Meeting Austin in Dallas

Sarah Spain is following a seven-week fitness and fuel plan program designed for her by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI). She'll be tested and measured, pushed, poked, prodded, and put through the proverbial wringer. The goal? To get her back to feeling, thinking and looking like the former hoopster and heptathlete she is. Naturally, she'll be blogging every sweaty step of the way. Follow along, send her your comments or, better yet, jump in and go for it with her. You only think you're in shape ...

In a little over a week I'll be running, biking, squatting, lunging and jumping through my GSSI Fueled Performance Plan final testing down in Dallas. I got the exciting news that I'll be paired up with Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin for the day; he'll be coaching me as I try to better my scores from back in early December. Not only am I fired up to work with a Pro Bowler, I'm excited to chat with Miles about the Super Bowl coming to his town, get his big-game predictions and maybe even get some tips about the best local spots in Dallas. Some may know Miles best as one of Kim Kardashian's beaus, but his true claim to fame is his meteoric rise in the NFL from undrafted free agent to one of the NFC's best receivers. He's truly proof that hard work pays off.

Miles went through the GSSI testing in the past, so no doubt he'll have plenty of advice for me when it comes to not only kicking ass in Dallas but also forming a long-term plan to stay fueled up and motivated down the road. I did a little digging when I found out he'd be my "coach" and after sifting through more pictures of Kim K than you'll see in an average issue of US Weekly, I learned that Miles is a former track star who, like me, excelled in the javelin. You know I'm gonna find a way to test our skills and see if either of us can still handle the spear!

Now that I know I'll have a Pro Bowl NFL receiver cheering me on, the pressure is even greater! I got a new set of circuits from trainer Todd Durkin last week (see below), and if my butt, quads and triceps are any indication, I'm in for a tough final stretch! This may be a little TMI, but I judge how difficult my leg workouts are via something I call "The Toilet Test." If my quads are so sore that I can't slowly lower myself onto the toilet like a normal person, but instead fall right from a standing position onto the seat, then I've really torn up my legs. I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say the day after my first go-round with the new circuit was a rough one!

Many people have seen me comment about my hard work in the gym (sample tweet: "Sooooo @ToddDurkin is either going to kill me or get me in great shape. Jury's still out as to which will happen first ...) and almost everyone has asked how much weight I'm trying to lose. I've managed to bypass the irrational first reaction (ARE YOU CALLING ME FAT????!!!) and remember that it can be rare to find many post-collegiate women working out hard for any other reason than to fit into their Rock & Republics.

The GSSI Fueled Performance Plan isn't a diet -- I don't have any set meals or calorie restrictions and I'm not trying to get to a certain weight -- it's a program that helps you figure out how to give your body what it needs to perform at the highest level possible. I complete the circuits given to me by Todd and chart the fluids, carbohydrates, salts and proteins that I consume before and just after my workouts. I used to have a sip or two of water from the drinking fountain during 1-2 hour workouts, but now I'm trying to replenish what I'm sweating out so I can work harder, for longer.

I have to admit I've all too often guilted myself into gym trips, worried more about the state of my belly than my brain. I think that the shift from competitive sports, which I used to look forward to, and workouts for weight's sake, which I dread, is a big part of why I stopped pushing myself. I started to associate working out with guilt, no longer finding joy in breaking a sweat, accomplishing goals and meeting challenges. So even though there are a few pairs of pants in my closet that I'd love to get back into, the goal here isn't to get skinny, it's to find my inner athlete and rediscover the part of me that got joy from being fit and working out. There are a lot of yoga devotees, triathletes, marathon runners and rec league participants who like to challenge their bodies just for the fun of it; women who remember the thrill of competition and want to stay healthy while also pushing themselves. That's my goal. (Not embarrassing myself in front of Miles is pretty high up there, now, too!)

If you, too, want to have trouble walking up and down the stairs and raising your arms above your head, give this circuit a whirl! (If you don't know what some of the exercises are, they're easy to find via a quick Google search).

Super Bowl Preparation Workouts -- Circuit #3

Complete this program 3 days per week. Do additional 15-30 minutes of cardio 2-3 times per week.

Warm-up -- 5-10 minutes on treadmill, elliptical, bike, etc.

Dynamic Warm-up
1. Jumping Jacks
2. Gate Swings
3. Pogo hops
4. Seal Jacks
5. Reverse lunge with reach overhead

Circuit #1: Repeat 2x in shortest amount of time possible
1. Squat Jumps x 10
2. Push-ups x 20
3. Lunge Hops x 20 total
4. Plank to Pushups* x 5-10 per arm
5. Skater Plyos x 20 total

*Plank to pushups -- in "hover" plank (on elbows & toes); lift one hand/arm up to push-up position and then other hand/arm up. So you start low and finish in push-up position; that is one.

Circuit #2: Repeat 2x in shortest amount of time possible
1. Bosu ball - Opposite elbow to knee x15 each side
2. Bosu ball - Side-ups x15 each side

Circuit #3: Repeat circuit 3 times in shortest amount of time possible
1. Walking Lunges x 20
2. Swiss Ball or Barbell Bench Press* x15, x10, max
3. Kettlebell or DB Straight Legged Dead lift x10-15
4. Lat Pulldowns x10-15

*Bench Press: do 15 reps 1st set; 10 reps 2nd set; and choose a challenging weight & do max reps on last set.

Circuit #4: Repeat 3x in shortest amount of time possible
1. Overhead Rope Extensions & Tricep Pressdowns x 10-15 each
2. DB Bicep Curls 3 sets of 10, 3 different style curls

Do one of the following sets of sprints per day:

1 Day: "Mix it up"
Sprint #1 60 seconds
Sprint #2 30 seconds
Sprint #3 30 seconds
Sprint #4 15-20 seconds
Sprint #5 15-20 seconds
Sprint #6 As long as you can possibly go at your 60 second speed

(Each time you decrease the time, increase the speed except for #6) Rest 30-60 seconds in between.)

1 Day: "PERFECT 10"
Sprint #1 5.0 mph; 2.5 incline 20-30 seconds at fast but comfortable pace
Sprint #2 6.0 mph; 3.5 incline 20-30 seconds
Sprint #3 7.0 mph; 4.5 incline 20-30 seconds
Sprint #4 8.0 mph; 6.0 incline 15-30 seconds

Each successive sprint -- move up 1.0 incline and .5 or 1.0 mph until you can't do anymore

1 Day: "Legs go crazy"
Sprint #1 2 minutes (not really a sprint but a nice strider)
Sprint #2 1 minute
Sprint #3 30 seconds
Sprint #4 Fast as you can go for 15-30 seconds
Sprint #5 2 minutes (easy stride to flush it out)

Stretching: 10-15 minutes

Around the Web