Turnover Rate (… and the beat goes on …)

We live in a time and place in which many of our pursuits have become largely independent of natural rhythms.  Sunlight no longer limits our period of activity anymore than seasons dictate what we serve our family for dinner or what piece of fruit goes into our child’s lunchbox.

Although electricity extends the day and we have access to an endless source of stimulation and ways to fill the time, our natural rhythms, at least on some level, affect almost everything we do.  External rhythms such as the rising and setting of the sun, the lunar cycle and seasonal changes influence daily activity while  internal, or circadian rhythms, urge us to wake up or to fall asleep as well as affect energy levels at different times of the day.  Our breath and heartbeat are rhythms we are most intimately connected to.

It should come as no surprise that rhythm plays a significant role in efficient and enjoyable running. Continue reading

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Reflections & Lessons Learned

This article was first published by CrossFit under the title “Reflections On the Open.”  Although originally written for a specific audience, the lessons apply to all athletes — recreational or elite.

I am not a gifted athlete. Although not entirely to blame for this situation, I should point out that girls’ sports in my athletically formative years were uncommon, unfunded and generally considered unladylike. Title IX, signed into law by President Nixon in 1972, took effect two weeks after my high school graduation. It took three more years before Title IX was translated into specific regulations requiring schools to take steps to increase student participation in programs where bias occurred, but it wasn’t until I finished college and was the mother of two that things finally began to change for women in sports.

The result? I’m not exceptionally fast, and am not fond of lifting heavy objects over my head. Until two years ago, I considered it a chore to “clean” and would never have asked, “How’s your snatch?” in public. Though unrelated to my lack of early athletic opportunities or women’s inequality issues, I’m only 5-feet tall and weigh 97 pounds. However, I’ve had 58 years to gain wisdom and perspective – virtues I attribute not to remarkable intellect, but rather to the simple fact that I’ve been lucky enough to witness more than 21,000 sunrises. If you stick around long enough, you’re bound to learn a thing or two. What follows are some lessons learned from this year’s CrossFit Games Open. Continue reading

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Fatigue … an old friend or uninvited guest?

Is it your old friend or an uninvited guest?

Fatigue can result from any physical effort.  This temporary condition manifests in a variety of ways.  It may be nothing more than a brief period of malaise.  It might express itself with “heavy legs” on a training run.  A lifter may be unable to explain missed attempts at cleaning a weight that he’s executed successfully in the recent past.  A miler’s time might increase while the high school athlete finds herself daydreaming of taking a nap rather than showing up for after school practice. Continue reading

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Training Ruts & Plateaus

Anyone who has enjoyed the benefits of participating in a sport over a period of time has encountered training ruts and plateaus — those pesky periods when, no matter how hard we try, how much we work at it or how much we think we want it, we just can’t seem to improve performance.  Before tackling a problem, it’s important to identify exactly what the problem is and, in this case, to understand the difference between being in a training rut or on a plateau. Ruts are the result of doing the same thing over and over and over because it’s comfortable.  Being in a rut will never lead to significant improvement in performance no matter how much time you spend in the rut.  Plateaus, on the other hand, are natural breaks on an upward trajectory and can be treated as a sweet interlude for rest, reflection and regrouping in preparation for more improvements in performance. Continue reading

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Self-Myofascial Release (or, basic repair & maintenance for the athlete’s body)

Most athletic injuries are soft-tissue, rather than bone or joint, injuries.  It might surprise you to learn that of soft-tissue injuries, most athletes actually experience connective tissue, rather than muscular, injuries.  This highlights the importance of learning how to incorporate activities in training that help prevent and repair damage, as well as build elasticity and resilience, in connective tissues. Continue reading

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