Training – TriSports University The place to learn about triathlon. Mon, 31 Aug 2020 23:14:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Training – TriSports University 32 32 Theragun Pro Review Mon, 31 Aug 2020 17:39:14 +0000 I used to think electric toothbrushes were a waste.  “I can brush my teeth just fine! Why do I need an electric toothbrush?” I would think to myself.  And then my wife bought me one.  After just a few brushes, I could tell a difference in the clean feeling. What does an electric toothbrush have […]]]>

I used to think electric toothbrushes were a waste. 

“I can brush my teeth just fine! Why do I need an electric toothbrush?” I would think to myself. 

And then my wife bought me one.  After just a few brushes, I could tell a difference in the clean feeling.

What does an electric toothbrush have to do with a review for a massage gun? For starters, I had the same impression of massage guns as electric toothbrushes. I had my foam roller, what did I need a fancy motor-powered massage device for? After one full session with the Theragun Pro, I was hooked!

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start at the beginning. 

What Is The Theragun?

To start off, Therabody was founded by Dr. Jason Wersland to meet his own need for pain mediation after a debilitating motorcycle accident. The first Theragun was a makeshift tool designed to help ease his own pain. After multiple variations and a decade of innovation, the Theragun is now in its fourth generation, with a line of 4 different massage guns and a range of other products to help athletes, physical therapists, and everyday people feel better and recover faster. 

The Theragun is a “percussive therapy massage device.” In simple terms, it is a motorized device that rotates a ball or other attachment back and forth on a piston at high speed to massage the muscles. 

The most basic use is to turn the device on and run it over any muscle group that feels sore or tense. The Prime, Elite and Pro models also support Bluetooth and interface with the Therabody app which controls the speed of the unit and guides the user through a range of full treatment sessions.

Unboxing And First Use

One of the first things I noticed when unboxing the Theragun Pro was that the quality is top notch! The experience was like unboxing a new Apple product. The presentation was awesome and the device inside did not disappoint.

The Pro model comes in a large, zippered carrying case with two batteries. In the box underneath the case is a pouch with 5 additional attachments for various uses (more on that later). There was also the charging dock for the batteries, but if you have the wireless charging cradle like I do, you won’t use the dock. I just leave the Theragun in the cradle and pick up the fully charged unit when I’m ready to use it.

Turning on the device for the first time can be a little intimidating. It starts oscillating at 1750 PPM (percussions per minute), the slowest speed, and you aren’t really sure if you want to press that against your body. The attachment that comes on the device ready to go is the “dampener” which is a middle-softness closed-cell foam that I would describe as slightly squishy but not as much as a tennis ball would be. 


At the core of the full-sized Theragun devices is a triangle shaped handle. I first thought that was a little silly, but once I really got into using them I realized that the handle is a great feature. The ability to use different grips for hard to reach places or at times I wanted more leverage was awesome!

On the device itself there is the on/off button as well as a 4-way selector. The up/down adjust the speed and the left/right cycles through preset sessions which can be changed from the app. There are 5 pre-set speeds on the device ranging from 1750ppm to 2400ppm, with the option to customize your speed range on the Therabody app. I expected the slower speeds to be softer and easier on the body but I realized with use that the higher speed actually was a softer, smoother experience.

As I mentioned, the Pro model came with 6 different attachments. They are the standard ball, the dampener (mentioned earlier), the super soft which is an open-cell foam, the cone, the thumb which is a rounded version of the cone, and the wedge which is shaped like a mini Axe to get under the shoulder blades. The dampener is the default attachment and I found myself using it 90% of the time. My wife, however, never could quite get used to the hardness even of the dampener and would only use the Super Soft. If you are a person that doesn’t like hard massages then that will probably be your go-to as well, but for those deep knots or larger muscles the standard ball is the way to go!

The last feature I noticed that really came in handy was the “force meter” on the display of the unit. It sensed the amount of force you are placing through the unit and displayed that in a series of lines. This is handy in knowing if you are pressing too hard and in danger of causing injury instead of helping your muscles recover.

App Integration

All three of the full-sized Theragun models feature Bluetooth capability and connect to the Therabody app. Once connected, the app can control the speed of the unit and will walk you through set routines for treating certain ailments, body parts, or for sport or purpose specific treatments. 

The home screen shows some recommended routines, but all the others can be accessed through the menu. Once you select a routine you see which areas are treated and for how long. You also can see where to pass your device over the muscle. You can simply play the routine or save it for quick access later.

I will use routines for my sport specific recovery (running and cycling), but my favorite routine is the “sleep” routine. It is a 6 minute routine that works your neck, forearms, back, quads, shins, and feet. I would never have thought of massaging my shins or forearms, but the process it follows really relaxes and helps release tension for better sleep. 

Everyday, Practical Use

In everyday use I found myself more than anything just picking up the device and running it across my neck and shoulders. After a long day or first thing in the morning that’s what I needed to loosen up my neck and get rolling again. 

After long runs or rides, I found the app-lead routines helped keep me on track and moving through the muscles to loosen up and recover a little faster. I can’t say for certain that it did in fact help me recover faster, but I certainly felt better for the rest of the day after a tough workout than I normally would have. And I already mentioned using the “sleep routine” in the evening before bed.

The Theragun really shone after a long weekend of packing, cleaning, and moving into a new house! Carrying couches and appliances left me sore and stiff, but the Theragun’s work on my lower back kept me on my feet!

Theragun Mini

I also had the chance to try out the mini version of the Theragun. Unlike the 3 fill-sized units, the Mini is a smaller, more portable version of the massager. It has a solid triangle handle and comes in a small, padded zipper pouch. It’s quieter than the Pro model (though I assume not as quiet at the “Elite” model, the quietest in the lineup). It only comes with the standard ball so I would recommend purchasing the dampener attachment separately. It also doesn’t have Bluetooth but you are still able to follow along with routines on the app, you just have to control the device manually with its single button.


So let’s wrap this up for the people who skipped down to the summary!

Like your plain old toothbrush, your foam roller is just fine right? Not so fast!

The Theragun devices are one of those things you just have to try out to see the difference. Even in the last 1200 words I couldn’t explain how much nicer you feel after running through a treatment routine on Theragun. In less time, with less effort, you can get to those stiff, sore muscles and get them ready for another day or another workout. The app and the library of educational resources on the Therabody website are nothing to turn your nose up at either!

So if you are in the market for a recovery device, check out Therabody! There are devices across multiple price-points starting with the $199 Mini, and each one is an investment in your health and recovery that will last for years to come!

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A Beginner’s Guide To Power Meters For Cyclists & Triathletes Sat, 28 Mar 2020 17:57:19 +0000 triathletes installs power meter pedals on bicycleIf you are looking to get an edge in your training on the bike this season, buying a power meter is the single best investment you can make. But this doesn’t come without its own learning curve. Whether you are looking to interpret all the lingo that comes with your new power meter or just trying to decide if shelling out the cash for one is a good decision—you’ve come to the right place. ]]> triathletes installs power meter pedals on bicycle

Spring is in the air! The weather is turning, cyclists are riding outside more, and triathletes are ramping up for their early season races. 

If you’re looking to get an edge in your training on the bike this season, buying a power meter is the single best investment you can make. But this doesn’t come without its own learning curve. Whether you are looking to interpret all the lingo that comes with your new power meter or just trying to decide if shelling out the cash is a good decision—you’ve come to the right place. 

This is your crash course in power meters (no crashing necessary… I promise!).

Let’s start by answering the basic questions about power meters for triathletes: what, where, why and how.

What A Power Meter Is

The first basic concept we need to discuss is what a power meter actually is. 

Simply put, this is a device that you put on your bike to measure the amount of power you are producing. To say that another way, this is an objective measure of effort. It answers the question “how hard am I really pushing the pedals?”

Most power meters today are called “Direct Force” power meters because they directly measure and record the amount of force you are putting into the drivetrain (everything from the pedals to the rear wheel). This measurement is calculated by strain gauges similar to a torque wrench. 

📷: Castelli

The electronics in the power meter take this measure of torque, or the strain you are placing on it, and multiplies it by the speed at which you are pedaling (called cadence) and then displays a number on your GPS computer or smartwatch (referred to as a head unit). This number is the amount of watts that you are producing by pedaling and generally speaking, the higher the better.

Just like a lightbulb, toaster, or microwave, the average triathlete is a machine of sorts and improving watt score translates to more power on the bicycle.

Where Power Meters Are Placed

If a power meter is a device that is placed on your bike, the next question to answer is “where is it placed?”

Since a power meter measures strain in the drivetrain, then naturally it must be placed in the drivetrain somewhere. Where, though, depends on which model you have. 

Starting in the pedals, you could have something like the Garmin Vector 3’s which simply replace your existing pedals. These are a good choice if you want to switch them from bike to bike often. 

📷: gentauchi

Next, is the crank arm like the units from Stages. Again these will replace the left arm of the crank. The downside here is that they only measure power on one side and double the number (to account for both feet pedaling). Early models weren’t always reliable but manufacturers have since addressed those issues and there are few remaining doubts on the accuracy of these units. 

📷: Stages Cycling

Then you have the crank or spider-like the units from Quarq. These can be purchased as a whole unit and replace the crank on your bike. 10+ years of development have helped refine installation, enhanced durability, and smoothed out capability issues with bottom brackets.

📷: Quarq

The final type is in the rear hub. While these used to be a very popular option, they are less so now as they usually had to be bought as part of the wheelset or be laced into an existing wheelset. That means if you have both training and racing wheels you had to buy 2 power meter hubs, or do without depending on the set of wheels you were using.

Why You Should Train With A Power Meter

So why even buy a power meter? Why would you want to know how many watts you were pushing into the pedals?

The first reason is that of objectivity! Without a power meter, you would have to rely on other measurements to train and race by. 

  • Speed?— Affected by too many variables (wind, gravity, etc) 
  • Heart Rate?— Can drift over time and can be affected by caffeine or hydration status
  • RPE (rate of perceived exertion)?— Based on perception and can be affected by caffeine, adrenaline, mood, etc. 

Not that any of these are bad. No! I’m of the opinion that you need to collect data on all these points and learn from them. But power is the only objective measure. 100 watts is the same no matter how you feel, what direction the wind is blowing, or how much caffeine you had. 

📷: Quarq

With this objective measure, it is easier to perform a structured training plan (intervals, etc.). It is also possible to practice an even pace across long training rides (instead of starting too hard and fading over the ride).

These reasons only scratch the surface, but having a power meter opens up additional possibilities like measuring TSS (training stress) over the course of your training, or measuring the amount of work performed in a ride (KiloJoules) which translates to calories burned (helpful if weight loss or maintenance is an objective).

How To Get The Most Out Of A Power Meter

With all that information it comes down to “how.” You can’t just throw a power meter on your bike and expect to see improvement. That said, I recommend getting your power meter installed and spending a few weeks training as usual just to see how things line up. 

From there, find a structured training plan or a coach who can guide you through your training. One of the first things a good plan or coach will have you do is perform an FTP test or similar. FTP is “Functional Threshold Power” and roughly is the power you could hold for an hour in a race scenario. I say “roughly” because it is really a range between 45-75 minutes. There is a lot more science behind what makes up FTP, but for our purposes, we’ll stick with the basic definition. 

There are many different formats for an FTP test, but you can simply follow what your coach or training plan outlines for you. From there you can set your zones so that you will know how hard to push on hard days and how easy to go on easy days. This will also help when choosing your pacing plan before race day.

I’d be remiss to not at least briefly mention training software here as well. A power meter, when paired with an indoor or interactive trainer and popular software like TrainerRoad or Zwift, can be a game-changer in your training. These programs help the hours melt away on the indoor trainer and they provide structured plans to help you get faster in the process. 

📷: Zwift

Finally, there is the development of your race pacing plan. Using a program like Best Bike Split you can create a super detailed plan ahead of race day and practice it in your training. You can fine-tune your plan by trial and error in training, especially when practicing brick workouts (running off the bike). This can prevent you from leaving some effort out on the course or worse, blowing up on race day. 

When pacing a long ride or race, you can look at your Normalized Power (NP) to see just how much effort that time has taken. While an average of your watts may read lower due to time spend coasting, the Normalized Power may be high due to accelerations up hills or passing other riders. The difference between NP and Avg. Power is called Variability Index (VI). The closer the VI is to 1.00, the more steady the pace of the ride (a good thing for triathletes!).

So when it comes to training and racing, I hope you see the value of investing in a power meter. If you don’t have one yet, get one! If you have one already, learn as much as you can!

This guide to power meters for triathletes is a good place to get the ball (or bike?) rolling for beginners and veterans alike. But the more you know, the more you can take advantage of the equipment and fitness you have. If you want to learn more, I recommend you read Training And Racing With A Power Meter by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan, which will take you deeper into this subject of power meter use (and even has a full chapter on triathlon racing!). 

Ready to take the plunge? Shop TriSports for a wide selection of power meters for road, mountain, gravel, cross and tri bikes at a wide selection of prices from top brands including Garmin, Stages, Quarq and more!

Author Nathan Deck is a husband, father, triathlete, and a teacher at heart. When he’s not training, he loves to mentor junior athletes new to the sport. Read more of his work at Triathlonpal and follow him on Twitter.

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Dave Scott’s 5 Tips For Your Best Triathlon in 2019 Fri, 01 Feb 2019 11:45:46 +0000 In case you missed Dave Scott's Webinar, we've got you covered with a quick recap of what Dave talked about. Visit Dave Scott's website for more information, and read on till the end to view the webinar in its entirety.]]>

In case you missed Dave Scott’s Webinar, we’ve got you covered with a quick recap of what Dave talked about. Visit Dave Scott’s website for more information, and read on till the end to view the webinar in its entirety.

Dave’s 5 Tips For Your Best Triathlon in 2019

1: How to Optimize your Training Time for Maximum ROI

Dave talked about the intensity level for short workouts more often. Don’t replace long workouts entirely, but there is a benefit to very focused, purposeful workouts – especially with our busy schedules.

2: The Most Important Bodywork for Triathletes

This was a great session. Dave provides some great tips and drills to make the most of your workouts. My take away was a drill used to open up the hip flexors during a workout, and the importance of engaging the transverse abdominal muscles.

3: Dialing in Your Most Effective Training Intensities

It can be hard to tell when you’re over- or under-training – especially without the help of a coach. Dave gives you the tools to take the metrics available like Heart Rate (HR) and Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) and determine your best training zones to deliver the best performance on race day.

4: How to Avoid Common Race Day Nutrition Mistakes

Dave delved into the Ketogenic diet and explained why it’s important to him. The Ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that offers many health benefits, and Dave details his history with it, including some mistakes he’s made in the past.

5: Creating a Bulletproof Mindset for Top Performance

The mind is certainly one of the body’s strongest muscles, and Dave gives you some great tips for how to stay aware in the race and gain control of your emotional race. He gives you tips that will get you working on holding a pace on the high end of your aerobic pacing while staying centered.

As promised, you can head on over to Dave’s Site and watch the saved video and chat from the webinar!

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Slow Down Mon, 12 Nov 2018 21:36:09 +0000 Here's my advice. Slow down. If you want to go faster, get stronger and be more healthy, slow down. Isn't the reason we exercise for health reasons? Did we lose this notion? Ask yourself, do you know your heart rate zones?]]>

Here’s my advice. Slow down. If you want to go faster, get stronger and be more healthy, slow down. Isn’t the reason we exercise for health reasons? Did we lose this notion? Ask yourself, do you know your heart rate zones?

I use this analogy with athletes. Think of the tallest building in the world. Let’s humanize this building and say it’s the fastest and strongest building. Now consider this. How big do you think it’s foundation is? Its base must be huge. The builders took a long time to design and create this base. They could not skip any corners. Think what would happen if the foundation wasn’t healthy, what would happen to the building as it was being created? We all should consider this idea when we embark on a fitness goal. Rushing through this base building step will lead to problems.

There is a lot of technical data available that discusses how the heart getting stronger gives you the ability to take in and utilize more oxygen. This, in turn, makes you stronger and healthier. There are many more advantages to this idea. I believe that true fitness comes out of our bodies working as efficiently as we can. Once you get all cylinder’s in good working order, then training becomes more efficient.

Take the time to learn what this really means to you. What are your heart rate zones?

Here are some ways to get those zones. Remember when we did this? To check your pulse at your wrist, place two fingers between the bone and the tendon over your radial artery – which is located on the thumb side of your wrist. When you feel your pulse, count the number of beats in 15 seconds. Multiply this number by four to calculate your beats per minute.

There are numerous online sources to help you figure out your zones.  You can get assistance at your gym, through a coach, or if you own a Garmin, Polar or Timex watch these tools will also help you.

As you might find there are many opinions about zone labels and the number of zones. All correct in their own way. What I’m focusing on is the ability to know when you’re aerobic and in this case the low end of your aerobic zone.

If you don’t have the energy to figure this out, then try this. Walk more. It’s that simple. Walk with purpose. My grocery store is 1 and ½ miles from my house. I now walk to grab a few days of groceries, Yes, I take my daypack to carry it home. I walk. Do double duty if you have to. This is a great time to catch up on calls. Walking allows your body to grow aerobically without the pounding that running creates. I have my athletes do long hikes well into their event season, these can be in the mountains, or they can be urban hikes. That’s why I say to do this with purpose. Plan the route, take nutrition, set goals. It can be as complicated as you want to make or as simple as walking the dog. Do it with a group. Do more of it.

I called this article Slow Down for a reason. We are just going through life too fast. Walking is a great way to reverse this trend. Slow down and build that foundation. I recommend this approach if you want to have one of your best seasons ever and stay healthy while you’re doing it.


Gary Wallesen
Coach – Steelhead Coaching

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A method behind the madness – a simple approach for a novice Thu, 13 Sep 2018 19:15:59 +0000 I believe that pacing during a race is the most important thing you can practice.  The person that controls the pace, controls the race.]]>

When I was in 6th grade I wanted to run a 6-minute mile. At the time, this seemed like a huge hurdle and insurmountable challenge. It was the late 60s when the running boom was picking up steam.

I lived in Houston Texas and my coach was Alan Lawrence.  He asked me to run the mile and see where I was.  Not even close.  All my laps were at different paces and I  could not go fast enough for 4 laps.

He spent the next few months working with me on two important things.  Pacing and How to train for that 6 min mile goal.

I believe that pacing during a race is the most important thing you can practice.  The person that controls the pace, controls the race.  I will delve into this more but for now how to prepare for that 6 min mile.

Al sat me down and on paper, we looked at the paces needed for my goal.  4 Laps (440 yards track) is equal to one mile, so I had to go 1:30 for each lap.  Then we broke it down further.  220-yard section had to be completed in 45 seconds and 110 yards had to be done in 22.5 seconds.  You get the picture right?

Next we went out to the track and found that for 110 yards I could do it in 22.5 seconds, in fact, I could do it faster, a lot faster, and when I tried the pacing for 220 yards, I could also do that, but not with the same speed that I had completed the 110.  I then tried a whole lap of 440 yards and made the 1:30 but just barely.  I was not ready to do 880 yards on the test.

Al surmised that I needed to work on speed and strength while also building some endurance to be able to hold the pacing needed for my goal.

Our workouts started with a warm-up.  There was always stretching but I didn’t do any of that without jogging a couple of laps first to get my body warmed up.  Once I was ready we would begin the strength and speed work.  I started off with 110 work.  He would have me do 110 at a pace close to or above the goal speed.  The important part to him was my pacing.  If he gave me a goal pace I was to hit that pace within a second or two.  As you can imagine this took practice.  We didn’t have gps watches to know exactly what our pace was and only the coach had a stopwatch hung around his neck.  At the time I didn’t know just how important this pacing goal was.

After a few weeks of this kind of work, I learned that if I went too hard on the 110 that I could not perform as many sets, I would get too tired. I had to put a check on my ego and nail the pacing.

During this speed and strength work, Al started my work on the 220 and the 440.  He started me out with a slower pace on the 220 and an even slower pace on the 440.  He was building my endurance without me even know it.

We gradually began focusing on the 220 and the 440.  The pacing was sometimes slow and sometimes faster than my goal pace.

Our bodies respond to physical stress at different levels of effort.  This adaptation helps us to be able to race in the real world.  I’ve never run any event where you started at 8:30 pacing and was able to sustain that exact pace throughout the whole race.  You have many obstacles that you encounter beyond the physical ones to our bodies.  These include other participants, aid stations, course changes like a hill or a descent.  You need to practice and train for these along with the training needed to physically be able to race while encountering all that comes your way.

A basic premise that I believe in.  If you go harder you get stronger and if you go longer you are able to keep that strength going longer.  You must find a balance here between both to help you develop your goals.

As I started to gain the ability to nail the goal times of the 220 and the 440, Al had me working on the 880, the mile and some long runs.  At the ripe old age of being a 6th grader, these long runs rarely took me over 3 miles.  He ran with me and we ran very slow.  He talked to me during these long runs and this took my mind off what at the time I thought was the most boring thing I could be doing in life.  Gradually it became my favorite time.  I started to look at the world around me while I was running.  This is a gift to anyone that realizes this.

I remember that day that Al decided I should try my mile.  My Dad was there along with my school coach and of course Al.  He had worked with me on exactly what each lap would look like for my pace.  The last lap he said I could do whatever I wanted depending on how good I felt.

The whole time I was working on strength at each distance, Al was instilling the lesson of controlling my pace.  I had developed good control of pacing and felt very confident that I would hit each lap as he had described to within a couple of seconds.

Lap 1 – 1:40 – Al was very specific about going out in complete control.  We tend to feel a lot of anxiety prior to any event.  This can cause us to race with our hearts instead of our brains.  He wanted me to prove to myself that I could be in control.  1:33.

Lap 2  –  1:25 – I often equate lap 2 as the time of every event where the hard work really comes in.  Mentally you’re at the beginning of the race.  Your brain realizes that the work is now in motion and the end is not near.  This is the lap where you are deciding whether you are going to do the work, or the goal isn’t going to happen.  1:21 – I was in!

Lap 3 – 1:30 – The endurance lap.  You’re now feeling the day.  Your body is complaining to you and the inner conflict can take away your focus.  This lap is where all the work pays off.  As my coach made me run the 2 and 3-mile run I was building the endurance in conjunction with my strength and this was allowing me to hold pace on lap 3 – 1:30

Lap 4 – Faster than 1:30 – This is the time in all our lives where we decide if it’s all worth it.  The pain, the emotion and ultimately the baggage that we carry.  It is all on the line during lap 4.  We are supposed to be realizing the journey but at the same time, we see the finish line.  A finish line should only be the end of that chapter.  We should be writing many more in our life’s book.  Each chapter defines us and we should celebrate all of them.  Finish lines are never the end.

I was lucky to have crossed paths with Al Lawrence at a young age.  I knew that sport would be part of my life and learning valuable lessons like pacing and effective training have stayed with me through my adult life.  It makes me a better coach today.

We all have 4 laps to life.  Consider this approach when you’re beginning your adventure whether a triathlon, a marathon or a long bike ride.  Your laps can be as easy as you want them to be or they can have a great amount of depth. It’s all up to you.

Go out and create your own mile.

Gary Wallesen

6th Grade Mile – 5:34


Gary Wallesen is a multi-sport coach. He is also the GM of  He’s been participating in sport all his life.  He has a Dog.

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When late season racing hits you Wed, 05 Sep 2018 15:41:02 +0000 It's not how to avoid late season burn out, but what to do when it happens. Initially, I thought this was going to be so easy to write. It is…and, it isn’t.]]>

Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be
absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.
Les Brown

The initial intent of this article was to focus on keeping motivation high when athlete’s face late-season races. Using catchy phrases, pithy statements, and “fancy-schmancy” word combo’s my hope was to keep the reader engaged – all the while the author, (me), artfully and elegantly display a limitless supply of encouragement, positive attitude, and reasons why I never burn out, drag, or feel discouraged from entering the last lap of a long season.

A few frustrating starts to composing it (article), I concluded it was the absolute incorrect approach.
It’s not how to avoid late season burn out, but what to do when it happens.
Initially, I thought this was going to be sooooo easy to write.
It is…and, it isn’t.

Loss of motivation or ‘burn out’ is actually a pretty wide-ranging topic. Seems like it wouldn’t or even shouldn’t be—right?? Talking with athletes over the years both as a coach and competitor, similar thoughts and feelings are always present. I was told a while ago there are two kinds of cyclists —those that crash, and those that are going to. In multi-sport, it’s much
the same.
Attitudes thin as long seasons progress whittling our focus. No matter who you are, or how long you’ve been in the game—It is coming. For a day, a week, whatever, burn out’s creeping is never ceasing. Using a full range of weapons, tactics, lack of rest, pressure, identity locked into performance — the list goes on, the late season ghost of burn out’s desire to haunt our house is always present.

I’ve had this conversation with myself at the start of many a season after a coach warned me of burning hot and fast, only to flame out before my goals were reached. “Eh…I’ll be fine-I love this! sport!! If I get burnt out or feel something change..I’ll just pick my chin up, smile and keep pushing…it’ll be easy”.

…. yes. and, no.

Is sport something we love to do right? We Spend money, time, energy, focus,
desire, sanity…name it, and as a season stretches on the possibility of burnout increases. At its core? Loss of motivation. The possibility of it grabbing us increases when various situations converge and occur at the same time. As athletes, the body’s break down physically can often push minds to wander, resulting in loss of our ability to stay focused through bumpier roads, especially late in a season.
Tough sessions grow tougher, the bed warmer in the mornings, pizza looks really, really…really good. The __________ that was so easy to sacrifice in early training has been pushed off far too long. In addition, many athletes are winding down—those w/ late season races are forced to get better at governing approach. Ensuring the basics (nutrition, rest, time management) are stable. The details of training – the boring, the tedious, the 4:30 am swims get annoying.
What was once easy and resulted in instant positive vibes are now slow, and decrease.

How to fend off a drop in motivation? Common points of interest in most articles and discussions say similar things. Eat right, have a calendar and stick to it, reflect on previous training and races to build for the future, have a cause/something to focus on when things get tough, forget about past disappointing performances….you get it. All good, but I will focus a bit elsewhere. I don’t want to cross signals here- This will not touch about reacting/overtraining when fatigue sets in with a loss of motivation. (article for another time) I see this with athletes making every session hard(er) b/c fear of ‘burn out’ happens as a rebound to fight the failing feeling of missed goals digs in. I really try to help athletes grow aware of times to hurt during preparation for events, and, a time
not to. Knowing the difference is a matter of experience, outlook, and perspective.

Once you dread, dislike, or even hate the fact that you have to train it may be too late.
So… To help with keeping a sharp focus for late-season surges this article will have 3 points that have helped me.

Little unconventional, but, they have produced results.
1. Robot training
2. Visit invested funds
3. Loss of time

Here we go….

A. Robot training

Some things you just ‘have to do’.
Be a robot. Don’t waiver.
The less you have to think about __________, the better at success you are.
Remove the ‘decision fatigue’ of choice with the obvious. I will not waste time fighting with myself when I have to get up early to train. I just won’t. It stresses me out, so, I’ve decided to act like a robot here.
Sounds super easy-right?
That’s because it is. So do it.
If you avoid being responsible the night before an early morning session-get up anyway, You will self correct eventually – You have to.
Let the Robot take over and just – do.

I will not eat cookies. I won’t fight with my self, it’s too tiring — going back and forth trying to justify why, when, how I can eat this, (or that, or whatever) so, I robot this;


Does that make sense? One of the bricks in the foundation in dealing w/ late
season loss of motivation is keeping and reminding ourselves — focus on what
was easy at the start of the year. By the middle, it’s a pattern, by the end its a habit.

Just be a robot and do it. You become a stronger athletic human. Pick one
struggle, start small, enter the data in the CPU, and engage. Avoid the compromise of the major & continue to do the minor late in the season.

B. Visit invested funds

Keep a record, Journal, or visit your bank account statements and ask your
self…Can I zero focus for a few more days, weeks, months, to justify the sacrifice so far? If you have to use money as a motivator—do it. Athletes invest a lot of money in this sport. It’s true right? Look at what you have spent.
I’m crazy about trying to not overspend as an athlete. So, when I consider hard earned money spent on multisport it really helps me stay focused and in return I avoid burnout. Return on my investment. It just makes it easier to keep my mind looking forward. Feeling lazy, unmotivated, the edges getting crispy b/c burn out is knocking…Look at the hard numbers of what you have put into your goal. It changes perspective.

C.Loss of time

Much like funds, time stings even more. It sears actually, and as motivating as money is, time triples it. Nothing motivates more than the time I invest and how to cash in, not just for me, but My family, who are a group of robots, cutting spending and donating time; for me.

We athletes, facing the truth here, really have no room in our schedule for late season burnout. Those who give as much, (if not more) won’t allow us/me to do it in the first place. Another common theme in research I did avoiding or dealing with this; a support system. In place, with bumpers on either side to keep me going down the lane. (again-another article)

Late season races involve those in your life, under the same roof, as much as they do the athlete. This is by far the greatest motivator for me. Make their sacrifice your reason to NOT LOOSE FOCUS.
I know that seems quite obvious-but, it’s not easy. Consider the effort to
maneuver workouts around family functions, work, and weekends at the start of the season. By the end it’s not so easy.
add up.

I know there are so many different angles, approaches, theories, philosophies, and feelings toward this topic. My encouragement to you is to try these three small things the next time you feel spent. Engage as a robot. Remove the thoughts or feelings and just – go. Take stock in the resources you have invested in both financially and even more precious time.
Stay on target.
Get to the line.

Christian Isakson is a Multi-Sport endurance athlete and coach for Life Sport Coaching living in Portland, Oregon. He has raced competitively for 12 years and is currently riding for Stages Cycling as he prepares for his return to the Ultraman World Championships. Find out more about him at

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How to Prepare for a Race, Like a Project Manager Thu, 19 Apr 2018 20:30:24 +0000   Approaching training and racing with a project manager’s mind, can help us stay organized, set the right priorities, and not overlook any important aspects. And, it makes training and racing more enjoyable as we feel more in control while having clear goals in mind. Every race is basically a project. It has a beginning […]]]>


Approaching training and racing with a project manager’s mind, can help us stay organized, set the right priorities, and not overlook any important aspects. And, it makes training and racing more enjoyable as we feel more in control while having clear goals in mind.

Every race is basically a project. It has a beginning (when we are pondering whether to sign up), a middle (everything between sign up and race day), and an end (race day). But there is more to this. Let’s apply the project management frame work to our project “Race X”. Here are the 5 general steps of managing any project:

  1. Setting a Goal
  2. Planning Phase
  3. Executing the Project
  4. Project Completion & Celebration
  5. Project Review and Lessons Learned

Step 1 – Setting a Goal and Pre-Assessment

This step defines whether the project will take off at all, and if so, what goal(s) it is aiming to accomplish. Just because we have a great idea or inspiration for a project (Race X), does not need to mean it is achievable or realistic. There two important questions to ask before embarking on any project (Race X):

1) What is the purpose of this project (Why am I doing this race)?

2) How does this project fit into the overall business objectives (What is my long term goal)?

There are many ways to answer these questions. For a triathlon race, potential answers to 1) could be: trying a new sport/challenge, having fun, competing with team mates, setting a new PR, qualifying for the next level, etc. And for 2) it could be an equally wide spectrum, such as lifetime fitness, supporting a specific cause/charity, obtaining a pro license, qualifying for Kona. Whatever our dream is.

Now, in order to assess whether the set goal for this specific race is realistic or not, other factors need to be considered before making the final decision, for instance:

  • Time left until race day
  • Gear and equipment, and funds needed to obtain them
  • Current fitness level, and injuries
  • Available training time
  • Conflicting obligations, business trips, or family events
  • People potentially affected or to be consulted
  • Overall costs (e.g. registration fees, flight/hotel, gear, coaching fees)
  • Overall benefits (e.g. various physical, mental and social benefits, donation to charity, learning, moving closer to reaching one’s dream)

Based on these factors and a quick cost-benefit comparison, we are likely in a good position to decide whether it is realistic to start the project (Race X). If the benefits outweigh the costs, we can go ahead and sign up for the race!

Step 2 – Planning Phase

Now that we have signed up for the race, the planning starts. The most obvious task that comes to mind is planning the training itself. But there are a number of other aspects that shouldn’t be overlooked. From a project management’s point of view, the planning phase is characterized by defining and specifying the project’s deliverables (tasks, schedule), the budget, the risks, the stakeholders and the communication.


Briefly, the deliverables are the specific outcomes that the project should achieve if it is successful, and are usually broken down into individual tasks and the tasks are arranged in a project schedule.

The budget is the available funds within which the expected project costs should lie.

The risks are factors that could negatively affect the outcome or completion of the project. This includes finding ways how to mitigate those risks.

The stakeholders are all those people who are accountable and responsible for the tasks’ fulfillment, are interested in the outcome of the project, or need to be consulted.

Communication is a very crucial in project management in order to keep all involved parties up to date. A communication plan details who needs to be informed when, about what, by whom, and by which means.


Here is an example how this can look like for our project “Race X”.

Once the individual tasks have been identified, they can be put into the format of a training plan and an overall schedule for non-training related tasks. This can take on various forms. A coach can also help with a training plan. Setting milestones (e.g. complete bike fit by end of April) will help to not overlook anything important and to get it done in time.

Know the set budget and consider alternative options or work-arounds to stay within its limits (e.g. renting a wetsuit vs. buying one).

There is always something that can go wrong along the way or comes up last minute to derail our plan. Anticipating potential risks can go a long way to be prepared and have a contingency plan. This includes estimating the likelihood and the impact of a risk (e.g. a race getting cancelled due to poor weather (low likelihood, high impact) vs. cancelling a training week due to an unexpected business trip (high/medium likelihood, low impact if training can be rescheduled/modified).

Although we are accountable and responsible for our own training, we are interconnected with many other triathletes and non-athletes on various levels. Anybody interested in or curious about our goals, our progress and our well-being as a person, can be considered a stakeholder. As their involvement and interest in our athletic pursuits vary, so varies the level and depth of our communication with them regarding our upcoming race. A communication plan might come in handy if we have deadlines by which we need to check-in with our coach, report back to sponsors, or need to request time off from work.

There are various project management tools that can be used depending on how complex and ambitious our race goal is and on how much structure we find helpful. Not every project needs a Gantt chart or a RACI matrix … but just to give an idea:

  • A RACI matrix defines who in the project is responsible and accountable for specific tasks, who needs to be consulted, and who needs to be informed. This helps as well with the scheduling and communication plan.
  • A Gantt chart shows the individual tasks and their completion date as well as milestones, and indicates who is responsible and/or accountable for the completion of the task. It also includes the dependency of a task from other tasks (e.g. research bike models and consider budget > purchase a bike > bike fit > bike training).


Step 3 – Execution of the Project

Once the project plan has been set, the project can take off. Project implementation in general is a cycle of doing the set tasks, making progress, checking against milestones, keeping track of changes to the plan, monitoring the risks, logging any progress as well as any issues, and communicating the progress, issues, and changes to stakeholders as necessary.


For our “Race X”, this means we begin with the training plus all the other tasks we have identified as being required, and in the same sequence as set out in the project schedule. But, a plan is just that – a plan. There will be changes that we need to adapt to, adjust our plan accordingly, and keep our stakeholders informed of (e.g. the running shoe model we love is not being made anymore and we need to find a new one (extra time and maybe more budget needed; consult with coach, physical therapist, family), or a training milestone is not achieved (a re-evaluation of the training plan or other life factors might be necessary; discuss with coach, family, team mates)).


Thus, amendments to our plan are to be expected. Keeping a training log to track any issues, to record which changes were implemented, and to remember which stakeholders were affected, consulted and informed, is an important part of this step.


Step 4 – Closing the Project

A project is successfully completed when its stated goal has been achieved within the set time frame and budget.


Race day can be seen as the day were we finish project “Race X”. The actual project completion happens when we cross the finish line – which is always an achievement in itself – regardless of whether we met our specific goal or not. But we need to keep in mind that even on race day there will be factors beyond our control that can mess up our plans and lead us to not meeting the goal we set out to achieve. However, with our project management approach, we took care of most aspects that were within our control prior to race day.


Completing a project should be celebrated, regardless of the exact outcome. This is also a good time to thank all those who made it possible in the first place – in case of “Race X” – our stakeholders and our bodies.

However, one last project management step remains.

Step 5 – Project Review and Lessons Learned

After a project is officially completed, the project should be reviewed, feedback collected and identified what was learned and can be improved, including communicating these insights to all necessary stakeholders.

For our Race X, it is thus time to review the race results, analyze what went well, what did not go well and why. This is an important last step so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes. It will help us understand what and where we can improve, and how. At this point, we can also revisit our goals and check if they are still achievable and align with our big dream.


Asking for external feedback from our coach, team mates, our family or other stakeholders is one option. Using our own training log and race data is another option. Sometimes we know exactly what we need to work on, and sometimes we need to dig for an answer until we understand the root cause of an issue.


Here is an example: The goal was to set a PR on this course, but it was not achieved because the bike split time was slower than anticipated.

Potential external factors could have been: wind, road conditions, hills, heat. These factors can only be controlled to a certain extent, but we can prepare ourselves better by training in the heat, on windy days, pre-ride the bike course, and train on hills.

Potential internal factors might have been: fatigue, GI issues, lack of strength. Maybe the fueling and hydration plan needs to be reviewed, paying close attention to what we eat and how much we rest prior to race day might be important for future races.


These are the steps for just one project (race). It will get more complex as soon as we sign up for multiple races, with A and B races and training races mixed in. Add to that list open water swims, run events and Gran Fondos, and it truly gets complicated. To schedule an entire race season where we are dealing with overlapping projects and training schedules, a Gantt chart might eventually come in handy.

Author Bio

Sybille Rex is an age group triathlete who has been training, racing and competing since 2013. In 2017, she completed her first 70.3, and qualified for the ITU Sprint Draft-Legal World Championship in Rotterdam. She is also a proud mom of two girls, and a business professional with a strong passion for project management. In addition, she loves to write about anything triathlon-related, maintains a blog at, and a FB page where she can be followed.

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Recap: Jack Frost Time Trial 2018 Mon, 26 Mar 2018 21:23:28 +0000 Emmett Culp on the aero bars.The start of the road racing season means the culmination of months of hard work. For me, there’s no better test of form than a time trial. This type of race pits individual riders against the clock to complete a course in the fastest total duration of time. The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association calendar kicks […]]]> Emmett Culp on the aero bars.

Emmett Culp on the aero bars.
Emmett Culp on the aero bars.

The start of the road racing season means the culmination of months of hard work. For me, there’s no better test of form than a time trial. This type of race pits individual riders against the clock to complete a course in the fastest total duration of time. The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association calendar kicks off the season with the popular Jack Frost Time Trial. Featuring a 20k (12.42 mile) flat out-and-back course, this race is an opportunity for riders to measure their early season fitness.

In addition to being a great test of fitness, this particular race also allowed me the opportunity to test out some new equipment. Over the winter, I built up an Argon 18 E-80 TT bike––a simple yet effective platform for achieving an aerodynamic position. With a few rides and a couple of minor changes, I felt strong and fast!

Emmett's Speed Weapon - Argon 18 E-80 TT Bike.
Emmett’s Speed Weapon – Argon 18 E-80 TT Bike.

On race day, I arrived early to ensure I had enough time to warm up before the effort. I set up my trainer next to some friends and tried to relax a bit. It wasn’t long until I secured my helmet and rolled over to the start gate. As the clock counted down my entrance onto the course, all the nervous sensations I felt disappeared and I focused on my final deep breaths. On the officials’ mark, I was out of the saddle and pedaling away.

A few hundred meters down the road, I was in the aero bars settling into my pace. After reviewing the winning times from last year’s race, I knew I had to set a minimum average speed of 27 miles per hour over the entire course to finish close to those results. To minimize any anxiety during the race, I created a new page on my Garmin computer with one data field––speed, and stayed on pace easily with minimal stress.

After reaching the turnaround halfway through the course, my legs began to feel the toll of sustained effort. My eyes darted back and forth from the road to my Garmin, and every time I saw my speed drop, I was able to dig deep and bounce back. With about 3 kilometers to the finish line, I felt the wind at my back and shifted down into the hardest gear I could push. At this point, I could only think about the relief I’d feel at the finish. Rounding the final sweeping turn, I kicked into the highest gear on my bike and smashed it all the way to the line.

All By Myself...
All By Myself…

With my ride complete and my legs ridden to full exhaustion, I limped back to the staging area to warm down and grab a recovery drink. I uploaded my ride, eager to see what data could be quantified from my race effort. I had ridden just shy of my target with an average of 26.9 miles per hour! Knowing your goal is in reach with a dedicated work ethic that shows results is a thrilling feeling. The pace I set wasn’t enough to take the win this time, but it landed me in 5th place for the Pro/1/2 field and showed that I had put in the work during the off-season. I felt ready for the next test and one of the biggest races on my calendar––Chico Stage Race in California!

Written By Emmett Culp (@emmettculp) – bike racer, marketer, and former bike mechanic. 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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USAT Invites You to Try a Tri! Thu, 08 Feb 2018 19:09:59 +0000 ]]>

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

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

Headlamp… check.

Calories… check.

Hydration… check.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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







Preview of Omaha’s 2017 Triathlon Nationals Olympic Bike Course Fri, 04 Aug 2017 21:25:47 +0000 If this is your first time to Triathlon Nationals in Omaha, here’s what to expect on the bike course. It is a nice bike course, especially after you get out of town. It is mostly flat, not very technical, and the roads are in good shape. Be prepared for a long run out of T1 […]]]>

Omaha Triathlon Nationals: Bikes racked in transition, ready to roll out

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

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

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

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

Storz Expressway

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

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

Mormon Bridge and the Missouri River

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

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

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

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

Get ready to climb

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

Pancake flat roads for a bit

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

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

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

View from the top overlooking downtown Omaha

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

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

Storz Expressway and Omaha Tower

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

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







Training and Racing Effectively When the Heat Hits Fri, 14 Jul 2017 23:34:32 +0000 Professional Triathlete Jesse Vondracek  shares his training and racing tips on how to acclimate to the heat and when to take it indoors. Given that my Facebook feed consists of posts lamenting 107 degree temps, it’s safe to say that summer is in full swing in Tucson and most of the United States. Heat is […]]]>

Professional Triathlete Jesse Vondracek  shares his training and racing tips on how to acclimate to the heat and when to take it indoors.

Given that my Facebook feed consists of posts lamenting 107 degree temps, it’s safe to say that summer is in full swing in Tucson and most of the United States. Heat is simply a form of stress on the body. If you are training in the heat, your body needs to spend energy to counteract that. Your blood must flow to your skin as well as your muscles. Your sweat helps cool you down, which works well in the short term. As time goes on, this leads to “fun” things like dehydration resulting in a huge decrease in performance. Even prior to becoming dehydrated, your perceived effort and heart rate go up compared to similar paces and power numbers on a cooler day. This is because your body is busy dealing with heat stress and your blood must be used for cooling. In a VO2 max test on elite athletes, athletes had approximately a 2% decrease in performance (Zhao). The important take away here is this is in a test lasting less than 15 minutes and even before dehydration has a chance to slow you down.

Stress is Stress
Before dehydration, we have heat stress. I am sure you’ve heard or read before stress is stress. In other words, your brain interprets all stressors similarly. Whether you had a hard day at work, are stuck in traffic, or are trying to do intervals in 110 degree heat, the same chemicals are released in your brain to deal with stress. The difference in these stresses is that the effect of heat increases over time. Since your boss is not riding with you that stress will likely lessen, while heat stress increases over time.

Creeping Dehydration
After life, heat, and physical stress from training, you’re now dealing with dehydration. If you are 2% dehydrated (e.g a loss of 3lbs in a 150 pound male) you will have a 5% decrease in performance in an event as short as a 5k (Jeukendrup). I challenge you to go for a run in the heat and see how much water weight you lose. This 2% dehydration causes decreased sweat rate, reduced skin blood flow, reduced blood volume, increased core temperature and rate of muscle glycogen use. All of these factors contribute to a higher perceived effort. Even just the increase in glycogen use forces you to slow down in order to conserve glycogen.

Perceived Effort
If you have to deal with multiple stressors at once or even just prolonged time in the heat, it’s important to remember that your pace or speed will be effected. It is in moments like this that perceived effort is so important to monitor. If you feel like you are putting out 300 watts, but only hitting 260, your actual effort is closer to that on a cool, less stressful day. Unless you are suffering from deep fatigue, you should still complete the workout, but understand that your times will be slower. Training in hot conditions taxes your body’s systems and takes a toll on overall performance, the training benefit is not exactly the same, but very similar.

Indoors vs. Outdoors
If you want the same benefit, or it is 110 out, you can train inside. This reduces the chance of heat-related injury and means you can nail the workout as it was written. There is a benefit to both training in less than ideal conditions and moving things indoors at times. For easy days and short workouts, I say get outside. Help train your body to deal with the heat. If you are preparing for a hot race this is crucial. There are many ways to acclimate to the heat. A good way to start about three weeks prior to your race is perform 3-5 low intensity workouts a week in the heat. You want to aim to be slightly dehydrated to train it to deal with similar race day conditions. As you adapt, your body will increase the relative temperate at which you begin to sweat, and lower your heart rate in the heat. You do not want to sacrifice your hard training sessions by making them all in the heat and losing quality. The heat sessions should be aerobic only, and I recommend moving key workouts indoors or doing them early in the morning to avoid the heat. Another way to aid heat adaptation is to jump in a sauna a few times a week for 20-30 minutes post workout. This has a similar effect to performing easy sessions in the heat.

Recovery After Heat Training
Keep in mind that heat training will increase recovery time and fatigue from a workout. You need to make sure you properly rehydrate and replenish electrolytes after these sessions. As you add heat sessions into your training, do so slowly. See how your body reacts first, then go from there. Keep in mind that the point is to be acclimated on race day, and be able to race faster. Keeping the goal in mind will help you balance quality sessions, heat acclimation, and recovery.

Racing in the Heat
If you are lucky enough to have a race day with high heat and humidity you need to be mentally ready for the challenging conditions. The number one way to do this is to plan your hydration strategy. I have heard a great deal of talk about relying on thirst to consumer liquids rather than drinking according to a plan. If you are going for a walk, I totally agree with this idea. If you are in the middle of a triathlon and have minimal energy to spend processing water/nutrition at any one time, I totally disagree.

Make Drinking a Priority
Prioritizing drinking might mean you slow down more at aid stations, or even stop to ensure you get a bottle. Your ride time might lose a minute or two, but as you run past people walking on the run course, you will thank yourself for the foresight. I set a timer on my watch to remind myself to eat and drink at various intervals throughout the ride. When I am riding hard, I need to focus on riding hard. If my mind drifts to water, heat, the scenery, I slow down. I need to keep as much as I can on autopilot. If it is hot, I make sure I am drinking about two bottles of water an hour and 300-400 liquid calories (water and gel mix). Your body cannot digest calories without water, so water is a must. The closer you can stay to hydrated at the end of the bike, the better off you will be starting the run.

Heat-Specific Pacing Strategy
In addition to a hydration strategy, it’s also good to have a heat-specific pacing strategy.  On both the bike and run your watts/pace might be a little slower to accommodate for the heat. You might be able to get away with your usual power on the bike if you are hydrating well, but the run will most likely be slower. Knowing your perceived effort levels will help you run as fast as you can without exploding. On the run, work the aid stations. They are all set up the same, and begin and end with water. Hit both. Drink water at every aid station. If you start peeing a ton, it’s okay to back off some. I also love throwing ice in my kit, which gives my body a few cold spots to focus my energy on. In addition to pacing and hydration, make sure you have a nutrition plan and try your best to stick to it on the run. I take a gel approximately every 30 minutes on the run, and supplement with gatorade and cola between cups of water.

Salt Up
The last thing to consider when preparing for a hot race is electrolytes or salts. I never thought these were an issue for me until I was running down the course at Ironman Arizona looking for chicken broth when it was 100 degrees and sunny. I then realized why I might be craving a hot beverage. If you are drinking bottles and bottles of water and sweating out more than just water, you need to help replace your electrolytes. This is a touchy subject because everyone sweats different ratios of electrolytes. It’s a good idea to try a few things well before race day, and find a plan that works for you. If things get funky on race day, don’t be afraid to deviate (and drink more cola), but start out with a calculated plan. I tend to add some electrolytes to my water and gel mix bottle and have a little salt ready in case I need it on the run. Most gels have a fair amount of sodium in them. Some do not, so know what you have, and know what is on the course in order to make good choices.

Have fun, stay cool, and stay hydrated!

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Zhao, Jiexiu Effects of heat and different humidity levels on aerobic and aerobic exercise performance in athletes. May 24, 2013.

Jeukendrup, Asker. Dehydration and its effects on performance. 2010.

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







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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Try one of our favorite recipes:

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

Blend and enjoy!

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






An Open Letter to All Coaches on What Really Matters- Questions You Should Ask as an Athlete Thu, 15 Jun 2017 19:43:24 +0000 Written by Matt Smith, MS, Training Peaks and USAT Level 2 Certified Triathlon Coach As coaches, we start our relationship with an athlete completely backwards. I know this is a bold statement, but one that has taken me almost ten years of coaching to feel comfortable making. I’ve known deep down that it’s right, and […]]]>

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

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

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

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

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

1. Psychological
-Family schedule management

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

3. Environmental
-Nutrition and nutrient density
-Toxic load

4. Physical
-Workouts and training
-Sleep and recovery

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

Start with these Questions:

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

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

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

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








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

Written by Stevie Lyn Smith, Registered Dietitian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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









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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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










5 Essential Swimming Drills for Triathletes to Strengthen Your Core Tue, 02 May 2017 20:56:31 +0000 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.

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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











Open Water Swim Safety Fri, 21 Apr 2017 18:00:35 +0000 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.

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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,, 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.





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

Written by James Haycraft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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