professional triathlete – 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 professional triathlete – TriSports University https://university.trisports.com 32 32 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.

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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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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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Pro Insider with Lisa Roberts https://university.trisports.com/2017/04/06/pro-insider-with-lisa-roberts/ Thu, 06 Apr 2017 22:12:30 +0000 http://www.university.trisports.com/?p=8141 Interview with Lisa Roberts, Professional Triathlete Professional triathlete Lisa Roberts has been competing in the sport for over 15 years, professionally for the last eight years. Her triathlon career took root after a solid background of long distance running, which culminated running collegiate cross country and track in Illinois. Roberts focus is now on long […]]]>

Interview with Lisa Roberts, Professional Triathlete

Professional triathlete Lisa Roberts has been competing in the sport for over 15 years, professionally for the last eight years. Her triathlon career took root after a solid background of long distance running, which culminated running collegiate cross country and track in Illinois. Roberts focus is now on long distance events, particularly 70.3 and full-distance races. Roberts is feeling good about the 2017 season as she prepares for the 70.3 North American Pro Championships in St. George Utah in early May.

What nutrition strategies do you utilize to guarantee your body has optimal energy?
Proper nutrition is every bit, if not more important than the training itself. Without the proper fuel, I have no hope of getting good, hard, consistent training in every day. I am big on meal planning and scheduling so I have the right type and amount of nutrition available whenever I need it – even if I’m traveling or during hectic days of training.

How do you achieve your macro/micronutrient requirements in-season?
My macronutrient needs shift from off-season to racing season, mainly in the fact that carbohydrates start to play a bigger role in the racing season. In addition, I am always keeping tabs on my B vitamins, vitamin D, K, A & E as well as iron and calcium. Since I am convinced that a vitamin D deficiency played a very big role in my foot stress fracture, I have gotten myself out of that deficit by using the Klean-D supplement and Klean Multivitamin. I also eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to get as much as possible from real food.

What are your typical pre-, during, and post-race fueling strategies and how do they differ from one another?
My pre-race fueling is focused on easily digested carbohydrates and some slower-burning nut butters.  Hydration and electrolyte balance is key during a race, as well as keeping the energy coming with simple carbohydrates, so I don’t bottom out or get too far in a calorie deficit. For the long races there will always be a deficit, since we can only uptake so many calories/hour. Post-race is all about recovery and repairing the inherent muscle damage caused by racing, so there will be a greater focus on proteins then.

How do you fuel up during training and racing?
I make rice cakes with peanut butter & jelly filling and use a variety of gels and other quick energy sources, depending on the workout length and intensity. I add a scoop of Klean BCAA +Peak ATP to my workout drinks and when the weather heats up, I’m sure to take Klean Electrolytes to keep in balance.

What’s the most important nutritional advice you’d give to an athlete new to the sport?
Your body needs the proper energy before and during workouts so you can get the training in, so don’t starve it of those needs. Practice a variety of nutrition types, timing, amounts and keep track of it during your training so you can figure out what works and what doesn’t. Always go into your training and racing with a nutrition plan – don’t just wing it.

What does competing clean mean to you and talk about the clean sport movement?
Competing clean is a no-brainer for me and always has been. But, nowadays that means I need to be extra vigilant about where the products I use come from and how they are processed. Products that go the extra mile to gain the NSF certification are a plus for me. I can never make assumptions about the quality of anything unless I’ve done my homework first.

How do you mentally prepare on race day?
I always sit on the ground next to my bike after I’ve set everything up, close my eyes, and just let the bustling sounds of the transition area buzz around me. It helps to get me centered. For Lisa’s tips on balancing triathlon, read The Great Balancing Act.

What are your tips for getting motivated on the days you’re not feeling it?
I don’t focus on getting motivated on those days; it seems too monumental a task at that point. What I do is start simple: that might be just putting my swim suit on or start out the door by walking. Every time I start at the most basic level, I always end up getting on with the workout.

What is your most essential piece of training gear?
I couldn’t be successful without a pair of comfortable, proper-fitting shoes…and fun socks. Everybody needs fun socks to wear.

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About the Author: Lisa has been an athlete all her life. Now a common sight on the triathlon, cycling and running podium at competitions, she is culminating years of hard work and dedication and turning it into results. This leaves only the sky as her limit with the goal of winning a World Championship title and qualifying for the Olympic marathon. Learn more about Lisa Roberts at lisajroberts.com and follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lisa.ribes, Twitter: https://twitter.com/lisarobertstri, and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lisarobertstri/.

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