Long distance – TriSports University https://university.trisports.com The place to learn about triathlon. Mon, 12 Nov 2018 21:36:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 https://university.trisports.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/cropped-tsu-button-32x32.png Long distance – TriSports University https://university.trisports.com 32 32 Overland Triathlon: The Film https://university.trisports.com/2018/10/22/overland-triathlon-the-film/ https://university.trisports.com/2018/10/22/overland-triathlon-the-film/#respond Mon, 22 Oct 2018 18:27:53 +0000 https://university.trisports.com/?p=8943  ]]>

 

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How to Prepare for a Race, Like a Project Manager https://university.trisports.com/2018/04/19/how-to-prepare-for-a-race-like-a-project-manager/ https://university.trisports.com/2018/04/19/how-to-prepare-for-a-race-like-a-project-manager/#respond Thu, 19 Apr 2018 20:30:24 +0000 https://university.trisports.com/?p=8857   Approaching training and racing with a project manager’s mind, can help us stay organized, set the right priorities, and not overlook any important aspects. And, it makes training and racing more enjoyable as we feel more in control while having clear goals in mind. Every race is basically a project. It has a beginning […]]]>

 

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

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

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

Step 1 – Setting a Goal and Pre-Assessment

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Step 2 – Planning Phase

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Step 3 – Execution of the Project

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

 

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

 

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

 

Step 4 – Closing the Project

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

 

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


 

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

However, one last project management step remains.

Step 5 – Project Review and Lessons Learned

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Outlook

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

Author Bio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what I did:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supplements I use and Frequency

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

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

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

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

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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!

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

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

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

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

Here are my top tips for race travel:

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

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

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

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

Nicole Valentine assembling her Dimond bike in Puerto Rico

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

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

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

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

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Swimskins – Worth It? https://university.trisports.com/2017/06/29/swimskins-are-they-worth-it/ Thu, 29 Jun 2017 20:39:07 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8434 The swimskin is one of the newest pieces of apparel in triathlon. As a thinner and smaller replacement for a wetsuit, swimskins are growing in popularity for warm-water triathlons. For triathletes who compete in swimming environments where wetsuits are not allowed, the swimskin is the perfect piece of gear to reduce friction in the water […]]]>

The swimskin is one of the newest pieces of apparel in triathlon. As a thinner and smaller replacement for a wetsuit, swimskins are growing in popularity for warm-water triathlons. For triathletes who compete in swimming environments where wetsuits are not allowed, the swimskin is the perfect piece of gear to reduce friction in the water and shave valuable time off your swim.

When should I consider a swim skin?
While a wetsuit is still the best in terms of offering buoyancy, warmth and speed, the swimskin is a great alternative when racing in non-wetsuit legal races to provide an advantage over traditional triathlon racing suits. You will want to consider buying a swimskin if you are racing in areas with mild temperatures. For WTC events, wetsuits are not allowed in water temperatures above 76.1 °F. The USA Triathlon rules state that wetsuits are not allowed in water temperatures above 78 °F. A swimskin is an excellent option if you will be swimming in small bodies of water or areas where the temperatures get high.

What is a swimskin in the first place?
If you have never heard of a swimskin, they are a skin-tight “speedsuit” that goes over your tri suit or race kit and extends from the knees to the shoulders. They do not offer buoyancy or warmth, but the compression allows you to maintain speed and hydrodynamics while swimming through the water. The suit is meant to smooth out the contours of your body and race kit so you can glide through the water and exert less effort. By making your body smoother and smaller, these skins enhance your speed by reducing friction that typical race kits produce against the water.

Originally, swimskins came out with no sleeves; however, more brands are now offering sleeved versions as more triathletes use sleeved tri suits. In past years, you could not wear a race kit that had sleeves under your swimskin. This meant that you had to roll up your sleeves or roll down your race kit to your waist underneath the swimskin. In 2016, the WTC changed the rules that allow sleeves above the elbow to be worn under your swimskin.

How should a swimskin fit?
The swimskin should fit your body very tightly. In most cases, they require a friend to help you zip it up. If they fit too loosely and the suit is flapping against your body, then the features that reduce drag will actually do the opposite. This is a piece of compression equipment, so it should feel tight. Keep in mind that it will feel much different once you get in the water than it will outside of it. Although each person has a different preference, you must choose the swimskin that is most comfortable to you.

What are the performance benefits?
While swimskins are fairly new, there have been some studies done on their performance. In a pool test by the U.S. Olympic swim team, swimskims saved an average of just over 2 seconds per 100 yards when compared to a typical training suit. In comparison, the wetsuit shaved off 6 seconds per 100 yards against the training suit.

There are several major races that are typically borderline non-wetsuit races. Those include the Ironman World Championships, 70.3 World Championships, Ironman Texas, Ironman Chattanooga, Ironman Louisville, Honu 70.3, Eagleman 70.3, Buffalo Springs 70.3, Muncie 70.3, Racine 70.3, Ohio 70.3, Boulder 70.3, Maine 70.3, Atlantic City 70.3, Augusta 70.3, New Orleans 70.3 and any local race that occurs in the summertime.

What are the key features?
If you think a swimskin would be beneficial to you, there are many brands to choose from. While each one has been tested and designed to enhance speed, there are differences in fit and feel. Some of the most popular brands include Blueseventy, TYR, and Zone3. Here are some features of each swimskin.

BlueSeventy PZ4TX

Differentiator: Advanced ultrasonic welded seams
Building on ten years of swimskin development, the PZ4TX swimskin features advanced ultrasonic welded seams for reduced drag, which means that the seams are welded together using radio frequency and heat to melt the edges together for a stronger seam. With a breathable material on the back of the suit, it helps regulate your temperature while in the warm water. This suit actually does not have a lanyard attached to the zipper to reduce friction the lanyard may cause in the water. The zipper locks in place when pointed down and unzips easily when pointed up.

Zone3 Swimskin

Differentiator: Revolutionary fabric, elite athlete feedback
Zone3’s latest suit is built upon seven years of testing, elite athlete feedback, and thousands of customer demos. Based on the extensive testing, Zone3 chose the revolutionary X2R woven fabric with glued and heat bonded seams for less drag and ultimate speed. The fabric is one of the lightest hydrophobic materials available. The legs have a fabric called Energy-D, which offers more compression so that your legs glide effortlessly through the water. There is a lanyard attached to the zipper to allow for easier transitions.

TYR Torque Swimskin Series

Differentiator: Double-layer technology
The Torque Swimskin Series is the latest of TYRs offerings. This swimskin is constructed with two layers, a hydrophilic outer layer that works with the water and a hydrophobic inner layer that repels water to keep you dry. The fabric is a composite knit fabric that allows your body to move freely. Each suit has a coil zipper for a quick transition and a beaded grip on the legs so that the suit will attach to your body and not move around in the water.

At the end of the day, each brand offers countless benefits and the features have been tested extensively. Many of these suits offer similar race times, so it really comes down to the feel of each suit. Whichever brand swimskin suits your fancy, the data is in and swimskins deliver that little extra advantage when it matters most.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

 

About the Author: Alyssa is a writer and the wife of an Ironman and TriSports Ambassador. Not much of an athlete herself, she has learned the sport of triathlon from her husband over his years of competition. Now she wants to share what she has learned as a spectator with other triathlete supporters. 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Try one of our favorite recipes:

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

Blend and enjoy!

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

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

 

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

Written by Stevie Lyn Smith, Registered Dietitian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Written by Keri Ouellette, TriSports Ambassador Athlete

Make your next triathlon destination stress-free

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

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

Exercise due diligence and research!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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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

triathlon-start

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.

deadlift

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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What To Do When You Have a Workout and You’re Out of Town https://university.trisports.com/2016/12/23/what-to-do-when-you-have-a-workout-and-youre-out-of-town/ Fri, 23 Dec 2016 18:55:10 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=7862 Written by Hilary JM Topper, MPA Ever have to go out of town on business in the middle of your training? You get to the hotel, only to find that the pool is smaller than your bathtub! We talked with Bill Brenner, Educational Director of the US Masters Swimming, for some helpful advice. He told […]]]>

Written by Hilary JM Topper, MPA

hanoi-tirant-hotel
Tiny pool?! Fear not!

Ever have to go out of town on business in the middle of your training? You get to the hotel, only to find that the pool is smaller than your bathtub!

We talked with Bill Brenner, Educational Director of the US Masters Swimming, for some helpful advice. He told us to:

“Get a resistance tube and attach it to something stationary like a pole or something around the pool,” said Brenner. “By using a resistance tube, you will get your heart rate up quickly, it may alter your stroke a little, but you will definitely get a workout. The best part is, it’s easy to fold up and store in a suitcase!”

Plan to use resistance tube for approximately 15-20 minutes. In addition, you can do a couple of the following drills:

  • Sculling Drill (also called a breaststroke drill) – This is where you keep both your arms in the water and you actually look like you are a window wiper on a car. Some people also call this the windshield wiper drill. The drill is specifically for triathletes to learn how to feel the water. Brenner says this is perfect for a small pool because “you can’t go fast with this drill.” To see the sculling drill in action, here is a YouTube video with a demonstration.
  • Vertical Kicking – In this drill, go to the deep end of the pool. You can use a kickboard or something to hold you up if need be. Kick while standing still.
  • Eggbeater Kick – Also in the deep end, if there is one, tread water. Then go into a breaststroke kick using both legs. When ready, use one leg at a time. Keep thighs parallel to the water and kick out to the side. This almost looks like an eggbeater. Here’s a YouTube video that demonstrates this drill.

For the kicking drills, figure between 15 – 20 minutes, for a total workout of 30 – 40 minutes, every other day that you are out of town.

Looking for more swimming tools to help boost your swim performance? Read Tri Swim Coach’s article to improve your swim today.

Brenner also suggest checking out the USMS.org website. “On the home page, you can search via zip code for Masters Swim classes across the country. If you’re traveling and you want to catch a class, you can email the organizer and for a nominal fee, you can swim with folks from all over.”

Brenner says that if you don’t swim for four to five days, “it’s like starting over. The first day can be challenging, as opposed to an opportunity if you have been training while you’re away.”

So when you go away and you see a tiny pool, don’t despair! You can get these drills done and still stay fit and ready to get back to serious training when you get home, without taking a step back.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com
hilary-topper-2About the Author: Hilary JM Topper, MPA is the CEO of HJMT Public Relations in NY. She is also chief curator of HJMT Media Co, LLC, which houses http://www.ATriathletesDiary.com, http://www.NYLifestyleBlog.com and Hilary Topper on Air, a national podcast on Blogtalk Radio. She is also the show producer of the NY TRI EXPO at http://www.NYTRIEXPO.com.  Contact her at @hilary25 on Twitter or Hilary@hjmt.com.

 

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5 Ways to Create a Winning Off-Season https://university.trisports.com/2016/12/01/5-ways-to-create-a-winning-off-season/ Thu, 01 Dec 2016 13:57:41 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=7800 Written by Greg Billington, USA Olympic Triathlete The races are done. The sweat sweated. An exhausted satisfaction mixed with uncertain excitement about the upcoming season.  But a mandatory break from training and racing seems counter-intuitive. How could time away from your primary sport really make you better? The implication of an “off” season is incorrect; […]]]>

Written by Greg Billington, USA Olympic Triathlete

The races are done. The sweat sweated. An exhausted satisfaction mixed with uncertain excitement about the upcoming season.  But a mandatory break from training and racing seems counter-intuitive. How could time away from your primary sport really make you better?

The implication of an “off” season is incorrect; we never stop being athletes. I prefer to think of it as a transition season, a time when we absorb the past year and can organize and prepare for the season ahead. I mean, for this period we can replace training with the way more enjoyable activity of talking about training. Glorifying your threshold power, those 30-hour training weeks, and how close you came to race weight absolutely reinforces your connection to the process of becoming a phenomenal athlete.

Begin 2017 feeling re-energized for triathlon instead of just being fatter and lazier than you were a few months prior with these five tips!

1. Length
Every year, I will take a month without any structured training and 4-5 months without any racing. That can seem like an eternity. And it is. While not everyone needs that long, a few months away from the adrenal stress of racing improves the overall quality of your competitions. There is a similar effect for time away from structured training, so the following items detail how I use the first six weeks after my final race to prepare for the next season.

By month 5 without racing, there’s a certain amount of… tedium
By month 5 without racing, there’s a certain amount of… tedium. Joe Maloy left, Greg Billington right.

2. Mental Preparation
Nothing compares to hours of pedal mashing before redlining a run. Because what is best in life, but to crush your competition, see defeat in their eyes, and hear their lame excuses at the finish line?

But racing with that much gusto is unsustainable. We take down time partly for physical reasons, but more to mentally restructure and rekindle the competitive flame for the next season.

Take a week to write down the high points of the year: when you absolutely demolished the Group Ride World Championships, swam way faster than that doofus with the shaved chest, or flawlessly put on your race number. Think about how you approached those moments, when they occurred in the season, and what you can do to recreate them next year. If you find meaningful insights, these should be incorporated into your training program.

During my transition phase, I’ll also pick up a few lighter activities to maintain the all-important drive to destroy the will and general well-being of my competition. Ping pong is my usual favorite. Badminton, similarly. Also, Scottish shin-kicking. Regardless of what it is, it’s vital to keep that competitive edge throughout the year.

3. Training Preparation
The transition season can leave a great deal of free time which wreaks havoc with your normal routine, making it harder to restart training. Immediately replacing the usual shammy time with purposeful activities can help you prepare for a great season.

I start habits which I want to keep in the coming year. If you’ve wanted to add stretching, meditation, upside-down dumbbell sit-ups to your routine, now is the time to add it in during the time that you would normally be doing real training, like running.

My meditation habits started early.
My meditation habits started early.

It’s also a great opportunity to incorporate new training tools that can be critical for making improvements. This is when to make the biggest changes to your Bike Fit. That way you have the maximum amount of time to become comfortable in the new position and make any minor adjustments before you risk injury during long training blocks.

You should go for runs in new shoes, try out new wetsuits, and take a deliberate look at your training and whether or not you can deal with your coach for another season.

Ehhhhhhh, yeah he’ll do for another season. Coach Paulo Sousa
Ehhhhhhh, yeah he’ll do for another season. Billington’s Coach Paulo Sousa smiles for the camera.

4. Transition Training
You’ll end up training during those first 4-6 weeks of real down time. I mean, it’s fun. That’s why we’re here. As you do train, though, you’ll need to give your body a break from certain types of training. Specifically, there needs to be at least a good six-week period where you avoid threshold efforts. This is the type of training that can lead to high levels of fatigue and burnout. If you’re going to do any type of activity, it should be long and easy (like a hike) or very short and very intense. You’ll have time to recover from these activities and especially those short burns are a great way to remind you of the fun that awaits in the coming season.

The vast complexities of an off-season session:

  • 15 minute warm up
  • 4-6 x 30 second sprints (uphill if running or cycling)
  • 10 minute cool down

This is also the part of the season where you have the time to incorporate strength training. This helps prepare your musculoskeletal system for the demands of repetitive cardiovascular training and reduce the likelihood of overuse injuries.

The following are some of my favorite exercises. Obviously cater the duration to your individual fitness level and keep in mind that strength training should never be so taxing as to interfere with your real workouts. Before I start my routines, I’ll make sure to do at least eight minutes of easy cardio, anything from jumping rope to cycling.

Example strength training session:

Beyond this basic level of core fitness, strength training is difficult to incorporate into a program. Attempts to build power and speed through strength training need to be highly individualized.
Beyond this basic level of core fitness, strength training is difficult to incorporate into a program. Attempts to build power and speed through strength training need to be highly individualized.

5. Food
Like life, the off-season is really about food. It’s the time of year you are supposed to be way off-race weight and generally jollier. Literally (figuratively), everyone is about 10% nicer each pound they are further away from race weight. Sadly, a good rule of thumb is to weigh yourself each week and top out at about 5-6% over your race weight. You can pretend this happens because you started a strength program, but this will mainly be due to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

It is also helpful to take this time to experiment with new recipes and whatever health fad you feel will power you to that next performance breakthrough. it’s the cage free, gluten free, quinoa encrusted white veal diet this year! Maybe kombucha in my race bottles to aid gel digestion?

Here’s one of my favorite breakfast recipes. I put the concoction in a jar the night before and then additional ingredients in the morning if I feel like it.

Overnight Oats

  • 1:1:1 ratio of Old Fashioned Rolled oats, milk, and yogurt
  • Small banana
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
  • Pinch of salt (I sweat a lot)
  • Cinnamon
  • Palmful of almonds

There are many ways you can prepare for a season, but it is easier to find success by picking a few and doing them well. The above are simple ideas, but success is usually found by simplifying complex processes and mastering them.

So, good luck, enjoy the transition season, and prepare to smash 2017!

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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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!

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

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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Yoga for Triathletes: The Triathlete & Yogi Parallel https://university.trisports.com/2016/11/08/yoga-for-triathletes-the-triathlete-yogi-parallel/ Tue, 08 Nov 2016 19:34:03 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=7725 Written by Adrienne Smith, Triathlete, Yoga Studio Owner & Teacher You wake up excited to conquer the day, put your shoes on and head out the door for an aerobic five-mile run. During the first mile your mind is like a runaway train. It sounds something like this, “Alright, I made it outside. Wow, the […]]]>

Written by Adrienne Smith, Triathlete, Yoga Studio Owner & Teacher

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You wake up excited to conquer the day, put your shoes on and head out the door for an aerobic five-mile run. During the first mile your mind is like a runaway train. It sounds something like this, “Alright, I made it outside. Wow, the air feels nice! Hmm, these shoes feel a little weird and there’s this strange twitchy feeling in my right hip. Maybe I shouldn’t do this run today. Yeah, I’m kinda tired. I do have another workout I have to do later…and if I’m tired tomorrow, that’s going to crush my big weekend of workouts.” Your mind is so busy thinking, you don’t even realize you are running. Can you imagine if you spoke all of these thoughts aloud as you ran? Anyone you passed would think you were an absolute nut-job!

Get in The Zone
After mile one though, you start to hear that breath and your feet have created an almost-perfect symphony and you can’t believe it, but a few minutes have gone by where you haven’t tried to quit your run. Something shifted, almost as though you fully committed to the fact that you will run these five miles. You are in a different state. You’ve stepped into “the zone.”

The Yoga Parallel
Let’s compare that first mile of your run to the first 10 minutes of a power yoga class. You step onto your mat excited about the opportunity to win this class. You are a triathlete after all, and you do more exercise in one day than most people do in two weeks. The teacher, in a weirdly creepy yoga voice, calls out downward facing dog and leaves you there as she tells you to notice your breathing, or better yet, perhaps she talks about some nonsense that makes no sense in your athletic world. At this point, you’ve tuned her out and your “I’ve got this” mentality has been replaced by an insane shoulder burn. You quickly remember that you have a killer swim workout tomorrow and are convinced that this down dog, as well as the rest of the chaturangas that are to come, are going to majorly screw up that workout.

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You are now sweating, as you think that this yoga session was not a good call for your training. Then to make it worse, you take a big breath in and notice how bad the guy next to you smells. You’re dripping in sweat already and you are only one pose in. “Yoga should be peaceful,” says your thought bubble and you simultaneously curse your yoga teacher because she has ruined your workout for tomorrow…plus you have to endure the smelly guy for the next 50 minutes. All of a sudden, the teacher leads you into a few repetitive postures (called Sun Salutations) and the entire class is moving in unison, connecting each posture with one breath. You’ve somehow stepped into some sort of yogic trance, a “zone” of sorts.

You forgot about the swim workout that hasn’t happened yet and you are now feeling quite fond of your yoga teacher. You forgot about the rest of your life, actually, and you connect to precisely where you are now. How did this happen?

Achieve The Zone
Yoga, like triathlon, has received accolades for the benefits it creates in our bodies and minds. In athletics, the best performances happen when we are “in the zone” – those moments where we get swept up in movement, sport, task or action and time simply flies by. Being in the zone just happens most of the time and we don’t even know how we got into it. The same happens in yoga, but it is something that a great teacher helps you access. Great yoga teachers aren’t focusing only on alignment, where you place your body or perfecting the shape that it is taking, but rather they focus on the relationship we have with the alignment, the shape at that moment where we are now, not where we think we should be.

Yes, yoga does help us strengthen our muscles and work out the tight spots so that we can support our bodies as we beat them up swimming, biking and running, but more importantly than that, it gives an athlete (or any human being for that matter) a setting to be curious and explore body sensations as well as our minds’ relationship with those body sensations without needing to get anywhere. There is no finish line in yoga. If we truly “get” yoga, we realize it engulfs are entire life. Like anything we try to master, we need to diligently practice it. If we spend a few hours each week practicing this mind-body connection, we will connect better with our bodies and minds as we swim, bike and run during training and racing. We will see patterns and habits not only while we train, but everywhere else.

Get Uncomfortable to Grow
Connection and concentration is cultivated moment by moment in a regular yoga practice in a similar fashion as it is while training; the difference though is there are times when you are not in motion (insert triathlete’s biggest nightmare). Holding yourself somewhere uncomfortable is the most necessary aspect of training to expose us to our biggest potential and our looming blindspots. If you’ve ever taken a yoga class where poses are held in reverence (think Warrior 2) – you’ve probably come head on with your biggest gremlins. Let them be your friends; connect with them and learn from them.

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Imagine yourself running up a hill for a training session. As the distance covered gets longer, the intensity gets more intense and our desire to walk increases. What if, instead of focusing on how hard it is, you created more connection with your body as it runs up the hill? Focus on your form, your elbows driving back, your knees driving forward, your feet lifting and landing quickly and lightly while the quality and pace of your inhales and exhales are both acknowledged and respected. You surprise yourself by finishing and going farther than expected while keeping yourself mildly calm.

Create Good Space: Master Your Mind
In yoga, we have a book called The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Sutra 2.46 is most commonly translated as “the posture should be stable and comfortable,” but is literally translated as “resolutely abide in good space.” As you perform hill repeats or hold a long warrior two, notice what it is that you are creating. It is your mind that will support you in creating good space in your physical body and vice-versa. Practicing this each time you roll out your yoga mat makes it more likely you are going to tap into your yoga-ninja mindset when you are running up the next hill or crushing your next session on the trainer.

After doing your first triathlon, you probably realized that triathlon became a way of life and you called yourself a triathlete – swimming, biking and running became something you practiced, you currently work on mastering with hopes for great finishes, but more importantly a joy for the practice and learning. Practicing yoga is the same. You aren’t doing it anymore, you are being it.

adrienne_bioAbout the Author: Adrienne Smith has been a fierce competitor since she was a little girl—everything from figure skating and circus classes to more recently trying her cards as a professional triathlete for a few years. Now owning and operating Power of Your Om Yoga Studio in Santa Barbara, California, she competes in running races and triathlons recreationally, and spends more time playing around at the beach, walking her dog and practicing more yoga.  Adrienne loves the commitment, discipline and courage necessary for endurance sports, yoga and being an entrepreneur—all require consistent focus on the reality of the present moment to face her fear of failure, the trap of comparison and the life-sucking goal of perfection. They have created several breakdowns, breakthroughs and transformations – inside and out. Studio website:  www.powerofyourom.com 

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