I am technology nerd. I read technology blogs, hang on the words of Silicon Valley and MIT thinkers, and look forward to seeing the latest wares each year at CES, the Consumer Electronics Show. My fascination with technology isn’t new. When I was 14, I owned a beeper, at 16, I bought Nokia’s first digital GSM phone, and would regularly read 2600 Magazine – an early zine for the hacking community.
The current trend in technology (beyond autonomous vehicles) is wearable devices. The Apple Watch will soon be in its third iteration, Fitbits are ubiquitous, and traditional Swiss watchmakers, like Tag Hauer, are teaming up with technology companies to provide a classic look while incorporating all the modern advances of technology. Runners have been some of the earliest adapters of this technology.
Last year, after much humming and hawing, I made the jump and bought a running watch. I initially tried using my phone, but it became a data killer and the data didn’t prove to be particularly reliable. Deciding on a watch was difficult, but I had very specific list of features that I was looking for:
GPS – Being able to step out and start running without pre-planning my route or going back and retracing my steps was something that I had gotten from my friend Mathew. We would run together and he would later send me a Strava screenshot of the route we had taken. When I would run alone, I would miss having this record to look back to.
Programmable – Being able to program specific workouts was important because I didn’t have an easily accessible track near my house. Being able to program various times and distances allowed me to do interval workouts without the need for a track.
Heart rate monitor – This was future proofing. I had been using a heart rate monitor in the gym to understand how I could control pacing and intensity and new that I would eventually would apply the same approach to running.
Nothing ugly – Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but a lot of running watches should only be worn during workouts!
I settled on the Garmin Forerunner 230 because it checked all the boxes (we can debate the aesthetic merits later). Despite the initial upfront cost, I have found the feedback loop that it creates to be incredibly valuable.
Total km’s, splits and records –Like many people who spend a fair amount of time in the gym, I keep track of lifts, loads and sets, but never did the equivalent for running. Now, the watch has automated this process. I am able to keep track of total kilometres I’ve done in a week, month, year, etc. I am also able to see at a glance my average and fastest split times. What’s really nice is the unexpected personal records, like when I have run my fastest kilometre or 400 metres.
Aligning Intensity with How I’m Feeling – We all have good and bad training days. Having a record of my recent running history, I have a better sense about what intensity I should be running at on any given day. If I’m feeling fresh after a couple of days off from training, I may go out harder. The data allows me to set targets to align with my desired intensity level.
Making On-The-Go Adjustments – With the help of the heart rate monitor, I am better able to make changes to my pacing on-the-go and ensure that I meet my distance targets at a consistent intensity. The real advantage is to ensure my pace is under my control and being able to adjust, up or down, as needed.
Social Feedback – I have since synced my running watch to the social networking app, Strava. It has allowed me to share my workouts with my friends and to see how they’re doing. It’s a great way to celebrate each other’s efforts.
While my initial curiosity was motivated by my interest in technology, the benefits have extended well beyond my nerd-like tendencies. I’m happy to say that the data provided by my running watch has reinforced the long-standing training principle that workouts should be recorded to ensure that the training is having its desired effect. For me, I want to ensure that I get the benefit of running without the risk of injury or junk miles.
Definition: A body weight multi-joint pulling exercise that tests your ability to pull your own weight in a vertical line with pronated grip (palms are facing away).
Why is this movement thought to be so “unattainable” to many women? In my opinion there are 3 main factors
1)Society holds a very low standard of strength for women. In the USA, the Presidential Physical Fitness Council Challenge asks 17 year-old-boys to complete 13 pull-ups, whereas girls needed to do only 2 pull-ups(1). Marines Corps put standard of at least three pull-ups for males whereas only flexed arm hang minimum 15 seconds for females (2).
2)Biological Factors – Women have less testosterone than men, which limit is their ability to build muscle mass. Women also have higher body fat percentages, especially around the hips and thighs compared to men, with up to 40% less upper body muscle mass (3)
3)Training – You’re probably not training the movement enough, or training the movement properly with complete dedication.
It’s time to move past all of the white noise, and focus. The above factors should act as motivation, and not deter you from reaching this goal. Training smart, becoming educated about your current abilities and limitations, and shifting to a positive attitude toward your strength potential will create a foundation for your first pull-up.
During my workshop, we will dive into individual restrictions from a mobility, stability and strength aspect to help determine your training needs. As a take away, every attendee at my workshop will be given a 4 week program, based on ability, and will be invited to a private Facebook Group to share success stories, ask training questions, and support each other in our pull-up journey.
If you haven’t registered for the workshop yet. Do it today!!
For more details about the workshop, click through Ladies Only Pull-up Workshop
(3)Janssen, Ian, Steven Heymsfield, ZiMian Wang, and Robert Ross. “Skeletal muscle mass and distribution in 468 men and women aged 18–88 yr .” Journal of Applied Physiology 89.1 (2000): 81-88. Web.
Test Your Baseline
Before we know where we are going, we have to know where we are starting.
In Grit, we begin with two simple tests: A personal best effort in the 400-metre and the 1-mile. These tests provide valuable data points that will help participants get the most out of their training and work towards personal goals. The 400-metre race is a perfect short distance that is just long enough to test your ability grind out a max effort push. The 1-miler will require a little more stamina to push through with a bit more strategy involved. Together, these two data points provide us with a starting point to plan ahead with valuable information, including:
- Predictive Race Times: Your best effort in nearly any race distance can provide an approximate finish time for other races. In Grit, we are using two data points to improve the accuracy of the prediction. For example, if one runs 400 m in 1:20 minutes and a 1 mile in 6:30 minutes, they can expect to run 5km in about 23:30 minutes. Having this data in the back pocket helps to align goal setting and training.
- Personalized Pacing and Distances: It’s easy to say, “go do some 200 m repeats”. (Yes, we should all probably do some 200 m repeats to improve our fitness). But, how fast should they be? How much rest should they include? It depends on one question: What’s the goal for the workout? Once the goal is known, the prescription can be applied to each participant to ensure everyone gets the most benefit out of the workout using the baseline testing as a jump-off platform.
- Find Balance: For the general fitness enthusiast who wants speed and power coupled with the stamina to go for longer distances, the tests help identify what is currently in one’s wheelhouse and what needs addressing. The Grit program will expose you to protocols that target each of these.
The 400 metre and 1-mile tests are low-tech ways to gather relevant information to support your training and help move beyond randomly applied protocols. Seeing improvement means measuring your progress.
We look forward to testing on Monday, Aprill 24 in our first session! If you’re planning on doing the full 8-week session or drop-ins, come by and test your baseline to get the most out of the following sessions.
Interested in trying GRIT? Come out for our FREE session on Saturday, April 22nd at 12pm.
Check out the program page for more info.
Grit Training aims to help you to tackle your training effectively by developing your physical and mental fortitude. Our goal is for you to get the most out of your training by offering creative strategies to ensure that your pacing, muscle recruitment, and energy systems are working at an improved capacity. Through our understanding of best practices, we aim to provide a balanced approach that enhances your strength and conditioning routine with programming that supports your training and lifestyle without overtraining you.
Aerobic training provides the foundation to go the distance. These workouts are performed at a moderate intensity and help to develop musculoskeletal recruitment and base line efficiency.
Anaerobic training will help you sustain your stamina. These are higher volume workouts performed at near max effort intervals with limited rest.
VO2 Max workouts will have you breathing heavy. Workouts will typically feature short-intervals with minimal rest.
Speed training in Grit will break away from the pure speed training done in track and field or for the sports field. Our approach will combine some full max short distance running with your other elements to ensure that you are practicing your max velocity.
Power workouts encourage the recruitment of your fast twitch muscle fibers through explosive and simple movements.
Read more about GRIT on the program page
Among regular gym goers, it’s not uncommon to hear “I need to do some cardio,” or “I know I should do some strength work, but I just like spinning”. Either way, we are guilty of avoiding the things we don’t want to do. For many of us, running is top of the list.
It’s understandable why. For many people, running means long, slow and tedious slogs through the city, or perhaps some sprints tacked on to the end of workout, or maybe we feel we do enough running mixed into our met-cons. However you feel, we generally agree that we can benefit from incorporating running into fitness routines. There’s two approaches to take when you decide to incorporate running into your fitness program: Random (most common) or planned (rare). Random is where most people start, and it may be the best place to start. You simply put on a pair or shoes and start running. For many people, it’s the beginning of taking on races. But, what if want to use running to support our overall fitness? That requires some planning.
The Grit Training program primarily uses running to support overall fitness goals by targeting each of your energy systems (alactic, anaerobic and aerobic). Fitness, or rather being fit, is defined in a number of ways. One classic definition coined by the inventors of the Dynamax medicine balls (and adopted by CrossFit) uses the following ten components.
- Cardiovascular / respiratory endurance– The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.
- Stamina– The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize
- Strength– The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.
- Flexibility– The ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.
- Power– The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
- Speed– The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.
- Coordination– The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
- Agility– The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.
- Balance– The ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its support base.
- Accuracy– The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.
Other definitions of fitness include body composition or reaction time, but it’s easily argued that those are a consequence of achieving the above components. (Also, body composition isn’t necessarily an indication of being fit or healthy).
The trick to any training regime is to do the things that support your goal. In running, if you want to qualify for Boston, your training will include long distances and faster interval training. If you want to run a fast 100 metres, then it’s unlikely that a 5km run will fit into your training plan. But, if you want to use running to be fit, then you can benefit from shorter sprints (alactic), middle distances (generally anaerobic) and long distance efforts (aerobic).
The focus of Grit workouts is to build your cardiovascular endurance, stamina, power, and speed by utilizing various “tools” such as time domains and distances, plyometrics and challenges such as hills, stairs, sleds, balls, sandbags, etc. This training, particularly the timed and prescribed intervals, is based on your current ability and not randomly applied.
Each of these tools is utilized to target your various energy systems and to help your general muscle recruitment and power output to achieve higher velocity and improve capacity sustain higher output for longer periods.
Interested in trying GRIT? Sign-up for our FREE session on Saturday, April 22nd.
Read more about GRIT on our program page.
Here are five reasons you should try the Grit program.
1) You already love running but want to improve: Many people enjoy running recreationally, but if you haven’t trained for a marathon or tried to qualify for Boston, you may not have followed a training plan that exposes you to a variety of types of workouts. Grit provides a variety of workouts that challenge you beyond going for longer distances. Some of these will be familiar to serious runners, but there will be some new stuff that will tap into your abilities and challenge you.
2) You hate running but see the benefits: Nike once made one of my favourite t-shirts – it read “Running Sucks”; simple and succinct, and for too many people, completely true. The grit training regimes are designed to give you benefits of running and to improve your ability without ‘pounding’ you into you the ground. The workouts will remain challenging, and accessible. You’ll quickly add up the kilometres without realizing it.
3) You find yourself exhausted at the end of your HIIT or CrossFit WODs: If you find yourself struggling to finish high-intensity training, then grit is definitely for you. Working out at high-intensity requires people to think on their feet and know their individual ability. Grit workouts will not only improve your stamina but give you the mental focus to plan workouts better.
4) You’ll get to play with toys: in order to help develop explosive movements, strength endurance, and overall conditioning, you’ll be exposed to sandbags, sleds, and other tools that will benefit your conditioning and help improve your movement too, to make you a more efficient and stronger athlete.
5) You’ll develop your mental toughness: through both learning to push yourself harder and further, as well as using mental strategies to guide yourself through workouts in order to achieve the required stimulus.
Regardless of your motivation, Grit is designed to help you improve, both physically and mentally, as an athlete and human being. Sign up for the free trial class on April 22 at 10:00 AM.