Long-Slow Distance Cardio

First off, it has been a little bit since my last check-in.  I have been busy with licensure testing, changing a few details professionally, and jumping right into some continuing education.  All those things, plus I have been coaching a high school lacrosse team in the area.

I was kicking back, sipping on a nice cup of coffee the other morning, reading over some “professional development” type material, when I came across a post along the lines of “why do long slow distance aerobic work?”  That  post of course got some great professional feedback, but it got me thinking too.

Most of what I was reading in terms of feedback was along the lines of: why indeed?  Now, I like bang for the buck type exercise regimens.  I feel as though we do a really good job of accomplishing both anaerobic and aerobic work in a relatively short period of time on a daily basis at our facility.  By using simple concepts like HIIT in our lifts we are able to develop strength and power via resistance training at appropriate, demanding percentages; and, also tax the aerobic system at the same time.  We also incorporate a conditioning portion after the lift that works usually on some type of lactic or alactic interval (think Certified Conditioning Coach)  in the preseason phases.

But where can we fit in the long-slow distance type conditioning???

This is where I reflect back to my magical weekend at IFAST, listening to Joel himself hurl information grenades at all of us innocent Performance Coaches.  In a very organized manner, he managed to explain to us how to use each concept that he has written about in books like “Ultimate MMA Conditioning”.  Long story short, one cannot sustain all out lactic intervals 7 days a week for very long.  This makes sense, right?!

With all the concepts in strength and conditioning regarding the importance of the nervous system, this should be a no-brainer.  Simply put, sometimes it is just better to let your foot off the gas pedal, slow down, and let your body (and nervous system) relax.  Let’s find that parasympathetic state for once in our training year.

Now that both sides of the continuum are screaming at me, let me elaborate.  First off, no, I do not think that you should be performing long-slow distance aerobic conditioning all year round–unless your sport is running a marathon or the Tour de France in which case you still shouldn’t do it on consecutive days.  Will you see strength and therefore power decrements as a result? Maybe.  Will you be introducing a new variable into your training regimen? Absolutely!  Cooling the jets for a few weeks will not have an absurd impact on strength/power/muscle fiber type.  But, it may afford you the potential to get even better because you let the body experience a new stimulus.

Personally, I don’t like long distance cardio.  I get bored with it, unless I am chasing a ball or object.  Cycling is more doable, but still, the struggle is real.  However, when no one is watching, I will jump on the Assault Bike for about 45-60 minutes and get in a good cardio sesh.

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One Size Does Not Fit All

This is a guest blog post from Kaylie who is finishing her undergraduate work at Cornell as well as a collegiate athlete as a gymnast.  Kaylie is a phenomenal co-worker, a super intelligent up-and-comer, and a great team player.  Enjoy!

“If this diet worked for her, shouldn’t it work for me?“ “Why am I performing poorly eating the same diet as John who is full of energy?”

 

As a competitive gymnast and nutritional sciences student, I am always attending nutrition lectures and team nutrition meetings. Often times, I come out of the nutrition session more confused and frustrated than when I entered the room. One nutritionist will say “eat this, not that” and the next one will turn around and tell you the complete opposite. One of the most frustrating aspects of nutrition, in my opinion, is that there is no magic bullet “right and wrong” diet that works for everyone equally. Food and nutrition articles are becoming an increasing trend in the media and people are often left misinformed and overwhelmed with all of the contradicting information.

 

I recently had the opportunity to attend a lecture given by Julie Burns—current sports nutritionist for the Chicago Blackhawks and founder of SportFuel, Inc, an integrative wellness and consulting firm and Eat Like the Pros ®, a customized local and sustainable organic meal delivery service. Ms. Burns takes a holistic approach to nutrition and considers a client’s sleep, daily life stressors, and gut microbiome composition in her personalized nutrition plans. Her lecture was different from typical sports nutrition sessions. She was up front and honest in saying that there is no “one-size fits all” diet. Despite all of the nutrition researchers and professors in the audience, she confidently explained how sometimes a diet should not work for an athlete according to the hard science, but for some reason they perform and feel their best on it and that is fine with her. Her recommendations were refreshingly realistic and open for personal customization. I felt I could actually use her guidelines to improve my performance and overall health without feeling like I am cooking and eating all the time, which has often been my experience with other nutritionists.

Here are a few takeaways from her lecture that I found to be both helpful and easy to follow as a collegiate athlete. Whether you are a serious athlete, an active adult, or someone looking to revamp your diet and exercise before bathing suit season, I hope you find these tips as helpful, user-friendly, and customizable as I do.

 

  1. Aim for 3 colors in each meal and fill half the plate with non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, peppers, salad greens, squash and tomatoes.

 

  1. Aim for 6 handfuls of veggies per day.

 

Some ways to accomplish this:

  1. Location is everything! Place vegetables in convenient locations; replace the candy bowl with a bowl of veggies.
  2. Add greens to smoothies; if it is not convenient to buy fresh greens often, you can buy powdered greens at grocery stores such as Whole Foods or Wegmans.
  3. Add spinach, tomato, and cucumbers to sandwiches or wraps.
  4. Bulk up breakfast with veggies and eggs; simply sauté some veggies and make an omelet, or even easier, an egg scramble.
  5. End dinner with greens tossed in vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
  6. Spiralize squash and zucchini for a pasta alternative; again, to save time and energy, Wegmans sells pre-spiraled veggies in their produce department.
  7. Eat a combination of raw and cooked vegetables; lightly cooking or steaming vegetables can unlock extra nutrients and increase the amount of nutrients the body can absorb.
  8. If you don’t like vegetables or tend to have intestinal troubles, try fresh pressed juice—you can add fruits such as apples to drown out some of the vegetable flavor and the smaller amount of fiber in the juice is gentler on the intestines than raw vegetables.

 

  1. Include healthy fats to maximize absorption of vitamins and minerals. Some foods with healthy fats include:
    1. Wild cold water fish such as salmon
    2. Avocado
    3. Chia seeds or ground flax
    4. Sprouted nuts and seeds
    5. Raw pumpkin seeds
    6. Good olive oils: unrefined, cold pressed, dark bottle, refrigerated
    7. If you do not eat cold water fish, include a clean essential fatty acid supplement

 

  1. Eat clean protein.
    1. Sprouted nuts and seeds
    2. Full fat, organic cultured dairy; full fat leads to better glucose control, but only if organic because toxins are stored in fat
    3. Cold water wild fish
    4. 100% grass fed foods
    5. Pasture raised eggs, turkey, and chicken

 

  1. Select whole food carbohydrates instead of heavily processed and refined carbohydrates.
    1. Winter squash (acorn, butternut), white potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, spaghetti squash, beets, and berries

 

  1. Eat fermentable fibers.

 

Fermentable fibers are beneficial for improving gut health. They stimulate the production of good bacteria in the colon and inhibit inflammation by improving the protective layer in the lower gut.

 

Fermentable fiber foods include garlic, onions, artichoke, asparagus, beets, celery, kale, spinach, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, apples, avocado, berries, pears, and mangos, among others.

 

Lastly, a few general reminders:

 

  1. Drink water!! Without proper hydration, your body cannot perform at its highest level!
  2. Calories are the #1 priority for athletes before the composition of the diet; you need to be eating enough to have energy for your sport!
  3. Avoid food shaming; focus on what you can eat rather than what you can’t

 

For more information on Julie Burns visit:

http://www.sportfuel.com & http://www.eatlikethepros.com

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Sports nutritionists get Stanley Cup rings, too! It’s heavier than you think!

BSMPG: Day 2 Notes

The first lecture was great as it pertained to changing behavior, and I don’t mean seeing a psychologist/psychiatrist.  Some fundamental ideas to consider are to involve the people in goal setting and what activities are going to better the outcome.  Allow failure. Focus on the challenge. Science will help. And something that has been said to me regarding athletic programming since the beginning is “build a plan that starts at the end”.  The data we collect isn’t very predictable, instead it is much more complex than that.  To find the solution–emergence–we must follow the lessons from above and create viable solutions.  This seems like a complex mash of words, but quite simply we need to, as coaches/clinicians, question everything that we do on a daily basis.  Doing this, we can reflect on the basic lessons to create a behavioral change in our athletes/clients.  There is a time and place to try “new ideas” to add to your programs, and that time is early in the novice training cycle.  This way we can decide early what will work and what will create a stagnant environment.
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As promised from the Day 1 write up, collaboration is a great way to create success.  Listening to the Canadien Basketball Performance Team, the main takeaway was clearly that communication between the different fields of study was essential for a fluid environment, as it also eliminated most of the ladder effect which is created in most scenarios.  Nutrition is able to communicate with Strength & Conditioning to let the coach know that player may not be performing as well today because of poor diet choices, this way the S&C coach knows not to absolutely hold the athlete at the same percentile projected for the day.  This is a simple example, however, take away this communication avenue and the S&C coach doesn’t know anything about what is going on with the athlete other than that athlete isn’t able to achieve the same 5 rep percentage that was projected for the training that day.  The coach then believes that it has something to do with program design not meeting the needs for the athlete, and so goes the tailspin (among other reasons).
Finally, to wrap up this event, I was able to see the integration of some “new” tactics into the evaluation process for an initial eval with a patient.  This is something that is difficult in my young therapist mind to do because everything was so concrete in the evaluation process in school.  The follow through of what the information was saying is incomprehensible to some of my peers, however, it works–and there is plenty of research to support it.  When broken down, the body is absolutely assymetrical, and to achieve symmetry would require a new human design.  I digress.  Bottom line, Orthopedics is neuro and neuro is ortho.  One cannot exist without the other, therefore, both need to be considered in treatment.  And so to create optimal motor learning, especially in the beginning a blocked program must be used, rather than throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks.

BSMPG: Day 1 Notes

What a great experience collaborating with experts in the field, learning from some of the most forward thinking professionals, and applying some fundamentals from both a physiology and therapy point of view.  This started off with a bang.
Day 1: The day started off with two awesome keynote lectures that were connected by a great point of stress and stress management.  The human body will ABSOLUTELY always have stress.  And as human beings we will always find a way to cope with that stress or develop pathology.  As humans there are a number of coping factors that will help to alleviate the “negative stress” that we encounter, mainly stress relieving activities like meditation and through friendship and communication, which are pretty safe and positive events that we can partake in.  However, we can teach all the stress relieving/meditation type activities we want to an individual, but the individual must “like” the activity if they’re going to actually use it—what good is yoga if the client/patient finds it tedious and annoying?
How Buster must feel during Pat's season
How Buster must feel during Pat’s season
By evaluating the client/patient, we can see exactly what state of stress the autonomic nervous system is in.  In athletics, basically every powerful movement is an explosive extension patter.  What if the person already lives in extension though (closing down the posterior mediastinum mainly the sympathetic trunk—T1-L1)?
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Do we really want anyone driving into explosive hyperextension?  This is a great point, especially if we consider the huge movement to teach breathing techniques to our athletic population (athlete is anyone who walks really, not just the people you see performing on TV!).  If we as clinicians/performance coaches remember our anatomy, specifically of the diaphragm, we will remember that their exists an asymmetry in the size and shape from side to side.  This is necessary to accommodate the large filter/processor of the liver on the right side and the tremendously vital pump of a heart on the left side.  So, the right side takes on a much more “dome-like” shape while the left is “flattened”.  This makes the right side much more efficient for breathing as it has more potential to drive down during inhalation.  Don’t stop there though, the right side of the diaphragm also has its distal attachments ½ to 1 full lumbar vertebral level lower than the left.  So not only does the right diaphragm become more of the “breathing” portion of the diaphragm, but it also creates an internal torsional component—coupled with the traditional hyperinflated state of most individuals is a disaster waiting to happen.  We will be left with an athlete who is unable to breathe properly, rotate through their trunk, and hangs out with the bulk of their center or mass on their right heel.  Remember when your mother said: “stop making that face or it will stay like that”? That’s basically what the response is in the body, a left anterior tipped innominate (hip bone), an externally rotated left femur with an associated internally rotated right femur, right innominate hiked upwards jacking up the way the sacrum and lumbar spine are supposed to orient themselves creating a super lordotic lumbar spine and a flattened thoracic spine.  All that from not breathing properly, no way!  What do we do about it?  Well, that’s a complex answer that is basically: it depends. Reposition, Retrain, Restore.
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What was also very interesting was how we can change our brain.  Basically, you can teach an old dog new tricks contrary to popular belief.  Experts in any particular field have an ability to create new connections in the brain.  This just confirms what everyone is thinking, we don’t know the brain like we thought we did.  “Ten thousand hours can’t always undo 100 dumb ones”.  This particularly sticks out to me because of how much importance we place on 10,000 hours as being a milestone for an expert in a field of study.  Not only must an individual perform 10,000 hours, but they must choose wisely because it’s so difficult to break already existing connections in the brain.  As a great side note to this point, sleep which makes up approximately 37% of your life, is absolutely important for more than relieving being tired, but also for consolidation of motor learning that occurs throughout the day.
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In the classroom setting, there were some great points being made.  Here there was a case by case approach with the lectures I attended, and it regarded specifically to how high level athletes were corrected in a relatively short period of time (as little as 2 weeks!).  Understanding the biomechanics of a sport that your client/patient takes part in, or simply how people should be moving or breathing in general is a great start.  Collaboration is a key component to the success of any program, but more on that for day 2.