Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Overtraining occurs when athletes go beyond their training regiments and do not allow enough time for the body to recover. This can damage muscles, tendons, and ligaments and even have a mental effect on the athlete. There are also cases when athletes become ill right before their major event due to overtraining. This is often caused by athletes who are already at their capacity training too hard in an effort to feel as though they’ve achieved their full training potential and thus depleting their reserves and compromising their immune systems.

One general principle known to all elite athletes and coaches training for major events is overload training. Athletes train for long hours and at high intensities. Overload is usually followed by a taper for recovery. However, when an athlete uses all they’ve got but still try to give more without the proper taper, the athlete will have depleted all their resources and become fatigued. If overload has gone wrong, this depletion does not help performance and may actually cause it to drop. Overtraining has occurred.

Overreaching is often a term heard in the context of overtraining. Overreaching is seen as short-term overtraining and refers to training that involves a brief period of overload, with inadequate recovery, that exceeds the athlete’s adaptive capacity. It is often debated whether overreaching is a normal part of training, however, monitoring this kind of training in order for the positive results to come out as opposed to the potential damaging results of burnout becomes the key factor.

Beyond the physical impacts of overtraining such as illness and injury, some of the risks of overtraining include guilt about not working hard enough, disruption of sleep, anxiety/stress, feelings of fatigue, burnout and maladaptive responses to poor performance.The problem here is discerning whether these are short-term effects of intense training or long-term effects of overtraining.

Athletes who are susceptible to overtraining can show the following characteristics, behaviours and attitudes
  • Extreme perfectionist, extremely strong athletic identity
  • Lack of knowledge or awareness regarding the importance of recovery
  • Unrealistic expectations
The best way to prevent overtraining is to get rid of the notion that more is always better. Once an athlete has completed his training exercise the most simple and recommended part of the cycle is rest.

Source from the SIRC Collection:
Richardson, Sean O., Andersen, Mark B., and Morris, Tony. Overtraining Athletes: Personal Journeys in Sport. Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics Publishers; c2008.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Looking on the Bright Side!

We have often heard that a person’s attitude can colour their view of any situation. Someone with a positive attitude will see a situation quite differently than someone with a more negative attitude. When we have a positive attitude about a situation things seem to go much easier than if we are fighting ourselves. So how can attitude affect us in our fitness and sporting lives? And how can we work with attitude to improve our performance?

A recent article from the SIRC Collection points to 10 things we should all know about attitude and how it affects us:
  1. Having a good attitude is a choice.  A person’s state of mind is what they choose it to be. We can choose how we think about something and how we will act in response.
  2. Attitude can be changed.  While we may have what we consider an automatic response to something, we can choose whether or not to have a different attitude to it, we can make our attitudes whatever we want them to be.
  3. Attitudes aren’t shaped in a vacuum.  A great number of factors influence the development of an individual’s attitude, from personality and temperament, to family and social environments.
  4. Attitudes can be enhanced by adversity.  Successful people recognize that adversity can be used to learn more about ourselves and in effect turn failures into successes.
  5. Attitude can determine whether a person is a success or a failure.  Research indicates that for the most part, people with positive attitudes are much more likely to achieve success than people who look at things from a negative perspective.
  6. Attitude affects a person’s relationship with other people.  A positive attitude often gives off an infectious energy just like another’s negative attitude often feels like the energy is being sucked out of you
  7. Attitude can affect outcome.  Having a positive attitude will be more likely to breed success than an negative expectation or outlook.
  8. Attitude affects what a person expects from life.  “Positive people expect more and tend to achieve more”.
  9. Attitudes can turn problems into opportunities.  People with a positive attitude can adapt to just about any situation and see where it can be improved.
  10. Attitude determines who a person is.  A person with a positive attitude engages in life unlike those with a negative attitude who see life as something that happens to them. “Individuals with a positive attitude live their lives with passion.”
Attitude can be developed as one aspect of mental training. Being mindful of our attitude during training, competition and performance, we can exert a conscious effort to approach situations with an attitude focused on success. Use attitude as one more tool in your arsenal for personal achievement on and off the field.

Peterson, J.A. (2012). 10 Things Health/Fitness Professionals Should Know About Attitude. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 16(1), 46.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Forever Young

As we all get older, age starts to take a toll on our bodies. For most of us this is a pessimistic outlook that we do not want, therefore we need to take action. Quality of life is just as important as quantity, training is necessary for health and longevity.

Exercise suggestions:
  • When going to the gym, a workout should not be focused on a specific area of the body. Most people that work out solely their arms or legs are not trying to improve the muscle’s function but rather how they look. It is okay to train for aesthetics, however as we age our bodies naturally lose strength and size (sarcopenia).  Therefore it is important to keep the whole body in mind, functioning as a well oiled machine.
  • The most important thing to remember is not to train the muscle but rather to train the movement. Some ideal exercises include squats, over head presses and dead lifts. These may sound like hardcore power lifts, however it is not about how much weight is used but rather applying the proper technique.
  • The average human spends 9 hours sitting a day. Overtime, this will take a toll on an individual’s posture. In order to help with hyperkyphosis or a rounded upper back, rowing type movements will strengthen the core. Having poor posture can also make you appear much older.
  • As we age, along with poor posture, our muscles and joints tend to stiffen, reducing flexibility. The condition associated with muscle becoming worn is called osteoarthritis. This can affect our balance and ability to move smoothly. Contrary to popular belief, strength training and weight bearing exercise decreases, not increases, joint pain. Studies show that people suffering from arthritis have reduced knee pains after performing squats regularly.
Before walking through those gym doors it is important to set a workout plan that considers your medical needs. Personal trainers may come at a cost but they are highly qualified and can be very beneficial.     

Source from the SIRC Collection:
Dale, P. (2011) Anti-Aging Strategies. Ultra- fit. 21(6), 112- 113.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Can Deception Improve Athletic Performance?

When we're trying to climb a particularly steep hill, or run those last few kilometers in the marathon, we often try to trick our minds into ignoring any possible aches and pains or believing that those distances are shorter than they seem. If we use it in the context of making an effort seem easier, is it possible to use deception to make performance better?

According to an interesting research study from Northumbrian University, deceiving the athlete brain can lead to some improvements in athletic performance.  In a study done at the university, cyclists were asked to race against an avatar (a virtual cyclist figure), which they thought was moving at the personal best pace of each cyclist, except they were actually cycling one percent faster. The cyclists, who could see their own performance on the virtual course alongside the avatar, were not only able to match their opponent, they were actually going faster.  This lead to a two percent increase in power which may seem insignificant but not when that could be the difference between gold and not even getting on the podium.

Due to the improved performance in this study, some questions were raised out: 
  • What are the limiting factors on how fast a person can go in an athletic event?
  • Which fatigues first – the body or the brain?
  • How much competition can affect the athlete’s speed?
  • Does the brain conserve the body’s limited fuel resources?
It was also learned in the research environment that money did not increase athletic performance, for when athletes were offered money to go faster and better their own times, they could not.

Results from the experiment showed that deception can indeed lead to improved performance when the cyclists were told that the avatar was going the same speed as their personal best. But if they thought the avatar was already going faster than they had ever gone, the cyclists had a tendency to give up faster.

The “belief system” of the athlete plays a role, within limits, and if the athlete thinks a certain performance is possible, they can draw on the energy reserves that the brain is programmed to hold back.

For more information on coaching techniques, please visit SIRC.

Northumbria University (2011, October 17). Pushing the limits of performance. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 15, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2011/10/111017075514.htm

Original Research
Stone, Mark R.; Thomas, Kevin; Wilkinson, Michael; Jones, Andrew M.; Gibson, Alan St Clair; Thompson, Kevin G. Effects of Deception on Exercise Performance: Implications for Determinants of Fatigue in Humans. (2011). Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: POST ACCEPTANCE, 19 August 2011. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318232cf77. Retrieved February 15, 2012 from http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/publishahead/Effects_of_Deception_on_Exercise_Performance_.98845.aspx

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

For the love of cross-country skiing

Why not get outside and enjoy the winter while getting some exercise?  Cross country skiing gives you the ability to do just that! Whether skiers are trying to travel through knee deep snow or a well groomed course, these athletes are outside enjoying nature while getting in some exercise.  The best part about cross country skiing is you can make it suit your needs… skiers can go out alone, in groups or as a family.  You can also choose your pace; ski at a high speed or at a nice leisurely slow glide. No matter how you choose to cross country ski, it is a whole body workout that can require high levels of endurance.

Another benefit of cross country skiing is, unlike running cross country it doesn’t pound your joints. Giving your legs a break from the running related stresses. Cross country skiing also works your upper body, which tends not to be worked out in other sports.

Cross country skiing requires the use of a large number of muscles which helps to improve cardiovascular fitness. This is the ability of your heart and circulatory system to deliver blood and nutrients to the working muscles and organs within your body. Easy tours will raise your heart rate to 60 percent to 70 percent of maximum.  If done 2 or 3 times a week for 20 to 30 minutes easy tours will help you increase the amount of blood the heart can pump.

Muscular endurance, which is the ability of a muscle to work for long periods of time without fatigue, is another benefit of cross country skiing. Endurance training generally increases the aerobic capacity of the muscle so that they can get a great deal more energy from food sources. Muscular endurance may require strength training with light to medium weights with a high number of repetitions.

Training exercises to help with cross country skiing include:
  • Running
  • Bench dips
  • Core strengthening
Contact SIRC for more information on Cross-Country Skiing!

Online Resource

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Have a dream. Find your passion.

2008 Olympic Games - Beijing, China
Bird's Nest Stadium
Photo credit: Michele Walker
If you have ever dreamed of competing in the Olympic Games or playing hockey in the National Hockey League, yet have come to the realization that as an average athlete with a passion, it’s just not going to happen, you may be able to fulfill your Olympic dreams by working in a career in sport. The great thing about working in sports is that the working career lasts a lot longer than the athletic career does, yet the same passion and drive is necessary, as are the feelings of accomplishment. Like any profession, if you really love what you are doing, it never feels like work.

Getting on the path to the excellence podium starts with a passion and the motivation to do something about it. If it wasn’t for sport, some sports crazed people might not have even gained higher education. It will keep you motivated towards your goals and soon you will learn that studying physical education, kinesiology, marketing or media relations can lead to a much broader career in sport. Those years in high school and university should be utilized researching all the sports career opportunities that are possible. When you find your passion, it will be the anchor to keep you going, but paths often change as opportunities present themselves that can never be predicted, so be prepared to be flexible without giving up on the dream.

Even though they don’t give medals to organizers of the Olympic Games, they really should as so many have achieved their Olympic goals and dreams by dedicating their life’s work to being the best they can be, so that others have the opportunity to have their moment in time.

So how do you get there, you ask? Here’s a little Sports Career 101:
  • Sign up for the Daily SIRC Careers Section and Press Release Email Distribution Service
  • Join the other career listing services that post sports related jobs
  • Read press releases, articles, etc. to learn about the wide variety of jobs in sports
  • Learn about all the sports related businesses 
  • Find someone who has the job you want and start asking questions
  • Look at the path less traveled
  • Network, network, network
  • Be willing to take a chance
  • Be willing to move
  • Never give up

2006 Asian Games - Doha, Qatar
Main Press Centre
Photo credit: Michele Walker
How big a role does luck play in a career path? A lot, because “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” 

And as the great Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

 For more information on careers in sports, please visit SIRC.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Need for Fibre

Although it has very little caloric value, fibre is still essential to your diet and offers a wide range of health benefits. The recommended daily allowance of fibre is 20-35 grams per day between soluble and insoluble varieties (although the average daily fibre intake is closer to 15 grams). While all athletes, recreational and competitive, need to make sure of a regular supply of fibre in their diets, athletes may need to decrease fibre pre-competition to prevent intestinal problems.

Soluble fibres, which have the added bonus of reducing blood cholesterol levels and help control blood sugar levels, are found in lentils, beans, nuts and some vegetables and fruit. This fibre forms a gel by attracting water, which slows down digestion. In addition it helps with over eating and weight loss. 
  • Weight loss aid - an apple and a biscuit both have 60 calories. However an apple which has high fibre content and water compared to the sugar and fat of the biscuit. The apple is more filling and satisfying unlike the single biscuit. Many of us can eat a few biscuit in a single serving but the same cannot be said for an apple. 
On the other hand insoluble fibres pass through the gastrointestinal tract relatively quickly and add bulk to our diet.  It is believed that insoluble fibres help to decrease your risk of colon cancer by removing toxins from the colon and controlling/balancing the acidity levels in the intestine.  Insoluble finders can be found in whole wheat and grains, seeds, the outer skins of fruits and vegetables.
  • Digestive health- our intestines are made of smooth muscle, these muscle require, like any other muscle to be exercised. Food is pushed through the intestines in an action called peristalsis. Fibres add bulk to our food, helping the food pass with less pressure. Lack of fibre can cause diverticulitis. This is a painful and serious medical condition where bacteria filled bulges develops on the walls of the intestine.  
To get your daily fix of fibre eat a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, grains, and other natural foods.

Foods high in fibre 
· Cooked black beans  
· Kidney beans 
· Bran cereal 
· Apples and pears with skin 
· Avocado 
· Red lentils

Foods low in fibre 
· White bread 
· White rice 
· White pasta 
· Refined meals
Source from the SIRC Collection:
Dale, P. The F Word (2011). Ultra-FIT.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

SIRC at the CS4L National Summit: Governance!

SIRC hosted the "Governance and CS4L" session at the CS4L Summit today. Good governance is critical to the success of a sport organization. This session talked about how CS4L‐LTAD can be integrated into the Governance of a sport organization and where to find practical governance templates and resources that can be downloaded and modified for use. Panelists shared insights, including lessons learned at both the community and National level, that can help with incorporating CS4L principles and LTAD programs into governance and strategic planning. Hosted by Debra Gassewitz (SIRC), panelists included Marg Jones (JUEL Basketball), Paul Jurbala (CS4L), and JD Miller (B2ten).

Highlights of the session included:
  • How to integrate LTAD programs into your governance
  • What the Board needs to do to implement the strategic plan
  • Who should be on the Board and How do we recruit them
  • Where the resources can be found: SIRC Sport Governance Online Resource Centre
Contact SIRC for more information on sport governance

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

SIRC at the CS4L National Summit

In support of the Canadian Sport for Life (CS4L) movement SIRC is hosting an interactive Resource Centre at the National Summit (Wed & Thursday, Feb 1 & 2, 2012) and the World LTAD Symposium (Friday, February 3, 2012) in Gatineau, QC.

Among the resources we are making available:
In print:
  • Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) from over 30 National Sport Organizations
  • SIRC Newsletters on CS4L & LTAD
SIRC's Sport Governance Resource Centre
  • Guidelines, templates and resources on governance related topics
  • Board Models, Board Orientation, Strategic Planning, Legal Issues, Roles & Responsibilities
  • Governance Expert Directory
  • Free Webinars
SIRC's LTAD Online Resources
  • Links to over 45 National Sport Organization LTAD documents
  • LTAD & CS4L Newsletters
What's being talked about at the CS4L National Summit, Day 1?
  • Big ideas for moving organizations and CS4L forward
  • Provision of family programs to promote active lifestyles modelled from one generation to the next
  • Educating parents on CS4L
  • Injury prevention for aesthetic and flexibility sport
  • Change from a focus on competing with each other to working together to achieve better results
  • Addressing governance challenges and changes at all levels of sport
  • Changing business behaviour to ensure sustainability