Workout Wednesday

How to apply Coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success principles to running

johnwoodenbrirunI like to listen to fitness, health and business related podcasts when I’m on the treadmill and getting ready for work in the morning, and one name in particular kept coming up on several of my favourite podcasts that warranted an online search to see who this wise and influential person was. This person had clearly impacted and shaped the lives of the podcast hosts and guests, so I wanted to know what he was all about.

If you’re a basketball fan or participate in sports of any kind, you may have heard about John Wooden. Wooden was an English teacher, American basketball player and coach who, during his time as head coach of the basketball team at UCLA, won 10 NCAA national championships in a 12-year period, including a record seven in a row. No other team has won more than two in a row since.

It’s no wonder he was named national coach of the year six times and is one of the most revered coaches in the history of sports.

As a strength and conditioning coach, I’m always looking for tips and tools to not only help my clients reach their full potential in whatever health and fitness goal they want to achieve, but also to help develop myself to become a better coach and athlete.

During his years spent as an English teacher and coach, Wooden developed a guide to help his students and players become the best version of themselves that he called “The Pyramid of Success”. (more…)

A runner’s review of the FitBit Charge 2 Heart Rate Plus

gear-review_-the-fitbit-charge-2-heart-rateAbout a month ago, my FitBit Charge HR got a random crack in the display so I contacted FitBit support to see if I could get a replacement as it was still under warranty. They offered to send me another one free of charge (which was awesome because I relied on it daily as a watch, silent alarm clock and easy way to track my workouts), but since the Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate Plus was coming out soon I asked if I could have a discount off a new purchase instead. They agreed, and I got my snazzy new FitBit several weeks later.

How the FitBit Charge 2 compares to the FitBit Charge

The display is bigger, but not too big. I love being able to see two activity stats (that you are able to choose) along with the time when I tilt my wrist up to check my FitBit. To see more stats, such as distance travelled, calories burner, steps taken and heart rate, you just have to tap the watch face to scroll through. I also love that it’s roughly the same size as the Charge, so it’s still very comfortable to sleep with.

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There are more ways to track workouts. When you press the single button on the side of your FitBit Charge 2, you can scroll through to the workout function that gives you several kinds of workouts to track by tapping the watch face. You can select a run, treadmill, elliptical, bike, weights, workout or interval workout, which actually has a built in timer to vibrate every 30 seconds so you know when to go hard and when to rest. The run function shows your time and distance on the main display, or you can tap through to get your pace, heart rate, average pace, steps and calorie burn. The only workout functions I haven’t tried yet are bike and elliptical, so I’m not sure if those have any unique features to them. I wish it had a yoga function!

FitBit Charge 2 vs. a Garmin 235

FitBit Charge 2 vs. a Garmin 235

You can see and do more things from your wrist. Since the display is bigger, you don’t have to tap through as much to see your stats. You are also able to set and turn off alarms from your wrist and check your pace, heart rate, resting heart rate and other stats while working out instead of relying on the FitBit phone app to see everything.

There’s a breathing tracker. The FitBit Charge 2 has a function that can track your breathing and guide you through a slow breathing exercise for two or five minutes. You can do it all from your wrist, which is handy.

The wrist bands are replaceable/interchangeable. I had to replace my previous FitBit Charge because the wrist band broke, so I was super happy to find out the FitBit Charge 2 bands are replaceable and interchangeable. Finally, no more plain boring black all the time!

Things I don’t like about the FitBit Charge 2

The breathing tracker isn’t very helpful. I tried the breathing exercise a few times but didn’t find it very relaxing to hold up my wrist to stare at it to follow along. What would be really helpful is an alert that tells you when you’re breathing too shallow and remind you to stop and take a deep breath. I feel like I need that!

It still doesn’t track runs as well as a Garmin, even when using the GPS on your phone. The FitBit Charge without the GPS is still slightly off when it comes to tracking runs. It’s good for a generally distance, but if you’re training for a race I’d suggest using something more accurate.

Verdict: Overall, I love the Fitbit Charge 2 even more than the original and it’s totally worth the $200 price tag if you’re a regular fitness tracker wearer.

Do you wear an activity tracker? What’s your favourite type?
What are your “must-haves” for a fitness tracker?
What features do you like/dislike most about the FitBit?

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Disclaimer: This post contain Amazon affiliate links. Thank you for your support!

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Linking up with the lovely:

Annmarie at The Fit Foodie Mama, Nicole at Fitful Focus, Michelle at Fruition Fitness and Jen at Pretty Little Grub

Want to get better at backbends in yoga? Try a Yoga Wheel!

backbends yoga wheelRemember in January of 2015 when I set a goal to hold a scorpion pose by the end of the year?

Yeah… that didn’t happen. Although I improved my headstand and could get into scorpion position propped up against a wall, I definitely didn’t achieve the forearm-balancing, back-bending badassery I had hoped to by the end of the year.

After the marathon on October 9, my post-race plan is to focus on strength and flexibility again until I inevitably start training for my next race (and who knows when that will be). So I was stoked when YogDev, a Vancouver-based yoga prop company, asked if I would like to try their Yoga Wheel and write a review for my blog. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, as I’ve been incorporating more yoga and stretching into my training plan and have been using a big foam roller for releasing lower back tension at the end of the day. (more…)

West coast fall and winter workout gear essentials

fall-esstentialsLiving on an island off the west coast of beautiful British Columbia definitely has its perks. The ocean surrounds us, the wilderness here is beautiful, there are plenty of places to explore for hours on end without seeing another human being, and the weather here is never too extreme. That means year-round outdoor adventures and not having to spend the winter cooped up in a gym to stay fit and healthy.

Even though we hardly get any snow here at sea level and the temperature rarely drops below -1°C, outdoor enthusiasts still have to consider the elements when exercising outside during the fall and winter months. Here are a few key pieces of apparel us northern west-coasters should add to our workout wardrobe for fall and winter: (more…)

A speed boosting track workout you can do almost anywhere

A speed boosting track workout teaserWhen I was out for my tempo run last week, I took a different route and ended up behind the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence (PISE) at Camosun College. As I was running around the campus, I noticed they just installed a brand new outdoor running track that I totally plan to take advantage of now on my interval run days, because up until now I was using the ol’ telephone-pole-on-a-flat-road method to time my intervals. I have an interval timer on my phone (and I’m sure my Garmin does it too) but I can’t be bothered to set it up/get bored quickly and prefer to run intervals by predetermined landmarks.

If you’re like me and can’t be bothered with a timer / love variety on your training runs, try this fun  speed boosting track workout you can do almost anywhere — all you need are some predetermined landmarks, such as telephone poles (which are between 38 to 91 metres apart, or you can determine the distance with your Garmin watch), trees or driveways, on a 200 metre stretch of flat road. (more…)

14-week summer marathon training plan (incorporating Tone It Up workouts!)

If you asked me last week how I was feeling about my upcoming marathon training program, I’d have been on the fence about even starting. Due to some health issues, I’m still not 100% sure I’ll be attempting to BQ, let alone run, at the Goodlife Victoria Marathon this October. But since I’m playing the waiting game right now, I thought I’d write myself a summer marathon training plan structured around my upcoming travels (Blogfest!) and vacations (Sunfest!), and at least start doing some more frequent and longer runs leading up to the Beat the Blerch Half in September.

So here’s what I came up with:

It’s kind of a mix of the FIRST marathon training method, but with an extra 5K or 11K run a week added in (depending on my flex day schedule) since I’m limited to an hour workout in the mornings, plus Tone It Up workouts from the Beach Babe 4 DVD to supplement the strength and stretch portion of my training plan.

I know I won’t be able to hit my tempo and interval run pace targets just yet, but it’s something to shoot for while I continue to pick up my 5K pace with the Ocean Spray® PACt® cranberry extract water #evenbetter challenge over the next week.

This past week I did three runs: Wednesday was a decent 26 minute 5K with a few sub 5:00 kms in the midst (full disclosure: I had to stop once half way through to throw up – running at that speed after taking my iron supplement sans breakfast is NOT a good idea); Friday was a slow and sloggy 4.5K run I just wanted to be over and done with, and Sunday was a decent 10K run that actually made me enjoy running again.

I don’t know what’s up with me and running right now. Some days I can’t wait to get out there, and other days I’d rather be doing anything else. Which is funny, because summer on the island is prime running weather – you’d think it’d be harder to get out there and run during our dreary, wet and cold winters. Sure, it gets hot and muggy; but if you head out the door early enough, it’s lovely and pleasant.

Hoping to get back to this level of run fitness soon!

Hoping to get back to this level of run fitness soon!

Hopefully this new marathon training plan, the #evenbetter 5K challenge and the IDEA World Fitness conference next week will help to inspire me and pull me out of this summer fitness funk.

How’s your fitness routine going this summer? Are you in a running rut as well? What keeps you motivated during the summer to work out? What races are you training for right now?

The
Linking up with the lovely:

Annmarie at The Fit Foodie Mama, Nicole at Fitful Focus, Michelle at Fruition Fitness and Jen at Pretty Little Grub

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Also linking up with these sexy RRCA Certified Running Coaches: Susie of Suzlyfe, Rachel of Running on Happy, Debbie of Coach Debbie Runs, and Lora of Crazy Running Girl

Workout Wednesday: 20-minute HIIT workout for runners

Workout Wednesday_ hiitI have a love/hate relationship with high-intensity interval training, otherwise known as HIIT workouts. Even though I generally hate every minute of each exercise in a HIIT circuit and am always left feeling winded and dripping with sweat, you really can’t argue with the results. Not only are HIIT workouts a great way to boost your anaerobic capacity (which can translate into speedier run times), but also can help build your strength and power in your legs with pylometric movements. Also a plus: HIIT workouts are short in duration (they shouldn’t be longer than 20-30 minutes), which makes them an effective way to get a workout in when you’re short on time.

If you’re looking for a total-body 20-minute HIIT workout to help build strength, power and anaerobic capacity, I’ve got you covered: (more…)

Workout Wednesday: A lazy, post-vacation (or post-illness) workout

Workout Wednesday_ A lazy, post-vacation (or post-illness) workoutYou know when you return from a week or more of vacation — that may or may not have included lots of relaxing, eating and drinking — and have a hard time getting back into your workout routine? Or when you’re out for a few days to a week with the flu and aren’t well enough to jump right back into your fitness routine?

Instead of putting off exercise for another day (or week), try this easy yet effective post-vacation/post-illness workout routine. You won’t be burning mega calories with this one, but it’s a great set of exercises to help get you back on track.

This will most likely be the workout I do in a few days after I recover from whatever illness I have at the moment (almost everyone at work has some kind of sickness, and I seem to have had a bad reaction to medication I took yesterday for something unrelated… ugh). (more…)

A boredom-busting treadmill workout

Treadmill WorkoutEven though I run outside year-round on Vancouver Island, there are some days (like today… and pretty much all of January and February) when it’s too cold and miserable outside to run. Well, it’s not really—but I’m much more likely to actually get my workout in than skip it if I can be comfortable during said workout.

Enter the treadmill (aka dreadmill). Sure, it’s not as fun or challenging as running on a single-track trail over roots and rocks—but the treadmill can be an effective way to get in a great aerobic workout when any outside run just isn’t possible.

To beat treadmill-running boredom and to help increase your aerobic capacity and leg strength, try doing a fartlek run (a run consisting of various inclines and speeds from easy to moderate to hard) for your treadmill workout. If you need something more structured than just running fast and slow and adjusting the incline on the fly for your treadmill run, try this 40-minute fartlek treadmill workout: (more…)

Workout Wednesday: 4-day beginner upper/lower split strength training program

upper lower splitAs promised, here’s my current muscle-building workout routine I’ll be doing for the next 8 to 10 weeks! This is a beginner 4-day upper/lower split strength training program focused on building strength and hypertrophy you can do at the gym or at home with some modifications. Each workout contains a combination of push-pull exercises, beginning with major muscle groups and ending with accessory exercises. Because I only have about 40 minutes to workout in the morning, I’ve programmed these workouts as supersets, where you can perform each exercises back-to-back in sets with very little rest time in between. If you have more time or are a true beginner/plan on lifting heavier, I suggest taking longer breaks in between exercises. (more…)

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