Polar Blog Tips, tricks and information about training, fitness, activity, meals, sleep and healthy living 2018-12-14T13:07:11Z https://www.polar.com/blog/feed/atom/ WordPress https://www.polar.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/cropped-polar-symbol-640x640-32x32.png Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[Off-season training and recovery – Pro triathlete Kaisa Sali’s advice]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=9133 2018-12-13T07:40:29Z 2018-12-13T07:00:03Z Pro triathlete Kaisa Sali emphasizes the importance of taking a break from training and racing. Here is how she slowly starts off-season training after complete rest and full recovery.

The post Off-season training and recovery – Pro triathlete Kaisa Sali’s advice appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
Pro triathlete Kaisa Sali shares her insight on off-season training and recovery. 

Late autumn and early winter are off-season for many runners, cyclist, swimmers and triathletes. It’s the season of rest, recovery and new beginnings.

Off-season is important for athletes because it’s crucial to take a break from intensive training and allow yourself to rest and recover properly before the next race season.

Without a proper recovery period, your progress usually hits a wall sooner or later.

When you start training again with a fully recovered, revitalized, healthy body, you’ll get the best possible training benefit, whereas without a proper recovery period, your progress usually hits a wall sooner or later – usually sooner.

If I skip or neglect recovery during the fall, it comes back to bite me in early spring by the latest and I find myself getting injured and ill easily due to fatigue.

But after sufficient rest and recovery, it’s time to get back in the game… slowly and softly.

Off-season training program

This off-season training schedule is used by many top athletes, but it’s suitable for regular exercisers, too. Of course, if you’re not a pro athlete, you need to balance training and rest according to your work situation and family responsibilities. In any case, a complete break from sports and work is necessary for everyone.

  1. Kick off your off-season with a 2-week period of complete rest, or nearly no training at all.
  2. After the complete rest period, slowly start your off-season training: Take it easy for the next two weeks and do only half of the training you would normally do.

It’s good to do different sports in the beginning of your training season to give your body new, varied stimuli.

Every now and then you need a rest period longer than two weeks. For example, I was suffering from fatigue and a leg overuse injury last year after the IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii so I decided to take six weeks off from training. During that rest period, I only did light exercise, which for me is something entirely different from triathlon, such as downhill skiing.

Moreover, it’s good to do different sports in the beginning of your training season to give your body new, varied stimuli. For example, yoga and ball sports are a great change for endurance athletes.

Allow yourself TO TAKE a break

I know, you may be thinking: “What if I lose my fitness during the break and all my hard work will be wasted?”

What if I lose my fitness during the break and all my hard work will be wasted?

If you’re enthusiastic about sports, resting isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Many of us are afraid of losing the fitness level we achieved through hard work and I admit that many times I’ve stressed too much about losing my fitness during off-season.

Sure, after a couple of weeks of rest, training feels tougher than usual but we should keep in mind that it’s surprisingly easy to get back in shape and restore your fitness level when you’re not starting from scratch.

As a rule, you could say that the more years of training you have, the more you can afford to rest. It’s not at all uncommon that elite athletes have made their record performances after coming back from injury.

Monitor your recovery

During the past few years, I have relied a lot on my subjective feeling and my coach’s judgement when assessing my recovery status, but before I did the Orthostatic Test nearly every day to monitor my recovery.

In the coming training and race season, I’m planning to go back to using recovery data more efficiently with Polar’s new Recovery Pro. With this new feature on my Polar Vantage V I can monitor the balance between training and recovery by combining my daily recovery status (measured with the Orthostatic Test) with long-term recovery and training load. It also takes into account your subjective feeling and stress caused by other factors than training.

To avoid making the same mistakes again, I believe the Recovery Pro is going to be a key tool for me in monitoring my recovery so that I don’t go into the main race of the season with anything less than a 100% charged battery.

The post Off-season training and recovery – Pro triathlete Kaisa Sali’s advice appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
0
Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[Too psyched? Pro triathlete Tim Don talks about motivation in sports]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=8945 2018-12-14T13:07:11Z 2018-12-11T07:30:56Z Pro triathlete Tim Don knows a thing or two about motivation. Here he reveals how he uses performance metrics to limit himself and how he keeps training fresh after all these years as a pro.

The post Too psyched? Pro triathlete Tim Don talks about motivation in sports appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
We’ve all been there. Whether it’s overtraining for your first IRONMAN because you’re too excited (and a little scared), or causing an overuse injury from training to set a new PR, there’s a fine line between being too motivated and not motivated enough when it comes to triathlon.

It’s common to question whether or not you’re putting in enough work, and whether or not your training is ultimately helping you reach your performance goals.

For all sports, and especially triathlon, it can be tough to find the right training balance that allows you to show up on race day prepared and ready to perform at your best. It’s common to question whether or not you’re putting in enough work, and whether or not your training is ultimately helping you reach your performance goals.

Lately, with more and more athletes posting their workouts on social media and fitness apps, it’s all too easy to compare your competitors’ level of work to your own. While this can be a healthy source of motivation in sports, every athlete’s body responds to certain training stimuli differently. The training load that works for one athlete may be too much for another.

Tim Don, a four-time ITU World Champion, three-time Olympian and world record holder for the fastest IRONMAN ever completed, knows a thing or two about getting and staying motivated.

We caught up with Polar Athlete Tim Don who knows a thing or two about being psyched. He’s not only a four-time ITU World Champion, but he’s also a three-time Olympian and holds the world record for the fastest IRONMAN ever completed (Ironman Brazil, 7:40:23).

From how he uses performance metrics to limit himself, to how he keeps training fresh after all these years as a pro, here’s what Don had to say on the topic of motivation in sports.

Is there such a thing as being too motivated in SPORTs, PARTICULARLY IN triathlon? What problems can that cause?

“Of course there is. It’s a balance between performance goals, training and life. To be too psyched can lead to making small mistakes and being too absorbed in yourself and maybe missing the moment of your performance, you still need control in your race — especially the longer ones.”

So how do you strike a healthy balance between training and rest?

“For me, it’s all about listening to your body and knowing you can’t just train full gas. Sure, make hard sessions hard, but also make easy sessions easy — not that grey area when it’s neither easy or hard. That doesn’t help with your performance or training.”

What metrics do you use to limit yourself, then?

“I use as many metrics I can and the key is being consistent using them. Polar’s Recovery Pro is a great tool to use on all sessions, and the more you use it the better the data becomes. It leads to better training sessions and ultimately a great balance and great race performances.

I’m often too keen to jump into my next session, and sometimes halfway through I should have had an extra day off, but with the Recovery Pro metrics and data I’m getting from the Vantage V, it makes me think about maybe delaying that session by a day and listening to my body through my Polar watch.”

What are some of your key training/racing metrics while swimming, cycling and running? Do you have one you especially can’t live without?

“For swimming, I use a pace clock during pool sessions, and during open water I use distance and pace so I know how far and fast I have been swimming. For cycling I use power, heart rate, speed, average pace and a few more. For running, I use heart rate, pace, distance and speed. I am also slowly incorporating running power into my training, which I am enjoying.

I use the same metrics for racing, why do something different for racing than training, right?”

How do you stay “psyched” about training and racing? How do you keep things fresh and motivating?

“I love the process of training towards a goal, and I’m motivated by the fact that knowing what I do day in, day out, has a massive effect on my end goal.”

You’ve been in the sport a long time, how has triathlon training changed over the years? Has it become more data focused?

“I’ve used a Polar heart rate monitor since 1998, and now it’s more than a Polar heart rate monitor, it’s GPS, and as you see with the new Polar Vantage V, it’s got so many more functions.

With all the new equipment and data collection, which is very accurate, it makes the art of training and coaching a form of science. From heart rate and power, to Recovery Pro and Training Load Pro, as an athlete it’s so exciting to see the training become more specific and relevant to me, my body and my goals. It ultimately gives me better training sessions at the right time to race faster!”

At the end of the day, what is your favorite part about triathlon?

“For me, it’s the skill of putting all three together — swim, bike and run — in a race. It’s such a balancing act to get in the best shape for all three and then execute in a race. Now that is a sweet feeling!”

What drew you to the sport of triathlon in the first place?

The thrill of pushing my body and mind when I was a junior got me started. And I love all the equipment, travel and technology. It’s just a great way to make a living I am so lucky to be a professional triathlete and I never take it for granted.”

What are you “psyched” about next? Any long-term goals?  

“I’m excited to have a solid winter of training. After last winter and being in the Halo it was tough, and my racing in 2018 reflected the lack of a solid winter. I can’t wait to get back at it for a solid 2019 season!”

 

Want to know what else Tim Don has to say about motivation and reaching your goals?

Sign up for a 4-episode video series with Tim Don to learn how to set attainable goals and start working on them today.

The post Too psyched? Pro triathlete Tim Don talks about motivation in sports appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
0
Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[Stay fit when you’re on the move – The best travel workouts without equipment]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=8949 2018-12-11T10:45:47Z 2018-12-05T07:00:12Z Here's how you can get a decent workout in when you're traveling, even without weights, a lot of space or running shoes.

The post Stay fit when you’re on the move – The best travel workouts without equipment appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
Travel can put a wrench in even the most disciplined person’s workout routine, but it doesn’t have to throw your efforts totally off balance. There are many ways to workout while traveling, whether you’re taking a long road trip or staying with family for the holidays.

As you prep for your travel, keep these travel workout ideas in mind. Here’s how you can move your body, even without weights, a lot of space or running shoes.

Bodyweight Workouts

Best for: No weights

If you don’t have access to any weights or travel workout equipment, focus on bodyweight workouts and modifications that make them harder.

For example, a simple workout that covers all your major muscle groups can be as simple as doing three rounds, 12 repetitions each of the following exercises:

  • Squats
  • Push ups
  • Crunches
  • Backward lunges
  • Plank
  • Bridge

If you want to get more of a workout, however, you can keep the reps and sets the same, but step up each exercise like this:

  • Jump squats
  • 1-leg push ups
  • Star crunches
  • Jumping lunges
  • Plank jacks
  • 1-leg bridge

If you struggle to come up with exercises, use FitDeck to find new exercises that will keep your body working hard while you travel. It’s the same size as a deck of cards, so it travels well, and makes it easy to put together a travel workout quickly and easily.

Quick HIIT

Best for: No time

If your travel schedule is full, you may not have time for a run or a full bodyweight workout. That’s where HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training, comes into play. This type of workout can be quick because the intensity is so high — you should be working at 80 percent of your maximum effort — which leads to higher caloric burn before and after exercise, according to the American Council on Exercise.

To write your HIIT travel workout, keep these tips in mind:

  • Stick with simple exercises. The focus here is less on strength training and more on endurance and burning calories. There’s no need to push yourself with 1-leg push ups — you’ll burn out with regular push ups all the same.
  • Remember to set both active and rest intervals. Start your active intervals at 20 or 30 seconds, with a 1:1 ratio for your rest intervals. If you want to push yourself harder, you can rest for less time than you worked, or vice versa, resting for more time than you worked. An even 1:1 is the best way to challenge yourself if you’re new to HIIT.

Keep your workout between 4 to 15 minutes. Four minutes is the standard time for a Tabata workout, while Men’s Journal warns about overuse injuries if you go too far past the 15-minute mark.

Online Videos

Best for: No motivation

If you have no motivation, it may be time to hold yourself accountable with workout videos. When you don’t have a gym, you have to do more work to come up with your routine. With a workout video, you just do what the instructor says — not to mention, it goes by faster because you’re doing less thinking and more moving.

You can pay for online subscriptions to access workout videos, or use free resources like Fitness Blender. The latter provides access to hundreds of free workout videos, ranging in duration and covering every area of the body, with full-body workouts, cardio, HIIT and more.

Do Your Sightseeing on Foot

Best for: Busy trips

When you just can’t get a single workout in — you have no time, minimal space, etc. — focus on making your day-to-day activities more mobile.

If you’re driving a lot, find ways to explore the area on foot. Perhaps you can park the car and walk through town, rather than driving from one place to the other. If you’re in a city, walk the extra 10 blocks rather than taking the subway. If you park in a lot, park furthest from the door and race to see who can reach it first.

If you’re looking for more of a workout, explore your current location with a run. Sometimes, you learn even more about a place by trekking through in your running shoes. Bonus: your sneakers don’t take up much space, so you can enjoy a full workout without making any changes.

Stay Fit on the Go

Use these ideas to stay fit, no matter where you’re going or staying. Bring your shoes and explore on foot or take just 15 minutes to do a quick HIIT workout before enjoying your day. Traveling doesn’t have to stop you from working out — just adapt and keep your body moving.

The post Stay fit when you’re on the move – The best travel workouts without equipment appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
0
Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[A minimalist approach to goal setting for athletes – and how to achieve all your goals]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=8943 2018-12-11T10:45:39Z 2018-12-03T07:30:50Z Here are some practical tips to help you set sports goals you can actually achieve.

The post A minimalist approach to goal setting for athletes – and how to achieve all your goals appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
Goal setting for athletes can feel overwhelming, not to mention putting in the work to achieve the goals you set. To help you get started, we asked Joni JaakkolaCEO, strength coach, corporate wellness coach, motivational speaker, to spill the beans on what he’s learned about goal setting after working with the whole spectrum of sports lovers from advanced athletes to average Joes. 

Let’s start with the positive: You can achieve anything!

But – there’s always a but – you can’t do everything at the same time.

If you don’t have a dream, you may want to start with reading how you can evolve a vague idea into a dream and then into an attainable goal. Or maybe you have plenty of dreams, goals and 38 to-dos to keep you busy for a year or two but you feel overwhelmed?

If you’re struggling to get sh*t done, you may be relieved to learn that all you have to do is pick one goal and focus. Yeah, it’s that simple!

But, that doesn’t mean it’s easy – you need to be willing and able to make some hard choices.

Here are some practical tips on goal setting for athletes and more importantly, how to achieve the goals you set… and a few words of warning for copycats and obsessors.

You need a map (or an app)

First, you need to specify your destination, which means separating your dreams (vague) from your goals (attainable).

For example, your dream might be to get into marathon shape but if you leave it at that and start going for a run every now and then, I’d be surprised if you ever cross the finish line. Sure, I’ve seen it happen – but it’s unlikely.

That’s like trying to go somewhere you’ve never been before just driving around hoping you’ll eventually end up in your destination.

That’s like trying to go somewhere you’ve never been before just driving around hoping you’ll eventually end up in your destination. Or using a navigation app but without putting in the destination – you see where you are and which way you’re going… just no way to tell if it’s the right direction.

If you specify that dream and define “by when” and “how”, voilá, you have a goal you can start working towards.

If you specify that dream and define “by when” and “how”, voilá, you have a goal you can start working towards: “I will run the Boston Marathon April 15, 2019.”

Now you have a destination and ETA to put into your navigation app (which could be a running program that will guide you to your destination within set timeline).

If you don’t have an app, you’ll need to create your own map.

If you don’t have an app, you’ll need to create your own map: break your goal down into smaller pieces, specific milestones that tell you whether you’re going to the right direction or straying from the path.

During the past 9 years running my own business and talking to athletes, coaches, business leaders and average Joes trying to get into shape, I’ve found the same theme keeps popping up despite different backgrounds and baselines: The way to achieve your goals is a clear plan that you commit to.

Yeah, yeah… everyone knows you need a plan but making a plan is not the real stumbling block.

Aaand… action! – with a minimalist approach

As said, goal setting and planning are what most of us know we need to do – and the part we’re able to do. Following through with the plan is when it gets tricky, trying to juggle full-time demanding jobs, friends, family, chores, exercise… Phew, even thinking about squeezing ambitious sports goals in there may feel exhausting.

If your plan is unrealistic to begin with, it won’t magically become more doable as you go along.  

But if you’re determined to do it anyway, I’d suggest to ‘keep it real’ and start with making an actionable plan, emphasis on actionable. If your plan is unrealistic to begin with, it won’t magically become more doable as you go along.  

So, instead of trying to make a more complicated and refined plan, let alone fit more stuff in there, aim for minimalism.

1. Choose

This first step comes back to what I said in the beginning, you can’t do everything at once so you need to choose what to focus on first.

You can still do all the other stuff, too – just not all at the same time.

You can still do all the other stuff, too – just not all at the same time. To be able to choose, you’ll need to make it crystal clear for yourself what it is that you really want to achieve – and if it’s worth the effort.

Everything worth anything comes with a cost and means compromising on something else. Are you willing to make the sacrifice it takes to achieve your goal? If not, choose another goal – you need to be willing and ready to pay the price.

2. Focus

Take focus to the extreme if you need to – just as long as it’s temporary and not an obsessive way to lead your life all the time.  

Focus doesn’t mean “yeah, training for the marathon is my focus for the next two months but I also want to learn to play the piano, read 67 books and go out with my friends every weekend”.

Hard choices that aren’t necessarily fun right there and then (but they’ll put a smile on your face when you cross that finish line or stand on a podium).

What it means, again, is hard choices that aren’t necessarily fun right there and then (but they’ll put a smile on your face when you cross that finish line or stand on a podium).

For example, I know a pro athlete who is so committed to his daily training and recovery routine that she won’t even try to do more than one extra thing per day when she’s getting ready for a race. She learned to just say ‘no’. If she needs to go to the bank, she won’t schedule a lunch with a friend for that same day.

That may sound extreme but it’s her way of making sure she has done everything in her power to be ready for the race.

3. Limit

Weed out everything redundant. Keep doing it until you’re only left with the core things you need to do.

For example, with a business to run and fitness to maintain, I don’t consider cleaning the windows as something that supports my goals. So, I use a cleaning service. I’m willing to pay that price – in this case, it’s costs me actual money – to save my time and energy for things that support my core goals.

Weeding out the redundant means finding creative ways to make your everyday run more smoothly and save energy for the things that matter.

Weeding out the redundant doesn’t have to mean spending actual money (I realize it’s not always possible). It means finding creative ways to make your everyday run more smoothly and save energy for the things that matter. It also ties back to making hard choices, giving up the nice-to-dos and only keeping the must-dos.

4. Periodize

Every project needs a timeline, so if you have a big race goal ahead that requires intensive training, you should set a start and an end to that intensive period.

Periodization allows you to give your full attention and energy to the goal at hand because you know it’s temporary. That way you won’t have to worry about the other 38 to-dos on your list because you know there will come a time do all of those other things, too.

If you copycat pro athletes, do it “for better or worse”

When you start making your plan, there’s nothing wrong with benchmarking and learning from the best. The problems start if you only scrape the icing and leave the rest of the cake untouched.

If you only take the fun and exciting stuff, ignoring the boring but important stuff, the odds are you’ll get it wrong.

Not that pro athletes wolf down entire cakes, but you get the point: If you only take the fun and exciting stuff, ignoring the boring but important stuff, the odds are you’ll get it wrong.

For example, you take a pro athlete’s training routine (which is all about training hard, frequently and consistently) and follow suit – just go all-in as often as you can. But if you skip the next (and most important) step in every successful athlete’s routine –  recovery – you’re just skimming the surface.

You may even be able to maintain that routine for a while, thinking you’re doing great because you train a lot. But if that routine leads to you being sick or injured three months in a year, you’re doing something wrong. And it won’t get better by doing more of the wrong things.

Focusing is not the same as obsessing

Working on an ambitious sports goal can easily get so pervasive that you forget (or just neglect) balance.

Before you get into an obsessive cycle where you only see your one goal and go at it full speed, set a few simple but objective indicators that tell you if you’re overdoing it:

  • If it’s been two months since you last saw your spouse awake
  • If you haven’t seen your friends in six months or if you’ve lost touch with friends outside your sports circle
  • If you keep running late for meetings or repeatedly miss important deadlines 
  • If your resting heart rate is higher than usual first thing in the morning, you haven’t recovered during the night

These are important signals to take note of, especially if your behavior is affecting others negatively or making you more stressed.

We all have a breaking point so spotting those early warning signs is key. When your balance starts to waver, you can still make changes and choose what to focus on and what to give up.

If you let obsession take over and end up in burnout, you don’t have the luxury of choosing anything anymore – you will just stop.

For more tips on goal setting for athletes, sign up for a 4-episode video series with pro triathlete Tim Don who talks you through the process from dreaming all the way to reaching your goal.

The post A minimalist approach to goal setting for athletes – and how to achieve all your goals appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
0
Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[A 15-minute post-race recovery routine for runners]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=8928 2018-12-05T09:38:05Z 2018-11-30T05:21:36Z Set yourself up for success in future training and races with this simple post-race recovery routine the day after your race. The Run Experience advises us how to get the blood flowing and reintroduce motion in the joints!

The post A 15-minute post-race recovery routine for runners appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
There’s no better feeling than the end of a race. Runners of all distances tend to ride that finish-line high as long as they can. But eventually, there comes the time to get back to training. It’s never easy, but it’s the only way to get back to the finish line and get a taste of that high again.

Having said that, it’s much harder to get back into training if you did nothing to recover the day after your race.

Set yourself up for success in future training and races by performing this simple post-race recovery routine the day after your race. This will get the blood flowing and reintroduce motion in your joints.

Take a walk

Start simply. Just take a 20-30-minute walk to get the blood flowing and remind your joints what a little bit of impact feels like.

Once you’ve done that, move into the routine: Move through each of the next four exercises in a cycle, repeating the entire recovery routine for about 15 minutes.

Mountain climber stretch

The first of the four movements is going to be a mountain climber stretch. To start, find a plank position on your hands.

From there, take one foot and step it up outside your hands. Then make small, easy circles with your front knee. The position puts your hip in extreme flexion, and the circles break down lactic acid build-ups and bring back your muscles’ elasticity.

After a couple of circles with one leg, bring that leg back to your plank, and repeat with the other leg. Go through this movement 10 times total, five times on each side.

Photo credit: The Run Experience

Push-up

While a push-up is normally an exercise we’d find in a strength workout, it’s actually a great recovery tool as well. Push-ups restore a great amount of mobility in our shoulders and thoracic spine.

Form is crucial to make sure you’re getting the most out of a push-up. Start in a plank position, pushing away from the ground as much as possible. Be sure your lower back is not arched at all.

From there, pull your chest and hips down to the ground together. As you push yourself back up to the starting position, try to maintain that straight-body position you started with the entire time. Letting your back arch and/or your shoulders pinch at any point on the way up will strain the exact areas we are trying to restore with this exercise.

To modify, simply drop to your knees. Your form stays exactly the same in this modification!

After 10 repetitions, move on to the next exercise.

Photo credit: The Run Experience

 

Air squat

Next up is a simple air squat that helps you restore the range of motion in your hips, knees, ankles, and lower back.

To start, place your feet right outside of your hips, with your toes pointed forward. From there, start to pull your hips backwards. This initiates the squat.

Next, think about pulling your hips in between your heels as you lower down into your squat. Press your knees outward and keep your chest up as you lower down. Avoid rounding your back in this movement, and make sure your knees are not falling inward.

To modify this, find something to sit on at the bottom of your squat. Just like with the push-up modification, all form stays the same in this version.

Repeat this for 10 reps, and then move on in your cycle.

Photo credit: The Run Experience

Cobra and downward dog

Finally, you can finish out the routine (which you’re moving through for 15 minutes) with a cobra and a downward dog. Cobra is going to work open your lower back and improve spinal extension.

To begin, lay down on your stomach with your hands on the ground near your shoulders, as if you’re at the bottom of a push-up.

Next, squeeze your glutes and push your hands into the ground, lifting your chest up off the ground.

Never stop squeezing your glutes in the cobra movement. Try to keep your shoulders down away from your ears, only going up as far as your shoulders can stay down.

Next, tuck your toes under and press into a downward dog position, with your hips pressed up towards the sky. Once in that downward dog shape, press down through your hands to press your body away from the ground.

From there, move back into a plank and lower down to start your next rep, beginning with cobra. Complete 10 reps before starting this routine over.

Photo credit: The Run Experience

 

Do each of these exercises 10 times before moving onto the next one, moving through the entire routine for 15 minutes.

Remember – this is a recovery routine! There is no time pressure. Take all of these movements slowly, and be sure you are getting the most out of them. Focusing on proper form and range of motion will have a big impact on your body’s recovery.

The post A 15-minute post-race recovery routine for runners appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
0
Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[Why you need to do more than strength training]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=8940 2018-12-05T07:38:21Z 2018-11-28T10:13:54Z Strength training is key in maintaining a healthy, functional body, but not enough on its own. Here's why you should balance strength with space in the body.

The post Why you need to do more than strength training appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
Don’t get us wrong — strength training is an important part of any fitness routine. Besides the obvious benefits like getting stronger and fitter, strength training also protects muscle and bone mass and is a proven way to lose weight.

With all the positives associated with strength training, why then are we suggesting you should incorporate something other than lifting weights or resistance training into your weekly routine?

We caught up with Fatima Witick, a fitness instructor and dance teacher from Helsinki, Finland, with over 34 years of experience in the fitness industry. She has taught classical ballet, yoga, Pilates and other workout classes and has helped thousands of students throughout her career.

A FUNCTIONAL BODY NEEDS STRENGTH AND SPACE

Long story short, she argues for a well-rounded approach to strength and power, supplemented by space in the body (aka flexibility) to counter the negative effects of today’s more sedentary lifestyle.

Without functional muscles the body will not move in an optimal way.

“In its simplest form, strength and power is vital for a functional body because muscles move the bones and joints, so without functional muscles the body will not move in an optimal way,” says Witick.

“Weak muscles will cause the body to rapidly deteriorate, and it will function badly. A non-functional body causes pain — you need power to maintain a healthy body.”

Strength and power can be fostered through a variety of outlets, including at-home bodyweight workouts, sets at the gym, machine-based workouts, free weight exercises, workout classes, etc.

Variation is key when it comes to strength workouts to prevent stagnation and overuse injuries.

Variation is key when it comes to strength workouts to prevent stagnation and overuse injuries. The right balance of strength workouts (strength, maximum power, speed, etc.) creates a well-rounded strength routine.

MUSCLES THAT LOOK GOOD OR STRENGTH YOU CAN USE?

As with most things in life, too much of a good thing can be bad — especially if you’re using strength exercises for the wrong reasons.

“In my opinion, it’s unhealthy if you focus too much of size and looks of muscles, instead of the function of muscles. Many men train at the gym but train just a few muscle groups, and they get shoulder injuries and lower back pain, also knee problems,” says Witick.

“Women tend to only look at what their muscles look like, not if they function. So it is the same as for men, you get shoulder, back and knee pain.”

Witick describes a healthy body as one with correct posture and symmetry, where the left and the right sides of the body are equal.

This is where space and flexibility enter the picture. Witick describes a healthy body as one with correct posture and symmetry, where the left and the right sides of the body are equal. As mentioned, too much strength and power training can throw this equilibrium off.

To compound the issue, today’s deskbound culture is another big cause of imbalances of the body.

“Why are people today so unfit?” asks Witick. “Too much sitting, too much time hunched over laptops and smartphones, too little movement during the day. Kids don’t play enough and adults sit too much with bad posture. Life has become too easy — we don’t need to get up as often as 10 or 20 years ago.”

TECHNIQUE IS KEY IN ALL EXERCISES

So how can someone who is tied to a desk all day or has created muscular imbalances from strength training create a healthier fitness profile?

You need to focus on posture, symmetry and range of motion in all types of training.

According to Witick, you always need to focus on posture, symmetry and range of motion in all types of training, no matter if you’re practicing yoga or trail running.

“All kinds of exercises are healthy and functional when you are using good technique,” Witick says. “Also you need power into all body parts — from toes, all the way up. All movements need to be balanced by countermovement to create balance.”

“And then you need rest. Make a habit of a good night’s sleep every day and allow rest days from the training itself. And of course, proper nutrition and hydration,” Witick says.

At the end of the day, Witick argues it’s still healthier to be strong and stiff than to be weak and too loose in the joints.

Is it better to be strong or flexible?

At the end of the day, Witick argues it’s still healthier to be strong and stiff than to be weak and too loose in the joints. But naturally, the right balance between strength and space in the body is optimal for longevity.

Everyone is different — finding the right workout regimen for you through expert coaching can promote this.

“The healthiest people are those who have strength with space in the body, so you are flexible and you have the power to use that flexibility, and you have a large range of motion, posture and symmetry,” says Witick.

To learn more about how to get more functional strength and space into your body, follow Fatima on Instagram where she posts new movements daily. 

The post Why you need to do more than strength training appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
0
Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[The Fittest Woman On Earth Annie Thorisdottir: Dream big, do more!]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=8936 2018-11-28T12:40:16Z 2018-11-22T07:00:20Z Here's how Annie Thorisdottir turned her dreams into reality with planning, goal setting and, of course, by taking action. Now she encourages all athletes to evolve their dreams.

The post The Fittest Woman On Earth Annie Thorisdottir: Dream big, do more! appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
Polar Athlete Annie Thorisdottir, the ‘Fittest Woman on Earth’, reminds us that even though dreaming is important, it’s not enough. To turn your dreams into reality, you need to plan, set goals and, of course, take action.

Dreaming is important, but not enough.

Here’s how Thorisdottir did it (and is still doing it) and encourages all athletes not to give up on their dreams. 

Evolve your dreams

Annie Thorisdottir had (and still has) more than one dream.

“I’ve always had and will continue to have several dreams because they push me forward,” Thorisdottir says. “My dreams also evolve and change over time. Once I achieve one dream, I develop it further and think where I can go next or what I can do more. Or I set out to pursue another dream.”

Initially, her dream was kind of vague: To be the best at something.

Initially, her dream was kind of vague: To be the best at something. Then that vague idea gradually evolved into something that may sound a little over the top or even surreal.

“I wanted to be the best at CrossFit and win the title of the ‘Fittest Woman on Earth’.”

I wanted to be the best version of me that I could possibly be.

After she won the title, she wanted to do it again. After she had won the title twice, she felt like she still had room for improvement in CrossFit and her dream evolved again: “I wanted to be the best version of me that I could possibly be.”

Now, her dream is to reach and inspire as many people as possible to change their lives, enjoy exercising and become healthier.

“It’s my dream to be a good role model for younger people, encourage them to believe in themselves and to not be afraid to follow their dreams. After all, my (initially vague) dream got me where I am today,” Thorisdottir says.

Dreaming is not enough

“There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, just as long as you understand you need to put in hard work to make things happen. Also, it’s key to have the right people around you to help and support you,” Thorisdottir explains.

My roadmap included mini dreams and goals that lead up to my ultimate goal.

“My roadmap included mini dreams and goals that lead up to my ultimate goal. The milestones along the way were, for example, weight lifting competitions or just to snatch 85 or 90 kilos and to run a mile in a certain pace,” Thorisdottir says.

“CrossFit is such a versatile and goal-oriented sport that it’s easy to find and set new goals and define indicators to see progress.”

Passion is the fuel for dreams

What helped Annie Thorisdottir to achieve her dream was passion.

I’ve always enjoyed challenges so one of the best ways to get me going is to say I can’t do something.

“I’ve always been passionate about training and eager to test my limits. I’ve always enjoyed challenges so one of the best ways to get me going is to say I can’t do something. That’s a sure way to get me to put all my effort into that challenge, just to prove that I can.”

People did doubt her in the beginning of her CrossFit career and many thought she made the wrong decision giving up her plan to apply to med school to train for the Olympics instead. But she was determined to prove them wrong.

“I don’t go into anything with half asset, I give it my all,” Annie says.

Even before CrossFit, she would sign up for crazy challenges, like a 55K ultra marathon and a mountain run.

“I was training with runners who said I couldn’t do it because running wasn’t my main discipline – so I went ahead and did it!”

the best is yet to come  

She’s determined, she’s fierce, but for a reason – it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows with a path of rose petals leading up to her dream.  

She’s had to face some tough obstacles, like all of us.

“My first event in 2011 was difficult because I was terrified of mass starts. I overcame that challenge mentally with the help of the amazing group of people around me: my coach Frederik Aegidius and my parents have supported me from the very beginning,” Annie says.

“My biggest obstacle was back injury, a bulged out disc and bad nerve damage, in 2013. It took me like a year before I was able to compete again and the doctor said I would never recover 100%. I didn’t realize how important CrossFit, training and competing was to me until that happened.”

In a way, getting injured was a blessing for Annie.

In a way, getting injured was a blessing for Annie because it made her realize how much she loved CrossFit and that she just had to make it back, no matter what.

What kept me going was that I wanted to show people with similar struggles that it’s possible.

“What kept me going was that I wanted to show people with similar struggles that it’s possible. I wanted to be a role model and show them you can achieve your goal and get through hardships.

I have more in me and I know I can get stronger and run faster.

And she made it back to show herself and everyone else that she still has ambition and more to give.

“I feel like I still haven’t peaked. I have more in me and I know I can get stronger and run faster. I have small gaps in my training that leave room for improvement. I’m not yet the best version of myself – but I will be!”

Hold on to your dream

We all face adversities and experience setbacks on our way to success but the key to work through them is to find what drives and motivates you and keep on developing and strengthening that.

“I’m motivated by challenges and driven by the need to grow. I believe that I can continue to get better and I have so many things I can continue to work on,” Thorisdottir says.

Bottom line: find your ‘why’ and cherish it, nurture it, feed it and you can achieve anything.

Bottom line: find your ‘why’ and cherish it, nurture it, feed it and you can achieve anything. Just make sure your motivation comes from within you and is based on your values: internal motivation is always stronger than external.

“People often ask me for how long I’m going to keep doing CrossFit and I like to say: As long as it takes,” Thorisdottir says. “I take it one year at a time and as long as I do what I love and feel passionate about, and I have more to give, I’m going to keep at it.”

But she knows it’s not forever, like nothing is. Right now she’s an athlete, but that’s not all she is, or ever will be. That’s why her dream of becoming a doctor someday is not buried either – it’s just on hold for now.

Who knows what the future holds, but one thing’s for sure – we should keep dreaming!

If you have a dream, see how to turn it into reality: Sign up for a 4-episode video series with pro triathlete Tim Don who talks you through the process of goal setting from dreaming all the way to reaching your goal. If you don’t know who Tim Don is, it’ll be worth your while to find out and get inspired (even if you’re not a triathlete)! 

The post The Fittest Woman On Earth Annie Thorisdottir: Dream big, do more! appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
0
Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[Should you be tracking your sleep?]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=8957 2018-12-05T09:30:52Z 2018-11-20T06:51:41Z Here’s what athletes need to understand about the importance of tracking sleep, according to Michael Breus, “The Sleep Doctor”.

The post Should you be tracking your sleep? appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
Studies and experts alike say we should all be snoozing for seven hours a night (and pro athletes sleep even more).

Sleep is sleep, right? So why do you need to track it?

But for many of us, even the minimum of seven hours is as unachievable as shaving two hours off your marathon time. In other words, it may be doable, but it’ll take serious sacrifice, major lifestyle changes, and possibly some live-in help.

But sleep is sleep, right? So why do you need to track it?

Here’s what Michael Breus, PhD, DABSM, the clinical psychologist best known as “The Sleep Doctor,” says athletes in particular need to understand about the importance of tracking sleep.

Sleep can seriously help  or majorly hinder  your athletic performance

You may think, “sleep is sleep,” and that if you’re snoozing, it’s quality shut-eye. “But that’s not the case,” Breus says, “both quality and quantity of sleep can affect your performance.”

The good news is that there are several quantifiable aspects that you can monitor:

Reduced energy

“Lack of deep sleep decreases glycogen storage,” Breus explains. “Without fuel in the tank, athletes run on reserves, and sleep deprivation can cause many negative effects, including testosterone reduction, human growth hormone reduction, increased energy expenditure, reduction in muscle memory, and increased inflammation.”

Reaction time

“Hundreds of studies show that decreased quality and quantity of sleep cause an increase in reaction time,” Breus says. Not what you want when you’re out on a training ride and a squirrel – or a car  darts out in front of you.

Accuracy

“Hand/eye coordination has been directly linked to sleep deprivation,” Breus says.

Decision making

“Studies show that sleep deprived individuals will know the risks of their decisions, but will not care what those risks are, and may take risks unnecessarily,” Breus says.

Memory

“During all stages of sleep, the mind and brain are working to process new memories, consolidating them into long-term storage and integrating recently acquired information with past experience,” Breus says. In other words, you need sleep in order to boost your brain activity.

Recovery

“Sleep deprivation, sleep disturbance, and circadian rhythm disturbance all affect the overall restorative aspects of sleep, and can lead to an increase in your perception of pain.”

So while getting seven hours a night may be the goal, making sure you’re getting at least a few good hours is perhaps equally important. And the only way to know whether you’re getting solid sleep is to track it.

Athletes are generally better sleepers than their inactive counterparts

Sure, we’ve all been tempted by the snooze button. But for the most part, Breus says, athletes sleep better than others. “They may not get more sleep, but they report better quality sleep,” he says.

“In addition, they tend to also have a more regular schedule, which can be helpful.” The night before a race, though, athletes tend to fess up to poor sleep on account of pre-performance jitters. (Raise your hand if you can personally vouch for this statistic.)

The snooze button is your enemy.

As for that snooze button: resist!

“The snooze button is your enemy,” Breus says. “The average snooze is 7–9 minutes long, and that’s not enough time to get back into a good stage of sleep. So by hitting snooze, all you’re doing is giving yourself light, crappy sleep.”

A bad night’s sleep can be the ultimate game-changer

How game-changing?

“It can be the difference between gold and not being on the podium,” Breus says.

So, if you want to improve your performance, make sure you sleep better and recover properly. You can measure both sleep and recovery with the new Polar Vantage V premium multisport watch.

The post Should you be tracking your sleep? appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
0
Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[Get to know professional triathlete Tim Don]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=8911 2018-11-20T07:01:01Z 2018-11-15T07:38:57Z Despite facing one of the most horrific accidents in triathlon history, professional triathlete Tim Don, 40, has returned in stride and has no plans of stopping anytime soon.

The post Get to know professional triathlete Tim Don appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
There are few people in the sport of triathlon who carry the clout and respect Tim Don holds within the community and amongst his peers. It’s for good reason too – his contagious, emotion-filled style of racing and training oozes competitiveness and giving it 100 percent. Despite facing one of the most horrific accidents in triathlon history, this 40-year-old professional triathlete has returned in stride and has no plans of stopping anytime soon.

“Consistency, communication and performance”

Throughout his career, Don’s motto of “consistency, communication and performance” and tireless work ethic has led him to the top ranks of the sport. His career unofficially began in London when he was 15 years old, when a local triathlon club invited him to race. Fast forward five years and Don found himself standing on the top step of the junior’s podium at the 1998 Lausanne ITU Triathlon World Championship.

No surprise, he didn’t stop there.

His consistent finishes pushed him to the top ranks of the world rankings list.

He continued on to represent Great Britain in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games (the first time triathlon was offered), and his consistent finishes pushed him to the top ranks of the world rankings list. Don finished his ITU career with world champion titles in duathlon (2002), aquathon (2005) and triathlon (2006), and he also competed in the Olympic Games in 2004 and 2008.

Unsurprisingly, Don progressed to the Ironman circuit, where his efficient running form and natural ability made him an instant success.

Unsurprisingly, Don progressed to the Ironman circuit, where his efficient running form and natural ability made him an instant success. He placed first in his Ironman debut at Ironman Mallorca (a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run), and has won several other 70.3 and 140.6 races to date. He notably finished on the podium at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2014 and 2017.

In 2017, Don set a new Ironman world record by posting a blistering fast 7:40:23 at Ironman Brazil. This wasn’t just a narrow margin of victory – he broke the record by four minutes.

The race of his life became a race for his life

Primed and ready for what would have likely been the race of his life at the 2017 Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, Don was hit by a car on the iconic Queen K highway and found himself in the ER with a broken neck.

What many figured would be the end of his career, Don underwent a painful (and highly public) recovery process.

What many figured would be the end of his career, Don underwent a painful (and highly public) recovery process when he opted for a halo – a device that immobilized his neck by screwing directly into his skull. After three months in the brace, Don set his sights on a new goal: the Boston Marathon.

With only eight weeks of training (and just six months after his crash), Don crossed the finish line in 2:49:42. Ever since then, he’s been back to basics, realigning his passions for the sport with goals he has yet to achieve.

Most notably, getting back to Kona.

After an impressive win at Ironman 70.3 Costa Rica and a top-10 finish at Ironman Hamburg, a DNF (did not finish) at Ironman Copenhagen left Don short on points needed to qualify for the 2018 Ironman World Championship. But when Jonathan Shearon turned down his slot, Don was next man up.

The rest is history – just a year after his near-fatal crash on the Big Island, Tim Don returned to the 2018 Ironman World Championship and clocked an inspiring 08:45:17, enough for 49th in the men’s race and 53rd overall.

Don has already begun planning for his next triathlon season, which will undoubtedly include the 2019 Ironman World Championship.

To learn more about how Tim Don has pushed through adversities and turned his dreams into reality, subscribe to this exclusive 4-part video series that talks you through the process of goal-setting from dreaming all the way to reaching your goal. 

The post Get to know professional triathlete Tim Don appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
0
Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[Running tips for beginners – 7 FAQs answered by a running coach]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=8672 2018-11-20T07:05:22Z 2018-11-13T07:30:17Z Running coach John Honerkamp sheds light on how to get started with running and which mistakes do you absolutely need to avoid?

The post Running tips for beginners – 7 FAQs answered by a running coach appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
In theory, running is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other at a pace that’s slightly faster than walking and that will get your heart rate up a little – or a lot.

But in reality, becoming a runner feels a lot more complicated, and a lot sweatier. So if you’re a beginner runner, how can you get started, what do you need to know, and what mistakes do you absolutely need to avoid? Heed this advice from running coach John Honerkamp.

What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to new runners?

Don’t do too much too soon. If your New Year’s Resolution is to train for a 5K, that’s great! But don’t feel like you have to go out and start running every single day now. You don’t have to, nor should you.

There’s so much exciting running gear out there. But what’s the number one thing beginner runners need on Day 1?

Good running shoes. And you might need to try a bunch of different ones before you find your perfect fit.

How often should beginners run?

No more than three times a week. I recommend starting out running every other day or every third day. And make sure you cross train and do other things you love doing. Don’t let everything you’ve been enjoying fall by the wayside just because you want to start running. You can do both! It’s good to be well balanced.

And how long should these runs be?

I typically measure those runs in minutes, not miles. So go out and see if you can run for 20 minutes, and work your way up to 30 minutes over the first few weeks. You can use a walk-run method, like running for 90 seconds and walking for 90 seconds, or just go out at an easy, conversational pace and see how it feels.

But don’t worry about how many miles you’re doing right away. Increasing by minutes is easier and safer than increasing by miles at a time.

How can beginner runners learn to pace themselves?

This is a great question because it’s something that’s so common. People run a block and say running is too hard, or they’re totally gassed, but that’s because they’re usually sprinting!

People love to work out really hard and will say things like “no pain, no gain,” but most running should be easy running. Eventually, you can structure your runs, so maybe one run is your longer run, one is a short, easy run, and a third run is a workout, like hills or intervals.

But if you’re a new runner, at first, nothing should be fast. You should be able to hold a conversation with someone the entire time. If you can’t, slow down. There’s nothing wrong with slowing down.

Any running form tips for beginners?

Don’t overthink it. There are ways you can tweak your form to be a more efficient runner, but ultimately you just want to keep your elbows back and your posture tall. You should feel relaxed. And the thinking that heel striking is bad is outdated. New runners should try to run carefree and relaxed and not worry too much about their form as long as they feel comfortable.

So running should always feel comfortable?

No! You’ll have good days and bad days. At first, there might be many more bad days. Running doesn’t always feel good but it can. Be patient and enjoy!

The post Running tips for beginners – 7 FAQs answered by a running coach appeared first on Polar Blog.

]]>
0