Friday, January 18, 2013

Training Weaknesses

Today's brief post is about training weaknesses.  As we prepare Shelley for the Fuego y Agua Survival Run, we have taken a look at where we can make improvements in Shelley's overall fitness and athleticism.

We know what her strengths are, Long Slow Distance.  Shelley can go forever, both physically and mentally, as she clearly demonstrated in her Spartan Death Race win.  It is important to continue to train to your strengths, after all, that is what is going to continue to bring you success.  Additionally, it is probably what you like to do, your strength.  It is much harder to get out of bed in morning to go do the workout you are not good at.

While Shelley has good balance and above average athleticism, she could use improvement in these areas.  When racing in variable conditions, it is VERY important to have sure footing.  In these races, every step is expended energy.  If a racer can limit the number of times they slip, loose balance, or have to slow or stop due to unsure footing, they will expend less energy and maintain a better pace.

With this in mind, we perform various foot work, agility, and balance drills such as using a agility ladder, lateral shuttle runs, karaoke, and balance drills such as this one:

This drill starts with a lateral bound, working lateral power.  The landing builds lateral stability and balance.  The airplane builds posterior strength and the pistol squat builds quad and glute strength, all while improving balance.

Stay tuned for more on how to train for obstacle course races and improve your athleticism.

Fun with Turkish get-ups
Aaron Solomon NASM-CPT

Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Review: Foundation Training

I had seen Foundation Training come up a few times and wondered what it was about.  The name is catchy, and since I base my training on building the core, or building a foundation to work from, I just had to see what it was all about.  I found the book on Amazon, and since it was fairly inexpensive, I bought it.  Honestly, I thought I would be getting a program with the same core stabilization exercises I use, but in a different order, or slight variation.  What I found was far from what I expected.
Foundation Training: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move With Confidence by Dr. Eric Goodman and Peter Park is far from the ordinary.  The exercises are all bodyweight, and can be done anywhere.  The workouts begin simple and have three stages of progression. While the focus of the book is on back pain, I feel as though it is very important to use these exercises for back pain prevention, core stability, and flexibility.   The other main focus is on posture and teaching correct movement patterns.
As we do more sitting in our daily lives, at work, the car, or at home, we are creating poor posture.  Our bodies are not designed to sit.  The results are a underactive posterior chain of muscles, internally rotated shoulders, and a forward leaning head.  These all lead to back pain, poor hip function, and knee issues.
Information handed down from Physical Therapists and Sports Science has taught us something very important about the core: it is not all about the abdomen.  Foundation Training redefines the core, stating that it is primarily the posterior chain that supports the body.  This statement is supported by the latest science, so if you are still doing endless crunches, sit ups, or ab dominant core workouts, STOP NOW!  You are creating dysfunction that will lead to injury.
Foundation trains you to use your most powerful muscles properly, creating lasting power and flexibility throughout the most important areas of your body.
Foundation training also teaches correct movement patterns.  Once you get the hang of the simple exercises, you will be moving far better, especially while squatting, where many people have difficulties.  After just a couple of workouts, you will have a better posture.  As I have incorporated Foundation Training into my workouts, as well as my clients and athletes, we have all noticed feeling taller.
Rather than taxing the muscles that are not meant to work so hard, you will learn to move in a way that allows the posterior chain to do its job with integrated, powerful movement.
The book begins with a great explanation of what is going on with your core, movement patterns, and posture.  There are great pictures which also show muscles being used.  The book ends with a chapter on Foundation Lifestyle, and a chapter Training The Foundation Way.
This book is a must have for anyone who has any amount of back pain.  It is also a must have if you spend a lot of time sitting for work or driving.  Foundation Training is good for anyone from the unconditioned person starting a fitness routine, to the elite athlete.  I find Foundation Training to be an invaluable addition to my core strength program.

Buy the book: Foundation Training 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Fuego Y Agua- No Excuses

“Follow your bliss.
If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.
When you can see that,
you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid,
and doors will open
where you didn't know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss,
doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else.”- Joseph Campbell

Photo by Loic Romer of Volcan ConcepciĆ³n, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

I have plenty of them. Excuses not to even think about this race, that is. 

I'm broke. No hablo Espanol. I have always thought that 50 km was way too far for anyone to run, let alone 70 km. I am injured. This is my off season. I am out of shape. There is no time. I hate the heat. I am afraid of sharks... and snakes... and spiders.... and scorpions. It is selfish. My passport needs to be renewed. I haven't been vaccinated against Typhoid... and Hepatitis... and malaria... 

Oh yeah, and in 2013 I'll be 40.

Does anyone know how to ask if the water is safe to drink in Spanish?? No quiero venganza montezumas.

I am terrified of this race. There I said it. 

On the flip side, there is one simple yet compelling reason to sign up for the Fugeo Y Agua survival run in February 2013: because it exists. This survival run is to be held on Isla de Ometepe, which is an inhabited jungle island on a volcano in the middle of Lake Nicaragua.  I know little about the race course itself except that it will involve over 70 km and several ascents and descents of the Maderas Volcano, climbing, swimming lakes & jungle rivers, carrying all sorts of things, digging, running brutal terrain, throwing (maybe throwing up), memorizing and overall surviving as actual obstacles will not be revealed until race day, long after any opportunity to prepare has passed. 

Jungle section of the Fuego Y Agua run.

Another aspect of this experience that makes it unique is the children's race the following day. The Calzado Kids Run is a yearly fun run co-directed with Natural Doctors International. Their vision with the Calzado Kids Run is to promote running, fitness, healthy eating and awareness of the island as an endangered environment that must be cared for. They will be collecting gently used and returned running shoes for all of the children participants of the event, which looks to be over 400 local kids from ages 6-16. Staying to help with this event is a high priority to give back to the island community and another reason this event is so appealing to me. Additionally, I get to hang out with some of the coolest people I know who share this same passion. How can I say no to that?
Photo courtesy of Fuego Y Agua

So, this time I don't want to be comfortable. I want to experience it all. The excuses will have to wait for the next one. My bliss is calling me.

Looks like it is time to start doing burpees in a hot sauna...
Adventure is waiting...
What are you waiting for?