Thursday, August 13, 2015

9 Month Training Plan: Creating a Human

Most of you can guess where I have been over the past few months. There isn't a whole lot to write about as you watch your fitness steadily decline for 9 months. Regardless, I thought it would be nice to share some pearls of wisdom to those who may be going through the same thing or considering it. (Especially given the void of information out there for pregnant athletes as well as the plethora of  pregnancy myths)

Despite a small hurdle in the 8th month, a combination of endurance training and CrossFit kept both the baby and I more healthy. More specifically, my blood pressure stayed within normal limits, I had no incidence of low back pain (even with a history of a pelvic fracture/ORIF), no lower extremity swelling build up, proper weight gain, and pretty good energy levels throughout.

Overall, I continued to swim, bike, and run until about 8 months preggo. Around 8 months/32weeks preggo, I strained my achilles pretty bad to the point where I could barely walk. My weekly track workout did me in as I awoke one morning with a swollen achilles and inability to bear weight on the affected leg. Combine that with a little ligamentous pregnancy laxity + being on my feet all day at work+ history prior calf injury = mobility nightmare and rookie mistake.....

In the end, I took almost a whole week off with no working out, added a heel lift, and did some Graston to my calf/achilles. I was able to walk normal about 2-3 days later. The whole incident gave me a little bit of a scare as I know professionally what happens if you tear your achilles. (usually it necessitates immediate surgery otherwise the achilles will shorten) I put running, swimming, jumping on hold for a good 3-4 weeks.

With no running/swimming from 32 weeks-36 weeks, I shifted my focus even more to strictly CrossFit. As my achilles mended, I spent a lot of time air dyne spinning, squatting, ski-rowing, and regular rowing for cardio. I also was able to do my usual CrossFit WODs pain free.

Besides my physical fitness, at 39 weeks pregnant my weight gain topped off at around 20 lbs and was all localized to the right areas (my belly)! My nutrition had not changed much- I mostly avoided processed sugar, gluten, and obviously adhered to the normal pregnancy restrictions. There may have been more splurges here and there but I simply listened to my body's needs. My progress was closely monitored by my physician who recommended that I workout until close to the end of the 3rd trimester.

To all my fellow female athletes who are pregnant, considering becoming pregnant, or simply afraid because of all of the bad info out there... I'm sharing a few things:

1. My 1st-3rd Trimester Training
2. Pregnancy Fitness Goals
3. Pictures from my Journey
4. Baby Benefits from Exercise

1st-3rd Trimester Training:

1st Trimester
  • Swimming-2000-3000 meter workouts 
  • Biking-1-2 hours (trainer/outside) 
  • Running-1-2 hours tops
  • CrossFit-2x a week 
  • Ab/Transversus Abdominus(TA) Isometrics/Glute Strength 2-3x a week
  • Weekly Volume- 6-12 hours exercise
  •  Total Weight gain-2 lbs
2nd Trimester
  • Swimming-1500-2500 meter workouts 
  • Biking-1-2 hours (some outside/trainer)
  • Running-Kept running workouts 3-5 miles. (At the end of the second trimester, I started having severe round ligament pain and resorted to mostly shorter distance running and running only on soft surfaces (beach/track/trail)). 
  • CrossFit 2-4x a week. As my ability to SBR diminished, I transitioned to more METCON style workouts. At this time, I lightened up my squats, deadlifts, and general lifting weights to about about 65%-75% of my norm. I discontinued hand stands/inverted work. For toes to bar, I stuck to knees to elbows ONLY. I was still able to perform kipping pull-ups, but shifted focus to mostly ring rows because of ligamentous laxity. 
  • Ab/TA/Glute strength-2-3x a week
  • Weekly volume-6-10 hours
  • Total Weight gain-10 lbs
3rd Trimester
  • Swimming-1500-2000 meter workouts (held swimming temporarily during achilles injury)
  • Biking-No more trainer @ 7months as belly was in the way. After D/C bike trainer work I resorted to Air Dyne work with occasional tabatas. 
  • Running- short and interval based on soft surfaces ONLY. (held running from 32-36 weeks secondary to injury)
  • CrossFit-5x a week. I dropped my weights to 50-65% for most Olympic lifts. I rarely did movements where my belly impeded the bar pathway (snatches). Instead, I opted for single arm dumbbell snatches. I still jumped rope, but DC-ed double under secondary to achilles. Burpees were executed from a box or plates. I substituted ring rows for pull-ups and occasionally did box jumps onto plates. 
  • Ab/TA/Glute strength 1-2x a week 
  • Weekly Volume 6-8 hours
  • Total Weight gain-20lbs (38-39 weeks) 

My Fitness Goals

#1. Maintain health pregnancy : Check
2. Finish CrossFit Open Scaled Division: Check (first CF open ever @ 5months preggo)
3. Keep weight gain under 25-30 lbs while maintaining healthy pregancy: Check
4. Finish Donna Half Marathon: Check 1:47 (4 months preggo)
5. Finish Gate River Run in top 10%Women: Check (4.5 months preggo)
6. Maintain good core, postural, and glue strength to prevent low back pain: Check

The Transformation:

 17 weeks 
18 weeks
 19 weeks

20 weeks 
21 weeks 
 22 weeks
23 weeks 


 24 weeks 
25 weeks 
 26 weeks 

27 weeks 


28 weeks 
30 weeks 
31 weeks

 32 weeks
 33 weeks 
34 weeks 

35 weeks


36 weeks
37 weeks 
38 weeks
39 weeks 

Baby Benefits of Exercise

While exercise helped me stay physically in shape, more importantly:
1. Maverick was born super healthy.
2. Both Maverick and I were D/C-ed from the hospital a day early secondary to good health and quick ability to bounce back after birth.
3. I avoided HBP, gestational diabetes, and pre-eclampsia (All of which can cause premature birth).
4. Maverick will hopefully someday have a higher IQ secondary to improved oxygenation while in utero and has a increased likelihood of being an athlete someday (compared to babies of mothers who did not work out during pregnancy according to some studies).
5. Maverick was born with an extremely healthy heart and lungs secondary to again improved oxygenation again from my exercising.

I could keep going but you get the picture :)

The reward of this 9 month training plan:

Maverick Steel Austin 

Feel free to contact me with questions! There are more myths than factual information out there. As for references, the books that further helped guide my journey were:
The Better Baby Book
Primal Mom
Pregnant Athlete

Sunday, February 01, 2015

New Chapter: Gut Check

As age 35 is coming up quickly on the horizon, my priorities in life, triathlon, work have shifted. I have been putting "this" off for years and years... mostly for one race and then another race... and then another goal and then another IM and then partially due to some self confidence issues/self image issues over the fear of getting fat. Overall, mostly for selfish reasons...

I have matured enough to finally realize that there is more important things and bigger things for me in life than triathlon. Although I have been saying I have wanted a family for awhile now-ha- ha -maybe years.... it finally happened. A lot quicker than anticipated of course... first try in fact.... I thought just maybe I could squeeze out another 70.3 and rock my cute betty kit??? The guy upstairs had other plans. For that I am so thankful. Yes my friends in case you haven't figured it out already- I am pregnant.

Gut Check: 8 weeks 

Gut Check:12 weeks 

As of this week I'm already over the 1st trimester. Yay for that! Scott and I had a small scare initially and really thought it would be smarter to keep it quiet. Who likes everyone up your business anyway?So far I have been pretty fortunate with only mild nausea, zero weight gain, and have been continuing to train -swimming, biking, and running, and CrossFitting.

I'm doing no-where near the volume I used to but am working out a total of 8-12 hours a week. I cut back initially to excessive fatigue but feel like I have bounced back in the last few weeks. And yes my pull ups are still there :)

So what I have I learned initially? A lot. I feel like there is still a long road ahead. Here are some big lessons I've learned thus far.

1. Pregnancy does not equal sickness. You can still work out!
One of the biggest thing that amazes me is that our society thinks it's ok for pregnant chicks to chow down on fast food, pizza, and ice cream but yet criticizes those who keep fit. Gaining excessive weight while pregnant seems acceptable or the norm.  I have seen a lot of fit chicks harassed and labeled as selfish or narcissistic.  And beware there are way too many workout myths to keep track of.  I can see how some pregnant gals may simply be scared to get off the couch. Either way I am going to continue to work out and listen to my body.

2. You can still eat healthy!
I was pretty strict no sugar/no grains for the first 8 weeks and fell off a little the past few as my appetite has changed. This week my normal diet has been back on target. Depending on how much nausea you have, this clearly will affect your diet. This is still no excuse to eat daily ice cream and bon bons. Gross. You are feeding your baby that shizit.

3. You can lift heavy things.
Yes-you shouldn't start anything new while you are pregnant. But if you lifted heavy weights before -you can continue to do that. I can't tell you many times already I have been told "Don't lift anything heavy!" I tried so hard not to laugh in one of the doctors faces as I deadlifted almost 200 lbs the day before. As for now, I'm going to continue to train, work out moderately, and listen to my body. And yes I did an AMRAP of the workout below at 8 weeks pregnant. Oops ---there  may have been heavy weights involved.

4. Keeping this a secret for 13 weeks may not have been the best idea. 
Although we told our families a little earlier, not being able to talk about this with friends was very challenging. In fact, it made me feel withdrawn for awhile. In case you were wondering where I have been...

5. Making smaller less ambitious goals will help keep you sane. 
For a type A triathlete who normally has the race season mapped out a year in advance, not having a race calendar to look forward to was down right depressing. So instead, I signed up for a 5k, a half marathon, the Gate River Run, and the CrossFit open. Yes I may not be qualifying for Kona, but I have smaller fitness goals to keep me on the right path. My selfish goals can take a back seat for a few months to create a human :)

And don't worry this will most definitely NOT turn into a pregnancy blog. In fact, I think pregnant chicks are annoying lol...I still do. I just want to share the learning experience with my fellow female athletes. There is still a huge informational gap out there concerning may of these topics. Feel free to email me if you have questions As for me, I still have a lot to learn.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sick of HR Monitor Chaffing?

A few months ago my husband and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. Being a pretty active couple, our gifts to teach other are a little off the wall ranging from Rogue bumper plates, Lululemon diggs, and Betty Design stuff to chaff-free HR monitor straps.

Yes you heard me right-- I got a chaff-free HR monitor strap that no longer goes around your chest but fits snuggly around your wrist like a watch. We are such a romantic couple right? HR chaffing definitely is not sexy.

Anyway this new strap is called a Mio Link. Its a watch strap that is much smaller than your typical Garmin that detects your HR via your wrist pulse. I wear it in addition to my Garmin 910xt to replace the pesky HR strap on the opposite wrist.

Let's say goodbye chest chaffing and old chest strap! In addition to being uber comfortable, there is also a colored flashing light that correlates with your heart rate zones. Now you have both a heart rate and a flashing colored light to keep you in the zone! No more excuses right coach?

Here is a view from the back and the removable sensor:

The only small downside of the Mio Link, is that it requires charging. Since I'm doing mostly Olympic distance triathlon training,  I haven't had a problem charging 1-2x weekly. If you doing 70.3 training and beyond (15+hrs), you would need 2-3 charges weekly.

So what about compatibility? I have paired my Mio Link seamlessly with Garmin 910xt. It supposedly pairs with all ANT+ technology including most iPhones/Androids. I also set my 5 HR zones with the color coordination system:

So are there any downsides? The product description states that the strap is water resistant up to 30m, not water proof... From what I read, you should avoid doing any type of diving with it. Would it be ok in a triathlon? I'm going to test it out this weekend.

Either way, I'm happy do do lots of training minus a battle wound on my chest :) Send me a message if you have further questions-

And thank you Scott for continuing to take care of me-even if it's just reducing HR monitor wounds !

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Paleo Dessert?

Over the past year I've discovered the next best thing to delicious fro-yo.... It's called Yo-nanas. After hearing about it on several podcasts and trying it officially at a paleo friend's house, I knew I had to get my hands on one.

What is it? Ultimately, it's a rotating grinder than smoothes out frozen fruit into a fro-yo type consistency. 

Although it's called "yo-nanas", it works with far more than just bananas. In fact, we've tried starfruit, honey dew, papaya, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and even dragon fruit. Ok maybe we stretched the creativity a bit far :)

Here are my two favorite new recipes:

Pumpkin Yonanas
Frozen Pumpkin (slightly thawed) 1/2 cup
Cinnamon pinch
Cloves pinch
Nutmeg pinch
1 banana frozen

Honey Berry Yonanas
Honey Dew (1/2 cup frozen)
Blueberries (1/2 cup frozen)

I'm not getting anything from the product review, but I figured I would pass this along to you fat adapted athletes, "no sugar no grains" peeps, and just the paleo population in general. This will help you kick the dessert habit of sure... 

Now how to kick the wine habit :) ? 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Functional Realizations of a Triathlete

I've been participating in the sport of triathlon now long enough to come to a few realizations. When I   train for the longer distances (70.3 and beyond) a few things happen. And with each passing year, these deficiencies become more pronounced. As a orthopedic PT, I thought I would share some of my realizations and helpful tips! Enjoy!

1. I can no longer do a squat. My hip flexors and achilles become so tight and gritty that it's almost impossible to keep them supple with the long hours of swimming, biking, and running. I definitely could do a better job at preventing this. You want to laugh even harder? Watch Heidi try an overhead squat :)

2. I become skinny-fat. My muscle tone diminishes and although I get thinner overall- there is just this odd layer of skinny-fatness. Going along with that, my once perky glutes turn into a flat board which just adds protrusions. 

3. I end up with weird- itis's. Again poor job on my behalf. But once they start, I eventually start mobilizations after it's too late. Bring on the bandaid aka kinesio tape. 

4. I definitely can't do a push-up. Goodbye upper body strength and forget my core to stabilize the push-up. 

5. My core and glute strength are MIA. 

Yah so what? We all know these things. Amidst the heavy-long hours of training, common sense, solid core/glute strength, and general mobility are thrown out the window. As triathletes if it's not scheduled on Training Peaks or if it doesn't get your heart rate up- it doesn't happen.  Right????

So what is there to do about it?

1. Mobilize! Mobilize Mobilize! Take a few minutes before bed or while you are watching TV, and bust out a lacrosse ball, foam roller, or torture stick. Treat it like your own special little massage. (Ok maybe painful massage)-- but alll it takes is 10 quick minutes before bed time. Maybe focus on a different area every day. (Day 1 Shoulders Day 2 Quads/ITB Day 3 Thoracic Spine Mobility Day 4 Ankle Mobility) 

2. Equate mobility with speed. If your aren't achieving full and proper range of motion with your swim stroke, pedal stroke, or you stride-you are missing out on speed! Ready to get over that plateau?

3. Try incorporating an active warm up before your swim, bike, and run to focus on both strength deficiencies and mobility. This will help improve your form for the workouts to follow and again increase both speed and efficiency. 

4. Try doing core and glute work on your lunch break. Take that 1hr break in the day that just never seems long enough for a full blown workout to work on some small muscle groups like your core, glutes, or scapular stabilizers. Hey maybe even try some squats! This is especially crucial for you cubicle monkeys. Other quick and dirty exercises could include clam shells, bridges, planks, or maybe some pushups? Be creative! 

5. Stuck in the car or on a plane? Mobilize! There are lots of evil, evil things you can do with a lacrosse ball in the seated position. Sounds dirty right?

Good Luck! And you can thank me later :) More to come on specific triathlete mobility! 

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Biohacking a Triathlon: CrossFit Style

Although my husband and I met on the college track scene training for many of the same events in the early 2000s,  our styles of training have since diverged completely.

In early 2006 as CrossFit started to gain popularity with the military types, Scott immediately took the plunge into the CrossFit style of training that combined OLY lifting, gymnastics, and functional strength. Personally, I was so over competitive running and opted for another endurance sport: triathlon. Since then, we have had a continuous argument in our household. It usually goes something like this....

Who is a better athlete? A CrossFitter or a Triathlete? A Kona World Champ or a CrossFit Games winner?
What is harder..long course triathlon or CrossFit?
What makes a better balanced athlete?
Is endurance training and logging endless hours of swimming, biking, and running healthy?
Is it absolutely necessary to log endless of amounts of long, slow distance mileage swimming, biking, and running to make it to both the start and finish line of a triathlon?
Can an athlete utilize Tabata's or CrossFit or CrossFit endurance style training and successfully complete an Ironman? 

For anyone that knows me, you can easily guess how I normally would answer most if not all of these questions.

CrossFit vs Triathlon? 

After conducting a training biohack over the past few months, I would have to say my argument no longer stands strong. While I still hold the sport of triathlon very near and dear to my heart, I think being a fast and successful triathlete requires far more than just swimming, biking, and running. And yes we all know that as triathletes we need core strength, glute strength, and a generalized strengthening routine --- but are we really going about it the right way? Let's time travel a bit, to try and understand my epiphany.

After hiring my first coach for the NOLA 70.3 in 2010, I've was hooked on the Maffetone and Mark Allen style of training. As I became more serious with the longer course triathlon, this style of heart rate training worked wonders. With more and more speed gains, my coaches beefed up the intensity but most of their coaching styles were built on this framework. In fact, most weeks were the the typical 3 sessions of swim, bike, run. (interval day, moderate day, and long slow get in the mileage day). I'm sure most of you know exactly how this feels. I went from a barely there top-3 age grouper to winning several local circuit races and earning many top 10 140.6/70.3 finishes. I was totally happy with that.

But looking back, I won't lie and tell you that those 6-7 hour days on the bike or 3 hour runs in the south in the middle of summer were fun--Especially when that was my life EVERY single weekend for probably 60-70% of the year.  I also won't fool you in saying that I made it to race day injury or sickness free. In fact, during most serious 70.3/140.6 seasons I was sick mostly every other month. And despite being a Doctor of Physical Therapy, on most days I had some semblance of a nagging injury. Thank you foam roller :)

More recently, as the popularity of CrossFit has taken off, I have dabbled with the enemy occasionally during the off seasons. A little cross training can't be that bad? As race season approached however, I dumped the CrossFit and returned to my old school style of training. It worked for me. Or so it seemed that way... Since then I've tried to be more opened minded-mostly just to put this argument to rest! Eventually I did some research, read extensive articles, and have heard several stories from fellow athletes who have used less traditional styles of triathlon training (CrossFit endurance styles) to complete long course triathlons. Was I drinking the Koolaid? Still not completely sold.

Fast forward to today.....I failed to qualify for the 70.3 World Championships this year at the FL70.3 and concluded my long course season earlier than expected. I've decided to stick to some short stuff and try out a new style of training. In fact, I eventually decided to conduct a little short course sprint experiment or Biohack if you will.

I will go into this experiment fully disclosing any confounding factors. I went into both of these races with a solid 6-7 months of aerobic base training specifically for the 70.3 distance. The largest difference however is what happened in the month leading up to each of the races. These 2 races were done on the exact same course with identical weather conditions.

Race #1
Going into this race #1, I was training 2x a week for all three disciplines. I did a speed day and a longer day. My goals were to maintain my base and to keep the speed. Most of my training was heart rate based like my usual style of training. I won't bore you with HR, power, or training files. But the getting to the basics.... On race day, my legs felt flat and speed-i-less. In fact, I was hunted down hard core in the run and had no fight in me what-so-ever. The outcome looked something like this for a 400 m swim, 17 mile bike, and 5k run and I finished 2nd OA.

Swim 7:06
Bike 42:27ave speed 22.61mph
Run 21:45 ave speed 7:00min mile

Race #2 
Over the past month going into this race, I swam, biked, and ran 1-2x a week and did a full CrossFit workout 2x a week. I improved my deadlift to 170 lbs, my back squat to 185 lbs, and my thruster weight to 65 lbs. Yes- I know this is nothing for the CrossFit types out there but is a lot for an endurance girl who weighs a buck twenty. More importantly, I shed 2 minutes off my sprint course time on the exact same course. Not only did I vastly improve my time, instead of being hunted I did the hunting in this race. I picked off 2 girls in the final stretch of the 5k with speedy legs and took the "W".

Swim 7:25
Bike 41:22ave speed 23.2mph
Run 20:53 ave speed 6:43 mile

So big deal right? For somebody who has been brainwashed for so long into a certain style of thinking/training, I'm surprised I was brave enough to conduct this experiment.  Now what? Am I going to go into a 140.6 or even a 70.3 using CrossFit or CrossFit endurance? Probably not. And I still do not think you could win Kona or an IM using this style of training. BUT for you short course triathletes out there who are lacking speed and power, this might be the missing link. And for you injury prone long course athletes, despite the bad rap CrossFit Endurance may be a good training option for you.

While I'm no CrossFit athlete games contender anytime soon... for now I'm loving the new strength gains, seeing some semblance of abs, feeling my glutes activate, successfully executing pull-ups/squats/pushups, throwing heavy weights around,  and all while continuing to tear it up in the short course swim, bike, and run :)