Training Tool Reviews – TriSports University https://university.trisports.com The place to learn about triathlon. Thu, 10 May 2018 23:38:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 https://university.trisports.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/cropped-tsu-button-32x32.png Training Tool Reviews – TriSports University https://university.trisports.com 32 32 The Time Crunched Cyclist, Race-Winning Fitness in 6 Hours a Week https://university.trisports.com/2017/07/28/the-time-crunched-cyclist-race-winning-fitness-in-6-hours-a-week/ Fri, 28 Jul 2017 22:55:54 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8552 When the folks at TriSports University asked me to review The Time Crunched Cyclist, I thought, “Sure thing. I’ve read some of Chris Carmichael’s other books and trained using his Carmichael Training System (CTS) DVDs. Plus I’m retired—I have all kinds of time.” Carmichael says it himself early in the book: inasmuch as we’re all […]]]>
The Time-Crunched Cyclist by Chris Carmichael and Jim Rutberg

When the folks at TriSports University asked me to review The Time Crunched Cyclist, I thought, “Sure thing. I’ve read some of Chris Carmichael’s other books and trained using his Carmichael Training System (CTS) DVDs. Plus I’m retired—I have all kinds of time.” Carmichael says it himself early in the book: inasmuch as we’re all time-crunched in our daily lives and need to make the most of our training, who has time to read a 430-page book about it?

The Audience
The audience for The Time Crunched Cyclist is primarily amateur road racing cyclists who want to improve their performance and results in criteriums and road races but have full-time jobs—and possibly families—that leave little time for training. As a road racer and sprint duathlete, the book offers several workouts to help me get faster. The book offers separate chapters with training programs for various kinds of cycling, including: criterium, road race, and cyclocross; century and gran fondos; gravel and ultraendurance mountain bike racing; and even a plan for making commuters “race ready.”

High-Intensity Training Model
Carmichael and co-author Jim Rutberg cite several research studies that point to the benefits of a high-intensity training model vs. the classic endurance-training model. Pro cyclists have traditionally use the latter—high volume and low intensity in the fall and winter, gradually adding intensity as the racing season progresses. The former model, which Carmichael and Rutberg define in the book as the Time-Crunched Training Program (TCTP), has been shown to get results quickly, but not easily. It is definitely intense.

Benefits
One of the biggest benefits of high-intensity training is its ability to improve mitochondrial density. In describing the human aerobic engine, the authors write:

The rock stars of the aerobic system are little things called mitochondria. These organelles are a muscle cell’s power plants: Fuel and oxygen go in, and energy comes out. For an endurance athlete, the primary goal of training is to increase the amount of oxygen your body can absorb, deliver, and process. One of the biggest keys to building this oxygen-producing capacity is increasing mitochondrial density, or the size and number of mitochondria in muscle cells. As you ride, more and bigger power plants running at full capacity give you the ability to produce more energy aerobically every minute.

Carmichael and Rutberg share research on how high-intensity training results in the development of mitochondria, which can deliver more energy to the muscles. In other words, riding all day at 14 miles per hour isn’t going to help make you faster. A 60-to-90-minute workout that includes high-intensity intervals, however, can make you faster.

The science behind the TCTP is based on our relatively recent ability to reliably measure power output. If you’re going to use this book as a cycling training guide, it is highly recommended that you equip your bike with a power meter. The authors point out that it was the use of power data that led to one of the most important trends in training today: the ability to know when you need to rest and recover. Carmichael and Rutberg emphasize the value of recovery in any training program.

Fuel & Hydration
The book offers some excellent tips on weight management, nutrition and hydration, and heat-stress management. The recipes they offer are hit-and-miss (they’ve published two separate books about food and diet), but they offer extensive research data on fuel and hydration. Notably, they recommend you get your calories from your food—not in your drinks.

Powered by Strava
Something added to this edition of the book is the tagline Powered by Strava. Mark Gainer, co-founder and CEO of Strava, writes in the book’s foreword about how the precepts of the TCTP helped him achieve his goal of competing in the Leadville 100 bike race. The book offers suggestions on how to use Strava’s analysis tools to gauge your progress and while they recognize that other applications like TrainingPeaks offer more robust tools for analysis, they think that Strava’s interface and tools are “far more accessible to the average time-crunched athlete and provide the essential information you need.” They discuss at length how to use Strava’s tools like Effort Comparison, Power Curve and Fitness and Freshness, which they describe as one of the most useful and valuable tools available for Strava Premium account users.

Retail Manager Jason Whittaker enjoying his lunch break read.

Getting Started
In order to begin the program, you will need to perform the CTS Field Test to establish a benchmark for your fitness. The field test consists of two eight-minute all-out time trials separated by ten minutes of easy recovery. Trust me: if you don’t like the idea of submitting yourself to that kind of punishment, you won’t like the TCTP program. As I wrote earlier, it is intense. The program suggests two main types of workouts: lactate threshold intervals and VO2 max intervals. They will hurt; and they will make you a faster cyclist.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com
About the Author: Don Davidson is a TriSports.com Ambassador Team Member and duathlete. Don resides in California, but recently retired, which means he is able to travel more to enjoy time with his grandkids and family. 

 

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Product Review: Flaer Revo Via https://university.trisports.com/2017/07/26/product-review-flaer-revo-via/ Wed, 26 Jul 2017 22:52:33 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8528 Efficiency is the name of the game when it comes to triathlon. When you are racing anywhere from 5 hours for a Half-iron distance race to upwards of 14 hours for full-iron distance race, you know you want to save as much energy as possible. One of the best ways to sap energy on the […]]]>

Efficiency is the name of the game when it comes to triathlon. When you are racing anywhere from 5 hours for a Half-iron distance race to upwards of 14 hours for full-iron distance race, you know you want to save as much energy as possible. One of the best ways to sap energy on the bike leg of a triathlon is to have a dirty, dry drivetrain. One company created a solution to that problem in a very unique way.

Most lubricants on the market are targeted at a certain environment or time frame for their optimal performance, but all of them will eventually wear off. That is the one thing that is true of all lubricants no matter how high tech. Even the special CeramicSpeed UFO chains have a specific performance life span. Flaér went about attacking that problem from a totally different perspective.

About Flaér
UK based Flaér Cycling originally launched their revolutionary product, then called the Scottoiler, on Kickstarter to catch the attention of the cycling world. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the company rebranded as Flaér Cycling and renamed their product the Revo Via. Since then they have expanded into a variety of bike cleaning products to take care of all your maintenance needs.

What is Revo Via
The Revo Via is a continuous chain lubrication system. It consists of three main parts: the pump, the tubing, and the applicator. The pump holds the fluid and dispenses a small amount of lubricant through the tubing to the applicator which is attached to the rear derailleur. It is programmable so that it dispenses fluid every 30, 90, or 120 seconds which in turn keeps your chain clean and lubricated throughout your ride. As stated before, this helps keep things running smoothly no matter what the weather or how long the ride.

Real World Use
This is all good in theory, but what. What you and I both want to know is how does that actually work in the real world. Thankfully, I’ve been able to have this new gadget in my hands for a few months to run it through its paces.

Installation
I won’t go into detail with the installation process because Flaér has done an excellent job with their walk through videos and instructions for installing the Revo Via. Just go watch them. I will say that they note you should set aside about an hour to do the installation and I found that to be spot on. I am not a novice when it comes to bike maintenance, but I’m not an expert either. I found an hour distraction free to be just about right to get everything up and running.

The biggest headache in all of it is deciding where to mount the pump. They tell you the best place is on the down tube or seat tube as low as you can get it. My bike did not allow that with the way its geometry is, so I settled with mounting it to my one and only bottle cage mount. Flaér sells Bottle Cage Extender for mounting the Revo Via below a cage without giving up the use of a bottle cage. I really would have preferred that but again, my frame would not accommodate that. Thankfully Flaer listed many options all detailed in the instructions and I am sure you will find one that works for you.

Every Day Use
Once you get the system set up and primed per the instructions, it is simply a matter of turning it on and off and adjusting the dispensing intervals for the weather. The special fluid the Revo Via uses (conveniently called Via Fluid) is not your normal chain lube. It is a special formula that is easy to clean off. It keeps gunk from building up in your chain and since longevity is not a concern with the continual application of new fluid, it is nice to be able to just spray it off at the end of a ride and call it good.

There is also an auto off feature that keeps you from accidentally letting the system run until it is empty. I must admit, I took full advantage of that feature one time and was glad I did. Instead of running all night, it only ran for two hours and when I got back to my bike the next morning I found only a small puddle of fluid under my rear wheel and not the whole reservoir emptied on the floor.

Another great feature is the “Boost” you can send to your chain. If you notice it is getting on the dry side, or you ride through a large puddle, you can hold the power button to send a 60 second continuous stream of fluid to your chain while you are riding. I never took advantage of this feature, but I can see where some racers could find that useful, especially off-roading or riding in less than ideal conditions.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations
At the end of the day, there is an understanding that a product like this has a select audience. Obviously a crit racer would not find this useful for their road races lasting an hour or less. On the other hand, a triathlete racing a full or half iron distance race can understand that the efficiency gains of a system like the Revo Via could save them precious watts and have their legs more fresh for the run. Those riding in wet or dirty environments such as off-road riders may also reap the efficiency benefits.

The question always come to “how much benefit?” Flaér claims up to 12 watts. I can’t confirm that, but I can say that I did notice my drivetrain was cleaner and quieter over the long haul, almost as if I cleaned and lubed it fresh every day.

“But, Aerodynamics!” some might say. The system is so well integrated that I don’t see that being much of an issue. The biggest aerodynamic penalty would come from the pump, and it is smaller and more sleek than a simply bottle and cage. I don’t see that being an issue, especially with the efficiency gain at the drivetrain.

If you are going long or off-roading, check out the Revo Via. It might just save your legs that little bit over your competitor, and it won’t break the bank either!

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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3 Ways to Optimize Your Nutrition and Recovery https://university.trisports.com/2017/07/21/3-ways-to-optimize-your-nutrition-and-recovery/ Fri, 21 Jul 2017 19:25:43 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8505 First Year Professional Triathlete Kevin Portmann helps you nail your nutrition and recovery with his top three tips. After a relatively successful 2016 season, winning Ironman Coeur d’Alene and qualifying for Kona for the second year in a row, my wife convinced me to race as a Pro for 2017. So I did and left […]]]>

First Year Professional Triathlete Kevin Portmann helps you nail your nutrition and recovery with his top three tips.

After a relatively successful 2016 season, winning Ironman Coeur d’Alene and qualifying for Kona for the second year in a row, my wife convinced me to race as a Pro for 2017. So I did and left my full-time 9-to-5 to embark on this journey as a professional triathlete – all in! It is a scary life change; I think to myself, ‘what am I getting myself into?’ probably everyday, but I am enjoying the process. It has been awesome to see the slow, but sure progression.

Even before turning pro, part of the adjustments I made in my training regimen was with the unequivocal fourth discipline of triathlon: nutrition. TriSports.com and Klean Athlete have played a major role in my triathlon “successes.” TriSports picked me up on their Elite Team back in 2015 and their support – from gear, equipment, training and race day nutrition, you name it – has been nothing short of incredible. Klean Athlete has been helping me with my nutrition since Coeur d’Alene last year after I decided to make nutrition a priority for Kona. Having raced two Ironmans in five weeks (Canada & CDA) and with Kona only being six weeks after my last Ironman, I knew there was not much I could do to get faster or fitter. However, I needed to find ways to optimize my recovery and dial in my nutrition in order to maintain my fitness, minimize injury, and hold onto motivation. I was fatigued after CDA, and I knew that a fatigued body and mind would have a negative impact on my Kona build. I had to really focus on my nutrition.

Here is what I did:

1. Talk to an Expert
I decided to work with a certified nutritionist. I have always maintained a relatively healthy diet, eating clean and balanced meals, but what she taught me about fueling myself as an endurance athlete was eye opening. Needless to say she completely changed my diet. She walked me through what to eat, in appropriate portions, and when to eat in order to minimize the stress that training had on my body and get me ready for my next workout. Just as important, if not more, she taught me about how to properly fuel during times of recovery.

My nutritionist introduced me to Omega 3s, an antioxidant that helps with inflammation and helps protect joints, and daily vitamin supplements to increase my intake of key vitamins and minerals to boost the immune system. I started taking Klean Athlete Omegas and Multivitamin every morning.

2. Take Recovery as Serious as Training
I was introduced me to different types of recovery drinks. The recovery powder I used to take had a 2.8:1 carb-to-protein ratio, which especially for an endurance athlete, is sub-optimal. Studies indicate after a hard workout, your muscles are primed and ready to take in carbs to replenish glycogen and give you energy. So she strongly advised to find a high quality recovery drink that offered the necessary 4:1 carb to protein ratio to optimize the recovery process, which Klean Athlete Recovery provides. I forced myself to eat five or six times a day in controlled portions and macronutrients, and started having a recovery drink after each training session, regardless if it was an easy 20-30 minute run or a hard interval set. If my training was longer than three hours, I made sure to take an additional scoop of Recovery in my post training drink.

She advised me to take in extra protein with the Klean Athlete Isolate powder 30 to 45 minutes before going to bed. That would give my body a little extra help to repair all the muscle tissues damaged during my training, so the muscles don’t go to bed “hungry” for 8 hours while I sleep.

3. Stay Consistent
I followed my nutritionist’s recommended plan to the T in my 6-week build to Kona, and the day of the race I felt great, better than I had the year prior, and better than at Coeur d’Alene. I continue to follow her recommendations, and advice, and continue to see improvement in both my overall training and recovery. My body feels ready to go 95% of the time; there are still some training days that take a lot out of me, but that’s bound to happen at some point.

Nutrition is a literal science, so there is still a lot I am learning and continuing to adapt to as my body changes. Consistency not only in training but also how you fuel your body is key. Sure, I allow myself to indulge every once in awhile – because what’s life without pizza?! But after a while, fueling your body properly becomes second nature – a lifestyle adjustment, not a fad diet. It also helps to use supplements to complement solid training and nutrition. Klean Athlete can be found at TriSports.com and with their quick order processing, I have a replenished cabinet of everything I need with no hassles. I am one easy online chat away with Eric and Ross from the Trisports’ Customer Service team if I have any questions about the products. They always have an answer even if it means digging for one.

Supplements I use and Frequency

Favorite Recipes
I like to keep it simple. With Klean Recovery, I usually blend it with almond milk (mixing it with water does not taste as good), one banana, and some frozen berries if it is hot outside. Sometimes I’ll mix in a scoop of Klean Isolate into my yogurt. You can mix it with almost anything.

My wife likes to mix Klean Recovery with almond milk, one banana, a tablespoon of almond butter and a couple handfuls of spinach to get her greens in and you can’t even taste it. I have yet to add either Recovery or Isolate to cake dough, but that is on my experiment list.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

About the Author: Professional Triathlete Kevin Portmann won Ironman Coeur d’Alene in August 2016 and qualified for Kona two years in a row.  Born and raised in a small town outside of Evian, France. Kevin relocated to Carlsbad, CA in 2016 and is loving his new training and racing grounds. Learn more about Kevin and his upcoming races here.

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Product Review: SHFT Intelligent Virtual Running Coach https://university.trisports.com/2017/06/02/product-review-shft-intelligent-virtual-running-coach-2/ Fri, 02 Jun 2017 23:05:14 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8324 Written by Keri Ouellette, Field Test Expert and TriSports Ambassador Athlete  SHFT Intelligent Virtual Running Coach is the latest in running technology, using wearable pods to capture data on running form. The goal of the Danish company, founded in 2014 (under the name Learn2run) is to create the most intelligent virtual running coach to improve running […]]]>

Written by Keri Ouellette, Field Test Expert and TriSports Ambassador Athlete 

SHFT Intelligent Virtual Running Coach is the latest in running technology, using wearable pods to capture data on running form. The goal of the Danish company, founded in 2014 (under the name Learn2run) is to create the most intelligent virtual running coach to improve running technique and efficiency. The first prototype was developed in 2014, and after much collaboration with elite runners, doctors, scientists and the Swedish design studio, Howl, the current SHFT product launched in November 2015.

The SHFT is designed to capture a variety of running metrics to provide real time feedback on running form as a virtual coach based on the data collected through the pods. The SHFT running tracker consists of two small triangular pods, one to attach to your shoe and one to be worn on the chest. These pods capture data as your running which is sent to your phone and feedback is provided through your headphones via the SHFT app.

Easy to Use
I’ll begin this review with the disclaimer that I’m not much of a technology buff, having just purchased my first GPS running watch less than a year ago. That being said, the pods are very easy to use and the whole setup took only a few minutes– the time it took to download the SHFT app. Once the app is installed, you’re ready to start running. The pods have a simple design and easily clip onto the side of any running shoe. I’m not sure how exact the positioning of the pods must be, but the data seemed to be on target when I tested it. To charge the pods, they clip onto a strip with a USB connection. To use the product you need to carry your phone while you run. To start, SHFT requires the user to manually start, stop, and pause the run through the app.

Measure your Metrics
SHFT provides data on more aspects of running biomechanics than I could have ever imagined. In addition to the usual speed, distance, pace, cadence information, the pods also track things like body angle, body bounce, landing and toe-off angle, step length, watts and brake effect. Many of these metrics are not easy to interpret and compare through a video analysis, so having numbers to compare over time allows for a better evaluation of running technique and improvement. It is a lot of information to absorb, especially since you may not have any baseline to understand what the numbers mean for many of these metrics, but once you do a few runs, you can compare your personal data over time. It’s useful to see how each of these metrics changes within one workout. The app provides a simple explanation of what each metric. It would be nice to also have an explanation of how each metric affects running efficiency or potential for injury. Additional information on the website or app would be helpful about how to read the data and what it means. The Run with Power book dives deeper into these metrics to help you better understand running with power.

The Virtual Coach
Beyond the data collection, the other aspect of the SHFT is it provides coaching (as the name implies). The idea of real time feedback on running form seemed useful, however, the SHFT coach is not as flexible as I would have liked. The coach selects the component of running form that she would like you to focus on and provides feedback for only that metric during that particular workout. I’m not sure if selection of metrics is standard or not, but the ability to make adjustments to the coach’s workouts would be nice (admittedly, this criticism reflects of my own preference for self-coaching). Despite that, I found that getting feedback while running helped me really focus on my form and increase awareness of changes to my running form when I slowed down or started to fatigue.

Run Analysis on the Cheap
Other than this type of pod technology, the only other way to obtain this detailed running analysis is in a professional running lab. SHFT provides an inexpensive way to capture running form metrics. You may have to do a bit of research to understand what the data means and what form adjustments need to be made if you’re unfamiliar with some of the metrics.

Overall: A Great DIY Option
Since running is the sport where athletes are least likely to consult a coach, a DIY option for getting this information is tremendously useful for anyone who wants to improve their running form and efficiency. Runners also tend to experience a lot of overuse injuries, as a result of, sometimes very minor, issues with running form. Understanding one’s own running mechanics could likely prevent many overuse injuries. Overall, the SHFT running coach is a great way to understand and improve your running form. The coaching aspect could improve on the customization ability, offering athlete’s a choice of which running component to practice. I hope that SHFT continues to improve on this exciting technology to continue to make advancements for a user-friendly product.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

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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Product Review: Sable WaterOptics Swim Goggles https://university.trisports.com/2017/05/26/product-review-sable-goggles/ Fri, 26 May 2017 19:01:09 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8308 Written by Chris Hague, Coach at TriSwim Coach Goggles are a dime a dozen in the swim and triathlon community, and I have tried most of them from swim “masks” to minimalist Swedish goggles and everything in between. It is hard to get me excited about a new brand and have me break from my […]]]>

Written by Chris Hague, Coach at TriSwim Coach

Goggles are a dime a dozen in the swim and triathlon community, and I have tried most of them from swim “masks” to minimalist Swedish goggles and everything in between.

It is hard to get me excited about a new brand and have me break from my trusted pair that I have been using since college. That was until I tried Sable WaterOptics Swim Goggles, which was on Oprah’s (yes the talk show host) “O List” back in 2008…who knew she liked to swim?

According to their website, the company has been around primarily in Asia since 1998, but has become an international brand.

The company is actually named after a small amphibious mammal, the Sable marten species found in the forests of Northern Russia and Finland; it typically lives and burrows near riverbanks and has eyesight adapted to be perfect both above and below the water. It is this unique feature that the company gets their inspiration from and their products live up to the name.

They have a variety of models for different purposes:, Women’s 924, Mirrored and Tinted 101 Competition, and their newly released GX-100 Professional with polarized lenses specifically for triathletes.

The competition goggles, which have a split strap, come in mirrored and tinted lenses and thus are better suited for open water swims or intimidating your lane partners in the pool, while the 924 model come in clear and tinted lenses and a uni strap.

You don’t have to be competing or competitive to use the competition models and enjoy the mirrored lenses, but if you prefer clear lenses then the 924 is the one for you. It comes with the same high-suction gaskets that do not fog or leak.

All of their goggles also have Flatlens™ technology that eliminates the headache many swimmers get from curved lenses. Even if you do not need corrective lenses, the standard lenses give you near perfect vision BOTH in and out of the water making them ideal for sighting in open water swimming, marking your flip turns, or scoping out your competition several lanes over.

Whatever you do, do not touch the inside lenses. Like high-end sunglasses, you will scratch and damage them so handle with care.

I personally tried out the RS100, their competition model. They came in a handy reusable, hard case to protect them and more importantly the lenses from being scratched and lost at the bottom of my swim bag. While I did not need to use them, they also came with three different nose piece sizes. Aesthetically, with their blue mirrored lenses, they look like goggles you would see on the Olympics and give you that ice-cold, “get-out-of-my-lane,” pure focus look, which is personally my style.

Upon first trying them on, I immediately noticed two things: the clarity of my sight compared to my previous goggles, which always had fuzziness around the edges as if I was looking through soda bottles, and their snug fit. It was as if I was wearing regular sunglasses. My vision was so clear that I could see all the nasty little dirt particles lying at the bottom of my gym’s pool and knowing when to do a flip turn became more accurate and less guess work.

When I tested them out in open water, I could easily see for better or worse through the semi-murkiness of the water to the bottom of the lake. Not only were feet and bodies swimming around me recognizable, but also, when sighting, I could easily distinguish between objects on the shore line. Obviously, this makes open water swimming much less intimidating because I can orient myself better and not focus on whether that is a red swim cap or a red buoy but rather on what I should be doing: swimming.

The fit too was incredibly snug with no slipping when diving, no fogging up as I swam, and continual comfort throughout the swim. Personally, I did get “raccoon eyes”–markings around the eye sockets after the first few swims–but they usually went away after I showered. This usually happens to me regardless of goggles because of my deeper set eyes.

Am I convert from my old brand? Most definitely. While pricier than your standard goggles, these are the only goggles that you will need for both pool and open water swimming and will last you quite sometime. Especially if you wear glasses, Sable is for you.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

About the Author: Chris Hague swam competitively at the collegiate level and has competed in triathlons since 2007. Chris is juggling a full time triathlon career while pursuing a career in psychology and public health. Chris is an Assistant Coach at Tri Swim Coach, where he helps provides quality content, with the latest cutting edge information on triathlon swimming, as well as helping members get the most out of their swim. Visit Tri Swim Coach at http://triswimcoach.com.

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5 Essential Swimming Drills for Triathletes to Strengthen Your Core https://university.trisports.com/2017/05/02/5-essential-swimming-drills-for-triathletes-to-strengthen-your-core/ Tue, 02 May 2017 20:56:31 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8220 Written by Maciej Konczewski, Engineer, Swim Instructor, and TriSports Elite Team Member Having a strong core is extremely important not only for triathletes, but athletes in general. A strong core helps with stability, posture, and overall body control. Furthermore, having a strong core improves how your body functions as a whole. It will not only […]]]>

Written by Maciej Konczewski, Engineer, Swim Instructor, and TriSports Elite Team Member

Having a strong core is extremely important not only for triathletes, but athletes in general. A strong core helps with stability, posture, and overall body control. Furthermore, having a strong core improves how your body functions as a whole. It will not only positively affect your swimming performance, but also aid in your bike and run performance. So without further delay here are my ultimate, favorite swimming drills for building a strong core.

1. Butterfly/Dolphin Kicks
This is not necessarily a drill, but rather a fundamental skill for any swimmer. Any variation of butterfly kicking will take you on your way to building a stronger core. A great way to start with this drill is on your back with fins. It is much easier to keep a tighter core, and a fluid kick this way. Make sure to focus on thrusting your hips and using your body to engage the legs, not the other way around. Work on mastering the body movement and the undulation.

Once you have mastered this you can do various variations:

  1. Without fins on your stomach or back
  2. Kicking on your side
  3. Arms in front of you or on the side

2. Pull Buoy Progressions (thighs, knees, ankles)
This drill is rather simple, but very quickly gets difficult. It is essentially a progression of doing regular pulls with the pull bouy. You start off with the pull bouy between your thighs, and then move it down between your knees and eventually between your ankles. Here are key things to focus on:

  1. Keep your core tight. Do this by squeezing your thighs/legs together as if you were trying to pop a balloon. This will force you to flex your abs and core.
  2. Focus on reaching and stretching your stroke.
  3. Tip: the biggest give away you need to flex your core and squeeze your legs is if you are fish tailing (legs moving side to side).

Bonus: If the pull bouy is too easy, band your legs together with a resistance band.

3. Water Polo & Tarzan Drill
Water Polo swimming, also known as Tarzan Drill, is helpful in two regards. Not only does it help improve your sighting and swimming with your head out of the water, it also works your core and strengthens your neck muscles. This is an essential staple for open water swimmers and triathletes alike. Most of our time is spent training in indoor pools where not swimming in a straight line is extremely difficult, while swimming in the open water is a completely different story.

  1. For beginners, perform this drill in lengths of 25s. This prevents an overly sore neck.
  2. Swim with your head up and out of the water looking forward. Keep your head still.
  3. Arch your lower back to keep your lower half from sinking. This will engage your core. You will need to kick stronger than normal to keep your body balanced and feet from dragging.
  4. Shorten your stroke. It is choppier and quicker than normal.

For newbie tips on sighting in open water, read more here.

4. Extended Streamline off the Wall
This is a simple drill that simply requires you to hold your streamlines longer coming off the wall. It can even be incorporated in your regular sets.

  1. Each time you push off the wall focus on tucking your chin in and stretching your arms tight together behind you head.
  2. Keep your feet and legs flexed and tight throughout the streamline. Challenge yourself to go further each time.

5. Vertical Kicking
This is an extremely effective and simple drill. It requires a deep pool, preferably a diving well, but the deep end of most pools should suffice. This drill not only strengthens your core, but also helps to develop your kick. Start off in the deep end and begin your regular freestyle kick, however, perform it vertically. Try not to help yourself up by using your arms. If this is too difficult use fins.

This drill is good for swimmers of all levels and focuses on the following:

  1. Doing flutter kicks vertically engages your abdominals and allows you to get a feel for the proper motion. This isn’t as easy to achieve swimming horizontally because we often tend to relax our abdominals.
  2. It will smooth out your kick and force you to kick with even more power.
  3. Having a strong kick is what will separate you from the pack.

Bonus: To make this drill more difficult, you can take your hands out of the water. Advance your progressions to place hands on your head or even holding a weight.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com
About the Author: Maciej is a swimmer/swim instructor turned triathlete/engineer. Driven by competition and desire to always get faster, and love for the sport. Team Trisports Elite Member who heavily enjoys destination races and seeing new places from the start and finish line, because you have to reward yourself somehow after staring at a wall on the trainer all winter.  Lover of sushi and connoisseur of mac and cheese. He can be found swimming, biking, and running around the suburbs of Chicago. Follow him on twitter/instagram @macheetri

 

 

 

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Open Water Swim Safety https://university.trisports.com/2017/04/21/open-water-swim-safety/ Fri, 21 Apr 2017 18:00:35 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8193 Written by Kevin Koskella and Chris Hague, Coaches at Tri Swim Coach Open water swimming can be scary. Cold. Jarring. Frustrating. And in some cases, dangerous. If you feel anxiety bubbling up as you stand on the lake or ocean shore, you are not alone. But this fear is completely rational and can be easily […]]]>

Written by Kevin Koskella and Chris Hague, Coaches at Tri Swim Coach

Open water swimming can be scary. Cold. Jarring. Frustrating.

And in some cases, dangerous.

If you feel anxiety bubbling up as you stand on the lake or ocean shore, you are not alone. But this fear is completely rational and can be easily combated with the proper preparation.

Most of the anxiety stems from the fear of unknown. While statistics show that open water swimming is actually quite safe, it is always good to be prepared for any situation.

The most common fear people have is unknown potential creatures below them. Even though the odds of getting bit or eaten by something are tiny, there is a logical reason to the fear.

Hollywood combined with real life incidents give way to this very common fear.

Start With The Controllables
1. Cardiovascular Condition.
Before you even step into the water for either a race or just practice, make sure that you get your heart checked for any abnormalities. In the past 10 years, a large sum of open water swimming fatalities have come from athletes who did not realize that had an underlying cardiovascular condition.

Combining a cardio issue like this with the shock of the cold water and the anticipation of a race can result in a disaster. If and when you are cleared, a good warm up that includes pushups, jumping jacks, arm swings and jogging can help your heart ease the transition into cold water.

If for some reason you can’t get in the water before your race, at minimum, splash cold water on your face, as this will trick your body into preparing for the cold submersion.

2. Preparation for the conditions.
If you know the water is going to be cold (sub 15 degrees Celsius/59 degrees Fahrenheit), then definitely wear a long-sleeved wetsuit, preferably in bright colors like this one, a bright fluorescent swim cap. For extra warmth, use two caps: a neoprene with a silicone one overtop and neoprene booties, which also help navigating rocky beaches. If you know your event will be in extremely frigid waters, Blueseventy makes a thermal wetsuit designed especially for coldwater.

Warm clothes for after the swim are also important. Most hypothermia cases are not from the water temperature but from the drop in temperature after you strip off your wetsuit. I (Kevin) know about this first-hand; after swimming in 50-degree Fahrenheit water in the Alcatraz swim in the San Francisco Bay once, I ended up with early stage hypothermia! It’s not fun, but preparing can help you avoid this.

3. Wetsuits.
With their extra buoyancy, wetsuits can be a huge help and an extra safety measure especially for beginner swimmers, but be sure that it is well-fitted and that you have practiced in it.

A wetsuit that is too small will restrict your breathing and can lead to hyperventilation, while a wetsuit that is too large will cause drag and weigh you down. Practicing in the wetsuit as much as you can will allow you to get used to the feeling of swimming in a wetsuit, which is quite different from your swimsuit in the pool.

In both cold and warm temperatures, remember bright colors are your friend. Without them, boats, kayakers, fellow swimmers and–if it comes to it–emergency rescue–can not see you, and rest assured that the bright colors will not attract sharks or killer whales–unless you plan to swim at Sea World.

4. Never train alone.
Grab some friends who are either swimmers themselves or who can kayak or SUP near by and keep an eye on you. An emergency contact should also know where you are and when you are expected to get out. Personally, I (Chris) always text my wife before I get in with how long I am swimming and then again when I get out to confirm that I am alright.

5. Be present!
This seems cliché and may be obvious, but there are so many factors in open water swimming that can throw you off, this is well worth mentioning. Staying present will allow you to deal with each distraction as it arises- even getting hit or pulled can be easily absorbed with a mindful approach to swimming. A couple of ideas here are to simply count your strokes, or think of a word, and repeat that word in your head as you swim.

The Non-Controllables
1. Sight.

There’s a lot you can do to practice sighting, and this is a big part of the challenge of open water swimming- staying on course. However, some of it may be out of your control. Sometimes the person you’re following doesn’t know where they’re going. Other times you just mistake where the finish line is. Practice can help here but it doesn’t eliminate every possible thing that could go wrong. Read more about sighting with these 8 Tips for Sighting.

2. Things that can bite and/or eat you.
Well this one is very rare, but its true- in the ocean, there is the element of the unknown. Let’s look at the stats: From the Washington Post: “According to the file’s analysis of 2000 data, beachgoers faced a 1-in-2-million chance of dying from drowning and other causes based on visits to East and West Coast beaches. By contrast, they faced a 1-in-11.5-million chance of being attacked by a shark, and less than a 1-in-264-million chance of dying from a shark bite, since just one person died that year in U.S. waters from an attack. Put another way, more Americans were killed by collapsing sinkholes (16) than sharks (11) between 1990 and 2006, and more by tornadoes (125) than sharks (6) in Florida between 1985 and 2010.”

In the rare case something does happen, be prepared for the worst. An open water safety device or an inflatable is an excellent idea- especially for beginners. While it might seem like a hassle, it can be a lifesaving measure if the weather or your body were to go awry.

Still nervous? Practicing is the best cure for fear and anxiety when it comes to open water. Start small and swim close to the shore with friends close by and on a course that allows you to see the bottom. As you become more comfortable gradually swim further and further out. No need to be a hero in the early stages.

Open water swimming does not have to be scary. With the proper preparations, you can swim with calm mind and be able to focus on what is important: your workout.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com
About the Authors: Kevin Koskella and Chris Hague are coaches at Tri Swim Coach. Kevin is the Head Coach at Tri Swim Coach. He was an All-American swimmer in college and coaches masters swimmers and triathletes. Kevin contributes to Triathlete Magazine, Inside Triathlon Magazine, Men’s Health Magazine, Active.com, and many more.

Chris Hague is the Assistant Coach at Tri Swim Coach, and swam competitively at the collegiate level and has competed in triathlons since 2007. Chris is now juggling a full time triathlon career while pursuing a career in psychology and public health.

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Product Review: Hammer Nutrition Fully Charged, Pre-Exercise Ignitor https://university.trisports.com/2017/03/02/product-review-hammer-nutrition-fully-charged-pre-exercise-ignitor/ Thu, 02 Mar 2017 20:15:04 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8050 Written By Dr. Nicholas Parton, DPT, MTC, CSCS TriSports.com is a family owned business in Tucson, Arizona which retails a wide range of products from athlete’s favorite brands. They provide personal service and recommendations for all levels of athletes as well as support the growth and quality of the sport across the country and in […]]]>

Written By Dr. Nicholas Parton, DPT, MTC, CSCS

TriSports.com is a family owned business in Tucson, Arizona which retails a wide range of products from athlete’s favorite brands. They provide personal service and recommendations for all levels of athletes as well as support the growth and quality of the sport across the country and in their backyard.

Fully Charged Use
Hammer Fully Charged is a pre-workout supplement that provides caffeine, sustained energy, and Nitrous Oxide exercise support to improve performance and maximize muscular and mental function.

What’s In It
Green Tea Extract, Nitrous Oxide Proprietary Blend, Taurine, Tart Cherry Extract, Beta Alanine, L-Carnitine.  These items will provide mental and physical sharpening, increased blood flow and supply to muscles, and amino acids for muscular efficiency.

Review:
During our racing careers we go through phases and experimentation with our diets. There is an endless supply of new and rediscovered super foods in a dietary world that feels cyclical in nature. Like many triathletes, I have tried most of them. I used Beta-Alanine a decade ago, started using beets two years ago, and grew up with a tart cherry tree which has made it easy to utilize tart cherries in my diet as a recovery aid. Hammer Fully Charged combines all three of those ingredients in their proprietary blend in addition to amino acids, taurine, and the everyone’s favorite supplement caffeine which comes from green tea. Naturally, an all-in-one product is preferable to three different concoctions each day, so I gave it a try through a training cycle including long runs, hill repeats, interval workouts, and three races.

Day 1: Mixed my first glass. Fully Charged mixes into cool water easily and provides a pinkish hue.  The flavor is tart cherry, I personally smell and taste a watered-down bubble gum which is pleasant enough for a supplement and not painful to drink. I went out on my first run 30 minutes after replacing my pre-run glass of water with Fully Charged. The biggest test of these supplements to me is if my stomach can handle it; I did not notice any difference in my stomach which was a great start from day one.

Day 2-7: I continued to drink a single glass in the morning before my first workout. I felt great during this week, it was my first week of build into a training cycle. A progression long run, hill workout, and my first race all occurred with good results and no stomach issues which has always been my complaint about other beet supplements.

Day 8-14: It took over a week until I started noticing the flush from the Beta-Alanine in the Fully Charged.  Research shows that Beta-Alanine requires a period of loading and then maintenance to provide the buffer effect. By itself, Beta-Alanine is usually cycled for 4-6 weeks prior to your primary event. This was my best week of the cycle.  Every day I felt I could meet or exceed my workout goals. There is no doubt the Fully Charged wasn’t hurting and I kept feeling good; I found a supplement that made my legs feel like my other beet supplements – faster and fresher. I continued to be happy about how easily my stomach handled the blend of supplements in Fully Charged.

Day 15-21: I continued to sleep and recover well this week which was the final of this cycle before a down week. One of the more common uses for Tart Cherry is as a sleep aide which is what I used it for in periods prior to beginning Fully Charged.  Sleep is vital to recovery, so a supplement that can provide some quality to your shut-eye can be worth its weight in gold during harder cycles. After making it through my last race and long run during this test period while hitting all of my goals has made me feel that there isn’t a fall off between Hammer’s all-in-one product and supplementing with the three separate products I was consuming otherwise.  I am a believer and since it is cheaper and easier to consume; Hammer Fully Charged will replace my other supplements going forward until I am convinced otherwise.

Pros:

  • Multiple Performance Enhancers in One
  • Easy on the Stomach
  • Caffeine source without the acidity of coffee before a run

Cons

  • Tart Cherry Flavor preference
  • For most this is a morning or early afternoon supplement only due to caffeine content
  • Beta-Alanine flush can be unpleasant but is short lived

Recap
After a three week hard training cycle I would highly recommend Hammer Fully Charged as a supplement to add to your arsenal. Hammer Fully Charged provided the same exercise-feel, similar to beet or blended performance-enhancing products at a lower cost and in an all-in-one supplement. Easy to dissolve and drink before exercise without the stomach difficulties of other products.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

About the Author: Dr. Nicholas Parton, DPT, MTC, CSCS is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist in Colorado Springs, who works with athletes in their homes and in the field through Parton Physical Therapy (www.partonpt.com), spends his free time triathlon training with the support of TriSports.com, and enjoys getting lost in the mountains with his wife, Jessica.

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Product Review: Lumo Run Sensor & Clip https://university.trisports.com/2016/10/28/product-review-lumo-run-sensor-clip/ Fri, 28 Oct 2016 22:19:57 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=7690 Written by David Tatum, USAT Level 1 coach and IRONMAN All World Athlete Company History The Lumo Run is based on the sports biomechanics research on distance running done at Loughborough University in the UK. Lumo comes to the table with some expert knowledge led by Mark Mastalir who used to work for Hoka One […]]]>

Written by David Tatum, USAT Level 1 coach and IRONMAN All World Athlete

lumo-run-2-1474425980-9a9e-full-width-inline

Company History
The Lumo Run is based on the sports biomechanics research on distance running done at Loughborough University in the UK. Lumo comes to the table with some expert knowledge led by Mark Mastalir who used to work for Hoka One One and Rebecca Schultz who has a PH.D in clinical Biomechanics. Rebecca has eight years of experience at the Stanford Gait lab.

About the Product
Lumo Run is a small pod-like product that attaches to the back of your run shorts while you run. The pod charges through a mini-usb cable like many other products. It attaches easily and is hardly noticeable while running. The product syncs wirelessly via Bluetooth to your iPhone app.

lumo-picture-1Key Features
The Lumo Run provides real-time, biomechanical feedback to help an athlete adjust their running form to become more efficient. The Lumo Run Sensor measures your:

  1. Cadence: How frequently your feet touch the ground in a minute
  2. Drop: The side-to-side motion of your pelvis
  3. Brake: The change in your forward motion/speed
  4. Rotation: The twisting motion of your pelvis
  5. Tilt: The amount of forward and backward motion of your pelvis
  6. Bounce: The up and down movement your body experiences while running

The app provides coaching through short tutorial videos teaching the runner how to adjust their running.  The app also provides exercises and tips for the runner to work on when they are not running.

lumo-picture-2

Benefits
Running with the Lumo Run measures body mechanics and delivers feedback on how to adjust for improved running form. Offered through real-time audio coaching feedback when you run with your phone. The Lumo takes the place of a coach’s eye and measures more specifically what your body is doing.

Review
Here is a picture of what I received in the mail.

lumo-picture-3

Pros
Overall, the Lumo Run is a great product that worked seamlessly when I tested it. I completely forgot that I had it on when I ran with it. The product is super light weight and attached easily to any of my running shorts. The app is very easy to navigate and intuitive for the user. The product gives very useful data and feedback to help adjust running mechanics and improve posture, form and overall running efficiency.

Con
The biggest drawback to the product is that in order to get GPS data which includes your map, pace and distance you need to run with your phone. For some runners, this may be a drawback because they already have a running watch like a Garmin 920xt and have ditched their bulky phones a long time ago. For others, this will integrate into what they are already doing as they run with their phones to listen to music. Lumo Run says they plan on partnering with a third party application, such as Garmin or Strava in the future to get the GPS data.

Data Application
The biggest question I had was would the average user be able to take the data that is being recorded and translate that into adjusting their running in order to see gains in their biomechanics. With so many new devices being developed to track data the biggest and most important question for the athlete becomes ‘how do I translate that data into something that I can use to better my performance?’  GPS watches, HR monitors, Power Meters and running biomechanical measurements can all help an athlete if they know how to use the data.  I asked Lumo about this concern and they said:

“We are continuing to improve this experience since helping the runner improve their form is our number one goal. We do not want to just track data for them. In the future we will be adding more exercises and more tips. We are continually coming up with our own from research or know coaching tips, as well as receiving new ones from our coaching advisors.”

I believe if Lumo is able to help the user translate the acquired data into useful changes in biomechanics they will be very successful. I am excited to see what they come up with to make that happen. Lumo Run is a great product that helps you analyze and improve your run biomechanics, I would recommend this product to anyone wanting to analyze and improve their running form.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

89cf41_f8c191fc0dac409b93463b855f3d48f0mv2About the Author: David Tatum USAT Level 1 coach and IRONMAN All World Athlete. David has over ten years of experience as a swim and lifeguard instructor, and coach. As a coach, David has a passion to see athletes succeed and grow in their abilities. To learn more about David Tatum and his coaching, visit www.tricoachtatum.com.

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Swim Tools to Boost Your Swim Performance https://university.trisports.com/2016/09/30/effectively-use-your-swim-tools-to-boost-swim-performance/ Fri, 30 Sep 2016 22:27:03 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=7611 Written by Kevin Koskella and Chris Hague, Coaches at Tri Swim Coach Pool “toys,” like fins, paddles, snorkels and all the other dorky looking objects that fill triathletes’ pool bags, can be a curse or a blessing. If used incorrectly, too much, or without specific purpose (i.e. because the gal in the swim lane next […]]]>

Written by Kevin Koskella and Chris Hague, Coaches at Tri Swim Coach

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Pool “toys,” like fins, paddles, snorkels and all the other dorky looking objects that fill triathletes’ pool bags, can be a curse or a blessing.

If used incorrectly, too much, or without specific purpose (i.e. because the gal in the swim lane next to you is using them), they can be Band-Aids and crutches; they hold you back from obtaining good, strong form by smoothing out your stroke’s flaws.

Once they are taken away, you go back to your same sinking legs, straight arm pull and mistimed breathing pattern. However, when used correctly, they can be highly effective tools that boost your swim by correcting and improving your form so that you can take your swim to the next level.

How to correctly use a swim toy as an effective tool?
The type of swim tool that you use plays a huge role in as well as what your goals are for that workout. Below you will find some of the most common toys as well as why they work and when to use them.

fin15401-5

Pull buoy:
The pull buoy can easily be misused and abused by those whose legs sink or sway to prop their lower body up. It works great until you take the pull buoy away, and they sink like a stone and struggle to keep pace as their effort goes through the roof.

However, that does not mean you should throw it out since you can use the pull buoy to actually improve your form.

Instead of putting the pull buoy between your legs just above the knee, by putting it at your ankles and then using an old inner tube or laundry loop to bind your legs, you increase your proprioception–awareness of what your lower body is doing. This method is particularly effective for those whose lower body tends to sway from side to side.

With this awareness, you can feel yourself rotating more from your core to keep your lower body from swaying. Pull buoys are also good when you want to isolate your upper body and use paddles, or do the first drill. After a tough weekend of cycling and running, pull buoy sets help prevent you from using your legs and gives them a much needed rest.

agility-paddles-usage-2-lr

Paddles:
Like pull buoys, paddles can do more harm than good if used improperly. In particular, for those with weak shoulders or who have had shoulder injuries, paddles can put too much strain on the labrum and aggravate those old injuries.

The standard dinner plate sized paddles that you sometimes see do not help correct your pull, which is why we like the Finis Freestyler Paddle. These actually help correct your freestyle high elbow catch and pull without stressing your shoulders. In workouts, you will want to use paddles for muscular endurance. Try doing sets of 200-400 at the beginning of your workout then do (or try to do) sprints without them after.

Fins:
Fins are a cornerstone of our training tools. But let’s start by mentioning that fins can also easily be misused, especially if you kick simply to rack up more yards on your Garmin to pad your workouts.

If you use those giant scuba fins, then you are getting little to no benefit from those laps.

fin16400-3

Zoomers, however, turn those would be unproductive meters and yards into an opportunity to give you better ankle flexibility, and build leg strength. They are also excellent for helping your kick technique. We recommend starting out using Zoomers with the vertical kicking drill, which helps build the muscle memory for a proper freestyle flutter kick.

Tempo timer:
Low swim cadence and turnover is fairly common. Swimmers like to glide through the water and take as few strokes as possible. Although less common, taking too many strokes is also a problem. Swimmers thrash around and do not get very far, but expend a bunch of energy doing it. This is where the tempo trainer comes in; it gives an audible beat in order to match your stroke to the sound. Over time, you gradually increase, or decrease in some cases, your stroke to find the optimal turnover for you.

How do you know?
You can tell if you are reaching an optimal turnover for you when you begin to swim faster with less energy expenditure, good rotation, and without any dead spots in your stroke.

swimmers-snorkel-usage-web

Snorkel:
The snorkel is a great tool for learning stroke technique while leaving out the most difficult part of freestyle, breathing. Snorkels allow swimmers to isolate the stroke, without having to worry about getting air. They are also a big help in getting the right head position in freestyle, and will help build stronger lungs. Like fins, there can be an over-reliance on snorkels, so it’s best to use them on specific sets or drills as opposed to the majority of workouts.

So don’t throw out your toys quite yet. Use them tactically, sparingly, and with purpose to improve your form and increase strength!

kevin-koskella-tsc-300x300About the Authors: Kevin Koskella and Chris Hague are coaches at Tri Swim Coach. Kevin is the Head Coach at Tri Swim Coach. He was an All-American swimmer in college and coaches masters swimmers and triathletes. Kevin contributes to Triathlete Magazine, Inside Triathlon Magazine, Men’s Health Magazine, Active.com, and many more.

chris_hague-300x300Chris Hague is the Assistant Coach at Tri Swim Coach, and swam competitively at the collegiate level and has competed in triathlons since 2007. Chris is now juggling a full time triathlon career while pursuing a career in psychology and public health.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

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Become a Faster and More Efficient Swimmer https://university.trisports.com/2016/06/02/tips-for-a-faster-and-more-efficient-swim/ Thu, 02 Jun 2016 19:32:41 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6997 Written By Keri Ouellette, TriSports.com Elite Team Athlete Unlike running and cycling, simply increasing your turnover in swimming will not necessarily make you go faster. This may seem counter-intuitive to triathletes who are new to swimming, especially those coming from a running or cycling background where moving your legs faster generally results in a faster […]]]>

Written By Keri Ouellette, TriSports.com Elite Team AthleteEfficient Swim Stroke
Unlike running and cycling, simply increasing your turnover in swimming will not necessarily make you go faster. This may seem counter-intuitive to triathletes who are new to swimming, especially those coming from a running or cycling background where moving your legs faster generally results in a faster finish time. I’ve had several triathletes ask me, “I’m swimming several times a week and working on drills and doing recommended swim workouts– why am I not getting any faster?” Here are some things that may be holding back your swimming progress and what you can do to improve.

You’re not aware of your form and body positioning

Most triathletes know that good form is essential to improve in swimming; however, the techniques learned from reading articles, watching videos, and talking to coaches does not always translate to faster swimming in the pool. Reducing drag by adjusting your body position to be more streamlined is the easiest way to swim faster. Think of your body on an axis, from the top of your head down the center of your body and between your feet. Your body should be rotating on this axis while minimizing lateral movement to reduce drag, like a rotisserie chicken.  This sounds easy, but often what our bodies are doing in the water is not exactly what we think they’re doing. Hours spent doing swimming drills are often wasted if you’re practicing incorrect form.

Video analysis is helpful in understanding exactly how your body is moving through the water. Have a friend take a video of your swimming, from the front, side, and underwater (if possible), and review it in slow motion. Focus on one or two adjustments each time you go to the pool. Do another video analysis two to three weeks later and see how you’ve improved and what you still need to work on.
You’re not breathing correctly

Breathing while swimming is unnatural, and it’s common to feel short of breath even during easy swimming if you’re not used to breathing in the water. This is a big obstacle to feeling comfortable during the swim and can waste a lot of energy. Exhaling fully while your face is in the water is necessary so that you’re ready to inhale when you turn your head to breathe. If you hold your breath underwater, you will be trying to exhale and inhale each time you take a breath, resulting in shallow, inefficient breathing.

Simple exercises like bobs, can help you adjust. Standing in the shallow end of the pool, lower your body until your head is underwater, exhaling slowly. Raise your head up above the water, just long enough to inhale quickly but fully, then lower again, exhaling slowly. Once you get used to exhaling underwater, you can practice breathing while swimming.

Find a breathing pattern that is comfortable for you to sustain for the duration of a race, making sure that you’re getting enough oxygen. Some open water swimmers prefer bilateral breathing which can help you to swim in a straight line and keep your body balanced. If breathing every three strokes leaves you feeling out of breath, try taking two breaths on one side, three strokes, and then two on the other side. If you feel out of breath, try breathing more frequently (every stroke, if needed) or slowing down your stroke until your breathing feels more relaxed.

Learning to control your breathing will allow you to swim more efficiently and swim faster without getting out of breath as quickly. This is critical for triathletes who have a bike and run to follow. Slow, controlled breathing is also a useful skill during the swim start of a triathlon. The chaos of the swim start can cause your heart to race. Focusing on breathing can help to keep you calm and not waste energy.

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You’re not pulling hard enough    

Once you’re breathing comfortably and your form is looking good, what’s next? A common mistake for new swimmers is to maintain the same arm speed throughout the cycle of the stroke from entry, through the underwater pull and recovery. By increasing the speed of your stroke– actually pushing harder –from when your hand is just below your torso through the completion of the stroke, when your hand reaches your hip. This will allow you to take advantage of the larger lat and chest muscles used during the pull phase. Think of this phase of the pull as pushing your body past your hand by engaging the larger muscles of your upper body, not just a rotation of the arm and shoulder.

If you’re not used to engaging these muscles, building strength through pulling drills and land-based strength training can help increase the power of your swimming stroke. Using paddles can help improve strength by forcing you to pull more water than without them. Make sure your form is correct before doing heavy training with paddles, to avoid shoulder injury or reinforcing poor form. Stretch Cordz are an effective land-based strength training tool for swimming and a great way to supplement your swim training when you don’t have time to get to the pool. Stretch Cordz are used to mimic the underwater pull movement, isolating the exact muscles used while swimming.

There are so many factors of swim technique that it can get overwhelming to try to remember all of them while you’re swimming. Even experienced swimmers do drills and continue to make adjustments to their form to improve efficiency. The more you practice these techniques, the more natural they will feel and the faster you’ll be swimming!

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Sodium: What Is It And Why Do I Need It? https://university.trisports.com/2016/05/23/sodium-what-is-it-and-why-do-i-need-it/ https://university.trisports.com/2016/05/23/sodium-what-is-it-and-why-do-i-need-it/#comments Mon, 23 May 2016 18:22:45 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6982 Written by Nathan Deck, TriSports Team Champion Nutrition. At some point in the training process every triathlete has come to the point of wondering about nutrition. What do I eat before my race? What do I eat on the bike? What do I eat on the run? How much should I drink? Should I drink […]]]>

Written by Nathan Deck, TriSports Team Championsalt

Nutrition. At some point in the training process every triathlete has come to the point of wondering about nutrition. What do I eat before my race? What do I eat on the bike? What do I eat on the run? How much should I drink? Should I drink coffee or not? But one item that tends to get pushed to the wayside in these discussions, even those about hydration, is the simple nutrient of sodium.

What is Sodium?
Sodium (Na) is a mineral that is vital to our human existence, but is also rarely found in its pure form in nature. The most common form we encounter sodium is that of sodium-chloride, also known as salt. Because of the various chemical properties of sodium (which we won’t get into here), it is very water soluble, which leads us to our next question.

Why do We Need Sodium?
Sodium plays multiple roles in the human body. The first is that it conducts electronic impulses. In other words, it helps your brain send signals to your muscles and other areas of your body so that everything functions like the brain tells it to. You can imagine, then, what would happen to an endurance athlete who has a sodium deficiency and therefore cannot send signals to his muscles as efficiently.

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The second major role that sodium plays is that of maintaining the fluid balance and blood volume. This is done through osmosis, which simply means that fluids will travel to areas of lower concentration. That means when there is a high concentration of sodium (and therefore a lower concentration of water) that water will flow in that direction, therefore diluting the area whether it be the blood stream or inside a cell and so on. A reduction of sodium means that the body cannot help regulate itself as easily which leads to a drop in blood volume and consequently an increase in body temperature and decrease in oxygen going to the muscles. Again, something endurance athletes want to avoid.

The other major role of sodium is in the process of digestion. Sodium and glucose are absorbed in the digestive system together, and when molecules of sodium and glucose are transported into the body, they carry with them a large quantity of water. This is why athletes will constantly see so many advertisements for sports drinks that tell them not to simply drink plain water. While the body needs water, it is sodium that helps the body absorb that water much more quickly.

How do we lose it?
The next major concern with sodium is how a person would become low in sodium. Quite simply: sweat. Yes, I know, nothing earth shattering there. We all know that when we sweat we lose fluids and “salt.” The bigger question here is: How much? Now that varies from person to person and can range anywhere 220mg to 1,100mg per liter of sweat, with the average being around 500mg. So what makes the difference? Genetics play a huge role in it, but so does acclimatization to the environment. What it comes down to is that each person needs to figure out what their sweat rate is and how “salty” their sweat is.

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The best way to go about identifying your sweat rate is to test it. Yes, just like you test your fitness periodically, you need to test your sweat rate. The best way to do this is to weigh yourself nude before a workout. Go workout for 60 minutes. Keep track of how much you drink, and then weigh yourself immediately following the workout. For every pound of weight you lose that is one pint (16oz) of fluid. Make sure to add any fluids you consumed to that number and you have your sweat rate in oz/hour (while slightly less accurate, you can do this for 30 minutes and then double the number for your hourly sweat rate). The last piece of the puzzle is to evaluate how “salty” your sweat is. The more white streaks on your clothes, the more sodium you perspire (gross, I know). I recommend doing this test every 4 weeks as the seasons and temperatures change as well as your adaptation to those temperatures. This will give you a good starting point to experiment with replacing the sodium you lose during exercise.

How do we replace sodium?
When it comes to replacing sodium, we need to think about various scenarios and apply what we know to each one.

Day to Day
In day to day life, we will all be fine with just plain, old water to drink. There is really no need to add extra sodium to the average person’s diet. Yes, there are exceptions; there always are. But for most of us, we could probably do with less sodium in our diet, not more.

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Exercise
For an endurance athlete who loses an average of 500mg of sodium per hour of exercise there are generally two ways to replace lost sodium. The first is drinking a hydration mix, and second is consuming sodium supplements. Either of these is a personal choice and one that only you can make for yourself through some trial and error.

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Nutrition Comparison Chart to help you decide which supplements are right for you!

If you plan to use hydration mixes for sodium replacement, there are varieties that also add carbohydrates for energy, such as Infinit Nutrition or the classic Gatorade, and others that stick to straight electrolytes such as Nunn or Skratch Labs. Take a look at the nutrition information to understand how much sodium is in each bottle and see how that compares to what your sodium needs are. Then, do some experimenting with a few brands and go with what works best for you.

To replace sodium using capsules, there is a plethora of supplements such as Saltstick and others to increase sodium levels. These are generally only needed in extremely hot environments such as Kona and other races in locations known for lots of sun, high temperatures, and held in the hotter months. But again, it all comes down to your personal tastes and sodium requirements.

Overall, we know sodium is important, and most of us use a sports drink of some kind. But with a little science and a bit of testing, we can fine-tune our nutrition plan to get the best performance possible come race day.Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

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Unboxing the Garmin Forerunner 735XT https://university.trisports.com/2016/05/13/unboxing-the-garmin-forerunner-735xt/ Fri, 13 May 2016 18:53:59 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6956 As Garmin has moved through their development cycle of product over the last few years we have seen a recurring theme of the merging of two or more platforms into one – a phenomenon I will coin “Tech Mating.” The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is the latest of this new tech mating ritual, which is the […]]]>

3 As Garmin has moved through their development cycle of product over the last few years we have seen a recurring theme of the merging of two or more platforms into one – a phenomenon I will coin “Tech Mating.”

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Tech Mating: Garmin’s 920XT and Fenix3 HR = 735XT

The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is the latest of this new tech mating ritual, which is the offspring of the Garmin Forerunner 920XT and the Fenix3 HR. Make no mistake about it, the Forerunner 735XT is a multisport/triathlon powerhouse of a watch that is packed with some incredible features and can be used for triathlons or other events lasting in the 12-14 hour range.

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The Garmin Forerunner 735XT Tri Bundle Unboxed

New add-ons to the Garmin Forerunner 735XT (over the Forerunner 920XT) include:

  • Strapless Optical Heart Rate Sensor (does not work in the swim)
  • The first Garmin wearable to support the new Garmin Varia Vision heads-up display
  • Strava Suffer Score (requires the HR functionality to be turned on)
  • Stress Score
  • Shimano Di2 shifting integration
  • Structured swimming workouts
  • Cycling FTP
  • Running Lactate Threshold Test
  • Intensity minutes
  • Phone-based audio prompts
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The Garmin Forerunner 735XT

If you are considering a multisport watch or already own the Garmin FR920XT, then there are a couple of key things you need to know about the FR735XT. Below is a list of these key points:

  • Battery Life: The battery life is 14 hours compared with the 920’s 24 hour life; this is very important information based on how long you think you might be racing.
  • Quick Release Kit: The 735XT does not have a quick release option due to the Optical HR Sensor. The quick release is used to remove the head of the watch from your wrist to place on your bike and vice versa.
  • Barometric Altimeter: The 735XT purely uses GPS data to derive elevation. This can degrade some accuracy, but is not a game stopper.
  • WiFi: The 735XT does not have WiFi, but it does transfer data from the head unit to your compatible device (e.g. iPhone, Android) via Bluetooth.

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The Garmin Forerunner 735XT comes in two colors and three variants – Watch Only, Run Bundle (includes HRM Run Strap), and Tri Bundle (includes the HRM Tri Strap and HRM Swim Strap).

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5 Triathlon Tips to Save Time & Money https://university.trisports.com/2016/05/02/5-triathlon-tips-to-save-time-money/ Mon, 02 May 2016 14:02:16 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6912 Written by Patrick McCrann, Endurance Nation founder and 22-time IRONMAN finisher Whether you’re new to triathlon, or a seasoned veteran, you fully understand the true cost of our sport: time and money. As the sport of triathlon has evolved over the past 20 years, it has gotten increasingly more complex and specialized. While it might seem […]]]>

Written by Patrick McCrann, Endurance Nation founder and 22-time IRONMAN finisher1 Whether you’re new to triathlon, or a seasoned veteran, you fully understand the true cost of our sport: time and money. As the sport of triathlon has evolved over the past 20 years, it has gotten increasingly more complex and specialized.

While it might seem like everyone on race day takes triathlon very seriously, that’s not a prerequisite for success. In this article were are going to explain to you five critical areas that you can focus on to maximize your training time and retain your triathlon dollar.

As a beginner, when you go to a race it is probably difficult to figure out who is doing this for fun and who is doing this professionally.

As background, Endurance Nation has been around for over a decade. We’ve had more than 1,000 Ironman® finishes a year, every year, since 2010. We are the Ironman® Division I World Champions for three years in a row.

Translation — we have worked with countless athletes to help them refine the training schedules and improve the results within the framework of their existing lives. This is no small task, but we learned quite a few things along the way which I want to share with you.

2Tip Number One: You Don’t Need A Triathlon Coach
Remember the thing we said before about complexity? Introducing a coach into your system dramatically increases the complexity of your triathlon experience. The coach is going to have a bias around how you want to train. Your coach is going to introduce many different types of workouts that require you to change your schedule frequently.

You become dependent upon a coach for those workouts. Will they be here on time? Are they different than last week? Is Coach going to answer my email? My text? We have consistently found that the most successful triathletes are also the most self-sufficient. Do yourself a favor and start things off on the right foot by taking charge of your training and racing.

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Tip Number Two: Get Social
Humans are incredibly social creatures and triathlon is no exception. We are very adept at following the lead of others – from clothing to training to cars to dogs…you get the idea.

Do yourself a favor and find a local triathlon club. This will be a great place for you to learn a ton about the sport and to stay connected with others as you progress down the experience road. This group will have workouts, social events, learning events, and so on. They might even have discounts available at local stores, or can recommend you to local professionals if you need help in a certain area (injury anyone?).

Just as importantly, training with others will help keep you motivated and hold you accountable. It’s really hard to snooze the alarm when you know there could be ten people waiting for you at the pool that morning. Think of a social group as using a carrot to motivate you, where is hiring a coach is more like using a stick.

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Tip Number Three: Build A Basic Week
Back in the day, there were very few resources on triathlon training. It was honestly hard to find out how to prepare. Today there are millions of articles countless resources and very little of it is coherent or makes sense. So where should you begin?

The most important thing that you could do as a triathlete is to define a week of training that works with your schedule. It might be fantastic to swim one hour before you get on the bike for a three-hour ride. But if that workout doesn’t fit into your life without causing major friction — it’s just not worth it.

Getting in your training in is a constant balance – not battle – between what you want to do and what you need to do. If you start out by making the training fit, then you have effectively eliminated that friction.

You can do this by sitting down and taking a look at your week. Where can you carve out approximately an hour a day to do your training. For many of us, the early morning is the easiest time to do this before work.

Life has a way of getting away by the end of the day between extra work, meetings, traffic, kids, activities, and so on. Stack the deck in your favor by focusing on an earlier bedtime with an earlier wake time to get those sessions done before the world wakes up and gets crazy.

In the same way, we recommend you structure your bigger training sessions on the weekends when there is more time. If you have a long-run in the program or a long ride- put those on Saturday and Sunday. It doesn’t matter which one goes on which day — both options are better than trying to squeeze those sessions into your existing Monday through Friday schedule.

Most Age Group triathletes create time for training by reducing their sleep. This is a critical mistake that can lead to undue fatigue, and even injury or illness. Do your best to stay as close to 42 to 45 hours of sleep a week.

Our final training tip for you is to make sure that you have at least one day of rest the week. For most triathletes, this is the hardest session to schedule. If I’m not working out – I must be going backwards – is the usual train of thought.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Every workout, even every week, requires a window of recovery. During this time your body is processing the work that you’ve done and giving you space to get stronger.

For example, if we just did a massive squat workout at the gym with tons of weight, chances are you and I are exhausted. When we walk out of the gym (or stumble!), we are probably the weakest two people within a 250-mile radius! Give us a day to recover and we’ll come back stronger.

Don’t allow for recovery? All of your workouts for the remainder of that week will suffer… so plan accordingly. 5

Tip Number Four: Get Smarter To Go Faster
Inside Endurance Nation we spend the vast majority of our time creating resources and opportunities for athletes to learn. It’s not a mistake that the fastest athletes you know are also some of the smartest. Not necessarily book smart, but they know their body, they know their limits, and they figure out a way to make the most of what they have.

As a beginner, this is an incredible area for you to grow. So do yourself a favor and spend some of your time in the evening trying to learn more about how you can improve. There are three distinct ways that you can do this:

  1. Get Your Lead On: It’s very easy to fire up your smart phone and find hundreds, if not thousands, of articles on travel and training. Be specific in your search terms or pay attention to the authors’ names. Odds are you’ll find a common thread and what you like to read and can find more articles from the same source over time.
  2. Find key, online resources: There are a few key websites that cover triathlon 24-7, these are good places to start as well. I don’t recommend buying a book as most of those are quickly outdated…and are ultimately more complex than the bite-size information that you probably need (and are actually able to absorb).
  3. Watch and Learn: Head over to YouTube or simply search for videos on triathlon. There are plenty of great examples of things to do – and not to do! – When it comes to triathlon. You can find videos on swim technique, cycling skills, running technique, and more.

If you’re looking for a good laugh there are probably some great “triathlon fail” videos out there of people making mistakes. You will learn a great deal by watching the folks that you train with, which you can continue that learning curve online using your computer.

Tune into Triathlon: There are many many triathlon podcasts available now thanks to a growing market and portable technology. Get on your phone and find a few of the podcasts you’re interested in so you continue to learn. Podcasts are great because you can listen to them while you’re doing something else. You can listen to them in the car, when you’re commuting, even when you’re running.

These are nice ways of complementing experience and don’t actually take away from the other things you are doing in the moment. Plus, there are some great interviews as well as plenty of of stories and anecdotes to make you laugh. 6

Tip Number Five: If It’s Not Fun, Why Do It?
At the end of the day, triathlon is meant to be a hobby. The minute it feels like a job, the less likely you are to want to do it. This is partly while having a training group is an excellent means of getting faster because it’s fun, you want to go, and they will challenge you.

But starting to put yourself in a silo, or putting external pressures on yourself to perform…odds are you are going to ruin your fledgling triathlon experience.

You can keep triathlon fun by picking lots of other races you can do along the way. Any local 5K or 10K run will do. The first charity bike ride in your town, go sign up for it. You are a triathlete, you can do it! While open water swim events are hard to find, if you’re fortunate enough to live near a good body of water, chances are there are some some groups who will be better and you can join.

Take on new experiences. Search for new running routes or cycling. Get outside of your comfort zone and use triathlon as a means to explore, not only your fitness and potential, but your neighborhood too.

It’s important to keep triathlon fun because the longer you play the game, the better you get at the game.

Bonus Tips!
We hope you enjoyed these five basic ideas for how you can improve your triathlon training for fun — and maximum results. But as athletes move down the spectrum of experience, they begin to look for other ways to get faster, stronger, and better. Here are a few bonus tips for those of you looking to go the extra mile.

Bonus Tip Number One: Get Fitter By Using Intensity, Not Time, To Your Advantage
Inside Endurance Nation we use a fixed training schedule so that every week you know that your Thursday workout is an hour. We make every Thursday — each week — incrementally harder by changing the intensity of the main set so you are doing more work.

So instead of having a 60-minute workout this week, a 70-minute workout next week, and an 80-minute workout the following week – you always train for an hour. Not only can you create a positive training stimulus, you are doing so without adding extra time which might interfere with your basic life or sleep patterns.

Tip Number Two: Stack Your Workouts To Save Time
If you have a bike and run workout – commonly known as a “brick” workout for the way your legs feel when you try to run — try to put them together.  Any time that we can combine two workouts into one training session is more efficient for your schedule.

Two workouts, typically means two showers- which is often a deal breaker. Combining two workouts into one,  can make just one shower and freeing up a bit of time. Do yourself a favor see how well you can bundle things together to reduce the impact on your daily life. As for Tip number three: keep a training diary…

Tip Number Three: Past Performance Is the Best Predictor of Future Performance
Nowadays with electronic trading gadgets and online logs, you have very little to no excuse for not tracking your workouts. However, it doesn’t have to just be the data. For example, you can talk about how you feel or what sessions you enjoy that week. However you choose to record it, I encourage you to do it.

Often times being able to go back and look at your training is a great way to discover how you ended up injured. Or how you got sick. Or, what worked last time you went so fast. But without the personal history, you will never know and overall improvement will suffer.

Tip Number Four: Take on Additional Resources
Endurance Nation has a compilation of articles, podcasts, and videos designed to help triathletes regardless of the specific area that they are interested in. We’ve created several key pages on our website where we have aggregated this information to help make your life easier.

If you are interested in learning more about any of the topics covered here, feel free to visit us online: www.endurancenation.us. As the online home of a triathlon, Endurance Nation is here to help you improve and tackle your next endurance challenge. Come on over to browse our website, and see if we can help you out.

Interested in getting a 30 day, free trial of Endurance Nation to take it out for a “test ride” befor you make any obligations?

About the Author: Endurance Nation founder Patrick McCrann is a 22-time IRONMAN finisher with seven trips to Hawaii. He lives in Rhode Island with his family where he enjoys trying to fit the swim, the bike and the run in between all of the soccer practices, dance recitals, and after school activities that make life fun.

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Pro Insider: What’s in Pro Matt Hanson’s Transition Bag? https://university.trisports.com/2016/03/25/pro-insider-whats-in-pro-matt-hansons-transition-bag/ Fri, 25 Mar 2016 19:42:09 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6845 Ever wonder what professional triathletes consider the racing necessities? Our Pro Insider talks with Matt Hanson, Professional Triathlete and Coach, as he prepares for IM 70.3 California. Hanson shares what he is packing for Oceanside. Here is what’s in Hanson’s transition bag: Transition Bag: Ogio Endurance 9.0 Huub Archimedes II Wetsuit Aphotic goggles Magnolia master’s […]]]>

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Ever wonder what professional triathletes consider the racing necessities? Our Pro Insider talks with Matt Hanson, Professional Triathlete and Coach, as he prepares for IM 70.3 California. Hanson shares what he is packing for Oceanside.

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Here is what’s in Hanson’s transition bag:

Learn more about Matt Hanson Coaching.

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SRAM Red eTap: Wireless Electronic Shifting https://university.trisports.com/2016/01/11/sram-red-etap-wireless-electronic-shifting/ Mon, 11 Jan 2016 17:50:32 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6647 Written by Seton Claggett, TriSports.com CEO and Chief Gear Guy You may see many people writing about SRAM Red eTap; however, I have had the privilege of using the product for several years now, so I can speak to the development and challenges SRAM has faced getting this newest lineup into consumer hands. I don’t […]]]>

Written by Seton Claggett, TriSports.com CEO and Chief Gear Guy

SRAM RED eTap Group

You may see many people writing about SRAM Red eTap; however, I have had the privilege of using the product for several years now, so I can speak to the development and challenges SRAM has faced getting this newest lineup into consumer hands. I don’t recall if it was late 2012 or early 2013, but one of the higher-ups (to remain nameless) flew out to our headquarters because he had something to show me. I distinctly remember going up to one of our conference rooms where he pulled out a handlebar and one of the first renditions of SRAM’s electronic shifting. It was simply amazing because it was SRAM’s first attempt at electronic shifting and they hurdled the wire barrier that is present in both Shimano’s Di2 system (formally introduced in 2009) as well as Campagnolo’s EPS (developed in 1992, but not fully released until 2011). Since SRAM has cut the cord on electronic shifting, it enables astronomically easy installation to allow many people to upgrade their formerly non-compatible frames to finally enter the world of electronic shifting.

SRAM Red eTap is composed of a road and aero version; at the heart of the system is the Red eTap front and rear Derailleurs and shifters (the road version is controlled by a standard-looking paddle shifter and the aero is controlled by a small unit called a BlipBox). All of the wireless communication is through SRAM’s proprietary 128bit encrypted AIREA network. AIREA will only allow one pair of shifters to be paired to the derailleurs at one time, which is important so you don’t have people trying to sabotage your bike. In fact, SRAM put 500 eTap setups in the same room for testing and was able to successfully shift them all without any cross talk. The power to this system is accomplished by individual batteries on each component so battery management does get to be a bit burdensome; however, with our plug-in society the challenge is negligible.

eTap Battery:

The front and rear derailleurs are both powered by their own eTap Batteries. These batteries are 32g and have to be removed from the derailleurs to charge, with a complete charge time of 45 minutes. They are very powerful, long lasting Lithium Ions and provide a stated 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) per charge; however, this range can be vastly extended based upon terrain and getting up to 1,500 kilometers is easily achievable.

batteryback_psBatteries are hot swappable between derailleurs, meaning you can swap batteries without having to restart the system, which is important should you lose battery power because you can make the decision to power up the front or rear derailleur in order to make it back to the bar……or your house. There is a small light on the derailleurs that blink each time the bike shifts. A green light indicates the battery is charged, a yellow light indicates a 25% charge remaining, and a red light indicates a 10% charge remaining.

Front Derailleur:

fd-red-e-a1_p1_11_redelectronicfrontderailleurThe RED eTap front derailleur installs easily to any standard braze-on mount (clamp adapter is available) and is powered by the eTap Battery. This derailleur uses SRAM’s Yaw technology (present on the mechanical RED and Force groups), which eliminates the need for trimming the front derailleur when in cross-chaining situations (i.e. chain in the big ring and big gear on the cassette and vice-versa). On top of the Yaw technology, the front derailleur will automatically adjust through the gear range to avoid unwanted contact with the chain, all without any rider input.

SRAM RED eTap FD_1

SRAM RED eTap FD_2

This derailleur is specifically designed to work with SRAM X-GlideR 11-speed chains and Yaw compatible chainrings.

Rear Derailleur:

rd-red-e-a1_p1_11_redelectronicrearderailleurThe 238g Red eTap rear derailleur installs like any other rear derailleur, sans the cables. The rear derailleur is powered by the eTap Battery which is hot swappable with the front derailleur – this unit also contains a crash sensing mode and will decouple the gearing mechanism when a crash is imminent so as to hopefully save the servos and gears from being destroyed.

SRAM RED eTap RD 1

SRAM RED eTap RD 2

The rear derailleur is compatible with SRAM PowerGlide, the new 1190 cassettes, and SRAM X-GlideR 11-speed chains. SRAM has also put an ANT+ radio in the rear derailleur that will be used for future communication with head units (i.e. most likely with a Garmin showing gear selection and battery status).

Blips:

blips_The Blips are the one part of the eTap system which are wired and come in 4 lengths (150mm, 230mm, 450mm, and 650mm). The 150mm and 230mm lengths are ideal for road setups and enable you to mount remote shifters anywhere on your bars and plug directly into the road shifter (up to two pairs of blips). The 450mm and 650mm lengths are for aerobars and plug into the BlipBox (see below). The 650mm Blip will work with all aero setups; however, for those with smaller cockpits the 450mm is ideal. The best way to figure out your Blip length for an aero setup is to use a cloth measuring tape or string, and measure the distance from where you want your shifter to the back end of your extension, then add 10-15mm.

SRAM eTap Road Version:

SRAM RED eTap Road Bike

The SRAM eTap Road version is comprised of the eTap Front and Rear Derailleurs and the SRAM RED eTap Shifters. The shifters are what make having an eTap equipped bike really fun to ride because they use race car-inspired paddle shifting technology.

sb-red-e-a1_p1_11_redelectronicshifterrightrearTap the right paddle and the chain goes to the right (harder gear), press the left paddle and the chain goes to the left (easier gear), press both paddles at the same time and the front derailleur shifts between the small and big chainrings.

SRAM RED eTap Road Front EndThis setup is extremely intuitive and I was able to pick it up in a matter of minutes and, more importantly, brought a new level of excitement to riding a bike! On top of this, having only one larger paddle on each shifter makes it much easier to shift when using full fingered gloves. These shifters can be adjusted for reach, great for those with smaller hands, and have great ergonomics.

SRAM RED eTap Shifter 1These shifters communicate with the derailleurs via the AIREA network and are powered by button cell (2032) batteries (one in each shifter), which last for about two years and are easily replaced. As with the derailleurs, each time you shift there is a small light indicator showing the battery charge level– once you see the red light you have about 4-months before you need to change your batteries. You can also micro-adjust your derailleurs on the fly by simply pushing the function button (located on the inside of the paddle) and then use the paddle to micro-adjust.

SRAM RED eTap Shifter 2Running Blips under your handlebar tape and placing anywhere on your handlebar is a great way to customize your rig.

BlipMounts_RoadThe Blips are held on to the road bars with optional 31.8 Blip mounts which are perfect for putting the Blips in the climbing position.

SRAM eTap Aero/Triathlon Version:

The SRAM eTap Aero version has the same front and rear derailleur as the road version, but the shifting is controlled by a unit called the BlipBox. The BlipBox communicates with the derailleurs via the remote wired Blips.

SRAMBlipBoxYou are able to connect up to four (4) Blips to the BlipBox with the ideal setup being Blips by the brake levers and at the ends of the aerobar extensions. The BlipBox has a quarter-turn mount and can be mounted to any Garmin-compatible mount.

BlipBox BottomBlipBox TopThe pictures below show a couple different mounting options; however, you can also get creative and mount it out of the way (i.e. under an armrest pad) by using the threaded mount.

SRAM RED eTap Aero Front 1SRAM RED eTap Aero Front 2As with the derailleurs, each time you shift there is a small light indicator. The BlipBox also has the same derailleur micro-adjusting capabilities as the road shifters – simply push the function button (located on top of the BlipBox) and then use Blips to micro-adjust the derailleurs. Also present on the BlipBox are +/- buttons which are used for shifting the bike as well. Why would you ever use the BlipBox to shift your bike? Well you wouldn’t, but a mechanic could have their own personal BlipBox, pair up your shifters while working on your bike and then re-pair your shifters when they are done – happy mechanics make for happy bikes.

The cycling world has been eagerly waiting for SRAM’s electronic groupset and by bestowing it upon us, they have delivered the most exciting advancement in road and triathlon riding in the last five years.

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Six Tools to Unlock Your Racing Potential For 2016 https://university.trisports.com/2016/01/06/six-tools-to-unlock-your-racing-potential-for-2016/ Wed, 06 Jan 2016 16:38:02 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6676 Written by Pam Kallio, USAT Level 2 Certified Coach and Kona Competitor The holidays are past and it’s a new year full of new potential. Most athletes will start January looking for new ways to focus their workouts and improve performance from the prior year. While it still may be officially termed the “off season,” […]]]>

01Written by Pam Kallio, USAT Level 2 Certified Coach and Kona Competitor

The holidays are past and it’s a new year full of new potential. Most athletes will start January looking for new ways to focus their workouts and improve performance from the prior year. While it still may be officially termed the “off season,” we are allowing both mind and body to recover from last year’s training stresses and getting caught up on those household and family things that we put on the back burner during major training blocks. Now is the perfect time to look into some of the best habits and products that will prepare you for your upcoming season and take you to the next level of racing that you aspire to. Whether it’s to increase from sprints to Olympic distances, race your first IRONMAN, or get a shot at Kona, here are six tools that will help unlock your 2016 racing potential.

Injury Prevention

Injury prevention is one of the most overlooked aspects of training, and yet how many times have you heard a training partner say they can’t run due to some injury. This is a great time to make the resolution that you will be proactive and give yourself an injury free year allowing you to train 100% of the time when you need to. The RollerTek Pro Roll Kit-8 gives you a full suite of tools to deal with tight, sore muscles. Warm-up, cool down, and feel great like never before! Great for deep tissue muscle massage, the Pro Roll Kit-8 massage kit hits all the right spots. With consistent use, you can expect improved recovery time allowing for higher quality training sessions along with the added benefit of nipping any preliminary muscle issues before they become chronic enough to become labeled an injury and interfere with your training. This kit is easy to use and travel with, making it a necessity to pack for all of your races. 1 Mental Training

Another often overlooked aspect of training is the mental toughness that it takes to complete at any level, but especially as you advance in your goals and aspirations. Just how does an athlete begin to address what goes on in your head when you are training and racing? Does it happen to the Pros too? There are lots of articles, opinions, and books available on the subject. One of the best that I have read is How Bad Do You Want It, by Matt Fitzgerald. Would you believe that by bracing yourself for a tough race or training session that you can actually boost your performance by 15% or more? Or that your attitude in daily life is the same that you bring to sports? Or that choking may be a form of self consciousness? Have you ever wondered why you can always “kill it” in training, but don’t feel like you race up to your potential? 2

Matt does an excellent job relating the ups and downs of many Pros and how they either were or were not able to conquer what went on in their heads. This is a must read for anyone who wants to up their game and gain insight into just how much of a role our mind can play in our success. You can train physically as much and as hard as you want, but if you don’t realize the role that your mind plays and take equal time to work on that aspect, you will never arrive at your true potential. This is 240 pages that you won’t put down and will want to re-read as your training and racing improves and your mental successes reach new heights.

Nutrition and Hydration Options

All the training in the world won’t make up for a bad race day nutrition plan. It has happened to everyone sooner or later. All that training and the big race comes and all of a sudden whatever you have been training on fails you miserably on race day and you end up with the dreaded GI issues. Now is the time to set some longer sessions where you can simulate your race day needs and start to practice your nutrition plan. R&D on the nutrition spectrum has increased dramatically over the last few years resulting in many new products. Whether you are basing your training and racing nutritional needs on calories per hour or carbohydrates, the more you practice dialing it in for race day the more successful you will be. 3Glukos Energy Nutrition is a new company that uses only all natural ingredients and contains glucose – the good sugar. Glucose is the body’s fastest, most efficient energy source. Glukos requires no digestion and is immediately absorbed, giving you 2X the energy, 2X faster. No matter what your sport or activity, power-packed Energy Tablets from Glukos nutrition will help you do it way better. 4

Tailwind Nutrition is another fairly new product on the market. Developed specifically for the endurance community, Tailwind’s glucose/sucrose fuel takes advantage of how our bodies absorb nutrients. The combination of Tailwind’s fuel, electrolytes, and water has a synergistic effect, allowing the body to absorb more of each. Once in the bloodstream, the glucose in Tailwind fuels muscles directly, allowing athletes to go longer at higher intensities. It’s easy on the gut, gluten-free, and made from all natural ingredients. 5If you raced an IRONMAN or IRONMAN 70.3 last year, you undoubtedly had the opportunity to see BASE Electrolyte Salt on the race course. Now is the opportunity to try their Amino and Hydro products. BASE Performance founder and Pro Triathlete, Chris Lieto, knows how important it is to keep healthy and strong throughout the year. After years of learning, trial and errors, mistakes and triumphs, he has found a nutrition solution that includes the BASE Performance products. BASE has developed a unique and simple system with a variety of products for endurance athletes to improve performance, gain lean muscle, increase endurance, and enhance recovery. It has been tested and proven on the race course in Kona, as well as IRONMAN events across North America.

Now is the time to practice your nutrition and hydration strategy and try some of the new product offerings to find which products will lead you to an improved performance for 2016.

Get Aero, be comfortable

With all the technical gear on the market, an athlete is faced with an unlimited array of equipment and clothing to choose from. With your billfold being your only potential limiter on what you decide to purchase, where do you even start? If you want to increase your racing potential this year, start at the beginning, get a professional bike fit, or if you have already had one, get it updated. As an athlete trains and races throughout the year, you gain fitness, strength, and flexibility. This means that you are “not the same athlete” at the end of a race year as you were at the onset. Will you be racing different distances this year than last? Are you fitter and more flexible that last January? Regardless of your goals and fitness, spending the time and relatively few dollars that a professional bike fit takes will be well worth it. Along with “aero,” there is a “comfort” factor that has to be taken into account and it becomes exponentially more important as your training time increases in accordance to your race distance. You can be much more aero if you are racing sprints or Olympics, due to the length of time that your body is required to be in this position. As you increase to full-IRONMAN distances, you may find that your position no longer lends itself to five to seven hour training sessions. There are several recognized and certified bike fit programs. TriSports.com offers Retul Fit, which is one of the best. Check with your local bike shop to see what they offer or check out our Fly and Fit offer.

Cycling Power

The first year that I qualified for Kona, my coach told me he had one requirement, I needed to start training with power. Prior to this, I had always trained by heart rate. While the prior four suggestions to increase your 2016 potential are what I would call on the “soft side” of racing, meaning that in most cases you cannot accumulate hard data to track or verify your metrics/results, training with power is the opposite. This data provides the athlete with a hard, trackable metric that will tell you that you either are improving or not. There is no “perceived effort,” the numbers are what they are. Power meters have advanced over the years and now provide the option to show the power generated in each leg. Training with power can keep you from completely burning yourself out in the first 40 miles of the bike when you have 80 miles left to go. Power meters that show both left and right leg power can identify muscle weakness and imbalance and allow for improvement.powertap-p1-power-meter-pedal-system-3PowerTap is one of the foremost leading companies in the world of power. Their pedals boast an accuracy rate of +/- 1.5%. The pedals are as easy to install initially as they are to swap between bikes, making them a very cost-effective solution for training and racing between a variety of bikes. The P1 Power Meter Pedal is dual-band Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ wireless connectivity and will work with any compatible cycling computer that measures power (watts). Now any standard pedal crank can be turned into a world-class power meter, giving you the detailed data you need to beat your personal best like never before. And this pedal-based system measures the power you’re generating in both legs! AAA batteries are easily replaceable.

There are pros and cons to every method of measuring cycling power, so be sure and do your homework to see which is best for you. You will need to take into account cost and ease-of-use between different bikes, training and racing, as well as accuracy to determine what is right for you.

Run Power

While relatively new on the market, there are a variety of power meters that will track the power generated by your run cadence. Running with power is proclaimed to do for runners what cycling with power has done for cyclists. STRYD is one of the first devices that will allow runners to calculate power measured in watts. Created by Princeton engineers and backed by some of the biggest names in endurance sports, the STRYD device allows runners to accurately measure their intensity across any terrain. It easily syncs with Garmin and other leading watches and mobile devises. 6As with all data the key comes into interpreting the numbers. With run power, the goal of all data is the same, how to use it to become a more efficient runner, thus allowing you to run faster or farther at the same energy level. STYRD provides the opportunity to determine the relationship between run power, cadence, efficiency, and fatigue giving you a tool to improve your run for 2016 in ways never before possible.

Visit Pam Kallio’s website to learn more about her coaching philosophy, www.trik2kalliokoaching.com.

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Should You Be Riding With a Power Meter? https://university.trisports.com/2014/04/01/should-you-be-riding-with-a-power-meter/ Tue, 01 Apr 2014 21:25:56 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6463 Training and racing with a power meter can take your racing to the next level. How? Brian Stover of Accelerate 3 Coaching discusses the basics of using a power meter.]]>

By Brian Stover

As triathletes, we tend to measure many things: how fast we went, how many calories we ate, how much we weigh. In a sport where you can measure just about anything and everything, there’s a good chance you are missing a critical piece to the puzzle if you aren’t measuring your power output on the bike.

You can measure how far you’ve ridden, you can measure how fast you’ve ridden, you can measure the total amount of time you’ve ridden, but none of those measurements actually tell you what you really did, how much work you did. You subjectively know what you did, or how fast you did it, but you aren’t sure if it helped your fitness or really helped your fitness.  The only sure way to know if what you did was effective, and how much so, is to use a power meter.

This workout? Not so great compared to their previous best or to the previous 4 weeks average.

Who is Training With Power?

The top Pro Tour cycling teams all use power meters, most of the top triathletes use power meters and, with the wide availability of power meters on the market, many of your competition are using power meters.  Training with power allows you to train objectively by measuring your output in watts. It allows you to measure your favorite route and know if the ride you just finished was a good ride or a bad ride. A power meter measures what you are doing when you ride.  You know if the amount of effort you are putting out is sustainable for the long haul. There is no guessing; the power meter does not lie.

Take a look around the transition area the next time you race. Is your competition getting a leg up on you by using a power meter? Photo: facebook.com/USATriathlon

How Can a Power Meter Help Me?

How many times have you been to a race and heard forlorn competitors lament post-race, “if only I had gone faster”? In every race, people underperform. These are mostly self-inflicted wounds. A frequent cause of underperformance is riding harder than you should, which negatively impacts your run. One way to prevent this is to use a power meter to target a certain wattage output – an output that assures that you aren’t riding your ability to run into the ground. By riding smart, you can finish without fading during the late stages of the run and ensure a strong, fast finish.

A power meter also allows you to quantify your training. Maybe you used to ride your favorite route in 2 hours and now you ride it in 1:50:00.  You are riding faster, so it has to be a better workout, right? Maybe, maybe not. With a power meter, you can download your rides into programs like WKO+, RaceDay Apollo or Golden Cheetah to keep a record of your riding history and analyze each ride, providing you solid and objective feedback.  After you have established your functional threshold power, or FTP (around the maximal amount of power you can hold for an hour), you are able to measure each ride against this level, knowing for certain if the route you rode today in 1:50:00 is more or less beneficial to your overall training goals than when you rode it in 2 hours three months ago.  With this knowledge, you can now tailor your training so you get the biggest bang for your training buck and ultimately end up with faster race times.

How do I measure my FTP? FTP can be determined by performing simple field-testing. Detailed testing protocol can be found on pages 42-48 in the book Training and Racing with a Power Meter, by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan, phD.

Case Study

When you use a power meter you can ride smart and avoid succumbing to the “if only I had…” regrets post-race.  Below are two power charts from the Ironman World Championships in 2012. I’ve marked each person’s FTP, shown by the top dotted line in each chart.  The second dotted line is their average power for the entire bike leg. The first person rode well above their FTP  for long periods of time during the early part of the bike.  On the trip home, you can see a trend of declining power.  His early exuberance caught up with him, causing him to ride below his target time and run much slower than his average run times.  The second rider had the discipline to allow people to ride past him early in the race.  As he tackled the climbs to the turnaround, he increased his watts, whereas others began to fade, and he closed the gap. Riding back from the turnaround, he was able to raise his power again, distancing himself from the majority of his competitors who had simply gone too hard, too soon. He went on to wrap up the race with not only his fastest marathon ever, but also with an Ironman personal best time.

In these 2 graphs, the yellow line represents the racer's power level throughout the day. The rider on the left rode smart, adhereing to his power plan and was able to complete the ride without dropping watts later in the race. The rider on the right rode much higher watts at the beginning stages of the race than he could sustain, causing him to tire, thus riding at lower power levels than average for the closing miles of the race. The rider on the left went on to run a PB marathon split, while the rider on the right struggled.

Which Power Meter is Best For Me?

Now that you are convinced that using a power meter is the only true way to quantify your bike training and can be used to enhance your performance, the question is: Which power meter do I purchase? There are three basic types of power meters, each with their advantages and disadvantages.  No matter what system you decide is right for you, you will need a head unit to display your power while riding.

Hub-Based Power Meter: CycleOps PowerTap is a hub-based system, housing the power measuring mechanisms in the hub of your rear wheel. These systems come built into a selection of training and racing wheels, or you can purchase just the hub itself to be built into your compatible wheels. This is the easiest system to swap between multiple bikes, though unless you want to race on your training wheel or train on your racing wheel, you’ll need to purchase separate wheels (but really, can you ever have too many wheels?).

CycleOps PowerTap G3 Hub

Crank-Based: SRAM Quarq Power is a crank-based system, meaning it takes its measurements from points on the spider arms of your crank assembly. The system is easy to install once you are familiar with the process of crank installation. If you have more than one bike, you will need to purchase 2 systems or swap your cranks out each time you switch bikes.

QUARQ ELSA 10R Crankset

Pedal-Based: The newest players in the power meter game are pedal-based systems like the Garmin Vector Power Meter, taking measurements from the spindles of your pedals. This system is fairly easy to swap between bikes but requires you to use a torque wrench with an adaptor when you install it. If you install them incorrectly or do not torque to spec you will get incorrect readings.

Garmin Vector Pedals

How Do I Use This Thing?

So you’ve smartly chosen to start training and racing with power. Congratulations! Now what? The most common question I get is “how do I get started?”  Step one: go ride. Ride with your power meter over a few of your favorite routes, look at the number of watts you are putting out and think about how it feels.  Allow yourself to just ride for a few weeks to collect data. Download it, look at it, but don’t change your training–yet.  During this data collection period, pick up the book Training and Racing with a Power Meter by Hunter Allen and Andy Coggan, PhD. This is the gold standard for books on utilizing power to drive your training and racing decisions. It can be a little intimidating at first but provides the most in-depth primer on using your power meter to make the training and racing decisions that will help you reach your goals.

Training and Racing With a Power Meter is an excellent resource for learning how to make the most of your power meter.

Training with power is not a new phenomenon. I began training, racing and coaching my athletes with the use of a power meter in 2005. The improvements in technology, combined with demand and marketplace competition have brought prices down in recent years, making this invaluable tool readily available. If you are serious about getting the most out of your training and racing to your full potential on race day, picking up a power meter will be the best early season purchase you can make.

About Brian Stover and Accelerate 3 Coaching: Brian is a triathlon coach who started his coaching career by taking a position as an assistant coach at a year round swim program in NC in 1994.  That experience hooked him on coaching and now, almost 20 years later, he coaches triathletes, duathletes, cyclists, runners and other endurance athletes around the world.  In this time, he has coached everyone from cyclists, mountain bikers, triathletes crossing the finish line for the first time, World Champion age group triathletes and professional triathletes. His athletes have won races or their age groups in local triathlons, 70.3′s and Ironman’s around the world. Learn more at www.accelerate3.com.

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The new Timex Run Trainer 2.0: The Garmin Slayer? https://university.trisports.com/2013/04/09/the-new-timex-run-trainer-2-0-the-garmin-slayer/ Tue, 09 Apr 2013 20:49:45 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6214 GPS watch evolution has allowed watches to get increasingly closer to a regular watch size, but has also allowed for the addition of numerous functions and settings; the beauty of the Run Trainer 2.0 lies in its simplicity. Timex has made a GPS watch with the most useful functions, while leaving out the frivolous, creating a GPS watch made for the majority. ]]>

Written by Eric Mellow for TriSports.com

Honestly, I haven’t been this excited for a Timex release for quite some time, but the new Timex Run Trainer 2.0 has me as giddy as a kid on Christmas Eve. GPS watch evolution has allowed watches to get increasingly closer to a regular watch size, but has also allowed for the addition of numerous functions and settings; the beauty of the Run Trainer 2.0 lies in its simplicity. Timex has made a GPS watch with the most useful functions, while leaving out the frivolous, creating a GPS watch made for the majority.

Define Yourself By What You Can Do, Not What You Can’t Do

The first thing to note about this watch is that it is not a triathlon watch. There are no swim or bike functions. That being said, you can set it up to view speed on one screen and pace on another (the Run Trainer 2.0 gives you 3 screens with 2 or 3  lines each of customizable data), so it could definitely be used for cycling and brick workouts as well. However, whether you’re a triathlete or solely a runner, this is one of the nicest, simplest watches I’ve used for running.

100% More Screen Colors

Out of the box, the set up is automatic and simple, taking you through the few things you need to set before you head outside and run. These are, however, just the basics to get the watch set and functioning. You’ll at least want to customize the display screens so you have the information you want when you’re out running. You can also invert the colors so the screen is black with white numbers. While this doesn’t make you significantly faster, I think it is easier to read in dark/low light situations and it definitely looks cooler if you’re just wearing it around.

Customizable Screens, But You Still Can’t Tune In The Walking Dead

You can customize the 3 chrono screens with 2 or 3 lines of information. In a smart move, Timex got rid of the 4 line option, which I never used on their Global Trainer because it made the information so small that it was unreadable. Not only does this allow you to see the information you really want, with everything from the obvious (pace) to the “what the heck?!” (previous lap distance), but you can easily switch between the three screens on the fly. Not only that, but a display comes up showing you what information you’re changing to, taking out the guesswork and the need to flip through the screens before you settle on the one you want. This comes in useful when you’re really suffering and you don’t want to see your heart rate creeping towards its max, or how slow your pace is for how hard you’re working.

Outer Space is Cool: GPS Satellites and Stuff

Your first time out the door the GPS will take a little while to synch up, but after that it remembers where you are so it is significantly faster, as long as you’re leaving from the same place. For instance, this morning I turned it on when I walked out the door and in the time it took me to lock the door behind me and put my key in the key pocket of my shorts, the Run Trainer 2.0 had connected to the GPS and my heart rate monitor. Speaking of connecting, the watch is compatible with ANT+ sensors for heart rate and foot pod data. I had no trouble getting it to synch with my heart rate strap from my 2 year old Global Run Trainer.

Size Matters

We’re never satisfied – always complaining that our amazing watches, which can connect to Global Positioning Satellites, are too big, despite what they can do – but the Run Trainer 2.0 has made significant gains in that department, being quit a bit slimmer than the original Run Trainer. Although not the smallest on the market, it is now comparable in size to other GPS watches in its category. I’ll be honest, I have the wrists of a small girl, but the Run Trainer 2.0 fits me well, with a few notches left on the strap. It’s small enough that it doesn’t knock against my wrist bone, and is just slightly heavier than wearing a regular watch. I don’t notice it at all when I’m running.

Level Up!

One of the greatest things about the Run Trainer 2.0 is how clearly you can see the information, with a new, simple layout and their high-resolution screen. It’s a significant improvement from the original Run Trainer, which looked similar to playing 8-bit Tetris. The new interface has also been made more intuitive, so switching between modes and screens, as well as most of the set up, has been made incredibly easy. Some of the options (setting up chrono and interval zones, for instance), can still be a bit tedious to do on the watch, but once connected to your computer to charge, you can easily set it up in their Device Agent instead.

New Functions Are New

My favorite addition to the new Run Trainer 2.0 is the vibrate alerts, but they’ve also added nutrition alerts. Now, like I said earlier, this is not a triathlon watch, but with features like the nutrition alert and being able to see your speed data, it definitely straddles the line between pure running watch and triathlon watch. Now that I think about it, this could be the perfect duathlon watch. Anyway, the nice thing about the nutrition alert is that you can set one for hydration and one for nutrition, to remind yourself to eat or drink at separate, regular intervals. This is great function when you’re battling it out with someone in a race; it reminds you to eat/hydrate before you bonk and it’s too late.

Round 1. Fight!

We all know that Garmin is the king of GPS, but Timex rules the wristwatch world – which makes sense, as they have been making them since 1917 when the U.S. Army requested a pocket watch that soldiers could wear on their wrists. This has been an epic battle; one in which Garmin came out swinging and landed some pretty big blows, but Timex seems to be pulling a Rocky Balboa and is turning this fight around. GPS technology has reached a point where most devices, regardless of brand, are fairly similar in terms of accuracy across the major functions (speed, distance, etc.). The Run Trainer 2.0’s competition is the Garmin 210. Both are accurate and simple to use, but the Run Trainer 2.0 does have some distinct advantages. The 210 may be slightly smaller, but the Run Trainer 2.0 has auto start and stop (based on speed), pace zone (alarm if you vary from a preset pace – as well as heart rate, speed, and cadence), nutrition alerts, and customizable screens. I can’t say that all of those are a big deal, but the customizable screens are a definite uppercut. In addition to that, the Timex is $25 less than the Garmin.

The Little Things

The Indiglo feature is much improved on the 2.0 version, which is nice because the brightness of the Indiglo on the original Run Trainer was severely lacking in brightness. This is something that Timex shouldn’t have a problem getting right, as they introduced the first electroluminescent watch face over 20 years ago. There is no Start/Split button below the watch face, so if you’re familiar with their Global Trainer or one of their more traditional, non-GPS watches, this will be a slight adjustment. After just a week of running with this watch, the buttons were already second nature.

A Swing And A Miss

No product is perfect, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you where this product falls short. The big one for me, which I’m sure will be fixed in time, is the vibrate alert on the auto split function. Now, the fact that the Run Trainer 2.0 has a vibrate alert is amazing. I have long been jealous of friends who have newer Garmin watches with the function, as I sometimes don’t hear those little beeps if I’m running along a noisy street. The vibrate function makes the entire watch vibrate against your wrist so you never miss an alert. The only problem is, there is a bug causing you to get no notification if you have the Button Beep option turned on. For now you can turn off the Button Beep function and you’ll get a vibrate and beep at every hands-free recorded lap. We contacted Timex about this issue and they said they were aware of it and it will be fixed in the new software update, which should be out in the next 1-2 weeks (by the end of April).

Some people feel that the number of runs you can store on your watch is way too small. You are somewhat limited in that respect, but I personally don’t feel like it’s that big of an issue. If you’re using your watch regularly, you’ll be charging it regularly. Every time you plug it into your computer to charge it, you can upload the data and clear it from the watch. This is a better idea anyway, because it is somewhat time consuming and cumbersome to flip through your splits on the watch. Training Peaks give you numerous ways to look at the data you want to see and be able to analyze it (if you’re into that).

Give It To Me Straight

The new Run Trainer 2.0 is a significant upgrade from the original Run Trainer. The new interface is easy to use and the display is amazingly crisp and easy to read. At $225 (without heart rate monitor), it is an exceptional value. That, combined with the ability to customize the data on your screens, makes it a fierce competitor to the Garmin 210. Once they fix the auto split alert function, this will surely become my go-to running watch. Garmin struck the first blow, but we’re into Round 3 and Timex just came out swinging!

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Heat Acclimatization Strategies https://university.trisports.com/2011/08/08/heat-acclimatization-strategies/ Mon, 08 Aug 2011 20:55:49 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=2834 Coach and former top pro Jimmy Riccitello comes on board with TriSports University with timely insights on training in the heat and learning how to (and how not to...) acclimate. See what Coach Jimmy says to do when they heat gets turned up here. ]]>

By Jimmy Riccitello

Coach, columnist and former pro Jimmy Riccitello knows about suffering in the heat- and how to cope with it.

I’ve lived and trained in Tucson since 1977.  To state the obvious – summer in Tucson is HOT.

With regard to training in the heat (or any subject, for that matter) I’m not scientifically educated – not in a school sense, anyway.  But it’s funny how trial and error (anecdotal evidence) and following your instincts based on the results of trial and error, can lead one to validate factual scientific data.

When I started triathlon in 1984, I was told that “they” said to do well in the heat, you must train in the heat.  So I used to delay the start of my workouts so that I would be doing the crux of my training at the hottest time of day.  The only positive thing I accomplished with this heat training strategy was a nice tan.  Everything else suffered.  My training gains suffered, my race results suffered, I was sick more often, unmotivated, and generally hotter than a snake’s ass in a wagon rut – constantly – even when I was inside the house sitting on the couch watching a taped rerun of The Iditarod with a cool beverage.

Riccitello confirms: Training in the heat makes you hot. Extended exposure to the heat without adequate acclimation and hydration can land you in the medical tent.

Common sense and the desire to stop sweating profusely while lying in bed at 11pm with the ceiling fan set on “hyper drive” due to massive amounts of stored body heat accumulated from a 5 hours ride at midday in June, caused me to rethink my strategy about the total amount of training I completed during the heat of the day.

I started my bike practice at 5am, which got me home at between 8 and 10am, depending on the duration of my ride.  I still had to ride when it was hot out, but not when it was super hot – and only for an hour or two (vs. the entire ride when I was starting at 9am).

I immediately noticed an improvement in the quality of my bike practice when leaving earlier.  And strangely (duh), subsequent workouts improved dramatically as well.

I also noticed that my performances in hot weather races did not suffer due to less training in the heat.  It didn’t seem obvious back then, but it turns out that ANY training outside in Tucson during the summer qualifies as heat training.  Who knew?

Once I figured out that 3-5 hours in the “cool” early Tucson summer mornings adequately prepared me for any race held in any climate cooler than the Sahara Desert – I needed only to figure out how to keep up with the massive amounts of sweat I lost during the Tucson summer.

It’s common knowledge (propagated by “they”) that we all sweat more than normal when it’s hot out and each of us has a unique sweat rate (some of us sweat more or less than others).  I happen to be a profuse sweater who sweats profusely.  The amount of sweat I excrete under normal temperatures borders on freakish.  My world-class sweating skills were first noticed after one of the famous Tuesday runs in Rancho Santa Fe (North San Diego County) in the summer of 1986.

It was my first run with the SD crew and I was hoping to leave a good impression – which I figured would be tall order considering I was perhaps the slowest running professional triathlete in the sport, at the time.  As fate would have it, on the particularly balmy day in North County, Scott Tinley, one of the patriarchs of the Rancho Santa Fe run, decided to challenge perhaps the most legendary of triathlete sweaters, Scott Molina, to a “sweat-off.”

Avoiding dehydration and heat stress isn't a matter of what works for other athletes, what matters is what works for you in the heat.

A sweat-off is a way of determining who sweats the most.  Why this was important remains to be seen – but I can only imagine that I, and others, were unknowingly participating in one of the early experiments on sweat.  To determine the winner (person who sweat the most) – runners wring out their sweaty t-shirt, post run, into a Big Gulp cup.  The runner who fills the cup the highest with their sweat, is declared the winner.  I know – we were ahead of our time.

Molina, typically nonplussed with the challenge, instructed Tinley to “Pick your three best sweaters.”  I noticed Tinley hopefully looking my (the new guy) way.  “Can you sweat,” he asked?  “I can sweat,” I responded.

After 12 hard, hilly, sweaty miles, we took Molina down.  It was big news on the scene, since three people had never before collectively out-sweat Molina.  From that day forward, I was known as a well above average sweater – pound for pound, among the best.  Another thing that became obvious to me after participating in this contest/experiment was that there is no correlation between the amount a person sweats and whether they are a fast runner or a slow runner (you can sweat a lot a do well, and you can sweat a lot and suck).

This aside, I always had trouble drinking enough during racing and training.  Because of my high sweat rate, I was always told that “they” said to drink frequently and in large quantities during training bouts and races.  Despite this advice, I quickly discovered that it’s very difficult – a downright pain in the butt – to drink frequently and in large amounts when you’re groveling for all you’re worth, simply to stay on the wheel of the person in front of you.

It’s also hard to drink when you’re running – whether racing or training.  It was extremely rare if anyone could be bothered to grab a drink – even when there were aid stations.

Swimming was never much of an issue for me, since there was always a pool’s worth of water available to drink.  I still fail to understand why athletes feel the need to put a water bottle at the end of their lane.  It seems unnecessary to me.

Anyway, I found it very difficult to stay on top of being optimally hydrated while dealing with three workouts per day during the summer months, by following hydration strategies that “they” outlined.  Eager for answers – I asked Molina how he coped.  He told me that he simply chugged a liter or two of fluids right before a workout.  Then he drank when he could during the exercise bout.  I figured if this strategy worked for the most legendary sweater in triathlon (and probably the winningest triathlete of all time), it was good enough for me.  Despite the fact that Molina’s hydration strategy was quite different to anything “they” recommended (keep in mind we’re talking about the late 1980s) – it worked very well for me, once I got used to the bloated feeling early in my workouts.

My point is that what “they” say we should do, and what the best actually do – is often very different.  If we can open our minds to alternative methods and honestly evaluate the results of our trial and error – we may learn a few tricks that put us ahead of the curve.

With this in mind, here are links to a couple articles that I wish were readily available to me back in the old days – days when hydration strategies were developed based on the amount of sweat that was wrung from a t-shirt into a Big Gulp cup.

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