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.

Getting Faster in the Water

By Debbie
October 13, 2014 on 10:00 am | In Product Information, Training, Water | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Tom Golden. He’ll blow most peoples’ doors off in the water, so read on and get fast.

Much like a drug addict wanting a greater high, every year we, as triathletes, evaluate how to get to get more out of our addiction and take it to the next level.  For me, I think about that every year when it comes to running, which is my need-to-improve sport.  Fortunately, I grew up as a distance swimmer and consider it the lethal part of my race. More often than not, I hear from fellow triathletes, “I wish I had your swim” and “I just can’t seem to get faster.”  When I ask what they are doing in the water, I usually hear the same thing and think to myself, “no wonder your swim has not improved, you’re not really pushing your swim.”  I am by no means an expert but I have a very simple way to improve over the course of a season.  In fact, if you have 3 months left this year you still have time.

First, get in a masters swim program. [Editor's note: Many triathletes are intimidated by the thought of joining a Masters swim group, mostly because of the name...don't be. There are lanes for the very fast, but also the very slow, and they welcome everyone!] There are several really reasons for this. I know it costs money, but if you get in a good program, it’s worth every penny.  I used to swim on my own and it did the trick, but getting in the water and being pushed to race others in practice is a sure fire way to improve. It builds consistency at each workout.   You also gain the confidence of swimming tactfully.  You gain insight on how to wear someone out by changing your pace, or pacing with someone and then trying to drop them as they tire out.  You also gain knowledge from other, more experienced swimmers around you.  Having a coach from the deck to correct your stroke is essential, as well. Get the right equipment – kickboard, fins, paddles, buoy, your favorite goggles, and sometimes even a snorkel, and you’ll be ready to go.

A coach on deck can really help you improve your stroke

Second, it’s important to know that most masters programs are not designed for triathletes or distance swimming of 1.2 or 2.4 miles.  Most programs are tailored to a mid-distance sprint of a 200 or 500 yard race.  As a distance swimmer, you may think you need to be doing long sets of 800 repeats, and sometimes that’s good, but more importantly you need to learn how to pace and hold that pace. In a masters program, you will need to modify what you are doing so that you can work on pacing.  For instance, let’s say the set calls for 8×200 descend 1-4, 5-8.  You would adapt that set to holding a solid steady pace on each repeat and then get after the last one. Or going out moderate on the first 100 and negative split by 2 seconds on the second 100.  This will teach your body how to hold a pace, which is what you want to do in a race.  Be sure to be aware of others around you who are doing the set the way the coach called for and make sure that you don’t get in their way.

Use other swimmers to learn how to pace

Third, you need to adapt over time working in a tighter interval.  For example, each season, after all the fitness is gone and I get back in the water after a month break, I will start out in the 1:15 per 100 threshold lane. I focus on that concept of holding a pace no matter what the set calls for.  After about a week, I move to the 1:10 per 100 lane, again working on holding a pace. I will spend about a month letting my body adapt to shorter rest intervals.  Then I will move to the 1:05 threshold lane and do the same for the majority of my season.  Now to be honest, the first month in that lane sucks and I may barely make the interval but that’s exactly what you want to do.  Hold a pace and let your body adapt.  Hang with it, be consistent and it will pay off.

And pay off it does...the author exiting the water at 2013 IMAZ in a faster time than most of the pro field

Finally, like the other two sports, having good form and being efficient in the water is important and should not be sacrificed.  To this day, in every workout in every set on every repeat, I am thinking about reaching out and finishing through on my stroke. How I am breathing, rotating through the water, snapping my hips and how I am catching the water.  All the tips in the world are useless if your form is a mess.  So take the time to get instruction and watch good swimmers in the water.  Good luck and I hope you get fast!

The swim is just the start of what can be a very long day...make it as easy on yourself as possible!

The Importance of Keeping an Eye on Your Shoes

By Debbie
November 5, 2013 on 12:15 am | In Product Information, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Clyde Messiah, who now makes sure he always has an extra pair of shoes at the ready. Check out his blog!

Whether you’re a triathlete, runner, or just someone who likes to stay active and fit, it’s important to have shoes that fit your foot type and gait. If you’re a runner or triathlete, you probably already have that covered; if not, get to your nearest high end running store ASAP!

Keeping track of your shoe wear is, however, equally, if not more, important. Last year I learned this lesson the hard way. I was racing Ironman 70.3 Kansas. Once I hit mile 3 of the run, I started to experience awful pain, mainly in my ankle joints and the bones of my feet. It was the classic symptoms of worn out shoes (sudden joint and bone pain). Trust me, mile 3 of a half-marathon that’s following a 1.2 mile swim and a 56 mile bike ride is not the time you want to find out your running shoes are worn out!

Shoe wear chart

So how can you tell when your shoes are done? Most running shoes have a life of 300-500 miles (but can vary based on the type of shoe, the terrain and the type of runner you are). An easy solution is to keep track of your shoe mileage. This can be done by simply looking at your regular running/training log, if you keep one; or if you average the same mileage each week, you can keep track of that. Once you get close to 300, it might not be a bad idea to buy a new pair so you have them ready. You can also check the wear patterns. Below are 2 pictures comparing worn out shoes to new shoes. For reference, you can take a good picture of your shoes when they’re brand new, or take your shoes into a running store and compare them with a new pair (an employee at a high end running store will usually be glad to help you, as well). There’s also an illustration above of the spots to monitor for wear based on the type of foot motion you have. An important thing to note is that even if you’re naturally an over-pronator or under-pronator (also called supinator), if you have the right shoe and orthotic combination you’ll most likely have a normal wear pattern. On the same note, if you do have the wear pattern of an over-pronator or under-pronator while using an orthotic, then you may want to get your shoe and orthotic combination re-evaluated to keep you healthy and prevent injury.

Forefoot wear comparison

Heel wear comparison

Remember, keeping track of your shoe wear patterns is just as important as keeping up with your nutrition and bike maintenance, and can help prevent injury, keeping you on the road and in top training and racing shape!

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!!)

Saving Space – What is Truly Essential?

By Debbie
July 9, 2013 on 10:28 pm | In Product Information, Random Musings, Training | 2 Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Team athlete Scott Bradley. Check out his blog at www.scottbradleytriathlon.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter – scottbradley11.

When I walk into transition on race day, I am amazed at some of the things I see. I’m pretty sure that there are several people who come into transition with a tent in their backpack as if they are going to hang out for a few days. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but seriously, I do see lots of people bring in huge, plastic buckets of gear and I think to myself “What am I forgetting?” No…really what I’m thinking is “How could one person actually use all of that stuff in one day?” What it boils down to is this: by bringing all that stuff that you don’t need into transition, you are cluttering the area and actually slowing yourself down during the race as you try to sort through all your gear.

Saving space comes with practice and growing accustomed to what you actually need during a race. As you race more you become more confident in your practices by finding out what works and what doesn’t work for you. These are things you can practice on your own though, to find out what your essential items are. It may seem silly, but you can solve this problem with a few dress rehearsals at your house or a park. Set up a little transition area with the items you think you’ll need in the driveway or in your trunk. Run in as if coming from the swim (you can pretend here or put your wetsuit on if you want to practice getting out of it), practice T1, and head out on your bike. Then ride for a bit, come back and do the same thing for T2 before heading out for a short run. What items did you bring that you didn’t use? Don’t bring them to transition for your next race and give it a go without them. I would bet you’ll make it through the race just fine, your transitions will be faster, and you’ll be happy at the end of the day when you aren’t lugging as much stuff back to your car.

Space saving transition area layout

If you think about it, what do you really need? A wetsuit, goggles, a helmet, your bike, sunglasses, your race bib, bike shoes, running shoes, some nutrition (depending on the length of the race), and maybe some socks and a hat. You probably won’t need extra socks, an extra top or bottom, three sets of goggles, an infinite amount of nutrition, towels, extra shirts, four spare tubes and tires, etc. That stuff will just get in the way and slow you down.

This brings me to the other place for saving space…your bike. I always find it ironic that people will spend literally thousands of dollars on expensive bikes and race wheels to make their bikes are super aero and to shed a few hundred grams. Then on race day, they put gels and nutrition all over the frame, creating tons of drag, and then carry enough stuff to stock a small local bike shop. Again, ask yourself the question “What do I really need?” You can help yourself out here by finding out what is available on the course and using that if it is something you are comfortable with. If not and you want to use your own, that’s completely fine, but how much extra do you need? Practice your nutrition plan and carry what you’ll use and not the extra 1500 calories your stomach couldn’t process anyway. How much fluid will you actually need? Carrying that extra bottle or two adds a lot of unnecessary weight if you can grab something at an aid station on the course or if it’s a shorter race and you won’t need more than a bottle or two. How many extra tubes, CO2, and tires do you really need hanging off the back of your seat?

Bike in transition (see, no gels taped to the top tube)

As triathletes I think we are paranoid by nature. We imagine the worst will happen on race day and prepare for it by stocking enough nutrition for a six hour ride, four flat tires, one of our hats not working properly, and our tri shorts needing to be replaced half way through the race. I always try to take the minimalist approach to setting up my bike and transition area. Only items that I absolutely need and know I will use get brought in on race day. I’ve learned the essentials through practice and thinking back to what I really need to get me through as fast as possible and to set myself up for the best race I can manage.

For the love of Saucony

By Jaclyn A.
February 10, 2012 on 11:18 am | In Employee Adventures, Product Information, Random Musings, Tech Tips | 2 Comments

There aren’t many products that I gush about, but I have found myself more than once in the past few months on the sales floor gushing to a customer about the Saucony Kinvara. I had been a long time Mizuno Wave Rider wearer, but after my last 70.3, the first thing I did was take off my shoes. My heels were once again blistered, my feet ached, my shoes were soaking wet and seemed 5 pounds heavier. It was time to find a new pair of running shoes.

The TriSports Shoe Wall

I headed to the TriSports shoe wall and consulted with one of our expert shoe fitters. I wanted a light weight shoe with good drainage, enough cushion to run an Ironman marathon, and a lower heel-to-toe drop (around 4-6mm). I tried on the Brooks T7, the K-Swiss Blade Light, and the Saucony Kinvara. Right away the Saucony’s were noticeably different. The shoe’s upper was soft and flexible, free of unnecessary decorations, and allowed for good ventilation. The heel cup was also very pliable and securely wrapped around my narrow heel. With 4 mm of drop between the heel and toe it was the perfect shoe for transitioning to a more minimalist style of shoe.

Saucony Kinvara

Fast forward 5 months and I still love my Kinvaras. I am well over the “300 mile limit” and the shoes still feel like they did when they came out of the box.  If you are in the market for a light weight trainer/racer with a low profile, try out the Saucony Kinvaras, and if you need a stability shoe, try the Fastwitch. Happy running!

Learn more about Saucony shoes at TriSports University!

The Joy of the Quintana Roo Illicito Triathlon Frameset

By Mike O.
November 18, 2011 on 6:00 am | In Product Information, Tech Tips | No Comments

What is joy?  Merriam-Webster defines joy as “the expression or exhibition of such emotion” and “a state of happiness” – perfect emotional descriptions of the new Quintana Roo Illicito Triathlon Frameset. Triathletes will be riding for joy once they experience the QR Illicito.

Quintana Roo 2012 Illicito

Quintana Roo has always been a leader in the design of tri bikes and the Illicito takes their proven shift technology – when riding a surge of air is created from behind the front wheel and the unprecedented aerodynamics of the CDO.01 frame style enables suction to draw the wind off to the ‘clean’ side (non-drive side) of the bike – and ups the ante by removing the left seat stay and creating an even more ‘clean’ side.  QR constructed a Leading Edge Absent (LEA) surface on the non drive chain-stay which results in a ‘sail’ effect.  This ‘sail’ effect creates less resistance and makes for a sleeker and faster frame.

TriSports.com president Seton Claggett clocks the fastest bike split at the 2011 Tinfoilman Triathlon in Tucson, AZ.

The Illicito offers more high modulus carbon fiber than any previous QR frame.  A newly redesign rear brake improves braking performance plus offers increased clearance for the latest generation of wider race wheels.

The QR Illicito comes with a fork, headset, seat post and brakes.

Illicito:  TriSports.com’s definition of joy!

TYR Freak of Nature

By Jaclyn A.
November 11, 2011 on 12:19 pm | In Announcements, Product Information, Tech Tips | No Comments

Introducing the new TYR Freak of Nature

The Hurricane Freak of Nature is made of 100% Yamamoto 40 Cell Neoprene. 7x Static Stretch: Defying comparison to any other wetsuit material, 40 Cell Nano SCS Yamamoto stretches to over 7x its static state.

ROM Zones: The gold bands on the back and shoulders of the Hurricane Freak of Nature delineate the expanded Range-of-Motion zones, calculated, calibrated, and repeatedly revised until we reached the absolute limit of positive range of motion.

V-GCP: The Hurricane Freak of Nature is armed with our new V-GCP (V-Shaped Graded Force Catch Panel), which flattens the forearm for the most advantageous engagement, maximizing your effort.

7x Static Stretch: Defying comparison to any other wetsuit material, 40 Cell Nano SCS Yamamoto stretches to over 7x its static state.

Elevation Panels: The Elevation Panels on the Hurricane Freak of Nature are a game-changer. They instantly help the athlete establish perfect body position relative to the surface of the water.

Speed Wrap Paneling: Deploys the lightest Yamamoto Nano SCS coated 5mm neoprene panels throughout the entire leg, chest and core to raise the swimmer in the water to reduce form drag. Extraordinarily buoyant Nano SCS coated rubber confers an exceptional friction coefficient of 0.026 – far lower than any other wetsuit rubber.

360 Degree Core Stabilization: Five precision-targeted performance muscle groups, oriented to sustain core strength for long swims.

The specific gravity of the Hurricane Freak of Nature is a staggering 0.17 (over 5x lighter than the specific gravity of the average human - .974).

Stay tuned to TriSports University for an in depth review!

TYR Orion Triathlon Goggle

By Mike O.
November 4, 2011 on 6:00 am | In Product Information, Tech Tips | No Comments

The TYR Orion Triathlon Goggle is specifically designed for triathletes and open water swimmers.   Triathletes are always searching for gear that will help improve their times and the new TYR Orion will do just that!

The lenses are larger and distortion free which allow for a better field of view and the dark tint will help with sunny days and glare.  The gasket is soft and very comfortable to wear.

Pick up your TYR Orion Triathlon Goggles today!

Garmin Forerunner 910XT with HR

By Mike O.
October 28, 2011 on 6:00 am | In Announcements, Product Information | No Comments

The Garmin Forerunner 910XT is designed for the triathlete who wants the next generation of Garmin’s multi sport GPS watches.   The 910XT provides triathletes with all the metrics needed to improve your training.

The 910XT swim metrics include swim distance, stroke count and length per stroke.   Bike and run metrics include an industry first barometric altimeter for highly accurate elevation data, including ascent, descent and grade.  Custom multiple training pages allows for configurable data for each sport.  Set up the vibration alerts to give a silent nudge when you hit a split, when it’s time for some nutrition or if you need a little feedback to stay within range of your training goals.

Water resistant up to 50m and is compatible with all ANT+ power meter devices.

Pre order yours today!

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