Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Spark Healthy Holiday Challenge 2016

It's that time of year again! Let's work together to stay healthy and keep those pounds off this holiday season! Join the Spark Holiday Challenge to keep your workouts on track and those bodies feeling great. Read on for details to stay motivated in the coming weeks....

Friday, November 25th through Friday, December 30th try to do the following things most days:

-Walk 10,000 steps
-Workout 30 minutes
-Sleep 7 hours
-Avoid alcoholic beverages
-And, a new twist for 2016, whoever gets the MOST steps per day will  get a bonus point. That's right, we are shaking it up this year! One bonus point per day to our highest stepper....

You will be rewarded one point per day for each activity completed.  Coach Angela will
check in with a tracking sheet on a weekly basis and there will also be periodic
bonus point opportunities for all. 

This year's prizes will be:
1st place) 1 hour personal training session PLUS a $25 Lettuce Entertain You gift card
2nd place) 30 minute personal training session PLUS a $25 Lettuce Entertain You gift card
3rd place) Bag of health and fitness goodies!

Interested?!  Here is the fine print:
- Contest open to anyone! However, to be a winner you MUST have at least one personal training session with Angela during duration of contest (or remote coaching package)
- Email Angela@sparkmultisport.com by November 20th to register
-To stay active in the contest you must respond to Angela's weekly check in email with tracking sheet and provide a screen shot or photo with your weekly step tracking

Questions? Contact angela@sparkmultisport.com and she will answer them! Looking forward to some holiday fun!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Chicago Tri Race Recap: Lessons Learned

Yesterday was one of my favorite races of the year- the Chicago Triathlon. For years I raced this race in my hometown city, but for the past few I have taken off to strictly focus on my athletes. As much as I love to participate, being a coach and spectator is just really rewarding. However, this year with my tight post pregnancy turnaround, I needed a late season race and this one fit the schedule perfectly. So, exactly 3 months and 2 days after Olivia's birthday, I toed the line for the sprint distance race in Chicago. It was a great day for many, myself included. Being so soon after my pregnancy I had a little different attitude going in- I was nervous and excited but also felt way less pressure than I usually do.  As a result, I feel like I was able to take in the day and learn a few things. Here are some lessons I took away from yesterday's race:

1) We all have "stuff" going on.  I spent the hour before the start chatting with clients and triathlon friends. A common pre-race conversation is listing the reasons you are not going to have a good race that day. I am no psychologist but I believe it has something to do with giving yourself an out if you don't perform. Yesterday I heard lots of good excuses- just got divorced, starting a new job tomorrow, just moved, injured ankle, and of course mine, just giving birth.  Those are all really good excuses to have not put the proper training in for the race. But what I realized is that we ALL have an excuse to not do well. Of course we do! We are adults with families and jobs and non-teenager bodies that are testing ourselves by training for a really hard sport. So we can make all the excuses we want, but the person next to us might have a better one. Let's just be happy we are strong and brave enough to actually attempt the race.

2) Even the most experienced triathlete can make a "rookie" mistake. I made pretty much the dumbest mistake of my triathlon career yesterday. I forgot to put my helmet on in T1. I ran all the way to the bike mount line before an official called it to my attention. I then had to run back in shame to my transition spot to grab my helmet, adding 2-3 minutes to my time in the process.  It was dumb, it was embarrassing and it was downright ridiculous. No one I tell can believe that I, Angela Park, 15 year veteran of triathlons and triathlon coach, made such a beginner mistake. But I did and it cost me big time.

3) You are never too experienced to practice the basics. See above post. In my haste to get back in shape for this race I did not swim in the lake once or practice a swim to bike transition. In fact, I was only able to ride my race bike outside once this entire summer. I took for granted that I had done this enough times and would be fine without doing so. This naiveté cost me an age group win.

4) When you make a mistake, move on and refocus, but learn from it. For a fleeting moment I wanted to throw in the towel after I forgot my helmet. But then I thought about all the people asking me how my race went and I knew I could not tell them I quit. So I ran and grabbed it as quickly as I could, hopped on my bike and proceeded like it never happened. I can assure you, however, that I will never make that mistake again.

5) There is more to racing than a PR or podium finish. There was a time in my triathlon career that doing something like forgetting my helmet would have brought me to tears or caused a tantrum. I really like winning. However yesterday when I was out there I was just so thankful to be racing. Pregnancy was tough for me and there was a time when I thought making a comeback would be impossible. The crowd, the pain, the feeling of being fit enough to participate- I feel the most alive when I finish a race. And I am guessing most people feel that way judging by the buzz at the finish line.  We are fit and healthy and strong and taking advantage of this life by living to the fullest. Don't get me wrong, I am super irritated at myself by my mistake, but I am mostly just happy to be back out there racing. And I feel really proud of the example I am setting for my family- my oldest daughter made me the medal pictured above.  She is noticing what I am doing and it will influence her for the rest of her life.

6) If you put your mind to it, you can do it. When I was pregnant and told people I planned to do two races within 4 months of having the baby, they looked at me like I was crazy. I even felt a little insane for attempting it. However, from the moment I got pregnant I had a plan. Stay in as good of shape as possible and don't gain too much weight. With my nausea staying in shape was tough but not putting on weight was a breeze. Post pregnancy I planned to start training at 4 weeks and when that day came I did.  I ran one mile and could hardly keep a 10 minute pace. It was disheartening but I am proud to say, even through sleep deprivation and all, I managed to get in every single workout I planned in the past 9 weeks. And it was all worth it when I surpassed my own expectations yesterday. Get a plan, stay focused, execute and it will pay off.

7) It is hard to coach and race on the same day at the Chicago Tri.  It is a crazy, crowded day and I only saw half of my athletes for bits and pieces. Very hard to focus on your own race along with others.  Sorry about that! Next year I will be back in a coaching role and the Spark tent will make it's return :)

Congrats again to all of yesterday's athletes- I hope you are still riding the post race high!

-Coach A

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Spark Summer Shape-up Sweatfest!

Spark Summer Shape-up participants, here is your challenge!  Complete the workout below and commemorate it on social media using #sparksummershapeup or tagging Spark Multisport for two bonus points.  Here we go!

Make sure do to an active warmup before and cool down after:

10 Burpees
20 Squats 
10 pushups 
x 2

10 Burpees
20 lunges alternating legs
10 wall angels 
x 2

10 Burpees
30 second wall sit
30 second plank
x 2

10 Burpees
16 Bicycle crunches
Side plank 20 second each side
x 2

10 Burpees
20 Second Reverse Plank with alternating leg lifts
10 v situps (bent or straight leg)
x 2

It is only 100 burpees total- enjoy!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Spark Summer Shape-Up 2015

Summer is underway and as we all spend more time out and about enjoying the warm summer days and nights, we want to look and feel our best. To help you stay on track with that goal, the Spark Summer Shape-Up has arrived!! Read on for details....

Starting Monday, July 6th and wrapping up Sunday, August 9th Coach Angela is challenging you to stay on top of your health and fitness by doing the following things:

1) Working out 30 minutes per day
2) Drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day (ie- 140 lb should consume 70 oz)
3) Cutting out ALL soda consumption (diet soda included!)
4) Sleeping 7 hours per night
5) Tracking your food/beverage intake (on app such as MyFitnessPal)

For each item you accomplish each day you will receive one point, with a maximum of 5 points per day. Additionally, there will be one "Surprise Bonus Challenge" each week to give you the opportunity to earn extra points.

Top three winners will receive:
1st place) Free Personal Training Session with Angela and 60 minute massage at Massage Envy
2nd place) Free Personal Training Session with Angela
3rd place) Bag of summery, healthy goodies!

The Summer Shape-up is open to all current Spark clients (training, coaching, group, and remote). To enter please email angela@sparkmultisport.com by Friday, July 5th.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Welcome Coach Nigel!

Spark Multisport is excited to announce that Nigel Cooper will be joining Coach Angela this summer 2015 as a run coach.  Nigel is a former Professional Triathlete racing in Australia and USA non drafting races.  He was an Australian High School State Champion in Triathlon and 5000 meter Track, with a 5K best time of 15:10 and 10K of 31:55.  As a USA Track and Field Level 1 Certified Coach with a degree in podiatry, Nigel bring years of high level running experience along with a deep understanding of human running bio-mechanics and a sound understanding of the kinds of injuries runners face. 

Nigel relocated from Brisbane, Australia to Chicago in late 2014 and has a day job at TEKsystems as an IT Recruiter.  He currently lives in Wicker Park and enjoys exploring everything Chicago has to offer.  Mostly food.  Nigel truly loves running and finds satisfaction helping others reach the point where running is a joy and not a chore.  This means making training fun, specific, challenging and quantifiable.  He has plans to train for and compete in the 2015 Chicago Marathon and is truly looking forward to helping Spark runners train to become fitter and faster!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pregnancy and Triathlon

Yep, so that's me, Coach Angela.  Today.  Almost 25 weeks pregnant.   Here to talk to you about triathlon and pregnancy- which clearly have nothing in common unless you are a female triathlete of child bearing age.  And then they have everything in common.

I have a delightful five year old daughter, Alexandra.  My pregnancy with her was a bit of a surprise and for a planner like me, I took that as a blessing.  There is never a "best" time to have a child and when you are presented with a positive pregnancy test and just need to start planning your life around the arrival of that little baby, it forces you to be ready.  I liked it that way.  

On the contrary, when Alex turned 2, and then 3,  people were starting to ask me when I was going to have another.  Instead I decided to register for an Ironman.  Which meant I was putting off getting pregnant til she was almost 4.  And then USA Triathlon announced Age Group Nationals was going to be in Milwaukee and 2014 and Age Group Worlds in my hometown of Chicago 2015.  And I had to try to qualify, which meant if I did Alex would be 6 before I would be pregnant....you get the point.  I could basically put off having another baby forever.  

So last August I qualified for Age Group Worlds which will take place in Chicago in September 2015.  As I ran my way into the 25th and final qualifying spot I was doing the math in my head. August 2014 to September 2015, that is thirteen months.  Gestating a baby only takes 9 right?  Maybe I could squeeze this in instead of putting it of.  

Lo and behold, within a few weeks of nationals I was pregnant.  It was shocking.  I had been ready to try for a month or two and then put it off til after Worlds but really did not think I would get pregnant so quickly. But I did. I felt blessed. And determined. Determined to stay in tip top shape throughout my pregnancy so getting ready for Worlds in 4 months would be a piece of cake.

The first few weeks of September were a breeze.  The weather was good and I was feeling great- still running, biking and swimming almost everyday.  I had plans to run the Vegas Half Marathon in November and was certain I could still do it.  

September 27th, 6 weeks into my pregnancy, I ate a kale salad for dinner and have not been the same since.  The nausea hit shortly after dinner and lasted until December.  I could not look into the fridge or brush my teeth without gagging and I certainly will never be able to eat kale again.   I could not make it through a night of sleep without severe nausea, which meant I could hardly drag myself through my morning clients until I could take a nap.  The few times I actually worked out during those weeks I still felt like puking the entire time.  Not one food sounded appetizing and if I managed to run a few miles my hips would hurt for days after.  Not exactly the picture of health I had imagined myself.

The Vegas Half rolled around and I made the trip with several clients.  By that time I had no aspiration to run but instead planned to just be a great spectator. Sadly, I ended up in the ER in Vegas the night before the race with severe stomach pain and nausea and slept through most of the runners the next day.  Everything turned out fine, but I felt like I had let everyone down.   Again, not the picture I had in my head for a trip to Vegas with 15 awesome people.  

Since Christmas I have felt better, but nowhere remotely like myself.  I do swim a few times a week and lift weights or do the elliptical on other days.  But after four months of no running and several extra pounds on my stomach, I don't feel like now is a good time to start hitting the pavement again. Not to mention that leaning over on my bike is now impossible.  Staying in tip top shape is no longer my goal- it has been replaced staying sane and not getting huge.

My new little girl is set to arrive at the very end of May, which means after a month off I will have 10-12 weeks to whip myself into shape for Age Group Worlds.  Getting the last spot on Team USA means that I have no aspirations to place or break records, but I truly just want to participate in this huge event that will take place in my amazing Chicago.  While my previous goal was to have a fantastic race at this event, my new goal is to finish with a respectable time and lose my baby weight by then so I don't look silly in spandex.

Kids change our priorities- in and out of the womb I have learned.  I have 15 more weeks left of being pregnant and am getting through it by envisioning snuggling with my new little daughter and then heading out for a run after I put her down for a nap.  And let's be honest, following that run up with a glass (or bottle) of wine :)

-Coach A