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Jessi Stensland - Adventures in Endurance Performance

7 Posts tagged with the functional_training tag

It wasn't hard to come up with this year's list.  The smarter the world is getting in the world of human performance, the more options that are being created to facilitate all the right stuff! More options has made for quite a long list. Enjoy!





Before hydration, nutrition and movement strategies should come great sleep strategies. My favorite definition: "The suspension of consciousness when the powers of the body are restored."


Gear to go for: The Zeo Sleep Manager



What gets measured gets improved.  Think of it as a power meter for your  recovery.   Like a power meter for the bike, the tool itself it won't make you sleep more or better, but by having quantitative data to measure, track and analyze, you can get to know more about your sleep habits and implement strategies to make quantitative improvements in your sleep and ultimately your performance.



I first heard about the Zeo Sleep Manager from Dr. Allen Lim who was using it as a training tool with the riders he was working with.  He spoke about how on  any given day, the squad might have an A, B or C ride (differing in  distance and intensity.) Which ride the riders were allowed to do on a particular day was dependent on their quality of sleep the night before as indicated by their Zeo Sleep Score.   Something else he mentioned that stood out: if one gets one more hour  of sleep per day in the week before a race, they will perform better in the race.   How great is that.  Sleep to perform better? I love learning things like this.


Zeo Sleep Manager has both a bedside unit (above) and the new mobile version (below right.) On the left is a sample of a graph you'll get every morning of your sleep patterns along with an overall sleep score.  My PR is 155! I love sleep.








Work IT | Happy, strong feet!

The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering + a work of art. - Leo da Vinci

So true IF you let them be themselves.


"Phalangeal Freedom + Phalangeal Fitness = Phalangeal Fun"

...says Mark Verstegen of Athletes' Performance.


Gear to go for: Vibram 5 Finger Shoes


Forget about running in them for a moment.  Forget about fashion and think function. There are so many  things your foot, all of it, would love to do with you:  walk, strength train, skip, hike.  There are numerous muscles of the foot and they want to be loved and put to work.  Most shoes force the foot into an unnatural shape (similar to a cast.)  They can limit mobility of the certain joints necessary for natural motion and they often soften the forces the foot has to withstand during activities thereby allowing some muscles to weaken and others to have to compensate, often unhappily.  Just like bigger muscles you can see and feel like glutes, quads, biceps and triceps, the muscles of the foot must be strengthed gradually to handle increased loads.  Depending on your level of phalangeal fitness, Vibram Five Fingers may be an even better option than simply going barefoot as they also help spread the toes.


I'm amazed I have seen only one, ONE, other person doing their movement/strength training in my local gym in Five Fingers.  Running shoes, cycling shoes, casual shoes more the norm.  Let's move it!


Your feet are a huge part of your performance.  You wouldn't wear mitts when swinging a bat, club or racket would you?  Have fun with them this year.



Get IT | Smooth, supple muscles.

How?  By hydrating, eating right, massaging tight tissues and activating, strengthening and stabilizing other muscles.


Gear to go for:  Self-Massage Tools




Self-massage tools should be just that: tools. Not crutches. Trigger Point Performance has lead the way with their tools and concurrent education.  I go no where without my GRID, Quadballer and Massage Ball.


A new kid on the block that I immediately put to use and is now a permanent addition to my gear bag is the Myorope.  Although I maintain my movement so well I rarely need to spend much time with the tools, they are an important part of my pre-covery and recovery strategies.



Move IT | Whenever, wherever.

Wherever you are, be there.

Gear to go for:  Gaiam's Travel Yoga Mat


Why I love it: It takes up virtually no space.  Great for adding to a gear bag so you don't have an additional item to carry.  Also perfect for the frequent traveler who doesn't mind others turning their heads while he or she indulges in some pre-flight movement preparation (or post-flight when waiting for a ride while everyone else is in line at Dunkin' Donuts OR when one misses a flight and has to spend a night in the airport in which case it pairs well with the TP Therapy GRID as a head rest.)



Reduce and Reuse IT | For yum on the run.

Gear to go for:  To-Go Ware RePEat Utensil Set


I have saved the lives of more plastic forks, spoons, knives and even chopsticks than I can count since I started carrying these with me.  Not only great for the environment but for convenience as well.  They are incredibly handy, wash easily and are just plain bamboo cool.




Create IT | Au Natural Beauty

If you wouldn't want to eat it, why would want to smear it on your face?"

...says Supermodel Sunny Griffin in this video from The Cool Vegetarian.

Gear to go for:  Organic Body Care Recipes

Organic Body Care Recipes


Stephanie Tourles offers a better solution to  everyone frustrated with  the endless cycle of expensive, synthetic,  famous-name cosmetics that  often fall short of expectations. With Organic Body Care Recipes you  can take control of beauty treatments  with homemade products that use  safe, nourishing ingredients to pamper  the body and soothe the senses. Click on the book to read more about  Organic Body Care Recipes.



Prepare IT | Athlete Food Fast

"Skills in the kitchen, rather than skills on the bike,  were such a limiting factor for so many of the athletes I was working  with.” - Biju Thomas

Gear to go for: The Feed Zone by Allen Lim and Biju Thomas



I'm a huge fan of Biju and Allen's work.


Get a glimpse of their genius in the videos below:


Dr. Allen Lim's Beet Juice


Dr. Allen Lim's Rice Cakes





Get After IT | Be great. Train great. Race great.

Get after it with...

A week of individualized performance training + nutrition with Jessi


A week of training at Athletes' Performance in PHX, Dallas, LA or Gulf Breeze


A race entry


A mountain bike skills clinic


A Functional Movement Screen


A massage






Jessi Stensland | Elite Multisport Athlete | MovementU

1,806 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: running, cycling, swimming, triathlon, nutrition, endurance, performance, multisport, holiday, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland, functional_training, movement, self-massage

For a while now I've been seeing asymmetries and imbalances in my own body and everyone elses as well, both on a macro and micro scale, almost to a point where I wish I could shut it off at times.  It has come with the body awareness I've been honing and training with since 2004.  The photos below show the change I've seen in my body as a result of my functional performance training I began in 2004.  Since then I have not had a single chronic injury and my times have dropped significantly.  Coincidence, I think not.  The photo on the left is from the 1999 ITU World Championships in Montreal, Canada.  I ran a 39:30 10K, won the silver medal in my age-group and was 5th amateur overall.  The photo on the right is from a triathlon in 2005.  I ran 37:00 for my 10K off the bike.




I've also been, from time to time, looking at elite running race photos and putting "bets" on who won the race based solely on the degree of asymmetry.  My guesses have been right 100% of the time.


Here is a photo from one of the most riveting and memorable race finishes from the sport of triathlon this year.  You may have seen it already.  Six of the best runners on the planet in the sport of triathlon vying for one of the world's largest prize purses in the sport this past June.


Can you guess who won the race below, if you don't already know?



It's been said before, I'll say it again.  Find cause and effect where others find coincidence.

Look closer.



6a00d8354d091969e201287640b836970c-500wi.jpg athlete running in the straightest line (linearly and laterally), Simon Whitfield of Canada, won.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Nor do I believe it is a coincidence that Kahlefeldt (AUS) was second. Gemmell (NZL) made a comment on the photo about that being the last time he loses by a bird's pecker (or some similar kiwi colloquialism.)  Kris - I'm curious to know what you're working on to close that gap...I know you can! is, of course, one thing to point out what is wrong and another thing to point out why its wrong and offer solid solutions to correct it.  Dr. Joe Torg has been considered a top authority on running injuries as the co-author of the book, The Running Athlete, the definitive radiographic analysis of every conceivable running injury.  He can tell you, with utmost precision what part of the body is injured.  He is also quoted as telling Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run, who wanted to run longer than 2-3 miles at a time without pain that, "The body is not designed for that kind of abuse." [Excerpts from Born To Run by McDougall.]


Times are changing.  Be a part of it!!  Form and function are taking the spotlight.  Injuries are not something to cope with but to avoid with specific actionable steps.   There are elements to performance that many athletes have yet to take into consideration in their efforts, greatly minimizing their ability to tap into their true performance potential.


Whether for injury resistance or performance, the same principles apply. But you've gotta understand them and apply them day to day for yourself.  Eliminate the guess work and implement a strategic, time efficient, performance maximizing plan and you'll be able to replace unnecessary injuries and unnecessary pain with fun long lasting memories for a really long time.

MovementU was created for this purpose.


Move well!!


6,957 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, triathlon, endurance, racing, running_form, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland, functional_training, multisports, performace

Introducing MovementU

Posted by Jessi Stensland Oct 31, 2009

Created to combat mediocre mechanics that more often than not lead to chronic injuries or at the very least prevent athletes from reaching their true performance potential, MovementU aims to enhance the understanding of the body and what it requires to perform injury-free, energy efficiently and powerfully in life and in sport.





I was inspired to create the aptly named MovementU after seeing a need in the world of human performance.

“Mediocre movement has become epidemic, and even worse, acceptable.  Not coincidentally so has poor health, sub-par performance standards and chronic pain and injury in life and in sport. It became obvious to me that the problem was not the availability of solutions or the motivation to achieve.  Instead, it was in the inability to choose and/or implement the proper and most efficient day to day solutions for optimal health and sports performance, due to a lack of a basic level of knowledge about the body and what it requires to, quite literally, run.


MovementU’s goal?  Motivation through education. The U stands for university and a U-turn back to basics of human form and function.


It is important for people to realize that their health and performance is in their own hands.  It’s not about spending more time, but about spending your time efficiently.  Take right now for example. Stand or sit just a little stronger and taller with better posture.  It takes no more time to do that than to slouch.  If you don’t relate your inability to maintain proper posture directly to your day-to-day health and sports performance outcomes including injuries and finishing times, you don’t know enough about the body.  It’s not rocket science, but it can be as powerful.  And once you get it, you get it for life.


MovementU provides a practical and interactive education-based resource consisting of a website and workshops focused on communicating to athletes and non-athletes alike the foundational principles about the body and what it requires to perform to its potential in health as well as training and racing.  MovementU is not a training program, methodology or system.   It aims to make simple scientific principles of biomechanics and physiology relevant, relatable and retainable.  As one participant put it, MovementU “gets to the point of the point.”


It’s first workshop:  Swim Bike Run: Movement Efficiency and Performance is being held across the US this fall in seven cities at top performance training centers such as Athletes’ Performance in Phoenix, AZ.  It is a full day interactive hands-on experience that discusses the roles and relationships of performance elements such as mobility, stability and strength as well as how they are directly related to one’s ability to move efficiently and powerfully in the sports of swimming, cycling and running.  It is designed to benefit all levels of coaches, trainers and athletes, from beginners wanting to start off on the right foot to seasoned athletes looking to avoid injuries or get an extra edge in their performance.


“We all left in awe,” says Keith Cook of Solis Performance in New Jersey who had brought a group of his athletes to MovementU in New Jersey. “We were taught how to go back in time and re-think.  We were provided the tools to re-train our bodies to perform efficiently and injury-free.  It was eye-opening.”


Upcoming dates and locations:


November 7, 2009 - Lake Forest, CA

November 8, 2009 - Vista, CA

November 14, 2009 - Phoenix, AZ

December 5, 2009 - Dallas, TX

December 6, 2009 - Austin, TX


I attribute my knowledge, understanding and ability to communicate performance to a few things.  Certainly my BS in Exercise Science from George Washington University didn't hurt but moreso I attribute it to my own inherent drive and curiousity to continue to understand my own body and push my limits of performance.  This ultimately lead me to Core Performance creator Mark Verstegen in 2004.  Since then I have worked extensively with his team to eliminate my movement inefficiencies in order to stay injury-free and performing powerfully.  It has given me a whole new perspective on my performance potential and that is what I'm driven to empower others with through MovementU.


USA Triathlon, USA Cycling and the American Council on Exercise have approved the course for continuing education credits.  A number of additional courses with a variety of focuses will be available in 2010.


For more information and details on the upcoming workshops, please visit the website at or contact me directly at


Come join us and prepare to perform happily, healthfully and to your potential!!


3,202 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, cycling, swimming, triathlon, performance, racing, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland, functional_training, movement_prep, multisports

Performance POV // Four Fundamental Movements


Here are four movements that I consider fundamental to injury resistance and performance that I have recently witnessed athletes unable to do.  Can you?


1.    Back bend

2.    Single leg balance[Single leg balance|]

3.    Squat jump

4.    90/90 stretch




I ran with a local running group not too long ago.  After the run I was taking them through some functional stretching.  One thing I’ve come to like to throw into my routine, which I’ve borrowed from the sun salutation in Ashtanga Yoga, is the back bend.  The sun salutation starts standing and the first movement is to put your arms straight overhead and reach backward, creating a fluid bend in your back, your whole back that is: upper (cervical), middle (thoracic) and/or lower (lumbar). 


Watching the runners attempt a backbend was painful to watch.  The majority of them, were standing, with hands on their hips, and their back bend was barely anything more than a simple tilt back of the head at the neck though it looked like they were really trying, and possibly even feeling, like they were doing a back bend.


Ideally the vertebrae will all be moving freely and you can achieve a fluid curve from your hips through to your head. It’s common to have decreased mobility through a certain section of the spine, especially if not actively practiced.  That said, it is also easy to maintain a healthy, mobile spine, by regularly doing some back flexion and extension while on the floor on your hands and knees, similar to a cat stretch, for example. In yoga, the cobra and downward dog, among others, are great options as well.


Can you do a proper back bend?







One day a friend of mine, 2:13 marathoner, finally gave in to my continuous chatter about “core stuff” as he called it, and let me take him through a couple basic principles and movements.  We didn’t get far.


I asked him to balance on one leg:  standing with one foot on the floor and the other raised at the hip with the knee bent at 90 degrees and ankles dorsiflexed (pulled up) as in running. 


He couldn’t.  He tried and tried.


Finally he gave up and said, “What does it matter?  I can run a 2:20 marathon out the door, right now.”


Simple answer.  Number one:  You have no guarantee that you’ll stay injury free to even get to the start line or finish the race.  That’s no fun!  Balance, stability, and all the rest are a big part of an injury resistant body.  It’s completely possible to achieve that for yourself.  The bonus is, the training that helps with injury resistance is the same training that makes you more efficient and therefore more powerful as an athlete.  They go hand in hand.  So answer number two is:  You could be running 2:20 with less effort OR running faster with the same effort. 


Win-win-win situation!


Can you?  Not only balance, but keep an eye on your posture and alignment of your

shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.  Are they symmetrical? Tilted?



As importantly, the next step necessary for efficient performance, would be doing a proper one-leg balance squat.  One that is functional, in control, and with your body weight properly dispersed from your head to your toes.


Finally, mastering efficient and stable one leg elastic exercises, like the single-leg linear box hop is key to overall injury resistance and performance, especially in ground-reaction type sports like running. 




The other day my cousin, just prior to shipping out to start his Air Force Special Tactics Officer training for the next two years, took me through my very first full kettle bell workout.   He was a great instructor.  He taught me the moves and the principles behind them.  It was a great workout.  Just after we finished, I was thinking about how, if I was to think about this workout from a Performance POV it was obvious that the major thing that was missing to make this a complete workout was some elasticity.  We had incorporated some flexibility, mobility, strength, stability and even some cardio, but nothing elastic. I mentioned this to him and he was game for doing some.  Squat jumps[Squat jumps|] are a great way to get a quick set of elastic movement into a workout and keep that system fired up for you. 


My cousin is incredibly strong, smart and athletic.  We had just done upwards of 100 kettle bell two-arm swings and yet he could not coordinate a squat jump.  I was surprised, but not really.  Nothing surprises me anymore!  The movement, although seemingly simple, requires triple extension of the hips, knees and ankles.  When done properly, the power and coordination comes primarily from the hips and glutes not from the legs.  It should be initiated through the hips and followed through by coordinating the extension of the knees and ankles to do the movement properly with the least amount of effort and the most power.  Typically people think of their legs when they go to perform a movement like this, however it’s much harder and less powerful trying to control the entire body with the legs than it is the legs with the body. 




This came up because I had overheard a triathlete asking a local triathlon coach about how to rotate better in the water while swimming.  After she got some advice on drills to do in the water, I asked her to come over and do a 90/90 stretch which is a great way to see how much rotation you have in the spine under a bit of a load (similar to rotating from the hips and then pulling in the water.)  She had none.  No kidding.  Yes, the spine could rotate, so she had mobility, but when asked to maintain some pressure at her knees and shoulders, there was zero rotational stability and strength. 


Remember it’s the body that is doing the sport.  Proper technique can only be achieved with a body that’s capable of performing the proper technique and this, more often than not can and should be achieved on land regardless of sport.  You may feel what you think is rotation, but rotating your whole body from side to side is not what you’re looking for.  Rotating through the spine will help you swim more efficiently.





Go move well!!




7,508 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: endurance, jessi_stensland, functional_training

Here are a few movement preparation exercises that I do before hopping in the water to make sure my body has got the mobility it needs to get through my swim stroke efficiently.  Only takes about 3-5 minutes.  Click on names for link to video of the exercises.


1. Forward Lunge with Twist.


In place or walking.  Take a step forward into the lunge position and then twist your torso by reaching the arm of back leg across the body and down alongside the opposite lower leg.    Be sure to keep hips parallel to ground, abs and glutes engaged and hip/knee/ankle in line. 4-6 on each side.


2. Standing Ts.


To open up the chest and warm up/strengthen the rotator cuff.  Standing in a split stance (step one leg forward about 2 feet) raise arms out to sides, parallel to the ground, turn thumbs toward the back, and engage (squeeze) the scapula in toward the spine and slightly downward.  Hold for 1-2 seconds then release and repeat. 6-10 times.


3. 90/90 Stretch.


For rotational stability.  Lying on the ground on your side, with the lower leg straight, and the upper leg bent so the hip and knee are both at approx. 90 degrees.  Extend your arms out in front of you - to the side you are facing so they are perpendicular to your body and your palms are touching.  Press your bent knee into the ground and maintain it there while you take your upper arm up and over toward the opposite side, rotating the spine as you go.  Key is to engage your abs/glute to keep the knee on the ground so you can reach as far as you can with your spine (led by your arm.)  Ideally you will end up with both arms/shoulders and back flat on the ground, arms in a T, with the knee still engaged into the ground.  Hold for 1-2 seconds, return to starting position, and repeat x 4-6 on each side.


4. Quadruped rocking w/ back flexion/extension.


On the ground, on all fours, sit back into your hips while keeping your abs engaged.  Return to starting position, flex and extend your spine like a cat stretch.  Repeat 6 times.







2,098 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: training, swimming, endurance, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland, functional_training, movement_prep


Announcing a brand new training opportunity for triathletes taking place this spring, in Santa Monica, CA. Lead by professional triathlete (Yours Truly) Jessi Stensland along with a team of performance specialists at the Core Performance Center, the 12 Weeks to Tri Program will prepare you for your best ever performance, whether you are doing your first triathlon, want to get to the start line strong and injury-free or are commited to taking your performance to the next level, or all of the above, of course! The program integrates the fundamental components of performance including training for efficiency of movement, proper form, power and cardio capacity, as well as nutrition and recovery.


Join me this Thursday for a complimentary workshop on triathlon training that will outline these fundamentals and discuss the details of the 12 Weeks to Tri Program which will begin in early February and be based at the Core Performance Center and integrate resources of the LA Tri Club as well as triathlon events in and around the local Southern California area.


Details of the workshop:



Thursday, January 22, 2009




Core Performance Center * 2020 Santa Monica Blvd * Santa Monica, CA 90404


Andria King * * 310.573.8866


813 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, triathlon, endurance, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland, functional_training

It is pretty well known these days (finally!) that:




Like flexibility, joint mobility, strength, stability, elasticity and overall power.  Tack on efficient running form (drills and such) and

now we're talking.


It's been great to see a more integrated approach being taken when it comes to endurance sports training.  To me, it's about working on the overall athleticism and injury resistance of the body, so that we've got the best body to DO our sport of choice with.  This of course underlies much of my blogging...if you haven't already's certainly changed my career and my life!


Getting back to running shoes...


As you know, running shoes are built for a very specific purpose:  running.  They are meant to support your foot as it moves in a linear direction while experiencing the ground reaction forces of the running gait.  The better the running shoe, the more precise the support is, and I'm assuming you've done your homework to find the right shoe for you.


Like most people, when I started to train in the gym, my running shoes are all I had, so that's what I used.  Just as when running, great foot contact during these types of specific exercises is just as important and yet very different than during the running stride.  It is important to get a shoe that suits your specific training needs both for efficiency of movement AND safety. It took me a while to realize it but once I did, back in 2004 I believe, I made the switch to more of a court shoe with a more neutral, stable base, which gave my foot a much better base of support when working on everything from linear, lateral, stationary, and power movements.  I also do a lot of my work barefoot when possible, but this is the next best thing.


Speaking of SAFETY:  Back in high school I attended a tennis camp and wore the only sneakers I had at the time which were running shoes.  At one point we were doing lateral suicide drills on the court, and I rolled an ankle BAD.  I tore all the ligaments off the bone.  Little did I know how much of an effect that injury would have on my future running career.  It's been a challenge, but its now under control.  A running shoe is DEFINITELY not meant to support side-to-side movements as you can easily see from the way the side of the shoe is taller than wider like a cross-trainer or court shoe (among many other reasons.)


My suggestion is to have at least one pair of cross-training or neutral support shoes to do your non-running activities in, whether it be your functional training workouts, or other sports like basketball, soccer, running around after the kids, or whatever other multidirectional activities you do!


It was awesome to see Under Armour take this idea to a whole other level with their training shoes: Proto Power, Proto Speed and Proto Evade.  POWER for stationary movements like strength (squats).  SPEED for linear movements like linear plyometrics and short bursts of running power or drills.  EVADE for lateral movements or any other multidirectional dynamic movements.  I wear the Speed shoes when I'm doing my short interval work on the treadmill, or on my linear movement days where I might be pulling sleds or other short bursts of speed or running drills.  I wear the Evades for my strength and my lateral or multidirectional movements (i.e. running ladder drills or other elasticity drills.)


You will typically see me with 2, if not 3 pairs of shoes at my workouts.  At the gym I will wear my Evades, then switch to Speeds or running shoes before I hop on the treadmill.  At the track, I'll do my movement prep in my training shoes.  I'll run in my racing flats.  And I have my running shoes in case I run a little as part of a warm-up or warm-down.


That's the scoop...


I highly recommend giving that gift to yourself and your bod!


Train smart and fun...Jessi

965 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, triathlon, shoes, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland, functional_training