August 22, 2020

Cassie Funke-Harris Took a Winding Path to Become a College Coach and More…

In today’s digest we bring you articles on Cassie Funke-Harris Took a Winding Path to Become a College Coach, Does Psoriatic Arthritis Cause Skin Symptoms?, Jujimufu Practices Bodybuilding Poses With Kai Greene and Tip: A Finisher for Combat Athletes. Hope you enjoy them…

Cassie Funke-Harris Took a Winding Path to Become a College Coach

After a stellar cross-country season during her senior year at Carleton University, then-collegiate runner Cassie Funke-Harris couldn’t wait to take to the track. But an unexpected injury—a misdiagnosed pain in her IT band—kept her from competing. At the time, she was gutted. But she cross-trained and came to practice anyway. There, on the sidelines, coach […]

After a stellar cross-country season during her senior year at Carleton University, then-collegiate runner Cassie Funke-Harris couldn’t wait to take to the track. But an unexpected injury—a misdiagnosed pain in her IT band—kept her from competing.

At the time, she was gutted. But she cross-trained and came to practice anyway. There, on the sidelines, coach Dave Ricks offered her his insider’s perspective: the reasoning behind each day’s session, how he noticed one athlete cruising through a hard effort while another struggled.

“That gave me a better appreciation for the fact that there was more to coaching than just, ‘Here’s this workout,’” Funke-Harris says.

The unexpected education came at a critical time. She’d majored in biology and planned to study virology—perhaps even, she says wryly, predicting emerging pandemics—but a summer spent in the lab after her junior year made her realize the field wasn’t for her. “I need to interact with people,” she says.

Though she’d loved sports from an early age, coaching hadn’t crossed her mind as a career path until then. “My background was science, and I started to appreciate there was more actual science to it,” she says. “But there was also kind of an art. You had to pay attention, you had to watch what was going on.”

She still wonders what might have been had she had a full senior track season. But she’s grateful for what’s emerged instead: a fulfilling career guiding other runners to success, including eight years in the top job at Amherst College.

“The impact that my coaches had on my college experience and the person I became and the experiences I had—I started to realize how profound that was,” she says. “I thought, ‘If I can impact even half a dozen people the way they impacted me, that would be really rewarding.’”

Building on Strengths

Funke-Harris grew up a multipart athlete in rural Kansas—volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter. She ran track because it was the only spring sport available, starting out in sprints before realizing the longer the race, the better her performance.

In her first cross-country race at Haven High School, Funke-Harris took two wrong turns and fell down—but still finished first. “I was always really competitive,” she says, and had begun feeling her height and limited jumping ability was hindering her in volleyball. “Being able to win something and do well at it was really fun.”

At Carleton, in Northfield, Minnesota, she thought she’d run and play basketball, but the school was so good at hoops she dropped that plan. Her focus narrowed, she continued to improve. She helped her cross-country team to the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 2004 and placed 22nd as an individual in the NCAA Championships; on June 20th, she’ll be inducted into the school’s hall of fame.

Headshot of Coach Cassie Funke-Harris

Making It Work

After graduation, Funke-Harris worked a temp job in an office and started volunteer coaching at her alma mater under women’s head coach (and Dave’s wife) Donna Ricks. She stayed at Carleton a year before leaving to get her master’s degree in kinesiology at the University of Texas in Austin.

Midway through the two-year program, Donna called her with news. Carleton’s athletic department had approved two full-time assistant positions, complete with benefits. She could have one, but only if she made it back by December.

Funke-Harris put her degree on fast-forward—working through the summer and changing from an M.S. to an M.A.—and went back to Northfield to begin her coaching career in earnest. At Donna and Rick’s kitchen table, she learned to plan seasons and workouts and track progress.

After about three-and-a-half years, she felt the pull to lead her own program. But, by her own admission, her criteria were quite specific: she wanted to stay at a small, Division III private school with an academic focus. It’s where her experience and passion rested. Still, she knew it described about 30 or so jobs in the whole country.

It was her husband Stephen who saw the posting at Amherst College, in Amherst, Massachusetts, and encouraged her to apply. Funke-Harris figured she wouldn’t get it; in fact, she was shocked when she landed first a phone interview, then an invitation to campus. Only then did she and Stephen—an architect who’d just landed a gig after a months-long, post-recession job search—actually contemplated the possibility of moving East.

Of course, she got the offer and accepted. Her husband now works in New Haven, and they live in Hartford, Connecticut, with hourlong, opposite commutes. Still, she feels fortunate they’ve each been able to find jobs they love in their specific niches.

Wins in Running—and Life

Funke-Harris says another reason she didn’t pursue a science career was the unbearable thought of investing years in an experiment that might flop. In coaching, conversely, her efforts have paid off more certainly and swiftly.

The Amherst men’s cross-country team won their conference championships in 2017 and 2018 and placed second last year; meanwhile, many individual women saw success, including Nicky Roberts, who placed fifth in the 2017 NCAA Division III National Championships.

But one of her proudest moments wasn’t about winning races. After the previous men’s distance coach left in 2018, Funke-Harris brought athletic director Don Faulstick a proposal. Instead of hiring a new men’s distance coach, why didn’t they combine men’s and women’s teams and hire a track coach instead?

Bringing genders together would improve team dynamics, she told him, and a track coach would aid in recruiting. He agreed—and Funke-Harris thereby became the first female head coach of a men’s program in Amherst history.

The work is harder than ever, and with two children under age 4 at home, Funke-Harris has limits on her time and energy. “But I love my job the last couple years even more than I did before,” she says. The athletes are having more more fun, and so are the coaches. “The place that the program is at now is so good.”

One thing Funke-Harris prides herself on is giving her athletes all the tools they need to thrive, both in the sport and outside of it. Take one of her men, who thought he might quit the team after not being chosen to run at cross country nationals.

By encouraging him to reflect on the deeper rewards of  running—in part, by keeping a gratitude journal—she watched his attitude shift. What’s more, he also achieved his goal of racing at nationals the following year, and set a few personal-bests on the track on top of it.

“This isn’t just about running,” she says; it’s preparation for life. “You sometimes have to think about what’s really important, and it’s not necessarily just outcome-based.” Like many people, he’s still working on staying process-oriented, she says. But all she asks for, from her team and herself, is commitment and progress.


This story is part of a series on women in coaching, where we highlight female running coaches and their individual paths to success. Find more here, and discover tips from these women to improve your own running here. 



Cassie Funke-Harris Took a Winding Path to Become a College Coach was originally published at LINK






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Does Psoriatic Arthritis Cause Skin Symptoms?

Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes skin cells to build up too quickly and form scales and itchy, dry patches. Research reported in the medical journal Drugs finds up to 40 percent of people with psoriasis will go on to develop psoriatic arthritis (PsA) within five to 10 years after being diagnosed with psoriasis. […]

Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes skin cells to build up too quickly and form scales and itchy, dry patches. Research reported in the medical journal Drugs finds up to 40 percent of people with psoriasis will go on to develop psoriatic arthritis (PsA) within five to 10 years after being diagnosed with psoriasis. The skin lesions that commonly affect people with PsA are related to psoriasis.

PsA Inflammation

PsA is known for causing joint swelling and inflammation in the knees, ankles, feet, and hands. Joints may get painful, puffy, warm, and red. Stiff joints are common in PsA, especially in the morning upon waking. PsA may also cause pain and stiffness in the upper and lower back, neck and buttocks, resulting from inflammation of the spine and hip bones.

If PsA affects the fingers and toes, these joints may take on a sausage-like shape. While rare, sometimes, inflammation in the fingers and toes can be destructive. Hand and finger deformities will make them harder to use. Toe and foot deformities will result in balance and mobility issues. People with PsA may also have fingernail and toenail problems, including dents and ridges in the nails.

The same inflammation affecting the joints also affects the tendons where the muscles connect to the bones. For example, the Achilles tendon affects the heel of the foot and makes it harder to walk and go up steps.

PsA inflammation may also affect the eyes, especially the iris, the colored part of the eye. And while rare, chest pain and shortness of breath affect some people with PsA. This is because inflammation may attack the chest wall, lungs, and aorta, the large blood vessel that extends from the heart.

What Is Psoriasis?

Skin problems in people with PsA are caused by psoriasis. Psoriasis causes red scales called plaques to appear on the skin, most often on the scalp, knees, elbows, feet, and lower back. They can be very itchy and painful and may bleed. While the plaques vary in size, they will join together to cover large areas of skin.

There is more than one type of psoriasis, but plaque psoriasis is the most common. It is characterized by the gradual appearance of plaques on the skin. Other types of psoriasis affect the scalp and nails.

While the skin symptoms of PsA will come and go, they tend to be associated with specific triggers. Triggers of PsA rash include stress, diet, cold temperatures, infections, and other illnesses.

PsA and psoriasis have no cures. But people with both conditions can experience periods of remission where they will have little or no disease activity, including no skin symptoms. They can also experience periods of flare-ups where the disease and its many symptoms are active.

Can PsA Occur Without Psoriasis?

For many people with PsA, they will have had psoriasis for many years before developing PsA. However, there are cases where people develop PsA first. Research reported in the medical journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases finds as many as 29 percent of people with psoriasis may have undiagnosed PsA.

Rash Appearance

PsA rashes look the same as psoriasis plaques. They appear as patches of red skin with silvery-white scales. These rashes may itch, burn, bleed, and hurt. It is important not to scratch these areas because there is a risk of infection and plaques may worsen.

PsA rashes come and go and it is possible to have long periods where the skin is clear. Much like with psoriasis plaques, PsA rashes are triggered. 

Treatment

Treating PsA skin symptoms is based on the type of psoriasis and the severity of rash symptoms. Treatment for PsA rash may include:

  • Ointments and creams to soothe skin
  • Oral drugs to reduce excess skin production
  • Light therapy to help reduce inflammation of the skin

The goal of treating PsA skin symptoms is to reduce plaque formation and keep skin cells from growing too fast. Preventing and reducing skin flares involves managing triggers, especially those related to diet and stress.

A Word From Verywell 

Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic disease which has no cure. Symptoms will vary from person to person. How fast PsA skin rashes clear up will depend on how severe skin symptoms are and the effectiveness of treatment. It may take a while to find something that works to keep PsA skin symptoms under control.  

PsA rashes usually clear up. Most people will have periods of remission and periods of flare-ups. It is important to recognize and avoid triggers in order to reduce their frequency. The impact of skin symptoms can be lessened by controlling inflammation.



Does Psoriatic Arthritis Cause Skin Symptoms? was originally published at LINK







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Jujimufu Practices Bodybuilding Poses With Kai Greene

YouTube fitness star Jujimufu, aka Jon Call, has been flirting with the idea of making the jump to bodybuilding. What better way to do that, than have bodybuilding superstar Kai Greene come out and help him with his bodybuilding poses. We recently discussed how Jujimufu was considering a move to a new sport, in bodybuilder. […]

YouTube fitness star Jujimufu, aka Jon Call, has been flirting with the idea of making the jump to bodybuilding. What better way to do that, than have bodybuilding superstar Kai Greene come out and help him with his bodybuilding poses.

We recently discussed how Jujimufu was considering a move to a new sport, in bodybuilder. The gymnast and powerlifter showed off his ridiculous physique, while asking his fans if they thought he should enter a bodybuilding show. As it turns out, the vast majority of his fans said yes, practically everyone who voted in fact.

So with this new athletic venture in mind, Jujimufu decided to enlist the help of fan favorite bodybuilder Kai Greene, to help him with his posing technique. A video recently posted to his YouTube shows the experience that Call had when working with Greene. Right off the bat, they went through the eight mandatory poses for open bodybuilding competitions, which are as follows:

  • Front Double Bicep
  • Front Lat Spread
  • Side Tricep
  • Side Chest
  • Back Double Bicep
  • Rear Lat Spread
  • Abs and Thighs
  • Most Muscular

“Every pose starts from the floor up!”

This was the motto that Greene recited during this whole training session. Throughout the whole posing process, Greene is extremely complimentary of Jujimufu’s physique. Then they start working on the specifics of some poses to focus on the legs, getting away from the mandatory poses.

From this point, the pair works on a variety of different stances, breaking down what muscle groups they display. Kai shows Jujimufu how to flex and position himself, so as to best show off each of his muscles, and appeal to his strengths. All in all, Jon was looking pretty good at each pose, although his cardio seemed to leave a bit to be desired. He struggled catching his breath pretty early on, which can be a big problem when it’s time to go on stage.

“The discipline of competitive bodybuilding is so important,” Greene said. “It can not be separated from the art form. Once you separate it from the art form, that’s when it becomes the other things that people talk about; PEDs, numbers, and other nonsense.”

Watching the video, two things are clear: Jujimufu has the potential to be a beast on stage, and Kai Greene absolutely loves bodybuilding. This is what the pair talk about at the end of the video, as they wrap up this great learning experience. Kai encouraged Jon to do a show if he wants to, bit he feels like Call has already done a ton of growth without competing, and he is successful no matter what.

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Jujimufu Practices Bodybuilding Poses With Kai Greene was originally published at LINK







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Tip: A Finisher for Combat Athletes

Developing the ability to control your breathing allows you to deliver more oxygen-rich blood to your muscles, efficiently lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and maintain optimal conditions at the biochemical level. This is great for fighters, combat athletes, and military personnel. The finisher below was designed to optimize breathing in a stressed state. […]

Developing the ability to control your breathing allows you to deliver more oxygen-rich blood to your muscles, efficiently lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and maintain optimal conditions at the biochemical level. This is great for fighters, combat athletes, and military personnel.

The finisher below was designed to optimize breathing in a stressed state. It will teach your body how to respond in the absence of oxygen so that you can keep your composure and perform at your highest levels. Oh, it’ll also torch excess body fat.

The Walking Kettlebell Squat Ladder

This isn’t your typical walk of shame because the kettlebell front-squat walking ladder is a workout in itself. The load of the kettlebells in the rack position of each arm makes it extremely difficult to breathe upwards in a faulty fashion. Instead, you must use belly breathing as your heart rate elevates with every set of squats.

How to Do It

  1. Set up for a front squat with the kettlebells in the rack position. Perform 5 squats.
  2. With the kettlebells remaining in the rack position, walk 15 to 20 yards. Perform 4 squats.
  3. Walk back to the starting position, again with the kettlebells in the rack position. Perform 3 squats.
  4. Repeat until you’re down to 1 squat.

Related: 
More Fire-Breathing Finishers

Related: 
The Most Effective 10-Minute Cardio Workout



Tip: A Finisher for Combat Athletes was originally published at LINK