Cycling – TriSports University https://university.trisports.com The place to learn about triathlon. Mon, 06 Apr 2020 16:25:11 +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 Cycling – TriSports University https://university.trisports.com 32 32 A Beginner’s Guide To Power Meters For Cyclists & Triathletes https://university.trisports.com/2020/03/28/beginners-guide-power-meters-for-triathletes/ https://university.trisports.com/2020/03/28/beginners-guide-power-meters-for-triathletes/#respond Sat, 28 Mar 2020 17:57:19 +0000 https://university.trisports.com/?p=9004 triathletes installs power meter pedals on bicycleIf you are looking to get an edge in your training on the bike this season, buying a power meter is the single best investment you can make. But this doesn’t come without its own learning curve. Whether you are looking to interpret all the lingo that comes with your new power meter or just trying to decide if shelling out the cash for one is a good decision—you’ve come to the right place. ]]> triathletes installs power meter pedals on bicycle

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

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

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

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

What A Power Meter Is

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

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

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

📷: Castelli

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

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

Where Power Meters Are Placed

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

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

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

📷: gentauchi

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

📷: Stages Cycling

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

📷: Quarq

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

Why You Should Train With A Power Meter

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

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

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

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

📷: Quarq

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

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

How To Get The Most Out Of A Power Meter

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

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

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

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

📷: Zwift

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Storz Expressway

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

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

Mormon Bridge and the Missouri River

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

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

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

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

Get ready to climb

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

Pancake flat roads for a bit

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

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

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

View from the top overlooking downtown Omaha

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

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

Storz Expressway and Omaha Tower

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

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

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The Time Crunched Cyclist, Race-Winning Fitness in 6 Hours a Week https://university.trisports.com/2017/07/28/the-time-crunched-cyclist-race-winning-fitness-in-6-hours-a-week/ Fri, 28 Jul 2017 22:55:54 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8552 When the folks at TriSports University asked me to review The Time Crunched Cyclist, I thought, “Sure thing. I’ve read some of Chris Carmichael’s other books and trained using his Carmichael Training System (CTS) DVDs. Plus I’m retired—I have all kinds of time.” Carmichael says it himself early in the book: inasmuch as we’re all […]]]>

The Time-Crunched Cyclist by Chris Carmichael and Jim Rutberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Retail Manager Jason Whittaker enjoying his lunch break read.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Training and Racing Effectively When the Heat Hits https://university.trisports.com/2017/07/14/training-and-racing-effectively-when-the-heat-hits/ Fri, 14 Jul 2017 23:34:32 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8489 Professional Triathlete Jesse Vondracek  shares his training and racing tips on how to acclimate to the heat and when to take it indoors. Given that my Facebook feed consists of posts lamenting 107 degree temps, it’s safe to say that summer is in full swing in Tucson and most of the United States. Heat is […]]]>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have fun, stay cool, and stay hydrated!

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Bibliography:

Zhao, Jiexiu Effects of heat and different humidity levels on aerobic and aerobic exercise performance in athletes. May 24, 2013. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1728869X13000087

Jeukendrup, Asker. Dehydration and its effects on performance. 2010. http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/dehydration-and-its-effects-on-performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pros:

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

Cons

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

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

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

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

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

Written by James Haycraft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Master the Climb: Cycling Tips to Climb Better, Easier, and Faster https://university.trisports.com/2017/02/05/master-the-climb-cycling-tips-to-climb-better-easier-and-faster/ Mon, 06 Feb 2017 03:56:06 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=7967 Written by Dawn English, OutRival Racing Premier LII Coach When you climb on your bike you cannot escape! Walking your bike is certainly no fun, plus it is difficult to get going again. What can you do to climb your best? Know Thy Gears Go through all of your gears, feel comfortable using all of […]]]>

Written by Dawn English, OutRival Racing Premier LII Coach

When you climb on your bike you cannot escape! Walking your bike is certainly no fun, plus it is difficult to get going again. What can you do to climb your best?

Know Thy Gears
Go through all of your gears, feel comfortable using all of them on a flat road and a climb. Often, athletes get comfortable only using a few gears, but not being able to smoothly change gears. Only shift one gear at a time.

Anticipate
At the base of the climb change into a lower a gear one by one until you find a gear that you can pedal with some pressure and stay smooth.

Body Position
Shift your hips to the back of the saddle and make sure to drive your heels down on the downstroke. Doing this will engage your hamstrings and glutes, the biggest muscles in your body. Make sure to have your torso and upper body relaxed and open. Remember to also keep your hands relaxed. Tension in your upper body translates to tension in your pedal stroke that will decrease your efficiency, power and speed.

Don’t Completely Stop at the Top
Congratulations, you made it to the top of the climb! Do not stop pedaling. Just as you did at the base of the climb, gradually decrease your gears to one where you can pedal at a steady cadence with control.

Cadence
Cadence, or RPMs, refers to the revolutions per minute of your pedal stroke. Much debate has taken place regarding cadence for triathletes. Most research done on the subject has been taken from professional cyclists. But, even among professional cyclists the ones at the top seem to ride at a higher cadence than those in the middle of the field. This could be because faster riders have a more efficient pedal stroke and can ride in a bigger gear. But, pedaling around 80 rpms, even on a climb is often preferred and is a good place to start. In the study, Effect of Cycling Position on Oxygen Uptake and Preferred Cadence in Trained Cyclists During Hill Climbing at Various Power Outputs by Chris Harnish, Deborah King & Tom Swensen found: “Collectively, our data show that the trained cyclists preferred a relatively high cadence of 80 rpm during seated climbing on a moderate grade at power outputs greater than 65% of PPO (Peak Power Output).”

Gaining Power and Losing Some Extra Baggage
How much power you can produce relative to your weight makes a big difference in your ability to climb. Take your body weight and divide by 2.2 to convert your weight to kilograms. Then, take your 20 minute TT average power and divide the kg number into the wattage number. The bigger this number, the more power per kilogram you produce. To give you an idea, a 130 pound female that rides 180 watts for a 20 minute TT churns out 3.05 watts per kilogram. A 190 pound male that rides 220 watts for a 20 minute TT churns out 2.64 watts per kilogram. Guess who wins up the mountain? You got it…the 130 pound woman. Increasing your power output and/or losing a little weight can make the hills come and go faster.

Body Position
Shift your hips to the back of the saddle and make sure to drive your heels down on the downstroke. Doing this will engage your hamstrings and glutes, the biggest muscles in your body.  Your waist to the top of the your head should be relaxed and open. Keep your hands gently holding your handlebars. Tension in your upper body translates to tension in your pedal stroke that will decrease your efficiency, power and speed.

Don’t Stop at the Top
Congratulations, you made it to the top of the climb! Do not stop pedaling. Just as you did at the base of the climb, gradually decrease your gears to one where you can pedal at a steady cadence with control.

Training Tips
Make Hills

  • If you do not live where you have mountains, consider alternatives such as parking garage ramps, course simulation programs or even the occasional spin bike at the gym.
  • To make up for a lack of big climbs, take whatever small hills you have in a bigger gear that you would normally to simulate steeper climbs.

Get Hill-Ready Workout
Here’s a workout to get you hill-ready, perform this workout 1x a week and add additional sets as you get stronger.  Complete this on a trainer or find a climb on the road of similar length.

Warm up
15 minutes of steady …warm up with single leg drills and get a little sweat going

Main Set
Repeat this 2-3 times:

  • 5 minute hill climb, keeping effort at 70%-75%, up your gear at 2.5 minutes and then go all out, out of the saddle for the final 30 seconds
  • Recover for 4 minutes
  • 10 minutes increasing effort from 70%-80%, with 3 gear increases (change every three minutes), go hard for the final minute out of the saddle
  • Recover for 5 minutes

Cool down
Cool down well and stretch out

About the Author: Dawn English is a coach with OutRival Racing and has been a triathlete since 1999. Dawn is a regular podium visitor as an Ironman Age Group Athlete, a USAT All American, and juggler of family and life.

 

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A Beginner’s Guide to Bike Tires https://university.trisports.com/2017/01/27/a-beginners-guide-to-bike-tires/ Fri, 27 Jan 2017 22:28:58 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=7941 Written by Nate Deck, Field Test Expert and TriSports Ambassador Team Athlete As with so many pieces of equipment, triathletes are always looking for the option that will get them from Point-A to Point-B as quickly as possible. Bike tires are no different, but there tends to be a bit more confusion surrounding tires as […]]]>

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

As with so many pieces of equipment, triathletes are always looking for the option that will get them from Point-A to Point-B as quickly as possible. Bike tires are no different, but there tends to be a bit more confusion surrounding tires as there are so many variables that can go into tire selection. Just because Tire-A costs twice as much as Tire-B doesn’t mean that it is faster, and in fact, it may be slower. This guide will help walk you through finding the best tire for you and your ride, but first, we need a little background to get started!

History of the Tire
Originally, bike tires were actually not tires at all. Bike wheels were actually wooden and held together by iron rims similar to the wheels seen on wagons and stage coaches (Herlihy, 2004). Obviously, these did not give a very smooth ride, so riders began adding their own types of rubber coating to the wheels in an attempt to soften the bumps in the road (Hadland and Lessing, 2014). Eventually, in the late 1800’s, a man named John Dunlop realized that an even smoother ride could be achieved by filling the rubber tire with air. This became known as the “pneumatic tyre.” Édouard Michelin then further evolved this concept shortly before the turn of the century by creating the first detachable tire with an inner tube which held the air and could be replaced in the event of a flat tire (Herlihy, 2004).

While the bike tire has evolved immensely since the late 1800’s, the idea is basically the same. Today there are three main types of tires in use, and that is where we will start our journey to find your the perfect tire!

Types of Tires

Clincher
The first, and most popular tires on the market today are clinchers. These tires clamp to the rim of the wheel by a lip on the edge of the tire that corresponds to a lip on the edge of the wheel. These tires require a separate inner tube to hold air in the tire as well as provide the pressure to keep the tire on the rim.

Tubeless
The next tire is the tubeless tire. These are in many ways identical to the clincher except, as the name implies, without the inner tube. Many clinchers are also labeled “tubeless ready,” meaning they can be used either with or without an inner tube.

Tubular
The final type of tire is the tubular tire. These tires were once the only type of tire professional racers would use, but as technology has improved, many racers are now switching over to clinchers for convenience and ease of use. These tires have the inner tube sewn into outer rubber of the tire which allows less material to be used which makes them roll faster. These tires must be glued on to the rim of the wheel which makes changing a flat tire more difficult, not to mention the fact that you must change the whole tire because the inner tube cannot be removed.

So which tire do you need? It depends on what type of wheel you have. If you don’t know, it is usually marked on the side of the tire, or you can check the manufacturer’s website. If all else fails, you can just try to remove the current tire you have. If there is no lip on the rim and it is glued on, you have a tubular. If there is no inner tube, you have a tubeless. If there is an inner tube, you have a clincher.

Things to Consider
There are many variables to consider, and some that are unique to each type of tire. So now that you know what you need, let’s dive in and sort out all the details.

Size
There are two main measurements that determine tire size. The first is diameter, which is determined completely by the size wheel you have. The second is width, which is variable based on the size of your wheel and our personal preference. The most common size of road bike wheel is 700c (we won’t go into mountain bike wheels since this is focused on triathletes… sorry Xterra racers-we’ll cover that in another article). Unless you have a very small bike, in which case you may have 650c wheels, you most likely have 700c wheels.

The next measurement, the width, can vary a bit and it depends on your personal preference. Most bikes come with 23mm tires from the store, but the current trend is to ride 25mm tires due to the fact that they roll faster at the same pressure and do a better job at dampening the bumps in the road. You can get tires as small as 21mm and as big as 28mm, but 23 and 25 are the most common. Most wheels will be able to handle any of these sizes, but your frame may cause some issues. Again, check your manufacturer’s website to see if there is enough room if you want to use one of the larger sizes. Usually 25mm will be alright, but not all bikes can handle 28mm tires!

Tread
The next thing to look at is the type of tread you want. There are an infinite amount of tread patterns available so I’ll only cover the basics here. The first are slicks. They are totally smooth and have no tread whatsoever. These are great for race day in dry conditions, but they will lose traction quickly when a little water is present. A great example of this tire is the Vittoria Corsa Speed.

The next are all around tires and usually have a slick center with a bit of tread at the edge of the tire. These will allow you to have the speed of the slicks when you are going straight, and added traction for turns. There are multiple race tires that employ this tread for extra traction and avoiding having to use different tires on race day. A great example of these tires are the Vittoria Rubino Pro or Continental Grand Prix 4000.

The last are every day or commuter tires. They will generally have tread all over for use in any condition. These are great for training tires or to put on your commuter bike. A great example of these would be the Continental Grand Prix 4-season or Vittoria Rubino Pro Endurance.

Threads Per Inch (TPI) and Tire Construction
Another thing to look at in tires is the threads per inch (or TPI) and the tire construction. In the description of most tires you will find information about what goes into the various layers of a tire. Things like kevlar will help resist punctures but will also add to the weight of a tire. Special rubber compounds on the tread will help with grip on the road. Look for information like this that aligns with what you want in a tire.

There will also be a line about the TPI. This indicated the number of strands of nylon or other material that are running through your tire. A higher TPI tire will be more soft and therefore will roll faster. It will also be lighter since there is less rubber needed to help the tire together. A lower TPI tire will be more durable over many miles of riding, but it will also be heavier and slower rolling due to being stiffer. Again, it all depends on your needs. A higher TPI is better for racing and speed. A lower TPI is good for training and commuting.

Special Needs
There are a few things to consider depending on whether you are getting a clincher, tubular, or tubeless tire. When buying a clincher, you may see a folding tire or a wire bead tire. Folding tires are shipped folded up in a box and are generally lighter. A wire bead tire will be sold to you already in a round shape because of the wire running around the lip of the tire. There is really no reason not to go with a folding tire as they are lighter and don’t cost much more than a comparable tire.

Another thing to consider with a clincher is the inner tube you are using. Make sure you pick up a few extra for flats that may come your way. For more info on inner tubes, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Bike Tubes!

If you are buying a tubeless tire, make sure to pick up a tubeless stem to inflate the tire as well as some sealant to get it all rolling. Similarly, if you are buying a tubular tire you will need some tire glue or gluing tape to get the tire installed to your rim. You may also want a shop to install them for you if it is your first time, but ask if you can watch so you know how to change your tire in the event of a flat. Nothing is worse than being stuck on the side of a road with a flat and no idea how to change it!

Conclusion
Hopefully you are prepared to walk through the process and pick a tire that best suits your needs. Don’t be afraid to try out a few and see which ones work best for you!

 

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

Bibliography
Hadland, Tony and Lessing, Hans-Erhard (2014). Bicycle Design, An Illustrated History. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-02675-8.

Herlihy, David V. (2004). Bicycle, The History. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10418-9.

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New Challenges to Avoid Burnout! https://university.trisports.com/2017/01/19/new-challenges-to-avoid-burnout/ Thu, 19 Jan 2017 20:23:43 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=7929 Written by Keri Ouellete, TriSports Ambassador Athlete One of my favorite aspects of triathlon is that, in training for three sports, I rarely get bored. However, in my sixth season of triathlon training, I’m feeling less excited than I was last year about those same trainer sessions, speed workouts and more laps at the pool. […]]]>

Written by Keri Ouellete, TriSports Ambassador Athlete

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One of my favorite aspects of triathlon is that, in training for three sports, I rarely get bored. However, in my sixth season of triathlon training, I’m feeling less excited than I was last year about those same trainer sessions, speed workouts and more laps at the pool. If you’re feeling the same way, here are a few ideas to mix up your training and racing schedule with some new adventures and challenges.

Single Sport Events
Just one sport? Sounds boring, right? Not necessarily. Doing a single sport race is a great way to improve your skills in one discipline and is more fun than simply adding more bike or running mileage or time in the pool. Need to work on cycling endurance? Sign up for a century ride or Gran Fondo. This is an opportunity to try a new route and ride with a group while learning from more experienced cyclists. Working on swim speed? Try a US Masters Swimming swim meet or open water swim race. Pool swimming can get boring, but, if you’ve never done it before, a swim meet can be an exciting challenge and an opportunity to learn from faster swimmers. Also, you won’t have to worry about getting kicked in the face during the swim start or trying to get your wetsuit off. Longer open water swimming races (5K, 10K, or even a marathon swim) will build swimming endurance and make you more comfortable with the open water.

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While training for a marathon during triathlon season might not be recommended depending on your experience and past training, racing a 5K, or other shorter distance, can be a fun way to add some speed work to your training. Look for a race with the best post-race party and/or some great scenic views. Road races are a great excuse to travel and to take a break from your usual running routes. With no bike or swim gear needed, the logistics of traveling to a running race are much easier and can make for a relaxed, but still active weekend away.

Adventure Races
Triathlon tends to draw adventurous folks who are looking to be challenged. If that’s you, and you’re feeling bored with standard format triathlon races, there is a growing variety of multisport endurance events available and new events being created every year by adventure-junkies like you.

If you like watersports but want a break from swimming, there are triathlons that exchange the swim leg for a paddle leg (kayaking, canoeing or stand-up paddle boarding). Other adventure triathlons keep the three sports but vary the order and/or terrain and may have multiple legs of each discipline.

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If you’re looking for a team-oriented event (and a more extreme challenge), adventure racing (also known as expedition racing) and SwimRun are relatively new multidisciplinary team events. SwimRun is becoming a popular sport in Europe and is now being introduced to the US with the first official SwimRun race recently held in Portland, Maine. This is not your typical aquathlon– the format involves multiple legs of open water swimming and trail running. This is a self-sufficient race, meaning you have to swim in your running shoes, run in your wetsuit and carry all of your own nutrition. To add to the fun of this race, you compete side-by-side with a partner for the duration of the course. Adventure racing (or expedition racing) involves navigating a course by mountain biking, hiking, climbing, white water paddling, skiing, or a number of other disciplines. Races typically involve teams of two to five people and can vary in length, anywhere from two hours to two weeks.

Volunteering
If a break from racing is what you’re looking for, consider volunteering. Anyone who has ever competed in a race knows that a successful race experience is contingent upon dedicated volunteers– attending to aid stations, course marshaling, wetsuit stripping, etc. There are numerous opportunities to give back to the endurance sport community by volunteering for a race or with a non-profit organization.

Race volunteering reminds us to appreciate the individuals who volunteer their time, before, during and after races, and also the race organizers who have the huge task of managing the coordination for three disciplines, thousands of athletes, volunteers and course support so that we can have a successful race experience. Experienced athletes make excellent volunteers because they understand the race logistics and are often able to provide better support to first-timers.

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Organizations like Achilles International and Girls on the Run have chapters nationwide and are always looking for new volunteers. Achilles provides a community of support for athletes with disabilities and connects volunteers with athletes who require a guide for training sessions and races. Girls on the Run is a youth program that uses running and physical activities to encourage a healthy and confident lifestyle for young girls. These are just a couple, but there are many more organizations that are doing excellent work to improve access to endurance sports and provide support for athletes of all levels and abilities, offering endless opportunities to share your love of triathlon and inspire (and be inspired by) others.

Whether it’s volunteering or trying a different multi-sport or endurance event, these are all great opportunities to grow the sport of triathlon while challenging yourself to try something new.

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

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The Most Common Strength Training Mistakes Endurance Athletes Make https://university.trisports.com/2017/01/02/the-most-common-strength-training-mistakes-endurance-athletes-make/ Mon, 02 Jan 2017 18:24:38 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=7871 Written by Danny Sawaya, StrongFirst Team Leader and NSCA CSCS As a strength coach, I can’t tell you how many times I see strength programs that are anything but strength related. There is a tendency to believe that if you have weights in your hands and are in a gym, then you are involved in […]]]>

Written by Danny Sawaya, StrongFirst Team Leader and NSCA CSCS

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As a strength coach, I can’t tell you how many times I see strength programs that are anything but strength related. There is a tendency to believe that if you have weights in your hands and are in a gym, then you are involved in a strength program. If an athlete is going to take the time to improve their strength, they want to see results. It is important that strength training results in improved strength rather than just participating in random acts of exercise. It is important to define a few terms of what strength is before moving on.

Strength: The maximal force that a muscle can generate at a specific velocity. Either you can push down on the pedal going up that big hill or you can’t.

Power: Work/Time, or the rate of doing work. Driving down on that pedal powerfully numerous times while moving up that hill = a faster uphill ride. On the other hand, moving so slowly that you feel like you’re going to fall over while pedaling up that hill because you lack power = a long day.

Below are four concepts to improve the quality and outcome of your training.

Train Less Reps on Lower Body Exercises
This sounds counter-intuitive to some people. Strength training for endurance sports should train the muscles to be more endurance based, right? No. Strength training is at the opposite end of the spectrum of endurance training. As an endurance athlete, you shouldn’t feel the need to turn your strength training sessions into more endurance training. The purpose of strength training is to be able to develop more force and power. The actual training on your bike and runs and all of the intervals you do in your sport should take care of making your legs feel like they are about to fall off at different times in your training cycle. That is not the purpose of lifting weights unless you want to be a bodybuilder.

I have researched this topic extensively and reviewed numerous strength training articles and resources for endurance athletes. Puzzlingly, many of these programs prescribe training regimens that are very similar in nature to bodybuilding, which is a sport that focuses completely on increased muscular size and development. If you look at most bodybuilding magazines, many of the programs call for 12-15 repetitions and 3-4 sets. When it becomes easy, it is time to increase the weight for the next set or next time you lift. This type of volume will put the stress on the muscle to grow structurally in size. Though I believe this is fine to develop muscle, it usually is not the goal of many endurance athletes, yet many programs recommend this. I will contradict myself and say slightly higher rep schemes are recommended for upper body work, especially back work and the pulling exercises as it does help posture and won’t cause the fatigue in the lower extremities.

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Training for strength and power has more to do with training the nervous system to signal the muscle to contract explosively. This is best accomplished by training with moderate to heavier loads and lower repetitions focusing on accelerating through the lifts rather than grinding through high repetitions. This is especially important for in-season strength training. Going to the gym to hit numerous sets of 15-20 reps of squats, leg presses, and/or lunges doesn’t add to your longevity in the sport, it just creates more wear and tear on your joints and added stress to the system. Training high reps with lighter weights won’t improve your ability to create force and power. When smashing your pedals, you need improved power and force.

Rather than doing 3 sets of 12-20 reps with lighter weight, try doing 6 sets of 3-5 sets of 5 repetitions with heavier weight focusing on moving the weight fast and explosively. You can add weight the next session if your last set was close to as explosive as your first few sets. You’ll be amazed how you feel and your run or ride performances won’t suffer. Though many people don’t know their true one rep max, finding a weight you can do maximally for 10-12 reps and focusing on doing sets of 3-5 reps is a decent starting point. Interested in the best strength movements for triathletes, read more here.

Take More Time Between Sets
When strength training is done with the appropriate weight, sets, and reps, you are utilizing your Creatine Phosphate (CP) energy system. CP is used up very quickly, but depending on the amount of weight and volume lifted, it could take anywhere between one to three minutes to fully regenerate. It’s easy to know when you are fatigued during high-rep training because you get the feedback of burning muscles from lactic acid which is a byproduct of sugar being metabolized. When CP is being utilized there is no burning muscles or heavy breathing to offer feedback. Usually the muscle just fails to lift when it is depleted. When strength training with moderate to heavier weights, it’s recommended to rest 60-90 seconds between sets. When the weight increases significantly (above 85-90% of one rep max), 2+ minutes may be needed depending on the athlete. This is usually a tough pill to swallow for athletes that are used to killing it each training session with sweat and soreness. It is crucial to stick to the goal of each training session. This means if strength is your goal, don’t get distracted by shiny new exercises or the desire to sweat a lot in the gym. The goal of strength training is to lift more weight and develop more force, period. So take your time between sets. I will reiterate here that by training in this method, you will have fresher legs for your runs and rides and will be less likely to put on large amounts of mass.

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Stop Doing HIIT Workouts in the Gym
This is probably one of the biggest mistakes I see endurance athletes make. It happens with many athletes. We tend to gravitate towards what we are comfortable with, and most competitive athletes gravitate towards intensity. Many times triathletes come to me for strength training and get a little frustrated because the session doesn’t turn into a beat down. Gym-based High Intensity Interval Training is not strength training. It is conditioning and I never recommend it for endurance athletes if they are already working a solid training program of swimming, cycling, and running. More than likely HIIT will impede seeing improvement in the sport if the athlete is already training with a solid program.

If you’re struggling to create a solid triathlon training plan, check out the product review here for Joe Friel’s special edition triathlon bible and diary set.

Sure, HIIT may be done in the off-season for fun, but many athletes I know train consistently throughout the year. Furthermore, those that choose to do HIIT with heavier weights aren’t strength training OR improving cardio. Lifting weights can increase your heart rate, but it is a different physiological response than cardio training. Lifting weights with little break and higher reps causes more fatigue rather than improving the power output of the muscle. If your sole goal is to feel devastated after a workout, HIIT is fine, but realize there isn’t carryover to becoming a better endurance athlete. Leave the gym-based HIIT workouts for the exercisers in the world and focus on training as a focused athlete.

Looking to build a better base in the off-season ? Check out 5 ways to create a winning off-season or yoga for triathletes.

Train Only 4-5 Exercises Per Training Session
Many training programs have 8-12 exercises per training session; it is no wonder why people train at such a fast pace with light weights because they would never be able to get it all done otherwise. Instead, use movements that work the entire body in a smart way rather than packing in as many exercises as possible in each training session. Here is a basic template to follow choosing one from each category per session is sufficient.

Upper Body Push:  Push-up, dumbbell incline press, or shoulder press.
Upper Body Pull: Pull-up, cable row, or dumbbell row
Lower Body Hinge: Deadlift, kettlebell swing, or single leg deadlift
Lower Body Squat:  Front squat, goblet squat, or step-up
Core: Leg drops, renegade plank, get-ups, or pallof press

If you really want to go the extra mile, add a weighted carry such as farmers walk. As you can see this would be at most six exercises, but most of the time rotating 4-5 of the above movements throughout the week is a solid plan.

To recap, strength training should focus on improving your performance and power production in your sport. Keep it simple with 4-5 exercises per session that will work your entire body. For lower body exercises start with 6 sets of 3-5 reps of a weight you can lift maximally for 10-12 reps. Focus on lifting with acceleration and avoid grinding out slow, ugly, fatiguing reps. You’ll see improved strength which won’t interfere with your multisport training blocks. For upper body movements, especially those working the upper back, 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps is recommended. Taking enough time between each set is crucial for strength gains, especially when power development is the goal. HIIT workouts and metabolic conditioning workouts in the gym don’t have a role for those focused on being a better endurance athlete. Just as your triathlon training program is thought out and planned with a purpose, so should your strength training programs. Avoid random acts of exercise if improved performance is your goal!

img_6766About the Author: Danny Sawaya CSCS, FMS is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with over 18 years of experience as trainer and strength coach. Danny owns Tucson Strength Home of Evolution Fitness, a strength and conditioning facility in Arizona. He specializes in corrective exercise, Russian Kettlebell Training, powerlifting, and strength and conditioning. Danny works with a full array of individuals, ranging from beginners to Olympians looking to improve movement and strength.

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Ceramic Bearings: Save a Watt, Spend a Lot https://university.trisports.com/2016/12/08/ceramic-bearings-save-a-watt-spend-a-lot/ Thu, 08 Dec 2016 17:55:57 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=7816 Written by Nate Deck, Field Test Expert and TriSports Ambassador Team Athlete Triathletes have various obsessions with making marginal gains. These seem to go in phases from weight and power in the off-season to aerodynamics as race day gets closer. But I’ve noticed a trend over the last few years: friction. As aero-everything becomes mainstream, […]]]>

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

aerodynamics-header

Triathletes have various obsessions with making marginal gains. These seem to go in phases from weight and power in the off-season to aerodynamics as race day gets closer. But I’ve noticed a trend over the last few years: friction. As aero-everything becomes mainstream, reducing friction has come to the forefront as the way to get a leg up on your competitor.

Take a look at pictures of the equipment the pros were running at Kona this year and you will see a trend. Hubs, bottom brackets, and derailleur pulleys were all replaced with ceramic bearings. Even chains were getting a special coating to reduce drivetrain friction.

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This may leave you wondering, should I upgrade? Or maybe you already know you want to upgrade, but don’t know where to begin. First, we need to get an understanding on what realistic gains we can expect from a ceramic upgrade.

But the manufacturer says…
I know. Manufacturers make some amazing claims about their products. So let’s start there. We need to know what makes ceramics bearing so much better than normal (steel) bearings in theory.

As a material, ceramic is better suited for bearings because it is harder than steel, and it can be made more smooth and more round than steel. Obviously a harder bearing is more durable, so it should last longer. Also, being able to produce a more perfectly round ball will help things roll faster with less effort.

You sound like you don’t believe them…
Yes and no. In theory, it all sounds like a magical component that you can swap out and immediately gain the equivalent of 10 watts. However, just because ceramic has the potential to be rounder and smoother does not mean it is by default.

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First of all, you need to understand that a bearing is not just about the little balls that help the part turn. A bearing is actually made of two rings (called races) with the ball bearings in between. The ball bearings roll and allow the inner and outer rings to turn. Some manufacturers have made a hybrid ceramic bearing with the balls being ceramic and the races being steel. This saves money, but it fails to take into account the difference in hardness of each material. The hard ceramic bearings can wear down the softer steel races more quickly than if the two were made of the same material.

The other big part of the equation is the lubrication. Steel bearings need that lubrication to keep them running smooth. For ceramics, the lubrication diminishes some of that smoothness that would be gained from a perfectly round bearing, but without it, riding in rain and mud would allow gunk to build up inside and ruin the whole thing.

OK, so has anyone actually proved these things work?
There have been some third party tests done on ceramic bearings. The most well known is the Colorado-based company Friction Facts. The biggest factor in the potential time savings on any ceramic part is its RPM’s. That means the faster a part turns, the more savings a ceramic bearing could potentially give you. That breaks down something like this:

  • Derailleur Pulleys (Approx. 0.5-2.0 watts)
  • Wheel Hubs (Approx. 0.5-1.0 watts)
  • Bottom Brackets (Approx. 0.03-0.5 watts)

For each of these parts there is a given range of potential savings that depends on what you are currently using. For example, the difference in switching your derailleur pulley from a Dura-Ace to a CeramicSpeed is 0.35 watts. Change that to an oversized pulley and you get 0.6 watts. However, if you are currently running a 105 or lower-end pulley the savings could be up to a full watt or more.

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That’s not a lot of savings
You’re right. And when you look at dollars per watt, it doesn’t look better. Best case, switching to an oversized CeramicSpeed pulley costs about $250 per watt. By comparison the average on an aero helmet over a regular one is around $10 per watt and aero wheels come in at about $150 per watt.

High performance parts for race day
On the positive side, there is a savings there! If you are trying to squeeze every last bit of savings out of your rig, this is a great new innovation that can help you. Just understand that these are special, high performance parts for one purpose: to get you from point A to point B as fast as possible on race day. These are not designed to be day in and day out parts.

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A great example of this is a response that HED wheels have on their FAQ page regarding ceramic hubs.

“Up until 2011, some of our wheels came as standard with ceramic bearings. In theory, these should offer lower rolling resistance than standard stainless bearings. However, with use in punishing conditions we were finding that the ceramic bearings were actually more susceptible to becoming contaminated. Consequently, these bearings were going “rough” far quicker than the stainless variety. When new, our ceramic bearings did offer very low rolling resistance but in use we found that this didn’t remain the case. Our high grade stainless bearings that are now available in our wheels actually offer lower rolling resistance for a longer period of time when compared to the ceramic variation due to their harder wearing nature.”

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So what should I do?
First, make sure you’ve gotten every last bit of speed you can out of your current equipment and make sure it is clean and well maintained. Check out the 5 bike repair lessons for triathletes. Like they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Next, if you’re ready to go ceramic, here’s a good place to start. Look at Ultra Fast Optimized (UFO) Chains. Friction Facts created this process to specially clean and coat a chain to reduce as much friction as possible. CeramicSpeed bought this part of the business a few years back. Again, this is not an everyday chain, but come race day, it will save you the most watts.

If your budget allows, you can look at derailleur pulleys too. You can even get CeramicSpeed’s Watt Saver Kit which comes in a variety of configurations to upgrade both your chain and derailleur. And finally, the bottom bracket to smooth out your ride.

photo-credit-jespergronnemarkphotography

Final thoughts
Going ceramic is not a cheap investment. If you, your kit and rig are already performing at your max and are still looking to save some watts, then it may be time to make the ceramic investment. Similarly to swimmers shaving their legs for race day, cyclists and triathletes can upgrade to ceramic to help juice as much watt-savings for better performances.

The bottom line is that you need to make sure that if you are going to upgrade, you need to make it count and have realistic expectations. If you do it right, you’ll be satisfied knowing you have the fastest possible rig come race day.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

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

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Product Review: NiteRider Lumina 950 Boost Bicycle Light and Sentinel 150 Tail Light https://university.trisports.com/2016/11/11/product-review-niterider-lumina-950-boost-sentinel-150/ Fri, 11 Nov 2016 19:32:27 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=7764 Written by Nate Deck, Field Test Expert and TriSports Champion Team Athlete As the days get shorter and along with it your time to train outside, you may be turning to some products to light your way as dusk settles over the roads. Training with lights on your bike is a good idea to maintain […]]]>

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

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As the days get shorter and along with it your time to train outside, you may be turning to some products to light your way as dusk settles over the roads. Training with lights on your bike is a good idea to maintain visibility at any time of day, but it becomes even more important in the fall when you may be racing the sun at the end of a workout.

When you start to look at the market for bike lights, you may be overwhelmed by the plethora of choices ranging from camera or radar enabled lights to your basic red flashing tail light. To be of any use, your lights need to bright and durable. This is where NiteRider comes into the picture.

About NiteRider
NiteRider is a family business. Tom Carroll and his wife Veronica started building lights in their dining room as a way for Tom to be able to surf the waves of Southern California after dark. Eventually, their market expanded to producing lights for a range of outdoor sports from road and mountain biking to powersports. They have been leading the way in mobile lighting technology as evidenced by their list of “firsts” they keep on their website. To better understand the level of excellence NiteRider holds to, let’s take a look at their new road cycling models for 2017.

Description and Features

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Lumina 950 Boost
The Lumina 950 Boost is the newest addition to NiteRider’s Lumina line of lights. The 950 stands for the number of lumens this light puts out. In other words, it’s BRIGHT! The Lumina 950 comes with six “modes,” five steady modes of varying brightness, and one flash mode. It is USB rechargeable with a standard MicroUSB like most non-Apple phones today and you can expect anywhere from 5 1⁄2 hours of run time in the flash mode to only 40 minutes in the “boost” mode running the full 950 lumens. It also comes with a handlebar mount as should be expected.

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Sentinel 150
The Sentinel 150 is the newest tailight NiteRider has released. This light has seven modes, two Daylight Visibility Flash modes, two steady modes, and three laser lane modes. These laser lanes are the newest innovations for NiteRider. The light will actually project a laser line (like a laser pointer) on the ground on both sides of your bike. This creates a virtual bike lane for cars to see when passing you. These lasers can be run simultaneously with the red taillight.

The Sentinel 150 is also USB rechargeable and you can expect anywhere from 5 hours of runtime in the flash mode to somewhere around 3 hours with a flash and laser running at the same time.

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Light System Differentiators
So what sets this lighting system apart from the crowd? The most obvious is the laser lane. I don’t know of any other light that can do that. On top of that is the brightness of the lights. No other feature matters (lasers, cameras, radar) if it isn’t bright enough to see. These lights are plenty bright. I would even say they are super bright. I turned them on right out of the package without thinking about the fact they were right in my face and they nearly blinded me! Ok, slight exaggeration… but I was seeing spots for a few minutes…I’d say that it’s bright enough for my cycling purposes.

Review
So how did they stack up in day-to-day operations? I’ve put them through the paces and my overall impression is great!

Daytime Riding
I do most of my riding during the day, so I like to use lights to add that extra eye-catching visibility, so I don’t get hit by a distracted driver. The DVF (Daylight Visibility Flash) on the taillight is wonderful. It is nice and bright and it is clearly visible during the day. The headlight flash is also quite visible. I could see it reflecting off road signs at quite a long distance, so I know it could catch a driver’s eye if they are at least half paying attention.

The laser lanes are a different story. Have you ever been in a classroom or presentation where the speaker tries to use the laser pointer but the room is too bright? It’s the same concept here. I had a hard time seeing them myself and I knew where to look for them. I quickly realized it wasn’t worth the battery power to leave them on during the day. But at night, it’s a whole different story.

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Nighttime Riding
At night is when these lights really shine (no pun intended). After all, the company is called NiteRider for a reason. The headlight’s varying levels of brightness was great to have. I usually rode with it on the “high” setting, which is about 800 lumens. The “boost” setting, giving you the full 950 lumens, was nice for those descents down roads with few street lights. A quick double click on the light was equivalent to turning on the brights in a car. It gave me enough visibility that I felt confident to descend in the aero position on my tri bike.

The laser lanes on the Sentinel 150 are awesome at night. Running the laser lanes with the steady or night time flash mode makes you that much more visible to drivers. The taillight and the lines on the ground exponentially increases the chance drivers will see you! The lasers have a flash function too, but I felt like the steady light gave drivers a better idea of how much space they actually needed to give me.

Quality
The features and brightness don’t mean a thing if the unit isn’t durable. Thankfully, these are solid! Right out of the package, I could tell they are well-built. They do not feel flimsy in any way. The buttons click well and do not feel mushy at all. Everything is clearly marked and isn’t hard to operate. I’ve only had these units a month, but they have passed the toddler test when my 2 year old got a hold of them and they came out of the experience unscathed.

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Wrap up
My opinion of the NiteRider Lumina 950 Boost and Sentinel 150 Tail Light is very high! I have loved using them and they are top notch. Yes, there are some lighting systems out there that have fancy cameras, radars, or can be controlled from your bike computer with ANT+, but the bottom line for every lighting system is that it needs to be bright and durable. These lights fit the bill. They are solid, they are bright, and the addition of the laser lanes is a huge advantage for nighttime riding! At the end of the day, lights are all about visibility and helping you get home safe. These NiteRider lights will help you with that!

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nate-deckAbout the Author: Nate is a husband, father, and teacher. When he’s not hanging out with teenagers, he can be found swimming, biking, and running around central North Carolina or on twitter @n8deck.

 

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Product Review: Giro Aerohead MIPS Helmet https://university.trisports.com/2016/10/07/product-review-giro-aerohead-mips-helmet/ Fri, 07 Oct 2016 18:21:45 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=7650 Written by Greg Billington, USA Olympic Triathlete Giro has been at the forefront of aerodynamic helmet design since creating the Giro Advantage in 1985. Between snow sports and cycling, they specialize in helmet, glasses, and apparel technology. Over the last three decades, they have been perfecting their trade; based on current wind tunnel testing, the […]]]>

Written by Greg Billington, USA Olympic Triathlete

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Greg Billington on the left, testing the Giro Aerohead MIPS Helmet

Giro has been at the forefront of aerodynamic helmet design since creating the Giro Advantage in 1985. Between snow sports and cycling, they specialize in helmet, glasses, and apparel technology. Over the last three decades, they have been perfecting their trade; based on current wind tunnel testing, the new Aerohead series represents the pinnacle of their research, shaving 15 watts off their current Advantage series.

As I was preparing for the Rio Olympics and the ITU World Championships, my coach Paulo Sousa and I were looking for ways to save precious time. I invested in ceramic bearings, the nicest tires – when he saw the data on the new Giro Aerohead MIPS Helmet, we decided that we needed to try the product to see if it could be beneficial.

I ran it through the paces to see if it could be useful, even during a draft legal triathlon. There aren’t many opportunities for gains from an aero helmet during peloton racing, but when it does play a role, it is critical.

“If you don’t look fast, you aren’t doing it right!” -Greg Billington

The helmet is one of the fastest on the market. I wasn’t going to a wind tunnel, so with that as a given, my primary concerns were with transition time and cooling, although I also took into account comfort, safety, and looks as well. If you don’t look fast, you aren’t doing it right!

gro16506-whsl-1

Transition
This helmet was designed with triathletes in mind. The visor can be stored in a flipped up position, which makes the helmet easier to put on. I practiced my transition a number of times, but had no issues with this stage of transition. The helmet buckle is slightly small, but with practice this is fine for T1. It takes practice to perfect putting the visor on with one hand while cycling; as with many things, the effort is worthwhile. In Cozumel, the race was so hot that I opted to race without the visor and use glasses instead. The vented holes in the Aerohead MIPS Helmet were perfect for inserting my glasses into, so I could put these on during the race and not waste time in T1.

Speed
At the Cozumel Elite World Championships, I had the fastest ride and made the swim/bike breakaway with seven other athletes. The helmet was critical during the first three minutes and in maintaining and increasing our advantage to 90 seconds over the 40k course. I was about 12th out of the water and needed to make up about 10 seconds before the breakaway was established. The helmet cannot be discounted as I was the last athlete to make the breakaway, ahead of four athletes who exited the water before me.

Photo: Viviane Sloniewicz
Photo: Viviane Sloniewicz Greg looks fast, so he must be doing it right!

Cooling
I was impressed with the amount of ventilation this helmet offered. The four vents deliver a powerful flow of air while cycling. Both the Rio Olympics and the Cozumel World Championships were very warm races; Cozumel was 80-90% humidity and 80+ degrees during the bike ride. I opted to remove the visor to maximize cooling, but during training I felt good both with and without the visor. The brow pad is made out of a hydrophilic material, in order to efficiently wick away sweat and enhance cooling. It is, however, 14% warmer than the Giro’s Air Attack Shield, so take that into consideration if you are easily affected by the heat.

Visor
There is a significant amount of extra visibility when using visor instead of glasses. When wearing glasses, I have sweat build up on the lens about 45 minutes into most rides, which obscures my vision. Obviously, that was not an issue with the visor. It also provided more shielding so I was not constantly bothered by the usual cycling wind noise.

The visor is also cleverly designed so that it can be stored or placed in transition in the flipped up position. Among other benefits, this helps protect it and save space during travel.

Visor flipped up
Visor flipped up

Materials/Safety
The Aerohead MIPS Helmet is made with cutting edge technology. MIPS, multi-directional impact protection system, refers to the plastic insert designed to distribute force during side on impacts. This version is constructed with a polycarbonate shell and strong magnets so that the visor is always safely attached.

Looks
For Star Wars aficionados, this helmet is a dream come true. While I was leading the Cozumel World championships during the ride, my coach’s tweet gained in popularity:

tweet
Follow Paulo Sousa on Twitter @pstriathlon

original-rotj-imperial-guard-006
Multi-purpose helmet, can be used on the bike and on the job

Even still, compared to other helmets of similar aerodynamic quality, I prefer this design. It eschews an extended tail or excessively rounded shape. If this design had initiated its category of aerodynamic advancement, perhaps we triathletes would not be ridiculed for this aspect of our obsession with speed, however, the shaven legs would probably still be an issue.

Summary
This is the best helmet I have used, maybe in a class of its own. In aerodynamic testing, it significantly improves over almost all aero helmets. In transition it is fast and, with a bit of practice, has the potential to be very fast. The venting, while minimal, is effective and well designed; I felt good competing in the sweat box that was the Cozumel World Championships. The $250 price tag is competitive and if you are trying to save watts while staying cool, there is every reason to invest in the Giro Aerohead MIPS Helmet.

38872-medium_gregbillington1About the Author: Greg Billington is a 2016 triathlon Olympian. Billington began swimming, at age 8. He discovered track and cross country in high school, where he ran at Wake Forest University. Billington’s first international triathlon competition was in 2006 racing for the U.S. in the ITU Elite Junior Worlds. He is part of the USA Triathlon Project 2016 Squad and coached by the one and only, the USA Triathlon Certified Coach, Paulo Sousa.

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Preparing for Rio: Q&A with Gwen Jorgensen https://university.trisports.com/2016/08/18/preparing-for-rio-qa-with-gwen-jorgensen/ Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:28:40 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=7244 Gwen Jorgensen Finish LineWritten by Stefanie Peterson Gwen Jorgensen is concentrating all her energy towards one single objective, with her sights set on the 2016 Olympic podium. “I have one goal for this year and that’s the Rio Olympics on August 20th,” said Jorgensen. Six years ago, Jorgensen competed in her first triathlon after being recruited by USA […]]]> Gwen Jorgensen Finish Line

Written by Stefanie Peterson
Gwen Jorgensen Finish Line

Gwen Jorgensen is concentrating all her energy towards one single objective, with her sights set on the 2016 Olympic podium. “I have one goal for this year and that’s the Rio Olympics on August 20th,” said Jorgensen. Six years ago, Jorgensen competed in her first triathlon after being recruited by USA Triathlon’s Collegiate Recruitment Program and just two years later she was competing in her first Games. With her quick mastery of triathlon, it’s hard to believe that Jorgensen at one time doubted her Olympic potential.

What was your reaction when the USA Triathlete team recruited you?
I dreamed of going to the Olympics for swimming. I came to the realization in high school that I would never go into the Olympic system, I just wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t making the national teams; I wasn’t even making the junior national team, so I thought I would never be an Olympian. When the USA Triathlon team approached me, the first thing they said was, “You can be a USA Olympian.” I was in shock. I basically laughed at them. I said, “No, I tried that when I was younger and I don’t have what it takes.”

What was it like finding out you had an aptitude for triathlon?
I didn’t know triathlon was an Olympic sport when the USA Triathlon team recruited me. Triathlons weren’t really on my radar. I did my first triathlon after being recruited in 2010 and I got my Pro Card. My next race was an international competition and I won second place there, and that’s when I was thought, “Oh boy, this is something I should focus on more.” When I qualified for the London Olympics, I took a leave of absence from work and started focusing on triathlons because I believed I could be a world class triathlete.

How are you preparing mentally for the Olympics?
Every race is completely different and that’s something that I like about this sport. You go into a triathlon and you have no idea what can happen on race day. You have to be prepared for anything, which really makes it a hard race and makes it exciting to watch. The Olympics is going to be completely different from all the other races I race in…it’s something that we try to prepare for and try to have as many weapons in our tool bags as possible.

Gwen Jorgensen Swim
How do you like the course that you are going to be racing in Rio?

I was very impressed with the Rio course last year. The road conditions were great, everything was set up, road closures and everything; it was very safe. The course was really good, it’s tough, there is a big hill on the bike and that makes it an honest course, everyone is going to be tired. It will be interesting to see how quickly you can run after that hard bike ride.

How are your competitors doing this year?
I think everyone is trying to beat me and I’m trying to beat them. It’s really competitive and an Olympic year everyone really steps up their game even more. People are testing things out and really pushing their limits. You never know what’s going to happen on race day.

Do you have any race strategies for Rio?
I don’t really have a strategy because in a triathlon a lot of things can change and if you have one strategy you have to change that strategy in the heat of the moment. So I try to go in with an open mind knowing that there’s a lot that can happen during the race. I try to focus on the practice of swimming, biking, and running the best I can.

How do you prepare for efficient transitions?
Transitions are something that doesn’t happen with luck, it’s something we need to practice. Once a week, I go out to a parking lot and practice my transitions. I practice putting on my shoes and hopping on my bike. It’s the little things you do during a transition in a race that you need to practice in training.

What’s it like to have all the pressure of the Olympics on your shoulders?
I have a really good support team around me and I think that’s what keeps me grounded. I haven’t gotten too nervous yet, but I still have some time to get nervous. I get my confidence from training, so I’m building up. I think my training is going well. I’m trying to get fitter in the swim, bike, and run, and that’s something that gives me confidence. You can only do so much in racing, I want to go into the race and be as prepared as possible. Thankfully, I have my husband, Patrick, and I have my coach, David, who are really helping me get there.
Gwen Jorgensen Run

Do you have any tips for working out while you are constantly on the road?  
One of the things I love about running is that you only need one pair of shoes and you can do it anywhere around the world, that’s one way to stay active. When I travel, I bring little pieces of gym equipment; you can bring a little dumbbell or resistance band to do gym exercises in the hotel room.

Besides training, what else helps to give you a boost of confidence before competition?
I try to focus on the process of what I’m doing on the bike and run. Everyday, I write down three things I did well and three things I can improve. If I feel like I need more confidence, I go back and look at three things I did well in, and it gives me confidence leading into a race.

How are you preparing for Rio after your streak at London?
Going into every race, I wasn’t thinking about the streak at all. It was more of me wanting to go into a race and execute what I have been training for every day. I wanted to go in and get the most out of myself; that’s why I love competing. I love going out there, pushing myself, and pushing the limits to see how for I can go and how quickly I can cross that finish line.

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Strength Training for Triathletes https://university.trisports.com/2016/08/11/strength-training-for-triathletes/ Thu, 11 Aug 2016 18:07:11 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=7356 Written by Danny Sawaya, StrongFirst Team Leader and NSCA CSCS In the world of competitive sports, it is no secret that when athletes of similar skill levels go head to head, the stronger athlete usually prevails. Even though many athletes know this, focusing on strength has been looked down upon by some endurance athletes because […]]]>

Written by Danny Sawaya, StrongFirst Team Leader and NSCA CSCS

Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images
Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images

In the world of competitive sports, it is no secret that when athletes of similar skill levels go head to head, the stronger athlete usually prevails. Even though many athletes know this, focusing on strength has been looked down upon by some endurance athletes because it has been confused with increased muscularity and size that can be counterproductive. There is a misconception that lifting weights leads to excessively ‘bulky’ muscles. This thought process is just about as ridiculous as saying, “I don’t want to start running because I may get too fast.” The truth is, training for strength and power development is drastically different than training for hypertrophy (increase in muscular size). Committing to the correct training program, as well as the appropriate exercises, is crucial to make sure you are seeing the specific gains you are looking for. Though each athlete may need some variations of the following exercises based on their specific needs, the movements listed below have the best carry-over to help triathletes improve strength, power, and symmetry.

Single Legged Deadlift (SLDL)
Purpose: Unilateral Strength, Posterior Chain Strength, Core Stability, Gluteal Activation

Want to work on imbalances in your hips and trunk? The SLDL can be a bit humbling since it highlights all of your weaknesses, but you will be grateful when you master it. Running and cycling are unilateral leg movements, so strength training each leg individually is important. The SLDL, if executed correctly, will stimulate glute activation better than nearly any other exercise, and lack of gluteal strength is a big complaint for many triathletes.

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Single Leg Deadlift- The Best Exercise You Are Not Doing

The most important part of this movement is to master the hip hinge then take the appropriate steps to work to one leg. This isn’t a yoga stick pose with straight legs, it is a hinge. It is best to start this exercise with no weight and possibly using a wall to balance. After it is mastered with body weight only, progress by holding dumbbells in one or both hands. Make sure not to rush through the SLDL in a hurry to get done; remember, the most important part is mastering the movement. The video shows a progression from two legs, but you can also use a pole or wall to balance against while learning. It is important not to turn this into a circus act and fight balance the entire time.

Kettlebell Swing
Purpose: Power Development, Gluteal and Hamstring Strength (Posterior Chain Strength)

These odd-shaped metal balls with a handle can transform movement and help most people train power and explosiveness with a relatively small learning curve. The key is to make sure to execute the movements correctly. The goal of the swing is to utilize the glutes and hips to develop all the power, and to let the arms float as a result of the power developed in the lower body. The swing involves the hamstrings, glutes, abdominals, and lower back all in a coordinated effort. One of the biggest mistakes people make with kettlebells is they squat into the movement (emphasizing the quads) rather than hinging, which puts the focus on the posterior chain of the body.

Kettlebell Swing

You can also use the kettlebell for an awesome conditioning session, but in the world of endurance sports it is more crucial to program the kettlebell for power and strength. This can be accomplished by keeping the repetitions of the swing between 5 and 10 per set and focusing on being explosive with each rep rather than just finishing the movement. The video below gives a good visual of the mechanics of the swing.

Goblet Squat
Purpose: Leg Strength and Power Development
Squatting in general is important for overall strength and power development. Goblet squats are a great movement for the beginner to advanced athlete because there is a low learning curve. As an added benefit, holding the weight in front of the body with proper form does not put pressure directly on the spine. It will also activate the abdominal muscles to brace the trunk while keeping the upper back straight. In this exercise, it is vital to squat below parallel, which means having the crease of the hips drop below the knees. There is a common misconception that squatting below the knees is harmful. If someone cannot squat below parallel without pain, this is an indication of poor mobility and indicates a higher risk for injuries. If this is an issue for you, I highly recommend you back off the running and focus on mobility and correctives for awhile if you want to spend more time participating in the sport than watching on the sidelines.

Goblet Squat
Goblet Squat

Inverted Row
Purpose: Back Strength and Trunk Stability

Upper back strength is crucial for improved posture and performance. It is very common to see cyclists with underdeveloped back strength. Spending excessive time in a flexed position causes muscles to be stretched and weak. The inverted row can be executed using a barbell mounted on a squat rack or suspension training units, such as a TRX. The benefit is that you are actually lifting your own body weight and learning how to engage numerous muscles at the same time. It is important to keep the abdominals and glutes engaged when possible while doing an inverted row. With this exercise, resistance and difficulty can be adjusted by simply changing body position. The more upright the body is, the easier the movement. The more horizontal to the ground, the more difficult it will be. Another key factor is to find the position that will engage the back muscles and focus on squeezing the back muscles and pulling the shoulder blades down and together during the movement. Many times people go through this exercise and bypass the back by using the arms as the primary mover. Focus on opening up the chest and pinching the shoulder blades together during this movement. If it feels too difficult, walk the body more upright to make it easier or bend the knees and put your feet flat on the ground.

Inverted Row
Inverted Row

Turkish Get-Up
Purpose: Full body strength and motor control, Shoulder mobility and stability, trunk stability

The turkish get-up works core strength, hip and shoulder mobility, stability, as well as unilateral lower body movement all wrapped into one movement. It has been said if a person could only do one exercise to become a strong human being…this should be it. Proper instruction is important in learning and mastering this exercise, but it will be well worth your time.

Intro to the Turkish Getup
Intro to the Turkish Getup

I always start by teaching this movement with absolutely no weight at first. Many individuals may have to stay weightless for a period to ensure they are mastering the movement with proper form. It isn’t important to rush through this exercise, it is important to be great at each of the movements and not progress to the next phase until you are doing well with everything leading up to it. Being able to move through this full range of movement with a kettlebell or dumbbell held overhead is a great way to help make yourself bulletproof. See video below for demonstration and instruction.

LEG DROPS
Purpose: Core Stability, Unilateral Leg Movement with Core Activation

This core/trunk exercise is a must for runners and cyclists. Many individuals live with anteriorly rotated hips (top of the hips pitching forward). When this occurs, the lower back may have an increased curvature which could cause a flared rib cage; this scenario is a recipe for disaster. When executing core work, a big rib flare may lead to less effective core work being done. It is crucial that the rib cage be down toward the hips. This is also helps to allow for optimal diaphragmatic breathing to occur. This concept could probably take up an entire book.

To execute this exercise, lie on your back, bend both knees, and place feet on the ground. Place a band underneath the lordotic curve of the lumbar spine and tighten the abdominals, forcing the rib cage down (like you’re bracing to be punched in the stomach, do not pull the belly button in towards the spine). Try to imagine that you are crushing the band with your lower back. Now have someone pull on the band, as though they are trying to take it away from you. Once the pressure is good, extend and  raise one of your legs, then slowly begin to lower it while keeping pressure on the band. If you feel the lower back start to come up off the ground, bring the leg back up to maintain tension on the band. Try to get your leg lower with each rep without losing the lower back position. Do about 3 reps per leg and work up to 3-5 sets total. Once this becomes easier,  move to a more advanced version of this exercise and extend both legs up to vertical and lower one leg at at a time, ensuring pressure on the band is maintained.

In general, the philosophy for programming these movements is to always keep something in the tank. With strength training, it is imperative not to push to failure, and as a result grind out slow reps. I always encourage my athletes to keep lifts fast and explosive. During parts of the year with higher volumes of running and cycling these exercises will be a great compliment to offer balance and recovery in a training cycle.

About the Author: Danny Sawaya CSCS, FMS is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with over 17 years of experience as trainer and strength coach. He owns Evolution Fitness, a Strength and Conditioning facility in Tucson, Arizona. He specializes in corrective exercise, Russian Kettlebell Training, powerlifting, and strength and conditioning. He works with a full array of individuals, ranging from beginners to Olympians looking to improve movement and strength.

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Preparing for Rio: Q&A with Greg Billington https://university.trisports.com/2016/07/28/qa-with-greg-billington-rio-olympian/ Thu, 28 Jul 2016 20:37:52 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=7267 Written by Stefanie Peterson TriSports.com had the opportunity to talk with Greg Billington, the 28-year-old Spokane, Washington native, about his preparation for the Olympics. The first-time Olympian has been training with Joe Maloy, both coached under the watchful eye of Paulo Sousa. How are you getting prepped for Rio? The training for Rio is no […]]]>

Written by Stefanie Peterson
Greg Billington
TriSports.com had the opportunity to talk with Greg Billington, the 28-year-old Spokane, Washington native, about his preparation for the Olympics. The first-time Olympian has been training with Joe Maloy, both coached under the watchful eye of Paulo Sousa.

How are you getting prepped for Rio?
The training for Rio is no different from how we prepare for any other race. Every day Paulo Sousa expects me to bring my best to training and that’s the same if I’m training for a continental cup or the Olympic Games. The course in Rio will present unique challenges, so we’ll alter our training to prepare for the heat and the hills. I’ve been working with a sports psychologist for a few years, and I’ll continue working with her as Rio gets closer. The most important things will be to stay relaxed and focused on executing my own race.

What has been the single best piece of training advice throughout your triathlon career to help you get where you are today?
As we grow as athletes, we’ll always face new challenges and many of the practices which make us successful early on aren’t going to be the ones that makes us successful as we progress. The best advice I’ve received is to fully commit to the decisions I make each day. Fully committing leaves no room for doubt, allowing you to stay utterly in the moment during racing and training. That has allowed me to develop as an athlete and person in order to arrive in Rio as the best possible version of myself.
Triathlon Bike Transition

At Rio, what are you most looking forward to?
I’ve wanted to become an Olympian since I won the 50m fly at my under 9 county championships back in 1998, so the only thing on my mind is representing the USA at the most important sporting event in the world.

Are you going to be employing any new race tactics?
While we have our plans going into every race, it’s vital to be adaptable. There are a thousand ways the race in Rio could play out, but I know that the swim will be all out from the beginning and that there will be a lot of people who want to ride extremely hard to break up the field. I’ll be sticking to the same plan I always employ – red line from the beginning and hang on until I cross the finish or die, whichever comes first.

55086-large_018_F1Coronado

Do you have any favorite training gear?
We do a lot of work with floating fins in the pool as well as with a variety of paddles. Probably my least favorite tools are ankle bands and parachutes. They’re extremely effective at improving my swim, though, so I guess I like them conceptually, even if they’re absolutely miserable in practice. 

What’s the hardest training session you’ve logged to date?
At the triathlon squad, it’s less that we do individually hard workouts than we consistently do very hard days. It’s all about keeping the pressure on and making sure that we stay on top of our recovery so that we can perform every day. We’ll do 10-12 x 1k repeats on the track as well as a couple k’s of threshold work in the pool, but the biggest challenge is making sure that immediately afterwards I’m always eating within 30 minutes and doing the foam rolling and strength exercises so that I don’t break down from the heavy load.

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Signs it’s Time to Replace Your Bike Helmet https://university.trisports.com/2016/06/22/signs-its-time-to-replace-your-bike-helmet/ Wed, 22 Jun 2016 18:40:57 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=7069 Written by Hilary JM Topper, MPA and Triathlete If you ask 100 people when to replace their bike helmet, most will say “never, unless it was in a crash.” It’s true that once you drop your bike helmet or once it has been in a crash, it needs to be replaced immediately. But did you […]]]>

Written by Hilary JM Topper, MPA and Triathlete

Bike Helmets
If you ask 100 people when to replace their bike helmet, most will say “never, unless it was in a crash.” It’s true that once you drop your bike helmet or once it has been in a crash, it needs to be replaced immediately. But did you know that if you’re a triathlete, you should be replacing your bike helmet once a year or once every other year?

The majority of helmet companies’ policies suggest replacing a bike helmet every three years. However, according to Outside Magazine, between the sweat and the sun, if you use your bike helmet on a frequent basis, then it will need to be replaced more often. They recommend getting a new helmet once every two seasons.

Bike helmets aren’t sexy, but they are one of, if not, the most important pieces of gear you own. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 447,000 people experienced head trauma in 2009 and 86,000 of those were cyclists. Interestingly, football players only suffered 47,000 of those head injuries and baseball players experienced 38,394.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety say, the most serious injuries are to the head. Helmet use has reduced the injury rate by 85%. But it’s still not enough.

So how do you know if it’s time to replace your helmet?


As you would care for your bike, take the time out to inspect your helmet by following these steps:

  1. First, look at the outer shell:
  • If you see cracks or abrasions, it’s time to replace your helmet.
  • Push the outer shell with your thumb. If it pops in, that could be an indication that it needs replacing.
  • Check the color to see if it has discolored at all. If it has faded, it will need to be replaced.
  1. Look at the liner:
  • Take out the foam and look carefully at the Styrofoam.
  • Are there any signs of cracks or aging?
  1. Check the Buckle and Strap:
  • Are the straps in good shape?
  • Do the buckles works as they should?
  1. Inspect the rear stabilizer
  • Does the rear stabilizer still have its integrity?
  • Try stretching or tugging at it. Does it give?

If any of these components are in poor shape, then the helmet needs to be replaced.

When Buying a New Helmet
Many of the newer helmets are made with MIPS (multi-impact protection system), which was invented in 1996. These new helmets “employ a low-friction slip layer inside the helmet that dissipates the force of an impact by allowing the helmet to rotate around the head.” There are typically three components to every MIPS helmet – an interior foam liner; elastomeric attachment system; and low friction liner. With an impact, the helmet moves with your head reducing the impact enabling more chances to reduce concussive impact and traumatic brain injury. Giro Savan with MIPSMost of the companies today are employing this new technology including: Giro, POC, and Louis Garneau, among others.

When replacing your helmet, make sure to get one with MIPS. You may pay a little more, but don’t you think your safety and brain health is worth it?

About the Author: Hilary JM Topper, MPA is the Chief Curator of HJMT Media Company LLC. She is an avid blogger and writes for http://www.ATriathletesDiary.com. She is also CEO of HJMT Public Relations Inc. and show producer for the NY TRI EXPO. For more information, contact her at hilary@hjmt.com.

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Got A Weakness? Deal With It! https://university.trisports.com/2016/05/17/got-a-weakness-deal-with-it/ Tue, 17 May 2016 18:44:59 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6970 Written By Dawn English, Trisports.com Elite Team Member and OutRival Racing Coach A joy of triathlon is always having something to work on, improve, and cultivate. The constant self-assessment is appealing as triathletes are always seeking the next level. But knowing how to work on your limiting sport can get confusing when trying to manage […]]]>

Written By Dawn English, Trisports.com Elite Team Member and OutRival Racing Coach

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A joy of triathlon is always having something to work on, improve, and cultivate. The constant self-assessment is appealing as triathletes are always seeking the next level. But knowing how to work on your limiting sport can get confusing when trying to manage the other two. Below are some strategies to help. Keep in mind, these should be used as part of a bigger picture plan for your training based on your goals. Improvements generally emerge incrementally, so consistency and focus is paramount.

Define the Weakness
Is XYZ sport really your limiter? Sometimes we think one sport is weak when really it’s something else, like managing intensity or race fueling. Often, I hear people say that the run is their weakness, but when observing their run training and/or run-only events, they look good. But in a race, they go too hard on the bike or don’t fuel properly, which leads to a run that doesn’t translate to the run split they are capable of producing. Another culprit may be being a decent swimmer, but not swimming enough, causing one to head into the bike overly fatigued, not allowing their bike and run skills to shine.

Review Your Technique
Have someone film you swimming, biking, or running. Get feedback on your technique, preferably by someone who knows what they are doing and works in the field. Small or big changes can lead to even bigger results. For example, correcting muscle recruitment in your pedal stroke, running stride length, or head position while swimming can immediately improve efficiency and speed. Furthermore, proper technique provides the foundation for injury prevention.

2Strengthen Your Base
Are you doing strength training? C’mon, you know you need to get in the gym… at least sometimes. The main goals should be to correct muscle imbalances and encourage tendon strength. Focusing on these areas will allow for better support, power, and strength in all disciplines of triathlon. For instance, strengthening your glutes can allow greater muscle recruitment in your butt when pedaling with solid technique. Greater muscle recruitment in cycling means more power in your pedal stroke and may even lead to a better run.

Do It
Let’s face it; if we are not good at something, it’s not that fun. Look at your training hours, I imagine your weakest sport is the smallest piece of the pie, make it bigger – by a lot.

Dedicate Training Blocks
Dedicating specific blocks during your training to focus on your weak sport can pay big dividends. At the beginning of your training year, take two to six weeks and make your weak sport your most frequented. The exception to this rule is if you are working on your running in an IRONMAN, this doesn’t mean run a bunch of marathons in the off season in preparation for your full distance triathlon; that is a good way to get injured.  But you can do some shorter, technique-focused runs more frequently and some shorter races to provide a bump in your performance. When doing a focus block, do the other disciplines at least two times a week, even if the sessions are brief.

Stay Positive
Not being good or as good as you would like at a sport does not mean you are a bad person, a loser, or incomplete. I see many athletes that have areas of weakness and embrace them as a source of negativity, victimization, and constant excuses. Social media manifestos do not help. Stay positive, embrace where you are, work on it, and move on.

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About the Author: Dawn English is a member of the Trisports.com Elite Team, a coach with OutRival Racing. She has been a triathlete since 1999, with regular podium visits as an IRONMAN Age Group Athlete, as well as a USAT All American, and juggler of family and life.

 

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