Friday, March 30, 2012

A Recovery Day Diet

There are four different kinds of days in my typical week right now:

Two practices, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
One practice in the morning, plus one massage in the afternoon!
Recovery workout and whatever I want!
Whatever I want!

I already showed you a Tuesday/Friday eating schedule, so I'd like to present the other days in the next few posts. Thanks, everyone, for the positive feedback on the nutrition posts! You'll notice that I have a sweet tooth. I do my best to keep it in check, but when people specifically request certain kinds of cupcakes and I have extras in my apartment, they get eaten. Luckily I have help. :)

Here's what I ate on Wednesday!

-Smoothie! Banana, spinach, blueberries, strawberries, protein powder, and Odwalla Mango Tango juice. I drank it on the way to my appointment with Dr. Rintala! I have about an hour in the car fighting traffic when I go in the morning, and a green smoothie plus NPR helps keep me sane.

After my appointment, I headed to the Mission Beach jetty to do my recovery workout! Twelve minutes of jogging plus Korchemney (a walking mobility series), then I was off to grab lunch before walking the pups at the humane society.

-Subway flatbread with chicken, pepperjack cheese, spinach, avocado, green pepper, tomato, cucumber, and a tiny bit of Ranch dressing. You have to tell them to stop with the sauces, like, as they turn the bottle over your sandwich.

-A mocha from the cafe at the humane society! I love buying stuff from there because it supports the place. I was really dragging after not eating enough in the morning and walking the adorable hounds for two hours, so I drank this on the way home.

-Cupcake when I got home. Duh.

-Mexican Ground Beef Quinoa Skillet! I used orange and yellow bell peppers instead of diced tomatoes, and added plain greek yogurt (which I love replacing sour cream with) and pepperjack cheese (my favorite). I highly recommend this recipe!
-Water with cranberry juice/lemon juice/dandelion root tea.

Be back soon with more food!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Day in my Stomach

People seem to think that nutrition isn't important for throwers.
Au contraire, my friends! A javelin thrower needs to sprint down a runway and be able to move in an athletic manner at the end of it. For me and my metabolism, that means watching what I eat to a certain degree! In college, I thought I needed far more Calories than I actually do. I work the hardest I possibly can, but training in mostly short bursts of activity doesn't burn nearly the energy that, say, a 5-mile tempo run or repeat 800s might. I can remember eating primarily pasta and not much else the night before competitions in the past, whereas now I'm all about protein and trying to eat lots of vegetables.

Through a Nutrition, Fitness and Health degree at Purdue, more free time after graduating from college, and simply paying attention to how I feel after eating food, I've figured out a good system for myself. Not every day is the same, of course, but here's what I ate on Tuesday! I had one practice in the morning and a massage in the afternoon.

-A banana.
-Two scrambled eggs with milk, alfalfa sprouts and spinach.
-A bowl of strawberries, blueberries, flax seeds, vanilla greek yogurt and cottage cheese.
-A water/cranberry juice/lemon juice/dandelion root tea mixture. It is supposed to promote liver function and help you lose water weight, which I think is silly, but it's helping me drink more liquid this week (something I'm not typically great at!).

-A Powerade Zero while lifting and after throwing. I don't know if that counts as a snack.

-A little bit of chocolate milk with a lot more nonfat milk.
-Taco Tuesday at the Olympic Training Center! It happens every week and I love it. Ranchera beef, beans, corn, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, and spring mix lettuce.

-One of the peanut butter cup cupcakes I made on Sunday. Is this a snack or just dessert? I was defenseless; they are awesome. Follow the link for the recipe I looked to for guidance; I used a white cake recipe from the book Russ got me for Christmas instead of a box mix like the link suggests, and made Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (both from the same book). They aren't the prettiest things, sorry. If only you could taste through your screen.

-Salad I threw together at the training center after my massage: Spinach, flank steak, tofu, pineapple, steamed veggies, three different kinds of seeds, tomatoes, chickpeas, and balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
-I may or may not have had a few of the peanut butter cups that went in my cupcakes after dinner.

Having my own kitchen has been the best. I have the freedom to make food that tastes good to me, and I swear I eat less than I have for the last two years simply because I have a refrigerator that can house leftovers.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ideas for a Healthy Shoulder, Part 2

Last night I posted Part 1 of this post. In Part 2, I'm talking about things in my workouts that have helped my shoulders stay strong, even if shoulders aren't the exercise's first priority. It's nice when stuff pulls double (or triple or quadruple) duty!

Mike and I have a bunch of prescribed general warm-ups that we do on different days throughout the week, and some of them have mountain climbers, dynamic groiners, frog thrusts, and burpees in them. The lady in that mountain climber video does a great job of describing the benefit you'll get in your upper body and core from doing them, and I like everything about her technique (that sounds dirty). The burpee video gets crazy at the end, and we don't do push-ups in the middle of our burpees; I keep my arms straight and my shoulders strong. I remember the first time I did a series of 7 repetitions of all four of these exercises (fondly referred to as the Four Killers), and I thought my arms would fall off! The fact that I felt it the most in my shoulders said to me that I had a lot of room for improvement, and now I feel much more solid. Something to think about to get maximum upper body benefit is to keep your shoulders pressed down/away from your ears while stitching your shoulder blades together. Keep your back strong and flat. You can definitely turn these exercises into full-blown workouts, too!

I had done pull-ups before last year, but never muscle-ups. This guy's method is closest to what Mike and I do, only imagine a bigger, more open chest position on the forward swing to somewhat simulate a javelin position! We've done a few muscle-ups this year in previous blocks, but I've done far more pull-ups, and I think they're doing wonders for my shoulder health. I let my arms extend completely in between each pull-up because I want to pull on my implement from as far behind me as possible, and training the small muscles at the end range of my flexibility is huge for that. I'm not sure pull-ups are the most effective way to train those little muscles, but I think they work well for me!

I can't find any videos I really like for this next part, and I think most people might have a good idea of how to do this stuff, so I will describe. We do a series of planks called Pedestal that has really worked my shoulders along with its main focus, my core stabilizers. Pedestal involves a lot of single leg planks, but start out with four points of contact (two arms and two legs), and work into more difficult territory from there, always keeping your hips and back stable. Work in prone (face down), supine (face up), and side plank positions! Use the same philosophy for these as I stated for the Four Killers; remember to force your shoulders down and away from your ears, and keep your shoulder blades down and together with a flat back.

I've described in recent blogs how happy I am with the work I've done with Dr. Mike Rintala. The exercises he has taught me are mainly geared toward keeping my pesky left SI Joint healthy, but tighten everything up so well that my shoulders have seen a lot of benefits, too! Basically what these exercises do is make my body re-learn the motor patterns that I learned when I was a baby; they teach me how to roll over in a controlled way. It's really difficult to describe further, but similar ideas are being perpetuated in more and more places right now! It may look kind of stupid, but doing these exercises in the right way is really challenging, and it takes your body a while to learn them again to the point where you're proficient. The slightly more advanced variations of that video are where the shoulders come into play, but I'm a big believer that being able to use your core effectively in a throw allows your shoulder to work well, too.

I think that about covers the stuff I really enjoy doing to maintain a healthy shoulder! Please leave more questions in the comments if you have them.

I'm sort of embarrassed about this because I'm not a super intense person, but here's a video of my 100-kilo hang split clean on Thursday!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ideas for a Healthy Shoulder, Part 1

Adam Wolfe recently asked
how I keep my shoulder "healthy, strong, and throwing far"
via my facebook page. I'm going to start off by saying pre-habilitation is much better than re-habilitation! Doing any number of these exercises in an effort to scare off shoulder problems before they start is something any kind of thrower won't regret! There are sort of two categories to my answer; exercises I've been told to do to maintain a healthy shoulder, and things I believe help my shoulder every day, even if I didn't know they would at first.

Most javelin throwers are (hopefully) familiar with basic Thera-band exercises designed to build strength in the shoulder. Watch this video to see flexion and abduction exercises demonstrated. I like that this guy emphasizes keeping the thumb up, as this is what people I trust have told me! Also try these at a 45-degree angle to your shoulder (if straight forward is 0 and straight out to the side is 90), again keeping the thumb up. This video demonstrates internal and external rotation exercises. It's really important to only use your shoulder to do these motions; keep your core strong. In the past, I have done these both as part of a workout and to warm up for throwing. The volume and resistance can be higher (as long as form is good) if you're doing them purely for strength, say at the end of a workout. I only do one set of 10 or so (quality!) repetitions each if I'm warming up to throw.

The resistance band exercises above are for shoulder stability, but shoulder mobility is important for staying healthy, too! Chris Garcia, one of the athletic trainers here at the center, has worked with me this year on some moves that I would never have thought of. They're designed for general upper back/shoulder flexibility and control.
1. Arm Slides: Lie on your back, with feet on the floor and knees up. Keeping your back pressed to the floor, place fingertips next to your ears, with elbows about 2-2.5 inches away from each other above your face. Slide your fingertips up, keeping your elbows the same distance away from each other the whole time. Return to start, and repeat 5-10 times. Only go as far up with your fingertips as your technique (elbow proximity) allows! The more mobility you get, the further away from your head your fingertips will get.
2. Reach, Roll and Lift: Sit on your knees on the floor, resting your butt on your flat feet. If this is already something you can't do, stretch your quads! Lean forward to rest your forehead on the floor and reach your arms long above your head, placing hands flat on the ground. Next, roll your outstretched hands so they're facing the ceiling and the backs of them are resting on the ground. Keeping your upper back flat, everything else motionless and your arms straight, lift one hand at a time straight up as far as you can. Do 5-10 repetitions for each arm.

We did a lot of gymnastics last year, and while I don't think the high bar did much for me because I was not good at any serious skills, I really felt the benefit of the rings, and am doing them again this block. The ring exercises we do are simply supporting body weight for 20 or more seconds, marching hands forward and backward (alternating) while supporting your weight, pumping hands in and out laterally, and doing small circles inward and outward. You can also do dips on the rings, short body swings back and forth, and muscle-ups if you're ready for that! This guy is really serious about ring strength, and he has a very messy room! I also really like skin-the-cats on the rings. Bonus: These work your core, too! Javelin throwers tend to have flexible shoulders, so it's kind of gross how extended you can get at the end of the movement! Photo below by Donald Miralle for ESPN the Magazine.

The most javelin-specific exercises that help my shoulders get strong are medicine ball throws. Heavy handheld ball throws are good too, but I don't want to recommend them because maintaining good technique is essential to getting the right benefit out of them (and that's true for everything, haha, but especially this). I have heavy and medium-heavy medicine ball throws this block, simply holding the ball with straight arms over my head, stepping into a block and throwing forward with both hands while maintaining a good, high chest position. These get more than just your shoulders ready for throwing, so they are awesome! There are variations to them too, like this (just keep your arms straighter and have a more solid block than that guy, please).

I'll be back tomorrow with some more notes on exercises that I didn't expect to help my shoulder, but really have! Everything I described in this post is what has been prescribed to me by coaches, athletic trainers and similar authority figures. Finding the right mix of techniques for keeping your shoulder healthy takes some trial and error, and doesn't have to be overwhelming. Pick and choose the exercises you like and think will work best for you!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Training Update!

It’s March! That means that outdoor season is beginning to peek its head around the corner. I feel like I’m more prepared than I might have been if I hadn’t gone to Australia last month, but I’ve still got a lot of work to do! Oh, watch my videos from Perth and Sydney.

I didn’t necessarily taper for my competitions in Perth and Sydney, but the trip fell on the block that we had decided would be a “rest block,” so my lifting was extremely light and my volume otherwise allowed for tons of rest. Those facts contribute to my belief that I should have thrown further, but that is all in the past now, and I learned a lot down under. I need more power, and I still have some major technical things to really lock in.

The week after I arrived home was a rest/recovery week in which I did three 20-minute runs coupled with three general strength circuits on each of those running days. You wouldn’t believe how much I needed that rest week; 1:00am felt like the afternoon and 8:30am seemed like night time! I’m of the opinion that jumping into a normal schedule helps you adjust to a new time zone quickly, so perhaps all that rest just allowed me to be lazy. Maybe that’s okay for once. :)

Learning what I did about how throwing felt in competition makes me overjoyed with what I’m doing this block; I think it’s exactly what I needed. I’m throwing heavy javelins (800- and 700-grams), doing crossover sled pulls, throwing med balls and lifting heavy for the first time in what feels like years because my back is stable enough to handle it. I have split hang cleans, back pulls, bench, pretty heavy pullovers, squats, and weighted pull-ups all in the different lifting sessions I do throughout a week.
I’m loving it.
I’m definitely not the strongest javelin thrower in the world, but it’s always fun to see improvement! After someone laughed about my bench press ability last year, I’m really happy to have it in my program. :) I also know a highly accomplished men’s javelin thrower who is kind of obsessed with benching, so it can’t be a bad idea to get my numbers up a little bit!

Even though I’m pretty excited about all of this volume, I’ve experienced enough injury to be really careful about doing my pre-habilitation. I started going to see Dr. Mike Rintala in north San Diego county in January, and the exercises he's teaching me have made massive differences in how my body feels-not only in a day of training, but throughout an entire block. Being diligent about doing them really helped me stay whole without therapy while I was in Australia. Going to see him regularly plus activating my muscle groups with the exercises before practice has been awesome. I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying it!

I’m planning a blog post on shoulder stability exercises and ways to keep your arm intact for later this week! Stay tuned. Also, feel free to like me on facebook.