Payton Jordan Invitational

Darrell Barnes and I had the opportunity to travel again for USA Track and Field this weekend, attending the historic Payton Jordan Invitational hosted by Stanford University.Each year elite distance runners converge on Palo Alto to take advantage of near perfect running conditions.  Many come here chasing the standard, trying to get an entry into that years qualifying or championship meets.  This year’s event educated me in a unique way, and I continue to learn about the care elite athletes require in their pursuit of success.

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Runners race for a variety of reasons, and the 2016 Payton Jordan Invitational found many runners racing in events that are not their specialty.  Some were using it as a challenging workout while others were working on racing strategies.

 

Many athletes felt that they had not performed up to their expectations, however a common response was not that of disappointment or frustration, but of recognition that this is part of the process.  This is not the goal, but one step of many toward the end result.  Initially my response was one of disappointment for them.  I am used to seeing these athletes, some of them the best in the world, win every event I witness.  But talking to them after the event opened my eyes to the humility they possess, recognizing that this day is but one small part in the process.  In the grand scheme they might not win every race, but they experienced something this weekend that will help them win THE race.

 

For young and developing athletes I feel this is a lesson to heed.  There will be moments in training and competing that don’t feel like improvements.  These moments are important, however.  Each is part of the larger process, part of the completion of the larger goal.  These moments can come in the form of injuries that require large amounts of time off, workouts that inflict pain, or races that fall short of the desired result.

 

This weekend we heard several explanations as to why performances on didn’t look good on paper, but the common theme was a humble respect for the process.  Respect for the plan their coach has outlined.  Respect for the steps it takes to be truly great at something.  Respect for competitors; something we can all learn from.

 

The Olympic Games are less than 100 days away.  Please support these athletes as they pursue glory and gold in 2016.

Bowerman Track Club | Dan Huling | Chris Derrick | Evan Jager | Lopez Lomong |

Shelby Houlihan | Andy Bayer (Indiana native) | German Fernandez | Colleen Quigley |

Emily Infeld | Amy Cragg | Shalane Flanagan | Ryan Hill | Laura Roesler | Dana Mecke |

Kendra Chambers | Jesse Jorgensen

 

 

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Recover Quickly with Omega-3s

While many of us have heard of omega-3-fatty acids being great for heart health, more and more research is demonstrating omega-3s benefits for athletic purposes as well.  What are some of those benefits, and how do you increase your omega-3 consumption?  Read on to find out.

 

One of the biggest athletic benefits of consuming a diet higher in omega-3s is a quicker recovery time.  Most athletes like to “feel the burn” to some extent, but no one likes being sore for too long.  Omega-3s help fight inflammation, which can help decrease muscle soreness after a workout.  Not only does the decrease in inflammation help with decreasing muscle soreness, but it also helps improve tissue repair, another important aspect of recovery.

 

Omega-3s help alleviate muscle soreness by improving blood flow as well.  Omega-3s have been shown to promote blood flow to muscles during exercise, which aids in decreased soreness, reduced swelling, and increased range of motion post-exercise.

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For those athletes looking to improve body composition, increasing omega-3s in the diet may help.  Studies have shown that increasing omega-3s helps improve insulin sensitivity, which in turn helps promote using fat in muscle as fuel (“burning fat”) while also limiting fat storage and sparing glycogen/glucose as an energy substrate.  In other words, omega-3s can help you maintain lean muscle mass while decreasing fat mass.

 

Athletes shouldn’t discount the cardiovascular benefits that omega-3s provide, either. Omega-3s can help reduce heart rate during exercise, which means there is a decreased feeling of exertion during workouts, allowing the athlete to “go harder, longer”.

 

So what foods are great sources of omega-3s and how much do you need?  Aim for consuming 1000mg-2000mg of high quality omega-3s (EPA and DHA) daily.  This is the equivalent of consuming about 6oz. of fatty fish (think salmon, trout, fresh tuna, herring, mackerel, sardines, and oysters) every other day. Other great food sources of omega-3s include avocado, eggs (the yolk), pumpkin seeds, walnuts, flax seed, and chia seeds.  Another option is to take a fish oil or omega-3 supplement.  If you’re going the supplement route, look for a supplement that contains at least 1000mg of omega-3s with the majority of those omega-3s coming from a combination of DHA and EPA.

 

From helping combat muscle soreness to aiding in body composition, omega-3s pack a powerful punch.

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The Road to Rio Continues

Everyone probably feels like they are giving their best effort at their athletic pursuits. But are you truly?

 

The Road to Rio takes zero days off,so this week, we spent time with sprinters in Florida and distance runners in Colorado. Although these groups are different in racing distance and location, they have a few things in common.

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Working with both groups for years, we know the athletes, their ailments and their movement patterns well. They have bought into what we believe and trended in the right direction over the years. What do we believe? That all athletes need to move with control of basic patterns before expecting their bodies to perform well. These athletes do what we recommend and listen to others about the importance of mastering movement patterns, owning their own bodies before they put in loads of work through their training week and asking it to perform.

 

All that being said, what I believe they do is the little things. I bet they hate to do the little things, but they do them. I predict they think some of them are silly, but they do them. I wonder if they question why they do them, but they do them.

 

And all these little things are making them better. As individuals, they look as good as I have ever seen them look. As Rio approaches, it’s good to see them on the way up. The season is coming and will not wait for them to “work on it”.

 

Are you taking the time to do the little things?  Everyday? Someone else is doing them and they might be lining up against you. They might have the advantage.

 

Please follow these athletes as they pursue the Olympic Trials and Olympic Games in 2016.  They appreciate your support:

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Dr. Arnold from the West Coast

St. Vincent Sports Performance is partnered with several National Governing Bodies including USA Track and Field. Dr. Todd Arnold of SVSP is a performance scientist for USATF, helping its athletes prep for major national and international events. Here’s a dispatch from Dr. Arnold’s travels.

We had a few weeks at home, but the road to Rio calls again! This past week, the SVSP team traveled to California and Phoenix. Our athletes are really ramping up their training and are starting to get worn out.  Some competed for the USA Indoor Championships and those that advanced competed just one short week later.

It was such a pleasure to see and evaluate Brianna Rollins. At 24, her performance is already promising; Brianna is coming off a second place finish at the World Indoor Championships in the 60m hurdles. As of this year, she also holds the world’s best time for the 60m hurdles. She is a joy to work with and takes great care of her body. Out of curiosity, I asked her what advice she would give her younger self if she had the chance. Without hesitation, she said “to believe in yourself, always.” She was emphatic, but thoughtful as she spoke.  She exuded confidence in herself and what she had said; she had no doubts.

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Athletes to Watch:

400m runners, Kind Butler and Bryshon Nellum, are two athletes to look for in 2016.  Kind is from Indiana but now trains in LA. Cali native Bryshon, was horrifically shot early in his collegiate career. At the time, the doctors weren’t sure if he would ever be able to compete at a high level again. Fortunately, he made an amazing recovery and now participates at the highest level of competition. Please follow and support both these athletes as they make a run towards the USA Olympic Trials, in hopes of representing the US.

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March Madness Munchies

March Madness has finally arrived!  Whether you’re a full time basketball fan or just a seasonal enthusiast hoping to win the office bracket pool, you’re likely going to be spending a lot of time watching the games, so of course you need some snacks to go along with that.  Here are a couple easy to make and healthy snack options to get you through March Madness:

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  1. Chips & Dip

Chips and dip are a staple game watching food, but you can make it a bit healthier by choosing a baked or popped chip versus your traditional fried potato or corn chip.  You can also have pretzels, whole grain crackers, and/or fresh chopped veggies as another dipper option.

For the dip, try making your own with Greek yogurt for a lower fat, higher protein option.  Below are a couple easy high protein, great tasting dips to try:

French Onion Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 5 – 2 TBS Mrs. Dash Onion & Herb Seasoning
  • 1 tsp. onion powder

Mix all the ingredients together and enjoy! 

Greek Vegetable Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ C chopped roasted bell peppers
  • 2 TBS crumbled low-fat feta cheese
  • 2 tsp. fresh dill (or dried)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder

Mix all the ingredients together and enjoy!

Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 packet (any flavor) Hidden Valley Ranch Greek yogurt dip mix

Mix all the ingredients together and enjoy!

  1. Quesadillas

Quesadillas are another great option for a game day snack.  You can pack them with protein and veggies to help boost the nutritional content while still having a delicious, easy snack.  Swap the flour tortilla for a whole wheat or veggie tortilla, choose low fat cheese and lean protein sources like grilled chicken or beans instead of pork or steak, and pack on the veggies for an added nutrient boost!

  1. Popcorn

What goes better with basketball than popcorn?  Skip the extra buttery store bought kind and mix up your own savory or sweet version from the options below!

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Spicy Buffalo Popcorn

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 tsp. vegetable or olive oil
  • 2-4 tsp. Mrs. Dash Chipotle seasoning or red pepper flakes
  • 4 TBS. buffalo sauce

In a medium bowl, mix together the popcorn kernels, oil, and seasoning.  Divide the mixture in half and pour half the mixture into 1 brown paper lunch bag and the other half into another brown paper lunch bag. Fold down the top of the bags; secure tightly.  One bag at a time, lay the bag down in the microwave fold side down and heat for ~2 min.  Repeat with other bag.  Pour popped popcorn into bowl, drizzle with buffalo sauce and enjoy!

Garlic Parmesan Popcorn

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 tsp. vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 4 TBS. parmesan cheese

In a medium bowl, mix together the popcorn kernels, oil, and garlic powder.  Divide the mixture in half and pour half the mixture into 1 brown paper lunch bag and the other half into another brown paper lunch bag. Fold down the top of the bags; secure tightly.  One bag at a time, lay the bag down in the microwave fold side down and heat for ~2 min.  Repeat with other bag.  Pour popped popcorn into bowl, top with Parmesan and enjoy!

Cinnamon Sugar Popcorn

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 tsp. vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 TBS. light brown sugar

In a medium bowl, mix together the popcorn kernels and oil.  Divide the mixture in half and pour half the mixture into 1 brown paper lunch bag and the other half into another brown paper lunch bag. Fold down the top of the bags; secure tightly.  One bag at a time, lay the bag down in the microwave fold side down and heat for ~2 min.  Repeat with other bag.  Pour popped popcorn into sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and toss to coat.  Enjoy!

  1. Wings

Everyone loves a good chicken wing while watching the game.  Instead of having the traditional fried and heavy glazed wing, opt for a grilled chicken wing with buffalo dipping sauce.  You’ll save yourself the added fat and calories and it puts you in control of how much sauce you want to use.

 

 

 

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Got Milk?

Milk and chocolate milk have been getting increased attention as go-to recovery beverages of choice for athletes, but are they really as great as so many people believe?  The answer is YES!  The follow-up question then, is why is milk so great? To answer that, we have to talk about the three R’s of recovery: Refuel, Rehydrate, and Repair.

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Refuel:  During a workout, our muscles primarily use carbohydrates (stored in our bodies as glycogen) as a fuel source.  Well, just like gas for a car, as you work, those fuel stores get burned leaving you on empty at the end of a workout.  In order to recover quickly, you have to refuel/refill the tank with carbs, and milk, especially chocolate milk is a great source of carbs.

 

Rehydrate:  It is essential to replace the fluids and electrolytes (primarily sodium) lost via sweat post-exercise.  Milk not only helps replace the fluid lost, but, because it contains about 150mg/cup of sodium, it can help replace some of the electrolytes lost in your sweat too!

 

Repair: Intense, long workouts break down muscle; in order to repair muscle, you need protein.  Milk is an excellent source of high quality protein needed to repair and rebuild muscle.  In fact, research has shown that consuming protein and carbs (both contained in milk) immediately post workout leads to a six times greater rate of protein synthesis vs. waiting 3 hours to refuel.

 

Milk not only covers the three R’s of recovery, but it’s also packed with other vitamins and minerals essential to your everyday health, most notable are calcium and vitamin D, both essential to bone health.  So next time you are looking for a post workout recovery option, go for a tall glass of milk.

 

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Dr. Arnold in New York with USA Track and Field

St. Vincent Sports Performance is partnered with several National Governing Bodies including USA Track and Field. Dr. Todd Arnold of SVSP is a performance scientist for USATF, helping its athletes prep for major national and international events. Here’s a dispatch from Dr. Arnold’s travels.

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This weekend, we were in New York for the 109th Millrose Games hosted at the Armory. The weather was almost nice enough to host an outdoor event and we went for a run in shorts(!) in Central Park. For many of the athletes in attendance, this is the last indoor race before they compete in the USA Indoor Championships in mid-March with a chance to compete in the World Indoor Championships a week later, both hosted in Portland.

 

We are truly blessed that we have a job that lets us do these amazing things. In the last year, I have traveled with elite USA Track and Field athletes to Monaco, Belgium, Stockholm, London, and in the last two weeks, Boston and New York. Although it is cool traveling to these unique sites, the athletes are what make these trips special. We know their ailments and limitations well, but we also get to know them as people. We see them when they win and we see them when they fall, which speaks volumes about their values and personalities.

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Working with Natasha Hastings this weekend was a fun treat. She is a New York native so this was like a trip home for her. She shared some insight the morning after her race, where I believe she set the years current best 400m time by about a full second. When asked what it is like to compete at home, she paused and thought for a moment. Natasha said she felt a mix of thrill and pressure. The thrill may come from competing at this high level in front of friends, family, and throngs of supportive young athletes; while the pressure is rooted in the heavy expectations that she will win. Her name used to adorn the walls of the Armory with records of her youth but they have all since been eclipsed. Undoubtedly, she would like to get her name up there again, which only adds to the pressure she feels. With a great smile on her face, she reminisced about the times she would stand on the rail watching professional athletes race at the Armory as a young runner. This year, I can imagine there were quite a few young athletes on the rail watching her every move.

 

I spoke with Andrew Dawson, who was in the was in the treatment room after the race and he shared a memorable insight. He said he is using this race as a benchmark – not necessarily the result, but his form and the video of the race – to assess his mechanics. When he volunteered that having good core control allows one to maintain appropriate body control, I knew he’d be an easy athlete to work with! Imagine losing that control while you are swimming; there is a chance you would not survive. In running, we would just fall apart. This quote showed me that Andrew is clearly in tune with the way he runs and trains.

 

 

 

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Dr. Arnold Checks in from Boston

image1St. Vincent Sports Performance is partnered with several National Governing Bodies including USA Track and Field. Dr. Todd Arnold of SVSP is a performance scientist for USATF, helping its athletes prep for major national and international events. Here’s a dispatch from Dr. Arnold’s travels.

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Typically, we go to the track where these athletes train, assess movement patterns and try to make corrections toward the desired mechanics. But, this week, we took a different approach to working with USA Track and Field. Taking care of athletes where they compete is another key aspect to high performance training. That brings us to Boston for a couple of days, as the city hosts the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. Several big names are in attendance including Jenn Suhr, who just recently broke her own indoor pole vault world record.

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Here, we are caring for the American athletes trying to keep them healthy so they can compete and win events. We arrived two days before the event to treat athletes with a wide range of injuries and issues, with a goal to identify the source of that persistent sore leg or limited thoracic spine.

 

This was an incredibly interesting event for me.  The first two days we were in the hotel conference room treating as the athletes got off planes from their home tracks with stiff backs and sore legs.  The day of the meet is spent helping them feel optimally stretched and activating their muscles for prime performance.  An interesting dynamic is that we represent all USA athletes and care for them all equally.  At the Olympics they will be teammates, but here they are competitors.  Literally we have athletes on the table at the same time as the racer on the next table is preparing to beat them this weekend.  That certainly brings an interesting dynamic, but fortunately if there is any drama they are professional enough to not let us see it.

 

Throughout the event, especially early in the day there are competitions for high school and middle school athletes. It gave these young hopefuls a chance to warm up on the same stretch of rubber with the world record holder warming up. The younger athletes likely recognize these elite athletes from competitions or commercials. Many likely follow them on social media, but today they use the same small space and are called to their event by the same staff. What an amazing day for those young athletes!

 

As Sam Kendricks was cooling down and stretching (and walking around on his hands!), some quite young athletes raced over for an autograph. Sam spoke to them for a bit and signed their items. He said they probably don’t actually know who he is, but it still is a thrill even for him. It was great to see the elite athletes also reveled in sharing the space with their younger counterparts.

A great meet overall, good results on lots of fronts.  Next up is the Millrose Games in New York next weekend. Give these athletes and SVSP a follow on Twitter for even more from the Road to Rio.

 

 

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Goal Setting Tips trom a Sport & Performance Psychologist

SVSP Sport & Performance Psychologist Kacey Oiness, Ph.D., HSPP, consults with athletes of all ability levels and ages. Invariably, one thing they have in common is goals. She’s compiled a few tips to make sure you set yours the right way. 

Goals are often the unconscious motivators for our athletic endeavors and goal-setting is a vital part of an athlete’s mental training preparation. Having an athlete actively involved in the development of their future goals is one way to keep them engaged in their sport. By giving them some degree of control over their goals and taking responsibility for their progress as an athlete, we are allowing them to become accountable and remain invested. It is also important that we assist athletes in not only setting goals, but in setting SMART goals. Smart goals include goals that are Specific, Measurable, Adjustable, Realistic, and Timely.

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Specific: Make goals specific including technique an athlete is working on, how to execute skills, etc.

Measurable: It is important to be able to measure one’s goals to determine whether or not it was accomplished (i.e. How many? How will I know it is accomplished?)

Adjustable: We often times need to shift our goals based on a variety of factors (i.e. injury, time it is taking to accomplish it, etc.); make sure athletes continue reflecting on goals and adjusting them as needed.

Realistic: Striking a balance between realistic and challenging is ideal. If the goal is too easy, the athlete may become bored/lose motivation. If it is too challenging, the athlete may become frustrated/lose motivation. Have them ask themselves, is this worthwhile? Does it match my abilities and needs?


Timely
: Have athletes identify the timeline in which they want to accomplish their goals. Some goals can be accomplished in a day, whereas other may require a lengthier period of time (i.e. I want to get this skill by the end of summer).

It is also important to make sure athletes are focusing on process goals and not merely outcomes. Success in athletics is often tallied by personal records, scores, and “wins.” While it’s common to look at one’s performance in this way, it is even more useful in helping athletes identify performance gains that weren’t listed on scoresheets or in medal counts. Additionally, when an athlete is setting goals moving forward, setting daily process goals that will assist them in achieving a desired outcome is essential. By not focusing solely on the outcome, they are better able to stay focused and present during their performance, ultimately leading to success for athletes.

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SVSP in Texas with USA Football

Anna Foster, LAT, ATC and several other SVSP staffers are in Dallas this week with the US National Football Team. Here’s a blog straight from the sidelines.

 

“Teamwork makes the dreamwork.” It’s a pretty common slogan that’s thrown around in and out of the sports world. I may be a little biased but I grew up around football, and as an athletic trainer the sport gets a bad rep in the medical world. No doubt it’s a tough and physical sport, but if you appreciate the finesse of the game you’ll find that it is one of the only true team sports left. The QB can’t get the ball off for a throw without his O-Line protecting him; the linebackers can’t get to the QB without his D-Line opening a hole. It’s really quite a fun game to watch and appreciate.

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SVSP’s Team in Dallas

We had all of ages of USA Football covered, bringing seven athletic trainers and one team physician to Dallas. I worked closely with the U-15 team, a group of 8th graders just learning to perfect their craft. I am humbled to see these young men work hard and learn to be a part of a team. On Monday, we had a hard-hitting practice and a player came to me after a some hard contact.

 

After performing an initial concussion review, I had our team physician, Dr. Pat Kersey, take a closer look.

 

Dr. Kersey, USA Footballs medical director, is well versed in concussions and watching his technique and evaluation protocol is truly artwork to me. After a thorough evaluation, Pat determined that the player may have had a small concussive event, but due to a previous issue, he may have not fully recovered. An eye test revealed a vestibular component to his injury and finding it may have changed his life.

 

After this revelation and a discussion with his father, it was determined that this could be why he has eye problems as well as issues with math and reading in school. It was a groundbreaking discovery and another humbling example of the impact that we have as athletic trainers and physicians.

 

It has been a whirlwind down here in Dallas, sometimes causing me to lose track of which day it is! It has definitely been worth the time to get to see these young men play the sport they love, but also to spend time with our close-knit team. The next time you are at a football game, take a glance at the sideline and find the team of medical professionals. Sometimes it’s fun to watch the group of athletic trainers and physicians run around with such finesse, not one being able to work as well without the other!

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