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Jessi Stensland - Adventures in Endurance Performance

12 Posts tagged with the running 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

1,832 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: running, cycling, swimming, triathlon, nutrition, endurance, performance, multisport, holiday, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland, functional_training, movement, self-massage

Yesterday I twittered:


"Killer  wrkout @ gym incl cardio system developmnt on treadmil. HR in 190s.  Hadnt committed 2 that n a while. Felt gr8! #bustinguphomeostasis."


kristmjo replied:


@JessiStensland what is cardio system development? Sounds awesome...


I  tried my best to respond in 140 characters but it was impossible to nail  the scope of it so I decided a blog post, even if brief, was a good  idea.


"Energy System Development (ESD) is the cardiovascular component of Core Performance training programs" says I tend to call it Cardio  System Development in public because it gives people a better idea of  what I am referring to.  In the rest of this post I will refer to it as  ESD.


There is a comprehensive article on the Core Performance website here and I recommend the read.  For the purpose of this post I will relate  ESD, its relevance and application, specifically to endurance  performance.


Think  of it this way. Cardio capacity (including cardio strength, endurance  and power) is only ONE component of swim, bike and run performance.   Other components include: muscular strength, stability, joint mobility,  flexibility, elasticity, nutrition, sleep and mindset to name a few  (major ones.)  In purposeful performance training then, the idea would  be to maximize your body's ability to perform each and every one of  those elements and then coordinate them into a movement pattern that is  your sport.  For example: the ability to stabilize the spine in the  neutral zone and maintain pelvic neutral requires core, or PILLAR,  strength and stability.  Every minute of life, save for sleep maybe,  requires it (to stay free of chronic pain and to be able to perform any  action you want.)  Every individual movement, including the incredibly  dynamic action of running (which is simply a series of coordinated  movements) requires spinal stabilization and strength in order to be  properly performed, let alone produce power when and as needed.   Training your ability to do that, as many people have experience who've  done some sort of core training, is easier maximized by doing movements  that focus specifically on that element of performance, allowing us to  bring that strength and stability and posture to our daily life and  sport.  Said another way, its hard to work on, and certainly near  impossible to maximize, core strength while running, no matter how hard  you try.


Cardio capacity can be considered in much the same way.


Swim,  bike and run are all very different movements, though all requiring the  same strong spinal stabilization and strength.  Similarly they also  require similar cardio strength, cardio endurance and cardio power.  The  only major difference between sports is the dynamic movements required  to do that activity.  Additionally, it is also important that one's  cardio capacity is able to withstand, and complement, the demands of the  leg speeds, leg power and core power that each sport requires.


If you  only ever do swim, bike and run training for the sake of putting in  miles and minutes as many endurance programs do, without regard to the  precision and efficiency of each element going into the performance, it  is quite impossible to maximize each element they require in order to  reach true performance potential.  For example, you can get much better  elastic qualities of the muscles in specific plyometric movements (squat  jumps, hops, bounds and particular running drills, for example) than  you will in just running.  Training muscles and movements to be elastic  as a component of a training program is key to being able to bring that  elastic component to running. Ideally, one would then train their  movements in order to be able to also control that elasticity where/when  and as needed throughout a dynamic action such as running.


Similarly,  our cardio system needs to be maximized.  VERY VERY often I'm finding  now, athletes training for endurance are far from maximizing their  cardio system development.  They tend to hover around that threshold and  never bust through it.  Busting through that threshold (think sprint  interval training) - serves to INCREASE one's anaerobic threshold (AT)  thereby allowing an athlete to do more work at the same effort.  Sure  one's threshold will increase somewhat over time with some basic  endurance training and increased fitness level, but not often pushed to  its maximum potential. Simply stated when you go harder, over your  threshold, especially WAY over your threshold, your muscles are  screaming for more oxygen carrying blood and your body WILL respond to  that request immediately.  Muscles will develop to  be able handle those  demands, and over time it won't be so "hard" for you to get the  required blood flow and oxygen to those muscles.  Your body will soon be  able to do it quicker and more efficiently.


Think  of it this way.  Wouldn't you rather your heart beat at 180bpm than  160bpm for the same amount of effort...getting that much more blood and  oxygen transported to your muscles helping them do more work?  Energy  system development aims to do just that with purpose-driven sprint  interval training:  bust through that threshold often, thereby  INCREASING IT, and maximizing your performance potential.  Similar to  the elasticity example mentioned above, in which you may end up with  more elasticity than is needed for a sport or distance, you can then  choose how much of it you use instead of never having enough. The same  goes for cardio capacity.  If you increase your threshold to 180bpm from  160bpm (I say this because that is what I did in 2004 over a 3 week  period,) running at 160bpm feels quite a lot easier.  That is where  sprint interval training with the purpose of increasing cardio capacity  and anaerobic threshold can make a positive impact during a longer  endurance race, say a half marathon or marathon distance.  Incorporating  this type of training has the potential to play a major role in  maximizing efficiency and overall performance.


In a  lecture I attended last week, a study was referenced in which it was  found that 2.5 hours of sprint interval training produces biochemical  changes in the muscle equivalent to 10.5 hours of endurance training,  when looking at the markers related to endurance performance.  I  experienced the immediate and positive impact that purpose-driven  cardio system training can have when i was introduced to it within  the Core Perforamance methodology back in 2004 while training for the  Olympic Trials in triathlon.


Consequently  doing this type of training also allowed me to have much more time to  work on my strength, movement, recovery, things that most endurance  athletes don't think they have time for since they spend all the time  they have swimming, cycling and running many minutes and miles, often  with little purpose other than because that's what their training  program said and that's what everyone else is doing.


Side note:  ESD also involves download periods of recovery sessions as well.


There are any number of types of methods, intervals, times, etc. that can be used in cardio system development.


Yesterday my set was simply:


3 x [ 4 x (1min @ 10mph + 1min @ 6mph) ]


I  chose 10mph hoping I'd be able to hold that for all of the 1 minute  intervals, and I was.  My heartrate was getting up in to my "red" zone:   185-192bpm.   ESD has only 3 zones:  easy, hard, hardest. Red =  hardest.  I was recovering down to 155bpm during the 1 minute recovery  at 6mph.  I was way over my threshold on those 1 minute intervals.  My  goal is to be able to run 10mph at threshold as my race pace (5-10km.)   In other words: my goal is to be able to do the same amount of work for  much less effort.  A few more weeks of consistent ESD and that'll be no  problem.


Here's another example of ESD which I did on a client that gives some more insight into the power of  pushing through the 'threshold' of mind and body when it comes to  maximizing cardio capacity in endurance performance.


One  final note.  Notice in that twitter mentioned above I finished with the  phrase:  busting up homeostasis.  That I quoted from Nick Winkelman  during his brilliant lecture on periodization last week at Athletes' Performance's Phase 4 Mentorship. He mentioned, quite emphatically, that a goal of performance training is to bust up homeostasis.


According to Wikipedia, homeostasis is from Greek: ὅμοιος, hómoios, "similar"; and στάσις, stásis, "standing still".


Busting  up homeostasis therefore means to me the opposite of staying the same.   Creating change.  In performance training that would mean making an  improvement. I have seen DAILY improvements in my training, in one  element or another and often more than one at a time. I aim for daily  improvements in my strength, stability, coordination and cardio capacity  to name a few.  In that sense then, my threshold of today is higher  than my threshold of yesterday. Said another way: today's 100% is  tomorrow's 99, which means I can, and will, go harder and do more work  for my 100% effort than I did the day before.  It's a simple concept  that I hope will be more widespread in mainstream endurance training  programming sooner than later.

Much more where that came from, but there you go.


Go bust up homeostasis!!

2,650 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, cycling, swimming, triathlon, endurance, performance, cardio, jessi_stensland, stensland

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!!


7,022 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, triathlon, endurance, racing, running_form, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland, functional_training, multisports, performace

The other day I twittered this...

"Had client on treadmill @7mph for 1min.  Said it felt like 9 out of 10 difficulty.  End of 18min workout he's @10mph :15sec on :15sec off!  Possible!"

I thought it was worth a bit more explanation, especially after Jeff White inquired about the following on Facebook, "What adjustments do you attribute that kind of improvement?"

Here's the scoop.


Earlier today I had a one-on-one session with one of the participants from last weekend's MovementU here in Arizona.  I like to call these sessions performance consulting.  I enjoy them.  A lot.  They are tailored to the needs/wants of that individual person, and depending on the open-mindedness/curiosity/knowledge of the individual will also include some degree of learning "what you don't know you don't know." Today's was a two-hour interactive learn-by-doing kind of session in the gym.  It started off with someMovement Prep, then a rundown of key functional strength exercises includingdouble-leg front squats and single-leg balance squats, RDLs, rotational rowand anti-rotational chops and lifts along with some key TRX Suspension Training movements like the low back row and the single-leg chest press.


Then we headed for some Energy System Development (cardio) on the treadmill...and that's where it got really good.


The client:  40-year old male, tall, lean, athlete-back-in-the-day, new to running.


My plan for him was based on where I've started my own pre-season training in the past:


3 sets of 3 x [1min hard + 1min off] with an extra minute between sets.
Total of 9min of effort within a 20min period.  No sweat, right?


First I took him through a 7-8 min warm-up at about 5.5-6mph where I threw out one cue at a time to focus on and interspersed those with over-exaggeration drills (focus on one leg, then the other for example.) I also had him switch back and forth between his 'old' form and a stronger/taller 'new' form for about 15 seconds at a time.  He was more than warmed up by the end.


Then after a brief rest period we started the main set.  He did not know what speed he should start at so I took a stab at 7mph to start.  Here's how it went.


7mph for 1 min.  1 min off.

[Perceived exertion on a scale of 1-10 was a 7-8 (somewhat hard to hard.)]


7mph for 1 min.  1 min off. 


[Perceived exertion on a scale of 1-10 was a very out of breath, doubled over 9.]


Not a good sign for him making it thru another minute at that speed so I modified INCREASING the speed.  Yes, you read it right, BUT...I decreased the length of the interval and increased the recovery period.


7.5mph for 30sec.  1 min off.


7.5mph for 30sec.  1 min off.


End of first set.  1 min break.


Second set...


7mph for 1min + 1min off. 


Watching him it hit me.  It was so apparent...and I told him so:  "7.0mph. That is LAME." He looked at me funny through the sweat that was dripping off his forehead into his eyes.  I continued "and you'll realize it.  Soon."  Little did I know I was going to make him realize it in the next 10 min.  But I had an inkling, and it went like this:


I got on the treadmill next to him.  Him: a fit-looking, tall, healthy dude, only running at 9min mile pace or so and for only 1 minute feeling like it was a 9 on a scale of 10 of difficulty.  No doubt it was, but I wanted more work done, for that same effort.

I put my treadmill at 10mph (6min/mi.)  We started the next interval together.  Him at 7mph, me at 10mph.  Without trying (at least I wasn't trying) our cadence was exactly the same stride for stride.  I would've loved to see this on video from the side.  All I could do is look down at his treadmill and see the logo on his tread coming around a lot slower than mine, but still our strides were in sync.  The minute finished no problem.  I hadn't even broken a sweat (which I was kinda stoked about not knowing where my fitness is at the moment, but that's not important here...) He did the interval fine.


He had one more minute of work left in that set. I asked him if he wanted to do another minute at the same speed or go higher speed for the :30 intervals again.  He gave a thumbs up.  Speed.


The 3rd minute of the 2nd set went like this:

8.0mph for :30 + ONLY 30sec OFF.


[Getting back to a 1:1 ratio of work to rest. Good.]


8.0mph for :30 + 30sec off.


1 min break.


The third set is where it got fun.  At this point, he was working his butt off, and I loved it.  For him it was that beautiful love/hate relationship (more or less is what I think I got from him.)


He admitted during this little break two things:


1.  He wouldn't have put the treadmill over 6mph.

2.  He rarely broke a sweat when he was running.

At the moment he was sweating, red in the face, breathing harder after that one minute of rest than he would've been during his entire run the way he was used to doing it.  His heart was working like crazy.  Awesome!


Then came the 3rd set.


He himself adjusted the speed for the first 2 intervals.


It looked like this:


1min @ 8.5mph + 1min off


1min @ 9.0mph + 1min off


He was WORKED.  For all intents and purposes DONE.  He had one more minute of work left to do.  So what did I do?


Jacked the treadmill up to 10mph and decreased the interval time.  Kept the work to rest ratio the same though.  I wanted any little leg speed he had in him even if only for 15 sec.


He finished his last minute of work this way:


4 x [15sec @ 10mph + 15sec off]


!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Then I was satisfied. He was REALLY done. : )


Only 9 minutes of effort.  So much benefit. Pushing the cardio system to work over and above the anaerobic threshold causes an improvement, an increase in that anaerobic threshold.  The result?  He'll be able to do more work at the same effort next time OR do the same work (speed) will feel easier than it did the week before.  Leg speed got worked.  The core HAD to activate. He HAD to take control over it to keep his legs under him.  The harder I asked him to go, the harder he had to activate his core just to keep his legs under him.  Tightening things up.  Getting more out of his same effort.  Awesome.


So to answer Jeff's original question:


Was it mental?  Was it physical?  I'd say it was a little bit of both.  The mind is capable when given a purpose.  15 seconds is much easier to focus on and push through the effort than 1 minute.  If I ever think my mind or my body can't handle the interval, i'll shorten it and eek out my last bit of energy that way rather than slowing down to accommodate my mind/body.  I only gave subtle running form cues to the athlete during the workout.  Just by him having to try to keep his legs under him to achieve that speed, was causing him to run more biomechanically correct and efficient.  He wouldn't have been able to go that fast if he hadn't. So there's something to be said about working on mechanics, thinking through the process, but combining that with simply challenging the body to move the way it was born to just as important in the performance process.


Redefine your 100%.  You can change it.  Daily.   You've just gotta push your limits.  Be curious.  Go where you haven't gone before!


More to come.


Move well!

5,346 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, triathlon, endurance, performance, jessi_stensland, movementu

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!!


3,216 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, cycling, swimming, triathlon, performance, racing, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland, functional_training, movement_prep, multisports
Just arrived in Kona, Hawaii with the team at!  We're here covering the 2009 Ironman World Championships all week long.  It's my seventh time being in Kona for the event, third time doing video, and it never gets old.  We're going behind the scenes once again to capture the color, culture and craziness that is Ironman Hawaii.  Fashion trends (compression socks), food habits (Lava Java), downtime (very little), parties (schmoozing and showing off stuff), outlandishly outfitted race bikes, Ironman tattoos and on and on.


You can find it all on the IRONBLOG!  Tune in daily to keep up with our crew...we're gonna be going non-stop!


Keep you posted.

4,555 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: video, running, cycling, swimming, triathlon, ironman, endurance, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland, ironman_hawaii

Here are three statements I've heard over the years, from all levels of athletes, that have made me cringe.  I've been thankful to have known differently and have always wanted others to know the same, whether they are looking to set a personal best, dealing with injury, or just believe they "can't run anymore."  There's a good chance I would not be running today, certainly to this level, let alone racing, if the following were true.


1. Injuries are inevitable and/or unavoidable and/or just a part of the sport.


2. If you want to run faster, run more and run faster.


3. Running is basically a technique-free sport.




1. Injuries are inevitable?


Change that to: Injuries are avoidable. By taking responsibility for your actions, your body and your movements and committing some of your training time to creating injury resistance within your body, you can avoid chronic injury 100% and minimize your chances of acute injuries as well with increased body awareness, coordination and quickness of movement.


2. If you want to run faster run faster?


If you want to run faster, more often than not you'll benefit most from learning how you can be more efficient with your efforts every stride. Less efficiency = more energy leaking. Running farther = even more energy leaking, more pounding on the body, and greater chance of injury. Running faster can force the body into somewhat better running mechanics naturally, however it is not the cure all for inefficiencies in your running and will only get you so much faster and who knows for how long.


3. Running is technique-free?


Running is highly technical. At least efficient, injury resistant and fun running! Much like swimming, running is heavily driven by body position, mechanics, technique and efficient power production along the ground. Just as simply moving your arms and your legs around in the water does not constitute swimming (as it pertains to the sport,) the same goes for running. Understanding even the most basic running mechanics and being deliberate with movements during running is key to more efficient, injury resistant and, i'll say it again, FUN, running.


Think about it...then spread the word! : )

3,999 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, performance, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland

My race nutrition routine has evolved over the years and continues to evolve, especially as I adventure into new sports, distances, and race environments. It seems though that the basics continue to stay the same.


I’ve learned from other athletes and professionals, from literature, and from my own experiences in training and in racing.  I’ve especially learned from my mistakes!


  • I’ve eaten what I thought was too little and had one of the strongest finishes of my life.

  • I’ve eaten way too much the night before and felt super sluggish all race.

  • I’ve eaten too much of one particular thing the night before and had to pit-stop during the race.

  • I was having a yummy cookies n’ cream protein bar minutes prior to one of my first triathlons when a seasoned pro came up to me and told me that’s the last thing I should be eating.

  • I added up my pre-race nutrition for another seasoned pro who’d asked me:  900 calories (450 liquid plus one banana plus one CLIF Bar in the two hours before a race) and was told that was WAY too much.

  • I’ve had too many electrolytes the night before and gotten severe cramps.

  • I’ve had too little electrolytes the morning of and gotten severe cramps.

  • I’ve split my calories needed on the bike between liquid and gels but my body rebelled against taking the gels in the heat.

  • I’ve brought food along with me that became too hard to chew due to cold temperatures on race day.


Everyone is different, but this is what works for me.




Leading up to the race start, my routine is the same no matter what type of race or distance.


1.     Upon waking up I have two scoops of SportQuest CarboPro (224 calories of pure complex carbohydrate) with water and a bit of juice and drink it with four SportQuest Recover capsules. Doing this immediately in the morning is ideal because the body is craving hydration and carbohydrate after having been starved during the hours of your sleep.  Because the complex carbohydrates are in liquid form, they are easily digestible and get the digestive system woken up quickly which helps to eliminate waste from the previous day in plenty of time before race start.


2.     I prepare two water bottles:  one for pre-race and one for post-race.  They each have two scoops of CarboPro and some electrolytes (SportQuest Thermolyte or Nuun.)   I will sip on one bottle leading up to the race start.  If I am not hungry for real food, I’ll finish that whole bottle, which makes 450 calories total.  If I do feel like eating food, I’ll have a banana and a CLIF Bar with me to nibble on.  I try not to eat anything solid during the two hours before the race.  Between the food and the calories in the water bottle, I’ll try not to exceed 500 calories total pre-race. I also have another water bottle on hand with water only to sip on if I feel like it during those hours as well.  I usually bring it with me to the race start for the last few sips.


3.     Thirty minutes prior to the race I take four SportQuest Vantage VO2Max capsules and two SportQuest Motivator capsules.




This depends on what type of race. 


Running:  I won’t take additional calories with me in races up to 60 minutes which is roughly a 10 miler or 15k.  Over and above that I will take a gel packet every 20-30 minutes with water.


Triathlon:  I take 200-250 calories per hour on the bike.  In sprint to olympic distance races I take one bottle with me on the bike with two scoops of Carbo Pro plus electrolytes.  On the run, I bring one gel pack with me and take it in the first ten minutes of the run.  In half-ironman distances (the longest I’ve done) where the bike takes two and a half to three hours, I split 750 calories of CarboPro plus electrolyte between two bottles and then take water only from the aid stations as needed.  On the run I will take one gel packet every 20-30 minutes.




I grab the bottle I’d mixed earlier that morning that has two scoops of CarboPro plus electrolytes and drink it along with four Recover capsules within the thirty minutes following the race.  I’ll have a banana and CLIF bar on hand to supplement that or take advantage of any good options the race might provide.  Later that day I usually plan to have a balanced meal.  Typically though I’ll admit, I do indulge in whatever my mind desires, and get back on the program the following day!  I’m only human : )


Happy trails!

3,445 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, triathlon, nutrition, jessi_stensland

I observe things all the time in endurance sports workouts, at the gym or elsewhere, that either completely miss the boat of performance efficiency or make a really good effort, but maybe miss a simple principle that takes away from the rest of the effort in a major way. Best performance comes from understanding and implementing all of the elements together to make one injury resistant, efficient, powerful body that's capable of doing work. I'm going to call these blogs: Performance POVs. In other words: observations on day to day happenings from the point of view of true performance and movement efficiency.


This Performance POV is based on observations from two track workouts I did recently with two different triathlon teams.


Doing running drills as part of the workout = GREAT

Doing them mediocre or wrong = A WASTE OF TIME



1. Hurdle drills are great for joint mobility and muscle elasticity when done correctly. What I saw was athletes crunching at the waist, hunching their back over, neglecting their posture and any power through their pillar just to get their leg over the hurdle in a somewhat sloppy sing-songy kind of cadence. Posture should be the number one priority in any exercise if you want to maximize your efforts. In this case you could lower the hurdles or do skipping drills that allow you to maintain great posture.


2. Running form drills are great when done correctly. What I saw was athletes sent out for 2 loops of the track, doing a drill on the straights and jogging through the curves. Coaches weren't coaching and athletes (on the whole) were chit chatting away not focused on their body or the drill. Here's my thoughts: drills should be purposeful, coached, and run over shorter distances so attention can stay focused on the drill at hand. It gets hard to maintain good form with drills over long distances. It's a coaches job to understand how to coach the drills given to athletes and coach them through it. Athletes if you want to make the most of your time, focus on your body and the running drill, don't chit chat.


Defining "WARM-UP"


Picture a group of athletes, having been doing running drills for at least 30 minutes, sweating, hearts racing, looking at each other like, "I'm WORKED! And we haven't even gotten to the track workout yet!" I was stoked to see the running drills not only incorporated but actually taught, and taught well. Then there came what I've come to call a "so close and yet so far" moment. The coach asks: "How many of you warmed-up jogged for 30 minutes? 20 minutes? 10 minutes or less?" Most people raised their hands for 10 min or less. At this point the group was scolded for not having warmed-up enough. I thought, oh geez, really? These athletes are not "warmed-up" enough? Ha!


Is warm-up defined as simply jog for 20 minutes? Maybe its to "get your heart rate up."


If you understand running, you understand that there's a whole lot more to your performance than higher than average heart rate. Posture, glute activation, joint mobility, stability, elasticity, strength and proper running mechanics all go into every running step you take. Those athletes in that track workout had done all of that and yet were being told they hadn't warmed up enough.


The term warm-up is a bit one-dimensional. I prefer to "prepare my body to move" and give some physiological purpose to my preparation. My movement preparation involves little running. I prefer spending my 10-20 minutes with functional exercises, running drills, and a few strides. Even 5 minutes of it does a body good.


More PERFORMANCE POVs to come.

1,426 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: running, endurance, running_form, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland


I'm often asked, "What do you eat?"


And my answer nowadays is:  "Do want me to tell you how I eat or do you just want me to tell you what you want to hear?"


Haha...That's because it started to feel like every single time I gave my pretty simple, concise, no fluff (and ok, probably boring, but its nutrition, not nunchucks) answer, it just would NOT be enough, and the conversation that ensued always seemed to be trying so hard to justify other nutritional habits albeit with a slight grin or knowing tone that says "AH I know, but...!!"   Prefacing my answer with the question above has seemed to help. A bit.


Yes there are guidelines, see below, that are not rocket science; they are not trends; and we've all heard them before. 


My number one rule of thumb is to first:


EAT LIKE A HEALTHY PERSON SHOULD EAT...then add on nutrition as needed for workouts/races and overall training load.


Too often I've seen people spending too much time worrying about supplementing, yet not giving their body a great springboard with a simple healthy diet.  Check out PhenomeNall Nutrition for just this kind of approach from Olympic Swimmer (and someone i adore) Anita Nall Richesson.


I'll discuss my sports nutrition in an upcoming blog that will feed off this one (no pun intended!)


More often what is more important are the SOLUTIONS that help stick to the guidelines.  For example here's one that worked for me:


Pick one rule to stick to first.  That's what I needed to do when I was getting back on the wagon after my two year hiatus during which, i'll admit, I allowed myself to have no rules (that said, lucky for me, I was raised with some basic principles - thanks to Mom - that I could never fall TOO far off of good nutrition.) For my first rule I decided on this:  "Whatever you eat, eat clean." I didn't care how much I put in my body or when or what, as long as it was always clean food (minimally processed, minimal ingredients, local, fresh, raw when possible.)  That alone changed my shopping habits to a degree:  It made me explore new products and had me frequenting the smaller, local, healthful grocers, all the time, instead of the big chain grocery stores, which I now utilize only in emergencies, though I realize i'm lucky and have a few great options very close to my home.  There is just SO little in those bigger stores that is unprocessed or even minimally processed.


__________________THE B - A - S - I - C - S__________________






the fewer steps energy has taken to get from the sun to your body, the better.




colors represent vitamins and minerals in whole foods.  Make it multi!




brown rice, quinoa or couscous instead of packaged side dishes.




good protein, carbohydrate, fats every time.




keep fuel on the fire**




Practically speaking, here are a couple of BREAKFAST FAVS:


1 cup non-fat plain yogurt Mixed_Berries

slivered almonds

whole oats OR Ezekiel Sprouted Grains Cereal

banana or berries

honey or agave syrup to taste





2 eggs

2 slices whole grain (local when possible...its SO good!)

1 Tbsp almond butter on the toast

1 orange

1/4 avocado if i've got it





1/2 cup whole oats (1 cup cooked)

1 Tbsp peanut butter

1 banana

honey to taste



And one LUNCH FAV for now:


Super Satisfying Sandwich


2 slices local bread...for example...look at these ingredients...SO GOOD!


Julian Bakery's Wonderful Bread:  Fresh ground whole grains of golden *wheat, oats, *rye, *corn, brown rice, *millet, seeds of sunflower, flax, sesame, poppy, pumpkin, pinto beans, honey, yeast & sea salt.


1/2 avocado

Lots of hummus

and anything else you've got like...

roasted red peppers, sprouts, cucumbers, lettuce, tomato, carrots








More to come - but for now - happy eats!!











**I've learned a bit about ayurvedic practices that focus on eating 3 larger meals vs. 6 smaller meals based upon the idea that the body needs the time to fully digest each meal before eating more.  Which makes sense.  I think as athletes, especially with training sessions throughout a day, eating more often is a necessity.  So find a balance or switch it up from time to time and see how your energy level is.



1,104 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: running, triathlon, nutrition, endurance, eating, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland

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

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

About a year ago I kicked off my training after 2 years completely off.  I don't mean off as in triathlete off -- I mean off as in very normal, don't work out for a month at a time, then maybe hit the gym 2 days in a row, then repeat.  That kind of off.  To give you an idea in terms of endurance performance, at that time, my body tested out to be only 68% as efficient compared to what I was used to operating at for the first 29 years of my life.  That's based on my V02 max numbers which, for those of you who are interested were at 48mL/kg/min vs 70+. When I went to run on the treadmill, I swore it felt like Tempe, AZ and San Diego, CA were all of a sudden at 6000 feet altitude.  I was outta shape in every way.  This year was about climbing back up the mountain and putting all the pieces, big and small, into place so that come Jan 1, 2009 I'd be ready to roll, for real this time.  And it was all that and then some...and yet...


...recently I've been feeling behind the 8 ball. 




I took a break after the marathon and next thing i knew, it's been almost 2 months.  Anyone else have that experience?  Yes I've been enjoying epic adventures here and there, as planned, without much rhyme or reason, for the sole purpose of staying fit-ish while having fun, and feeling great about it.  But how about those Facebook status updates...seeing "so and so just got back from a 10 mile run and so and so is going out to climb Mt. Tam and so and so just finished 100 x 100 at the pool..." etc. etc.  Ah!  It's not that I think I should be doing the training they are doing; I can focus on what I need.  But it's the whole: someone-somewhere-is-training-when-you're-not-and-when-you-meet-them-they'll-beat-you thing.  It can be a little bit intimidating, but definitely more motivating.  Everyone's having so much darn fun and energy when talking about their training I can't help but wanna do what I gotta do to have

that same awesome feeling and accomplish what I'd like to!




Today I realized I'm not as far behind the 8 ball as I thought.




I must've been thinking that I was once again as unfit today as I was a year ago.  Turns out I'm not!  I found that out thanks to an impromptu treadmill session today at the gym.  A year ago, it took a lot for me to run at 9 to 10 min/mi pace on the treadmill, and as for intervals, I remember setting the speed to 6min/mi pace just to see what it felt like, and I could barely keep up my leg turnover that fast AND by 30 seconds my heartrate was through the roof.  I worked myself up to 3-4min at that pace on the treadmill in my workouts.  Amazing to feel my body get more efficient.  I love it.  Fast forward to today...and after a great movement prep session, I was inspired to hop on the treadmill for some intervals (ESPECIALLY after I found out the gym I'd stopped into here on my holiday travels had Woodways!) I set out to do a set of 10 x (1min @ 10mph + 1min off) yet I got to the first interval at 1min and felt easy!  So I ran for 90sec total and instead of needing 60-90 sec of rest (ratio 1:1) I needed only 30sec to recover.  Here's how I did the workout (made it up as I went):




10min warm up @ 7-8mph

4 x (90sec @ 10mph + 30sec rest)

4 x (30sec @ 11mph + 15sec rest)

4 x (90sec @ 10mph + 30sec rest)




Pretty typical treadmill session for me:  12-24min worth of work.  Goals of the workout:  cardio response and leg speed.  Over time the goal is to make the hard intervals longer and faster, while maintaining or dropping the rest ratio.  Today I hopped off the treadmill for my rest.  Next time I might do the same intervals, but try to run easy through the rest (at 6mph for example.)




Still lots of work to do - but this made me happy. 




That said, it's midnight here, and I'd like to get another workout in before family festivities get rolling here in the I'm shutting it

down.  Hope you too have had some active adventures admist your holiday celebrations! 



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