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Jessi Stensland - Adventures in Endurance Performance

16 Posts tagged with the stensland 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

1,808 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!!

2,630 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, cycling, swimming, triathlon, endurance, performance, cardio, jessi_stensland, stensland

Last weekend I raced XTERRA Portland, an off-road triathlon.  It was a day I'll never forget.


It was a gorgeous morning at Hagg Lake.  Bright blue skies, beautiful scenery, great energy.  A glorious day for the race.


Already warm by 9am, it promised to get warmer. The lake was the perfect temperature for a swim sans wetsuit, so I went au natural.   Although I love my Xterra Wetsuit, there was no need for it that day.  This pic tells all:





The lake swim was pristine and the bike course was a blast!  Mostly lush tree-covered single track, you could tell a lot of work had been done to clear the way on the trail for us.  There were sections that felt like we were racing through the Amazon.  It  was perfect.  Well, the course was perfect, whereas I definitely  made a  few mental notes where my mountain bike skills were lacking,  specifically on a few of  the steep little climbs, a few of which I had  to jump off and walk up.  I've been slacking on my gym work, and my  power was down.  On a positive note however, I was stoked with how I  handled the ruts on the trail. I'd crashed more than once on similar  terrain last year and they haven't gotten the best of me since,  thankfully!  Side note:  I absolutely LOVE mountain biking!!  I think I  would live on my mountain bike these days if I could haha!


I wasn't quite sure what place I was in during the race.  These days I'm more focused on the fun and my own performance on the course than where anyone else is.  By the time we hit the run it was hot but I felt pretty good and was just loving being out there.  I hadn't seen another girl on the course since early in the bike when Heather passed me.  At this point I was just focused on getting myself to the finish as fast as I could.


6a00d8354d091969e20133f33347bf970b-800wi.jpg  6a00d8354d091969e20133f333483c970b-300wi.jpg


The run course was a lollipop with two loops.  As I finished the second loop, volunteers were there to direct me toward the finish.  They said, "You can catch her!" and added, "She wasn't looking too good running up the hill [ahead.]" I didn't think twice as I was feeling the wrath of 2.5+ hrs out there already and just wanted to make it up the hill in the heat myself.  From there the course ran up a short hill in a tall grass field, as I reached the top where it curved around to the left I could see someone in the distance just over the grass, that looked like they were stopped on the course and bent over at the waist, most likely with hands on their knees.  I thought, "Wow, maybe she really wasn't feeling too good," and kept an eye on her, fully expecting to see her pop up and move forward toward the finish.  However next thing I knew I couldn't see her at all.  I looped around on the trail, reaching her within 10 seconds or so, and found her lying on the ground very close to unconscious...




I grabbed her hand and/or chin and asked her her name and she faintly replied, "Heather."  Her eyes were not focused on anything, her body, including her hand, was dead weight. I continued to talk to her but got no clear responses.  I debated whether to run for help or yell for help.  I couldn't leave, so I yelled, "HELP!!" hoping the aid station down the hill would hear me.  They weren't far but they wouldn't have been able to see me. I yelled to the next athlete running up the hill hoping he could transfer the message to the aid station, he wasn't hearing me.  Then I saw the race director, Rob Jackson, pull up in his truck on the road above us. I started to yell to the same athlete to get his attention.  I could tell there was some discussion, but then Rob kept walking with a big Gatorade container on his shoulder, toward the aid station, not toward us. I yelled to the athlete (I'd never yelled that much, nor for help, in my life!) that it was an emergency and to get Rob and himself here NOW.  This was all a matter of seconds I'd like to think.  They both ran over.  Rob then immediately went for help while I stayed with Heather, talking to her, hoping to maintain some level of awareness even if it looked like she had none.  I kept asking her to squeeze my hand, but got no response.  If she was letting out any sound it was more like a constant moan.  Athletes continued to come by, check on the situation, then head toward the finish which was only about a half mile away.  Rob returned with two others and ice packs.  We placed them in all the key places: under arms, crotch, head.  The three guys then carried her up toward the truck.  Knowing there was nothing I could do at that moment, I ran toward the finish.


At the finish I grabbed something to drink and chatted for a minute with Karen Oppenheimer who ended up crossing the finish line first.  I saw Rob and went over to make sure he knew he could put me to work as needed.  He directed me up toward where Heather was, getting ready to transport her to the hospital.  A small group of us continued to do what we could to care for her.  While others were checking her vitals I just kept talking to her, in the outside chance that would help her brain to latch onto something, and keep working.  Everyone stayed amazingly calm, knowing we were doing all we could do at that moment.  We stayed focused on her only signs of life:  checking to make sure she still had a pulse and whether she was breathing or not.  It was a far cry from how much life was in her just minutes before racing along the course.  Hard to recall now that I know Heather and how great she's doing, but I definitely remember moments where the thought of losing her seemed very real.  She was out.  I had never experienced anything like it in my 13 years in triathlon and it was hard to imagine her springing back to life from the state she was at that moment.


The ambulance arrived and Rob directed me to go with Heather to the hospital, knowing Heather was at the race alone and from out of town.  Still with race kit and race number on, I jumped in.  Over the course of a few hours at the hospital, as her body temp dropped to normal and she was rehydrated, it was amazing to see her come back to life.  When I could I kept talking to her.  Her eyes were open but unable to focus at first.  She could not talk for a long time.  Then, if you can imagine, slowly but surely she continued to increase her function.  Little nod, a little smile.  I had her husband Dave on the cell phone, giving him the play by play and getting info from him to the hospital staff about Heather.  When we knew Heather could hear what we were saying, but still couldn't move or speak, I put the phone up to her ear so Dave could talk to her and she had tears streaming down her face.  All great signs!!  My favorite moment was when I asked her to look at me.  I was standing to the side of the hospital bed.  "Heather look at me."  I repeated it again. She had yet to connect brain to motor function. She very slowly, millimeter by millimeter turned her eyes, and her head just a bit, and finally locked into my eyes, probably followed by a slight smile.  Yeah!!!  She continued to make small improvements over the next hour or two.  The next best moment for me was when she all of a sudden was Heather again.  Still lying on the bed, on her side, hands under her head cozy, she looked at me and said, "Who are you?" and I finally got to meet her!  Needless to say we had lots to talk about, including our mutual great friend, XTERRA Pro/Ambassador Brandyn Roark Gray, who we soon realized was the reason each of us were inspired to get into XTERRA racing in the first place.


Here's the one photo I have of the two of us as we were leaving the hospital later that day:






It was very apparent to me that my reaction and response on that day was due to a few key things.  One, I like to race, hard.  I'm super competitive with myself.  I like to take risks.  I like to experience new things, learn and improve.  But at the root of it all, is an appreciation and sheer joy of every minute I'm blessed to be able to live.  Not only live, but doing so healthy, happy and fit enough to do anything I want to do.   I was eating up every minute of that race, the sights, sounds, how I felt, where I knew I wanted to improve my bike skills, the fresh air, the volunteers' smiles and cheers.  Getting to the finish line is no more or less important than any one of those moments, and I couldn't have asked for more than I'd already gotten on that day.  At that point in the race, it was a whole new moment.  Nothing that came before or might come after it meant anything at that point.  Who's to say I was even going to get to the finish line?  Heather sure thought she was.  It was all about that moment.  By the grace of God I was still able to finish the race.  Bonus!


Two, after meeting with Rob Jackson, the race director, the day before the race and learning about his inspiration for putting the race on, I saw a bigger picture.  That he wasn't a full-time race director but simply wanted to bring this event to Portland to give back to the community.  That he had marketed and managed logistics for the race, including clearing trails for us to ride and run on and for the community to enjoy post-race.  That he didn't have a huge crew and was struggling to find volunteers for the event the next day (which ended up coming in droves after all.  Thank you!!!)  All of this lent itself to me knowing, in that instant that I came upon Heather, that I had to react, to help, without hesitation.  It was impossible not to.  I knew there was not going to be someone else coming along to the rescue immediately.  I saw the big picture, or the birds-eye view, versus the worms-eye view as my Aussie roommate likes to say.  It's a beautiful thing.


I'm stoked Heather is doing great, recovering well.  I spoke to her yesterday and we're already talking about where we might race together next for a rematch!  I look forward to getting back to Portland for another race and seeing what other adventures are in store.


A big thanks to XTERRA for inspiring life, nature, adventures, and the best of the mind, body and spirit.



4,863 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: triathlon, endurance, racing, triathlete, xterra, off-road, jessi_stensland, stensland, multisports

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!!


6,961 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
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.

4,535 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: video, running, cycling, swimming, triathlon, ironman, endurance, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland, ironman_hawaii

What a flippin' blast!  It's called California Multisport.  Friends of mine have set out to bring some new endurance event adventures to endurance athletes in So Cal.  After experiencing it myself I can tell ya, I'm on a mission to recruit (and inspire!) ya'll to come out and join me...mix things up from time to time...both on and off the road...with these (and other) excellent endurance experiences.



This one in the series was up in the mountains at Big Bear Lake which is an outdoor adventure playground just under a two hour drive from Los Angeles and San Diego.  The race start was a relaxing 11am...which makes it easy to get to the race from LA or SD on the same day.  Many thanks to Paul and Karen of Team Sole and the heart and soul of California Multisport who have opened their home up to me with open arms anytime I want to come play (and train my butt off) up in Big Bear. 


Also check out Open Air Big Bear for additional events throughout the year including snowshoe 5k/10k, mountain biking, multisport, paddling and a marathon.




It was a 9k trail run / 20k mountain bike / 4k trail run.


Big Bear sits at 7000ft altitude.  It might sound daunting, coming from sea level, to do a race at that  altitude. Luckily I'd spent a weekend up there just a few weeks before with some killer training sessions and found that I couldn't really tell where the challenge was coming from: the altitude, the efforts on the climbs, etc. It was just one big great challenge and I didn't feel like I necessarily 'felt' the altitude.


After a relaxing morning with good nutrition, I got to the race start with more than enough time to enjoy the music, do some great movement prep and get ready to race.


I started the race thinking "keep it easy." I've learned the hard way that its extremely easy to go too hard too soon at the start of running races.  I needed it to feel as effortless as possible for as long as possible.  Pretty quickly I found myself passing by all but 2 men in front of me, and kept asking myself, "Are you really going easy or does it just SEEM easy since its still the first mile?"  There's a big difference.  I settled into a pace that I felt good about, running my own race, not worrying about who was ahead or behind.  However, pretty quickly we hit the climb and that was the end of easy.  It was a steady uphill that took about 30 minute to reach the top.  I was happy to see the top AND the gorgeous Pacific Coast Trail that we then got to run on to decend all the way down to the finish.  I thrive on combining footwork, agility and speed to maneuver as efficiently as possible on the trail.  My speed seemed to get the best of me at one point however (on wide, flat section of the trail??) and I quickly found myself diving toward the ground.  Slammed my right knee and hip, and must've rolled a bit too...seeing as how dirty I was coming into transition.  Oh well.  Go fast, take chances.  Got right back up and forgot about it in a couple steps and made my way back to transition.  57 minutes...a LONG 9km!


Once again my speedy transitions helped out.  I came into T1 in third place, 30 seconds down from 2nd pIace, and left transition in second place (albeit ever so briefly!) Love that!


The bike was pretty straight forward.  There were 2 long climbs over the 1 hour and 20 minutes.  I got into  a rhythm and did my best to relax every bit of my body that I didn't need to get me up the hill, including my neck, shoulders and face.  I tried to maintain my posture and keep the pedals turning over smoothly.  It seemed to get hard at the end to maintain...all I wanted to do was round my back over and curl into a ball...but I did my best!  A few times I had to remind myself that I'd just ran hard for an hour prior to this so it was ok to feel not quite as flash as I would have had I just jumped on the MTB fresh.  I also kept reminding myself that everyone else was probably feeling the same way...I wasn't out there alone!  I pretty much rode solo the entire way.  I kept wondering when the killer Big Bear local mountain bikers would come flying by me, but...apparently I'd put enough time on them in the run that I never got to see them.  In the

last few minutes decending back to transition, adventure racer extraordinaire Addy Goodvibes blew by me.  Thought I might be able to re-pass him in the run...but no chance! 


In T2, the volunteers and Karen herself were awesome.  I was kind of confused when they told me I had to keep my helmet on for the run...but I went with it, and quickly forgot it was on.  I was trying too hard to pick up my knees and put one foot in front of another.  I was pretty fried and it never really got any easier.  Hitting the finish line, as usual, was awesome.  Those last 20 meters or so, as I've mentioned before are always the best!  This time though...there was a twist!  Sometime between our start and finish, ropes had been placed on the finishline scaffolding.  Just when I thought I was done...


We had to jimmy up a knotted rope to the top of the scaffolding, climb over and make our way down a giant net to the official finish.  HOW MUCH FUN IS THAT??!!  I was thankful for my upper body and core strength which made the challenge more fun than anything.  It proved to be quite a feat for some people...yet in the end everyone agreed it was such an awesome accomplishment to top off an already epic day! 


NOTE:  See photos worth 1000 words HERE.


In the end I ended up 1st among the women and 4th overall.  Got to pop my first bottle of champagne on the podium!  I did alright if I do say so less than 25 people got soaked haha.  And they hooked me up with, among other very first altimiter watch.  The first altimiter that has been made to fit a women's wrist:  The Highgear Axio Mini.  Adventure racing here I come?!




As I mentioned, I hope you'll keep an eye out for these off-the-beaten path type races...and join us for the fun!


Wanna race??

3,499 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: triathlon, mountain_biking, duathlon, mtb, off-road, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland, multisports

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! : )

3,992 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, performance, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland

The Carlsbad Triathlon is a 1K / 25K / 5K.


Turns out my race was all about the bike......and the transitions.  I was stoked to finally see that those hard core efforts on the mountain bike actually do translate to the road!  As usual I had no expectations going into the race.  I just planned on giving it my all and seeing how my fitness level was faring in racing.  I was surprised.  I love surprises!


The quick version is this:


My swim and run were solid.  I could tell my fitness level is at a place it hasn’t been in a long time.  My bike felt insanely strong in many ways (read on for more.)  My transitions were super clean and therefore fast (free speed!)  I came off the bike in first place (more like tied for first place) and ended up finishing second to Kate Major…one cool chick and my great friend.


The longer (more fun) version is this:


I love this race!  Come to think of it, it was the first race I ever raced in the ‘Pro’ division. That was back in 1999.  I would race it every year and even won it the last time I raced it back in 2005.  It was great to be back.  It’s a beautiful course with an ocean swim and both the ride and run along the Pacific Coast Highway.  Familiar faces both on the course and on the sidelines cheering always make a local race a mustdo.


*New chill pre-race routine.*


The race started at 8am.  Typically I would plan to arrive 90 minutes prior to the race, giving me a good 60 minutes to prepare transition, warm-up and get down to the start.  This day I had a different plan.  I got to transition at 6:00 a.m., two hours before the start, so I could grab a great spot in transition while it was still quiet, drop my gear to save my spot, and still have plenty of time to pedal my bike up the coast about a mile or so to Starbucks, grab a double espresso and relax for a bit.  Ran into a friend of mine who happened to be there (who was surprised to see me there!) who’s husband was doing the race.  She pointed out the fact that I seemed so relaxed…and I was…there IS such a thing as the able-to-chill-triathlete!  Thank goodness I’ve found out how.  I love it.  After that I hit the bathroom, said a quick good-bye, then headed back toward transition.  Along the way I found a quiet spot to do my movement preparation for about 20 minutes.  I got back to transition by 7:25am, 30+ minutes before the start with more than enough time to take my pre-race nutrition, dial in my transition area, chat it up a bit with some friends, put my wetsuit on, and head down to the water for a quick swim before the start.  Caught a GREAT wave in to shore from my warm-up and was hoping I would be as lucky in the race.




It was my favorite kind of start:  a long run in the sand to the ocean.   It spreads the field out a bit so if you’re good at it and get ahead on the run into the water, then dolphin strong through the surf, you’ll have a nice clear view of the buoy ahead, instead of having to maneuver in and around lots of arms, legs or feet!  I felt great from the gun and had a quick start.  There were a lot of athletes in that first wave, including not only the pros, but relays, 30-34 age-group men and firefighters.  Because of that, things got a bit messy around the first buoy but then spread out once we hit the open water and swam parallel to shore for most of the 1km.  I felt better and better as the swim went on.  Usually a sign that I could’ve used more of a warm-up.  Next time I’ll remember.


I wasn’t lucky enough to catch a wave into the finish.  No problem.  There was a long run from the ocean, up the beach, and up and back through transition.  I had a super quick transition.  This is what goes through my mind:


“Pull wetsuit down to ankles. Sunglasses on.  Helmet on.  Wetsuit off one foot.  Wetsuit off the other foot. Grab bike and go.”


Kate and I left transition together…I’d made up good time but had no time to think about it.   There was a short steep climb directly out of transition and I was hoping that my decision to keep my shoes on my pedals wasn’t going to prove to be more challenging than I thought.  It ended up being the right decision.  I had no problem getting up the hill with my feet on top of my shoes.  Once we were out on the open road, slightly decending, I got my feet into the shoes without losing any ground to the other athletes.  Then started pedaling my heart out!




Out on the bike I immediately felt good.  This was confirmed by the fact that those in front of me weren’t getting any further ahead.  Hmmmm I thought.  Interesting.  I kept that effort going.  It felt like it was as hard as I could go in the TT position and still felt greawt.  As we hit the small hills, I only felt stronger.  It was at that point that I knew that my mountain biking efforts were paying off on the road.  It makes all the sense in the world, but I had yet to see or feel it directly.  In mountain biking, there are times I’ve been climbing straight up for 30-40 minutes powering through the pedals at a high threshold just to get the bike up the hill.  Certainly a small roller on the coast highway was going to be a piece of cake!  I also noticed that I was keeping my cadence really high naturally.  It felt super smooth to keep the pedals turning over probably 90-100 rpms.  My TT position felt great.  I like to say that because of my body awareness, functional performance training, and movement efficiency, my body is TT-position ready all the time.  I don’t have to train in that position to be  comfortable in it, because I have the mobility through my hips, spine and shoulders, and the power, as always, through my glutes.  That all added up to an amazing feeling out there that day.  A few of us, including Kate and I rode pretty steadily together the whole 25km swapping places here and there.  Once again, if anything, I only felt stronger by the end.  I was aware that I was able to sustain a really high effort, the kind where you know you feel like you’re actually racing and not just covering the distance from point A to point B.  In the back of my mind I was curious to know how I was going to feel on the run, and even thought for a second whether I should back off a bit, but I remembered that I had told the ActiveX Triathlon Training group just yesterday, “Don’t hold back on the bike!” so I took it to heart for myself.  At this point I knew the bike would be my strength that day since I haven’t been running as much as riding.  I decided it was best to go as hard as I could and just see what happened.  We all came off the bike side by side…




In my mind T2 goes like this:


“Helmet off. Shoe. Shoe. Grab visor/racebelt. Run.”


I had another lightning fast transition and headed out onto the run in first place.  I didn’t feel bad, but I didn’t feel ‘flash’ (as I like to say.)   I knew I would get to the finish line as fast as I could that day by focusing on my running form, in order to cover the distance as efficiently and evenly paced as possible.  It was more about getting from point A to B than actually racing it in this case.  THAT I knew immediately was something I wanted to commit to working on as soon as the race was over.  Intervals and more running drills, here I come!


It was great to see that my fitness level is at a place it hasn’t been in years and that my hard core (long and painful) efforts on the mountain bike (that, as you know, I’m loving) really are translating to both my overall fitness and my power through the pedals on the road bike, even in the TT position.   I love the saying


“Do what you love.  Love what you do.”


It really has paid off for me so far…so I’ll keep at it!


And I’ll say it to you too:


Do what you love and love what you do!

3,212 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: triathlon, racing, triathlete, jessi_stensland, 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.

1,422 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: running, endurance, running_form, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland

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

It was a really hard, XTERRA-y kind of way. Its the kind of race you love to hate and probably hate to love! There's really nothing easy about it...but that's what we all sign up for right?


I had prepared for it as much as I could and was super excited to race, for a few reasons. One, I love to race. Two, I wanted a reality check against the pros. Three, I wanted to figure out at what level I REALLY wanted to be competing at this season and be able to go forward with my training and racing having nailed my performance goals down a bit more.


I'd crammed a bit of mountain biking in beforehand that increased my comfort level, competency and strength dramatically...though that's not saying much...against longtime mountain bikers that is! Still after a 2nd place in Cat 2 of the NORBA sanctioned Mountain States Cup MTB race the other day, I was content. However just as in ITU racing, where you've got the likes of Olympic gold medal swimmers and NCAA All-Americans, in XTERRA you've got World and National Champion mountain bikers. And when the swim takes 20 minutes and the bike between 1hr 30 to can see the challenge against these girls! That said, I'm stoked to get stronger and more skilled on the mountain bike. I know its going to take a lot of time in the saddle on the mountain. I'm loving it and think it will compliment my road biking a ton.


I've definitely been roughing it with my introduction to mountain biking. I think I've been out only ten days this year, five of those being races! And although its true that you do need to just get out there and ride in order to learn, a more efficient way would be to also commit to a mountain bike skills clinic or camp. I know they're all over the place and I'm working on getting to one. I'm also working on hitting up my friends for their expertise. I need to convince (coerce?) them to get out on a ride that's meant for skills and not just me trying to keep up with them!






The day before the race, we pre-rode a bit of the course. That only confirmed how hard the race would be. But glad we did it. Pre-ride is a new common word in my race vocabulary. As you can imagine with the intricacies and dynamic nature of mountain biking, it is extremely helpful, and often necessary, to know the course before you race it. On the other hand, pre-riding (or driving) a road bike course, although certainly useful to get familiar and visualize turns and the occasional advance shifting needed for a blind turn or climb, is not typically decisive for race day.



Since I hadn't planned to be gone from home for the entire 4 weeks leading up to the race, I had to do a bit of scrambling for gear. XTERRA Wetsuits overnighted me a Vortex to race in...THANK YOU! My friend Brandyn, oddly enough had brought me a race top of mine that I'd left in Maui at the 2007 XTERRA World Championships (things happen for a reason!) and she also had an extra race belt. Turns out Intense Cycles had organized to bring their Demo Truck to the race, so I had full support for my Spider FRO, which needed it, having been on the road, and trained and raced on over 4 weeks. I was SUPER thankful for that. I like to be very careful when it comes to the bike and keeping it dialed in for training and racing, both for injury prevention AND performance! My goggles were the only other missing link. The only ones I had with me were an old pair of Swedish goggles: those low-profile ones with no padding that lay perfectly within the eye socket. I've worn them for years in training, but ever since one of my first triathlons, Wildflower 1998, when I got smacked in the face and the goggles split my eyebrow open I've opted for more open-water and slap/kick friendly pairs. However, knowing this would not be a super aggressive start (swimming is the weak link for most XTERRA pros) I didn't go out of my way to find another pair, and wore them. More on that below...






Should I admit I hadn't done a swim workout since December? Not ideal, but I had other priorities in my training, many of which help my swim performance anyway. It worked out. I was still out with or ahead of the eventual top 2 finishers. The googles ended up working out fine, except for that they were so worn that I couldn't see well at all in them (and the course wasn't very sighting friendly but luckily the feet I was following stayed on course well.) There were a couple times I made a quick stop to clear them and even one time when, thinking of Chris McCormack who I've seen swim races without goggles at all, I pulled them up on my forehead to take a couple strokes without them to see if that would be better. It wasn't.



Of course that was the least of my worries. The bike and run were going to be the story of the day...






It wasn't super technical, but as a new mountain biker, my view is that there is a level of technical to all mountain biking terrain, save for a wide open fire road, which this hardly was. The hard part on this course was the super steep and soft climbs and decents. There were a few. Mostly in the first few miles of the 9 mile loop. Think: Escape from Alcatraz Sand Ladder - only having to run up it AFTER having climbed up a monster hill just as long and then running up even steeper stairs, pushing a 20+lb mountain bike up it. Then after a quick decent (oh why does it have to take so much less time to go down than up?) do the same thing on a similar climb. My calves were screaming. I was TRYING to get my effort into my glutes somehow and take the pressure off but it was really impossible with the angle of the hill and the soft sand and leaning over to push the bike up! That was something they weren't ready for. I'll remember next time. Ha...If there is one! The second loop was not as bad. That's been typical for me in every MTB race I've done so far. I think its the steep learning curve I'm experiencing...and maybe being more warmed into the bike ride. Hmmm.



As usual, on the second loop I was technically better. Meaning I got up the climbs farther by holding a straight line longer before I had to step off. At some points it really was just my overall fatigue, and not technical skill that caused me to step off. Mountain biking is killer, in a good way. I also tend to take chances more on the second loop in places where I know I won't kill myself if I gun it. Usually that little extra confidence and momentum works. There was one time however where I went for it, decending down a single track shoot with super soft sand and a bit of a turn at the bottom. I'd crashed the first loop. And crashed again on the second loop, only this time my quad completely cramped up! (I rarely have gotten cramps in my career. I think it was the dry air. Needed more hydration. I was super salty.) I felt like I couldn't move off the course, but also knew that if someone decended down the slope without seeing me, and nailed me while I was lying there, that impact would hurt worse than the cramp, so i pushed the bike out of the way and rolled over into the brush with it, off the trail. The cramp subsided and I went on. Fell off again shortly after because my chain had seized up. Looked pretty funny stuck in some bushes while other riders went by (asking if I was fine of course...) Whew. I'd had fun, but was ready to get off the bike and on to the run. I don't know what I was thinking...






Pretty much h-e-double hockey sticks. The course looked like it and felt like it! Monotone, treeless, rocky twisty turny, mostly uphill it seemed. There was hill after hill after steep hill to climb. (I've noticed that XTERRA races, triathlon and trail running, seem to break the what-goes-up-must-come-down rule.) My body was rebelling from imbalance of electrolytes and fluids so all the cells in my body seemed to be collectively saying, "Um, no." LOL. Much of the decending was steep, soft, rocky sand. None of it felt easy. The second loop was much harder than the first. Turned into a bit of a death march, run, walk thing. Dare I admit. I will say, I hadn't done much running other than my interval work, and I can see how I need to start incorporating some longer, stronger intervals in my training now that my body is dialed and ready to handle it. I'm excited to not have that run be so hard next time!



Cold water never felt so good at the finish.






XTERRA is legit. Nothing like road triathlon racing yet I know it will be super complimentary to my road performance, due to the strength, efficiency in cycling pedal strokes, and because I'm thinking everything else will seem like a piece of cake! Ok, I won't take it that far, but I'm curious to see the overlap.



While I decided I won't be running around the country competing on the entire XTERRA Cup Circuit until I bridge the gap to those stellar MTBers, I will definitely be mixing up my on and off-road racing this season. Lookin forward.



Hope you're also having a fantastic start to your own racing season!



891 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: triathlon, mountain_biking, xterra, off-road, jessi_stensland, jessi, stensland

As a new Active Expert here on I though it would forward along this recent interview I did with Triathlete TV.


When I saw that this segment was 28+ minutes long I thought, what the heck did i say?  But leave it to Mitch Thrower.  He structured the interview with content that spans so much that has meant a lot to me

throughout my career as well as currently, that for as many times as I've thought about and even told the stories, to have it in this format to keep forever, is really special to me.


Sums a lot up: looking back on my career, my inspiration in the sport and in life, how my 2 year hiatus happened, the biz behind it all, and of course some endurance performance pointers.



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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


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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.



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