Tag: coaching

Summer all-comers track and field meet

Welcome runners and field event enthusiast of track and field for Seattle Athletic Club 2013 season. Starting in June at the Shoreline stadium at 6pm Club Northwest (www.clubnorthwest.org) will be having open track and field meet where you can walk, jog, run, hurdle, vault, jump, and throw. The goal is to get everyone regardless of age to bring out there inner Olympian and the atmosphere is awesome with 300 participants. You pay a $6 fee for adults to enter, and you compete against your gender and age only. If you already run and do some weight training, come on out and use your skill to do something different. The meets are every Wednesday until end of August, so if you miss one try the following week.
Get out to a local school, or track, get on your running shoes and start training. Here are some fit tips for track prep training to get you motivated.
Always jog a lap to warm up and do a light stretch, make sure you are hydrated, and dress for weather.

  1. Standing tall arms fully extended in front at waist level, touch knees to hands alternating jogging forward for 50 meters ( quads, and core activation)
  2. From where you ended place hands behind you jog backwards kicking heels behind to touch hands alternating ( calf and hamstring activation)
  3. Running in place (sprinters drill) lifting 1knee as high as your waist bring opposite hand up elbow bent past your ear, switch every time. Do for 1 minute
  4. The lap around the track is 400meters you will split into 4 sections of 100meters.Jog 100meters, then run 100meters, walk 100meters, run 100meters to finish line.( stamina )
  5. At designated long jump pit, stand with feet shoulder width, squat low reaching hand behind you. Reach hands forward when body is standing upright jump pulling knees up to chest pushing feet forward land forward. Your goal is to jump your body length do 10 jumps( all muscle groups)

These drills are challenging so take your time to get used to it. You will burn a lot of calories and train the entire body to work efficiently, slowly building stamina and endurance. Today’s practice is tomorrow’s victory.

If you need any more info or fit tips please contact Jody Garcia.

A Runner’s Guide to Maintenance

Running is a very dynamic sport that involves several different joints to function in correct alignment to absorb and react to impact efficiently. A routine that strengthens to prevent injury, creates length, reinforces proper movement patterns, and treats or prevents inflammation can help you become a stronger and safer runner.

Mobility warm ups:
A general warm up might be too limited to maintain proper strength, flexibility, and stabilizer activation. Here are a few extra movements for optimal joint function.


  • Using a combo balance board for ankle circles, lateral and medial motion, and forward and back wobble motion. If you do not have a balance board, you can do multidirectional toe taps, ABC’s, or ankle circles.


  • Move from a hurdler’s stretch position to a track start position with the toes up to warm up and lengthen the front and back of the hips. An alternative is forward and back leg swings.
  • Folding forward touch down to an elevated surface like a step, or grab under the toes and transition from the forward fold to a deep squat with knees out and the heels up while using the arms to stretch the inner thighs and groin area. An alternative is a lateral leg swing, pendulum motion. Make sure that you are warmed up properly for this kind of motion.
  • Figure 8’s or circles can be done in a controlled movement or in a ballistic leg swing. Make sure to maintain a neutral spine and tight core for safety.


  • Move from a flexed spine into extension on the floor, or use a resistance band or stability ball for added traction.
  • Lateral bends reaching up and over done in a controlled movement lengthen major muscles, such as: lats, quadratus lumborum, and the psoas.
  • Lateral twists can be done in a ballistic motion from the arms or lying down with the legs as windshield wipers.

When it comes to an exercise routine make sure you have these simple, yet important basics in your repertoire.

  • A leg strengthener that is general and highly effective for spinal integrity, core strength and proper length/ tension relationships of the body is a barbell squat. This can be done with light weight body bars and can progress from there.
  • An upper body strengthener that utilizes core and shoulder stabilizers is a pushup. You can do a ball pushup using the stability ball under the hands for added activation and increased difficulty.
  • Chin-ups or pull-ups counter-effect shoulder elevation that is common in runners and again integrate a lot of core and stabilization.
  • An overhead shoulder press is good not only for shoulder stability, but range of motion and health of the shoulder joint. If you are doing this correctly with complete range, you should be able to extend the elbows straight with the weights held directly above you without extension at the lower back or shoulder elevation.
  • Core or spinal stabilizers have the greatest importance for endurance athletes. A plank or leg lifts for added psoas activation are great choices for runners.

Strength and mobility aspects of fitness are important to maintain as a runner to complement your running program. In addition, proper flexibility and massage will keep the body healthy and will aid in recovery. If you have additional questions, or would like more advanced options please contact personal fitness trainer Amber Walz.

Why train with the snorkel?

You may be seeing a lot of swimmers in the pool with a snorkel lately. The benefits are tremendous! Everyone should be training with one.

Benefits of training with a snorkel:

  • Allows the swimmer the ability to focus solely on stroke technique
  • Eliminates interruptions of turning head to breathe
  • Increases V02 max
  • Increase arm turnover
  • Swimmer is able to relax in the water not having to worry about “getting air” or gulping water.
  • Helps swimmer aim for perfect technique while remaining horizontal (Allowing for great body balance, head position, rotation, hand entry, catch, etc.).
  • Sometimes a nose clip is needed when beginning with a snorkel to prevent water from entering the nose
  • Eliminates having to worry about getting oxygen
  • Able to practice repeated movements correctly over and over, leading to a properly learned and executed stroke

For more information, or if you have questions about swimming or multisport training, please contact Teresa Nelson

Swim Slow and Move Fast!

Do you ever see those swimmers in the pool who seem to go so far and fast but seem like they aren’t trying very hard? What’s up with that? How is it that they seem to be swimming slow but they are moving through the water like fish?

It’s because they are. They are allowing their entire body—from the arms and shoulders through the torso to the hips and legs—to join the fun. Many people swim with just their shoulders and arms and hope they can drag the rest of their body along without sinking first.

Rotation and glide is critical to a more efficient and effective stroke. In my experience teaching swimming, I find that the two biggest impediments to a well timed rotation and supported glide is awkwardness in the breathing and trying to balance with the recovery arm.

Breathing should always be calm and controlled, even in sprints! Inhale through the mouth and exhale though the nose. Take time to exhale completely before taking another breath. The amount of time you are inhaling should always be shorter than the time you are exhaling. (Click here to find out why.) You should be rotating your head easily and looking slightly behind you on the inhale. Wait for your elbow to extend past your head before returning your head back into the water. Start exhaling immediately and smoothly through your nose. This process should become very rhythmic whether breathing every second, third or fourth stroke.

The rotation should be full and done with your hips and torso, not the shoulders. Balance will come from your core. Your recovery (the hand that is traveling out of the water) should be just that, a recovery. It should be relaxed, free of tension, and placed into the water rather than thrown in. Practice leading you arm with the elbow and dragging your finger nails through the water during the recovery. If you can sustain that, you will be well on your way to becoming one of those swimmers who make it all look so effortless!

It has a certain “Ring” to it!

Gymnastic rings + you = super fun and strong times!

Now, I know what you are thinking… It sounds a little crazy but trust me, you can do it and you will love it! Gymnastic rings are a great tool to improve core strength, shoulder strength and flexibility, increase body awareness, and improve total upper body strength. I’m sure you can remember the last time you were upside down (those keg stands in college were a long time ago!), but you should totally give it a shot! It’s amazing how just getting inverted will teach you so much about your body in space and show you just how little control and awareness you have!

Gymnastic rings can be used to get inverted, for various pull up exercises, and for lockouts… Think Iron Cross. There are many many many steps before you will get strong and flexible enough to do real fancy things with the rings, but that’s part of why they are great. Even just learning the basics will give you so much body improvement in such little time you will be amazed! Here are a few things we do in class:

  1. Pull ups: Sitting on the floor with your legs crossed and keeping that position thought the full movement, this can also be done assisted if you cannot do a pull up (yet!). Doing a pull up this way will increase core involvement, increase shoulder range of motion (rotating your hands at the top to touch your shoulders to the rings), and increase lat strength (starting from a dead stop and taking out any leg/hip flexor assistance), it’s amazing how pull-ups on the rings are so different than on a bar!
  2. Lock outs: Getting up on the rings and locking out your arms. Sounds easy enough…the higher the rings the more you have to jump into lockout; which is challenging to jump up and power your arms straight down at the same time. You can do lockouts for time, with hand rotations, or with knee/leg raises for added core effort. Getting into position over the rings takes a ton of tricep, lat, core, and shoulder strength! You will be amazed at how challenging this simple movement is!
  3. Ring Inversion: We start with the basics of just simply getting upside down. Getting your hips over your head is tough; ideally we work to do that starting under the rings with straight arms and pulling our legs up with just the use of our core and lats. That is incredibly challenging so using a bit of a pull up, getting a step in start, and using a spotter are all great ways to start. Once you get upside down you use your core and shoulders to maintain balance and control. When you come back to the floor we focus on core strength by slowly lowering your body down in a ball until your feet touch the floor. That is a tall order to say the least!

These are just a few basic exercises we do with the rings. The possibilities are endless however. You will be amazed at how quickly your strength, control, and skill come along on the rings with just a little effort!

Interested in trying out the rings? Come join the fun and challenging ring workouts today!
Contact Personal Fitness Trainer Adriana Brown.

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.

Thank you for being a friend!

We are friends. We’ve been together for almost 10 years or maybe just a month. I know your wife/husband’s name, I know your pet’s names, I know where your grandchildren live, I’ve been to holiday parties at your house, we get coffee together, we talk about your annoying co-worker, we talk about your horrible mother-in-law, we talk about your basketball tournament last weekend. We laugh, we complain, we work hard, we joke, but above all, I teach and you learn.

You are my friend but I am also your coach and your teacher. My job in our relationship is to teach you skills that make you a more fit person. I teach you things from the most basic (proper air squats, proper push-ups, etc) to the more advanced (proper kettlebell snatches, sandbag cleans, etc). When you walk away from an hour with me you better have learned a new skill or learned how to better an old one, if you haven’t learned one of those two things I’ve failed in this relationship. If you walk away from an hour with me and you are thinking about all the things you still need/want to work on, you feel like you need to spend another hour in the gym because you didn’t get the workout you felt you needed, you feel like you didn’t workout hard enough/were not challenged enough and thus need to do more on your own, I’ve failed.

It’s not about the crazy equipment, it’s not about learning the newest fad, it’s not about laying in a pool of your own sweat trying not to vomit, its not about using chalk and grunting, it’s not about keeping up with your brother-in-law that lives in California. It’s about you being a better, healthier, happier, more fit you. To do that you need to be great at the basics, you need to understand how to move your body properly, you need to understand what it is you are doing and WHY YOU ARE DOING IT. It’s about knowing where you are now and where you want to be. It’s about pushing yourself within your limits and understanding that it takes hard work, effort, and patience to improve. It’s about learning!

I’m here as a friend, a coach, a teacher to motivate you. I’ll yell, I’ll tell you what great effort you are putting in, I’ll let you know when I think you could be working harder and when I think you should be resting more. I’ll keep you accountable, I’ll keep you on schedule, and I will keep you from harming yourself! We’re friends so I’ll do those things for you.

While we laugh, we sweat, we yell, we have angry face (push-ups are going to happen, sorry), we encourage one another, we will be making you a better more knowledgeable you. I will in return, enjoy all the accomplishments big and small like they are my own, because you are my friend and I am proud of you. If you are my friend and you know me… “I’ll take whatever you have left” and I’ll like it.

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!

Benefits of Swimming

1. Low Impact

  • Stress on joints is decreased by 90% in water
  • Even when your feet touch bottom there is les force on the body because of buoyancy
  • Great for rehab, arthritis, pregnancy, overweight, seniors….EVERYONE
  • Your body weight is 1/10 of what it would be on land.
  • It is the most injury-free sport there is

2. Builds Respiratory Fitness

  • A 12 week study showed an increase in oxygen consumption by 10% and an increase in stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped to the heart) increased by as much as 18%

3. Builds Muscle Mass

  • Muscle mass in the triceps increased by 23.8% in a 10 week study
  • All muscle groups are used

4. Alternative when injured

  • Maintains fitness levels
  • Aqua jogging
  • Because of the resistance, which is 12 times great than in air, of the water it makes the muscles works with out strain or impact like that on land

5. Calorie Burner

  • Swimming burns anywhere from 500-650 kcals per hour
  • In comparison to running it burns 11% fewer kcals and in comparison to cycling 3% fewer
  • However, this does not account for efficiency and for intensity….so the less efficient you are the more calories you burn
  • Be aware that heart rate decreased 10 beats per minute e in water and max heart rate decreased by 10-30 beats….it is believed this is due to the lower water temperature and the lesser pull of gravity in water.

6. Increases Lung Capacity

  • The need to hold your breath while swimming trains your lung capacity
  • This increases stamina and change heart rates
  • Great for asthma

7. Increases Flexibility

  • Increases mobility
  • The body is able to do stretches more easily than on land

8. Family Affair

  • The entire family can do it!
  • Everyone enjoys a day in the water…by the pool at the beach
  • It encourages health and fitness for the entire family

9. It is a lifetime Activity

  • Due to its low impact it can be done through all stages of life.
  • USMS- masters swimming…has age groups of 100-104!

10. It’s Relaxing

  • Water is soothing psychologically
  • There is a meditative quality about being able to just swim…float on your back
  • There is no noise and distraction of life on land

11. Improves Posture

  • Swimming strengthens your stabilizing muscles and works rotationally…therefore, strengthening your core and postural muscles

12. Lifesaving Skill

  • Swimming is a necessary life skill that everyone should possess
  • Open water, pool swimming, etc…


  • the fact that you can call yourself a swimmer is a reward in itself!

Swim Like a Chicken!

Well, not exactly but emulating a chicken’s neck (or a giraffe’s, or a turtle’s, or even *Tim Duncan’s) will help you swim farther and faster with less effort.

Here’s how:
Effective swimming requires an effective glide. The way to an effective glide is by creating a hydro-dynamic tube around your entire body that you can slip through with minimal effort. Of course getting to that effortless place requires a lot of effort … but you can do it. Really!

Look at a chicken (or a giraffe, or a turtle, or even Tim Duncan) and you’ll see that they all have really long necks. Moreover, they all have really flexible necks that can lengthen and shorten at will. They extend and contract through their cervical vertebrae which enable them to rotate in a greater radius with less effort and distortion to the rest of their bodies.

Look at your typical adult and you’ll see that their necks aren’t very flexible at all. This poses a special problem for swimming: in order to breathe effectively while swimming you need to be able to rotate your head independently from the rest of your body, and the only way to do that is by unlocking your neck, which means extending through the back of the your neck.
Here are some exercises to help you unlock your neck and extend it to an effective gliding posture. Try them before you start your next swim.

  • Stand tall and practice slowly rotating your head side to side
    • o First lead with your eyes
    • o Next lead with your nose
    • o Finally lead with your chin
  • Stand tall in front of a mirror (preferably full length)
    • Align your eyes to be horizontally level and your nose to be vertical like a T-Square.
    • Hold that position, engage your core, and rotate your body as far as possible without losing your head position.
  • Practice lengthening the back of your neck so that your chin naturally lowers a bit verses tucking your chin.
    • Do the same things in the water while practicing your initial push and glide off the wall and notice if you go in a straight line just below the surface of the water.
      • If you’re going deep toward the bottom, you are probably tucking your chin.
      • If you’re breaking the surface of the water too soon (i.e., before you intend to) then you are probably raising the back of your head.
      • If you’re not gliding very far at all you may be ‘riding the brake’ by looking forward.
      • If you’re holding a level line just below the surface of the water, your neck is probably in pretty good position.

So pick your goofy role model and have fun as you practice gliding!

* Before Tim Duncan became a Hall of Fame NBA Basketball player with a fist full of championship rings he was on track to becoming an Olympic swimmer.

If you have any questions about this post or training with Nathan, please feel free to send him an email.