Monday, January 29, 2018

Monday Musings: We have arrived

Hello from somewhat sunny Florida, ha ha.  It's overcast this morning but it's WARM so that's a-ok with me.

We left Toronto on Friday and had a pretty uneventful drive down to the US.  G had to do his visa at the border so we had to stop for a bit.  The process was pretty smooth, I think we were in and out in 30 minutes or so.  The weather was awesome on Friday, sunny and 3 degrees when we started and it climbed steadily the further south we went, so we had a really smooth drive.   We drove into Charleston West Virginia on Friday night after spending the majority of the day on the road.   Saturday was our big day on the road (almost 9 hours of driving).  We drove from Charleston to St. Augustine, Florida.  Last year we stopped in Savannah but it was still roughly 6 hours to Clermont from there so this year we opted to at least get to the top of Florida so we only had a couple of hours drive to Clermont.  That way we could spend a bit of time exploring in the morning before we hit the road.  We did a day trip to St. Augustine last year and loved it so we thought it would be nice to stay the night there.  G and I went for a bit of walk on the beach in the morning and then I left G to continue his walk and I went for a very sweaty run.  It was 17 degrees and very muggy.  I only had my tights and a short sleeve dry-fit t-shirt in my overnight bag so that's what I ran in.  OMG I was drenched.  At least it got me used to the heat. 

Going through West Virginia on our first night

Walking along the beach in St. Augustine yesterday morning
The house we’re in this year in pretty freaking awesome.  It’s in a newer development within walking distance to the NTC.  Being in a newer development, it also has a POOL.  WAHOOOO.  The house we stayed in last year was a very old home with no real useful outdoor space which was a shame given how awesome the weather was.  This year, I intend to take full advantage of the upgraded outdoor space.  Here's hoping the weather cooperates!  

This past week was nuts.  For some reason I thought it would be smart to schedule all my appointments in the week before we left.  UGH.  So much scrambling!  It meant a lot of missed workouts but whatever, I know the next two months will give me more than enough time to get some solid work in.   My back was also causing me some grief so I opted to skip a swim to let it rest.  I really wanted to come to Florida feeling as good as possible.  I don't want to spend my time here sitting on the sidelines.  So let's just say I had a really good recovery week, ha ha.  I'm going to spend my morning planning out my next few weeks here.  

So, this is how my big time recovery week went:

Monday:  OFF

Tuesday:  9km run with 4km at tempo

Wednesday:  2450m swim

Thursday:  45 minute ride, 1 hour of strength training

Friday:  OFF

Saturday:  OFF

Sunday:  6km run around St. Augustine with 2km at tempo pace.  Easy to do on the flats!

Total time:  3h and 50 minutes.  I am clearly very well rested, haha.

Today I'm headed to the NTC for a swim and probably some strength training and then the afternoon will be a Training Peaks review day.  Last night we met up with a couple of our friends from here (Hi Marianne & Butch!) and I was talked into doing the Cherry Lake Duathlon this weekend.  I always say make sure your first race of the season isn't your first brick.  OOPS.  I had planned on starting brick workouts this week so, looks like I'll get ONE in before the race on Saturday.

Now it's off to Target to do some grocery shopping.

Happy Monday gang!

~ Coach PK

Monday, January 22, 2018

Monday Musings: Hitting the Road

Happy Monday!

Well Mother Nature blessed us with a reprieve from the polar vortex this weekend.  It felt like spring out it was so nice!  I hope you managed to get out and take advantage of it.  Looks like the brutally cold temps will be staying away for the next week, which means we *should* have a fairly uneventful drive down south.  Yup, we're headed back to Clermont for two months.   I'm super excited!  But first, the massive task of packing.  UGH.  And of course this coming week is when I scheduled all my appointments.  Because I somehow thought that would be a good idea. Ha.

I have some exciting news to share!  I have been accepted as a Lole Ambassador!  They were looking for a female run coach to round out their roster of Ambassadors so I got the spot!  This means I get to host 4 (or more) events at the Lole Yorkville store, all running related.  It also means that I get a discount on my favourite clothing brand.  I live in their stuff.  I also train and run in it so this is a huge win / win for me.  The most fun part?  I will be hosting a clothing party as well!  I'm not sure where or when just yet but I have some ideas so stay tuned for that.  Guests will get a discount too.  WOOHOO.

Anyway, I'm trying to head to Florida as healthy as possible since I will be away from my normal health care practitioners for a couple of months and I don't want to have to go and see someone down there as it more than likely won't be covered on our extended benefits.  So, I'm trying to get 'tuned up" as much as possible, ha ha.

Speaking of which, I had another fascial stretch therapy session this past week and she focussed on my upper body.  Wow.  I am feeling SO much better in the pool.  My chest feels so much more open and my shoulders don't feel as tight.  My shoulders were a bit of a mess.  So much so that my therapist took a picture of the difference.

Crazy right???

I'm definitely feeling much better through my chest and upper back.  I could still use a bit more mobility through my t-spine but I'm sure that will come if I keep working at it.  I can really feel the difference in the pool, which is fantastic.  G commented that I'm swimming much better.  I think my form is a bit better too.  Now I just need to work on my catch a bit more.  My goal is to be able to swim between 1:40-1:45 in a half ironman distance swim.  So I've got a bit more work to do.

I had a big week of workouts planned but by Friday I was feeling a bit run down.  I hadn't slept well for a couple of nights (thank you hormones!) and it caught up with my on Friday.  I had a swim and a run on tap and I did neither.  Saturday I thought I felt better (my HRV said otherwise but I ignored it) and I got on the bike and tried to ride for 2.5 hours.

I made it 10 minutes in and couldn't settle my heart rate so I pulled the pin.  This time next week I will be able to ride outside for as long as I want so I am not going to worry about trying to cram anything in this week.

So instead of the monster week I was hoping to have before we leave, I had a meh kinda week.  But it's better than nothing.  This is what went down:

Monday:  1 hour sweet spot ride.  Felt really good.

Tuesday:  35 minute run (6.7km).  I was supposed to have some tempo work in there but some poor food choices for lunch made that NOT happen.  I followed that up with 15 minutes of lower body work.

Wednesday:  2750m swim.  This felt good.  I was a bit sore from the FST treatment the night before but otherwise I felt ok.

Thursday:  60 minute strength session.  I did almost the entire workout I had my class do.  55 minute V02 max ride in the p.m.  That didn't go over so well.  My legs were toast (not surprising given I did my strength work first, duh).  The hard riding also bugged my lower back.  So I made it through half of the intervals and then called it a day.

Friday:  OFF

Saturday: OFF

Sunday:  2650m hard swim,  followed by a 13km run home in the a.m.  Then I did 60 minutes of strength work with my class in the p.m.   The GoPro came to the pool yesterday so there was some goofing around.

Totals for the week:

Swim:  5400m
Bike:  71km
Run:  19.7km

Total time:  8h 10 minutes.  

How was your week of training?  Have you had poor food choices ruin one of your workouts?  What did it for you?  Mine was having Chipotle for lunch.

Happy Monday!

~ Coach PK.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday Musings: Back at it


I know some of you enjoyed reading about my weekly workouts so I'm bringing Monday Musings back for my build up to my two 70.3 races this year.  It's definitely going to be an interesting year given that my two big races are 5 weeks apart.  We'll see how this old bod of mine holds up to that.

This past week was my first really solid week of training since the beginning of the year.  I'm feeling pretty good save for my low back, specifically my right side around my SI joint.   It seems to get stuck and irritated and I'm still trying to figure out why.  Some of it is core control for sure but I also feel that my lack of rotation in my T-spine doesn't help.  So I'm slowly working on fixing that.  Thankfully it's not preventing me from working out but there are days that I feel it and it bothers me.

This was my first week of experimenting with 10 day hard / easy format to see how I feel and how my body reacts.  After 10 days I'll probably take a rest day, just to play it "safe" even if I am feeling ok.  Sometimes I find taking a rest day a mental necessity vs a physical necessity.  I'm being much more "intuitive" with my training right now.  By intuitive, I mean if I feel good physically and mentally on my scheduled rest day, instead of taking the day off completely, I'll do an easy activity, usually a swim or yoga.  Something that isn't overly taxing.   I'm also using HRV4Training which monitors my heart rate variability to let me know whether or not I'm fully recovered and can proceed as planned or if I need to limit my intensity for the day.  It hasn't steered me wrong yet and I've been using it for a year now.

So, on to the fun stuff.  What did I get up to this week?

Monday:  Upper body strength workout

Tuesday:  13km long run

Wednesday:  2300m swim in the am, and a 1 hour endurance ride, short upper body workout in the p.m.

Thursday:  40 minute zone 2 run and a 1 hour mostly lower body workout - I actually did most of the workout I was teaching, which was a blast.

Friday:  1900m swim with sprints, 1 hour sweet spot ride.  My legs were feeling pretty sore from my strength class, ha ha.

Saturday:  2 hour mostly endurance based ride.  I had planned on doing lower body work afterwards but my body decided it needed a nap.  So I slept for about 40 minutes and then wasn't motivated to do anything else afterwards, ha ha.

Sunday:  2650m swim.  I had a 35 minute run on the schedule and put it off until after my Strength clinic.  Big mistake,  because once I got back from that, I had no desire to get my running stuff and go out for a run.  LOL.  So much for the Lululemon 40/80 challenge badge on Strava.

Totals for the week:

Swimming:  6,850m 
Cycling:  4h 13 minutes
Running:  20.6 km 

Total time:  10h 22 minutes 

That's slightly higher than normal volume for me this time of year but I'm building my time up for when I get to Florida.  I know I'll probably be between 12-14 hours / week of training if it's anything like last year.  When you have the opportunity to ride outside for two months in the winter, you take full advantage of it.

How was your week of training?  Who else is chasing some big goals this year?

~ Coach PK

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

What I've Tried: Fascial Stretch Therapy

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I am a big proponent of self care, from regular foam rolling, to mobility work to massage, it's all an integral part of being a healthy injury free athlete.

Sometimes, you get to a point where these modalities may not be enough to help you feel or move better.  That was where I was at the end of last year.  I was having nagging SI joint issues, so I started working on engaging my core.  I also noticed that the range of motion in my legs had changed.  I felt like my hips and hamstrings were so tight that I couldn't stride efficiently.  Massage helped a little bit but within a few days I would be right back to where I was before my massage.  Something was up.

I read about fascia a few years ago as more and more research was being done on it's function and role it plays in mobility in the body.  Fascia is essentially a web that runs around our muscles.  It is a band of connective tissue that is found beneath the skin and it attaches, stabilizes, encloses and separates muscles and internal organs.

Fascia will thicken and shorten when any of your tissues are under stress, whether that be from poor posture, injury, surgery or long term exercise.   Shortened fascia can result in limited range of motion.  And limited range of motion can cause a host of other issues in your body.  It's a domino affect.

So how do you stretch fascia?  Doesn't regular passive stretching help with stretching your fascia?  It can help a little bit if done correctly but most of us stretch too deeply, usually to the point where were feel a bit of pain.  Your muscle will respond to that by tightening up, thus defeating the purpose of stretching in the first place.  And since fascia is deep within the muscle, it's very difficult to target it effectively without some assistance.

Enter Fascial Stretch Therapy, or FST for short.

What exactly is fascial stretch therapy?

The simple explanation is that it is assisted stretching, performed on a table, using stabilization straps to hold limbs in place.  Traction is a major component of the therapy.  This is the description from Performance Bodywork:  The therapist will apply gentle traction to the joint being targeted, opening up the joint and creating space for increased range of motion before taking the limb through the movement pattern, paying attention to the fascia restrictions that may need to be addressed.  

I have to say I've never experienced anything quite like it.  It is not meant to be painful and if I felt pain, I had to let my therapist know.  There were points where it was uncomfortable but if I managed my breathing, it helped with the discomfort.  I was twisted into all sorts of positions that I wouldn't have been able to get into myself.  After the treatment, I felt looser and lighter.  When I went for a run the next day, I felt like an entirely new person.  All of the restriction I had been feeling was GONE.  Even my SI joint pain felt better.   This was a game changer for me.

Why is it so effective?

FST targets fascia at the deepest level, which is around your joint capsule.  This forces the muscles around your joint capsules to relax.  If your joints start to get restricted, your mobility becomes compromised.  Compromised mobility leads to a feeling of stiffness and you'll notice decreases in performance.  As we age, we also begin to lose flexibility.  All of this can create a recipe for injury.

Currently, FST isn't covered under most extended benefit plans unless it is performed by an RMT (registered massage therapist).  Many personal / athletic trainers offer it as a service and several pilates studios also have practitioners.  I went to Body Harmonics, which is a pilates studio, for my treatment.  You can find your closest practitioner on the Stretch to Win website.  There are different levels and types of practitioners from level 1 to level 3, fitness specialists, which are usually athletic trainers, or medical specialists, which are usually RMTs, kinesiologists or physiotherapists.  I saw a level 3 fitness specialist.  She was amazing.  The higher the experience generally the more expensive the therapist, at least at Body Harmonics.  A level 3 practitioner is $115 for an hour and a level 2 practitioner is $105 an hour.  It was worth every penny.  That being said in future I may try to find a registered RMT so I can claim it through my extended benefit plan because if you're in rough shape, like I am, it's going to take more than one treatment to sort everything out.

I feel like FST has given my body a re-set.  As someone who has struggled with mobility issues and nagging injuries over the last couple of years, I feel like I am getting close to being back to where I was 5 years ago in terms of my mobility level.  I'm starting to feel like I'm physically ready to rise to the challenges I've set for myself in 2018.

Has anyone else tried FST?  Was it a game changer for you? 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2018: The Year of Purpose

Happy New Year!

Alright, I'm a bit late to the party but I was seriously enjoying my down time over the last few days.  New Year's Day was spent in my lounge clothes, watching movies and making pretty things for my new side hustle.  G took Tuesday off so we got a ride in, took the Christmas Tree down and then tackled the storage cupboard under the stairs in the basement.  It was filled with SO. MUCH.  CRAP. that we haven't touched since we moved in so we did a huge purge.  Now there's room to actually hang some coats and put away our winter boots.

There's something about a good closet cleaning that just makes you feel lighter.  Less tethered to shit. I am always amazed at how much crap we accumulate.  It feels good to get rid of all the unnecessary stuff.

Which brings me to the reason behind this post.  Over the years I've seen people talk about setting intentions for the New Year vs. resolutions or goals.  One of the ways to set intentions is to choose a word that will guide you throughout the year.  That really resonated with me this year so I thought about it for a while.  I always have goals but they are usually only athletically oriented.  I wanted something that was a bit more all encompassing.  So, I asked myself, how did I want to live in 2018?

My answer:  with purpose

So I chose PURPOSE as my word for the year.  I chose it because of its duality.  It is both a noun and a verb.  You can have purpose and you can be purposeful.

noun:  the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists

verb:  have as one's intention or objective

Last year was an exploratory year - it was about creating a path.  The path has been created, now it's time to move forward with purpose. 

Here's to a happy, healthy and purpose-FULL 2018

Have you ever chosen a word of the year to live by?  If so, what was it?  What is your word this year?

~ Coach PK