle fibers, improves respiratory function and blood flow to the lungs, which all with boil down to one thing- YOU WILL RUN (bike or swim) FASTER!  If you are not doing interval training and are hoping to drop your times, now is the time to start.  Interval training is meant to be tough and you should be working very hard on these workouts.

Check back later next week for a couple of my favorite run interval workouts.   Now go run some half mile repeats.  You will feel great when you are done!
-Coach A http://www.sparkmultisport.com/

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When you don't have your dream race....

If you have ever completed a triathlon before, you can probably sense the anticipation the swimmers are feeling in the picture above.  Triathletes have a strong Type A personality, and typically set pretty high expectations for themselves.  What happens when those expectations are not met?  Read on for some tips (that apply to any sport) to pick yourself up and get on with it.

1)  Go over what went wrong.  Was it a technical issue?  Lack of training? Problem with nutrition? Pinpoint exactly what went wrong and figure out how to fix it.  If you are not sure what went wrong, this is where a professional can help out.  Talk to a coach to see how you can be better prepared for your next race.

2) Have a backup plan.  Every year I meet athletes who tell me they are training for the Chicago Triathlon. I ask them if they plan to do any other tris over the summer and they usually answer no.  This is when I try to convince them to register for another race earlier in the season to work the kinks out.  Putting all your eggs in one basket can be a big mistake, especially with outdoor sports.  Lots of things can go wrong- weather, illnesses, flat tires, etc.  It is good to have more than a one-race season.

3)  Put it into perspective.   As hard as it is to focus on the positive after a terrible race, we should all be thankful that we are alive and healthy and out running/swimming/biking or whatever sport we like to do. Even if you didn't take that medal or get your goal time,  try to remember why you love competing and just enjoy being fit!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Trek Triathlon Recap

If the Pleasant Prairie race I did two weeks ago was perfect conditions, this race was the complete opposite. The temp today reached at least 90 degrees (was almost 80 before we even began!) and there was a strong wind from the southwest.  The sun was shining and it was muggy.  Not ideal conditions for a triathlon.   Nonetheless, over 1000 women showed up for today's race, which also took place in Pleasant Prairie, WI.  

I love this race because it truly embodies what I love about the sport of triathlon- attracting new people to the sport, getting them trained and seeing them experience the joy of crossing a finish line.   There are always lots of newbies at this Trek race and it is fun to see their range of emotions (anxiety, exhaustion, relief!, excitement) as the day progresses.

I trained several women for the race this year,  some experienced and some beginners.   Everyone was nervous before the race and a lot of time was spent waiting in line for the port-a-potties.  I had them all set their 3 goals and share them with me before the race.  They were anxious, giddy and all properly trained for the race.  As a coach, I could not have been any prouder.

Pretty much everyone had a solid swim- it is literally straight across Lake Andrea, and times were fast.  The water felt awesome compared to the muggy air.  The bike was a little long for a sprint- 14.3 miles- and was into the wind for the first half.   Coming back, however, was fast and furious and everyone remarked how awesome it was.  The run?  Not much to say about it except HOT.  Times were slow and feet were dragging.  It was not so pretty.

I waited for all "my ladies" at the finish line and cheered them in.  Most of them were happy.  First time finishers were all smiles with their proud spectators.  One of my veterans came in 4th in her age group and was psyched!  One of the newbies was so excited because she did not have to walk at all!   We were sweaty and tired, but feeling good.  

Coming off my great race a couple weeks ago, today was not a good performance for me.  I actually had to stop and get off my bike to fix my water bottle holder and had terrible stomach pains on the run.  One of the women in my group was disappointed that she wasn't getting any faster from season to season.  That being said, not every race can be your greatest.  Stay tuned tomorrow for how to pick up the pieces after a disappointing race...it can be done!

Congrats Trek Finishers!
-Coach A www.sparkmultisport.com


Friday, July 8, 2011

My Favorite Swim Workout

One of my favorite things about the summer is the luxury of swimming outside.  Above is a pic of the Chicago Park District pool that I frequent June through August.  The pool itself is not that amazing, but pair it with a crystal blue sky, a few other lap swimmers and an 80 degree day and it brings me pure joy.  

As I often swim by myself during these warmer months I have a few go-to workouts that I do on my own.   They are fun, interesting and make the time go by quickly.  Below is my all time fave.

Warmup- 300 swim, 200 pull, 100 kick
1 x 200 build
2 x 150 mid 50 is fast
3 x 100 build set
4 x 50 IM order
Repeat from bottom up (if you are a strong swimmer or feeling awesome)

Give this workout a try and let me know how you like it!
-Coach A www.sparkmultisport.com  

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Coach A in the news!

Coach A is quoted here on her biggest wish for Chicago pools!  Let's make it happen, Rahm!