Category Archives: endurance

The No-Human-Power-Can-Make-Me-Leave-The-House-Today Workout

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-20 Celsius. Enough said.

Here’s what to do when the prospect of stepping out and having your nose fall off is just too much to bear.

 

Warmup:

50 jumping jacks

Active stretching

 

Workout:

1st Set:

-5 burpees

-10 squats (I went for full range of motion variation, or Ass to Grass, as they’re commonly known)

Rest 30 seconds

 

2nd Set:

-8 burpees

-15 squats

Rest 45 sec.

 

3rd Set:

-10 burpees

-20 squats

Rest 1 min.

 

THE ASS TO GRASS SQUAT:

Baby squats

Squat, baby, squat. No baby required, though.

 

... and come back up strong, engaging glutes and core.

… and come back up strong, engaging glutes and core.

 

2 sets each of:

-30 side lunges (15 reps each side)

-20 glute bridge

Rest 30 sec. in between

 

THE SIDE LUNGE:

Side lunge: Feet about shoulder width apart.

Side lunge: Feet about shoulder width apart.

Bend one knee and come down pushing your butt back. Keep your spine neutral, don't allow it to round. With a strong push through the heel, use your bent leg to push yourself back to standing position.

… then bend one knee and come down pushing your butt back. Keep your spine neutral, don’t allow it to round. With a strong push through the heel, use your bent leg to push yourself back to standing position. Repeat 15x with the same leg, then switch.

 

THE GLUTE BRIDGE:

Glute bridge: Start laying on the floor, with your heels close to your butt.

Glute bridge: Start laying on the floor, with your heels close to your butt.

 

 

... then push your hips up. Way up. Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can, then slowly bring down and repeat. Note the hips do not rest entirely on the floor again in between reps-- it's just a dynamic up-and-down.

… then push your hips up. Way up. Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can, then slowly bring down and repeat. Note the hips do not rest entirely on the floor again in between reps– it’s just a dynamic up-and-down.

To finish:

– 3 sets of 1 minute planks.

Rest 30 sec. in between each

 

Plank: Don't arch your back or allow your hips to collapse down.

Plank: Don’t arch your back or allow your hips to collapse down.

 

Stretch.

 

And there you have a full body exercise (albeit with a bit more emphasis on lower body, which is the way I like it) that doesn’t even require any equipment. This works endurance and strength. Extra points if you use your baby, your fat cat, or any other creative prop for additional resistance.

I really don’t want to say this but I have to say it because YEAH. If you’re exercising with your baby (or your cat for that matter) use common sense and if something feels unsafe/off/too tough put the child down. Put. the child. down. But you’re smart peeps and you know this already, right? Right.

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I’m Back and I Bear Gifts Of Triathlon Inspiration

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I haven’t been on the ball lately, but I swear I have a really good reason.

Yes, a cuddly reason…

A sweet and snugly reason that has flipped my world upside down.

Her name is Era and she was born on September 16th. For the longest time my mind had no room for anything other than cooing and loving this little bundle of cuteness, but I’m finally catching up on my sleep and getting the hang of having a tiny baby all over again, after over a decade of last having an infant around. Thanks for sticking around while I figured this out!

And now back to business. Of the non-cuddly but very inspirational kind.

Let’s meet bad girl Harriet Anderson:

This lady was 74 years old when she competed in the 2009 Ford Ironman World Championship. SEVENTY-FOUR cheesuschrist. And you see her arm up with the red tie? That’s because missus there broke her clavicle falling off on the bike portion of the race, and still managed to finish the race on time. This means she completed the remaining 32 miles on bike and an entire goddamn marathon with a broken collarbone. Are you feeling like a total wuss yet? I sure am.

She began competing in her fifties and has been relentless since. She’s badass and I want to be like her when I grow up. I’m not even kidding.

Now click over here and read her full story, you won’t be sorry. Hard core chicks, yeah!

Exercise During Pregnancy? Don’t Mind If I Do

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“Oh, look at that pregnant woman waddle! I bet she walks funny out of muscle soreness from performing series of lunges, squats and deadlifts.” Said NO ONE EVER.

Sad but true, few people would believe this pregnant mom’s waddle walk is at times consequence of physical exercise. BUT IT IS. Sometimes. Other times I’m just being a normal preggo.

So let’s talk about activity during pregnancy. Or its alternative title: I’m pregnant, not dying. Yes I’m allowed to move.

Indistinct to, oh, every expectant woman in the history of the modern western world, I have been on the receiving end of advice suggesting that I should “take it easy” and “rest while it’s still possible” before the baby comes. I’ve yet to understand the logic behind this.

Of course there are situations in which a medical condition makes it difficult or even risky for mum to be active, and I’m not here to argue with that. What’s more, there are moms that consciously choose to not do anything during their baby’s gestation and I find that totally understandable (hey, it is a choice.) But what about the standard, normal pregnancy in which both mom and bub could benefit from activity, and there are no legitimate reasons (medical or otherwise) for passiveness?

I’m a true believer of being in tune with one’s body and following its cues– and if you ask me, everyone should be practicing this, not just pregnant women– but I’ve yet to understand why we feel so compelled to warn mom against doing “too much”. How much is that, exactly?

Childbirth is not only one of the most important athletic events in a woman’s life, it is also one of endurance. It’s like the Olympics but of life, and instead of a golden medal you get a chubby baby to snarfle on at the end of your race. You bet your ass I’m training.

Speaking of Olympics, what about Malaysian shooter Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi, who competed in London at almost eight months pregnant?

My personal logic says that if all is well and in order, and the mom is already used to a certain rhythm of exercise, it isn’t necessary to stop. Some modifications may be suitable, some days may feel not as great… but as long as mom is paying attention to what her body says, no harm is done. Most of all, exercise your common sense.

Here is what I do.

For cardio: Zumba

I’m pleased that I’ve been able to keep up with teaching two hours of Zumba per week feeling great. I was already used to this kind of exercise and have been able to maintain the pace throughout my pregnancy (I’m on week 34 and still going). Not only do my lungs and heart get a workout, it’s dance: it makes me feel happy, energized, alive. I credit this for keeping me in such a great mood and believing I can accomplish my goals. Find your thing, whatever makes you smile, and stick with it for as long as it feels right.

Now, in my Zumba class there’s a lot of hip movement, a lot of booty shaking, and a lot of whining down. Add all this to the weight of a growing baby on the bladder and things can get awkward. Straight up I can tell you nothing terrible has happened and there have been no accidents, but it does feel kind of funny/weird at times. How do I deal? I got me one of these prenatal support bands.  It sure has helped alleviate some of the pressure thus making me feel more comfortable while I dance, but don’t think you have to shell out the $15 plus shipping for results– it’s nothing more than a wide strip of elastic with hooks. That’s it. Make it yourself and even better because you’ll set the hooks to close exactly where you want them to.

For flexibility: Yoga

During pregnancy there is a release of relaxin, a hormone our wise body produces to make our joints stretchy and limber in preparation for birth. Relaxin is the reason we need to be careful not to over stretch. It’s a matter of paying attention to how our body is feeling, and remembering that this isn’t the best moment to attempt twisting into a pretzel for the first time.

As much as I would love to go to a prenatal yoga class, truth is the budget doesn’t allow for that right now. The good news is, there’s still a way to get our yoga in. Video, baby! I follow Shiva Rea’s Prenatal Yoga video in the comfort of my living room and frumpiness of my pj’s. I find this video very easy to follow, even for a beginner, as it clearly explains modifications for women in second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

*Many thanks to Angelina, Amy and Christine, all whom in one way or another made it possible I have this video now. Teehee!

For muscle strength: Strength training

Squats and I are like BFFs now. Word. Hey, I figure I’ll be doing my share of squatting at the moment of birthing my baby, so might as well get all the practice I can get.

For obvious reasons I can’t do situps, but I keep my core in check with planks.

For upper body strength I mostly go for dumbbells. I love dumbbells. Bicep curls, triceps kicks, shoulder press, chest press (with plenty of breaks and attention to how I feel– lying on our back isn’t the most recommended thing during the third trimester), upward rows… the possibilities are endless.

For mental sanity, entertainment, and fun: Random things

Hiking

Fun in nature, fresh air, a workout. Extra points for dragging your friends along.

Swimming

Being so light and buoyant in the water feels ridiculously wonderful.

Rock climbing

Fun challenge trying to keep the body close to the rock wall with a 7.5 month pregnant belly. Totally doable, quite enjoyable.

Canoeing

My shoulders, back, and core really felt the workout with the paddling. Very relaxing once I got over the fear of flipping over.

And when all else fails… walk.
Walk to the post office, to the store, to the library, around your block. You don’t have to act like an elite athlete every single day of your pregnancy, and chances are you will have many days, like I do, in which there isn’t a hint of desire to move. That’s ok, those days have their place, too. When I feel ready to get going again walking helps me start slow and get back on track.

I really want to be clear and say it is not my intention in the least to make other moms feel bad if it hasn’t been possible or desirable for them to stay active while pregnant. Nor do I wish to set a bar for others to compare themselves and decide if they’ve been a better or worse expectant mom than I. This is just my personal experience, so different from my first pregnancy, and we’re each on our individual path to follow with our own lessons to be learned.

I have received many benefits from staying active. Forget about the physical benefits… the mental ones, holy cow! I don’t know how I would be feeling right now if I hadn’t stayed as mobile. It’s as if keeping myself reasonably challenged has lit a spark inside– I feel happy, accomplished, relaxed and peaceful. This process has reminded me to trust my body because it is capable of achieving many wonderful things. I’m very grateful.

For more information on exercise and pregnancy, read Precision Nutrition’s article on How To Exercise During Pregnancy.

Ah, Sunday

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If you’re anything like me, Sunday means kicking back and relaxing. And doing laundry and baking for the week and freezing meals… When you’re done showering the dads of your life with love and chocolate (of the organic, sustainable, fair trade kind *wink*) take some time to catch up on your reading. Come on. It does your brain good. Here are some cool articles I read during the week and that you may find interesting!

And the video at the very end? Also very cool.

Growing Up With A Fat Dad, The New York Times.

A complex story, with a savior and a dash of hope.

Ultramarathon Running: How a Vegan Diet Helped Me Run 100 Miles  by Scott Jurek, for the Huffington Post

I don’t have to remind you how much I love Scott Jurek, right? I mean, we did share a moment, after all.

Ironman Champ: Train Your Brain, Then Your Body

Beautiful article in which four-time World Ironman champion Chrissy Wellington reminds us what we already know but consistently choose to ignore: To win the race, you must first win it in your head.

Brilliant TED talk by Christopher McDougall on what he learned about endurance running from living with the Tarahumara indians in Mexico. Must watch!

Meeting Scott Jurek

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He's so much taller than I imagined. And, also? I love his wild, unruly hair.

Ultra-marathoner and vegan super athlete Scott Jurek visited a neighbor town last week, and am I ever glad I went to his lecture! The talk was hosted in a small conference room inside the largest health food store I have ever seen. Much to my delight there were very few people in attendance– like twenty or twenty-five of us were there. I’m very glad this was the case because the reduced number of attendants gave us a chance to a) sit right on the first line– meaning I had Mr. Jurek probably two meters away from me, and b) get all of our questions answered.

Also, the entire focus of his talk was on nutrition, which made me extremely happy because this is exactly what I wanted to learn from him: how he eats before a race and how he recovers.

When I began dipping my toes into this plant-based lifestyle Scott Jurek was the first name I read when researching vegan athletes. I had never heard of him before, but he’s huge in the running world and consistently after that I kept finding his name and accomplishments mentioned in books, articles and magazines. This man is a machine, a powerhouse– a pillar of inspiration to those wanting to accomplish grand physical feats while on plant-based diets. And now I had in front of me the chance to learn directly from him. I feel so grateful.

His talk began with a quick introduction of his accomplishments; in all seriousness, I got tired just listening to what this guy has done! 100 mile races. ONE HUNDRED MILES. Oh gawd. Also twenty-four hour races and races that go from way below sea level to many thousands of feet above it. Races through Death Valley, California, one of the hottest spots in the U.S. Jurek has done it all, and with such a long list of accomplishments I felt more than ready to take in all the advice he had to offer.

As I read recently, “Ask for advice from those who have accomplished the results you desire.” Scott Jurek has accomplished insane endurance, quick recoveries, and true grit while solely on a plant-based diet. Those certainly are the results I want; my ears were open.

Eat, Run and Live Long, a lecture by Scott Jurek

Important things to consider when switching into a Plant-Based Diet:

1) Integration rather than elimination. In other words, opening up and adding new foods as opposed to just cutting out what you can’t eat anymore. Interestingly, he grew up hunting, fishing and even admitting to being deep into junk food while in college. For Jurek, it was reading the book Mad Cowboy what motivate the jump into veganism, figuring that if the author of the book — a third generation cattle rancher!– could become vegan, so could he.

2) Quantity. Make sure you get enough food! Plant-based foods are usually (logically?) a lot lower in calories than foods from the standard American diet. This means that people eating plant-based need to eat more and more often. Aw shucks, right?! Ha.

3) Quality. It is a misconception to assume that because someone is vegetarian or vegan they’re automatically healthy eaters. It is completely possible to eat unhealthy junk while eating plant-based (potato chip overload, anyone?). The quality of the food consumed is of great importance. Like Jurek said, if you put low-quality fuel into your vehicle the engine won’t last as long. Same things with our bodies, if we want things to run smoothly and optimally, our way of eating must be as clean as possible.

Eating and training

During peak training Jurek increments his caloric intake to 5,000 -8,000 calories per day. These calories are divided in the following:

– 80 to 90%: Whole foods, out of which 90% is organic “You get what you pay for” he said, addressing the fact that organic can be more expensive, but it’s also free of chemicals, pesticides and haven’t been messed around with genetically.

“Do a lot of cooking,” he added. “It is important to connect with your food.”

– 50 to 60%: Carbohydrates

Fruits and veggies, whole grains, legumes, sprouted whole grain breads, and few whole grain pastas all form part of his carb consumption.

– 20 to 30%: Fat

Even though these numbers may seem high, Jurek assures that 30% fat is not excessive at all when it all comes from healthy fats. To list a few sources of healthy fats:  Essential fatty acids, omega 3 and 6 (Jurek takes a vegan supplement called Udo’s Oil for this purpose); olives and olive oil, avocados, almond butter, coconut oil and meat, nuts and seeds, chia seeds, and sesame oil.

-15 to 20%: Protein

Tempeh and tofu, legumes and whole grains (here he reminded us how entire civilizations have thrived on the consumption of legumes and whole grains, even mentioning Mexico and how we use beans in combination with corn, creating a balanced diet. Shout out, yeah!). Also hemp, pea, and brown rice protein powders (which he admits are processed, but still come in handy when in a pinch), and nuts and seeds.

Supplements

He addressed the subject of supplementation in a very general and casual way, mentioning these are just options he would recommend because they’re plant-based products and are, in his opinion, soft on the stomach; at the same time he made clear he doesn’t think supplementation is always necessary, if at all.

-Vitamin B12 “This is the only thing that may need to be supplemented, though it’s entirely possible to get enough through diet,” he explained: Fortified foods, nutritional yeast, B- complex.

-Iron: Herbs, Floradix iron

-Calcium: Floradix Cal-Mag

-Zinc: Pumpkin seeds, liquid Ca-Mg

-Antioxidants: Vitamins A,C,E, Selenium, Zinc

-Probiotics: Udo’s Choice Probiotics

“Do these things make me run? No. But they do allow me to train and stress my body the way I do, and to bounce back and be able to train again the following day,” he concluded.

Training and Racing Nutrition

Water consumption

Jurek talked about each person’s individual needs for water intake, adding that the best way to know how much water we need is to do a sweat test. The sweat test must be performed in the same conditions in which you’ll compete: at the same intensity, with the same weather temperature, etc. Hydration is important because not having enough water makes the heart rate go up, and performance is compromised. To learn how to do a sweat test go here.

Carbohydrates in racing

“Does anyone know why it is important to consume carbohydrates during a long race?” he asked the room. Silence. “Anyone?”

I raised my hand and he pointed at me, “Yes?”

“Because carbohydrates are what’s easiest for our body to convert into energy. They’re the fastest and most effective source of usable energy.”

“Exactly!” he said. (And yes, my inner child always in trouble at school felt redeemed)

Some people question if maybe fat should also be consumed during racing, but considering we have enough fat stored in our body already this isn’t necessary. To figure out the amount of carbohydrates we need, the following formula is essential:

Body weight in kilograms x 0.7= grams of carbs per hour we can consume as a minimum

Body weight in kilograms x 1.0= grams of carbs per hour we can consume as a maximum

For example, someone who weighs 130 lbs:  59 kg x 0.7= 41 grams of carbs per hour, minimum.

One banana has approximately 25 grams of carbohydrates, the same amount of carbs that 3 small cooked potatoes have.

Our body needs carbs to create glycogen, which is the primary substance used for energy. We naturally have about 60 to 70 minutes worth of glycogen in our system, and if  racing longer than that it is important to ingest the carbohydrates that most speedily convert into glycogen before reaching depletion. Depletion of glycogen causes extreme fatigue and makes moving an extremely difficult task.

Some may choose to ingest their carbs in the form of sports drinks, and Jurek points out that it is important to read the labels and make sure that the carb to water ratio is of 7-8% (carbs in grams/ml of water), to avoid slushing in the stomach.

If you think carbohydrates are necessary just for your body to finish the race think again. Carbohydrates are needed for proper brain function as well, so unless you’d like to risk confusion, disorientation, and a myriad of other not-so-lovely brain glitches, carb up, buttercup!

So, what kind of carbs are the best to consume during the race? Those with the highest glycemic index. High glycemic foods come in handy when needing a rush– and sometimes even for recovery. They can be used every 20 to 30 minutes to avoid crashing. Some examples include maple syrup, cane sugar, a very ripe banana (though it may be turned to mush by the time you want to eat it), and corn syrup. For a list of high glycemic foods, click here. Please keep in mind that even in this list there are some healthier, smarter choices than others. I would suggest sticking to the plant-based options as a rule of thumb and this way avoiding unhealthy fats, which is the subject Jurek touched up on next.

Protein and Fat

The consumption of protein and fat is only recommended for longer stretches of physical activity. For races that last longer than three hours Jurek recommends 10 to 15 grams of protein per 2-3 hours.

Recovery

Post- hard effort Over 2 hours of work, or after working hard for a shorter time span:

Body weight in kg x 1.5 = grams of carb

Body weight in kg x 0.2 = grams of protein

(Example: 130 Lbs=  59 kg x 1.5 = 89 g or carb)

**It is important to note that these carbs and protein should be ingested within 20 to 30 minutes post workout**

“What happens is,” Jurek explained, “that the ‘doors’, the time frame for replenishing glycogen in our body begins to close. We have to get this in fast– if not, we won’t be ready for the next day’s workout.”

Aiding injury recovery

He told us the story of how just two days before a huge race he sprained his ankle playing soccer with some kids. His ankle was badly swollen and in pain, but not racing wasn’t an option. Synthetic (conventional) medication wasn’t an option either, for he believes best in food’s curing abilities, and even cited Hippocrates’ quote used by vegans and naturists everywhere: “Let food be thy medicine”

Here is the list of ingredients/foods he consumes to aid his body in alleviating injuries:

*The notes in parenthesis are my own addition from what I learned at another lecture on injury recovery by Dr. John M. Berardi, Chief Science Officer at Precision Nutrition. Both Berardi and Jurek coincide on the same natural remedies as being the optimal options to speed the recovery process.

-Tumeric (in compresses over the sprain or inflamed area; also consumed: 1 tsp. per day)

-Arnica montana

-Bromelain (an enzyme found in pineapple: 1 cup of fresh pineapple per day)

-Essential fatty acids

-Garlic (three or four cloves per day)

-Ginger

-Ice

-Vitamin C

At the end of the talk he answered our questions. I raised my had again. “For you as an athlete, what has been the one piece of information that has been absolutely crucial to your success?”

He paused for a second. “Hmm. I…” He brought his hand to his chin, “That’s a good question, I’d have to think…”  He took a brief moment. “You know, I think I would have to say that it was in general my upbringing. I grew up with a mother who had multiple sclerosis and couldn’t do a lot of things, and well, it was hard; but at the same time that shaped me into being the person I am today, doing the things I do.”

His answer left me in deep thought, more so than he probably imagines.

Towards the end of the lecture he added, “I can assure you that in this room there are people who are faster than I am; I have never claimed to be the fastest runner. What I’m really good at is long races, endurance: the moment where the mental factor matters most, the point where so many people break and give up. I’m really good at the mental factor.”

This was, by far, the most enthralling part of the talk for me. Days later I’m still thinking about what he said. The mental factor.

To finalize he offered a list of books that have been key to him in turning into a vegan athlete

Scott Jurek’s reads

Vegetarian Sports Nutrition

Becoming Vegan

Spontaneous Healing

Healing with Whole Foods

Mad Cowboy

Eating Animals

Food Rules

In Defense of Food

Scott Jurek struck me as a gentle and down-to-earth man; if you ever get the chance to attend one of his lectures I would really recommend it! He also has a book due out this spring, I think it will be worth the read.

I hope this information helps you as much as it helped me!