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Learn My 3 Favorite Lower Back Exercises 😳

It was awful. It was December 29, 2017, coming back from vacation in FL. We got in early and being a dork, I did a twist and lift with my 45 lb luggage in the back of the SUV to head home. We go home. And something felt off. I stretched. Did some lower back stretching and ended up taking a nap for almost 3 hours (it was early flight).

I got up. FOOOOKKK. My back is jacked. Something isn’t right.

Long story short, as I have shared this story a lot on my social media, I have three bulging disc and dealing with degenerative disc disease.

WTF? I am 46 years old, had a EPIC 2017 and now I can’t freaking walk or flip turn in the pool because I pissed off the disc.

Well, you know me. Instead of bitching and complaining about it. I did something about it. I learned everything I could about bulging disc, went to Stratton Sport & Spine, 3x’s a week and have maintain my back exercises since this all started.

Today, I wanted to chat with you all about lower back pain, the muscles involved, why things happen the way they do and some exercises that I have done with Stratton Sport and Spine!

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Five Ways to GET MO’ TIME with YOUR Triathlon Training 😳

About a year ago, I reached out to ya’ll via a survey to find out what you all were looking for to help you with your triathlon training.

And this is what I heard:

  • I need more time
  • How do you “balance” it all
  • How do you organize training with life.

Check out the chart with the question about WHY you are not getting your workout in from 2017 and honestly, I think it is getting worse these days!

We ALL have the same hours in a day. There are plenty of people who not only will do Ironman Triathlons, work, family life and qualify for Kona but who are Stay at Home Moms, doctors, lawyers, night nurses and entrepreneurs. Guess what, I have coached all of those athletes, along with living with a lawyer.

The one thing that I am VERY good is structuring my life around triathlon training and today, I came up with five tips for you to “Get MO’ Time” in your schedule for your triathlon training, whether you are getting ready for your Ironman Triathlon, Age Group Nationals or a Sprint Triathlon!

“How to Get More TIME with Triathlon Training”

1. Rest day is just that!

  • Rest day is a COMPLETE rest day. Put your feet up.
  • Your body is craving the rest, especially when you get closer to your Ironman. If you want to sit on the bed for 5 hours watching a movie, taking a nap and looking at your computer…IT IS OK!!!
  • Have kids? How a spouse? Adjust so you have down time to yourself. Here is an example: I have an athlete, who has two kids. I gave her Sunday off, to spend time with her family. She contacted me on Monday and said to me, “Why am I more tired from my “rest days” than not?” I said to her, “Two kids under 6…you are not even taking rest days!” We adjusted her day off to Thursday, when both kids are in school and daycare. She gets a day off, does stuff at home and take a nap.
  • Have things to do? Clean house, laundry, and lawn. (See #3)

2. Plan your weeks with a Calendar (iCal/Google) and a do a Weekly “Brain Dump”

  • iCal or Google Calendar will be the key to your success! You MUST plan your workouts. Check out my calendar.
  • I will plan almost everything via my calendar. Walk the dog. Personal appointments (eyebrows, hair cut, etc.) I will put my workouts in there as well. If I don’t…I may not get to it…I will be busy filling my time with other things.
  • Here is an example of a couple of weeks in July:

  • Brain Dump. Every Sunday, I will write out what I have to do for my business, my coaching, my workouts, home life, etc. I write down EVERYTHING! I go to bed on Sunday with a clear mind and I absolutely LOVE it! It is a must and even Chris knows when I am going to do my Brain Dump.

3. Hire People to Help You Out.

  • Plan a simple. Hire someone to clean your house. Do your lawn. Take your laundry to a laundromat. Yes, spend the money!
  • You spend how much $$ on your bike, clothing and food for Ironman Triathlon Training? You can spend extra for help.
  • Trust me…it is WAY WORTH IT!

4. Hire a Coach to Plan your Workouts

  • If you are self coached, good for you! Do you write out your plans on Sunday? By Thursday, you tend to move things around throughout the week according to your schedule and how you are feeling. By the end of the week, you have so many workouts to “make up” that you are overwhelmed and you want to sit and watch DVR of “Days of Our Lives?”
  • Yes, hire a coach. They will organize your workouts for your lifestyle (they should). They will keep you accountable! They will call you out if you are not getting workouts in (they should!).
  • Let the coaches do the guesswork of organizing your workouts around YOUR LIFE. Talk to them. Be open to them and tell them what your schedule looks like. That is what you pay them to do!
  • You spend how much $$ on your bike, clothing and food for Ironman Triathlon Training? Now it is time to hire a coach.

5. Listen to Your Body!

  • So crucial! Your body’s a temple. You must listen to what you are going through and what your body is craving.
  • If you are tired but every Saturday, you do your long bike at 8 am with the group…it is OK to sleep in and ride later!
  • You have a swim and a lift and you have to get them done back to back. That is OK but do your swim first, eat some protein/CHO (within 30 minutes) of your swim, you should be find for your lift.
  • For example: I had an athlete, who like clock work, will get up at 4:00 am to make sure she gets her workouts in before work. Sound wonderful right? She will do it regardless; even when she hasn’t gotten enough sleep. So how is that going to help her in the long run? She is pushing through lack of sleep and not getting quality to her workouts…just quantity. She is actually getting better.

Bonus Tip: Find out YOUR Why behind doing this triathlon training. I can tell you this, once you figured this out, it will make your life so much easier to get up at 5:00 am for specific workouts, to sleep in on Saturday and to hire someone to help you. It takes a Tribe to get to your goals. Utilize them!

As I said before, we all have the same number of hours in a day. I think the main lesson learned here is to find a Tribe to help you achieve your goals, whether it is a housekeeper, someone to mow the lawn, a community of AMAZING triathletes and yes, even a coach.

Interested in getting “Mo’ Tips to Save You Time”? Grab my FREE PDF TODAY!

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Core Work For Triathletes ☺️

Let us begin by fixing a very common misconception. Your core is not limited to your abdominal muscles. Your glutes, back, obliques, and many other muscles are a part of your core. Together, they represent the most important group of muscles in your body.

Why is my Core so Important?

You have likely been advised to do core work before. But has anyone told you why? Think about the way your body moves through swimming, biking and running. Then, when we add what the core is responsible for, the reason why so many experts tell you to do core will become obvious

Reason 1: Injury Prevention

You’ve likely heard this as well, but it is tough to understand how this works. Your core, as the center of your body, is responsible for holding everything else in line to facilitate proper biomechanics. If your core fails, your form starts to break down and other muscles and ligaments are kicked into overdrive to pick up the slack, leading to injury.

Reason 2: Efficiency

For similar reasons that the core helps prevent injuries, it also keeps you efficient. Especially in swimming and running, your body is doing a lot of twisting side to side, we’ll call that transverse movement. While some transverse movement is necessary to swim and run, the fastest point from point a to point b is always a straight line. Furthermore, every time your body spends energy moving to the side, it has to spend more energy stopping that movement and pulling it back to the other side. The core is what is primarily responsible for this. And don’t get me wrong, your core will make holding that uncomfortable time trial position on the bike easier as well.

Here is a visual for you. Take something long and straight like a toothpick. Put your finger on one of the ends and let it rotate. Now do the same thing with your finger in the middle. When you are in the center of the toothpick, it takes much less energy to rotate the toothpick. Also, if you try to twist the toothpick from the outside with one hand while holding it in place with the other hand in the middle, the hand in the middle will always win. Your core is that hand in the middle. You want your core to be responsible for holding your body in line because the further out you go, the more energy it takes.

Reason 3: Balance and Stability

This feeds into both reason one and two. However, it is so important it gets its own reason. Swimming is the process of moving forward as smoothly as possible, aided by keeping your trunk stable in the water. Running is a constant process of balancing on one foot before transferring to the other. Cycling, well, the importance of balance on a bike should be obvious. If you lose it, you eat asphalt. But even more so, improved balance and stability will help you hold a straight line easier and allow you to corner better. In each of these situations, your core is primarily responsible and without it, you risk both injury and inefficiency.

Doesn’t Swimming, Cycling, and Running already work my core?

Absolutely it does, but what it does is core activation. You need more than that to build strong muscles. That is why all of the top triathletes do specific core workouts at least three times a week, with many doing it every day. Core is the foundation on which you build your swimming, cycling, and running fitness. It keeps you healthy, makes you strong, and allows you to maximize your aerobic capacity by increasing your efficiency.  

We highly encourage you to work core into your routine 3-4 times a week. Don’t just do crunches either. Incorporate all kinds of movements like glute bridge raises, dead bugs, supermans, planks, windshield wipers, Russian twists, and flutter kicks to work your core in many different ways. Below is some examples of core work, that I do quite a bit that you may want to incorporate in your routine…

Glute Bridge Raises

It is a simple, repetitive movement that is very easy to perform. It works the entire lower body, mid-section and your core.

  • Lay down on the floor on your back with palms facing upwards.
  • Pull in your heels so they are close to your bum.
  • Lift your hips as high as you can into the air.
  • Push up with your hips; don’t arch your back.
  • Engage your core muscles to help with the move.
  • Hold the position with your bum raised for a moment.
  • Drop your bum down and let it touch the floor lightly.
  • Repeat the move.
  • You can aim for 3 -4 rounds of 15 to 20 repetitions.

Dead-bug

Dead-bug works the entire body and is great for coordination.

  • Lay down with your back on the floor.
  • Put all 4 limbs in the air.
  • Keep your lower back on the floor.
  • Lower your right arm down alongside your head until your hand touches the ground.
  • Your bicep should be beside your ear.
  • At the exact same time, lower your left leg to the floor so that it is parallel to the ground.
  • Hold the position for a moment and then bring your right arm and left leg back to the original position so that all 4 limbs are back in the air.
  • Alternate sides.
  • Do as many repetitions as possible.

Plank

Plank works all the bones and joints in the body and is great for strength, coordination and balance.

  • Get down on your hands and knees.
  • Then scoot your arms and body forwards and lower yourself so that your weight is resting on your elbows and forearms.
  • Your elbows should be directly below your shoulders.
  • Your knees should still be on the ground.
  • Hold this position for as long as possible, aim for 30 seconds.

Once you have mastered this, try a more difficult move:

  • Keep your upper body in the same position with your elbows on the floor.
  • Get your knees of the floor; your weight will then rest on your toes.
  • Keep your body straight like a plank of wood.
  • Do not let your back or hips sag.
  • Hold the position for as long as possible.

Hanging Knee Raises (Knees to Elbows or Toes to Bar are the CrossFit Version)

  • You will need a bar to hang from.
  • Grab the bar width to your liking
  • While keeping your arms and back straight, and legs straight without touching the floor.
  • Start pulling your knees up with using your core and lift them as high as you can. You can hit your core or your high flexors. Depending on how much you swing.
  • Lower the knees back down and try to limit the swinging.

Interested to learn more about Strength Training & the Triathlete? Grab my book HERE at my store. I will personally sign, seal and deliver a book to you!

 

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Recovery Week is Crucial!

As an athlete, I truly LOVE my recovery weeks because I take FULL advantage of it. As a coach, I cringe at recovery weeks because I know my athletes DON’T take full of advantage of them.

This is a common theme in the triathlon world. When triathletes have “time” on their hands, they try to fill it up by:

  1. Cleaning the house
  2. Doing the lawn
  3. Washing baseboards
  4. Start a garden…yes, I have heard this.

Let’s get into the real geekiness of planning for a triathlon. Most coaches should use “periodization,” so here is your history lesson for the day.

Historically, periodization became popular at the time of the ancient Olympics. Athletes have a very simple logical of training…they train to compete for pre-Olympics and Olympics and then a little bit of R-n-R. Using this kind of periodized training, athletes plan their whole year around specific events. An athlete’s year can be divided into a prep phase, base phase, build phase, and peak phase.

Leonid Matveyev, a Russian professor, started analyzing how the Soviet athletes trained for the 1952 Olympic Games. His work, which scientifically validated periodization, showed that an annual training plan (ATP) should be divided into phases of training with each phase having a specific plan (increase endurance, increase strength, etc.) within that ATP. Each week/phases was then broken down smaller training phases called “macro-cycle” (2-6 week duration) and “micro-cycle” (one week of training).

My athletes have “macro-cycles” of 3-4 weeks. These weeks range from 9-12 hours of training each week. If you are a Master athlete, I will have 2 weeks on/1 week recovery week. Us, old folks, need that extra rest. Under 40, 3 weeks on/1 week off.

What do I tell my athletes? I give them the “Rulon Rules to Recovery Week!”

  1. Active Recovery…still moving that body but try to do nothing more than an hour of workouts.
  2. Testing your speed and skill. I may have them do a 1000 meter time trial test or a 5k run or a 20 min bike to find a new FTP or Critical Power.
  3. Limit the food intake that you will be eating. Not training as hard and don’t need to excess food.
  4. Get a massage…take a couple of extra naps throughout the week…time to Rest Up. You have a couple of hard weeks ahead!
  5. Catch up on life: laundry, meet with friends, talk to your spouse (J/K), and hire someone to clean the house, and to do the lawn!

Recovery Week is CRUCIAL in my world as an athlete and as a coach. Most athletes are Type A personality, so they tend to go harder, longer for a longer period of time. Some of my athletes hesitate to take a “down week” but trust me, they will not lose fitness. This recovery week is only helping them. Athletes feel that if you go hard all the time then you will make improvements.

Still not convinced about recovery day weeks? Check out this article from South African Journal for Research in Sport, “Role of Sleep in Performance and Recovery of Athletes: A Review Article.” They chat about napping, sleeping and the role it takes in your performance as an athlete!

Look at your own training now. Have you had any time off in your training schedule? Do you schedule yourself rest days? Rest or Active Recovery Weeks? If you don’t, why NOT! This is where you recover. Take advantage of it.

Recovery will Improve Your Fitness!

Need to chat with me about your recovery? Jump on a Discovery Call with me and let me see if I can help you out!

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Strength Train Your Mind 🏋🏼

Definition of STRENGTH: The quality or state of being strong: Capacity for exertion or endurance. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/strength)

If you have been following me for a while, you probably realize how much I LOVE STRENGTH and what it does for the human body. As a coach, when I have given my athletes a strength program specific for triathletes,  I have seen such AMAZING results. I see that they have better body awareness. I see fewer injuries. I see CONFIDENCE with these athletes that takes them to a different level.

So, we see athletes build their strength physically through swimming, biking, running, and lifting. How often do we see athletes build strength MENTALLY?

As a coach, I think a lot of athletes lose their “strength” from a mental standpoint.

For example, you may hear athletes talk about themselves and their training:

  • “I suck at swimming. Will I make the cutoff in the Ironman?”
  • “My run is so slow; I am a turtle.”
  • “My race was TERRIBLE. Now I need to train more.”

As an athlete, what do you think happens to athletes when they actually think that? It’s true. They will NOT make the cutoff on the Ironman. Their run will be slow. Now this athlete may overtrain since they don’t think they are “good” or “fast” enough. What happens when you overtrain? Injury. (more…)

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