Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015: A Review

2015 was a good year.  I didn't post much, but did a lot of teaching, coaching, and finally got back to getting serious about my own training again.  I have a dedicated group of clients and athletes that I'm working with (including my own kiddos) who are making some great progress.  I was able to set and achieve some more long term training goals in both my strength training and Highland Games competitions.  I helped my husband train for a Spartan race he ran with one of his best friends and am proud to say that both of them finished in the top 5% overall as Elites in their late 40's.  Definitely not due to my training, both of them have a long established base of strength and endurance, but I think that maybe I might have helped my husband keep up with his friend who is in the freak class when it comes to this kind of stuff. 


I know that the time to set resolutions is coming and we will all be thinking about things we want to change about our lives in the coming year.  However, instead of setting some arbitrary rules, how about you set a goal?  Once you set a goal, you can set about planning how to get there.  In case you're wondering, that's something I help a lot of people do both online and in person.  But whether you seek my help or the help of another qualified coach, setting a clear goal is the first step in being successful in creating change in your life.  

Anway, if you're interested, here's my year in review and some things I'm looking forward to in 2016.

1.  I will be once again teaching the third and fourth graders at my son's elementary school how to have fun and get strong starting at the end of January.  Haven't seen a kid yet who can't deadlift their own bodyweight and 90-100 lbs seems to be the average lift for most of these kids, even the wee ones.  Can't wait to see this next group of kids in action.

2.  I competed in the Scottish Masters Athletics International World Championships in St. Louis, MO this past September.  After training hard for nine straight months, I came in second in the lightweight division and set some lifetime PRs on almost all my throws.  I plan on competing again this coming August in Buffalo, NY.  
*Photo courtesy of Kristin Bishop


3.  I am still coaching weightlifters and powerlifters.  Two of my powerlifters, Kris Kobza and Vicky Lehman competed at USAPL Raw Nationals this past October and did quite well.  Kris also competed at Bench Nationals won both championships in the masters division.  Vicky has increased her total by over 100 lbs in the past year and plans on doing the same this year.  Kris was invited to compete on the US team for IPF Bench Worlds and is currently training for that.  And I may have a contender for IPF Masters Worlds in the ranks.  


4.  My kids spent the summer running and are back to training for a powerlifting meet this coming February.  This will be their first full power meet (squat, bench, and deadlift) and they have really learned to work together in the weight room, an extremely important part of a successful training life.  Even though I primarily teach strength, an aerobic and endurance base is an extremely important part of well-rounded fitness and so my older children joined the cross country team at their middle school this year.  I was elated when my daughter told me she actually grew to enjoy it and wanted to keep running.  Which was awesome considering I thought she was going to start poisoning my diet coke when I was pulling her out of bed at 7 am over the summer to start training. 

  
5.  I hosted yet another successful neighborhood Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.  This might not seem like much, but its great fun to get a bunch of neighbors and friends out exercising when they could be lying around in their pajamas fantasizing about turkey and stuffing.  And as we all know, exercise is always more fun with other people.  And even more fun when there is coffee and breakfast at the finish line.  

6.  And speaking of exercising together, the group training course I wrote for the ISSA 5 years ago with my partner, Scott Dyck, is finally published as both an independent study course as well as an online course taught by me.  It is a stand-alone certification as well as an elective as part of the Exercise Physiology associates degree program. As to the content, in the words of my partner Scott:  

"This course builds on the foundational ISSA CFT course. We take a fresh look at the physiology and physiological conditions that drive the training effect, and introduce concepts of periodization and exercise selection that provide any trainer with the no-nonsense tools to create an effective group training program, for virtually any group of any size, demographic, and desired outcome."

To be more blunt, group training is very popular, but is often done wrong.  There is a fine line between actually training people vs selecting for the fittest in the group via pain and suffering.  When your program only selects for the already fit (because those who aren't give up, get injured, or burn out), you aren't really training anyone new.  And considering that less than 50% of the population exercises at all, there is a huge market out there for smart trainers who can progressively and safely train people in a way that is both fun and compassionate.  I've taught quite a few already and look forward to teaching more in the coming years.  

I hope all of you reached your goals this year and if not, keep it up for 2016.  As long as you have a plan, you will eventually get there.  :)


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Horse Latitudes

One of my friends aptly used this name for that period of training when you're just doing work and not really seeing much progress.  Practice the skills, move the weight, recover, and repeat.  If you recall from high school history, the Horse Latitudes, also known as the Doldrums was that area of the tropical ocean where the wind just wouldn't blow, the rain wouldn't fall, and it would take a lot of rowing and patience to make any progress.  Fortunately, the story about horses being thrown overboard in this area to save water is most likely a myth, but I digress. 

Well, sometimes the boats sank and they swam to shore.
   
When training, it can often seem like the work just isn't paying off.  This accumulation phase can be boring, tedious, and unrewarding.  However, its like digging the foundation for a house.  Day after day of moving dirt.  But then all of a sudden the cement truck shows up and everything moves up from there.  

I'm in the middle of training for some Fall highland games events including the Masters World Championships and my numbers are not moving.  Its frustrating to go out day after day and sometimes throw worse than I did the week before.  Its the same with my lifters.  During the heavy volume periods, progress seems to stall and we all just feel beat up.

The good news is that when we are done with the volume period and start honing our skills and recovery to peak for our intended date, all of a sudden, we have a lot more energy in the tank, weight on the bar, and distance on the throws.  And we get there with fewer injuries and a much higher level of performance.

I train for a lot of different things, but always with a date on the calendar.


What is the lesson here?

A lot of us push ourselves really hard all the time and wonder why we can't make progress or are chronically sore/injured/tired, etc.  A better approach is this:  Dial down the effort.  Approach your training as skill development whether it be strength, endurance, or sport specific skill.  Set a goal and put it on the calendar.  Give yourself enough time to achieve it.  And then, and only then, test your progress.  You'll most likely see that you've made far more progress than you expected. 

(For a comprehensive approach to building training programs, check out our latest book:  Play the Ball As It Lies)


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Finally a new post.

I was competing at the Highland Games in Maryland two weeks ago when I was approached by a couple who had seen me compete the year before.  They were happy to see me, but also concerned that I hadn't posted on my blog in over a year.  I was both flattered and a little surprised, but when I thought about it, I haven't update my blog since last July.  I guess I've been busy.  But, not too busy to be that lame, so, here's my 9 month update.

1.  I taught 3 more classes of 3rd and 4th graders to be strong and deadlift.  All of them lifted their bodyweight.  More than half of them lifted over 90 lbs.
2.  I registered for the Masters Highland Games World Championships in St. Louis this September.  They now have a lightweight division, less than 155 lbs, and I stand a good chance of placing in the top three.
3.  I am still coaching weightlifters, but now have a sizeable powerlifting team.  One of my members, Kris Kobza, has broken the USAPL American record for bench press in her age and weight division twice now and plans on doing it again at Raw Bench Nationals in August.
4.  My kids are still competing in powerlifting and doing great.  Adding a few more wee ones to pre-teen crowd.
5.  The group training course I wrote for the ISSA 5 years ago with my partner, Scott Dyck, is finally on the cusp of being published.  I am really excited for this and am working with a hand-picked group of trainers to review and optimize the launch which will hopefully be this summer. As to the content, in the words of my partner Scott: 

"This course builds on the foundational ISSA CFT course. We take a fresh look at the physiology and physiological conditions that drive the training effect, and introduce concepts of periodization and exercise selection that provide any trainer with the no-nonsense tools to create an effective group training program, for virtually any group of any size, demographic, and desired outcome."

I have a bunch of topics I want to write on in the next few months, but am very excited about the future and getting back to writing here.

Never judge a woman by what she looks like when carrying
a sixteen foot tree.