One Long, Creative Conversation

By Debbie
March 16, 2015 on 3:57 pm | In Life at TriSports.com, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Jake Greenwood. Feeling like you need a break to get your head on straight? Spas and vacations are overrated…just do what you already do – train!  Check out Jake on Twitter – @GWoodJCG.

Recently, as I often do, I was on the spin bike watching an old Kona race video.  In the 1995 video, Paula Newby-Fraser made a quote that has become synonymous with triathlon training.  Frasier quips that triathlon “is one long, tedious conversation with yourself.”  Others have often asked me what I think about on long training rides and runs or during an Iron distance race.  Surely, anyone who does triathlon training and racing has spent hours alone with nothing more than their thoughts.  During this time the mind wanders to quiet, repetitive places.  The repetition becomes a mantra where counting breathes, pumping the cranks, or turning over your legs fades into the background as your wandering mind takes over and you think deep and hard in a type of dream-like state.

I started thinking about Newby-Fraser’s quote and identified with her sentiment.  I have often produced, solved, and forgotten about problems all in one training session.  After stressful days at work or when I’m feeling distracted, I use exercise as a mental break.  I’ve always felt that exercise has left me mentally fresher and allowed my mind the needed time to seek creative solutions to problems.  And so, a question arose for me, does triathlon training yield increased creativity?

In the article “Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime,” Jabr (2013) argues that the brain requires substantial downtime to remain industrious and generate its most innovative ideas.  A wandering mind unsticks us in time so that we can learn from the past and plan for the future.  Mental idleness is indispensable to the brain.  We obsessively check and respond to emails and even feel obligated to get work done in the evenings, on weekends, and while on vacation.  Personally, between my job, family, and household chores, training remains as the only quiet time I have in a week.  During my training, the space and quiet that mental idleness provides is necessary to make unexpected connections and leads to strikes of inspiration.  Mental downtime has been described as an opportunity for the brain to make sense of what has been recently learned, to surface unresolved tension, and to reflect internally.  During these moments of mental quiet we craft fictional dialogue, mull unfinished projects, and catapult ourselves into different hypothetical futures.  Often while training, I have found myself role playing through deep conversations that determine how I ultimately handle sticky or stressful life situations.  These moments of introspection help foster a stronger sense of self, which is the story we continually tell ourselves.  It seems my consciousness is awakened by the unconsciousness of the repetitive movements.  During a race it is often said you will go to “dark places” within the recesses of your mind.  But what is in that dark place? Perhaps the darkness is the key to light, or better yet, enlightenment.

Long training rides give you loads of time alone with your thoughts

I choose to use my endurance training as an opportunity for much needed brain breaks.  However, I often find myself almost obsessively pondering life situations at home or work as the miles tick by.  I’ve often run through the door and quickly jotted down potential solutions to problems or pulled my bike over to make a quick voice memo in my phone.  Opipari (2014) commented that a single workout can immediately boost higher-order thinking skills, increasing productivity and efficiency.  Science supports this claim due to the fact that specific brain proteins move across brain synapses with increased blood flow that comes directly from exercise (Tomporowski, 2003).  These brain proteins facilitate the growth of new brain cells and nourish existing ones.  The result is improved executive functioning and higher-order thinking that allows people to formulate arguments, develop strategies, and creatively solve problems. In this way, exercise unleashes creativity.  Therefore, it seems the mental idleness and increased blood flow in the brain during endurance training both physiologically and biologically yields a more creative mental space within which to solve problems.

The link between endurance training and creativity may well exist.  Maybe Paula Newby-Fraser was making a deeper statement about this link in her famous quote, or perhaps she was simply using an eloquent metaphor for Jens Voight’s more concise “shut up, legs.”  In any event, the next time you’re mentally stuck, stressed, or fatigued, don’t reach for caffeine or energy drinks.  Grab those running shoes and leave your phone at home.  You already possess the key to increased mental acuity and productivity; your legs.

Increasing creativity post-IM Lake Placid

References

Jabr, F. (2013, October 15). Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime. Retrieved September 25, 2014, from Scientific American.  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mental-downtime/

Opipari, B. (2014, May 27). Need a Brain Boost? Exercise. Retrieved September 26, 2014, from The Washington Post.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/need-a-brain-boost-exercise/2014/05/27/551773f4-db92-11e3-8009-71de85b9c527_story.html

Tomporowski, P. D. (2003). Effects of Acute Bouts of Exercise on Cognition. Acta Psychologica , 112, 297-324.

Recovery: My Version of the Myth

By Debbie
March 10, 2015 on 1:32 pm | In From the shop, Life at TriSports.com, Nutrition Tips, Product Information, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Juan Martin Tanca. Recovery is truly a buzzword in the endurance world, but what does it REALLY mean? Check out Juan’s take on it…I think he’s onto something!  Check out Juan’s blog and follow him on Twitter – @jmtanca.

In recent years, recovery has been the most common topic in the endurance world, yet the most ignored and misunderstood by the majority of everyday athletes. My idea of recovery and rest is quite different from what most people do and think. A few months ago, I was reading Matt Hanson’s blog and he was explaining that for him, recovery was a whole day process, not just a single action done after a workout. When I read this, I started thinking more about it and, after some research and discussion with my coach, it made complete sense. If you integrate recuperation and rejuvenation into your lifestyle, the results in training/racing will be evident and way cheaper than getting a new “superbike” or a Star Wars-like aero helmet.

Recovery involves sleep (at least 8-9 hours/night), proper nutrition and fueling, hydration and trying to minimize life stress. We all know that it is almost impossible to have a stress-free life nowadays, but the key is trying to keep balance.

Recovery is seen sometimes as “nice to have,” but in order to be successful as an athlete, resting must be part of your plan. Viewing rest and recovery as a triathlon’s 4th discipline will have positive impacts in your training adaptation, hormonal balance, immune system and overall mood.

Sleep

Sleep is the single cheapest and easiest way to boost your performance. This is where all the training adaption takes place. Sleeping 8-9 hours per night is ideal but 7 will work, too. Power naps in the afternoon are great, as well (10-20 minutes). Sleeping 60 to 90 minutes in the afternoon is not beneficial because it disrupts the sleeping cycle and it will be difficult to sleep at night.

To understand how to heal our body, we must understand what happens to it when we exercise. The body sees exercise as stress, therefore when we are training, our endocrine system secretes stress hormones (Cortisol & testosterone). The downside of this is that for our body, having a bad day at work or an argument has the same result as a hard track session or hill repeats, so if we want consistency and good health, it is vital that we must try to keep a low stress life and have “Athletic IQ.” What is this? Athletic IQ is not having a myopic look at the specific training day, but instead having a long lens view. What I mean is, for example; yesterday I went to bed at 9pm and woke up at 6am. I slept for 9 hours but woke up feeling heavy and fatigued, so I slept in, then went to work and did my workout in the afternoon instead, feeling refreshed and with a better mood. Sometimes forcing a workout with residual fatigue is useless. Tim O’Donnell says “One workout will not make you a world champion but the sum of consistent years of training, will.” By no means am I saying to be lazy, but if you know your body and your fatigue levels you will be able to make the call. Training = stress + adaptation.

You should wake up feeling refreshed

There are other kinds of methods of boosting and balancing your hormonal level. My coach (Matt Dixon) likes us to go for 30-40 minutes runs, but REALLY, REALLY easy. If your running pace is 7min/mile, go for a 10min/mile pace, it will boost your mood and your endocrine system will secrete endorphins that are always awesome. Those easy runs and easy rides (coffee shop rides) will make you feel rejuvenated and fresh and will serve as a bridge for the next day. The key is to differentiate the easy workouts from the hard ones; there must be significant difference in intensity.  To achieve this, it is very important to trust your coach and be brave.

Fueling, Nutrition & Hydration

What we put in our bodies is extremely important. If you want your car to run amazing, it’s better if you put super premium gas in it. Our bodies work in a similar way. Some people do not view nutrition and fueling as important, but they are extremely important. First let’s explain each of them separately.

Fueling is what you eat 60 minutes before a workout, what you eat and drink during the training session, what you eat and drink immediately after working out (30 minutes max!!). Like Meredith Kessler says: “The workout is not finished until the fueling is done.” During training I like to go with natural foods (Feed Zone Portables recipes are super easy and make training tastier, and Osmo nutrition is my hydration choice). As I said earlier, the body secretes cortisol when we workout, so the only thing that stops it immediately after we finish our training is protein. Having a high protein meal with carbs (4:1 ratio) within 30 minutes of finishing your training will help you to be ready to tackle the next training session feeling better. Avocados are great for recovery, as they have good fats to stabilize your metabolism and reduce muscle soreness.

Feed Zone Portables is a great guide to real training food

Nutrition is what you eat the rest of the time. If you want to lose weight, here is where you want to cut your calorie intake – do not sacrifice your training adaptation by cutting fueling calories. If you have a healthy diet and fuel correctly your body will do its part and will put you at the correct weight. Remember, it is not a linear formula that the lighter you are, the faster you will run.

Hydration is a key component, as well. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated and your body is producing cortisol.

Personal protocol, tips and objective measurement

Immediately after I finish working out I have a pre-set protocol that I try to follow every time:

  1. Rehydrate and refuel
  2. Shower
  3. Dynamic stretching  and hip mobility exercises
  4. Wear recovery boots for  60-90minutes
  5. Rest with the feet higher than the heart
  6. Foam roller massage 2 or 3 times a week.

When I am on a hard training block or I feel that I have not recovered enough before going to bed, I drink Nocturne from Infinit Nutrition. This product uses tryptophan (which is found in cherries) to boost your growth hormones while you sleep so you can feel fresh and rested when you wake up.

An objective way to measure your fatigue level is to use urine strips. If, on the first pee of the day, you have protein in your urine, you are not ready to go. Sleep in and enjoy an awesome day off from triathlon. Urine strips also measure your leukocytes levels. If leukocytes are present in your urine, you might be in an early stage of sickness.

Follow the signs your body gives you!

Recovery is a vital part of every training plan. It is important to understand that recovery is not only taking a day off, but an integral piece of training. It should not be hard to apply in your daily life, and your recovery protocol should not be daunting and should not cause more stress. The key is balance and planning ahead. You can be a successful triathlete with 12 hours of training a week or less. The volume of training (miles-hours) is not a very successful tool for measuring your success.

“Most triathletes are extremely fit but are chronically tired” – Matt Dixon. Don’t be one of those triathletes!

References:

Dixon, Matt. “Recovery.” The Well-built Triathlete: Turning Potential into Performance. 1st ed. Vol. 1. Boulder2014: Velopress, n.d. 35-58. Print.

Eye Care Needs for Triathletes

By Debbie
February 17, 2015 on 2:27 pm | In Community, From the shop, Life at TriSports.com, Product Information, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Steve Rosinski. We frequently think about protecting things like our head, but how often do you think about protecting your eyes? They’re kind of important. Learn some tips from Steve, who isn’t only a pro triathlete, but an Optometrist, as well! And you thought your schedule was busy! Check out Steve’s blog or follow him on Twitter – @steverosinski.

As a Doctor of Optometry I think about the eyes a lot! And being a Professional Triathlete I think about Triathlons probably even more!  With both of them being such an integral part of my life I want to share my thoughts on the importance of eyewear – whether sun or prescription, goggles and even contact lenses.

Let’s first take a look at sunglasses.  Sunglasses are in every triathlete’s bag of essentials when it comes to training and race day.  They not only make you look extra cool with the latest colors, shapes and designs, but they also protect our eyes from the wind, rain, and dust that we encounter on the road or trail.  If you are not wearing sunglasses or even clear lenses when it is cloudy, I would strongly suggest that you do! I have, on more than one occasion, taken a bug to the face descending at over 50 mph only to have it smack my sunglasses, therefore preventing disaster. As an eye doctor I have had to remove small pebbles, insect parts and have treated people for corneal abrasions (tree branches to the eye) because of similar episodes when people weren’t wearing proper eyewear.  And let me tell you, the eye is highly innervated with nerves, so anytime something gets in there it is painful – don’t let that happen to you…wear your glasses!  Some suggestions for eye wear would be photochromic or “transition” lenses that change depending on the light levels.  They have lenses that go from clear to a grey for people riding at dusk/dawn/wooded areas.  They also have lenses that start at a light grey and go to a dark grey as the sun becomes more radiant.  Popular sunglass companies for triathletes are Tifosi, Oakley, POC and Bolle.  Fortunately many sunglasses can now have prescriptions put into them, from single vision to bifocals (for those ages 40 plus that need to see both distance and your bike computer). For prescription I would recommend going to your local eye care provider where they can put your prescription lenses in the frame correctly.

Wear your sunglasses!

On another note, for those who are active, there is the option for contact lenses.  I am a huge believer in contact lenses when used appropriately. Contact lenses give you freedom and an extra field of view compared to glasses.  But…I still recommend wearing sunglasses when biking and running (to protect the eyes).  Contact lenses are a medical device so they need to be fit by a proper professional and not over worn.  With over-wear you will predispose yourself to eye infections which can be potentially blinding.  Most contact lenses these days do a great job with oxygen transmissibility (the ability of the contact lens to allow oxygen to get to the front part of your eye), which can help reduce the risk of infection compared to contacts of years past.  Most contacts are either a 1- day, 2 week or one month lens. There are contact lenses for people with near-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism, but have even developed them for those who need bifocals.  I am a huge advocate of 1 day contact lenses (wear them one day then throw them out) – I wear them myself. Not only are they convenient – you don’t have to clean them – but most importantly, they are the healthiest option.  One day lenses are great for part-time wearers, allergy suffers and swimmers. I would not recommend swimming in contact lenses in general, but if you are going to, you might as well use the best option with one day lenses.  I especially point out swimmers because people who swim with contacts, whether in pools or open water, are predisposed to an infection from an Acanthamoeba. This infection is a very painful and vision threatening one. So in general, don’t swim in contacts, but if you do, only wear one day contacts and throw them out after use.

You then ask, “if I can’t swim in my contacts what can I do?”  There are companies that actually make prescription swimming goggles. The goggles work well and you can see with your prescription in them – now maybe you won’t run into the pool wall!

TYR Tracer Corrective Optical Goggle

Best of luck this season and if you have any questions contact your local eye care provider!

Five Time and Money-Saving Tips for the Vegan Endurance Athlete

By Debbie
February 9, 2015 on 11:11 pm | In Life at TriSports.com, Nutrition Tips, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Liz Miller. Many athletes are choosing to try training on a vegetarian, or even vegan, diet. Can it work for you? Learn some tips that can help make the transition a little easier. Check out Liz’s blog or follow her on Twitter – FeWmnLiz (can you tell she’s a geologist?).

Have you ever wondered about following a vegan diet but didn’t think you could do it while still maintaining a heavy workout load for your next half or full Ironman? I have been following a vegan diet for the past year and recently switched to mostly gluten-free, as well. I am a huge animal lover and advocate, but my decision to go vegan was based mostly on the desire to find the best possible diet for my body when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight and fast race times. The vegan lifestyle isn’t appropriate or feasible for everyone, but it can be a new and exciting way of eating. If you’re curious about trying it, here are a few simple time and money-saving tips for following a gluten-free and vegan lifestyle without breaking the bank or taking time away from training.

1. Find and join a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

A CSA not only supports local farmers, it also reduces the time spent at the grocery store picking out all those fruits and vegetables each week. By joining a CSA, you’ll get a wide variety of fresh, local, in-season fruits and veggies that can make cooking fun and exciting. I had never even heard of kohlrabi until we got it in our CSA box one week! Whether your local CSA has a weekly pickup or a home delivery service, it easily saves 20 minutes or more at the grocery store and it can add fun and new foods to your weekly diet routine.

For more information, or to find a CSA near you, check out the Local Harvest website

Polenta crust pizza with pesto, caramelized onions, purple potatoes, and cashew ricotta. Basil for the pesto and purple potatoes from our local CSA!

2. When you’re making dinner on Sundays, make up a 2 or 3 cup batch of brown rice for the week

Because brown rice takes so long to cook, it’s a pain to cook it during the week when you get home at 8:00 PM and you’re starving and need food on the table FAST. A large batch of rice will easily keep in the refrigerator all week and can be used in a large variety of meals: veggie stir-fry, curry sidekick, black bean and rice burritos, tempeh and rice loaf. On nights when I am really pressed for time, I crisp up a few spoonfuls of rice in a nonstick pan, add some frozen peas and spinach, top with a few frozen wontons, and dinner is served!

3. Make friends with your Crock Pot

Crock pots aren’t just for cooking chewy chunks of meat! Some nights, I get home late and just want to eat and go to bed, not spend 45 minutes making dinner. Soups, stews, and curries all make great crock pot meals that are ready when you walk in the door.

4. Have a few quick meals in your arsenal that will make cooking dinner faster

Some of my favorite quick and easy meals are veggie burgers with baked French fries; brown rice pasta tossed with veggies, olive oil, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes; and a stir-fry made with rice, veggies, pineapple, cashews, and tofu. Having precooked rice and frozen veggies on hand at all times means that you have a quick, healthy, go-to meal filled with carbs and protein that can be on the table in 30 minutes or less.

5. Buy a 1 or 1.5 quart crock pot for cooking large batches of beans

Beans are a great source of fiber and protein with a wide variety of uses – hummus, salad toppers, and bean burritos, just to name a few options. Buying beans in bulk is significantly cheaper than buying canned beans, and a small crock pot will let you cook a batch of beans for the whole week. Mix up the beans each week for some variety!

Make friends with your crock pot

The vegan and gluten-free lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but with very little extra time and effort, it can be easy, quick, and maybe even a little cheaper than your current diet!

Becoming Friends with the Bike

By Debbie
November 4, 2014 on 11:42 am | In Life at TriSports.com, Product Information, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by Team TriSports member Pam Winders. She’s living proof that you simply can’t fake the bike. Follow Pam on Twitter – pamye6.

It’s interesting how things always come full circle. This past summer I have had friends come up to me after races, devastated with their bike performance. They proceed to pick my brain as to why I believe their bike didn’t go as planned and what training they could have done prior to the race in order to succeed and see where they went wrong. It amazed me how many of those people had only gone on a ride or two prior to the race. So with that, I basically told them what they didn’t want to hear, which was the obvious; if you want to do well and meet your goals, then you have to do the work and actually train for your desired results.

When I first started triathlon four years ago I was always amazed with the bike portion of the race…there are some really fast riders out there! I wanted to be the fastest, so my first goal in triathlon was to “master,” or at least get better on, the bike. I quickly learned two things; 1) Bikes are REALLY expensive and 2) There are no shortcuts to success – aka: you have to do the work in order to see the results you’re seeking.

With my overachieving goal of always being on the podium, I went out and bought Betty, an awesome women’s specific Felt DA, and a bike trainer. When I started triathlon I was living in Alaska, so getting out on the road and accumulating what I call “real life” miles was nonexistent; therefore the trainer was a necessity. In addition, I purchased my first pair of heavy duty diaper biking shorts. I wasn’t winning any fashion awards in them, and I definitely wasn’t picking up any hot guys, but I knew that in order for me to put the time in the saddle, comfort was vital.

Hardcore cycling in Alaska

From that point on I spent many days, especially Sundays, in my living room watching NFL while riding Betty instead of snuggled up on the couch. As I began to educate myself more on biking, I learned to incorporate more specific workouts for racing and that’s when the real fun began. I would include hill repeats, speed and distance intervals and soon enough I was seeing dramatic changes in my riding; I could ride longer and was stronger and faster!!

My real love for biking didn’t come until after that initially painful boring living room period from which I went out and did my first “real life” ride of the season racing St. George 70.3. Not the smartest move on my part after training in dark, cold Alaska on a trainer and a treadmill all winter, but all the hard work and time I put in by becoming friends with my bike made it so worth it and I was actually able to enjoy the ride instead of suffer through it.

After St. George I’ve continued to embrace my bike; I’ve put on a power meter, which I’d highly recommend to anyone wanting to race competitively or who has a thing for numbers. By incorporating power into my riding, it has taken my training to a whole different excruciating level of pain and sweat, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A strong bike = good chances for a podium position!

In the end, the only way to get better and have fun while riding is to put in the time and become friends with your bike!!

The Off-Season

By Debbie
October 21, 2014 on 1:51 pm | In Life at TriSports.com, Product Information, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Liz Miller. The off-season is coming, so what are you going to do about it? Check out Liz’s blog or follow her on Twitter – FeWmnLiz (can you tell she’s a geologist?).

Some people dread the off-season, and other people love it. I usually feel a little bit of both excitement and anxiety when it’s time to transition to the off-season. Excitement because the off-season typically means sleeping in, weekends away without my swim, bike, and run gear, and maybe more than just an occasional glass of wine. Dread because the off-season also means shorter days, potential lack of motivation, and the occasional unwanted weight gain (especially around the holidays!).

In preparation for my off-season, I started looking around for some fun activities that didn’t necessarily involve swimming, biking, or running, or least not all 3 activities in the same race! Here are a few ideas for those of you who are getting ready to start your off-season, or maybe just looking for a few ideas to refresh your off-season routine.

Find a new type of race

I recently participated in my very first ultra-marathon. I have always been intrigued by ultra-marathons, but I typically need to save my quads and knees for quality long runs during Ironman training. This means that running 50K on trails is out of the question! But once your triathlon season is done, an ultra-marathon is a great way to put your fitness into something new and different.

I had a blast in my first ultra-marathon, not to mention the fact that since I wasn’t running with the goal of winning, I had more than enough time to stop and take pictures! Who can complain about running 50K when you have beautiful scenery like this?

The view during the Mt. Taylor 50K on 9/27/2014 (mttaylor50k.com)

Also, if you live somewhere with snow, look for some winter racing options. Snowshoe and cross country ski races are a great way to have some fun and challenge yourself without the pressure or stress that can sometimes be involved with a triathlon.

The ski to snowshoe transition during the Mt. Taylor Quad a few years ago (mttaylorquad.org)

Lastly, the winter can be a great time to try a swim meet or two! I participated in my first swim meet two years ago, and while I got DQ’ed from one event and certainly didn’t win any of the other events that I entered, I had a good time and enjoyed the challenge. Check out the U.S. Masters website for a list of local Masters groups that might be sponsoring an upcoming meet.

Try something new (or go back to something old!)

A few years ago, I took an “Introduction to Kettlebells” class that was required before participating in the local YMCA’s kettlebell course. I was hooked! It was a great mix of strength training and cardio work, and the 6 AM class was a great way to kick off the workday. The off-season is the perfect time to work on strength training (which is often overlooked during triathlon training), and kettlebells is a great way to do that.

Other strength training classes include TRX, Cross Fit, and other local YMCA or gym classes. I have found that TRX is another butt-kicker of a workout, relying mostly on body weight rather than weights, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s easy!

Yoga and Pilates are additional options for new and different workouts that offer a nice variety to your typical swim, bike, and run schedule. Power and Bikram yoga can both be very challenging if you feel that you need a harder workout, and Pilates can really help with core strength, which can translate into better cycling form and faster running.

Most importantly, enjoy yourself!

The off-season shouldn’t be about constantly watching your food intake, weeks of difficult workouts, and a lack of social life. The off-season should be about kicking back, enjoying a treat now and then, and maybe sitting on the couch to watch a little more football than what is reasonable. Even more importantly, the off-season is about giving your mind and body a break from the rigors of triathlon training, to have some fun and not be too worried about missing a workout here and there.

Kicking back during a week-long canoe trip on Lake Mead during my winter off-season, 2012

The off-season also gives all of us triathletes time to step back, reflect on our performances over the season, and set new goals for the next year. And it’s important to remember that while we might lose a bit of fitness during the off-season, we’ll quickly gain it back at the start of the season, along with a renewed excitement for the sport and exciting goals to keep us motivated for the season.

The Urban Triathlete

By Debbie
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.

The concrete jungle

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.

Central Park - triathlete training grounds

I’ve broken down challenges and clever ways we city-folk create to overcome them by discipline.

Swimming:

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”

Biking:

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.

Want to really bike? Then get out of town!

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.

Running:

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.

Endless possibilities for run training

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.

TriSports Tempe Store Update #3

By Seton
June 8, 2012 on 1:11 pm | In Announcements, Life at TriSports.com, Random Musings | 1 Comment

Construction for the new TriSports Tempe store is on the home stretch.  With just a couple weeks to go, all final preparations are coming into play.  It is funny, today I was reminded that TriSports was in fact the first triathlon store to ever enter the Phoenix area way back in 2003 with the launch of our first expo at a race that would eventually move on to be the now popular Soma Triathlon.  I remember seeing the store manager of one of the local bike shops (the now defunct Bicycle Showcase) looking quite shocked at the lines outside of our expo setup while no one was at his booth.  Soon after he quit his job and eventually started Tribe Multisport (he sold this operation about a year ago).  So, coming back full circle, we are opening up our store across the street from the location of our first full blown expo at the Tempe Mission Palms.  It is good to be bringing TriSports back into the valley in a more permanent fashion.  See everyone soon!

TriSports Tempe Panorama PictureTriSports Tempe Panorama- A look inside the new store as construction starts to wrap up.

TriSports Tempe Store Update #2

By Seton
May 21, 2012 on 11:45 am | In Announcements, Life at TriSports.com | 1 Comment

With a narrow 14-week construction timeline we are seeing rapid progress on the construction at the new store in Tempe.  When we installed our Endless Pool in our Tucson store we ran into permit problems and now we are running into them again up in Tempe (for some odd reason city permitting offices don’t know how to handle above ground pools in a commercial space that are used for wetsuit fitting); however, this time the U.S. Department of Justice is giving us grief.

Run shoe wallA look at the shoe area – With 80-100 different makes/models of  shoes TriSports will have one of the best run shoe selections in the entire Phoenix valley for both runners and triathletes!


Morning sunThe early morning sun in late April shines into the store with the famous ASU A-Mountain in the background.

TriSports Tempe Store Update #1

By Seton
May 9, 2012 on 1:53 pm | In Announcements, Life at TriSports.com, Random Musings | No Comments

Construction is moving along rapidly up in Tempe on the new store. We took what we have learned at our Tucson location and teamed up with Architekton to accomplish one small task – take the greatest triathlon retail store on the face of the planet and make it even better in Tempe, and oh, yeah, keep sustainability at the forefront of the project.  Our general contractor, Caliente Construction , is now well on the way to getting us moved in by the end of June, 2012.  Here are some pictures of the progress.

Empty Shell, November 2011A walk through the empty shell just after the lease was signed (and the day after Ironman Arizona).


Early store mock upHere is an early mock up of the store layout, most of the actual build will look this way.

A look in the store April 13, 2012A look in the store April 13, 2012

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