Tag: Athlete

Meet Himanshu Kale – Ironman in Training!

Himanshu Kale joined Seattle Athletic Club at the end of July 2012. His goal: to complete a half Iron Man triathlon; his obstacle: he could barely swim! When we met that week for an initial complementary swim assessment, I found he had a lot of anxiety around the water. Like many with water anxieties, Himanshu did not trust that he could put is face and head in the water. However, I soon found that Himanshu had a lot more willingness to work through his fears and anxieties in order to achieve his goals. He was ready and willing to learn the fundamentals first: to start from the most elementary and foundational place: putting his face in the water practicing blowing air out of his body. Beginning with learning to breathe properly and gradually adding one technique on at a time, Himanshu has developed a technically strong freestyle stroke.

Many people who never learned to swim develop a fear and anxieties around the water simply because they’ve never been in it, making learning more challenging. Others have experienced traumatic events, leaving them with emotional scares of swimming. For all these people, learning to swim is such an act of courage. When they commit to this skill, however, the reward is a life changing shift in their entire perspective of their place in the world. Himanshu took on this challenge.

In November he ran his first half marathon. In December he started working out in my Swim Conditioning class and soon joined TN Multi Sports! There he is able to work on his conditioning and prepare for his first triathlons.

Now, when Himanshu and I meet, we focus on continuing to improve his technique, learn the other strokes and turns, and continue to work through any lingering fears that come up as we introduce new dimensions to his swimming repertoire.

Himanshu’s success is remarkable especially in such a relatively short period of time. I am honored to work with him and look forward to watching him reach his ultimate goal of completing a half Iron Man in June 2012.

Working with Himanshu has been an honor, making me especially proud.

SAC swimmers conquer 11 miles of open water swimming!

On June 22nd, 2012 at 7:00am, 36 swimmers jumped into Portland’s 70 degree Willamette River to conquer 11 miles of open water swimming. Two of those swimmers consisted of member Oscar Mraz and swim instructor Lindsey Highstrom-Millard.

Oscar first came up with the idea to do the endurance event after being compelled by Seattle Athletic Club (SAC) swim staff the previous year to do some open water swims. After a 1 mile race and a 3.1 mile event Oscar decided to over triple the distance. He signed up early to ensure that there was “no turning back”, quickly urging Lindsey to do the same.

Lindsey and Oscar spent the next the next 6-8 weeks getting serious about being in the water. They swam on average 6 days a week, and most of those consisted of double-days in the water (with a min of 2-3 days in the open water). They met often at 5:15am to get in mileage before heading off to their full-time jobs and spent many hours in the swim conditioning classes at SAC. Biggest mileage training weeks were in the range of 22-24 miles of pure swimming bliss with the longest training session being 6.5 miles.

Going into the race both Oscar and Lindsey had separate game plans. Lindsey coming from a collegiate swimming background at Arizona State decided a positive attitude and “pain” would be the guide to swimming her furthest distance to date. While Oscar decided to start out very conservatively, build from there, and use his kayakers as his guide to limit sighting to conserve energy.

Each fueled throughout the event with nearly 1500 calories of gels and electrolyte drinks, provided to them by their kayakers on poles, as the swimmers were not allowed to hold onto anything during the swim.

The biggest highlight, outside of this amazing feat, was the two emerged from the water at exactly the same time of 4 hours and 20 minutes, both winning their respective wetsuit categories for men and women. The two emerged together at mile 7.5 and swam the remaining 3.5 miles together. This just goes to show that the athletes that train together, place together!

And after all this, they can’t wait to do it again!

Swimming Faster… Tips from the Swim Fairy

If it were as simple as swinging a magic wand, I would wish the magical dust upon everyone. However, like many things, swimming faster requires work. Here are some tips to ensuring you swim faster, consider it magic dust!

  1. Frequency in swimming is key. Collegiate and National level swimmers train the most “time” of any other sport around (or darn near close to it). Why is this? Humans are land animals and to really get efficient in the water, you need to be in the water. For triathletes here is a rule of thumb for swimming frequency (times you get in the water each week).

    1-2 times per week: Swim maintenance. This is the minimum amount of time to be able to maintain your current fitness in the pool.
    3-4 times per week: This is where an athlete will see the biggest gains occur exponentially in their swim speed and technique.
    5+ times: The athlete will continue to see more gains in the pool but at a lesser rate exponentially. For the athlete REALLY aiming to improve then 5+ days a week is the way to go.

    *Remember frequency trumps duration!

  2. Consistency on a daily/weekly basis. Swimming is about consistency. If you swim 3 times a week one week and none the next you have lost the ever-so-talked-about “feel for the water”. It takes a whole other week of 3+ times in the water to get this natural “feel” back. The feel for the water is a term used to describe feeling a strong catch and feeling your body move strongly through the water. When you lose this feel you have a feeling of “weakness” in your stroke.

    *Swim regularly week, after week, after week!

  3. Swim with a purpose. Arrive at the pool with a workout, goal paces, goal times, and a plan. A typical workout should look similar to this:
    • Warm up
    • Drills
    • Main Set (with focus on strength, pacing, speed, recovery, or endurance)
    • Cool Down

    *Identify what your goal is for each session!

  4. Document. Document your training in your plan. Record paces, rest periods, and specific workout details. Swimming blindly (or training blindly) gives you no concrete evidence to see improvements. Throughout the years you may reference previous workouts, where you are at in your training plan, in order to ensure you are making progress in the right direction.

    *Record your data!

  5. Seek consistent swim lessons. Doing one swim lesson will help. But consistent guidance is important for success. Often swimmers will “over correct” their new form. By having a lesson set up 2-3 weeks apart then the correction can be made by the instructor before the new stroke become a bad habit. Filming (above and below) water is also super beneficial in making your stroke improvements.

    *Seek advice of an experienced swim instructor for swim and video analysis!

  6. Swim with a group. Masters swim classes, or swimming with teammates is not only more fun it helps you pace your swims better when swimming alongside those of equal ability and inch out that extra bit of speed once in a while that can be difficult to find on your own.

    *Swim with friends!

Post these reminders in a place you see often and make sure you are practicing all your magical tips!

Exercise and Your Brain

Muscles? Check! Heart? Check! Weight loss? Check! Brain? The shaking in our muscles, pounding in our heart and sweat on our towels make it clear that our strength, cardiovascular health and body composition are positively influenced by exercise. But what does brain health have to do with it? Although it may seem counter intuitive, exercise is a tremendous contributor to cognitive health. In a study by Wueve and others (2004) spanning from 1986 to 2003, 18,766 women reported leisure-time activity and took a baseline cognitive assessment in middle age and a final assessment at ages 70-81. Women who reported more physical activity throughout the years of observation scored significantly better on tests indicating cognitive health and the degree of cognitive decline. Women walking at an easy pace for just 15 minutes per day showed significantly better performance. Think about this! Just walking the equivalent of about half a mile in 15 minutes a day seems to be enough to change cognitive health over a lifetime! In fact, women who walked for 1.5 hours per week versus 38 minutes per week exhibited cognitive performance similar to women one and a half years younger. It is as if exercise can turn back the clock on cognitive aging!

A randomized controlled study by Colcombe and others (2006) sheds some light on to why this effect could be occurring. Older individuals who participated in three one hour sessions of moderate aerobic exercise per week for three months showed a significant increase in the size of their brain compared to older adults who only did stretching and toning exercise in that time. The study also found a significant decrease in brain volume as a function of aging and decreases in brain size are often found in conjunction with age-related cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. This finding suggests that exercises’ influence on cognitive performance is based on being able to trigger brain growth. There are several ways that exercise can directly affect brain health, especially by increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain during and as a long term result of exercise. Whatever the physiological basis for the effect of exercise on cognitive health, there is plenty of convincing evidence to suggest that exercise plays a pivotal role.

What is most amazing about the finding that 15 minutes of easy pace walking can increase cognitive health in older age is the incredibly short duration and low intensity of the exercise. Obviously, this does not provide an excuse to replace all your training with a slow walk at lunch time! Instead, it speaks to the incredible power of exercise to unlock great potential in every body. It is also a sobering reminder of the danger of giving in to a sedentary lifestyle. For many in our society, a whole day can go by with little more than walking from the car to a chair and before we know it we have missed our opportunity to bolster our cognitive health in such a simple way. Next time you consider skipping a workout or just sitting around, consider what your cognitive health means to you. Working, communicating with loved ones and enjoying a great book all hinge on cognitive performance; certainly a bit of activity is a small price. Try to build activity into your lifestyle; take the stairs instead of the elevator, park on the far end of the lot or take transit instead of driving. Also remember that all the Fitness staff members are here to help if you have any questions or are looking for a creative alternative to walking outside on a rainy day. Whatever you do to stay active, just make sure you can put a “Check!” next to preserving your brain health.

For information on how to balance physical training with mental training, please contact Personal Fitness Trainer, Hunter Spencer.

Triathletes Checklist – What’s in Your Bag?

Have you considered participating in your first Triathlon in 2012? Or are you the type of athlete who always seems to forget something on race day? Here’s a quick list of essential items that should be in every triathletes bag for their next event.

Swim:

  • Goggles
  • Cap
  • Timing Chip
  • Timing Chip Strap
  • Wetsuit/Speed suit
  • Tri Top
  • Tri Bottoms
  • Watch
  • Body Glide
  • Towel
  • Sunscreen

Bike:

  • Bike
  • Pump
  • Cartridges
  • Tubes
  • Helmet
  • Helmet number
  • Glasses
  • Bike Shoes
  • Waterbottle
  • Fuel (water/electrolytes/gels/bars/etc)
  • Race Belt
  • Race Number
  • Socks

Run:

  • Run Shoes
  • Visor/Hat
  • Gels

Post Race:

  • Change of Clothes
  • Fresh shoes
  • Recovery Food

Seattle Athletic Club Downtown is proud to have USAT Level II Triathlon Coach, Teresa Nelson along with her team of supporting coaches leading our multi-sport program. For more information on training for multi-sport events, please contact Teresa at tnelson@sacdt.com.

Electrolytes – What They Are & Why You Need Them

You know it’s important to drink lots of water before, during, and after a workout, but you might be forgetting something! During exercise, your body also loses electrolytes, and you need to replenish them for proper organ and cellular function. Common electrolytes include sodium, potassium chloride, and bicarbonate.

Sodium
Sodium regulates the total amount of water in the body and the transmission of sodium into and out of individual cells also plays a role in critical body functions. Many processes in the body, especially in the brain, nervous system, and muscles, require electrical signals for communication. The movement of sodium is critical in generation of these electrical signals.

Potassium
The proper level of potassium is essential for normal cell function. Among the many functions of potassium in the body are regulation of the heartbeat and the function of the muscles.

Chloride
Chloride is the major anion (negatively charged ion) found in the fluid outside of cells and in the blood. Chloride also plays a role in helping the body maintain a normal balance of fluids.

Bicarbonate
The bicarbonate ion acts as a buffer to maintain the normal levels of acidity (pH) in blood and other fluids in the body. Bicarbonate levels are measured to monitor the acidity of the blood and body fluids. The acidity is affected by foods or medications that we ingest and the function of the kidneys and lungs.

It is especially important to replenish electrolytes after exercise, because many electrolytes are lost in sweat. You can replenish your electrolytes by consuming sports drinks, juice, milk, and many fruits and vegetables. Perhaps the most common and efficient way to replenish electrolytes is through sport drinks like Gatorade and PowerAde. These drinks offer a good source and adequate amounts of carbohydrates and electrolytes to replenish your body. So remember, next time you plan your workout, don’t forget to include a way to properly recover and nourish your body!

Welcome Outdoor Adventure Coach: Brandyn Roark


Brandyn is a professional XTERRA off road triathlete, cyclist, mountain biker, randonee skier, big mountain skier, adventure racer, and climber. She owns her own coaching business and is a USA swim and cycling coach, Brandyn has traveled the world racing and teaching other athletes and beginners how to be safe, strong and stable as well as have a blast in the mountains!! She has climbed and skied peaks in North America, Europe, and beyond and is looking forward to taking SAC members to their next adventure in the outdoors whether it be their first intro to climbing or just fine tuning their mountain biking skills.

She is also a Mental Health Professional and was a Psycho-Social Rehabilitation specialist for children for 8 years. She was a Nationally Ranked NCAA D1 swimmer and began climbing at the age of 12. Brandyn’s enthusiasm and energy is centered around introducing people from all different backgrounds into the outdoor world…”it’s a HUGE playground out there…we have to go play, explore and create!” She believes that all growth in life happens in the journey, not the outcome…”so make that journey an adventure, try something new, challenge yourself and inspire others to do the same!”

Specialties:
Race Prep | Sports Psychology | Mountain Biking | Backcountry Hikes & Skiing | Mountaineering | Rock Climbing | Paddling & Water Sports | Open Water Swimming

If you are an outdoor enthusiast, look for more great professionally lead programs coming to Seattle Athletic Club Downtown this Summer with Brandyn Roark! To connect to Brandyn, please email her directly at BRoark@sacdt.com.

Heave and Ho – What are Sandbags Doing in the Gym?

Sandbags, what and why is this in the gym and not at a construction site? Sandbags (which are literally just bags filled with sand) are an old school tool that are getting a lot of new publicity as of lately. You see them being used by NFL players, by UFC fighters, by that guy at the park. Why are these bags so utilized by highly powerful athletes and those looking to gain that explosive edge?

Here are just a few reasons to use a sandbag instead of a conventional dumbbell or barbell:

  1. Because the bags are filled with sand the weight is constantly varied and no rep will feel the same. As the weight moves around in the bag you’ll have to balance it out as you move explosively through exercises.
  2. Balance, ripping a 45lb bag filled with loose sand off the floor to your chest will require much more full body balance and coordination than a unified barbell would.
  3. Real world training. It’s cool to bicep curl 50lbs but if you are looking to gain an athletic advantage on the soccer field (increasing your take off speed, jumping, quick turns, etc) or looking to be able to work in the yard without throwing out your back every other weekend, you’ll find that sandbags are as real as it gets.
  4. Unique exercises, sandbags are diverse and will challenge you with full body power movements as well as with stretching and core work. The possibilities are endless with this tool.
  5. Fun! The bags are diverse, challenging, and can be used just about anywhere. You can build an intense workout with 4 basic exercises, sounds more fun than sitting on benches doesn’t it?!

Sandbags will push you to find new ways to use your legs and arms as one powerful unit and help you build full body strength. Give it a try, pick up a bag and see how unique it is. This is one time you won’t get in trouble for throwing sand around!

To learn more about sandbag training contact Personal Fitness Trainer, Adriana Brown by phone at 443-1111 ext. 273.