My 2014 Race Schedule


I'm a member of Team (plus I thought this was funny) :-)

I’m a member of Team (plus I thought this was funny) 🙂

As much as I have been enjoying my extended off-season, I’m getting physically and mentally restless. Luckily I have been able to stay active through yoga and my bike on the trainer. And thankfully I just got cleared to run and also to return to strength training so my activity levels can soon “normal” swim, bike, run.

For the past couple of weeks I have been putting together my “Yearly Training Plan” or YTP (also known as an annual training plan or ATP). For the past couple of years I have been guided by an excellent coach who transformed me into the athlete I am today (well, not quite the broken down athlete at the moment, but the one that set PR after PR over the past couple of seasons). This year I have decided to coach myself, which could end up being the best decision or the worst decision on the planet. Only time will tell…

Speadsheets galore!

Speadsheets galore!

In order to construct my YTP I needed to decide what races I planned on racing in 2014. It was a tough decision to make. A lot of races have been opening up for registration and I see on Facebook and Twitter what races people are signing up for in 2014. I’m an impulse race register. If I see a friend doing a race then I automatically want to do the race too. It’s kind of a problem, especially since I pledged to myself to only race the small, local races this season in order to focus on healing my body, getting faster and stronger, and growing my own coaching business.


I was debating on signing up for a Half-Ironman this coming summer. It’s my favorite distance and when Ironman was advertising the price of $199 for Timberman 70.3 in New Hampshire I got suckered in. I opened up my wallet and took out my darn credit card. So much for self-control…

So without further ado, here is my tentative 2014 race season:

4/5/14 – Race the Runways Half-Marathon

5/3/14 – PolarBear Sprint Tri

6/8/14 – Pirate Sprint Tri

7/??/14 – Norway Sprint Tri

8/17/14 – Timberman 70.3

10/19/14 – BayState Marathon (maybe)

Those are the major races that I plan on racing in 2014 with Timberman being my big “A” race. I would absolutely love to qualify for Worlds (most likely a roll-down slot), but my chances are extremely slim. I checked last year’s results and there was over 100 women in the 25-29AG with the winner going close to 5:00. Speedy, speedy women!

I will probably register for Beach to Beacon again this year and sprinkle in some 5ks here and there. I may or may not run BayState in October. It will depend how my run fitness is going (and if it comes back)! I want to focus on quality versus quantity in 2014. Of course, everything is always subject to change.

What races are you signing up or have signed up for in 2014?

~ Happy Training!

A Happier “Unhappy” Pelvis



A few weeks ago I wrote about my “unhappy pelvis,” which of course you can read about HERE.

I’ve been seeing my chiropractor on a weekly basis for the past two months. We’ve become quite the BFFs. Okay, maybe we were before since she is the one that keeps my body from completely falling apart…

Last week we had a breakthrough! ALLEHUJAH! My pelvis has settled down a bit and has finally managed to stabilize itself. Now that my pelvis has stability and isn’t playing the hokey pokey (and moving all-about), we can begin to focus on regaining mobility. ALWAYS train stability before mobility… that’s my take-away message today. You can thank me later.

Casey has determined that my right hip lacks internal rotation due to the fasica tissue surrounding my gluteus medius, semitendinosus, semimembranosus and adductor magnus. Being the total anatomy geek that I am, I started doing some research on the topic. There isn’t a ton of research out there on the topic because hip and groin injuries in athletes are less common than injuries in the extremities. However, when they do occur, they can result in extensive rehabilitation time (Anderson et al., 2001).

Fun fact – loads of up to eight times body weight have been demonstrated in the hip joint during jogging, with potentially even higher loads in more vigorous athletic competition. So, if you are a 200 pound man then you could have up to 1600 lbs of force working against your hip joints. Yikes! But, the hips are uniquely adapted to transfer such forces (Anderson et al., 2001). The body’s center of gravity is located within the pelvis, anterior (front) to the second sacral vertebra. The hips are essentially a series of arches, which according to Wikipedia (obviously a completely reliable source 😉 ) resolve forces into compressive stresses and, in turn, eliminate tensile stresses.

The major ligaments of the pelvis and hip are known to be some of the strongest in the human body and are well adapted to the forces transferred between the spine and the lower extremities. The iliac crest has multiple muscle origins and insertions, including the internal and external oblique, latissimus dorsi, paraspinal muscles, and fascia from the gluteus medius muscle. The gluteus medius (GM) is an important muscle during movement.



A significant amount of GM muscle activity has been reported during the midstance and terminal stance of gait to provide pelvic stabilization during a single normal gait. The GM is generally referred to as a primary hip abductor (leg moves away from the center of the body); but, research has indicated that it most likely plays a more effective role as a pelvic stabilizer (Schmitz et al., 2002). The anterior fibers of the GM also play a role in hip internal rotation while the posterior (back) fibers play a role in external rotation. Lack of internal rotation of the hip has been linked to lower back pain (Vad et al., 2003) in several studies in athletes.

So, what does this mean for my hip? Well, it means that my chiropractor can beat the hell out of my hip musculature. Last week she broke out her graston tools and left me with major bruises on my hamstrings, piriformis, and GM. Though, I wanted to cry while she stuck her metal tools in my GM, it made a world of difference in my hips! All week I felt that I had a whole new hip.

We have now isolated the problem in my hips through the process of elimination. My GM is so much better now and most of the “bad” fascia tissue has broken up leaving me with more mobility in that muscle. Cue the theme song to “Happy Days.”

My chiropractor has identified that the lack of internal rotation in my right hip is due to the semitendinosus and semimembranosus (medial hamstring muscles) and my adductor magnus muscles. The adductor magnus muscle is actually an external hip rotator muscle, but it was playing a major role in pulling my pelvic symphysis apart a few weeks ago. The issue is isolated at the muscle origins, where each muscle attaches to the ischial tuberosity (sit bones). It is not actually my muscles causing the problem, but the fascia tissue surrounding each muscle that is restricting the muscle from flexing and moving correctly. Thus, stretching and yoga are not effect methods to “fix” the problem. Stretching and yoga certainly help, but myofascial release is the best method.

The Guilty Parties... (source)

The Guilty Parties… (source)

My hip issues have been prevalent for the past couple of years and I feel like I am making process in finally determining the root cause of the issue and resolving it. I know that training and completing an Ironman on an injury was not the smartest move. My goal this year is to be smart about training and listening to my body. It’s hard for me to step back and take a break from training, but I know in the long run that it is a worthwhile investment to my health and my performance. I mean, it’s not like you would put a second floor on your house if you had significant cracks in your foundation making it impossible for the foundation to support a two-story home, right?

~ Happy Training!   



Anderson K, Strickland SM, Warren R. Hip and groin injuries in athletes. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2001; 29(4): 521-533.

Schmitz RJ, Riemann BK, Thompson T. Gluteus medius activity during isometric closed-chain hip rotation. Journal of Sports Rehabilitation. 2002; 11:179-188.

Vad VB, Gebeh A, Dines D, Altchek D, Norris B. Hip and shoulder internal rotation range of motion deficits in professional tennis players. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 2003; 6(1): 71-75.

Race Report – Ironman Lake Placid – Part II

If you missed part I of my race report then click HERE so you can read about my pre-race and swim!

The Bike

During the final lap of the swim it had started to rain a bit. Not crazy downpour rain, but enough to wet the roads. As I ran through transition a volunteer had my bike ready to go for me. I grabbed Azul from the volunteer and ran to the bike out. The mount line was a bit scary. It’s very narrow and there were a lot of people. I was nervous that I was going to run into someone or someone was going to run into me, but luckily everything was fine. The first half mile of the course is narrow with multiple sharp turns and steep hills to navigate before embarking on the actual 112 mile journey. Soon enough I found myself riding by the horse show grounds about a mile from town. It is around here that you begin climbing out of Lake Placid.

My goal for the first loop was to take it stupid-easy. The climb out of the town of Lake Placid is no joke. Once you think you get to the top and begin the descend down to Keene, you hit rollers and climb some more. The bike route was quite congested because everyone and their mother was on the bike by now! Everyone was in everyone else’s drafting zone, but how could you not be! I was getting passed on the right by impatient men. I took my time spinning up the hills. I absolutely did not want to be stupid and go out too hard and blow up later on the second lap like a lot of people tend to do.

Finally I made it to the top of the hills and began the crazy 10k descend into Keene. The roads were wet from the shower and the road conditions themself were not that great on this section of the road. I stayed to the right, sat up, and rode my damn brakes down the hills! Large men barreled by me going about mach 10 in aero. Go for it dude! But, I prefer my skin on my body if you ask me. I coasted down the hills hitting in the 30 mph and when I could I would pedal to push myself over the little rollers in the middle of the descend.

Next thing I know, I’m in Keene and making the sharp left turn towards Jay. This is the flat-ish section with nice wide shoulders. I made sure to push it here to make up for time because I knew the slow part was yet to come on the backside of the course. I stayed aero and did a lot of eating and drinking during this section. I hit the out-and-back to Ausable Forks. The road was super crowded. I passed a lot of people and was passed by a lot of people. I swear for every women in the race there had to be at least 15 men! I saw a couple of TriMoxie athletes zoom by in the other direction looking strong!

After the out-and-back section to Ausable Forks you take a sharp right up Route 86 to begin the climb into Wilmington. This is the real meat and bones of the course. As soon as you make the turn you begin a long climb. I believe it’s a cat 4 climb, but I could be wrong. This is actually my favorite climb of the whole course. I know, I’m weird. A lot of the local people who live on the route were out and cheering us on. One guy was sitting on his ATV with a cooler and sign that said “free beer.” It made me giggle.

After we climb into Wilmington and could see Whiteface Mountain in the distance we make a right-hand turn onto Hazelton Road for a 2 mile out-and-back. I made a pit-stop at this aid station to pee. As soon as I dismounted my bike and handed it to a volunteer they asked me what I needed. Just the bathroom I said. In and out and back on my bike. I looked down at one point to take a sip from my aero bottle and a volunteer had stuck a purple smiley face sticker on my bottle. It made me smile! 🙂

I reached the 4-way intersection and made the left-hand turn to begin the long climb back into town. This is the slow section of the course. Everyone’s split for the second half of the course is much, much slower than the first since you have to climb a couple thousand feet (okay, maybe not that much…) back into Lake Placid. I took my time. The wind had picked up, but I made sure to keep spinning and stay patient. That’s all you really can do. I passed our hotel on the way. Looked at it and kept going. As hard as this section of the course is, it is absolutely stunning in scenery. Lots of river and waterfall views with Whiteface mountain looming in the background.

After a long while of climbing I passed Riverside Road and knew the famous Bears were coming shortly! Almost done with the first loop! I climbed Mama Papa and Baby Papa and approached Papa Bear. People were lined up cheering you on! It was seriously like it was right out of the Tour de France. There was a guy in a bright pink speedo jumping around and with another guy holding a sign saying “smile if you wet yourself.” As I crested the hill I heard people yelling my name! I saw Pattie and Pam, friends from camp last year and TriMoxie coach Ange! I was pumped! As I made the turn by the golf course a guy rode by me saying I had quite the fan-base. Why yes sir, I do enjoy travelling with my entourage! Ha! 🙂

Top of Papa Bear (Photo Credit: Jodi Turner)

Top of Papa Bear (crooked helmet and all) (Photo Credit: Jodi Turner)

I made my way through town and stopped quickly at special needs to grab new bottles and nutrition. I forgot to put on chamois butter, which I paid for at about mile 100. The energy in town was unreal. People were screaming and cheering like we were all rock stars. I couldn’t help but smile! Just like that I was out-of-town and climbing out of Placid again. I could begin to feel the fatigue build in my legs knowing I had another 56 miles to go. Half way at least. The wind had picked up a bit. To stay focused and keep both my power and heart rate from spiking I began counting to 10 over and over again on the climbs. It helped. My power and heart rate stayed low and I felt good and strong. I began the crazy descend into Keene again this time more confident. The roads were dry and less crowded. I definitely let Azul fly more this time topping out in the low 40s before riding my brakes. The flat sections of Jay were uneventful. The second time around on the out-and-back to Ausable Forks was boring. At least it has pretty views again. I ate and drank a lot. Pissed again at an aid station.

I was playing cat and mouse with quite a few men at this point and occasionally we would chat. At one point a guy told me to go and he wasn’t afraid to be “chicked.” I noticed a lot of people on the side of the roads with flats. One guy had a broken derauiller. That sucks! Finally I hit mile 100. My crotch was killing me at this point. I couldn’t wait to get off my bike! I ran into another TriMoxie athlete Leigh around this time and we chatted a bit. She actually lives next door to my cousin. I passed and was soon climbing the bears again. Fewer people this time cheering and Papa Bear seemed to have gotten a bit bigger this time around.

Finally I rode through town again and made my way to the transition area. YES! I could get off my bike. I gave Azul to a volunteer and began running to the changing tent. A volunteer asked me if I wanted to take me shoes off. No. I’ll run with them on. A woman yelled at me to take my helmet off. Okay, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to run a marathon with my space helmet on!

Bike: 7:11:48 (15.56 mph)

The Run

I surprisingly felt awesome coming off the bike. I was really worried prior to the race how I would feel off the bike. I knew my major limiter for the race was going to be my knee. It wasn’t going to be a question of “if“, but “when” my knee was going to give out. My knee was a bit sore during the bike portion of the race and would sometimes shoot a sharp pain up to my hip, but I generally ignored it on the bike. I changed in the women’s changing tent and made sure to grab my salt sticks this time. I forgot them on the bike and felt a bit foggy at the end. Perhaps it was from being in the same or similar position for 7+ hours!

I put my shoes on and headed out for a short 26.2 miles! My legs felt great! I kept the pace easy because I knew it was going to be a long day. I chewed on a salt stick for a bit. I don’t advise that to anyone, but I felt I needed one that badly. I ran through the mile one aid station and saw my coach and her daughter! She said I looked good. I felt good! I ran through the second water station at the horse show grounds and soon began my descend and turn onto Riverside Road. I hit the 3 mile mark quite fast. My pace was good. I kept focusing on moving forward. Mentally I was in great shape. I just kept counting the miles. 4 miles down. 5 miles down. Holy cow, this thing is going by quicker than I thought! I would run to each aid station and then walked through each one getting hydration and nutrition in at each one. I would stop and piss at a couple of the aid stations.

Around mile 5 or 6 my glutes were on fire! I guess I used them to during the bike leg to climb! My pace was slowing a bit, but I still was moving way faster than I had predicted. I walked the giant hill back up towards the horse show grounds and headed back into town. The crowds were picking up and the energy was insane. I could hit Mark Reilly announcing people as they crossed the finish line. I walked the big steep hill into town. There was a guy holding a sign saying “how does your taint feel?” I looked at him and said not good. We both laughed. I jogged through town to the out-and-back by Mirror Lake. I crossed the half-way mark and began my second loop. I still felt good.

Around mile 14 my knee started hurting. It also marked the furthest that I have EVER run in my life. This was all new territory for me. I began a run/walk method. I was hoping to run the flats and downhills and then walk the uphills. Unfortunately, I couldn’t run the big downhill over the bridge to Riverside Road. My quad was on fire and my knee did not like it. So I walked and then began jogging at the bottom. The walk/jog method worked until mile 18. At mile 18 my knee was done. I have a high pain tolerance and generally can and have run through the pain. However, at mile 18 it was a different pain. It was sharp and almost a weakness feeling, like my knee was going to give-out feeling and I was going to crumble to the floor. I began walking. I was content with this. I knew it was going to happen, but I didn’t know when. I was impressed that my knee lasted until mile 18. I was hoping for mile 20, but I’ll take 18! I could have probably have pushed through it if I really, really wanted to, but I wanted to be smart. I wasn’t going for a specific time for this race. I know that I want to be in this sport for the long-haul and I didn’t want to do permanent damage to my body.

The walk wasn’t bad. A lot of people at this point were walking. What did suck for me, was that every fiber of my body, except my knee of course, wanted to run. I probably averaged between a 14-15 minute mile moving pace. I eventually made it into town where the crowds were even larger. It was starting to get dark and I vowed that I would not finish with a glow stick in hand. I tried running a bit through town but every time I tried I would wince in pain from my knee. Finally I made it to the last turn-around and headed for my last mile through town. People were screaming my name and encouraging me to run. With about three-quarters of a mile left, I decided to suck it up and run. The pain in my knee made me wince and cry at times, but I sucked it up and ran.

The Finish

Honestly, it’s challenging to come up with words to describe my emotions as I approached the finish line. Let me start by setting up the scene for you. Lake Placid has one of the best finish lines out of all the Ironman races. You finish on the Olympic oval where they did the speed skating races during the winter olympics. The crowds of spectators and volunteers are amazing. They are lined up several people deep, all screaming your name and cheering you on. The music is blaring and you can hear Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman, yelling “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN” as people cross the finish line. Mary and another TriMoxie athlete and soon-to-be husband of another TriMoxie athlete both told me to step back and remember the finish of your first Ironman. It’s tough to do.


 As soon as I made the turn onto the Olympic oval I knew I was almost there. A volunteer told me I was there. I was an Ironman. It hit me like a ton of bricks. People were yelling my name and cheering me on. They told me I was an Ironman. I started to choke up. I smiled. I told myself not to cry. I was in excruciating pain from my knee but I kept moving forward. I rounded the last bend and could see people crossing the line. One man in front of me did the Blazeman roll and the crowd went wild. I looked behind me to see if anyone was coming. I wanted to cross that line alone. I wanted that moment to myself. Ten feet from the line I threw my arms in the arm. I was crying. I was smiling. I honestly didn’t know what was happening. I was in a daze. I couldn’t believe that I just swam, biked, and ran 140.6 miles through the breathtaking Adirondack Mountains. Mike Reilly said those magic little words that I have been waiting to hear for the past 7 months… YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!

Two volunteers quickly grabbed me. They offered to take my timing chip, asked me how I was and what I wanted. They gave me my medal. I wanted food. I was hungry. They sat me down and got me pizza and fruit. They asked me if I wanted chocolate milk. I said “no” and secretly giggled thinking about what Vinnie Tortorich would have said about that. I sat around for a bit and then got my finisher picture taken and the wandered around a bit to find Mary and Jordan. Everyone around me kept saying “congratulations.” It.was.awesome.


Run: 5:31:54 (12:40/mile)

Total: 14:13:33 (43/68 AG; 1674/2536 OA)

 ~ Happy Training!

Race Report: Ironman Lake Placid – Part I

 Spoiler Alert: I AM AN IRONMAN!

Okay, please don’t be mad, but I’m breaking this race report into two posts since it’s going to be a long one! 140.6 miles is a long way and thus leading to a lot of my ramblings of the day.


Packing for the big day!

Packing for the big day!

 I headed to Lake Placid on Friday. I made the long drive solo listening to books on tape to make the drive go by faster. I arrived in Lake Placid about 2pm. As I drove into town I could already feel the energy of the town as more and more athletes arrived. The energy prior to an Ironman event is amazing. Lake Placid is such a magical place during Ironman week!

I immediately found a parking spot on a top of a giant hill and succeeded to head down to athlete check-in. I showed my ID, signed my life away to WTC and the State of New York, got weighed in (totally should have peed first!), got my numbers and my wrist band. I was officially checked in! Ahhh! I then headed down to the Ironman store tent to pick up my backpack. Funny how WTC placed the backpack pick up in the store tent… not like they make enough money off of us or anything….


 I quickly walked back up the giant hill to grab my wetsuit and walked down to Mirror Lake for a quick swim. The water was the perfect temperature! And completely wetsuit legal! I got in a quick 25 minute shake-out swim and felt good. I passed a bunch of guys out there on the swim who started before me so I felt pretty confident that I would have a decent swim.

After the swim I headed down to Wilmington where our hotel was located, The Hungry Trout Resort. I wouldn’t say it was a resort, more like motel, but it was decent. The beds were actually super comfortable and it was kind of nice to stay outside of town. Mary, my coach, and her daughter Jordan showed up shortly afterwards. We all settled in and then headed back to town for me to attend the Mandatory Athlete Meeting in the ice arena. It was super cool to be in the same ice arena where the 198o “miracle on ice ” occurred when the USA hockey team beat Russia to take the gold medal! I arrived a bit early and listen to some of the welcome dinner inspiration prior to the meeting. When I arrived there was a group of athletes up with Mike Reilly talking about their Ironman journeys. One young girl was from Newtown, CT and said that this race for her was for all the victims of the shooting. I teared up.

The ice arena!

The ice arena!

We had dinner at The Dancing Bear. It was fun to look around to see who had little blue bracelets indicating they were athletes. So many super fit and lean people around on expensive bikes! A bit intimating at times! Saturday morning I slept in to 7:30. I got up and started organizing my bags and getting my bike ready for bike check-in. I had organized my various bags prior to leaving home on Friday. I put items in their own paper bag so all I had to do is dump the items into their corresponding transition bags. We then headed into town for a giant breakfast. It was certainly the highlight of my week! Pancakes and a breakfast sandwich. Yummy! I dropped Azul off in transition for the night. She got a professional photo shoot prior to her entrance into the Olympic oval. I guess WTC wants to make sure everyone goes home with their correct bikes or something.

After check-in, it was back to the hotel for bed rest until dinner. We had an early dinner at the “resort” and then an early bed time. I was in bed by 7:30. I didn’t sleep too good that night. I spent a lot of it tossing and turning, but I figured this would happen so I made sure to get a lot of sleep the week before the race.

Race Morning

My first alarm went off at 2am! Yikes! I got up. Drank an Ensure and had a few handfuls of pretzels. Back to bed. More tossing and turning. Second alarm went off at 3:40am. This time it was put contacts in, put on race kit, eat more food, prepare race nutrition and bottles, and get ready to leave. Mary dropped me off at transition at 4:30am when it first opened. I saw Marisa, another TriMoxie athlete and got myself body marked. I added my race nutrition to Azul and got her tires pumped back up to psi. Next was a walk to run special needs to drop that bag off and then a walk to bike special needs to drop that bag off. Then a long wait. I got in line for a porta-pottie and then made my way down to Mirror Lake. I sat down on the grass near the warm-up area to wait about 30 minutes until warm-up time began. As I was sitting there a woman sat down next to me and asked me who my coach was because she saw my TriMoxie top. Turned out it was Mandy, Caratuck Girl! We chatted a bit and then I met another TriMoxie athlete, Robin. Soon enough it was warm-up time and then time to line-up in our appropriate time corral for the rolling start! I got in the water to get wet and get a few quick strokes in.

The Swim

I lined up in the 1:11 to 1:20 group. I estimated based on training times that I should be about the 1:15 mark. We waited a while in line. I was surrounded by a group of Aussie men joking around. Good day mate! 🙂 Finally the cannon for the age groupers went off and we slowly made our way to the start line. Finally, the volunteer’s arms dropped and it was turn to hit the water!

I quickly ran across the timer mat and hit the start button on my Garmin. I ran into the water until it was deep enough for me to dive in and start swimming. I immediately had lots of open water space. I decided to stay wide of the cable. I didn’t feel like getting punched in the face or swam over just to shave a few seconds off my time. I settled into my swim quickly and felt good. Occasionally I would run into people or feel people tapping my feet, but for the most part I had open water. There were 9 buoys out to the turn-around buoy. I definitely stayed wide of the turn buoy. Mary said that the turn buoy can be a very scary place if you’re not careful. Like the possibility of drowning scary. Yikes! Throughout the swim I keep telling myself “just keep swimming” and “to stay in the present.” I tried not to thinking about the 112 miles that I had to bike next or even the 26.2 miles I had to run later after that!

On the way back towards the beach I started to get a small cramp on the left side of my lower back. This was completely new, but I kept swimming hoping that it would disappear. It did eventually. The beach began to appear larger in the horizon and I knew I was almost done with the first lap! Things started to bottle-neck a bit at this point and I was making a bit more contact with swimmers around, but no boxing match type punches. I swam until my hand hit sand and I stood up, ran across the beach over the timing mat and jumped back into the water for my second loop.

This time I felt a bit more confident and I positioned myself closer to the cable, but still a few feet out from it. I felt a bit more contact here and managed to find some feet periodically to draft off of for a bit. I’ll take any free speed at this point! Once again, I kept telling myself to keeping swimming. I was so close to being done with the swim. It was my warm-up for everything to come. Mary told me that the real race is with the bike and run. I made it around the turn buoys again and headed for the homestretch! I picked the speed up a bit. At one point I swam into a group of about 5 large men who succeeded to sandwich me and push me a top of one of the guys. I survived and kept swimming. Finally, the beach was in sight again and I was done!

I stood up, torn my swim cap and goggles off, unzipped my wetsuit and ran to one of the wetsuit strippers to have them rip my suit off! I stood up, grabbed my suit, and started jogging the 800 meters or so to T1. My right ear was full or water and I kept trying to get it out. Into T1, grabbed my bike gear bag and ran to the women’s changing tent. I put on bike shorts, threw on my helmet, shoes, stuffed my pockets with gels and was off to grab my waiting steed.

Swim: 1:16:09 (1:58/100 meters)

 Next up: The Bike, Run, and Finish!

~ Happy Training!

Muscle Imbalances – What You Need to Know!


In order to fully understand muscle imbalances, let’s first look at normal muscle function. There are three types of muscles in the body: smooth, cardiac, and skeletal. We, of course, are investigating skeletal muscles – or the muscles that move our bodies through the swim, bike, run movement patterns. Normal muscle activation is a combination of contraction and relaxation of muscle fibers. The technical terms are called facilitation (contraction) and inhibition (relaxation). When muscles contract, they get tighter and do more work. When muscles relax, they do less work and allow their opposite muscles to contract better. Muscles in the body generally work in pairs.

Let’s use the examples of your biceps and triceps. Let’s imagine that you are sitting on a bench with a dumbbell in your right hand about to do a set of biceps curls. What happens when you move your right hand towards your shoulder? Place your left hand over your right bicep. In the rest position your biceps is pretty relaxed. The same with your triceps. Neither should feel tight or loose. Just relaxed. Now move that dumbbell up towards your shoulder and do a biceps curl. Now feel that biceps in the top hand position. Feels pretty tight now doesn’t it? The biceps muscle is contracting to pull the dumbbell towards your shoulder. Now feel the triceps. The triceps muscle should feel loose because it must relax in order for the biceps to contract. Now lower the dumbbell to the start position. The biceps muscle should be relaxed (loose) and the triceps contracted (tight). The same thing happens as you are running. As you lift your leg to propel yourself forward, your quadriceps (front of tight muscles) must contract to lift your knee forward and the hamstrings (back of thigh muscles) must relax. When the muscles are balanced in the body, they have the right combination of inhibition and facilitation during movement.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

If muscles lack the right combination of inhibition and facilitation during movement muscle imbalances can occur. Muscle imbalances may lead to injuries, biomechanical inefficiencies, and wasted efforts. Muscle imbalances can also occur due to poor static posture, joint dysfunction, and myofascial adhesions (think “knot” in muscle). These altered length-tension relationships between muscles may lead to altered muscle recruitment patterns (altered force-couple relationships). This is caused by altered reciprocal inhibition. Altered reciprocal inhibition, defined by NASM, is the process by which a tight muscle (short, overactive, myofascial adhesions) causes decreased neural drive, and therefore optimal recruitment of its functional antagonist.

Let’s look at an example of this. A majority of people work 9-5 desk jobs in front of a computer. Thus they tend to have tight hip flexors, or iliopsoas muscles. Tight psoas muscles decrease the neural drive and therefore the optimal recruitment of gluteus maximus (your butt muscles). The gluteus maximus muscles are the prime movers for hip extension and an important muscle in running. According to a 2006 study in The Journal of Experimental Biology, the gluteus maximus works primarily to keep the torso upright during movement and it is involved in decelerating the swing leg as it hits the pavement. Since the glute is a hip extender muscle, it also functions to extend your hip-joint as your foot pushes off the ground to propel your body forward. Weaknesses in the gluteus maximus can lead to compensation and substitution by the synergists (hamstrings) and stabilizers (erector spinae). This can ultimately lead to potential hamstring strains and lower back pain.

According to one study, over the course of any given year approximately two-thirds of runners will have at least had one injury that has caused an interruption to their training. For those training for marathons, the rate as been recorded up to 90% of runners. The most common running injury involves the knee. The most common running related knee problems are patellofemoral pain syndrome, Iliotibial band (IT-Band) sydrome, tibal stress syndrome (spin splits), and plantar fasciitis. Guess what? These common running injuries are overuse injuries generally caused by muscle imbalances!

Some researchers and sports medicine professionals have argued that triathlon, as a multisport event, causes less overuse injuries than single sports, because of the more even distribution of loads over the body’s muscluar system. However, triathletes still suffer from a high degree of overuse injuries. One of the most common is actually lower back pain. Triathletes tend to be over-developed in larger muscle groups, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and shoulders. Triathletes tend to be weak in the smaller stability muscles, such as the lower back, core, adductors, and abductors. Again, these muscle imbalances are caused by movements that we do in each sport. For example, many triathletes, especially if they come from a cycling background, will be overdeveloped in the quadriceps region, but have these tiny, underactive hamstrings. This is a muscle imbalance caused by cycling. Runners are very weak in the hip stability muscles, such as the gluteus medius, tensor fascia latae (TFL), and adductor complex, which leads to weak lumbo-pelvic stability and the potential development of common running injuries. The sport of triathlon is conducted in one plane of motion – the sagittal plane. We rarely move in the frontal and transverse planes. Many of the hip stability muscles are targeted by movements conducted in the frontal and/or transverse planes.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Muscles can be divided into two types: postural and phasic. Postural muscles are used for standing and walking; whereas, phasic muscles are used for running. During the gait cycling of running, there is a double-float phase during which both legs are suspended in the air – one at the beginning and one at the end of the swing phase. Running biomechanics requires efficient firing patterns from the postural muscles while the phasic muscles do the actual work of propelling the body forward. Since the postural muscles are constantly be activated in the body to fight the forces of gravity, these muscles have a tendency to shorten and become tight. The postural muscles that tend to become chronically tight in runners are: gastroc-soleus, rectus femoris, ilipsoas, tensor fascia lata, hamstrings, adductors, quadratus lumborum, piriformis, and satorius. Phasic muscles typically may remain in an elongated or weak state. Common phasic muscle that have a tendency to be weak or become inhibited in runners are: the tibialis anterior, vastus medialis, long thigh adductors, and the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus.

So, key points from this post:

  • Muscle imbalances are caused by the lack of the right combination of contraction and relaxation of paired muscles
  • Common triathlon and running injuries are generally caused by muscle imbalances, mainly in the lumbo-pelvic region
  • Postural muscles tend to become short and tight; whereas phasic muscles tend to become weak and inhibited
  • Stretch your psoas muscles! 🙂

Now, how do you identify muscle imbalances? Well, I did a post a while ago on why functional movement screens are important. Go read that! Or go see a sports medicine professional, such as a chiropractor or physical therapist. This is especially important if you are dealing with a common running-related injury. Then find yourself a good personal trainer to help set you up on a good strengthening routine to correct those imbalances. Remember, I am certified to help you correct muscle imbalances. Of course, you should always seek permission from your doctor before starting any new exercise routines. Stay tuned next week on some good hip stretching and strengthening exercises to help you prevent those pesky running injuries.

~ Happy Training!

PS – Feel free to contact me with any questions at


1. Maffetone P. The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing. 2010.

2. Clark MA, Lucett SC. NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training. New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer Health. 2011.

3. Liebermna DE et al. The human gluteus maximus and its role in running. J Exp Biol. 2006; 209: 2143-55.

4. Manninen JSO, Kallinen M. Low back pain and other overuse injuries in a group of Japanese triathletes. BR J Sports Med. 1996;30: 134-139.

5. Fredericson M, Moore T. Muscular balance, core stability, and injury prevention for middle – and long-distance runners. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 2005;16: 669-689.

USAT Triathlon Coaching Level I Clinic

Ok, so this post is a little late. Like 6 weeks late. But, on the good news… I’m officially a certified USAT Level I Triathlon Coach! Yay!

It's Official!

It’s Official!

Back in April Jen and I took a road trip down to Short Hills, New Jersey for the two-day clinic. I’ll be completely honest, I was dreading the New Jersey location. I was thinking it was going to be in a super sketchy part of NJ and all the people living there were going to be right out of Jersey Shore. My worst nightmare! I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Short Hills is an absolutely gorgeous part of NJ! The streets were lined with sidewalks and trees. The houses were cute and nice. And holy heck the town was hilly! I always thought that NJ was pretty flat, but I guess not. Hence the town name of Short Hills. However, those hills were anything but short!

Day one of the clinic included lectures by all three of our presenters: Jesse Kropelnicki of QT2 Systems, John Petrush of Bay Shore Swim, and Shelly O’Brien of Icon One Multisport. The morning started off with two lectures on exercise physiology and nutrition by Jesse. I was super pumped when I first saw that Jesse was going to be a presenter at our clinic. He is one of the top coaches in the country and is someone who I highly look up too. I must admit that I was a wee bit disappointed with his lectures. Not because they were boring or bad, but because both topics were review for me.

Jesse Kropelnicki

Jesse Kropelnicki

After lunch Joe came in and discussed strength training and cycling skills and training with us. Joe is from Long Island and was your stereotypical Long Islander. He was very interesting to listen to. He was funny, but also very opinionated. His lectures were good. However, I disagreed with him on his view of strength training. He told us up front that we were completely welcomed to disagree with him on the topic since strength training for triathletes is still a rather controversial topic. His view was that “if it ain’t broke than don’t fix it.” He generally prefers not doing traditional strength training with his athletes unless they are injured. His approach with strength training is to do it within the swim, bike, run realm. For example, run or bike hill repeats to build leg strength. I can see where he is coming from. I agree that some strength building within each discipline is important, such as running hill repeats. However, I believe that traditional strength training should be part of an triathlete (or any endurance athlete)’s training plan. I don’t mean they need to do traditional body building style training. That would actually not be a favorable way to train. Can you see Arnold doing an Ironman? That poor carbon fiber bike doesn’t have a chance…

Joe Petrush

Joe Petrush

I much prefer functional training with bodyweight and TRX. Anyway, now that I have left on my tangent I will get back on track! The last lecture of the day was on swim skills and training by Shelly. Shelly is an amazing person to listen to and just a wealth of information. She was by far my favorite person to listen to (which is a good thing because she did all the lectures on the second day). Shelly made each lecture more interactive, which was awesome because sitting in a chair for 10+ hours a day is not my thing. I couldn’t sit for much of the time and kept shifting about in my chair. Secretly, I think all that sitting played a role in my IT-band/Knee/Hip issues.

After the first day Jen and I headed back to our hotel. I headed out for a quick 50 minute run. It was a bit drizzly out, but quite humid. The main roads in the area were busy and we found out quickly that New Jersey drivers were crazy so I headed out to run around the neighborhoods. The neighborhoods were cute and situated on some massively steep hills. Holy cow was my pace slow, but it was fun to run, essentially, hill repeats. After my run we hit up the Cheesecake Factory. It was my first time! Yum yum yum! I had the salmon with mashed potatoes and asparagus. And of course, Jen and I split some Cheesecake, cause ya know it was my first time and all…

Shelly O'Brien

Shelly O’Brien

The second day was another very long day of sitting. On the second day we discussed running, sports psychology and mental training, and how to build training plans. Unfortunately, most of the time Shelly ran out of time during each lecture because she just had so much to tell us. She gave us a bunch of awesome drill ideas for running and swimming. Some of which I have been trying on my own since then and also have incorporated some of them into my own clients training plans.

Everyone at the clinic came from various backgrounds and reasons why they were attending. Some were already experienced coaches and some are complete newbies. We had a few sports doctors and physical therapists too. It was fun to talk to different people and hear their thoughts on the sport and training. USAT recently changed their criteria to get into the clinic. It used to be the first 40 people to register would get into the clinic. Now you have to apply. Over 70 people applied for our clinic and they accepted 40 of us. I’m glad I made the cut!

Here are some interesting tidbits I learned while at the clinic from the various presenters:

  • There is generally a 4-16 beat difference in heart rate between running and biking (average is about 10 beats)
  • It usually takes about 20-30 minutes for the heart rate to settle down after the swim
  • Heart rate is important for training and power meters are important for racing
  • Train movements not muscles (aka functional training!)
  • When working with youth athletes (under age 10) work anaerobic first then aerobic capacity
  • Develop speed and endurance together
  • Develop various skill sets in each sport (i.e. drills)
  • There is no such thing as a good bike and a bad run in triathlon, especially long course!

My favorite is the last bullet point. It is the one that I have been learning over the past year with my coach. If you go out too fast and hard on the bike and burn all your matches then your legs and body are toast for the run. Words of wisdom right there kids!

Crossing the GW Bridge in NYC

Crossing the GW Bridge in NYC

~ Happy Training!

PS – If you’re looking for a triathlon coach then I hope you will consider me! 🙂

Nutrition Tuesday: Proteins!

Protein. My favorite topic. You want to see me get my panties all in a bunch. Let’s talk about protein. If you went out right now and asked 10 people why you eat protein and what it does for your body, I bet all but perhaps a couple people will get the question wrong…. 
Protein is one of the three macronutrients; however, protein is not a sufficient source of energy used by the human body. However, under certain circumstances, dietary protein and/or certain amino acids can have very important roles in muscle metabolism and exercise performance(1). Proteins are similar in molecular structure to fats and carbohydrates, expect for one defining characteristic – proteins contain nitrogen atoms. The word amino literally means “nitrogen containing(1).” Structurally, proteins consist of various lengths and combinations of amino acids that are linked together by peptide bonds. 
Proteins have many functional roles in the human body: 
Specific Role in Human Body
After a protein is degraded (broken down), some amino acids can be changed structurally to form glucose
Growth and maintenance
Proteins are found in numerous body structures, including hair, skin, tendons, muscles, organs, etc.
Some hormones are classified as proteins, such as insulin, glucagon, prolactin and growth hormones
Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions
Antibodies are proteins produced by specific immune cells to help fight infections
Acid-base balance
Hemoglobin (a protein) not only carries oxygen, but serves as a blood buffer to help regulate pH
Fluid balance
Albumin and globulin (blood proteins) help draw fluid into capillary beds 
Some proteins carry specific substances (i.e. hemoglobin carries oxygen)
The human body begins to digest protein in the stomach. The enzyme pepsin cleaves the peptide bonds that hold amino acids together creating smaller peptides (short chains of amino acids) and some free amino acids. Once the contents of your stomach reach your intestines, enzymes from the pancreas and intestines will finish cleaving the peptide chains to absorbable amino acids(1). Amino acids are then absorbed by the small intestine into the bloodstream. Studies have suggested that about 95% of ingested animal proteins and about 85% of ingested plant proteins are absorbed by the body from one meal, but no one is really certain for sure(1). Before amino acids can be used for energy by the body, it undergoes a reaction to remove its nitrogen-containing compounds. 
There are 20 unique amino acids that make up various proteins. Nine are called essential amino acids, meaning that the human body does not produce these amino acids and we must obtain them through our diets. The remaining 11 are considered nonessential because the human body can synthesize them. 

Much of the debate surrounding protein involves how much should you consume and what types. Traditionally, only animal proteins, such as milk, eggs, meat, and fish, have been considered “complete” protein sources (containing all the essential amino acids). Plants are considered “incomplete” because they lack specific essential amino acids. However, soy is considered a “complete” protein(1). Any vegetarian or vegan can obtain an adequate amount of protein (and all the essential amino acids) through their diet by consuming various food choices throughout the day. Interesting enough, greens have the highest percentage of amino acids per ounce of any food, but since they don’t weigh much, they need to be eaten in greater amounts(2). 
The amount of daily protein intake is much debated. It really varies depending on your weight and what your daily activities are. Currently, the RDA for protein in healthy adults is 0.8 g/kg body weight per day(3). The International Society of Sport Nutrition suggests the exercising individuals ingest protein ranging fro 1.4 to 2.0 g/kg/day(3). They suggest that endurance athletes consume 1.0 to 1.6 g/kg/day depending on the intensity and duration of the endurance exercise. Recommendations for strength/power athletes typically range from 1.6 to 2.0 g/kg/day(3). 
To figure out your protein requirements is quite easy. It’s just a simple math equation. I will use myself for an example. I currently weigh 125 pounds or roughly 57 kg (1 lb = 0.45 kg). I am an endurance athlete with a fairly intense and long training schedule, although it varies day to day. I am going to use 1.3 g/kg/day as my goal protein consumption.
57 kg X 1.3 g/kg = 74 g of protein per day
One relatively new development in sports nutrition is the knowledge that nutrient timing influences the physiological responses to exercise(1). Studies have shown that after exercise a 4:1 or 5:1 carb to protein ratio food or recovery drink is optimal for resynthesis of muscle protein and maintenance of other physiological structures that rely on amino acids, such as the nervous system(4). (This is a topic I plan on discussing in more detail in the future
I’m not a huge fan of the Paleo Diet, but I did read The Paleo Diet for Athletes. One interesting section I found in the book was about why our ancestors chose to eat 6- to 8-ton elephants when they could have easily eaten prey like rabbits, partridges, and fish. Well, it’s because if you eat just protein and way too much of it, it can kill you. Laboratory studies have found that the maximum amount of protein humans can consume on a daily basis is about 40% of our daily calories(4). Anything above that, you become sick. Our earliest settlers learned that the hard way in what they referred to as “rabbit starvation.” Apparently, after eating enormous quantities of very lean meat, they would become nauseated and irritable, lose weight, develop diarrhea, and eventually die(4). What a way to go, huh? Have you ever wondered why you eat lobster with lots of melted butter? It’s because lobster is extremely lean (84% of its energy is protein) and could easily cause poisoning if that’s all you ate! So break out that tub of butter! 
Don’t worry, I will be talking about protein and amino acids in much more detail in the future so stay tuned for some good posts coming up!
  1. Antonio J et al. Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press; 2008.
  2. Brazier B. Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life. Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press; 2007.
  3. Campbell B et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2007; 4:8.
  4. Cordain L, Friel J. The Paleo Diet for Athletes. Rodale; 2005. 
(Disclaimer: Like always, this is for your information only. If you are concerned about your health and diet please seek out professional help from your medical provider and/or registered dietitian.)