Uncategorized – TriSports University https://university.trisports.com The place to learn about triathlon. Fri, 01 Feb 2019 16:44:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8 https://university.trisports.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/cropped-tsu-button-32x32.png Uncategorized – TriSports University https://university.trisports.com 32 32 Dave Scott’s 5 Tips For Your Best Triathlon in 2019 https://university.trisports.com/2019/02/01/dave-scotts-5-tips-for-your-best-triathlon-in-2019/ https://university.trisports.com/2019/02/01/dave-scotts-5-tips-for-your-best-triathlon-in-2019/#respond Fri, 01 Feb 2019 11:45:46 +0000 https://university.trisports.com/?p=8971 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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A method behind the madness – a simple approach for a novice https://university.trisports.com/2018/09/13/a-method-behind-the-madness-a-simple-approach-for-a-novice/ https://university.trisports.com/2018/09/13/a-method-behind-the-madness-a-simple-approach-for-a-novice/#respond Thu, 13 Sep 2018 19:15:59 +0000 https://university.trisports.com/?p=8892 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 TriSports.com.  He’s been participating in sport all his life.  He has a Dog.

www.steelheadcoaching.com

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How to Recover like a Pro with 3 Strategies https://university.trisports.com/2017/08/16/how-to-recover-like-a-pro-with-3-strategies/ Wed, 16 Aug 2017 12:02:13 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8610 Any thing we do, any exercise breaks down, depletes, and changes the body. Chemically, our bodies change. Physically, small tears occur in our muscles. Emotionally, we experience a wide variety of feelings, and fatigue almost always makes an appearance. When you write them down, they sound scary and intimidating. If I want to get better, how could this […]]]>

Any thing we do, any exercise breaks down, depletes, and changes the body. Chemically, our bodies change. Physically, small tears occur in our muscles. Emotionally, we experience a wide variety of feelings, and fatigue almost always makes an appearance. When you write them down, they sound scary and intimidating. If I want to get better, how could this possibly be good for me?  Truth be told, to get better and improve performance, these things MUST occur. In exercise science, we refer to this as the principle of progressive overload. Simply put, that means you have to stress the body and push further than before in order to get better.

Unlock Your Potential
However, in order for us to experience the full benefits of this principle, we must allow time for the body to recover. In fact, without RECOVERY, we cannot progress or reap the full benefits of our training. Recovery, by definition, is the act, process, or an instance of disorder or shortcoming, returning to a normal state. In athletes, it is the time to rebuild and repair our broken muscles, chemical imbalances, and mental fatigue that occur when we train. Without recovery, we cannot get stronger, faster, or better. Mentally, recovery offers a break from training, allowing us to come back with more focus and passion for our sport.

Recovery is Necessary
If you’re like me, the word recovery has your bike shorts in a bunch and ready to run in the opposite direction. Typically, the multisport or endurance athlete hates recovery. We trick our brains into believing that more is best and rest causes us to quickly lose fitness. I stand at the front of this pack. In fact, at one point in my life, I could have earned the “most likely to never take a rest day ever” senior superlative. What we need to do is retrain our brains to believe that rest and recovery are integral parts of our training and important tools in our tool boxes. The good news, you don’t have to take complete days off, though that might be necessary from time to time. There is a good chance that you will know (or your coach will tell you) when you need to take a complete day off. That is what I like to refer to as passive recovery. You take a complete day off from physical activity. This isn’t an easy bike or swim or jog. It’s a day off. Put on your normal people clothes and step away from your bike.

But there is another type of recovery. If passive recovery is stopping to catch your breath, active recovery is an easy jog after a hard interval. Active recovery could be the lower intensity workouts between hard workouts. However, it’s also what you do between all your workouts. I’ve found three things KEY in my personal recovery journey.

Recovery Strategy 1: Sleep
Why? Because when we sleep our bodies rebuild and repair. This is crucial to our increased performance. The average American needs at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night but only gets around 6.5 hours. Chances are good the average American isn’t spending extra hours training in the early morning or late in the evening, which means endurance athletes might be at greater risk for even fewer hours of sleep. It is possible you might also require more sleep than the average individual. Aside from just feeling better and having more energy, appropriate sleep levels will help improve your focus, reaction time, and speed as well as reduce your injury rate. In a sport where focus and reaction time can mean the difference between finishing and crashing, sleep could be considered a key factor in training. So, turn off your electronics, make sure the room is dark, and try to keep the temperature around 62-68 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleeping conditions.

Recovery Strategy 2: Eat Food
The second recovery strategy is to eat REAL food. It sounds silly at first. But, if you look at the money spent on supplements, shakes, and nutritional products… well, you could buy quite a few bikes from TriSports.com with that money! These products definitely have their place, however, there is no substitute for real and wholesome food. The vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats found in real food are essential to energy for training and repair from training. What you eat (and when you eat) are different for everyone. Just like your race day nutrition strategies, figure out what works best by paying attention to how you feel after different types and times of meals. Think of your food as fuel. If you put cheap gasoline in your car, it will run, but not as well or as efficient as if you put in quality fuel. The same is true for food. The quality of the food you put in directly affects your performance.  Excess sugars and processed foods can lead to inflammation in the body, the exact opposite of what you want when you are trying to recover.

In the event that you need to supplement because real food isn’t an option, aim for bars, drinks, and supplements that use as many real ingredients as possible. Confession: it’s really hard for me to eat real food right after a tough workout, but a nice cold recovery drink I can totally stomach. Choose from brands that care about what ingredients they use. My favorite go to’s include Infinit Nutrition Repair Formula and Hammer Nutrition Bars.

Recovery Strategy 3: Physical
The third recovery strategy encompasses what probably comes to mind when you hear recovery, the physical recovery strategies such as massage, compression, foam rolling, icing, elevation, and stretching. From my experience, every athlete has their favorite methods. Some people swear by the ice bath while others prefer massage. Some athletes can be seen traveling with their foam rollers sticking out of their bags. Is one better than another? Not really. The best method is going to be the one which you will actually use. For example, if you aren’t ever going to make time to go get a massage, that isn’t the recovery strategy I would pick for you. Instead, something you can do at home with minimal time commitment is most likely a better choice. The point is, whatever you choose, you have to actually use it for it to be effective. Watching TV with your foam roller as an arm rest isn’t good enough. Trisports.com has an entire section of their website devoted to body care and recovery here.

Know Your Recovery Basics
Whatever method you decide to use, make sure to know the basics to make it work for your recovery and not against you. For example, icing muscles for more than 20 minutes at a time leads to reverse results. Make sure you have at least equal time off the ice between sessions. When stretching, you want to stretch muscles and tendons that are warmed up, not cold. A great time to stretch is post workout or at the very least after a walk. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds and remember that you can hyper stretch connective tissues. Stretch to a reasonably comfortable place and don’t force your joints where they don’t want to go. The same goes for foam rolling. If you are going to take a yoga or stretching class or get a massage, make sure the professional you go to is credentialed and has your recovery and best interest in mind. Finally, make sure that if you are going to be sitting around with compression on, that you have full socks on and not just calf sleeves. Sitting around in calf sleeves can lead to blood clots, so it’s best to save those for while you are in motion.

Finding time to get poolside recovery and relaxation

Typically for endurance athletes, training is easy while recovery is hard. We are gluttons for the training “torture.” We strive for perfection, often falling into the trap of overtraining, injury, and decreased performance. Taking days off periodically along with daily recovery strategies are key to increased performance. Don’t be an amateur when it comes to recovery. Recover like a pro.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

About the Author: Amanda Mercer, a former collegiate water polo player turned triathlete, owns her own fitness and wellness studio in southern Ohio. Her mission is helping all people find true health and fitness by working on all aspects of their life, not just their physical training. When she isn’t training at the studio or coaching, Amanda can be found swimming, biking, running, or cooking with her husband. You can follow her on Instagram at @thrivefittlife or @amandamercer_fitt or at www.thrivefittlife.com.

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

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

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

Learn more about Matt Hanson Coaching.

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Overcoming Low Back Pain: Triathlon’s Overuse Injury https://university.trisports.com/2016/02/15/overcoming-low-back-pain-triathlons-overuse-injury/ Mon, 15 Feb 2016 15:26:19 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6796 Written by Craig Allen Smith, PT DPT; Physical Therapist & Director of Smith Performance CenterThe Problem: Why is my back hurting? The healthy triathlete must combine mobility and stability in a seamless transition from swimming to cycling to running, or they break. The break occurs most often during the running component due to small, unnoticed […]]]>

Written by Craig Allen Smith, PT DPT; Physical Therapist & Director of Smith Performance CenterFemale-runner-athlete-back-injury-and-pain-585x329The Problem: Why is my back hurting?

The healthy triathlete must combine mobility and stability in a seamless transition from swimming to cycling to running, or they break. The break occurs most often during the running component due to small, unnoticed problems that gradually lead to an overuse injury. Overuse injuries are most common at the knee and lower leg; however, the low back is an often sited area of pain and something I see regularly at my clinic.

The conversation with an injured triathlete begins like this:

“My back hurts, but it doesn’t stop me from training.”

Or, “The pain gets better and randomly gets worse. Normally, I manage it and keep going, but it has gotten worse lately.”

There are numerous variations in the low back story, like the pain is greater at faster paces, or worse during the first few miles of a run. The symptoms are dependent on unique characteristics that we cannot get into fully today; however, we will focus on the primary functional cause of irritating low back symptoms: the hip and the need for extension.

Why is low back pain such a common problem?

Lumbar Vertebrae
Figure 1: Lumbar Vertebrae

The answer requires a review of the anatomy. The lumbar spine is comprised of five vertebrae. The structure of the five vertebrae can be simplified to the body and the facets for this example. The critical concept here is the orientation on the facets allow for large movements in flexion and extension, but not much rotation or side bending (Figure 1). If you look at the black lines on the picture, you will see the place where the facets from the vertebra from above lock into the vertebrae below. At a certain amount of lumbar spine extension, the facets will begin to compress. Over a long period and many cycles of extension, this becomes painful.

running with hip extension
Figure 2: Running with Hip Extension

In comparison, the hip joint is a ball and socket that moves all over. It does not lock into just flexion and extension like the lumbar spine. When you see a runner coming down the street, the hips will move through a combination of flexion, internal rotation, and abduction into extension, external rotation, and adduction (understanding these movements is not important, just realize the pattern is complex and varies between triathletes). To further complicate the picture, a total of 21 muscles cross the hip joint and contribute to the complex symphony required for a single running stride. It is best to think of the hip as the primary mover during running while the rest of the leg (knee and foot) are springs that store and release energy throughout the gait cycle.As you start to run faster, the body will begin to cover more ground with each step. This is accomplished by two processes. First, the hip will extend more. Second, the low back will extend. You can quickly test this process by walking fast with large strides. You will notice your leg begins to go farther and farther behind the body with each stride. However, it is much harder to notice the contribution of the low back (Figure 2). If your hip is tight and cannot move into extension, the lumbar spine will attempt to make up the difference. The result is repeated smashing of the facets during every, single stride. To limit this problem, we have to figure out if your hip is tight.

There are two simple methods for self-assessment: Thomas test and prone knee flexion test.

The Tests

The Thomas test set up requires a table. You lie flat on your back with your butt right at the edge of the table. Bring both of your legs up to your chest and hold the back of your legs. Now let one of them gently descend toward the table. If you feel a stretch, pain, or your back lifts from the table, then you have a problem. A qualified examiner can evaluate what structure is causing your limitation, but it’s fairly clear that you are limited in hip extension.

The prone knee flexion test can be performed on a table or the floor. Lie down on your stomach and bring the heel of one foot to your butt. If you feel pain, tension in the back, or cannot get the foot to your butt then you once again have a limitation in hip extension.

Now there is a group of triathletes that do not present with limitations in hip extension, but are dealing with the same problem during the run. This can be explained by a concept of relative stiffness. You will always get motion where you are most mobile. Like I wrote before, the low back wants to flex and extend while the hip needs to be able to get about 10 to 15 degrees of extension to keep the lumbar spine from trying to help too much. However, if the muscles surrounding the lumbar spine do not contract appropriately, even athletes with mobile hips will demonstrate excessive lumbar extension and consequently the irritating back pain. If the hip is ‘relatively’ more stiff than the back, then the more mobile part, the low back, will be forced to move which leads to the same problem.

Hip-Hinge-Graphic
Figure 3: Hip Hinge Exercise

Solution

The solution is similar to the testing and very simple. Stretch the hip flexors using the Thomas test and prone knee flexion test positions. When you are stretching the hip, it is critical to limit any motion in the low back. Follow this up with exercises to move the hip into extension while keeping the low back in a neutral position. Exercises such as the hip hinge (Figure 3) and bird dog (Figure 4) are great as long as you focus on limiting motion to the hip.

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Figure 4: Bird Dog Exercise

Dr. Craig Smith PT DPT is the owner and director of Smith Performance Center. The center was created to provide one-on-one physical therapy with strength and conditioning services, while researching new and innovative methods. Smith Performance Center provides long term care to reduce pain and improve movement through high quality physical therapy services, detailed movement analyses, and strength training. Learn more about Dr. Craig Smith at www.smithperformancecenter.com.

Check out TriSports.com’s muscle and pain relief section to see what other tools are available to help decrease and eliminate those nagging aches and pains to achieve your goals. Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

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Is the Smart Trainer Smarter Than You? 5 Reasons to Upgrade This Trainer Season! https://university.trisports.com/2016/01/21/is-the-smart-trainer-smarter-than-you-5-reasons-to-upgrade-this-trainer-season/ Thu, 21 Jan 2016 19:20:44 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6690 Written by Eric Levario, Age-Group Triathlete and Customer Service Specialist Trainer season is here! For some, you set up your trainer in the garage or basement and get your cycling time in over the winter. For others, trainer season means moving to the “pain cave,” where you go to get your workouts in with big […]]]>

Written by Eric Levario, Age-Group Triathlete and Customer Service Specialist

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Trainer season is here! For some, you set up your trainer in the garage or basement and get your cycling time in over the winter. For others, trainer season means moving to the “pain cave,” where you go to get your workouts in with big screen televisions, a smart trainer, and surround sound; maybe catching up on the latest Game of Thrones…..or American Ninja Warrior? Top of the line electronics make for a top of the line workout. Is a smart trainer worth the upgrade this season? Here are five reasons to upgrade this trainer season.tacx-neo-smart-indoor-trainer-171. All workouts are recorded in detail

You might ask yourself, what is a smart trainer? A smart trainer is named as such because it connects to an external source. Smart trainers do this by connecting through ANT+ or Bluetooth 4.0 (Smart or Low Energy), such as a tablet, computer, or cycling computer that display workout data in real-time. This means that your two-hour trainer ride (a little over two Game of Thrones episodes) is a recorded workout, to be used to analyze training progress. The smart trainer records and displays data such as speed, distance, cadence, and, for some trainers, even power. Many of these values come from the trainer itself. Add in a heart rate monitor and you have a very nice workout with enough comprehensive data to dial in your training. The values are calculated on the unit itself and will not necessarily need additional sensors; this is where the term “smart trainer” comes from. It’s important to think of this type of trainer as a computer. This helps you distinguish between a “smart trainer” and a “dumb trainer.” A dumb trainer is only named as such because it’s not a computer. All data must be collected through external sensors and the trainer itself does not need power to function. tacx-neo-smart-indoor-trainer-362. Easily control the ERG trainer from mobile devices

You may have heard a bit about ERG trainers from other triathletes and cyclists. It’s important to note that all ERG trainers are smart trainers, but not all smart trainers are ERG trainers. Some trainers have the ability to be controlled through an external application. Some popular choices are the Tacx NEO or the Wahoo KICKR. These trainers connect to smart phones, tablets, or computers and can control the resistance of the trainer electronically through apps.3. Program your workout ahead of time

One of the best benefits of the ERG trainer is the ability to get a quality workout without having to think about it. With an ERG trainer, you can download an application to spoon feed your trainer a detailed workout. This is important because you may lose focus when watching your favorite TV show. Especially on a season finale as this means you will likely start to soft pedal when you should be paying attention to your workout. Your trainer doesn’t care whether Columbo catches the bad guy or if McDreamy’s not going to be on the show any longer. While you may want to focus more on the TV, your trainer is focusing on your workout. Gone are the days when you could slack off. Let your trainer be the coach, so you can focus your efforts on the training session. Kurt Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Smart Trainer has a complimentary Kinetic inRide app that will keep you on-track with built-in workouts and easy upload of workout data for analysis.

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4. Intuitive training effort progresses with you

If you train with a power meter, you likely know what kind of power (measurable by watts) you are capable of holding for a full hour. For some of us not in the know, this is called your Functional Threshold Power (FTP). Workouts on an ERG trainer are based off of your FTP and there are a number of ways to calculate this. Whether you go for an all-out effort of 60-minutes, 2 x 20 minutes, or 2 x 8 minutes, your FTP is essentially the smartest data you can collect. FTP data field illustrates your training progress. As your FTP increases, you can see that you are getting stronger. The caveat of this though, is that your workouts on your ERG trainer will get harder as you progress. You have been warned!

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5. Smart trainers are reasonably priced

Think of your smart trainer as a workout machine, rather than a “bicycle trainer.” If you’ve been to the gym and ridden a recumbent or upright bicycle, you know how a bicycle workout machine works. You pedal to get the machine started, and then specify a workout. Workouts vary machine to machine, but most offer some kind of interval or a long and steady workout. Those machines start at over a thousand dollars to purchase. The beauty of your smart trainer is it costs only a fraction of the gym bike, offers all the features plus more, and is conveniently located at home. You also get to use the same bike you ride outdoors in a dialed in position. Consider the Tacx Vortex or the Wahoo KICKR SNAP as some reasonably priced alternatives for your pain cave.

 

There are a variety of the smart trainers to meet your specific needs and desired functions. Ultimately, a smart trainer is an investment, a tool to improve technique and deliver custom training. Become a stronger cyclist by incorporating a smart trainer into your training. Prepare for your upcoming season with a smart trainer today and reap the rewards for a faster bike tomorrow!

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

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

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

SRAM RED eTap Group

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

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

eTap Battery:

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

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

Front Derailleur:

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

SRAM RED eTap FD_1

SRAM RED eTap FD_2

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

Rear Derailleur:

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

SRAM RED eTap RD 1

SRAM RED eTap RD 2

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

Blips:

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

SRAM eTap Road Version:

SRAM RED eTap Road Bike

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

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

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

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

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

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

SRAM eTap Aero/Triathlon Version:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Injury Prevention

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

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

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

Nutrition and Hydration Options

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

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

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

Get Aero, be comfortable

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

Cycling Power

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

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

Run Power

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

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

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Pam Kallio – Wife, Athlete, Employee and one of the toughest grandmas you will ever meet https://university.trisports.com/2014/10/07/the-toughest-grandma-you-will-ever-meet/ Tue, 07 Oct 2014 20:06:11 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6573 Pam in KonaIt is not often that one of our very own employees gets to race in Kona, but that is exactly what Pam Kallio, our Customer Service and Distribution Center Manager, will be doing this weekend at the Ironman World Championships.  This is Pam’s 14th Ironman and her first trip to the big island – a […]]]> Pam in Kona

Pam Kallio
One of our own is heading for Kona

It is not often that one of our very own employees gets to race in Kona, but that is exactly what Pam Kallio, our Customer Service and Distribution Center Manager, will be doing this weekend at the Ironman World Championships.  This is Pam’s 14th Ironman and her first trip to the big island – a trip she earned by winning her age group (60-64) at Ironman Arizona last November. We had a chance to catch up with Pam and ask her a few questions.

I needed to earn it legitimately.  If it was meant to be, then I would get there when the time was right, if not then it wasn’t meant to be.

Q: It took 13 attempts at doing an Ironman – why didn’t you just apply for the Ironman Legacy program (Note: the Ironman Legacy allows athletes who have competed in at lest 12 Ironman races, among other qualifications, but never made it to Kona, to apply to race in Kona)?

A:  That’s easy to answer.  It’s a World Championship.  They don’t have lottery slots for the Super Bowl, or the World Series, or the FIFA World Cup or the Rugby World Cup.  It might sound kind of “corny,” but if I wasn’t good enough to qualify in a strong field, then I felt like I wasn’t good enough to go.  I needed to earn it legitimately.  If it was meant to be, then I would get there when the time was right, if not then it wasn’t meant to be.

Q: Tell me about your bike.  You have been on a Cervélo for many years, why did you go to a QR?

A: Well, my boss would beat me down hills and I figured it had to be the bike, and he was on a QR! 😉 Besides, it took 13 IM tries on a Cervélo to qualify, so I thought I would try the QR speed machine for my first Kona race! I loved my Cervélo, but when it came down to fit, the QR Illicito fit me much better.  The QR actually handles much better in crosswinds and is faster over all of the terrain where I have trained.  I seriously love this QR.  It is the “handiest” bike that I have ever ridden.  I can stay aero no matter what the winds are and can trust it explicitly while descending.

 

Pam Kallio's QR Illicito

  1. Quintana Roo Illicito Frameset
  2. Xlab Stealth Pocket 400
  3. TriSports BTA Mount System 2.2
  4. ZippVuka Stealth cockpit
  5. Zipp 606 Carbon Clincher Wheelset
  6. Vittoria Open Corsa CX Clincher Tires
  7. Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 Pedals
  8. Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 Drivetrain
  9. Ceramic Speed upgrades on the pulleys and bottom bracket
  10. PowerTap GS Power Meter
  11. Cobb Cycling JOF Saddle
  12. Cobb Cycling Rear Hydration Mount
  13. Xlab Gorilla Cages
  14. Xlab Sidekick Cages

Upgraded Pulleys and BB
Drivetrain closeup – the Ceramic Speed ceramic bearings in Pam’s pulleys and bottom bracket will save her an estimated 5-7W on the bike.

 

Q: What other key gear will you be using on race day?

A: For my jaunt through the lava fields I will have the Hoka Cliftons protecting my feet from the torching asphalt.

Q: Do you have a coach?

A: Yes, our CEO, Seton Claggett, is my coach.

Q: Wait, your boss is your coach and your coach is your boss?  How does that work out, isn’t he a slave driver at work?

A: Well, on one side there is nothing to hide behind, he sees me in training and he sees me at work, if I am “off, tired, stressed,” he sees it all.  No excuses, he expects 110% at work and he expects 120% in training.  I remember reading an article years ago about Michellie Jones’ husband coaching her and he said he could see in her eyes how she really felt, if she was over trained… having Seton as “coach” and Boss is the same.  I have to look him in the eye every day and respond either to how I excelled or failed at work AND the same with a workout – I have to look him in the eye and respond with why my power numbers or run pace either was or was not on target.  That’s motivation to excel in both work and training, to always do my best no matter what, no kidding myself and no hiding from the truth.

Q: You are now a grandma, what do your kids think of you doing this crazy sport?

A: I have 2 daughters, both married and the oldest, Lexi, just had her first baby in June.  They both ran track and cross country in High School and Kate went on to run both at the University of Florida.  I think they both think I’m a little crazy…well maybe more than a little! I can hardly wait till Caden, who is now only 4 months old, gets his first bike!!

Q: You started triathlons when you were 47 and you are now 61, how is your fitness?

A: LOL!  I think I am fitter now than I have ever been in my life.  Thanks to having a coach who believes in me and will push me past what I think my limits are, I am far stronger in all 3 triathlon disciplines than I was 14 years ago.

Q: Because of your position at TriSports, you are frequently front and center with customers. What is your best customer service story?

A:  I actually have two.  Joseba is from the Basque region of Spain.  He rented a bike from TriSports.com for IMAZ 2013 when we had our store in Tempe.  When the race came around, the Tempe store had closed and, since I was racing IMAZ also, I drove the rented bike up to him in Tempe.  We met him and his new bride – they were actually on their honeymoon.  He had just done Kona the month before and they were still honeymooning!  We became friends and have remained in contact since keeping track of each others’ races on FB and other social media.

Pam on the phone with customers
Pam heads up the TriSports.com Customer Service team and is frequently on the phone with customers.

My second story is that I was at work early one day about a month or so before IMAZ last year and the phone rang.  It was before we opened but I was there and figured, “what the heck?”, so I answered the phone.  It was Ginny, a gal from Pennsylvania looking for some swim merchandise that she could not find on our website.  I had been looking for the same items for myself the past day or so and knew exactly where they were, so proceeded to chat with her while I assisted her in finding what she wanted.  It came out in the conversation that she was doing IMAZ also, and was traveling by herself without her husband or kids.  I’ve done a couple of IM races where Norm, my hubby, couldn’t go and know how it feels to do an IM alone, so I promptly gave her my cell phone number and said let’s get in touch at IMAZ (this was after we found that we were in different age groups, not that we are competitive or anything….).  We did meet up at IMAZ for the practice swim, and traded some race strategies with each other.  Ginny qualified for Kona, also.  We have stayed in touch since.  In fact, we are staying at the same condo, met on the flight out to Kona and are doing some of our training out here together!

Pam shipping boxes
Pam also heads up our Distribution Center and can be found stepping in to help her team.

I didn’t give up on a dream and I had a coach who would accept nothing less that the best that I had to offer

Q: What one piece of advice would you give to the other grandmothers out there who are doing triathlons and want to make it to Kona?

Hold onto your dreams and don’t let anyone else tell you what you can’t do.  Get a coach who will demand nothing less than the best you have to give – always – with no excuses.  Physical age is only a number, meaningless in your heart and soul.  I have dreamed of riding on the Queen K so many times, it was a little surreal actually riding it today for real – not in my imagination and not on the Computrainer, but with the wind in my face and the smell of the ocean and the heat of the lava, and all because I didn’t give up on a dream and I had a coach who would accept nothing less that the best that I had to offer.

Pam in Kona
Pam is all business all the time, she is one tough competitor but don’t let her tough looks on the course scare you – she is one happy grandma!

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The In-Between: Tips To Keep You In The Game https://university.trisports.com/2014/06/24/the-in-between-tips-to-keep-you-in-the-game/ Tue, 24 Jun 2014 23:14:52 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6523 Recovery is key for future performanceSo you’re a triathlete. And you train. Maybe you train a lot. Maybe you’ve even hired someone who knows more than you about training to tell you what to do so you can go faster. Great, now you know when and how far to swim/bike/run each day. But what you do in between may be nearly as important as what you do in each specific sport if you are injury-prone, as I seem to be.]]> Recovery is key for future performance

Recovery is key for future performance
Recovery is key for future performance

By Sarah Lieneke-Nickle

So you’re a triathlete. And you train. Maybe you train a lot. Maybe you’ve even hired someone who knows more than you about training to tell you what to do so you can go faster. Great, now you know when and how far to swim/bike/run each day. But what you do in between may be nearly as important as what you do in each specific sport if you are injury-prone, as I seem to be.

You see, I didn’t always pay attention to the in-between. I would swim/bike/run my heart out, come home, plop on the floor until I stopped sweating while drinking my recovery drink, then hit the shower and carry on with life. And it was great, I got fast! And then… I got injured (before you assume this was from overtraining – it wasn’t, I pulled/strained/tore something that has never properly healed, but that is beside the point). I’m telling you this because after 4+ years of treatment, I’ve come to the realization that the way I spend my in-between time is crucial to being able to even think about training. Hopefully through sharing, I can help someone else avoid the dreaded injury cycle. I’m not a doctor, though I’ve seen over a dozen health-care practitioners in my quest to beat this thing once and for all. I’m coming close (fingers crossed) to starting to think about racing again because I’ve dedicated myself to making smart choices for how I spend my time between workouts.

Tip #1: Your foam roller is your friend, not your foe. Confession: I did not know how to use a foam roller until I was well into my triathlon career. At physical therapy one day, the PT told me to “get warmed up over on the foam roller.” Hoping no one would notice I didn’t know what I was doing, I wiggled around on it, relying on intuition that told me “just roll back and forth.” A few years later, another therapist suggested I get one for use at home, so I headed out and picked up a big, white, soft foam roller. I found this very useful – for keeping the dog off the couch. Frankly, I didn’t see what the fuss was about, as it never really made me feel different. It wasn’t until I was properly introduced to the TriggerPoint products that I really “got it” and felt a difference in my body after a proper rollout session. The beauty is that it really doesn’t take long – 15, maybe 30 minutes a day. But, just like with your other training, consistency is key. Wait until something feels like it needs addressing and you’ve waited too long. I use both the GRID® foam roller and the Ultimate 6 Kit, plus I have a GRID® Mini that I take with me when I travel. Why do I use these over my big, white roller? They’re firm so they really get the job done. I don’t have 15-30 minutes to waste, so I choose my tools carefully.

My choice for at home bodywork.

Tip #2:  Hydrate. We all know how important hydration is when it comes to performance. Sports drink companies have spent millions in research and marketing so we never forget that a tiny drop in hydration levels can wreak havoc on our performance. What I didn’t know is how important round the clock hydration is for muscle elasticity. As someone who is trying to keep my body un-locked through frequent rolling, I have been known to not maintain proper hydration levels. But come on…water is so…boring! A few tricks I use to drink more include keeping flavored hydration tablets handy (NUUN and Hammer Endurolytes are currently in the cabinet) but I also love making fruit or herb infused waters. It is so simple and a great pick-me-up when you’re feeling the mid-day slump.

Infused Water Recipe

20 oz water

1/2 orange, sliced

1/2 lemon, sliced

3-4 basil leaves, torn

Directions: Combine water and fruit overnight in the refrigerator. I like to use a mason jar with a lid to keep any potential fridge odor out. Strain in the morning and enjoy! Can be made with any fruit and/or herb combo that suits your palate.

Tip #3: Sleep. Intertwined with my chronic injury, I am also a recovering insomniac. Born from a particularly stressful time in my life, insomnia plagued me for close to 5 years and in turn, did a number on my health and well-being. My workouts suffered, my recovery suffered, not to mention I was not very fun to be around from being constantly tired. Thankfully my insomnia seems to have been situational, though occasionally it does rear its ugly head. Now I pay far more attention to my sleep/wake cycle than I ever have. Had a bad night’s sleep? I’ll skip my morning workout for a few extra zzz’s, knowing that skimping on sleep will snowball on me if I’m not careful. Interestingly, I find that foam rolling right before bed helps relax me to prepare for a good night’s rest.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Tip #4: Keep Moving. Unfortunately, I have a job where I sit on my computer most of the day. Fortunately, my laptop can move around with me so I try to mix it up by standing some and sitting some. Why? Sitting for long periods of time, day after day, is bad for your body. The fixed position, bad posture and inactivity are a recipe for disaster down the road (read tight hip flexors, shoulders, lowered energy levels.) Since I want to keep myself as “well oiled” as possible, I like to mix it up between sitting and standing at my desk. If you don’t have an adjustable height desk, set an alarm to remind yourself to take 5 minutes an hour to get out of your chair and simply move. Consider this part of your training if it helps you take it seriously. On the other hand, if you have a job where you stand much of the day, I absolutely recommend wearing compression socks and taking breaks to sit. Feel free to do your own experiment by wearing compression socks one day and not the next. Notice a difference?

If you spend a lot of time on your feet, invest in a good pair of compression socks. These are also amazing for travel.

Tip #5: Don’t ignore your gear. So maybe you’ve taken some time off, or you’re only running a few times a week. Do you know how many miles are on those running shoes? What about the tires on your bike? Are they worn and cracked? Have you cleaned your chain recently (or ever?) Your body isn’t the only thing you should be taken care of in the in-between time. You’re right, I haven’t heard of anyone getting injured from a dirty bicycle chain, but what if that cracked tire blows when you’re headed downhill at 30mph? And you know better than to run in shoes with too many miles on them, yet I bet you’ve done it. Sooner or later, ignoring your gear is going to catch up with you. Don’t let it!

Hopefully you’ve been able to pick up a nugget or 2 to focus on in the in-between. My best to you for happy and healthy training and racing!

About Sarah Lieneke-Nickle: Sarah is a 13-year veteran of the sport and built her first triathlon bike in the original TriSports.com warehouse – the garage of Seton and Debbie Claggett. A graduate of the University of Arizona school of Architecture, her passion for racing led her away from licensed practice in favor of working “in the industry.” Despite battling a chronic hip injury for the past 4+ years, Sarah earned her pro card in October 2012. She hopes to resume racing this fall. Keep up with her triathlon (mis)adventures on Twitter at @sarahlieneke.

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

By Brian Stover

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

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

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

Who is Training With Power?

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

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

How Can a Power Meter Help Me?

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

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

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

Case Study

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

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

Which Power Meter is Best For Me?

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

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

CycleOps PowerTap G3 Hub

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

QUARQ ELSA 10R Crankset

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

Garmin Vector Pedals

How Do I Use This Thing?

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

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

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

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

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Garmin Vector Unboxing and Setup https://university.trisports.com/2014/02/17/garmin-vector-unboxing-and-setup/ Mon, 17 Feb 2014 19:57:29 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6436 The Vector pedal-based power meter from Garmin is one the most hotly anticipated and in-demand systems on the market, for good reason. The promise of a truly portable power meter that can be brought wherever you go and easily switched between bikes without excessive baggage fees, complicated setups, or specialized mechanical skills is compelling, and the Vector largely comes through, with a few important caveats. ]]>

Garmin Vector
The Vector from Garmin in its native habitat

The Vector pedal-based power meter from Garmin is one the most hotly anticipated and in-demand systems on the market, for good reason.  The promise of a truly portable power meter that can be brought wherever you go and easily switched between bikes without excessive baggage fees, complicated setups, or specialized mechanical skills is compelling, and the Vector largely comes through, with a few important caveats.  There are a few steps required beyond just throwing on the pedals and riding, but with a bit of practice, the difference becomes largely negligible.

Notes on compatibility:

Vector has been designed to work with nearly any bike/crank combination. There are, however, a few edge cases where incompatibilities will arise, and they all have to do with clearance issues with the communications pods, which need to fit with a little room to spare.  The critical measurements are:

  • Crank arm height:38mm
  • Crank arm width: 15mm
  • Chain-crank clearance: 5mm

Measurements
Measure the width and height of your crankarm, and check the clearance between the crank and chain

The vast majority of bikes and cranks will fall under these specs, but it’s important to verify them so you don’t have any nasty surprises when you go to install your brand new Vector.

Unboxing

It’s obvious a great deal of attention has been payed to the “out of box experience,” befitting of a high-end piece of electronics such as this.  Opening the sturdy and compact case (which has been designed to be a handy travel case for future use), you’re greeted with the pedals and communications pods, a thank you note, and a quick start guide.  You’ll also find a set of LOOK Kéo compatible cleats set with 6° of float, a miniature ANT+ USB adapter, and washers to be used in installation (more on that in a second).

Unboxed
All the fun toys in this package

Components
The slimmed down USB ANT+ adapter (next to the old version), pedal body and pod, and installation washers

The main bits consist of the pedal body itself, which contains the actual strain gauges, and the pedal pods that house the communications electronics and antennae.  They are separate pieces in order to allow for flexibility in installation.  The right and left pedals are factory paired in a master/slave fashion, meaning that it won’t work to split them up between two bikes: both pedals are required for a functioning system.

The washers are used to compensate for differences in crank construction.  The pedal pods need a tiny bit of clearance away from the mounting surface of the crankarms – some cranks (like Campagnolo) have a protruding surface that supplies that for you.  Others (like Shimano), tend to have a slightly recessed surface.  For those instances, you’ll want to install one or two washers to get the gap that keeps the pedal pods from being damaged due to over tightening.

Recessed-Crank-Mounting-Surface
If your cranks have a recessed area around the pedal threads, you'll need at least one of the included washers.

Installation

To install the Vector on your bike, all you need is a pedal wrench.  If you want to ensure the highest possible level of accuracy, a torque wrench that can measure up to 24 ft-lbs or 40 newton-meters is handy, but not strictly necessary.  If you go the torque wrench route, you’ll need to also pick up a “crow-foot” adapter that’s thin enough to fit between the pedal body and crankarm (many are just a bit too thick).

Pedal-with-washers
The Pedal>Pedal Pod>Washer "sandwich" off the bike

Pedal-Hand-Tight
The Pedal>Pedal Pod>Washer "sandwich" on the bike

Just like all pedals, Vector is threaded differently for right and left sides.  Starting on either side, grab the pedal body and make a power-meter sandwich consisting of the pedal>pedal pod>washer(s).  Make certain the threads on both the crank and spindle are clean, put a bit of  grease on the threads, and hand tighten until the pedal is just snug against the crank.  Verify that there is a little bit of a gap between the pedal pod and crank arm.  Attach the pedal pod connector cable to the spindle at this point – you should feel a positive “click” when the head of the connecter is seated in the spindle. Now, rotate the crank arm until it is parallel to the ground in the 3 0’clock position (pointing forward) in order to position the pedal pod for final tightening.

The pedal pod will be accurate no matter what position it’s placed in, but to minimize interference with clipping in/out, it’s generally best to have it pointing down when the  crank is pointing forward.  After you’ve got it in your preferred position, grab your wrench and tighten, being aware that it will rotate a bit as you snug it down.  If you’ve got a torque wrench/crowfoot combination, set it to 25 ft-lbs or 34 newton-meters.  If all you have is a standard pedal wrench, tighten it “harder than you think, but not as much as you could.”  34 N m  is tighter than you would generally tighten a pedal, but that level of torque is required to ensure accuracy in power measurements.  It is possible to over tighten and damage the Vector, however, so don’t go nuts.

Pedal Wrench
While a torque wrench is best, you can get acceptable results with a regular pedal wrench too.

Once both sides are installed, there are a few more steps to follow to ensure proper calibration.  You’ll need to perform these the first time you set the bike up, each time you move the pedals to a new bike, and any time you replace the batteries/update the firmware.

Calibration

Each time the pedals are installed on a new bike, you have to tell the system what angle the pedal pods are mounted in.  This is called “setting the installation angles” and it’s a simple procedure.  If you have a newer Garmin head unit, it will walk you through the procedure, but it is the same no matter what ANT+ head unit you use.  Simply go for a ride (on a trainer or outside) and bring your cadence up to ~80-90 rpm.  After a few seconds, Vector will read the installation angles and start sending power data.  You’ll also want to ensure your crank length is set properly – it is preset to 172.5mm, but you can change it through either the head unit, or downloadable software for you PC or Mac.

Crank-Length
You can specify your crank length through select Garmin head units, or through the software on your home computer.

For maximum accuracy, you’ll want to do an addition calibration every time you ride (just like with any power meter).  While unclipped from your pedals, perform a zero-torque calibration according to the instructions of your ANT+ head unit.  For newer Garmins, you are prompted to do this each time you connect to your device.  Vector also allows for an additional calibration each time you pedal backwards 5 or more times, and Garmin recommends doing that at least once per ride as well.

Calibration
The Garmin 910XT and newer Edge head units will walk you through the calibration procedures, but any ANT+ head unit will work.

Wrap-up and further reading

And that’s it!  With a little practice and the right equipment, installing and traveling with Vector is nearly as simple as any other pedals, opening up many possibilities for use.  For more information, check out our Vector product page, which has detailed installation videos and documentation on usage.  Garmin has also set up a mobile-optimized owners’ site for easy reference on the go or in your bike shop.  And as always, feel free to call us with any questions you may have.

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Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest – A New Take On Hydration Vests https://university.trisports.com/2013/06/10/ultimate-direction-sj-ultra-vest-a-new-take-on-hydration-vests/ Mon, 10 Jun 2013 14:20:06 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6325 Written by Eric Mellow for TriSports.com Ultimate Direction has some new hydration solutions out for the summer, and since it’s heating up in the desert, I thought I’d take one of them for a spin. Most of their new offerings are part of their Signature Series line, and are therefore designed with the help of […]]]>

Written by Eric Mellow for TriSports.com

Ultimate Direction has some new hydration solutions out for the summer, and since it’s heating up in the desert, I thought I’d take one of them for a spin. Most of their new offerings are part of their Signature Series line, and are therefore designed with the help of Scott Jurek, one of the most dominant ultramarathoners in the last 10 years, and Anton Krupicka, who has racked up a number of impressive ultramarathon wins as well, including the Leadville Trail 100. I decided to take out the new Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest for a few runs, but it also ended up getting a 5 hour test in the Grand Canyon.

I Wish I Were the Size of a Real Boy

Apparently Scott Jurek insisted that the SJ Ultra Vest needed to be available in three sizes, because he feels that the fit is extremely important. I followed their sizing chart and measured on the smaller size of the medium, so I tried it on. Now, I’m built like a marathoner – average height and thin – so maybe I’m an exception, but the vest almost seemed to be a little big. It fit, but the adjustable straps on the front were tightened as far as they would go and it didn’t feel especially tight. I’d never tried a vest like this, with two bottles on the front, so I was worried about them bouncing. I tried on the small, but it was comically small and didn’t fit right at all. The medium it is.

Business In The Front, Party In The Back

As I mentioned above, this vest is different from most hydration systems in that it has two bottles on the front and the back is mainly for storage. I say “mainly” because it does have an internal bungee cord system to hold a reservoir in place, as well as an exit hole for the drinking tube and loops along the shoulder straps to hold the tube in place. The main rear storage is split into two compartments, the larger one that can hold the reservoir and gear, and a smaller one that is backed with Cuben fiber, which will keep your gear from getting all sweaty and gross.

The Material Is Not Immaterial

I want to take a second here to talk about the materials that Ultimate Direction made the SJ Ultra Vest with, because they are all extremely functional and made to last. The Cuben fiber mentioned above is what is used for the sails of America’s Cup racing yachts. It’s 15 times stronger than steel, lightweight, and it is extremely resistant to moisture, UV rays, and chemicals. Most of the pockets and storage compartments are made with Power Mesh, which is awesome for two reasons: 1. it is super stretchy, so you can stuff a lot of stuff in each compartment, and 2. since it is tight and able to stretch, it holds items in place better so they don’t bounce as you run. In fact, during one run I had put only my keys in one of the pockets and I only heard them jingle once the entire run. All of these fancy materials make the SJ Ultra Vest durable, functional, and weigh in at just 7.5 ounces (without bottles).

More Storage Than Cargo Pants

OK, let’s tackle the storage. I’ve already mentioned the main rear storage that is split into two compartments, but there is also a bungee cord system that can both be loosened to fit more stuff in the main compartment and can also be used to secure a jacket or other piece of clothing. There are Lat Pockets on the midsection straps that are made of the stretchy Power mesh and zip closed, so they are completely secure. Both have an additional pocket behind them that closes with Velcro. There are Velcro pockets on the shoulder straps just behind the water bottles, as well as mesh pockets on each side of the water bottle holders and small Velcro pockets under the water bottles (one Power Mesh, one Cuben fiber that is almost completely waterproof). I’d consider this more of an adventure vest than solely a running vest, as it also has a place for trekking poles and an ice axe loop. I don’t know what kind of extreme running Scott Jurek is doing, but I’m absolutely positive that I’ve never needed an ice axe on any of my runs.

I’m Like a NASA Test Pilot…of Running Gear.

Sure, all of that stuff is really neat, but how does it run?! I wasn’t sure what to think about the two-bottle front-mounted hydration, but I was obviously game to try it out. I’ll be honest, the first run out I just filled up the bottles and went. As I had feared, the bottles seemed to bounce around a bit. Now, as I mentioned above, I seemed to be in between sizes, so I wasn’t ready to write the vest off just yet. On the second run I decided to fill up the pack. I shoved a thin running jacket and two running tops in the back and filled up the bottles. With some stuff in the back, it definitely seemed to fit a little better, as a vest full of gear is going to fill up and fit smaller. The second run went much better and this time I hardly noticed the bottles at all. As I drank from the bottles and they emptied, I could hear the water sloshing around in the bottles more and more. This was a weird experience because it makes your brain want to think that the bottles are bouncing around, even though they weren’t. After a while you get used to the sloshing sound; it’s as rhythmic as your running, and seems to just kind of fade away.

The Real Test: the bright angel TRAIL OF DOOM INTO THE SOULLESS HEART OF THE GRAND CANYON!

Is it comfortable for the long haul? After a 5 hour hike/run into and out of the Grand Canyon, I feel like I can answer that pretty well. Because I drove up that morning, I got to the Grand Canyon a little late. I didn’t start my adventure until about 11:00 a.m. I took the Bright Angel Trail 6 miles into the canyon and stopped at Plateau Point, so I could admire the view of the Colorado River. I reached Plateau Point at about 1:15 and, even though the weather at the rim was nice, in the middle of the canyon the temperature crept over 90 degrees. After some time to take in the beautiful views and enjoy a short rest, I turned around and started my trek out, making it back to the top just before 4:00 p.m. After 5 hours, 12 miles, and 6,000 feet of elevation change, the SJ Ultra Vest was as comfortable as when I put it on. The Hex Mesh was breathable and didn’t absorb any moisture. Since the vest is light, it didn’t feel like a burden on my shoulders. Also, since the edges of the straps are lined, I didn’t have any issues with chafing.

Taking A Sip Of Water From The Fire Hose

That’s not to say that the SJ Ultra Vest is perfect though, as there were a few things that rubbed me the wrong way. The big one is the water bottles, specifically, the Kicker Valve. The chances that I’m an idiot and just can’t quite figure them out are pretty high, but as far as I can tell, there’s no good way to get water from these bottles. It’s kind of like a bite valve, but if you bite down too hard you don’t get any water, which is usually what happens while running. If you just squeeze the bottle, it builds up pressure and then shoots a jet of fire hose water into your face. It seems to be easier when walking, but that’s not the point of the vest. I seriously think they need to try something different here.

Objects In The Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

I was also surprised to find out that the mesh pockets about the bottles don’t quite fit a cell phone, as advertised. In addition, the Lat Pockets were not accessible while wearing the vest. This isn’t really an issue, as you do have 8 other pockets on the front of the vest that you can stuff full of everything you need, I only mention it so you can plan ahead. Know that if you put anything in the Lat Pockets, you’ll have to take the vest off to get to it. Finally, speaking of the front pockets, the pockets on the sides of the water bottles can be difficult to get gels into and out of when the bottles are in there, as the packets sometimes catch on the mesh.

Lay It On Me

Here’s my two cents: the vest is lightweight, doesn’t seem to bounce or chafe, and looks to be quite durable. The amount of storage is quite shocking, especially the rear main compartment; it can hold way more stuff than you expect it to be able to. Unless you can stop and refill or you add a reservoir in the back, the amount of fluid it holds is probably not enough for runs lasting more than a couple of hours of training, but with aid stations, I think it would make an excellent ultramarathon race vest, especially if you expect changes in weather and need to bring gear along. The only major pain point is the Kicker Valve on the water bottles, but personally, I’m just going to use different bottles with the vest. Overall, I think the vest is great and would have no problem recommending the Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest to marathoners and ultramarathoners alike, for both training and racing.

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CEP Recovery+ Pro Tights – Medical Grade Compression Without a Prescription https://university.trisports.com/2013/05/20/cep-recovery-pro-tights-medical-grade-compression-without-a-prescription/ Mon, 20 May 2013 14:00:36 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6302 Written by Eric Mellow for TriSports.comFront view With our limited amounts of time, triathletes like you and me who have full time jobs and other responsibilities often let something fall by the wayside. If you’re like me, you’re diligent about getting your training in, and you have the willpower to make good nutritional choices most […]]]>

Written by Eric Mellow for TriSports.comFront view

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

With our limited amounts of time, triathletes like you and me who have full time jobs and other responsibilities often let something fall by the wayside. If you’re like me, you’re diligent about getting your training in, and you have the willpower to make good nutritional choices most of the time, but you’re not always the best about paying attention to your recovery. Most days when I finish my morning workout I have just enough time to shower and eat breakfast before I’m rushing out the door to work. Sure I have a little more time on the weekends, but I usually don’t want to stretch or roll on my foam roller after a 110 mile ride. In fact, usually I just want to lie down on the floor and not move.

The Trouble With Training Is That It Doesn’t Make You Faster

The problem with ignoring recovery is that it slows your progress. In fact, it’s not all those tough workouts that you put in that make you better and faster, it’s recovering from, and thus adapting to, those workouts that makes you a stronger athlete. It’s weird to think about, but it’s true. This is why it’s great that CEP finally came out with their Recovery+ Pro Tights. I’m a huge fan of their recovery socks and couldn’t wait to try the tights.

Anatomy 101: No Spleens, Just Veins and Valves

First, a little anatomy lesson to explain how compression garments work: basically, blood flows faster in narrow blood vessels than in wide ones. Compression clothing narrows the veins, forcing the blood to flow faster and more effectively. The tiny valves that prevent the blood from flowing backwards in the blood vessels are pushed closer together so that the whole system works better. Does it actually work? Yes. For example, the reason jet pilots wear pressurized suits is to help maintain their venous return so they don’t pass out under all of those g-forces.

History 102: No Empires or Explorers, Just Medical Compression

Second, a little history lesson about CEP; CEP is actually owned by a company called Medi, which was started back in 1920. In 1964 they introduced the first seamless, highly elastic compression stocking for medical use. The CEP arm of Medi was added in 2007 and has been one of the leading compression brands for triathletes, as well as other endurance athletes. This makes sense; who better to make your compression gear than a company that specializes in medical-grade compression and has been doing it for nearly 60 years?

Back view

Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover, Especially If It’s Titled Wrestling An Octopus

The first thing I noticed when I took the tights out of the box is that the material is a bit thinner than I was expecting. In order to get more compression, the manufacturer usually has to use a thicker material, but the CEP tights actually stretch to become somewhat sheer once they are on. This had me a little worried about their durability and effectiveness. I should have known better, since CEP obviously knows what they are doing. Here’s my first and only problem with the Recovery+ Pro Tights: they’re incredibly difficult to get on! I didn’t time it, but the first time putting them on it probably took me between 10 and 15 minutes. I’ve since figured it if you roll them down and then roll them up to put them on it works out a little better, but I think it still takes me nearly 10 minutes to get them on. It’s similar to putting on a wetsuit or wrestling an octopus.

Are You Related To Stretch Armstrong?

The fact that it’s a little bit difficult to get these tights on actually helped with a second concern I had – durability. I was wrestling with the tights, pulling and tugging at various places trying to get them pulled on, but they just stretched and took it. I have a pair of shorts and compression tights from a different compression company that both popped seam thread the very first time I put them on. The seam itself held, as they are stitched with an insane number of threads, but it’s not a great thing to experience the very first time you put a product on, especially when they weren’t nearly as difficult to get on as the CEP tights. Because of this I’m giving CEP an A+ for durability, considering how thin the tights are.

Front view with top rolled down

I Like My Compression Tights Like I Like My Cucumbers: Cool

For as difficult as they are to get on, they’re quite comfortable once they are on, and don’t feel overly tight, which is what I imagined given the difficulty I had getting them on. The waist comes up a little high for my liking, but that could be just the way they fit on me. It doesn’t bother me having it up, but I just folded them down at the top and they stayed put. As far as them being warmer or cooler than other tights, I didn’t really notice a huge difference in general. They are, however, considerably more breathable. I’m almost always too warm, so I sleep with a fan on. When I got into bed I immediately noticed that the moving air was able to blow through the CEP tights better than my other tights, thus making them cooler. That was a huge plus for me.

Like Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Dream: Tight

Personally, I like my compression garments to feel tight. It gives me the impression that they’re actually doing something, unlike some “compression” garments that just feel like they’re a little snug. As I mentioned above, my initial feeling was that they weren’t overly tight, as I had expected, but a few nights later I found out the power of their compression. In the middle of the night I had an itch on the top of my foot. I tried scratching it through the tights, but it didn’t help. I then rolled back the tights a little so I could adequately scratch my foot and get back to sleep. I made the mistake of leaving the tights rolled back when I fell back asleep and less than 30 minutes later I awoke to a sharp, somewhat painful tingling in the end of my foot. Apparently the compression works perfectly when worn as designed, but when doubled up upon itself, it’s too much for the body to handle and can nearly cut off circulation! I was a bit confused and annoyed at waking up again, but was completely impressed with the amount of compression in these new Recovery+ Pro Tights.

Recovery view

What’s In It For Me?

So what does that mean for you?  Coach Brian Grasky of Grasky Endurance Coaching says, “Since a major part of training is muscular recovery, compression garments can be used to enhance your training.  High quality medical grade compression wear has been shown to reduce inflammation by promoting blood flow out of the muscles taking the waste by-product with it, to stabilize the muscle in the repair process, and to align muscle fibers more thoroughly.  This decreases muscle damage and recovery time allowing for either (or both) more complete recovery and more high intensity training.  Compression wear has also shown to reduce fatigue and stress and increase muscle oxygenation in long-duration travel.  Massage has also been shown to reduce muscle soreness and promote muscular recovery.  Massage, even self-massage, after more intense training sessions followed by compression wear is most beneficial and has been shown to reduce muscle soreness and reduce inflammation.”

“Can be worn everywhere” view

Wearing Compression For Dummies

Coach Grasky goes on to tell us the best way to use compression for recovery: “Warm up well for your intense training sessions first.  Then ease into the efforts with shorter duration accelerations and a series of plyometrics or dynamic warm up exercises.  After the session, cool down by reducing intensity by maintaining movement to start the recovery process and keep the blood from pooling.  (i.e. run 1 – 1.5 miles very easy after a track session before going to sit in the car.)  Once heart rate and sweat rates are down, self-massage and/or foam roll for 10-15 minutes, then put on compression tights.  Leave them on for 3-4hrs.  Remove them to promote blood flow back to the muscles.  After races and extremely tough sessions, wear them at night in addition to this.”

“So simple an elephant could use them” view

Step 1 For Improving Recovery: Follow Steps 2-5

Finally, he adds one important bit of advice, saying, “Note:  recovery compression is quite different from active compression.  Do not use recovery compression for activity and vice-versa—targeted blood flow is different in the two compression types.  Use active tights for activities, recovery tights for recovery.” Compression is just one piece of the recovery puzzle. Other things you can do to speed recovery include getting adequate sleep, remembering to rehydrate (a recent study showed a 3% improvement in performance the day after a hard workout if athletes replaced 150% of fluids lost versus those who only replaced 75%), and refueling. Refueling is especially important the 30 minutes following a workout lasting more than an hour, and don’t forget to take in both carbs and protein.

“Simon Whitfield is excited about CEP” view

Just The Facts

The benefits of using compression for recovery are tangible and I definitely feel better and seem to recover faster when I use compression for a few hours after a hard workout or while I’m sleeping after an exceptionally big training day. The CEP Recovery+ Pro Tights are a serious compression garment that offers benefits to everyone from the weekend warriors to elite athletes. Although a tad difficult to get on, they’re ultimately comfortable and the compression is such that it really feels like they’re doing what their supposed to do. CEP makes great products and the CEP Recovery+ Pro Tights have become my go-to recovery tights.

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Tri-ing to Fly With a Bike (or Flying to Tri With a Bike) https://university.trisports.com/2013/03/23/tri-ing-to-fly-with-a-bike-or-flying-to-tri-with-a-bike/ Sat, 23 Mar 2013 17:49:41 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8677 This blog brought to you by former TriSports Champion Dan Dezess (former only because his wife now works for us and he gets all the benefits of being part of the team, anyway!). With the race season upon us, many people spend a ton of time researching how to travel with their bike. Ship it? Fly with it? Bike transport? Here’s one man’s experiences flying with his bike.

I love triathlons and I love to travel. Who doesn’t? Now put the two together and it could be a little intimidating, frustrating and, not to mention, stressful! Questions about how the bike will fare under the scrutiny of TSA inspections, how much it costs to ship and the horror of “what if something happens to it between point a and point b?” race through one’s mind.

I have done a few “fly-aways” throughout the years and each time I think I have it mastered, I learn something new.

The first time I flew was for the 2010 Big Kahuna Triathlon in Santa Cruz, CA.   I had just bought a Velo Safe Pro-series Bike Box from TriSports.com. I packed it with care, making sure that nothing could move which could damage the bike. Flying to San Francisco was fine. Coming back, however, I found that the company outsourced by TSA to inspect baggage did not re-secure the tool bag I had packed in the box. Lesson learned – do not put excess items in the bike box!  What if it had shifted during the flight or handling and had damaged the bike? Shudder!

TRI ALL 3 SPORTS Velo Safe Pro Series Bike Case

In July of 2011 while packing for Ironman Racine 70.3, I felt like I had a handle on the travel thing. Again the box was packed with care, foam padding and all. After some thought, I also decided it couldn’t hurt to place a nice little note inside asking them to please re-secure the items and thanking them for keeping us safe. A little kindness could go a long way.

All was well until I boarded the airplane. As I sat down and looked out the window, I saw, much to my horror,  the airline baggage handler grab the box (which was upside down on the cart) and flip it end over end onto the conveyer belt, landing on its side and up into the airplane. I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I dreaded what I would find upon landing.

Those dang baggage gorillas!

We arrived in Detroit and I anxiously made my way to baggage claim. I found the box and opened it. The bike was fine, but the wheels were no longer secured.  The end result was a nick in each race wheel about the diameter of a pencil eraser. I immediately went to the airline baggage office to file a claim, but was told that I needed to do that at the home airport.  Fortunately, I was able to patch the wheels with fiberglass filler. Meanwhile, my wife and I researched what we needed in order to file a claim. We had all of our ducks in a row, or so we thought.

Back in Tucson, we went straight to the airline baggage office to file. To make a long story short, the airline denied responsibility despite the fact that we had photos showing the box being mishandled.  They stated they were not responsible for damage done due to my lack of making sure it was safely packed. Lesson #2 learned – pack your wheels in wheel bags, or a separate wheel box,  and do not expect the airline to pay for damages.

Playing it safe with a Wheel Safe

Determined to finally master the art of traveling with a bike, I invested in a wheel box and decided to fly non-stop from a larger airport nearby to lessen the number of times the box would have to be moved, and thus reducing the chance of it being man-handled. At baggage check in Phoenix, on the way to the 2012 Ironman New Orleans 70.3, I was happy to see that the workers recognized that it was a bike box and knew it contained fragile cargo. Finally a problem-free trip!

After New Orleans, I read about a product called Albopads in a triathlon magazine. They are re-useable pads with Velcro that you attach to the bike frame during transport.  I decided to ditch most of the worn Styrofoam padding in favor of the newer, less bulky pads.

It’s like the snowsuit on the little kid in “A Christmas Story,” only for your bike!

I used the same non-stop flight strategy to travel to Ironman Steelhead 70.3, again with much success. Flying conquered. Piece of cake!

Just when you think you know it all, though, something happens.  I checked in for my flight for the Rocketman 70.3 in Orlando. Not quite a non-stop flight, as it stopped in Saint Louis, but at least we got to stay on the same plane.  All was well until my wife and I had to stop near where over-sized baggage was manually inspected. I was rummaging through my backpack when I overheard the TSA baggage inspector tell the other inspector, “We have a HAZMAT.”

Being a firefighter, I knew what HAZMAT meant and was a very alarmed. I looked over and them standing around my open bike box. Oh no. I wracked my brain trying to think of what I could possibly have packed that could cause such panic. What if the airport was shut down? Yikes!  It turned out it was the CO2 cartridges. They are apparently banned by the FAA from being transported on aircraft.  I had never heard of that before, but now I know not to pack them. Ever.

Just when you think you think you have the game figured out, you get thrown another curveball. Live and learn. I can deal with all that, though, as long as the bike gets there safely!

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First Endurance EFS: The Most “Potent” Sports Drink. https://university.trisports.com/2012/08/31/first-endurance-efs-the-most-potent-sports-drink/ Fri, 31 Aug 2012 23:30:50 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6001 A Sports Drink that replaces four other products? First Endurance EFS has Higher Electrolyte Content than any Sports Drink. EFS may be the "silver bullet" nutritional product missing from your long distance racing. See why here.]]>

By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com

EFS from First Endurance contains the highest concentration of electrolytes of any sports drink.

There are few absolutes in sports nutrition except this is one: First Endurance EFS has more electrolytes per serving than any sports drink.

You use a sports drink during training and racing for three reasons: Hydration, calories and electrolytes. While the principles of sports nutrition are simple, the practice is more complex. Some athletes make it so complex they use a “cocktail” of products during an event that is logistically complex and stressful to the digestive system.

If one nutritional product could combine purposes and replace the need for three or four additional products it would simplify race logistics, reduce the amount of products you need to buy, mix and carry and avoid problems with product interaction and gastric distress. First Endurance EFS is a candidate for that multi-role nutritional product. It provides enough electrolytes to replace electrolyte supplementation and delivers adequate calories and fluid to almost completely reduce the need for other calorie sources.

Using EFS from First Endurance may replace the need for additional electrolyte supplementation during hot events.

No nutritional review is complete without a disclaimer of sorts, although not the one you may expect. The doctrine that “no nutritional product works for everyone” may be one of the greatest cop-outs of the popular endurance sports culture. A better relative truth may be “You can train your gastro-intestinal system to use any product during physical stress”. While this doctrine eschews popular lore it becomes closer to consensus as athletes become more experienced- and faster. Gastric distress is a common limiter in long distance endurance events among newer athletes. Much of it can be attributed to a lack of digestive acclimation under stress.

You can train your digestive system to perform under stress and train it to specific products. Like every metabolic process, digestion is adaptive. If your race preparation includes an emphasis on nutritional adaptation to specific products under race-like stress and duration you will adapt. It’s a personal question as to whether you prefer to adapt to a given nutritional doctrine, or you prefer to find a set of nutritional products that work without adaptation, a laborious and random process. Your best nutritional doctrine may be somewhere between those two extremes, leaning toward adaptation as finishing time becomes a greater priority to just finishing.

First Endurance EFS is also sold in a highly viscous energy gel that can be diluted in a water bottle or taken straight during an event.

In a survey of nutritional products a light bulb appears over First Endurance EFS. You could nearly do an entire long distance race using mostly this product with only minor additional supplementation. That notion is logistically elegant. Less bottles, less concoctions, less to keep track of during an event.

Another advantage to EFS is its variable concentration. Fluid and caloric needs change with weather. As it gets hotter athletes need more fluid and generally tolerate lower concentrations of carbohydrate in sports drinks. As it gets colder they will use more calories to maintain body temperature and require less fluid relative to hot conditions. Knowing that, the best sports drink would be “modular” and have a variable electrolyte concentration depending on how it is diluted. First Endurance EFS is “modular” since it can be diluted to a lower carbohydrate and electrolyte concentration by simply adding water on the fly. Athletes can mix a “master bottle” of EFS at high concentration in a regular over sized bottle carried on their downtube and squirt that into a TorHans handlebar mounted aerodynamic hydration system filled with water from aid station bottles and tossed back into the aid station.

First Endurance also added malic acid to EFS. Found naturally in foods like apples, malic acid is attributed to assist recovery after aerobic exercise. Studies also suggest malic acid reduces muscle soreness and fatigue during aerobic exercise.

Another endurance component of EFS is AjiPure’s Amino Acid Blend. Each single scoop serving provides2,000 milligrams of amino acids L-Glutamine, Leucine, Iso Leucine and Valine. AjiPure is the world’s largest supplier of amino acids and has a background in endurance sports. The benefits of amino acids in an endurance drink include enhanced glucose replacement and better immune function.

There is a strong argument to using the nutritional products served in aid stations at your “A” races. You carry less fluid on your bike, reducing weight and streamlining logistics. You paid for the aid stations so you may as well use them. First Endurance EFS still figures into the mix since it can be used during ultra-distance training in addition to the products used in the aid station of your “A” race which may not be as readily available in your area. You can also carry enough EFS on your bike in concentrated form to easily get through a 70.3 distance event while only taking water at aid stations for dilution.

First Endurance EFS is worth understanding and experimenting with because of its modular mixing capability and its high electrolyte content, especially if you are using capsules to supplement electrolytes. Incorporating EFS into your nutrition plan may allow you to go farther with less products even faster. That potential benefit is worth exploring.

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Cobb Cycling Gen 2: The New Paradigm for Saddle Design. https://university.trisports.com/2012/08/27/cobb-cycling-gen-2-the-new-paradigm-for-saddle-design/ Mon, 27 Aug 2012 22:24:55 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=5963 John Cobb is one of triathlon and road cycling's greatest innovators. His newest introduction may revolutionize how we think about saddles for road and triathlon. Take a seat on the new combined Road AND Triathlon Cobb Cycling Gen 2 Saddle here. ]]>

By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com

Cobb Cycling's new Gen 2 saddle is designed for road and triathlon use for riders who sit in the "middle 80%" of triathlon and road cycling positions.

Triathlon saddle evolution has tracked with our understanding and misunderstanding of how we sit on a triathlon and road bike. With the influx of new athletes and better understanding of bike position saddle design has moderated and improved. Riders and bike fitters are finally finding the best way to be positioned for comfort and performance. John Cobb of Cobb Cycling has designed a saddle for that real world best road and triathlon position. Cobb cycling’s new do-everything combined road and triathlon saddle is called the Cobb Cycling Gen 2.

He is the Father of American Bike Fitting. John Cobb has the most eclectic background in road and triathlon bike fit of anyone. His insights across all ability levels provide a unique perspective on product development.

No discussion of a Cobb Cycling saddle is complete without meeting Mr. John Cobb. John is a brilliant, affable man with a penchant for southern charm and good barbecue. His smile is genuine, his handshake firm. Cobb could be regarded as the father of American bicycle fitting. His early work with wind tunnels and bike positions was sought after by many Ironman World Champions and Tour de France Champions. Nearly every significant U.S. Ironman World Champion and Tour de France winner has consulted with John Cobb. Perhaps of greater relevance is Cobb’s work with the “everyman” triathlete. The newbie, the age grouper, the middle of the pack rider. Cobb has fit thousands of them. His work with road and triathlon fitting provide an eclectic level of insight no other fitter can match. Add to that John Cobb’s knowledge of manufacturing within the bike industry and he is uniquely qualified to rethink the bicycle seat. The new Cobb Cycling Gen 2 is the result of that rethinking.

“The Cobb Cycling Gen 2 is designed for how most road and triathlon cyclists actually sit on their bikes”

John Cobb was instrumental in the development of other saddle designs like some of the excellent ISM saddles. These shorter saddles from ISM, some only 25cm long, are good problem solvers complimented by longer triathlon saddles such as the Profile Design Tri Stryke (top right) with its heavily padded nose, rearward oriented rails for a forward position and 30 cm overall length. A new Cobb Cycling Gen 2 is shown lower right for comparison.

John Cobb was a part of earlier saddle designs that used two forward protrusions and were shorter at about 25 cm (a standard road cycling saddle is 27 cm). These saddles were shorter to relieve pressure on the nose of the saddle by effectively removing it. This design evolved into the ISM Adamo saddle under different ownership. The ISM Adamo is such a good design, albeit a legacy design, that it remains relevant today with many top pros using it. Especially for riders with substantial saddle to handlebar drop, the ISM Adamo has remained an optimal choice.

Since the development of the ISM Adamo the demographic of triathlon cyclists has expanded and changed, along with our understanding of how to fit bikes for road and triathlon. A new paradigm has emerged, road and triathlon cyclists positioned on road and triathlon bikes in a more functional, practical and more upright position than the top pros. The Cobb Cycling Gen 2 is designed for that rider, a group that likely represents the majority of riders not only at the local triathlon but also high level events like Ironman.

The Cobb Cycling Gen 2 works for both road and triathlon bikes since it incorporates the nose design that was so successful on previous Cobb Cycling triathlon saddles and a new rear section inspired by traditional road saddle designs.

How Can One Saddle Work for Road and Triathlon?

The Cobb Cycling Gen 2 is effectively two saddles: The forward portion of the saddle, where riders will sit during hard efforts in the aero position, mimics the design of tri-specific saddles like the Cobb Cycling Max. There is a distinct relief cut-out and moderate width that transitions to a nearly concave midriff as viewed from above for thigh clearance, another acknowledgement that this saddle is built for people who may not be elite-athlete skinny. The relief cutout section of the saddle is convex as viewed from the side, with a generous amount of dense, high end memory foam. This foam is stiff enough to maintain the open relief section under rider weight, unlike many saddles with cut-outs that actually close up under rider weight.

Business in the front, party in the back: The Cobb Cycling Gen 2 feels like one of Cobb Cycling's nice triathlon saddles in the front and a nice, comfort oriented road saddle at the rear. Notice how the comfort cut-out in the nose stays fully open even under rider weight. Most other saddles with cut-outs close up when you sit on them, rendering them useless.

The rear of the saddle benefits from the forward cutout since it provides ventilation, directing cooling air at speed onto the pad of your trishorts or cycling shorts. In triathlons this speeds the drying of your shorts out of the water. For road cycling this provides relief during long, seated climbs. As viewed from above the rear of the saddle is an ode to classic road saddle design with its support for the ischial tuberosities.

No single saddle shares this combination of nose design and rear configuration optimized for both triathlon and road cycling along with the unique rail design of the Cobb Cycling Gen 2.

The Rest of the Story: Unique Rail Design.

The rails, the two bars under your saddle that the seatpost clamps onto, are one of the most often ignored saddle design areas. Saddle rails act like leaf springs to absorb road shock. The deeper and longer the rails, the better the shock absorption. The rail depth on the Cobb Cycling Gen 2 is among the greatest of any performance saddle in the industry. This provides better shock absorption and vibration reduction than lower profile saddle rails. The benefit of the deep rails is immediately noticeable and especially nice on bad roads.

The additional depth of the rails on the Cobb Cycling Gen 2 provides exceptional shock absorption and ride quality, and innovative approach to improving saddle performance.

Cobb Cycling does well to attach a sticker to the Gen 2 saddle reminding you to measure your saddle height carefully before installing the Gen 2 since these rails are much deeper than most other saddles. The total depth of this saddle is approximately 7 cm or 70 millimeters (2.75 inches). If you were to remove your old saddle and install a Cobb Cycling Gen 2 you would inadvertently raise your saddle height since this saddle has greater distance from the bottom of the rails to the top of the saddle. If you own a bike with the seatpost lowered mostly into the seat tube of your frame you may find the Cobb Cycling Gen 2 is too deep for you. This will mostly be the case if a bike frame size is too large for a rider. The overwhelming majority of riders will have more than enough seatpost showing to use the Cobb Saddle easily.

Be sure to measure your overall saddle height before mounting the Cobb Cycling Gen 2 since the extra rail height on the Gen 2 means you'll have to slide a little more seatpost into your frame.

Cobb Cycling has also designed an integrated bottle cage and spares carrying mount sold seperately for use on the Cobb Cycling Gen 2 that bolts to the underside of the saddle using two mount points covered by a brand name plate when you buy the saddle. We haven’t seen the spare carrier but will update this review when it arrives.

The Cobb Cycling Gen 2 does feel different than previous triathlon and road saddles. It is plush and supportive, with the “plushness” coming from the deep rails, not squishy foam that wears our quickly. The profile of the saddle is superb on the nose and feels like any good Italian road saddle at the back with perhaps a little more width. This is a great choice for medium to larger riders due to the supportive rails, high quality foam and overall shape. Smaller riders will benefit from the inward contours to prevent excessive chafing. After riding the saddle the mix of subtle shape and material features, like the higher end foam- something you can’t see from the outside- and the conspicuously deeper rails make this saddle feel very different than any previous saddle design I’ve ridden. It’s wide range of adjustment and versatile design make this a good e-commerce saddle since it is so versatile.

The new Cobb Cycling Gen 2 measures approximately 70 mm in total depth, is 27 cm long and our test saddle weighed 293 grams actual measured weight.

There will never be one saddle that is perfect for every cyclist but the new Cobb Cycling Gen 2 is a significant step forward in saddle design that marries road and triathlon design requirements with unique features like the extra-deep rails for a much nicer ride. This is a new “go to” standard in saddles for the middle 80% or riders and an obvious choice for long distance riders either road or triathlon. The benefit of having one saddle to get accustomed to for both your road bike and your tri bike is worth acknowledging also.

The Cobb Cycling Gen 2 comes with a reminder sticker to measure your saddle height prior to installation so you can reduce the height of your seatpost to compensate for the extra height of the saddle. The bolted-on end plate can be removed to mount the upcoming spares/hydration rack from Cobb Cycling.

Cobb Cycling got a lot right with the Gen 2 combined road and tri saddle. It is a saddle that only Cobb Cycling could develop given John Cobb’s early work on the Adamo designs and his latter practical experience that lead to the shape, foam density and rail configuration on the Gen 2. Hopefully Cobb Cycling stocked up on the Gen 2’s. While no saddle works for everyone, the Gen 2 will work for more people than any other single saddle I’ve seen so far. That will make demand and sales brisk on this new offering from Cobb Cycling.

This view of Cobb Cycling's new Gen 2 shows its proven John Cobb triathlon position friendly nose design and a blurry impression of its road friendly rear end. The Cobb Cycling Gen 2 is an innovative design that does effective double duty as a road and triathlon saddle.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

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Altra Zero Drop Running: The Thinking Person’s Natural Shoe. https://university.trisports.com/2012/07/27/altra-zero-drop-running-the-thinking-persons-natural-shoe/ Fri, 27 Jul 2012 18:38:08 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=5712 If you've discovered you weren't "born to run" without shoes but acknowledge some benefit to a new shoe design perhaps you need a middle ground: A shoe with intelligent design and tunable benefits. For you, Altra may be worth a careful look.]]>

By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com.

The intelligent runner's natural shoe: Altra has moderated the extremes of barefoot and natural running better than anyone. The radical barefoot concept is moderated with common sense design.

A problem with shoe companies is they loose touch.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fVMI1PZj4M&list=UUNsFQ1vURrsS4QlJyAL_KTg&index=5&feature=plpp_video[/youtube]

They get too big, too detached from fitting shoes on a customer’s foot and letting them take a test run. They aren’t connected to the daily aches, pains and complaints of the average runner- and running shoe salesman.

So began Mr. Golden Harper. And Altra Shoes.

Golden Harper, founder of Altra, got his start modifying conventional running shoes to a lower or zero drop configuration for his retail customers. Harper's Altra shoes are the result.

Harper was a running shoe salesman who began modifying shoes for his customers by removing midsole material to reduce the differential between the toe and heel of the shoe, the dimension referred to as “drop”. He carved out thick padding and EVA wedges and re-glued outsoles. He often melted shoes by accident in an oven when attempting to re-bond them. His re-engineering of shoes became so popular he was inspired to start a separate company that made low-drop shoes. Altra Running was born.

Harper’s motive to reduce drop or heel-toe differential is founded in principles of improving and injury proofing runners. By leveling heel and toe height the muscles and connective tissues in the back of the leg adapt to a longer range of motion, thus reducing the chances for overuse injury. Since the heel does not protrude during the pre-footstrike phase of the gait, it is less likely the runner will develop a heel-first, “heel strike” style gait. The heel striking gait exerts a “braking” effect on the running stride and results in deceleration. The thesis for low drop running is higher drop shoes cause your heel to hit harder slowing you down and improving your chances of an injury.

Altra shoe designs aren’t an ebbing trend. They are common logic.

But before you equate Harper’s shoes with the “Born to Run”, “barefoot”, Vibram Five Finger and Tarahumara native culture running craze let me stop you: This isn’t that. It isn’t an ebbing trend driven by a New York Times bestseller and backed up by zany looking toe shoes. It is valid design. It is common logic. Most significantly, given the trajectory of Altra Shoes, this shoe design would have been created by Golden Harper in a vacuum. These shoes didn’t come from the “Born to Run” craze. They came from street level experience with the average running shoe buying public at the retail level. Because of this Altra shoes strike a balance between traditional and minimal running.

A conventional running shoe on the left, next to an Altra. Notice the broad toe box and blunt front of the shoe. (Right) My test shoes and my feet. The larger volume forefoot enables the toes to move into the position mandated by load and gravity. It is also noticeably comfortable and blister free.

Altra Running shoes were preceded by similar thinking well before the barefoot craze in 1970 by Danish shoe designer Anna Kalso, the designer of the once popular “Earth Shoe”. Kalso’s designs were an early “viral” phenomenon that trended prior to the Internet. The idea was similar to Harper’s concept of allowing the foot to perform naturally. While Earth Shoes actually had “reverse drop” (heelwas lower than toe) the primary correlation between the Kalso Earth Shoe and the Harper Altra is the shape of the toe box.

The Earth Shoe was an early footwear design that incorporated negative heel height (lower than toes) with a blunt, large volume toe box to facilitate better posture and gait.

Whether by evolution or fashion running shoe toe boxes have trended to the more pointed shapes. Altra’s designs are blunt. The wider toe box is noticeably more… “airy”. Your toes feel unrestricted. Your feet feel cooler. Blisters and hot spots may be reduced in some runners. Perhaps most importantly, your toes are back in the active gait cycle since they can move inside the shoe, helping with guidance on push off. While running in the blunt-toed Altras I also notice shoe handling is much better. Your footwork on dodgy sections becomes more precise. Push-off is more responsive.

The transition of your foot onto and off of the running surface is smoother and less clunky becasue of the radiused edges on the outsole of some Altra designs.

That the Earth Shoe phenomenon preceded the Altra Zero Drop Running blunt toe box is significant since, in a historical sense, it validates Altra’s designs. It worked before, it works again, and Earth Shoes isn’t making performance running shoes.

The Shoes.

Altra Zero Drop Footwear make ten styles across two genders, five each female and male. For the past two months I’ve worn the men’s Instinct.

The Altra Instinct has become a training and everyday shoe for me. Since wearing a Zero Drop shoe on a daily basis my lower leg running aches and pains have been moderated.

The Altra Instinct is available in two colorways, a light and a dark version. The Instinct features two different footbeds that provide three different proximity between foot and ground and three different levels of fit and cushion.

Altra's Instinct is their core Zero Drop trainer with some degree of cushion and support compared to a "barefoot" shoe design with no midsole.

In the two months I used (and continue to use) the Instinct I wore them differently than Altra likely intended. I wore them all the time. While there is an axiom that you don’t wear running shoes as casual shoes the Altras break that mold. The reason you shouldn’t wear conventional, high drop running shoes as casual shoes is because of the cushioning, drop and lack of stability. It isn’t “natural”.  The reason Altra is well suited for an everyday casual shoe is because they have no drop. They help “injury” proof you even if you choose to do most of your running in traditional geometry running shoes. I’m convinced the Altra Instincts helps moderate lower leg and foot discomfort I was experiencing from higher mileage running and frequently changing shoes. I think they made my lower leg and feet stronger.

Altra Instincts come with a cushioned, concave "support" footbed and a flat, minimalist foam strengthen footbed. The shoe can also be worn without a footbed resulting in increased volume.

Altra’s trail shoe, the Lone Peak, adds features to improve traction and durability on trails. Trail shoes break into two broad sub-categories that include built-up “light hikers” like many Salomon and The North Face styles and real-world trail running shoes made to work for runners training on trails. The Altra Lone Peak is the later. Every feature on the Lone Peak is “real world” trail running.

The Lone Peak is a purpose-built trail runner with features like a no-clog sole design, rock strike armor and rear skid brake. The Altra upper shape is particularly well suited for trail use.

Starting with the sole the Lone Peak uses a widely spaced lug pattern that doesn’t trap debris and has crampon-like grip on ascent and descent. Combine that sole grip with the great handling of the snub-nose Altra design and this is an easy shoe to run sketchy trails on. Altra added a skid brake to the heel of the shoe, a flap of carbon rubber called the “Trail Rudder” that helps prevent your feet from going out from under you when scrambling down sketchy descents. The sides of the shoe wear a textured polymer armor plating to protect against rock strikes and even add traction with really off-angle foot plants, like a rock climbing shoe.

The outsole on the Altra Lone Peak is not radius-ed like the pavement friendly Altra instinct. It’s a more conventional outsold profile. It may be interesting to see a radiused outsole version but, it may also destabilize the currently functional outsole design with its grippy, square edges.

Altra's Lone Peak is a functional design for trail running with widely spaced sole lugs that grip but don't clog, external armor and the unusual skid brake heel protrusion to prevent heel slipping on descents.

When I wore the Lone peak the first thing I thought of was the ultra-distance and adventure races I’ve done; Raid Gauloisies Vietnam, Discovery Channel Eco-Challenge, Marathon des Sables, Jordan Desert Cup and Antarctic Marathon. This shoe would have eliminated foot problems during each of those events and improved comfort. An bane of ultra-distance races in extreme heat is foot swelling and toenail loss. This shoe design would minimize both with adequate room for the foot to inflame and the blunt toe box to prevent toenail loss. If you are an ultra runner or serious trail runner I recommend a review of the Altra Lone Peak of your own.

Even in broken scree and loose rock the Lone Peak handled well under foot with great control, climbing, braking and no toe-bang.

While Altra started as a running solution my two month review of the shoes suggests their utility may extend beyond just running. These are valid running shoes, but their unique value may extend to a therapeutic benefit from wearing them all the time and allowing the lower leg to adapt to a more natural foot interaction with the ground, potentially injury-proofing you for other shoes.

If you’re looking for that next big thing that will “fix” your running, make you injury proof, help you lose weight and become a better runner Altra doesn’t claim that, at least not entirely. I’ll reinforce that, after 2 months in the shoes, they won’t do that. No single shoe will. It’s not as easy as a magic pair of shoes. But the Altra Zero Drop Running shoes are different enough to exert an effect on your lower leg training, and I’ll suggest that effect is likely a benefit.

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Ironman Perform, Restore and PowerBar Performance Bar. https://university.trisports.com/2012/07/10/ironman-perform-restore-and-powerbar-performance-bar/ Tue, 10 Jul 2012 16:37:14 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=5556 When you go long nutrition can become your Achillies Heel. What should you eat? Drink? Will your stomach tolerate it? PowerBar's Ironman Perform and Performance Bar are two products to consider when going long: It's what's on the course. ]]>

By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com

Ironman Perform by PowerBar is on the course in North American Ironman events and is supported by Ironman Restore recovery drink and the PowerBar Performance energy bar, the classic energy bar that started the category.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sC8Nen9wbX4&list=UUNsFQ1vURrsS4QlJyAL_KTg&index=8&feature=plpp_video[/youtube]

Long distance triathlon breaks into four events; Swim, bike, run and race nutrition. It’s usually the last event that sabotages race plans.

Gastric distress is so common in long distance events from the 70.3 to 140.6 Ironman distance that it may be the second largest limiting factor after inadequate training. In reality those two deficiencies are related. If an athlete did adequate mileage and used the same endurance nutrition products in training as they did in racing their limitations from those factors would be reduced. They would have a better race day.

An important part of a training plan, especially for long distance triathlons like 70.3 and 140.6 Ironman distance is rehearsing your race nutrition plan and getting acclimatedto the nutritional products that will be available on the course in the event. PowerBar’s Ironman Perform is the official sports drink of Ironman 2012 and will be on the course in global Ironman and Ironman 70.3 Series events in North America. Ironman Perform will also be on the course in the Ford Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii this October. Since PowerBar has done substantial research and development in sports nutritionals and virtually invented the sports bar category it’s worth evaluating their products well before race day and becoming familiar with how they work for you.

PowerBar's Ironman Perform was used on the course at Ford Ironman Arizona by thousands of athletes in rising heat and wind with overall excellent results. It makes sense to learn to use what is on the course to keep your bike light and aerodynamic.

Another certainty is that, no matter what nutritional product is offered in aid stations at a given event, some athletes will want something else. In the back to the middle of the pack it is common to see “custom” nutritional strategies that are seemingly as well researched as they are well intentioned. That gastric distress is still such a common limiter even with so many “custom” nutrition plans seems unusual. It’s worth considering that, no matter how diligent your research about endurance nutrition is, PowerBar has done more research and development with their products.

It makes sense to learn to use what is served on the course as race nutrition. There are three compelling reasons to use what is on the course: 1. It’s been developed and tested by a leading sports nutrition brand. You probably can’t do better on your own. 2. It’s convenient. You don’t have to carry extra weight on the bike. You use the aid stations and keep your bike light and aerodynamic. 3. You paid for it in your race entry fee, you may as well use it.

Three Reasons to use the aid stations: 1. It’s been tested. 2. You don’t have to carry it. 3. You paid for it.

PowerBar’s Ironman Perform uses the C2MAX Blend, a 2:1 ratio of glucose and fructose. PowerBar asserts this combination of glucose and fructose speeds the absorption of carbohydrates and reduces bloating and gastro-intestinal distress. You absorb calories faster and with less chance of gastric distress. PowerBar claims an 8% better rate of absorption than regular glucose based calorie sources with their combined C2MAX blend. Additionally, this mixture is potentially more versatile across wide temperature ranges that can influence the rate fo fluid absorption. When you consider an event like Ford Ironman Wisconsin has been held in high humidity and temperatures in the high 80’s, but also been held when the temperature was in the high 50’s and it rained consistently, the importance of a temperature adaptable sports drink is significant. The PowerBar C2MAX 2:1 glucose/fructose carbohydrate blend is available in PowerBar Performance Bars, PowerBar Ironman Perform, PowerBar Energy Bites and Blasts and PowerBar Energy Gel.

If you paid for a lightweight bicycle with a carefully designed, aerodynamic frameset it doesn't make sense to tape gels and hang bags on your frame to carry nutrition. It is better to acclimate to what is in the aid stations on race day. With PowerBar's C2MAX formula it is easy to get the fluid, electrolytes and calories you need without carrying extra weight at Ironman events.

A key feature to PowerBar’s Ironman Perform is either no or easy acclimation to the product. While reaction to flavor and taste is individual at first, key factors to remember with endurance nutrition are: Products taste differently in a race environment than in a casual trial setting. Because changes in temperature and your level of fatigue affect how you perceive taste letting taste dictate your nutritional strategy is a short sighted agenda. Almost everything will either loose taste or not taste optimal in the 10th hour of a 13 hour Ironman when it is at atmospheric temperature, served from a plastic container and you are extremely fatigued.

PowerBar Ironman Perform is lemon-lime flavored and highly flavor-tolerable. Another advantage is that, at most events, the product is served from a pre-mix container. This means consistent concentrations throughout the day. It’s also faster to simply grab a bottle of pre-mixed drink in an aid station and either drink it from that pre-mixed bottle, which fits a standard bottle cage, or empty the contents into your own handlebar mounted drink system such as TorHans and discard the empty in the aid station where you are allowed to deposit trash.

Pre-mixed PowerBar Ironman Perform in the Lemon-Lime flavor is handed up at this aid station at Ford Ironman Arizona as the official drink on the course.

PowerBar Performance: The Original PowerBar, Still one of the Best.

Another PowerBar product used on the course of Ironman events is the Powerbar Performance energy bar. You could call this the original energy bar, the product that started a category. The original PowerBar packs 230 calories with the C2MAX caloric energy mix and 200 mg of sodium along with 8 grams of protein to help stave off hunger.

A key feature of the PowerBar Performance bar from its introduction has been solubility. While the formula for the bar has evolved from the original version it is still more easily dissolved and digested than many competing energy bars.

I’ve used the PowerBar Performance energy bar since it was introduced in its original formula and flavors years ago. Since the bar is dense and chewy it requires water to speed digestion. It is also calorically dense and seems to provide a steady level of blood sugar over time for me. Some users suggest it is hard to chew, especially on the run. PowerBar Energy Gels, also with the C2MAX  formula, may be a better solution if you find the PowerBar Performance energy bar too solid in some situations but each gel only contains 110 calories as opposed to the 230 calories in the PowerBar Performance energy bar.  It’s easier to eat solid food bars on the bike, so I like to use PowerBar Performance bars during the bike leg of a long race.

While not at all scientific, this casual example of how competing energy bars dissolve in water over time suggests the PowerBar Performance bar (top bar in this series) breaks down more quickly in fluid. This suggests it may be easier to digest during an event.

PowerBar Ironman Restore: Recovery Nutrition for After the Event.

Most endurance athletes are familiar with the “glycogen window”, the critical 30 minutes following training and racing where getting calories into your system greatly facilitates recovery and the training effect. PowerBar Ironman Restore drink is specifically formulated as an after- exercise recovery drink with a different formulation to speed absorption and recovery. Ironman Restore is slightly more calorically dense than Ironman Perform and contains more sodium. There are 90 calories per serving in Ironman Restore compared to 70 calories in Ironman Perform. Restore also has more sodium, 250 mg. per serving compared to 190 mg for Ironman Perform. Restore contains 3 grams of protein per 1 scoop serving while PowerBar Ironman Perform has no protein. There is a small difference in carbohydrate concentration with Restore having 20 grams of carbohydrate and Perform carrying 17 grams of carbohydrate per scoop. finally, the caloric concentration in Restore is higher to facilitate recovery, with 1 scoop of Restore carrying 90 calories and 1 scoop of Perform delivering 70 calories. Restore is available in Orange flavor.

It’s unlikely one nutritional product brand will ever be agreed on by all endurance athletes as the de facto“best” but the dedication, history, development and availability of PowerBar Ironman Perform, Restore and the PowerBar Performance Bar mean its important to be familiar with them especially if you are doing events where they are served from the aid stations. I’ve used the products long enough in training and racing to suggest they are among the very best nutritional options.

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]]> Honey Stinger Waffles. https://university.trisports.com/2012/06/25/honey-stinger-waffles/ Mon, 25 Jun 2012 22:29:07 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=5430 Born as the "Stroopwafel" in the Dutch city of Gouda, this confection is old school sports nutrition used by top pro cyclists in the classics for decades. See why this old world confection makes new age sports nutrition sense. ]]>

By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com.

The Honey Stinger Waffle is palatable, easy to carry, functional and proven sports nutrition used for decades by top pro cyclists.

Amino acids, polycose glucose polymers, balanced electrolytes… The chemistry project of modern endurance nutrition often loses sight that athletes need two things, fluid and calories, and they need them fast. Race and training food needs to be palatable when eaten warm out of a jersey pocket four hours into a five hour ride. It needs to be packed with calories for quick absorption and no stomach upset. Cyclists learned this in the 1920’s and during the post war era before there was a category called “sports nutrition”.

The Honey Stinger Waffle, an adapted version of the stroopwafel, has a flavored filling like this chocolate flavored version.

Riders in the early Tours de France would carry small meat sandwichs with cheese and miniature casks of wine to sustain themselves during mountain stages that were often over 200 miles long. Famous photos show cyclists using tobacco cigarettes to “open their lungs” for better breathing and ingesting strong espresso coffee as a stimulant on the bike. As recently as the iconic Eddy Borysewicz book of the 1980’s, Bicycle Road Racing, the famous author/Olympic coach told cyclists in time trials to carry a “small flask of coffee” to drink at the turnaround of a 40 kilometer time trial.

Sports nutrition has come a long way but one pleasant confection invented before the sport of bicycle racing and triathlons continues to compare well against the most recent, advanced sports nutritionals; the “Stroopwafel”.

The "stroopwafel" or "siroopwafel" was born in the Dutch city of Gouda and remains a popular confection there where the waffle sections are pressed in hot irons before lamination with their fillings.

I discovered stroopwafels in the Belgian city of Liberchies where I lived while racing on the amateur Nike/Velo-News/Gatorade cycling team. The stroopwafel was a staple of the endurance cycling diet. It packs dense and readily available simple carbohydrates in an easy to carry format that survives in a jersey pocket on freezing, rainy days as well as boiling hot summer afternoons. Stroopwafels were packed in mussette bags handed up to us a few hours into a race over the Belgian Ardennes or the Dutch lowlands. It was common for a rider to grab the Stroopwafels from their mussette and discard the rest to fans at the side of the road. We knew the stroopwafels worked. A few stroopwafels and a “bidon” or water bottle of strong, sweet tea was all we needed for the next 100 kilometers.

Traditional stroopwafels are often sold in northern Europe as gifts in souvenir decanters with intricate embellishment particular to the region they were made in.

That the stroopwafel never made the leap from boutique patisseries or pastry shops in the U.S. to the cycling and endurance sports market was largely a matter of communication than practicality. That, and a U.S. propensity to make sports nutrition more of a science project with gels and bars and powders, kept the stroopwafel in the confection category and out of the “sports nutrition” category. Lance Armstrong is largely responsible for changing that.

Armstrong grabs a musette bag in a feed zone. Armstrong introduced the stroopwafel to Honey Stinger and assisted in improving packaging, contents and portioning for the U.S. endurance sports market.

Armstrong recognized the utility of the stroopwafel within the U.S. cycling and endurance sports nutrition industry and spearheaded the effort to market a stroopwafel product to the U.S. endurance sports market. The Honey Stinger Waffle is a hybrid of the original European stroopwafel and shows Armstrong’s obsessive attention to detail. The waffles are individually wrapped to fit preciously in a jersey pocket. The Honey Stinger Waffle is USDA certified “Organic”. Even the package is engineered to be opened easily with one hand (and your teeth) quickly on the bike.

The Numbers:

The Honey Stinger Waffle is about 83 millimeters in diameter, a size that is common with the top of most coffee cups. For pre and apres cycling nutrition the waffle can be placed over a common diameter tea or coffee mug where the vapour from the warm drink melts the flavored filling turning this practical sports nutritional into a luxurious confection. The package fits jersey pockets easily and lays flat so you can carry up to a half dozen waffles easily in a jersey pocket.

Honey Stinger Waffles actually compare well to gels as an on-the-bike calorie source. The package is lighter and more calorie dense than many popular energy gels.

A Valid “Punch” of Quick Calories: Even Better Than Gels.

A Honey Stinger Waffle packs an impressive 160 calories of energy into an easy to carry and light weight 28 gram packet. Compared to a common/popular energy gel that is 48% more calories in a package that is 18% lighter weight than gel. A Honey Stinger Waffle packs 5.7 calories per gram of weight into its package while a common energy gel only has 2.9 calories per gram of weight.

The Honey Stinger Waffle retains the size to fit over most coffee and tea cups so the filling can heat over the warm vapour. The Honey Stinger Waffle is lighter weight than most gels but packs more calories making it an efficient energy source.

The original stroopwafels we used in Europe were wrapped in foil by our soigneurs when the mussette bags were prepared for racing or training days. The Honey Stinger Waffle is a more convenient adaptation with better packaging and more stringent control on ingredients that complies with the “organic” standards of the USDA. The Honey Stinger Waffle is sold in five flavors; Lemon, Honey, Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry. While the other flavors including the new chocolate are excellent, its hard to get past the delightful taste of the original organic Honey flavor. Honey Stinger is known for their organic Honey energy gel and their new waffles are a welcomed addition to their organic sports nutrition line up. These waffles are also a pleasant break from gels and bars. They pack valid sports nutrition into a confection that even goes well with ice cream. When was the last time you ate energy gel with vanilla ice cream?

Euro-man Hans Whitefield (left) and Marty Mares rave about the new Honey Stinger Chocolate waffle in the Winter Training Capital.

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