January 12, 2015 on 12:00 pm | In Community, Nutrition Tips, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments
This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Monica Pagels. Unexplained tummy aches? Wondering if you can go gluten-free as a triathlete? Tune in and hear what Monica has to say!
Ever feel like your body just won’t cooperate during a workout? Maybe you just feel sluggish, or maybe feel muscle pain or fatigue, or maybe you’ve had that all too embarrassing intestinal discomfort while out on the run. If you’ve been a runner as long as I have (30 years and counting), you have experienced it all! But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if our runs could all be just as good as that one magical Fall long run in the woods when everything felt perfect and easy, and you remembered why you loved to run?!
Recently, my running, and fitness in general, went from bad to worse. In June, I was at the top of my game, having just completed my first Ironman in Coeur D’Alene, and by August I was suffering from extreme fatigue and muscle pain during my runs. Many said it was a delayed reaction to the IM, and to just ride/run through it. By October, my running was suffering even more, I was falling asleep during the day, my belly ached, and I suffered extreme headaches. Never before had I felt this bad for this many workouts in a row! Something had to change! By January, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease, which is an auto-immune disorder where your body attacks itself upon ingesting the protein gluten (wheat). The cure, go figure, is to eliminate gluten from your diet… easier said than done, coming from the pasta-loving queen and post-race pizza crave! We have all done crazier things, I thought, to improve our performance, so why not give it a try. Within 4 weeks, my everyday symptoms of fatigue, stomachaches, and headaches had all but disappeared, I had lost almost 10 pounds, and imagine my delight – I could finally run under 8 minute-mile pace again! Now, almost a year later, I continue to see improvements in the way I feel and how my body performs during workouts and races…and recovery!
Could your workouts use some improvements? Are you darting off into the woods for those emergency bathroom stops? Giving up gluten may be worth a try! You do not have to be diagnosed with Celiac disease to have an intolerance to gluten. Admit it, we, as triathletes, love our pasta, breads and pizza! Could we have consumed it in such excess that our bodies now punish us? When I first gave up gluten, I thought it would be challenging to stick to the diet. I quickly realized that it is not what you are giving up, but what you are gaining instead! I turned to much more whole and natural foods such as fruits, vegetables and long grain rice. I also love chicken, and have even come up with my own black bean burger recipe! Yes, I have become quite the pro in the kitchen, from peanut butter balls with chia seeds and red maca powder, to quinoa and apple energy bars, to beet and zucchini muffins! The benefits far outweigh the challenge of foregoing that fine micro-brew I used to cherish after a marathon (gluten-free beer is pretty decent, by the way)!
Give the gluten-free life a try and see how it improves your performance, as well as your overall health. You will be amazed at the results, and your body will thank you by completing runs bathroom-stop free and begging for more miles!!
For terrific gluten free recipes or a list of gluten free foods, try the following websites:
Or, to hear more of my gluten-free journey and how it may help you, feel free to message me on Facebook!
January 5, 2015 on 12:00 pm | In Community, Random Musings, Training | No Comments
This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion George Cespedes. What is the best thing about triathlon? The fitness? Being able to eat whatever you want? The competition? Read on to learn what George thinks, and I think he’s onto something! Follow George on twitter – @georgecespedes.
We humans like to be part of a tribe. We have evolved to ascend to the top of the food chain, so to speak, by banding together in tribes, and through cooperation and shared experiences, built great civilizations and exist as part of many communities.
Triathlon is one such community that I love being a part of. Triathletes are awesome people. While we often find ourselves solo on long training rides or runs, or swimming endless laps in the pool with only the sound of our own labored breath in our ears, we do this to be a part of special niche in society. We share a love of testing our physical and mental boundaries, of following a training plan and the satisfaction of finishing a race.
As competitive as triathletes can be in training, racing and even life, they are also each others’ greatest cheerleaders, supporters and partners in pain. We all know what it takes to get from the swim start to the finish chute and we love to celebrate the accomplishments of others.
There is no bigger crowd gathered than around midnight of that epic race…you know the one I mean. Watching the last finishers stagger under the giant finish line clock to hear, “you are an Ironman,” somehow invigorates us all. We race to be fit, to beat our previous finish time, to test ourselves, but we celebrate our fellow triathlete competitors’ accomplishments as happily as our own.
Through my years as a triathlete, I have had enjoyed seeing the race kits from many different organizations and wondered what drives them to raise money for this cause or that person. I have raced for the Melanoma Research Foundation for the past two years and have just joined team Blazeman to race for ALS. I know, personally, that it gives meaning to the training time spent away from my family, the aches and pains that follow, and the tough miles out on the course. I am not just doing it for myself, for bragging rights, but to make a small difference in the world and give back to society in a meaningful and mutually beneficial way.
Another big reason I love being part of the triathlon community is because of how diverse it is. People from all walks of life, ages, and abilities make up the sport and triathlon community. I love meeting triathletes at different events across the country. Being a member of the TriSports Champions team has given me the opportunity to meet so many of these unique and wonderful people. We are all out there racing for our own reasons, but we share a lot of the same experiences and goals. I follow my teammates and friends to see how they are doing and I know they are doing the same for me. We want everyone to have a good race, to have a PR, to finish, because beyond our competitive fire is a shared passion for the sport and we know what it takes to finish, even if you are the last finisher.
Being part of the triathlon community has enriched my life in so many ways. It’s about so much more than being really fit, new PRs, finisher’s medals and swag bags, though. The best thing about triathlon is the triathletes!
December 29, 2014 on 12:00 pm | In Community, Random Musings | No Comments
This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Kent Rodahaver. Need some inspiration in your next race? Look no further than the person right next to you!
I was looking at some images in my computer’s photo folder recently and came across this one of the race start at Lake Placid a couple of years ago. Most of these races begin with a mass swim start – often referred to as “combat swimming,” “the human blender,” and “open water mixed martial arts” by participants. It is truly one of the most fascinating spectacles in all of sport, and looking at this made me reflect on the how the triathlon experience parallels some of the challenges of being a business leader in today’s demanding and challenging social environment.
In theory, triathlon is really an individual sport – you are competing against yourself, – your previous performance and time, aiming at each race to record a new PR. Pushing yourself, persevering and gritting it out to cross the finish line is part of the triathlon culture. And it begins with the chaotic swim while you are simultaneously battling for space in the water with 2000+ other athletes and occasionally seeking support and encouragement from them to start your journey. Believe me…after about 11 or 12 hours and it starts to get dark, you are searching for any type of encouragement – feeding off of the enthusiasm of the crowd, the encouragement of fellow athletes who are feeling the same excitement (and pain), recognizing a similar goal, and striving for the same finish line. That energy is great to share and it is even better to receive. That energy is amazing!
While racing a triathlon is mainly a solo endeavor, wise and experienced endurance athletes understand that they gain strength, energy, and inspiration from their fellow racers, particularly in a long distance race like iron distance events where an athlete can be on the race course for up to 17 hours. In any endurance race it is natural to have a singular focus on you – on your performance, on how you are doing at critical points in the race, on what’s up ahead and how you will adjust your race plan for changing weather, equipment problems or physical issues.
Likewise, as a business owner and community leader in these challenging times I have occasional concerns about my own personal effectiveness; about how I can help achieve more with less; and how I will inspire other business leaders and community members who are also trying to anticipate issues and obstacles that may affect their business decisions, mission, and community out-reach. With so many demands on our time and resources it often seems like a daunting task to step back and seek insight, support, and counsel from our peers and others around us.
My hope for all business organizations, individuals, and fellow athletes is for us to stand out in the community as giving, caring, hospitable, and welcoming. Role-model the type of behavior you would like others to exhibit, get involved in your community, and share often. I want people impacted by us to talk about endurance athlete leaders with excitement and enthusiasm. Triathletes are an exciting, electric, goal-driven bunch. Wouldn’t you like to see more community leaders with similar qualities?
You may not share my intense passion for having thousands of people thrashing about in the water around you, or biking and running until you are about to collapse, but a few wise, well-chosen fellow travelers on your journey could make the difference between slowly inching forward each day toward your goals and quickly and efficiently crossing the finish line with a smile!
December 22, 2014 on 12:18 pm | In Community, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments
This blog brought to you by TriSports Team Athlete Laura Balis. She has, unfortunately, gotten very familiar with injury, so pay attention, what she has to say just may help you! Follow Laura on Twitter – @LauraBalis.
This isn’t the most upbeat topic to write or read about… but it’s something I’ve dealt with for the past year, and I’m sure there are others out there going through similar struggles. It seems like triathletes don’t like to talk about or admit that we’re injured. Maybe we don’t want our competitors to know that we’re injured and feel like they have an edge on us. But there are also times when we’re not at our best and race anyway, and we feel like telling everyone, “Hey, you only beat me today because I’m injured!” But of course we don’t do that.
Staying motivated when you’re dealing with a long-lasting injury can be tough. I’m hoping that by sharing some of my experiences and tips, I may be able to help someone else who’s dealing with a pain-in-the-butt injury.
To make a long, long story short, I’ve dealt with calf pain and plantar fasciitis for about three years, and haven’t been able to run at all for the past year and a half. So, after this long ordeal that I’m going through, here’s my advice for physically and mentally dealing with injuries:
- Get second opinions – and third, fourth, and fifth… Be stubborn! I really believed that there was someone out there who could figure out and treat my injuries, so I kept going until I found someone who could. There are lots of good doctors and PTs out there, but they don’t all have experience with the same injuries.
- Figure out who your support network is. I talked to my husband about my injuries, a lot – probably more than he wanted to hear! I also had a couple girlfriends and my sister who I could call for a sympathetic ear or some advice.
- Do what you can and what’s fun. Luckily, most of the time that I’ve been dealing with the calf and foot issues, I’ve still been able to swim and ride. But I didn’t really feel motivated to go out and ride for hours and hours by myself when I wasn’t training for anything, and didn’t know if I had any races in my future. So I did whatever I felt like, mostly lots of shorter, fun rides with my husband on the river trail. As for swimming, I was able to join in with a friend’s swim workouts – and only do the parts that sounded fun!
- Find some new hobbies or something else to do with your time. When you can’t train much, all of a sudden you have more free time! The doctor and physical therapy appointments and rehab exercises can take some time. But if you still have more time, maybe pick up an extra hobby or volunteer to keep yourself busy and keep your mind off of not training. I started doing some freelance work on top of my normal job since I had more time for it.
- Stay motivated (as much as you can!). One thing that helped me as I started feeling like I’d make it through the injuries and be able to race again was putting together a tentative race schedule for the season. It was fun to look up different races and start to get excited about them, and was enough motivation to get me out the door for some longer rides.
December 16, 2014 on 4:28 pm | In Community, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments
This blog brought to you by TriSports Team Athlete Hayley Benson. Think you have to give up your triathlon lifestyle because you are starting a family? Think again! Follow Hayley’s blog.
No matter what kind of shape you are in, or what kind of athlete you are, or how strong willed you, are your body and pregnancy will have its own ideas. I was quite convinced that I would run throughout my pregnancy. We lived so close to the hospital that I was even convinced that I would jog the 1.5 miles to the delivery room when labor arrived. How naïve was I! I am one of those annoying people who actually likes running and could run a sub-6 minute mile even after months of not running, so I thought for sure I would be running through my pregnancy. This just wasn’t the case. I managed a little bit in the early stages, but due to the Arizona heat, the bowling ball in my stomach and the nausea, I just couldn’t do it at all after 28 weeks.
Doing flip turns in the pool during pregnancy will not harm your baby.
No amount of activity, swimming, hiking, running, whatever you are able to do during pregnancy, will induce labor. When it’s time, it’s time, there’s no changing it. I was taking long hikes, swimming 1000s of yards and my baby was still late.
I’m sorry to say, but you will pee yourself while running the first few times after delivery. Things are a little stretched out and traumatized down there, but this is a TRANSIENT thing and it does go away.
You will get your fitness back far quicker than you ever expected. You will not believe this, but I’m writing it anyway because it is true. I understand why you don’t believe it, you are bloated, beyond tired, still on the heavy side even after dumping out the actual baby, but you do get your fitness back fast. The body is remarkable at recovery.
The first few months of babyhood:
Every new Mom athlete needs to have an espresso machine and a treadmill. You will be sleeping A LOT less and you will need caffeine. You will need to take advantage of when baby sleeps to get some training done, so buy a decent treadmill…you are going to use it a lot. You don’t have to get a new one, there are some great deals on Craigslist.
Get back on the bandwagon with racing, that first race is always going to be nerve-wracking, but when it comes down to it, it’s an accomplishment in itself just to be on the starting line when you are trying to care for a young baby. I can attest that even if you can’t breast feed your baby right before the start of a 10km race, your baby will not starve during the time it takes you to complete the race, no matter how slow you are. I remember being quite convinced that my baby would starve while I did my first 10km post delivery. Hey, I was sleep deprived and rational thought was non-existent. Triathlons generally take longer than running races, so I would advise either breast feeding or pumping before the race, especially if your Tri top is very tight fitting because you will not be able to get it on without pumping first!
You will have to train tired…if you waited to train until you weren’t tired you would never get any training done. You can tolerate more sleep deprivation than you think you can, and don’t listen to the “babies sleep through the night at x weeks/months old, at x weight, at x developmental stage,” your baby will sleep through the night whenever he or she feels like it. In my case I had to wait 9 months!
The times when you could ride your bike from sunrise to sunset, when you could just take off on an adventure trail run and come back when you feel like it are gone, you have to think about who is going to watch the baby. If you are lucky enough to get out for an epic training session, it can’t be too epic as you have to be able to function when you get home. There are no days off from motherhood (yes, you will have a bit of nostalgia for those old times…it’s OK to feel like that).
Hire a coach if at all possible. If you are like most mere mortals, you are also working a steady job, as well as being an athlete and a parent, and you don’t have the time to put in crazy amounts of hours training. A coach will help streamline what you do. I am actually faster post-baby and with less hours training all thanks to a good coach.
Being an athlete and a Mom isn’t easy, but then again, if it were easy it wouldn’t be worth doing. My daughter, Sierra, is worth the challenges I have had to overcome with my athletics and she enriches my life. I’m looking forward to teaching her to swim, bike and run, just like mom!
November 18, 2014 on 3:04 pm | In Community, Random Musings | No Comments
This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Tom Golden and Team athlete Leo Carrillo. They are partners in triathlon and, apparently, enable each other. Hey guys, we can probably find you some help! (Editor’s note – In no way is this blog post meant to bring lightness to the serious problems of addiction…it is meant only to make fun of ourselves).
[Scene] I’m on a Hawaiian Airlines flight to Kona for a vacation with my family. I’m feeling super pumped to be going to the home of triathlon’s biggest event. In the plane, I am waiting in that peculiar line for the bathroom and some guy says to me, “You do triathlons?” I’m thinking, “Why would he ask that? Is it my shaved legs, my year round tan, my Zoot shoes or possibly my fit triathlete looking physique?” “I do,” I replied, beaming with pride, “how did you know?” “Your Oceanside 70.3 shirt,” he says. “Ohhhh, right my shirt,” I reply. “You do triathlons?” I ask. “I did, most addicting sport ever,” he says. How great is this, a fellow triathlete to chat with on my way to Kona, this is great! He then goes on to say, “My wife divorced me and my kids hate me because of triathlon and it nearly ruined my life. It’s a selfish sport,” he says. I was speechless. You would have thought I was talking to a recovering addict. The nerve of this guy! Well, for the next few hours, I started to think about what he said. Addicting, could one be addicted to triathlon? Maybe? So I started thinking what the similarities between a Triathlete guy and an Addict guy might be, just to check his theory. My training partner, Leo, and I came up with the following:
- Addict guy usually has a partner that he uses with; Triathlete guy has a training partner.
- The lean physique of Addict guy and race ready Triathlete guy could be confused for one another.
- Addict guy gets cranky and agitated when he can’t get his fix, whatever that may be; Triathlete guy also gets cranky and agitated when he can’t train.
- Addict guy has a dealer or supplier; Triathlon guy has TriSports, run by the one they call Seton.
- Willingness to spend top dollar on the best stuff, interchangeable.
- “I can do more, I can handle it.” Interchangeable.
- Despite the amount of pain and suffering, you continue to do it anyway, interchangeable again.
- Addict guy craving a six and a half hour high sounds like awesome, normal fun (for him). Triathlon guy craving a six and half hour workout also sounds like awesome, normal fun.
- Addict guy pushing the limits, teetering on the edge; much like Triathlon guy pushing the limits on a long training session, risking injury. Both would say totally worth the gains.
- Addict guy swearing he’ll give up his addiction after being caught/busted/found out, even as he’s planning how to do it again. Triathlete guy 20 miles into the run during an iron distance race swears never again and tells himself this was a stupid idea, yet he finds himself standing in a long line with stiff, sore legs the next day, credit card tightly in hand, ready to sign up again.
Well, there you have it. I may have been stretching on a few of those, but let’s face it…this is an addicting sport. I admit it has a grip on me and my fellow triathletes. Just call me Triathlon addict guy, I’m OK with that, I guess. Maybe the airplane guy had a point, but for me, it’s a good addiction. Triathlon has taken me to some really cool places to race. It’s transformed my health and physical condition. I’ve learned to push myself and juggle a loaded work/family/training schedule. Most importantly, I’ve met some really unique and great people over the years. After being a triathlete, anything in life will be a piece of cake. Yup, I’m OK with the thought of being a Triathlon addict! OK, gotta go…need to get to TriSports now!
October 28, 2014 on 9:30 am | In Athlete Profile, Community, Random Musings, Sponsorship | No Comments
This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Martin Soole. We all know what we do leading up to a race…train, train, train! But what about after? Check out Martin’s blog or follow him on Twitter – martin.soole.
There are many points in life when one must reevaluate and refocus. I’ve recently found myself at one of those points. I spent all of last year training and racing toward an Ironman finish. It was a rather simple, lovely existence. I woke up every morning and knew I had to train. I put in hours and hours of work. I bought the best gear available from TriSports.com, I learned from the best; I was the best physical version of myself capable of the world’s most challenging one day endurance race.
If you followed my blogs last year, you know that my Ironman debut in Lake Tahoe in 2013 did not go as planned. Read that article here.
The hundreds of training hours couldn’t prepare me for a bike mechanical failure that ended my day prematurely. I mourned that defeat for a long time. I had so many questions. I drove myself crazy trying to make sense of it all and come to terms with an event that was ultimately out of my hands. I had done everything in my power to be prepared for that race. I even trained with my coach on the course the previous month. But the Universe had other plans. It turns out that I gained more from that defeat than I would have if I had finished.
When I was training on a daily basis I didn’t make room in my life for anything else. I felt like a monk at times. I stopped socializing with friends, I only ate a strict diet, I let my business dealings lag, and fell out of touch with the artistic reasons for my move to LA in the first place. Many athletes can find balance during their Ironman journey. I was obsessed and I could not.
It turns out that I needed a big let down to allow me the breathing room to refocus my energy and begin anew. If I had finished the race, I would have probably gone right into the next and the next and the next and been swept up in the sport and only the sport. There is certainly nothing wrong with this, but I would not have been able to walk down that path in a healthy way. I could have further alienated my friends and family and lost sight of my career goals. I can’t stress enough how obsessed and out of balance I was. But there were lessons to be learned here if I was willing to take note.
All that time spent training and racing was not lost. Ultimately, I learned what I was capable of, I found my limits, and learned how to push past them. This could not have been learned in any other way. Triathlon has many transferable life skills. Self reliance, resilience in the face of challenges, and mental toughness are just a few that come to mind. These skills have come into play in my professional life, as I am now producing a feature film called “#Speedball.” It’s an action sports drama, think; “Fast and the Furious” meets the sport of paintball. If you think triathlon is hard, try producing a multi-million dollar movie franchise.
Despite the Heartbreak at Ironman Lake Tahoe, I knew I needed some redemption and wanted to release the pain of that event from my life. I fulfilled that at Ironman California 70.3. It wasn’t the full Ironman finish I had striven for, but this victory was in some ways better. I looked back at the previous year and decided to do things differently as I prepared this time. While training, I started dating a wonderful girl, I kept my relationships strong, and moved forward with all areas of my life. I was able to balance my entertainment career, my personal life, and my training. I had learned the lesson I was meant to and found closure with the event in Lake Tahoe.
I still swim, bike, and run. I moved to the beach with that wonderful girl I started dating and I’ve picked up surfing. My life is more full and vibrant than it has ever been. From my greatest disappointment came the opportunity to live the balanced life I was meant to live.
So, in the midst of heartbreak and setbacks, take a moment to stop and reevaluate. One area of your life may be out of balance. That situation is there for a very specific purpose. Once you’re able to release the hurt, look for the gift in the ashes. There is a lesson to be learned. Don’t mourn the failure; it might be just what you needed. Most of all, don’t forget to keep moving forward.
September 8, 2014 on 3:34 pm | In Community, Life at TriSports.com, Random Musings, Training | No Comments
This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Anthony Bagnetto. Pay attention all you city-folk! Check out Anthony’s blog or follow him on Twitter – anthonybagnetto.
Being a triathlete is difficult. Let’s face it, it’s a huge reason we all do it. ‘Easy’ bores us, only one discipline bores us (what, no transitions!?). Early mornings, inclement weather, technical and nutritional failures are all par for our course. But there is yet another subset of us who face an additional challenge in preparing for races which, time wise, is 95% of being a triathlete.
I’m speaking of us inner city dwellers. No, not the townhouse owners on the city’s edge with driveways and parking but us brave-hearted souls who dream of a second bedroom so we can not have bikes hanging precariously from the wall over our beds as we sleep. The barriers we face on top of the difficulties inherent in our endeavors require a lot of creativity and close intimacy with repetition.
I live in the heart of New York City, and happily, there is a strong, thriving triathlete community here with no fewer than 8 solid Tri teams, organizations, and countless cycling and running teams. The community is strong, the will is there–the space isn’t. We are up against each other every morning, runners darting out into cyclists, cyclists swerving into running paths. And, of course, the tens of thousands of tourists that descend, making going fast dangerous and nearly impossible.
This all happens on a 6 mile circle between the hours of 5-7:30am every weekday morning in our training ground, THE ONLY training ground, Central Park. OK, that’s not totally true. There are several spacious parks in the other boroughs, but if you’re centrally located, the commuting time might take longer than your workout time.
I’ve broken down challenges and clever ways we city-folk create to overcome them by discipline.
Being in the northeast and surrounded by concrete, the idea of an outdoor 8-lane Olympic sized pool is a pipe dream. Access to a 25 yard or a 25 or 50 meter pool is supremely hard, or at least very expensive, as they come with mandatory gyms fees attached (by my count, there are 3 Olympic lane swimming pools in Manhattan, none of them easy to reach). One way triathletes get around this is through those tri teams that we belong to. They often have relationships with different facilities, so if you are going to do mostly group workouts, you are allowed to use the pool with the group as part of your membership. Some private triathlon coaches, like myself, have these relationships, as well, and can get you in for private lessons.
Some are lucky/rich enough to have a pool in their doorman building, and I’ve had clients in a lot of them. While this sounds awesome, it really isn’t. I haven’t found one yet that’s actually 25 yards long. So being good at both math and flip turns is essential.
As for open water practice, you can head way out to one of the Brooklyn beaches and brave the waves but as for anywhere else, as they say there, “fuggedaboutit”
Here in Manhattan there are 3 options, and only 2 of them really useful for any kind of speed work. The West Side Highway has a very nice bike/running path but therein lies the problem. Runners, walkers and aerobar’d speedster triathletes competing for space within 5 feet of each other isn’t ideal for anything other than slow recovery rides. Which leaves that 6 mile loop of Central Park I mentioned and that’s only useful during non-tourist hours before 8:30am. If you are a long course triathlete, it’s off to Jersey, along the well-ridden 9W route. While this option is great (wide shoulders, frequent cyclist-friendly coffee shops and bathrooms) it can become mind-numbingly repetitive. Plus, depending on where you live in NYC, the commute to get out over the George Washington bridge (read: warmup) can be over a half hour each way.
There are a handful of growing indoor cycling studios with computrainers and flatscreens that welcome both teams and individuals for different workouts, and they become very popular in the winter offseason. Even these are cramped, though, and few have shower or changing facilities.
This is really where my city (or really any other city) shines for triathletes as it is much easier to lace up some shoes and be running just outside your door in only minutes. On foot there is no need to stick to the boring 6 mile drive in Central Park since you can veer onto any number of the hundreds of trails that crisscross the many iconic acres. Running with traffic can be challenging, but it’s a skill easily learned and, unless you are doing speed work, you can generally work the traffic lights so that there is minimal stopping. The people-watching is unrivaled and, with each neighborhood sometimes seeming like a separate country, boredom is never an issue.
No matter which leg of a triathlon you are training for, in a city it’s difficult to escape the glass, steel and concrete bearing down on you every day. So when you are at those races in the country and you see a few of us looking up at the clear wide open sky in astonishment, just remember, this is our escape both figuratively and literally. We won’t let it slow us down, though, we just take it in faster.
August 28, 2014 on 11:14 am | In Community, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments
This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Don Quinn. He’s the guy who rolls up to the race in the RV, and you’re jealous because he gets to sleep in later than you. Follow Don’s blog or on Twitter – donpquinn3.
“It must be tough to train while traveling all the time.” I hear that a lot. You see, this family of six just happens to live in an RV, and travel the country full-time. Going on four years now. I’m not going to lie, it’s a pretty sweet way to live! It can be very challenging, however, to commit to a training plan while going from point A to point B. Finding places to swim is especially difficult, but we do get to run and bike in some amazing places.
So, how can you get an effective workout while juggling the different needs of your spouse and kids, whether you’re on the road or not? I’ll give you some examples of what works for us, and you may find they work for your family, or training group.
The Yo-Yo Run
After a warm-up together, we each run at our own pace. When the lead runners reach the next trail intersection (or sign, or really any predetermined distance or time) they “turn-n-burn,” high-tailing it to the back of the pack, while exchanging fives and words of encouragement with fellow runners, naturally. Then, after a brief recovery, regular pace is resumed until the next turnaround point. This pattern continues until the end of the run. We start together and finish together, and in the middle we all do our own thing.
The Yo-Yo allows each runner to reach his or her own distance and speed goals, while simultaneously enjoying some of that vital “alone with my thoughts” time so many of us crave while running. As a husband and father, it provides some peace of mind knowing I will have regular check-ins with the family. The level of peace of mind is directly proportional to the number of man-eating predators roaming the woods. There are times when the predators are just too numerous, so we stick to the family hike and call it cross-training.
The Yo-Yo can also be applied to a family hike, with some members running ahead while the hikers (aka “mules” because they carry the extra supplies) keep a steady pace. And on a point-to-point hike, one of us will drop the others at the trailhead, drive to the other end and start running to meet up with the rest of the group, and then the Yo-Yo begins.
The Yo-Yo can also be done on the bike, but the turnarounds can be a bit more dangerous on busy roads, so be careful.
The Playground (PG) Run
Some of our favorite workouts involve playgrounds. When there are multiple PGs within our running distance, we stop at each one for a variety of exercises, or hit the same one multiple times. Ever since our kids were in backpacks and strollers, I’ve scanned playground equipment for exercise possibilities; now I’m rewarded with seeing my kids do the same thing: “Hey Dad, that looks like a good spot for pullups.”
A fan favorite is the “Spartan Around.” We start at one end of the equipment and have to climb all the way around the absolute outside and back to the start without falling in the “lava” (touching the ground). It’s an excellent full-body workout for everyone, and you’ll never hear the kids ask if we’re done yet. Plus, you’ll be ready for your next obstacle race, or whatever life throws at you. Give it a try, whether you have kids or not, and you’ll be hooked.
Before or after your near-death lava experience, find a convenient pull-up spot and get ready for a fun challenge. This can be done individually, as a single team, or as teams going head-to-head. We’ll pick a goal, say, 100 pull-ups total for the six of us. Then, we each go to failure one at a time in quick succession until we reach our team goal. The one goal for the whole team enables each person to do what he or she feels comfortable with, without the pressure of direct competition with others.
And now, scan the equipment to discover what else is possible. Prove to your kids that you do actually have a creative bone in your body. Really, anything involving body weight and grip strength will serve you well. Think outside the box. Speaking of which, I’m sure you’ll find a spot for box jumps. How about split box runs? Start with one foot on top of the bench or box (the other on the ground) and quickly switch feet like you’re running up stairs, pumping your arms in time. It won’t take much to get your heart rate up.
Some other exercises to consider: dips; rows; push-ups (of course, but try a variety of hand placements); Bulgarian split-squats; and ab curl-ups. For the ab curl-ups, grab the set of rings and get inverted (throw in some upside-down pull-ups, while you’re at it), then curl back down with your knees tucked to your chest as slowly as you can. Feel that? Oh yeah! Now do five more.
Walmart (aka “Make Do With What You Have”)
That’s right. As full-time RVers we occasionally stay overnight in Walmart parking lots, and other odd spots. With the right attitude, it can be a fun adventure, and you can still get a workout. A recent stay at a Walmart in Minnesota had us doing burpees and then sprinting up and down a hill. A little friendly competition. A couple days later (at another Walmart), we chose a plyo workout that included: power skips, for height and then distance; two-footed hops, again, for height and then distance; and multi-directional “jops” (jump off two feet onto one, and back, in four directions).
And we have a full set of resistance bands that sees regular use; a great way to keep the swimming muscles in shape when you can’t get to a pool. When all else fails, we have our “Hundreds,” so called because they started as four sets of twenty-five repetitions of squats, push-ups, and ab work. Any number of exercises can be substituted, such as, step-back lunges, or one-legged squats and deadlifts. And rotating a variety of exercises will help keep it fresh. Most times, we work one side of the body at a time, forcing us to engage the core to balance.
The bottom line: Whether you travel a lot, have kids or not, life tends to throw speed bumps and potholes at all of us along the way. Stay flexible in your training, and you will weather the bumps more easily. Do what you can, when you can, and don’t sweat the rest. And if your training includes a spouse, kids, or anyone else really, always try to stay positive, supportive, and considerate. It’s a fine line between motivating and discouraging. With a little creativity, you can get a decent workout anywhere and anytime.
March 17, 2014 on 2:32 pm | In Athlete Profile, Community, Random Musings, Sponsorship | No Comments
This blog brought to you by TriSports Team athlete Scott Bradley, reminding all of us why we started our endurance sports habits in the first place. Check out Scott’s blog and follow him on Twitter – scottbradley11.
Trying to be a competitive triathlete is not easy. It requires a pretty large commitment to be putting your name towards the top of the results sheet race after race. There are countless hours spent training, sleeping, eating, reading about the newest training techniques and equipment, studying competitors and everything else we spend time on. If you let it, the whole thing can become one big grind.
I couldn’t say for sure, but it’s highly unlikely that when anyone started multisport they said, “I want to get involved in a sport that will take time away from my family and friends, cost me thousands of dollars in equipment and race fees (not to mention the larger than normal grocery bills), and beat the crap out of my body day after day so I’m exhausted almost all the time. That sounds fun.” It’s much more likely that people said something like, “I want to challenge myself to be the healthiest, fittest person I can possibly be” or “that looks like it would be a lot of fun,” which leads me to the best advice I’ve ever received as a triathlete: Make sure it’s still fun.
When I started triathlon I had no clue what I was doing. My first season was nothing short of a disaster and if I hadn’t just purchased a really expensive bike toward the end of it, I would have thrown in the towel. I kept at it, however, and was fortunate enough to have a colleague who had been doing this stuff for years, and had been tearing up courses since way back when I was still wearing pull-ups, take me under his wing. He gave me training structure and taught me about how to prepare for races properly. We rode and ran together all the time, often with a bunch of his other friends who were also veterans of the sport.
When it was time for a big ride, there were often interesting destinations. Usually it was some sort of annual trip for these guys, but to me these were all new experiences. One day we were riding to the Maple Tree Inn, which was about a 75 mile round trip ride with lots of climbing on an annual ride they called “The Easter Bunny Ride” because it always happened in late March or early April when the restaurant was open, which is only for about eight weeks a year (as a side note, this place has the best buckwheat pancakes and syrup anywhere and I highly recommend anyone in upstate New York going if you’ve never been). I was riding next to Carl and he said “Make sure this is always fun. If it stops being fun, don’t do it anymore.” That’s why they had all these destinations for rides and took so many crazy trips. It made it fun and every year they would go back to places together and enjoy each others’ company and share memories.
There are days when we have to rise early to train before work or winter months where we have to grind out hours on the trainer in order to maximize our potential (we don’t all live in sunny Tucson!). Every session isn’t going to be about fun, but if none of them are, what’s the point? I’ve found ways to make the 5am pool sessions fun by swimming with a great group of people (and I don’t even really like swimming to begin with). In the winter, a few friends will bring their bikes over and we will set up shop in my basement to watch movies while we grind away on the trainers.
A little creativity and a few friends can make almost any session more enjoyable. It is a piece of advice I will never forget and hopefully I can continue to have fun with this sport until I’m old and gray so I can share it with some up and coming triathlete who’s just getting into it. If I do, it’ll probably be the best advice I ever give, too.