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Designing an Athletic Training Program

October 12, 2011

By Gerard Bochese

If you are an athlete, participate in recreational sports such as tennis or pick-up basketball, or just want to change up your workout routine and try something new and effective, then a more athletically based training program may be for you.

Here’s how to design an effective and efficient athletic training program:

Explosive Movements First. If you are using Olympic lifts such as snatches and cleans or plyometric movements such as squat jumps and medicine ball slams, they should always be done first in the program. Exercises that stress the nervous system must be done when both the muscular and nervous system are fresh.  In the case of Olympic lifts they also require a high technical demand and great coordination; thus, the athlete must be fresh when performing them.  This not only ensures the effectiveness of the exercise but makes them much safer.

Multi-joint Exercises Second. These are exercises that require multiple joints working at once, such as the squat and row or lunge and press. They enable the body to communicate with itself (which is what is happening during any sporting activity) and start to create and coordinate functional and fundamental movement patterns.

No Single-Joint Exercises. Single joint exercises such as bicep curls and tricep extensions are body builder type exercises and are a waste of time for athletic training.  The time spent on these exercises can be utilized to add exercises that have the same goal but far greater benefit (pulls and rows will develop the biceps and pushes and presses will develop the triceps.)

Limit Machine Use. Free weights and body weight are the main tools here.  The only machines that should be used are cable systems which are actually classified as a form of free weight training.  Remember, sports are played on our feet so we want to do as much training in a vertical standing position as possible.

Get Moving for a Good Cause

October 11, 2011

By Brianne Harrison Moore

Lace up your running shoes or riding boots: it’s time to get on the move for a good cause this weekend.

On October 16, head for the shore for the annual Atlantic City Marathon. This year’s course will take runners down the famous Boardwalk, through the city, and past the local wind farms before making its way toward the charming cities of Ventnor, Margate, and Longport. For those who prefer a shorter course, there’ll also be a half-marathon, 10K, 5K, non-competitive Health Walk, and Kids’ Fun Run, all of which will be held near the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. Twenty Cheer Zones with live entertainment will line the route so family and friends can encourage their favorite runners. After the race, stay for a Sports and Fitness Expo with more than 50 vendor booths and a pasta dinner for participating runners. Partners of the AC Marathon include the American Heart Association, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Boomer Esiason Foundation, Front Row Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Team Continuum, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, and Team in Training. The race begins at 8 a.m. To register or receive more information, visit acmarathon.org.

Saddle up on October 16 for Ride for the Cure at Bow Brickhill Stables in Milford. This inaugural event will feature a ninety-minute trail ride through Alexandria and Holland Townships followed by live music, prizes, and a hearty lunch. Ambrose Photography will be on hand to take pictures of riders and their mounts and a tack sale will also be held. Ride for the Cure benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Riders must provide their own mount and registration is limited to the first 150 riders. To register, visit komencsnj.org/site/TR/RidefortheCure.

Spice It Up

October 10, 2011

By Mona Laru

Wake up your taste buds this fall with seasonings. Open up the spice cabinet and add something new, like cinnamon, to your meals. Cinnamon is believed to help regulate blood sugar, which promotes everything from good moods to better concentration.

Creamy Steel Cut Oatmeal with Fresh Berries

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Cook Time: 30 Minutes

Yields: 2 Servings

 

Ingredients:

1 cup steel cut oatmeal
½ cup blueberries
½ cup strawberries
½ cup blackberries
¼ cup almond milk
1 tbsp cinnamon
½ tbsp ground cloves

 

Directions

Cook oatmeal according to directions. When there are 5 minutes left to cook, add berries, almond milk, cinnamon and cloves. On low heat, mix to blend the flavors from all ingredients. Divide into two servings.

 

Stuffed Squash

October 10, 2011

By Brianne Harrison

Squash is everywhere this time of year, and although you may be sick of seeing it, hopefully you aren’t tired of eating it yet (especially since it may prolong your life). Squash is packed with nutrients and antioxidants that can help keep you healthy throughout the cold, flu, and stress season that is the month of December. Stuffed with a hearty mixture of sausage and wild rice or some other grain medley, it makes a delicious meal all on its own, and an easy one, too, if you have some already-cooked leftover rice!

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serves: 4

2 medium acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed*

3T grapeseed or vegetable oil

2 tsp cinnamon

½ yellow onion, diced

4 stalks celery, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

3 sprigs thyme, stripped of leaves

2 cups cooked wild rice mix or other grain medley

½ cup cooked turkey sausage, crumbled**

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Brush the insides of the squash with a light coating of oil, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Place the squash cut side up on a baking sheet and roast until fork tender, about 25-30 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan on the stove and sauté the onion until it turns a creamy color, about 1-2 minutes. Add the celery and carrots and cook until they start to soften, about 6 minutes. Season to taste, and add the thyme leaves. Cook for another minute, until fragrant.

Remove pan from the heat and mix the vegetables with the rice and sausage.

Divide the filling between the acorn halves and return the stuffed squash to the oven. Roast for a further 20-25 minutes, until the squash is softened (but not mushy) and the filling is heated through.

Serve with a side salad or sautéed greens.

*Rinse the seeds and keep them for roasting later

**If you prefer to make a vegetarian version of this dish, replace the sausage with a cup of cooked lentils, tofu, or nuts such as pecans (great for wild rice medleys) or walnuts.

Healthy Roundup:

As I mentioned earlier, squash is a nutritional powerhouse. A cup of it provides a whopping 145% of your recommended daily value of vitamin A, and it’s also high in Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, manganese, folate, omega 3 fatty acids, thiamin, copper, and several B vitamins, all while being fairly low in calories. Squash is also rich in beta-cryptocanthin, a carotenoid that’s been found to have cancer-preventing properties, and beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that can help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the body, which contributes to the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Wild rice (which is actually a marsh grass, not a rice at all) is high in fiber and protein and low in calories and fat. It contains phosphorus, potassium, and B vitamins, as well as vitamin E, folic acid, and antioxidants. In a face off with health-food-lover favorite brown rice, wild rice is found to have fewer calories per serving and fewer calories from fat while having more protein, vitamin E, and folate.

Breakfast for Your Skin

October 7, 2011

By Brianne Harrison Moore

I love the cooler weather that signals the start of fall, but I don’t love the effect it has on my skin: dry patches appear, along with sudden breakouts, and it gets irritated easily. To help ease it into the new season, I turn to a simple honey oatmeal mask, which not only improves my skin, it’s also easy and cheap to make using ingredients I usually have in my kitchen.

Oatmeal—that breakfast food you probably hated as a kid—is actually very good for your skin. It has cleansing, exfoliant, and moisturizing properties, making it ideal for problematic skin, and you can mix it with lots of different ingredients to address your skin’s particular issues. Add lemon drops to help remove excess oil, baking soda to soothe itchy skin, or olive oil to reduce the wrinkles caused by dry skin. The mask below, which can be whipped up in minutes with little fuss, is my personal favorite.

Honey Oatmeal Mask

Grind ½ cup oatmeal in a coffee grinder, blender, or food processor until it’s finely ground. Mix in ¼ cup plain yogurt, adding a bit more yogurt or a bit more oatmeal if the mixture is too gooey. Add 2 tsp honey. Smooth mask onto your face and leave for 10-15 minutes. Rinse off with warm water. Head outside and enjoy the beautiful weather!

Stealing Ideas

October 6, 2011

By John Markowski

There are many instances when I feel like I never want to set foot in my garden again. When I spend too much of my time just focusing on my own garden, I lose my “mojo”. When that feeling hits, I do my best to get out and visit other gardens for a nice shot of inspiration.

In the following photos, I’ve included some gardening ideas I plan to steal—I mean, glean original ideas from. I find that when I visit a large public or private garden, my best strategy is to take as many photos as possible without editing myself. At a later date, I can then review the shots at a much slower pace and that is when the ideas come to life.

I love the idea of colored glass in a container. The potential glass/plant/container options are endless:

Flowers floating in a container, why didn’t I think of that?

 

This photo was taken at the New York Botanical Garden, and if you look closely, you’ll see a short blue spruce tucked in the front of the bed. To me, it pops and I’ve always struggled with how to incorporate blue foliage into the mix. The answer: Just try it already:

Note to self: Always plant perennials in large drifts:

 

Note to self 2.0: Plant more bulbs in large drifts; you will thank yourself in spring:

 

If you want to read more about my gardening adventures, click on the About link above to get to my blog.

Tips for First Time Marathoners

October 5, 2011

By Tara Zimliki CPT, CSCS

I’m preparing to run my 17th marathon this fall and also helping a number of my running clients prepare for their first marathon. After all the training, I’ve got plenty of tips on how to survive and thrive in your very first marathon.  And for those of you who have been putting in lots of marathon training—congratulations on making it this far!

I ran my first marathon at 21 years old (just 10 years ago) and I recall having to teach myself how to train, how to eat, and how to survive race day.  It was a great experience; so much so that I have run 15 more marathons since and now will be running the New York marathon in November.  However, I did not know a fraction of the race day tips that I know now after having experienced so many other races.  For my first marathon I was in top shape and filled with determination, but I was not aware of how hard the 26.2 miles I had ahead of me would be.

It’s my hope that by sharing my expertise I can save you a lot of stress, time, and pain and help make sure your first marathon isn’t your last.

14 Ways to Make Your First Marathon a Success

1) Dress like a winner. Make sure that your shirt, shorts, socks, and bra is wick free and not 100% cotton to avoid or minimize chafing.  Consider lubricants for chafing and blister powder for your feet as well.  Make sure to wear this gear and lubricants  in your training runs to see what works and does not so there will be no surprises (at least with gear) on race day.

2) Don’t try any new race day nutrition on your race day or the day before.  You will get all kinds of free samples at the race expo the day prior to the race.  You can accept them all but don’t use them on race day. Stick with the same gels, bars, and gummies that you’ve used throughout your training.  I find that even by switching flavors of GU my stomach would turn so I always stick with Chocolate Outrage gel for my 2 gels on race day.

4) Get yourself a new pair of kicks. A good, supportive running shoe can last 300-400 miles, but they lose 50% of their cushioning much sooner than that.  Get some new ones and break them in during your last 2 weeks of training.  Make sure to run 1 long run in these shoes to make sure they work for race day.  And if you have not done so yet, I recommend going to a small specialty running store and getting fit for the proper shoes for your arch and the kind of runner you are (underpronator, overpronator, neutral).

5) Carb load for 2 days prior to the race.  You want to maximize the amount of glycogen stored in your muscles because poorly fueled muscles are associated with needless fatigue. The more glycogen you have the better your endurance will be.  The glycogen stays in your muscles until you exercise, and since this is taper time it is likely you will be running very little (1-2 miles) or not at all in the 2 days prior.  Have a big meal at lunch the day before the race, but take it easy with dinner.  This gives your body time to assimilate the nutrients, and having a huge meal so close to the race is risky if you’re at all worried about intestinal issues.

6) Relax the day before the race.  Try to relax your body and mind.  This means you should be spending the majority of the day resting.  This will give your body a chance to relax before the big day and hold those glycogen stores for race day.  This is always hard for me because I am always on the go, but I’ve learned that relaxing the day before pays off!

7) Get as much sleep as you can the night before your race. But if you do not get a good night’s sleep don’t stress.  Your nerves and fears make give you a sleepless night the day prior (even some race day dreams), but don’t stress, this is perfectly normal.  Ultimately, the amount of sleep you get before a race has little to do with how you’ll perform.  As long as you’ve been sleeping well during the previous week, your body will have plenty of energy to draw from.

8) Bring throwaway clothes. Usually marathons are very early and the temperature at the start of your race may be cooler.  Once you start your race your body temperature will rise considerably, so it is smart to dress in layers.  I prefer to wear shorts and a sports bra with a sweatshirt and sweatpants layered over.  A few minutes prior to the race I take off the sweatshirt and pants.  After the first mile your body will warm up.  Many races have charity bins where you can toss extra clothing, which is then donated to a charity, so feel no guilt in tossing your clothes.

9) Arrive for your race early. There is always traffic at every marathon, so arrive early.  This will also give you time to visit the restroom and stretch.

10) Don’t have a time goal. If you’re like me, this is almost impossible.  But if you can, don’t make your goal for your first marathon any more than just to finish the race and have fun!  You can make a time goal for your next marathon.

11) Pace yourself.  Make sure you don’t let your adrenaline get the best of you.  Studies show that every 10 seconds (per mile) you run too fast that you run the half of the marathon, you’ll lose 20-25 seconds per mile in the second half of the race.

12) Hydrate properly.  Life is about balance, and too much or too little of anything is bad.  This is especially true when it comes to marathon hydration.  Watch out for hyponatremia. Everyone knows about the dangers of dehydration, but over hydration is a concern too.  Hyponatremia occurs when you drink so much water that you dilute the sodium levels in your blood.  This can be very dangerous and even life-threatening.  Symptoms are very similar to those of dehydration; part of the reason it’s so dangerous.  To avoid hyponatremia, be sure to take in adequate sodium with your fluids, in the form of sports drinks, gels, or even salt tablets.

13) Make plans to rest right after the race. After every marathon I walk very slowly back to the car and I can feel all 26.2 miles in every muscle.  Since this is a family outing with my husband and daughters we usually go to a casual dinner, and then we head home where I plan to rest for the day.  I could find the energy to go out post race, but it wouldn’t be smart.  Your body needs res—after all, you just ran 26.2 miles and will have torn muscle fiber and lactic acid acclimation.  Take it from me, a professional, and rest post race. And on a side note: your appetite may be diminished after the race, but it’ll come back in the next 2-3 days and you will be very hungry!

14) Have a great time!  Marathons are a lot of work with training and preparation, so enjoy your big day!  Most of the race I am smiling with accomplishment and thankful for my health.  But as a forewarning: no matter how well you train the last few miles will hurt and you will have to use your mental strength to get through the physical pain.  It is well worth it.  I have finished marathons with tears of joy because of the sense of accomplishment I’ve felt.  Nothing comes close to the feeling of elation you have when you cross the finish line at 26.2 miles!  Congratulations in advance for running a marathon and have a great race!  Remember that you have the strength within you to run 26.2!

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