Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ask Emily: Strength for kayakers

Time for another edition of "ask Emily!"

I just made that up. But I do want to answer an oft-asked question, so let's do that, and while we're at it, make "ask Emily" a thing.

If you want a question answered, submit it here!

Question: "What do you do for strength?"

Answer: I'm going to go ahead and give you the long answer here.

My strength programming has changed a lot over the years. When I was paddling out of the Olympic Training Center in San Diego when I was 19-21, the majority of the strength work was upper body: pull-ups, bench press, bench pull, and core. Looking back, I think that as a young athlete who did not have nearly the same amount of lifetime mileage or weight training under my belt as my teammates, that program started to break me down. I tore my labrum in my shoulder 2006, and had constant back pain culminating in a fractured vertebra. I felt like I was always nursing some sort of injury. I loved my coaches and teammates, but in retrospect the training center environment probably wasn't the best for me at the time. My body and mind were not nearly as healthy as they could have been, but at the time I didn't know any better. Kind of like a bad relationship: you don't know how wrong this person is for you until you finally break it off, and then the flaws become painfully obvious.

When I started CrossFit in 2010 (around the time I thought I was "retiring" from kayaking), my legs were so weak I could barely squat 110 pounds. It took over a year to squat my own body weight, and another 2 years to squat more than I was bench pressing. I worked really hard, and without even knowing it was happening, I became a much happier and healthier athlete. Injuries disappeared, my muscles balanced out (hello legs, welcome to the party... well, kind of), my back problems went away, and all the PRESSURE of being an elite athlete disappeared. I could just have fun! And love my body! And not have anyone know how much I weighed, or what I was eating, or what I was doing in my spare time! I loved CrossFit's focus on full-body strength and conditioning. Of course it's not right for someone training for a specific sport at an elite level, but it was just right for Emily the lost soul picking up the pieces of what felt like a failed kayak career.

My much-improved baseline fitness, strength, support system, and overall perspective are the main reasons I've decided to race again this year. My strength training still consists of lots of pull-ups, bench press, and core, but also plenty of squatting, deadlift variations, Olympic weightlifting, and interval training in the gym at the same time modalities as our race distances. (If you're a CrossFitter, think metcons with measured rest. 1 min on, 1 min off of burpees, or swings, or box jumps, or whatever.) Basically I don't neglect my lower-body anymore. I don't worry about my leg muscles being "extra weight." I don't recoil when Joe at CrossFit Rochester says I need to turn my flower stem legs into tree trunks. (Still working on that.)

Whole-body strong is a different approach than I've taken before, and I'm excited to see how it transfers to the water.

I am very grateful to my awesome strength coach, "Magic," who has helped me devise this program!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday Adventures

Today, like most Sundays, was a day off of training. Normally Sundays at home are for laundry, shopping, and cooking meals for the week, but I have a lot more time on my hands these days, so I decided to do some active recovery outside in the sunshine. Plus getting to explore some new places in Georgia is always a plus! My friend Suzie and I drove 50 minutes Northwest to Amicalola Falls State Park, which is where the Appalachian Trail starts (Springer Mountain). Here are some pictures from the adventure!
View of the falls from the bottom
View of the falls from midway up this intricate wooden staircase that switchbacks up the entire hill
600 stair steps later, we reached the top and were rewarded with this view!
Then we hiked further up and found this beautiful lodge with a restaurant in it. . . and met Kellog the snake and Pickles the possum. If you are confused, then that makes 2 of us. Or maybe 4 of us, because I imagine the snake and the possum don't know what's going on either.

Adirondack rocking chairs on a sunny deck overlooking the mountains? Don't mind if we do!
Here's the view we were enjoying from those rocking chairs.
Oh, I also found a bear. (If you know me at all, you know I love bears!) 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Let's All Learn Something from the US Women's Nordic Ski Team

I LOVE this article about the US women's nordic ski team's recipe for success. It's been inspiring to watch them slowly but surely crawl up the leaderboard during the last decade. I love their ability to not take themselves too seriously (glitter and smiles on the start line) but still be scrappy and tough as hell out on the racecourse. Obviously it's working. Go USA!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

And She's Off!

Remember to follow me on Facebook and Instagram for (almost) daily updates!

My buddies Treesh and Neek came all the way out from Buffalo to work out with us at VooDoo Fitness on Saturday morning before I left. Love you guys!!

Here's Mark being Mark, making fun of the serious core and shoulder stability training by mimicking me with baby kettlebells

My VooDoo buddies! Normally I coach on Tuesday mornings at 5:30am, but this week I wanted to do one last workout with the crew. We did 9-7-5 of ring muscle ups and snatches at 135#/95# ("Amanda" in CrossFit speak)

The "before" picture of my car. Ready for boats to be loaded on top!

If you know anything about me you know that my cat Mikko is my life.  I am not, nor have I ever been, ashamed to be a cat lady. Here's Mikko helping me pack.
Of course we can't forget Ollie! The day before I left there were a few hours of bright sunshine, and Ollie helped me do some blogging on the porch by digging right in front of me and getting REALLY dirty. Love ya, pup.

Mark, aka Wolfman, aka my fiancĂ© and biggest supporter, was determined to keep the mood light on my last night in town.  Venison burgers (from the deer we got in December) topped with egg, and champagne cocktails. We have a big year coming up-- I'll be gone for an unknown period of time this spring/summer, he finishes grad school in March, and we are getting married in October. It will be tough to be apart but we both think it would be worse not to pursue this [kayaking].

The "after" picture of my car all loaded up and ready to go! I'm bringing 2 boats: 1 to paddle, and 1 to (hopefully) sell.
Here we go!

My dad drove with me. We've done lots of cross-country road trips together, so  we are pretty good at it. The trip is almost 1,000 miles. We did 10 hours on Thursday and 5 hours on Friday, stopping for the night in Wyethville, Virginia. Due to the recent snowstorm, there was snow cover all the way to Asheville, NC (but thankfully the roads were dry).

You know you're in the South when...

Stay tuned for more as I get settled into my new routine in Georgia!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Taking the Shot

Why am I quitting my job and moving away from my fiancé and family for 4+ months to pursue a dream I've already failed at? I answer that question in this video, shot and produced by my talented coworkers at Clark CSM Marketing Communications

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Drink Beers Like an Olympian

Clark CSM is hosting a sendoff party for me! Stop by the Pittsford Pub on Thursday night to have a beer and say goodbye. We'll be airing a never-before-seen video we've been working very hard on. Light appetizers provided. Hope to see you there! More information can be found here.

Thursday, January 7, 2016