Tips on How to Stay Injury Free

By Debbie
November 3, 2015 on 12:23 pm | In Community, From the shop, Life at, Product Information, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Kate Vann. Heading into the off-season is a great time to put some of the tips below into use, BEFORE you get injured when you start ramping up for next season. And Kate kind of knows what she’s talking about…she’s been in school for a looong time getting her Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy. Follow Kate on Twitter – katev09.

As many of you know, injury and triathlons go together like peanut butter and jelly. The body gets beat down day after day, and your muscles are screaming for a chance to rest. Injury is a way for their screams to be heard. I am currently fighting severe tendonitis and have learned a few tricks of the trade from my healthcare team in preventing injury and helping it heal.

  1. Have your running gait analyzed.

Pounding the pavement day after day is hard enough, but when your running form isn’t at its finest, it can be critical. Most running injuries with the knee or IT band stem from weak hip abductors, these being your gluteus minimus and gluteus medius. Weak hip abductors can cause what is commonly known as a “hip drop,” putting added pressure on the knees. Most of the time with weak hips, other parts of your running gait will compensate. Over time, with wrong movements being repeated, injury and strain occur. Having a healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist, analyze your gait can be the difference between racing in a World Championship or being out for the season. They, or your local run shop, can also ensure you are using the proper running shoe for your gait. Here are some quick ways to strengthen your hip abductors to prevent injuries from occurring

a.    Monster walks with a band: Place a band around the ankles and, leading with the midfoot, walk to one end of the room and back

Monster Walks Exercise (image courtesy of Firm Fitness Trainer)

b.    Clam shells: Lying on your side, place legs at a little over 90 degrees one on top of the other, place a band over the thighs and raise the top leg. This gets repeated 20 times on each side.

Clam Shell Exercise (image courtesy of Bend and Mend)

c.    Glute Raises: Lying on your side with the bottom leg bent and the top leg straight and slightly behind you. Slowly raise the top leg up and down 20 times on both sides.

d.    Bridging:  Lying on your back, place a band over your thighs. Bend your legs with arms at your side. Raise up your pelvis and kick the left leg out, then the right leg, 20 times.

Bridging Exercise (image courtesy of Fitness Mash)

2. Have your bike fit checked out

Much like checking your running gait, it is important to have your bike fit checked out. Pedal and cleat placement is crucial, especially when triathletes spend so much time racking up miles in the saddle. When you look at muscles that are engaged in biking, we think of calves, hamstrings and quads that take most of the beating. In a perfect world, or more on this subject, a perfect bike fit, these muscles will be working in harmony to create the maximum amount of power. What can happen, however, is cleat placement can be off a hair, causing one muscle group to take more of a beating than another, causing an overuse injury. The foot can either be rotated inward or outward, causing tension on your hamstring and your knee. It is important to have a trained specialist check out leg alignment, cleat placement, and seat height in order to have the most effective injury-free bike.

3. Sleep

We have all heard it before, triathletes need sleep to heal. It’s harder than it seems. In today’s world, most of us go to school or work a full time job, and have families to take care of, and sleep is the last thing on our minds. Being in graduate school, I have fallen victim to the sleepless night. We sacrifice sleep to get that extra hour or two of training in, but let me tell you, it’s not worth it. Sleep is a time for the body to heal itself, and without it, you are doing your body a disservice. Training when your body is running on little sleep isn’t going to benefit you in any way except make you more tired. Hit that snooze button and get the extra hour of sleep because, as triathletes, our bodies need it.

Overall, taking care of your body is the most important way to avoid the dreaded injury. Get your body tuned up just like any other equipment, because it’s the most important piece of equipment you’ve got!

The Geology of Choosing Your Race – Part 2

By Debbie
October 20, 2015 on 2:13 pm | In Community, Employee Adventures, Life at, Races, Random Musings, Sponsorship | No Comments

This blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Liz Miller. As you start looking towards next season and your race selections, you might want to take more into account that just the race course. Liz’s expertise as a geologist gives us some insight into some other areas that might be of interest in your perfect race quest. Check out Liz’s blog or follow her on Twitter – FeWmnLiz.

A little while back, I wrote a blog post called “The Geology of Choosing Your Race.” This is once again a slight departure from the typical blogs found on, but in an attempt to combine two of my passions (geology and triathlon), how about a look at some of the most “geologically-interesting” IRONMAN® and IRONMAN 70.3® races around the world!

IRONMAN® New Zealand

I spent 3 weeks backpacking around New Zealand almost 10 years ago, and I would jump at the chance to go again – it’s a beautiful country with friendly people and TONS of interesting geology. New Zealand is unique in that there is a plate boundary that essentially splits the country in two – the north island and north part of the south island are located entirely on the Australian Plate, and the rest of the south island is located on the Pacific Plate. This plate boundary “dissection” makes for exciting geology!

Tectonic setting of New Zealand, taken from Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

IRONMAN® New Zealand takes place in the town of Taupo, which is centrally located on the north island. The town is located in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, which has seen ongoing volcanic activity for about the last 2 million years. Lake Taupo, where the IMNZ swim takes place, lies within a caldera (Spanish word for “cooking pot”; in geology it means depression or bowl). This caldera was formed approximately 27,000 years ago when a huge eruption took place – so much material was erupted from below the surface that the surface essentially collapsed to form a large bowl, and water eventually filled in the depression to create Lake Taupo.

Lake Taupo, the picturesque location of the IMNZ swim, taken from

The Taupo Volcanic Zone is the world’s most productive area of recent volcanic activity; most of the rocks that are erupted in this zone are rhyolite and have a very high silica content. These rocks are chemically similar to granite, but they solidify above ground rather than below ground. The youngest and most well-known volcano in the Taupo Volcanic Field is Mt. Nguaruhoe (which translates to “throwing hot stones”), which served as Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Mt. Nguaruhoe is a composite volcano, which is made of alternating layers of lava and volcanic ash; it started forming only 2,500 years ago, and the most recent eruption took place in 1975.

Mt. Nguaruhoe in the clouds. Photo taken by author in 2006.

IRONMAN 70.3® St. George

A race that doesn’t require a transcontinental trip and yet still has some spectacular geology is St. George. The bike course of St. George takes athletes through Snow Canyon State Park, which contains both sedimentary AND volcanic rocks. The two major rock units at Snow Canyon State Park are the ~200 million year old Kayenta Formation and the overlying Navajo Sandstone (age dating of the Navajo Sandstone is difficult due to a lack of fossils). The Kayenta formation is mostly sandstone, siltstone, and shale (the latter rocks are similar to sandstone, just a little finer-grained); rivers and streams deposited these units.

Mudcracks are just one indication that an area was once subjected to frequent wetting and drying, such as what is found in a river and stream environment. The author recently found this rock with textbook-type mudcracks while hiking in Utah (awesome Pearl Izumi running shoes for scale)!

The Navajo Sandstone contains massive cross-bedding that were deposited in “eolian” (i.e. windy) environment – these were essentially HUGE sand dunes, indicating that the environment during the deposition of the Navajo Sandstone was very similar to the modern-day Sahara Desert. The lower part of this unit is red, and the upper part of this unit is bleached white, resulting in a surprising color contrast in this desert landscape.

Petrified sand dunes in Snow Canyon State Park, Utah. Taken from, photograph by Lance Weaver.

In many places within Snow Canyon State Park, volcanic rocks overlie the sedimentary rocks; these rocks are more resistant to weathering and essentially work to hold the lower sedimentary rocks in place by preventing erosion.

IRONMAN® Wisconsin

Have you ever wondered why IM Wisconsin has SO MANY HILLS? Well, you can blame it on the glaciers! Starting 1.7 million years ago, the Ice Age began. During this time, large ice sheets (essentially very large glaciers) formed in Canada and began moving south throughout North America. Madison, Wisconsin, and much of the IM Wisconsin bike course are located in an area that was covered by the Green Bay Lobe of the Laurentide Ice Sheet 25,000 to 10,000 years ago.

As glaciers and ice sheets advance, they incorporate rocks, dirt, and other material. Glacial debris and movement works to shape the landscape over which the glacier is flowing. One common feature that is formed is a drumlin, which is an elongated hill in the shape of an inverted spoon or half-buried egg. The formation of drumlins is still not entirely understood, but they are believed to be a combination of both depositional and erosional processes acting at the interface between the glacier and the underlying surface. Drumlins are one source of hills on the IM Wisconsin bike course.

An aerial view of drumlins. Each of those little ridges is a drumlin, which translates directly into a HILL on the IM Wisconsin course. Taken from

The other source of hills is the result of glacial melting and retreat. Glaciers act a lot like a conveyor belt – as material is picked up, much of this material is moved to the bottom and edges of the glaciers. As the climate began to warm, glaciers started to move back towards the poles, where the weather was colder. This material is commonly deposited as an end moraine, which is a ridge-like deposition of debris at the very end of the glacier. In addition, because glaciers don’t retreat all at once, they also commonly deposit recessional moraines, which are end moraines that mark each of the “rest stops” that the glacier took as it retreated. You can blame most of the hills on the IM Wisconsin course on these end and recessional moraines!

All of the dirt resting between the lake in the foreground and the glacier in the background will eventually turn in to a terminal moraine when the glacier retreats. Picture taken by author during the 2005-2006 McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica field season.

I’m sure that on race day, most of us will be too focused on racing to appreciate the geology that surrounds us. But be sure to allow an extra day or two post-race to enjoy the beauty that is often found along many race courses!

Note: IRONMAN® and IRONMAN 70.3® are registered trademarks of World Triathlon Corporation.

The Easy Way to Upgrade to 11-Speed

By Debbie
September 29, 2015 on 3:07 pm | In From the shop, Product Information, Sponsorship | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Team athlete Chase Baraczek. Want to upgrade your components, but just don’t have enough in the bank to also splurge on new wheels? Never fear! Chase walks you through how to modernize those older wheels until you can go for those awesome new wheels you’ve been wanting! Follow Chase on Twitter – @trichase.

If you’re like me, you’ve been wanting to upgrade to Di2 or 11-speed on your bike, but have some hesitation about doing it because you have an expensive pile of 10-speed race wheels. Not only will you have to dish out a lot of money for Di2 or an 11-speed drivetrain, but now all of your pre-2012 race wheels and/or training wheels have to either be rebuilt or replaced because the freehub body is a few millimeters too short. Worry no more! Thanks to EDCO, there is a new, easy solution and you can be up and running for far less money than rebuilding your wheels with a new hub or flat out buying a new set of race wheels.  They have designed a single piece monoblock 11-speed cassette, which effectively extends your free hub without actually having to change it! That’s right; the solution is that simple (I’m amazed it took so long for someone to realize this was possible)! Follow the guide below and you’ll be off and running 11-speed in no time!

You’ll need a chain whip, wrench, a lockring removal tool and the magical EDCO 11-speed cassette.

First let’s get that old 10 speed cassette off. Keep the cassette from rotating with the chain whip and apply force the opposite direction with the wrench.

Lift off the old cassette and set it aside.

Place the metal spacer that comes with the cassette on the hub.

Then place the rest of the cassette on the freehub body. Note: you can see the extra lip extending out past the freehub making all this possible.

Using the lockring tool and the wrench, tighten down the red lockring in the direction that the cassette is locked. Make sure it’s fairly tight but don’t over-torque it.

Boom! You’re ready to rock 11-speed!

Triathlon Travel Tips

By Debbie
August 18, 2015 on 4:41 pm | In Community, From the shop, Life at, Product Information, Races, Random Musings, Sponsorship | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Team pro athlete Scott Bradley. Some of you are fortunate and have a ton of races close to home from which to choose your season schedule. But for the rest of us (um, open water in Tucson…no), we need to travel to get in a good season of racing. Here’s some great travel advice from someone who has done it a lot. You’ll want to take notes for your next race! Check out Scott’s blog and follow him on Twitter – @scottbradley11.

Travel seems to go hand in hand with racing triathlon. Unless you live in an area where there are lots of races and you are happy doing them year after year, at some point you’re going to have to pack up and hit the road to get to a race. If you’re like me, that’s part of the fun of it. Triathlon has taken me to places I never would have dreamed of otherwise going and I’ve loved each place I’ve had the opportunity to visit. Each city or town is unique and interesting in its own way and the courses offer different challenges.

As much fun as it is to see new places and race new courses, it doesn’t come without its share of difficulties. I’ve tried to compile a list of some of the things I’ve learned from travel experiences to help make yours go a little more smoothly.

  1. Carry on. If you are flying, anything that you absolutely need to have with you for your race should go in your carry on bag. Let’s face it, suitcases get lost and things can get damaged when you check your luggage. I can comfortably fit all the race gear I need in a transition bag that I keep close to me the entire trip.
  2. Pack light. That being said, you don’t want to lug a 40 pound bag through the airport. The minimalist approach will be best. Spend some time deciding what gear you will actually need and what you’d end up not using. Leave that stuff at home.
  3. Research ahead of time. Find out where you can eat healthily and affordably. When you arrive at your destination and are starving because all you had on the flight was the world’s smallest bag of pretzels, you will not want to spend time searching for restaurants. And you don’t want to settle for fast food that will give you gut rot in the days before your race. Having a plan will make your life easier.
  4. Hydrate. Bring your own empty water bottle that you can fill up once you pass through security. Maybe bring some Nuun tabs to make sure your electrolytes are replenished, as well.

    Hydration & snacks...don't be without!

  5. Pack snacks. I like to have some healthy snacks on hand so when I get hungry I don’t have to run into the first gas station I see. Fruit, nuts, healthy granola bars or some Honey Stinger waffles are easy to carry and make a great quick snack.
  6. Nail down your bike transport method. There are many different ways to get your bike to a race when flying, each with its own pros and cons. I have used companies like TriBike Transport. It’s great to not have to lug your bike through the airport and convenient if you live near a partner shop, but you might end up being without your bike for a couple of weeks before and after your race. If you only have one bike, that’s not good. I’ve sent my bike via FedEx to my hotel. Again, nice not to lug the bike, but you are without it a few days again. This year, because of the amount of traveling I will be doing, I’ve decided to get a good travel case to fly with and bring my bike myself. Be prepared, though, to rent a much larger vehicle than you would need if not traveling with your bike. Find what works for you and what will make you most comfortable.

    How do you take your bike?

  7. Rest up. Travel can be exhausting. It disrupts your routines and normal sleep patterns. Hotel beds are not always the most comfortable, either. Add in pre-race nerves and you might not be getting the best sleep before your event. I’m blessed with the ability to sleep anywhere, so if I feel tired I let myself sleep. Naps during the day, on the flight, or in the car (unless you’re driving) all add up and can help make you feel rested, which is one of the biggest contributing factors to having a good race.
  8. Keep your routines. As much as you can, try to keep things as consistent as possible. The time you go to bed and wake up. Your food habits. Go for an easy swim or jog if possible. All of these things will help make you feel more like you are at home and will bring you some comfort and peace of mind.

Triathlon can be a great way to travel and see the world. It isn’t always easy, but you can certainly make it less stressful with proper planning and preparation. A certain amount of flexibility and adaptability is required, and you can’t let things out of your control throw you into a spiral. Hopefully these tips can make your race travel a bit easier and more enjoyable. Safe travels!

Refocusing After a Disappointing Result

By Debbie
August 4, 2015 on 1:11 am | In Athlete Profile, Community, Races, Random Musings, Sponsorship | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Team athlete Kevin Portmann. We’ve all had a disappointing race, so what do you do when you have a hard time shaking off that feeling of failure so you can move on towards your next event? Here’s some advice from someone who recently experienced it. Check out Kevin’s blog and follow him on Twitter – @eviandrinker.

My goal for this season is to qualify for Kona, a common goal for triathletes who race 70.3 and IMs. It is the mecca of triathlon, the birthplace of the sport that now sees thousands of athletes crossing the finish line every year. Late last year, after IM 70.3 Worlds in Mont Tremblant, my coach talked me into racing IM Texas. Heat and flats aren’t my best friends, but I was excited about racing an IM earlier in the year. I prefer hilly terrain and cold temperatures (who doesn’t like racing in 60ish weather?), but his rationale was that my fitness improved a lot over the year, that we had 6 months to prepare for it, and IM TX, as the NA championship race this year, offered 75 slots (instead of 50 for other IMs). Before this talk, the target race was IM Whistler, a course with 7k and 1.5k of vertical climb on the bike and run courses, respectively. In addition, the race can get hot (90 degrees last year), but it is usually a dry heat.

Texas did not go as planned. It was a massive disappointment for me, which made me question why I do this sport. I’ve spent weeks dissecting what happened on race day, and though I hate to find excuses, my coach, close tri friends, and myself came to the conclusion that the heat (95 degrees in T2) and humidity (95% at the start, 80% when I reached T2) were probably the culprits of my poor performance to clinch that Kona slot.

But there were other factors that contributed to this failure, factors that I had control over but did not manage well on race day. If I am honest with myself, I should realize that I could have done a much better job working on them in my build up to IMTX to be better prepared for the race. I always question my results, sometimes too much, so I’m using this blog as a brain dump of things I could have done better, and things I will address in my short build up to IM Canada. Hopefully it will pay off this time and hopefully some readers will find it helpful. Here they are…

1)      Lack of self-confidence: Despite the rough NY winter, I’ve had a great build up leading up to TX. I finished 2nd in my AG at Oceanside 70.3, my bike got stronger, and I stayed injury-free. I’ve also made progress in the pool, though these have not shown yet. Despite all that, I started questioning all the work I did 2 weeks before the race, when hay was in the barn. Mentally I was not where I should have been. I did use mental Qs to help me mentally prepare, but I almost immediately annihilated those Qs with negative thoughts. I find myself being easily influenced by others’ past results, or talks, which makes me think that they are better than me, and I lose that fire. This cost me a lot. I probably lost the chance to show what I was really capable of in the 2 weeks before the race. It’s a battle that I struggle with constantly. I can spend hours training hard and right, with high quality and high intensity, but my mental weakness always gets in the way and throws things out of the window.

My solution: I refuse to look at the IMCA start list to see who is racing, and instead will focus on my own race. It intimidates me when it really should excite me to face stiff competition. I have also taped my splits on the bike, on the phone, and anywhere I go frequently to keep the race in mind. This has helped so far, especially when my trainer rides get hard.

2)      A race is NEVER over: At mile 8 on the run of IM TX, I thought I was out of Kona contention, which impacted my morale even more. I couldn’t hear my girlfriend telling me that I was 5th, knocking on the Kona door, and realized after I crossed the finish that I was not too far from it. Had I kept pushing, I am convinced I would have been in a position to fight for it, but I let the little evil inside my head take over.

My solution: Never think a race is over before everyone crosses the finish, whether you are winning or are in balance for a qualification or podium. Keep that inner fire and fight until you cross that finish, because anything can happen. This is one big lesson I took home from my trip to the Lone Star state. It pains me to see that I had to experience it to apply it.

3)      Training right on the trainer: I’ve spent countless hours on the trainer and hit power numbers I’ve never seen before. At TX, however, I had to spend the last 40 miles on the pursuit, being incapable of staying on the aerobars due to a strong pain in my shoulder. Thinking back, I realized that I did not spend a single hour straight on the aerobars while on the trainer. Legs were strong, but my position was not right. It cost me a lot of time and energy in TX, probably more than if I trained at lower wattage but in the aero position during my trainer rides.

My solution: I have decided to do all my trainer rides on the aero, regardless of my power output, to teach my body to accept the position and to be mentally trained to stay aero for long periods of times. It is hard, but it is needed. After weeks focusing on this, my power has dropped a bit, but I can already tell my form is better, and my tolerance for the discomfort that the bars bring is higher. One of my long rides was a testament of the hard work of the past weeks. I was able to ride 3.5 hours on my aero bars, even on the hills where I made a conscious effort to keep my elbows down when my mind asked me to move my hands to the pursuits. It was not easy and the temptation of moving to an upright position was there, but I fought that inner evil voice and stayed mentally involved in my training. I have probably spent 95% of the ride on the aero. I felt a lot more comfortable, without a single pain in my shoulder. I also felt like I was using my quads more efficiently, I was riding more straight, and was able to look up without any tension in the neck. It seems to be paying off. It is a work in progress that I will continue until IM Canada.

See, no aero position!

4)      Dealing with (physical) lows: It’s hard to mimic race conditions during training, but one thing is certain, when you hit a low, it’s always hard to pull yourself out of it (at least for me). I struggled on the run at IMTX for 2 reasons: heat and humidity. But I also struggled because I could not see myself fighting through the low I hit at mile 4 (I fainted at mile 4, only to be woken up by a spectator). I never experienced such struggle before and did not know what to do, or whether I could do it. In hindsight, I think I was more unprepared with the idea of struggling on the run as I did not think I could hit such low. In my mental Qs, I always pictured myself running a decent pace, hurting, but never struggling…1st flaw!

My solution: I’ve changed up the way I approach my runs now. I’ve decided to take any opportunity that Mother Nature gives to do my runs in the heat. And I found one workout that replicated what I experienced at Texas: feeling that my legs could not support my weight, with nothing left in the tank to help. The workout I found was a 13×1 mile repeat with 7min rest. I did it at the local track, and despite the beautiful view, running 52 times in circle on a track for close to 3 hours was mentally challenging. I spiced it up with negative splits for each mile (took 10” off each mile), and finished the last 3 at top speed. The 7min rest breaks down the workout, making you feel invincible on the first 4-5 miles. But as you ask your body for more, the 7min break makes it hard to switch it on. You constantly fire up the engine and shut it down for a long period of time. Halfway through the run, you end up with more rest than actual run time, which makes it even harder. Your legs and body are in this lethargic state for most of the workout (7min break), and you electro shock it by asking it to be ready for a hard set (6:20 pace or faster). I won’t do that for all my long runs, but it was good to mix things up and this workout turned out to pay off, teaching my body how to cope with down times.

Pushing through the pain

A lot of lessons learned from my race in Texas that I know will bear fruits in Canada. Forcing myself to do a thorough analysis of the race has helped me pinpoint things I could have done better and things I should apply in my build up to IMCA. I’m sure it will pay off in one way or another. There always are valuable lessons one can learn from every race. I’ve probably learned more on this race than I have at any other I’ve done. Time to move on and give it my best!

Stay focus and happy training! Feel free to speak out if you shared the same experiences!

Editor’s note: Kevin raced Whistler on July 26th and crushed it! Despite nasty conditions, he stuck to his plan, stayed mentally focused, and punched his Kona card with a 2nd AG and 6th OA amateur placing. Congrats, Kevin!

Punching the Kona card!

What Does it Mean to “Train with Power?”

By Debbie
July 21, 2015 on 11:10 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

This blog brought to you by former TriSports Champion Mike VanHouten. Power is definitely a buzzword in triathlon right now, but what does it all mean? Mike will explain it very simply so you can decide if power is right for you.

No matter if you have just started doing triathlons or if you have been doing them for a while, you have heard of people talking about training with power on their bike.  So what does that really mean?

Very simply, a power meter measures the amount of effort you are exerting on your bike in watts.  Two of the most common types of devices that you can buy today are a wheel hub or crank-based power meter.  A hub-based power meter allows you to replace the existing hub on your rear wheel and replace it with the new hub that has a power meter inside of it.  A crank based power meter simply replaces your existing crank and has the power meter inside your crank arms. (editor’s note: Garmin and now Powertap have introduced pedal-based power meters, allowing for increased portability between bikes.)

Crank and Hub-based Power Meters

So which one is the best?

There’s no right or wrong answer, it really depends on what makes sense for you.  One advantage of a hub-based meter is cost, they typically can be a few hundred dollars less expensive than a crank-based power meter, and another advantage is you can use that same rear wheel power meter on all of your bikes.  A disadvantage is the hub can only be used for the wheel it is installed with, so if you have multiple wheels for training vs. racing, you would need to decide which wheel would have the hub power meter.  For a crank-based meter, the wheels are independent of the power meter, so you can use whatever wheel you want, but if you have multiple bikes, you would have to swap out the crank from bike to bike (assuming your bikes can utilize similar cranks).  While this isn’t hard to do, you may need some special tools, or you can utilize your local bike shop to quickly do the job for you.

One additional piece of equipment you will need is a bike computer or exercise watch to read the data that the power meter sends out while you are riding your bike.  The good news is that you may already have a device that is compatible, just check to see if your device is “ANT+ power meter compatible.” Using your home computer, you can retrieve and review this data to see your power readings along with other information like your pedaling cadence, speed, and elevation changes.

ANT+ Enabled bike computer

ANT+ Enabled bike computer

So now that you know the basics of what a power meter is, the obvious question is… what can it do for you?

First a power meter allows you to maximize your training time and effort.  Your training time is valuable, and it is important to know how hard to push and when to back off for recovery.  Instead of basing your bike workouts on your perceived effort or your heart rate (which can vary day-to-day), a power meter gives you precise information on how hard you are working and how that compares to your maximum effort.  This maximum effort is called your Functional Threshold Power (FTP), which is, simply put, the average watts you can exert over an hour with nothing left in the tank afterwards.

How do you figure out your FTP?

I like to utilize a 2×20 minute workout with 2 minutes of active rest (don’t stop pedaling) in between.  Your goal in this workout is to be as consistent as possible and to be completely exhausted when you are done.  After your ride is complete, you want to look at the average watts that you utilized over the 42 minutes.  For example, if your average over the 42 minutes is 200 watts, this is now your FTP.

Now that you know your FTP, your workouts can be structured and precise.  When your coach or training plan tells you to do a recovery ride for an hour at 60% of your FTP and your FTP is 200 watts, you simply target an average effort of 120 watts.  The guessing game of knowing if you are riding too hard or not hard enough is gone.

The second thing you will gain by utilizing power on your bike is that you can now target a specific effort for your race.  In a sprint race, you may ride your bike leg with an effort at 100% of your FTP, but for an full distance race you may want to target an effort of 70%.  Why is this important? This will allow you to maximize your effort on the running leg of your triathlon by not going too hard on your bike leg, something that is commonly done in races.

I’ve tried to keep this description fairly simple, but if you’re interested in learning about getting a power meter, give a call to get advice on your existing equipment and what options are available to you.  There are also great books available that can really explain the details of training with power, or if you have a coach, talk to them and understand how your training and races could benefit by utilizing this technology.

Training and Racing with Power

Training and Racing with Power

Good luck in your future training and races!

Dental Health for Endurance Athletes

By Debbie
July 14, 2015 on 12:39 pm | In Community, Nutrition Tips, Product Information, Random Musings, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Team athlete Ali Rutledge. We all know how important it is to fuel properly for the time we put in training and racing. But have you ever thought about how those fuels affect your teeth? Luckily, Ali does! Read on to learn more! Follow Ali on Twitter – @alaida.

Ever heard that sports drinks and sports nutrition can cause you to have poor dental health, such as cavities? Research has shown us that exercise is the best preventative measure for pretty much every single disorder from cancer to heart disease.

There is evidence, though, that a potential side effect of exercise is poor dental heath.

Does all that sports nutrition hurt your teeth?

The changes our saliva goes through during exercise is a cause of poor dental health, not the sports drink and bars we consume.  During exercise, your saliva becomes more alkaline and has been associated with tarter plaques and other dental problems. All we can say is that endurance training can be a risk factor for oral health.

What's in your bottle/pocket?

Certainly we are not going to stop doing endurance sports and we should not.  We also must consume the proper sports nutrition products during our race and training sessions so we can be at our best.  To ensure we maintain good dental health, we need to remember to brush and floss at least daily, especially after long sessions where we consume sports drink and other products such as bars and gels. As athletes, we spend so much time training our bodies, but we also need to remember to visit our dentist regularly.

STOPP Poor Transition Times!!

By Debbie
June 30, 2015 on 3:51 pm | In Community, From the shop, Nutrition Tips, Product Information, Races, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Team athlete Lori Sherlock. We’re at that point in the season where it may be hard to drop much time on your swim, bike or run, but what about your transition? Often an afterthought, Lori gives us a few tips to help gain some free time. Follow Lori on Twitter – @tightcalves.

Transition is known in triathlon as the 4th discipline for a reason.  It can allow you to gain time on your competitors or allow your competitors to gain time on you.  These 5 simple steps, plus a properly packed transition bag, can help you to streamline your transitions to make them faster and more efficient.

Transition area

Simplify your Transition

Put a lot of forethought into your transition and don’t put out anything that you don’t need. Including items that you are not planning on using will only elongate your transition times.  You should make all of your decisions prior to your race and mentally review what your T1 & T2 will look like.


Your transition area should be a well-organized area with everything readily accessible to you as you are coming out of the water or moving from bike to run.  Using a small towel, or transition towel, to mark your spot is always a good idea.  Get a towel that is bright and unique to help you recognize your transition area and set it apart from everyone else.  All of your necessities should be placed in the order you plan to use them to eliminate any confusion from your transition.  Think TYPE A PERSONALITY when you are setting up your transition area.

Organized area


Every step in transition should be a well-thought-out plan.  This will allow for great execution come race day.  As you are nearing the finish of the swim leg, picture what your transition area will look like and what you need to grab, put on, or eat.  As you are coming to the end of the bike leg you should be thinking about what your next step will be.  Don’t think too far ahead…that can be overwhelming and deleterious to your race performance.  Use mental imagery just as you are finishing each leg to prepare yourself for what is next….bike….run….FINISH LINE!


As our parents, teachers and coaches have always told us:  practice makes perfect!  This motto rings true about transitions, too!  There is a reason that we call this the 4th discipline!!  We take time to build our fitness, practice our swimming, biking and running, we should also be putting in the extra time to practice our transitions.  The clock doesn’t stop for transitions, so this can end up being time lost in our race.  When you are practicing your transitions, try to mimic EVERYTHING EXACTLY AS YOU WOULD DO IT ON RACE DAY.  Set out your transition towel, your bike shoes, run shoes, socks, helmet, sunglasses, nutrition, gloves, whatever you plan on using for the next A-race so that when you get to your transition you know exactly what you want to do and the order you want to do it.  Consider this “free time” for your next triathlon.

Packing Your Transition Bag:

When you are packing your transition bag, go through your checklist of what you will need from swim-to-bike-to-run.  The amount of stuff that you load up your bag with will probably be dependent upon what distance race you are doing.

A well-packed transition bag

For a sprint triathlon, you should only need the basics:  pre-, during- and post-race nutrition, goggles, swim cap (usually provided by the race but take one just in case), Aquaphor or BodyGlide, bike, cycling shoes (& socks if you choose), helmet, sunglasses, extra tube and the tools to change it, water bottles, running shoes, race belt and hat/visor, Garmin or heart rate monitor (if you train with them).

Olympic/International distance races may require a little more…but not too much.  You would want to add on to your nutrition volume and maybe a wetsuit or speedsuit for the swim.

A half-Iron distance race is going to require a bit more planning and a lot more nutrition.  Your transition bag should include: pre-, during- and post-race nutrition, goggles, swim cap (usually provided by the race but take one just in case), wetsuit or speedsuit, Aquaphor or BodyGlide,  possibly cycling shorts (depending on comfort on the bike), bike, cycling shoes (& socks if you choose), helmet, sunglasses, cycling gloves (for comfort), spare tube x 2 and the tools to change it, water bottles, running shoes, tri shorts if you want to change, race belt and hat/visor, Garmin or heart rate monitor (if you train with them), salt/electrolyte tabs.

Iron-distance races are a whole different ball-game.  Though there are transition areas, your gear is usually in a bag that you have to go through at T1 & T2.  This makes it even more important to plan as you normally turn your bag in the day prior to your race….so check and double check that all of your necessities are in the bag before you turn it in.  Everything that you need for the half-iron distance you will need for the Iron-distance plus a bunch more nutrition and maybe a few more ‘comfort items’.  You will also need a pump (unless you plan on using one provided at the race venue or borrowing one from a fellow competitor) and maybe some chain lube if you want to freshen up your chain before you take off.  You should probably be wearing your racing kit…and maybe some slip-on shoes that could be tossed if the walk to the swim entry is a little rough.  You may also want to pack some post-race clothing or something warm if the weather is threatening.  If you feel like you need someone to go over your list with you can check out

After compiling this load of stuff into one HUGE transition bag, you will need to organize it perfectly at your race site.  Rule of thumb:  DON’T BE A TRANSITION HOG!  Only use the space directly in front of or next to your bike (depending on transition set-up) so that you don’t infringe on another competitor’s transition space.

Race-to-Race Just in Case Bag:

This is a zip-lock bag that you keep stocked and in your transition bag for all of those just in case moments.

-          Small pair of Scissors

-          First Aid supplies (Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes, tape)…just in case

-          Black Sharpie Marker

-          A copy of your USAT card

-          Safety Pins

-          Sun Screen & Lip balm

-          Aquaphor or BodyGlide

-          Extra Nutrition

-          Clean-up kit (travel size soap, wash cloth, deodorant, comb or brush)

-          Extra race belt

-          Extra goggles (one thing that people have a tendency to forget a little too often)

-          Duct tape/black electrical tape

-          Empty water bottle (another frequently forgotten item)

Skin Cancer and the Endurance Athlete Community

By Debbie
May 4, 2015 on 3:34 pm | In Community, Product Information, Random Musings, Sun Protection, Sun Protection | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports friend Barry Baker. With the amount of time we spend outside, under the bright sun, we need to be way more careful that I suspect most of us are (myself included). Follow Barry on Twitter – @BrahmaBarry.

I really enjoy the people and the training we do as endurance athletes in Tucson.  We are blessed to have so much great weather to swim, bike and run!  We are also a very high risk group for developing skin cancer because of our hours of training under the Arizona Sun (editor: Although Barry references Tucson and AZ, we felt this topic applied to endurance athletes everywhere and was relevant to share with everyone).

In the US alone, 5,000,000 people will be diagnosed with skin cancer in 2015.  150,000 of those will be the deadly form of Melanoma.  10,000 will die.  I have been diagnosed and treated for five melanoma cancers and many other non-lethal skin cancers. Each surgery was invasive and sidelined me, but I caught each one before they had metastasized.

Melanoma collage - consult a doctor if a mole changes in size, shape, or color, has irregular edges, is more than one color, is asymmetrical, or itches, oozes, or bleeds.

Most skin cancers are preventable through precaution.  Treatment and excisions are less invasive and more successful the earlier skin cancers are detected.

Arm sleeves, leg sleeves, brimmed hats, and good sunblock are all effective measures.  Getting checked by a dermatologist once per year is mandatory!   We are a weird group in that we get to see a lot of each others’ skin – don’t be afraid to tell a friend to get a suspicious looking mole checked out or offer some extra sunblock if you see someone turning pink.

Have anything suspicious checked out by your doctor.

We earn our fitness and some of us (not me) really create amazing bodies as a result of our hard work.  Finding skin cancers late can result in invasive, disfiguring surgeries that can sideline you and impact function.  In some cases, it can be the fight for your life.  Takeaway – be smart so you don’t lose what you have worked so hard to build!

So, enjoy your training in the sun, but use precaution and get checked!!!

This PSA has been brought to you by Buzzkill Barry Baker – seriously, check out the the U of A Skin Cancer Institute for more information.

Barry being sun safe!

Bike Repair for Triathletes

By Debbie
April 21, 2015 on 11:26 am | In Community, From the shop, Product Information, Random Musings, Tech Tips | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Team athlete Becky Bader. Let’s face it, as a whole, triathletes are pretty miserable at maintaining our own bikes. Becky gives us a few tips to help prevent the roadies from laughing at us. Check out Becky’s blog or follow her on Twitter – @becky_bader.

Before transitioning into iron distance triathlon, I spent many years racing bikes and occasionally working at bike shops in between jobs that some might consider to be more related to my Ph.D. When I quietly told my bike racing friends and fellow bike shop employees that I was moving to triathlon, I immediately prepared myself for the barrage of jokes related to poor bike handing skills and an inability to do something as simple as changing brake pads. I wish I could say that my years in triathlon have demonstrated to me that most triathletes are incredibly adept at maintaining their own bikes and that my bike racing friends were wrong in their perception. But no, I cannot say this, and I admit to being embarrassed for triathletes everywhere at some of the conversations about bikes I have overheard in the transition area before the start of a triathlon.

We, of course, all have to start somewhere. I was fortunate enough to be taught how to ride by a former professional cyclist who, on the day that I purchased my first road bike, suggested to me that I had better get to a bike shop and figure out how to change a flat.  I completely blew him off and then cursed his name as I took a slow walk of shame back to my car in my bike shoes after getting my first flat.  So I went to the shop, purchased a set of tire levers, had the mechanics show me the best way to get a tire on and off of a wheel in order to replace the tube, and then practiced until I could change a flat in minimal time. I always suggest to beginners or novice triathletes that they take the time to ask a bike mechanic for a quick how-to lesson on things they might need to know out on the road.

Don't be left walking home

Many years, many bikes, and many bike shops later, I have come a long way from just being able to change a flat, and I can now build and maintain my own road and triathlon bikes. Contrary to popular belief, a vast amount of expensive tools are not necessary to get this done, and a complete set of hex wrenches can go a long way. As a rule of thumb, everything should be overhauled at least once per year (chain, cables, housing, and tires).  If you are putting in some heavy mileage, I suggest investing in a quick chain checker, such as the Park Tool CC-2, to better gauge when you may need to replace the chain. This will save you from having to additionally invest in a new cassette more frequently. If you do need to change the chain, this is potentially the easiest do-it-yourself thing there is. You will need to invest in a chain tool; I use the Park Tool CT-3.2.  After this purchase, changing the chain becomes somewhat self-explanatory.  Simply press out one of the pins from the chain you are replacing with the tool, remove that chain, replace the chain, and insert a new pin using the tool again.  Bear in mind that when you purchase a new chain, you will most definitely need to remove several links before putting on the new chain (all you need to do is compare the length of the new chain to the existing chain).

Moving on to the internal routing of cables. Yes, I am willing to admit that this is a huge hassle, but still completely doable. I recommend ordering a complete set of cables and housing that is a little bit higher end rather than using what is available stock at the bike shops.  Shimano and Jag make great products that will keep you shifting cleanly for the entire year.  Although cable cutters are obviously available at Lowes and Home Depot, the ones that are bike specific (such as Park Tool CN-10) will serve you much better. The key to internal routing is to take a string or dental floss and attach it to the end of the cable. If you do this to the old cable, you are left with a string that can be used to pull the new cable through the frame. Alternatively, you can simply attach the string or dental floss to the end of the new cable and then pull that through the frame using a vacuum cleaner (be careful other holes in the bike are at least partially sealed). As for the housing, simply try to cut close to the length of the housing that is being replaced.

Attach string to your old cable before removal and have an instant guide for your new cable!

Once the cables and housing have been replaced, getting things to shift correctly can be a tad more complicated. To set the front cable, simply put the shifter in the little ring and pull the cable as tight as possible before tightening the anchor bolt with a hex wrench. For the back, do the same, but then try to slowly shift up to the next biggest cog. If this does not occur, you are going to need to turn the barrel adjustor 1/4th of a turn counterclockwise until shifting occurs (make sure the barrel adjustor is fully turned in before tightening the anchor bolt). Repeat this process for the next cog, and eventually you will be back to a smoothly shifting bike. Slap on some new bar tape, and you are ready to roll.

I will add a word of caution that if you continue down this path of maintaining your own bikes, you may someday end up with a dining room where the table has been turned into a mount for an axle vice for changing free hub bodies, and a living room where bike parts, tools, and bike part manuals cover every available surface. Good luck in keeping everything running smooth this season!

Kitchen table vice (make sure to use your place mats properly!)

Living room workshop

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