Thursday, June 1, 2017

Fit From Head to Toe: The Best Upper Body Exercises

Triathletes strive for total body fitness, but achieving it is much harder than setting a goal for it. Upper body workouts can often get overlooked; because they don’t directly exercise the muscles needed to run or cycle, but your upper body is important for total body fitness. These are our favorite upper body workouts to help get your body at its peak performance.

The Push Away

If you are unable to do push-ups in proper form, I recommend you hold off on this exercise. Start in a push up position and make sure your back is straight and your hips parallel to the floor. Slowly reach out with your right arm at a 45-degree angle, while your left arm maintains the push up position and complete the push up. Make sure when your right arm is extended that you don’t lose your form. Repeat on the left arm for a balanced exercise.

Goblet Squat

For this exercise, you will need a dumbbell. Choose a weight you feel comfortable lifting and get ready to do a squat. Hold the dumbbell by placing both hands on one of the weights; the dumbbell will be vertical. You want your hands to cup the weight, like you would hold a goblet. Ease into a squat and aim for 6 squats before resting. If you find that the weight is not heavy enough or too light, switch it out to a weight you feel more comfortable with.

Spider Push-Ups

No spiders are needed to do this challenging push-up. Start in the push-up position. When you bend down to do a normal push-up, slide your right leg out and bend the right knee until it’s at the right side of your body, almost like you are climbing a mountain. You want to keep the right knee pointed out when it is sliding and the right foot should be horizontal. Do your best to keep the right foot off the ground to get the full benefits from this position. When you are pushing up to complete your push-up, slide your right foot back into starting position. Next time you go down for the next push up switch legs.

Flying Dumbbells

As the title suggests, you will need a set of dumbbells for this, although two full water bottles could work as a replacement. It is best to do this exercise in a sitting position. Find a bench or a chair and sit on the edge of the seat. Place your dumbbells behind you, in line with your feet. Bend down to pick up the dumbbells, one in each hand. Your fingers should be pointing to each other and your elbows pointing out. Bend and lift your arms with the dumbbells. Pretend like your arms are wings. Continue to raise your arms until they are shoulder height. Then slowly put your arms back down. Repeat as necessary.


For these deadlifts, you will need a pair of dumbbells. Choose the weight that challenges you, but is still comfortable. Grab the dumbbells, so that one end of each weight is touching the front of your thigh and keep them horizontal as if they were attached to a bar. Bend forward with the dumbbells as if you were trying to place them back on the ground. Your body will go into a squat position. Make sure you keep your back straight during the lift, because the last thing you want is an injury.


Pull-Ups are necessary for upper body strength, but they can pose a challenge if you’ve never done them before, or if it’s been awhile. Find a pull up bar, either in your gym, on a playground, or if you have a pull up bar attachment for a doorframe. When grabbing the bar, make sure your hands are shoulder width apart and grab with your fingers pointing towards you. Do your best to pull yourself up so your chin is just above the bar, and then slowly lower yourself where you are hanging. If you can grab the bar while standing, you will have to bend your knees while doing pull ups. It will take some time to master pull-ups; so don’t lose hope if you are not where you want to be.

The Last Lift

These upper body workouts will help you achieve your goal of total body fitness, while giving you the strength you crave. Add them into your workouts to change up the routine, and to give your legs and core a break for the day.

Happy Lifting!


Friday, May 5, 2017

Marathon Dogs: Training to Race with your Four-Legged Friend

Have you ever been lonely racing a marathon? Why not bring your best friend with you, your dog. Marathons, half-marathons, and 5k’s that allow you and your dog to race have been popping up everywhere. If you have never brought your dog on a run, there are a few things to keep in mind.

                                                                                     picture courtesy of

Breed Type

Some dog breeds are more acclimated to running than other breeds. Most small dogs are not meant to run a marathon, or long distances. If you want your small dog to race with you, your best bet would be a 5k. Some dog breeds were built for endurance, like the Rhodesian Ridgeback. If you are thinking about doing a marathon with your dog, please research the breed first to see if they can handle a long distance run.

Age Matters

If your dog is still in their puppy days, you should reconsider taking them for a run. Puppies that are below 18 months are still forming strong bones and running will make for a costly surgery. Avoid injuring your puppy and hold off on running until they are old enough. Conversely, dogs that have reached old age should stick to walking. Running puts a lot of stress on a dog’s body, and any injury they receive now will take longer to recover due to their age.

Law of the Land

Does your dog behave well on the leash? If that’s a yes, great! Get a smaller leash and start with your training plan. For other dogs though, it may take a while for them to be good on a leash. Our little Ellie is still in the phase where she likes to pull us along through walks, if this is the case with your dog too, more training is needed. Start by getting a no-pull harness, which can help your dog realize that their walk is not a race and so they don’t hurt themselves by pulling too hard. Your dog should be able to keep a steady pace on their walk and obey commands before tackling a running program. This is not only to insure their safety, but it also keeps you from dislocating your shoulder, or twisting your leg if your dog still likes to stop and sniff.

What to do if your Partner is not okay

Dogs have other injury prevention steps we need to consider. The ground can be very hot for a dog, which is something easily forgotten since we have shoes. Check the ground by placing the back of your hand on the surface you plan to run on. If you can’t handle it for 10 seconds, then don’t let your dog run on it. As a general rule, if it’s hotter than 80 degrees Fahrenheit you probably should keep you dog back at the air-conditioned house.

If you are out on the run, and you notice that your dog is panting harder than normal, is vomiting, or having issues with diarrhea, it’s very possible that your dog may be experiencing heat stroke. First stop running, move to a cold area. Often when a dog starts to overheat their gums turn white. Give your dog plenty of water and have an action plan to get to the vet as soon as possible. Do not take chances with your dog.


We have shoes to help us through harsher terrain; dogs on the other hand only have their footpads. It’s important to check their footpads whenever you get back from a run to make sure there is nothing stuck in-between their toes, or their toes are not cracked and bleeding. Some dogs take well to shoes to help prevent these injuries, but if your pup is stubborn, try to be proactive about their foot health.

If your dog starts limping, or stretching one leg out funny, it’s time to stop and check their feet. Clean their footpads with soap and water, and do you best to cover their wound so that it doesn’t lead to infection. Your running buddy will need some time to heal before their next run with you.


Bee stings for dogs are rare, but they can happen. I was on a walk with my little basset hound Schluckauf when she stretched her back leg out funny and refused to walk. My poor girl had a bee caught in her toe pads. The first thing to do is to remove the bee and check for a stinger. Be careful removing stingers; never squeeze them out, this will release the venom; instead try to flick the stinger out with a credit card or something similar. Watch your dog for any uncommon behaviors and be ready to take them to the vet. If your dog gets stung on the face, and swelling occurs, it is okay to give them a Benadryl, but make sure that you give them the dosage their vet would recommend.

Key Items

There are a few items that you want to get in order to run with your dog. The most important item is a leash, which you probably already have, although you may want to pick up a new leash that is shorter to give you better control. The second most important item is a collapsible bowl. This is so your precious pup can quench their thirst on the go, without having to stop and figure out a way to cup your hands, or waste water hoping your dog will catch it in their mouth. Lastly, it’s a good idea to invest in a doggie run bag. These look like little backpack harnesses specifically designed to fit your dog. It makes it easier to carry the collapsible bowl, poop bags, and treats.

Make a Plan

In order to see progress, you need to have a routine with your dog. Your dog will get used to the days they train with you and the days they get to relax on the couch. Set a plan for training with your dog, and make sure that it adheres to your dog’s progress levels. They are not in the same shape you are so you will have to slow your pace and intensity for your dog until they are used to training with you.

Last Leg

Remember to make sure that your dog is physically fit enough to workout with you and to take the safety precautions to keep them safe. One thing to keep in mind is to make sure your dog doesn’t eat just before or just after their workout, this leads to a mess of dietary issues and health problems. After a little bit of training and preparedness, you and your dog will be ready for racing.

Happy Running and Woof Woof!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Keeping you Stable: Ankle Strengthening Techniques

Ankle strength is important for many different sports, whether you are an avid triathlete, dedicated volleyball player, or even a ballerina. Having ankle strength improves your stability while you run, which makes you less likely to sprain your ankle. It also increases your strength when you are on your toes and it helps maintain balance. Improving your ankle strength can mean a new personal record on your run time.

picture courtesy of 


For this strengthening stretch, sit in a chair and raise your right leg straight out in front of you. Start writing the alphabet in the air with your right foot. Once you get through the alphabet with your right foot, switch and repeat the stretch on your left foot.  For more of a challenge, trace a set of upper case letters and then a set of lower case letters before switching legs.


Find a curb, step, or something sturdy that is the same height as a step. Stand with your toes touching the bottom of the curb or step. You should be facing the curb or step. Jump with both feet onto the curb or step and then jump back down. This will help improve your ankle stability and strength.


You will probably need to build your wobble board for this, but not to fret; it’s super simple. You will need a board that you can comfortably stand shoulder width apart on, so not to narrow or short. Then in the center of the board you need a sturdy cylinder, about the size of a standard foam roller, but stronger. You want to make sure that you attach the cylinder to the board in the center. The last thing you want is for your board to break on you. Once you have a wobble board, one side of the board should be touching the ground and the other side should be in the air, like a teeter-totter. Stand on the board on the side that is touching the ground first, then step onto the board with your other foot. Balance on the board, keeping both sides of the board off the ground. Another way to strengthen your ankles with a wobble board is to teeter-totter on the board by shifting your weight from one side to the other.

Around the Clock

Like the ABC’s stretch, you will need a chair. Start by raising your right leg in the air. Slowly move your foot in circles clockwise, rest, and then with the same foot circle counter clockwise. Switch legs and repeat.

Up and Down Stairs

This exercise is best done with a tall step. Stand next to the step with the side of your right foot touching the step and your left foot away from the step. Step up with your right foot, while keeping your left foot hovering in the air, and then step back down. Repeat on the same foot 15 times and then switch legs.

Stay Balanced

Raise your right leg off the ground and bend your knee towards your glutes. Hold your right foot for better stability. Balance on your left leg and look straightforward. If this is tricky, try focusing on an object in the distance. Switch legs to work both sides. Once you have mastered balancing in one place, repeat the same exercise as above, but instead of looking straight ahead, move your head from the center to the left, back to the center, to the right, and return to the center before placing your foot down. Switch legs and repeat. For challenge mode, balance on one of your legs and move your head in the directions described above, all while keeping your eyes closed.

Ankle Raises

These are also called elev├ęs in ballet. Stand with your feet a little closer than shoulder width apart and slowly rise on your toes. Once you are balanced on your toes, gently lower yourself back to the ground. Repeat this stretch with your feet parallel a few times. Keeping your feet the same width apart, make your feet point outward like a V shape. Repeat this exercise with your feet in an outward stance. After you stretch with your feet in an outward stance, move your feet to an inward stance, like an A shape and repeat. Remember to take these stretches slow to prevent injury.


Whether you are a marathoner, a triathlete, or someone who enjoys the occasional 5k run, ankle strength can improve your running time, while making it less likely of obtaining an injury. Remember to strengthen your ankles so you can improve your balance and stability.


Happy Strengthening!