Tuesday, November 30, 2010

When it rains, it pours

Wow... so you guys know I'm busy in general, but as of last week I got mega busy with freelance deadlines, finals approaching in school, new coaching clients, more of my own training (thus more scheduled rest of nothingness), the holiday season, cooking yummy things.... and the list goes on.

Point is, I want to thank everyone for the comments and questions on my recent blogs, as well as questions some of you have sent directly to me via email or FB. I totally plan on answering everyone once I get a little down time. I sincerely appreciate when people ask me questions about training and everything related to it or beyond because this stuff is my passion and a part of my everyday life, so I want to do my best to help out. However, I'm thinking if I become an extreme expert in the field and the Qs keep coming, maybe I should start a consulting business lol ;)

PS - At some point, I also plan on writing about the recent progress I've made with running and will share the tips and insight that led me from Person A: in-pain, barely able to run a mile to Person B: running 20+mile weeks 100% pain free and in better form! Let's just say a little hard work of "maintenance" stuff goes a long way. I'm doing maintenance stuff in the pool too, but that's slower progress... eventually it will come around ;)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Concurrent endurance & strength training: Why the order matters

I started a really good post on running stuff, but then I got a great question from a guy who read an article of mine in Triathlete Magazine about the benefits of strength training; essentially he wanted to know if it's a bad idea that he strength trains right after teaching a 45-minute spin class. Plus, I had a great comment on a recent blog regarding the topic of concurrent training (i.e. combining your endurance and strength training into one workout session, and what the order should be). So, I decided to post part of the reader's question and the answer I gave. (If it's not obvious, I'm pretty passionate about these types of topics, which is why I'm willing to sit there and right a novel-ish email to a total stranger lol).

Ms. Prazak,
I have a question for you concerning your Run Less, Lift More, Race Better article in Triathlete magazine for August.... I was reading this article and came across the part of "keep em seperated". So I wanted to get your opinion on something:
I have become an avid triathlete the past two years, and i have started my base to prepare myself for my 70.3 training I have in May. I am a fitness instructor (spin and core stuff), and then I train 6 days a week on top of that. My typical schedule on a Wed and Friday is teach a 45 minute spin class and then I lift weights right after for 30-45 minutes. When you say "avoid strength training right after heavy endurance exercise", would a pretty laid back 45 min spin class (i do push myself and sweat, but it is nothing compared to my typical bike training) be considered "heavy endurance"? I understand that I shouldnt go on a 10 mile run and then lift weights. But what are your thoughts on lifting after a 45 min spin class?

Thank you for your time.


My response (which I sort of edited since I sent the email haha):

Hi Ryan,

Thanks for the email. There are several issues with concurrent endurance and strength training, so I'll try to tell the whole story of why this even matters and give you some recommendations on how you should structure your training...

Why it's NOT good to strength train after endurance exercise:

First off, there are issues of fatigue with concurrent training. You're likely to be more fatigued if you strength train after endurance and therefore your technique might suffer. If you're lifting relatively heavy weights, that could be a big problem. The fatigue may also prevent you from lifting to your potential so your strength workout won't be as quality as it would be were you "fresh." Some reasons for that may be: 1) lower glycogen levels post-endurance (even just 45 min of exercise), which impairs the anabolic (muscle growth) response of strength training; 2) endurance --> neuromuscular fatigue --> slowed muscle recruitment --> impaired rate of force development --> impaired power (no bueno). Now, all that said, if a 45-min bike isn't that big a deal for you, I'm sure it's not terribly detrimental to ride then lift (more on this below).

Secondly, with concurrent exercise there's hormonal/chemical issues. Endurance exercise prior to strength will suppress protein synthesis, which negatively interferes with gains in strength, power and hypertrophy, meaning you're not getting the max potential benefits from your strength workout. An enzyme called AMPK is released with endurance exercise, and AMPK inhibits markers of muscle growth, specifically a protein called mTOR (result: less protein synthesis is going on = your strength workout isn't reaching its potential). This effect can last up to 2-3 hours; the longer/harder the endurance exercise, the longer the effect.

However, strength training will not negatively affect your endurance capabilities; i.e. aerobic capacity and muscular endurance are not negatively affected with concurrent training. So lift away and you'll still be an aerobic machine. Plus, strength training is beneficial for triathletes/endurance athletes for a million reasons, and don't worry you won't bulk up as long as your endurance workouts are legit. But that's a whole other topic...

The bottom line:

It's best to separate strength and endurance training into two separate sessions hours apart when possible. But if you can't, there are two ways to go:
1) do the key workout of the day first so your most fresh for that, i.e. you get the most out of it.
2) do strength then endurance (for the reasons above).


Now, practically speaking:

Personally, I am forced to combine the two all the time due to time constraints. Most times, I like to do a short warmup (i.e. 10 min functional movement, 5-10 min treadmill), then a strength circuit, short rest, then endurance -- with quality nutrition throughout. But I switch it up if I need to be fresh/focused for the endurance workout. For example, I'm working hard on running technique these days so I'll sometimes do a 30-50 min easy/moderate run then strength train. (Described that workout in a recent post.) That said, I never do strength training after a long and/or hard run (hour+) or long bike (1.5+ hours).

I say, if the endurance workout is less that 60 minutes and not a total ball-buster, I think it's OK to do strength afterward without too many detrimental effects, though it's not ideal. Just rest about 10-20 minutes between and get in good nutrition during everything & after -- primarily glycogen, but protein too.

However, you might want to consider doing your strength first because it sounds like the spin class isn't that big of deal for you, and the strength is the focus. Thus you'll want the most gains from the strength and even 45 minutes spinning might elicit some fatigue, lowered glycogen, inhibition of protein synthesis, etc. So maybe try switching it up and see if you notice a difference!

Another option is combining lower-body endurance exercise with upper body strength, and vice versa. The inhibition of protein synthesis is localized to the muscles you use in the endurance workout, so if it's a bike ride, your legs release the AMPK, but your upper body will be relatively unaffected.

Hope that helps!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Stop your pill-popping

A Must Read (but read what I say below before clicking the link and leaving my blog, lol)...

This morning I came across what I consider a must-read article by Alex Hutchinson after reading his Sweat Science Blog. I was smiling ear to ear. Basically the article cites current research and makes a case for the same thing I've been saying for a while now -- don't load up on NSAIDs/painkillers to "treat" your injury; instead, let nature take its course. You're not treating and/or healing anything with the pills, you're just masking the pain and, worse, preventing the natural healing process from taking place.

The bottom line is: Natural swelling/inflammation from an acute injury is a positive thing because it means you're healing and affected tissues will grow back stronger. The pills screw that up. Not to mention, the traditional idea of R.I.C.E., mainly the ice, compression, elevation parts, aren't so wise either (especially ice, which majorly restricts blood flow, thus preventing swelling). However, the "R" in R.I.C.E., aka rest, is good when injured, even if we hate to admit it and stick to it, yea yea :) One more thing... there's a difference between acute and chronic swelling. Acute is OK, chronic is no bueno.

I guess the question comes down to this regarding acute injury: Do you NEED relief now or can you tough it out, heal naturally and come back stronger? If you need instant relief, go ahead and take your pills to mask the pain, but if you can wait, you'll be in better shape in the long run.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I'm sick so dreaming about working out

I woke up this morning with a tummy ache. The thought of coffee disgusted me, and all I could stomach was some dry cereal and a banana. It wasn't too much later that my stomach was empty, if you catch my drift. Yup, stomach flu. Then the fever of 100+ degrees hit.

Btw, I swear this illness is legit and not a result of going back on what I said in my last post about partying and drinking, aka I didn't go out again and I'm not hungover! I think Denner might think otherwise after I post he left on my FB, lol. But, maybe my body just wants to remind me what could happen if I decide to go out and drink too much. Ewww. No thanks! I prefer my health!

Anyways, I am a TOTAL BABY when it comes to being sick. Thankfully, my mom was around and willing to take care of me. She rocked it! Guess there are some perks of being single and living at home -- moms just have a knack for this stuff. However, I'm sure she was laughing in the background every time I yacked -- I'm quite the vocal barfer.

After the worst was over (I'm hoping), all I wanted was some crunchy chocolate chip cookies. So random, but they hit the spot and the five I ate are still in my tummy, so far :)

Another good sign: I now finally have enough strength to type and think coherently, so since I didn't get in the swim and run I had planned for today, I'll tell you about my awesome workout yesterday...

I'll preface it by saying working at a gym by the beach with a kick ass staff and cool clientele is the best motivation ever. Our gym is the opposite of the typical 24 Hour Fitness / mass fitness center (sorry people/employees at those gyms). SPI is like a home that's never over-crowded. Ok, enough bragging about my gym ;)

Monday workout:

1. 20 min light lower-body conditioning/warmup: single-leg squats, lateral walk w band, single-leg glut bridges on the ball (thanks D), inverted hamstring and lunges - reverse lunge and walking lunge. with all those, the goal was perfect form/technique! bam!

2. 40 min run: started with a few drills then an out-and-back run from my gym in Laguna Beach. Weather was perfect. I'm working on my stride and learning to strike underneath my center of gravity vs. strike in front of me, and it felt foreign but went well I think (having a personal videographer would have been nice to see if I was doing what I wanted to be doing haha).

3. 20 min high intensity strength circuit: 5 rounds: 250 m row (@ 100%), 1 minute rest, deadlifts at 8-RM, 10 inverted ring row (great for lats/swimming) and 100-touch jump rope. Last round was a 500 m row. The load I chose for deadlifts is great for developing strength, hypertrophy and power, and resting a minute before allows for full recovery to better achieve those things. It's like doing running repetitions where you fully recover between each.

4. Cool down including some functional movements, yoga-ish stuff, a vanilla protein shake with almond milk and watching other people bust their asses :)

Now that's my kind of workout. The only thing I'd change (in an ideal world) is separating the aerobic conditioning (run) and strength training time-wise to allow for max recovery and gains from each. But life ain't ideal when you gotta switch modes and head to school :)

Wow.... I actually feel a little better after writing this blog. Got my mind of the flu!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Oops... I Did it Again

I've had a couple hiccups in the plan of "Nov. 1 = get my sh*t together." Guess I've just enjoyed having a social life a little more than usual lately. All things considered, I haven't been that bad... I successfully survived my first real/structured training block and am seeing some glimpses of fitness. Plus I aced my last Ex Phys exam; just the comeback I hoped for!

Training-wise, I've switched things up a bit and I think it's going to be very beneficial: From now on, I'll be doing 3-week blocks as Week 1 - hard, Week 2 - harder, Week 3 - recovery. Last year I did 4-week blocks (3 on, 1 recovery), but I'm pretty sure that was too much for my body to handle at times. As far as what I mean by "hard," "harder" and "recovery?" Well, there's a lot that goes into that, and they mean different things depending on the training phase, but that's a topic for another day... which I'd be happy to talk about if there's interest :)

So, yea, back to the hiccups. These past couple weekends have involved going out and/or drinking... bad Tawnee! I'm a sucker for giving into temptations! This past weekend I was especially bad, which I justified because I was on a recovery week so I knew my weekend workouts weren't going to be too insane. What can I say -- when an old friend from SDSU gets in touch and wants to hang out, well then I'm going to hang out! I hadn't seen this particular SDSU dude in a couple years, and now he happens to live rather close to me. The group of us that went out all are/were kinesiology majors and now in grad school or chiropractic school, so needless to say we had a lot to talk about! But I swear we weren't that nerdy and only talking about muscles, joints and such. Instead we partied, danced and drank until last call. Fun, but ouch.

After the haze from the night's festivities wore off, the weekend daytime activities turned out to be amazing! We're having the best "summerlike" November ever in SoCal! I ended up riding slightly more than planned just I couldn't NOT be outside on my bike :) Then, sometime on Sunday afternoon, I think at mile 40 or so, it hit me. After replaying the last month+ of fun over in my head, I came to the realization that I'm maxed out on all the little "social indulgences" I've had recently. What started in Hawaii is finally out of my system. It's been fun, but I'm ready to stick to business. Seriously. I got goals, and I'm ready to work hard to see that they happen. That doesn't mean I'm now officially anti-social, I'll just be more picky about what I do after dark. But I think it will be easy when life gets gnarlier and I'm voluntarily in bed by 8-9 p.m.

So what's the point of this blog? I dunno... guess I'm just trying to say you can't be perfect all the time. And while it's important to have good balance in life (i.e. go out and have fun!), you still have to stay true to what matters most and make that the #1 priority. For me, having a nightlife is rather insignificant at this point; it's what I do in the daylight hours that matter most :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Real Life as of Late....

So now that the Kona fantasy vacation is just a distant memory, how about a blog on reality? Yes, I know, not as fun & appealing as Hawaiian photos with bikinis and beaches. Well too bad. That's life. Thankfully real life as I know it isn't all that bad. A lot is going on, and there's a lot to catch up on. Guess I'll just run down the list...

*Got sick after Kona. My first legit cold in maybe two years. But I only let it stick around for three days then I forced it to leave. That tactic actually worked! Which leads to the next major thing...

*Training! I'm doing it again! Yay! My focus is building a base, working on my weaknesses and, of course, having fun. It feels so good to be back at it. The weather was sh*t for a while then in true schizo fashion it turned into summer in SoCal! Of course, doing long rides with sunny skies & 80+ degree temps is ideal, but there's something to be said for crazy workouts in rainy, cold conditions -- builds character. Ha ha.

This ride, to the top of Modjeska Grade Road, was pretty bad weather-wise, but it was one of the best days I've had in a while even if I was soaking wet and couldn't feel my fingers and toes after the descent!

Overall, there's a lot going on in my training and planning for the 2011 triathlon season. I guess you could say I've grown as an athlete and coach, and that's certainly affecting what I am doing now vs. what the old me would have been doing (mentally and physically). But I'll save all that for its own blog post. Stay tuned (betcha can't wait, eh? riiiiight).

Moving on...

*Personal life. I've been searching for good balance among my social life, training, work and school. In October, things leaned heavily toward the social side. Oh well, I needed it, and so did some of my friends with whom I shared the good times. I set Nov. 1 as the "get my sh*t together" date. I think pictures tell the story best...

GIRLS NIGHT with Sara and Tatiana in Laguna Beach. Priceless night of fun. However, because we all try to be "quality athletes," I won't share the rest of the pics ;)

Tatiana's Halloween Party in Encinitas with the SD endurance-sports crew. Check out my last-minute costume that I made only hours before, the Orbit Gum Girl! "Dirty mouth?" (Thanks MJ for the pics)

James was Tatiana... classic! He fit in her clothes strangely well ;)
I love Halloween, but I was back to my grandma ways by the 31st; i.e. I stayed home handed out (and ate) candy, read a book, ya know. Of course I still had to dress up. I went with "Dead Barbie." Sydney was a bee, and you know my thoughts on bees, so I busted out my epi pen on her @$$ haha...
A Funday Sunday with BFF Courtney from SDSU at her new pad in Santa Monica. That area has a great workout scene, very motivating. Just too much traffic though...
View of the city. I prefer views on undeveloped land :/

Modeling shoot for ROAD Magazine in SD. Thomas and I were joking about how cold we were that afternoon, when in reality it wasn't even that cold...ah, effects of triathletes being in Hawaii for too long...
This picture, well, what can I say... impromptu arm-wrestling contest with my dad (he won, grrr!). Conclusion: I need to move out my parents' house haha...

*Last but not least there's the rest of my life: work & school. Hm, what to say. They're both keeping me busy! I just made the payment for my last semester of grad school, woo woo! As of May, I'm done foreva (that is, hopefully I make it out on time haha).

I've also been teaching a fitness class at my gym now, which I love doing. I will start teaching more classes this winter, after the semester ends. We do a lot of functional training in a circuit format, and the workout routines work you HARD from head to toe, incorporating everything from aerobic/anaerobic stuff to weights to body-weight exercises. Even I can only handle a 2-3 classes a week.

Inside peak of the rowing machine in our gym... oh how I love/hate those!

That's it for now. Thanks for reading :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Kona... Wrapping it Up

After the race, it was fun to start experiencing Hawaii without it being "Ironman this, Ironman that." I love the lifestyle out on the islands. Maybe a future residence?

I mean, when I have this at my fingertips, why would I want to ever leave?
So anyways, continuing with the trip... Sunday after the race was basically a lead up to that night, the K-Swiss Party. But before that we had a lot of sober fun! Started with an afternoon party at the TYR house -- lunch, good friends, awesome view...

After that I headed out with the GU crew (Tyler, Eleanor and Caroline) for some cliff jumping. I was a little nervous at first, but after jump #1, it was like, "Let's do it again!"

I swear I didn't jump naked, but it doesn't appear that way! Ha!
Climbing out of the thrashing water onto sharp-ass rocks was more difficult that the jumping itself. We all got cut up and needed some first aid after... along with Caroline's amazing homemade cookies. Mmmm.
Finally, it was time to switch gears into evening party mode. First was the Awards Ceremony, which was perfect for getting warmed up with some beers. The food was blah, but I ate up thinking I'd need it for the cocktails ahead. My plate...Of course, no post-race day is complete without some canckles!!! Can you guess which leg/foot is Maggs' and which is mine?

K-Swiss party... As everyone has said by now: it's epic. Everyone is there having a blast and letting loose. What else can I say? I was having so much fun that I didn't bother with my camera for the most part, except for this (which I apparently very few people remember, hmmm?)...

The only crappy part of the party was when a random broken beer bottle slammed into my ankle and cut me gooood. I swear this wasn't a stupid drunk mistake that I made; just a result of wrong place at the wrong time. Long story short: I was dancing in the sand with my back turned away from the bar. The bottle fell off an arm rail and hit the edge of the flooring, shattering into my ankle. Within seconds, blood everywhere.

We got my gashes cleaned up, and I decided in the moment that I'd be OK (hind-sight, I needed stitches!). Next day, after the advice of a doctor, I went to an urgent care center. It was too late to stitch it because it already looked infected, as did all my other cuts and blisters from the week. The cure: antibiotics and no more going in the ocean... otherwise risk a gnarly staf infection aka MRSA. Oh, and drinking not advised. Crap.
So that sucked, but I was still in Hawaii so whatever! Moving on...

Monday night was a triathlon dinner party at The Mauna Lani. Instead of drinking I had extra big plate of dessert. I also fell in love with the Mauna Lani... best hotel ever!Maggs, me and D!
Part of the dessert buffet...

My concoction...

Tuesday was wedding day! That afternoon, we gathered to watch Luke McKenzie and Amanda Balding get hitched. Then we ate, drank, danced and partied away. Yup, there's nothing like an Aussie- and triathlete-filled wedding at a breathtaking bay-front property in Hawaii. Pretty much perfect. Again, the camera didn't make it out that much cause I was too busy having fun :)

The bride and groom were glowing (and Luke was sweating haha)...

Incredible food...

Wednesday was about D, the birthday girl! It was also my last full day on the island, so I needed the epicness to continue :) It started with brekkie at Lava Java, where I was surprised to see a good amount of triathletes still around, pros and all. LJ is the place! That afternoon we hung out at The Mauna Lani, where we also had dinner plans.

Gathering with the group before D's b-day dinner...D, sunscreen!
Another fabulous meal...

Thursday was a bittersweet day. Still in paradise, but fully aware that the end was nearing. I got in one last run (speaking of running, I'm stoked on all the running I did despite having no run base due to the recent injury) then messed around until I had to leave. Saying goodbye and ending the trip was not easy, to say the least.

And, three blogs/one month later, that's Kona in a nutshell.

Finally, now I can get back to real life! Lots to talk about... stay tuned and thanks for reading :)