Friday, July 14, 2017

Make the Most out of your Recovery

Recovery might be the last thing you want to hear while making your training plan. Taking a day off, or decreasing your mileage can feel like you are not making any progress, but recovery days are necessary in order for your muscles to be able to perform their best. Here is our guide to help you master the recovery days in your busy training schedule.

Protein! Carbs! Protein!

Protein rebuilds your muscles while they recover. Adding protein into your recovery will help alleviate the soreness of your muscles. That’s why almost any article you read geared towards recovery will remind you that protein is your best friend for recovery. Try eating protein after your next workout. Carbohydrates help replenish the energy that your body spent during exercise. Ignoring carbs means your ignoring the energy your body needs for the rest of the day. 

Set Alarms to Snooze

Sleeping well every night is key to the recovery of your muscles. Sleep is the time your body works to repair your muscles, which means if you don’t get enough sleep your body doesn’t have enough time for essential repairs. Prioritize your sleep during your rest days to help your body replenish muscles.

Stretch

A post-workout stretch benefits your body in two ways; it helps prevent muscle soreness and increases your flexibility. Aim to stretch for 30 minutes after your workout. This will prevent stiffness in your muscles and get blood pumping through them, which speeds up your recovery process.

Massages and Foam Rollers

Arguably the best part of any recovery is when you treat your muscles to a massage. The easiest way to comb out your muscles from any knots is to grab your trusted foam roller and use it on the areas that leave you the most sore. This helps relieve muscle soreness by reducing the tension from knots that form when you workout. It also promotes blood flow to your muscles, which gets oxygen flow back into them making you less sore in the days to come. On occasion, treat yourself and your muscles to a professional massage. They will be able to target the problem areas your foam roller might not be able to completely resolve.



Wearing compression socks or sleeves during training can help you start relieving muscle soreness. Compression gear helps promote blood flow, which means more oxygen to your muscles. If you are on a recovery day you do not want to wear sleeves, but you can wear compression socks on your recovery day. Some people like to keep their compression socks on after they train and sleep with them on into their recovery day. If you find that your legs are unreasonably sore after your workout, try compression garments and see the difference.





Focus on Form

Recovery days don’t mean you halt all motion, but modify workouts to be easier while your muscles repair themselves. This is the perfect time to focus on your form and technique in every workout you do during recovery. Can’t quite get a hang of bilateral breathing in the pool? Train this technique during recovery time when setting your PR for swim laps is not your priority. Maybe cycling isn’t your strong section of the race. Try practicing positioning your body to be the most aerodynamic on the bike. Training your technique during your easier recovery workouts will pay off when you are full speed ahead and cannot dedicate as much focus on your technique.

Rest

Be careful to not overdue training in your recovery days. It’s best to listen to your body. If it needs a day off, take a day off of all workouts and relax. If you over train your efforts will not be rewarded, because your muscles will have no time to regain the nutrients they need in order to perform at their best.


Recovery days are essential to your body. Whether you take a rest day or take the workout easy, these days are necessary to help you achieve your race day goals. It’s not just the training, or the racing, but also the recovery that helps you succeed.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Having a Ball: Stability Ball Core Exercises

Stability balls are a great way to throw fun into your workout routine with the added bonus of improving your balance. Your local gym will probably have some, but if you can, invest in a stability ball so you can do these workouts in the comfort of your own home, which saves you a trip out. These exercises help strengthen your core and your legs, which gives your more power on your runs and better balance on the bike and in the water.

Planking with a Tap

Chances are you are no stranger to planks. This variation helps spice up planks by adding in the stability ball. You should be balancing on the stability ball with the shin area of your legs. Your toes will slightly hang off of the stability ball. Get into a plank position, but instead of bending your arms, they should be extended while you balance on the ball. Once you find your balance, take your left arm and cross it across your body and tap your right shoulder with your left hand. Place your hand back on the floor and regain your balance. When you have your balance switch arms so that your right hand taps your left shoulder. Repeat alternating which arm taps your shoulder to get the most out of this exercise.

Side Planks

On the subject of planking, why not try side planks with your stability ball? To do this exercise, lie on your right side. Your right elbow should be bent so it can prop you up. Place your right foot on the stability ball with your left leg resting on top of your right leg. When you are ready, prop up your elbow and find your balance. Your body should be straight and parallel to the floor with the left side of your body facing the ceiling and your right side towards the floor. Hold the position for 30 seconds, or as long as you can, before resting for your next set.  

Crunches

Crunches on the stability ball heighten the results you would get from doing normal crunches. Lie on the stability ball where your lower back and your shoulder blades are touching the ball. Then place your hands behind your head like you would to do a normal crunch. Personally, I like to place just the finger tips on my head so I know the difference between when my abs are pulling me up versus me pulling my head up thinking I’m doing a proper crunch. When you crunch you want to aim your left elbow to your right knee. Doing crunches across your body instead of up and down will work your obliques.

                                                      picture courtesy of food.ndtv.com

Pass the Ball

Known as the “Ball Pass” or the “V-sit” this is a must do exercise with a stability ball. To start this exercise, lie on the ground with the stability ball above your head. Grab the stability ball and raise both your arms and your legs to where your body makes a “V” shape. When you are in the “V” shape, place the ball in-between your feet so you have a nice grip. Then lie back down. Move into a “V” shape again bringing the ball in-between your feet back to your hands. This will give you one of the best crunches in your life.

Wall Sits Refined

Wall sits are simple to do and are great at working out your thighs. Wall sits with a stability ball are even more intense. Find a nice wall space where you have room to squat. Place the ball between you and the wall and press up against it so the ball does not fall. Go into a sitting position as if you were on an invisible chair. The ball should be touching your shoulder blades all the way down to your lower back. Your feet should be shoulder width apart to avoid any injuries. Hold the position for ten seconds and then return to standing. Do a few sets to work your way up to longer set times.

The Body Pike

This exercise is essential if you have a stability ball, although if you are not comfortable balancing on one yet I would master that before attempting this stretch. Start with the ball balancing in-between your feet and the floor. Your feet should be pointed and your hands should be shoulder width apart. Slowly and carefully roll the ball towards you while you lift your hips, so your hips are right above your shoulders. Your torso and upper body should be straight up and down, while your legs point out balancing on the stability ball. If you are having trouble balancing or going up all the way to the peak position, go as far as you can to build your body’s strength up till you can go straight up and down.

Modified Mountain Climbers

Get into a push-up position with the stability ball in-between your hands and the floor. The stability ball will be what you hold during this exercise. When you are balanced on the ball, take your right knee and tap the ball while keeping your right leg extended. Return your left leg back to the starting position and bring your right knee up to tap the ball. Alternate your legs back and forth tapping the ball to feel the burn of this core workout.

Hopefully you enjoyed these workouts and had a blast while doing the different stretches. If you are having trouble balancing on the ball keep working on it and you will improve. Add these workouts into your routine to change up the mundane schedule and work muscle groups you wouldn’t normally.

Happy Training!


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Conquer Your Transition to Open Water Swimming


Summer is finally here and what better way to celebrate than plunging into open water for the first time. If you have never raced or trained in open water fear not, because the more you practice the quicker your fear goes away. Here are our favorite tips and tools for open water swimming.

Prevent a Kick to the Face

Maybe your fear isn’t sharks; it’s getting kicked in the face. It occurs frequently if you are in the water with a ton of other racers who want to set their PR like you do. Practice the Catch-up swim stroke in training so you can execute it during the race when you need to protect yourself from other swimmer’s legs. This stroke positions you to have one arm always in front, which makes a barrier between you and someone else’s foot.

Goggles underneath Cap

Some people prefer to put their goggles over their swim caps, but if your cap falls off mid swim your goggles are going with it too.  Your goggles might also get wrestled off of your face if you get kicked or accidentally grabbed. Wearing your goggles underneath your swim cap will help them stay on for the full length of your swim.

Don’t Catch a Wave

Open Water means waves and waves might spell out danger if you are unsure how to handle them. In most races you will not be subjected to a relatively large wave, but on occasion and without warning they can happen. If you see a large wave coming towards you, remember to dive, grab, and push. Dive underneath the large wave and if you can, or if you feel comfortable enough, grab the sand underneath you. If you hold onto the sand, this makes the wave pass easily over you without you getting dragged with it. Then push off the sand to come back up and continue your swim. You won’t be swept away with the wave and you won’t lose distance.

Swim Straight

This is hard to do for most people who transition to open water swimming, because we are used to breathing on our favorite side and having a strong side. Get comfortable breathing on both sides of your stroke. It will help prevent you from pulling to one side or the other, plus you don’t have to wait for your preferred side to breathe if you are running out of breath. There is not much to help prevent your favored side from pulling you off course, which means you’ll have to rely on markers to reel you back on to the right path. If you look up too much you’ll waste precious time. While you are still training in the pool look up and choose a marker. Train looking up between a few of your strokes. When you are comfortable, increase the difficulty by lowering the amount of times you look up to your marker. This will translate into you swimming straighter and you being more in control of your path.

Drafting is Key

Maybe you have drafted in the pool before, or maybe you’ve only swum by yourself, regardless drafting in open water is an easy way to help you save energy for the other two legs of the triathlon. When you draft someone in open water, you can limit the amount of sighting you do because you can follow their lead.  This saves you the energy you would have to use to look up. Don’t worry if you touch their feet from time to time, but try your best not too.

Cold Water Blues

The ocean can be cold, very cold. It may not be on your first race, but you will experience swimming in cold water if you swim in open water. There are a few ways to prevent you from freezing up when you hit the water. Do a quick warm-up before you enter the water. This will help get your body to increase blood flow, which means you’ll be warmer in the water than if you forgo this step. To help reduce the cold shock to your face, blow bubbles when you hit the water. It sounds a little weird, and you might feel funny doing it, but it’ll prevent the shock of the cold water on your face and the shock you feel in your lungs. 

Whether you’re scared of getting kicked in the face or you absolutely dread cold water, you can overcome the obstacles that open water throws at you. Remember that open water can be dangerous for people who cannot swim well, so train hard in the pool and start easy in the ocean.

Good Luck and Keep Swimming!