A reason to cross train

As you may know (if you read my about me section) I'm well versed in the education of Exercise Science.  I know all about cross training (and I don't mean cyclocross training), over training, burn out, and the like.  Basically, I'm here to tell you why it's good to be strong, erg, I mean why it's good to cross train.  Lets start with the basics, what is cross training? I'm a cyclist, so I spend majority of my days riding bicycles.  Riding bikes rocks, it's hip, it's fun, it's active.  If the only thing I ever did was ride bikes I would have multiple broken bones, arms the size of.....a broom stick, weak hips, knee pain, internally rotated (worse then they already are) shoulders, a rounded back, low back pain, neck pain, tight hip flexors and hamstrings, no abdominal and rotational strength.  Basically, I would suck on the bike because I would produce no power due to poor form on the bike from my neck and back pain, and weak abdominals.  I know it's "poor form" for cyclists to lift weights, but honestly if I didn't lift weights and cross train, I wouldn't be where I am today!  What is cross training?  Cross training is doing an activity that isn't your everyday sport.  Cross training helps to prevent injury, overtraining, and burn out.  Cross training does not make you slow.  So now you are wondering, Courtenay what is it that YOU do for cross training.

I work in a gym as a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor.  I'm on my feet when I work, demonstrating exercises all the time and teaching classes.  I HAVE to be strong in order to execute my job and HAVE a job.  If I wasn't strong, why would people want ME to work them out?  My cross training schedule typically involves teaching a Step class (cardio and weights), teaching a weight class, stretching, trigger point therapy, running (in the months of July-Dec for CX), and lifting weights 1-2x/week on my own or at my favorite studio Trailhead Athletics.  If I where to tell you to do 1 of these activities, it would be for you to get in the weight room (or your living room) and start doing some resistance training.  Why you ask?

Resistance training (working your full body) is going to help balance your body out so you remain strong from head to toe and shoulder to shoulder.  For example in my sport of choice, we pedal bikes forward, my feet are clipped in, my hands are on the bars in a forward position, my neck is (as much as I would like to say it's not) in a fwd position (okay think office worker), my hip flexors are never fully extended (unless you ride a unicycle).  Rarely is my body worked in a side to side motion.  So lets say I don't do any resistance training.  My glutes might suck because I could potentially have a sucky pedal stroke and I'm not lunging to help increase the strength, power, and SIZE (<--- this is kind of a joke because my butt is big) of my glutes.  I'm not working on my "core" strength so my abs aren't strong enough to hold my torso in a correct position while on the bike, therefore causing me a lot of low back pain.  Which leads me to weak back extensors, if you don't train them to be strong, they aren't going to be strong, you are most likely compensating somewhere else.  Now lets say I don't work any side to side and rotational stuff (so important while mountain biking and in cyclocross, while leaning with the bike and navigating around obstacles).  If I don't work any rotational strength my body wouldn't perform, or even be able to balance in some positions I ask it to while navigating through single track or a muddy cyclocross course.  Are you starting to get a better understanding of why I believe in strength training?

How has strength training helped me?  Besides the obvious of looking totally buff, I believe strength training has seriously helped me keep my injuries at a minimal and also has helped me bounce back from injury faster.  I'm going to take you back to May of 2012 the week after the 24 hour race. The Wednesday after the 24 hour race I went out on a nice lovely, recovery mountain bike ride.  Descending down "The Mullet" on Galbraith I was very quickly launched over my handlebars at a very fast pace.  I landed directly onto my left shoulder blade and had some major issues trying to lift my arm up over my head.  I was in quite a bit of pain for a couple weeks, I didn't do any weight lifting for 2-3 weeks, I didn't ride my bike for a week, I tried really hard to not move my arm, because it really hurt my shoulder!  I saw my trusted Chiropractor, a PT at the gym, and my PT friend and I knew nothing was broken or seriously injured, all I needed was time for healing!  After about 4-5 weeks I was back to normal and felt great!  I'm pretty sure that my because of my hulk like muscles, I wasn't seriously injured.  Now lets fast forward to June 27th 2013 (or the 28th or 29th, who's keeping track anyhow).  I'm racing my bike at the Lightning Creek Enduro and all of the sudden my rear brakes stop working.  I'm going fast, faster than I would like to be going, but I can't slow down and next thing I know my face is staring right at the dirt and BAM I'm on the ground.  I landed on my chest, slightly on my left side.  My first reaction was "I broke a rib" my right side hurt really bad and I couldn't breath, at that same moment I looked up and saw my left foot still attached to the bike and it was now falling on top of me, pinning me to the ground.  To top this off I heard the lovely sound of "hiiiisssssssss", you know, the sound your tire makes when it's going flat.  I was then able to catch my breath, realized I didn't break a rib, but instead knocked the wind out of myself, but there was no saving that tire from going flat.  After picking myself up off the ground I realized my left chest was in a lot of pain and my rib was somewhat protruding out of my chest.  I held back the tears and didn't continue the race. It's been 3 weeks since this happened and I'm still trying to recover, riding mountain bikes is out of the question, but I can still ride and lift some weights (being very incredibly limited).  Once again I am SO grateful for strength training, without it, I'm sure I would have quite a few broken bones!

Stay tuned for some simple at home exercises you can do to help keep you strong, lean, and healthy!

Life Recap

Dear Blog, Bloggers, Blog Readers,

I write to say how deeply sorry I am for neglecting you.  It's true I have been M.I.A. for much too long now, and all my dreams of wanting to create more with this blog when I moved it over, have been pushed aside.  I'm trying to focus, find balance, find a regular schedule, but at times I find myself lost somewhere between work, cleaning house, riding bikes, racing bikes, and just plain living.  Ten years ago I was a senior in high school scratching at the door to leave my parents house.  I had my life together, I was 18 but felt 25.  I was responsible, organized, punctual, and I had dreams.  My life was diligent, to say the least.  I went to bed at 9pm every night, I brushed my teeth at 7pm every night and wouldn't eat anything once my teeth where brushed.  I woke up every day when my Dad came in to get me up for school.  I showered, dried my hair, put my make up on, got dressed, and went after the day.  Fast forward ten years and I find my self a sloth soaking in my own sweat hardly able to find energy to get in the shower.  You know what I lost somewhere a long the way?  Balance.  I can't balance my life anymore, I no longer have that structure that I thrived off of growing up.  You know what I thrive off of now?  Being at home.  Somewhere between 18 and 28 I became anti-social (okay I'm not anti social I promise, I just love being at home), I became a home body, and I lost my balance along the way.  It's like every year I regress in age, I'm distracted and unable to focus.

What are you getting at Courtenay?

This last weekend I realized my life revolves around biking (how did I just realize this).  I arrange my work schedule so I can train, I live to train, and I work to live, but I haven't found that balance between biking and life.  What made you write about such an obscure topic you ask?  Last weekend I attended my first 3 day fitness conference/convention and I had the time of my life.  Attending the conference reminded me of my love of fitness, health, and all things human physiology related.  The conference reminded me about how amazing it feels to help people move, to help people feel functional, to help them enjoy their day to day activities.  The conference made me realize that I have neglected the profession that is so near and dear to my heart.  I think I was put on this planet to help people move, seriously, activity has ALWAYS been a part of me, has always been ingrained in who I am and somehow along the way health, fitness, and sports led me to biking and for that I am SO grateful.

Yes, I have goals on the bike, yes I want full sponsorship, yes I want to win races, yes I want to be "that" person (but who doesn't), but with every training day, with every race I enter, and every client I meet, I inspire them, and that's what drives me to train (and so I don't get dropped in the road races).  If I can get 1 more person on a bike, in the gym, going for walks, or in my classes, then I am a successful, inspirational trainer.  I live the life I live because I believe in it, not because I want to make money.  I believe to be healthy you have to move, I believe to be fit you have to challenge yourself, I believe when you challenge yourself you grow as an athlete and you learn something you never knew you could do.  I look at myself as a cyclist and I tell myself I need to get faster.  I look at my self as a fitness professional and I tell myself I need to learn more so I can better my clients and help them achieve their goals.  The challenge now becomes balance.  How do I balance my career choice/passion with my hobby?  In time I believe this question will be answered, but for now, truthfully,  I'm okay with my unbalanced life, I'm okay with not having everything in the world, I'm okay with working part time.  Will I do everything I can to be the best at my job, to help my clients, keep them coming back and seeing results?  Absolutely, but ultimately you only live once and you are given one chance to go for those dreams, and my time is now.

The Off Season

This year I'm attacking my racing from a different angle.  I'm going to take an off season, and in this off season, I'm trying not to ride my bike.  If you know me, that's an incredibly difficult task for me to accomplish, but I'm working really hard at staying off my bike and spending more time in the gym (Just what I need..right?).  So this last month I took the opportunity to try "new" things, get buff at the gym, clean my house, and teach more classes. IMG_2711

Chris was more than thrilled to hear I was taking time off my bike.  In order to take advantage of this, he took me up to Mt. Baker and we went snow shoeing!  For those of you who know me, you know, this was no small feat.  First off, I hate the Mt. Baker highway, all the twists and turns with a steep drop off, freak me out.  Secondly, I hate being cold.  Thirdly, I would rather ride my bike, I don't have to drive anywhere to do this.  So I learned a few things while snowshoeing.

  1. Snow can be fun
  2. Snow can make you work so hard you start sweating and forget about being cold.
  3. Snowshoeing up hill is very difficult.
  4. I can have fun in the snow.


I have also been spending quite some time (HAHA, not really) getting buff at Trailhead Athletics participating in their F.A.S.T. class.  Every Tuesday I have been heading over to their Sport Specific gym and have been getting my sweat on.  I know you ask "but Courtenay, aren't you a Personal Trainer"?  Yes I am, but sometimes it's nice to not think about my own workout, to have someone else build my workout for me has been so fantastic.  Usually, I find myself stuck in my rut of doing the same thing every Tuesday because it's easy and I know it.  So now, my body is challenged in different (but yet the same) ways and I find myself bulging out of my jeans, in an uncomfortable, yet awesome way (and no, my belly isn't growing, but it seems my quads are getting bigger than necessary).  I'm also finding that my shoulders and guns are more vividly defined and I feel stronger than ever.  What is a F.A.S.T. class?  Functional Agility Strength Training.  We do lots of fun full body, power, plyometric, and strength activities that challenge the entire body.  Not only do they make me lift heavy weights and throw balls above my head at a wall, but they also make me RUN (**gasp**).  I love being challenged in this aspect, because as we know, I'm a bike racer, not a runner.  So thank you Trailhead for being awesome (not a plug at all, because if I where to recommend someone to work out with, it would be me :-P).

Since the inception of my time-off-the-bike and now, I have jumped on the saddle and started some fun riding.  Training, but yet...not training all at the same time. I have decided that if I'm going to try this, I should shift my attention to the discipline I love the most.  While I will still be racing road and mountain this Spring, it'snot my focus.  I'm not going to burn all my motivation training right now, but more or less ride when I want to and when I don't want to ride, I wont.  I'm not really sure how this will leave me come road racing, but eh, we shall see!

So lets raise a glass, um, a wheel?  A water bottle?  A bike?  To my future and see what it may hold in this athletic endeavor I have set for myself.