We’ve moved

January 5, 2016 on 10:50 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

Our blog is no longer active and all new posts can be found here: http://university.trisports.com/

What Does it Mean to “Train with Power?”

July 21, 2015 on 11:10 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

This blog brought to you by former TriSports Champion Mike VanHouten. Power is definitely a buzzword in triathlon right now, but what does it all mean? Mike will explain it very simply so you can decide if power is right for you.

No matter if you have just started doing triathlons or if you have been doing them for a while, you have heard of people talking about training with power on their bike.  So what does that really mean?

Very simply, a power meter measures the amount of effort you are exerting on your bike in watts.  Two of the most common types of devices that you can buy today are a wheel hub or crank-based power meter.  A hub-based power meter allows you to replace the existing hub on your rear wheel and replace it with the new hub that has a power meter inside of it.  A crank based power meter simply replaces your existing crank and has the power meter inside your crank arms. (editor’s note: Garmin and now Powertap have introduced pedal-based power meters, allowing for increased portability between bikes.)

Crank and Hub-based Power Meters

So which one is the best?

There’s no right or wrong answer, it really depends on what makes sense for you.  One advantage of a hub-based meter is cost, they typically can be a few hundred dollars less expensive than a crank-based power meter, and another advantage is you can use that same rear wheel power meter on all of your bikes.  A disadvantage is the hub can only be used for the wheel it is installed with, so if you have multiple wheels for training vs. racing, you would need to decide which wheel would have the hub power meter.  For a crank-based meter, the wheels are independent of the power meter, so you can use whatever wheel you want, but if you have multiple bikes, you would have to swap out the crank from bike to bike (assuming your bikes can utilize similar cranks).  While this isn’t hard to do, you may need some special tools, or you can utilize your local bike shop to quickly do the job for you.

One additional piece of equipment you will need is a bike computer or exercise watch to read the data that the power meter sends out while you are riding your bike.  The good news is that you may already have a device that is compatible, just check to see if your device is “ANT+ power meter compatible.” Using your home computer, you can retrieve and review this data to see your power readings along with other information like your pedaling cadence, speed, and elevation changes.

ANT+ Enabled bike computer

ANT+ Enabled bike computer

So now that you know the basics of what a power meter is, the obvious question is… what can it do for you?

First a power meter allows you to maximize your training time and effort.  Your training time is valuable, and it is important to know how hard to push and when to back off for recovery.  Instead of basing your bike workouts on your perceived effort or your heart rate (which can vary day-to-day), a power meter gives you precise information on how hard you are working and how that compares to your maximum effort.  This maximum effort is called your Functional Threshold Power (FTP), which is, simply put, the average watts you can exert over an hour with nothing left in the tank afterwards.

How do you figure out your FTP?

I like to utilize a 2×20 minute workout with 2 minutes of active rest (don’t stop pedaling) in between.  Your goal in this workout is to be as consistent as possible and to be completely exhausted when you are done.  After your ride is complete, you want to look at the average watts that you utilized over the 42 minutes.  For example, if your average over the 42 minutes is 200 watts, this is now your FTP.

Now that you know your FTP, your workouts can be structured and precise.  When your coach or training plan tells you to do a recovery ride for an hour at 60% of your FTP and your FTP is 200 watts, you simply target an average effort of 120 watts.  The guessing game of knowing if you are riding too hard or not hard enough is gone.

The second thing you will gain by utilizing power on your bike is that you can now target a specific effort for your race.  In a sprint race, you may ride your bike leg with an effort at 100% of your FTP, but for an full distance race you may want to target an effort of 70%.  Why is this important? This will allow you to maximize your effort on the running leg of your triathlon by not going too hard on your bike leg, something that is commonly done in races.

I’ve tried to keep this description fairly simple, but if you’re interested in learning about getting a power meter, give TriSports.com a call to get advice on your existing equipment and what options are available to you.  There are also great books available that can really explain the details of training with power, or if you have a coach, talk to them and understand how your training and races could benefit by utilizing this technology.

Training and Racing with Power

Training and Racing with Power

Good luck in your future training and races!

Free Speed

November 11, 2014 on 2:51 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

This blog brought to you by Team TriSports member Thomas Gerlach. He is in his third full year as a professional triathlete and recently took 2nd at Ironman Louisville, along with numerous podiums in 2013 including 2nd at Ironman Louisville and 7th at both Ironman Los Cabos and Coeur d’Alene. He has the 3rd fastest Ironman bike split by an American at 4:15:57. He writes a weekly training update every week at www.thomasgerlach.com where he publishes his weekly training numbers. Follow him at facebook.com/thomasgerlach and twitter.com/thomasgerlach

Race Wheels? How About Cleaning and Optimizing Your Drivetrain?

Why is it that people train on training wheels and with a road helmet, but then swap them out on race day for race wheels and an aero helmet?  I would argue that most people do it because they want to go faster on race day by improving aerodynamics. So why do people race on a drivetrain that is dirty and non-optimized? The reason I believe this to be the case is because people don’t understand how much time they are giving up in a dirty drivetrain, and particularly one that is not engineered for speed. If you are a serious racer looking to go as fast possible, then you need to look at places your competition isn’t. Looking around at the rest of the Pro bikes in transition I can tell you one place my competition is losing “Free Speed” is in their drivetrains.

Keep you drivetrain clean for free speed

Keep you drivetrain clean for free speed

According to Friction Facts – a totally independent testing company – those racing a dirty drivetrain could be losing as much as 7 watts in a dirty chain. A chain that was clean but had the lubed stripped off was as much as 20 watts. In both cases the load on the chain tested was 250 watts – a very realistic output of a rider unlike the unrealistic number of 30mph used in wind tunnel tests. But the savings don’t stop there. Just like race wheels are tuned to be as aerodynamic as possible over training wheels, there are drivetrains that have been engineered to reduce the energy that is normally lost in mechanical inefficiencies. One company that is engineering drivetrains to be as efficient as possible is a company called Atomic.

Aftermarket chainring coatings

Atomic specializes in making drivetrains as fast as possible but they don’t actually manufacturer drivetrain parts. Instead Atomic has a special coating that is impregnated on to your current chainrings, cassettes and metal derailleur pulleys. This coating reduces the friction between their specially lubed chain and those parts and results in an energy savings. In this case the savings is through improved mechanical efficiency and not aerodynamics. The benefits, however, are still the same…you either go the same speed on less watts, or you go faster on the same watts. Using Atomic coated chainrings, cassette, and chain, the rider can save an additional 43 seconds over an Olympic distance triathlon, 1 minute and 37 seconds over a half-Ironman, and 3 minutes and 14 seconds over a full Ironman.

Next time you set out to race, make sure you have a clean drive train. You can clean a drive train in 10 seconds by using some White Lightning Clean Streak Degreaser and then properly lube the chain afterwards. If you want to go as fast as possible, though, you can send your current parts in for coating to Atomic or you can always purchase a new set of chainrings and a cassette from TriSports.com and send them in for coating, as well. Either way, when you combine it with race wheels and an aero helmet, you will know you will be going as fast as possible.

Quick Tips for a Faster Bike Split

October 7, 2014 on 1:58 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

This blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Billy Oliver. As a frequent podium topper, you might just want to read what he has to say. Check out Billy’s blog or follow him on Twitter – triathltb.

We all know the most important thing is the motor. But saving watts through smart gear choices is easy to do and will maximize the efficiency of your motor, allowing you to cover the same distance faster and begin your run fresher.

Let’s start with you. Your body is the biggest thing the wind sees. A proper aero position is vital to make yourself as little to the wind as possible. A proper fit is vital so that you can hold that position for the duration of the event. If you are not comfortable in your aero position, you will not stay in that position and will lose precious time.

Head position is vital to your aero position. Holding your head high puts it in the wind. Turtling your head to keep it low and out of the airflow will save time. Add to that an aero helmet and you’re talking major time savings. Not all aero helmets work for everyone. If you ride head down, a long tailed helmet will be sticking up in the wind and a blunt tailed helmet will be a faster match. Look at photos of yourself in races to see how you ride and make the best choice for you.

Billy Oliver super aero with his dialed in position and aero helmet

The new breed of aero triathlon frames will save you time over a round tube frame. Again though, a proper fitting frame is vital. The most aero frame in the world will not save you time if you can’t get into, and comfortably hold, a good aero position.

Aero wheels are another big time saver. As deep of a wheel as your handing skills allow in the front teamed up with a disc or deep aero wheel in the rear will yield big time gains, especially in longer distance races.

Save some serious time with aero wheels

The position of your water bottles is the next area of time savings. Wind tunnel testing has shown the most aero set up is a bottle horizontally mounted between your aerobars. If an additional bottle is needed, a bottle mounted as close to horizontal as possible behind your saddle is a good choice.

Carefully select your bottle set-up to maximize aerodynamics

Your clothing choice should be tight fitting. Loose clothing will flap in the wind. Don’t spend a lot investing in your bike and getting it as lightweight and aero as possible if you put on clothing that acts like a sail…it will undo all your efforts.

The little things will clean up airflow, also. Nutrition storage in a top tube mounted holder is superior to bars/gels taped all over the top tube. Nothing at all is even better…utilize the aid stations.

Top tube mounted bag for nutrition and other necessities

Cutting your cables to proper lengths and routing them cleanly will also yield small savings as they won’t be sticking out all over the place. Each of these is a small piece of the puzzle. Each will save you small amounts of time, and the more you employ, the bigger the time savings you will enjoy!

TriSports.com and Sustainability

April 22, 2014 on 4:46 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments
We strive for sustainablity

We strive for sustainablity

Earth Day is one of those days that is a pseudo-holiday…we don’t give gifts, or bake cakes (usually), but it’s a great reminder that our Earth DOES need to be celebrated, and its plights brought to light. Earth Day was founded back in 1970 by Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin Senator, in response to the damage caused by a massive oil spill on the California coast in 1969. He believed that the power of the people, as demonstrated by student anti-war movement, could be harnessed to bring attention to the environment. He was right, and in 1990, Earth Day went global. You can find Earth Day Festivals in almost every community, parades to march in, trees to plant, waterways to clean. But do we really need to stick to doing these things on just one day a year? The answer is a resounding “NO!”

The next question out of most people is “well, what can I do?” Very simply, anything. When TriSports.com began as a small start-up located in our home, we were already recycling paper and plastic, so it was easy to continue doing that as the company invaded our home. We found we were able to reuse the boxes and packing material in which our inventory arrived to send out our customer packages. Small steps, yes, but steps in a forward direction. As we grew and moved to our first warehouse location, we were leasing and were unable to do everything we wanted on the sustainability front. We still made it a point to use repurposed wood to build structures in our warehouse, to recycle on a larger scale, begin a commuter program for our staff, and to be as thrifty as possible with our energy usage.

Our second move involved the purchase of our own building, and with that, the ability to tailor it to our needs and put in the features we had thus far only dreamed about. We worked with our architect to integrate as many “green” features into the building as we could at the time. Some of these efforts included:

  • Dual light controls in office spaces, along with plenty of natural light, so everyone thinks twice before flipping those switches.
  • Zoned A/C throughout to ensure that only the spaces being used are being cooled.
  • Herman Miller furniture throughout, most of which is made from recycled material and can be recycled after its useful life.
  • Carpet tiles made from recycled materials, which also make it easy to replace small areas rather than having to entirely re-carpet if something were to damage it.
Mel, one of our many employees who commute, parks her bike.

Mel, one of our many employees who commute, parks her bike.

We also continued our internal practices, some of which are:

  • Extensive recycling – the recycling container is about 4x larger than the trash container, and it doesn’t stop with paper. We recycle the pallets that bring our shipments to us, the boxes that come in our back door, clothing, shoes, bike parts and more!
  • Commuter program which encourages employees to bike to work by giving them a credit for every mile they commute, along with contests and awards to make it fun and interactive. Our employees commuted 29,000 miles in 2013, and have done close to 180,000 since inception of the program.
  • Greenbox program which gives our customers the option to receive a recycled box and packing material instead of new. So many customers were choosing this option that we stopped making it optional and implemented it for all orders, though we don’t have near enough recycled boxes for all of them.
  • Shoe collection program which donates collected shoes to a local non-profit for reuse within the Tucson community.
  • Bike parts are donated to Resource Revival to be re-made into art and awards.
  • Adopt-a-Road trash clean-up along Catalina Highway, the road to Mt Lemmon.
TriSports HQ

The TriSports HQ with our rainwater system and photovoltaic array

We have since been able to add water harvesting to the tune of two 18,000 gallon tanks, as well as a 128 kWh solar array that has been covering approximately 90% of our energy usage. In 2013 alone, our water tanks harvested 57,000 gallons of water that we used for landscaping and other gray water needs, like washing our expo trailer. The solar produced 241 MWh, accounting for 92% of our energy for the year, and in doing so, prevented 8.74 tons of methane and 163 tons of CO2 from entering our air, plus saved 18,657 gallons of gasoline and 120,679 gallons of water. You can see our current numbers anytime by clicking here.

Swim, Bike, Run, Powered by the Sun

Swim, Bike, Run, Powered by the Sun

We at TriSports.com are super proud of this, and hope that other businesses and individuals look to us as an example of a sustainable business, but we did it in baby steps…it all started with just a little recycling. So when you think, “I’m just one person, I can’t make a difference,” I’m here to tell you that you CAN. Start small, and even if you continue small, every little bit counts.

Advice For Older Athletes, By An Older Athlete

June 24, 2013 on 10:20 am | In Uncategorized | 7 Comments

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Advice For Older Athletes, By An Older Athlete

Finding My Inner Athlete

June 17, 2013 on 9:43 am | In Uncategorized | 5 Comments

This post has moved and can be found here:

Finding My Inner Athlete

Stay Cool, Stay Hydrated.

June 11, 2013 on 1:12 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

This refreshing hydration blog was written for us by TriSports Team member Nicole Truxes.

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.

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 over do 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?

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.  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!!

Fight the Sun

June 4, 2013 on 3:03 pm | In Uncategorized | 4 Comments

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Fight the Sun

Yoga For Triathletes

May 21, 2013 on 2:14 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

This is a post by coach Scott Beesley, USAT, RYT that is brought to you by our friends at CoachFitter.com

Let’s be honest – there exists more training and recovery modalities and philosophies than there is time to try them all.  One that is tried and true with my athletes is yoga.  One triathlete credits yoga with her ability to stay in aero for hours on end while a 60-something marathoner I coach has gone so for as to call yoga his “personal fountain of youth.”  There are many reasons to add yoga to your triathlon training plan.  Here are seven:

  1. Pelvic and Shoulder Stability – Yoga builds strength throughout each practice, without the need to dedicate specific time to abdominals, low back and shoulders.  Continued practice brings a greater bodily awareness that helps keep the body in check during other disciplines.
  2. Bike Fit – As a yoga instructor, my biggest referral sources are professional bike fitters who cannot properly fit an athlete because of tight hips and low back.
  3. Aerodynamics – Forget the $2,000 wheel set and fancy bike helmet.  A year of yoga and you’ll add centimeters of drop, reducing drag and making life in the saddle more comfortable.
  4. Run Stride – The faster you get, the important it is to have open hips to allow for a steeper forward lean and longer stride length.
  5. Recovery – Muscles are laid down in our body like row after row of perfectly aligned railroad tracks at a microscopic level.  That soreness you feel the day after a hard workout is tiny tears in the muscle.   We get “knots” in the muscles when they grow back in random order.  By taking a Yin/Restorative, Gentle or Slow Flow class after your hard workout days your muscles stand a better chance to grow back in those nice perfect rows (although perhaps not as effective as that massage you’ve been putting off).
  6. Recovery, Part II – By moving through a gentle yoga progression the evening of or the morning after a hard work out you can help prevent blood from pooling in over-worked muscles.
  7. Dang, it feels good.  Period.

Scott Beesley is a triathlon coach and yoga instructor.  In 2012 his clients landed 18 podium spots and 4 USAT National Championship qualifying spots.  He holds certifications/registrations from USA Triathlon, The Yoga Alliance, and Slowtwitch’s F.I.S.T bike fit school. More free advice at www.solesinspired.com, www.facebook.com/solesinspired, www.youtube.com/solesinspired, and www.coachfitter.com.

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