Weekly Training Recap: Feb. 24 – March 2

Now that my training has begun to pick up in both volume and intensity as my race season gets closer, I’ve decided to do a weekly recap of my training. As I have mentioned a few times before, I made the decision this year to coach myself for two main reasons: a) to save money, and b) to try new training techniques and workouts on myself before having my athletes utilize them in their own training plans. I get several questions a week on what I do during my workouts so this will act as a platform to share some of my favorite workouts.

This past week was a rest week and thus my training hours were lower than normal.

Monday – 2/24

Monday was a 45 minute recovery spin and 15 minutes of hip/core focused exercises. Because of my chronic hip issues I have made it a priority to complete core/hip focused exercises several times a week to hopefully prevent any relapses of my IT-band/knee issues that plagued me last year during Ironman training.

Tuesday – 2/25

Tuesday was a 4 mile run during lunch and I taught my spin & core class at Zone 3 Fitness. My run was initially supposed to be an easy 35-minute run, but I felt good and just wanted to keep running. Thus, my run turned into a 4-mile negative split run. I completed my first sub-10 min/mile since pre-hip injury Fall running! I’ve been very frustrated lately with my running fitness, or lack thereof, but I know with more time on the pavement my fitness and speed will return. It has already begun too, just slowly.

Wednesday – 2/26

On Wednesday I completed my dreaded FTP test. Yuck! However, the results weren’t half bad. I first conducted a FTP in 2012 during Sustainable Athlete’s Friday Night Fights, a series of computrainer races. I was on my road bike at the time and averaged about 180-185watts, which my coach used as my FTP for the 2012 season. We never retested during the season, but I know my threshold increased towards August because I was able to hold a higher HIM race pace than earlier in the season. Last year I conducted my FTP on my tri bike on my trainer in my living room. I had taken the entire previous Fall off with plantar fasciitis and thus had a horrible FTP number. I clocked in at a measly 143watts. Of course, training for an Ironman didn’t help with increasing my FTP over my race season. This year I clocked in at 163watts. It’s still not good, but an improvement over this year. I think if I had done a computrainer race this year, I probably would have checked in at a higher FTP, but I’m going to use this value as my starting point. I’m just happy that I am trending in the right direction – up!

The Y Pool

The Y Pool

Thursday – 2/27

Thursday was a 3000 yard swim at the YMCA. February was a good month for swimming and my swimming volume is picking up in the coming weeks. I swam once in November since my Ironman in July and that swim was a complete disaster. I really thought I was going to drown at the time. However, my return to swimming this past month has been nothing but awesome. The workout was focused on muscular endurance and I exceed my t-pace by close to 10seconds. I’ve also finally decided to flipturn my swim workouts. More on that in my monthly recap…

Muscle Endurance Swim Workout:

W/U: 100sw, 300 (100K, 100drill, 100sw), 6×50 build (:15RI)

MS: 8×100 @ T-pace (:15RI)

300 pull

4×100 @ T-pace (:10RI)

300 pull

4×100 @ T-pace (:15RI)

C/D: 100

Friday – 2/28

Friday was an easy 3.5 mile run during lunch and an after-work hot yoga class. My average run pace is slowly returning back towards my normal long run pace, but my heart rate continues to be slightly higher than normal, i.e. fitness isn’t quite there yet. I haven’t been to yoga in a few weeks and this class was just want I needed. A perfect balance of twisting and hip openers.

Saturday – 3/1

On Saturday I taught another spin class at Zone 3 Fitness. I was supposed to hit up the pool for my second swim of the week but due to running errands I missed the open lap swim times. I have since printed off the pool schedule to carry around in my purse for future reference.

Zone 3 Fitness circuit training area

Zone 3 Fitness circuit training area

Sunday – 3/2

Sunday was a relaxing rest day.

The first two weeks of my March training plan begins the pickup of more volume, especially with running. I was originally planning on running the Race the Runways Half-marathon in April, but I think I’m going to skip it this year and continue to work on building my base. My first registered race is the PolarBear Sprint Tri in early May.

Hours Completed

Total: 7:07

Swim: 1:00

Bike: 3:19

Run: 1:21

Strength/Core/Yoga: 1:35

~ Happy Training!

Winter Training Blues…




I live in Maine. It snows a lot. And it’s cold. This winter has been no exception. I can’t complain too much because I choose to live here. If I really hated the cold and the snow then I would probably move south or to California. I will admit, I’m definitely thinking south or west coast for graduate school in a few years! Wouldn’t it be fabulous if I could ride my bike year-round outside instead of spinning in place for countless hours!?

Triathlon training thus far as gone well; but, I’ll be honest; I’ve missed some workouts and/or moved some round due to weather. I’ve found that it’s hard to swim when all the pools close early due to storms! It’s hard to run on ice! And it’s hard to get out of bed in the early mornings when the temperature is -20 degrees!

Excuses, excuses! This is has been a hard winter for training. I’ve discussed this with multiple athletes and we’re all in the same boat – spending countless hours on the trainer and/or treadmill! I’m beginning to feel like a hamster – around and round on a hamster wheel I go….

I’m lucky that I live in Maine where we have miles upon miles of trails that I can cross-country ski or snowshoe on. There’s plenty of ski mountains for downhill skiing and several fabulous hot yoga studios to warm up in afterwards. You know what they say… when life gives you lemons, make lemonade…

This past Fall I was out for several months with yet another hip-related issue where I wasn’t allow to run (or really do anything). I was finally able to resume running again around Thanksgiving. Winter began early this year in Maine and I soon found the roads too snowy, icy, and cold. Okay, perhaps I’ve become a total wuss this year!

Due to my injury, I’ve been taking my run training slowly. I’ve missed quite a few runs this winter due to icy roads and have done many on the treadmill (or as I affectionately call… the dreadmill). As much as I love running outside, I’ve decided to be smart and not run if the conditions are bad. I don’t want to risk injuring myself now as I just come back from an injury. It sucks, but I hope in the long run, it will pay off. Instead, I’ve spent more time on my bike than I have in a long while during base training and also strength training.

Oh, have I missed strength training! I’ve been participating in one or two circuit classes at Zone 3 Fitness (where I teach spin classes!) and a Pilates class once a week. In just a few short weeks I have already felt a difference in strength, especially in my core and hip region.

Source (Photo by Francis Bompard/Agence/Zoom/Getty Images)

Source (Photo by Francis Bompard/Agence/Zoom/Getty Images)

Here are a few of my tips to get through this cold and snowy winter:

  • Can’t run? Try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing!
  • Feeling weak? Add strength training into your training program. You can hit the gym or try out various strength-focused classes at a gym or studio.
  • Cold? Try a hot yoga class. Your muscles will thank you and you’ll warm up fast!
  • Bored on the trainer? Try watching a movie or listen to podcasts. Also add intervals into your workout to break up the time and for a more productive workout. Check out three workouts that I posted a month ago: A Few of My Favorite Indoor Trainer Rides!
  • Tired of the same ole’ routine? Try something new. Have you always wanted to try boxing? Or martial arts? Do something to keep you motivated and moving!

Spring will be here in about 6 weeks. At least on the calendar it will. Who knows when all this snow will melt though! Sometimes you just need to embrace the “suck” of winter and stay active. Just remember, athletes are made in the winter months! It may be cold and snowy, but there are plenty of ways to get in shape for the summer season.

~ Happy Training!

A Year in Review: 2013 – Part I

Since today is the last day of 2013 I should probably start my Year in Review posts. Hmm… I’ll keep this one to more of the highlights and photos. But, 2013 was a good year. It started off a bit rough, but ended with many good things happening. I can’t complain.



January was a month of ups and downs. I just finished my MPH degree in December and began my job search. Some decisions made by my boss at work made me extremely stressed since I wasn’t sure I was going to have a job. This caused me become sick often, which hindered a lot of my tri training, which began on the 1st of the year. Things at the gym were also unusually slow so professionally and financially I was stressed. However, I got my degree in the mail so it made things more real!


Picking the pace up!

Picking the pace up!

I ran the annual Mid-Winter Classic 10-Miler again. It went way better than my disaster of 2012 race where I ran sick and came really close to DNFing. However, I still treated the day more of a training run than anything because I was learning I lost all my running aerobic fitness over my Fall running hiatus due to plantar fasciitis. I also learned important lessons in time management. Working three jobs and training for an Ironman is not fun or easy to do.


My mother, my sister and I (1989)

My mother, my sister and I (1989)

Azul and I celebrated our One Year anniversary. I love that bike! I also celebrated the 4 year anniversary of my mother passing, which is never easy to do. I miss her everyday.




I started April off with a bang! I ran the Race the Runways Half-Marathon again, this time as a training run. It was insanely cold and windy, but I had great company throughout the race. The next day I developed a 102 fever and was out for a couple of days. Go figure! Towards the end of the month I began to develop a bit of a twinge in my right knee. I also went to the USAT Level One Coaching clinic and became a certified coach!


Tammy, Myself, Marisa, and Beth - all taking home hardware after a great race!

Tammy, Myself, Marisa, and Beth – all taking home hardware after a great race!

That twinge in my right knee developed into full-fledge IT-Band issues that plagued me for the rest of the summer. I managed to race the PolarBear Tri… barely. Miraculously, I placed 3rd in my age group.


Okay, not from my rides this week... but from the Patriot Hald Aquabike

Patriot Half Aquabike

My run training was extremely limited. I saw my chiropractor at least once a week to help heal my IT-Band issues. I dropped down from the Half-Ironman to the Half Aqua Bike at the Patriot Half. I had a good day, pacing myself like I would at Lake Placid. However, I almost ran over both turkeys and geese on the bike.



I became an Ironman! I celebrated yet another epic 4th of July with my favorite family and began my final build to the big day. My Ironman day went as planned. My knee held out to mile 18ish of the run before I was forced to walk the rest of the way, but I finished my goal, and that was to become an Ironman.


Enjoying a day at the beach

Enjoying a day at the beach

August was a recovery month. I spent a lot of time with friends and family. Towards the end of the month I began running again slowly just to rebuild my horrible running fitness. I had several promising job interviews. I also left my job at the gym I was working at to go off on my own to start my own business.


An example of pubis symphysis seperation - clearly an extreme case (Source)

An example of pubis symphysis separation – clearly an extreme case (Source)

I finally got offered a job! A great deal of stress was lifted off of me. I continued running easily until my pelvis decided to twist itself again. Awesome. I then began another running hiatus and began my yoga addiction.



Hot Yoga Time!

I became addicted to hot yoga and it was fabulous. I saw my chiropractor at least once a week to convince my pelvis not to split into two. I was happy as a clam at my new job and I joined the Junior League of Portland, Maine.


One of my favorite quotes of the year!

One of my favorite quotes of the year!

I continued with my yoga binge, loving every minute of it. I was slowly cleared to return to “normal” training. I mostly rode my bike, but ran a few times. It hurt.


Skiing at Shawnee Peak

Skiing at Shawnee Peak

I skied for the first time since my mother died almost five years ago with a friend. More to come of this in the next week or so. I’ve slowly been building my aerobic base again, mostly through cycling.

~ Happy Training and Happy 2014!!

Year in Triathlon – 2013

I always enjoy writing yearly recaps. It think it’s fun to look back and see what I have or have not accomplished over the year. I plan to do a longer and more involved post next week about my year, since some pretty big life events occurred. In the meantime, here is a fun running/triathlon related year review questionnaire from Miss Zippy.

Best race experience?


Hands down, it was Ironman Lake Placid. Even though my race day expectations weren’t quite as I imagined at the beginning of 2013 (thank you IT Band/knee!), I went into the day with the goal of just finishing and enjoying the day. You can catch up on my race reports and reflections here:

IMLP Race Report I

IMLP Race Report II

Ironman Lake Placid: The Why, The Data, and The Photo I Carried

Lesson from Yoga: Just Breathe…

Best run?

This one is hard to pick since I wasn’t able to run a lot due to my IT Band problems all year. The one I remember the most was the 3 mile run of the PolarBear Tri in May. My IT Band/knee went right before the race so I honestly went into the race expecting to DNF. I hobbled out on T2 with intense pain in my right knee, but somehow managed to ignore the pain and run through it to finish 3rd in my age group. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have run and just taken the DNF, but my ego got the best of me.

Race Report: PolarBear Tri

My best runs probably occurred the end of August into September where I was finally able to resume running relatively pain-free. I just focused on slow, steady HR-based runs to regain my aerobic fitness, then my hip decided to revolt and I was laid up with hip issues again. Overall, not the year for running for me!

Best Bike?

Okay, not from my rides this week... but from the Patriot Hald Aquabike

Patriot Half Aquabike

Hmmm… once again, none really stand out to me this year. I did log a lot of miles on my bike this year. There was one 3+ hour ride the first weekend of June, where it was 90+ degrees, and I succeed to get a nasty sunburn on my back. Ouch! The bike leg of the Patriot Half AquaBike was a fun course and I really nailed my race plan for IMLP. I also got attacked by turkeys and geese in the middle of the road!

Race Report: Patriot Half AquaBike

I rode to New Hampshire one day for an 90+ mile ride. It’s always fun to say that I rode to another state. My first 100+ mile training ride was another decent ride. I rode from my house in Gorham up the coast to Bath and back. I think I went through at least 7-8 water bottles that day.

Oh yea, I rode my bike 109 miles on Sunday...

Oh yea, I rode my bike 109 miles on Sunday…

Best swim?

I think my IMLP swim was my best swim of the year. I swam conservatively and outside the cable line in attempt to not get punched and/or swam over. It caused me to swim a little extra distance, but I met my goals and was comfortable the entire time. Plus, I got to swim with my closet 3000 friends! 🙂

Excited to swim in Sebago Lake

Excited to swim in Sebago Lake

Best new piece of gear?

My Garmin 910XT! I still suck at using it during races. Hello 112 mile T1! Ha! But, in all seriousness, I really love it, especially the swim function.

Happy birthday to me!

Happy birthday to me!

Best piece of running advice you received?

The best piece of advice I received this year was just prior to IMLP when a friend told me to enjoy the moment. You only get one first Ironman and it worth it to step back and suck the moment in. I wrote about that experience HERE.

Most inspirational runner?

I read Kilian Jornet’s book this year and he is a remarkable runner and adventurer. You can read my book review here on Run or Die. I am also a big fan of Lauren Fleshmen. Not only is she a superfast runner, a new mom, wife to pro triathlete Jesse Thomas, but she wrote this awesome piece on bodyweight perception and the media in her piece called Keeping it Real.

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

Accomplishing, challenging, and thought-provoking

How was your 2013? Did you meet all your goals? What was the most memorable moment for you?

~ Happy Training!

12 Days of Christmas Workout


It’s that time of year… we’re too busy drinking eggnog and munching on gingerbread men cookies, shopping for presents, getting drunk at the annual company holiday party, and/or attempting to hang Christmas lights on the house without breaking our necks to hit up the gym!

In honor of the season, I have created a fun circuit-based workout based on the classic 12 Days of Christmas Song.

You start with the first day of Christmas and go through 12 rounds of each set of exercise just like you would sing the song (which you can do while you go through the circuit if you wish!).

Take at least 30-60 seconds rest between each interval round depending on your fitness level.

The exercises:

  1. Plank – The plank is one of the best core exercises you can do! Please choose a plank variety that fits your fitness levels. Beginners can start on their knees and progress onto their toes. Advanced “plankers” can go into a yoga high plank, lift one leg, or use balance boards or the TRX to add difficulty. For more information on how to do a plank, please see this post. Remember to really suck the belly button into your spine to engage your core and keep a flat back.
  2. Pull-ups – Not everyone can do a strict pull-up. I am one of these people. Completing a strict pull-up is one of my main goals for 2014. If you don’t have the upper body strength to complete a strict pull-up then you can use the pull-up machine at the gym, use a band to assist you (this is my preference), or do negative pulls. I love this blog post from the BodyTribe on pull-ups! Or, just substitute pull-ups for a different exercise, such as 30 sec of mountain climbers.
  3. Wall sits – Wall sits are a great way to tone your legs. I remember having to do minutes of these during swim dry lands in high school. So not fun! Place your butt and back against a wall. Slide your butt down the wall so you are now “sitting” in an invisible chair. You want to work towards getting your thighs parallel to the floor. Keep your knees directly over your toes. Do 3 rounds of 20 sec holds with 5-10 sec rest between or if you’re feeling like a glutton for punishment then go for a 60 sec continuous hold!
  4. Burpees – Everyone’s favorite exercise! Start in a high plank position. Jump your feet to your hands and stand up. Depending on your fitness level, you can either just stand up or jump in place. Then put your hand back on the ground and jump your feet back into plank position. Again, depending on your fitness level, you can do a push-up or just stay in a plank. Here is a good video of how to do a proper burpee.
  5. Push-ups – Push-ups are one of my favorite exercise and not to mention very effective one too. Push-ups primarily work the pectoral muscles, triceps, and anterior deltoids. I’ve worked with many women who have told me they can’t do a push-up. By time I’m done with them, they can do push-ups. Most people do push-ups incorrectly. Stay away from military style push-ups, unless you’re in the military and have to pass your PT test. Bring your hand position in so your hands are slightly wider than shoulder width. Make sure as you lower your body down into the push-up, your shoulders are over your hands. I find most people will have the hands slightly in front of their shoulder adding more stress to their shoulder joint. Keep the core engaged and think plank position (straight back!). Lower to at least 90 degrees. Here is an excellent video on correct push-up positioning.
  6. Triceps Dip – Find a bench or chair to use. Face away from the bench and place your hands behind you. Your butt will slide off the bench and you will lower your butt down like you were to sit in a chair. Your arms will bend to 90 degrees. Your feet can either bend at the knees (easier) or be straight out (harder). Here is an article with some helpful pictures.
  7. Hip Bridges – Hip bridges are an excellent glute activation exercise! Lay on your back with you feet on the ground. Move your heels as close to your butt as possible and place arms by your side. Push through your heels and lift your hips up to the sky. Squeeze the glutes and hold for 3-5 secs. Lower down and repeat. Here is a step-by-step guide to hip bridges. Remember to suck the belly button into your spine to engage the core at all times!
  8. Squats – You can do squats multiple different ways, but in this instance I suggest just plain ole’ bodyweight squats. Focus on proper form and keeping a nice straight lower back. This Huff Post how-to is a good little article if you’re not familiar with squats, but don’t focus so much on the little picture. Make sure your knees don’t go over your toes and only go down as far as your comfortable. If you feel your balance is off, place a chair or bench behind you or hold onto a table as you squat down. I find that clients who have had head injuries (or just poor body awareness) in the past need a little extra support when first learning to squat.
  9. Shoulder Presses – These can be completed either sitting or standing. I recommend starting in a seated position unless you have a strong core and good, solid balance. A shoulder press can be done with dumbbells (recommended!), a barbell, or even kettlebells. Start with arms at 90 degrees and slowly press dumbbells up to straight arms. A more detailed step-by-step can be found here.
  10. Reverse Lunges – Lunges are great exercises for the butt and legs. Reverse lunges are especially good at targeting the quadriceps, which are important muscles in cycling. Personally, I find it easier to teach reverse lunges to clients and then progress to forward and finally walking lunges. Remember to keep your core engaged and keep shoulders above the hips at all times. If you have good balance and looking for more of a challenge then you could hold dumbbells by your side or add biceps curls as you lunge your foot backwards. Here is a good article on reverse lunges.
  11. Medicine Ball Wood Chops – If you don’t have a medicine ball then you can use a dumbbell, kettlebell, or even a cable machine at the gym. Stand in an athletic stance with left arms raised with medicine ball above head to the left. “Swing” the arms down to the right side by the right hip as you would chop wood. “Swing” back to the top position. Don’t allow gravity to do all the work by engaging your core. ACE has a decent step-by-step guide here, but I don’t recommend starting with a split stance foot position.
  12. Bent-Over Rows – A strong back is important for health and athletic performance. Too many people have weak backs due to our current lifestyle choices and professions. Sitting at a computer for 8-hours a day can do a number to the body! Bent-over rows can help bring the shoulders back by strengthening the middle back, lats, and biceps muscles. These can be done with dumbbells or a barbell. I suggest dumbbells. Stand with your legs at hip width distance. Hinge at the hip and really suck in the belly button to the spine to create a nice, flat back. If you have dumbbells, palms can face into each other or away from you. If you have a barbell, then palms face away from you. Keep your core still and move your arms up until you can squeeze your shoulder blades together. Pause, and lower in a controlled manner. A good step-by-step can be found here.

And there you have it, the 12 Days of Christmas. As a disclaimer, ALWAYS check with your health care provider before you start any new exercise routine to ensure you are healthy enough to exercise. Not all these exercises may be suited for your current fitness level, please use commonsense and don’t do anything that causes pain or injury to your body.

~ As always happy training and happy holidays!

2013 Fitness Enthusiast Gift Guide



Are you wondering what to get your favorite fitness enthusiast this holiday season? Well, here are a few of my favorite things!

1. Personal Training – Chances are you and your loved one have set weight loss goals for 2014. Sure, a gym membership is a great gift, but did you know that gym business models set you up to fail? Studies have shown that people who work with personal trainers lose more weight more effectively and healthier than those who try to do it themselves. Most people who walk into a gym have no clue what to do in a gym (and most think they know). I have seen it firsthand when I worked in a gym. A person walks in, looks around with doe eyes, walks tentatively over to a treadmill, runs on it for 20 minutes, heads over to the weight section, pumps out some biomechanically incorrect biceps curls, and then heads over to the stretching area to give themself whiplash while attempting to do “proper” crunches. A large majority of people have no clue what to do in a gym to “get the biggest bang for their buck.” Why not buy them some sessions with a personal trainer, so your loved one can start 2014 on the right foot (with proper form!).

2. Valslides – These little sliders are the perfect stocking stuffers for any fitness enthusiast! Valislides are a great way to add challenge to any workout routine. You can use these in pushups, lunges, squats, etc. to add an element of imbalance to increase core muscle recruitment! Plus, you can tuck them into your gym bag without taking up a ton of space. You can purchase valslides through PerformBetter. Right now they are on sale for $24.00!

3. Jump Rope – Can’t afford a treadmill or elliptical machine for your home? Have no fear! For about $10 you can get the perfect cardio machine for your home. Not only is jump roping fun and a killer cardio workout, but it will increase your coordination, agility, quickness, footwork, and endurance. Can your treadmill do that? You can buy a jump rope pretty cheap at most department stores or you can purchase a higher quality one through any sporting store or PerformBetter.

4. Mini-bands – Ask any of my clients and they will tell you they have a love/hate relationship with me and my bands! I use mini-bands as a way to activate the gluteus muscles that are often very weak in the general population and athletes. Try 10 lateral steps with a mini-band around your ankles in each direction and you’ll be sure to feel your gluteus medius the next day! I use these as a pre-hab tool for all my athletes. You can buy them at Target or Dicks, but I find the PerformBetter mini-bands are a much better quality and last longer. They are the ultimate stocking stuffer at under $5.00 a piece!

5. Yoga Class Pass – Regular yoga practice is great for mind, body, and soul! I have really fallen in love with yoga this fall and it has helped with my hip issues. Plus, I love unwinding after a tough day at the office! I’m sure your fitness enthusiast would love a class pass to your local yoga studio! If you’re from the Greater Portland (Maine) area, then I highly recommend Greener Postures, Lila East End Yoga, and Portland Power Yoga.

6. Vitamix (or any quality blender) – Smoothies are a nutritious and quick way to get it one’s vegetables and fruits for the day! The Vitamix is the gold standard for a blender, but it is a costly investment. I personally have a Vitamix on my Santa Wish List this year! I’ve been using a Nutribullet for a few months and it works very well; however, it doesn’t quite get that perfect consistency I’m looking for in my smoothies. A Vitamix can also make almond butter and soup among other great recipes! It’s an investment worth a lifetime! Go to Vinnie Tortorich’s webpage to click-through his banner to get free shipping! Trust me, these things are heavier than a small pony!

7. Gift Cards – Gift cards are a great alternative, especially for clothing places. Just make sure you get a gift card to a place your loved one will use it! If all else fails, Amazon has just about anything you can buy! Except, for that magic weight loss pill you have been waiting for. Speaking on an Amazon gift card… your loved one can use it to buy the next item!

8. Fitness Confidential – I read a lot of health and fitness books each year and this one is by far one of my favorites. Vinnie Tortorich is the “Hollywood go to guy in fitness.” He works with all the big names, but you don’t know his name because he doesn’t sell his soul to the devil like Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper! Not only does Vinnie tell you like it is in his no bullshit attitude, he gives you some commonsense, easy-to-follow fitness and weight-loss advice. He also tells you a bit about his personal life and he is a remarkable guy. The book comes on multiple platforms… paperback, Kindle, or audiobook! I’ve read the Kindle version and I just started the audio version. You can buy the book at Amazon through THIS link.

9. TRX – Hands down, the TRX is my Favorite tool! My fitness philosophy very much falls in the functional training category and I utilize the TRX, kettlebells, bands, and medicine balls for all my personal and most of my clients workouts. The TRX can be used just about anywhere (the perfect gift for your traveling fitness enthusiast!) and provides the tools to do 100s of different bodyweight exercises to give your entire body a killer workout! The TRX is perfect for the beginner to the most advanced fitness enthusiasts! You can purchase the TRX through the TRX website or through PerformBetter.

10. Foam Rollers – Foam rolling is something that every fitness enthusiast and athlete dreads. Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release that works to inhibit overactive muscles. Foam rolling can be painful when you first begin, but overtime it does get better (I swear!). A foam roller is a great tool to help relieve tension and pain in certain body parts (however, you should always see a sports medicine doctor if you are having persistent pain!) and there are other tools you can use, such as “The Stick” and lacrosse balls. I highly recommend everyone have a foam roller at home. You can easily use it while watching tv! You can purchase one at any sporting store location, but I find that PerformBetter has better quality ones and they are generally cheaper than the ones at Dicks.

So here are my top 10 fitness gifts for 2013. What are you getting your favorite fitness enthusiast this year?

~ Happy Training!

Disclaimer: The above list contains items that I personally love and use. No one paid me to say the above comments and/or put an item on the list. The PerformBetter link is an affiliate link so if you would like to help me buy my poor dog a new bone for Christmas than please click through that link and go on a shopping spree! 🙂 

My 2014 Race Schedule


I'm a member of Team Water.org (plus I thought this was funny) :-)

I’m a member of Team Water.org (plus I thought this was funny) 🙂

As much as I have been enjoying my extended off-season, I’m getting physically and mentally restless. Luckily I have been able to stay active through yoga and my bike on the trainer. And thankfully I just got cleared to run and also to return to strength training so my activity levels can soon “normal” swim, bike, run.

For the past couple of weeks I have been putting together my “Yearly Training Plan” or YTP (also known as an annual training plan or ATP). For the past couple of years I have been guided by an excellent coach who transformed me into the athlete I am today (well, not quite the broken down athlete at the moment, but the one that set PR after PR over the past couple of seasons). This year I have decided to coach myself, which could end up being the best decision or the worst decision on the planet. Only time will tell…

Speadsheets galore!

Speadsheets galore!

In order to construct my YTP I needed to decide what races I planned on racing in 2014. It was a tough decision to make. A lot of races have been opening up for registration and I see on Facebook and Twitter what races people are signing up for in 2014. I’m an impulse race register. If I see a friend doing a race then I automatically want to do the race too. It’s kind of a problem, especially since I pledged to myself to only race the small, local races this season in order to focus on healing my body, getting faster and stronger, and growing my own coaching business.


I was debating on signing up for a Half-Ironman this coming summer. It’s my favorite distance and when Ironman was advertising the price of $199 for Timberman 70.3 in New Hampshire I got suckered in. I opened up my wallet and took out my darn credit card. So much for self-control…

So without further ado, here is my tentative 2014 race season:

4/5/14 – Race the Runways Half-Marathon

5/3/14 – PolarBear Sprint Tri

6/8/14 – Pirate Sprint Tri

7/??/14 – Norway Sprint Tri

8/17/14 – Timberman 70.3

10/19/14 – BayState Marathon (maybe)

Those are the major races that I plan on racing in 2014 with Timberman being my big “A” race. I would absolutely love to qualify for Worlds (most likely a roll-down slot), but my chances are extremely slim. I checked last year’s results and there was over 100 women in the 25-29AG with the winner going close to 5:00. Speedy, speedy women!

I will probably register for Beach to Beacon again this year and sprinkle in some 5ks here and there. I may or may not run BayState in October. It will depend how my run fitness is going (and if it comes back)! I want to focus on quality versus quantity in 2014. Of course, everything is always subject to change.

What races are you signing up or have signed up for in 2014?

~ Happy Training!

Cleared for Take-Off: My Return to Running (or some semblance of it)


One of my favorite movies! (source)

One of my favorite movies! (source)

Last week I finally got cleared by my chiropractor to run again after a long 10+ week hiatus. Back in September I signed up for the Thanksgiving Day 4-Miler in Portland, but I made a wise decision not to run it even though I probably “could” have.

Casey, my chiropractor, said that I could run on a flat surface and no more than 3 miles. Well, obviously the 4 mile, very hilly course on Thanksgiving was out. Fine by me! I secretly hate that race anyway; however, I’m the idiot that continues to sign up for it because all my friends run it…

Between the holiday craziness, the icky cold weather, and work I wasn’t able to run until Saturday morning. I put just about every winter layer of running clothes I had on, since the last time I ran was back in September in shorts and a t-shirt. Apparently, I have become a cold weather wuss… I normally have no problem running in rain, snowstorms, hurricanes, and on ice, but now that the temperatures have dropped below freezing my body has decided that it prefers warm weather. I blame hot yoga…

I’m a veteran of returning to running after an injury. You’d think I would be used to the pain and mental mind-f*** of sheer lack of any aerobic fitness that a person has due to running. I brought my dog, Reagan, with me on the run for motivation (okay, maybe I was hoping that she’d just drag me around the trail…). That dog loves to run (and chase birds and chipmunks).



I felt good the first mile. I was running again! Yippee! I wore my Garmin but didn’t really pay attention to pace or time. I knew I would be slow. I just ran by feel. Around the Mile One mark I looked at my watch to check my pace and heart rate. I was going just a hair-below a 10-minute mile. Not bad for a slow, long run pace! Then I looked at my heart rate… 178bpm. No wonder I was sucking wind and felt like dying. I was running damn near my zone 5 heart rate!

Time to slow down a bit before I succeed to keel over from a running-induced heart attack… the “return to running” pain started to set in a bit during mile two. Argh, this process is going to suck. I was starting to get a small twitch in my right knee again. Please no! I was hoping with my running hiatus that my knee/IT-band issues would start to resolve! It was getting better post Ironman as I was focusing on rebuilding my lack of running fitness in August and September. Grr…

The knee was really starting to bother me after my Garmin beeped at the Mile Two mark. I held out until 2.25 miles and then surrendered and finished with a walk home. Why make the problem worst now?

Over all, it felt good to run again. I miss running. It’s going to take a long while to regain my running fitness, since I never really had any all of 2013 due to the knee/IT-band issues that began fairly early in my season. I’m okay with that. My big “A” race in 2014 isn’t until August, so that gives me some time to really ensure my body is healed enough to begin picking up the intensity and volume of training.

I will continue to run a couple times of week now, but my main focus right now thorough the early winter will be rebuilding my bike power. I’m hoping that we’ll get a lot of snow this year in the Greater Portland area so I can do a lot of cross-country skiing in place of running. And stay tuned for more pathetic stories of my return to running. J

~ Happy Training!

A Happier “Unhappy” Pelvis



A few weeks ago I wrote about my “unhappy pelvis,” which of course you can read about HERE.

I’ve been seeing my chiropractor on a weekly basis for the past two months. We’ve become quite the BFFs. Okay, maybe we were before since she is the one that keeps my body from completely falling apart…

Last week we had a breakthrough! ALLEHUJAH! My pelvis has settled down a bit and has finally managed to stabilize itself. Now that my pelvis has stability and isn’t playing the hokey pokey (and moving all-about), we can begin to focus on regaining mobility. ALWAYS train stability before mobility… that’s my take-away message today. You can thank me later.

Casey has determined that my right hip lacks internal rotation due to the fasica tissue surrounding my gluteus medius, semitendinosus, semimembranosus and adductor magnus. Being the total anatomy geek that I am, I started doing some research on the topic. There isn’t a ton of research out there on the topic because hip and groin injuries in athletes are less common than injuries in the extremities. However, when they do occur, they can result in extensive rehabilitation time (Anderson et al., 2001).

Fun fact – loads of up to eight times body weight have been demonstrated in the hip joint during jogging, with potentially even higher loads in more vigorous athletic competition. So, if you are a 200 pound man then you could have up to 1600 lbs of force working against your hip joints. Yikes! But, the hips are uniquely adapted to transfer such forces (Anderson et al., 2001). The body’s center of gravity is located within the pelvis, anterior (front) to the second sacral vertebra. The hips are essentially a series of arches, which according to Wikipedia (obviously a completely reliable source 😉 ) resolve forces into compressive stresses and, in turn, eliminate tensile stresses.

The major ligaments of the pelvis and hip are known to be some of the strongest in the human body and are well adapted to the forces transferred between the spine and the lower extremities. The iliac crest has multiple muscle origins and insertions, including the internal and external oblique, latissimus dorsi, paraspinal muscles, and fascia from the gluteus medius muscle. The gluteus medius (GM) is an important muscle during movement.



A significant amount of GM muscle activity has been reported during the midstance and terminal stance of gait to provide pelvic stabilization during a single normal gait. The GM is generally referred to as a primary hip abductor (leg moves away from the center of the body); but, research has indicated that it most likely plays a more effective role as a pelvic stabilizer (Schmitz et al., 2002). The anterior fibers of the GM also play a role in hip internal rotation while the posterior (back) fibers play a role in external rotation. Lack of internal rotation of the hip has been linked to lower back pain (Vad et al., 2003) in several studies in athletes.

So, what does this mean for my hip? Well, it means that my chiropractor can beat the hell out of my hip musculature. Last week she broke out her graston tools and left me with major bruises on my hamstrings, piriformis, and GM. Though, I wanted to cry while she stuck her metal tools in my GM, it made a world of difference in my hips! All week I felt that I had a whole new hip.

We have now isolated the problem in my hips through the process of elimination. My GM is so much better now and most of the “bad” fascia tissue has broken up leaving me with more mobility in that muscle. Cue the theme song to “Happy Days.”

My chiropractor has identified that the lack of internal rotation in my right hip is due to the semitendinosus and semimembranosus (medial hamstring muscles) and my adductor magnus muscles. The adductor magnus muscle is actually an external hip rotator muscle, but it was playing a major role in pulling my pelvic symphysis apart a few weeks ago. The issue is isolated at the muscle origins, where each muscle attaches to the ischial tuberosity (sit bones). It is not actually my muscles causing the problem, but the fascia tissue surrounding each muscle that is restricting the muscle from flexing and moving correctly. Thus, stretching and yoga are not effect methods to “fix” the problem. Stretching and yoga certainly help, but myofascial release is the best method.

The Guilty Parties... (source)

The Guilty Parties… (source)

My hip issues have been prevalent for the past couple of years and I feel like I am making process in finally determining the root cause of the issue and resolving it. I know that training and completing an Ironman on an injury was not the smartest move. My goal this year is to be smart about training and listening to my body. It’s hard for me to step back and take a break from training, but I know in the long run that it is a worthwhile investment to my health and my performance. I mean, it’s not like you would put a second floor on your house if you had significant cracks in your foundation making it impossible for the foundation to support a two-story home, right?

~ Happy Training!   



Anderson K, Strickland SM, Warren R. Hip and groin injuries in athletes. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2001; 29(4): 521-533.

Schmitz RJ, Riemann BK, Thompson T. Gluteus medius activity during isometric closed-chain hip rotation. Journal of Sports Rehabilitation. 2002; 11:179-188.

Vad VB, Gebeh A, Dines D, Altchek D, Norris B. Hip and shoulder internal rotation range of motion deficits in professional tennis players. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 2003; 6(1): 71-75.

Lessons From Yoga: Just Breathe…

I sound like a broken record. Over and over again I have said that I’m not patient. It’s true. Patience is not my virtue, especially when I’m injured. I went from training anywhere from 10-20+ hours a week for an Ironman to a dead stop. I’m a busy body. I’m an active and physical person. Stillness is not in my vocabulary. For crying out loud, my legs twitch as I sit at my desk at work.

But, with my recent pelvic alignment issues, I have learned that I have to accept the stillness and be patient. Many people have told me to just relax and breathe. How the hell do I do that? I’m the type of person who uses physical exercise to release my stress and anxiety. I often train alone, because it’s my “me” time. I can decompress and let go the stresses of everyday living.

Breath is essential to life. From a science and physiology perspective I understand the importance of breath and its subsequent effect on the body and mind during movement. For the past couple of years I have dappled a bit in yoga periodically, but never really enjoyed it. I always viewed it more of an off-season filler, a change of pace if you will. The various instructors always talk about breath and moving to your own breath throughout your practice. I’ve always just laughed it off a bit and focused more on the actual movements; after all, I’m a more physical person, not some kumbaya hippie (yes, I judged, sue me).

But, there is something to it. I can find stillness in breath, even during movement. I can let go…

A deep breath in, a deep breath out… I can feel the tension and stress of the day leaving my body. My muscles relax and it’s just me and my thoughts. However, my brain still runs at Mach 10 with thoughts. It always does. That will probably never change. But I can slowly release and begin to live in the moment. Just breathe…

Some people are really good at living in the moment. I am not. My brain is always 10 steps ahead of me. I’m a strategic planner, always thinking about the next step and where I’m going from here. What do I need at the grocery store? What is on my to-do list at work tomorrow? When are my student loans due? The list goes on. Since my Mom died almost five years ago my thoughts and attitudes have evolved and grown. Sometimes it takes a life-changing event to change your thought process. Life is short. Cherish the moments.


Source: The Clymb Facebook Page

For the past few weeks I have reflected a bit on moments in my life where I have truly lived in the moment. I think we all have moments in life that we truly feel alive, whether it’s seeing a beautiful sunrise on the beach in Costa Rica, achieving a life goal, or the birth of your child. Each moment is unique to us and our core being.

My expectations going into Ironman Lake Placid were low, but my hopes were high. The night before the race I received some incredible advice from a friend who has raced several Ironmans – you only get one first Ironman, enjoy the moment. 

Yes, completing an Ironman is daunting to most people. Who in their right mind would want to swim, bike, run 140.6 miles for up to 17 hours? Throughout my 14:13:33 hour day I experienced pain, frustration, and negative thoughts, but I kept reminding myself to keep moving forward and breathe. Pedaling up the long, slow incline of the Gorge while fighting a headwind under threatening skies, I would look around and see the beauty of the Adirondack Mountains. My body, even though it was broken and fatigued from the day’s effort, was a machine. My breath feeding the fire that burned in my muscles. Just breathe….

Entering the Olympic Circle at Lake Placid is an indescribable feeling. An overwhelming wave of emotion; it hits you like a ton of bricks. At this point I had tears running down my cheek from the excruciating pain in my right knee from when it gave out seven miles before. Every fiber of my body was willing me to run the final half mile. The cheers from the crowd were quieting the pain in my body and pushing me forward. This was the moment. This was MY moment. The tears quickly turned from pain to every emotion imaginable. Happiness. Pain. Fatigue. 

THIS was the moment that I had been training for over seven months. I put in countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears. It all culminated in this moment. I thought about my mom and how I carried her photo in my sports bra. I hoped that she was looking down on me with pride. Suddenly, my feet across under the arch and I heard Mike Reilly tell me “I am an Ironman.” The moment was surreal. Almost like an out-of-body experience. Just breathe…

There are days I wish I could rewind time and relive moments that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. But, atlas, we cannot. We can only live in the present and learn to appreciate what we have. Nothing lasts forever.

Source: UpWorthy Facebook Page

Source: UpWorthy Facebook Page

So next time you’re hiking a mountain, running on the beach, or relaxing on your mat at the end of yoga class, live in the moment. Sometimes it’s the little things that are the most profound in life. Sometimes you have to be patient, try something new, and learn to breathe… and finally, cherish the moment.

Just breathe… 


~ Happy Training!