“Go-To” Trainer Workouts

By Debbie
January 20, 2015 on 1:50 pm | In From the shop, Product Information, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Team Athlete Mark Tripp. Embarking on his first year as a Pro, he’s one to watch. Check out Mark’s blog and follow him on Twitter – @trippmj.

For most people, including me, riding outdoors is a lot more appealing than staring at a wall while riding your bike on a stationary trainer. But there are still those occasional cold and rainy days that end up interfering with planned bike workouts.  For these types of days, I am sharing two of my “go-to” trainer workouts. I ride these two workouts regularly and for different purposes.  One is intended to be an endurance workout for strength building and the other is more of an interval speed workout.

I should point out that these workouts are geared towards training for the Olympic distance triathlon, which consists of a 40 kilometer distance bike leg.  For my trainer setup I use a compact crank and my rear cassette has the following gearing: 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25.  For both workouts I also try to maintain a 90-95 RPM cadence throughout the entire workout.

Trainer sessions can be efficient and valuable additions to your triathlon training.  I understand that they can sometimes be boring, so to fight the boredom, I recommend incorporating some entertainment that helps the time pass by but does not distract you from your workout goals.  I typically listen to up-tempo music or if the timing is right, watch a football or basketball game on television.  If that doesn’t work, maybe try closing your eyes and pretend you are riding through the Swiss Alps.  Whatever you do, try to choose something that helps pass the time but doesn’t distract you from your trainer session goals. Happy trainering!!

Trainer set-up

Power Workout

I like this workout for early season training when I am trying to simply build strength and endurance.  It is perfect for the spring months when the days are still short.  If I am feeling frisky, I insert another half hour after the first 5 minute recovery that consists of 20 min (L-17), 3 min (L-16), 2 min (L-15), and 5 min (S-17).  If I am feeling less than frisky, I insert a 5 min cool down at 40 minutes and stop.  Note that the gearing descriptions describe the gearing in the form of “crank-rear”.  As an example, “S-17” means small chainring on the crank and 17 tooth chainring on the rear cassette, “L-16″ would be large chainring and 16-tooth on the rear.

Time                        Gearing          Description

5 min                        S-17                Warm-up

30 min                      L-17                Cruise

3 min                        L-16                Hard

2 min                        L-15                Harder

5 min                        S-17                Recover

12 min                      L-17                Cruise

2 min                        L-16                Hard

1 min                        L-15                Harder

5 min                        S-17                Cool-down

Total: 1 hr 5 min

Strava data

Interval Workout

I like this workout for mid-season when I already built a base.  If I am feeling frisky, I’ll drop a gear on my rear cassette for parts 2 and 3 except for the recovery portions.  If I am feeling less than frisky, I’ll only repeat the first two parts twice each.

Time                               Gearing          Description

5 min                               S-17                Warm-up

Part 1 (repeat 3x)

1 min                               L-18                Moderate

3 min                               L-17                Cruise

1 min                               L-16                Hard

2 min                               S-17                Recovery

Part 2 (repeat 3x)

2 min                               L-18                Moderate

5 min                               L-17                Cruise

1 min                               L-16                Hard

2 min                               S-17                Recovery

Part 3 (repeat 2x)

1 min                               L-16                Hard

1 min                               L-15                Very Hard

1 min                               S-17                Recovery

Part 4

4 min                               S-17                Cool-down

Total: 1 hr 6 min

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!

How to Deal with Long-Lasting Injuries

By Debbie
December 22, 2014 on 12:18 pm | In Community, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Team Athlete Laura Balis. She has, unfortunately, gotten very familiar with injury, so pay attention, what she has to say just may help you! Follow Laura on Twitter – @LauraBalis.

This isn’t the most upbeat topic to write or read about… but it’s something I’ve dealt with for the past year, and I’m sure there are others out there going through similar struggles. It seems like triathletes don’t like to talk about or admit that we’re injured. Maybe we don’t want our competitors to know that we’re injured and feel like they have an edge on us. But there are also times when we’re not at our best and race anyway, and we feel like telling everyone, “Hey, you only beat me today because I’m injured!” But of course we don’t do that.

Staying motivated when you’re dealing with a long-lasting injury can be tough. I’m hoping that by sharing some of my experiences and tips, I may be able to help someone else who’s dealing with a pain-in-the-butt injury.

To make a long, long story short, I’ve dealt with calf pain and plantar fasciitis for about three years, and haven’t been able to run at all for the past year and a half. So, after this long ordeal that I’m going through, here’s my advice for physically and mentally dealing with injuries:

  • Get second opinions – and third, fourth, and fifth… Be stubborn! I really believed that there was someone out there who could figure out and treat my injuries, so I kept going until I found someone who could. There are lots of good doctors and PTs out there, but they don’t all have experience with the same injuries.
  • Figure out who your support network is. I talked to my husband about my injuries, a lot – probably more than he wanted to hear! I also had a couple girlfriends and my sister who I could call for a sympathetic ear or some advice.
  • Do what you can and what’s fun. Luckily, most of the time that I’ve been dealing with the calf and foot issues, I’ve still been able to swim and ride. But I didn’t really feel motivated to go out and ride for hours and hours by myself when I wasn’t training for anything, and didn’t know if I had any races in my future. So I did whatever I felt like, mostly lots of shorter, fun rides with my husband on the river trail. As for swimming, I was able to join in with a friend’s swim workouts – and only do the parts that sounded fun!
  • Find some new hobbies or something else to do with your time. When you can’t train much, all of a sudden you have more free time! The doctor and physical therapy appointments and rehab exercises can take some time. But if you still have more time, maybe pick up an extra hobby or volunteer to keep yourself busy and keep your mind off of not training. I started doing some freelance work on top of my normal job since I had more time for it.
  • Stay motivated (as much as you can!). One thing that helped me as I started feeling like I’d make it through the injuries and be able to race again was putting together a tentative race schedule for the season. It was fun to look up different races and start to get excited about them, and was enough motivation to get me out the door for some longer rides.

GO for FUN rides...there's more out there than just training rides!

Things I Found Out Being a First Time Mom

By Debbie
December 16, 2014 on 4:28 pm | In Community, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Team Athlete Hayley Benson. Think you have to give up your triathlon lifestyle because you are starting a family? Think again! Follow Hayley’s blog.

Pregnancy:

No matter what kind of shape you are in, or what kind of athlete you are, or how strong willed you, are your body and pregnancy will have its own ideas.  I was quite convinced that I would run throughout my pregnancy. We lived so close to the hospital that I was even convinced that I would jog the 1.5 miles to the delivery room when labor arrived.  How naïve was I!  I am one of those annoying people who actually likes running and could run a sub-6 minute mile even after months of not running, so I thought for sure I would be running through my pregnancy.  This just wasn’t the case. I managed a little bit in the early stages, but due to the Arizona heat, the bowling ball in my stomach and the nausea, I just couldn’t do it at all after 28 weeks.

Doing flip turns in the pool during pregnancy will not harm your baby.

No amount of activity, swimming, hiking, running, whatever you are able to do during pregnancy, will induce labor. When it’s time, it’s time, there’s no changing it. I was taking long hikes, swimming 1000s of yards and my baby was still late.

Pregnant and active!

After delivery:

I’m sorry to say, but you will pee yourself while running the first few times after delivery. Things are a little stretched out and traumatized down there, but this is a TRANSIENT thing and it does go away.

You will get your fitness back far quicker than you ever expected. You will not believe this, but I’m writing it anyway because it is true.  I understand why you don’t believe it, you are bloated, beyond tired, still on the heavy side even after dumping out the actual baby, but you do get your fitness back fast. The body is remarkable at recovery.

Getting out with baby...the new training methods!

The first few months of babyhood:

Every new Mom athlete needs to have an espresso machine and a treadmill.  You will be sleeping A LOT less and you will need caffeine.  You will need to take advantage of when baby sleeps to get some training done, so buy a decent treadmill…you are going to use it a lot. You don’t have to get a new one, there are some great deals on Craigslist.

Get back on the bandwagon with racing, that first race is always going to be nerve-wracking, but when it comes down to it, it’s an accomplishment in itself just to be on the starting line when you are trying to care for a young baby.  I can attest that even if you can’t breast feed your baby right before the start of a 10km race, your baby will not starve during the time it takes you to complete the race, no matter how slow you are.  I remember being quite convinced that my baby would starve while I did my first 10km post delivery. Hey, I was sleep deprived and rational thought was non-existent.  Triathlons generally take longer than running races, so I would advise either breast feeding or pumping before the race, especially if your Tri top is very tight fitting because you will not be able to get it on without pumping first!

Still getting medals post-pregnancy!

You will have to train tired…if you waited to train until you weren’t tired you would never get any training done.  You can tolerate more sleep deprivation than you think you can, and don’t listen to the “babies sleep through the night at x weeks/months old, at x weight, at x developmental stage,” your baby will sleep through the night whenever he or she feels like it. In my case I had to wait 9 months!

The times when you could ride your bike from sunrise to sunset, when you could just take off on an adventure trail run and come back when you feel like it are gone, you have to think about who is going to watch the baby.  If you are lucky enough to get out for an epic training session, it can’t be too epic as you have to be able to function when you get home. There are no days off from motherhood (yes, you will have a bit of nostalgia for those old times…it’s OK to feel like that).

Hire a coach if at all possible. If you are like most mere mortals, you are also working a steady job, as well as being an athlete and a parent, and you don’t have the time to put in crazy amounts of hours training. A coach will help streamline what you do.  I am actually faster post-baby and with less hours training all thanks to a good coach.

Being an athlete and a Mom isn’t easy, but then again, if it were easy it wouldn’t be worth doing. My daughter, Sierra, is worth the challenges I have had to overcome with my athletics and she enriches my life.  I’m looking forward to teaching her to swim, bike and run, just like mom!

Fast mama

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!!

After the Finish Line

By Debbie
October 28, 2014 on 9:30 am | In Athlete Profile, Community, Random Musings, Sponsorship | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Martin Soole. We all know what we do leading up to a race…train, train, train! But what about after? Check out Martin’s blog or follow him on Twitter – martin.soole.

There are many points in life when one must reevaluate and refocus.  I’ve recently found myself at one of those points. I spent all of last year training and racing toward an Ironman finish. It was a rather simple, lovely existence.  I woke up every morning and knew I had to train.  I put in hours and hours of work.  I bought the best gear available from TriSports.com, I learned from the best; I was the best physical version of myself capable of the world’s most challenging one day endurance race.

Before Ironman Lake Tahoe 2013

If you followed my blogs last year, you know that my Ironman debut in Lake Tahoe in 2013 did not go as planned. Read that article here.

The hundreds of training hours couldn’t prepare me for a bike mechanical failure that ended my day prematurely.  I mourned that defeat for a long time. I had so many questions.  I drove myself crazy trying to make sense of it all and come to terms with an event that was ultimately out of my hands. I had done everything in my power to be prepared for that race.  I even trained with my coach on the course the previous month. But the Universe had other plans.  It turns out that I gained more from that defeat than I would have if I had finished.

When I was training on a daily basis I didn’t make room in my life for anything else.  I felt like a monk at times.  I stopped socializing with friends, I only ate a strict diet, I let my business dealings lag, and fell out of touch with the artistic reasons for my move to LA in the first place.  Many athletes can find balance during their Ironman journey.  I was obsessed and I could not.

I moved to LA to work in film and TV. Here I am (far right) on the Showtime show “Shameless”.

It turns out that I needed a big let down to allow me the breathing room to refocus my energy and begin anew. If I had finished the race, I would have probably gone right into the next and the next and the next and been swept up in the sport and only the sport. There is certainly nothing wrong with this, but I would not have been able to walk down that path in a healthy way. I could have further alienated my friends and family and lost sight of my career goals. I can’t stress enough how obsessed and out of balance I was. But there were lessons to be learned here if I was willing to take note.

All that time spent training and racing was not lost. Ultimately, I learned what I was capable of, I found my limits, and learned how to push past them. This could not have been learned in any other way. Triathlon has many transferable life skills. Self reliance, resilience in the face of challenges, and mental toughness are just a few that come to mind. These skills have come into play in my professional life, as I am now producing a feature film called “#Speedball.”  It’s an action sports drama, think; “Fast and the Furious” meets the sport of paintball. If you think triathlon is hard, try producing a multi-million dollar movie franchise.

Despite the Heartbreak at Ironman Lake Tahoe, I knew I needed some redemption and wanted to release the pain of that event from my life.  I fulfilled that at Ironman California 70.3.  It wasn’t the full Ironman finish I had striven for, but this victory was in some ways better. I looked back at the previous year and decided to do things differently as I prepared this time. While training, I started dating a wonderful girl, I kept my relationships strong, and moved forward with all areas of my life. I was able to balance my entertainment career, my personal life, and my training.  I had learned the lesson I was meant to and found closure with the event in Lake Tahoe.

A victory kiss from my girlfriend

I still swim, bike, and run. I moved to the beach with that wonderful girl I started dating and I’ve picked up surfing. My life is more full and vibrant than it has ever been.  From my greatest disappointment came the opportunity to live the balanced life I was meant to live.

Surfing Soole

So, in the midst of heartbreak and setbacks, take a moment to stop and reevaluate. One area of your life may be out of balance.  That situation is there for a very specific purpose.  Once you’re able to release the hurt, look for the gift in the ashes. There is a lesson to be learned. Don’t mourn the failure; it might be just what you needed. Most of all, don’t forget to keep moving forward.

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.

Life (and Training) on the Road

By Debbie
August 28, 2014 on 11:14 am | In Community, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Don Quinn. He’s the guy who rolls up to the race in the RV, and you’re jealous because he gets to sleep in later than you. Follow Don’s blog or on Twitter – donpquinn3.

“It must be tough to train while traveling all the time.” I hear that a lot. You see, this family of six just happens to live in an RV, and travel the country full-time. Going on four years now. I’m not going to lie, it’s a pretty sweet way to live! It can be very challenging, however, to commit to a training plan while going from point A to point B. Finding places to swim is especially difficult, but we do get to run and bike in some amazing places.

So, how can you get an effective workout while juggling the different needs of your spouse and kids, whether you’re on the road or not? I’ll give you some examples of what works for us, and you may find they work for your family, or training group.

The Yo-Yo Run

After a warm-up together, we each run at our own pace. When the lead runners reach the next trail intersection (or sign, or really any predetermined distance or time) they “turn-n-burn,” high-tailing  it to the back of the pack, while exchanging fives and words of encouragement with fellow runners, naturally. Then, after a brief recovery, regular pace is resumed until the next turnaround point. This pattern continues until the end of the run. We start together and finish together, and in the middle we all do our own thing.

The Yo-Yo allows each runner to reach his or her own distance and speed goals, while simultaneously enjoying some of that vital “alone with my thoughts” time so many of us crave while running. As a husband and father, it provides some peace of mind knowing I will have regular check-ins with the family. The level of peace of mind is directly proportional to the number of man-eating predators roaming the woods. There are times when the predators are just too numerous, so we stick to the family hike and call it cross-training.

The Yo-Yo can also be applied to a family hike, with some members running ahead while the hikers (aka “mules” because they carry the extra supplies) keep a steady pace. And on a point-to-point hike, one of us will drop the others at the trailhead, drive to the other end and start running to meet up with the rest of the group, and then the Yo-Yo begins.

The Yo-Yo can also be done on the bike, but the turnarounds can be a bit more dangerous on busy roads, so be careful.

The Yo-Yo Run

The Playground (PG) Run

Some of our favorite workouts involve playgrounds. When there are multiple PGs within our running distance, we stop at each one for a variety of exercises, or hit the same one multiple times. Ever since our kids were in backpacks and strollers, I’ve scanned playground equipment for exercise possibilities; now I’m rewarded with seeing my kids do the same thing: “Hey Dad, that looks like a good spot for pullups.”

A fan favorite is the “Spartan Around.” We start at one end of the equipment and have to climb all the way around the absolute outside and back to the start without falling in the “lava” (touching the ground). It’s an excellent full-body workout for everyone, and you’ll never hear the kids ask if we’re done yet. Plus, you’ll be ready for your next obstacle race, or whatever life throws at you. Give it a try, whether you have kids or not, and you’ll be hooked.

Before or after your near-death lava experience, find a convenient pull-up spot and get ready for a fun challenge. This can be done individually, as a single team, or as teams going head-to-head. We’ll pick a goal, say, 100 pull-ups total for the six of us. Then, we each go to failure one at a time in quick succession until we reach our team goal. The one goal for the whole team enables each person to do what he or she feels comfortable with, without the pressure of direct competition with others.

And now, scan the equipment to discover what else is possible. Prove to your kids that you do actually have a creative bone in your body. Really, anything involving body weight and grip strength will serve you well. Think outside the box. Speaking of which, I’m sure you’ll find a spot for box jumps. How about split box runs? Start with one foot on top of the bench or box (the other on the ground) and quickly switch feet like you’re running up stairs, pumping your arms in time. It won’t take much to get your heart rate up.

Some other exercises to consider: dips; rows; push-ups (of course, but try a variety of hand placements); Bulgarian split-squats; and ab curl-ups. For the ab curl-ups, grab the set of rings and get inverted (throw in some upside-down pull-ups, while you’re at it), then curl back down with your knees tucked to your chest as slowly as you can. Feel that? Oh yeah! Now do five more.

Amazing what you can do with playground equipment!

Walmart (aka “Make Do With What You Have”)

That’s right. As full-time RVers we occasionally stay overnight in Walmart parking lots, and other odd spots. With the right attitude, it can be a fun adventure, and you can still get a workout. A recent stay at a Walmart in Minnesota had us doing burpees and then sprinting up and down a hill. A little friendly competition. A couple days later (at another Walmart), we chose a plyo workout that included: power skips, for height and then distance; two-footed hops, again, for height and then distance; and multi-directional “jops” (jump off two feet onto one, and back, in four directions).

And we have a full set of resistance bands that sees regular use; a great way to keep the swimming muscles in shape when you can’t get to a pool. When all else fails, we have our “Hundreds,” so called because they started as four sets of twenty-five repetitions of squats, push-ups, and ab work. Any number of exercises can be substituted, such as, step-back lunges, or one-legged squats and deadlifts. And rotating a variety of exercises will help keep it fresh. Most times, we work one side of the body at a time, forcing us to engage the core to balance.

Resistance bands, benches and RVs, oh my!

The bottom line: Whether you travel a lot, have kids or not, life tends to throw speed bumps and potholes at all of us along the way. Stay flexible in your training, and you will weather the bumps more easily. Do what you can, when you can, and don’t sweat the rest. And if your training includes a spouse, kids, or anyone else really, always try to stay positive, supportive, and considerate. It’s a fine line between motivating and discouraging. With a little creativity, you can get a decent workout anywhere and anytime.

The Best Advice I’ve Ever Received…

By Debbie
March 17, 2014 on 2:32 pm | In Athlete Profile, Community, Random Musings, Sponsorship | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Team athlete Scott Bradley, reminding all of us why we started our endurance sports habits in the first place. Check out Scott’s blog and follow him on Twitter – scottbradley11.

Trying to be a competitive triathlete is not easy. It requires a pretty large commitment to be putting your name towards the top of the results sheet race after race. There are countless hours spent training, sleeping, eating, reading about the newest training techniques and equipment, studying competitors and everything else we spend time on. If you let it, the whole thing can become one big grind.

I couldn’t say for sure, but it’s highly unlikely that when anyone started multisport they said, “I want to get involved in a sport that will take time away from my family and friends, cost me thousands of dollars in equipment and race fees (not to mention the larger than normal grocery bills), and beat the crap out of my body day after day so I’m exhausted almost all the time. That sounds fun.”  It’s much more likely that people said something like, “I want to challenge myself to be the healthiest, fittest person I can possibly be” or “that looks like it would be a lot of fun,” which leads me to the best advice I’ve ever received as a triathlete: Make sure it’s still fun.

When I started triathlon I had no clue what I was doing. My first season was nothing short of a disaster and if I hadn’t just purchased a really expensive bike toward the end of it, I would have thrown in the towel. I kept at it, however, and was fortunate enough to have a colleague who had been doing this stuff for years, and had been tearing up courses since way back when I was still wearing pull-ups, take me under his wing. He gave me training structure and taught me about how to prepare for races properly. We rode and ran together all the time, often with a bunch of his other friends who were also veterans of the sport.

Sharing the fun with family & friends

When it was time for a big ride, there were often interesting destinations. Usually it was some sort of annual trip for these guys, but to me these were all new experiences. One day we were riding to the Maple Tree Inn, which was about a 75 mile round trip ride with lots of climbing on an annual ride they called “The Easter Bunny Ride” because it always happened in late March or early April when the restaurant was open, which is only for about eight weeks a year (as a side note, this place has the best buckwheat pancakes and syrup anywhere and I highly recommend anyone in upstate New York going if you’ve never been). I was riding next to Carl and he said “Make sure this is always fun. If it stops being fun, don’t do it anymore.” That’s why they had all these destinations for rides and took so many crazy trips. It made it fun and every year they would go back to places together and enjoy each others’ company and share memories.

There are days when we have to rise early to train before work or winter months where we have to grind out hours on the trainer in order to maximize our potential (we don’t all live in sunny Tucson!). Every session isn’t going to be about fun, but if none of them are, what’s the point? I’ve found ways to make the 5am pool sessions fun by swimming with a great group of people (and I don’t even really like swimming to begin with). In the winter, a few friends will bring their bikes over and we will set up shop in my basement to watch movies while we grind away on the trainers.

Group Trainer Session

A little creativity and a few friends can make almost any session more enjoyable. It is a piece of advice I will never forget and hopefully I can continue to have fun with this sport until I’m old and gray so I can share it with some up and coming triathlete who’s just getting into it. If I do, it’ll probably be the best advice I ever give, too.

My Secret Weapon (shhhh!)

By Debbie
October 22, 2013 on 2:58 pm | In Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion and former TriSports.com employee Kris Armstrong. Hope you are enjoying that MI winter, Kris (you know you regret leaving Tucson when this time of year hits)!

One of the most common reasons for becoming a triathlete is to cross train. Swimming, biking and running provides a variety  in training that is very attractive to those bored with doing one or the other solo. The problem is that after 13 years of tri training, I am a triathlete and no long benefit like I did a few years ago. I have adapted to swimming, biking and running and even transitioning from one to the other. So what can a triathlete do to again experience cross training benefits like injury prevention/rehabilitation, improved performance and greater enjoyment of our sport? The answer for me, my secret weapon, is Triad Health and Fitness in Farmington Hills, Michigan, owned and operated by Kirk Vickers, a former trainer of the Detroit Red Wings professional hockey team. Kirk has a variety of clients, ranging from high school to professional athletes, as well as amateur athletes of all ages and those recovering from injuries. I had the privilege of working with Kirk during one of my internships for my degree in exercise science. Working with Kirk Vickers at Triad has helped me recover from injury, improved my performance and made training and competing a whole lot more fun!

Injury Prevention and Rehab

I have one injury that has been recurring since I was hiking in Arches National Park in Utah in February of 2010. It was a simple rolling of the ankle, pretty common, but whenever I pushed off the wall too hard swimming, biked a lot of hills or ran long distances or trails, my ankle would swell and be in such pain I had to take days off to recover. I found myself doing fewer activities to protect the ankle instead of solving the cause of the problem. Working with Kirk I learned that it might not be the ankle that’s the problem but could be instability in the hip allowing the ankle to roll. He also suggested lateral exercises to help stabilize the ankle, knee and hip – conditioning triathletes don’t get from swimming, biking and running. Kirk started me with some simple side steps that progressed to hula hoop jumps, two feet in two feet out. Currently I am doing 6 inch lateral hurdle jumps that have a cone at each end to touch and then return in the opposite direction. Kirk’s favorite remedy for pain is ice, which I use whenever the ankle acts up on occasion. The best thing about my ankle, knee and hip stability is my return to trail running which is one of the few things we can do outside during the long Michigan winter.

Lateral hurdles...great for ankle, knee & hip stabilization

Improved Performance

One of my favorite bike rides is Mt. Lemmon in Tucson, Arizona. If you climb all the way to the top, it’s at 9000 feet, an elevation gain of over 6000 feet from the base of the mountain. As difficult as this is on a bike, my most memorable performance improvement was realized during the Mt. Lemmon Marathon. My training not only helped me finish this, as advertised “Toughest Marathon in the World,” but actually do a pretty respectable time. The exercises that prepared me for this event were simple but very effective. The two exercises that I thought of while running were walking lunges and hip drives. For hip drives I used a weight lifting bench with one foot on the bench and the other on the floor. The arm on the side of the benched foot starts behind and the arm of the floored foot starts in front like a running stance. As the benched leg drives up the arm swings forward then returns to starting position. After 15 reps change sides. I also used a slide with hand weights. Place the hand weights in an upside down STEP, used for step aerobics, using the weights as handles push the slide ten yards. Immediately change direction and push back to start. Five reps of this drill are usually plenty depending on how much weight you choose.

Greater Enjoyment

Working-out in a gym is usually very boring to me. I like to be outside as much as possible which is why I like triathlon so much. But working out at Triad is fun and I look forward to each visit because I always learn something new and Kirk makes it challenging. If someone else is working out at the same time he will put us together to push each other. A little friendly competition is always fun. I usually do a warm-up then 5 drills and then a cool down. My 5 drills include something to improve stride, lateral stability, explosive power, core rotation strength and stability, and upper body strength. Normally these are done one at a time with breaks in between to recover, but sometimes it’s fun to run these drills as a circuit. Add a friend or two and time each station and switch every 30 seconds or every minute.

Cross training is very important when preventing and recovering from injury and improving our performance, but I must admit that it’s the fun factor that keeps me coming back for more time and again. Have fun!

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