Physical, Mind & Body Challenges

View from Catalina TrailWow Catalina!  When Amy announced the 20M and 50K Trail Run-Trek Event on Santa Catalina Island, I was on board from the start. It had been a desire of mine since I heard of AVC Elite Training’s previous experiences there. Amy guided us through the Tough Mudder experience successfully in February 2013 and I was ready for another challenge for 2014!

Amy, our coach and mentor, worked with diligence in creating a trail running and trekking program that would simulate the terrain of the Trans Catalina Trail. Her coaching provided us with an incremental program of increased miles, trail difficulty, in addition to support in all aspects of preparation for this event. Weekly emails informed us on fluid and food intake, trail direction and any outstanding questions. Amy provided throughout hydration and fuel information helping us learn how much and when we needed to consume both.   She provided products that were invaluable for our time on the trail. BONK bars and FLUID drinks were easy to digest and gave me the energy I needed to accomplish increasing miles and time on the trail.

As the weeks advanced so did our miles (and our groans)!  Ten, thirteen, fifteen, miles…oh my! I am a lifelong runner and the most I had ever run in one distance was 13.2 miles (a half-marathon) so one can only imagine how overwhelming a 50K distance would seem not ever completing even half that mileage let alone 31.7 miles!

As the miles increased, so did my two nagging injuries that I have been battling off and on for years. Amy was insistent that I care for them and offered alternatives and possible remedies. I utilized Rock tape, which I had learned about from my Tough Mudder experience with Amy, as well as Sore No More. These were beneficial in coping with my piriformis syndrome and lower back issues. Amy encouraged massage, vibration, foam rolling and checking with my podiatrist to cope with a nagging neuroma that has been plaguing me for quite some time.

The next “gentle nudge” from her  proved beneficial as well. Though resistant at first, I acquiesced to Amy’s suggestion in using trekking poles for our long endurance training Saturday’s in preparation for the super steep climbs that we would be tackling in Catalina.  Trekking-Poles-NewtonsI must admit, I had never used poles before and was skeptical. Amy instructed me on the proper use of the poles and encouraged me to practice carrying them on my runs. She explained how to implement them on super steep climbs for efficiency and economy. These proved to be a lifesaver, as they helped take the pressure off of my injuries and allowed me to complete the required miles on our long endurance trail runs.

Catalina-Boat-RideFinally, the day had come for all of us to head to Catalina Island. Amy made the trip carefree and a success. She arranged for our ferry ride providing terrific accommodations at a lovely boutique hotel which also included breakfast each morning for all of us.

This was so much fun as we had the whole place to ourselves taking up the entire hotel! There was a celebration dinner along with optional dinner arrangements for other nights.

This certainly took the anxiety out of our anticipated Trail Run and Trek, which was challenging and definitely an experience to remember.

Catalina Trail Run FinishAh, the feeling of elation when I completed the 31+ miles, and ran towards those who were camped at a restaurant waiting for us! I must admit, that I was a little tired, but felt great! As with Tough Mudder, I did not experience any debilitating soreness or discomfort, which I know is directly related to the training I received under Amy’s instruction. I can’t emphasize enough, how critical Amy’s method of training has assisted me in completing this challenging goal.

Catalina Training GroupA most significant aspect of this experience is the friendships I have developed and treasure with the AVC Elite Training Family.  My hat is off to you Amy, as you continue to provide not just a physically challenging experience, but one that encourages growth in both mind and body.

I am thrilled to be part of the AVC Elite Training Team!


Are you ready for a new challenge of mind, body and spirit? Stay tuned for another AVC Elite Special Event coming soon. We promise more adventures are on the way!

Catalina Trail Running Love

On April 11, 2014 I completed the AVC Elite Training Trans Catalina 50K Trail Run for the 3rd time. This most recent time was the absolute best experience of all because I had such great recovery and wasn’t sore in the least – thanks to Amy’s training and coaching!

When I first learned we would be running the majority of the trails in training and in Catalina, I wasn’t sure just how much my body could do since I had never ran more than 5 miles at a time on a trail. Amy was fantastic in setting the weekly limits and pacing as we began the training and as it gradually increased we were all ready for it when April arrived. Surprisingly, running more of the trails helped to break up the muscle soreness that used to happen after just trekking the same distances.

Amy also spent a lot of time educating us on exactly what our bodies needed to do those extra long distances as far as electrolytes, nutrition, proper recovery, heart rate monitoring, not to mention all of the “home care” involvement such as foam rolling, massage, proper sleep, etc.

celebration catalina trail run successMost friends and family members that I have shared this experience with think I’m crazy to want to do such an extreme physical event.

They think I’m even crazier when I tell them I wasn’t sore and it wasn’t that hard. In fact, if it wasn’t for the unusually warm day, I could have gone even further.

But that’s not a testament to me by any means when I say it was easy. I give 100% of the credit to Amy for her coaching and pushing us farther than we ever thought we could go. Would I put this much work into something on my own? I doubt it.

Being part of such a fantastic group of people like the ones involved with AVC Elite Training made the experience fun and motivating. We all have so many funny stories about our experiences and encounters out on the trail this winter.

I will never forget when we were 19 miles in to a checkpoint and the water cooler was gone!  A bunch of us hung out, stretched. laughed and shared snacks and before we knew it there came our leader flying down the road in her Jeep to bring us water.

When I look back, I can see the real life Trail Run TRW Mesa AZchanging experiences happened during the entire journey and the weekly training.  I found joy in getting to know my best friend better as we talked for hours on the trail while receiving encouragement as Amy would pass us and tell us we were doing great.

The bonding and fun we had was wonderful as we shared Margarita Shot Blocks on the trail with friends. It was an overwhelming sense of accomplishment after every single Saturday in our training and then the “grand finale” in hitting the Trans Catalina Trail. Thanks Amy!
~ Chris K.

Do you share our love for trail running? Then stay tuned for an upcoming announcement on the next great AVE Elite Training program and you could star in the next fitness success story!

Patellofemoral Pain to 50K Feeling Great

When Amy first approached me about the 50k Catalina Island Run and Trek, I was both excited and skeptical. Running 31+ miles in one shot is really intense and frankly I never pictured myself running ultra distances. It wasn’t something that I felt appealed to me, but when Amy explained that she felt I could do it and that the training would get me in the best shape of my life, I was sold! (And let me say….boy was she right about getting into such incredible shape!)

Our very first training run we ran a “time out and back” run which ended up being for me 10 miles. Trail running in East Mesa AZThis was totally crazy since the longest distance I had ever run up to that day was a 5k! I couldn’t believe it when she told us how many miles we ran. From that moment, I was hooked to running especially on the trail. Amy’s constant reminders about proper running form along with all of the valuable and important information and guidance on hydration and nutrition set us up for success.

Then a glitch….About half way into our training season for Catalina I developed runner’s knee. Completing a run was becoming more and more difficult as the pain would hit and prevent me from completing my training runs. I thought for sure this was “the end” and I wasn’t going to be able to hit Catalina Island for my much anticipated 50K trail run.

Amy explained to me that this wasn’t the end, but that I would need to be very proactive in taking care of the issue at hand. She explained how I needed to be diligent about foam rolling my IT band, glutes, legs, etc… not just here and there, but constantly. She stressed this continually to all of us throughout our training emphasizing that we can’t get “lazy” in our home care and recovery and how this is just as important as putting in our training runs. I listened, but just didn’t think it pertained to me.

Soon, I got so tired of coping with this nagging runner’s knee and its hindering my training runs that I knew Running Catalina TrailsI had to do something so I began foam rolling my little heart out. I started to feel some relief. In addition, I grabbed some physical therapy sessions to really focus on getting this taken care of once and for all. By the time Catalina came was I good to go and didn’t just complete the full 50K distance, but completed it very well while feeling great!

Our Catalina adventure went beyond all of my expectations. Amy was very well organized throughout the whole process and especially while in Catalina. Everything was planned and well thought out… Hotel, boat and dinner reservations were made for us, packing lists were printed out, trekking poles were shipped, we had our own rooms with a care package waiting for us, and the list goes on.

Post Catalina Trail 50KHowever, the one thing that I was most impressed with was Amy’s attitude. To organize something like this for 25 people is not an easy task. Amy is a naturally encouraging person and it showed throughout the entire training and event. She TRULY cared about each and every one of us mentally and physically.

Running the Trans Catalina Trail on Catalina Island was a lifetime memory that I will never forget. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

~Kelly D.

Are you ready for a new fitness challenge that exceeds all your expectations and perceived limits? Stay tuned to AVC Elite Training updates for an upcoming announcement and adventure coming soon.

Fitness, Family and New Experiences

AVC Elite Training guarantees you more than a great workout and great training. It is a welcoming and uplifting environment that you soon will call “family.”

Kristina and Amy WeddingI first met Amy Van Cleve through her SPORTBOX and Maximum Pump classes that she taught at a local gym in 2007, thanks to some very convincing family members.

I hadn’t really been very athletic up to this point. After one exciting year of freshmen track and field and being a college student, I found that I could use a little tune up with my cardio and overall fitness. I was overwhelmed at how hard Amy’s classes were at first, but my mom made a good point that I remember to this day. My Mom told me…  “that it is so hard to get yourself up and go, but once you get done you sure are glad you did because you never regret a workout!” It’s funny because with the all of struggles of everyday life, I still have to remind myself of that every once in a while as we all do.

Fast forward to 2009 when once again I was encouraged to try something new in the way of working out with AVC Elite Training. I had never heard of Trekking. I jumped on the band wagon with my mom and dad and several of Amy’s faithful trainees. Every Saturday we would learn new tricks of the trade and spend hours out in Las Sendas and the surrounding trails. At 23 years old, waking up at 4:30 am on a Saturday morning was the last thing I wanted to do and that is probably why I was the youngest trekker for quite some time.

As the trails got longer, harder, and the training became more challenging, Amy was there every step of the way coaching us on how to properly fuel, hydrate, and all of the many other things that are involved when training for an ultra distance and surviving the trails. We had to learn how to be completely self sufficient with no support or help at all as we would be out there on the trails for hours on end.

What was the end result? I can honestly say it was one of the most memorable journeys of my life. In April of 2010, AVC Elite Training traveled to Catalina Island to trek the 31+ mile stretch of trails from one end of the island to the other. Never mind the fact that we may have taken a few wrong turns here and there as it was such a blessing to accomplish such a big goal.

The best part was being surrounded by so many fellow trekkers on that journey that I have since learned to call family. This experience was such a hit that we did it again in 2011 and 2014! We added even more new trainees while hitting the Trans Catalina trail and ended up seeing some of the most amazing scenery, wild buffalo, and breathtaking panoramic views.

In the midst of all the Trekking, I had also decided to take up another one of Amy’s  endeavors, which was the Group Training. Taking away the stresses of commercial gyms, we were outside in fresh air, rain or shine learning how to lift and cross train. Tough Mudder KristinaAmy is always quick to make sure you have good form and that you aren’t slacking, always pushing yourself to your personal hardest.

While there were men that had trekked with us, it was pretty exciting when we started getting men involved in our Training Groups. From Amy’s husband, to my father, to some cute guy that was my age… I was feeling pretty tough now that we were a mixed group of gender, age and abilities.

The next chapter with AVC Elite Training was Amy (who is also a Newton Running Coach) teaching all of us Natural Running. Basically, we learned how to run “The Newton Way” which is simply the natural way of running. We had to re-teach ourselves how to run using proper form and footing and ridding ourselves of habits that put us at risk for injuries.

Amy introduced fun and creative Running Clinics for us so that we could integrate natural running into our regular training. In addition she helped fit all of us in proper Newton footwear that would help guide us in running and training properly.

Amongst all the training, Amy also started organizing social gatherings for us to have the opportunity spend time with each other without sweaty hair and tight schedules. This enabled us to get to know and bond with our fitness family on a whole new level.

Remember that cute boy I mentioned? Well, turns out we bonded a little too and began dating in the beginning of 2012. Amy called us a match made in “AVC Elite Training Heaven” (so I guess they approved?)

Amy’s training was ever changing, keeping all of us on our toes with new and exciting challenges. We were on such a roll that when Amy approached me in the Fall about doing the next Tough Mudder in February 2013, I said yes before asking what it was… come to find out she was trying to kill us. Okay, I’m kidding.

tough mudder kristinaBut we had a very vigorous training schedule in preparation for this Military style obstacle course. To prepare for one of the obstacles “The Arctic Enema,” Amy thought we should all jump in her ice cold pool (about 39 degrees) in the middle of winter and then run up and down the streets and canals in basically a “wet suit” while hitting other various obstacles like jumping over fences, pull ups, bleachers, pushups, you name it. It was so embarrassing, but when it came time to actually do this, our “wet suites” (actually it was compression gear that would save our lives) turned out to work to our advantage. They provided not only water wicking, but kept us warm and our muscles awake while our skin was protected from the harsh elements. Whether we ran, crawled or fell over that finish line we ended up getting our orange head bands that we will forever cherish.

Kristina's WeddingNow fast forward to 2014, to my wedding. Aaron and I got married on February 1st, 2014. (That’s right we got engaged in the mean time!)

At our wedding, if you were to stop and look around you would see almost all the faces that Aaron and I have come to know and train with over the past few years.

They were everywhere…On the dance floor, in the photo booth, at the bar, singing in the band, doing my hair (thank you Mindy) and at my side (Amy was a bridesmaid).

GroupDue to the circumstance, I was honored to ask Amy to be one of my bridesmaids. I asked a fellow trainer and Mudder, Mindy to do my hair and be the source of entertainment via “The Mindy Harris Band.”

Needless to say, I not only took up new workouts, new training and gained a healthier lifestyle seven years ago, but I also gained a “fitness family” of all different ages and all different types of people that I love dearly.  I am so honored to know and train with each and every one of them.

~ Kristina

What are you looking for in a workout?

Fitness, fun, encouragement, strength, endurance and self-confidence?  AVC Elite delivers…plus matchmaking, bridal party attendants and musical talent. We may be able guaranty the fitness results, but the rest is up to you.

Tough Mudder to Trail Runner

I have enjoyed working out for many years, but have never been a runner.  It always seemed too hard and too boring to me. I did participate in Amy’s Running Programs and Running Clinics which began the process for me in not only learning how to run properly, but actually enjoying running as well.

So when Amy started talking about the Catalina 50k, I initially thought there was no way I could ever do that let alone enjoy it just from the standpoint of it being 31+ miles.  But, since I had done the Tough Mudder training with Amy the previous year and successfully completed Tough Mudder Arizona with ease, I knew she could get me ready for anything.  I decided to give it a try.

Trans Catalina Trail RunWe started out with our endurance running (which at that time definitely included some walking) for about 10 miles on Saturday mornings and eventually worked our way up to 25 miles.

We also had to run on our own during the week and participate in the group training which proved to be very beneficial when we hit nothing but a series of constant serious steep climbs on the Trans Catalina Trail last April.

Slowly but surely, the running started to get easier, faster, and more fun.  The shape of my body even changed. I lost about 10 pounds!

Amy always emphasized the importance of proper nutrition and hydration throughout our entire training and I followed her advice as best I could. All areas of our training including recovery and a number of the things we needed to do outside of simply the “physical part” of our training gave me the preparedness needed to complete the 50k.

Catalina Trail RunnersI managed to stay injury free during the whole process and completed the Catalina 50k with only a few blisters on my feet. What I enjoyed even more was the camaraderie with the people that I trained with.

We had so much fun when we were out there on the trails for hours and hours.  It definitely helped the time go by faster. Now, I can even say that I actually enjoy trail running and will keep at it. Thanks Amy!

~ Shannon

Want to actually enjoy your fitness like Shannon does? Try a workout with Coach Amy and experience how we put the FUN in functional fitness. Learn more today!

Feeling Like a Million Bucks After 50K

I found myself getting complacent with my workouts. I’ve always been driven and motivated, but was looking for a way to challenge myself even more. I just recently moved to Arizona from the Dakotas and realized there are a lot of things I haven’t tried fitness wise especially now living in the beautiful Southwest.

Trail running Mesa ArizonaI’ve never been much of a runner… actually truth be told, I disliked running. 

A good friend of mine invited me on a trail run one day and I was hooked. I had run a marathon before, and told myself “never again.”

Trail running is an entirely different sport than marathon running or road running. There are so many things about it that I love…the scenery and terrain alone make it such a beautiful experience and a nice change from simply running out on the road.

I decided to join a training group with a common goal in mind while actually learning from a seasoned, serious coach, Amy Van Cleve.  I have had the time of my life!

After meeting Amy, I knew it would be a lot of fun, yet challenging. Amy sent out detailed fueling, hydration and heart rate information weekly. It really helped me to make sure I was on track. She called to see how I was feeling after a couple long trail runs. She has so much heart and truly cares and wants you to meet your goals.

I found myself getting hooked on trail running as we continued our training for Catalina. I wanted to go further and get faster which I was accomplishing throughout each trail run. I learned how much is involved in good training such as proper fueling and becoming a more efficient runner by running correctly.

I learned how effective foam rolling can be along with proper recovery.  I’ve learned so much about my body and all there is involved in becoming a successful runner. It isn’t just about tagging on mileage as I have learned from Amy.

What amazes me is how 3 months ago a 10 mile run left me sore and tired.  After learning how to train the “right way” while training under Amy’s coaching and preparing for Catalina, hitting those long endurance Saturdays of 20+ miles seemed relatively effortless!

So after a 50k trail run with extremely steep climbs, and serious declines, loose gravel trails and 10 miles of pavement to finish it off, I can honestly say that I feel like a million bucks!

celebrating Catalina 50KIt amazed me, to wake up the next morning and didn’t have an ache, anywhere! I feel I’ve learned so many valuable lessons along the way. I’ve definitely learned I’m capable of so much more than I imagined.

Amy is an awesome coach and will push you with your best interest in mind.  She knows everyone is different and we all have different goals.  Now with Amy’s guidance, I finished a 50k on the Trans Catalina Trail (on Catalina Island) which was an amazing experience on all accounts! Now that is awesome coaching!



Are you looking to escape complacency in your fitness regime? You too are capable of more than you imagine.  Let Amy help you discover new strength, enjoyment and recovery in your fitness journey.