Summer Squasher

May 042010
 

Battling an injury and feeling worried that you can’t keep up your fitness while you’re out? After facing a broken ankle, these were my thoughts. Fortunately, I discovered a cross training exercise that allowed me a rigorous challenge during the injury: deep water running.

What is deep water running?   The term mostly describes the exercise.   The activity entails floating in the water and using the motions of running without touching the ground. Here’s the equipment required for the exercise:

• Deep water running belt (e.g. aquajogger)

• Swimming location with depth more than your height

Optional equipment:
• Music
• Floating dumb bells

Here’s what you do to complete a deep water running work out.

1. Place the deep water running belt (a floatation device) around your waist. The belt serves to keep you buoyant in water.
2. Step into the pool and walk to the deeper end.
3. Start jogging while suspended in the water.

This video demonstrates the exercise.

I like to run in a box pattern in the deep end of the pool. I’ll run clockwise for the first lap and then switch to counter clockwise for the next lap. I do this until I’ve completed my desired minutes of exercising. I also find that larger steps and arm movements help me to increase my heart rate during the activity and slow my lap pace significantly. Longer time spent on a lap with large strokes translates to the largest calorie burn for me.

photo credit: aquajogger.com

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Apr 272010
 

Ever wondered why those fitness gurus spend make the effort to monitor their heart rates while they exercise?

Spent time pondering an athletic man’s decision to wear a device that looks more like a breast support system than a fitness tool?

Questioned why a teammate would wear that bulky heart rate monitor strap and compromise fashion to know her heart rate during training?

Answer: They know it helps them gain an advantage in competition. When we monitor our heart rate, we are providing a reputable system to gauge how hard we’re actually working. That is, real data actually tells if we’re working hard enough to improve our cardiovascular fitness. The numbers don’t lie. The data tells us if we are being wimps!

I have been training with a heart rate monitor for seven years. I’ve used the monitor during derby practice to monitor my heart rate. When I glance down at my beats per minute during endurance drills, I know where my heart rate should be (for my age/fitness level)***. This is the guide that I use:
• Endurance at 100%, I target above 178-189 bpm.
• Endurance at 80%, I aim for 166 bpm.
• Endurance at 50%, I target above 130 bpm.

I also value my heart rate monitor because it helps me track my total calorie burn and efficiency. In two hours of hard core practice, I have achieved 500 calorie/hour burn rates. I like to know how many calories I’m burning and average heart rate during the work out because it helps me
• Feel more satisfaction from my hard work.    I have an effective system for measuring my cardiovascular performance.  I don’t have to wonder if I’m working hard enough to improve my endurance.
• Know when I’ve spent the correct amount of time working out to  achieve my daily calorie burn goal.  If I have not achieved my target  calories burned after an hour of exercise, I keep working out until I get there.

***You can find your target heart rate estimates here or use your heart rate monitor to guide you.

photo credit: runnersworld.com

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Apr 202010
 

Happy Spring-time to you derbies! If you are like me, you are eager to enjoy the wonderful sunshine, flowers, and warmer temperatures that the month of April brings. It is the perfect time to cross train outside the skating rink and improve your cardiovascular fitness and endurance for any roller derby position. Running is an excellent sport for developing leg muscle strength and endurance. The more you can run, the greater your endurance becomes. I have been running long distance races for 7 years – including a variety of half marathons, full marathons, and Ironman triathlons. The strength I have achieved through training to compete in long distances (at times over 6 hours of continuous cardiovascular exercise) helps me feel minimally fatigued during roller derby practices and bouts. In this installment, I’ll suggest programs and training techniques for a variety of fitness levels: beginning, intermediate, and advancing runners.

Beginners:  A Program for Those Who Are New to Running

When I started running, I could not even complete one half a mile without becoming winded or feeling side pains. I found the prospect of becoming a runner to be very intimidating, perhaps even an impossible task. Then, I learned a helpful technique: running with walk breaks. I started out with a very small goal: running and finishing a 5K race. I used the following program concepts to get started:

• Find a running path to match my desired distance. I tried to select a path that included convenient parking and ample interesting scenery – such as a park or neighborhood with a variety of architecture, flowers, felines, etc.
• Wear a watch with “seconds” as a featured display.
• Plan to exercise for 30 minutes.

If you have been skating, you likely have some level of cardiovascular endurance. I recommend the following for your first run.

• Start jogging, but go at a light pace (i.e. no sprinting). Time your run, and ensure you have completed for 3 minutes.
• Take a timed walk break for 2 minutes.
• Complete three cycles of 3-2 such that you’ve exercised for 15 minutes. Turn around.
• Complete three more cycles of 3 minutes of running, two minutes of walking. You’ll be back to your starting point.
• Stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles thoroughly. Drink water to replenish your fluids.
• Run this program 3 times in one week.

Then, find a goal race. You can search on links such as: Home | Running Journal. Then, increase your minutes of jogging and reduce your minutes walking during your next week of training. For example, the next week, you could try running 4 minutes with a 1 minute walk break. The following week, try running 7 minutes with a 1 minute walk break, etc. In no time, you’ll be able to run 30 minutes with no walking breaks necessary.

Intermediates: A Program for Those Who Want to Run a 10K

After finishing my first 5K, I became addicted to the sport. I finished more 5K races the next year, and started setting my sights on a 10K. This is the training program that I used.

• Find a running path to match my desired distance. I tried to select a path that included convenient parking and ample interesting scenery and water fountains. Schools or parks often have these. Planning refreshment breaks during walking will help you use your time efficiently and stay hydrated.
• Wear a watch with “seconds” as a featured display.
• Plan to exercise for 45 minutes.

I recommend the following to increase your running endurance, in training for a 10K race.

• Start jogging, but go at a medium pace (i.e. no sprinting). Time your run, and ensure you have completed 9 minutes.
• Take a timed walk break for 1 minutes.
• Complete two cycles such that you’ve exercised for 20 minutes. Turn around after running 2 ½ more minutes.
• Complete running/walking cycles until you are back to your starting location point.
• Stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles thoroughly. Drink water to replenish your fluids.
• Run this program 3 times in one week.

Then, increase your total minutes of jogging and walking, but do not change your cycle length. For example, the next week, try running for 50 minutes (5 cycles of 9 minutes running; 1 minute of walking). Increase the time of running by five minutes each week until you’ve been able to run one mile further than your desired distance (hint: use your car odometer to measure your distance). Overshooting your target distance with help you be able to run the full 10K without breaks on race day.

Advancing: A Program for Those with Half/Full Marathon Goals

If you’re ready to tackle long distance running, you’re on your way to developing high endurance levels. This is the training program that I use to training for a long race.

• Find a running path to match my desired distance. I like to use a loop for longer distances, to ensure I don’t repeat scenery and become bored or discouraged with my running environment. It is also great to include locations that have water fountains (schools or parks often have these) or plant bottles of diet sports drinks along the route so that you can obtain refreshment during your walking without having to carry water.
• Wear a watch with “seconds” as a featured display.
• Plan to exercise for an hour and 20 minutes.

I recommend the following to increase your running endurance, in training for a half marathon or full marathon race.

• Start jogging, but go at a medium pace (i.e. no sprinting). Time your run, and ensure you have completed 10 minutes.
• Take a timed walk break for 1 minute.
• Complete 5 cycles such that you’ve exercised for 55 minutes. Turn around after running 5 more minutes.
• Complete running/walking cycles until you are back to your starting location point.
• Stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles thoroughly. Drink water with electrolytes to replenish your fluids.
• Run this long program 1 time per one week.
• Supplement long program with 2 shorter runs or other heavy cardiovascular training exercise during the same week (i.e. one hour of running or hour long spin classes on 2 other days).

Increase your total minutes of jogging and walking each week, but do not change your cycle length. For example, the next week, try running for 90 minutes (8 + cycles of 10 minutes running; 1 minute of walking). Increase the time of running by ten minutes each week until you’ve been able to run one mile further than your desired distance. Overshooting your target distance with help you be able to run the full half marathon or full without breaks on race day.

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Apr 132010
 

Hello to derby fans from Summer Squasher. I’m a skater who joined the sport of derby five months ago, and I have a passion for health and fitness. For me, derby is one of many enablers for a healthy body. In addition to skating, I love running, bicycling, hiking, and any physical challenge that gets my blood pumping. Several weeks ago, my fitness outlets became significantly limited after I suffered a broken ankle while skating and doing jumps in our local Mardi Gras parade. For someone that is very active and typically targets a minimum of one hour of cardiovascular activity each day, this injury was quite a blow. Since then, I have been forced to accept that my derby enjoyment will be on hold. I’ve heard story-after-story about how people decide to become lazy, watch excess television, and get fat while their ankle injuries heal. I refuse to be one of those persons. Here are a few highlights of my fitness pursuit endeavors during the injury.

The first step in developing my new fitness program was to spend time reflecting – recognizing my new limitations and realizing the keys to my previous success in the sport of derby. A broken ankle usually means at least six weeks of no-weight bearing on the ankle. This means exercise options are very limited. Reflecting on my success, I realized that one of the primary reasons I’ve been advancing well in the sport of derby is because I am very fit. My hour plus daily cardio routines, marathon distance running, and major bicycling excursions have allowed me to have endurance to compete intensely and skate rigorously at high heart rates. Unlike some peers in the derby world, I typically do not suffer declining performance or severe fatigue with our practices and games. Still, with even more reflection, I know I can be better. I want to come back to the sport, advancing even more than before – developing strength with blocking, better agility, and additional defensive moves. The best exercise options for me, while injured, are deep water running, to continue cardiovascular fitness; upper body weight lifting and abdominal development, to build muscle strength and agility for blocking; and crutch walking, to build my shoulder strength. I incorporated one of these exercises daily during the six weeks since my accident. Today, I’ll share my upper body routine with you. It typically takes one hour to complete this workout.

During my weight routine, I combine two or more lifting exercises in alternating patterns to allow one group of muscles recovery while I challenge another muscle group. This enables necessary rest and recovery between sets, an increased heart rate during the exercise period (i.e. more calorie burning), and workout efficiency. For example, I start with a set on the butterfly press and alternate it with a set on the shoulder press machine.  This allows me to work the pectorals (chest) and deltoids (shoulders) during the same time block. I do five sets in a “burn-out” fashion at a fairly quick pace. This means I typically start with the heaviest weight that I can lift; do two sets at that weight but with lower repetitions and then gradually reduce weight and increase reps in sets three, four, and five. Here’s a list of my typical repetitions.

Set #1 and Set #2. Choose heaviest weight that I can lift. Do 4-6 lifting repetitions.
Set #3 and Set #4. Step down the weight to a challenging but more comfortable level. Do 8-10 lifting repetitions.
Set #5.. Lift weight at a moderate weight. Do 12-16 lifting repetitions.

Using this strategy has led me to be able to increase the weights in my sets over time. Other exercises that I include in the one hour period are

bicep curls,
triceps extension,
lat rows,
chest press,
lateral arm raises
reverse fly
front and back lat pull down
abdominal crunches with a medicine ball including side-to-side actions

I’ve really benefited from this work out. I visited my derby sisters two nights ago and showed off my new “guns” to several teammates. I’m convinced that building these upper body muscles will give me an increased advantage with giving blocks and receiving them. Pump up your muscles and gain your derby advantage.

photo credit to sportsinjuryclinic.net

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