Lifestyle – TriSports University https://university.trisports.com The place to learn about triathlon. Mon, 12 Nov 2018 21:36:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.9 https://university.trisports.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/cropped-tsu-button-32x32.png Lifestyle – TriSports University https://university.trisports.com 32 32 Plant-Based Nutrition https://university.trisports.com/2018/11/02/plant-based-nutrition/ https://university.trisports.com/2018/11/02/plant-based-nutrition/#respond Fri, 02 Nov 2018 12:45:52 +0000 https://university.trisports.com/?p=8955 From protein powders to energy bars, it can be difficult to find the support you need as a vegan athlete. Even the most commonplace bars and gels contain animal products, making it a challenge to get fueled up during your workout. Luckily, we've got you covered with these plant-based nutrition offerings for every stage of activity. Tackle your day's run, bike, or swim with confidence and come out feeling better than ever.]]>

Shop all of our Plant-Based Nutrition here.

From protein powders to energy bars, it can be difficult to find the support you need as a vegan athlete. Even the most commonplace bars and gels contain animal products, making it a challenge to get fueled up during your workout. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with these plant-based nutrition offerings for every stage of activity. Tackle your day’s run, bike, or swim with confidence and come out feeling better than ever.

Like carbo-loading before your big race but without the meal, Pre-Activity nutrition is best used long before your workout. Whether taken the night before activity or just a few hours before,  these mixes have been specially formulated to give you the lasting energy you need to start your workout on the right foot. Some focus on maximizing the body’s ability to retain water, while others seek to jump-start your system for improved mental acuity and increased energy – without the caffeine jitters.

So, now you’re 45 minutes into your day’s workout and you’re starting to get hungry, what do you turn to? During-Activity products give you easily digestible nutrients that result in rapid energy uptake. These are best used regularly during your workout to keep your tank topped off all day long. There are many options here, from the near-ubiquitous energy gels to more substantial solid foods such as energy bars and even flavored hydration supplements. Some people find it difficult to chew while on the bike or running, while others prefer solid foods when they know they’ll be out on an all-day workout. Experiment and find what works for you and your needs.

Once you’ve wrapped up your workout, setting new personal records in the process, it’s time to unwind and recover so that you can do it all again tomorrow. Post-Activity nutrition products provide your body with the necessary ingredients to repair muscle fiber, ease pain and discomfort, and prevent cramping. A solid plant-based protein powder will get you back on the bike sooner and stronger, while some powders feature unique formulations or ideal electrolyte profiles and amino acid supplementations for targeted relief.

Now it’s time to mix up your new Pre-Activity drink, choose the day’s bars, gels or other During-Activity options, and plan for your next workout. Just don’t forget to save enough of your Post-Activity mix and queue up your favorite shows to watch once you’re back.


Shop all of our Plant-Based Nutrition here.

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Overland Triathlon: The Film https://university.trisports.com/2018/10/22/overland-triathlon-the-film/ https://university.trisports.com/2018/10/22/overland-triathlon-the-film/#respond Mon, 22 Oct 2018 18:27:53 +0000 https://university.trisports.com/?p=8943  ]]>

 

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Get to Know On: Q&A https://university.trisports.com/2018/03/19/get-to-know-on-qa/ https://university.trisports.com/2018/03/19/get-to-know-on-qa/#respond Mon, 19 Mar 2018 22:27:32 +0000 https://university.trisports.com/?p=8767 Where did the inspiration for the On name come from? Is there a story behind the name? The name On was inspired by the natural feeling and effects of the CloudTec technology which helps to “turn on’ and activate muscle power. You can really feel this technology when you experience the sensation of running on […]]]>

Where did the inspiration for the On name come from? Is there a story behind the name?

The name On was inspired by the natural feeling and effects of the CloudTec technology which helps to “turn on’ and activate muscle power. You can really feel this technology when you experience the sensation of running on clouds.

Tell us a bit about the research and design that goes into making On shoes.

There isn’t a single design element on an On shoe without a functional purpose. Legendary Swiss design precision means that every single element of the shoes are meticulously measured and tested to maximize performance on race day. On shoes are sleek and clean when they arrive in stores, but that comes from months and months of quick and dirty testing. On engineers and designs primarily through a fast prototyping process. The R&D team cuts, glues, rips and rebuilds shoes and materials to test even the smallest of elements. They create and test, create and test, until the final shoe is reduced to the max.

As a company founded by athletes, how important is it to On have real athletes test and use the product?

This is incredibly important. No footwear or apparel is ever produced without some key athletes offering input and testing the product tirelessly. On’s founder Olivier Bernhard is an ex-professional athlete and responsible for leading the innovation and development teams at On. He holds close relationships with a network of trusted athletes including runners, triathletes, ultra-runners, mountain climbers, and more. It’s important to have a versatile group of active athletes helping to shape the technology story of On.

Are there any exciting partnerships with On and other brands or pro athletes that we can learn more about?

On has a great roster of athletes from around the world. In the triathlon scene, our big focus at the moment is on the recovery of Tim Don, who broke the Ironman record last year and was favored to podium in KONA before he was struck by a car days before the race. He’s making incredible strides to get back to KONA this year.

What sets On apart from all the other running brands out there?

First and foremost, On shoes are unlike anything on the market. It’s the only running shoe that provides cushioning only when you need it. Our CloudTec technology gives runners the best of both worlds: cushioned landing, barefoot takeoff. In addition to being high-quality, premium running shoes, they’re beautifully and simply designed.

With so much new technology in footwear and materials evolving every year, what’s next for On?

Considering On only started in 2010 and is now available in more than 50 countries around the globe, we are innovating quickly! You’ll see some expansion and technology updates in stability, performance run and outdoor categories, so stay tuned!

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USAT Invites You to Try a Tri! https://university.trisports.com/2018/02/08/ironman-invites-you-to-try-a-tri/ https://university.trisports.com/2018/02/08/ironman-invites-you-to-try-a-tri/#respond Thu, 08 Feb 2018 19:09:59 +0000 https://university.trisports.com/?p=8759 ]]>

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Picky Bars: Real Food That Tastes Good https://university.trisports.com/2018/02/07/picky-bars/ https://university.trisports.com/2018/02/07/picky-bars/#respond Wed, 07 Feb 2018 19:58:26 +0000 https://university.trisports.com/?p=8747 Where did the inspiration for the Picky Bars name come from? Is there a story behind the name? There actually is a story behind it! Originally, we had our basic recipes that most people ordered, but we also offered the ability to customize the bar – e.g. add walnuts, almond butter, cranberries, etc. – you […]]]>

Where did the inspiration for the Picky Bars name come from? Is there a story behind the name?

There actually is a story behind it! Originally, we had our basic recipes that most people ordered, but we also offered the ability to customize the bar – e.g. add walnuts, almond butter, cranberries, etc. – you could choose which additions you wanted. So, we called them “Picky Bars” because not only were they all gluten/dairy/soy free, real food, and balanced for sport, our customers could be picky about the specific ingredients as well!

It was an awesome idea, but then the biz side of my brain modeled the financial plan and scalability of creating custom energy bars, and I quickly suggested we just make the flavors ourselves and let people buy those! We were making great flavors anyway, and it would have been impossible to make a business doing custom bars. Anyway, we loved the name, our customers loved it, and we still felt like there was plenty of Picky-ness to our bars and brand, so we just kept it.

What’s one thing that’s translated over from your career as a pro athlete? What’s something you’ve had to learn how to do?

The simple process of setting a goal, and creating an incremental plan to achieve it – from strategies all the way down to the nitty gritty details – that’s been the biggest thing that’s translated from racing to business. I (annoyingly) use sports analogies all the time in the office with my employees. For our planning process, we set yearly goals that hinge on big picture strategies, just like you would set your A race, and how you plan to build to it. Then we break those down into quarterly goals (like smaller races) and create a plan/budget that maps out the monthly, weekly, daily tasks (e.g. a training plan) that need to be accomplished to get it done. Every quarter we get together and evaluate what went right, what went wrong, and re-plan. It’s the exact planning process I use as an athlete.

Something I’ve had to learn how to do is be more comfortable relinquishing control of the process to those I trust. As an athlete, you are pretty much a one man (or woman) band. You have tons of support obviously, a coach, significant others, etc., but you do the work – you’re responsible for most of it, and the goal largely hinges on how well YOU execute the plan. But with a company, particularly as we’ve grown (now 10 employees), you rely more and more on the people you hire, how well they work together as a team, and how much you are willing to invest in and trust them. I love that process. To be honest, it’s probably my favorite part about owning a business, because there are more people in it and invested in it than just myself – but it’s also a hard thing to learn if you’re used to operating primarily on your own.

As a company founded by athletes, how important is it to you have real athletes test and use the product?

Super important! We go through a (semi) rigorous testing procedure – first Lauren, then me, then the office, then our athletes, then our subscription club and retailers, then the world. The bars were originally tested by us, the Oregon Track Club in Eugene, and people at Lauren and Steph’s coached group workouts. Since we’ve grown, it’s largely the same. When we developed Picky Oats Performance Oatmeal (launching in January!), we went through the initial part of that process about 3-4 times, back and forth, back and forth, etc. Testing not only for flavor and texture, but also efficacy – how good do you FEEL after eating our product? Did you have an awesome workout, did you feel energized during your day or next few hours? Did you have any stomach issues or no? It’s all about making a product we believe tastes good, is nutritionally balanced, and also effective for an athletic lifestyle.

Are there any flavors that you really wanted to do that didn’t work, or did you ever consider a different product before settling on a nutrition bar?

Everything we try works on the first try every single time. Haha, just kidding! We’ve tried lots of stuff that didn’t work! We spent about 6 months this past year on a new bar that ultimately couldn’t be made reliably at scale, so we had to ditch it (I’d tell you more about it, but I still want to make it and haven’t given up on it so I’m going to keep it a secret for now). It’s part of the startup process. We’re a young company with mostly under-experienced staff, myself included! We try and learn, try and learn, try and learn. There’s tons of failure in there – hey, it’s a lot like sports! What do you know!

What makes Picky Bars different from all the other bars out there?

Compared to the stuff out there right now, Picky Bars are: 1) made of real food ingredients, 2) balanced for sport (not a crazy/weird protein bomb or sugar rush, they’re right where you want it to be for an active lifestyle), and 3) they actually taste good! People will eat something stuffed with 20g of protein that destroys their stomach and tastes like garbage because they think it’s good for them (it’s not!). That’s not us. We aren’t chasing a fad, we’re creating real food products that we believe really work for athletes, that taste really good. You will enjoy eating them! Imagine that!

Shop our new stock of Picky Bars HERE.

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Make it to the End of Your First or Next Ultra Endurance Race https://university.trisports.com/2017/08/09/make-it-to-the-end-of-your-first-or-next-ultra-endurance-race/ Thu, 10 Aug 2017 00:08:56 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8589 It’s dark, cold, and there are far less spectators than when you started this thing. Leaving the last aid station, you go over the mental checklist: Headlamp… check. Calories… check. Hydration… check. Make sure not to go backwards on the race course… check. Over the next few miles, you’ll settle back into your pace, flush […]]]>

It’s dark, cold, and there are far less spectators than when you started this thing. Leaving the last aid station, you go over the mental checklist:

Headlamp… check.

Calories… check.

Hydration… check.

Make sure not to go backwards on the race course… check.

Over the next few miles, you’ll settle back into your pace, flush the lactic acid, and just try to endure through the last chunk of time until the finish after many, many hours of racing, preparing, and training. But how did you get to this moment in this race and what will you do differently for the next one? Though you can’t imagine it now in the dark and cold of this moment, you’ll be back and more prepared for the next race and the next moment when you are truly questioning your sanity as an endurance athlete.

Find your Race Zen
As a lifelong endurance athlete myself- I have been there and will be there again… and again… willingly. Most times I have overcome the urge to quit, but frankly I have also thrown in the towel and owned that decision with great success. The longer you’re in this sport, the more races you will accumulate and work towards a certain level of zen with them. There will be a next race and you have totally crushed races in the past… today just wasn’t your day. How can my experience and what I have accumulated through 20 years of racing and sharing with endurance athletes far superior to me help you? This is what I hope to unpack in a 3 part series called Make it to the End of Your First or Next Ultra Endurance Race– because we all make it to the start, but some minor things typically keep us from getting to the end. Let’s change that!

Defining Ultra Endurance
So, what are we talking about with ultra endurance races, or maybe you’re asking yourself, “Am I an endurance athlete?”. The popularity of ultra racing over the 5 hour mark has grown exponentially over the past 10 years. In the cycling world you have the Tour Divide and its 2745 miles and 200,000 feet of climbing tackled by bikepackers annually, Race Across America (RAAM) with its inception in 1982 as one of the oldest of modern times covering 3000 miles of pavement, World Endurance Mountain Bike Organization (WEMBO) hosting 24hr MTB Races all over the world culminating in an annual World Champion, and countless national, state, and local races ranging from 100 miles to 6, 8, 12, and 24 hours in length.

Going the Distance
If you want to ditch the bike and lace up some running shoes, you can choose from races like the Western States Endurance Run dating back to 1974 and boasting 100 miles and 18,000 feet of climbing for the fleet-footed and tough-minded, the Leadville Trail 100 Run (also a MTB version for cyclists) taking runners through elevations from 9,200’ to 12,600’ over a 100 mile course since its beginning in 1983, or Marathon des Sables with its series of international races ranging up to 155 miles in the toughest conditions, these are of course in addition to the 50K trail race or 100 mile road race that is likely happening in your hometown.

There are also many other races ranging from ultra-style canoe/kayak, XC ski, fatbike, stand up paddleboard to less human-powered sailing and motorsports events. They all have one thing in common… whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it for much longer than most of your other athlete friends who stick to 5K runs, 40 mile bike, or 26.2 mile marathon races. If you are doing these endurance events, than yes, you sir/ma’am ARE an endurance athlete… so, read on.

Your Ultra Race Success Roadmap
I aim to breakdown your preparation for an ultra endurance race into 3 parts. We will start with plotting a roadmap to the physical training needed to prepare your body for the stresses of this level of race. Next, we will delve into the nutrition, fuel, and recovery needed to support the training you’ll be immersed in. Lastly, building up to your race, I want to give you some insight on recon, strategy, and a race plan to get you to the end of your first or next ultra endurance race.

Stay tuned to TriSports University and take a look at your local or national race calendar and maybe find an Ultra Endurance Race that looks like you may want to target. In the meantime, get some rest- you’re gonna need it you endurance athlete!

About the Author: Steven Terry completed his first mountain bike race in Michigan in 1994. Since then, he has been an endurance athlete competing in events including road races, ultra endurance events on bike and foot, trail running, bikepacking, and XC mountain bike races. As a sponsored athlete for Framed Bikes, Hammer Nutrition, ESI Grips, and Pro Gold Lubricants- Steven stays on the leading edge of the products and training techniques available to endurance athletes and is always happy to share any knowledge he has that might be helpful to others. He moved from Northern Michigan to Tucson, AZ for year-round training and access to some of the brightest minds and fastest athletes the endurance athlete world has to offer. Follow his adventures at: https://www.instagram.com/ivebeen_framed

 

 

 

 

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Preview of Omaha’s 2017 Triathlon Nationals Olympic Bike Course https://university.trisports.com/2017/08/04/preview-of-omahas-2017-triathlon-nationals-olympic-bike-course/ Fri, 04 Aug 2017 21:25:47 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8571 If this is your first time to Triathlon Nationals in Omaha, here’s what to expect on the bike course. It is a nice bike course, especially after you get out of town. It is mostly flat, not very technical, and the roads are in good shape. Be prepared for a long run out of T1 […]]]>
Omaha Triathlon Nationals: Bikes racked in transition, ready to roll out

If this is your first time to Triathlon Nationals in Omaha, here’s what to expect on the bike course.

It is a nice bike course, especially after you get out of town. It is mostly flat, not very technical, and the roads are in good shape.

Be prepared for a long run out of T1 to the bike mount line if the setup is the same as 2016. You may want to attach your bike shoes to your bike and run in bare feet/socks. The run was on carpet, which was nice.

Leaving the park, Storz Expressway has a nice wide bike lane.

Storz Expressway

The next big road is Pershing. If you go out for a practice ride, Pershing tends to be busy with traffic until you cross under interstate 680, about five miles out of transition.

Here’s the view at about five miles: You can see Interstate 680 crossing the Mormon Bridge over the Missouri River.

Mormon Bridge and the Missouri River

Now you are out of town, in the peaceful countryside.

You will pass Dodge Park, which was the site of one of Lewis and Clark‘s campgrounds on their expedition across the Louisiana Purchase in 1804.

In the Ponca Hills area when you merge onto River Road about seven miles out, you come to the steepest (but short) hill on the course. The ascent is approximately 150 feet in about .4 miles. A quarter mile of this is 8-11% grade, according to my Garmin.

This photo shows the steep hill, although it doesn’t look steep in this photo.

Get ready to climb

Then you are rewarded with a nice long downhill!  After that, to the turnaround at 20K it is basically flat…like a pancake.

Pancake flat roads for a bit

You will make a U-turn on the road at 20K.

Heading back into town you have a longer and shallower double hill. The first hill is .3 miles long and ascends 85 feet with up to 8% grade …followed by a flat section …then the second hill is .3 miles long and ascends 55 feet at mostly 4% grade.

Here’s the view from the top of this hill – on River Road overlooking downtown Omaha, which is not far from transition.

View from the top overlooking downtown Omaha

From the top you will have a short and fast descent, and on a blustery day I caught some squirrelly wind. This is one place you could gain some time if you are comfortable with the downhill, so you may want to try it before your race.

Returning on Storz Expressway, you’re almost done when you see this. 

Storz Expressway and Omaha Tower

Omaha Triathlon Nationals and race day are almost here. Good luck and have a great race!

About the Author: Sheri Schrock is a TriSports Elite Team member and USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach. She competes in the Women’s 60-64 age group and has been a long time competitor, training and racing in Minnesota.

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Travel Like a Pro https://university.trisports.com/2017/07/06/travel-like-a-pro/ Thu, 06 Jul 2017 21:57:49 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8466 Professional Triathlete Nicole Valentine shares her survival tips to make travel to your next race go smoother than your flight! Turning professional as a triathlete wasn’t the instant ticket to sponsors, success, glamor, or jet set travel to exotic locations that I hoped it would be. In fact, forget glamor and think gritty. It has […]]]>
Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico Photo Credit: Allen Torres

Professional Triathlete Nicole Valentine shares her survival tips to make travel to your next race go smoother than your flight!

Turning professional as a triathlete wasn’t the instant ticket to sponsors, success, glamor, or jet set travel to exotic locations that I hoped it would be. In fact, forget glamor and think gritty. It has meant a lot of sweat and sacrifice. From becoming your own agent to rethinking how you earn an income, monthly expenditures, your social calendar, and how you travel. Destination race travel is no longer a vacation, but a necessary part of the job. And to do my job well, I need to ensure the smoothest travel experience possible.

Here are my top tips for race travel:

Plan in advance – Advance planning helps you select the cheapest flights and best itinerary. Try to get a nonstop flight or the minimum number of connections possible. This not only minimizes your chances of arriving without your luggage, but it is easier on the body. It’s important not only to plan ahead, but to handle the travel well.

Pack your nutrition – Yes, I am the girl on the flight who packed my own breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner in a massive lunchbox with a cold pack. Not only because I can no longer afford expensive airport food, but because the burger and fries from the airport grill does not fall within my pre-race nutrition plan for optimal performance. Plus, I know everyone at the airport is secretly jealous of my homemade burrito when having to choose between Sbarros or McDonalds. Pack the food that you typically eat for optimum training and racing and that you know your body digests well. And then pack Pepto Bismol just in case. Montezuma’s revenge is a real thing.

Bring extra water bottles to fill up at the airport if you don’t want to purchase additional water and electrolyte drink mix as the body tends to get dehydrated from travel. You need to ensure you consume plenty of fluids, especially while traveling. Coffee, soda, and cocktails don’t count.

Take care of your body – stretch before getting on the flight, in the airport between flights, and make use of aisle time to loosen up legs when walking to the lavatory. Hip flexors, glutes, and calves can tighten up from travel. The best way to minimize the impact is to get up and move as often as possible. Additionally, it can help to bring compression socks for the flight. Try to get as much sleep as possible before and after the flight.

Nicole Valentine assembling her Dimond bike in Puerto Rico

Prepare for sh*t to hit the fan – I have on a few occasions, arrived at the race destination ahead of my luggage. Make sure that you have packed and prepared for this. Carry travel size toiletries in your bag, as well as swim and running gear. That way you can proceed as best as possible with your pre-race preparation in the event your bags arrive several days later. Also, be sure you know your equipment, especially your bike, what needs to be done to reassemble it. Carry spare tubes, tires, hand pump, as it can be difficult, costly, and time-consuming to locate bike mechanics at the race venue.

As a professional athlete, our priority is to have our best race ever, to maximize our income potential, and advance our career. Thus handling travel well is not only a necessity, but a critical part of our job. These tips have helped me weather some pretty bumpy travel experiences and still put in top notch race performances. I hope they help you as well.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

About the Author: Nicole Valentine is a Professional Triathlete specializing in long course, Ironman, and off-road Xterra events. She has been involved in triathlon for the past five years and prior to that, competed in endurance mountain bike racing. As an age group athlete, she won back-to-back Outrigger Double Award titles (for the fastest combined time at Kona Ironman World Championships and Xterra World Championships), placing fifth in Kona and third at Xterra in 2015. Now in her second year as a professional, she has been on the podium numerous times in Ironman and 70.3 events. Nicole leads mountain bike, running, and triathlon clinics for various local clubs and community organizations. She resides in Boulder, Colorado.

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The Essential Superfood Smoothie for Athletes https://university.trisports.com/2017/06/20/the-essential-superfood-smoothie-for-athletes/ Tue, 20 Jun 2017 17:02:31 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8398 Adding a daily smoothie to your diet is a great way to conveniently get additional quality nutrition just when you need it. It’s time to face the music, we all know we can stand to get more fresh fruits and vegetables in our diet, particularly brightly colored berries and leafy greens. For the training triathlete, […]]]>

Adding a daily smoothie to your diet is a great way to conveniently get additional quality nutrition just when you need it.


It’s time to face the music, we all know we can stand to get more fresh fruits and vegetables in our diet, particularly brightly colored berries and leafy greens. For the training triathlete, an additional dose of 20 grams of clean, convenient protein between meals, or at meal time, goes a long way to help aid muscle recovery and maintain lean body mass, crucial when you are doing two, and sometimes more, workouts in a day.

One of the best ways to do this is with a high-protein smoothie. It’s quick to make, portable so you can take it with you on the go (we know you’re busy, and we feel your pain), and customizable, allowing you to boost up the flavors or ingredients you particularly like or need. As a busy triathlete training for more than one sport who’s body is in constant need of fueling and/or recovery, it’s hard to beat the convenience and nutritional value of a good smoothie with the right ingredients, not to mention portability.

When we make our smoothies, we tend to look at them as the “catch all” for everything healthy we know we need to eat in a given day. Did you have a particularly hard run session in the morning? Throw in a little extra protein. Do you feel like lately you’ve been missing getting enough green roughage in your diet? Toss in a handful of spinach or another leafy green. It really is what you make it, and gives you the certainty and peace of mind that later in the day if all else fails because your swim went long and you just aren’t going to have the time to throw together that well-balanced dinner you planned for, forcing you to compromise your food choices (let’s face it, we all do from time to time), at least you had your healthy smoothie before.

Let’s address the nutritional elephant in the room and the smoothie’s not-so-equal counterpart: juicing. It is an alternative way to get micro and phytonutrients in your diet, but frankly, it is far inferior compared to a well-balanced smoothie. Juicing omits almost all the fiber from whatever you are pressing to make your juice, which means you are leaving nutrition on the table. Don’t get us wrong, we do believe in juicing and some of the benefits it may bring, but only when treated as a supplement vs. a primary meal, which is required to give your body what it needs for performance and recovery.

A well-balanced smoothie on the other hand should have a blend of low-glycemic carbs, micronutrients and fiber from whatever fruits and/or veggies you add, protein, healthy fats, and a general profile of other vitamins and minerals that an athlete’s body needs. It is hard to beat the nutritional punch this packs for a body that is constantly looking for a little reprieve. Not only will those ingredients provide a balanced and steady insulin response, you get the added benefit of providing your gut with pre-biotic fiber from the blended fruits and veggies, which can help maintain healthy digestive system flora, better known as the beneficial bacteria that keep everything “running smoothly.” Just make sure you use a very good blender (we prefer the Magic Bullet) for an ideal texture!

If you are using a Field Work Nutrition Primo Smoothie as your base, you will be getting 20 grams of high quality protein with a full spectrum of essential amino acids, whole food based carbohydrates, healthy fats from sources like coconut and flax, including omega-3’s, berries, greens, turmeric and tart cherry to help reduce exercise induced inflammation, probiotics, prebiotics, a whole profile of vitamins and minerals that triathletes are regularly deficient it, plus a whole lot more.

Read 3 Ways to PR Your Recovery through Nutrition to learn more about nailing your triathlon recovery!

If you are looking for one simple way to add some additional nutrition to your diet in an extremely user-friendly way, consider a daily superfood smoothie.

Try one of our favorite recipes:

  • ½ cup strawberries
  • 1 small banana
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 8 oz milk or almond milk
  • 2 scoops Primo Smoothie Meal mix

Blend and enjoy!

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

About Field Work Nutrition Co.: Field Work Nutrition Co. Develops products for a community of likeminded people that value living a healthy vibrant life by eating well and pursuing their athletic and active passions “in the field.” We believe that health is wealth and a life outdoors is a life well lived.  We value real food and clean ingredients, but know that our modern lifestyles leave us time crunched and seeking convenience.  This does not have to be at the expense of healthy nutrition.  Our Primo Smoothie Meal delivers superior nutrition specifically tailored to the needs of training athletes in a convenient format to fuel your everyday.  It contains 20 grams of high quality protein with a full spectrum of essential amino acids, whole food based carbohydrates, healthy fats from sources like coconut and flax, berries, greens, turmeric and tart cherry to help reduce exercise induced inflammation, probiotics, prebiotics, a whole profile of vitamins and minerals athletes are regularly deficient in, and a whole lot more.

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An Open Letter to All Coaches on What Really Matters- Questions You Should Ask as an Athlete https://university.trisports.com/2017/06/15/an-open-letter-to-all-coaches-on-what-really-matters-questions-you-should-ask-as-an-athlete/ Thu, 15 Jun 2017 19:43:24 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8381 Written by Matt Smith, MS, Training Peaks and USAT Level 2 Certified Triathlon Coach As coaches, we start our relationship with an athlete completely backwards. I know this is a bold statement, but one that has taken me almost ten years of coaching to feel comfortable making. I’ve known deep down that it’s right, and […]]]>

Written by Matt Smith, MS, Training Peaks and USAT Level 2 Certified Triathlon Coach

As coaches, we start our relationship with an athlete completely backwards. I know this is a bold statement, but one that has taken me almost ten years of coaching to feel comfortable making. I’ve known deep down that it’s right, and have practiced it after the fact, but continue to realize that during that first meeting with an athlete or even during the “honeymoon phase” as we get started working together, I revert to what’s comfortable. We need to challenge ourselves to think differently about how we interact with an athlete’s life.

What’s backwards?
In most cases, when an athlete begins working with a triathlon coach, the three common questions revolve around the athlete’s goals and coach’s track record of helping similar athletes accomplish these goals. What the workouts are going to be like or what the coaches training philosophy is or how many hours and how intense it will be. How the coach uses or doesn’t use data to drive the physiological progression for an athlete. Finally, what training technology will be required of the athlete.

The Athlete as a Whole
The one set of questions that never come to fruition revolve around the rest of the athlete’s life. Granted, we talk about communication with the coach usually and ask about what they do for work and how many hours a week they can train. Do we really take the time to understand the work and family life of that athlete and how training fits into the puzzle? I’m placing my bet on most of the time, not so much. I’ve also come to realize that if we leave the rest of the puzzle pieces on the table, the puzzle is incomplete and these are the pieces that most make up the complete picture vs. the border pieces that are training.

Stress is Stress
We need to remember that age old formula taught by one of the most successful coaches ever, Stephen Covey, “Stress is Stress.” Whether it be positive, endorphin-driven workout stress or the negative stress from an angry boss or managing the family schedule, it all goes in the same bucket. Stress comes from four main sources:

1. Psychological
-Work
-Family schedule management
-Money

2. Emotional
-Spouse/partner relationships
-Friends and co-workers
-Spiritual connection

3. Environmental
-Nutrition and nutrient density
-Toxic load
-Heat/Cold

4. Physical
-Workouts and training
-Sleep and recovery

What questions should we be asking as coaches? I recommend asking these 7 questions to shed light on the whole picture of what an athlete’s life looks like. These questions tell us where the stress comes from in an athlete’s life and how to help them manage stressors in order to maximize training. Athletes, these are also the most important topics you should be discussing with your coach.

Start with these Questions:

  1. What motivates you: How would you rank triathlon training as a priority in your life (1-5)? What brings you the most joy in life? Do you have a personal mantra or purpose for your life? Which motivates you more: accomplishing a goal or the act of training to get there?
  2. How do you manage your life: Do you keep a to-do list? Do you keep a calendar? What is the amount of detail you block your calendar in? Are you early or late?
  3. Tell me about your work life: How many hours a week do you work? Do you like your co-workers? Do you appreciate your boss? How do you feel at the end of a work day, invigorated or spent? Is your work a means to an end or do you find joy in it? On a scale of 1-10, how stressful is your work?
  4. Tell me about your family: Who manages the family schedule? Do other people in your household train? Do you have an open dialogue with your spouse/partner about training schedules? Do you involve your family in the sport with you?
  5. Tell me about your social life: How does training and racing fit into your social calendar? Are your friends supportive of training and racing? Do you have a close circle of friends that support you in life?
  6. Talk to me about your nutrition: What would (3) days of your normal diet look like? How often do you eat out vs. prepare food? Fresh or frozen? Do you eat to train or train to eat?
  7. Let’s talk about recovery: How much do you sleep per night? Do you wake rested or feel groggy and need coffee to kick start the day? Do you feel tired in the afternoon? Do you engage in spiritual disciplines or meditation? How often do you check your phone or device/do you unplug?

I know…this is more like 7 buckets of questions vs. 7 single and specific questions, but this list of questions paired with simply listening to the answers and reiterating what you hear to the athlete will help dig into the three-quarters or more of the athlete’s life that we don’t see in Training Peaks. If we ask these questions first, the training will fall into place behind. I can confidently say that the athletes I’ve worked with where we have an open and honest dialogue about their life and priorities up front are the most successful. Nine times out of ten, even when they nail the training plan, a bad race day experience is caused by neglecting one of these other stressors in life and not having enough room in the bucket for the physical stress of race day.

Sansego Experience at Canyon Ranch
Do you want to learn more about how endurance sports training fits into the whole picture for your life and how to balance these stressors? Join 3x Ironman World Champion, Kona course record holder, husband, and father of three, Craig Alexander and his global team of coaches at the famous Canyon Ranch health and wellness resort in Tucson, AZ this September for the most complete triathlon and life experience ever offered. You’ll receive the ultimate in one-on-one coaching from the Sansego team, plus personalized access to the comprehensive life management and exercise physiology resources at Canyon Ranch. TriSports is a proud supporter of the Sansego Experience at Canyon Ranch.


About the Author: Matt Smith has been actively involved in competitive endurance and multisport racing and training for almost 20 years. He is a 5 time Ironman World Championships qualifier and has raced the 70.3 World Championships 4 times with a top 10 age group finish. He holds a master’s degree in leadership and personal development. He has managed university and executive leadership development programs. He is also a USAT and Training Peaks Level 2 certified triathlon coach and is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. His extensive background in leadership and personal development, coupled with a firm grounding in coaching practice lends a unique perspective in working with high performing athletes. Matt has an understanding of where stressors come from in life and how to maximize performance given multiple responsibilities and time constraints.

 

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Everyone Starts Somewhere: An Olympian’s Journey to Tri https://university.trisports.com/2017/06/12/everyone-starts-somewhere-an-olympians-journey-to-tri/ Tue, 13 Jun 2017 00:07:16 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8360 Written by Katie Zaferes, USA Olympic Triathlete In 2007, right after graduating high school I was recruited to do my very first triathlon…by my dad. It was the South Carroll Tri-to-Win Sprint Triathlon that featured a 400 meter swim (in a pool), 14 mile bike, and 5k run. It was on Father’s Day and though […]]]>

Written by Katie Zaferes, USA Olympic Triathlete

In 2007, right after graduating high school I was recruited to do my very first triathlon…by my dad. It was the South Carroll Tri-to-Win Sprint Triathlon that featured a 400 meter swim (in a pool), 14 mile bike, and 5k run. It was on Father’s Day and though I am one of three daughters- I think I was chosen only by default because one sister was in college and the other sister was too young.

Pre-Race Nerves
I was so nervous going into my first triathlon race. Growing up, I identified mostly as a swimmer, until I picked up running in high school. The only cycling experience I had was riding here and there through my neighborhood. To help with the pre-race jitters, my dad and I rode the course a few days before. Rather than calm my nerves, the hills seemed massive and the bike leg felt like forever. Luckily the race started in a pool, so at least I had one bit of comfort since I came from a swimming background at that point.

Katie Zaferes during her first triathlon. A triathlete in the making.

From Rookie to Recruitment
I had the slowest transition onto the bike, but improved by the next transition. Then I was off, on my cycling adventure I went. I made it through the bike leg, but had to walk my bike up one of the hills. I went into survival mode for the run. It was no course record, but it was the first step in my triathlon career. It wasn’t until 2011 when I was recruited by the USA Triathlon’s Collegiate Recruitment Program that I began to focus my time and energy on developing as a triathlete.

Read more about Katie Zaferes’ preparation for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

You have to Start Somewhere
I’ll never forget how nervous I was for that first race. Up until that point, I was a single sport athlete- never putting all three disciplines together. I had no idea what I was doing. However, I did feel reassured for two reasons: 1. I was doing a triathlon just for the fun of it, and 2. The tri was a way to bond with my dad. Fast forward to my first professional debut and draft legal race, when one of my fellow competitors yelled to me during the race, “Katie, what are you doing?!” I responded accordingly, “I have no idea!” It was that moment, as a Pro, I realized despite all the preparation and practice, my first race was still my first race. It was a learning experience, a starting point, and a chance to see what I could do. But it also served to show how much I could improve.

Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
The swim took some getting used to because I was used to swimming in a single lane. Now I was learning to swim with other people. I had to get comfortable getting whacked and jostled in the water and all the while needing to look for tiny little buoys to follow. To help deal with so many people in the water, my focus was to embrace it and learn to get comfortable being bumped in the first leg. That meant going to the pool with friends and swimming side by side in a less than courteous manner. When it came race time, the swim preparation helped; the contact with others didn’t seem so overwhelming and I could relax and stay focused.

Face Your Fears and Your Weaknesses
The bike was the scariest part for me and the most unfamiliar territory. I didn’t understand how to shift and was constantly trying to remember which side would make it harder and which shifter would make it easier. During one of my first Pro races, I was trudging up a hill on the bike and a guy rode past me calling out, “You have more gears to use!” I knew I had more gears, however, I didn’t want to chance that I would shift the wrong way and make it harder when I was going up a steep hill. On the downhills, I was and continue to be very wary. It takes time and practice to build confidence in your cycling and bike handling skills. Even now, I still practice my bike skills in grass fields and parking lots. I also join local group rides to get more comfortable riding with other people.

Learn from Mistakes
Running off the bike is never easy, but it does get better the more you do it. One of my first tris, I felt like my legs were still pedaling during the run; not a very good feeling. Even now, there are some races where I just feel like, “Crap, this is going to be a long race.” A pre-race check of all your gear is a good idea. I always recommend checking your shoes before a race, too. Why? Well, learn from my mistakes. I once had to complete a whole run with my hotel card key under my foot because I had forgotten that I decided to store the key in my shoe. Another tip, get familiar with the course ahead of time, a new recommendation of mine. Why? Because just last month I accidentally turned too soon on the run and had to go back to go around the cone, costing me ten seconds during a sprint.

Better with Time
My races have gotten better with time and I make fewer avoidable mistakes, but there are plenty of things I still struggle with even now. I look at each day as an opportunity to get better whether it be at a race or practice. If I fail or don’t perform as well as I would like, I don’t get down on myself. Rather, I take time to reflect on where I can improve. I let it go to get ready for my next opportunity to practice and develop that skill.

Focus On All You Can Do
One of my favorite things about triathlon is that there are always opportunities to get better and areas to improve. In some ways this can be overwhelming, but I think it helps take the pressure off each race. There will never be a perfect race and luckily in triathlon, if you make a mistake there is time to make up for it, so I try not to get too frazzled. I’ve found that the mental side of triathlon can often be more challenging than the physical. What helps me is to just “do me.” I’m the most proud of myself and my performances when I race like me and focus on myself. I am not concerned about the other competitors, what they are doing, what equipment they have, or what they look like. I am confident in my preparation and focus on my strengths. Come race day, there’s not much you can do about your weaknesses. Here’s my best piece of advice: Rather than freaking out about what you can’t do, think about all you CAN do!

It Takes a Village
What has helped me the most during my tri career is the amazing triathlon community and the people I surround myself with. There is no way I would have been able to make the progress that I have made without plenty of helping hands. When I began training for triathlon, I met and connected with a variety of athletes with whom I could swim, ride, and run with. I was fortunate to get a coach who helped me develop my swim, bike, and run skills as well as the transitions. I’ve learned from my teammates, family, friends, and other community members. We’re always learning and advancing our knowledge in the sport, so take advantage of the vast tri community out there. Reach out to your local triathlon club for help if you’re new to the sport.

And Remember…
Always remember why you’re doing multisport. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because everyone makes them at every level. Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun. Embrace the uncomfortable and look at each session, training block, and race as a chance to improve and be great. You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.

About the Author: Katie Zaferes has competed in the Rio Olympics, finished on 8 WTS podiums, won her first WTS race in Hamburg, and finished in the Top 5 of the World Triathlon Series in 2015 and 2016. Zaferes is training through another Olympic cycle in the hopes of competing in Tokyo 2020 and plans to begin dabbling in half distance races and longer. She is originally from Hampstead, Maryland and now resides in Santa Cruz, California. To learn more about Zaferes, visit her website here, follow her on Facebook and Instagram.  

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3 Ways to PR Your Recovery through Nutrition https://university.trisports.com/2017/05/17/3-ways-to-pr-your-recovery-through-nutrition/ Wed, 17 May 2017 14:12:44 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8277 Written by Stevie Lyn Smith, Registered Dietitian An injury…something every athlete knows all too well, but no athlete expects or is prepared for when it happens to them. Coming off some well-deserved rest from last season, I was ready both physically and mentally heading into the New Year. I decided I needed to make changes. […]]]>

Written by Stevie Lyn Smith, Registered Dietitian

An injury…something every athlete knows all too well, but no athlete expects or is prepared for when it happens to them. Coming off some well-deserved rest from last season, I was ready both physically and mentally heading into the New Year. I decided I needed to make changes. With my new goals in mind, it was time to work on daily interventions in my training that would yield big results on race day performance.

That’s when I started researching tools for customized, science-based blood analytics. I had read about InsideTracker previously but being in my late 20’s, healthy, and a Registered Dietitian, I assumed this wasn’t for me. However, I took a chance and did initial testing and found out that my early assumptions were far from true.

The plan was set; I had a wealth of knowledge and a nutrition plan to boot that would help me reach my goals. Cut to my current state: now recipient of a bad sprain and avulsion fracture on my left ankle after a near miss with a car on a run.

You would think that I could kiss my big goals goodbye, but thanks to InsideTracker I can use the same information meant to help me destroy my workouts to provide a different value- PR my recovery! Armed with my physicians’ recommendations, fantastic coach’s guidance, and useful InsideTracker tools- I have a direct impact on speeding up my body’s healing so I can get back to swimming, biking, and running towards my goals sooner.

Step 1: Pay Attention to the Inflammation Biomarkers
One of those markers is CRP (C-reactive protein), a protein found in the blood and one of the best indicators of inflammation in the body. Beyond being a general indicator of inflammation and a response to injury in the body, it helps determine the extent of a soft tissue injury.

Tip: Add avocado, pistachios, and quinoa daily to help reduce inflammation.

Step 2: Pay Attention to the Antioxidant Biomarkers
In addition to focusing on foods to specifically reduce my CRP, I make sure my meals are balanced and rich in antioxidants (vitamin C and E). These nutrients play supporting roles to help lower inflammation in the body and promote healing.

Tip: Fiber and fish oils are your friend, especially because they stimulate healing since they are rich in antioxidants.

Step 3: Pay Attention to the Vitamin D Marker
Ensure continued adequate intake of vitamin D to encourage calcium absorption and support bone healing. Though both my calcium and vitamin D are optimized, I need to ensure I stay on top of it and don’t let my levels slip.

Tip: Try salmon, soymilk, pork, eggs, and spinach to ensure you get adequate vitamin D.

While I’m still not able to train, I have taken joy in putting together recipes for now. Whether it is trying recipes from the InsideTracker page or testing new recipes of my own, I’m discovering new ways to ensure I stay healthy and optimize my recovery.

There is eating healthy and then there is eating healthy for specific to what your body needs. How do you know what your body needs, if you don’t ask it? Through cycles of training, tapering, racing, and rest we all respond differently. Monitoring your blood biomarkers throughout the season can help you further personalize your nutrition, aid in injury prevention, and optimize your training.


About the Author: Stevie Lyn Smith is a Registered Dietitian residing in Washington, DC. She is practicing as a clinical dietitian at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs as well as in sports nutrition for The Core Diet. At 28 years of age, she is an age group athlete who is a 5-time Ironman,11-time half Ironman, and 17-time marathon finisher, including Ironman 70.3 World Championships. She has also completed a 50 mile ultra marathon among other endurance events. Read Stevie’s blog at http://gritgracegreens.com/.

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Proper Run Form and Mechanics https://university.trisports.com/2017/05/12/essentials-of-run-form-and-mechanics/ Fri, 12 May 2017 17:22:44 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8262 Written by Lisa Roberts, American Long Course Professional Triathlete and TriSports Elite Team Member Is there a perfect running style?  Unfortunately, the answer to that simple question isn’t all that simple or clearly defined. So I’ll say “sort of” for each individual. Particularly when it comes to triathletes, there are more efficient ways of running. […]]]>

Written by Lisa Roberts, American Long Course Professional Triathlete and TriSports Elite Team Member

Is there a perfect running style?  Unfortunately, the answer to that simple question isn’t all that simple or clearly defined. So I’ll say “sort of” for each individual. Particularly when it comes to triathletes, there are more efficient ways of running. Especially when it comes to triathletes, working towards a more efficient running form is far more beneficial than striving for a perfect running form.

Efficiency is better, here’s why:
Triathletes come from varied athletic backgrounds and do not have enough training time to develop running form like pure runners and the physical demands running off the bike are drastically different. Therefore, any work you do to improve your running mechanics should place primary importance on increasing your running efficiency. For example, I began my athletic career as a distance runner and my running gait has gone from being described as a “gazelle” and now is likened to a “bull.” I take it as a compliment.

So where do you start?
Begin with body alignment, posture and using gravity. This can be described as an “up tall and proud” chest, looking up the road, not down at your feet, with a slight forward lean originating from the ankles. This gets you using gravity to push forward, keeps your chest open, relaxed, and puts you in the correct position for a good foot strike and push off.

Leg drive and Push Off
Next, we look at leg drive and push off. Your running power comes from your hips, glutes, core, particularly when our legs are tired from riding the bike. Try this: from a standing position, lean forward slightly from the ankles. At a certain point of leaning you will need to pick up one leg and stick it out in front of you to stop you from falling on your face (see picture above). That combination of the ‘drive’ feeling coming from the hips along with the push off coming from the rear leg is what we’re after. Your arms will naturally follow in an alternating pattern. Don’t underestimate your arms; however, we’ll cover this later with cadence.

Foot Strike and Stride Length
Foot strike stride length and are next and conflicting opinions abound as to how this should happen. There is some debate between whether runners should avoid heel striking or forefoot striking at all costs. Some of these opinions are made in hopes of selling a particular type of running shoe and some are held based on biomechanics and other historical research. Let’s go with somewhere in between and settle on striking somewhere in the midfoot, which is what most of us do anyway. There is some advantage to being able to control and shift to various foot strike patterns. Most triathletes have a tendency toward a slight heel/midfoot strike, this helps the leg absorb the impact through the knee, ankle, and outside of the foot then spreads the weight across the foot as it makes full ground contact. With decent hip mobility and drive from the core, the knee, ankle, and foot are set up to achieve an optimal position.

As for stride length, here’s where I shifted from the “gazelle” to the “bull.” Many years of cycling (and sitting at desks) has tightened the hip flexors and shortened my stride. But what has resulted is a very efficient stride length and rate for long distance triathlon.

Is there an ideal cadence?
Stride rate (a.k.a turnover or cadence) is your rhythm. It holds the entire running motion together and is your flow.  According to USAT, numerous surveys indicate that the best runners and triathletes take 90+ steps per minute (per single leg). Some of this is a function of their speed, but even runners and triathletes with less ability and subsequently lower speeds who run well for their ability display similar cadences. We can also control our stride rate by swinging our arms. Often times I focus on my arm swing and connecting it with power emanating from my core – especially when I am starting to feel fatigued.

Read more about Running the Right Way from ITU Olympic Distance World Champion and 6-Time Hawaii IRONMAN World Champion Mark Allen.

Don’t forget your arms!
Finally, let’s discuss your arms and their importance in run form. Aside from helping you keep your balance and rhythm, they are also your first aspect to monitor in staying up tall, relaxed and symmetrical. Keeping a rhythmical swing, with hands and shoulders relaxed and not crossing them over our body’s center-line simply helps to keep all the other form metrics in place.

Running form mechanics can be a complex subject; my hope is you can take these basic points and start to drill down on each one in more depth. There are a variety of drills you can perform to really hone in on these mechanics. Happy running!

About the Author: Lisa Roberts is an American long course professional triathlete living in Tucson, Arizona. She has run competitively for 25 years, competing specifically in triathlon for 15 years, professionally for 8 years. As a professional she is a 3x Ironman World Championship finisher, has 17 pro Ironman podium finishes and 3 Ironman/70.3 run course records. She is a USAT Level 1 Coach, European cycling tour guide and Registered Landscape Architect.

 

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It is Never Too Late to Start https://university.trisports.com/2017/04/27/it-is-never-too-late-to-start/ Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:11:29 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8207 Written by Christine Clayton, Late Bloomer Triathlete Nothing like picking up a new sport in your 50s…much less three new sports all at the same time, but that’s exactly what I did. At the age of 53, I signed up to do an Olympic in San Diego on a charity bib with Team in Training. […]]]>

Written by Christine Clayton, Late Bloomer Triathlete

Nothing like picking up a new sport in your 50s…much less three new sports all at the same time, but that’s exactly what I did. At the age of 53, I signed up to do an Olympic in San Diego on a charity bib with Team in Training. In all honesty, I thought that would be my first and last triathlon. I was not expecting how this incredible sport of triathlon would enhance and change my life. In 2012, I knew nothing about triathlon other than Ironman Kona and what I had seen on TV. So many years ago, I watched an athlete crawl across the finish line at Kona. It was dark and just before the midnight cut off but the pain, drive, and determination I watched was heart-wrenching. Never in a million years did I ever anticipate doing the same thing.

Couch Potato to Triathlete
Fast forward to Marriage No. 2, two beautiful grown daughters, a grandson, up-and-down the weight scale over the course of 20 years, and every possible excuse not to get involved in triathlon, including injuries (broken and dislocated ribs, fingers, sprained ankles, an ankle reconstruction surgery) and a whole host of other excuses not to do this, and here I am — passionate about triathlon and having completed my first full distance triathlon. Yep, all 140.6 miles of 2016’s Ironman Arizona!

Enough is Enough
It all started in 2012 when I realized I had become a couch potato. While I remained semi-active in my 40s and into my early 50s, mostly getting my daughters to their sporting events and working two jobs, I had ballooned to 250 pounds after suffering an ankle injury a few years earlier. It was after a tournament when I saw myself in a photo and I realized I was walking down the same path as my mother, who is classified as morbidly obese. I did not want to go there. I did not want to fall into that vicious cycle of not wanting to go out in public or train at a gym because I was overweight. I no longer wanted to eat out of boredom or use the excuse that I could not work out because my knees hurt, my back hurt, and complaining about my aches and pains which would all eventually relate back to being overweight and yes, osteoarthritis in my joints.

Find Your Motivation
My friends have asked what motivates me and usually the first answer out of my mouth is “fear.” Fear that I would repeat what I see too often with people who get caught in that cycle and also the fear of missing out on life. In 2013, I had three close friends die of health issues that served as my wake-up call and catalyst to get my butt off the couch. So I signed up for my second triathlon and I’ve been at it ever since.

Take the First Step
For those of you reading this who have entertained the idea of triathlon, but have not taken that first step…do it. For those of you who think you’re not in triathlon shape, welcome to my world. Yes, I’m in better shape now than I was four years ago or for that matter 15 years ago, but I cringe at the thought of where I’d be today if I had not taken that first step. And I am definitely not that lean professional or elite triathlete, but I can now say I have friends who fall into that category, and here’s a secret: they too are just as nervous as the rest of us mere mortals.

Supportive Community
The world of triathlon is a community and one of the most positive sporting communities I have experienced. I have had pros and elites congratulate me on a job well done, always encourage me no matter my skill level (or lack of skill level), offer words of wisdom, and I’ve swam, ridden, and run with some of the most widely recognized names and personalities in the triathlon community. The only thing you have to fear are your own self-imposed limitations. Don’t be afraid to start, you have to begin in order to get where you want to go. It is well worth the venture into this incredible sport. Take that first step and come on in…the water is great!

About the Author: Christine Clayton is a late bloomer to triathlon, life-long athlete, mother of two daughters, a grandmother, sometimes motivational speaker, and absolute lover of life and all it has to offer. 

 

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Mountain Biking for Dummies: Suspension https://university.trisports.com/2017/04/13/mountain-biking-for-dummies-suspension/ Fri, 14 Apr 2017 04:05:52 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8183 Written by James Haycraft Now that we’ve had ourselves a chance to explore the dipping-your-toe-into-the-mountain-bike-world level of research in our previous post (Mountain Biking for Dummies: The Frame), we can begin to delve into some of the more specific questions and functions of mountain bikes and what those mean for you, the rider, out on […]]]>

Written by James Haycraft

Now that we’ve had ourselves a chance to explore the dipping-your-toe-into-the-mountain-bike-world level of research in our previous post (Mountain Biking for Dummies: The Frame), we can begin to delve into some of the more specific questions and functions of mountain bikes and what those mean for you, the rider, out on the trail. Our first area of exploration will be one of the most critical and amazing components of a mountain bike: its suspension.

Suspension Defined
Suspension is truly a glorious thing; it can turn tragedy to triumph, it can make something out of nothing, it can absorb blows that would likely crush important parts of a rider’s body…in short: it’s amazing. First of all, let’s define suspension, shall we? Suspension is basically a thing on a bike (in our case anyway) by which vibrations are absorbed or dampened, whatever you want to call it. Road going bicycles actually do have a form of suspension that is most often overlooked: the tire and tube. But that’s a whole extra ball of wax that we’ll have to dig out of our ears at another time.

Suspension Varieties
Suspension on a mountain bike basically comes in two forms: fork suspension and rear triangle suspension. A bicycle that ONLY has a suspension fork is most commonly referred to as a “hardtail.” The nomenclature should seem relatively self-explanatory, as a hard rear end means no suspension. As an aside, some people choose to ride trails on mountain bikes that are “fully rigid,” meaning they have no suspension at all. Those brave souls deserve commendation, as they are surely tougher than I am. A bicycle frame that has a suspension fork AND a shock connecting the rear triangle to the main triangle is a full suspension bike, as both wheels are able to travel independently of the frame; although both travel on a pre-determined path, as defined by the suspension system itself. In general, you should also refer to the rear suspension as the shock, and the front suspension as the fork.

But within those two categories there are an absolute and overwhelming multitude of different types of mountain bikes including, but not limited to: rigid, hardtail, enduro, all mountain, trail, downhill, gravel, cyclocross, dirt jumper, fat bike, plus bikes, the list goes on.  Most of those are categorized by their frame, hardtail or full suspension and the frame’s geometry, and by the width of tire they can accommodate (fat bike, plus bike, also called fattie by some manufacturers).

With so many choices, which bike is right for me? 
How can you possibly know which bike is the best for you right away? Well, it’s almost impossible.  But if you’re TOTALLY new to mountain biking, the most likely answer is going to be something that’s relatively inexpensive. Most people when they’re getting involved in a new sport or hobby start low, in the sense that their investment is at least initially relatively small. If you fall into that category, you are most likely going to end up with a hardtail as your first mountain bike. It is intuitive that hardtailed bikes are the least expensive to produce, although you can buy some REALLY expensive hardtails, as there are less expenses in making those frames and equipping those complete bikes with parts. Suspension is very expensive. For reference, you can buy suspension forks ranging in price from a bit over a hundred bucks to forks that are about two thousand dollars. That’s JUST the fork, so keep that in mind.

Hardtail vs. Full Suspension 
So the tl;dr version of that paragraph was that entry level mountain bikes are generally hardtails, and that’s totally fine. It will be capable of doing most things you want a mountain bike to do and there are only certain areas in which the bike itself will feel out of depth, but I can guarantee you that as the rider you will feel far out of YOUR depth before the bike begins to play a role in that mental game. As you grow more confident, however, you may find yourself wanting to explore areas that you now feel are open to you, if you were on the right equipment. That’s where full suspension bikes come into play.  They can lower the “oh crap” factor as they frequently offer a little wiggle room, so to speak, when it comes to making errors out on the trail. Even a full suspension cross country bike, which is generally saved for courses that are designed to be fast and/or have lots of climbing, can be capable of many more trails and features than a hardtailed cross country bike.

Suspension and its travel
When you start getting higher up the mountain, however, you may find yourself wanting something that can absorb hits on which a puny little cross country bike’s suspension would bottom out.  Bottoming out is what happens when suspension runs the full course of its travel and reaches its mechanical limit. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not something you want to do over and over to suspension, as the wear and tear on the pistons and seals will shorten its lifespan. As bike’s suspensions get bigger and bigger (as you travel from 90mm XC bikes to 150mm all mountain bikes) the geometry of the frame itself also changes.  A cross country bike is very “road-like” in its position, as the bike is kind of designed around the premise of traveling, well…traveling across country; up the mountain, down the mountain, across the ridge, along the flats, through the valley, and so it goes. It’s designed to go there and do it pretty quickly. As a consequence, the road-like geometry (it’s more upright than a road bike) is most apparent on these bikes. As you move up the travel range, the bikes get shorter horizontally and taller vertically.  Think of it as if you’re sitting in an office chair at a desk with your hands at a keyboard.  With cross country bikes, the chair is a bit higher than the keyboard and your “wheel” is closer to underneath the keyboard (in our hypothetical world). On an all mountain bike the keyboard is higher than the chair and is closer to you and the front wheel is sitting out in front of the keyboard a bit.  The position is far more upright, which aids the rider in managing the bike underneath them and consequently in attempting features that would be far more difficult on a XC bike, where your weight is more forward.

Working your suspension
Further complicating the matter is the way in which you can interact with your suspension. However, none of what I’m about to say would really dictate which TYPE of bike I would buy, so keep that in mind (most of these features are determined by the brand of suspension the bike manufacturer chooses to stock on their bike). Suspension forks and shocks can be regulated by the user in a few ways: you can change the amount of air pressure you pump INTO the fork/shock chambers (using a suspension pump), you can lock out the suspension completely either using a switch mounted on the unit itself (you have to reach down and turn the switch, which can be complicated while riding trails), or a remotely mounted switch (mounted on your handlebars and actuated via a hydraulic or mechanical system, but you basically just flip a switch), or you can adjust the “mode” the suspension is in via a multi-position switch.  For example, some shocks have climb/trail/descend selections, where climb has basically no travel, trail has most of the suspensions travel available to use, and descend has as much squish available as the bike allows. Many riders have their opinions and may say certain systems are better than others, but you are best off deciding for yourself once you have a better idea of how you ride the bike.

Let’s talk about rebound
Suspension also has one other very important way in which you can regulate its behavior beyond setting the pressure and squishiness of the suspension: its rebound. Rebound is how fast the suspension wants to travel back to its normal position. When I first started riding, I thought: “Why would I want to adjust that? I want it to rebound as quickly as possible, right?” No sir. Rebound can dramatically affect the feel of the suspension, and it depends (as I’ve been saying a lot, haven’t I?) on the type of riding you’re going to be doing. Almost inevitably though, no matter what bike I get on (be it my cross country bike or my all mountain bike), I generally slow down the rebound a bit. The bigger the hits my suspension will be absorbing, the slower I want the rebound to be. Think about it: if my 150mm (six inches) of travel is soaked up in one big hit all at once, I don’t want all six inches springing back to its original position as quickly as possible as that will tend to “buck” me off the bike. But, I don’t want the rebound set slow enough to where the hits bottom out the suspension if they come in relatively quick succession.

Don’t forget the seatpost
Phew, had enough?? Well, let’s talk about one more thing that’s sort of suspension related and then we can be done with this little infusion of knowledge. Everyone generally knows what a seatpost is, right? Pretty straightforward. Well, certain mountain bike types, usually all mountain and trail, may come with what is called a dropper seatpost.  Essentially, the seatpost is like a piece of suspension in that it can be manually “dropped” into itself (thereby lowering it temporarily) where it will stay until it is released (usually by a trigger on the handlebar, actuated mechanically by a cable or hydraulically like a brake) and pop back up to its original height. Dropper seatposts are incredibly useful in certain situations, as they get the saddle out of the way so you can move your body around much easier on the bike. If you’re going down a steep downhill it is nice to get behind the saddle and distribute your body’s weight much further back and this becomes significantly easier when you can move your saddle down quite a few inches.

All of these things add together to create a bike that is adaptable to the way you want to ride it. The bigger the suspension (i.e. more travel it has) the more forgiveness you get and the more capable your bike is of absorbing big hits and/or absorbing mistakes you make.

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About the Author: James is a recent transplant to the southwest who has spent more money during his time in triathlon than he’d care to admit. An adult onset triathlete, he has had the privilege to race in the professional field before realizing that they are simply too good for him and is now back to the age group ranks, where he has discovered a love for all things off-road and has (temporarily, most likely) forsaken his road-going ways in favor of getting dirty.

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Plan for a Stress-free Triathlon Weekend https://university.trisports.com/2017/03/24/planning-for-a-stress-free-triathlon-weekend/ Fri, 24 Mar 2017 18:28:31 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8115 Written by Keri Ouellette, TriSports Ambassador Athlete The opportunity to travel and experience new places in a unique way is one of the greatest aspects of multi-sport racing, however, traveling with all the extra tools, gear and equipment required for a triathlon can make for a stressful weekend. When forgetting one piece of equipment or […]]]>

Written by Keri Ouellette, TriSports Ambassador Athlete

Make your next triathlon destination stress-free

The opportunity to travel and experience new places in a unique way is one of the greatest aspects of multi-sport racing, however, traveling with all the extra tools, gear and equipment required for a triathlon can make for a stressful weekend. When forgetting one piece of equipment or being five minutes late to check-in can end your race before it begins, it’s essential to be as organized as possible. Make your next race trip less stressful with these tips.

Plan (Way) Ahead    
With many races selling out in just a few days or hours, most triathletes plan their racing season well in advance. It also makes sense to book travel plans as early as possible. Often, hotel reservations are fully refundable, so there’s no cost to booking in advance, and it’s worth it to have secured a room close to the race venue, rather than finding out at the last minute that there are no rooms available. Airline tickets are usually cheaper when booked further in advance, another perk to planning way ahead of time. If you can, plan to take time off work before and after the race. In addition to giving you extra time to prepare for the race and to relax after the race, traveling at off-peak times is usually much easier and often less expensive. A long drive or flight the night before a race will leave you drained for race day, and an extra day before the race will give you a cushion for dealing with unexpected travel delays (cancelled flights, traffic, weather, etc.). Similarly, a long trip home after a day of racing is no fun, very uncomfortable, and you miss out on the much deserved post-race beers.

Exercise due diligence and research!

Research Before You Go
The week leading up to your trip, plan the travel logistics and know where you need to go and when. Just as you would research the route and terrain for a race course, knowing the route for travel (if you’re driving), location of the hotel, race site parking and location of packet pick-up, all helps to make your trip and race prep go smoothly. In addition to planning out your route and schedule, consider other logistical issues. For example, make sure everything (and everyone) will fit in your vehicle, or, if you’re flying, check the airline regulations to ensure that you have a bike box or bag that is appropriate and will fit in the rental car. Review the amenities that are available where you’re staying (coffee maker, microwave, toiletries, etc.) so that you can pack any extra items  you might need for a comfortable trip. Print out important information like athlete guides and directions to have on hand, just in case.

Don’t Forget to Eat
I don’t usually forget about food, but with the excitement and stress of race prep and traveling, I have found myself on the road to a race without enough snacks and no plans for a lunch break. I’ve learned my lesson, and now always travel with plenty of snacks and water. Like many triathletes, I’m picky about what I eat the day before a race, so mapping out meal stops if I’m traveling by car, or packing my own food is key to keeping my gut happy and ready to go on race morning. Planning ahead and making a reservation for your pre-race dinner is also a good idea, since restaurants in host towns are not necessarily prepared for the 5pm dinner rush the evening before a triathlon. For breakfast before a race, many triathletes like to stick to the same meal each time, but don’t forget to make sure that your accommodations have the right appliances and utensils necessary to prepare your pre-race meal. Don’t forget any family or spectators traveling with you need to pack snacks too. Share this Spectator’s Guide to Triathlon with your Race Sherpa(s) and cheerleaders going with you.

Get Organized
I can’t think of another sport that requires as many pieces of essential equipment as triathlon. For this reason, a triathlon-specific gear bag is essential in keeping track of all your gear. There are a variety of transition bag options available, that include features like expandable pockets for larger items (helmets and wetsuits), mesh pockets for wet stuff, water bottle holders and lined pockets for shoes. I keep a general packing list of all race day gear and refer to the same list when packing for each race. Each item has a specific place in my bag, so it’s easy to find on race morning (one pocket for nutrition, one for cap and googles, etc.). Whatever bag you choose, make sure it’s large enough to fit everything. If you have loose items, it’s too easy to forget something critical. When I’m traveling for a race, I like to keep all race equipment and clothing in my triathlon bag and all other non-race stuff in a separate bag so important items don’t get lost.

Each season, I try to choose at least one race that is someplace I’ve never traveled to before and make it a triathlon vacation. If you’re still on the fence about whether spending an entire day swimming, biking and running is a fun vacation, traveling with triathlete friends, enjoying the local culture wherever you travel and taking advantage of post-race, no-guilt ice cream bingeing (or whatever guilty pleasure you prefer) will convince you that there’s no better way to spend a weekend. Happy travels!

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About the Author: Keri Ouellette is a longtime runner and swimmer, as well as an age group triathlete for over six years. She recently moved to Portland, Maine, where she’s now training, racing, and trying out new winter sports. 

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A Spectator’s Guide to Triathlon https://university.trisports.com/2017/03/15/a-spectators-guide-to-triathlon/ Wed, 15 Mar 2017 23:57:44 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8088 Written by Nate Deck, Field Test Expert and TriSports Ambassador Team Athlete Beginner triathletes spend many hours learning the ins and outs of the sport. They swim, bike, and run. They research and buy new toys gear. They learn the flow of the race and practice their transitions. But sometimes, they forget one thing…or I […]]]>

Written by Nate Deck, Field Test Expert and TriSports Ambassador Team Athlete

Beginner triathletes spend many hours learning the ins and outs of the sport. They swim, bike, and run. They research and buy new toys gear. They learn the flow of the race and practice their transitions. But sometimes, they forget one thing…or I should say person.

Triathlon is a very individual sport, except when it’s not. Look no further than Olympic gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen and her husband Patrick Lemieux; he quit his job to support her (successful) quest for Olympic gold. Read more about how Gwen Jorgensen prepared for the Rio Olympics here. When it comes to race day, your support structure will be right there with you. They may be just as overwhelmed as you are by all of this, so here are some helpful hints to share with your beginner triathlon spectator.

Arrive Early, Before the Pre-Race Meeting
If you drive separate and you don’t want to be there at the crack of dawn, still plan to be there early. Races have limited parking and you don’t want to be walking a mile or more just to get to and from the car. The car will also be your friend in the time between quick glimpses of your athlete. Read more tips here on making the most of your race-day experience.

Familiarize Yourself with the Transition Area
The transition area is where all the activity happens. Most races have just one transition area where the athletes transition from swim-to-bike (called “T1”) and bike-to-run (called “T2”). Some races may have two separate areas, but these are point-to-point races that come with their own set of challenges. Knowing your way around transition will help you know how to position yourself to get the best glimpses/pictures of your athlete. It would be a bummer to be standing by the “Swim In” part of transition when your athlete is coming through the “Bike-In” area. You will also want to ask your athlete how long they think it will take them to complete each leg of the race. That will give you an idea of how much time you have before they get back to transition.

Pack Snacks and Water
Triathlons can take a long time, don’t sit there and be miserable with a stomach rumbling for something to eat. Avoid being a hangry spectator and bring something to snack on; you’ll have a much better experience. Also, if this is going to be one of the longer distance races, you’ll want to plan on a picnic!

Bring Something to Keep You Occupied
Along the same lines as bringing a snack; it can be a while between glimpses of your athlete. Bring a book or something to keep you occupied. There will be lots of other spectators to chat with as well, but you should always have something available to fend off the boredom that can creep in. If you have young children with you, on to the next tip.

Know Where the Closest Playground is
Most races will set up in parks or near schools. Keep your eyes peeled for a playground. Not every race will have a park nearby, but if they do, it will help keep the little ones from getting restless while they wait to cheer on their favorite athlete.

Bring a Cowbell
Nothing is more energizing to an athlete on course than hearing the cheers of their family and friends. And there is no better way to cheer on an athlete than with a cowbell, and of course your hand-decorated signs to keep them motivated for the finish line. Yes, they are obnoxious most of the time, but in a race setting, nothing is better. Bonus, it will keep the kids entertained too! Plus,

Thanks to you, your athlete doesn’t have to be this guy on race day (sorry selfie-stick guy). You’ll be there to help capture the moment.

Take Pictures
There will most likely be an official race photographer, but take your own pictures anyway. Don’t stress about getting a perfect shot, but documenting the race from your perspective will mean a lot to you and your athlete in the future. This doesn’t just mean the race part of the race. Take pictures of the fans and what you (and the kids) are doing at the race. Your athlete will care just as much about those memories as those of the race itself.

Make Friends
You won’t be the only one there. Chat with other spectators and triathlete families. Race day is a great time to get a glimpse into other athlete’s lives and make friends with other people you would probably never meet otherwise.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com
About the Author: Nate is a husband, father, triathlete, and teacher. Nate likes to help others learn from his triathlon mistakes and successes, aiming to encourage athletes new to triathlon. When he’s not hanging out with teenagers, he can be found swimming, biking, and running around central North Carolina, blogging, or on twitter @n8deck.

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Strength Training As Injury Prevention https://university.trisports.com/2017/03/10/strength-training-as-injury-prevention/ Fri, 10 Mar 2017 20:13:17 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8067 Written by Jesse Vondracek, NSCA CSCS and Professional Triathlete We have all been there, diagnosed with some sort of “overuse” injury. We’re told the best thing to do is nothing in order to let it heal properly. I would like to argue that there is no such thing as overuse. Our cardiovascular system is not […]]]>

Written by Jesse Vondracek, NSCA CSCS and Professional Triathlete

We have all been there, diagnosed with some sort of “overuse” injury. We’re told the best thing to do is nothing in order to let it heal properly. I would like to argue that there is no such thing as overuse. Our cardiovascular system is not strong enough to overuse our bodies if we are moving with perfect mechanics. Therein lies the problem. We do not have perfect mechanics. We all have some form of imbalance. Imbalances stem from a variety of causes, one’s body is slightly asymmetric, having a dominant hand, driving a car, playing a one-sided sport (tennis, golf, etc.), or just living life.

The stronger all of our muscles are, the harder it is for us to bring out our poor mechanics. Or, if we strengthen our weaknesses, our mechanics will improve through proper training. This allows us to use our bodies more before we get near the overuse line. The key here is we need to strengthen our muscles in the correct way. If I go to the gym and do thirty squats every day with heavy weight and bad form, I will become more injury-prone because I am reinforcing poor mechanics. This makes it paramount to start off a lifting program gradually, with correct form being the only focus.

3 Core Lifts You Should Be Doing
Let’s focus on the lower body. The three main exercises that target all of the major muscle groups are squats, deadlifts, and lunges. If done correctly, all three of these lifts will activate the glutes and quads. However, each lift will activate the muscles differently, changing the dominant muscle group. This is important because when riding and running, we need to be able to engage both our quads and glutes as a source of power. Ideally, we become well-rounded enough that both are equally fatigued when we cross the finish line. Our sport can be very quad dominant. If you have ever gotten off the bike and felt like you had to march the run, this is because you relied solely on your quads. The glutes are our largest muscle, so it is in our best interest to learn how to engage them.

In order to reap the benefit of these exercises proper form is crucial. If you’re new to a strength program, I recommend working with a strength coach or physical therapist to help you establish proper form and muscle recruitment. One thing to remember for good form, it’s all in the knees. Well, not really, but the knees are a place where we can see movement. In most lifts, one thing to keep a close eye on is how your knee is tracking. Your knee should stay over your mid-foot, not creeping past your toes. Also, your knee should not cave in or dive out laterally…ever. This is true for our three most basic lifts, squats, deadlifts and lunges. Here are a few guidelines for proper lifting technique during these core exercises.


The Squat

Squats are the best opportunity for you to engage your glutes. Although squats may often be thought of as a quad exercise, as you stand back up you really need to drive up from your glutes. When doing squats, you want to have your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly pointed out. You then sit back and try to get your hips as low as you can (goal being femurs parallel to the floor) with your back straight, chest up, and your knees staying behind your toes or mid-foot. You can add in variations with weight or even progressing to one legged squats with your other leg straight out in front of you.

The Deadlift
Deadlifts are a skill. Unlike the squat where your hips go down, the deadlift is a hinge. This makes a proper deadlift the ultimate glute worker. Your hips hinge backward to reach down with a flat back. You lift up by hinging your hips forwards. As you do this focus on squeezing from the glutes to snap your hips forward.  It’s best to start out with low weight with just a single kettlebell in order to learn the movement.

The Lunge
The lunge is a very common lift. The key is to keep the knee over the ankle and like the rest of these lifts, do not let your knees cave in or dive out. These can be done walking or stepping backwards, with body weight, free weights, kettle bells, or a barbell.

Even though our legs are our primary focus, core work and some upper body work is important for total body health. I like to incorporate planks, side planks, the ab wheel (yes from the infomercials), reach outs with jungle gym bands, inchworms, and renegade rows. I also think pull ups, push ups, chin ups, inverted rows, and shoulder press are good all-around upper body exercises.

Lifting is as important as the swim, bike, and run. The hard part is fitting it in, right? Remember, a little goes a long way. Lifting two times a week is plenty for the multisport athlete. It helps to break the lifts up into an “A” day and a “B” day, that way you do each lift once a week. Three to four sets of 6 to 12 reps is a good volume range for the average triathlete. A progressive cycle for the weight range is a good starting point, which means first adding more reps for a few consecutive weeks, then start over with more weight and possibly less reps if needed. Just like with your normal training, make sure to have a down week once in awhile. Try to maintain a lifting program through your competition season, but back off on both reps and weight. The most important thing is to try to maintain your strength with a little to no cost to your total body stress. By maintaining a lifting program, you’re keeping your muscles engaged throughout the entire year, preventing injury and giving you a stronger engine during the season. It also makes the transition from one phase of training to another much easier than if you were to totally skip any strength program for any length of time. Remember, focus on perfect form, lift within yourself, and have fun!

About the Author: Jesse Vondracek is a Professional Triathlete with an IRONMAN PR of 8:27. He has raced in hundreds of triathlons, 19 IRONMANs, and has 0 DNFs. Jesse is the Head Coach at Top Step Training. He lives and trains with his wife Amy Cole and their two mutts. He can be reached at www.topsteptraining.com or Jesse Vondracek on Facebook.

 

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Take Your Triathlon to the Trails https://university.trisports.com/2017/02/27/take-your-triathlon-to-the-trails/ Mon, 27 Feb 2017 18:28:59 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8028 Written by Barret Fishner, Pro Team USA World Championship Team Off-road triathlon is quickly growing all around the world. Here in Europe, a single Xterra can draw over 1,000 competitors. Racing off-road brings a variety of different challenges than its road counterpart. Here are some tips to help you nail your next, or first, off-road […]]]>

Written by Barret Fishner, Pro Team USA World Championship Team

Off-road triathlon is quickly growing all around the world. Here in Europe, a single Xterra can draw over 1,000 competitors. Racing off-road brings a variety of different challenges than its road counterpart. Here are some tips to help you nail your next, or first, off-road triathlon.

Why Go Off-Road?
It’s fun! Super fun! You get to flow some great trail through the woods and be one with nature. Off-road is great for the adventurous spirit. Every course brings its own unique set of challenges. Each venue is unique and different as well, usually set in some small mountain town.

Boredom Buster
Off-road allows you to explore during training. Where does that dirt road go? Or that trail? You may be surprised what you find in your area once you start exploring. Not to mention the lack of cars and traffic during training. Every course is different and unique. No one course or venue is similar to the other…the ultimate boredom buster for those easily bored.

Gear Up
Your gear choice will be vital to your success; the equipment you use will significantly impact your race. First, you will need a mountain bike. Not sure what kind of mountain bike will suit your needs, check out Mountain Biking for Dummies: The Frame to determine which bike would suit your fancy.

Tires. In regions where weather conditions change frequently, it’s a good idea for off-roadies to have a few different tires in their arsenal with different tread patterns in their collection: low profile knobs for dry hardback, mid-range trail for loose rocky roots or slightly wet, and open spaced knobs for mud.

Tire and Fork pressure will determine how the bike rides. Make sure you have enough pressure to not roll the tire off the rim or bottom out against it. Bring a spare tune, CO2, and multi-tool. Off-road courses can be 12mile laps, you want to be able to continue, or at least get home if something happens.

I highly recommend mountain bike shoes and pedals. Many Xterra courses keep it old school with hiking sections in several of their races. Plus, mountain bike pedals clear mud better so you can still clip in if rain or mud are on the forecast.

As far as running shoes, look for a shoe with adequate cushioning, tread, and ankle support. If the trail portion may be muddy or technical, look for a good trail shoe with appropriate tread, especially for those muddy races. Brooks Cascadia 11 Trail Shoe.

Bike Handling Skills
Racing off-road is very bike heavy, and a large part of a fast bike is your technical riding ability. Races can be won solely on who was able to navigate the course the best. Riding a mountain bike is very different than on the road. Yet the skills you learn riding off-road will make you better back on the pavement. Your body position should be low, to get your center of gravity down. Bend your elbows and knees, but stay relaxed. Pretend the grip is slightly bigger than it actually is; no white knuckles. Look ahead where you want to go, and point your hips in that direction. Remember, the bike knows what to do, allow it to do so.

Improve Race Tactics & Fueling
This is another deal breaker for off-road racing. Off-road races are significantly longer, sometimes 3-4 hrs, so your intensity and nutrition will determine how your day goes. If you’re new to off-road racing, it’s always best to play it conservative at the start so you can go harder later. You will have a much better race and faster time than if you blow up and are trying to survive to the finish.

Prepare ahead of time; go online and find all the information you can on the course. Study the elevation profile and terrain. How many climbs are there? What’s the average grade? How long (in minutes) are each? Do this for the bike and run. This will give you an idea where to hammer and where to conserve. Are there any aid stations? This impacts nutrition, as you’ll want to have enough food and water to get through. Most Pros go with just bottles because of weight. Depending on the course, it may elect for a hydration pack.

Core Strength
An easy area to forget is your core strength, as juggling three disciplines is already hard enough. Your core strength greatly impacts your performance off-road. Off-road can beat you up depending on the terrain and elevation. It takes a strong core to endure and carry you to the finish line. The stronger your core is, the better your endurance will be on the course. Don’t worry about making it to a gym, there’s plenty you can do at home. Check out these training articles for ideas: Strength Training for Triathletes and Prehab Exercises to Stay Run Healthy.

Swim in Open Water
You must train in situations you will be racing in. The biggest challenge in open water is often sighting. Off-road swim courses may have an unusual pattern. For example, take last year’s ITU Cross World Championships,  it looked like a heart shape loop with a tail. That’s nine buoys to navigate, twice (2x750m laps)! Before your race, get some open water training swims in and you’ll be thankful you did come race day.

Warm Up
A good warm up will really help your event. Your engine needs to be primed to race off-road. Do a gradual intensity build over 15 minutes on the bike with a five minute cool down. Just enough to sweat some and feel warm, loose, and ready. Besides prepping your body, you are prepping you mind.

Practice Your Transitions
Transition is like the 4th sport, and the more smoothly it goes, the better your mindset will be for the bike and run. Practice it frequently. Getting more smooth on your transitions will help settle your nerves, especially for an off-road transition where your hands are dirty or muddy.

Go with the Flow
In off-road racing, ‘stuff’ happens out there. You may slip on the bike or run, get a flat tire, have an unexpected obstacle or conditions, to name a few. It’s all part of the adventure. Everyone has days or sections of a race where things just do not go smoothly. The best thing to do is deal with it and move on. Get back to a clear, relaxed state and go with the flow. Remember, this is fun!

With these tips, you will be able to nail your next off-road triathlon. Good luck, now go Grip-N-Rip!


About the Author: Barret was born and raised in the coastal mountains of Oregon, where he discovered mountain biking and racing in his teens. He loves the outdoors and all activities in it, especially off-road. Barret is a RAAM finisher, Pro Team USA World Championship team, competed in the World Championships 3x (cyclocross, duathlon, off-road triathlon), and holds a pro card in off-road triathlon and off-road cycling. Barret and his wife (US Army) are currently stationed in Belgium, where he is utilizing the time to pursue is passion for off-road racing. 

 

 

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Get Fit https://university.trisports.com/2017/02/17/get-fit/ Fri, 17 Feb 2017 21:48:07 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8012 Written by James Haycraft This title is a bit misleading, as the reader may think I mean something along the lines of “aerobic fitness” gainz made in training. Au contraire, mon frère. Today I am talking about getting fit in the context of getting a bike fit. My title missed that crucial middle word for […]]]>

Written by James Haycraft

This title is a bit misleading, as the reader may think I mean something along the lines of “aerobic fitness” gainz made in training. Au contraire, mon frère. Today I am talking about getting fit in the context of getting a bike fit. My title missed that crucial middle word for the sake of sucking you in and getting you interested.

Triathlon fitting is both hugely overrated and hugely underrated at the same time. Paradoxical, you say? I agree that triathlon fitting is a bit of a paradox. It’s overrated in the sense that there are too many bad fitters out there yelling about how important it is for you to come see them and pay for a multi-hundred dollar fit before choosing a bicycle without realizing that they are bad fitters. You’ll also see many athletes crowing about their amazing fit and suggesting that a fit with their guy or gal is imperative to your success as a bicycle rider.

Are all fits created equal?
No sir. 90% of fitters who partake of the triathlon business segment are bad. I am using hyberbole and exaggeration for the purpose of making a point, so stay with me for a bit. Too often fitters focus on hitting numbers and angles that they have read out of a book or been taught in a one-day class by someone who has been taught in a three-day class. They are fitting a system and not an athlete. Just like coaches who simply coach a program and not an individual, these types of fitters are to be avoided at all costs both for the sake of your wallet and your triathlon fit.

Getting the right fit
Now, on the other hand, good triathlon fits are incredibly underrated. A fit with someone that understands aero fitting in general and its related principles and goals who also understands you as an athlete – your injury and race history along with your short and long term goals – AND has an ability to understand bicycle fit as a system insofar as it relates to your bike is an invaluable tool in your success as an athlete.

Let’s be frank: I don’t see any point in buying a triathlon bike if you’re not going to use it for its intended purpose: moving efficiently in straight lines. The only reason people buy or upgrade triathlon bikes is to be more competitive or more efficient. You may say that you bought it to be more comfortable in your triathlon racing, but that really just means efficient. A tri bike is designed completely around the philosophy of making you as a rider more aerodynamic for long periods of time while remaining comfortable. Let’s not forget that there are several balls to juggle in a triathlon fit:

  • Sustainability: This is key and often forgotten in the days of wind tunnel testing and a market that has been inundated with marketing catch phrases like “saves 3 watts” or “uber aerodynamic sleeves” and so on ad nauseum.
  • Efficiency: This means a mix of being fast (aerodynamic) while also being powerful. A good fitter is playing with the different demands of being aero and powerful as it relates to the athlete’s race goals and history.
  • Adjustability: I’ve changed this third one quite a bit over the years, but currently I think this is a good third ball to juggle. Many bikes these days have a specific (and limited) range of adjustability that comes into play at times when a fitter is trying to optimize an athlete’s position to a bike; again, keeping in mind the context of that athlete’s dynamic. Or if the morphology of that athlete is such that they are an outlier (e.g. extremely long and low, very tall, very short, super long legs with super short arms, etc.) finding them a bike in general makes a fitter’s job more…ummm, dynamic and interesting.

So in recap, the whole point of a tri bike is to be more efficient. Long story short, it’s my guiding ethos in fitting someone to a tri bike. Take that for what it’s worth…

How do we do that, you might ask?
Well, a good triathlon bike fit that juggles those three balls successfully starts entirely at the saddle. If you ride with a traditional saddle (i.e. think: it has a single nose), I can tell you that you are likely not as comfortable or as efficient as you could be. The original triathlon saddles were basically just more padded versions of their road saddle brothers and sisters. You were supposed to scoot your hips forward, “roll” (I’ll use that word a lot from now on) your hips forward and basically perch on the nose of the saddle. Doing this correctly allowed you to have an aerodynamic position. It was not, however, particularly comfortable or sustainable. Most people that still use those types of saddles have what has been termed (I’m borrowing this from my coach, David Tilbury-Davis) a “pooping dog” position; you don’t have to try hard to imagine what that looks like. This can generally lead to lower back discomfort, SI joint issues, back/shoulder fatigue, among other issues.

Ideally, you sit correctly on a noseless saddle (think ISM Adamo, Cobb JOF, Fizik Tritone, Dash, Specialized Sitero, etc.) which supports your bony parts, your seat bones, and leaves your soft tissue be, allowing your pelvis to “roll” forward. Think perching your butt vs. sagging your butt, flattening out your lower back and relieving it of the weight of your entire upper body. You want a position that supports you at your seat bones, elbows, and feet all using mostly bony support. The less muscular tension you have to apply to relax in your aero bars, the more sustainable that position will be long-term, both in terms of years of racing and hours of racing.

Postural coaching cues
Postural guidance, as I’ve dabbled in above, may be ignored by many of the fitters I’ve encountered. Most athletes, including myself, need to be told what to do and ideally shown what to do. Some have good kinesthetic awareness, but some do not, so either video feedback post-fit or ideally some sort of immediate and direct feedback allows them to make the postural adjustments that the fitter is hopefully suggesting and guiding them through. Many athletes are often surprised when a position that is more aero is actually more comfortable. Allowing your body to breathe so to speak (i.e. making your fit longer horizontally and a bit lower vertically) can often be a complete game changer for athletes who don’t even really think about triathlon cycling as being about going fast or being aero. But it can be a very fortunate byproduct!

Optimized fit for increased performance
A good triathlon bike fit is often mentioned as a way to aid your run, which – I believe – is definitely true, although I believe it’s true for slightly counter-intuitive reasons. Let’s say, for example, that you have a position on the bike that is not particularly optimized (i.e. not efficient using our jargon from above) and you expect a roughly six hour bike split at IRONMAN Arizona.  Well, with a good bike fit that yields a more efficient and aerodynamic position while still being sustainable by you, the rider, could possibly take 20 minutes off your time on the bike using the same effort or watts as you were originally planning. So all of a sudden you get to the run having worked out less than you would have before. There is less stress on your body and you’ve endured one third of an hour’s less working out so you obviously get to the run fresher than you would have otherwise. I am not completely sold on the idea that a good bike fit changes certain muscle engagement (although typically there is more glute and quad usage in an optimized fit) such that it affects your run, but that could be argued as a positive as well.

What to expect from your fit
I think, at a minimum, you should expect a couple of things out of your bike fit and the fitter. The fitter should be able to explain his reasoning behind every single change he or she makes to your bike and posture. There should be purpose and confidence to their actions and guidance.  They should listen to you and understand your goals and have the ability to translate that into what you want out of your bike and your fit on that bike. As far as outputs go (as in, if you are not getting fit on an actual bicycle but are instead fit on a “fit bike” with the goal that you will buy a bike later using that fit), you should expect numbers that describe your saddle position (i.e. how high is it and how far ahead or behind is it as those numbers relate to the bottom bracket) and cockpit position (i.e. where the arm pads are in relation to the bottom bracket, called “x” and “y” or armpad stack and reach) as those will place those items (the most critical items of a bike fit) in “space” and any competent fitter should be easily able to translate those numbers onto a real bike or adjust your bike accordingly. Ideally, the fitter can also explain those numbers to you in such a way that you understand them and can appreciate their meaning as it relates to your fit now and in the future.

So in summary, a good triathlon bike fit starts at the saddle and contains postural and fit coordinate guidance that allows an athlete to better understand themselves on a bicycle and makes them more efficient on their bicycle as well, ideally leading to a better bicycling experience in triathlon!

About the Author: James is a recent transplant to the southwest who has spent more money during his time in triathlon than he’d care to admit. An adult onset triathlete, he has had the privilege to race in the professional field before realizing that they are simply too good for him and is now back to the age group ranks, where he has discovered a love for all things off-road and has (temporarily, most likely) forsaken his road-going ways in favor of getting dirty.

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