Tag Archives: swimming

Energy Gel Sommelier and Other Side Benefits of Triathlon Part II

In the first post on the added benefits of triathlon, I talked about looking sexy in lycra, and sweet tan lines. There are so many additional benefits I didn’t list, that I decided to make a Part II. There may be some people on the fence about triathlon, and the a collection of distance stickers wasn’t enough to get them to dive in. So here are some more “tidbits of awesome” about triathlon.

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1. Get up super early – You feel guilty when you don’t get up before the sun. Everyone knows that pool swims only count when they are finished before 6:30am. You have a four hour ride planned for Saturday, and your significant other is complaining about you training too much.. What do you do? Leave at 5 am and hope to make it back before they get up.

burrito

2. The world is your buffet – At the Mexican restaurant you order the Mucho Loco Burrito with an extra side of guacamole. The others at the table look in horror as you demolish the entree meant for three people. You look up and say, “It’s cool, I’m in the peak of my training cycle”, and then wipe the cheese from your chin.

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Gel Buffet

 

3. Energy Gel Sommelier – The average palette can’t discern the slight nuisances of the Powergel orange from the Gu mandarin, but you can. Your heightened awareness of these differences comes from years of consumption of these slimy delicacies. You would rather bonk than slam down that wrong brand being offered on the course.

 

4. Ability to time illness one week out from your “A” race – You never get sick. You are healthy as a horse. People in the office are going home weak with the flu, but you superior immune system is kryptonite to viruses. That is until the taper period of your most important race of the season. A week out from the race you are in bed sore and aching, wondering how you are supposed to race in 5 days.

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5. Calf Sleeves – I may offend some here, but calf sleeves are nerdy. They are essentially tall socks with no feet. From the amount of people wearing them, you would think there was an epidemic of calf muscles exploding before their invention. Triathlon is no fashion show. If you really need the super calf support, buy the brightest neon ones you can find, and rock that kit.

Bike Fall over

6. Get clipped – There are two types of cyclists; those who have fallen over in the parking lot while still clipped in to the pedals, and those who will. It happens to everyone. You get those brand new clipless pedals and shoes, pull in to the parking lot at the end of the ride, slow down, and proceed to fall over like a tipped cow. Don’t be embarrassed. Laugh it off, as everyone else on that ride has done the same thing at least once. Welcome to the club!

 

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7. A bike more expensive than your car – After years of hard training, you will decide that training is too time consuming and difficult. Forget training on the bike, go and buy some speed. You walk into the bike shop, and there it is. A beautiful carbon fibre rocket ship of a bike. Once you astride this piece is speed sculpture, PR’s will fall, and the road will submit to your will. On the way home from the shop you look at your ’03 Subaru, and realize the blue book value of your car, is less than that new bike purchase.

The car will seek revenge. On the way home from a race, you pull into the driveway headed for the garage, and forget your bike is on the roof rack. The car will let you drive into the garage, while your bike is smashed against the top of the garage.

 

 

 

 

photo credit: ezra1311 via photopin cc

photo credit :http://www.swimt3.co.nz/media/catalog/product/cache/5/image/600x/5e06319eda06f020e43594a9c230972d/l/a/ladies/zensah-compression-calf-sleeve-32.jpg

photo credit: jeffreyw via photopin cc

Photo Credit: http://salsacycles.com/files/blog/DD10-3.jpg

Racing Through Resistance – Finding a way to flow through

 

Moving your body through a triathlon is a practice of pushing through resistance. Friction, wind, and will are forcing you to expend energy. You have two choices, fight against the resistance or find a way to flow through. Finding your flow through the resistance is mostly a matter of mindset. How you react and adapt to the resistance determines your success.

 

Swim Resistance

The average human swimmer is 12% efficient when swimming. Your average dolphin is 80% efficient. The dolphin has evolved to flow through the water. To move effectively through water, you must concentrate on good form that minimizes drag. If you fight against the water the water will win.

Tips for flowing through water:

  • relax
  • Keep the body in a streamlined position
  • focus on gliding through the water
  • reduce any inefficient movement

Bike Resistance –

On the bike the wind is the major force of resistance. Pushing through the wind gets exponentially more difficult the faster you go. Flowing through the wind means reducing drag, and flowing through the air flow.

Tips for flowing through the wind:

  • use a set of aero wheels, energy savings of 5-8%
  • wear an aero helmet, energy savings 5%
  • a properly set up TT bike with aero bars can save 10-15% energy
  • Keep your knees tight to the top tube
  • in a stiff headwind maintain effort, don’t increase effort and burn yourself out

Wind can also play into mental resistance. A persistent headwind will wear you down. At times you are putting out a ton of effort, but making slow progress. In these times, you have to accept the headwind and flow through. If it is a race the wind is effecting everyone. Make yourself as small as possible, conserve your effort.

Run Resistance –

Running is essentially falling forward. You lean forward move your legs and you propel forward. Gravity is providing the greatest amount resistance, but also it is also moving you forward. Your job is find the flow, where you are using gravity to your avantage.

Tips for flowing though gravity on the run:

  • lean forward from the ankles
  • maintain good body position
  • take quick steps, to minimize contact with the ground
  • minimize up and down movement, concentrate on moving forward
  • breathe, relax, and don’t fight against your body

 

Life  –

Good things happen, Bad things happen. There is constant resistance trying to keep you from achieving your goals. The trick is to find a way to flow through the resistance. You can either fight against the resistance, or accept it and find a way to flow through. Be flexible, and adapt to the changes and situations. Things good and bad will happen, it how you react is what matters. If you are focused on your goals, you will find a way to flow through.

Enter the Washing Machine – Tips for your first open water swim

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An open water swim is the most daunting part of the race for most new triathletes. We are land animals, and jumping into the water with a washing machine of arms and legs is not natural. With some practice and some strategy you can do it.

Here’s a recap of my first open water swim:

This was my first long open water swim. My plan was to survive, any means necessary. I would use my Swiss army knife of stroke techniques to complete the course. I was surprisingly relaxed at the start, ignorance is bliss. Some concern did creep into the group, as the race officials were still pulling the buoys into position as we were start. The countdown began, I positioned my goggles, and we were off. A sea of swim caps, arms and legs overtook me. My goal was to stay smooth, and conserve energy. First buoy can relatively quickly, and I sighted toward the second. As I turned the wind and current hit me in the face. The next 20 minutes were a blur of swimming and controlled drowning. The last 20M to the buoy took about 2 minutes. (I later learned the marker was actually floating away, nice.) I will not recount the last leg of the swim, because it was very painful, and I have put it deep in my memory, along with bad first dates, Vanilla Ice, and that halloween witch that scared the crap out of me when I was 5. I emerged from the water tired and dizzy, and headed for T1.

Here are some tips to help get you through your first open water swim:

Relax – This the most important and difficult thing to do in an open water swim. The situation goes like this: The guns goes off, the athletes stampede into the the water, you start to swim and there is a sea of arms and legs all around you. With all of this stress your heart rate is going to spike. It’s your job to breath and relax. Slow things down and find your own rhythm. It’s a long race, no need to burn all of your energy in the first 5 minutes.

Practice – To be comfortable in open water, practice in open water.  Not every workout needs to be in open water, that wouldn’t be practical. A couple of practice swims with a buddy prior to your open water race will suffice. The idea is to get used to the sights, sounds and feeling of open water.

Confidence – Be sure you are comfortable completing the distance. Having confidence in your ability to swim the distance will alleviate stress. Be sure to cover the distance in the pool a couple of times.

Warm up – It is a good idea to get down to the water prior to your race start and warm up in the water. It doesn’t need to be very long, maybe five minutes of swimming. During the warm up you can feel the water temp, and practice breathing. A good warm up should leave you feeling relaxed and ready to start.

The Start – Open water swim starts are chaotic. A group of athletes entering the water turns into a sea of arms and legs thrashing about. You are already excited about the race start, and the adrenaline of the moment can cause your heart rate to spike. This is where most people run into issues. My advice is to find some clear water and swim your own race.

If you are uncomfortable with contact,  start on the side of your wave, or let the group go for moment and then start. I haven’t found a good simulation for a race start. They get much easier with experience.

Conditions – Open water conditions are always changing. The swim is affected by wind, current, temp and weather. You need to be aware of the conditions. There should be pre-race meeting that will explain the water conditions. It’s a good idea to attend so you know what to expect. Also, remember you have no control over the conditions, so there’s no need to freak out.

Sighting – Sighting is the process of picking a landmark, and using that landmark to control your swim direction. Sounds easy right? It’s not easy, and takes practice. This is another skill to work on during your open water swim practice.

Every 8-10 breaths you look up and see where you are swimming. The best landmarks are big and obvious, like water towers or a large building. There will also be buoys marking the course. During a swim buoys can be difficult to see because of chop or glare. It is best to use a combination of landmarks and buoys.

Here’s an excellent article from Triathlete Europe on swim sighting.

Relax – It is so important that I put relax in the list a second time. Swimming with a red lined heart rate, and tight muscles is counter productive and can lead to panic. The best way to combat these issues is to find a way to relax. You can fight against the water, but the water will always win. My best advice is to relax, flow through the water, and find your rhythm.

 

Your First Triathlon in Four Hours A Week

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Have you seen people in a triathlon, and thought I would like to try that, but I don’t have the time? It seems everyone is increasingly busy, and time is a precious resource. An event that involves three different sports sounds like huge time commitment. What if you could complete your first triathlon, and change your lifestyle in two months using only four hours a week?

Most people can carve out four hours a week to do something they really want to do. The current Neilsen ratings say the average person watches four hours of TV a day, or 28 hours a week. Would you be willing give up one day of TV for a healthier lifestyle?

Now we got the excuses out of the way, lets get down to business. How can I be ready to race a Tri in the two months in only four hours, a week?

I suggest your first race be a sprint distance tri. Typical distances for a sprint are 500M swim (15 mins), 12 mile bike (35 mins), and a 5k (30 mins) run. Each leg of the race should take 30 minutes or less. We will use that 30 min time domain to structure the majority of your training. If you are already proficient in one of these sports, you can concentrate on the other two.

A typical week will look something like this:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Off

Run/30min

Bike/30 min

Run/30min

Off

Bike/

1 hour

Run/30 mins

Swim/ 30min

Swim/30 mins

As you can see there are seven workouts broken up over five days. The two rest days are important to let your body rest, and feel like you have a life outside exercise. The double workout on Wednesday and Sunday could be done back to back inside to maximize your time. You can do your 30 mins in the pool, then hop on a spin bike or the treadmill to finish up. The swim days are flexible throughout the week. The only restriction is to not run and bike on the same day. Save your legs!

Does this sound like something you can do? Don’t be intimidated by the amount of workouts. Each workout is short enough to fit in your daily schedule, and leave you feeling energized. Also, there is flexibility in the schedule. If you can’t get to the pool on Wednesday, just move it to Thursday.

In future posts, I will layout the structure of each work during the week. In the mean time, let’s get moving!

If you have specific questions, please leave them in the comments. I will be happy to help.