STOPP Poor Transition Times!!

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

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

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

Transition area

Simplify your Transition

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

Organize

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

Organized area

Plan

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

Practice

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

Packing Your Transition Bag:

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

A well-packed transition bag

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

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

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

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

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

Race-to-Race Just in Case Bag:

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

-          Small pair of Scissors

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

-          Black Sharpie Marker

-          A copy of your USAT card

-          Safety Pins

-          Sun Screen & Lip balm

-          Aquaphor or BodyGlide

-          Extra Nutrition

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

-          Extra race belt

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

-          Duct tape/black electrical tape

-          Empty water bottle (another frequently forgotten item)

IRONMAN™ Triathlon Training Tips from a Seasoned Veteran

By Debbie
April 8, 2015 on 12:52 pm | In Athlete Profile, Nutrition Tips, Product Information, Races, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by longtime TriSports athlete Karin Bivens. With many IRONMAN™ races under her belt, she is well-versed on training and racing. Check out her top 10 tips to ensure you are well-prepared for your next attempt at the full distance. Check out Karin’s blog or follow her on Twitter – konakarin.

As a 10-time IRONMAN™ finisher, including 5 IRONMAN™World Championships and a 3rd place podium finish in Kona in 2009, I was recently asked for training tips by someone who  was planning to sign up for his first IRONMAN™ (Arizona) since, as he put it, I was a “seasoned veteran!” I was somewhat surprised and also flattered that he would value my input. I thought about it and here are my Top 10 Tips for IRONMAN™ training:

    1) GET STRONG ON THE BIKE!

      • Although you do need distance, put in the speed work, too.  I did some Time Trials which really helped me push my pace under race conditions.  If you don’t want to sign up for a Time Trial race, you can measure a 20K and/or 40K stretch of road (typical Time Trial distance) and then periodically (i.e., once every 2 or 3 weeks) do your own Time Trial and try to better your time.
      • Bike with stronger people – I tend to do the hard rides (trying to include hills) with fast riders on all kinds of days (windy, hot, etc.).
      • Welcome the wind – let the wind be your training friend!  The wind will make you strong and also confident that you can handle it.

      Karin heading out on the bike

          2) DIAL IN YOUR NUTRITION!

            • I had the good fortune to hear Bob Seebohar speak (www.fuel4mance.com – Dietitian for Olympians, elite athletes and mere mortals).  He indicates that much of the G.I. distress that athletes encounter is not because they eat too little, but because they eat too much!  He emphasizes training your body to utilize its own stored energy.  I use his book, Metabolic Efficiency Training, as a guide. Another great book of his is Nutrition Periodization for Athletes.
            • Personally, I do better with “real food” and try to avoid or at least minimize products with ingredients I cannot pronounce.
            • Most of my solid nutrition is on the bike.  I eat the bars and gels that consist of real food without all the additives.  In my bike Special Needs Bag, I pack a peanut butter and honey sandwich (cut into quarters) and really look forward to ingesting something other than nutrition bars and gels.  One year at IRONMAN™ Canada, I stopped to get my sandwich from my Special Needs Bag and there was Sister Madonna Buder eating her sandwich.  When I asked her what was on it, she replied, “Peanut butter and a pickle!” So eat something that works for you.  I would, however, advise against putting something in your Special Needs Bag that could spoil (I’ve heard of people putting a Big Mac in their Special Needs Bag and wondered how safe it was to eat after sitting there all day and often in hot weather). I also carry my preferred Electrolyte drink on the bike and pack a frozen bottle of it in my Special Needs Bag which helps keep it cooler.
            • On the run I tend to stick mostly with liquids (water, electrolyte drink) and gels. Do find out what electrolyte drink will be served on the course and train with it! It is difficult to pack enough of your preferred drink for the entire race.  Also, there is a possibility that you could lose your nutrition/drink.  At IRONMAN™ France, my Bike Special Needs Bag could not be located!  My system hasn’t always favored the electrolyte drink served on the course, but training with it helps, as well as putting a small amount over a cup of ice or else just diluting it.  You can pack some of your preferred drink in your Special Needs Bag, but you still may need to drink what is on the course.   I found that sipping some Coke over ice can be a real pick-up and can be settling to the stomach!  I remember doing St. Croix 70.3 and Chris “Macca” McCormack was volunteering on the run course handing out Coke (after he finished the race).  He told me, “Take some as it will give you FAST LEGS!”

            3) WORK ON TRANSITIONS!

            • This is “free time!”  I have friends who have missed out on the podium, even though they swam, biked and ran faster than their opponent. They lost it in transitions. There are lots of good videos online about efficient transitions.
            • Take advantage of transition clinics.  You are bound to pick up some small tip that can save time.
            • Train for transitions.  I keep my bike in the garage with my helmet/gloves on the aerobars and my bike shoes next to the bike.  Whenever I head out on the bike, I put on my shoes while standing so that I become efficient at this.  My husband will sit down in a chair to put on his bike shoes and then in a race, he still needs to sit down to put on his shoes.  This takes more time and often space is tight at the bike rack, so learn to put on your shoes while standing.

            Practice standing while putting on your bike shoes

            4) BECOME MORE EFFICIENT AT SWIMMING!

            • I am not a particularly fast swimmer, but I have learned to become efficient and come out of the swim without wasting too much energy and am ready to bike.  If you can, join a Masters swim program.  It will really help.  Swimming is so technique-based that you might want to consider taking some lessons to make your swim more efficient.  You can also read books or watch videos on swim technique (www.swimsmooth.com, www.totalimmersion.net or some of the videos by Dave Scott) or, if possible, take a Total Immersion clinic.
            • Practice sighting as you will need it to make sure you are on course.
            • Practice bi-lateral breathing.  I favor breathing on my right side and am more comfortable on swim courses that are clockwise but that isn’t always the case and sometimes things like wave action can make breathing on the other side more desirable.  It also can help balance out your stroke.  Your head/neck can get pretty tired of turning the same way for 2.4 miles.

            5) VARY YOUR RUN TRAINING.

            • When I trained for my first triathlon (with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “Team-in-Training”), I was extremely fortunate to have a Pro triathlete (Tim Sheeper) as a coach.  He said to regularly run coming off the bike, even if it is just for 10 minutes, to get your legs adjusted to “running after biking.”  Of course, there are days when you have longer runs following the bike and days when you just focus on the run, but get accustomed to running off the bike.
            • I found that doing some shorter running races (i.e., 5Ks, 10Ks) really helped with my speed as there can be a tendency to run long (but slow) distances.  So train yourself to run fast, as well.
            • Run hills – this will help make you stronger. Even if you are training for a flat run, think how much easier it will be, and if it’s a hilly run, you’ll be better prepared than much of your competition.

            Hills, hills and more hills!

            6) RACE!

            • Doing some shorter triathlons and at least one long course race prior to doing the IRONMAN™ will help with experience, training, nutrition, pacing and transitions.

            7) MIMIC RACE CONDITIONS!

            • Find out what conditions are highly possible on the course.  Train for it.  I cannot tell you how many races I have done where the winds have picked up.  This year at IMAZ, the winds were fierce and there were many DNFs due to missing the bike cut-off. I always think the Pros have it easier as conditions tend to worsen as the day goes on.  By training in wind (refer to the bike tips previously mentioned), you will better be able to deal with them.  The same goes for heat.  If it is likely to be hot on race day, train for heat.  Heck, train for heat even if it isn’t usual at that particular event.  One year when I did IRONMAN™ Canada, it was unseasonably hot, but not as hot as training in Tucson, so I had a good race whereas the heat, and the resulting GI distress on the run, had some calling  it “Vomit-man” (yuck)!  You also need to consider the opposite: cold.  Be prepared.  When I did IRONMAN™ Switzerland (held in July), there was a rainstorm and colder temperatures, especially as we biked into the higher elevations.  I remember being cold on the bike but luckily had a cycling jersey in my bike bag (a jacket would have been even more helpful). Consider the terrain.  Is it a flat course?  Technical course?  Hilly course?  Train for it!  If you are planning to do a hilly course, but live in an area where it is quite flat, you may need to bike on a trainer to mimic hill work, or  find the highest point you can (i.e., ramps, bridges) and do repeats or consider another race that is less hilly.  Humidity or lack thereof also plays a role.  Conditions will determine nutritional needs.  I find that in the hotter races, I eat less/drink more and need lots more salt supplements.  So, again, train under a variety of conditions so that you will be better prepared. These races are hard under perfect conditions, throw some unexpected weather in and it can knock you out of the game. Don’t let all that training go to waste…practice!

            8 ) HAVE A PLAN!

            • You cannot just WING it in an IRONMAN™!  Consider hiring a coach.  If you cannot afford a coach, there are training plans online and books on training.  Joe Friel’s The Triathlete’s Training Bible is a great guide… but there are many others out there.

            9) TRAIN ALONE!

            • Although training with faster people can help make you faster and keep you going,  you also need to train alone and tune into your own workout so you don’t get caught up in someone else’s workout or find that you’ve extended yourself when you should have taken an easy day or a recovery workout.
            • Training alone can improve your mental toughness.  In an IRONMAN™, you are basically out there on your own doing your own race.  You will need to dig deep, especially when your body is not saying anything nice!  You can draw from the experience of having trained alone.

            10) BE THANKFUL THAT YOU GET TO DO THIS!

            • I’ve often said that the best part of these events is the great people you meet who share a similar lifestyle.  Races often become reunions.  I have made great friends along the way, some in my age group, and when we are racing, we duke it out and push each other to greater heights!  The camaraderie is a bonus of these events!  No matter what the outcome, be thankful of the fact that you are out there!  It’s all good and you learn from every race!

            Great friends made over time

            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.

            The Age Grouper’s Holy Grail

            By Debbie
            March 3, 2015 on 10:49 am | In Community, Nutrition Tips, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

            This blog brought to you by Brooks Vandivort, former TriSports Champion and current TriSports fan. They say “you are what you eat,” but are you really giving your diet the attention it deserves? Read on to learn the importance of eating right while training.  Check out Brooks’ blog and follow him on Twitter – @TriBrooks.

            So you bought a bike, running shoes, a Speedo and more GU, Clif bars, and Honey Stinger gel than you can handle. You probably have downloaded several training programs or might even have a coach. You have read the books, blogs, and magazine articles and slowly your body has responded to become a fit age group triathlete. You probably have a full-time job, family, other hobbies and a busy schedule, but the triathlete in you wants to be even better this season. So what can you do to see a noticeable increase in fitness and performance without killing yourself in training or distancing yourself from your family?

            Brooks being a fit age group triathlete

            Whatever you call your daily eating habits: fuel, diet, food, sustenance, it is probably the single biggest variable you can change in order to perform at the next level. Let’s face the facts. We wouldn’t run a race with one shoe or ride our bike with the front brakes engaged, so why do we continue to hold ourselves back by eating a poor diet? I’ll be the first to admit that diet is my biggest problem in preparing for my season. To borrow a few boxing terms, my “walk around” weight is 177 lbs. My “fighting” weight or racing weight is optimal at 165 lbs. I’m 6’2” and race in the male 40-45 age group. To the average person I look fit and to many I look a bit too much on the skinny side, but as a triathlete I know that I can be doing a much better job at what goes into my body.

            Remember when you first started out in the world of triathlon and training was literally a workout? You had to push yourself to roll out of bed or mentally psych yourself out in order to finish that 5 hour bike ride, but now after a few years, training is a way of life. The same thing can happen with your diet. Make what you eat a way of life. If you are not already doing it, incorporate more fruits and vegetables along with lots of water into your daily routine. I know this is the same advice that you have probably heard a million times, but it really does make a difference. Most, if not all, age group triathletes are never going to run five minute miles or average 28 mph on the bike, but with proper daily nutrition we can begin to shave off those precious seconds that can move us to consistent podium finishers. A couple easy tips to follow that will help you on your way to feeling and racing with more energy and strength:

            1. Have a food log. MyFitnessPal is an easy and free website and app that allows you to track what you are eating and drinking. Seeing the amount of calories you are taking in really sheds light on either your good or bad habits. It also tracks your workouts and weight.

            2. More frequent small meals versus less frequent large meals. Given the amount of time spent training, frequent small meals really just make more sense, as well as being a better way to fuel your body. Most of us have some combination of two disciplines that we train for everyday and need to be able to fuel the body in order to maximize our training time. Small meals allow for a nice boost of energy without causing that sluggish feeling.

            More small versus less big meals

            3. The last tip is probably the most important, but also the hardest to accomplish. Make your diet just as important as your training program. Seriously, most us obsess about what workout(s) we have planned for the day, but most of the time think of eating as the thing we do so we don’t die! This season plan your meals just as carefully as you plan your training and I guarantee you will see results. Good luck and keep your wheels on the road!

            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!

            No More Belly-aching!

            By Debbie
            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?!

            Magical fall runs

            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!

            What?! No more of this??

            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)!

            Gluten-free CAN be tasty!

            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!

            Triathlon Recovery 101

            By Debbie
            November 25, 2014 on 1:23 pm | In Nutrition Tips, Product Information, Random Musings, Training | No Comments

            This blog brought to you by TriSports Team Athlete Ali Rutledge. During this week of giving thanks, you should also thank your body by giving it the tools to recover better! Follow Ali on Twitter – alaida.

            When it comes to triathlon success, recovery is a key component. Here are a few things to help you recover to your best.

            1. Compression - Use after a hard workout to speed up the recovery process. This will promote blood flow and remove toxins from your aching muscles. You can use a variety of socks, calf sleeves (active recovery only – do NOT use if you are just lounging around), tights or recovery pump boots, just to name a few.

              Zensah Argyle Compression Socks

            2. Ice - Used since the beginning of triathlon time, cold water is cheap and reduces soreness. A bath tub, lake or any body of water 55 degrees for 15 minutes will do. Your best result will be after your hard workout. If you have problems tolerating the cold, sipping warm fluids can help.

              Ice can really suck in the short run, but the benefits are awesome!

            3. Massage - You can use your own licensed massage therapist or your own tools for self massage. Today there are many massage tools on the market. Just a few to name are a foam roller, the Stick, or Trigger Point Therapy products. Massage promotes healing by removing old blood with toxins and getting fresh blood flow to the injured areas to promote recovery.

              Work the junk out of those muscles!

            4. Active Recovery - This will promote blood flow and homeostasis if done correctly. An easy spin, low-intensity run or an easy swim can promote recovery to injured tissues. You must leave your ego at home for this one!
            5. Rest - Recovery days, good sleep and a mental boost are imperative for improving athletic performance. We all need physical and mental relief from the stress of training. Doing something different or just a sleep-in day is a good example. You will feel fresh and ready to go the next day.
            6. Nutrition – Within 30 minutes after a hard training session, recovery nutrition is important to repair muscles and rebuild glycogen stores. There are many bars, shakes or just real food from which to chose. Blender bottles work great to mix any drinks. Eat like a champion!!

              Be smart with your nutrition

            A training plan is not complete without a good recovery plan.  Being smart about your recovery will be the key to making a happy and healthy triathlete.  Cheers to swim, bike, run and recovery!

            Stay Cool, Stay Hydrated!

            By Debbie
            August 21, 2013 on 11:19 am | In Nutrition Tips, Product Information, Training, Water | No Comments

            This blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Nicole Truxes (rhymes with “success”). Check out her blog at www.nicole-stateofmind.blogspot.com and follow her on Twitter – nicoletruxes.

            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.

            Getting hot, must hydrate!

            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 overdo 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?

            Your body is made up of about 60% water

            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. Many triathletes supplement with electrolytes caps. A great source of hydration and energy that I like is Fluid Performance. 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!!

            (I’m sure many people have seen this memorable finish…these ladies could have definitely used some electrolytes!!)

            BING CHERRIES, A Natural Way to Fight Inflammation

            By Debbie
            July 17, 2013 on 4:37 pm | In Community, Nutrition Tips | 1 Comment

            This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Ed Shortsleeve. Check out his blog at http://itrihardinvegas.tumblr.com/ and follow him on Twitter – vegaschef.

            It’s a typical weekend for the typical weekend warrior. Up before the family awakens and a cup of coffee as the sun rises with a small portion of carbohydrate. A quick review of your training schedule reveals a long bike ride followed by a short run. Another “brick” workout that gets you one step closer to your “A” race. The training goes well and you arrive back home just as the family comes creeping down the stairs with sleepy eyes and bad breath. “Good Morning” you say. And a groggy “Good Morning” is mumbled from the family.

            Later in the day and possibly even for the next few days, things are happening in your body from that brick workout. Some is good and some is bad, and for many of us some of it is painful. Inflammation, that big word that we hear so much about, affects many athletes in all different sports. It is a frustrating, yet manageable side effect from training. There are medicines that can help fight the free radicals that develop from exercise, but some of us prefer to use nature’s remedies.

            Classification and Storage

            Bing Cherries are a favorite fruit of many children and adults alike. They are actually classified as a drupe or stone fruit, which is the family of cherries, plums, apricots, nectarines and peaches.  While you may find some of these fruits available all year long, the peak season is summer time. This is when they are at their best in flavor and ripeness. Bing cherries are considered a sweet cherry, best for eating out of hand or using raw in various recipes. When shopping for cherries, search for ones that look large, are deeply colored and firm. Cherries should be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag until you are ready to consume. After washing, allow the cherries to sit out until they reach room temperature for maximum flavor. If you somehow can’t finish them all, you can simply place on a sheet pan and freeze (try not to let then touch so they don’t freeze together). Then remove from the pan and place in a seal tight bag to use all year long.

            Delicious Bing cherries

            Health Benefits

            Many of the “red” fruits like pomegranate and Bing cherries contain flavonoids, a pigment that gives them their distinct deep, red color. Flavonoids are a plant based compound with antioxidant properties. In recent years, flavonoids have drawn interest from scientists and athletes alike for their potential benefits on our health such as anti- allergic and anti-inflammatory effects. Antioxidants are compounds that protect cells against the damaging effects of free radicals that result from stress in the body. A poor balance of antioxidants to free radicals can result in adverse side effects such as inflammation, atherosclerosis and even some types of cancer. The flavonoids found in Bing cherries may help protect against these diseases along with other vital vitamins and enzymes. (Buhler, 2000)

            Usage

            Bing Cherries are best known as a great, healthy snack for everyone in the family. There are many other options for including Bing cherries in your diet as well. I have used the cherries as a topping for oatmeal along with almonds, Manuka honey and cinnamon for a filling breakfast to keep hunger at bay until lunchtime. If you haven’t heard of Manuka honey, I suggest you read more about it at manukahoney.com. Besides Bing cherries, Manuka honey has become a staple in my diet due to its amazing digestive and topical healing effects. For a healthy snack, try some yogurt topped with granola and Bing cherries. And for lunch, add Bing cherries to your salad for a crisp, sweetness that can round out an otherwise boring green salad. At dinner, try the following recipe for a simple summer time dish to impress even the pickiest eaters.

            Pacific Northwest Salmon with Bing Cherry Compote

            Pacific Northwest Salmon with Bing Cherry Compote

            Ingredients

            For Salmon:

            2 each, 4-5 oz. salmon filet

            1 oz olive oil

            2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked

            To taste, salt and pepper

            For Compote:

            2 cups pitted and halved Fresh Bing cherries(reserve a few cherries with stems for garnish)

            Zest from one orange

            ½ cup orange juice(squeeze juice from orange that is zested)

            ¼ cup honey (or sugar-in-the-raw)

            1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with one tablespoon water

            Procedure

            Pre-heat oven to 350f.

            Combine all ingredients for compote in small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes or until compote has thickened. Keep warm or allow to cool to room temperature. Store extra compote covered in refrigerator for up to two weeks. Use as a topping for pancakes/waffles or serve with grilled chicken.

            Coat salmon filets with olive oil, salt/pepper and thyme leaves. Place on baking pan and bake for 7-10 minutes depending on desired internal cooking temperature (suggested medium or medium well which would be around 120-135f internal cooking temperature). Place hot salmon filets on plate, coat with Bing cherry compote and place 2-3 cherries with stem next to salmon for garnish. Add cilantro, parsley or watercress for added color. Enjoy!

            Works Cited

            What’s for Dinner. (2007, July 11). Retrieved from Komonews.com: http://www.komonews.com/nwa/whatsfordinner/8443172.html

            Alden, L. (2005). The Cooks Thesaurus. Retrieved from Stone Fruit: http://www.foodsubs.com/Fruitsto.html

            Buhler, D.D. (2000, November). Antioxidant Activities of Flavonoids. Retrieved from oregonstate.edu: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/f-w00/flavonoid.html

            Interactive.com. (2012). Bing Cherries. Retrieved from Produce Oasis: http://www.produceoasis.com/Items_folder/Fruits/Bing.html

            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:

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