2013 Triathlete Gift Giving Guide


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!  

Book Review: The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery


Last month I read the book The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery by Sage Rountree. The book is all about recovery methods for athletes, primarily endurance-based athletes. Rountree is an experience yoga teacher and is also a certified USA Triathlon and Road Runners Club of America coach. She teaches regular yoga classes popular among athletes of all levels and is a frequent contributor to many publications, including Runner’s World, Yoga Journal, and USA Triathlon Life.

The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery is described on the back of the book as:

“The Athlete’s Gudie to Recovery is the first comprehensive, practical exploration of the art and science of athletic rest. Certified cycling, triathlon, and running coach Sage Rountree guides you to full recovery and improved performance, exploring how much rest athletes need, how to measure fatigue, and how to make the best use of recovery tools.

Drawing on her own experience along with interviews with coaches, trainers, and elite athletes, Rountree details daily recovery techniques and demystifies common aids such as ice baths, compression apparel, and supplements. She explains in detail how to employ restorative practices, including massage, meditation, and yoga. You will learn which methods work best and how and when they are most effective.”

I enjoyed the book, but I wished that it included a bit more scienitific study results. Of course as a biochemist by training I rely on peer-reviewed studies for my knowldge; however, Rountree wrote the book for a more general population so I understand why she did not bring a lot of studies into the book.

The first part of the book dicusses why recovery is an important part of the training cycle and ways to qualitatively and quantitatively to measure it during your training cycles. One of my favorite quotes from the book is “recovery is where the gains of your training actually occur, and valuing your recovery is the key to both short-term and long-term success, no matter what your sport” (page 4). Last year I really learned the importance of recovery during my training cycles. I have always been in the mindset that no pain, no gain or go hard all the time for the biggest improvements in my performance. However, I learned that is completely the wrong mindset to have. When working with my athletes and clients I always make sure to stress the importance of recovery. For the longest time I was under the impression that during workouts is when your body gets stronger and faster, but in reality it is AFTERWARDS during periods of recovery that your body repairs itself to make it stronger and faster. Rountree stresses this in the first part of her book. She states that “it’s the balance between the work and the rest that keeps us healthy and strong” (page 5). Rountree discusses the physiogologic adaptaion process well in laymans terms for those of us that may not be a super science nerd like myself. She also breaks down the perodization training cycle in words and figures for the reader to help them understand the concept easily and how recovery fits into each part of the cycle. One point she makes in the first chapter is that “your successful approach to recovery will depend on two traits: patience and faith” (page 13). I found this to be a strong point. Lord knows that I am one of the most impatient people. When I want something I want it now. I know as an athlete that I need to take the time and put the work in and I will see results. I will not become a top of the podium athlete overnight. I may never become one, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t put the work in and have a little faith that if I am patient that it will happen. You have to be patient with recovery and trust the process. Sometimes we all need a little time off. Certainly my body told me I needed time off this past Fall to heal from my nagging right hip issue and also the plantar fasciitis that results from that damn piriformis. Can I evict my piriformis yet?

Part two of the book dicusses recovery techniques. She discusses 12 techniques, which she breaks down into time, cost, accessibility, and confidence (she calls this “Sage’s Gauge”). Here is my take on each technique:

  • Active Recovery – is exercise at a low intensity. Easy, stand-alone active recovery workouts, such as an easy zone 1 spin or jog/walk, can elevate the heart rate just effort to increase blood flow to muscles to aid in recovery. However, these workouts must be light and easy enough to not tax the muscular and cardiovascular systems, aka 65-mile “recovery” rides are not really recovery rides. Who knew? Active recovery also includes proper cool downs during more intense workouts.
  • Stress Reduction – Let’s face it, we all live in a stressful world. Work, school, family, training, etc. According to Rountree the key to reducing stress is being aware of where it comes from. Okay, so my main source of stress is work. Mainly in the past month not knowing if I still had a job. Now that I know my job is a little more secure now my stress levels has gone down; however, I am prone to getting stressed trying to figure out how to fit work and train clients while completing my training all within 24 hours and then rinse and repeat. Welcome to being an age-group athlete, right?! Rountree suggests learning the ability to say no (definitely a major problem I have. I can be guilt-tripped into just about anything and I will probably regret ever saying that…), making realistic goals and periodically checking in on them, and planning a head.
  • Sleep – YES PLEASE! I think we all know how important good quality sleep is! Rountree suggests that we should sleep until you wake up satisfied without the use of an alarm clock. Naps are also a good idea. All great ideas but a little unrealistic for a majority of us real people working in the real world.
  • Nutrition and Hydration – Drink water and eat real foods. Enough said right? Recovery snacks are important for our bodies.
  • Supplements – These are designed to cover deficiencies in your diet. See above for what is really important in recovery, i.e. real foods and water! However, taking a multivitamin and a fish oil pill can help. Personally, I take a multivitmain to cover my bases incase I don’t have a good eating day and I don’t eat a ton of fish so fish oil pill a day is good for me. Fish oil has been shown to help reduce inflammation. NSAIDS, such as Ibuprofen can actually interfere with the body’s recovery process so it’s best not to swallow an entire bottle (or any at all) after a tough workout.
  • Cold and Heat – Ice bath party anyone? I started to use ice baths this past season after tough long brick workouts. I think they helped some. Mostly I felt like a badass sitting in a tub of cold water and ice cubes drinking my recovery smoothie (okay, sometimes it was a beer. Don’t judge me). Cold can be used to counter inflammation and to numb pain. Ice baths help with this and also to move waste products from the muscle. Some people also use heat. Rountree suggests eating a warm snack while sitting in an ice bath.
  • Home Remedies – Compression gear. I was interested to see what her stance was on the issue because it is currently debated in the scientific literature if compression gear actually works or if it’s more psychological. Either way, I like my compression gear. Rountree suggest based on studies that compression socks are more effective than calf sleeves. She also suggests that compression gear is more beneficial during recovery than while training or racing. That is my opinion also. However, compression gear intrigues me so I plan to look more into the topic.
  • Technological Aids – Got a lot of money? Yeah, me either! Thanks SallieMae! You can buy things like ultrasound and electrostimulation therapy or Normatec MVP boots.
  • Massage – Another, yes please! I think we all know that massages are beneficial to the body.Rountree discusses when massage should be scheduled in your training and racing cycles. During training she said scheduling will much depend on your budget. Once a month is probably fine for most people. Rountree suggests a good massage at least 3 days prior to an event would be good and then a really light quick massage after the race to flush-out muscular waste. A good deeper massage should be scheduled about a week later.
  • Self-Massage – Is your foam roller your best friend? Well, it should be!
  • Restorative Yoga – Restorative yoga is a gentler form of yoga and focuses on releasing tension in the body. Poses are held as long as 10-15 minutes. I’ve done one restorative yoga class. It was tough, but my body did feel good afterwards. Rountree gives pictorial examples of poses that are beneficial to the triathlete.
  • Meditation and Breathing – Similar to restorative yoga. Just taking time out of your day to relax and forget about the stresses of the day. Rountree states that the “goal of meditation is not to stop thinking; it’s to become aware of the thinking and to return to focus without getting swept up in thought” (page 168).

Part three of the book discusses recovery protocols. Rountree gives some ideas of how to string the techniques together along with training. Personally, I think everyone is different and different things work for different people, thus people should pick what works best for them. Overall, I did like the book and thought it was helpful. I personally would have liked to have seen more peer-reviewed studies included in more chapters, but I believe Rountree was targeting a more general population rather than the total trigeek like myself.

Have you read this book? What are your thought? What recovery methods work for you?

~ Happy Training!



Okay, I’m sure you’re all dying to know what the doctor said about my foot…

The X-rays were clean, but I do have some early signs of arthritis in my right ankle. Yipee! I was right about the plantar fasciitis. The pain on top of my foot and around the ankle is most likely due to the fact that I have been limping around for the past week. It makes sense, but I’m not 100% sold on the idea. We’ll see how I feel in a few weeks…

So, I get to wear a very sexy boot to bed at night. I’m sure my teddy bear will love it. I also get to spend $350 on custom orthotics. I don’t really want to go down the orthotics route, but if it makes me run pain-free then I will try it. As of right now, no running. It stinks because that’s really what I wanted to focus on this fall. I registered for the Maine Half a while ago, but will have to miss it. Hopefully, my foot will be better by November and I can run a couple late 5k races. I tried riding my bike on Saturday. My Achilles has been sore so riding didn’t really go well. I’ll take a break from riding for a few weeks until my Achilles is feeling stronger and I can actually have a pull to my pedal stroke.

That leaves me with swimming. Honestly, I was hoping to take a break from swimming. I’ve been a little sick of it lately. However, I’ll probably be jumping back into the pool soon (like maybe tomorrow). I’m going to try a Master’s group and see how I feel about it. It would definitely be good for me because I need to work on my technique again. It’s really gone to shit the past few months with all the open water swims I have been doing instead of pool work. I think it would also be good for me to swim with “real” swimmers so I can push myself to get to that next level (I know I will get my ass handed to me on a silver platter by a bunch of former Seals swimmers) and also learn how to do a real butterfly other than my half-ass pathetic attempt at the fly.

I also plan on lots of strength work. I’ve noticed I’ve gotten a bit weak and flabby in areas I don’t want to be. Now to find a gym…

The doctor paper mached my feet. Awesome!


~ Happy Training!

PS – I’m jealous of anyone who can still run. I don’t like being injured! Boo!