Tri 101: What Equipment Do You Need?

My beloved tri bike

My beloved tri bike

So, you’ve decided that you want to do a triathlon. Awesome! Be forewarned though… triathlons are addictive. 🙂

The big question now is what do you need to complete your first triathlon. The sport of triathlon does require quite a bit of equipment compared to other sports; after all, triathlon is a sport of three disciplines: swim, bike, and run.

The Swim:

  • Goggles – You’ll want to find a good pair of goggles for swimming. Everyone has their preference for goggles so check out a few pairs and see what works for you. You can get traditional race goggles or a pair with a nose piece. You won’t need big snorkel goggles though!
  • Swim cap – Ladies, when you’re swimming in a pool then you need to wear a swim cap! It’s really gross if you don’t. Imagine if all the women in the pool didn’t wear caps… that’s a lot of hair floating around. On race day you have to wear a cap with a specific color for your swim wave. The race directors will give you your cap in your race packet so you don’t have to buy one.
  • Wetsuit – Some races highly suggest wetsuits because the water is cold. If you’re only doing a pool swim tri than don’t worry about a wetsuit. Wetsuits can actually help you swim faster because you’re more buoyant. If the water temperature is above 84 degrees then wetsuits are illegal for the swim. So keep that in mind as well. Wetsuits are expensive so if you don’t want to shell out a few hundred dollars then you can rent them as well from your local bike/tri shop or online.

The Bike:

  • Bike – Bikes are expensive! If you’re doing your first tri and it’s a local sprint tri, then use whatever bike you may currently have. It could be a hybrid, a mountain bike, or a road bike. If your first triathlon is a half-ironman or Ironman then you’ll need at least a road bike. You can purchase an entry-level road bike for between $700-$900. Or, if you have a ton of money lying around, you can purchase a competition level tri bike for $8,000+! Start with the basics and then invest more money when you get into the sport for the long-haul.
  • Helmet – You MUST wear a helmet during the bike leg of any tri. This is a USAT rule and you will be disqualified if you don’t wear a helmet. Plus, it’s just plain stupid. You can buy a basic helmet for between $30-$40.
  • Bike shoes and clipless pedals – This is optional. Bike shoes and clipless pedals will help you create a more efficient pedal stroke because it allows you to both push and pull. Most people are really nervous when they first get their clipless pedals because it’s not uncommon for people to fall over while trying to unclip. Don’t worry. It happens to everyone. You can always wear your running sneakers too.

The Run:

  • Running shoes – You’ll want a good pair of running-specific shoes. You’ll either wear them during the bike leg or change from bike shoes to your running shoes. You’ll probably want socks as well if you’re prone to blisters.
  • Running shorts – This is for training runs. On race day you’ll probably want to wear tri shorts and tank, but it varies. You’ll want some good workout clothes for training swims, bikes, and runs.

As you can see, you need quite a bit of equipment. This is just the very basics. As you get more into the sport you’ll start to accumulate and/or upgrade to better equipment. I began competing in triathlons in 2010. I competed on an entry-level Cannondale road bike that I purchased for about $900. In 2011, I upgraded to a competition-level road bike that I spent over $3000 for (and drove all the way to the MA/NY border). And finally, in 2012 I purchased my first tri bike and power meter. Yup, triathlons are expensive, but you can start cheap and basic and still kick butt!

Next Topic: Transitions

~ Happy Training!

Tri 101: So You Want To Do A Triathlon?

I get a lot of questions from friends and clients who are thinking about doing a triathlon, but don’t think they can do one. Of course you can! Anyone can do a triathlon!

First, let’s back up and start from the beginning. The sport of triathlon is actually a multisport competition of three consecutive sports: swimming, biking, and running. There are a few variations of the sport though, such as duathlons (run-bike-run), aquabike (swim-bike), and Xterra [swim (sometimes kayak)-mountain bike-trail run].

There are several triathlon race distances:

  • Sprint – 750 meters (~0.5 miles; can vary) swim, 20km (~10 miles; can vary) bike, 5k (3.1 miles) run
  • Olympic – 1.5km (0.93 mile) swim, 40km (25 miles) bike, 10km (6.2 miles) run
  • Half-Ironman or 70.3 – 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
  • Ironman 0r 140.6 – 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run

The first modern-day triathlon event was held in Mission Bay, San Diego, California, on September 25, 1974. The race was sponsored by the San Diego Track Club and had 46 participants. The first modern-day long course event, later named Ironman, was the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon. The idea of the Ironman was conceived shortly after the 1977 Oahu Perimeter Relay race with many participants from the Mid-Pacific Road Runners and Waikiki Swim Club, whose members would often debate if swimmers or runners were the most “fittest” athletes. US Navy Commander would sometimes argue that cyclists were the fittest because recently Sports Illustrated declared Belgian cyclist, Eddy Merckx, had the highest maximum oxygen uptake. Collins, who participated with his wife in several of the Mission Bay triathlons in San Diego, suggested they settle the fittest athlete debate through a race combining three exisiting long-distance competitions: the Waikiki Roughwater 2.4 mile swim, the Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 miles), and the Honolulu Marathon (26.2 miles).

On February 18, 1978 fifteen men started the first Ironman race and only 12 men finished. Gordon Haller became the first Ironman by finishing the race in 11 hours, 46 minutes, and 58 seconds. The first woman competed in 1979. Ironman and the sport of triathlon really became big after Julie Moss crawled across the 1982 finish line on national television to take 2nd place.

Triathlon debuted in the 2000 Olympics at the Sydney Games. Simon Whitefield of Canada and Brigitte McMahon of Switzerland were the first man and woman to win a gold medal in the sport of triathlon. Paratriathlon will debut at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The sport of triathlon has boomed in recent years and will continue to grow in future years. Just this past fall, triathlon became an official NCAA sport for women!

Next post: Equipment

~ Happy Training!

Weekly Training Recap: Feb. 24 – March 2

Now that my training has begun to pick up in both volume and intensity as my race season gets closer, I’ve decided to do a weekly recap of my training. As I have mentioned a few times before, I made the decision this year to coach myself for two main reasons: a) to save money, and b) to try new training techniques and workouts on myself before having my athletes utilize them in their own training plans. I get several questions a week on what I do during my workouts so this will act as a platform to share some of my favorite workouts.

This past week was a rest week and thus my training hours were lower than normal.

Monday – 2/24

Monday was a 45 minute recovery spin and 15 minutes of hip/core focused exercises. Because of my chronic hip issues I have made it a priority to complete core/hip focused exercises several times a week to hopefully prevent any relapses of my IT-band/knee issues that plagued me last year during Ironman training.

Tuesday – 2/25

Tuesday was a 4 mile run during lunch and I taught my spin & core class at Zone 3 Fitness. My run was initially supposed to be an easy 35-minute run, but I felt good and just wanted to keep running. Thus, my run turned into a 4-mile negative split run. I completed my first sub-10 min/mile since pre-hip injury Fall running! I’ve been very frustrated lately with my running fitness, or lack thereof, but I know with more time on the pavement my fitness and speed will return. It has already begun too, just slowly.

Wednesday – 2/26

On Wednesday I completed my dreaded FTP test. Yuck! However, the results weren’t half bad. I first conducted a FTP in 2012 during Sustainable Athlete’s Friday Night Fights, a series of computrainer races. I was on my road bike at the time and averaged about 180-185watts, which my coach used as my FTP for the 2012 season. We never retested during the season, but I know my threshold increased towards August because I was able to hold a higher HIM race pace than earlier in the season. Last year I conducted my FTP on my tri bike on my trainer in my living room. I had taken the entire previous Fall off with plantar fasciitis and thus had a horrible FTP number. I clocked in at a measly 143watts. Of course, training for an Ironman didn’t help with increasing my FTP over my race season. This year I clocked in at 163watts. It’s still not good, but an improvement over this year. I think if I had done a computrainer race this year, I probably would have checked in at a higher FTP, but I’m going to use this value as my starting point. I’m just happy that I am trending in the right direction – up!

The Y Pool

The Y Pool

Thursday – 2/27

Thursday was a 3000 yard swim at the YMCA. February was a good month for swimming and my swimming volume is picking up in the coming weeks. I swam once in November since my Ironman in July and that swim was a complete disaster. I really thought I was going to drown at the time. However, my return to swimming this past month has been nothing but awesome. The workout was focused on muscular endurance and I exceed my t-pace by close to 10seconds. I’ve also finally decided to flipturn my swim workouts. More on that in my monthly recap…

Muscle Endurance Swim Workout:

W/U: 100sw, 300 (100K, 100drill, 100sw), 6×50 build (:15RI)

MS: 8×100 @ T-pace (:15RI)

300 pull

4×100 @ T-pace (:10RI)

300 pull

4×100 @ T-pace (:15RI)

C/D: 100

Friday – 2/28

Friday was an easy 3.5 mile run during lunch and an after-work hot yoga class. My average run pace is slowly returning back towards my normal long run pace, but my heart rate continues to be slightly higher than normal, i.e. fitness isn’t quite there yet. I haven’t been to yoga in a few weeks and this class was just want I needed. A perfect balance of twisting and hip openers.

Saturday – 3/1

On Saturday I taught another spin class at Zone 3 Fitness. I was supposed to hit up the pool for my second swim of the week but due to running errands I missed the open lap swim times. I have since printed off the pool schedule to carry around in my purse for future reference.

Zone 3 Fitness circuit training area

Zone 3 Fitness circuit training area

Sunday – 3/2

Sunday was a relaxing rest day.

The first two weeks of my March training plan begins the pickup of more volume, especially with running. I was originally planning on running the Race the Runways Half-marathon in April, but I think I’m going to skip it this year and continue to work on building my base. My first registered race is the PolarBear Sprint Tri in early May.

Hours Completed

Total: 7:07

Swim: 1:00

Bike: 3:19

Run: 1:21

Strength/Core/Yoga: 1:35

~ Happy Training!

A Year in Review: 2013 – Part II

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Yesterday I reviewed 2013 by month in photos. If you missed it then check it out HERE. I recently reviewed my Year in Review posts from 2012 (here and here) and have realized that I have come a long way personally and professionally. 2012 was a good and rough year for me. In reality, the past couple of years have really been BIG growing years for me as a person.

I’ve always felt that I aged a decade or two after losing my mom at 22. Losing your mother at a young age can definitely do that to a person. I learned quickly to enjoy the moments with your loved ones and live life to the fullest because you never know how long you may have left on Earth. I know it sounds super cliché and I honestly hate clichés, but it is true.

2012 gave me an incredible triathlon and athletic achievement year, but personally it was not such a good year. I learned important lessons about myself as a person, which allowed me to grow further as a person in 2013. I finished my master’s degree in December 2012, which was huge accomplishment that I had worked for 2.5 years to complete while working fulltime. Finishing my degree also meant looking for a job in 2013; a process that was ultimately very stressful and difficult because the economy and public health job market was not yet recovered.

First, I’ll begin with a review of my 2013 goals:

1. Become an Ironman! Check!

2. Learn to piss on my bicycle! Nope, still failed! 2014 maybe?

3. Increase my bike fitness and finally achieve the perfect VI so I can get an A from my coach! Epic fail here! I did well on the VI aspect in that I learned to pace myself well at long-course events. I rode strongly at IMLP. However, my bike fitness and functional threshold power suffered greatly due to my 2012 fall running (and subsequent bike) hiatus from injury. It was my own fault in that I let my aerobic fitness suffer over the fall months. Training for an Ironman also did not help my case in improving my FTP on the bike.

4. Focus on doing at least 10-15 minutes a day dedicated to mobility, soft tissue work, and core strength. Kinda. I would do well with this for a stretch and then would fail miserably for a while. I certainly did much better with this after my IT-band/knee issues began in April and lasted throughout my Ironman training.

5. Continue learning and seeking out knowledge and advice from the leading health and fitness professionals so I can continue helping my clients and athletes reach their health and athletic goals. I definitely met and surpassed this goal. I am constantly reading and researching exercise physiology and training techniques.

6. Continue working on achieving a healthy body composition through proper nutrition and training. Yes and no. I never got down to race weight this year and I believe it was because I did not train well in the proper HR zones at the beginning on the season. Also, I did not starve myself like previous years and thus that is a small victory in itself. My 2013 aerobic fitness was not the same as my 2012 aerobic fitness. I learned a lot of lessons because of this.

Now, for a greater, more philosophical review of my year:

Athletic/Triathlon – Overall, I am disappointed with my 2013 season. I had such a solid 2012 that I was hoping it would continue into 2013. I met my main goal and that was to complete my first Ironman. However, I do find this year a blessing in disguise. I find that I am the type of person that learns best from her mistakes. I made a lot of mistakes this year and I have learned what not to do in the future for myself personally and the athletes/clients that I coach. I would often have to tell my clients to do what I say and not what I do. That’s truly a bad business motto and thus I will focus on not making stupid decisions and mistakes in 2014. Athletically I suffered a lot in the beginning months of base training because I was super stressed from my work situation, working three jobs, and being sick for several weeks on end. That was critical time I needed to build my aerobic base in running, cycling, and swimming. I did the best that I could, but in retrospect, it was not enough. In April I began to have IT-band/knee issues, due to my chronic right hip issues. I was devastated with the diagnosis and I worried that I would not be able to toe the start line at IMLP. I had several people tell me not to do it. Umm… would you not do an Ironman after you stood in line for 3+ hours and paid $700 the year before to do it? I realized that many people thought that I was crazy to attempt such an event and I found myself having to defend my sport and desire to compete long-course events. Despite my reluctance to give up on my dream of becoming an Ironman in 2013, I knew that if my injury was not going to heal then I would have accepted the DNS. I’m not that stupid.

Health – I was under constant stress at work for a large majority of the year, which took a huge toll on my health both physically and mentally. I never really talked about the situation at my old job and I still am not going to because it’s in the past, but I was put into a really shitty situation and I just wasn’t able to deal with the stress of it well. My immune system took a major hit, which lead to a major cold that turned into a sinus infection and then later developed into a fever of 102. Being constantly sick and stressed led to my poor aerobic fitness in the early season that I was just never able to regain and build later in the season. Because I had a bad aerobic base, and the fact that I did not prioritize strength training enough in the early base phase, I developed painful IT-band/knee issues that succeeded to plague me throughout my Ironman training and made me re-evaluate my goals for IMLP. A lot of the stress and injury prevention could have been prevented from the start. It was my own fault and I own up to it. However, when I returned to running again in the later summer/early fall I developed some serious right hip issues. Working with my brilliant chiropractor I think we finally nailed down what is wrong with my hips and why I continuously get chronic overuse injuries. Going into 2014 I feel confident that I have all the knowledge and tools I need to “fix” my hip issues and hopefully prevent any serious injuries and lingering issues in 2014.

Professional – I finished my MPH degree in December 2012 and began my “big girl” job search. As I have mentioned above, I was put into a shitty situation at my job and dealt with a lot of stress from that. I was also working part-time at a gym training clients. I loved that job, but quickly realized that I did not enjoy working in the traditional gym environment. I left my gym job in July to pursue my interest in starting my own endurance sport coaching and personal training business, and thus Big Sky Multisport Coaching and Personal Training was born. I interviewed for my “dream job” in June, but was second choice due to my lack of supervisor experience. I was genuinely heartbroken, but I realized that I was going to have to work harder to find my next job. At this point I began to realize where and what I really wanted to do as a career. I really enjoyed personal training and nutrition, but I knew that it was not my future career. I love doing it on the side as my passion. Through a lot of reading, researching, and evaluating my personality and passions, I discovered that my true career goals lie in international development and health care systems. I was lucky in August to find a few job advertisements in the state of Maine that were related to health care systems and health care reform. I quickly applied for the jobs and had several interviews. Once again I was second choice for a few of them, which left me disappointed. But, at the end of the day I was offered a fabulous job at a non-profit that I have come to love quickly. The job environment is about 1000 times less stressful and I am really enjoying the work that I am doing. It is the perfect “first career” job and I look forward to working here for a few years before heading back to school for my PhD. It was a long bumpy ride professionally in 2013, but at the end of the day, everything worked out for the better. The bumps in the road made me a stronger person today.

Personal – I have evolved and grown immensely as a human being this year. My graduate education has led me down a road that I never predicted and I have researched and discovered new views on life and the world. I’ve always loved travelling and experiencing new cultures, but I was unable to do so this past year. Thus, 2014 has some big travel plans! As I grew as a person, I became more aware of the crowds of people I associate with in the past and present. I have some amazing friends. Some I see often, while others not as much. I’ve come to realize that some people in my life are toxic and I need to let go of them, while I need more contact with the good people. I accepted the mistakes I have made in past friendships and I hope not to repeat them in the future. I realized that I’d rather have a few good friends that I can count on then a bunch of friends that will be available only at certain times. I have branched out and formed new friendships that will hopefully last for a lifetime. I have discovered my strengths and my weaknesses and work towards accepting the things I can change about myself and the ones that I cannot. I have learned to speak my opinions despite what others may think. I have learned to accept the negative things that happen and find the lesson and the good in each to grow as a human being. I have learned to live a life of love, happiness and passion for oneself and others.

2013 was a growing year and I have accepted the mistakes I have made and only hope to grow further as human being. Bring on 2014!

New-Year-Wishes-Quotes-2

~ Happy Training!

A Year in Review: 2013 – Part I

Since today is the last day of 2013 I should probably start my Year in Review posts. Hmm… I’ll keep this one to more of the highlights and photos. But, 2013 was a good year. It started off a bit rough, but ended with many good things happening. I can’t complain.

January

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January was a month of ups and downs. I just finished my MPH degree in December and began my job search. Some decisions made by my boss at work made me extremely stressed since I wasn’t sure I was going to have a job. This caused me become sick often, which hindered a lot of my tri training, which began on the 1st of the year. Things at the gym were also unusually slow so professionally and financially I was stressed. However, I got my degree in the mail so it made things more real!

February

Picking the pace up!

Picking the pace up!

I ran the annual Mid-Winter Classic 10-Miler again. It went way better than my disaster of 2012 race where I ran sick and came really close to DNFing. However, I still treated the day more of a training run than anything because I was learning I lost all my running aerobic fitness over my Fall running hiatus due to plantar fasciitis. I also learned important lessons in time management. Working three jobs and training for an Ironman is not fun or easy to do.

March

My mother, my sister and I (1989)

My mother, my sister and I (1989)

Azul and I celebrated our One Year anniversary. I love that bike! I also celebrated the 4 year anniversary of my mother passing, which is never easy to do. I miss her everyday.

April

Done!

Done!

I started April off with a bang! I ran the Race the Runways Half-Marathon again, this time as a training run. It was insanely cold and windy, but I had great company throughout the race. The next day I developed a 102 fever and was out for a couple of days. Go figure! Towards the end of the month I began to develop a bit of a twinge in my right knee. I also went to the USAT Level One Coaching clinic and became a certified coach!

May

Tammy, Myself, Marisa, and Beth - all taking home hardware after a great race!

Tammy, Myself, Marisa, and Beth – all taking home hardware after a great race!

That twinge in my right knee developed into full-fledge IT-Band issues that plagued me for the rest of the summer. I managed to race the PolarBear Tri… barely. Miraculously, I placed 3rd in my age group.

June

Okay, not from my rides this week... but from the Patriot Hald Aquabike

Patriot Half Aquabike

My run training was extremely limited. I saw my chiropractor at least once a week to help heal my IT-Band issues. I dropped down from the Half-Ironman to the Half Aqua Bike at the Patriot Half. I had a good day, pacing myself like I would at Lake Placid. However, I almost ran over both turkeys and geese on the bike.

 July

IMLPfinishline

I became an Ironman! I celebrated yet another epic 4th of July with my favorite family and began my final build to the big day. My Ironman day went as planned. My knee held out to mile 18ish of the run before I was forced to walk the rest of the way, but I finished my goal, and that was to become an Ironman.

August

Enjoying a day at the beach

Enjoying a day at the beach

August was a recovery month. I spent a lot of time with friends and family. Towards the end of the month I began running again slowly just to rebuild my horrible running fitness. I had several promising job interviews. I also left my job at the gym I was working at to go off on my own to start my own business.

September

An example of pubis symphysis seperation - clearly an extreme case (Source)

An example of pubis symphysis separation – clearly an extreme case (Source)

I finally got offered a job! A great deal of stress was lifted off of me. I continued running easily until my pelvis decided to twist itself again. Awesome. I then began another running hiatus and began my yoga addiction.

October

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Hot Yoga Time!

I became addicted to hot yoga and it was fabulous. I saw my chiropractor at least once a week to convince my pelvis not to split into two. I was happy as a clam at my new job and I joined the Junior League of Portland, Maine.

November

One of my favorite quotes of the year!

One of my favorite quotes of the year!

I continued with my yoga binge, loving every minute of it. I was slowly cleared to return to “normal” training. I mostly rode my bike, but ran a few times. It hurt.

December

Skiing at Shawnee Peak

Skiing at Shawnee Peak

I skied for the first time since my mother died almost five years ago with a friend. More to come of this in the next week or so. I’ve slowly been building my aerobic base again, mostly through cycling.

~ Happy Training and Happy 2014!!

How to Find a Triathlon Coach

So, you’re thinking about hiring a coach to help you reach your endurance sport goals. But, where do you start? Finding and hiring a coach can be a difficult or easy process depending on who you know and what you need and want in a coach. I like to think that searching for the right coach for you is like dating. There are a lot of good coaches out there, but you need to find the one that works for you. Below is a guide to help you along your journey to finding the right coach for you.

  1. Determine your goals – Do you want to race an Ironman or a sprint tri? Do you need swim-focused training? Are you trying to qualify for Kona or the USA team? Figuring out your short-term and long-term athletic goals is important in identifying the right coach for you. Plus, every coach will ask you what your goals are so it’s best to be prepared anyway. Some coaches specialize in long-course athletes, while others work with short-course athletes. Some love working with beginner athletes and developing their potential from the start, while others prefer to work with athletes that are a bit more experienced. Some coaches have strong backgrounds in one particular sport and thus maybe you need their expertise in that one sport to turn your weakness into your strength. Determining your goals not only helps you figure out what you need and want in a coach, but will help your future coach determine your training plan.
  2. Determine location and communication needs – Do you need to work with a coach in-person? Or can you work with a “virtual” coach through TrainingPeaks and email? Working with a coach in-person is probably relatively rare in the triathlon world, but it can definitely happen depending where you live and what the availability and what services are offered by the coach. This option is most likely more expensive than a “virtual” coach. A large majority of coaches use training software, such as TrainingPeaks, to deliver training plans to their athletes. It allows athletes to upload their training technology devices and provide feedback on each training session to the coach. At this point it is important to consider what level of communication you need from your coach. Are you the type of person that needs to talk to your coach on a daily basis? Do you want access to your coach via email, phone, text, smoke signal, etc.? Every coach will let you know how much access you will be able to have from them. It is important to remember that each coach has a life too and may not be at your becking call 24/7.
  3. Determine the type of personality you can work with best – This is the part that I equate with dating. You need to find a coach that you get along with well. At this point I would suggest creating a pros and cons list of traits that you want and need in a coach. Are you the type of person that needs to be praised after every workout? Do need extra guidance for certain workouts? Do you prefer a coach that will tell you like it is even if it’s bad? Every coach has a unique personality. You might find that you want the same coach your friend is using because of his or hers reputation, but then you may realize you two don’t get along well. Once you figure out your pros and cons list, go through and star the traits that you need in a coach. The rest are the wants that you can live without if you have to, but still try and find someone that meets at least some of those traits. Reach out and have a conversation with a few coaches and see how well you hit it off with each of them. Remember that most coaches will want to keep your relationship professional. There are a few coaches that do become friends with their clients, so keep this in the back of your head when looking for a coach.
  4. Determine cost and affordability – Cost is probably the biggest factor in people choosing to hire a coach or not. Personally, I believe it’s the best investment I have made in my triathlon career. I first hired a coach in 2012 and it was by far the best decision I made because she truly formed me into the athlete I am today and also inspired me to become a coach myself to give back to other athletes looking to reach the next level in their triathlon careers. Determine what you can afford each month for a coach and then search around for coaches that are within your budget. Most coaches are in the range of $150-250 a month depending on their education and athletic and coaching background. It doesn’t hurt to ask a coach too if perhaps you could work out a deal if they are really out of your price range. However, they may not agree so don’t get your hopes up too much.

Now that you have determined what you need and want in a coach, where do you find a coach? A great way is through word-of-mouth. Ask your tri buddies who they use and what they like and dislike about their coach. And, as a reminder, just because your bestie loves their coach, doesn’t mean their coach is the best fit for you. Also you can use the coach finder tool through TrainingPeaks or google triathlon coaches to find other coaches.

Here are some other thoughts that you should consider:

  • Does education matter to you? Most coaches are USAT certified coaches. There are varying levels ranging from Level I (entry level) to Level III. A coach that is USAT certified must pass a test to be certified after attending a two-day seminar and complete CEU courses to remain certified. They also have coaching insurance. Some coaches may have additional certifications in cycling, swimming, personal training, etc. Few coaches also may have degrees in exercise science. Chances are the more educated the coach, the more expensive they will be.
  • Is your coach a top competitive athlete? Many people seem to pick their coach based on the coach’s athletic achievements. Oh, they qualified for Kona? They must be a rockstar coach! Just because your coach is a rockstar athlete does not mean they are a rockstar coach. Chances are they have their own coach that has helped them reach their achievements. Is it important that your coach be active in racing? Are they racing at a high level? If they are, they may not have a lot of time to devote to you and your training needs. Of course, you probably do want a coach that has or is currently competing in the sport (I know I would). There are numerous awesome coaches out there that may not be competing at the upper levels of the sport that are amazing coaches. Look at Chrissie Wellington’s old coach, Brett Sutton. Sutton was not a strong swimmer, but was an amazing coach (he coached the 2000 Australian Olympic swim team with a great deal of controversy though) and has coached many world champion triathletes. (Side note: Sutton is a controversial coach, but he does know how to produce champions)
  • What is their roster size? Some coaches run their businesses as their full-time gig, others do it part-time. What is their athlete roster size? Do they coach 5 athletes or do they coach 25 athletes? How much time will they devote to you? Is this important to you? This question ties in with some of the other factors mentioned above, such as communication needs.
  • Do you want extra benefits like a tri kit and/or clothing? Some coaches have “race teams” and thus have tri kits for their athletes. Do you want to wear a tri kit from your coach? Some people want to feel like they are part of a team and want to represent their coach’s brand. There is nothing wrong with this because I have seen some pretty sweet team kits out there, but is this important to you? Do you want extra benefits?

Don’t be afraid to approach perspective coaches to pick their brains to determine if they are right for you. Most athletes tend to work with a coach for about two years and then will switch to a different coach to try something new. Coaching may be an expensive investment, but I find it has the best return on investment in helping you reach your goals!

Now, for a shameless plug for myself, since I can, I am still accepting athletes for 2014 so contact me above through the “contact me” tab and we can see if we are a good fit for each other.

~ Happy Training!

2013 Triathlete Gift Giving Guide

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Perhaps you’re a last minute shopper like me? Yes, I generally wait until December 24th to do my holiday shopping. Nothing like a little procrastination, right? I think grad school taught me that…

Triathletes are usually pretty easy to shop for since we typically like the latest and greatest technology that will make us fitter, stronger, and faster. Many triathletes have no problem shelling out $10,000 for the top of the line tri bike. I wish I had that problem…

However, sometimes it may be hard to shop for a triathlete because we tend to buy the newest technology as it comes out. If a triathlete has been in the sport for several years they may also have just about all the core equipment and some of the bells and whistles already, so what do you buy them?

Here is a list of items of various price tags to meet anyone’s budget and the needs of the triathlete in your life:

  1. Coaching – Perhaps your triathlete already has a coach or is thinking about hiring a coach in the New Year to help them meet their triathlon goals. Hint, hint – I’m still accepting athletes for 2014! Coaching is a great investment that any triathlete will see huge rewards from. Consider paying their coaching fees for a month or two or even the whole year!
  2. Race Entry Fee – Race entries can be expensive for any triathlete, especially if they are racing multiple events in a season. Ironman races can cost up to $700, while even the smaller local races can still cost about $100. Paying a race entry fee for your athlete will sure make them happier and more driven to do well in that race, just for you of course!
  3. Gift Certificate for a Bike Tune-up – Regular bike cleaning and tune ups are part of every bike owner’s yearly maintenance. Unfortunately, many of us tend to skip these very important things in favor of buying gear. A bike tune up several weeks before a big race can ensure that the triathlete’s bike is in working order and can make them faster! Who doesn’t love free speed!?
  4. New Tires – Bike tires are like car tires – they need to be changed when they become too worn out. If you live in an area where in snows a lot then chances are the triathlete in your life has to spend countless hours on the trainer riding to nowhere. Some triathletes buy special trainer tires (which are a great holiday gift idea too!) or just use their regular tire, which will be completely worn by the beginning of spring. They would love a new set of tires for race season! Make sure you check their current tires on their bike to ensure you buy the correct ones.
  5. Swim Pass or Swim Lessons – Little known fact… swimming is expensive! Living in Maine, I personally don’t have a lot of options for indoor swimming pools. I would estimate that we have about 15 pools across the entire state. For those of you living in Boston or New York, you probably have 15 pools in one block! Lap swimming adds up quickly! Most pools in the Greater Portland area average $3-$5 a pop and if you swim 3 times a week that’s about $60 a month! Consider buying your triathlete a swim pass at their local swimming hole and/or swimming lessons. Even the most advanced swimmers can gain something from a swim coach.
  6. Gift Certificate to a Running Store – Support your local running store by getting your triathlete a gift certificate! That way your athlete can pick out their favorite running shoes, winter running clothes, or even stock up on sports nutrition. Win, win for everyone!
  7. Race Wheels – Every triathlete dreams of having fancy race wheels, myself included! Race wheels are expensive, hence why I don’t have any. If you don’t have $2000 to purchase your favorite triathlete some new wheels then consider paying their race wheel rental fee at their big race this season. TriBike Transport, Rev3, and many bike shops offer race wheel rentals on the big day for a fraction of the cost of purchasing a set.
  8. Body Glide – Every triathlete needs some Body Glide! It’s a tough job squeezing into your wetsuit on race day. Body Glide makes the perfect stocking stuffer!
  9. IronWar – Matt Fitzgerald’s book on the 1989 Ironman World Championships tells the grueling story of the battle between the world’s two best athletes – Mark Allen and Dave Scott. This book is an epic page-turner and your favorite triathlete won’t want to put it down until it’s done!
  10. Massage – Triathletes often spend too much money on buying the best gear and technology and not enough on the stuff that matters the most – proper recovery! Massage is a great and proven effective recovery tool. Consider buying your triathlete a gift certificate to their favorite sports massage therapist. Your triathlete will thank you later!

~ Happy Training & Happy Holidays!  

Year in Triathlon – 2013

I always enjoy writing yearly recaps. It think it’s fun to look back and see what I have or have not accomplished over the year. I plan to do a longer and more involved post next week about my year, since some pretty big life events occurred. In the meantime, here is a fun running/triathlon related year review questionnaire from Miss Zippy.

Best race experience?

IMLPfinishline

Hands down, it was Ironman Lake Placid. Even though my race day expectations weren’t quite as I imagined at the beginning of 2013 (thank you IT Band/knee!), I went into the day with the goal of just finishing and enjoying the day. You can catch up on my race reports and reflections here:

IMLP Race Report I

IMLP Race Report II

Ironman Lake Placid: The Why, The Data, and The Photo I Carried

Lesson from Yoga: Just Breathe…

Best run?

This one is hard to pick since I wasn’t able to run a lot due to my IT Band problems all year. The one I remember the most was the 3 mile run of the PolarBear Tri in May. My IT Band/knee went right before the race so I honestly went into the race expecting to DNF. I hobbled out on T2 with intense pain in my right knee, but somehow managed to ignore the pain and run through it to finish 3rd in my age group. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have run and just taken the DNF, but my ego got the best of me.

Race Report: PolarBear Tri

My best runs probably occurred the end of August into September where I was finally able to resume running relatively pain-free. I just focused on slow, steady HR-based runs to regain my aerobic fitness, then my hip decided to revolt and I was laid up with hip issues again. Overall, not the year for running for me!

Best Bike?

Okay, not from my rides this week... but from the Patriot Hald Aquabike

Patriot Half Aquabike

Hmmm… once again, none really stand out to me this year. I did log a lot of miles on my bike this year. There was one 3+ hour ride the first weekend of June, where it was 90+ degrees, and I succeed to get a nasty sunburn on my back. Ouch! The bike leg of the Patriot Half AquaBike was a fun course and I really nailed my race plan for IMLP. I also got attacked by turkeys and geese in the middle of the road!

Race Report: Patriot Half AquaBike

I rode to New Hampshire one day for an 90+ mile ride. It’s always fun to say that I rode to another state. My first 100+ mile training ride was another decent ride. I rode from my house in Gorham up the coast to Bath and back. I think I went through at least 7-8 water bottles that day.

Oh yea, I rode my bike 109 miles on Sunday...

Oh yea, I rode my bike 109 miles on Sunday…

Best swim?

I think my IMLP swim was my best swim of the year. I swam conservatively and outside the cable line in attempt to not get punched and/or swam over. It caused me to swim a little extra distance, but I met my goals and was comfortable the entire time. Plus, I got to swim with my closet 3000 friends! 🙂

Excited to swim in Sebago Lake

Excited to swim in Sebago Lake

Best new piece of gear?

My Garmin 910XT! I still suck at using it during races. Hello 112 mile T1! Ha! But, in all seriousness, I really love it, especially the swim function.

Happy birthday to me!

Happy birthday to me!

Best piece of running advice you received?

The best piece of advice I received this year was just prior to IMLP when a friend told me to enjoy the moment. You only get one first Ironman and it worth it to step back and suck the moment in. I wrote about that experience HERE.

Most inspirational runner?

I read Kilian Jornet’s book this year and he is a remarkable runner and adventurer. You can read my book review here on Run or Die. I am also a big fan of Lauren Fleshmen. Not only is she a superfast runner, a new mom, wife to pro triathlete Jesse Thomas, but she wrote this awesome piece on bodyweight perception and the media in her piece called Keeping it Real.

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

Accomplishing, challenging, and thought-provoking

How was your 2013? Did you meet all your goals? What was the most memorable moment for you?

~ Happy Training!

My 2014 Race Schedule

 

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

I’m a member of Team Water.org (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.

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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

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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.

Source

Source

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!   

 

References

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.