How to Travel to a Race

By Eric M.
May 29, 2013 on 1:13 pm | In Nutrition Tips, Races, Sponsorship, Training, Training | No Comments

This post was written by TriSports Triathlon Team member Zara Guinard.

So you just signed up for a race that is not within 20 miles of your house; hotel, flight, and rental car are all booked. The next question is, “how do you ensure you arrive at your destination (relatively) stress free, prepared, and ready to race?” You must plan. I mean REALLY plan. First you have Plan A, and then you have Plan B, Plan C, and maybe even a Plan D.

It is my experience in the past few years of traveling to races that things will always go wrong, but you can minimize your stress by arriving well prepared. I always do a little research on the area where I’m staying and find out the projected weather conditions for my time there, a layout of the area such as restaurants near the hotel, and distances to the expo and the airport.

Now that you know what the conditions and weather will most likely be on race day, it’s time to pack. I have a list that I print out (packing list at the end of the article) every time I go to a race. I only cross off an item once it is packed away. Sometimes I don’t need all the items for where I’m traveling, but its comprehensiveness ensures that I won’t absent-mindedly forget something.

I travel with a Rüster Sports Hen House, my wheel bag, and a backpack.

In my bike bag I put everything that I need to race: wetsuit, race suit, bike and run shoes, goggles, nutrition, bike tools, etc. Then in the wheel bag I pack all the rest of my clothes and toiletries. My backpack is my carry on and where I usually keep all my expensive electronic items such as my iPod and Garmin 910 XT.

Okay your bags are packed and you’re ready to go! Wait, what about nutrition?! Traveling to a race can be stressful on your body; you may be switching to a different time zone or your flight may be at an odd hour of the day. So how do you ensure that you are fueling properly to have a great race? That’s right! You plan. When traveling to a race in Florida where I knew that I would be going pretty much all day nonstop, this is what I packed for food:

I made sure to have my dinner food (the brown rice and avocado) with me. That way when I arrived at my destination I could focus on building my bike, and getting to bed, since my race was the following morning.

Okay, so you have your clothes, gear and food. After flying and driving for what seemed like centuries, you have finally made it to the hotel and now you can …rebuild your bike!!! For those who travel often, it is more economical to be able to pack and rebuild your bike on your own. If you have the means, there are often companies that will break down, ship and rebuild your bike for you. I happen to be very protective of my bikes and, as taught to me by my coach Trista Francis of iTz Multisport, I won’t let anyone touch my bike in the break down or re-build process. Only I know exactly how it is supposed to be for race day. Even after multiple assembly processes I still find it helpful to take pictures just in case in that frustrated, foggy, post-travel phase, you accidentally put your fork in backwards…not that I’ve ever done that of course.

Congratulations! You arrived at your destination with everything you need, a functioning bike, and either food for dinner or a contingency plan for the closest restaurant. Now it’s time to relax, hydrate, and enjoy a race outside of your own backyard!

Packing List:

Yoga For Triathletes

By Eric M.
May 21, 2013 on 2:14 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

This is a post by coach Scott Beesley, USAT, RYT that is brought to you by our friends at CoachFitter.com

Let’s be honest – there exists more training and recovery modalities and philosophies than there is time to try them all.  One that is tried and true with my athletes is yoga.  One triathlete credits yoga with her ability to stay in aero for hours on end while a 60-something marathoner I coach has gone so for as to call yoga his “personal fountain of youth.”  There are many reasons to add yoga to your triathlon training plan.  Here are seven:

  1. Pelvic and Shoulder Stability - Yoga builds strength throughout each practice, without the need to dedicate specific time to abdominals, low back and shoulders.  Continued practice brings a greater bodily awareness that helps keep the body in check during other disciplines.
  2. Bike Fit – As a yoga instructor, my biggest referral sources are professional bike fitters who cannot properly fit an athlete because of tight hips and low back.
  3. Aerodynamics – Forget the $2,000 wheel set and fancy bike helmet.  A year of yoga and you’ll add centimeters of drop, reducing drag and making life in the saddle more comfortable.
  4. Run Stride – The faster you get, the important it is to have open hips to allow for a steeper forward lean and longer stride length.
  5. Recovery - Muscles are laid down in our body like row after row of perfectly aligned railroad tracks at a microscopic level.  That soreness you feel the day after a hard workout is tiny tears in the muscle.   We get “knots” in the muscles when they grow back in random order.  By taking a Yin/Restorative, Gentle or Slow Flow class after your hard workout days your muscles stand a better chance to grow back in those nice perfect rows (although perhaps not as effective as that massage you’ve been putting off).
  6. Recovery, Part II - By moving through a gentle yoga progression the evening of or the morning after a hard work out you can help prevent blood from pooling in over-worked muscles.
  7. Dang, it feels good.  Period.

Scott Beesley is a triathlon coach and yoga instructor.  In 2012 his clients landed 18 podium spots and 4 USAT National Championship qualifying spots.  He holds certifications/registrations from USA Triathlon, The Yoga Alliance, and Slowtwitch’s F.I.S.T bike fit school. More free advice at www.solesinspired.com, www.facebook.com/solesinspired, www.youtube.com/solesinspired, and www.coachfitter.com.

Meds and Multisports: OTC Danger

By Eric M.
May 8, 2013 on 10:20 am | In Training, Training | 1 Comment

Today’s post is brought to you by TriSports Champ Greg Vanichkachorn, MD.

Triathletes are an assorted bunch.  Our swim styles are as uniform as the weather at St. George.  Our choice in bikes is as predictable as the Kona lottery. We do, however, share one common trait: we love to punish our bodies. Back aches, ITB pain, and anything-tendonitis: these are common maladies for the masochistic multi-sporter. The constant barrage on our bodies can take its toll, and it’s easy to reach for a pill when the pains persist.

As a physician, I have seen the unfortunate ramifications of equating “over the counter” with a notion of “not a real medicine.” Over the counter drugs, with their dangers hidden beneath familiarity, are most certainly real medications that can have significant side effects, even when used properly. Here are a few tips that can keep meds from being a prescription for disaster.

Nothing new on race day

One of the wisest adages of triathlon is that nothing new should be tried on race day. No matter how enticing those new wheels are at the expo, you don’t change your bike setup the day before an Ironman. The same philosophy should go for medications.

I know the feeling. That moment when you’re standing in Target, buying that travel toothbrush with that cap as a handle before leaving for Ironman, when you see it – the brand-spanking-new, clinically proven pill that cures aches, prevents sunburns, raises your power output, and unites North and South Korea. The shiny and new can be difficult to resist, but you must persevere.

Race day is not the time to realize that new med also causes explosive diarrhea. If you have medication requirements on race day, stick to what you know works for your body. Also, make sure you get your medications filled in a timely manner. You don’t want to show up on race morning without your blood pressure medicine. All the training won’t matter if you suffer a stroke.

NSAIDS, Exercise, and Gastritis Oh My!

Some of the most common medications used by athletes are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Advil and Aleve. While they are effective pain relievers, they can have several significant side effects, one of the most serious being irritation of the GI tract. This irritation can be so severe that it may result in bleeding or even perforation.  The risk is even greater with the extra sensitivity of the GI tract during strenuous exercise. Gastritis is not a fun way to recovery post race!

You can help avoid the bathroom podium finish first by practicing moderation: only use NSAIDS, especially before a really tough workout, if you really need it. If you do have to pop a few tablets, stick to the instructions on the bottle or your doctor’s orders. Unlike bicycles in the garage, more pills are not necessarily better! Also, take the medicine with food and allow plenty of time for it to settle in, say an hour, before pounding the pavement. If you do have post-workout GI issues from taking NSAIDS, speak with your medical provider to make sure nothing more serious is amiss.

Allergic to Being Awake

While we cherish the spring blooming of flowers (or the July thawing of lakes here in Montana), all of that glorious pollen blowing in our faces at 20 mph can have less than ideal results. The sore throat, itchy eyes, and runny nose of seasonal allergies can turn the most perfect of days into mucous mayhem.

“I love spring rides”

Fortunately, there are plenty of medications available to help prevent you from turning into a snot rocket. However, while some of the newer medications, such as Loratadine, are relatively safe, there are a couple out there that you should be wary of.

Benadryl, or diphenhydramine HCL, can definitely stop allergy symptoms in their tracks. The only problem is that Benadryl can also stop a horse in its tracks due to its sedative side effects. The drowsiness potential should not be underestimated; sometimes Benadryl is prescribed purely to help with sleep and anxiety. It is also one of the most commonly abused and impairing medications used in the work place. If Benadryl can make photocopying in the office dangerous, it’s the last thing you want in your system while descending at Coeur d’Alene or using a porta-potty.

Another allergy medicine that deserves special caution is good old Sudafed, or pseudoephedrine. Sudafed is a powerful nasal decongestant, and it works by constricting blood vessels in the nasal passages. The problem is that the medicine works like the TriSports Team; it gets the job done everywhere. The widespread vasoconstriction through out the body can lead to increased blood pressure, dry mouth, reduced sweat ability, and troubles urinating. These are the exact things you would like to avoid on the way to the Energy Lab in Kona.

Stay safe

In a time when there is a pill or supplement for everything, it is tempting to take a visit to the local drugstore for the next great cure when aches and pains arise. The indiscriminate use of meds, however, may do more harm for your triathlon career than a bottle of EPO in your fridge. Careful consideration and planning well ahead of race day will keep your medications a prescription for safety and success.

Commuting your way to a faster Ironman

By Eric M.
May 1, 2013 on 9:31 am | In Training, Training | 1 Comment
This post is brought to you by professional triathlete and Team TriSports member Thomas Gerlach.

One of the reasons that I choose to partner with TriSports is their unique desire for sustainability.  In case you haven’t visited the TriSports retail store/distribution warehouse in Tucson, they have a number of sustainability initiatives including, but not limited to: water harvesting, solar harvesting, and a first-rate bike commuter program for their employees. Just the bike commuter program alone has me in awe and is something I wish all companies took seriously. Imagine a world where everyone biked to work. That is my dream, but this post is about commuting your way to a faster Ironman, so I’ll save my dreams for another day.

As a professional triathlete, I have learned to get the majority of my easy, base miles (ie. building endurance) through simple commuting by bike. At different times of the year the percentage will fluctuate from anywhere from 35% of miles to 100% of my total bike miles, and the activities for me can be endless. Although I work out of my home, I do my grocery shopping by bike; bike to and from the pool, gym, and track practice; and even show up for my weekly massage/scrape session by bike. Although the miles and sessions may seem small compared to that cruel 8-hour ride that your coach put on your schedule, just like pennies in a penny jar, the miles really add up commuting.

Now, I am not suggesting you shouldn’t go out for the long rides that your coach has planned for you. It is important to go out and sit in the saddle and be prepared for just how long 112 miles is. However, I am suggesting that you talk with your coach about working in some commuting miles if you can. Over the course of an Ironman build, maybe you can replace one or two really long rides with commuting miles.

Truth be told, training for an Ironman is incredibly time consuming and can leave people exhausted and socially removed. Between all the work, family, and friend commitments, sometimes training is just getting in the way. Wouldn’t it be nice if biking to and from work was your only activity for the day?  Think about how long it really takes you to drive to work or do that regular errand?  What is preventing you from accomplishing it via bike? For me I can drive to my weekly scrapping/massage session at Proactive Therapy in Tucson and it takes me 40 minutes (14 miles). I can bike there in 45 minutes, and that is with 45lb commuter bike with 42mm tires and baskets hanging off the side.

Commuting by bike has been part of my DNA since I was a kid. However, it wasn’t until 3 years ago that I started to get serious about it again when I lived in Chicago. For the record, this will be my 7th season in triathlon. Looking at my training log from last week I can see that I sat in the saddle for a total of 9 hours and 17 minutes. However, only 50 minutes of that time was spent doing “real” work on my TT bike. Yet, all around me I am bombarded with social media updates about the latest pro triathlete’s “epic” training day of 8 hours and 140 miles. Truthfully, there is nothing sexy about all my dinky rides of 10 miles here and 20 miles there. However, I have confidence in my methods and a 4:15:57 Ironman bike split (3rd fastest split by any athlete in 2012) to back it up. Needless to say, I won’t be changing my DNA anytime soon.

Even if you don’t want to commute by bike, humor me, and next time you set out for a day of errands, just reset the trip odometer. Look at the odometer at the end of the day. I think you will be surprised by the number of miles you cover in your car when you likely could have used your bike and got in some significant base mileage. One of these days you might even been able to skip that early Saturday morning ride and sleep in for a change.

Thomas Gerlach is a 3rd year triathlete on Team TriSports. He is in his second full year as a professional triathlete and recently took 7th at the inaugural Ironman Los Cabos along with numerous podium spots in 2012 including 3rd at Ironman Louisville, Leadman Las Vegas, and Leadman Bend. He writes a weekly training update every week at www.thomasgerlach.com where he publishes his weekly training numbers.  Follow him at www.facebook.com/thomasgerlach and https://twitter.com/thomasgerlach.

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