The holidays are past and it’s a new year full of new potential. Most athletes will start January looking for new ways to focus their workouts and improve performance from the prior year. While it still may be officially termed the “off season,” we are allowing both mind and body to recover from last year’s training stresses and getting caught up on those household and family things that we put on the back burner during major training blocks. Now is the perfect time to look into some of the best habits and products that will prepare you for your upcoming season and take you to the next level of racing that you aspire to. Whether it’s to increase from sprints to Olympic distances, race your first IRONMAN, or get a shot at Kona, here are six tools that will help unlock your 2016 racing potential.
Injury prevention is one of the most overlooked aspects of training, and yet how many times have you heard a training partner say they can’t run due to some injury. This is a great time to make the resolution that you will be proactive and give yourself an injury free year allowing you to train 100% of the time when you need to. The RollerTek Pro Roll Kit-8 gives you a full suite of tools to deal with tight, sore muscles. Warm-up, cool down, and feel great like never before! Great for deep tissue muscle massage, the Pro Roll Kit-8 massage kit hits all the right spots. With consistent use, you can expect improved recovery time allowing for higher quality training sessions along with the added benefit of nipping any preliminary muscle issues before they become chronic enough to become labeled an injury and interfere with your training. This kit is easy to use and travel with, making it a necessity to pack for all of your races. Mental Training
Another often overlooked aspect of training is the mental toughness that it takes to complete at any level, but especially as you advance in your goals and aspirations. Just how does an athlete begin to address what goes on in your head when you are training and racing? Does it happen to the Pros too? There are lots of articles, opinions, and books available on the subject. One of the best that I have read is How Bad Do You Want It, by Matt Fitzgerald. Would you believe that by bracing yourself for a tough race or training session that you can actually boost your performance by 15% or more? Or that your attitude in daily life is the same that you bring to sports? Or that choking may be a form of self consciousness? Have you ever wondered why you can always “kill it” in training, but don’t feel like you race up to your potential?
Matt does an excellent job relating the ups and downs of many Pros and how they either were or were not able to conquer what went on in their heads. This is a must read for anyone who wants to up their game and gain insight into just how much of a role our mind can play in our success. You can train physically as much and as hard as you want, but if you don’t realize the role that your mind plays and take equal time to work on that aspect, you will never arrive at your true potential. This is 240 pages that you won’t put down and will want to re-read as your training and racing improves and your mental successes reach new heights.
Nutrition and Hydration Options
All the training in the world won’t make up for a bad race day nutrition plan. It has happened to everyone sooner or later. All that training and the big race comes and all of a sudden whatever you have been training on fails you miserably on race day and you end up with the dreaded GI issues. Now is the time to set some longer sessions where you can simulate your race day needs and start to practice your nutrition plan. R&D on the nutrition spectrum has increased dramatically over the last few years resulting in many new products. Whether you are basing your training and racing nutritional needs on calories per hour or carbohydrates, the more you practice dialing it in for race day the more successful you will be. Glukos Energy Nutrition is a new company that uses only all natural ingredients and contains glucose – the good sugar. Glucose is the body’s fastest, most efficient energy source. Glukos requires no digestion and is immediately absorbed, giving you 2X the energy, 2X faster. No matter what your sport or activity, power-packed Energy Tablets from Glukos nutrition will help you do it way better.
Tailwind Nutrition is another fairly new product on the market. Developed specifically for the endurance community, Tailwind’s glucose/sucrose fuel takes advantage of how our bodies absorb nutrients. The combination of Tailwind’s fuel, electrolytes, and water has a synergistic effect, allowing the body to absorb more of each. Once in the bloodstream, the glucose in Tailwind fuels muscles directly, allowing athletes to go longer at higher intensities. It’s easy on the gut, gluten-free, and made from all natural ingredients. If you raced an IRONMAN or IRONMAN 70.3 last year, you undoubtedly had the opportunity to see BASE Electrolyte Salt on the race course. Now is the opportunity to try their Amino and Hydro products. BASE Performance founder and Pro Triathlete, Chris Lieto, knows how important it is to keep healthy and strong throughout the year. After years of learning, trial and errors, mistakes and triumphs, he has found a nutrition solution that includes the BASE Performance products. BASE has developed a unique and simple system with a variety of products for endurance athletes to improve performance, gain lean muscle, increase endurance, and enhance recovery. It has been tested and proven on the race course in Kona, as well as IRONMAN events across North America.
Now is the time to practice your nutrition and hydration strategy and try some of the new product offerings to find which products will lead you to an improved performance for 2016.
Get Aero, be comfortable
With all the technical gear on the market, an athlete is faced with an unlimited array of equipment and clothing to choose from. With your billfold being your only potential limiter on what you decide to purchase, where do you even start? If you want to increase your racing potential this year, start at the beginning, get a professional bike fit, or if you have already had one, get it updated. As an athlete trains and races throughout the year, you gain fitness, strength, and flexibility. This means that you are “not the same athlete” at the end of a race year as you were at the onset. Will you be racing different distances this year than last? Are you fitter and more flexible that last January? Regardless of your goals and fitness, spending the time and relatively few dollars that a professional bike fit takes will be well worth it. Along with “aero,” there is a “comfort” factor that has to be taken into account and it becomes exponentially more important as your training time increases in accordance to your race distance. You can be much more aero if you are racing sprints or Olympics, due to the length of time that your body is required to be in this position. As you increase to full-IRONMAN distances, you may find that your position no longer lends itself to five to seven hour training sessions. There are several recognized and certified bike fit programs. TriSports.com offers Retul Fit, which is one of the best. Check with your local bike shop to see what they offer or check out our Fly and Fit offer.
The first year that I qualified for Kona, my coach told me he had one requirement, I needed to start training with power. Prior to this, I had always trained by heart rate. While the prior four suggestions to increase your 2016 potential are what I would call on the “soft side” of racing, meaning that in most cases you cannot accumulate hard data to track or verify your metrics/results, training with power is the opposite. This data provides the athlete with a hard, trackable metric that will tell you that you either are improving or not. There is no “perceived effort,” the numbers are what they are. Power meters have advanced over the years and now provide the option to show the power generated in each leg. Training with power can keep you from completely burning yourself out in the first 40 miles of the bike when you have 80 miles left to go. Power meters that show both left and right leg power can identify muscle weakness and imbalance and allow for improvement.PowerTap is one of the foremost leading companies in the world of power. Their pedals boast an accuracy rate of +/- 1.5%. The pedals are as easy to install initially as they are to swap between bikes, making them a very cost-effective solution for training and racing between a variety of bikes. The P1 Power Meter Pedal is dual-band Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ wireless connectivity and will work with any compatible cycling computer that measures power (watts). Now any standard pedal crank can be turned into a world-class power meter, giving you the detailed data you need to beat your personal best like never before. And this pedal-based system measures the power you’re generating in both legs! AAA batteries are easily replaceable.
There are pros and cons to every method of measuring cycling power, so be sure and do your homework to see which is best for you. You will need to take into account cost and ease-of-use between different bikes, training and racing, as well as accuracy to determine what is right for you.
While relatively new on the market, there are a variety of power meters that will track the power generated by your run cadence. Running with power is proclaimed to do for runners what cycling with power has done for cyclists. STRYD is one of the first devices that will allow runners to calculate power measured in watts. Created by Princeton engineers and backed by some of the biggest names in endurance sports, the STRYD device allows runners to accurately measure their intensity across any terrain. It easily syncs with Garmin and other leading watches and mobile devises. As with all data the key comes into interpreting the numbers. With run power, the goal of all data is the same, how to use it to become a more efficient runner, thus allowing you to run faster or farther at the same energy level. STYRD provides the opportunity to determine the relationship between run power, cadence, efficiency, and fatigue giving you a tool to improve your run for 2016 in ways never before possible.
Visit Pam Kallio’s website to learn more about her coaching philosophy, www.trik2kalliokoaching.com.