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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
October 7, 2013 on 10:57 am | In Community, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments
This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Monica Pagels, who wrote this much earlier this season and who has, now, completed that first Ironman she mentions. As the off-season begins for many, we thought this a fitting blog to get you strong during the winter months.
Ommmm….. yes, we’ve all heard it, the ever popular meditation sounds that so often accompany a just as stimulating yoga class. Runners and triathletes alike have heard it for years, “try yoga, it will help with your injuries.” But most of us who thrive on the adrenaline rush of zipping through the trails in our newest and coolest trail shoes, or racing down a hill in our aerobars hoping to hit a new high speed, cringe at the thought of placing our feet (or our head or our hands, or all 3 at once) on the mat and inhaling and exhaling to a count of 8! While the benefits are well documented: stress relief, improved mood and well being, improved flexibility, improved digestion, improved sleep… the list goes on and on… for some reason, it is still tough to convince us cardio-junkies to forgo a one hour brick workout where our legs will feel like lead for an hour of gentle relaxation and meditation. We are conditioned to believe that in order to set a new PR or achieve that highly sought after age group place, we must push harder, put in more hours, do more hill work or add speed work. While there is no compromise for hard work (you get what you put in), it is time to re-condition our minds when it comes to how we think of yoga. What if we had the mindset that the more yoga we practiced, the better we could bike, or the faster we could swim? Well, fellow tri-geeks, it’s true! Yoga really can make you into a “warrior.” I was the first to stake my claim against it, I thought, “Who has time for one more activity?” And who wants to sit around with their legs twisted like a pretzel becoming one with the universe? That is, until I tried it!
Tired of the long winter full of indoor bike rides and treadmill runs, I headed to the group fitness studio for a Yoga Fusion class. This sounded at least a little more fitness based and not as meditative. To my surprise, I struggled through most of the class! I am an 8 time 70.3 veteran, run more marathons than I care to count, and I am training for my first full Ironman. I had been putting in about 7-8 hours a week of base training and thought the yoga class might be a nice stretching break for my sore, tired muscles. Instead, I found myself in plank, pigeon and half moon, shaking to hold the poses. Shocked at my lack of apparent strength and balance, I began attending 2 yoga classes a week. Within 2 weeks I noticed remarkable improvements and had to admit to its benefits. As my IM training progressed, I entered a 70.3. It was very early in the season when you come from Michigan and have only had a month of outdoor riding. To add to that, the bike course was the hilliest and toughest of any I have done.
As I started on the course and climbed the hills, I felt very strong and quickly passed people. Hill after hill, the same result, I was strong and pushed with ease to the top of them. My bike split was faster than on most courses, despite its difficulty. What’s more, my legs recovered quickly after the ride and my run (hills, again) split was consistent with my others. Yoga has not only improved my strength and balance, which no doubt helped me climb those hills, it has given me a sense of control over my body. It has taught me how to breathe deep and remain calm amidst chaos. Now, triathletes, hear me when I say: this is worth far more than it sounds! In mile 90 out of 112, when your neck and shoulders ache and your legs are burning, if you can put your mind into that place where you feel calm and in control, your focus shifts from the here and now (“I still have to run 26.2 miles..”) to a place where you have a greater awareness of just you moving through space, in a world much bigger than just you pedaling on a bike. If that is what it takes to get you to T2, and ultimately, the finish line, isn’t it worth considering?
Yoga teaches you to become aware of your surroundings and to feel weightless as if you were part of those surroundings. This is achieved by challenging yourself to complete the strength and balance poses, breathing through them, and accomplishing a little more with each session. Yoga practice can mean different things to different people. For me, it was at first the humbling experience of inadequacy that convinced me to continue, but eventually the benefits carried over into my first passion, triathlon. Once I began to feel the strength and control of my body, and my race times improved, I knew yoga was for me. While I may never feel the meditative power many achieve from yoga practice, knowing I am stronger and more aware of my body I will continue to practice. I urge all of you cardio-junkies that can’t get enough of the wind whipping past your face and feel the need to be in your target heart rate zone for hours at a time, give yoga a try and see how it can improve all aspects of your life, not just your athletic performance.
Learn more about the benefits, and different types of yoga.
September 11, 2013 on 9:37 am | In Community, Races, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | 3 Comments
This blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Nicole Ramsbey. Check out her blog at www.nicoleramsbey.com and follow her on Twitter – nicoleramsbey.
I raced a sprint tri the other weekend and was not in peak form to say the least. I managed to perform, and perform not too badly, which led me to thinking about a few things. One of the things I started thinking about was how much of triathlon is physical fitness and how much is mental fitness? At this point in the season when you may be approaching your ‘A’ race, now’s the time to figure it out.
I guess my first thought was, how many people, when they reach a tough moment, give in to the negative Nancy talk? I hit many negative points throughout racing, but rarely do I “give in” to those thoughts. Say you are coming up on a big hill during a sprint tri, you’re maxing out your heart rate and you get halfway up…what’s the first thing that you typically hear in your head? Is it, “I can’t do this anymore, I have to walk”? If that’s a typical thought process for you, how do you respond to it?
If you respond by giving up the race in your mind and walking, then I’d have to say your mental toughness might need a swift kick in the @**. I may get this thought once in a while, but I immediately counter it with a positive thought. During the sprint tri, I had my own mental battle, but I won. Every time a negative thought comes to mind, I always attempt to counter it with a positive. Last weekend when I hit the hill, I had to remind myself that I can do anything for a mile. My responses are almost automatic now, and if yours aren’t they will get to be that way if you continually work at it.
I’d say mental toughness is at least half of triathlon…if you can’t handle the mental stuff then the fitness won’t matter. Even though you may not be physically fit, if you are mentally fit going into a race, you can still do well. Imagine the day that you are physically AND mentally fit…you can OWN that day like no other. Don’t short change yourself, and remember it’s not always about how many miles you’ve logged.
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!
- Bike shoes
- Race flats
- Race Wheels
- Bike Tools
- Blister powder
- Race Belt
- Water bottles
- Drink Calories
- Garmin Charger
- Running Tights
- Long Sleeve Tech Shirt
- Cell phone charger
- iPod Shuffle
- Podium Shirt/Skirt
- Comb/Hair ties
- Jean Shorts
- Tank top
- Trisports t-shirt
- Trisports run shirt
- Compression Socks
- Eye mask
- Foam Roller
- Tennis Ball
- Running Shoes
- Gatorade powder
- Race Notebook/Pen, pencil
May 8, 2013 on 10:20 am | In Training, Training | 1 Comment
Today’s post is brought to you by TriSports Champ Greg Vanichkachorn, MD.
Triathletes are an assorted bunch. Our swim styles are as uniform as the weather at St. George. Our choice in bikes is as predictable as the Kona lottery. We do, however, share one common trait: we love to punish our bodies. Back aches, ITB pain, and anything-tendonitis: these are common maladies for the masochistic multi-sporter. The constant barrage on our bodies can take its toll, and it’s easy to reach for a pill when the pains persist.
As a physician, I have seen the unfortunate ramifications of equating “over the counter” with a notion of “not a real medicine.” Over the counter drugs, with their dangers hidden beneath familiarity, are most certainly real medications that can have significant side effects, even when used properly. Here are a few tips that can keep meds from being a prescription for disaster.
Nothing new on race day
One of the wisest adages of triathlon is that nothing new should be tried on race day. No matter how enticing those new wheels are at the expo, you don’t change your bike setup the day before an Ironman. The same philosophy should go for medications.
I know the feeling. That moment when you’re standing in Target, buying that travel toothbrush with that cap as a handle before leaving for Ironman, when you see it – the brand-spanking-new, clinically proven pill that cures aches, prevents sunburns, raises your power output, and unites North and South Korea. The shiny and new can be difficult to resist, but you must persevere.
Race day is not the time to realize that new med also causes explosive diarrhea. If you have medication requirements on race day, stick to what you know works for your body. Also, make sure you get your medications filled in a timely manner. You don’t want to show up on race morning without your blood pressure medicine. All the training won’t matter if you suffer a stroke.
NSAIDS, Exercise, and Gastritis Oh My!
Some of the most common medications used by athletes are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Advil and Aleve. While they are effective pain relievers, they can have several significant side effects, one of the most serious being irritation of the GI tract. This irritation can be so severe that it may result in bleeding or even perforation. The risk is even greater with the extra sensitivity of the GI tract during strenuous exercise. Gastritis is not a fun way to recovery post race!
You can help avoid the bathroom podium finish first by practicing moderation: only use NSAIDS, especially before a really tough workout, if you really need it. If you do have to pop a few tablets, stick to the instructions on the bottle or your doctor’s orders. Unlike bicycles in the garage, more pills are not necessarily better! Also, take the medicine with food and allow plenty of time for it to settle in, say an hour, before pounding the pavement. If you do have post-workout GI issues from taking NSAIDS, speak with your medical provider to make sure nothing more serious is amiss.
Allergic to Being Awake
While we cherish the spring blooming of flowers (or the July thawing of lakes here in Montana), all of that glorious pollen blowing in our faces at 20 mph can have less than ideal results. The sore throat, itchy eyes, and runny nose of seasonal allergies can turn the most perfect of days into mucous mayhem.
“I love spring rides”
Fortunately, there are plenty of medications available to help prevent you from turning into a snot rocket. However, while some of the newer medications, such as Loratadine, are relatively safe, there are a couple out there that you should be wary of.
Benadryl, or diphenhydramine HCL, can definitely stop allergy symptoms in their tracks. The only problem is that Benadryl can also stop a horse in its tracks due to its sedative side effects. The drowsiness potential should not be underestimated; sometimes Benadryl is prescribed purely to help with sleep and anxiety. It is also one of the most commonly abused and impairing medications used in the work place. If Benadryl can make photocopying in the office dangerous, it’s the last thing you want in your system while descending at Coeur d’Alene or using a porta-potty.
Another allergy medicine that deserves special caution is good old Sudafed, or pseudoephedrine. Sudafed is a powerful nasal decongestant, and it works by constricting blood vessels in the nasal passages. The problem is that the medicine works like the TriSports Team; it gets the job done everywhere. The widespread vasoconstriction through out the body can lead to increased blood pressure, dry mouth, reduced sweat ability, and troubles urinating. These are the exact things you would like to avoid on the way to the Energy Lab in Kona.
In a time when there is a pill or supplement for everything, it is tempting to take a visit to the local drugstore for the next great cure when aches and pains arise. The indiscriminate use of meds, however, may do more harm for your triathlon career than a bottle of EPO in your fridge. Careful consideration and planning well ahead of race day will keep your medications a prescription for safety and success.
May 1, 2013 on 9:31 am | In Training, Training | 1 Comment
This post is brought to you by professional triathlete and Team TriSports member Thomas Gerlach.
One of the reasons that I choose to partner with TriSports is their unique desire for sustainability. In case you haven’t visited the TriSports retail store/distribution warehouse in Tucson, they have a number of sustainability initiatives including, but not limited to: water harvesting, solar harvesting, and a first-rate bike commuter program for their employees. Just the bike commuter program alone has me in awe and is something I wish all companies took seriously. Imagine a world where everyone biked to work. That is my dream, but this post is about commuting your way to a faster Ironman, so I’ll save my dreams for another day.
As a professional triathlete, I have learned to get the majority of my easy, base miles (ie. building endurance) through simple commuting by bike. At different times of the year the percentage will fluctuate from anywhere from 35% of miles to 100% of my total bike miles, and the activities for me can be endless. Although I work out of my home, I do my grocery shopping by bike; bike to and from the pool, gym, and track practice; and even show up for my weekly massage/scrape session by bike. Although the miles and sessions may seem small compared to that cruel 8-hour ride that your coach put on your schedule, just like pennies in a penny jar, the miles really add up commuting.
Now, I am not suggesting you shouldn’t go out for the long rides that your coach has planned for you. It is important to go out and sit in the saddle and be prepared for just how long 112 miles is. However, I am suggesting that you talk with your coach about working in some commuting miles if you can. Over the course of an Ironman build, maybe you can replace one or two really long rides with commuting miles.
Truth be told, training for an Ironman is incredibly time consuming and can leave people exhausted and socially removed. Between all the work, family, and friend commitments, sometimes training is just getting in the way. Wouldn’t it be nice if biking to and from work was your only activity for the day? Think about how long it really takes you to drive to work or do that regular errand? What is preventing you from accomplishing it via bike? For me I can drive to my weekly scrapping/massage session at Proactive Therapy in Tucson and it takes me 40 minutes (14 miles). I can bike there in 45 minutes, and that is with 45lb commuter bike with 42mm tires and baskets hanging off the side.
Commuting by bike has been part of my DNA since I was a kid. However, it wasn’t until 3 years ago that I started to get serious about it again when I lived in Chicago. For the record, this will be my 7th season in triathlon. Looking at my training log from last week I can see that I sat in the saddle for a total of 9 hours and 17 minutes. However, only 50 minutes of that time was spent doing “real” work on my TT bike. Yet, all around me I am bombarded with social media updates about the latest pro triathlete’s “epic” training day of 8 hours and 140 miles. Truthfully, there is nothing sexy about all my dinky rides of 10 miles here and 20 miles there. However, I have confidence in my methods and a 4:15:57 Ironman bike split (3rd fastest split by any athlete in 2012) to back it up. Needless to say, I won’t be changing my DNA anytime soon.
Even if you don’t want to commute by bike, humor me, and next time you set out for a day of errands, just reset the trip odometer. Look at the odometer at the end of the day. I think you will be surprised by the number of miles you cover in your car when you likely could have used your bike and got in some significant base mileage. One of these days you might even been able to skip that early Saturday morning ride and sleep in for a change.