June 24, 2013 on 10:20 am | In Uncategorized | 7 Comments
This blog post was written for us by TriSports Team member Karin Bivins.
I got into triathlons when I was nearly 57 years of age. The good thing was that our kids were grown and, although at that time I was still working, I would be retiring in the near future, so would have even more time to train (a real advantage). If you are considering triathlons, it helps if you already do one or more of the activities. I had been running and racing for a little over 10 years when I got into triathlons. I had been swimming since I was a kid, but never really competed in swimming; I was just a leisure swimmer. I was not fast, and still am not fast, but I can swim for a long time (which helps since I tend to focus on longer distance triathlons). As far as biking went, I had an old Schwinn Suburban that still had the baby-seat on the back (and the kid who rode in it was now 17 yrs. old, but that baby-seat could hold a bag of groceries or library books and was my errand bike). My friends told me, “Okay, it’s great that you are interested in getting into triathlons, but if you are going to use that bike, please take off the baby-seat!” I got a new bike, but just a road bike as I wasn’t ready for a fancy tri bike.
If you are considering triathlons, it helps to join a triathlon club, or sign up with a triathlon group (I signed up with Team-in-Training raising funds/awareness for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which provided mentors, coaches, and team-mates) or at least find some other triathletes that you can tap for advice and hopefully train with. A club can be especially helpful and supportive if you find the right club. Look for one that has people of varying abilities/varying ages, is welcoming to beginners, and offers training possibilities and education/information. Some clubs are highly competitive and could be intimidating and discouraging, especially for an older adult. Consider volunteering at races to see how things work. If you haven’t mastered all three components, consider doing just one segment as a relay.
Another possibility is to hire a coach; however, as an older adult, you really have to check around to find a coach who works well with older adults. Although most coaches will tell you they can work with older adults, some are much better and more experienced at it than others. Some just give the same workout as to a younger person and then say to, “Do what you can of it,” or they make slight modifications. Sometimes the best coach may be an older adult themselves, especially one who is still racing, for they may be dealing with some of the same issues that you are or can better relate.
As an older athlete, I have found that although I can do a certain volume of training, I need to spread it out for a longer amount of time to allow for adjustment to increased workouts and for rest and recovery time. Younger athletes seem to be little “Gumbys” and can bounce right back. I don’t “bounce” back so quickly and need adequate time to recover, or I increase my risk of becoming over-tired, ill or injured.
If you want to get faster, you need to train fast! While that makes perfect sense, as an older adult, you have to be more cautious doing speedwork. Some of the muscles and connective tissues aren’t quite as flexible as those of a fit, younger person, so you need to tune into your body and how it is feeling, that way you don’t pull something in the process. Consider doing flexibility training, such as stretching and yoga, to increase flexibility and minimize risk of high-intensity training and again, exert caution, gradually building up to increased workloads/intensities.
For me, personally, I have found that I can do a lot of swimming and push the bike, but I cannot push the run as much as I used to. The run pushes back too hard sometimes and I’ve had strained muscles, tendonitis and even a stress fracture. Then the time off from running is a set back, but luckily with triathlons, there are two other components, so even when injured, I can usually do one or both of the other activities and consider it an “opportunity” to improve on the ones I can do.
Triathlon is a great sport for all ages, but you have to train wisely, especially when you are older. Just figure that you will need more time to build up gradually and enjoy that fact that you can be out there participating!
June 17, 2013 on 9:43 am | In Uncategorized | 5 Comments
This blog post was written for us by Meredith Yox – TriSports.com Champion.
I was the girl in high school who was on a PE Medical for most of the three years of required Physical Education classes. When I wasn’t “injured,” I was one of the girls who walked the track rather than running. I had weak ankles – at least that was always my excuse. I never participated in any school sports, it just wasn’t my thing.
I started running after the births of my daughters to lose the baby weight. I had no idea how good it would make me feel. I felt strong and empowered, so I kept at it and even entered some 5k races. Who ever thought I could run a 5k? Those weak ankles only became stronger the more I ran. It was such an amazing feeling to know that in my thirties I had found something in me that I never knew was there.
As I gave up my career to raise my children, I struggled trying to readjust my identity. So much of own value had been based on my career and achievements at work. Once that was gone, I struggled. Who was I? Where was my value? That’s when I decided to take on my first half marathon. Training for a half marathon filled that void that I felt. I had a training plan to follow and goals to meet along the wa,y just as I had in my career. All of a sudden I felt like a legitimate runner, and I actually gave myself permission to call myself a “runner.” When I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon I cried. Never in my life had I ever felt such satisfaction from achieving a goal that I had worked so hard for.
2010 Las Vegas Rock n Roll Half Marathon
As it turns out, racing is quite addictive. Once you experience those endorphins, you want more of them. They don’t come easy; it takes a lot of work and lot of planning to earn them.
As a stay at home Mom, finding the balance between your family life and your training life is always a work in progress. It means riding my bike on the trainer in my family room, and planning my running days around my daughter’s pre-school schedule. It’s constantly changing for me; I’ve gone weeks trying to make it work when it just wasn’t. I would have to identify the problem and make adjustments to my schedule, and all of a sudden it was fun again. It requires a lot of planning and calendaring to get it all in. As my children’s school schedules change, I find myself having to adjust my training schedule to accommodate everyone’s needs. This means my girls are very tuned in to Mommy’s workouts and the benefits that come from those workouts.
At ages eight and five, both of my girls are runners. When my oldest was six, it was obvious that she also loved the benefits of running. I searched high and low for a program for her, but found nothing for her age. Then one day a program fell into my lap, but it would mean I would have to coach the program and recruit the other girls. I’m in my third year of coaching a team of elementary school girls in the Mini-Mermaid Running Club. At the end of the 6 week program, the girls run a 5k. Not only have I found my inner athlete, but I’ve helped my girls and their friends find their inner athlete. I can’t think of a better way to teach my children the benefits of exercise. In two weeks my five year old will be running her first 5k race.
As I looked for ways to continue to challenge myself, I decided to explore triathlon. I started swimming about a year ago and got myself a road bike. I stepped out of my comfort zone in a huge way to learn how to swim and how to ride a road bike. Failure is a scary thing, and I truly believe that most of us don’t push ourselves for fear of failure. It’s a daily struggle, but I have also learned the only way to accomplish your goals is to overcome your fears. If I want my children to overcome their own fears, I must show them that I can overcome mine.
In April, I finished my second triathlon and took the time to stop and kiss both of my girls in transition. If it weren’t for them, I would never even have gone down this crazy road.
Today, I have given myself permission to call myself an athlete. What I have realized along the way is that if I want it bad enough, I can achieve it. There have been sacrifices along the way, but those are small things like not reading as much, not watching as much television, or letting the laundry wait until rest day. The payoff is my health, happiness, and the example I set for my children.
June 11, 2013 on 1:12 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments
This refreshing hydration blog was written for us by TriSports Team member Nicole Truxes.
It’s heating up here in the desert, as I’m sure it is for much of the country. Summer time BBQs filled with burgers, watermelons, and margaritas are just around the corner! Everyone loves summer, with more hours of sunlight, less clothing, great tan lines – especially us triathletes – and (for most) no school! Even with all we have to look forward to in the summer, all the sweating during those hard miles does take a toll on your body, one that you may not be used to coming out of your winter training.
Staying hydrated is one of the most important parts of our training, and it’s one of the easiest ones to forget. First thing in the morning, aside from the hunger I’m sure many of you experience, you should be thinking about a glass of water. You don’t have to over do it, especially if you have a workout shortly after you rise (gotta beat the heat!), one 4-8 oz glass is fine depending on what you can handle and the duration of your workout.
If you think about it, the adult body is made up of about 60% water; wouldn’t it make sense to make it a key ingredient in our daily nutrition regimen? Many of the metabolic processes necessary for training and recovery require the proper amount of water to happen, so why wouldn’t you supply your body with this integral piece of training equipment?
Another important thing to consider is the amount of electrolytes you’re getting. This word is thrown around a lot, but do you know what all of the electrolytes are and how to figure out if you’re low on any of them?
- Sodium- the most common, most demonized, but very necessary electrolyte. Sodium gets a bad rap because of all the high blood pressure and heart disease we have in this country; however, as an endurance athlete you need to be very aware of how much sodium you get because you may not be getting enough! If you often get confused, or dazed when doing a hard workout (particularly one where you sweat a lot), you’re covered in white, and your skin tastes like salt—you might be in need of some sodium, pronto! This confusion you’re experiencing is one of the first signs of hyponatremia, which can be very serious if you do not take care of it. When your sodium levels drop in your blood and you do nothing to bring them back up it can cause you to go from confusion to vomiting to more serious things such as cardiac arrest, pulmonary edema, or even death. This has happened in many of the major marathon events and can even be caused by having too much plain water and not enough electrolyte supplementation.
- Potassium- just eat some bananas, right?! For the most part, yes. Potassium is much different than sodium in that when your blood levels first drop, it is difficult to tell that they are low. It is not until real problems begin and your muscles are already cramping that you know you are very low in potassium. This can also cause GI distress (mainly constipation) along with the muscle cramps, so be sure to eat your ‘nanners.
- Calcium- Stress fracture fighter no. 1! It may come as a surprise that some of the most avid runners have some of the lowest calcium and therefore weakest bones. But running is weight bearing? Yes, running is a weight bearing exercise, but sometimes runners (particularly female) have such low hormone levels that it causes their calcium to go down and therefore their bones become weak and brittle, allowing for stress fractures to happen much more easily. Calcium can be taken in a supplement daily to help raise these levels and prevent against stress fractures; however, vitamin D is very important to take along with it to help boost absorption into your blood!
- Magnesium- Seldom talked about, but very important! Magnesium is a mineral we don’t generally hear a ton about. However, it is very important to carbohydrate metabolism and muscle strength (two very important things for an endurance athlete). Magnesium deficiency can decrease endurance by fatiguing muscles and decreasing the efficiency of carbohydrate metabolism. The symptoms of low magnesium are difficult to distinguish from those of potassium or sodium, so it is important to supplement magnesium along with the other electrolytes!
- Phosphate- Generally phosphate is not a problem for athletes. It is very common in our diet and usually not lost in mass quantities when exercising. The only time this electrolyte is a problem is when an athlete has an eating disorder or other severe disease of some kind, in which case they should seek medical attention anyway.
So that is a quick and dirty breakdown of the electrolytes. Check yourself every once in a while, monitor your electrolyte intake and determine if you have any of the beginning stages of any of these electrolyte deficiencies. Not only will this increase your performance, but it could save your life! Stay hydrated everyone!!
June 4, 2013 on 3:03 pm | In Uncategorized | 4 Comments
This blog of sun safety tips was written by one of our wonderful TriSports Champions, Elizabeth McCourt.
When I did the Florida 70.3 last year I knew it was going to be hot…really hot. I knew I had the possibility of getting cooked like an egg on the run, so I tried to prepare. I bought white arm coolers that would not only protect my arms from the sun, but add water and “voila!” my own personal air conditioning. I threw water on them and used what I like to call the Torbjørn Sindballe method of cooling (putting ice in your hands and in the sleeves). In addition to the coverage, I lathered myself up with some waterproof sunscreen early in the morning so that it would dry and my numbers wouldn’t smudge (If you try to put it on after body marking it can be a smeared mess!). At the end of the race I ended up buying a white long sleeve top to get the sun off me as I waited for my friend to finish the run.
As triathletes, we spend a lot of time out in the sun, training and racing. When World Champion Leanda Cave gets a diagnosis of skin cancer, it’s a wake-up call for all of us. A triathlete friend of mine also got diagnosed with skin cancer last year and I was shocked to learn that she didn’t wear sunscreen. She felt there were too many chemicals in them but she hadn’t researched any alternatives. Since you absorb what’s put on your skin, you do have to consider the ingredients and if you can, a mineral based sunscreen is a better option, especially on your face where your skin is particularly tender. I also use something mild on my face so it doesn’t sting my eyes when I sweat, in addition to a visor. It’s a year round ritual, rain or shine.
I’m always going to love being out in the sun in the summertime and in my travels, but the reality is that the sun is strong and damaging. Since we’re not going to avoid being in the sun here are some things to do/remember:
- Wear sunscreen and reapply when you can.
- Wear a hat or visor. If you have hair, you’ll protect it. If you’re bald, protect your scalp!
- Go to the dermatologist once a year and monitor any moles or freckles that change or darken.
- Wear arm coolers for protecting against the sun as well as cooling your body.
- Bring a long sleeve top for after racing to get the sun off your skin.
- Know that you can get very burned in the swim, depending on the distance, and prepare accordingly (the 10k swim in Bermuda can leave you crispy, as can Kona!)
- Remember, white deflects the sun and black absorbs it, so choose your race kit with that in mind.
- You can still get a tan even wearing SPF 30!