October 21, 2014 on 1:51 pm | In Life at TriSports.com, Product Information, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments
This blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Liz Miller. The off-season is coming, so what are you going to do about it? Check out Liz’s blog or follow her on Twitter – FeWmnLiz (can you tell she’s a geologist?).
Some people dread the off-season, and other people love it. I usually feel a little bit of both excitement and anxiety when it’s time to transition to the off-season. Excitement because the off-season typically means sleeping in, weekends away without my swim, bike, and run gear, and maybe more than just an occasional glass of wine. Dread because the off-season also means shorter days, potential lack of motivation, and the occasional unwanted weight gain (especially around the holidays!).
In preparation for my off-season, I started looking around for some fun activities that didn’t necessarily involve swimming, biking, or running, or least not all 3 activities in the same race! Here are a few ideas for those of you who are getting ready to start your off-season, or maybe just looking for a few ideas to refresh your off-season routine.
Find a new type of race
I recently participated in my very first ultra-marathon. I have always been intrigued by ultra-marathons, but I typically need to save my quads and knees for quality long runs during Ironman training. This means that running 50K on trails is out of the question! But once your triathlon season is done, an ultra-marathon is a great way to put your fitness into something new and different.
I had a blast in my first ultra-marathon, not to mention the fact that since I wasn’t running with the goal of winning, I had more than enough time to stop and take pictures! Who can complain about running 50K when you have beautiful scenery like this?
Also, if you live somewhere with snow, look for some winter racing options. Snowshoe and cross country ski races are a great way to have some fun and challenge yourself without the pressure or stress that can sometimes be involved with a triathlon.
Lastly, the winter can be a great time to try a swim meet or two! I participated in my first swim meet two years ago, and while I got DQ’ed from one event and certainly didn’t win any of the other events that I entered, I had a good time and enjoyed the challenge. Check out the U.S. Masters website for a list of local Masters groups that might be sponsoring an upcoming meet.
Try something new (or go back to something old!)
A few years ago, I took an “Introduction to Kettlebells” class that was required before participating in the local YMCA’s kettlebell course. I was hooked! It was a great mix of strength training and cardio work, and the 6 AM class was a great way to kick off the workday. The off-season is the perfect time to work on strength training (which is often overlooked during triathlon training), and kettlebells is a great way to do that.
Other strength training classes include TRX, Cross Fit, and other local YMCA or gym classes. I have found that TRX is another butt-kicker of a workout, relying mostly on body weight rather than weights, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s easy!
Yoga and Pilates are additional options for new and different workouts that offer a nice variety to your typical swim, bike, and run schedule. Power and Bikram yoga can both be very challenging if you feel that you need a harder workout, and Pilates can really help with core strength, which can translate into better cycling form and faster running.
Most importantly, enjoy yourself!
The off-season shouldn’t be about constantly watching your food intake, weeks of difficult workouts, and a lack of social life. The off-season should be about kicking back, enjoying a treat now and then, and maybe sitting on the couch to watch a little more football than what is reasonable. Even more importantly, the off-season is about giving your mind and body a break from the rigors of triathlon training, to have some fun and not be too worried about missing a workout here and there.
The off-season also gives all of us triathletes time to step back, reflect on our performances over the season, and set new goals for the next year. And it’s important to remember that while we might lose a bit of fitness during the off-season, we’ll quickly gain it back at the start of the season, along with a renewed excitement for the sport and exciting goals to keep us motivated for the season.
October 13, 2014 on 10:00 am | In Product Information, Training, Water | No Comments
This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Tom Golden. He’ll blow most peoples’ doors off in the water, so read on and get fast.
Much like a drug addict wanting a greater high, every year we, as triathletes, evaluate how to get to get more out of our addiction and take it to the next level. For me, I think about that every year when it comes to running, which is my need-to-improve sport. Fortunately, I grew up as a distance swimmer and consider it the lethal part of my race. More often than not, I hear from fellow triathletes, “I wish I had your swim” and “I just can’t seem to get faster.” When I ask what they are doing in the water, I usually hear the same thing and think to myself, “no wonder your swim has not improved, you’re not really pushing your swim.” I am by no means an expert but I have a very simple way to improve over the course of a season. In fact, if you have 3 months left this year you still have time.
First, get in a masters swim program. [Editor's note: Many triathletes are intimidated by the thought of joining a Masters swim group, mostly because of the name...don't be. There are lanes for the very fast, but also the very slow, and they welcome everyone!] There are several really reasons for this. I know it costs money, but if you get in a good program, it’s worth every penny. I used to swim on my own and it did the trick, but getting in the water and being pushed to race others in practice is a sure fire way to improve. It builds consistency at each workout. You also gain the confidence of swimming tactfully. You gain insight on how to wear someone out by changing your pace, or pacing with someone and then trying to drop them as they tire out. You also gain knowledge from other, more experienced swimmers around you. Having a coach from the deck to correct your stroke is essential, as well. Get the right equipment – kickboard, fins, paddles, buoy, your favorite goggles, and sometimes even a snorkel, and you’ll be ready to go.
Second, it’s important to know that most masters programs are not designed for triathletes or distance swimming of 1.2 or 2.4 miles. Most programs are tailored to a mid-distance sprint of a 200 or 500 yard race. As a distance swimmer, you may think you need to be doing long sets of 800 repeats, and sometimes that’s good, but more importantly you need to learn how to pace and hold that pace. In a masters program, you will need to modify what you are doing so that you can work on pacing. For instance, let’s say the set calls for 8×200 descend 1-4, 5-8. You would adapt that set to holding a solid steady pace on each repeat and then get after the last one. Or going out moderate on the first 100 and negative split by 2 seconds on the second 100. This will teach your body how to hold a pace, which is what you want to do in a race. Be sure to be aware of others around you who are doing the set the way the coach called for and make sure that you don’t get in their way.
Third, you need to adapt over time working in a tighter interval. For example, each season, after all the fitness is gone and I get back in the water after a month break, I will start out in the 1:15 per 100 threshold lane. I focus on that concept of holding a pace no matter what the set calls for. After about a week, I move to the 1:10 per 100 lane, again working on holding a pace. I will spend about a month letting my body adapt to shorter rest intervals. Then I will move to the 1:05 threshold lane and do the same for the majority of my season. Now to be honest, the first month in that lane sucks and I may barely make the interval but that’s exactly what you want to do. Hold a pace and let your body adapt. Hang with it, be consistent and it will pay off.
Finally, like the other two sports, having good form and being efficient in the water is important and should not be sacrificed. To this day, in every workout in every set on every repeat, I am thinking about reaching out and finishing through on my stroke. How I am breathing, rotating through the water, snapping my hips and how I am catching the water. All the tips in the world are useless if your form is a mess. So take the time to get instruction and watch good swimmers in the water. Good luck and I hope you get fast!
October 7, 2014 on 1:58 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments
This blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Billy Oliver. As a frequent podium topper, you might just want to read what he has to say. Check out Billy’s blog or follow him on Twitter – triathltb.
We all know the most important thing is the motor. But saving watts through smart gear choices is easy to do and will maximize the efficiency of your motor, allowing you to cover the same distance faster and begin your run fresher.
Let’s start with you. Your body is the biggest thing the wind sees. A proper aero position is vital to make yourself as little to the wind as possible. A proper fit is vital so that you can hold that position for the duration of the event. If you are not comfortable in your aero position, you will not stay in that position and will lose precious time.
Head position is vital to your aero position. Holding your head high puts it in the wind. Turtling your head to keep it low and out of the airflow will save time. Add to that an aero helmet and you’re talking major time savings. Not all aero helmets work for everyone. If you ride head down, a long tailed helmet will be sticking up in the wind and a blunt tailed helmet will be a faster match. Look at photos of yourself in races to see how you ride and make the best choice for you.
The new breed of aero triathlon frames will save you time over a round tube frame. Again though, a proper fitting frame is vital. The most aero frame in the world will not save you time if you can’t get into, and comfortably hold, a good aero position.
Aero wheels are another big time saver. As deep of a wheel as your handing skills allow in the front teamed up with a disc or deep aero wheel in the rear will yield big time gains, especially in longer distance races.
The position of your water bottles is the next area of time savings. Wind tunnel testing has shown the most aero set up is a bottle horizontally mounted between your aerobars. If an additional bottle is needed, a bottle mounted as close to horizontal as possible behind your saddle is a good choice.
Your clothing choice should be tight fitting. Loose clothing will flap in the wind. Don’t spend a lot investing in your bike and getting it as lightweight and aero as possible if you put on clothing that acts like a sail…it will undo all your efforts.
The little things will clean up airflow, also. Nutrition storage in a top tube mounted holder is superior to bars/gels taped all over the top tube. Nothing at all is even better…utilize the aid stations.
Cutting your cables to proper lengths and routing them cleanly will also yield small savings as they won’t be sticking out all over the place. Each of these is a small piece of the puzzle. Each will save you small amounts of time, and the more you employ, the bigger the time savings you will enjoy!
September 8, 2014 on 3:34 pm | In Community, Life at TriSports.com, Random Musings, Training | No Comments
This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Anthony Bagnetto. Pay attention all you city-folk! Check out Anthony’s blog or follow him on Twitter – anthonybagnetto.
Being a triathlete is difficult. Let’s face it, it’s a huge reason we all do it. ‘Easy’ bores us, only one discipline bores us (what, no transitions!?). Early mornings, inclement weather, technical and nutritional failures are all par for our course. But there is yet another subset of us who face an additional challenge in preparing for races which, time wise, is 95% of being a triathlete.
I’m speaking of us inner city dwellers. No, not the townhouse owners on the city’s edge with driveways and parking but us brave-hearted souls who dream of a second bedroom so we can not have bikes hanging precariously from the wall over our beds as we sleep. The barriers we face on top of the difficulties inherent in our endeavors require a lot of creativity and close intimacy with repetition.
I live in the heart of New York City, and happily, there is a strong, thriving triathlete community here with no fewer than 8 solid Tri teams, organizations, and countless cycling and running teams. The community is strong, the will is there–the space isn’t. We are up against each other every morning, runners darting out into cyclists, cyclists swerving into running paths. And, of course, the tens of thousands of tourists that descend, making going fast dangerous and nearly impossible.
This all happens on a 6 mile circle between the hours of 5-7:30am every weekday morning in our training ground, THE ONLY training ground, Central Park. OK, that’s not totally true. There are several spacious parks in the other boroughs, but if you’re centrally located, the commuting time might take longer than your workout time.
I’ve broken down challenges and clever ways we city-folk create to overcome them by discipline.
Being in the northeast and surrounded by concrete, the idea of an outdoor 8-lane Olympic sized pool is a pipe dream. Access to a 25 yard or a 25 or 50 meter pool is supremely hard, or at least very expensive, as they come with mandatory gyms fees attached (by my count, there are 3 Olympic lane swimming pools in Manhattan, none of them easy to reach). One way triathletes get around this is through those tri teams that we belong to. They often have relationships with different facilities, so if you are going to do mostly group workouts, you are allowed to use the pool with the group as part of your membership. Some private triathlon coaches, like myself, have these relationships, as well, and can get you in for private lessons.
Some are lucky/rich enough to have a pool in their doorman building, and I’ve had clients in a lot of them. While this sounds awesome, it really isn’t. I haven’t found one yet that’s actually 25 yards long. So being good at both math and flip turns is essential.
As for open water practice, you can head way out to one of the Brooklyn beaches and brave the waves but as for anywhere else, as they say there, “fuggedaboutit”
Here in Manhattan there are 3 options, and only 2 of them really useful for any kind of speed work. The West Side Highway has a very nice bike/running path but therein lies the problem. Runners, walkers and aerobar’d speedster triathletes competing for space within 5 feet of each other isn’t ideal for anything other than slow recovery rides. Which leaves that 6 mile loop of Central Park I mentioned and that’s only useful during non-tourist hours before 8:30am. If you are a long course triathlete, it’s off to Jersey, along the well-ridden 9W route. While this option is great (wide shoulders, frequent cyclist-friendly coffee shops and bathrooms) it can become mind-numbingly repetitive. Plus, depending on where you live in NYC, the commute to get out over the George Washington bridge (read: warmup) can be over a half hour each way.
There are a handful of growing indoor cycling studios with computrainers and flatscreens that welcome both teams and individuals for different workouts, and they become very popular in the winter offseason. Even these are cramped, though, and few have shower or changing facilities.
This is really where my city (or really any other city) shines for triathletes as it is much easier to lace up some shoes and be running just outside your door in only minutes. On foot there is no need to stick to the boring 6 mile drive in Central Park since you can veer onto any number of the hundreds of trails that crisscross the many iconic acres. Running with traffic can be challenging, but it’s a skill easily learned and, unless you are doing speed work, you can generally work the traffic lights so that there is minimal stopping. The people-watching is unrivaled and, with each neighborhood sometimes seeming like a separate country, boredom is never an issue.
No matter which leg of a triathlon you are training for, in a city it’s difficult to escape the glass, steel and concrete bearing down on you every day. So when you are at those races in the country and you see a few of us looking up at the clear wide open sky in astonishment, just remember, this is our escape both figuratively and literally. We won’t let it slow us down, though, we just take it in faster.
August 28, 2014 on 11:14 am | In Community, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments
This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Don Quinn. He’s the guy who rolls up to the race in the RV, and you’re jealous because he gets to sleep in later than you. Follow Don’s blog or on Twitter – donpquinn3.
“It must be tough to train while traveling all the time.” I hear that a lot. You see, this family of six just happens to live in an RV, and travel the country full-time. Going on four years now. I’m not going to lie, it’s a pretty sweet way to live! It can be very challenging, however, to commit to a training plan while going from point A to point B. Finding places to swim is especially difficult, but we do get to run and bike in some amazing places.
So, how can you get an effective workout while juggling the different needs of your spouse and kids, whether you’re on the road or not? I’ll give you some examples of what works for us, and you may find they work for your family, or training group.
The Yo-Yo Run
After a warm-up together, we each run at our own pace. When the lead runners reach the next trail intersection (or sign, or really any predetermined distance or time) they “turn-n-burn,” high-tailing it to the back of the pack, while exchanging fives and words of encouragement with fellow runners, naturally. Then, after a brief recovery, regular pace is resumed until the next turnaround point. This pattern continues until the end of the run. We start together and finish together, and in the middle we all do our own thing.
The Yo-Yo allows each runner to reach his or her own distance and speed goals, while simultaneously enjoying some of that vital “alone with my thoughts” time so many of us crave while running. As a husband and father, it provides some peace of mind knowing I will have regular check-ins with the family. The level of peace of mind is directly proportional to the number of man-eating predators roaming the woods. There are times when the predators are just too numerous, so we stick to the family hike and call it cross-training.
The Yo-Yo can also be applied to a family hike, with some members running ahead while the hikers (aka “mules” because they carry the extra supplies) keep a steady pace. And on a point-to-point hike, one of us will drop the others at the trailhead, drive to the other end and start running to meet up with the rest of the group, and then the Yo-Yo begins.
The Yo-Yo can also be done on the bike, but the turnarounds can be a bit more dangerous on busy roads, so be careful.
The Playground (PG) Run
Some of our favorite workouts involve playgrounds. When there are multiple PGs within our running distance, we stop at each one for a variety of exercises, or hit the same one multiple times. Ever since our kids were in backpacks and strollers, I’ve scanned playground equipment for exercise possibilities; now I’m rewarded with seeing my kids do the same thing: “Hey Dad, that looks like a good spot for pullups.”
A fan favorite is the “Spartan Around.” We start at one end of the equipment and have to climb all the way around the absolute outside and back to the start without falling in the “lava” (touching the ground). It’s an excellent full-body workout for everyone, and you’ll never hear the kids ask if we’re done yet. Plus, you’ll be ready for your next obstacle race, or whatever life throws at you. Give it a try, whether you have kids or not, and you’ll be hooked.
Before or after your near-death lava experience, find a convenient pull-up spot and get ready for a fun challenge. This can be done individually, as a single team, or as teams going head-to-head. We’ll pick a goal, say, 100 pull-ups total for the six of us. Then, we each go to failure one at a time in quick succession until we reach our team goal. The one goal for the whole team enables each person to do what he or she feels comfortable with, without the pressure of direct competition with others.
And now, scan the equipment to discover what else is possible. Prove to your kids that you do actually have a creative bone in your body. Really, anything involving body weight and grip strength will serve you well. Think outside the box. Speaking of which, I’m sure you’ll find a spot for box jumps. How about split box runs? Start with one foot on top of the bench or box (the other on the ground) and quickly switch feet like you’re running up stairs, pumping your arms in time. It won’t take much to get your heart rate up.
Some other exercises to consider: dips; rows; push-ups (of course, but try a variety of hand placements); Bulgarian split-squats; and ab curl-ups. For the ab curl-ups, grab the set of rings and get inverted (throw in some upside-down pull-ups, while you’re at it), then curl back down with your knees tucked to your chest as slowly as you can. Feel that? Oh yeah! Now do five more.
Walmart (aka “Make Do With What You Have”)
That’s right. As full-time RVers we occasionally stay overnight in Walmart parking lots, and other odd spots. With the right attitude, it can be a fun adventure, and you can still get a workout. A recent stay at a Walmart in Minnesota had us doing burpees and then sprinting up and down a hill. A little friendly competition. A couple days later (at another Walmart), we chose a plyo workout that included: power skips, for height and then distance; two-footed hops, again, for height and then distance; and multi-directional “jops” (jump off two feet onto one, and back, in four directions).
And we have a full set of resistance bands that sees regular use; a great way to keep the swimming muscles in shape when you can’t get to a pool. When all else fails, we have our “Hundreds,” so called because they started as four sets of twenty-five repetitions of squats, push-ups, and ab work. Any number of exercises can be substituted, such as, step-back lunges, or one-legged squats and deadlifts. And rotating a variety of exercises will help keep it fresh. Most times, we work one side of the body at a time, forcing us to engage the core to balance.
The bottom line: Whether you travel a lot, have kids or not, life tends to throw speed bumps and potholes at all of us along the way. Stay flexible in your training, and you will weather the bumps more easily. Do what you can, when you can, and don’t sweat the rest. And if your training includes a spouse, kids, or anyone else really, always try to stay positive, supportive, and considerate. It’s a fine line between motivating and discouraging. With a little creativity, you can get a decent workout anywhere and anytime.
April 22, 2014 on 4:46 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments
Earth Day is one of those days that is a pseudo-holiday…we don’t give gifts, or bake cakes (usually), but it’s a great reminder that our Earth DOES need to be celebrated, and its plights brought to light. Earth Day was founded back in 1970 by Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin Senator, in response to the damage caused by a massive oil spill on the California coast in 1969. He believed that the power of the people, as demonstrated by student anti-war movement, could be harnessed to bring attention to the environment. He was right, and in 1990, Earth Day went global. You can find Earth Day Festivals in almost every community, parades to march in, trees to plant, waterways to clean. But do we really need to stick to doing these things on just one day a year? The answer is a resounding “NO!”
The next question out of most people is “well, what can I do?” Very simply, anything. When TriSports.com began as a small start-up located in our home, we were already recycling paper and plastic, so it was easy to continue doing that as the company invaded our home. We found we were able to reuse the boxes and packing material in which our inventory arrived to send out our customer packages. Small steps, yes, but steps in a forward direction. As we grew and moved to our first warehouse location, we were leasing and were unable to do everything we wanted on the sustainability front. We still made it a point to use repurposed wood to build structures in our warehouse, to recycle on a larger scale, begin a commuter program for our staff, and to be as thrifty as possible with our energy usage.
Our second move involved the purchase of our own building, and with that, the ability to tailor it to our needs and put in the features we had thus far only dreamed about. We worked with our architect to integrate as many “green” features into the building as we could at the time. Some of these efforts included:
- Dual light controls in office spaces, along with plenty of natural light, so everyone thinks twice before flipping those switches.
- Zoned A/C throughout to ensure that only the spaces being used are being cooled.
- Herman Miller furniture throughout, most of which is made from recycled material and can be recycled after its useful life.
- Carpet tiles made from recycled materials, which also make it easy to replace small areas rather than having to entirely re-carpet if something were to damage it.
We also continued our internal practices, some of which are:
- Extensive recycling – the recycling container is about 4x larger than the trash container, and it doesn’t stop with paper. We recycle the pallets that bring our shipments to us, the boxes that come in our back door, clothing, shoes, bike parts and more!
- Commuter program which encourages employees to bike to work by giving them a credit for every mile they commute, along with contests and awards to make it fun and interactive. Our employees commuted 29,000 miles in 2013, and have done close to 180,000 since inception of the program.
- Greenbox program which gives our customers the option to receive a recycled box and packing material instead of new. So many customers were choosing this option that we stopped making it optional and implemented it for all orders, though we don’t have near enough recycled boxes for all of them.
- Shoe collection program which donates collected shoes to a local non-profit for reuse within the Tucson community.
- Bike parts are donated to Resource Revival to be re-made into art and awards.
- Adopt-a-Road trash clean-up along Catalina Highway, the road to Mt Lemmon.
We have since been able to add water harvesting to the tune of two 18,000 gallon tanks, as well as a 128 kWh solar array that has been covering approximately 90% of our energy usage. In 2013 alone, our water tanks harvested 57,000 gallons of water that we used for landscaping and other gray water needs, like washing our expo trailer. The solar produced 241 MWh, accounting for 92% of our energy for the year, and in doing so, prevented 8.74 tons of methane and 163 tons of CO2 from entering our air, plus saved 18,657 gallons of gasoline and 120,679 gallons of water. You can see our current numbers anytime by clicking here.
We at TriSports.com are super proud of this, and hope that other businesses and individuals look to us as an example of a sustainable business, but we did it in baby steps…it all started with just a little recycling. So when you think, “I’m just one person, I can’t make a difference,” I’m here to tell you that you CAN. Start small, and even if you continue small, every little bit counts.
March 17, 2014 on 2:32 pm | In Athlete Profile, Community, Random Musings, Sponsorship | No Comments
This blog brought to you by TriSports Team athlete Scott Bradley, reminding all of us why we started our endurance sports habits in the first place. Check out Scott’s blog and follow him on Twitter – scottbradley11.
Trying to be a competitive triathlete is not easy. It requires a pretty large commitment to be putting your name towards the top of the results sheet race after race. There are countless hours spent training, sleeping, eating, reading about the newest training techniques and equipment, studying competitors and everything else we spend time on. If you let it, the whole thing can become one big grind.
I couldn’t say for sure, but it’s highly unlikely that when anyone started multisport they said, “I want to get involved in a sport that will take time away from my family and friends, cost me thousands of dollars in equipment and race fees (not to mention the larger than normal grocery bills), and beat the crap out of my body day after day so I’m exhausted almost all the time. That sounds fun.” It’s much more likely that people said something like, “I want to challenge myself to be the healthiest, fittest person I can possibly be” or “that looks like it would be a lot of fun,” which leads me to the best advice I’ve ever received as a triathlete: Make sure it’s still fun.
When I started triathlon I had no clue what I was doing. My first season was nothing short of a disaster and if I hadn’t just purchased a really expensive bike toward the end of it, I would have thrown in the towel. I kept at it, however, and was fortunate enough to have a colleague who had been doing this stuff for years, and had been tearing up courses since way back when I was still wearing pull-ups, take me under his wing. He gave me training structure and taught me about how to prepare for races properly. We rode and ran together all the time, often with a bunch of his other friends who were also veterans of the sport.
When it was time for a big ride, there were often interesting destinations. Usually it was some sort of annual trip for these guys, but to me these were all new experiences. One day we were riding to the Maple Tree Inn, which was about a 75 mile round trip ride with lots of climbing on an annual ride they called “The Easter Bunny Ride” because it always happened in late March or early April when the restaurant was open, which is only for about eight weeks a year (as a side note, this place has the best buckwheat pancakes and syrup anywhere and I highly recommend anyone in upstate New York going if you’ve never been). I was riding next to Carl and he said “Make sure this is always fun. If it stops being fun, don’t do it anymore.” That’s why they had all these destinations for rides and took so many crazy trips. It made it fun and every year they would go back to places together and enjoy each others’ company and share memories.
There are days when we have to rise early to train before work or winter months where we have to grind out hours on the trainer in order to maximize our potential (we don’t all live in sunny Tucson!). Every session isn’t going to be about fun, but if none of them are, what’s the point? I’ve found ways to make the 5am pool sessions fun by swimming with a great group of people (and I don’t even really like swimming to begin with). In the winter, a few friends will bring their bikes over and we will set up shop in my basement to watch movies while we grind away on the trainers.
A little creativity and a few friends can make almost any session more enjoyable. It is a piece of advice I will never forget and hopefully I can continue to have fun with this sport until I’m old and gray so I can share it with some up and coming triathlete who’s just getting into it. If I do, it’ll probably be the best advice I ever give, too.
February 24, 2014 on 4:56 pm | In Athlete Profile, Charity, Community, Giving Back | No Comments
This blog brought to you by Helgi Spencer Olafson, Amateur Triathlete and Arthritis Warrior with Ankylosing Spondylitis. Check out Helgi’s website, join his Race For a Cure team, donate and follow him on Twitter – @HelgiOlafson.
I often ask myself… “why do I keep adding more and more to my plate?”…and then I think to myself, “if only there were more hours in a day… yeah, that would be awesome!”
But this is reality!!
The earth will always turn at a pace which conducts time. We have no control over time. What we DO have is control over how we spend that time. YOU have the power of CHOICE.
Is it selfish to take the time to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Or is it something that can be used as an example for others to follow with the hopes of getting this world out of the rut that we are in where everyone is searching for the magic pill?
Here is the bottom line: EVERYONE suffers from hardship and challenges at one point or another in their lives. Some people have it easy and some don’t. It is likely that each of us can’t know exactly how it feels to be in another person’s shoes. We are genetically different from one another and it’s just not the way genealogy works.
What is important is that we continue to use the lessons from our personal experiences and education, as well as the history recorded by countless visionaries over the many centuries that humans have roamed this earth. Believe it or not, “Visionaries” are people just like you and me. I have Ankylosing Spondylitis, and I AM a visionary for many. For them I carry a torch, which also stays lit in my heart. I will lead the way, while learning, teaching, growing, and respecting the knowledge that history and experience has provided.
Harness the thoughts that you produce in your mind. They can move mountains!
Triathlon as Medicine for #Arthritis
Since competing as a runner for a relay team in my first ever triathlon, which was the 2012 Lavaman Waikoloa Olympic distance triathlon, I was hooked. I knew that this was the answer. I was tired of living my days with a back, bones, and joints that hurt because I wasn’t taking the best possible care of myself. “But I have autoimmune arthritis, and it makes it hard for me!” No, Helgi!! THAT is even MORE the reason why you should be held accountable for your health. No more giving the jet plane regular unleaded for fuel. It was time to figure out how to manage my arthritis, and help others by leading the way.
I found that if I maintain a good combination of swimming, biking and running, as well as functional strength, core work, and a proper stretching routine to maintain flexibility, I am currently almost invulnerable, aside from the common daily creaks and cracks, to the autoimmune disease that may eventually cause my spine, hips and other joints to fuse together. This fusion, or ankylosis, is caused by severe inflammation and pain. The autoimmune arthritis I have is called Ankylosing Spondylitis, or AS. 40% of the world’s population will suffer from one or more of the over 200 types of arthritis at least once in their lifetime.
Triathlon is great for arthritis! I am not a Rhuematologist, or even a doctor, but I am my own maker, and I know that triathlon training works for me. It can also work for others, but those of us who have arthritis know that our bodies and bones don’t really react very well to sudden changes. This is why it is important to ease into triathlon and be sure to use each discipline regularly to improve overall fitness and core strength, while maintaining a proper plan with the help of a coach that understands your personal limitations from arthritis. A strong core helps maintain the integrity of my joints.
Of course it hurts! I AM human…but I think I am on to something here.
I put my music on and run the trails of the lava fields, valley-laden coastline, or the rain forests of Hawai’i. Give me a day cycling the hills in the Pacific Northwest, or the flats of Florida. There is nothing like jumping into the water for a training swim at the pier in Kailua Kona, which also happens to be the start-line for the Ironman World Championship event that takes place each year to crown the best Ironman triathletes in the world.
Talk about motivation all around me. Here is the deal. There is no “Magic Pill.” There may never be a “Cure.” What does exist is #Hope. Raising awareness by word of mouth and through networking is a key element in reaching the extremely large number of arthritis patients, doctors and interested parties all over the world.
If you support arthritis and exercise as medicine, and you would like to help this cause, please support our mission and consider a donation. Perhaps you would like to join our team and race with us in support of arthritis research and programs to help people with arthritis? All levels welcome! You can learn more about our team here, and learn more about me here.
TriSports.com supports the Helgi Olafson Foundation…use coupon code HOF14 to donate 15% of your purchase directly to the Helgi Olafson Foundation. Code cannot be combined with any other offers. Sale items and items designated as non-discountable will not be included.
January 21, 2014 on 4:03 pm | In CAF, Charity, Community, Giving Back, Random Musings | No Comments
Races use to be just that…races. But training for races is a lot of hard work, and quite some time back, some one (not sure when, not sure who) came up with the idea that as long as people are training, why not train for a cause? In my mind, Team-in-Training was the one that really put this kind of racing on the map and, since it was founded in 1988, they and untold other charities have benefited from people racing for dollars. What has been amazing are the people from all walks of life who are brought together for a cause, people who may never have even run a 5K, let alone a marathon; never done a sprint triathlon, let alone an Ironman, yet they are willing to toe the line to raise money for research to beat down the disease that took their brother, their mother, their daughter, their best friend. The causes are numerous, but the goal the same…raise as much as possible for the cause that speaks to you.
I have done this before, raising money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, an organization that does amazing things for people with disabilities – they give them the freedom to get out and participate in athletics by providing prosthetics, training, travel and more. I did my first event with them in 2003 and have participated most years since then (a fire in SD, a couple of pregnancies and our store grand opening had me miss a few), and I don’t even know at this point how much money we’ve raised for them doing their San Diego Triathlon Challenge, Million Dollar Challenge and Race For a Reason over the years. I’ve made great friends and memories to last a lifetime! I’ll always continue to race for CAF because I truly believe in what they do, and the people who run it are amazing!
We have become involved with another amazing organization, this one local to our Tucson community, called Tu Nidito (means “Your Little Nest”). Over 19 years ago, some incredible people saw a hole in the support system for children who had been diagnosed with a serious medical condition (and the adults who care for them) or who had suffered the loss of a loved one, and so they created Tu Nidito to fill that hole. Today, Tu Nidito serves around 900 children and their families, providing ongoing support for grieving children, and helping families who have a seriously ill child all the way from diagnosis to either recovery or the bleak alternative. Just visiting and touring the facility brings tears to my eyes. The staff there is so strong to face these families and the losses they suffer on a daily basis. They do all of this at absolutely no cost to the families, and so fundraising is super important for them. They have had their “Ride for a Child” program for years, pairing a cyclist competing in El Tour de Tucson with a child. The cyclist rides for that child and raises funds for Tu Nidito. This year, they are launching their “Tri for a Child” program, and have partnered with us to try to help get the word out. They have spots for sold out IRONMAN Boulder, as well as the challenging IRONMAN Lake Tahoe. Sure, you could go get an entry for Tahoe at regular price, but by racing for Tu Nidito, you’ll get so much more, and I’m not talking about the tangibles, though those are pretty cool (ever heard of Jimmy Riccitello? He’ll be your coach). You don’t need to be a local Tucsonan to believe in what they do, so check it out, and consider racing for them…there are many children who will be very glad that you did!
December 13, 2013 on 12:06 pm | In Charity, Community | No Comments
This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Jake Greenwood. As we approach the anniversary of this very tragic event, we thought Jake’s blog (written earlier this year) was the perfect one to share. We all hope that the people of Sandy Hook are finding joy this holiday season in the memories of those lost to them. Follow Jake on Twitter – gwoodjcg.
This blog is not about Leadville or Kona. This blog is about a 5K. That’s right, 3.1 miles. Most of you wouldn’t even enter a 5K race. Recently I participated in a 5K that was far more grueling than any other endurance event I’ve encountered in my life.
I live a mere 12 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School and have seen my community and my schools changed forever. The innocence my children once had hopping on the school bus each morning has been stripped from them. In return we have been given fear, frustration, and a deep, deep hole in our souls.
On March 23rd I participated in the Sandy Hook Run for the Families in Hartford, Connecticut. Along with 12,000 other participants, I ran the 3.1-mile loop through Bushnell Park to raise money for the families.
Again, most of you wouldn’t even enter a 5K race. Your countless hours of training have fine-tuned your bodies to view a 5K as a warm up to the next 20 miles you’ll run. But make no mistake; this was a grueling 3.1 miles. Far more grueling than the hours you will spend on the road this weekend.
Prior to the run, 26 bells were rung one at a time to symbolize the lost lives of the students and faculty of Sandy Hook Elementary School. The sound of 12,000 silent people in the heart of one of the largest metropolitan cities in the U.S. was deafening. As we wound through the course not a word was uttered. All that could be heard was heavy breathing and the whimpers of adults fighting back tears.
With a heavy heart, I proudly pushed my 4 year old daughter and 1 year old daughter in the stroller while holding my 8 year old son’s hand through the course. No course record was to be set. No medals were given out. No post race barbeques were held. No tales of trials and triumph were shared. The crowd simply ran the course and slowly, sadly made their way back to their cars and drove home.
When I wake up early and fill my water bottles for a long day of biking and running, I often think of that morning. I can still see the pain in so many of the adult’s eyes and the lack of understanding in my children’s faces. The pain I will feel as I embark on hour 4 in the tri-position is no match for the pain in all of our hearts over the recent tragic events of Sandy Hook and now Boston.
The Sandy Hook Run for the Families was not about running. It was about life: honoring the memory of precious lives lost through tragedy and celebrating the gift of life. It was about uniting in hope for the future.
Live. That is what we must do. Embrace new challenges. Push your body beyond its limits. Spoil your family. Because, in the end, life is finite and today will too soon be yesterday.