Workouts

Trip to Virginia Beach and The Unbreakable Body

I just got back from a great trip to Virginia Beach where I got to spend an awesome long weekend with my whole family! It was great to get a little break from the big city and get some “real summer”. The weather cooperated most of the time we were there and the Atlantic Ocean gave us waves for at least one of the days… and then acted like a lake for the rest of the weekend… 2014-08-15 20.10.56 2014-08-16 15.53.13We went to some great restaurants and got some fantastic local seafood. My brother has a sweet little house in Norfolk and it was nice to have everyone in one place. It was really weird to be back honestly. If you recall, I used to live there and it wasn’t my favorite of the places I’ve lived. But the trip was great…  Saw a Norfolk Tides game, plus we did the traditional Feerick men trip to see a Super Hero movie! We saw Guardians of the Galaxy and, if you haven’t seen it, it was awesome! I highly recommend it. Also got some great workouts in with my dad in little brother's "garage gym".

2014-08-17 18.41.06-1 2014-08-16 11.10.23 2014-08-16 11.54.50

Today I wanted to bring you guys a post from someone else whom I highly recommend! Kate Galliet is a good friend of mine and I’ve know her for a while via Twitter and both being personal trainers. She lives here in the Chicago area and she and I have hung out a few times; including walking across the city to get great coffee in negative 10 degree weather as well as going to awesome EDM concerts.

If you weren’t already aware, I am a huge proponent of strength and mobility work to compliment endurance training and I make all my clients do it. In my last post I mentioned the shoulder pain I was having in my wetsuit during my last race. Kate read that and immediately called me and we got down to the root cause of the issue and how to fix it! I’ve been putting into place everything she said and hopefully I will be pain free this coming weekend at the Chicago Triathlon!

Kate has just launched a brand new product called The Unbreakable Body! It is an all-inclusive solution to fixing yourself, maintaining mobility, and preventing injury to be a stronger athlete. While the program is for everyone, it has a strong bent towards endurance athletes who (myself included!) largely neglect mobility and recovery work. And no guys, using a foam roller doesn’t cut it! I asked Kate if she would be willing to share more about how she diagnosed my shoulder and more about her program! If you have any questions let me know and I’ll do another post later this week to answer more questions about the program.

Enter Kate!

500 Hours - Are You Ready To Handle That?

For most triathletes, the focus in training is on volume; run more miles, swim more laps, ride further routes. Did you know the average Ironman training plan adds up to around 500 hours?

This places an immense amount of pressure on your body, from your joints to your muscles. And as that pressure increases, your body begins to compensate in strange and damaging ways.

And when your injury happens, it likely won't be a freak coincidence. It will be because up until the moment of your injury, your body's durability was being worn away one day at a time.

Then, finally, it reached breaking point.

The saddest part about this isn't the pain and emotional grief of suffering an injury while you're training your heart out.

It's that it could've been prevented in the first place.

Sexy Comes Second, Foundation Comes First.

Yes, you want to hit the pool straight away, or hop on the bike. But that's the sexy stuff. And it’s also the stuff that, if sub-optimal movement patterns exist, will be the demise of your body. Before beginning any workout, it's important to ensure your foundational movements  are correct. If you don't, you not only run the risk of encouraging weak movements, but setting yourself up for injury. Whenever I work with an athlete, they are not allowed to start their workout until after we've done muscle activation work. We do this at every single workout, so that when we reach race day, doing pre-race movement activators are second nature (and protect them from mid-race injuries, too).

99% Of The Time, Your Injury Was Preventable

People hate me for saying this. But it's the cold hard truth. If you get injured, 99% of the time it could have been avoided.

Yes, there was an unexpected bump in the road and your ankle rolled, and it caused a sprain... But would your ankle have rolled if you did ankle strengthening drills every day for 60 seconds?

And yes, your arm was pulled awkwardly by the current as you reached the 1/3 mile mark and impaired your pull...But if you'd been doing daily mobility work on your shoulder, would you not have had greater margin to absorb the awkward movement in the swim?

The reality is that nearly all injuries are simply the punctuation mark at the end of a long string of poor decisions. But it’s ok. You’re ok. We’re gonna be ok. We learn. We get better. We get stronger and more durable.

You Aren't Alone: Preventable Injury Happens At Every Level Of Performance

I’m gonna put Chuck on the hot-seat now. ;-) When I first met Chuck, it was over a coffee at La Colombe in Chicago. He hit me up over Twitter, I obliged, and the friendship began.Then, not long ago, I read Chuck’s blog about his race and saw that he was noticing something strange.

Every time he swam in his wetsuit, his shoulder would go numb and start to ache. This was to the point where if he didn't stop every few strokes to shake it out, it would get worse. But it was more than an uncomfortable feeling. It cut into his performance. Imagine doing a swim and every few strokes you gotta stop to address your arm — annoying and time-consuming!

Chuck’s an Elite Team Member of Wattie Ink, he couldn’t be getting held up by something stupid like a numb shoulder!

After a quick assessment of how he felt, and his current training regimen, I had a solid idea of what was causing his issue but was straight up with him - if this didn’t help him, or anything got worse, I wanted him to seek out a medical professional.

Chuck had tissue that wasn’t moving as it should, and it was compressing the nerves around his shoulder that led to his hand. Without a wet suit, this wasn't noticeable. But when he put on the skintight suit for the swim, the added compression of the suit seemed to magnify what was going on already in his shoulder. My hope was that with proper, consistent, mobility work that we’d unglue the area and get everything that supports the shoulder girdle moving well again and working in a harmonious way that allowed him to swim, and do so without that numb aching feeling in his shoulder.

So with a lacrosse ball, some basic mobility drills and specific area targeting, Chuck was able to begin unlocking the tissue that seemed to be compressing the nerve. And happiness ensued in Chuck’s and my worlds.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure: Prehabbing The Pain Points

With the compressed nerve now unlocked, Chuck's got a new mission. To ensure that he never has to stop mid race and shake out his fingers again. To do this, he's continuing to perform regular drills with a lacrosse ball. These drills don't just prevent the nerves from being clenched tightly beneath his skin, though. They put his tissue into a more optimal state for every movement he is going to ask his body to do.

In turn, this will help Chuck to move faster, take greater advantage of his strength training, and see better performance across the board.

*******

Thanks again Kate! If you guys want to learn more about the Unbreakable Body, click here! Let me know if you have any other strength training or mobility questions for myself or Kate and we will be sure to get them answered!

Lake Zurich Triathlon Race Report

A few weeks ago I finally got to race my first triathlon of this year! After seeing a bunch of my teammates at the Chicago ITU race a few weeks before, I was itching to race. That night, I signed up for the Lake Zurich Triathlon, a nearby triathlon. I didn't know how I was going to get there, just simply that I was going to race. Getting to the race was no easy task. My plan was to take the train to my aunt's house, sleep over there, borrow her car the next morning and drive to the race, then drive back to her house, and take the train back home. Turns out I chose the ONE weekend of the year that you can't take bikes on the train (due to the Taste of Chicago)... After lugging all my tri gear to the train station with me (and managing to not crash on my bike there) I was crushed when the conductor told me I couldn't board. After pleading my case for the next 15 minutes, he decided to break the rules and be a decent guy and let me on. Thanks conductor--you're awesome.

The rest was pretty simple--except that they didn't have my registration when I got to the race site that morning. Turns out I had just signed up late but there were no issues with me racing.

The water temperature was awesome; wetsuit legal but not too cold. I wore my Wattie Ink exclusive BlueSeventy wetsuit and got off well with the age group pack I was in. My swim was feeling strong but, as has happened in many races before (only is open-water, wetsuit races), my left shoulder started aching. I don't know how to describe the feeling except that it felt like there were only so many strokes I could take in a row, or only so much power I could put behind the stroke before I had to give that arm a second of rest. I gave my shoulders a ton of warming up before the race in fear of this, but it still happened. If anyone has any insight, I'd love to hear it!

I came out of the water in a time I was pleased with given the circumstance. My bike was ready to go, but after scratching the visor on my helmet, I had opted to remove it and race with sun glasses instead. My Rudy Project glasses look sick anyway, so it was a good move.

Screenshot 2014-08-03 18.41.34

H/T teammate Cate Demet for this image (these are her glasses and picture but I have the same pair)! Image source: Rudy Project

The bike was a 2 loop rolling course so you had the benefit of learning the course during the first lap and attacking more aggressively on the second lap. The course had enough hills that it was fun but not so many that you couldn't still go consistently fast. I was caught by a few of the strong older guys, but spent of the time passing earlier waves.

I much preferred riding without the visor on my helmet as I could see a lot clearer and didn't have to worry about to the visor fogging up, especially early on during the bike. Nor did I have to worry when trying to wipe away any sweat or water that would collect on the visor.

I decided to really push hard on the bike and had one of my fastest bike splits to date on an olympic course. This left me more tired for the run, respectively, but I still felt good. It was my first run of that distance in a while--my training as of late has been much more focused on short intervals and tempo work, so I was happy to be able to keep the pace I did.

The run was 2 laps as well. On the first lap I felt strong, but knew I would be hurting by the end (but that's supposed to be the case!) I started running alongside a guy in an older age group and paced with him for most of the race. He actually was passing me and I wasn't going to let that happen, so I filed in immediately behind him and basically drafted off him. Whether drafting during a run is mental or there really is some benefit, it seemed to work! At one point I ran up next to him said "Just to let you know, I'm not trying to be a dick, just trying to keep up!" His response was something like "Fuck you kid, you're 20 years younger than me!"  To which I just gave a grin... While there was nothing memorable about the run course, I would rate it as "difficult". It was all pavement and only partially shaded with small rolling hills.

I finished with a time I was happy with! I placed 3rd in my age group and in the top 10% overall. It felt really, really good to medal in my first race in 7 months. I'd really like to figure out this shoulder issue and see how well I could do in the swim if I could really give it my all.

 

2014-07-13 14.34.20

A fun start to the season and I'm looking forward to a few more races I have planed for this year! Let me know if anyone has insight on my shoulder issue!

- Rock the W -

 

Things that drive me crazy at the gym

I spend a lot of time at the gym.  As a personal trainer, I'll spend many hours a day training clients and will then do my own workout before or after. This is a list of the things I witness that make me force myself not to walk up and say something.  Granted, I may be guilty of some of these myself so I'm listing like I am some gym etiquette guru, however, I try to avoid these at all costs. So here we go!

1) Texting!

I get it--you have your phone on you in case of emergencies or to listen to your music. You get a text, something important, and you think "hey, I need to respond to this!" But this should ONLY be acceptable when you're either (1) switching from one exercise to the next or (2) starting a new circuit of exercises.

Here is when it's NOT ok to text:

  • WHILE using a machine! (Really? You need to text while using the adductors and abductors machine?)
  • On the treadmill.  You're going to fall.  I'll laugh,
  • On any other cardio equipment
  • While sitting on a bench--Someone wants to use that to get fit, so please move

2) Eating

You probably don't need that protein bar while you ride the bike after your workout. A shake while you're out in the weight room is permissible, but you don't need to walk around eating your chicken, rice, and salsa out of your Tupperware between exercises (I swear I've seen this multiple times)

3) Bringing your entire tub of protein to the gym.

Just throw a couple scoops into a bottle before you get there and add water. It's simpler than EasyMac.  Need more protein? Bring a second bottle...

4) Holding on to the treadmill with a death grip and walking on an incline.

When was the last time you walked up a really steep hill that had magic handrails that hovered right in front of you? Just walk at an appropriate incline and let go--You'll get more fit.

5) Recumbent bike. Enough said.

6) Not re-racking the weight.

Bro, if you just squatted 450 pounds, please take all the plates off when you're done. And for God sakes, why are the 100 lb. dumbbells stashed in random corners of the gym? If you're strong enough to carry it over there, put it back.

7) Using the assisted dip machine to do a leg press movement.

If you want to work on your glutes, I have hundreds of exercises I could show you, or go to my man Bret Contreras's website and learn the many variations of hip thrusts.

No.

8) Bad form.

I preach over and over "form before function." If you do the movement correctly, you'll get a lot stronger and won't get hurt

9) Chit-chatting.

Don't tell me you spend 2 hours at the gym every day when you really spend 90 minutes talking to everyone you see and 30 minutes lifting weights.

10) Using the machines in ways they're no designed to be used.

11) Performing "reverse lunges on the Bosu ball while balancing on the exercise ball holding uneven kettlebells"

A set of squats or deadlifts will you get you a much better body than any crazy exercise combo you can invent.  And if you can't squat or deadlift a heavy amount of weight than there is no point in working on your "balance" work

12) Laptops on the cardio equipment

yo-wtf-dawg

13) Curling in the squat rack

Never ever ever ever ever ever if there is someone that is waiting to squat

Squat rack

14) Living at the gym

Not figuratively, literally.

15) Leaving the gym without proper clothes on

I don't care that you just swam, put on a damn shirt if you're going to walk out of the gym!

16) Pick up your stuff

This goes for the gym floor and the locker room--we are kind enough to provide with you free towel service so please be kind enough to put them back in the huge bins we have all over the gym.

Well that's all I have for this volume, but I'm sure I'll think of more!

Disagree with anything I said? Anything you would add?

Life Lessons I learned From a Dog Named “Bolt”

Let’s be honest, I don’t usually watch a lot animated Disney movies. Oh wait, I said “let’s be honest”--Ok, so maybe I do (and don’t try to tell me Toy Story isn’t one of the greatest movies of all time.) But a few weeks ago, I was riding my bike on the trainer in my apartment looking for something to watch.  For the most part, I have the TV on, but I don’t really watch it, as I’m rocking out to some Seether or 2000’s rap, like some old school Nelly. Since ESPN was showing women’s basketball, I was looking for something to watch while I rode. Disney channel was showing the movie Bolt, which I’d heard of, so I figured I’d watch. Plus, I had my jams on and was watching with subtitles, so I didn’t have to listen to John Travolta’s voice come out of a dog’s mouth anyway. The plot is about a small white dog named Bolt who, having spent his entire life on the set of a television series, thinks that he has super powers. Under the false pretense of the TV studio, he believes that his human, Penny, has been kidnapped, he sets out on a cross-country journey to "rescue" her.

Bolt

Halfway through the movie, this dog had me rapt (no, not rapped). Not only was the movie pretty good, there were some great life lessons that one can pull out of it, no matter who you are:

Believe in yourself, even when others don’t

Sometimes, if you tell people you can shoot lasers from your eyes or have a super-sonic bark, they won’t believe you--blasphemous, I know. But if I told you 6 months ago that I would be stronger now than I ever been in my life, you probably wouldn’t believe me either. Early in his adventure Bolt comes across a cat whom, convinced by a pack of conniving pigeons, he deems to be in plotting with an evildoer who stole his human.

The cat mocks Bolt and tell him that none of his powers are real. But the difference between us and Bolt? Bolt never doubt’s himself for a minute. He knows he has special powers (he doesn’t actually), and if he doesn’t believe in himself, who will? The first guy to break 4 minutes in the mile probably didn’t have anyone who believed he could do it, yet he did. Most people don’t think anyone will ever break 2 hours in a marathon, but there’s some crazy kid running around out there who thinks he can... And I guarantee they will.

Even if you want to do something unfathomable, never begin to doubt yourself--if you do, then you’ll never even try.

Always protect and be there for the ones you love

When Bolt’s person gets taken away from him, he has one mission--save her. He never once thinks about where he will sleep, when he will eat, if it will be dangerous, or if he could get hurt. All Bolt knows is that someone he loves needs his help and he’ll risk life and limb to save her.

As I’m writing, I can’t think of any stipulations for this rule. No “but” or “except when”, nothing. If you love someone, be there.

Turn your enemies into friends

Tricked by a flock of conniving pigeons, Bolt is sure that the cat he encounters knows where Penny has been taken and how is responsible (another lesson--stay away from haters).  His initial response is to hurl the cat headlong into rush hour traffic on the highway from the edge of a bridge. But he doesn’t.  Bolt recognizes that the cat may prove useful in his journey and he takes the cat along with him on his mission.

Bolt and the "evil" Cat

You won’t get along with everyone.  You should try, but it just won’t always be the case (caveat--PLEASE don’t hate on people for trivial things like how they look or how they workout.  We’re not a bunch high school girls here). But I am not talking about the guy who parks across 2 parking spots, I mean your true competition.

Instead of resenting someone who vies for success in the same industry as you, try looking at them with curiosity--what do they do that has helped them be successful? Did someone get a promotion over you? What skills are on his or her resume and what work experience do they have that you don’t? Now, what are you going to do to ensure that the next time someone is being looked at for a promotion that you get it?

Lastly, as Bolt learns, sometimes our enemies are those who are most similar to us, and that’s what breeds the competition and dislike.  Set these aside for a minute and try to get to know. The things you couldn’t stand about a person might be what make for a great relationship.

Create your own luck

There’s a point where Bolt realizes that he doesn’t actually have any powers. On his journey, the cat is captured and Bolt has to make a covert rescue operation to bust her out. In doing so, he takes out an animal-catcher, thwarts a group of hungry canines, then proceeds to blow a gas station to smithereens.

But wasn’t he useless without his powers? The saying goes, “the harder you practice, the luckier you get.” Luck is relative. Sometimes the cards just fall right for you, but you have to be willing to play those cards in the right order.  Now this is just my opinion, but I believe our lives are filled with luck and opportunity. For me, I believe that comes from God, but wherever it comes from, the key is acting in that moment.  If a beautiful girl (or guy) walks into a coffee shop and you don’t introduce yourself, are you unlucky that you’re not dating anyone? If you don’t lift weights heavy and push yourself to get better, are you unlucky that you can’t build muscle?

Hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle hard (closed mouths don’t get fed on this boulevard)

Bolt didn’t sit around and wait for someone else to bring him to Penny. As soon as he saw the problem, it was game on, do work, solve the problem. What we can learn is that  you can’t wait on anyone else to make things happen for you and, like I said above, you’ve got to put in the work to expect good things to happen.

Additionally, find ways to be awesome and to not be like everyone else.

Hustle

Learn new skills

So learning how to eat and drink out of a bowl on the floor is not the most glamorous of skills to learn, but Bolt allowed the cat to teach him how to do so. The point? Another tool in his toolbox.  Right now, I am trying to learn to code websites.  Does my job require this? No, but someday it might, or someday I may want to build a site and I’ll have the skill to do so.  Not only that, but there are all the skills that come along with learning something new--like how to study and how to partition your time in order to have the hours you need to learn.

Learn everything you can.  C.S Lewis said “Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.” (Mere Christianity, 88). If you don’t know about the other side, how can you actively choose to behave in a certain way?

Never stop learning, asking questions, and challenging what is already given. If you don’t ask questions, then you can’t grow.  I’ve always found this in my Faith. By asking questions, I am able to arrive at the deeper understandings behind the “whys” of what I believe.

Face your weaknesses

Be brave.  Bolt never backed down. As a superhero, the evildoers didn’t scare him, but even as he realized his mortality, he stayed true to his mission... and he succeeded.

Why don’t we like to confront our weaknesses? I can think of 2 reasons--the first is that we don’t like to revel in what we’re not good at. A good friend spent some time trying to teach me to juggle... And I’m awful at it.  Throw a football, drain 3-pointers, do fancy footwork on agility ladders, I’m golden... But juggle 3 little batons and I’m useless.  My sticking point is I don’t like failing. And I don’t like failing over and over. But if I really want to learn to juggle, and I’m going to have to fail, fail, and fail again... And maybe one day I will nail it!

The second reason, which stems from the first, is that it makes us uncomfortable. Everybody else in the gym squats more than you and runs faster? Its more comfortable to not go.  But if you ever want to run fast... You’ve got to run fast. If you ever want to squat 300 pounds, you’ve got to start moving some pretty uncomfortable weights in order to get there. The joy comes from being successful and eventually learning how to turn these weaknesses into strengths.

I hope you can relate to some of these lessons.  Tell me, what lessons have you found from surprising places?