Head Games

By Debbie
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.

Finished, and Done

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.

Race with a Smile

Stay Cool, Stay Hydrated!

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

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

It’s heating up here in the desert, as I’m sure it is for much of the country.  Summer time BBQs filled with burgers, watermelons, and margaritas are just around the corner!  Everyone loves summer, with more hours of sunlight, less clothing, great tan lines – especially us triathletes ;) – and (for most) no school!  Even with all we have to look forward to in the summer, all the sweating during those hard miles does take a toll on your body, one that you may not be used to coming out of your winter training.

Getting hot, must hydrate!

Staying hydrated is one of the most important parts of our training, and it’s one of the easiest ones to forget.  First thing in the morning, aside from the hunger I’m sure many of you experience, you should be thinking about a glass of water.  You don’t have to overdo it, especially if you have a workout shortly after you rise (gotta beat the heat!), one 4-8 oz glass is fine depending on what you can handle and the duration of your workout.

If you think about it, the adult body is made up of about 60% water; wouldn’t it make sense to make it a key ingredient in our daily nutrition regimen?  Many of the metabolic processes necessary for training and recovery require the proper amount of water to happen, so why wouldn’t you supply your body with this integral piece of training equipment?

Your body is made up of about 60% water

Another important thing to consider is the amount of electrolytes you’re getting.  This word is thrown around a lot, but do you know what all of the electrolytes are and how to figure out if you’re low on any of them?

  • Sodium- the most common, most demonized, but very necessary electrolyte.  Sodium gets a bad rap because of all the high blood pressure and heart disease we have in this country; however, as an endurance athlete you need to be very aware of how much sodium you get because you may not be getting enough!  If you often get confused, or dazed when doing a hard workout (particularly one where you sweat a lot), you’re covered in white, and your skin tastes like salt—you might be in need of some sodium, pronto!  This confusion you’re experiencing is one of the first signs of hyponatremia, which can be very serious if you do not take care of it. When your sodium levels drop in your blood and you do nothing to bring them back up it can cause you to go from confusion to vomiting to more serious things such as cardiac arrest, pulmonary edema, or even death.  This has happened in many of the major marathon events and can even be caused by having too much plain water and not enough electrolyte supplementation.
  • Potassium- just eat some bananas, right?! For the most part, yes.  Potassium is much different than sodium in that when your blood levels first drop, it is difficult to tell that they are low.  It is not until real problems begin and your muscles are already cramping that you know you are very low in potassium.  This can also cause GI distress (mainly constipation) along with the muscle cramps, so be sure to eat your ‘nanners.
  • Calcium- Stress fracture fighter no. 1! It may come as a surprise that some of the most avid runners have some of the lowest calcium and therefore weakest bones.  But running is weight bearing? Yes, running is a weight bearing exercise, but sometimes runners (particularly female) have such low hormone levels that it causes their calcium to go down and therefore their bones become weak and brittle, allowing for stress fractures to happen much more easily.  Calcium can be taken in a supplement daily to help raise these levels and prevent against stress fractures; however, vitamin D is very important to take along with it to help boost absorption into your blood!
  • Magnesium- Seldom talked about, but very important!  Magnesium is a mineral we don’t generally hear a ton about.  However, it is very important to carbohydrate metabolism and muscle strength (two very important things for an endurance athlete).  Magnesium deficiency can decrease endurance by fatiguing muscles and decreasing the efficiency of carbohydrate metabolism.  The symptoms of low magnesium are difficult to distinguish from those of potassium or sodium, so it is important to supplement magnesium along with the other electrolytes!
  • Phosphate- Generally phosphate is not a problem for athletes.  It is very common in our diet and usually not lost in mass quantities when exercising.  The only time this electrolyte is a problem is when an athlete has an eating disorder or other severe disease of some kind, in which case they should seek medical attention anyway.

So that is a quick and dirty breakdown of the electrolytes. Many triathletes supplement with electrolytes caps. A great source of hydration and energy that I like is Fluid Performance. Check yourself every once in a while, monitor your electrolyte intake and determine if you have any of the beginning stages of any of these electrolyte deficiencies.  Not only will this increase your performance, but it could save your life!

Stay hydrated everyone!!

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

The Geology of Choosing Your Race

By Debbie
August 1, 2013 on 3:25 am | In Races, Random Musings | 1 Comment

This fun blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Liz Miller (who also happens to be a geologist). Check out her blog at www.femwnliz.blogspot.com and follow her on Twitter – FeWmnLiz.

What factors do you consider when signing up for races? How close the race is to where you live? Or whether the race destination would also make for a good vacation? Most triathletes like to plan and give careful consideration to every race that we sign up for, but sometimes even the best-laid plans can get sidetracked. Just in 2012, the Oschner Ironman 70.3 New Orleans swim was cancelled due to unsafe water conditions, and the bike course at Boise 70.3 was shortened to just 12 miles due to SNOW on the course (in June!). Some of the pro men even rode in their wetsuits, due to the 47 degree air temperature! But the chance of cold weather or choppy water isn’t the only thing that you should consider when signing up for your next race. I’d like to propose another factor to consider – geology! I know this is a triathlon blog, but how about we “switch gears” and talk some science.

I should preface this blog post by pointing out that geology has indeed affected some Ironman races in the past. Just 6 days before the 2006 Ironman World Championship race in Kona, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the island. Reports say that in the days before the earthquake hit, Kona was unusually hot and humid, and in the days after the earthquake, the area got slammed with torrential downpours. On the day of the race, skies were overcast and winds were light – a beautiful day for racing. But, at about 7:20 PM, a torrential downpour happened on Ali’i Drive. Some athletes had to wade through knee deep water just to make it to the finish line. Within an hour the downpour had stopped and the water receded. So earthquakes really can affect your race, even if the quake doesn’t actually happen on race day!

Now, in order to determine which races are safer (geologically speaking), we need a quick geology introduction. The Earth’s outer shell is made up of plates which are constantly moving. Most geologic activity occurs as a result of the interaction between these plates. There are three types of plate boundaries:

1. Convergent boundaries are boundaries where plates collide. At these boundaries, plates are colliding to form mountain ranges, or one plate is diving down beneath the other plate in a process called subduction.

2. Divergent boundaries are boundaries where two plates are moving away from each other. Magma can rise to the surface at divergent boundaries, forming new crustal material.

3. Transform boundaries are boundaries where two plates slide past each other. As the plates slowly move past one another, pressure builds until the plates rupture in one big movement, causing an earthquake. The San Andreas fault in California is a transform boundary and is responsible for the frequency of earthquakes in California.

Here’s the United States Geological Survey’s simplified map of plate tectonics; the red arrows indicate plate direction. Arrows pointing towards each other represent convergent boundaries; arrows pointing in opposite directions represent divergent boundaries; arrows that are side-by-side represent a transform boundary.

USGS Plate Map

The other geologic hazard that should be considered before registering for a race is hot spots – the kind formed by liquid hot magma, not the painful ones on your feet at the end of a marathon. Hot spots are areas where magma is able to make its way up to the surface and form volcanic features. The Hawaiian Islands are one of the best known examples of hot spot volcanism – these islands have formed as the Pacific Plate moves over the Hawaiian hotspot. AND hot spots can also experience seismic activity.  In the image below, the Hawaiian Island chain is visible in the center of the picture; this chain has formed as the Pacific Plate has slowly moved over the Hawaiian hot spot.

Hawaiian Hot Spot

Now, let’s compare the geologic maps to TriMapper’s map of Ironman races around the world.

Ironman Race Map

The Australian races are probably safe. Australia sits on a large plate of its own, and the plate boundaries are a significant distance from the continent itself. Ironman New Zealand could be problematic – the plate boundary runs right through the north and south islands! The earthquake that hit Christchurch in 2011 was in February, and Ironman New Zealand is typically early March. Japan is also at risk, since it is located on a plate boundary. In 2011, a very large earthquake hit Japan, causing tsunamis, structural damage, and a nuclear release. I wouldn’t want to be racing in that environment! Additionally, Japan has historically had some of the largest earthquakes, causing the most damage and casualties.

Most of the North American races are in the clear, except for Ironman Canada – Whistler is located near the triple junction of the North American plate, Juan de Fuca plate, and Pacific Plate.

The Ironman races in Mexico aren’t looking too promising – Cabo San Lucas is near the triple junction of the North American plate, Cocos plate, and Pacific plate, and Cozumel sits pretty close to a plate boundary too. In fact, the United States Geological Survey calls Mexico one of the world’s most seismically active areas. But further to the south, Ironman Brazil looks to be in the clear, since Brazil is located near the center of the South American plate.

Ironman South Africa and Lanzarote are both centrally located on the African plate and are probably safe bets.

Some of the European races might be a little risky – Ironman Wales and UK are probably far enough away from a plate boundary, as well as Ironman Kalmar and the Ironman European Championship. But Ironman Switzerland, Austria, and France are getting a little close to the Eurasian and African plate boundary.

So, out of 29 Ironman events worldwide, at least 8 Ironmans are located at or near plate boundaries. That’s nearly 30%! Not to mention the fact that the Ironman World Championship race is located on an island that is still being formed by an active volcano. I certainly won’t complain about making it to Kona one day to race, but in the meantime, I might stick with the North American races (or convince my boyfriend to buy a plane ticket to Australia…).

Here’s a map of all the Ironman 70.3 races – I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which races are safer than others!

70.3 Race Map

BING CHERRIES, A Natural Way to Fight Inflammation

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

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

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

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

Classification and Storage

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

Delicious Bing cherries

Health Benefits

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

Usage

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

Pacific Northwest Salmon with Bing Cherry Compote

Pacific Northwest Salmon with Bing Cherry Compote

Ingredients

For Salmon:

2 each, 4-5 oz. salmon filet

1 oz olive oil

2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked

To taste, salt and pepper

For Compote:

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

Zest from one orange

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

¼ cup honey (or sugar-in-the-raw)

1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with one tablespoon water

Procedure

Pre-heat oven to 350f.

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

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

Works Cited

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

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

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

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

Saving Space – What is Truly Essential?

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

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

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

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

Space saving transition area layout

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

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

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

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

Advice For Older Athletes, By An Older Athlete

By Eric M.
June 24, 2013 on 10:20 am | In Uncategorized | 7 Comments

This blog post was written for us by TriSports Team member Karin Bivins.

I got into triathlons when I was nearly 57 years of age.  The good thing was that our kids were grown and, although at that time I was still working, I would be retiring in the near future, so would have even more time to train (a real advantage).  If you are considering triathlons, it helps if you already do one or more of the activities.  I had been running and racing for a little over 10 years when I got into triathlons.  I had been swimming since I was a kid, but never really competed in swimming; I was just a leisure swimmer. I was not fast, and still am not fast, but I can swim for a long time (which helps since I tend to focus on longer distance triathlons).  As far as biking went, I had an old Schwinn Suburban that still had the baby-seat on the back (and the kid who rode in it was now 17 yrs. old, but that baby-seat could hold a bag of groceries or library books and was my errand bike).  My friends told me, “Okay, it’s great that you are interested in getting into triathlons, but if you are going to use that bike, please take off the baby-seat!”  I got a new bike, but just a road bike as I wasn’t ready for a fancy tri bike.

If you are considering triathlons, it helps to join a triathlon club, or sign up with a triathlon group (I signed up with Team-in-Training raising funds/awareness for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which provided mentors, coaches, and team-mates) or at least find some other triathletes that you can tap for advice and hopefully train with.  A club can be especially helpful and supportive if you find the right club.  Look for one that has people of varying abilities/varying ages, is welcoming to beginners, and offers training possibilities and education/information.  Some clubs are highly competitive and could be intimidating and discouraging, especially for an older adult.  Consider volunteering at races to see how things work.  If you haven’t mastered all three components, consider doing just one segment as a relay.

Another possibility is to hire a coach; however, as an older adult, you really have to check around to find a coach who works well with older adults.  Although most coaches will tell you they can work with older adults, some are much better and more experienced at it than others.  Some just give the same workout as to a younger person and then say to, “Do what you can of it,” or they make slight modifications.  Sometimes the best coach may be an older adult themselves, especially one who is still racing, for they may be dealing with some of the same issues that you are or can better relate.

As an older athlete, I have found that although I can do a certain volume of training, I need to spread it out for a longer amount of time to allow for adjustment to increased workouts and for rest and recovery time.  Younger athletes seem to be little “Gumbys” and can bounce right back.  I don’t “bounce” back so quickly and need adequate time to recover, or I increase my risk of becoming over-tired, ill or injured.

If you want to get faster, you need to train fast!  While that makes perfect sense, as an older adult, you have to be more cautious doing speedwork.  Some of the muscles and connective tissues aren’t quite as flexible as those of a fit, younger person, so you need to tune into your body and how it is feeling, that way you don’t pull something in the process.  Consider doing flexibility training, such as stretching and yoga, to increase flexibility and minimize risk of high-intensity training and again, exert caution, gradually building up to increased workloads/intensities.

For me, personally, I have found that I can do a lot of swimming and push the bike, but I cannot push the run as much as I used to.  The run pushes back too hard sometimes and I’ve had strained muscles, tendonitis and even a stress fracture.  Then the time off from running is a set back, but luckily with triathlons, there are two other components, so even when injured, I can usually do one or both of the other activities and consider it an “opportunity” to improve on the ones I can do.

Triathlon is a great sport for all ages, but you have to train wisely, especially when you are older.  Just figure that you will need more time to build up gradually and enjoy that fact that you can be out there participating!

Finding My Inner Athlete

By Eric M.
June 17, 2013 on 9:43 am | In Uncategorized | 5 Comments

This blog post was written for us by Meredith Yox  – TriSports.com Champion.

I was the girl in high school who was on a PE Medical for most of the three years of required Physical Education classes. When I wasn’t “injured,” I was one of the girls who walked the track rather than running. I had weak ankles – at least that was always my excuse. I never participated in any school sports, it just wasn’t my thing.

I started running after the births of my daughters to lose the baby weight. I had no idea how good it would make me feel. I felt strong and empowered, so I kept at it and even entered some 5k races. Who ever thought I could run a 5k? Those weak ankles only became stronger the more I ran. It was such an amazing feeling to know that in my thirties I had found something in me that I never knew was there.

As I gave up my career to raise my children, I struggled trying to readjust my identity. So much of own value had been based on my career and achievements at work. Once that was gone, I struggled. Who was I? Where was my value? That’s when I decided to take on my first half marathon. Training for a half marathon filled that void that I felt. I had a training plan to follow and goals to meet along the wa,y just as I had in my career. All of a sudden I felt like a legitimate runner, and I actually gave myself permission to call myself a “runner.” When I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon I cried. Never in my life had I ever felt such satisfaction from achieving a goal that I had worked so hard for.

2010 Las Vegas Rock n Roll Half Marathon

As it turns out, racing is quite addictive. Once you experience those endorphins, you want more of them. They don’t come easy; it takes a lot of work and lot of planning to earn them.

As a stay at home Mom, finding the balance between your family life and your training life is always a work in progress. It means riding my bike on the trainer in my family room, and planning my running days around my daughter’s pre-school schedule. It’s constantly changing for me; I’ve gone weeks trying to make it work when it just wasn’t. I would have to identify the problem and make adjustments to my schedule, and all of a sudden it was fun again. It requires a lot of planning and calendaring to get it all in. As my children’s school schedules change, I find myself having to adjust my training schedule to accommodate everyone’s needs. This means my girls are very tuned in to Mommy’s workouts and the benefits that come from those workouts.

At ages eight and five, both of my girls are runners. When my oldest was six, it was obvious that she also loved the benefits of running. I searched high and low for a program for her, but found nothing for her age. Then one day a program fell into my lap, but it would mean I would have to coach the program and recruit the other girls. I’m in my third year of coaching a team of elementary school girls in the Mini-Mermaid Running Club. At the end of the 6 week program, the girls run a 5k. Not only have I found my inner athlete, but I’ve helped my girls and their friends find their inner athlete. I can’t think of a better way to teach my children the benefits of exercise. In two weeks my five year old will be running her first 5k race.

As I looked for ways to continue to challenge myself, I decided to explore triathlon. I started swimming about a year ago and got myself a road bike. I stepped out of my comfort zone in a huge way to learn how to swim and how to ride a road bike. Failure is a scary thing, and I truly believe that most of us don’t push ourselves for fear of failure. It’s a daily struggle, but I have also learned the only way to accomplish your goals is to overcome your fears. If I want my children to overcome their own fears, I must show them that I can overcome mine.

2013 Moraga Sprint Triathlon

In April, I finished my second triathlon and took the time to stop and kiss both of my girls in transition. If it weren’t for them, I would never even have gone down this crazy road.

Today, I have given myself permission to call myself an athlete. What I have realized along the way is that if I want it bad enough, I can achieve it. There have been sacrifices along the way, but those are small things like not reading as much, not watching as much television, or letting the laundry wait until rest day. The payoff is my health, happiness, and the example I set for my children.

Stay Cool, Stay Hydrated.

By Eric M.
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

By Eric M.
June 4, 2013 on 3:03 pm | In Uncategorized | 4 Comments

This blog of sun safety tips was written by one of our wonderful TriSports Champions, Elizabeth McCourt.

When I did the Florida 70.3 last year I knew it was going to be hot…really hot. I knew I had the possibility of getting cooked like an egg on the run, so I tried to prepare. I bought white arm coolers that would not only protect my arms from the sun, but add water and “voila!” my own personal air conditioning. I threw water on them and used what I like to call the Torbjørn Sindballe method of cooling (putting ice in your hands and in the sleeves). In addition to the coverage, I lathered myself up with some waterproof sunscreen early in the morning so that it would dry and my numbers wouldn’t smudge (If you try to put it on after body marking it can be a smeared mess!).   At the end of the race I ended up buying a white long sleeve top to get the sun off me as I waited for my friend to finish the run.

As triathletes, we spend a lot of time out in the sun, training and racing.  When World Champion Leanda Cave gets a diagnosis of skin cancer, it’s a wake-up call for all of us. A triathlete friend of mine also got diagnosed with skin cancer last year and I was shocked to learn that she didn’t wear sunscreen. She felt there were too many chemicals in them but she hadn’t researched any alternatives.   Since you absorb what’s put on your skin, you do have to consider the ingredients and if you can, a mineral based sunscreen is a better option, especially on your face where your skin is particularly tender.  I also use something mild on my face so it doesn’t sting my eyes when I sweat, in addition to a visor. It’s a year round ritual, rain or shine.

I’m always going to love being out in the sun in the summertime and in my travels, but the reality is that the sun is strong and damaging. Since we’re not going to avoid being in the sun here are some things to do/remember:

  1. Wear sunscreen and reapply when you can.
  2. Wear a hat or visor.  If you have hair, you’ll protect it. If you’re bald, protect your scalp!
  3. Go to the dermatologist once a year and monitor any moles or freckles that change or darken.
  4. Wear arm coolers for protecting against the sun as well as cooling your body.
  5. Bring a long sleeve top for after racing to get the sun off your skin.
  6. Know that you can get very burned in the swim, depending on the distance, and prepare accordingly (the 10k swim in Bermuda can leave you crispy, as can Kona!)
  7. Remember, white deflects the sun and black absorbs it, so choose your race kit with that in mind.
  8. You can still get a tan even wearing SPF 30!

How to Travel to a Race

By Eric M.
May 29, 2013 on 1:13 pm | In Nutrition Tips, Races, Sponsorship, Training, Training | No Comments

This post was written by TriSports Triathlon Team member Zara Guinard.

So you just signed up for a race that is not within 20 miles of your house; hotel, flight, and rental car are all booked. The next question is, “how do you ensure you arrive at your destination (relatively) stress free, prepared, and ready to race?” You must plan. I mean REALLY plan. First you have Plan A, and then you have Plan B, Plan C, and maybe even a Plan D.

It is my experience in the past few years of traveling to races that things will always go wrong, but you can minimize your stress by arriving well prepared. I always do a little research on the area where I’m staying and find out the projected weather conditions for my time there, a layout of the area such as restaurants near the hotel, and distances to the expo and the airport.

Now that you know what the conditions and weather will most likely be on race day, it’s time to pack. I have a list that I print out (packing list at the end of the article) every time I go to a race. I only cross off an item once it is packed away. Sometimes I don’t need all the items for where I’m traveling, but its comprehensiveness ensures that I won’t absent-mindedly forget something.

I travel with a Rüster Sports Hen House, my wheel bag, and a backpack.

In my bike bag I put everything that I need to race: wetsuit, race suit, bike and run shoes, goggles, nutrition, bike tools, etc. Then in the wheel bag I pack all the rest of my clothes and toiletries. My backpack is my carry on and where I usually keep all my expensive electronic items such as my iPod and Garmin 910 XT.

Okay your bags are packed and you’re ready to go! Wait, what about nutrition?! Traveling to a race can be stressful on your body; you may be switching to a different time zone or your flight may be at an odd hour of the day. So how do you ensure that you are fueling properly to have a great race? That’s right! You plan. When traveling to a race in Florida where I knew that I would be going pretty much all day nonstop, this is what I packed for food:

I made sure to have my dinner food (the brown rice and avocado) with me. That way when I arrived at my destination I could focus on building my bike, and getting to bed, since my race was the following morning.

Okay, so you have your clothes, gear and food. After flying and driving for what seemed like centuries, you have finally made it to the hotel and now you can …rebuild your bike!!! For those who travel often, it is more economical to be able to pack and rebuild your bike on your own. If you have the means, there are often companies that will break down, ship and rebuild your bike for you. I happen to be very protective of my bikes and, as taught to me by my coach Trista Francis of iTz Multisport, I won’t let anyone touch my bike in the break down or re-build process. Only I know exactly how it is supposed to be for race day. Even after multiple assembly processes I still find it helpful to take pictures just in case in that frustrated, foggy, post-travel phase, you accidentally put your fork in backwards…not that I’ve ever done that of course.

Congratulations! You arrived at your destination with everything you need, a functioning bike, and either food for dinner or a contingency plan for the closest restaurant. Now it’s time to relax, hydrate, and enjoy a race outside of your own backyard!

Packing List:

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