Advice For Older Athletes, By An Older Athlete

By Eric M.
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!

Finding My Inner Athlete

By Eric M.
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.

2013 Moraga Sprint Triathlon

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.

Stay Cool, Stay Hydrated.

By Eric M.
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!!

Fight the Sun

By Eric M.
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:

  1. Wear sunscreen and reapply when you can.
  2. Wear a hat or visor.  If you have hair, you’ll protect it. If you’re bald, protect your scalp!
  3. Go to the dermatologist once a year and monitor any moles or freckles that change or darken.
  4. Wear arm coolers for protecting against the sun as well as cooling your body.
  5. Bring a long sleeve top for after racing to get the sun off your skin.
  6. 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!)
  7. Remember, white deflects the sun and black absorbs it, so choose your race kit with that in mind.
  8. You can still get a tan even wearing SPF 30!

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.

Should you train when you’re sick?

By Eric M.
April 1, 2013 on 1:24 pm | In Training | No Comments

This is a guest post by coach Dani Bahnsen brought to you by CoachFitter.com

It’s that time of year when there’s something in the air, and it’s not exactly spring.  There’s a bug that’s been going around.  How do you know when you should push through it and when should you stay home?

Today I have had the rare opportunity of staying home and working on my computer. It’s been a day of doing things I’ve been trying to get to but haven’t had the time. Really, I was forced to stay home because I’m sick.  Yesterday I felt great and had a fabulous high intensity interval workout in the morning. After that I swam, trained clients and then ran errands. It was just another typical day for me. I am proud to say that I am strict with my clients about taking care of themselves – staying hydrated, fueling properly and taking time for recovery.  I do my best to practice what I preach.  No one wants to feel run down and if we don’t look out for number one, we won’t be at our best. We also won’t be able to get the most out of our training or perform at our optimum level.

One of the many great things about exercise is that it boosts immunity. As a coach, I have noticed that my athletes are rarely sick compared to my friends who are not as athletic. Exercising while you have the sniffles can speed up recovery. However, it’s not always the best thing to do if you’ve got something more than the common cold.  Exercising with a viral infection can increase your likelihood of suffering from dehydration and heat stroke.  There’s also a chance that even worse could happen.  As you exercise, your blood is continuously being pumped through your heart.  According to experts, if you have a virus, it might concentrate in your heart muscle, leading to a condition called myocarditis.

I’ll admit, I usually try to be ‘tough’ and push through it when I have a cold or I’m not feeling quite right. However, feeling like this, there’s no way I could go for a run today; I have a fever, a red face, and my head is pounding.  There are times when we really need to just stay home, rest and eat chicken soup…and drink a Fluid Recovery Drink. As we all know, this works great for post workout recovery as well as recovering when you’re sick.  For my party-going friends, Fluid has also been known to be a great cure for occasional hang-over.

Here is a simple rule that I like to follow: Don’t shy away from your regular training if you have the sniffles, feel a little tired, or even have a touch of a scratchy throat.  Do stay home and rest when you feel the following symptoms:

Fever

Achy muscles

Chest congestion

G.I. issues

So, if you have a little cold, I would suggest taking it easier on the workout, but there is no need to skip training altogether. If you have something more serious and you do have to skip training, you should get back up to speed gradually. Listen to your body and pay extra attention to your nutrition.  After a week of being symptom free you should be back to giving your training the 100% that it deserves.

While I am busy beating this cold you can learn more about me and my coaching service at www.danibahnsen.com. You can also find me listed in the “Find a Coach” section of CoachFitter.com.

Dani Bahnsen – Natural Running Coach and Personal Trainer

The Secret to a Winning Season: It’s Already Happened

By Eric M.
February 21, 2013 on 9:53 am | In Athlete Profile | No Comments

Here’s a blog entry from Steve Elliott, a member of the 2013 TriSports.com Champions Team.

I ran 11 minutes on a treadmill last week.

Before you snicker, the treadmill was inside the Adult Congenital Cardiology Clinic at Stanford Hospital and it’s designed to be a 10-minute maximal test. After I did this test two years ago, they cut me open and stitched various breakfast meats into my heart.

That, actually, is what got me started in triathlon.

Quick back story: I was born with four strange heart defects including a mostly-blocked pulmonary artery and a hole between the ventricles that allowed unoxygenated blood coming back from my body to go right back out again without ever visiting my lungs. I gasped for breath a lot, turned blue even more, and couldn’t walk across a room without having to stop, rest and catch my breath. A little before my fifth birthday, in 1970, they opened me up and fixed my heart with a nice Dacron patch.

Turns out, you get about 40 years out of that repair and a couple of summers ago, after the treadmill test and a cardiac MRI, they told me I needed my pulmonary valve replaced with a pig valve. While he was at it, the surgeon also used some tissue from a cow heart to repair the original patch, giving me a three-species (plus synthetic) heart. I’d been home from the hospital about five days, still sleeping in a chair because of the pain (rib-splitting hurts!) when I saw a broadcast of Leon’s Triathlon from Indiana and everything changed.

I knew this was a sport my wife and I could do together. I knew it was a sport I’d enjoy. And the timing was perfect – from that moment, I was no longer recovering from open-heart surgery…I was training.

I got online and started learning. I ordered books, read TriSports U articles and started looking for an appropriate first race. Even though I’d be on activity restrictions for another seven weeks, I walked and did what I could do to get some fitness back and I competed in a super-sprint just three months after my surgery, then a late-season traditional sprint a month after that. I wasn’t fast in either race, but my goals were just to compete and finish.

After a full season last year, my goals are higher for 2013. I have swim times I want to hit and a running pace I’m building toward. I want to improve in my home events and hit the podium a few times. I don’t know if it will happen this year, but I want to qualify for the Xterra National Championships and test myself in that race. I look forward to scanning race results, hoping my name is listed toward the top of the page.

That’s why the treadmill test was such a good reminder. Without the surgery, my name could just as easily show up on a heart transplant waiting list or in a coroner’s report. So no matter how my races go this year, I’ve already won.

You have, too. If you do this sport, if you have races on the calendar and a training plan on your desk, you are fitter, faster, healthier, and, I suspect, happier than most people out there. So good luck with your 2013 season and your goals, but my friends, we’ve already won.

Steve Elliott is a member of the 2013 TriSports.com Champions Team. If you like his approach and want to support him – and get 15% off gear for yourself at TriSports.com – enter discount code SELLIOTT during checkout.

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