Month: March 2011

Seattle Athletic Club Runners Take on the Mercer Island Half Marathon!

Let the race season begin!!!

Kicking off the 2011 local race season, we had an amazing showing at the Mercer Island 5K, 10K and half Marathon. And a super kick-off it was with over 32 athletes racing, we were a pack to be reckoned with! The sun was shining and so were all of our athletes with some superb performances! Plenty of fantastic races, course PR’s, top placements, and race debuts made it a very memorable day for all!

While there was plenty of pre and post race laughter and kidding around, the MI courses are no joke! The courses have more ups, downs, turns, and bends in them than a roller-coaster! And just when you think that you have hit all the hills and rollers you could, there is that last little steep climb to the finish that is placed there like a bad joke but oh so exhilarating when you crest the top and sprint that 30yds down to the finish line!

Congrats to all of those who raced your performances were amazing and inspiring out there! And of course always a big thanks to the support systems out there cheering them all on! Your cheers of encouragement are the secret weapon that kept all the racers charging up those hills to the finish line! It would’ve been that much more mentally difficult out there without all of that positive energy to keep our athletes moving forward. Your cheers are what helped to give all the racers that boost when we really need it out there!
We look forward to seeing you all out there at the many races to come this season creating more fabulous memories!!!

SAC’s roster of speedy racers – keep up the great work!
½ Marathon:

  • Amanda Camp – 2:00:16 (9:11)
  • Chuck Cathey – 1:43:45 (7:55)
  • Bridget Jones Cressman – 1:35:24 (7:17)
  • Ethan Morris – 1:54:20 (8:44)
  • Patricia Nakamura – 1:51:12 (8:29)
  • Mike Podell – 1:31:25 (6:59)

10K:

  • Chad Baker – 49:51 (8:02)
  • Mark Longman – 52:16 (8:25)
  • Elizabeth Martin – 47:48 (7:42)
  • Kirsten Nesholm – 44:20 (7:08)
  • Lisa Ohge – 51:08 (8:14)
  • Tammi Westphal – 59:14 (9:32)

5K:

  • Teresa Nelson – 22:25 (7:14)

Are Your Joints Making Noise?

Many of us who have stepped into the gym are probably familiar with the popping sound most commonly found in the elbow, shoulder, wrist, back and knee. Do you wonder the reasoning for this and if it could be something to worry about?

Noises in the joints can be quite disturbing and cause concern. Good thing is often, these noises are not an indication of any underlying problem. Knee cracking and popping usually sounds much worse than it is. Such noise often persists for years without any real problem developing. The key is if there is no pain with cracks or pops, you can assume it is being caused by the soft tissue in a joint. The tendons snap a little like plucking guitar strings. Another reason is because of a release of gas dissolved in the fluid of the joint. Sometimes joints make crunchy noises due to small bone fragments in the joint, like sand under a steel wheel. Joints can also make popping noises when they dislocate but are usually associated with extreme pain.

The bottom line is this. If you hear pops and clicks with no associated pain in a joint, you may want to begin some conditioning exercises to improve the overall integrity of the joint. If the muscles are strong, they will take the weight off of the joint and relax the pressure on those articulating surfaces. If there is pain along with those joint noises, there may be structural damage building in the joint, and it would be wise to see a physician for a proper diagnosis.

A proper warm up before exercising; as well as looking into taking some glucosamine and/or fish oil (which are supposed to increase the synovial fluid within the joints; your joint’s grease!)should help reduce the popping sound and stiffness of the joints. If you have any questions please feel free to contact any of the fitness staff at the Seattle Athletic Club.

How to Supercharge a 20 Minute Workout

So, you have 20 minutes and you can’t decide if it’s worth working out. You ask, “Is 20 minutes really enough time to do anything? Is it worth me getting changed and finding my workout socks at the bottom of my bag for?” Let me tell you, it is!

Here are a few ways to make 20 minutes seem like an eternity!

  1. High cardio interval training. Sprint one lap on the track and walk a straight away. Repeat until 20 minutes is up or you die.
  2. Stairs, run them, jump them; carry a med ball over your head, etc. etc. Nothing like moving your body up through space with the biggest muscles in your body to not only burn massive amounts of calories but also increase your strength.
  3. Strength work. Pick a big full range of motion lift, preferable a lower body exercise. Do a quick 5 minute warm-up and then add weight until you get to your heavy weight (as many sets of 3-5 as you can fit in 20 minutes). Front squat (works quads, glutes, hams, and core), back squat (same as front with more emphasis on hams and glutes), single leg front squats, push press, thrusters, or deadlifts. You’ll be amazed at how fast you start sweating when you start adding “real weight” to your major lifts. Not only will you increase strength (and thus increase metabolism), but if you give your self just enough rest to make the next set you’ll also be working on your cardio!
  4. Combine 4 basic movements and do as many as you can until your time is up. Air squats, push-ups, lunges, bench dips. All very basic, all body weight, all can be done ANYWHERE. Do as many air squats as you can, when you have to break or your form becomes less than 100% move to push-ups. Move through all exercises and start all over. To make it fun you can record how many reps you did of each exercise. You’ll be smoked and wishing that you only had 10 minutes to workout!
  5. Find a happy medium. Do 2 minutes of sprinting (all out effort) on any machine, after that move to 3 or more of your favorite exercises. Again, the more weight or the more body parts involved in the exercise the better but as long as you keep moving sky is the limit. Perform 10 perfect reps of each exercise (ab roll-ups, kettlebell swings, long jumps) and then hit up the cardio again. Repeat 3-4 times and enjoy the high caloric burn!

These are just a few ways to make 20 minutes worth the effort of lacing up your gym kicks! If you need more guidance or ideas try a session or two with a personal trainer and see what else the exercise world has to offer!

Strength Training for Women: Dispelling Misconception

Myth 1: Strength training causes women to become larger and heavier.
Actually, strength training helps in decreasing body fat and increasing lean body mass (muscle mass). Many people when trying to lose weight overlook the benefits of strength training for fear of weight gain. Now, there may be a slight increase in body weight initially but the key to losing weight has very little to do with the number on your bathroom scale. “Your weight reflects only the amount of fat, muscle and other substances in your body; if you lose weight you cannot determine what you have lost, fat or muscle.” This is why your metabolic rate (metabolism) is important. Metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories. This figure is mostly dependent upon your specific body composition, the relative amounts of fat and muscle in your body. Muscle burns more calories than fat! With understanding this concept, if weight loss is your goal you should focus on fat loss and muscle gain. Lowering your overall bodyfat and increasing your lean body mass (muscle) will help you to burn more calories throughout the whole day.

Now, I get a lot of questions regarding size and strength training. “I don’t want to get big.” Women that get big in the weight room already have a genetic predisposition for muscle growth (hypertrophy) and train with high volume, high intensity exercise programs. The best way to increase muscle size is by lifting light weights with more repetitions and to increase strength by lifting heavy weights with low repetitions. Muscle size will usually not increase as much as it will with lighter weights and more repetitions. A general rule is that heavy weights for about five reps or less is better for strength and more reps and lighter weight is better for size. Therefore, an exercise program that varies the intensity from heavier weights, fewer reps (5–8) to lighter weight more reps (12–15) 2 – 3 days per week is just what you need to give your metabolism that boost to help you “loss weight” without “getting big”.

Myth 2: Women should use different exercise programs than men.
It was once thought that using free weights, plyometrics (high velocity, low force) body weight or even manual resistance would cause injury.

In fact, there is no evidence that woman are more likely to be injured during strength training than man. Using proper form and technique when exercising is the key for both men and women in reducing the risk of injury. Following a strength-training program that gradually increases the intensity and load will also help in reducing the risk of injuries.

Myth 3: Women should avoid high-intensity or high-load training.
Strength training programs that most women perform are light weight in nature. Often such programs are below those necessary for physiologic adaptations and are much lower than those used by men.

“Most women are able to train at higher volumes and intensities than previously believed. In fact, women need to train at intensities high enough to cause adaptation in bone, muscle, cartilage, ligaments and tendons.” Thus, training at lower levels will keep physiologic benefits to a minimum and in turn, will keep you from reaching your goals. To get the most benefit from your strength training program, one should, occasionally lift weights at or near repetition maximum for each exercise.

Using the OVERLOAD principle is one way to ensure you get the most out of your strength training routine. There are three ways one can overload: by increasing the weight, the repetitions, and the sets. As discussed earlier, strength is increase more by lifting heavy loads for fewer repetitions than by lifting light loads for higher repetitions. So, if you are now able to lift a given amount of weight 15 times instead of 8 times, you are ready for an overload change. Here we have used both weight and repetitions as the overload. You can also use just repetitions as a way to overload. Trying to increase the reps puts added stress on the muscles. As muscle strength increases the number of reps you can do increase. Be aware that at some point weight will need to be increased as well to ensure proper overloading. Also, by adding a second or third set will allow those muscles to work harder even at the same intensity.

Remember, that lifting weights (strength training) is a great tool for increasing ones strength for overall functioning, preventing osteoporosis, speeding up your metabolism and losing weight. It takes a lot of hard work with varying intensities, rest periods between sets and how much food you consume to “get big” in the weight room. And that bathroom scale isn’t showing you the whole truth.

Break-FAST, Rev Up Your Fat Burning Machine!

You know the how the saying goes, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” It’s true. Studies show that eating breakfast can dramatically help a person lose weight and/or maintain a slim figure. Now, this doesn’t mean you get to order that tasty pastry at Starbucks or eat a bowl full of sugary cereal. What you choose for breakfast will make a huge difference in your overall health and how your body will burn fat.

After fasting all night, breakfast will kick start your metabolism and give you long lasting energy if you choose the right foods such as whole grains, fruits, non-fat Greek yogurt, eggs, etc. Watch out for foods loaded with refined sugars! These foods offer little nutritional value and will cause your blood sugar to rise and fall very quickly. Leaving you feeling tired and hungry, and in my case, cranky. No bueno.

The sooner you eat, the sooner your body will become a fat burning machine. Yes please! Here is one of my favorite recipes for guys and gals who tell me you do not want to wake up 10 minutes early to prepare breakfast.

Oatmeal While You Sleep
This recipe uses steel cut oats and a slow cooker; assemble the ingredients before bed and breakfast will be waiting for you in the morning.

Ingredients
1 cup steel cut oats
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup chopped apple
4 cups water
½ cup non-fat or low-fat milk
¼ – ½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds or pecans make a great addition)

Directions

  1. Combine all the ingredients, except the nuts, in a slow cooker and set to low heat.
  2. Cover the slow cooker and let cook for 8-9 hours overnight.
  3. In the morning, stir the oatmeal and add the nuts.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

If you would like more ideas for a healthy, fat-burning breakfast, please contact personal fitness trainer Stephanie Weishaar.

Spring Into Running with a Balanced Body

As spring approaches, we get excited about enjoying outdoor activities here in the Pacific Northwest, including running. It’s easy! Just grab a pair of running shoes and head out the door! But have you ever jumped into a running regime, only to find yourself nursing an injury a few weeks or months down the road? Whether you are new to running or training for yet another marathon, look for ways to cross-train for a balanced body so you can enjoy running all season long.

Most runners know that it is critical to have a strong core, back, hips, and pelvic muscles, but what is the best way to achieve that? One option for this cross training is Pilates. Pilates is a series of exercises given to you by an instructor who learns your weaknesses and tight areas, and then develops a program based on those needs of stretching and strengthening.

I’ve noticed that runners are generally good at Pilates; they seem to know how to engage their gluteals (bottom muscles) and are aware of their core/abdominals. However, runners also tend to have tight quadriceps (thighs) and hip flexors, as well as weak hamstrings (back of legs) and inner thighs. These imbalances in the muscles of the legs and hips can potentially cause pain and injury for runners, especially the knee, hip, ankle and foot.

Pilates helps to balance things out in the legs by strengthening the hamstrings, inner thighs, and gluteals to take pressure off the front and side of the leg, leading to better alignment and less chance of injury. Plus the hip, abdominal and back strengthening exercises help to maintain better stability and alignment through the entire body while running.

The best way to learn what your body specifically needs is to meet with a Pilates Instructor one-on-one. But, in the meantime, some at-home exercises you could start today include the following:

1) The Hundred

2) The Abdominal Series of five

  • Single leg stretch
  • Double leg stretch
  • Single straight leg stretch
  • Double straight leg stretch
  • Criss-cross

3) The Swimming

A balanced body will result in better performance, quicker recovery, and less chance of injury so you can enjoy running all season long.

How Often Do I Get A Massage?

Here at the Seattle Athletic Club members often ask: How often should I get a massage? Should I book a massage treatment before or after a workout?

Listen to your body
Do your muscles feel sore or your limbs heavy? Or maybe you’re just feeling sluggish or in need of a little “you” time. Leading an active lifestyle with regular exercise, work and the general stress of our daily routine can build up stress on the joints and muscles. Whatever the reason, this is a good time to get a therapeutic massage from one of our highly skilled massage therapists here at the SAC.

Post athletic event (marathon, basketball tournament, spin class, a good workout) are great times for a massage. Have you ever felt really sore the morning after a strenuous workout? Or maybe even a couple of days later? Massage can aide in moving the bi-products of muscle use and heavy exercise through the body faster, keeping joints, tendons muscles looser and ready for more activity and a quicker recovery time!

General Benefits of Massage

  • Massage can help break up adhesions or “sticky spots” in the muscles where muscle fibers get adhered from lots of physical activity.
  • Massage can help decrease your stress level and increase the same hormones that are released when you sleep.
  • Bodywork and touch therapies of any kind are good for a sense balanced mental and physical well-being.
  • Add your own benefits here!

Seattle Athletic Club Downtown Massage Therapists
Check the Seattle Athletic Club website or the photos on the wall near the massage rooms in the Men’s and Women’s locker rooms for more information about the modalities and skills of our great team of therapists. From Thai massage to Sports massage; specific injury treatment or just a relaxing hour of healing touch, you’re in good hands with our specialists her at the SAC!

Call 206-443-1111 to book your next massage.

Meditation and Pranayama – The Root of Yoga

This month, I want to talk a little about Meditation and Pranayama. These are not Yoga Poses, but the root of the practice. The juice and foundation. Meditation is a practice of stilling the constant chatter and pounding in the mind, and Pranayama are the breath control practices of yoga that help with the stilling of the mind.

Notice I say “practice”, as Meditation certainly doesn’t come to me or most of us naturally! A few years ago, a friend said, “Tonja, you got the poses down. Now, what you need to do is stop moving and sit your butt down and listen to your intuition.”

For me, sitting still for even 5 minutes is a wrestling match, but when I finally set my butt down and settle into stillness, it is truly an amazing practice of transforming my crazy busy mind into, clear, focused, sharpness.

Meditation for beginners. First start by doing 10 minutes yoga warm up or light stretches. Then prop your sit bones up on pillows or yoga blocks until you feel comfortable to sit for at least 10 minutes. Here’s the thing. Silence, no music, no waterfalls, just you and your wonderful breath. It’s hard…you can do this. Focus first on just the act of breathing, feel the richness of breath, the physicality of the miracle of the respiratory system. Sit tall, but not rigid, and drop your chin half way toward your chest. Once you begin to settle, start with a Mantra (repetitive words or sound, who’s purpose is to calm the mind) The mantra I work with right now is “YES” on the inhale, and “Thank you” on the exhale…over and over again repeating this simple gratitude practice. It doesn’t matter what you are “YESSING” and THANKING…. It is signaling the sub conscious mind in the Alpha state, to imprint Gratitude on your cellular level. A practice of daily Gratitude will change your life, guaranteed.

The Pranayama practice I love to begin with is Ujjaii Pranayama. In your “seat” press the tongue behind the front teeth, which drops and lengthens your palette and creates space around the nasal and throat passages. Slightly close the glottal muscles, back of throat, to sound like a soft snore. If you like to deepen this, count to 4-6 on the inhale, HOLD the breath in as you lift your belly up 2 counts, relax all muscle effort, and exhale slowly.

Pretty soon, a fidgety 5 minutes of Meditation/Pranayama has turned into 20 minutes that you don’t want to end.

There are many techniques for quieting the mind; I’m sharing some that work for me. All the Greats use Meditation to tap into their inspiration. Russel Simmons, of Def Jam Recordings and Rush Management, has just written “Supper Rich” where he explains how yoga and meditation has helped him become not only a tremendously successful business man, but more open and loving in his life. It’s an excellent book.

As always, ask your teacher about any yoga technique, and they can point you in a direction that they’ve gone. Try it, and with practice, you’ll go in the right direction and style that’s right for you.

Improve Your Balance, Stability and Strength with a Bosu Ball

The Bosu ball is an excellent piece of equipment that can be incorporated into any exercise routine. Whether you are an elite level athlete or simply want to increase your balance and stability, the Bosu will help in a wide variety of ways.

As with any balance exercise, make sure that while using the Bosu ball you have something that is anchored to the ground close by. You will be purposely placing your body in unstable situations and you may lose your balance throughout the exercises. Having something close by will make you feel more comfortable and progress more smoothly through the exercises until you develop the needed strength. Remember, safety first.

Bosu stands for Both Sides Up, meaning you can stand or place your hands on either the black side or the blue side. Both sides change the degree of instability in different ways.

When standing on the blue side of the Bosu you recruit more ankle and foot stabilizing muscles since the foot does not have a solid place to make a balance point. This is great for runners who are training on variable of surfaces or people who may be worried about falling or twisting an ankle. By subjecting the foot to the instability of the Bosu you will train it to be prepared to react quickly when placed in a similar situation. This can be anything from hitting a rough spot in the ground, a tree root, or, of course the worst of all, holes. The Bosu will help you train for injury prevention as well as treatment of ankle or knee injuries.

The black side of the Bosu focuses more on the knee to hip complex and less on the ankle (the ankle will still be very much active). Since the black surface is perfectly flat, the ankle no longer has to struggle for stability. However, since the blue side is now touching the ground, the rest of the body must work together to maintain balance.

Exercises to Try:
Single Leg Step-up (blue side first then progress to the black side)
Place the foot directly in the center of the Bosu on the blue side. Let the circles on top of the ball guide you to proper foot placement. Contract the muscles through the leg that is on top of the Bosu and step up bringing the opposite knee up to assist with balance. When you first start, the goal is to get up and touch back down in the same spot. As you get into a rhythm, start holding longer at the top of the movement, testing your balance.

Basic Squat (blue side first then black)
Blue Side Facing Up: Stand on top of the blue side of the Bosu with both feet. You want your feet a little less than shoulder width apart. Find your balance by relaxing your legs and extending your spine up from the crown of your head. Maintain this spine length as you bend at your hips and knees to lower down into a squat.

Black Side Facing Up: While holding on to a secured object place one foot on the black side of the Bosu, fully tilting it to one side. Contract the muscles of that leg as you press yourself up and place the opposite foot on the other side of the Bosu. Your toes should be pointed forward and your feet should be a little wider than hip width apart. Relax the legs and extend the spine up. Maintain this spine length as you bend at your hips and knees to lower down into a squat. Your legs will most likely shake as they struggle to find stability (this is why we stay close to an anchored object) but as you progress in the exercise your muscles will calm down and the shaking will subside.

Bump, Set, Spike It!

Volleyball is an excellent form of exercise. Not only is it fun and competitive, but you can burn up to 700 calories per hour. It is a great polymetric workout, and uses big muscle groups such as your glutes, quads, shoulders, and core.

There are three components of the game. Passing, setting, and hitting. Otherwise known to the average person as bump, set, spike!

Passing is essential to the game. If the team cannot pass the ball, they cannot win the game! Learning how to pass the ball should be your first priority when learning to play. Your goal is to have your pass go right to the top of the setter’s head without making him or her move. It is important to focus on your platform angle and moving your feet to the ball. Perfecting these two things along with repetition will start to improve your passing skills and help your team tremendously.

Setting the volleyball is one of the most difficult skills to teach and takes a lot of practice to master. The setter is the quarterback of the team. They run the show and call the shots. The key to setting is to keep the ball on your fingertips and not ever touch it with your palms. Make a triangle with your thumbs and forefingers and practice setting against the wall. This will start to help you gain a soft touch on the volleyball.

Hitting the volleyball is usually the team’s third contact. The best way to go about learning how to hit is to split it up into separate parts. Approach, positioning, arm swing, and timing. Hitting takes good coordination and lots of work to master. For a player, this is usually the most popular component to practice and master!

Perfecting each of these three components will help take your team to the next level. You cannot have one without the other. They are essential to the game and needed to get that great BUMP, SET, SPIKE!

Are you looking to tune up your backyard volleyball skills? Or maybe you want to learn more about the game and improve your court awareness? Volleyball is an excellent way to have fun and get a great workout. Working with our Personal Fitness Trainer and former Pac10 volleyball player, Stephanie Weishaar, can help take your game to the next level.