Has anyone ever told you that your lateral movements are terrific?

By Annette Fiscelli

I catch a lot of heat for my compliments, or, should I say, the lack thereof.

Sure, I might tell you that I like your shirt, or that your butt looks amazing these days (professionally speaking).

But sometimes I give compliments that go unheard. Or at least unacknowledged for what they are.

Let me explain.

Last Thursday in class I said, “Beth, you have terrific lateral movements.”

This is high praise indeed, and for a moment I was surprised at her reaction. I expected a “thank you,” and when what I got was a kind of “okay, crazy lady” smile in return, I realized that she didn’t know what a big deal it was.

The concepts I teach in my classes and the movement patterns I look for are not easy. Beth works hard on her lateral movements. If she knew how great her form was and how much admiration I had for her right then, she would have said, “You are right, and I am totally awesome! I’ve been working so hard on this stuff and I’m so glad you noticed!”

I will notice a client walking down the street from afar not because I have great eyesight, but because I know their gait pattern like the back of my hand. I will fist pump for you every time you find your glute in that one exercise that has always been stubborn for you.

I don’t hand out compliments for the sake of making nice. Anyone who knows me knows that, for sure. But when I hand one out and call you out on it, man, I am excited for you.

In fact, you might not even notice it when I compliment you, when I look you in the eye and say, with the utmost, heartfelt sincerity, “That is so awesome that you are loading your left glute.”

But damn, I mean it. I could get teary-eyed just thinking about it. It’s hard to find those butt cheeks!

So, maybe you didn’t know you were a good lateral mover, or got as excited as I did when you caught the dead ball with your glute, but I know, and I’m excited enough for both of us.

And I’m going to continue us to let you know how awesome you are (in my own way).

Fist pumps for everyone who needs to listen to me on a daily basis!

 

Annette Fiscelli is the co-owner of On Your Mark Coaching and Training.

 

In which I run a half marathon and am reminded what is truly inspiring

I was more nervous for this race than I’d been in a long time.

I’d run it before, a half-marathon in southern Washington State, a pretty, hilly course through a state park thick with evergreens and llama farms. But this time I hadn’t been able to focus on my training. My head was back at home in the boxes and cartons I still needed to unpack from my move. And I was fighting an injury.

My last long training run had ended with me hailing a cab. My Achilles’ tendon was bothering me. And by “bothering me,” I mean it felt like one of those bug zapper lights, emitting random jolts of electricity down my leg—zzzzzt. Step, step, step, step. Zzzzzzt. It felt like someone holding a joy-buzzer against my ankle. Not painful, just nagging.

Every injury I’ve ever gotten is from running—my hamstring attachment that sent me to PT, my tight QL, probably my shoulder, and definitely my Achilles. Frankly, I don’t know why I do it. Except that I do know why. Running is what I do when I can’t go to the gym, or want to meditate for an hour. I like to run in races, not for time but for the strange, solitary camaraderie that comes from sweating alongside 5,000 strangers to meet a common goal.

I nursed my calf all week—scraping it, rolling it, icing it, later applying heat. My sister and I brainstormed and decided that I should try compression socks, an idea I supersized by buying some wool running socks to keep my ankles warm. I worried about the weather, which was supposed to be cold and rainy–not good for a tendon already stretched to its max. I wondered what I would do if it started to bother me, and made contingency plans for each mile: if it happened at mile 3-7, I’d turn back. If it happened during miles 8-9, I’d call for someone to pick me up. If it happened after mile 10, I’d walk. I estimated my chances of finishing somewhere less than 50-50.

:::

The day of the race dawned surprisingly sunny. I drove to the site with a heating pad around my ankle. Taking my place in the chute, I scanned the crowd.

The field was small, maybe a hundred runners, maybe less, and a new panic began to gnaw at me–the fear I had when I first started racing years ago. What if I came in dead last? I knew I would never be first, or even second or third or fourth, but I never wanted to be that person shuffling along just in front of the police car. Today, it was a distinct possibility.

I decided that it didn’t matter today. My job was to get across the finish line. To hell with pride, to hell with time. Just get across the finish line and retire from racing.

:::

The first three miles were rougher than the first three miles of a race ought to be. I was tentative on my feet, running with a gait I knew was lopsided, favoring my damaged heel. I could feel my glutes burning just on one side, but I couldn’t bring myself to drive through my bad side. I told myself I’d open up a little bit if I made it to mile 10.

At mile 3.5, I passed a runner who wore a shirt that said, “Meatless Trainer,” and I thought she could maybe use some extra protein. At mile 4, I hit a fairly substantial hill and blew past the runners in my orbit, hearing OYM instructors in my head. “Lean forward, lift up your knees, keep your feet in the air as much as you can to feel lighter.”

At mile 6, I began to think I might finish the race. I was feeling strong and fast, my heel wasn’t bothering me at all. I used the uphill to accelerate past the field of runners in front of me, wondering why, in a state filled with so many hills, the girl from Chicago is the only one who knows how to run them?

At mile 8, I told myself that I had only my usual route to go—the one I take from my house around Humboldt Park, a five mile stretch as familiar as the treadmill room at OYM. I know every crack in the sidewalk, every tree. I know where along the route I need an extra push. I settled in, pacing myself alongside another runner, slightly ahead of my comfortable aerobic pace.

At mile 9, my Achilles twinged. Zzzzzt. I adjusted my form and kept going. I began to feel like I was running the race on one leg, the good one burning from exhaustion, stubbornly refusing to let the other leg help.

“Come on,” the other runner said. “You can do this.”

At mile 11, my ankle twinged again, bigger this time, ZzzztZZZZT, and I had to slow to a walk. I was two miles from the finish, and I had gotten farther than I thought I would, so walking was no big deal at this point. I looked at my phone in its arm band, and realized I’d run a 9-minute mile. I’d shaved almost a full minute off my time two years ago. Maybe I could keep going. I took a few tentative steps and I started to run again.

I found that if I turned my toes inward, I put less strain on my ankle, but I still had to walk a little here and there. I walked up the last big hill just to save myself any extra aggravation.

When the finish line came into view, I wanted to put on the gas, to charge forward at a full sprint, but I’d left most of what I’d brought along the course, and instead plodded along, one foot in front of the other, crossing the finish line at a jog, but crossing it nonetheless.

My legs felt like lead. I was cold. My lips and fingernail beds were turning blue. We stayed for the wine tasting after the race, huddled under a heat lamp. They announced the winners for the various races that day. My sister and her husband both placed in the 9K. As they began to announce the winners for my race, I had this vague fantasy that somehow my name would be called. I knew I would never take first, but flying up those hills, blowing past runners who never caught up with me, I nursed the idea that it wasn’t so far outside the realm of possibility.

They didn’t call my name.

“Wow,” my brother-in-law said. “You just missed the third place runner.”

I turned to him. I had no idea what my time was.

“I did?”

“Yeah. You ran 2:09, and the winner in your age group was 2:07.”

I stared at him.

“Son of a bitch,” I said.

All the nervousness, all the I’ll-just-be-glad-to-finish-pre-race prayers went out the window. I even forgot to be cold. If I hadn’t had to walk, if I’d kept going at mile 9, slightly fast but feeling good, I might have placed. In a race with so few people, there couldn’t have been that many runners between me and the woman who took third.

I immediately came out of retirement. If there’s anyone who can shave another two minutes off of her time with the help of some key friends and a foam roller, it’s an OYMer.

I got in my car, eager for a hot shower and a sandwich. My route would take me back along the racecourse, and as I accelerated out of the parking lot, I saw the last three runners, followed by the sheriff’s patrol car.

They were so very, very slow, shuffling down the shoulder, hats and visors pulled low against the rain that had started to fall. I’d crossed the finish almost an hour before, my race done just as the worst part of theirs was beginning. They knew they were dead last, placing one plodding foot in front of the other, the sheer will to finish the only thing that kept them going.

There was no way I could show them how impressed I was with them, these last three, finishing a race that they would always remember, each mind-numbing mile, each punishing step. I was reminded that earlier, before I was mad that I hadn’t placed, all I’d wanted to do was finish—just as they were doing now. Finishing what they’d started. Their race was the toughest, most physically taxing, the most mentally challenging, the most humbling.

Those three, as far as I am concerned, won the race. The rest of us were just on the welcoming committee.

I hope I see them next year.

 

 

About the blogger: Megan Judy is 8 feet tall and knows all the names of the forgotten gods. In her spare time, she’s a wife and mother, which is why she spends so much time at the gym–so other people can watch her children for a little while. She keeps retiring from racing but she doesn’t mean it.

WE As In US

Recently I was at a seminar for fitness instructors, getting my inspiration on and hearing the latest and greatest advances in the training industry. One of the sessions was about words fitness instructors should use.

“When you are teaching,” he said, “use the word ‘we’ so your clients feel like you are all in this together.”

I shook my head, remembering a training session with a client years ago.

Me: Next we are going to do some plyo squats

Client: Oh, we are, are we? Looks like I am only the only one doing plyo squats here.

Right.

But client was absolutely correct. When you’re taking classes or training with me, I’m definitely not doing the exercises with you. Not because I am lazy, although no one, myself included, loves plyo squats, but because I am here for you. I work out on my own time. How in the world would I ever see if you are firing your glute mede if I am out of breath or focused on my own form?

So, when I say ‘WE” it is because I am part of your blood, sweat and tears. You hear me in your sleep. I believe in your goals and strive for you to get there. WE are in this together. Sure, you are the one dripping with sweat and burning muscles but I believe in you… in US as a team!

I may ask you to do something I wouldn’t want to do, but I will never ask you to do anything I didn’t think you could do.

About the blogger: Annette Fiscelli is the co-founder of On Your Mark. She loves plyo squats and is probably doing them right now in her kitchen. Like literally right now.

Top Nine Lakefront Path Rules

Now that summer is (finally) here, it seems like a great time to head toward the beautiful paths that line Lake Michigan. But even though it’s summer, a time when we might be likely to let loose a little bit, we should still make an effort at decorum. Yeah, we know we’re probably not speaking to you, but to the guy wearing the “I’m with stupid” t-shirt who almost mowed you down with his giant beach cruiser. So just feel free to print these and hand them out. Or, just carry that smug sense of satisfaction you get when you follow all the rules.

1.) Don’t take your dog for a run when it is 90 degrees outside. If you do, I suggest you wear a fur coat during the run and see how you feel!

2.) When trying to pass someone on your bike, DO NOT ring your annoying bike bell. It just makes people flinch and then look back to see who rang the bell. Guess what? No one moved.

3.) When passing YELL out ‘ON YOUR LEFT!’ Then, pass (hint) on the left. Speak loud and clear. This is a good thing for everyone involved.

4.) Do not walk your dog with a leash that is 30 feet long.

5.) Do not let your toddler play in the middle of the path… and walk 20 feet behind them on your cell phone.

6.) COMBO! Do not let your toddler who is playing in the middle of the path hold on to the 30 foot long dog leash.

7.) Think you look silly in a helmet? Well, you look sillier NOT wearing one! It’s like screaming to the world ‘I’m an idiot!’. Then there is our fave… the cyclist who has a bike helmet hooked to the handlebars (in case they need it).

8.) Don’t take off your shirt if you shouldn’t. You know who you are. Conversely, if  you are Ryan Gosling, you should never wear a shirt. Ever.

9.) Rubbernecking is not cool. And even though you have sunglasses on, we still know you’re staring!

 

OYM Olympics

Blood, sweat, tears, pulled hamstrings, and pickle juice. This can only describe one thing so monumental, that only a group of adults, with such competitive personalities, would stop everything on a Saturday afternoon to take part in. Something that separates the winners from the losers, the North side from the West side….defend your gym….bring home the gold, it’s On Your Mark Olympics 2013.

At OYM, we don’t wait every 4 years for our Olympics. No way, that’s way too long. We are constantly searching for competition outside the gym to fulfill our needs. You want to play rough? We’re game.

OYM’ers don’t only push sleds for pleasure or perform single leg dead lifts for a better butt. No, there’s other purposes. Have you ever seen grown adults strap a bat to their forehead, spin around 10 times, and sprint back to their teammates?! Have you ever seen the precision of an egg on a spoon race? Or the camaraderie of a group tugging on a rope? If not, then you haven’t seen anything yet. This year, tougher games, stronger people, same ole horses’ ass trophy. What side will bring it all home this year? Well, there’s only room for 1 winner…and second place is the first loser.

Coming to the West loop in August, gather your kids, husbands, wives, even your nanny, because this event only happens once a year. Tune in and watch the athleticism of OYM’ers who’ve trained so hard and are looking to defend their title or perhaps bring it home for the first time.

So bring it on Bucktown! Don’t let it slip out from under you again West Loop! Go for gold, because there is no silver in these games.

OYM helps YOU get summer-ready!

by OYM Staff

Getting your body ready for the great summer season in Chicago isn’t always easy. To help you get some fresh, new ideas, Emily Hutchins and Annette Fiscelli from On Your Mark Coaching and Training in Chicago offer some tips.

Get Shady: Having the right outfit is always key. One must have item this season is a cool pair of training sunglasses. Yes, they make cool training sunglasses now. Finding a pair that won’t fog as you work up a sweat is important, as well as ones with a rubber nosepiece so they don’t bounce around. Check these out!

Eating Healthy: In addition to exercising, eating healthy is crucial. Making smoothies at home is extremely healthy and inexpensive, especially when you add greens to your fruit smoothie. Expensive juicers aren’t the trick anymore, the thing to do is blend it all up. A favorite and simple recipe is: ½ cup of frozen blueberries, ¼ cup of Greek yogurt, a big handful of spinach blended with ice and water. Homemade popsicles are also a great way to be healthy and beat the heat! There are tons of fun recipes on pinterest! Need some guidance? We’re always here to help!

Staying Hydrated: Many times during the summer months, it is easy to mistake thirst for hunger. On the next hot day when you feel hungry, try drinking a glass of water first to see if that cures your growling stomach. Here’s one of our favorite ways to hydrate.

Exercise Your Pet: Taking your dog to the dog park is a great workout for you four-legged friend. But what about you? Next time your throw the ball for Buddy, run with him! Just make sure you both drink plenty of water. Find a park or beach near you.

Beat the Heat: Sometimes moving your workouts indoors is necessary in the heat. Fitness DVDs can really help change your body. If that’s too high impact for you, many people have benefited from a pedometer and trying to walk more throughout the day. Walking around your house/up and down your stairs may make more of a difference than you’d think. Here’s a good place to start.

Working Out Outside: Take advantage of the fact that people venture outside during the summer in this city! There are many opportunities to enjoy the weather while getting fit. There are facilities near Soldier Field that allow you to be outdoors. Paddle boarding is also a great craze to try for your core. Getting out and walking or running with your pet is another way to see the sun and work out simultaneously. Check out our new favorite outdoor activity.

Hard Work, Nutrition and a T-Shirt

When I heard about the OYM two month goal challenge I thought, “this could be fun, I’ve got nothing to lose, might as well sign up.” My challenge goal was to increase my upper body strength. I knew I wouldn’t be able to lift a garbage truck off the ground when it was over, but hopefully I would be able to carry my groceries home without looking like a gym class drop out in front of the cute cashier. My team leader, Brittaney, set a plan for me to achieve this doing pull ups and chest press exercises. Even though I wasn’t aiming to lose any weight, she included some simple diet advice to follow for “fun.” The main part of the diet was eliminating bread, dairy and most sugar.

The challenge made me push myself harder during my workouts, because I didn’t want to let my team down and I wanted to hit my goal. One things this made me notice is that the day after a heavy workout is a lot like the night after heavy drinking; you wake up tired, in pain and hoping that water and aspirin can help. Although I felt beaten up the first few weeks, somewhere in between Annette’s famous burpees and Pat’s notorious “bonus rounds,” I realized I was in total control. If I wanted to push myself harder it was my choice. I felt that the challenge was difficult at first because of the lack of control I had exercised over my own health in the past, but then I began to learn how to be more in tune with my body and give it what it needs (not just what I want).

You always hear diet is an important part of fitness, but until now I had never committed myself so seriously to that idea. It was not easy and it took a lot of self-control; I daydreamed about eating cake more in those 8 weeks than I have my whole life, but after the fourth week it became a lot easier. I felt that achieving my goal was more important than that triple bacon burger I was craving. I learned a lot not only about what to eat to recover faster, but to live better. As time passed I started to look and feel healthier; I didn’t have to wear my jeans for a few hours for them to fit comfortably anymore. Even though I was seeing results I reminded myself the challenge wasn’t over and I still had some way to go.

Bottom line, I didn’t just learn how to get stronger and eat better, I learned how to give myself a better quality of life. Like ancient Olympic athletes before me I felt I was competing to push limits and boundaries for my own personal desire, only difference being instead of an olive wreath as a prize, I got a kick ass t-shirt. I realized you have to try new things and leave your comfort zone if you want to see results. I would like to thank my teammates for their support and all the staff at OYM for helping me every step of the way in achieving my goal.

~ Carlos

In which I run the Soldier Field 10-Mile Race, retire and un-retire from racing

By Megan Judy

The morning was cold, colder than a Saturday in May should be, colder than I was dressed for. The weather echoed my mood as I stood there, alone and shivering in the corral. Other people would eventually trickle in. I would move through some half-hearted warm-ups, wishing I was home in bed.

I thought, at least a hundred times, of just getting in my car and driving home.

I was going to stop running after this—to retire my running shoes. I’d take up gardening. Or ballroom dancing. Or mixed-martial arts. Running hurts me now. It hurts my knees and my back. And maybe my pride, a little, too.

:::

The start of the race dragged on and on. The salute to Boston, and to our troops, a moment of silence, the National Anthem. Then they staggered the start of the race so that the Elite runners started first, then Corral 2, then Corral 3 and so on, all assigned by the time you told the officials you would run. I was in Corral 9, so I had plenty of time to wonder what I’d said when I signed up. 9:30? 10:00? A pacer held a sign that said, “1:30,” which is a 9:00. I had a hard time believing that I’d said that. I must have been feeling more ambitions. It was, after all, before I’d started training.

The advantage, however, of watching 9 entire groups of people start a race before you take a single step, is that by the time you get into the chute, you’re ready to get this done, already. Someone said that the leader had already passed the half-way point. I envied him, not his speed, but being so close to being done.

And then, finally, we were off.

The first thing that happened was I had a sharp pain in my knee. I wondered if I my race was over before I even hit a quarter mile. I shifted around my form, leaning forward, kicking my heels up behind me, and the pain went away.

As we ran under McCormick Place, I saw a shirt that said, “Pain…It’s just a feeling.” I laughed a little, and before I knew it, we’d hit the first mile marker.

I thought maybe my retirement plans were premature.

:::

I passed person after person after person. I felt springy, I felt good. We ran down the Northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive, fanning out across the asphalt, a rare chance to put your sneaker tread someplace totally new. We passed a marching band. We could see the leaders zoom up the path in the opposite direction. Mile 2. Mile 3. Mile 4. One of my favorite songs to run to came up on my iPod, and suddenly I could see the turn, the halfway point.

But when I got to Mile 5, I was in big trouble.

I could feel every single fiber in my quads, my IT bands, my hamstrings. I could feel the pavement, hard and unrelenting. I could feel the date I’d eaten at 7:00 am give up the last of its precious energy into my bloodstream. Okay, not really with the date. But something changed. Where I’d been feeling great, now it was me against the overwhelming urge to hail a cab.

I retired from racing again.

My sister’s favorite song started to play in my ears. I told her the night before I was not looking forward to today. “You’ll be fine,” she said. “Have a beer when it’s done.”

I chugged forward. I wasn’t passing anyone, but at least no one was passing me, either. We went uphill for a while, which is what OYMers train for, and when I got to the top of the incline, I got to use gravity all the way back down.

Mile 6. I looked up and saw the back of someone’s shirt.

“Keep running,” it said, the words underlined so I wouldn’t miss them.

:::

At Mile 7, Cliff Shot was giving out, well, Cliff Shots. I took one from the race volunteer and cracked it open. It was like food from the future, a future where we’ve depleted all the resources of the Earth and we have to eat this horrible goo.

At Mile 8, I passed a group of people holding handmade signs. One of them was a picture of Harry Potter with the caption, “Accio Finish Line.” I actually laughed at that one, and the smile stayed on my face for a while. I’d done 8 miles. I could see Adler and the Shedd, farther away, even, than Soldier Field and the finish line. I paced myself behind a badass looking girl wearing blue and orange stripes and ground on.

Mile 9 was the longest. You think you can just run a mile like it’s nothing. And normally you totally can, but not today because you’ve already run so many miles. Soldier Field loomed ahead, but it was like walking around in Las Vegas, where you think that Caesar’s Palace is right there, but it’s just so big it seems close. Past the stadium and through the tunnel, I held on through those last few segments, keeping blue-and-orange girl dead in my sights. I pulled my earbuds from my ears when we came out of the tunnel so I could hear the crowd cheer.

I lost the girl with the stripes as we crossed the finish line, but I didn’t need her anymore. I was done.

I meant to run a 10-minute mile, but I finished in 90 minutes. I meant to retire when this thing was over, and I found myself wondering if my sister wanted to run that half-marathon in Washington State again in September.

I drove home and found my family eating breakfast. It was only 9:30. I asked the kids if they wanted to snuggle and watch a movie, which is Momspeak for “let me doze off and not have to feel guilty about it.” We gathered pillows and blankets and stretched out on the couch.

I burrowed under Ryan’s flannel Dora blanket and closed my eyes.

“I want some water,” Kai said. “Mommy, can you get me water?”

“I want water, too,” Ryan said.

“I want Jell-O,” Kai said.

“Just a minute,” I mumbled.

They were quiet for a time.

“Has it been a minute yet?” Kai asked.

And with the greatest effort I’d put forth all day, I heaved myself off the couch and went in search of water and Jell-O.