“Sobrecarga”. Overload. Overtrain.
That is a word I have heard A LOT in the last 7 months.
Going into kiteboarding season in September, my schedule looked a lot like this:
Monday-Thursday: Coach CrossFit (Approximately 20-22 hours depending on the week)
M/T/W/F/S (and sometimes Thursday): Train CrossFit 09:30-12:30 (Except windy weekends where it became Monday-Thursday)
Friday-Sunday: Coach Kiteboarding (with as low as 8 hours on a bad weekend and as high as 24 on a really busy weekend).
Throw in Hockey on Monday evenings and Saturday afternoon and evening (Saturdays only on non-windy weekends) for good measure.
Throughout the week, sprinkle in…admin, commuting and life.
I knew that I was going into a kiteboarding season with a heavier load than ever before and that juggling everything would take a lot of effort on my part.
The first thing to go for me was Monday training. After working all weekend in the cold water and doing a 2.5-3 hour drive each way, I was just too exhausted to keep it up. Of course, I didn’t choose to take Monday off on my own. I injured my back in December and took the cue from my body that I needed at least 1 rest day.
The next thing to go was Thursday training. Thursday is the busiest day with a full 8 hours of coaching spread out throughout the day. I still managed to do a few things, but wasn’t dedicating a full training session anymore on those days. That meant that, by February, my training had gone down to 2.5 days a week on windy weekends. I wasn’t even upset about it…just tired.
Finally, about 5 weeks ago, I hit my foot on a rock launching a kite for a student that weighed nearly 30 kg more than me. I didn’t get launched, but I did get pulled a little (obviously). It hurt, but I thought it was just a bruise. In the first warmup for the first game of a hockey tournament in Argentina 2 weeks ago, it became very apparent that it wasn’t just a bruise.
Fast forward to now where it is still unclear if it is a fracture or not, but very clear that I can’t put any stress on the foot.
Did I mention that my nutrition plan has gone to shit? I am not eating like garbage, but I am not nearly as lean as I was at the beginning of the season or even in December before the back injury.
Yesterday, I was discussing all of this with my partner. I am super happy with how the kite season has gone (even though it is ending about 6 weeks early for me because of the injury and now an upcoming trip) and how well my athletes are doing with CrossFit and my performance playing hockey… but with my own training and physique, I am unmotivated and unhappy. I am simply exhausted. In talking about this, it became very apparent that I just didn’t rest enough.
From September-December, I didn’t rest… and when my body was telling me I needed it, I pushed on through until the last 2 weeks.
I tell my athletes all the time to listen to their body. It is the best indicator for what is going on. It will tell you, if you listen, what is going on and what you need. I played into the classic case of do as I say and not as I do.
So, I’m training in a very limited way because of my foot, I’m not doing the CrossFit open, I’m not playing hockey and I’m not teaching the last few weeks of the season before my trip… and all of this is very much because I never built in rest days. I never let myself stop.
For the next 6 weeks, I will relax. I will go on a vacation for a month. I will eat well (not a lot, not shit, but good and nutritious food). I will stretch, a lot. I will train when I feel like I WANT to train. When the 6 weeks is over, I will get back into focusing on hitting the box and training hard each day and preparing again for the start of the kite season… but with a better plan to go through a long season and come out of it feeling good instead of beaten down.
Oh…and in case you missed the point…take your rest days!
We live in a society that embraces convenience, what could easily be referred to as a McDonalds mindset. We want it standard, quick and certainly easy. This mindset has translated to fitness. How often do you see an advertisement that you can get 6-pack abs in just 10 minutes a day; if you wear this belt to the gym, fat will melt away; buy this new machine and you will look just like this guy here..
Trying to optimize time spent training is not necessarily a bad thing. Not everyone has 2-3 hours to spend in a gym (nor wants to spend that time). A relatively new fitness trend is Electric Muscle Stimulation (EMS), also known as Neuromuscular Electric Stimulation (NMES). For the purpose of keeping it simple, we will refer to this as EMS.
EMS is not a new application to athletics. It has applications as a tool for strength training, rehabilitation, testing and for recovery. However, what we see now in centers marketing EMS is a break from the traditional use. As an example, a local center here in Santiago claims to work 350 muscles/session, that 20´ is equivalent to 3 hours in the gym and that all desired results can be achieved with 2 sessions/week. Those are some pretty bold statements. So, let´s look at EMS more closely.
What is EMS exactly? EMS stimulates the muscles repeatedly, at random. The nature in which the muscles are stimulated (superficial, spatially fixed and incomplete) implies that the same motor units are repeatedly activated by the same amount of electrical current and therefore brings on muscle fatigue more quickly. As a result, this can cause profound muscle damage.
Muscle damage is any injury or harm that impairs muscle function. This damage can range from a small micro injury of the muscle fibers to a complete disruption of muscle function. At any point where there is a loss of function to the muscle for a period greater than 2 days, this is an indicator of muscle damage.
Muscle damage can also be tracked by looking at the levels of Creatine Kinase (CK) and Myoglobin (Mb) in the blood. CK is found in the heart, brain, skeletal muscle and other tissues within our body. When muscle damage occurs, CK is released into the blood and overall levels increase. These increased levels are associated with rhabdomyolysis (to which we will refer to as rhabdo). Mb is found in muscle tissue and its function is to provide extra oxygen to release energy to power muscle contractions. When muscles are damaged, concentrations of Mb enter the kidneys where it is toxic and contributes to acute renal failure.
Let´s look at two different studies, one focusing on the longer leg muscles (there is some research to support that the longer muscles are more susceptible to damage with EMS) and one examining the effect on the biceps brachii and brachioradialus.
The first study involved ES-evoked isometric contractions of the knee extensors. Stimulation was increased towards maximally tolerable levels. Two sessions were completed two weeks apart using the same muscles. The study resulted in a maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVC) strength below baseline by 30% after ES for 2 sessions. Additionally, levels of CK were significantly higher after 4 days for the first session. (3)
In the second study, participants were tested doing preacher curls. The control group performed the movement without ES while the ES group was stimulated at the biceps brachii and brachioradialus. The average peak torque was significantly greater for voluntary contractions. While MVC decreased for both groups, the decrease was significantly greater and recovery significantly slower for ES vs. MVC. The magnitude of soreness was significantly greater 2-3 days post exercise for ES. Finally, there was a significant increase in CK 4 days post exercise for the ES group.
EMS can be a useful tool to supplement resistance training (weights), but should not be used to replace it.
Pre-training measurements and assessments of thyroid and kidney functions should be conducted to identify risk of rhabdo.
EMS requires a greater recovery time than traditional training to allow the CK blood levels to return to an acceptable level (especially in the beginning). By performing this training without proper recovery time, the client increases the risk of rhabdo.
Despite claims, studies have shown that resistance training has a 50% greater effect at reducing body weight over EMS. Additionally, EMS has no significant change in the waist to hip ratio, while resistance training does.
I realize that there have been some changes to this website, namely the url. I changed from lenebaxter.com to http://www.coachingbylene.com.
I did this for a few reasons. Mainly, I had several websites set up. One was personal (lenebaxter.com), one for coaching CrossFit and functional training and one for coaching kiteboarding. It was a lot and, at the end of the day, I’m spending the majority of my time coaching. So, it made sense for me to combine everything into one.
I will still post about the things I used to post about (travel, lifestyle), but this site will be more focused on sports coaching in general with an emphasis on kiteboarding and fitness.
I’m still living in Santiago, Chile. During the week, I coach CrossFit and functional training classes to private clients (with the exception being the group class at the Adidas Group Headquarters office). On the windy weekends, I go to La Boca (near Matanzas) to coach Kiteboarding.
In the time that I am not coaching, I am a Master of Arts candidate for Sports Coaching, I play inline hockey a few times a week, go trekking in the Andes on non-windy weekends, LOVE checking out new movies and just enjoying life.
Subscribe to the blog if you want to stay updated on the content I will be putting out or contact me if you are interested in kiteboarding, CrossFit or functional training!
I will be posting anything related to coaching and sports from now on in my other website: trainwithfortis.com. I will still occasionally post here for personal posts, but am focusing much more on developing this other site.
I hope that you enjoy it and here is a link to my latest post on my Coaching Philosophy.
Dr. Romulo Bernal was our family doctor when I was growing up. He had some to the states from Brazil and his practice was quite near to us. I remember him being everything that I thought a doctor should be: kind, caring and with that way of putting you at ease that some doctors seem to have mastered. I remember him even coming to the house if one of my grandparents was too sick to go to his office. It was a time when you could still have a relationship with your physician.
Now? Forget it. As an adult, I have been in the Army Tricare and VA system and, only since coming to Chile, have truly experienced what it is like to be in a system run by the insurance companies. Doctors move you in and out as quickly as possible, often in 5-10 minute intervals. Because of my age (damn fertility), my insurance is incredibly expensive and covers very little (unfortunately Tricare doesn´t extend internationally).
I have been seeing a doctor who specializes in internal medicine and nutrition. He has been my nutritionist for nearly 8 months now. It isn´t very common here to have a nutritionist who is also a doctor, so it is a special thing. Aside from that, he is definitely not the typical doctor. Consults are scheduled for 30 minutes and I have never had the feeling of being rushed. He asks questions and knows about you as a person, not just a file or one of hundreds of patients. Hell, the other day I had a control appointment at the end of the day and ended up being there for an hour and a half (fair enough, 30 minutes of appointment and an hour talking..).
As I am preparing for Kilimanjaro next week, I have been under his care in more of a GP role. He signed my physicians certificate (after putting me through loads of tests in the altitude chamber), helped me with all my prescriptions for more than a month in Africa, and recently saw me for a nasty cold/infection I picked up. He is an amazing doctor and I am lucky to have found him…but it begs the question of why I need to go to my nutritionist for this?
GPs have all but disappeared from Santiago. If you want a GP, you must first go to the Emergency room. Yes, the emergency room. So, for my infection, I would need to go to the ER to explain to a doctor why I needed to get better ASAP for my trip…a doctor that likely doesn´t give a shit about me…or…I can go to a doctor who legitimately cares what happens. This is a special case, I am lucky to have found a doctor who is doing what he is doing because he loves it and cares about his patients.
The point of this? Not much other than to point out the sad state of affairs. Gone is the relationship you could once have with your doctor here (so much for preventative medicine)….it is all replaced by the all-mighty dollar sign and instead of going forward, we have managed to take a step back.
It´s only recently that I´ve begun to kind of accept this notion of adulthood. I don´t like it that much. It´s like a bitter taste in my mouth…like a piece of food you have to chew too much where you aren´t sure to continue the effort or spit it out and say to hell with it. Really, up until a year or two ago, I actually thought of myself as a kid still…someone in their early 20´s that is still forgiven for every manner of things. Shit…. Now I´m 29. Uff.
My boyfriend just turned 38. Jesus. I can´t imagine that in one hand and on the other, it doesn´t seem so far away. I made him a kick ass breakfast and bought one of those magnetic dartboards with a bear on it and a colorful badminton set… because…you know, the inner kid fire needs to be fed.
Well, what´s my point here? Yeah, I know this is completely different to my normal posts. Sometimes you need something a bit more raw though. My point is….
fuck it. Age is a number. It doesn´t matter if you are 10 or 100. Live well. Follow your dreams. Treat yourself right. If an opportunity comes your way, take it…who knows when that shit will come around again, if ever?
If there is one thing I learned early on and truly held onto is that you can not get time back. You can make more money …and really, how much of it do you really need? You can always get another job. You can´t get time back. It´s gone forever and who knows when that will run out for you..
So, here I am in London Heathrow 1 day in to a 1.5 day journey from Santiago to Barcelona. Truly it could have been half a day less, but that would have changed my ticket from London to Barcelona from 34 Euroes to over 200… I’m not super cheap, but there really isn’t much arguing with that math for a 6 hour difference.
I haven’t really had the opportunity to know much of Europe. I have spent some time in Ireland during university and Spain a few times, but I wouldn’t say I “know” Europe.
Miguel needed to travel to London for work in the first days of October and suggested I go ahead of him to visit some friends and travel around Europe a bit.
So, I will head first to Barcelona, then to Rome and Berlin. After Berlin I will meet up with Miguel in London and, after he finishes the week of work, we will head to Belgium for a weekend before coming back home. Truly the only downside I have to the trip is that Miguel can not join me the whole time.
Traveling is definitely our thing. We both love seeing new places and experiencing new things (and Miguel has an obsession with experiencing nice hotels). So, it is definitely weird to take a trip without him. In the past 2.5 years, we have seen Colombia, Argentina (2x together and another time apart), Thailand (twice…), Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Spain, US (doesn’t really count…) and now Europe. It has been amazing traveling the world together.
I will try…key word being try…to catalogue the experience in this blog. I feel truly lucky to have this experience and am happy to share it. Stay posted!
My first organized team was basketball at the YMCA when I was four years old. I have always known my family put a high value on my education, but I also know, even more important than that, was athletics. My grandfather exposed me to as much as he could… leading me to play basketball, soccer, volleyball, tennis, inline hockey, ice hockey, equitation, rugby and even MMA (and eventually also kiteboarding, snowboarding and crossfit). At our house, we had a tennis court, soccer area, basketball area, hockey area and a pool. I lived for sports.
Practice was meant to be given 110%. Games were never missed and, at the conclusion, I would always get a play-by-play of the mistakes I made. I can actually remember an instance after an ice hockey game in which I had scored all of the goals and my grandfather simply said ¨good game¨ and started into the areas I needed to improve. And coaches…
Well, coaches have always played an important role. Throughout my life, coaches have not been confined only to the instruction of whatever sport I was in. Through these men and women, I have learned the value of hard work, dedication and commitment, sportsmanship, patience, teamwork, leadership and what it means to truly give yourself to the game. I certainly can´t remember every coach I have ever had, but there are many that I will never forget.
I first met my most recent coach, Paul DeAngelis, at his Crossfit Endurance Trainer course in Peru. I was drawn to, not only his knowledge, but his passion. It was obvious he cared a lot about being a coach. I remember trying to spend as much time as possible in our downtime that weekend picking his brain. I wanted to learn as much as I could from someone who, almost immediately, inspired me. I left the course impressed and with the nagging thought that this was someone I needed to train with…
Within a month, I had begun training as one of Paul´s athletes.
I have been working with Coach Paul for five months now. It was certainly a transition for me as he lives in Canada and I am down in Chile. I had never worked with a coach remotely before. I had a lot of concerns about how I would do in this type of situation and if it would work, but overshadowing my concerns was the gut feeling that this was a person that I could really improve with.
As a crossfit athlete, Coach Paul has greatly improved my game. He has taken someone that was very concentrated on lifting and made me a much more well-rounded athlete. It is rare to pass more than a week or two without achieving a PR in one area or another. I´ve become stronger, more technically sound and improved my range of skills.
I went from having chronic aches, pains and injuries to being injury free. I actually train a bit less than I did before, but have seen drastic improvements…showing that quality really is better than quantity.
He has certainly made me a better athlete via great programming…but if I had only been looking for programming, I probably wouldn´t have made the commitment to work with him.
He has become a mentor to me, someone I look up to as the type of coach I want to become. Paul understands that an athlete is truly the sum of all their parts…and that includes life outside of the training. He is able to impart the sensation that you are important to him as a person, and I can´t say how important that is. As I mentioned above, I have learned my most important life lessons from coaches, and my experience with Paul has certainly followed that trend. Under his training, I have become a more confident athlete and coach and someone who knows their body better than ever before. I know more what it means to be patient and trust that, what I am doing, will pay off. I know that he expects the best effort I can give and, every day, I push myself to achieve that. If I had to summarize it, I have become a more mature athlete with him.
I can say 100% that my experience with Coach Paul has been fantastic and, my only real downside, is not having the opportunity to train with him in person.
I have been dealing with a growing problem in my life… Facebook.
I joined Facebook in 2004, back when it was only for a select few universities. Since that time, it has grown and evolved into this massive empire.. a verb, a way to pass time, a way to show the world your life (and, consequently, inhibit people from actually talking to each other, because you can get all the info you need from Facebook, right?).
As you know if you read my blog, I have chosen a rather different life path. Despite having a degree from West Point, I have elected both Kiteboarding Instructor and Fitness Coach as my professions. Are these awesome? Sure! When I was teaching kiteboarding full-time (before moving to Chile and splitting my time as a fitness coach as well), I lived on the beach. I was every day in the ocean. It was great! Now I live in Chile and I still spend my summers in the ocean, but the rest of the time I am able to train and coach other people. I have easy access to the Andes for snowboarding. I travel…excessively. Just this year I have/will go to Peru, Argentina, Spain, Germany, UK, Belgium, Italy, Thailand, Philippines and Cambodia. Next year, I already have the US, Mexico, Tanzania to climb Mt. Kili, Madagascar and South Africa in the mix.
If you only looked at my facebook, I am living the dream. Nothing bad ever happens in my life and I am happy 100% all of the time. When I look at the facebook pages of my friends, it is the same. Everyone has fantastic lives. Everyone lives their dream.
Yesterday I was speaking with my partner as he and I discuss this perception from time to time. Of course I post a lot on facebook…and of course a lot of that has to do with my profession. As a coach, I promote myself as someone who not only works in those areas, but also lives the lifestyle. Do I live the lifestyle? Yes…but only promoting that gives a false sense of what my life is really like.
I don´t talk about the time I dislocated my foot climbing and was out of work for 5 months…or how that ate into a lot of my savings….or how it still hurts me every day. I don´t talk about being 29 and having less money to my name for the future than I did when I was 23 because I chose a job with less income. I don´t talk about being so tired every day at the end of the day that sometimes I just want to cry. I don´t talk about how much work goes into a job like teaching kiteboarding or fitness coaching. I don´t talk about relationship problems or friend problems or family problems.
I will be the first to admit that I am lucky. I do have a good life, but it sure isn´t the pleasantville, perfect life I display on facebook…as I am sure no one´s life is really that way. Facebook has become a way for people to showcase what is going well or good in their lives…and maybe, in some way, that is a method of handling the bad things…and that´s OK! The important thing is to realize that the Facebook reality is not really reality. It is a construction of each person and what they want to show the world, nothing more.
I am….hopelessly jet lagged. It has been two mornings since arriving home and I am still the zombie falling asleep early and waking up at 10..11 pm wondering how it could be so early. Last night I woke up at 11:30. Needless to say, I binged on Netflix all night for lack of anything better to do…
Here I am now though. It is still early. It rained last night, so everything has that rich, deep color that you only get after a rain. What is even better is that we are nearing the end of our fall (and perhaps could arguably be in winter), so the trees have more color…not like a NY fall..but beautiful still. I love the city in the morning, before everyone has woken up. It´s so still..peaceful.
We just got back from a nearly month long trip…visiting the Philippines, Cambodia and finally Thailand. I love traveling. I love the feeling that I am seeing and experiencing something new. I love the sights and sounds and smells and tastes and people. However, in the last year…I have also loved coming home.
That concept of home has been something not entirely tangible to me for some years. Leaving my home for university (and sometimes, I might even argue moving from my childhood home at 15) meant I was in transit. I still had a place to put my things, to sleep at night, but I wasn´t home.
From there, I have crossed a broad spectrum of jobs and continents searching for my place. What did I want to do? Where did I want to be? Well, I still can´t with any certainty tell you what I want to do. I can tell you what I want to do right now. Maybe I could even tell you what I want to do in the next few years….but from my experience, that can change in the blink of an eye.
Chile? That was certainly never on my radar…and yet, I found myself sitting in the plane and looking out at the Andes as the sun rose and thinking just how happy I was to be home. I found myself arriving to our apartment and relishing the sight and sound of it, our cat who had likely thought we abandoned her, our nanny who was just as jubilant to see us…everything.
The place isn´t perfect. There are plenty of times where I have things to complain about, but I have come to realize a very important lesson…that nothing will ever be perfect. I will never find a place to live that is perfect. The important thing is whether I can be at peace, be at home…and at least for now, I have found that.