Wednesday, March 31, 2010

5 Ways to Race Faster brings us yet another great article, perfect for the onset of racing season. Whether you're doing a 5k or a 30 mile adventure race, I'm positive you'll find some helpful advice below.

To better train for faster racing, it helps to always have in mind the five racing abilities. When these basic aspects of running fitness are examined separately, your workouts can be better tailored to ensure you're getting the most from them and meeting your racing goals.

Although in running there are many ways of talking about the same concepts, the five racing skills broken down in the following way, outlined in Brian Clarke's book 5K and 10K Training, offer a path to learning to exert yourself in exactly the way you want to at any given point in a race.
1. Stamina

Can you cover the race distance without stopping? Clarke uses stamina to refer to the ability to run long and slow, and always with light exertion--as marked by inaudible breathing at no more than 69 percent MHR. You should feel "held back" when you are properly training for stamina; steady state running is too quick for stamina training. Pace is immaterial, as run-duration is the key factor.
2. Endurance

This differs from stamina because it means sustaining uncomfortable race exertion. We all know that short races can cause as much discomfort as marathons, just for a much shorter period of time. The ability to continue at race pace despite discomfort is essential. Endurance workouts, then, demand race-specific levels of discomfort. That said, an endurance workout should not generate the same level of fatigue as the actual race. Aim in your workouts for a level of discomfort that mirrors the middle-to-late stages of your goal race. By contrast, stamina workouts should not regularly yield noticeable discomfort; if they do, you are probably running too long for your adaptive purpose.
3. Tempo

This is the ability to run comfortably at race pace. Whereas endurance can be thought of managing discomfort in the later stages of a race to maintain pace, tempo can be thought of as the feel-good pacekeeping of the earlier stages of the race. Tempo training is among the most important types of training for competitive racing, as it determines how fast you will be able to run the race.
To race fast, you must train fast. To simulate the first, comfortable half of the race, you won't be able to sustain tempo training levels of intensity for very long (since in a race, discomfort is just around the corner). This is why tempo training occurs in brief intervals followed by short rests. Theoretical comfort levels aside, fatigue in the first half of a race is not so uncommon; it usually means you have not built up an adequate base of tempo ability in your training.
Another way of thinking about tempo training is this: if your tempo intervals are too short, you are probably going to wind up running them faster than race pace, making them speedwork, not tempo training. If they are too long, you are likely to become uncomfortable trying to complete them at race pace, making them endurance repetitions, not tempo training.
4. Speed

Unlike tempo, this refers to the ability to surge or kick at the end of a race (or in instances throughout when a surge is called for). It is not a prolonged effort, but rather a skill available in short bursts when you need it. It entails running faster than race pace. You don't have speed unless you can accelerate above your race pace despite fatigue and when anaerobic acidosis is a major determent in your ability to outpace a close competitor. Speed is the ability to surge at a critical juncture: While some people make a show of flying at the finish of a race, their speed only indicates that they could have run faster for the entire race. Many runners tack on speedwork at the end of tempo training days, to better simulate the fatigued aspects of the end of a race.
5. Power
Is there sufficient power in your muscles to run relaxed at your racing pace? Clarke distinguishes comfortable running (tempo) from relaxed running (power). Many athletes and trainers define power as explosiveness--the product of strength and speed--but here we more associate that ability to surge with speed, not power. Power may be involved in explosiveness, however. The best way to differentiate these two related concepts is to think of tempo as the ability to sustain a specific, objective rate of motion--and power the running economy that allows for this biomechanically with each stride in a relaxed way. For example, the same two athletes may run a six-minute mile, but the stronger runner will run at a quick, relaxed, steady-state level of exertion, and the weaker runner will keep up only by forcing his pace at the ragged edge of his maximal exertion.
The traditional way to build power is hillwork. This is because the added stress on calves, feet, and Achilles tendons that runners feel when running uphill is the same stress they feel when propelling themselves quickly over flat ground.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spice Me Up!!

Diet food... bleh! Say, "no more" to pointless cleanses, grapefruit diets, and that too good to be true cookie diet! Hopefully by now you know that diets just plain don't work. You need a lifestyle plan to really attain results that not only keep you satiated but also pleased with each meal you prepare and enjoy.
Yea yea, I know what you're thinking. "Sarah, you're crazy. I still want the bold flavor of chicken alfredo and rich lasagna in my meal plan." Whelp, sorry. Those are the kinds of meals we save for special occasions, not weekly preparations. What's my secret to avoiding these tempations? Spices!!! Our fat free yet flavorful accompaniments will transform any dish from bland to beautimous (yes, I said beautimous...).
Spices don't just kick up the flavor, they ignite our senses by bringing us holistic remedies. Recall our friend, Ginger. Explore what herbs and spices can do for your health at Mother's Cupboard.

Need a kickstart to better tasting "diet friendly" foods? Read below for my recipe for Ancho Rubbed Flank Steak!

Ancho Rubbed Flank Steak

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chile powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Dash of freshly ground black pepper

1 (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed

2 teaspoons olive oil

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl; rub evenly over both sides of steak.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add steak; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes; cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices.

Salad: Combine 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Gradually add 2 tablespoons olive oil to vinegar mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add 6 cups arugula and 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes to dressing in bowl; toss well to coat.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 ounces)

CALORIES 175 ; FAT 7.8g (sat 2.6g,mono 3.8g,poly 0.5g); CHOLESTEROL 37mg; CALCIUM 19mg; CARBOHYDRATE 0.8g; SODIUM 286mg; PROTEIN 23.8g; FIBER 0.1g; IRON 1.5mg

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Yoga for Climbers

Check out this post I stumbled across from the wonderful people at lululemon!

Living in the mountains of Banff National Park for the past couple of years, I naturally found myself attracted to explore the peaks on weekends, seeking higher elevations each time. This ended up becoming a total love of climbing in all its forms: rock climbing, mountaineering, ice climbing, and anything else involving an upward motion.
Rocking at Wasootch.
For years, climbing nearly destroyed my back and shoulders. The weight of large, heavy packs and equipment, especially when I was out mountaineering, wound my back into knots no one could undo. My massage therapist would do his best, letting out an audible and confused, ‘hmmmm’ as he worked away at my shoulder blades. Nothing seemed to work out the kinks, until yoga came along.
I didn’t start practicing yoga with hopes that it would resolve my back issues. A friend of mine invited me to go with her, and I simply jumped at the opportunity to try something new. Within weeks of starting yoga, however, I noticed that my back and shoulder pain had mostly subsided. All those downward dogs and spinal twists offered the perfect remedy to the wear and tear my climbing habits had caused.
Climg at Grassi Lakes.

I also didn’t anticipate the benefits that yoga would have for my climbing. Regular yoga classes actually improved my flexibility and core strength, which allowed me to push the limits in my climbing. This was the beginning of a beautiful relationship!
Now I am a committed member of a wonderful yoga community at lululemon athletica and in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, and it goes so far beyond finding relief from back pain. I am thankful to have found that yoga pushes my physical limits, challenges my focus, and restores my spirit like any good climb up a rocky face.

If you’re a climber, try yoga too! You won’t think anymore about how your body will pay for the awesome moves you pulled to ascend the route.
This blog post was written by Meghan, a keyleader and community guru at lululemon athletica Banff. She (obviously) enjoys climbing and yoga, and also loves to ski tour, hike, and camp in the backcountry. Meghan is also a freelance writer and loves writing about mountain culture, wellness, and the experiences of women in the wild. You can check out her website at

Saturday, March 20, 2010

My Favorite Things

I know, I know. I'm not Oprah so therefore the privelege of having a "Favorite Things" posting may not necessarily be mine. Maybe some day, right?
However, there are WAY too many cool gadgets and gifts out there in the health and fitness world to shy away due to a lack of Oprah-factor. Read on to find out....
1. Apple Nike + iPod Sport Kit
Personal work out coach. Keep track of your distance, pace, time, and calories. Challenge other runners through the nike+ website, created just for you. AND you can map your neighborhood run. Your car will be jealous without you depending on the odometer.
Create a nike+ profile by clicking HERE. Want it? Amazon has great prices HERE.
2. Body Bugg Personal Calorie Management System
Whew, long name. Long list of benefits too. Not only do you get to track your calorie intake every moment of the day, but you also receive full access to the body bugg website. This full arsenal of fitness resources, nutrition tips, and personalized dietary programs helps you fine tune your energy intake.
Remember: Calories in vs Calories out. It's that simple.
Start exploring here.
3. SPI Belt
Ever try running with your keys, wallet, money, lady items? Doesn't work unless you're the type still doning a windbreaker in 75 degree weather. Or if the jingle of stuff doesn't bug the crap out of you. For the rest of us, here's the answer.
I first spied the SPI belt when I ran the Seattle Rock n Roll 1/2 marathon. I saw a women putting her keys and phone in this spandexy belt around her waist. Jealous!! I hate having to check my keys and phone with the race staff prior to the run. Or shoving my car key in my shoe. What better way to keep your stuff with you in a discrete manner, rather than sporting the dreaded fanny pack. Hyper-color neon green of course.
I already decided for you. Click here to make your purchase.

4. Syntha-6 Protein Powder
Nope, not just for body builders and highschool boys trying to get "ripped". This protein powder is packed with the 6 complete proteins, essential to muscle repair and development. With two serving suggestions (one for men, one for women) and a long list of dessert-tasty flavors, Syntha-6 has really covered all the bases on this one. Best consumed post-workout for optimal results and avoidance of that pesky blood-sugar drop. You'll crave the chocolate peanutbutter flavor, found here.

5. SPF Protective Outdoor Apparel
Hopefully we have all learned our lessons regarding sun safety. But, have you ever tried to go for a distance run, outside of course, with SPF 50 slathered over your body? Icky... AND did you know that some activewear fabrics don't even protect your skin from UV-B rays? You might as well run naked. Our friends at REI, Athleta, Lululemon, and SPF store have more than enough fashionable options to get you through a run wrinkle and skin cancer free.
Very affordable, function friendly tank at REI
Ultra light-weight jacket at Athleta

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Avoid Overuse Injuries brings us useful tips for running outdoors, spring training, and how to nurse those pesky aches and cramps!

4 Ways to Avoid Overuse Injuries This Spring

Spring is here and you're ready to really cover some miles. No more ice and snow and miserable winds to hold you back. Watch out though. All the beautiful weather in the world won't make up for being grounded by overuse injuries. Follow these guidelines to reduce your risk of running yourself into the ground.
Maximizing running performance requires you to improve conditioning by overloading--slightly surpassing present functioning levels--both the cardiovascular and the musculoskeletal systems.

However, excessive overload exceeds the body's ability to adapt to the increased stress and overuse injury will occur. Therefore, you must be very cautious in selecting an appropriate overload, one which will provide optimal conditioning without producing injury.

Cardiovascular Vs Mulculoskeletal ConditioningPerceived exertion (how hard the exercise session feels) is determined by the status of the cardiovascular system or how fit you are. Since the cardiovascular system improves at a faster rate than the musculoskeletal system, reliance on perceived exertion to determine your workouts can cause you to overstress the bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Limit your increases in both intensity and duration of your conditioning program to no more than ten percent per week. This gives the body time to adapt to the stress provided by exercise.

Hard Day, Easy Day Maximum gains in conditioning are obtained when appropriate rest is provided along with exercise, which enables the tissues to adapt and increase in functioning. Inadequate rest increases the probability of sustaining an injury. An intense workout should be followed by a light workout the next day. During the race season, a race should be considered a hard day. Depending on the intensity and duration of the race, additional easy days may be required. Always remember that your body makes gains in strength and endurance during recovery. If you don't provide time for recovery, the body can break down.

Recognize the Symptoms of Overuse Injuries Overuse injuries can be prevented if you are familiar with the progression of injury, and you modify your workout prior to the onset of injury. Overuse injuries usually progress through stages, which include:
Benevolent pain is good pain that is a normal result of overload within a conditioning program. This type of pain is present after activity, but is absent by the time of the next day's practice or is relieved by warm-up.
Semi-harmful pain indicates that you are starting to get in trouble. Semi-harmful pain is pain that is partially relieved by warm-up. It is present during activity but performance is not noticeably reduced. When semi-harmful pain is recognized, your conditioning program should be cut back and the treatment regimen described below should be followed. If the pain lasts more than one week, or is severe, get medical attention.
Harmful pain indicates that you are in trouble. With this type of pain, performance is noticeably reduced and is not relieved by rest. A period of rest and medical attention will likely be required before continuing a conditioning program.
Treatment Overuse injuries are generally treated by RICE+AR.
Rest-Determine a level of exercise, which produces only benevolent pain, and provides relative rest. This may require complete rest from the exercise program for a few days or possibly cross training with a different sport.
Ice-Apply an ice pack several times a day for about 15 minutes at a time. This is especially important during the first 24 to 48 hours after injury.
Compression-Apply an elastic wrap with comfortably firm pressure during and after ice application. Remove the wrap during sleep.
Elevation-Elevate the injured area above the level of the heart whenever possible.
Anti-inflammatory medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen can be used to assist in the reduction of the inflammation.
Re-condition with stretching and a gradual progression to strength training and gradual return to running. If improvement is not felt in three to five days, seek medical attention to get going with a specific treatment program so that you can return to running injury-free.

American Running Association, empowering adults to get America's youth moving. For more information or to join ARA, please visit

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lunges = Lovely Legs

Legs, Legs, Legs. Short like tree trunks or long like string beans, most likely you attempt a workout to improve their appearance as we approach the seasons requiring less clothing.

Here's the question, "Are you happy the results?"

Those of you with "trunks" may envy those with "stems" and- believe it or not- vice versa. But here's the deal: there are exercises we can all do to create a more stream- lined, toned, mini skirt ready you.

So here it is. Three exercises that, if performed correctly and approved by your doctor, will undoubtedly induce lingering stares and an extra trip to Nordstrom for those 4" sling backs you know you've been craving.
1. The Lunge. Oh yes, the classic walking lunge. (Or pendulum lunge, or squatting lunge, etc) Once you've mastered this one, let me know. There are a TON of spin offs on this classic no-fail move.

2. The "Wall- Sit". If you don't have an exercise ball, then try any kind of sports ball i.e. basketball, soccerball, volleyball, dodgeball. This not only works the glutes and quads like in the lunge, but also works the thighs, calves, and hamstrings as secondary muscles. Score.

3. Calf Raises. No, these aren't your old school calf raises. Stand with your toes on a board or a stair. Stand up on your tip toes and hold for 3 seconds, then relax your feet and allow your heels to drop below the step, then repeat.

* Hint: follow this exercises with 2 additional tweaks- stand in "1st postion" ballet style and repeat the exercise. Then, stand with your toes pointing towards eachother and heels apart, sort of cock-eyed. These three exercises will work all major muscle groups in your lower legs.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Run Into The Gap!

Ah, the Gap. Memories from junior high conjur up images of the Gap sweatshirt, Gap jeans (long & lean, baby!), and the coveted "Adirondack" jacket. Whelp, erase those images because Gap has transformed.
Quality Yoga and Sportswear. They have cute seperates, layering pieces, and an array of sizes, appealing to those of us who don't fit the 5'5'' national height average.

Quality Fabrics. Face it. You're a "sweater". We all sweat. Normal people sweat. If you're not dowsed in perspiration at the peak of your workout, work harder. Gap uses sweat-friendly fabrics so you don't have to wring out your clothes post-gym. The above Drawstring Active Tank contains spandex and polyester which help keep the sweat off your skin. Instant cooling sensation + super cute top!

BONUS! Athleta is also a part of the Gap empire! If you have yet to experience the world of Athleta, get out there! You're behind the times! Here's just a hint of what they have to offer in Yoga & Activewear.

This tank has built in support cups! A dress made from activewear material! These pants come in 3 different lengths!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Salute to Ginger

After waking up to slobbering kisses from my 6 month old mammoth of a puppy, I chose to pour myself a cup of java and have a glance at the daily newspaper. I don't know what it is about picking up an actual newspaper that perks my interest far more than reading it online, but I do so enjoy reviewing the fine newsprint called "The Spokesman Review".
I digress. Today's special topic read, "Health and Fitness". Score. There on the third page read a headline concerning the healing properties of ginger. As it turns out, this amazing root isn't just an afterthought to our favorite spicy tuna roll.
- aid in digestion, relief of stomach cramps, diarrhea, bloating due to gas
- relief of nausea associated with pregnancy
- anti inflammatory properties related to athritis and osteoarthritis
- lower cholesterol, decreases high blood pressure
- lowering fever associated with the common cold, flu, cough, sore throat
- relieve complications from ulcerative colitis
- inhibit replication of herpes simplex virus
click here for the full article and additional tips on how to get all the vitamins and nutrients from our new friend, Ginger!
Feel like kicking up your day by adding this versatile spice? Click HERE, your shopping has now begun.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Best Workout For Your Bodytype (Women's Health)

Apparantly they haven't quite thought of it all now have they? Today's feature Women's Health Tip popped up in my email box, and thus popped my intrigue.

After doing a quick scan of the various workouts, I decided to pay it forward to You. If nothing else, this article will add more interesting moves to your arsenal of strength training exercises.


Wake up Call!!!

"Housekeeping..." knock knock knock "Housekeeping, you want me fluff your pillow?"
ok, get real. this recipe does require a bit of savvy in the kitchen, but don't fret. If you don't know how to operate a blender or coffee maker, I'm sure they have 10 step self-help groups for you.

2/3 cup brewed coffee, cold or at room temp.
1.5 scoops vanilla whey protein powder
½ medium rip banana, peeled and sliced
2-4 ice cubes
½ TBL wheat germ
½ TBL honey, or to taste (artificial sweetner can be used in place of honey)
Place all ingredients in a blender container. Cover and blend on high for 1 minute or until smooth. Serve immediately

Welcome to Strong Like A Girl!

It may not appear this way, but this isn't just another "Girl Power" empowerment blog. No, no, no. All of you who know me, know that I definately steer clear of that bandwagon. The true purpose of this blog is the following:
- Create an atmosphere for women and men (!) to share fitness and health tips and advice.
- Share stories of recent excursions as a means to inspire the masses
- Keep a recipe log for those of us on specific diet plans
- Post topics and articles related to the fitness and health industry. One day it's Adkins, the next day Southbeach, and the next Cookie diet. (Seriously people, cookie diet?)

For those of you who don't know me and want to know, for credibility purposes, I'm a fitness professional in Spokane, WA. I am certified from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). I grew up participating in numerous sports and activities and found a passion for healthy eating and living several years ago. For more information, feel free to shoot me an email.