Dear Coach: What Are Your Favorites?

Dear Coach,
What are your favorite fitness things?

Sincerely,
Curious Reader


Hey Curious Reader!

Well. I love so many different things….IMG_4494

-RUNNING! is my favorite form of cardio. I’ve learned to love running and feel amazing both during and after a run. Just
knowing that my body is capable of carrying me miles and miles, or my muscles are strong enough to push me at a great speed gives me all sorts of good feels.

SNEAKERS! I have so many pairs of sneakers and I love them all. The more outrageous the colors, the more I love it.

asics sneaksATHLETIC CLOTHES! in general, especially shorts and pants. Yeah. Clothes. All of it. My style is definitely athleisure, if that’s even a thing. I wear gym clothes anywhere, anytime.

Dislikes:

-ARMS are not particularly my favorite. My upper body has always been “weak”, but it’s getting better! Playing sports in college forced me to balance out the muscles in my shoulders and arms so I got very used to push-ups, burpees, plank up-downs, bicep curls, and anterior/lateral side raises. While I don’t love these exercises I love bikehow good they make my arms look!

-STATIONARY BIKE. I have a serious grudge against the stationary bikes at the gym. I was injured and unable to run for months at one point, and the bike was my only option. I got so bored! But put me on a bike OUTSIDE and we have a totally different story!

What do you think? Anything you relate to here? Let me know 🙂 That’s all for now!

Coach A

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Bosu Exercises – Part 1 of 3

The bosu is one of my favorite pieces of exercise equipment. It’s so versatile that it allows you to get a full body workout at a variety of intensities. It really jazzes up exercises that can become mundane and boring on their own.

Below, I’ve listed and shown my favorite LEG exercises to do with a bosu. Try some out!

LEG EXERCISES

    1. Burpees – Regular burpees are tough, but holding a bosu in your hands througout a burpee movement makes them even tougher!
      *Hold the bosu with the black side facing up. Lift the bosu overhead. Next, bring it down so the blue side is touching the ground, jump down and extend your legs back, then hop your legs back in, stand up, and repeat.
    2. Squats – Squats are great to strengthen your hamstrings and glutes! Now perform them on a bosu to really strengthen those muscles and improve your balance by strengthening your core too.
      *With the black side of the bosu facing up on the floor, stand on the bosu with your feet shoulder width apart and perform your squats slowly and controlled. You can make this even harder by performing single leg squats. Just adjust your stance so your weight is balanced at the center of the bosu and squat on one leg.
    3. Glute Bridges – Work that booty again! This is a great exercise on its own that can be done with both legs, or just one leg at a time. A bosu adds a little more fun.
      *With the blue side facing up on the ground, position your feet on the blue ball. Make sure your butt, knees and feet are aligned at slight angle to achieve the best contraction of your muscles. Flex your hips up and contract your glutes, then return to the ground and repeat. You can also do single leg glute bridges by keeping one leg off the bosu, lining it up parallel to your other quad as you bridge up.

Let me know what you think! Any questions, just leave a comment!

So You Want to Run a 5k

Races are a lot of fun. They are a great way to gauge the improvements you’ve made to your fitness level, stay in shape, and get excited about working out. However, before signing up for a race, there are a couple things you should know and prepare for.

First and foremost, when you sign up for a race, you should have a clear idea of what your goal is. What are you trying to accomplish? Is your goal simply to finish the race without stopping? Are you in it to win it? Do you want to attain a personal best? Or are you just trying to have fun with your friends?

Having a clear goal in mind will direct your path as you prepare and train for the upcoming race.

Now that you have a goal in mind, pick a date for your race. There are all sorts of races going on all the time, you just have to search for them! It’s important to set yourself up for success. You can’t just sign up for a race and go race the next weekend. You need time to prepare your body. If you aren’t used to running 3 miles at once, you have no business shocking your body with that out of nowhere! That’s how you get injured, sore, and discouraged. So, sign up for your race in advance to give yourself adequate preparation time.

We have a race date, now we train. How you train will depend squarely on the goal you set for yourself. If you just want to finish the race without stopping, slowly start adding some running into your workout routine. Pace yourself on a trail run and see how long just one mile takes you to complete. Be prepared to run that time 3 times on race day. Begin training by running a few minutes every other day and slowly work up to continuous bouts of 15, 20, and 30 minutes of running without stopping. Similarly, if your goal is to attain a personal best, you should be upping the intensity of your runs and incorporating speed work into your running routine. For all racers, make sure to incorporate stretching and proper nutrition into your daily life to avoid injury and stay fueled. If you need help or have questions on what you specifically should do, comment here!

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Right before the race, we rest and we fuel. A few days before your race, don’t try to run your hardest or over-do it. Take a break. Go easy on yourself in the days leading up to your race. Make sure to fuel your muscles the day and night before race day to ensure you’ll have enough energy to do your best. Eating sources of carbohydrates the night before or the morning of your race is probably a good idea! Make sure to get a good night of rest as well so you’re ready to go in the morning.

On race day, eat a good breakfast and arrive early to the site so you can check in. Make sure you warm up your muscles and stretch them out so you can literally hit the ground running at the starting line. Keep your goal in mind as you run and don’t give up on it! The only competitor that matters when you run is yourself, so don’t compare yourself or get discouraged. Just focus on you and your goals. Have fun and be proud of what you were able to accomplish!

Sneakers Sneakers Sneakers

As a runner, I cannot stress enough the importance of a good pair of sneakers…Especially if you’ve had a substantial injury pertaining to running! A good pair of running shoes can cost upwards of $100, but trust me, if you enjoy running and want to continue to do so injury free, you don’t want to skimp out on this.

When I ran in high school, my long distance coach told me how important it was to buy new sneakers every six months. Now, we were running for an hour or more each day, so we racked up a lot of miles very quickly. If you don’t run long distances very often, or only run for short periods of time, your sneakers will probably last longer.

But the point remains: Don’t continue to run in a worn out pair of sneakers.

Think of how great your sneakers felt when you first bought them. Like clouds on your feet? Like you never wanted to take them off? Like these pillows gently holding your feet securely in place? That’s how a good pair of sneakers should feel – comfortable and supportive.

asics sneaksWhen you realize your sneakers are tired and worn, fraying at the seams, with a wrinkled outer base from the constant pounding you put them through, I suggest going to a running specific sport store. At a store like this, compared to a large shoe franchise, the employees actually know what they’re talking about. Usually, if the store is good, they’ll have a footmapping machine you stand on to read the pressure distribution of your body weight in your feet. They’ll also analyze your gait and arches to see if you over-pronate, under-pronate, or have any other special concerns that you might need support for from your shoe. This machine will also measure your foot size, to ensure you’re in the right size shoe. Then the employees will know exactly what brand and style of sneaker will provide you and your feet the best possible support and cushion for your run. They’ll help you try on pairs until you find your perfect match.

A lot of people get sucked into cool looking sneakers that are currently hot in the market. For example, my senior year in college, a lot of my lacrosse teammates wore Nike free runs. Our practices were intense: three hours a day, six days a week. We did sprints and endurance conditioning mixed in with dynamic strength exercises. We were constantly sprinting, jumping, changing direction on a hardwood gym floor – putting a lot of pressure on our feet and ligaments. Those who wore Nike free runs had shin splints – or worse – in less than a couple of weeks. Why? Well, I believe it has a lot to do with Nike’s minimal feel.

These shoes my teammates were wearing had little to no cushion, minimal arch support and little to no ankle support. They just weren’t made for the workouts we were doing. Now, I’m not saying Nike shoes are terrible for all runners. I’m simply stressing the importance of wearing the RIGHT sneakers for YOUR preferred type of running and YOUR feet.

Personally, I enjoy long runs. I also enjoy running fast when I can. I tend to over-pronate. My ankles collapse inward when I run and my arches aren’t all that stable either. I told my old coach, who works at one of these fabulous running stores I’m talking about, about my stress fracture injury and how I was starting to run again after six months. She recommended a brooks2sneaker with good cushion and lots of support. So, I’m thinking ASICS. I’ve worn ASICS my whole running career and love them. I only wore Nike’s for one pre-season of lacrosse and after developing numerous issues in these shoes, switched back to ASICS. The ASICS I typically wore had adequate cushion, so I thought they were the best for rehabbing a stress fracture. However, this coach put me in a pair of Brooks, which offer the same cushion, plus a whole lot of stability and support.

These people KNOW what they’re talking about.

You’ll be amazed at how the quality of your runs will improve when your feet are being protected and supported the way they should be. Additionally, you likely won’t feel as sore and worn after a run when your shoes are the right fit. Sneakers not only support and cushion the impact to your feet, but also everything connected to your feet! The forces that come from the impact of your feet hitting the ground while running disperse and travel up your legs. In the right pair of shoes, your knees and your shins will be spared. In the wrong pair of shoes, you could develop plantar fasciitis, shin splints, tendonitis, stress fractures or worse.

I know sneakers can be expensive. Especially a good pair. But it’s worth the money to take care of yourself and ensure you can continue to exercise and enjoy your runs. Don’t skimp out and get injured! I swear, you really can feel a difference in the right pair of sneakers.

What’s the Deal With Fish Oil?

Do you research the vitamins and supplements you consume before you put them into your body? Protein powders, multivitamins, concentrated vitamins, fish oil… all supplements largely consumed by people who know little or nothing about them.

One common supplement people take is fish oil. Fish oil capsules contain fatty oils that come from the tissues of certain fish. These fatty oils contain Omega-3’s, which are necessary and beneficial to our health. Since our bodies don’t make Omega-3’s, we have to consume them in our food in order to obtain them.

We need Omega-3’s for a normal metabolism, normal development, healthy brain function, and they’re great for reducing inflammation. If someone’s diet has a serious deficit of Omega-3’s, this can cause real health issues, like cardiovascular disease, cancers of various types, and more.

Omega-3’s are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and can be found in a variety of fish (salmon, mackerel and more) as well as in other sources. Eating walnuts, pumpkin seeds, or flax seed provides these Omega-3’s as well, but not in as concentrated a dose as a fish oil supplement found at any pharmacy or vitamin store.

There’s been a lot of confusion over what health benefits and risks fish oil actually poses. While I’ve done some research and have formulated my own opinion, I still encourage you to look into this yourself!

The Pros: Supposed Benefits

High levels of triglycerides in the body are linked to coronary heart disease and strokes. Since Omega-3 PUFAs work to lower the amount of triglycerides the body produces, it’s been suggested that taking supplements containing Omega-3 (like fish oil) can reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes.

Some research studies that have been conducted over time have claimed that taking fish oil supplements have helped reduce the risk of some cancers, like prostate cancer.

There is little to no published research on this, however, it should be noted that some studies have been done regarding fish oil and mood disorders such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression. Benefits from these studies haven’t been scientifically proven as of yet, but are still underway and look promising.

The Cons: Supposed & Potential Risks

It’s still unclear as to whether or not fish oil is safe to take while pregnant. A nursing mother could potentially pass some of this substance to her child while breastfeeding, however there hasn’t been enough research to say if this actually happens, or if it is detrimental to the baby if it does indeed happen.

Various studies on fish oil and Omega-3’s have suggested that diets high in fish oil/fatty fish can actually lead to an increased chance of developing cancer. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that subjects in their testing who took fish oil supplements or maintained a diet high in fatty fish had a 40+% chance for developing prostate cancer.

Other studies show absolutely no link between fatty fish diets or fish oil and cancers or heart disease.

Conclusion

Clearly, the jury is still out on this. We’ve gone back and forth with certain studies showing one finding and another study years later contradicting those results. So, only time will really tell.

Regardless, some things hold true:

Firstly, look to your diet when a change needs to be made. The wealth of nutrients and vitamins found in plants and animals cannot be duplicated. If you aren’t getting enough Omega-3’s, try consuming them naturally by eating fish once or twice a week. If you don’t like fish, adjust your diet by adding nuts and seeds to your breakfast meals, like yogurt and oatmeal. Always try going the natural route first before turning to a concentrated, over the counter supplement. Of course, if your doctor has prescribed a fish oil supplement for you to take, listen to his or her expertise on usage frequency and dosage.

Secondly, any time you decide to take a supplement that you think you need, do yourself a favor and look into it or ask your doctor before you put it in your body. You want to know how it interacts with any medications you take, what the possible side effects are, and if it’s really worth the “benefits” it claims to give you. Most of the time, you really don’t need supplements if you are maintaining a healthy and well-balanced diet, so if you want to make a change, start there.

Home Workout #2 – Stretch Routine

Here are some great stretches to look up and incorporate into your day. No equipment needed!  I’ve included the sequence I personally go through. Hold each stretch for 5 breaths or 30 seconds.

1. Standing up straight, lift both arms up with hands clasped. Gently arch backwards to stretch your back and open your chest and shoulders.

2. From there, gently bend over, keeping your legs straight. Reach for your toes (without bouncing!)

3. Standing up straight again, gently pull one arm across your body. Repeat other side.

4. Now, place your hands on your hips, raise one arm and lean over the opposite side of your body. Repeat other side.

5. Now stand with your legs apart. Gently lunge towards one side to stretch your inner thigh. Repeat other side.

6. Moving to the ground, lay on your back and hug both of your knees in to gently realign your spine

7. Remain on your back. Extend one leg so it is flat on the ground and hug the other knee in to your chest. Repeat other side.

8. From here, gently pull the hugged-in knee across your body with the opposite arm. Keep the opposite shoulder (the one on the same side as the bent knee) flat on the ground. This stretch will loosen your lower back and upper glutes. Repeat other side.

9. Flip over to your stomach and lay flat for Cobra. With your hands positioned on either side of your chest, gently push your torso up (keep your legs on the ground), and look to the ceiling to stretch your chest and abdomen. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed.

10. From here move on to Cat/Camel stretches. These involve crouching on your hands and knees while alternately arching and bridging your back to release the muscles.

11. Child’s pose stretches your muscles from your shoulders all the way down your back. From cat/camel, sit back on your feet and reach your arms forward on the ground. Lean your head close to the ground to ease into the stretch.

There you have it. Some really great stretches that will make you feel good, loosen up, and relax. Enjoy!