Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Final Preparations

It’s time to get serious: the final week before The Beast on the Bay has arrived!! Wow, time really flies when you’re having fun...or something like that, right?! In all honesty, I hope you have enjoyed your training, because while The Beast is challenging, it benefits a great cause and is meant to be fun! I have no doubt you are ready to crush this race, but here’s what you should do the week of to prepare and amp up for the big day!

#1 Map It Out:
To ease some of your race day anxiety, make yourself familiar with the course by walking or driving the route. The walking will get the excess energy out and the familiarity with the route will help to mentally prepare you for race day. Seeing what you’re up against will decrease the fear of the unknown. For some idea, last year’s obstacle can be found here:

#2 Don’t Pig Out:
Yes, The Beast on the Bay is a long, intense course, but eating heavily throughout the week leading up to the event can lead to some major performance-inhibiting discomfort. Same goes for the day of. Eat a breakfast you are familiar with eating prior to exercise -- something low in fiber and light in the stomach. Something like a smoothie with fruit and yogurt: high in protein and easy on the digestive system. Make sure you wake up early enough to have this meal -- about two hours prior to your start time. The same can be applied to water: don't overdo it; while being hydrated is important, make your last sip no later than 30 minutes before the race begins.

#3 Week of Training:
The week of the race take it easy(ish). Your last strength workout should be the Monday of The Beast. Tuesday and Wednesdays sweat sessions should be limited to a 2-3 mile easy pace run. Thursday, go for a long and calming walk (maybe around the Peninsula) to clear your head. Friday should be rest and stretch day practice some gentle yoga or walk limited to 30 minutes.

#4 The Night Before:
The night before The Beast, prepare and set out all your necessary materials. Gather the outfit you plan to wear; shirt, pants/shorts, socks, shoes, good luck charms, and set them in one central location. Add your race day bib to the shirt you will be wearing. Prepare your breakfast ahead of time and set several alarms. Nothing is worse than being in a rush on the day of an event!

#5 The Big Day:
Arrive at least 45 mins before your scheduled start time to allow time for parking and bussing. About 1700 people participated in The Beast on the Bay last year, so be prepared to park with that many people this year. When you arrive to The Beast on the Bay, you will be bused to the start location so arriving early insures you will not miss your start time! Also, arriving early allows you the times to soak up all the awesome and exciting feelings coming from your teammates, volunteers, and fellow participants!! And maybe you’ll get to meet The Beast!

The most important part of this all is to remember to enjoy your time at The Beast on the Bay, you’ve worked so hard, and deserve all the rewards of enjoying yourself. Relax, decompress, and don't worry you’re on your way to defeating The Beast!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Beast Nutrition

As you may or may not know, what you put into your body while preparing for The Beast on the Bay is just as important as the training you have worked so hard to complete! In a world full of fad diets and should vs shouldn’t eats, it can be confusing as to what is the best strategy to fuel your body! I’m here to help navigate your Beast on the Bay nutrition.

When clients ask me, “what should I be eating?” My answer is keep it simple, keep it whole! Some of the best Beast foods are already in your kitchen; there is no need for expensive protein powders, gels, or manufactured foods. Eating nutrient dense foods that replenish your body’s depleted energy sources are what you need to focus on. Here are some of my favorites to keep you performing at your best.

#1 Almonds:
Almonds make for a perfect pre-workout need because they are loaded with nutrients like magnesium, calcium, fiber, manganese, and Vitamin E. The fiber and healthy monounsaturated fats in almond keep blood sugar levels regulated with helps you feel fuller for the course of a workout. The protein in almonds helps repair torn muscles during exercise! I carry almonds as a snack easy and quick for days that I have a busy work and training schedule!

#2 Eggs:
There are several important benefits to consuming eggs. The first and one of the most important is the protein in eggs; your average egg contains about 12g of protein. Eggs are also rich sources of selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper, making for peak performance and overall health. Eggs make for a great pre- or post-workout snack because the protein in eggs prevent muscles break down as a source of energy and helps with muscle repair and recovery.

#3 Bananas:
Bananas are great sources of fast acting carbohydrates! They are something I recommend before an endurance event (like The Beast) or an intense or long duration workout because of their high carbohydrate and sugar content. I know, I know, as soon as I said sugar you were shocked, but your average 3.4oz banana contains about 16g of sugar. If you are working out for an extend period of time, your body will need some glucose (sugar) for energy to continue with intensity. Keeping foods high in carbohydrates and naturally occurring sugars like bananas close to your workout times will keep you performing at your best and also will not add on additional body fat. Not to mention there are additional benefits: bananas are a great source of potassium which helps enhance muscle strength, metabolism, water balance, and electrolytic functions.

#4 Apples:
Apples are one of my favorites because they are so full of nutrients, but also because they are an easy snack to carry! If you are working hard in the gym inflammation is bound to occur and apples can help decrease that inflammation and aid in recovery. Apples are rich in phytochemicals and are a particularly good source of quercetin, a flavonol that may benefit endurance performance and counter exercise-induced inflammation. The carbohydrates in apples help fuel works and if eaten post workout with a protein, they can help the reabsorption of protein into your muscle cells!

#5 Chicken:
Chicken is one of my favorite because it is so versatile and so beneficial to the body. Chicken is a great source of lean, low fat protein! The protein in chicken lends itself to muscle growth and development, and help support a healthy body weight and aid weight loss. I prefer all my meat to be open range, grass fed and organic for both ethical and health reasons. Make sure when you are purchasing meats like chicken that they are hormone and antibiotic free, grass fed animals. Chicken makes for a perfect post workout protein source that will make sure you are full and replenished!

I hope next time you take this simple foods with you on your next shopping trip. When it comes to nutrition remember to keep it simple and keep it whole! Don’t overthink it and you will be ready to be The Beast; it’s almost your time to shine!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Ahhh! Cramps!

Hello, Beasties!

I hope you are feeling strong and prepared because the Beast on the Bay is a few short weeks away! Something to consider while finishing up with your training is muscle cramping. I’m sure you all are well aware that this race is long and demanding on the body and muscle cramping is a real possibility. So, I’m going to give you the low down on what muscle cramps are, how to prevent them, and what to do if one occurs. As a heads up, the team at the Beast on the Bay has made medical attention readily and easily accessible to all participants and it should be utilized at once if something arises, but these are tips to help you handle the situation until help arrives.

What are muscle cramps?
According to The Mayo Clinic, muscle cramps are a sudden and involuntary contraction of one or more of your muscles. They are what some call a “Charley Horse,” and most often go away on their own. The causes of muscle cramps are unknown, but a number of possibilities have been discussed and researched. That list includes overuse of a muscle, dehydration, muscle strain or simply holding a position for a prolonged period.

Symptoms of a muscle cramp:
The symptoms of a muscle cramp are pretty self-explanatory when experienced; they can be very painful, but muscle cramps occur in the lower half of the body where a sharp pain occurs and sometimes a tight ball will form in the muscle itself.

What to do if a muscle cramp occurs:
The best immediate treatment for a muscle cramp is to stretch and massage the affected area. Heating with a heating pad will help as well but is there is nothing readily available massage and stretch or cooling the area with ice after a massage will help as well.

Allow time for recovery! Allowing your muscles the proper recovery time to repair damage is very important in preventing a painful cramp and optimal performance on the day of the Beast. So take a couple of days off from training before the big day! If you start with stiffness and soreness from a weight-training session, you’re increasing the chances for a cramp to occur.

Slow down in warm weather. The Beast is in September and if it’s anything like last year, it will be hot and humid. These conditions make dehydration a real possibility so taking your time and not overly exerting yourself will decrease the likelihood that a cramp will occur.

Hydration station! No special drinks will do the job of good old water. Make sure to drinking enough water throughout the day; for men that’s about 13 cups and for women about 9 cups of water. Be sure to add in an additional cup of water for every 20 mins of exercise.

On the day of the race there will be hydrations stations set up to replenish you, take advantage of these and prevent muscle cramps. Muscle cramps can be very painful and can put a damper on all the fun the Beast on the Bay brings! Stay hydrated, acclimate yourself to the intense weather conditions, and enjoy the couple of weeks left in your training! See you all soon!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Push, Pull, and Squat

We are winding down in our weeks until The Beast on the Bay! How exciting?!😆 I literally cannot wait! With all the excitement and maybe some nervous energy, it can be hard to prioritize in your training and that’s understandable! With 10 miles and 30 obstacles, you will never be prepared for EVERYTHING coming your way. That said, I believe there are a few movements in your training program you should never skip! And those are the push, the pull, and the squat!

These 3 movements are key to building strength and improving performances. What I mean by “the push,” is anything involving primary the pectoral muscles, the triceps muscle (the back of your arm), and the shoulder muscles. The push movements include push-ups, bench press, shoulder press, and many more accessory movements. As mentioned before in my earlier blogs, the push-up and variations of the push-up are important for core and upper body strength. Being strong in the push mechanism will make falls easier to recover from, and, if the core is strong, less likely to occur. I incorporate the push-up in my weekly upper body training either at the beginning of my work out as a warm up or at the end of my work out as a “burn out technique” to fatigue those muscles groups completely!

The second movement I will never skip in my training is “the pull.” The pull mechanism includes the muscles of the back; the latissimus dorsi, lower trapezius, erector spinae, the rector muscles, and the biceps as well. With that many muscle groups working at the same time, it’s obvious that skipping this movement is a no-no! Movements of the pull include the pull-up, chin-up, inverted row, barbell row, and many more! It took me quite some time to be able to perform a pull-up, but there are many ways to gain strength and eventually preform a pull-up!

In the beginning of my strength training, I would use my gym’s pull-up assist machine which helped me learn the movement of the pull with some assistance. This is a great starting point, but eventually I wanted to rely on more of my body weight in a less mechanical movement pattern. So, I used large resistance bands and looped them over a hanging surface. I would place my foot in the looped band and perform the pull up movement for as many as reps as I physically could. Eventually, I started using a technique called the descending pull-up which helped my pull-up more than any other technique. What you do to perform this movement is to start at the top of a hang bar, branch of a tree, basically anything sturdy enough to hang from and as slowly as possible you descend from the top of the apparatus to the bottom in a hanging position. It the opposite of a pull-up! An important tip for this is to perform it as slowly and as controlled as possible so the muscles are in control of the movement not momentum! I perform these at least once a week in my pull day training!

The next movement can be categorized as a push, but I like to place it in a league of its own… the squat! There are many variations of a squat; the body weight squat, front squat, overhead squat, split squat, dumbbell squats, and some consider the lunge as a variation as well! The muscle groups of the squat include: the quadriceps, the hamstrings, the gluteals, the erector spinae, and, depending on the variation performed, many more groups are targeted! The squat has many benefits including increasing lower body strength, core strength, and increasing an overall anabolic environment of the body; meaning muscle building throughout the body is increased. I won’t go into each mechanism of metabolism, but anabolism is the muscle building part of your metabolism. Since the squat is such a taxing movement on the body causing many micro tears in multiple muscle groups, with proper nutrition the body’s anabolism is kicked into high gear and muscle growth occurs. The benefits of performing squats and i's variations are a continuous list making it pretty obvious as to why I would never skip this movement pattern! I always include this in my weekly training schedule and perform its variations during my H.I.I.T (high intensity interval training) on a weekly basis as well.

I hope I’ve made it pretty clear as to why you should include these movements in your Beast on the Bay training! If you haven’t started to incorporate them this is your subtle hint to start doing this now 😉 The Beast is right around the corner so we must do all that we can to be ready!  🐉

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Get a Grip!

I hope you are all enjoying the last few weeks of training😅 I can’t believe that The Beast is only a little over a month away!! Here’s something you may not have taken into consideration when doing your day-to-day training… grip strength! Well, I’m here to help you get a hand(le) on the situation -- pun intended! Why is grip strength so important? Well, during this lovely 10 mile race, you will be pulling, pushing, and lifting yourself and others throughout each obstacle.

Having a decent grip will make these movements and obstacles easier for you to accomplish!
There are several ways to improve grip strength that require very little effort and are beneficial to different aspects of fitness and health! Grip strength has been correlated to longevity. Not only is it important for The Beast on the Bay, but it can be useful throughout your life and daily activities.

The pull-up is an overall strength builder if you utilize a full grip while keeping your thumbs tucked under and all four fingers over the bar. If you cannot perform a pull-up, the hang is another alternative. The hang is one the most beneficial exercises for grip. Whether you have a gym membership or not, the hang can be performed almost anywhere or anytime. If you don’t have access to a pull machine or TRX apparatus, the hang can be performed outdoors on a tree branch! What you do is grab the surface as if you are about to perform a pull-up; arms extended overhead, palms facing  away from you, and a tight grip on the branch, pole, or pull-up machine.

When setting up your positioning, your legs should be straight beneath your body and feet should be off the ground by 6-12 inches. While performing this movement, make sure to pull your stomach muscles in and keep them tight to protect your lower back. Hang for about 15-60 seconds at a time for 3-5 sets of this. If you do the hang after every workout, you will see some major benefits to you upper body and overall grip strength.

Another technique used to improve grip strength is the carry. This is a really easy exercise to perform! If you have access to a gym, you can use dumbbells, kettlebells or barbells. Basically, you hold said items in both hands one on either side and walk for 1-5 mins at a time. Note that the weight should be challenging but not overwhelming. A variation is to hold a dumbbell on one side of the body this will cause your core to be involved a little more in the movement and is a great added challenge. You can perform this for 2 or 3 sets. This should be done towards the end of your workout for obvious reasons. You don’t want your hands to be exhausted when you try to press something overhead!

In addition to the hang and the carry, the pinch grip is a great exercise that involves a lot of thumb strength. In order to perform the pinch, you must hold two weight plates together in one hand with their flat surfaces facing out. Start with two 5 or 10 pound plates and work your way up. Hold as long as you can and repeat at least 3 times.

The hang, the carry, and the pinch are just a few of the techniques necessary to improve grip strength, there are many ways this can be done. Most importantly though, when you are exercising or throughout your day, using a full grip will help as well! I hope you all get a grip and start using these techniques in your training. They will be important come the day of The Beast… believe me, you’re going to want to hold on tight!