Tag Archives: training

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.

The Runners – Long Run Meditation

I came across this video on Youtube that interviewed random runners during their workout. Most of the people were pretty open in their discussions. During my runs alone, I tend to get into my own thoughts. Sometimes this leads to deep thoughts about the meaning of life, or I think through my current issues with new perspectives. I tell my family that this is my church, and where I feel most spiritual.

What do you think about on your long runs?


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



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.


Misery Loves Company – Tips on Finding a Group Ride


group irde

Triathlon is an individual sport, and training can get lonely. Group rides are a great way to get in some miles, and meet some new people. Also, riding with others slightly faster than you will improve your fitness.

Here are some tips on finding a group ride:

Finding a Group

Do a quick Google search for bike shops, and clubs in your area. Most bike shops have weekly group rides that leave from the shop. On their website, there is usually a section that shows ride times, and routes. Also, local bike/tri clubs will have weekly rides. Send the club an email and ask about rides, and express your interest. Most groups are happy to have new riders.

Group Paces

When you find a group ride listing there will be a pace posted with it, usually denoted by a letter. Here’s a quick breakdown of the letters and paces:

  • C Pace – 16 mph – Usually no one will be left behind
  • B Pace – 16 – 20 mph
  • A Pace – 18 – 22 mph
  • A+ Pace 22+ mph

Groups may vary from these paces. Check with the group leader before the ride to determine the pace. Also, be sure you are comfortable with the pace they are riding. If you can’t hold the pace, and start to ride erratically, it can cause issues for the rest of the group.

Know the Route

Issues arise when you are out on the roads. In case you are dislodged from the group be sure you are familiar with the roads. Most groups rides have a cue sheets available with the route, or it may be available on a website. It is your responsibility to have a general idea of the roads. It is also a good idea to bring your cell phone.

Be Friendly

Many groups have been riding together for years, and being the new person can be intimidating. The best way to deal with this is to be friendly and introduce yourself to other riders. Find out who is the group ride leader and introduce yourself. Most groups are happy to have new people, and will be willing to help you out.

Post Ride

When you get back to the parking lot, don’t just throw your bike on the rack, and roll. Hang out and chat with other riders. I have met some really interesting and wonderful people on group rides. After a ride most people are feeling good, and its a great time to make new connections.

Charity Rides

Local charity rides are a great way to get introduced to group riding. These rides are very beginner friendly. Check the web for charity rides happening in your area. If it is a big event, these rides will also have training rides leading up to the event. Below are a couple of links to some large national charity rides>

Bike MS –  Bike MS is  national ride to fund MS research.

Tour de Cure – TdC has rides in 44 states to raise money for diabetes research. They will also have training rides leading up to the event.


Do you know of any great charity rides? Leave a suggestion in the comments.
photo credit: ScottElliottSmithson via photopin cc

“You Can” – Overcome Reasons Not to Try a Triathlon


Has completing a triathlon been in the back of your mind, but you haven’t signed up? Do you say, I’d love to do a triathlon one day? Let’s make one day today. There are always reasons to start something one day in the future. These reasons make us put off things we really want to do, until later becomes never.

Here are the top reasons I hear for not trying a triathlon, and some suggestions to deal with these issues:

“I can’t – Its too hard” – If you are in a general state of good health, you can train for and complete a triathlon. Its just takes a little knowledge, and some quality training. Choose a good training plan, that fits into your lifestyle, and will get to race day ready. What you should say is I can’t right now.

Training for a race will get difficult at times. There may be times when you really think you can’t. These are the times when you can dig deep and make a breakthrough. The more you struggle and persevere, the sweeter the reward.

“I’m not fit enough” – You may or may not be fit enough to finish a triathlon right now. That’s why proper training is so important to make sure you are fit enough. Athletes of all sizes and ages complete triathlons. If you wait until you are fit enough, it may never happen.

“I don’t have the time” –  Everyone is busy. You may not have the time right now with your current schedule. You have to make time for things you want to do, and will make a positive impact on your life. If you are really honest with yourself, you have more time than you think. There are 168 hours in a week. Can you spare 6-5 hours to train? You can get up an hour earlier, and fit in a run. You can swim at the YMCA during lunch twice a week. Pay yourself first with your time, and invest in your health and wellness.

Link: First Triathlon in under Four Hours a Week 

“I’ll embarrass myself” – When is the last time someone was challenging themselves to try new things to better their lifestyle, and you laughed in their face? I am going with never. Most people respect others who are trying to improve themselves with new exciting goals. Put yourself out there, and others will admire your courage to try new things.

Link: Fantastic Finish Fridays. Stories from new triathletes that overcame fears to finish their first triathlon.

“Triathlon is too expensive” – Triathlon can be an expensive sport, but you can get started for less than you think. Try out your first race with some borrowed equipment, and see how you like it. If you get hooked, then you can invest in better equipment.

Link: Getting started in Triathlon for less than $100

“I don’t have the equipment” – If you look in your garage right now, you probably have almost everything you need for your first race. You only need a bike, helmet, goggles, running shoes and something to wear. All of the other accessories like GPS watches, race belts, and compression sleeves, aren’t necessary. Keep it simple for your first race and have fun.

Link: First Race Esstenials

photo credit: natellev via photopin cc

I’ve Signed Up For My First Triathlon, Now What?

Race Start

You’re awesome. You took the plunge, plopped down your money, and signed up for that first triathlon. Now what? Don’t stress. Here a quick guide for next steps to get started on your triathlon journey.

Step One – Tell Your Family/Friends – This may seem obvious, but don’t forget to fill everyone in. You’ll need a support system to help you through training.  People are general supportive of others going after new goals. really keep your significant other in the loop. You may need to trade some training time for household chores.

Step Two – Inventory Your Equipment –Training and racing Triathlons definitely requires some equipment. Before you go and drop whole paycheck on a new tri kit, check and see what you can make work from what you already have.

Here’s a quick guide for first race essentials. First Race Essentials.

Step Three – Choose a Training Plan – A great training plan is the key to ensure you show up for the race ready. The plan should layout your workouts week by week leading up to the race. This is the most important step when you start your training.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a plan:

  • How many weeks? Most plans for a sprint race will be between 8-12 weeks long. Be sure there is enough time to complete the plan before your event.
  • How much time each week?  There are only so many hours in a week, be sure you have enough hours to fit in your training. Your plan could be as few a fours hours a week. Four Hour Post Here.
  • What are your current abilities? 
  • Is the plan doable? Start with a plan your feel comfortable completing. If you start a plan that is over your head, you may get frustrated, and quit.

 Beginnertriathlete.com has some great plans to get you started.

Step Four – Schedule your workouts Now that you chose your plan, it is time to schedule your workouts. Sit down with your calendar and fill in the times. This is an important step, as it takes choice out of the equation. I like to do this weekly, as I have a good idea of what my week will look like. Be sure to consider open pool times in your schedule.

Step Five – Find a training buddy – A training partner provides encouragement and accountability. You are less likely to hit that snooze button seven times when that alarm goes off at 5:30 am on Saturday, if you know you have to meet your training partner at 6:30 for your long run.

Congrats again on taking the plunge into Triathlon. Training will be easy some days, and extremely difficult on other days. There will be days that you dread going out for another run. On those days, lace up those shoes and just start the workout. Most of the time just starting will get you through that workout, and you will feel much better after.

Secret Sauce to Massive Improvement



Consistency is the secret sauce of massive improvement. The accomplishment of large and rewarding goals are completed by steady work over time. If there is one strategy, that will continue to reap benefits, when all else fails,  it’s consistency. If you want to lose weight be consistent in your nutrition. If you want to go from an inactive person to an Ironman, you need to show up and workout consistently.

Consistency is not sexy. Your enthusiasm will ebb and flow. Putting on your running shoes and getting out the door, when all you want to do is marathon through “House of Cards”, is where the improvements are made. This is the power of showing up everyday, and doing what you do.

Here are some ideas to add more consistency, without becoming a hard-ass disciplinarian:

Have a plan – Choose your goal, and create a plan to get you there. Or even better have someone else with a little more knowledge create your plan. The plan needs to be clear, and written out. Start with a plan, that you are confident will get you to your goal.

Schedule your plan – Take out your calendar and schedule your workouts.  These workouts are now just like any other appointment in your calendar. If something pressing comes up, reschedule your appointment. The idea here is to take choice out of the equation. No need to decide what time to workout today, it is already decided. All you have to do is show up. 

Execute your workouts – This sounds like something the Terminator does. Again, the goal is to have less choices. Check your workout plan for the day, and get in done like a half man, half robot assassin. If it is an easy day, enjoy the scenery. If it is interval day, push until your gums hurt.

Don’t let perfect, be the enemy of great – I know you have heard this cliche before, but its so true. If you miss a workout, because circumstances out of your control (a child projectile vomiting, your boss’s unrealistic time lines, forgot your workout clothes), reschedule or let it go. Don’t let a missed or terrible workout here or there crush your dreams. Using this rule more than 15% of the time is an excuse, and not productive.

Achieving big, meaningful goals doesn’t happen over night. Keeping chipping away bit by bit, day by day.

How can you add more consistency to your workouts? What tricks do you use to keep yourself regressing?


Sexy in Lycra & Other Added Benefits of Triathlon


Triathlon is not just about getting exercise and and some fresh air. It goes much deeper than that. Sure training and racing will get you fit, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s a list of the awesome side benefits of triathlon, you may not have realized.


Awesome Tan – All of those training rides and runs basking in the sun will turn you into a bronze god. That is where you are not covered by your tri gear. Your tri shorts will provide cover for a distinct tan line between your pasty upper thighs, and then rest of your tan legs. Try varying your tri short length for the rainbow effect.

Comfortable in Lycra – You may be apprehensive, when first sporting your lycra training gear. You might try covering up with gym shorts, or bring extra clothes to a ride. This is short lived. Soon you will be rocking your lycra like your favorite pair of jeans. Lycra to the grocery store? Sure. After ride coffee shop? No problem. Church? Why not. Soon, you will wonder why everyone else doesn’t realize the comfort and awesomeness this magical textile.

Sexiness – All of this training and racing will have you tan and fit. You’ll be tight like a tiger, and ready to pounce. Well, you’ll be ready to pounce if it is before 8 pm, because you need to be in bed by 9 pm for a 5 am 4 hour ride in the morning. Maybe you want to wait until after the next big race,  so you don’t interfere with your recovery.


New Set of Friends – Triathlon is a great community. During your journey of training and racing you will make some great friends, who share a similar passion for life. They will be slightly more type A than you, and be happy to train with you if it fits in their highly regimented plan. There’s nothing better than chatting on a long ride or run with a friend. At some point during that workout your friend with pick up the pace, ruining your LSD pace, and hammering you into a shell of yourself. Thanks friend.


Healthy Lifestyle – Racing tris will lead you to a healthier lifestyle. You will be getting regular exercise, and watching your diet. This will last until you decide who want to go faster. Then, you will up your training volume way too quickly, and eventually get injured. You may find yourself in the doctor’s office on a Monday with a searing pain in your foot. Here’s how the conversation will go:

Doc: “How did you even walk in here? Your foot is in bad shape”

You: “It only hurts when I run”

Doc: “Well the only cure for this is rest”

You: “That’s cool. I don’t have another hard run planned  for two days. Is that enough rest?”

Doc: Speechless -gives you a look of bewilderment and disappointment.


Triathlon Badge – You are taking on new challenges and setting big goals. You want to share your goals and achievements with others. Soon everyone will know you are a triathlete, because that is all you talk about.

IM Los Cabos http://www.ironmanloscabos.com/
IM Los Cabos

Family Vacations – Triathlons are held all over the world, and in some pretty sweet locales. You want to bring the family along to support and cheer you on. They are excited because they get a free trip out of the deal. Then you wake them up at 4:30 am on race morning, and they have to deal with your anxious, cranky pre-race mood. The rest of the race they get to stand in the (heat/wind/freezing temps/bugs) on the side of the road, so they can cheer you on for :45 secs of a two hour race.

Invest in Yourself –  In life, the best investment you can make is in yourself. This is what you will tell yourself, when shelling out a two months salary on a new Tri bike. Now,you will just need to explain this logic to your significant other.


Car Rear Bumper Hall of Fame – As you progress through longer distance races, you can add the distance stickers to your rear bumper. You might start with a 13.1, then a 26.2, maybe a 70.3, and a 140.6. Soon enough your rear bumper can be a hall of fame to your triathlon career. The soccer mom in the SUV behind you will be so impressed.

photo credit: dullhunk via photopin cc

photo credit: speedophotos via photopin cc

Dive In! 7 tips for selecting your first TRIATHLON


Congrats! You’ve decided to dive in and and become a triathlete. Now it’s time to sign up for you first race. We want you to have a great experience at you first race. You have put in the commitment and training, and now its time to show your greatness.

Here’s some tips to help you decide which race is best for you:

1. Race Distance – Sprint distance triathlons are usually best for first time triathletes. Typical distances for a sprint triathlon are ~500M Swim, 12 mile bike, and 5k run. The majority of people will finish this race around 90 minutes. Sprints are short enough to let it rip, if you are feeling great. If it’s not your day, you can cruise through the finish.

2. Race Location – Consider you logistics when choosing a race. Sometimes the effort to get to the race, can be as nerve racking as the event itself. Some things to consider here:

  • How far do I have to travel?  If you have a private helicopter, this is not an issue.
  • Do I need to stay in a hotel? If the race has an early start, and you have a significant commute to get there, staying close to the race start will decrease race morning anxiety greatly.
  • Is the race spectator friendly? Your friends and family have supported you through all of your training, and want to cheer you on during the race. Races that are held in parks or in downtown areas work well for families.

Tips to decrease race more anxiety.

3. Swim (open water vs. pool) –  If you are not yet comfortable swimming in open water, you may want to start with a pool swim. This is usually the largest concern for new triathletes, and justifiably so. In open water, most times you can’t see the bottom, there are many other swimmers around you, and swimming in a straight line isn’t easy.  A pool swim will be staggered, so you are not in a a big crowd, and there is a black line at the bottom to follow.

If you are considering entering your first open water triathlon, here are some tips:

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

4. Bike/Run Course – Check the course info page for the race, and pay attention to the course profile. A short event can be made very difficult by elevation. Be sure you are comfortable with the climbs and descents, if the course is hilly. Bike handling skills take time to develop. If you are still working on your handling skills, save those technical sections, and screaming descents for later.

Run courses can vary in their terrain.  Courses can be on pavement, trails, sand, the surface of the moon, you never know. Most of the time this is not a deal breaker on the decision to sign up for a race, but be prepared. I once didn’t check out a course in advance and it had 8 large sets of  steps on it. I was not prepared, and that course crushed me.

5. Local Weather – I know we can’t control the weather, and it is unpredictable. This is one area where you can play to your strengths. If you can run all day like a camel in the heat, then sign up for a summer race. If you melt like a snowman above 80 Deg, then pick a fall race.

6. Race Organization –  The quality of the race promoter will have a huge impact on the overall event. Race promoters vary in there experience and commitment to quality. Be sure to check into the race promoter before signing up for an event. Ask other athletes about the promoter’s events, they will be happy to share their experience, good or bad.

7. Post Race Party – This may sound like a silly thing to consider, but some races have great post race parties. If you are racing with friends,  you want to celebrate after the race. A beer never tastes so good, as after a hard race.  There are a few races I do every year, just because the party is so much fun.

What are you waiting for? Get on www.active.com and get signed up.

If you know of a great beginner friendly race, please leave the info in the comments.

You Control the Effort, Not the Result

I was a reading the “War of Art” by Steven Pressfiled, and a phrase really stuck out to me. It was, “You only have a right to the work, not the results or benefits.” I think this nicely relates to training and racing as well. To me, this means you control the effort and process, and not the results. So, enjoy and take satisfaction in the process, as that is where the joy should come from. You never know when the race day conditions will suck, or you get sick two days before your A race. If you are doing what you are meant to do, the results will come.

Let me give a recent example from my life. Last week, I raced a marathon. My training for the race was the best quality training, I have done for a marathon. I will confident in a PR. At mile 16 of the race, my legs had a different plan, and I finished 10 minutes slower than expected. It was not my day.

When I crossed the finish line, I was disappointed. How could I have training so well, and fallen short of my goal? Then, I thought back to the quote above. Training and racing endurance sports is my passion. I would not take back all of the training run with friends, or long runs that leave me feeling invincible. I put full effort into my plan, and i just came up short on race day. This is my purpose, and is not defined by the result.

I am not saying not to set goals. Goals are very important. The best way to succeed is to set a big goal, and work a plan backward to achieve it. Along the process of achieving that goal, find enjoyment in the work. If you succeed or fall short on race day, know you put in a full effort.

This is not an excuse either. If you didn’t put in a full effort you will know. That’s OK. Find out what resistance kept you from putting in your full effort, and overcome it next time. Rationalizing a bad performance with excuses is not acceptable.

What are your thoughts on this topic? How are you living your purpose, and enjoying the process?