Creating An Athlete’s User Manual Part 2: Monitoring Training


Getting Stronger Every Day

Have you started creating your personal guide to health and performance? I’ve used a few tools to work toward creating my athlete user manual. 1) Inside Tracker Biomarker Analysis, 2) Body composition testing, 3) Heart rate monitored test effort, 4) Keeping a training log, and 5) Identifying my physical strengths, weaknesses, and imbalances. In my last post I talked about how InsideTracker and EnduroPacks are helping me optimize health, recovery, and performance through nutrition and vitamins. Today let’s focus on how we can track our training and our body’s response to training.

Biomarkers and bloodwork are a great way of getting a picture of what’s happening in your body, but it’s also important to have easy methods of tracking the stresses on your body and how your body is responding to training on a more regular basis.


Yoga & Family Time = Stress Release. Happy Baby Pose.

Heart rate is a good indicator of how hard the body is working. When we exercise, heart rate increases to supply the body with the blood flow and oxygen it needs to meet the increased metabolic demands. The tissues need blood flow and oxygen not only when we’re exercising, but also during rest in order to help the body repair and recover. Resting heart rate can provide a glimpse into how hard the body is working during resting state and how well recovered the body is. By checking your heart rate in the morning, when you first sit up in bed and before drinking your coffee, you can monitor your recovery throughout the year. If resting heart rate is elevated for a few days in a row, this likely indicates your body needs some down time to fully recover from the stresses being placed on it. It’s important to remember that the body doesn’t necessarily distinguish between stresses coming from training, work, family, school, etc. Stresses accumulate from many different sources and affect other areas of your life. Work and family stress can impact your ability to perform well in training and recover from workouts.

HR Monitor

Tools for a Successful Threshold Workout

Measuring heart rate during workouts can serve several purposes: 1) Identify training intensity zones, 2) Monitor changes in fitness in response to training, 3) Indicate level of recovery. There are specific physiological tests that can be used to correlate different training paces and intensities to heart rate so that you know what intensity, pace, or heart rate you should train at to target specific types of training (easy/recovery, aerobic, threshold, anaerobic, VO2max). By using heart rate, we can also translate these training zones to different environmental conditions like weather, terrain, or elevation. Leading up to our trip to Flagstaff, Arizona for high altitude training, we performed a heart rate test where we ran a mile on the track at a specific pace and recorded our heart rate for that effort. This gave us information about what our heart rate should be for a similar effort in Flagstaff. We will also use this information to see how our fitness level has changed when we return to Eugene in a couple weeks.

Because our bodies aren’t able to saturate hemoglobin with oxygen as effectively during acute high altitude exposure, the heart has to pump faster to supply adequate oxygen. During my first workout in Flagstaff, I used heart rate as an indicator of approximately what intensity/pace I should maintain to achieve a tmms95img-676985346hreshold effort. This led to a successful workout! I used the same method in another workout to target threshold effort. Because of the difference in terrain and weather, threshold pace was slightly different than in the previous workout but using heart rate allowed me to hit the right intensity level.

I haven’t used heart rate monitoring extensively, but here is an interesting piece about how heart rate monitoring can help reduce injury and optimize performance even in team sports:

HR Video

Everybody responds a little differently to training and clearly, heart rate is a great physiological marker of what’s going on in the body. But there are a lot of other important pieces of information that we can track to help us optimize training. A training log can provide a simple way to track objective components of training volume, intensity, and progress, as well as subjective information like how we’re feeling, what’s going well, and what we’re struggling with.

Training logs can come in many different forms, including a hand-written journal, an online tracking program, or a living document saved on your computer. You should find what works best for you. But here are some examples of how I use my training log. My training log is an Excel spreadsheet where I can record date, training, mileage, cross-training, and other information.

The great thing about Excel and other similar programs is that it’s searchable. For example, when I have had little flare ups of plantar fascia pain, I can use the search feature to look back in my log to see what caused it in the past and what helped  resolve it.

Training Log

Training Log 2

With the variety of races I’ll be doing this year, including road, track, trail, and obstacle races, it’s also nice to be able to search for different races to see what I was doing to train leading up to successful races like the Warrior Dash World Championship or Xterra Trail Run Worlds.

Training Log 3

I’m not super tech savvy, so I haven’t explored many of the other options for training logs, but some other ones to check out include Nike+, Strava, RunTrackR, FitBit, or Lauren Fleshman’s Believe Training Log. The goal should be to find a resource that 1) You will use consistently, 2) Provides the information you find most helpful.

What methods do you use to track your training?

Here is an Excel Spreadsheet you can download and use as a training log if you don’t already have a method of tracking your training: Training Log Sample

Creating An Athlete User’s Manual Part 1

Warrior DashWhether it’s with training, racing, treatment modalities, or nutrition, the physiologist in me always likes to experiment. With the ever changing ideas about optimal training, health, and nutrition and the fact that EVERY BODY IS UNIQUE, finding the best way to keep yourself healthy and fit should be an evolving process.

I’ve learned from the smart people around me that knowing your numbers when you’re feeling good and racing well can give you a reference point for when things aren’t going as well. These numbers can include body weight, training volume, training intensity, heart rate, ferritin, hematocrit, and a variety of other blood markers.

Building off a great Fall of 2014, and hoping to make 2015 another fun and successful year, I’ve been working on developing a picture of a healthy, fit Kimber. Every athlete wants their body to be functioning like a well-oiled machine, so the first step is creating a user manual for how to keep that body firing on all cylinders and how to troubleshoot when it isn’t. With workouts we need to know how to play to our strengths, but also strengthen our weaknesses. The same is true of our nutrition, recovery, and the other hours of our day we don’t spend training. Thanks to my friend Julia Webb, I was introduced to the program InsideTracker, which measures many biomarkers in the blood and uses a special system of making nutritional recommendations to optimize these different markers for each individual. You can check out Julia’s blog post about her results here.


So in the past several weeks, I’ve used a few tools to work toward creating my athlete user manual. 1) Inside Tracker Biomarker Analysis, 2) Body composition testing, 3) Heart rate monitored test effort, 4) Keeping a training log, and 5) Identifying my physical strengths, weaknesses, and imbalances. You may not have the desire or resources to track all of these things, but they all provide different pieces of information. I’ll go into a little more depth about each of these over the next couple weeks, but in today’s post let’s focus on biomarkers and nutrition.

With Inside Tracker, you can test up to twenty biomarkers that give information about energy and metabolism, bone and muscle health, inflammation, strength and endurance, oxygen delivery, and liver health. Every individual will have different markers that are important for them to focus on, so we’ll just use a few of my results as an example. Remember that my optimized zones may not be the same as your optimized zones.

As an endurance athlete, oxygen delivery via the protein hemoglobin in red blood cells is important. Hematocrit is the percentage of blood volume that is red blood cells, while ferritin is the body’s storage of iron, which is used when making new red blood cells. As I get ready to go train at higher altitude for a few weeks, it’s important to make sure I have adequate iron storage to support red blood cell production.


Although I do eat fish and a little chicken and turkey, I don’t really eat red meat. So the month or two leading up to this test I had started supplementing with iron. The fact that my blood iron levels are high and my ferritin is low, despite taking iron supplements, indicates to me that my body may not be effectively absorbing this iron. There could be several reasons for this. The questions to ask when taking an iron supplement are: 1) Are you taking the right supplement, 2) Are you taking the right dosage, and 3) Is the timing or what you’re consuming with the iron supplement interfering with absorption? In terms of timing, you should consider that iron supplements should be taken on an empty stomach, but with vitamin C and not with other vitamins and supplements, as these can block the absorption of iron. You should also consider that iron supplements can cause upset stomach in some people. There are also a variety of types of iron supplements, from basic iron pills to liquid iron to liver capsules. If you’re a meat eater, consuming red meat can be one of the best sources of iron. It may take some experimenting to figure out what works best for your body. The changes I plan to make include using a liquid iron supplement, establishing a schedule that ensures I’m taking my iron on an empty stomach, and taking it with a little juice (vitamin C) to support effective absorption. When you monitor your ferritin, hematocrit, and hemoglobin, make sure you consider the questions above to optimize absorption.

VitDMy Vitamin D levels were also low, despite taking Vitamin D supplements. As most of you know, Eugene, Oregon doesn’t get a whole lot of sunshine in the Winter and early Spring. Vitamin D is important for bone health and energy. There are two ways to increase Vitamin D, get more sunshine and take in more Vitamin D through diet and supplementation. My solution…head to Flagstaff for some sunshine. I’ll also try to consume more tuna and salmon, as
recommended by Inside Tracker.

Contrary to my low Ferritin and Vitamin D, my cortisol levels were high. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is important for energy and metabolism. Cortisol levels fluctuate throughout a twenty-four hour cycle and in response to things like exercise, eating, and caffeine. When cortisol is not well-regulated it can affect health, energy levels, and sleep. Some ways that I plan to reduce cortisol include: more yoga, black tea, and fish, and minimizing processed foods and simple carbohydrates.

Cortisol               Cortisol cycle

So far I’ve focused on the biomarkers that need improvement, but overall my body is pretty healthy. The majority of my biomarkers fell in the “optimized” range. I credit this to a healthy diet and a fantastic system of vitamins called EnduroPacks that support my health, performance, and recovery. Despite a high level of training, my C-Reactive Protein and CRPCreatine Kinase levels were in the optimal range.This indicates inflammation in my body is low and my body is recovering well. Additionally, as reflected by my white blood cell count and the fact that I’ve stayed pretty healthy the last few months, my immune system is functioning well. Most basic minerals, including sodium, potassium, calcium, chromium, and magnesium were in the optimal range.

The EnduroIMG_1343Packs system consists of a daily liquid multi-vitamin taken in the morning, a concentrated electrolyte spray for hydration, an essential amino acid trans-dermal patch used after workouts to aid in muscle building and recovery, and a glutamine recovery complex taken before bed to also help with muscle repair and recovery. And it’s delivered right to your door! I do my best to use real food to provide me with the nutrients I need, but EnduroPacks helps make sure I’m getting all the micronutrients I need to optimize my health, recovery, and performance.

Based on the InsideTracIMG_1302ker recommendations, the foods I plan to eat more of include: fish, nuts, seeds, kale, broccoli, edamame, olive oil, avocado, and black tea. Some of my newly discovered favorite snacks that hit several of these are Wondefully Raw’s Brussel Bytes, Snip Chips, and Dipperz. I highly recommend giving them a try! I also plan to make my next batch of kombucha using black tea.

Feel free to contact me to find out more about InsideTracker or EnduroPacks! And check back for my next post about the other tools I’m using to create my athlete user’s manual to keep myself firing on all cylinders this year.

What are some of your favorite recipes that keep your body healthy and happy? How do you optimize your own health and performance?

Find Your Fire: Atlas Race Recap

atlasThis weekend was my first Atlas Race and only my third ever obstacle course race. After a fun and challenging experience at the Warrior Dash in the Fall, I took the great opportunity to join the Atlas Pro Team. So I approached this weekend’s Atlas Race as a learning opportunity. What did I learn? 1) The Atlas Team and the OCR community are filled with awesome people, 2) Atlas puts on great races, 3) I have a lot to work on, 4) Play to your strengths but DO NOT neglect your weaknesses.

atlas 5

“A Little Mud in Your Blood”

Lauren Ho was a great travel partner, and it was fun to get to know the whole Atlas crew. Lauren and I didn’t get to see the course ahead of time, so we didn’t know quite what to expect, other than that there would be a strong field of women with Lauren, Cassidy Watton, Chikorita De Lego, KK Paul and others. Atlas kicked the race off with a hole shot, giving a cash incentive to whoever made it through the first 400 meters fastest. KK and her long legs took the win on that one. But I caught KK on the hills. This would be an approximately 4 mile course and I knew my only strength was running, so I did my best to move along on the hills. We got warmed up with a few over and under walls, but at the top of the first big climb we met an 8 foot wall. I just stopped and looked at it, asking the volunteers, “Do I have to go over that?” Silly question, of course the answer was “Yes!”

atlas 16

My advice…DO NOT look up at how much further you have to go. Just keep putting one hand in front of the other.

“Holy cow!” There was no way I could get a hand on the top by just jumping. Pathetic, I know! With a few attempts at getting some momentum off the side posts I struggled my way over. Thank goodness for some more hilly running, because I needed a little buffer when I came to the Tyrolean traverse. All the videos I had seen made this obstacle look much easier than it is. The traverse felt ten times longer than that muddy crawl at the end of the Warrior Dash World Championship. KK ate up nearly the entire gap I had formed with that single obstacle. The rest of the race played out with me using my strength on the running and KK, Chikorita, and the other ladies kicking my butt on the obstacles. Despite the advice of The Great Max King to use two hands on the monkey bars, I didn’t even get a hand on the second bar before I fell.

A quick intro into what atlas 6a thruster was, and I was on my way to 20 reps with the WreckBag. It felt as if at any moment the other ladies would go flying by me. But I pushed on still in the lead. A few balance beams, walls and WreckBags later, I approached my favorite, the mud. No struggles there until my shoe got sucked off my last step out of the mud. Contemplating leaving the shoe behind, but thinking I had several more obstacles to go, I stopped for awhile and struggled to get my shoe back on. Little did I know, I was one little hill away from the finish. It was such a relief to come down that hill and see the finish flags with no obstacles in my path!

atlas 2

Always enjoy your victories…

atlas 13

But don’t forget about your weaknesses

Many firsts at this Atlas Race: 8 foot wall, Tyrolean traverse, sandbag carry, monkey bars, traverse wall, balance beams, WreckBag throw, WreckBag thrusters, cargo net traverse, and sadly…DROPPING OUT OF A RACE.

Atlas 3 - Copy

This was day skies!

After a fun day hanging out at the course and cheering for the kids in the Atlas Kids Race on Saturday, we returned Sunday for the Ranger Course that would be around 8 miles with a few more obstacles. I was really excited for this race because it would involve more running. But apparently I had brought the Eugene weather to SoCal with me, as Sunday was cold and rainy. We usually fly by the mantra “A little rain never hurt a duck,” but obstacles in the rain are a whole new challenge. It was fun to toe the line with the men for Sunday’s race, but amongst the women the first bit of the race played out similarly to the previous day’s race. KK beat us to the hole shot, and I caught her a little later into the first big hill climb. One of the first few obstacles was a sloped wall with rope assist. The slippery surface definitely made it harder to climb, but the worst part was nearly falling off the back side when my foot slipped. Clearly I would have to pay more attention to my footing today. At the top of the first big hill, that darn 8 foot wall seemed to have grown a couple feet over night. With the wet, slippery surface, my method of getting momentum off the side posts left me landing in all sorts of compromising positions and never anywhere near the top of the wall. After several dangerous attempts, it was time to reassess.


Team Run Eugene Teammates…GateRiver here we come!

I knew I had a team of ladies making their way up the hill who were counting on me, but I also knew I had a team of ladies back home in Eugene who were counting on me for the USATF 15k Road Championships in two weeks. Knowing I wasn’t going to make it to the finish line without getting hurt, I made the tough decision to drop out. Running down that hill past my teammates and everyone who was toughing out a muddy course was the hardest thing I did all weekend. As terrible as it felt to drop out, I believe it was the right decision for me. But I know I never want to Atlas 12make that decision again. I FOUND MY FIRE! I will be better prepared for the next Atlas Race, so that I don’t let me teammates and supporters down.

It was awesome to see everyone out there rocking that tough, muddy course. KK took the win, followed by Chikorita and Lauren. Those are some strong, hard working women.

All in all, a great weekend! From kids to adults, elites to rookies, there was so much fun, hard work, inspiration, excitement, and smiling at this Atlas Race. I’ll be back for more!

Have you found your fire? What motivates you to be better today than you were yesterday?

And the Liebster Awards go to…

A couple weeks ago, friend and fellow blogger Becca Rhodes with Caffeinate Your Life nominated my blog for a Liebster Award. You can get to know me a little better by reading that post (click here), but I also hope you’ll take a minute to check out the blogs of some of my Liebster Award nominees below.

The Liebster Award is built on the idea of identifying people and blogs we enjoy and believe in and passing the Award on so 019982dca91d337bfc1a7803451900d73cc122ad02_00002readers can get to know the authors a little better. I’ve been reflecting on the idea of a community of people believing in each other and paying it forward. Whether it’s work, family and friends, or training, most of us have a group of people surrounding us. The right community of people can help you achieve your goals, while also making you a better person. So surround yourself with good people who believe in you and bring positive energy into your life.

01ee74ab83a4b7c55f14bf997c5cba251b9d52cbb2 But it goes beyond this. More and more I’m learning the importance of spreading joy, energy, and support to the people in your life. It’s easy to get busy and forget about taking time to pour a little love and energy into our friends, family, and community members. I’m guilty of this way too often. But I always find that the things and people you put energy into usually return that energy with ten times the strength and at the most critical times.

CoachingI’m lucky I landed amongst incredible communities in all the different aspects of my life: running, coaching, teaching, and family and friends. These people believe in me more than I believe in myself, support me through words, actions, and resources, and always help me to be a better athlete, coach, teacher, and person. I learn from them every day. And although I know I can never repay them for all their support, one of my goals for this year is to put more meaningful time and energy into my community. I want to pay it forward rather than just repay.

Perfectly timed inspiration from someone in my BurnThis FitFam to be disciplined.

Perfectly timed inspiration from someone in my BurnThis FitFam to be disciplined.

We aren’t all lucky enough to be surrounded by people who are passionate about health and fitness, but with the many social media resources available, our community can extend far beyond our geographical location. I’ve recently discovered a phone app called “Burn This.” The BurnThis app provides motivation for working out, healthy eating, and achieving our health and fitness goals by creating a community where people can share their progress, inspiration, challenges, and motivators. You can post pictures and quotes, check out other people’s posts, and participate in challenges. When you’re in need of some inspiration, go check it out!

When it comes to fitness, the body can do superhuman things when someone else is counting on you. So whatever your health and fitness goals are, my advice to you would be:

  1. Set clear goals
  2. Create a community of support
  3. Believe in others and pay it forward
  4. Use the energy and support of others to fuel you

With that said, I’d like to nominate a few blogs written by people I believe in for the Liebster Award. Check out these blogs. What are some of your favorite blogs? Where do you find your support aLiebsternd energy?

Bridget Franek: Steepling Barriers Chasing Dreams,
Miss Mel Made A Mistake, Runner Marci, Run Team Webb, The Camping Challenge 2015, Herro Miss Rara,
Shannon Leinert: Finding Your Stride, Beauty and Change

Here are my Liebster questions for these bloggers:

Why do you blog?
What is the biggest life barrier you have had to overcome?
What is the life moment that has significantly contributed to who you are as a person?
What are you most proud of?
What is one quote/saying/mantra you want to live by this year?
What is your guilty pleasure?
What is the one food staple that is always in your kitchen no matter what?
Describe your perfect day.
When you’re having a bad day, what is the one thing that always makes you smile?
What is the best kept secret in the place you’re living now?
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

It’s Race Day, Time to Pull Out the Lucky Underwear…or Earrings

WD 3WD 5Although we don’t always look good when we cross the finish line, I think there is some truth to the saying “look good, feel good.” But more importantly, if we make something about race day special, we often get a little added energy and confidence. Not all of us can pull off the lacey cap sleeve singlet like Alexi Pappas or the incredible Maggie Vessey racing singlets, but we can all find something that makes us feel a little extra special when we get to the start line.

After onewings soccer game in high school, just before heading to Eugene for the state cross country meet the next day, a friend gave me a tiny butterfly with the words “wings so you can fly” written on it. Although this tiny trinket couldn’t wipe away the fatigue from a 90-minute game, rehydrate me, or replenish my glycogen stores, it could give me a little extra confidence knowing that someone believed in me. In my experience as an athlete, coach, and physiologist, I’ve learned that not only can the mind trick the body, the body can also trick the mind.

Research has even shown that our race day routines and superstitions can improve performance. This study, “Keep Your Fingers Crossed! How superstition Improves Performance,” found that good luck charms improved performance. Their research found this improvement in performance resulted from increased self-efficacy, or belief that we can do something or achieve our goals. The presence of a good luck charm or someone telling them good luck not only improved performance and confidence, it also caused individuals to set higher goals. This has direct implications for things we can do to improve our own performance in any task, but also a means by which we can support our friends, family, and teammates in their endeavors.

So, as Team Run Eugene gears up for our first indoor track meet at the UW Invitational, I’m starting to pull out my good luck charms.

Which ones should I wear on race day?

Which ones should I wear on race day?

Here’s just a very small sampling of my earring collection. Rather than picking earrings to match my outfit, I like to pick my earrings to match my mood…for races too. For most of track season, my blue hearts were my race earrings. A reminder to myself that my heart has to be in it if I want to race well. Most recently, my ladybug earrings made their debut at Xterra Trail Worlds. I knew I’d need wings for this one, but I didn’t realize how well I would get to know the trees. Which ones make for good indoor 3k race earrings? Do you have a vote?!


Night before the race unicorn shirt, thanks to Beth Freese & Sarah Tapp.

Whether it’s treating yourself to dinner at your favorite restaurant, watching an inspirational movie, a lucky pair of socks, war paint, a fun shirt, or the perfect pair of earrings, finding something to make race day special can give you a little extra boost of energy and confidence.

But don’t worry, confidence doesn’t only come from good luck charms. All that preparation and hard work is what gets us to the start line and then we can use our body language to improve self-efficacy and performance. Check out this great TED talk. Where could you use a Power Pose this week?

What do you do to make race day special? Do you have a routine or good luck charm?