Ankle Mobility

While training for the New York City Marathon this past year, I took a nasty spill during a long run and experienced a minor ankle sprain. While it didn’t really hurt to walk, or even to run after a day or two, the minute I jumped into the pool for swim practice and began the first stroke of my freestyle warm up, the searing pain in my ankle reminded me that I was not yet healed. The simple, yet effective exercise that follows is one that all athletes should add to their routine on a daily basis. This is an ankle flexibility stretch that will lead to greater ankle mobility. Remember that flexibility is the ability to take a joint like the ankle through either a passive (think of somebody moving your foot up and down for you), or an active range of motion (moving your foot by yourself) to the end range (the furthest it can go) while mobility is the range of motion by the limb around the joint while the joint is in motion. This simple ankle flexibility exercise has enabled me to speed up the healing process by increasing my ankle mobility and return to swim practice!

How do stiff ankles hamper a swimmer’s efficiency? Simply put, stiff ankles produce excess drag in the water. Upwardly pointing ankles act as an anchor and can really slow you down. The inability to flex the toes downward can also interfere with a good, strong push off at the wall. To compensate, we will most likely begin to use our knees more in the kick, adding excessive knee flexion and straining yet another body part! Achieving full range of motion in both plantar flexion, the pointing of the toes downward, and dorsiflexion, the backward bending of the foot can mean the difference between a stiff, rigid kick and a loose and supple kicking movement through the water. Backstrokers and butterfly swimmers will also benefit greatly from achieving a full range of motion in the ankles.

How to do it: Loop an exercise band around the ball of your foot. Gently pull on the band creating some tension as you point the toes downward and then push the heel forward maintaining the same tension in the band and bring the toes toward you. Best to do this exercise with a raised leg for full range of motion. Aim for at least 10 reps on each foot two times. Then, perform the same movement of the foot (plantar flexion and dorsiflexion) without the band. It is best to perform this exercise before your workout in order to warm up the muscles of the ankle and get that ankle joint ready for some strong kicking!


Training Older and Younger Athletes

Meet Milt! Milt is 82 years old. He is also a former collegiate swimmer, recreational adult runner and tennis player. Ten years ago Milt had a heart attack. Fearing for his safety, Milt took to his lounge chair and became sedentary and old…enter Eileen, his wife. Not a woman to mess around with, Eileen contacted me and told me straight out, “Lisa, Milt’s gotta move. I don’t want to lose him and I need your help.” I was happy to oblige. What a great challenge!!! Three months ago, Milt was unsteady on his feet and becoming more and more feeble with each passing day. When I met him he could not rise from a seated position, nor could he sit down without assistance. I approached Milt exactly the way I would approach one of my teenage athletes-I would teach him what I knew about functional movement and enable him to participate in his own life—-unassisted!

Now, when I say I would approach Milt like I would one of my young athletes, I must elaborate. It is my belief that everyone, young or old, should learn certain functional movements, for example, how to squat and to squat properly-hips back, weight on heels, knees out, etc. For my younger athletes this is perhaps to prepare them for weighted squats and more advanced lifting. For Milt, it was simply a matter of being able to stand up and sit down. It drives me crazy when clients tell me that their doctor told them NEVER to squat because it will injure their knees. Really??? How will you sit down in a chair, or go to the bathroom for that matter? Nonsense. Milt would squat. We started with the basics and very little squat depth. Within a few weeks he was squatting to parallel.

I promised Eileen that I would not let Milt deteriorate and I was going to live up to my word. Milt is also back on his Airdyne bike-we do interval training-just like I would do with my young athletes-do we go as hard? Of course, not, But Milt is on that bike and for 20 seconds he pushes the pace and for a minute, he slows down and recovers-usually ten times. During his recovery from the bike sprints, Milt has, of late, taken to singing to me. His heart and his lungs, along with his muscles, are getting stronger.

I look forward to my sessions with Milt-I work him hard and he loves every minute of it-I think he especially loves the fact that he has regained a lot of his independence, along with his pride. I tease him that I am “never going to let him get old or do old man things!” Well, I’ll make an exception for an Early Bird dinner, but that’s it!



Just a quick post today about how I am incorporating my Crossfit workouts into my upcoming triathlon season training. It’s difficult…don’t get me wrong, I love Crossfit and I love training for triathlon, but sometimes something’s gotta give…I am participating in the upcoming Crossfit Open Games while training for 3 sprint tris (working on speed this season).

I would love to go hard at both disciplines but I’m being careful this season. Last year I injured myself thinking I was invinceable and could do both “all out.” So how am I changing it up? Well, something like this-I have a long run scheduled for Saturday-that femoral nerve pain that I dealt with last year is whispering in my ear…so, I opt out of a Crossfit workout that involves squat cleans with heavy weight. Good call…my Saturday run goes off without a hitch.

This week I did a CF workout that required jump squats with a 35 lb bar on my shoulders-155 reps to be exact, all tolled…I did it and then ran 8 miles the next day-I was willing to cut my run short if I had to, but luckily I was ok. It’s a little bit of a crap shoot, but being mindful of my training schedule and VERY careful not to injure myself seems to be working…I’m also doing major tissue work in the form of daily foam rolling and lacrosse ball rolling-mashing the heck out of that fascia! Mindful training-my current mantra


Kettle Bells

So today I was interviewed by Swimmer Magazine-to be more specific, a Staff Writer for the magazine. Anyway, she was interested in discussing and learning more about kettlebells and how they might be helpful to a swimmer in their strength and conditioning program. Having had some experience with kettlebells, I was more than happy to assist her and answer all of her questions. We talked about how it looked like a tea kettle with a handle and perhaps that’s how it got it’s name. On a more serious note, I explained the difference between traditional dumbbells and kettlebells-how the kettlebell’s center of mass extends beyond the hand and therefore makes it a lot easier to perform power (ballistic) and swinging movements and how these movements enhance cardiovascular, flexibility and strength training.

I also explained that the kettlebell teaches the body to move as one unit and doesn’t isolate muscles the way traditional handweights do. I also touched upon the concept of muscle integration vs. muscle isolation – since nearly every kettlebell move recruits many muscle groups to work togther, as one. Another thing the kettlebell does is help to strengthen the posterior chain muscles (glutes, hamstrings, calves) as well as the nervous system of the athlete who works with them since most moves require speed. Most importantly, however, I advised that kettlebell training should not be undertaken solo by a beginner. The moves need to be taught by someone well-versed in their use and someone new to this type of training should have well-trained connective tissue in order to withstand the shock of the power movements.

Hopefully I was able to answer most of her questions and more to the point, how it could benefit swimmers-I reminded her how freestyle swimming requires a lot of inner shoulder rotation which could be counterbalanced by some kettlebell moves that incorporate outer shoulder rotation. I also explained how I have my athletes work kettlebell and plyometrics together in the same workout-the result being perhaps faster starts off the blocks and faster turns at the wall. It was a good half hour and hopefully she will be able to disseminate some of this information. Happy Friday everyone-eat clean, train dirty and have a great weekend!


The Beauty of the Lift

Please indulge me for a moment while I wax poetic about the beauty of the sport of Olympic Weight Lifting. Before I began learning the lifts and how to perform them properly, I did not understand the enormity of knowledge and focus that went into doing them.

Lifting, to me, is almost ballet-like…there is a certain beauty to each move-setting your feet in just the right position to approach the bar, placing your hands in that “just so” spot in order to begin the move-the quickness, speed and agility needed to get the bar up-the thrust of the hips, the shrug of the shoulders, the descent downward and the strong ascent-needless to say, I’m loving it and the feeling of getting stronger is simply addicting.

Below is the last stance of today’s split jerk-looking forward to continuing to learn and paying it forward-eat clean, train dirty, and have a great Wednesday night!

Overcoming Fear


Holy mother of exhaustion! Today felt like a real marathon…spin class, teaching my strength and conditioning for triathletes class, Crossfit, training clients, swim coaching and then running hills with my last client…all day long all I kept telling myself was, “Lisa, stay focused, you’ll get it all done…stay focused.” While running said hills with said last client of the day, we had an interesting discussion. I suggested that she choose a goal 5K race (she has never participated in a race before). While she is certainly physically ready to do this, she hesitated and I inquired as to why.

She told me that she is afraid of the starting line, the crowds and the overall potentially anxiety-provoking situation. The more we spoke, the more I was able to persuade her to give it a go. We discussed many things…I promised her that 60 Minutes would not be there filming her, that she could start in the back of the pack and take her time and reminded her that no prize money was involved…so why be afraid? I remember my first race and how nervous I was and I shared that with her. She agreed that it would be a good idea to overcome this fear of racing and in fact, we talked about how she was NOT racing, she was participating.

So what is the point of this post? Well, first and foremost we have to recognize that there are always going to be situations in our lives that provoke anxiety. However, we have the power to push past the fear and do something we’ve never done before. It requires a leap of faith and being certain of our abilities. The end result is exhilarating…think about something you’ve been afraid to try and give it a whirl…how empowering will that be? Run a 5K, participate in a Masters Swim Meet-go in knowing that you are there to participate and HAVE FUN!!!! Okay folks, eat clean, train dirty, and have a great Saturday night!!!!

Having a Plan

To Do List

Good morning and happy Friday! Quick post this morning because I have a busy day ahead of me training clients and training myself! I think the best way to stick to a workout schedule is to actually schedule it into your day, as if it were part of your “to do” list. Whether you are training for a half marathon, a triathlon, or just looking to stay fit, block off a chunk of time in your daily calendar and schedule it! I take a few moments on Sunday night to actually plan out my training week-not just “do a track workout” on Friday, but for example, Friday 8:00 a.m.-track workout. I make sure I have time to shower afterwards and get to my clients on time. For those of you who work a 9 to 5, choose an actual time and schedule it in, either before or after work-like a REAL appointment-if you don’t do that, you will probably blow it off-would you do that to a friend with whom you have made a date to meet? Treat yourself like your best friend and show up on time! Eat clean, train dirty and have an amazing Friday!!!!

A New Beginning

Naples Beach

Sometimes all it takes is a crazy idea to change your whole life.  Two years ago, after visiting southwest Florida, I decided that this was where I was going to make my home.  The cold, dark, New York winters were really getting to me and it was time to plan for a change.  I wanted to swim, bike and run outdoors all year round and I wanted to do it before I was too old to enjoy it!  So, here I am-in paradise.  Saying goodbye to beloved friends and clients was difficult, but I do believe that they all understood my reasons for leaving.  I am loving my new life in the tropics.  I wake each morning to the most beautiful water view and abundant sunshine.  I am once again inspired to help others get fit and feel good about themselves.  New beginnings are awesome.  Don’t let fear hold you back from making a change in your own life-take a risk and believe in yourself!