Integrating Training into Vacations

By Coach Cody Elder
USAT L1

Your training is going well, you’ve been nailing your workouts for months and then you realize… I’ve got a family vacation coming up.  Most of the triathlon racing season and training load clustered during prime vacation time with kids off from school and the most flexibility with employers , it’s critical to keep yourself on the training wagon.

Generally, one of two things tends to happen while on vacation:
1) You shut down all training and enjoy the deliciousness that is fried beach food
2) The training consumes your trip and you end up not spending time with the people you took 5 days off to reconnect with and enjoy

For long-term training and relationship management, those are both the worst possible outcomes.  What we as athletes and coaches need to do is find a happy medium. So how do we do that?

If you’re getting away with friends and family to rebuild relationships that may be stressed due to work or training, that is the number one goal. Training immediately should be secondary or tertiary. Plan your training and expectations accordingly. One idea is to build in a light recovery week. Just like with normal recovery weeks, be sure to focus on setting your body up for adapting to the hard work you’ve put in previously.  Avoid taking steps backwards with binge eating sessions and the drinking that so often becomes the center of a vacation. Moderation is the key here.

If you do have the opportunity to get a full week of swim/bike/running in, be sure you plan well in advance. Nobody will fault you for taking a long nap during the day while on vacation, so why not get up early and take care of that long ride/run. Remember, the training is secondary. Building memories and re-establishing relationships is the key to a successful vacation. Try not to stress others in your group out about your 4-hour ride and need to be in compression for these hours of the day; get a full picture of the itinerary and do your best not to disturb it.  Think about your timing for food. Nothing can ruin moods quicker than a “hangry” triathlete.  Be sure to be self sufficient while not isolating.

One important note: Be flexible. If you oversleep and can’t get the bike workout in, keep a positive attitude and chalk it up to “I guess my body needed the rest!”. If the pool you called 2 weeks before to verify would be open is actually closed because the manager called in sick, figure out another way to enjoy the morning. Overall, keep the group in mind and the perspective that you are choosing to take this time with a wonderful group of people. Maximize those seconds and know that you can always catch up on training…

But try to stay away from the triple fried seafood platter! Enjoy and relax!

Mental Game Hurdles

By: Cody Elder
USAT L1 Certified Coach

We all have friends and training partners you know you can beat up the long hills every time you train together. But on race day they have edged you out every time. What’s the difference? What are you doing wrong? What is he/she doing right?

The answer may be the 6 inches between your ears.

Below are my 3 things to evaluate to improve your mental game and get you over the edge.

1. Buy into your training
Find or create a training plan that revolves around a heart rate and/or power strategy and stick with it. Take the time to think about the plan, what it is trying to accomplish and make sure you buy-in. The workouts should be progressive (build upon themselves in intensity, duration or a combination of the two) towards a specific race. Then you need to follow it to the letter.

Use the final result to evaluate the success of the plan. Sticking to the plan can be the hardest things for athletes especially when there are lots of ebbs and flows in motivation and perceived performance. Trust yourself and trust the plan.

2. Trust your race strategy
Based on your plan, you should have a well-outlined strategy for pacing either by heart rate or power for your event. What does well outlined mean? What do you do on hills? Do you have a cap for heart rate or power? Do you have an ideal cadence? What do you do if you feel amazing with 10% left in the race?

For your big race and really any race, decide on this well before you wake up that morning. Audibles in strategy can make or break your race and you want all of your focus on pulling your peak effort out. Again, stick to your plan and evaluate IMMEDIATELY afterwards. Just like with big moments in life, the further away get away from the event, the less intense it is. Evaluate your work and ask if you could have given more and write it down immediately.

3. Overcome the little voices
So you know what to do before the race, during the race and after the race but what about hiccups and possible self-doubt? These are what some call little demons. They start out as quiet voices in your head that progressively get louder; questioning your pacing, wondering if your nutrition was the right choice and my personal favorite “why the hell do I put myself through this.”

Across all distances, you usually see a spike in this negative talk between 65% and 85% of the race distance. I’ve watched hundreds of 20 minute power tests and repeatedly, the toughest time for people is between 13 and 17 minutes. At this point, you’ve got lots of demon noise and the best thing you can do is be your own positive coach.

As cheesy as it sounds, affirm your abilities, plan and desire with “You” statements. For example: “You have perfectly executed the first half of the race and you are going to crush the rest.” This is a technique shown to work again and again in sports psychology. However, this doesn’t start on race day. Begin developing your own “you” coaching so that mentally, you are ready for mental road bumps.

With the countless hours you put into pushing yourself physically, make sure you are building a mental game that prepares you for your optimal race day. Practice your mental game as many times as you can. Race day is not when it magically appears. A successful mental game is accomplished after much planning and practice. So find your ‘You’ statement and get ready to have the best race possible.

Change?

By Dan Arnett
Owner/Head Coach – Endurance Concepts
USAT L2 Certified Coach

Over the last 8 years as a coach, I have learned to anticipate several questions during the first weeks of a new athletes training.  The first month of training is what I call the push-back phase.  This is where the athlete is not comfortable with the training for several reasons.  Usually about 2-3 weeks into the first month, I get the expected question.  It always starts with the same phrase: “This isn’t what I normally do.”

My answer:  “That’s right, it’s not.  That is one of the reasons you hired me.”  Too many athletes hire a coach yet are unwilling to change their current habits or training methods.  Let’s think about this for a moment.  Did you not seek guidance because what you were currently doing was not working or you wanted to improve upon what you were doing?   It’s this simple thought process that is sometimes lost in the forest.

We, as people, do not like change.  We like to discuss change.  We like to say how we are going to change.  But when it comes down to the time to change, it’s the biggest hurdle to jump over.  It takes faith and trust.  There is nothing magical about what your designated coach is proposing.  If they tell you there is, then run!  There is no magical secret to training.  But I digress.  There is simply one test that must be met when you decide to let this chosen person guide your training.  Can they explain why they are doing it?  No results are guaranteed, but the method must be understood and accepted by both parties.

If you are not confident that your coach knows what they are doing, then why are you spending your hard earned money paying them?  Also, if you do not believe in your coach and the change they are proposing why is the coach wasting their time on you?

Change takes time to accomplish.  You are doing yourself and your coach a disservice if you continually change how you are doing something. And it’s worse if you do it and don’t tell them.  Give the program time to work.  I’ve seen several athletes come to me after bouncing from coach to coach or program to program and wondering why nothing has improved.  Simple answer…time.  Some methods take more time than others, but that should be discussed and accepted from the beginning.

Training is ever evolving and the methods used to accomplish adaptations are changing as well.  A good coach evolves with the times and is constantly re-evaluating their methods.  That does not mean following fads.  Proper evolution is evidence based, not Guru based.  Simply put: Every ‘trend’ is not a new coaching method.  Evidence-based coaching means taking your observations in coaching and combining them with research in the field and coming to your own conclusion and implementing that.  It does not mean regurgitating what everyone else says blindly.  That’s what I call lazy coaching and unfortunately all too common in today’s “anyone can coach” environment.

In the end, ask the question WHY and listen to the explanation.  Coaching is a two-way street built on trust, feedback and competency.  Listen with an open mind, not with the typical “well that’s not what this coach, that coach, Tri magazine, etc” says.  If you don’t truly feel that the type of change your coach is proposing is for you, then continue to interview coaches.  But don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because it’s not what you were doing before it won’t work.  Because what you were doing wasn’t working…remember?

Why I have a Coach

 By Kelly Rothwell

I get a lot of curious questions about why I have a coach.  For people who have never had a coach, it seems like an extravagance.  To others it seems almost like cheating the system, and to others like I’m less of an athlete because I use one.  For me, having a coach is kind of a luxury.  A luxury, now after a year of having one, that I will gladly work hard to keep.

Having a coach has changed my life as far as training and racing go.  I enjoy training so much more now with a coach.  Following a 16 week training plan is so boring for me.  After about 10 weeks, I’m just tired of it.  I don’t want to do it and I lose enjoyment in the training.  I have not had that problem since being trained by Endurance Concepts.  They have hundreds of workouts available to them. My coach, recognizing that I like change, often switches them up for me.

The other awesome thing about having an Endurance Concepts coach is that they specifically cater your training plan to your life.  I am a busy working mom who has to juggle a lot of things.  My coach understands that about me, and as long as I let him know in advance what my restrictions are, he will rearrange my training schedule to accommodate for that.  A set training plan doesn’t do that for you, and in the past I would have been apt to just skip workouts that didn’t work with my calendar.

Having a coach has kept me from being stupid.  Really stupid.  I’m quite apt to.  I push too hard, too soon, too fast.  I don’t often listen to my body and I keep on when I should be scaling back.  It’s quite funny how much a coach can tell by our heart rate straps, pace, and comments.  My coach scales me back when I need to be reined in.   A good coach also knows when to push his/her athletes too.

Having a coach keeps you accountable.  I never thought I needed accountability in training because I mostly followed the training plans well, but I’m discovering that I do.  There is something about having one more person that is expecting you to finish that workout that gets you out there.  I really hate having to put in missed workouts when they do happen.  My coach reminds me that even on days that I don’t want to do a workout, that I should at least go try to do some of it.  That is enough to get me out the door and inevitably I end up doing it all.

If you haven’t tried working with a coach yet, I would highly recommend it.  In the year that I’ve been coached by Endurance Concepts, I have made vast improvements in my abilities.  I’ve achieved goals that I never dreamed I could have.  With good communication with your coach and execution of their plans, you will too.

You are responsible for 98% of your safety

By Daniel Arnett, USAT L2 Coach

Lately the fitness community has been abuzz about a few random attacks that have occurred.  Immediately the focus has been directed on what women can do once attacked.  This is an incomplete view of the situation and if we don’t take a complete look, it will be detrimental to us all.  This is not only a female problem; it’s a fitness community problem that should be appropriately addressed.

Unfortunately most men “feel safe” in general, but everyone needs to be just as vigilant.  Men and women are equally in danger.  Keep in mind that a 200lb male not paying attention makes a better target than a 110lb female that is vigilant.

These attacks were not committed in some desolate area in the wee hours of the night, but rather on heavily traveled paths during peak times.  It should also be noted that these random acts represent an extremely small percentage.  But that is not to insinuate that they should not be taken seriously.  Safety is not only a female issue; it’s a fitness community issue as a whole.

Before the point of actually being physically attacked, both men and women are equal in the potential victim category.  It’s the choices we make that allow us to be placed into the small % that become victims.  Don’t place yourself at undue risk, make good choices and be a responsible fitness community member. We want to see you out there day in and day out.

There are a few simple things that we all should be doing to be smarter and safer.

1) Don’t be a target
– Attackers look for victims that are ‘easy targets’. This does not mean that everyone is a threat, but rather that you should not be oblivious to the world around you.  Simply pay attention.  Look around you when training, greet people and look them in the eye. This lets them know you are paying attention and is helpful to you in identifying someone that might be a threat.

2) Use your gut
– More times than I can count I have been running or riding on a well traveled path and my gut just says something is not right.  It’s at that moment that my workout becomes secondary.  I change my route or head back the way I came.  Many people are too ‘zoned out’ to pay attention to their gut.  Be aware of your surroundings and don’t mindlessly train.

3) Pay attention
– Too many times I have startled other runners, male and female, simply by running past them. That is unacceptable.  If you’re constantly startled when running you are willingly placing yourself at undue risk.

I’m not going to suggest that you never run with music because most athletes would rather cut off their right arm than give up their iPod.  Instead use it as background noise not to cut yourself off from the world noise.  Ladies can easily accomplish this by wrapping the ear bud around their bra strap and turning it up a bit.  You can hear your music AND things around you.  Men can similarly find a clip and put that ear bud on your hat or the top of your shirt.

4) Running/training with a friend isn’t always possible
– The run with a buddy concept is a great one on paper but as athletes with training schedules and plans it doesn’t work well in practice.  Even a group run becomes a set of individuals after the first few miles.  If 5 people start the run, wait around for all 5 to finish the run. You’d want them to wait for you to ensure safety, do it for them.

Run on paths where you’ll encounter other runners.  If most people run a loop in a certain direction, run the opposite direction so you’ll encounter more people.  It’s almost like you’re not running by yourself.

5) e-crumb from RoadID
– A large number of people now run with the smart phones. A great and free app that can be a huge safety check is e-Crumb (https://www.roadid.com/ecrumbs).  It allows your friends and family to track you in real time and also has a stationary alert if you’ve been stopped for longer than 5 minutes.

The main purpose of this article is to minimize your chances of becoming a victim by putting these suggestions into practice.  This applies to everyone in the fitness community as a whole.  We want you to be safe and not let fear and a small probability of something bad happening keep you from staying healthy.  So follow these simple tips, stay alert and enjoy the outdoors.

My First 70.3 – Augusta Half Ironman

By Deirdre DeKock

To Coach Jeremy

Where do I start, because I still feel like a kid in a candy store. I have so many emotions and excitement right now.

The week leading up to Augusta I tried to start focusing on my food in take; what I am eating and to be consistent, because as a mother you can sometimes forget or just eat at weird hours due to running in ten different directions. I tried to keep everything as stable for the week, but as you know nothing ever goes according to the plan. The kids came down with a COLD. John-John is in his peak training and I’m tapering and neither one of us wants to get sick, and to make things worse a cold is not good for me because I get recurring Pericarditis, (inflammation around the heart).  I started feeling some stress around my heart, not sure if this is just nerves or am I getting another “attack”. I woke up each morning not feeling too hot. I started upping my medication, but also became more nervous because I am not sure what the increase of the medication side-effect will be on my body come race day.

Having all of this in the back of my head I decided to just get through my taper workouts without pushing myself to hard so I don’t put any added stress on myself and my heart. By Thursday I started “carbo-loading”, the fun part. Thursday night was Pizza and Friday night were mine and John-John’s secret meal, Lamb Chops and Potatoes and a glass of wine :-).

Saturday, my packet is picked-up and my bike is checked-in. I think this is when my nerves were overtaken by excitement and at that very point I got your email, and I was able to relax. We walked to the swim start and I was able to reflect on the last few months, all the long bikes, run and swim. I knew I got this and I was more than just prepared!!!

Had an early pasta dinner and a beer (carbo-loading right?), and went back to the hotel to get everything ready. By 9 it was lights out for us.

Alarm was set for 5:30 but woke up before that, because of all the other early birds in the hotel. Had breakfast at 6am, and took the bus to transition. Set-up everything, checked my bike, and last thing I do was pump my tires. As I unscrew my valve on my back tire it just blew off and I had a flat. This is at 6:55, and transition close at 7:15. I run over to bike repair. They fixed the tire but have to use my spare, because all their tires are already in the truck for the course. By the time I got back to my transition area everyone had almost left, so no way I could bum a tire from somebody, and they start doing the count down to get out of transition.  I try to get this out of my mind, and refocus! I walked to the swim start, while drinking my carbopro!

Got to the swim start, for the first time in a race my swim part was the one I was least worried about. I always dislike the swim, all the banging into each other and maybe just the fear of drowning.  By the time we lined up I need to pee really badly, but there is no time to go. I thought I will go on the dock, nope couldn’t do it.  And off we go at 8:32am. Got in a good rhythm from the beginning. I really felt good, just towards the end I had this girl zigzag over me the whole time. But guess what, I still needed to pee. Then I thought I will do it like you said towards the end of swim, nope couldn’t do that. Got out of the water 29:32, more than 5 min less than I thought I would. I was so happy!!!

Off to the transition, got to my bike (back tire was still fine)…but guess what? I was finally able to relieve myself but then I couldn’t put my shoes on until am done and had to wait and wait and wait. One reason my transition was a little longer. Got on my bike, got onto a good pace without pushing myself.  I had you and John-John in my head the whole time, not to over do it in the beginning. Got to mile 17, first hill and felt great getting through it, just for the bumps and that caused a lot of people losing their water bottles so had to be on the watch-out for it. Not once did I every feel I was over doing it, which was an awesome feeling.  Getting through the first hill I also decided, this is my strongest part of the 3legs, I am going to give it my all on this one and make as much time up as I can.  I only had my 2 carbopro bottles (3x scoops in each) on the bike, never drank my water. Got in 2:49, 11min faster than I thought I would do.  Got into transition and all the bikers in front of me were walking. I thought I have two choices. I can be “excuse me, excuse me” and try to run to my transition area or just enjoyed the moment with the other people, and at that point I thought I’m just going to enjoy the moment, I’m not trying to break any records. So that is the reason for the long transition time. At that point I also hesitate going into my bag and getting some aspirin for my heart but decided not to.

Off to the run, I was able to keep a 9min pace the first 2 miles, I know the split shows different on the website, but that isn’t correct. I almost knew from that point I will not be able to bring it down. I tried to keep it at 9 that but I was just dropping back in the wrong direction. I was taking perform every other station and then water. The perform mixture wasn’t consistent at the stations, which I didn’t like.  (I think next time I might run with carbopro, how much I don’t like the idea I think it is a better fit for me). I did walk the water stations, which I don’t think is a good idea because then my muscles tighten up. At mile 10.5, my chest started hurting and I decided to drop back a little to get my heart rate down, because I’m so close to finishing and really regret at that point not taking the aspirin.  I worked it through the last 3+ miles and finish, 2:03, I was hoping for under 2hours on the run but I am very happy about how the whole day went down, and enjoyed and loved every moment of it. I can’t wait to do my next one!!!

TIME 5:31:05

Thank you for all the time, patient and advise you put in with me!!! You are a GREAT COACH!!!

Thank you,
Deirdre

My Triathlon Season Has Come To A Close

By Kelly Rothwell

My triathlon season has come to a close.  I cannot believe that I finished 4 triathlons within 3 months.  It has been a crazy journey.

My last triathlon of the season was Tri the Parks John Tanner 2 in Carrollton, GA.  It was a very nice course, and as usual the tri the parks people did an excellent job.  I think of all the triathlons I have done with tri the parks, this one was my favorite.  The swim was a loop in a very small lake.  The bike portion was on gently rolling hills.  It felt like it was mostly flat.  The run was a little hilly, but not nearly as hilly as Blalock lakes, so it was manageable.

I swam the 600 meters in 14:53.  I was actually the fastest swimmer in my age group, which is pretty exciting.  That has never happened before by a long shot.

My transition was just okay at 1:09.  I completely forgot to have my bike shoes prepared so that slowed me down a bit.

I finished the 13.8 mile bike in 47:35.  This was 17.3 mph, which was not the best I had done this season.  I had a tough time on the bike that day.  I got upset about something on the ride and I let it keep me from performing my best.  I’m disappointed, but hoping I’ve learned some from it so that I won’t allow it to happen again.

My second transition was 50 seconds.  I actually tried to rack my bike in the wrong area because I wasn’t paying attention.  Think this is the second time I’ve done that.  J

My run was a bit of a disappointment as well.  I finished the 5k in 28:16.  I let my disappointment in the bike ride slow me down in the run too.  I will say, however, that as I was going terribly slowly on the run, a 31 year old girl passed me.  She was very kind and said some encouraging words, and I repaid her by racing past her in the last 30 seconds.  Although I was disappointed in my run over all, I am very proud of myself for pulling it together the last half mile and finishing in 2nd place in my age group by passing that girl in front of me.

I finished in 1:33:00.

I have been very thankful to Endurance Concepts for coaching me this summer.  I certainly would have never accomplished so much on my own.  I have learned an incredible amount.

So now that it is all over, I’ve decided to take a break from triathlon training.  I will still be biking, swimming, and running to not lose all that I have gained, but it will be to a much lesser degree.  I will be continuing my coaching with endurance concepts, but now they will be training me for a half and possibly full marathon.  I’m very excited to see how much the coaching from endurance concepts will improve my running speed much like I have greatly improved in my swimming and biking this summer.

Hittin’ the Woods

Written by Marc Thompson

Fall is a time of year that gets a lot of people excited. Weather starts cooling down, the leaves start changing, and the endurance sports seasons (in most parts of the country) are coming to a close. This gets folks out doing stuff other than running down a sidewalk or riding down the side of a road. There are many athletes that turn to trail running and mountain biking in the cooler weather to keep healthy and have some fun in the woods. There are other people taking to the woods too. Hunters are ramping up for all sorts of hunting opportunities and making their presence in the woods more noticeable. In this article I will cover some tips and ideas to keep the athlete happy, safe, and most importantly prepared for hittin’ the woods.

First and foremost athletes as well as hunters need to understand that in many cases both parties have a right to be in the woods. One party doesn’t have any more rights than another unless it is pre-regulated by a State Park, Wildlife Management Area (WMA), other public lands, or private property. Most public land that allows hunting will have clear signage that covers dates that hunting is allowed and whether or not there are any trail restrictions for recreational use. An example is Dawson Forest WMA in Dawsonville, GA. During the hunting seasons there are posted times and dates for both recreational trail use and hunting use. Make sure that ANY time of year you observe the posted signs at all public trails and make sure you are allowed to be there. It isn’t just deer/bear season (September-January) that athletes must think about but also turkey season (March-April), squirrel season (August-February), and especially areas that allow hunting of invasive species like feral pigs and coyotes (356 days a year). In almost all areas of National Forest property hunters and recreational trail users have open access to legally use the land. This means that the chance of both parties coming into contact is much greater than other areas. Again, make sure you do your research on the area you plan to run or ride or hunt. It is your responsibility to know the rules.

Another important thing is to make sure you are staying within the boundaries that you are legally allowed. It is often easy to cross the invisible boundary of an area and cross into private property. Remember that most parks are originally owned by private individuals and the trails and paths that we use for running and riding may have been originally created by them and may still lead off the park property. While most places will have clear markings of their boundaries it is often easy to miss them when you are off in la-la-land on your 18th mile of a long run. An example of this is at Sweetwater Creek State Park in Lithia Springs, GA. There are trails in the park that come into contact with trails that lead out of the park to private property. There are folks that use those private property trails for exercise and hunting. This is one of those areas that both hunter and athlete need to be extremely careful in their activities. Even though the land is private it is not regulated by the owners to prohibit the activity of the athletes so there are many folks that venture over the park boundary. In other cases crossing the boundary also means violating your legal right to be there. Do your best not to make this mistake. Both hunter and athlete have the responsibility to know the boundaries of the area even when they are invisible.

So what do you do if you come in contact with a hunter while out on a run or ride? BE RESPECTFUL. Do not be a jerk and act like they shouldn’t be there, that they scared you, and/or that they shouldn’t be hunting. While hunting may not be your cup of tea, the woods are not a place to have that discussion. Remember that in most cases both hunter and athlete have the right to be in the woods. Use etiquette and be kind even if the other party is not. As an athlete you don’t want to get caught looking down the barrel of some idiot hunter that thinks you shouldn’t be there. As a hunter you don’t want your entire day busted by a crazy athlete that thinks you shouldn’t be there or thinks you are a bad person for killing woodland creatures. In most cases a quick hello and keep moving will suffice but it wouldn’t hurt to quietly ask the other party to confirm your whereabouts and confirm the regulations of the area. You never know who may or may not have misread a sign or online resource. Either way, I can’t say it enough, BE RESPECTFUL.

Finally I want to share some tips for the athletes out there that will be hittin’ the woods to help remind them to be safe and conscious of their surroundings.
• Be aware of hunting seasons in the area where you are working out.
• Wear a hunter orange vest or jacket, helmet cover or hat, and be especially careful at dawn or dusk, when many colors such as red and green appear brown.
• Avoid wearing white, especially mittens or hats. They can resemble a deer’s tail through trees. Avoid wearing black. Black can resemble a wild pig or a bear. Do not wear brown. Brown resembles deer, bear, wild pigs, and coyotes.
• If you take a pet with you, ensure the animal is wearing a brightly colored blanket or T-shirt (preferably orange).
• Wear bright colors like yellow, blaze orange, bright blue, and pink. Remember you’d rather be alive than fashionable.
• Be aware that you may be sharing the forest with other hunters, athletes, as well as hikers, and birdwatchers.
• Avoid working out at dawn or dusk if possible. These are the times that hunters have the hardest time seeing and yet the times that the hunters are most likely in the woods.
• Remember to always stay in touch. If you aren’t working out with someone else or a group make sure someone knows when and where you are working out. Give that person a call or text to let them know you are finished too.
• If you are checking out a new trail make sure you find and read any signs that are posted. If there are not any visible signs try finding a phone number and call the property managers or call the Department of Natural Resources to verify the trails are open for recreation.
• Stay on the beaten path. Don’t wonder down trails that look like they are not heavily used.
• Avoid wearing headphones. This is something I have a hard time doing but if you must then only wear them in one ear and make sure you can still clearly hear your surroundings.

Well I hope that you are as excited as I am to get in the woods and chase your dreams. Mine happen to be deer, pigs, and squirrels but I’ve been known to run and bike a few miles on the trails too. Be safe, be respectful, and be prepared.

Getting Started

Written by: Coach Jeremy Sipos
Jeremy@EnduranceConcepts.com

Triathletes tend to get a bad reputation when it comes to cycling and cycling skills.  Since most triathletes typically learn to ride a time trial bike, they don’t get to spend a lot of time honing their skills, and realistically, it doesn’t take a lot of skill to ride a time trial bike.  That doesn’t mean that cycling skills wouldn’t benefit most triathletes.  In fact, most triathletes would benefit tremendously in both safety and speed by learning the basics of bike handling and applying those basics to their riding.  One skill that will help any triathlete or cyclist is easily getting started on the bike from a standstill.  This skill can be used on your favorite group ride when starting at a stop light or when you start up at the mount line of your next race.

The basics of learning this skill are as follows.  If you are standing over straddling your bike, one foot should be clipped in.  When I do this, I have my left foot clipped into the pedal.  That foot should be at the nine o’clock position or the crank arms should be parallel to the ground.  When you are ready to start, grab the handle bars and put all of your weight on the foot that is clipped in.  It can also help to slightly pull the knee/foot of the leg that is clipped into the pedal back towards you right before you start.  Right after you stand up lift the other foot and start pedaling.  Some things that will help you master this skill:

  • Before you try this, make sure you have shifted into the right gear.  It might take some experimentation to find the right gear, but you don’t want to be in too hard a gear or you won’t be able to get moving and will fall over when you try to start pedaling, and you don’t want to be in too easy of a gear or you won’t actually go anywhere when you do start pedaling.
  • Do not try to clip in with the other foot until you are up to speed.
  • Start pedaling immediately after starting even with one leg if you have to.
  • Lift the other leg up and off the ground as soon as you stand.  Don’t try to push off with the foot on the ground.

Although this seems like a relatively basic skill, it’s one that can make starting up in a group ride or among other people at a race safer.  Once you’ve mastered this, you can practice more difficult variations like starting on an uphill.

Endurance Concepts is an Atlanta-based triathlon coaching firm that motivates athletes of all levels to achieve their goals without sacrificing critical aspects of their lives such as careers, family and social events.

For more information about Coach Jeremy or Endurance Concepts please visit: EnduranceConcepts.com

Kelly’s Race Report – TTP Blalock Lakes Sprint

I finished my first sprint triathlon on June 1 and it was actually great!  The Wednesday before the race, Savannah was kind enough to meet me to do an open water swim.  When we first got in the water, I definitely freaked out a little bit, but Savannah stuck right next to me and I got through it after about 20 strokes.  We practiced sighting a little bit and she tried to help me learn to breathe on the right, but it was a little difficult for me.  Apparently in most triathlons buoys are on the right, but we figured we would practice this more later. We then went over some tips on transition and what I needed to bring on race day.  I left feeling much more confident about being able to accomplish the race on Saturday.   I really don’t believe that the race would have gone so smoothly if Savannah had not been sweet enough to meet me.

Race day I got up around 5:00 to make sure I could get to Blalock lakes by 6:30.  The drive was super easy and I got there much sooner than expected.  I quickly got my bike and everything set up in transition.  When I got there I looked out to the lake and they were putting the buoys out.  I was amazed at how close they were!  I truly was expecting the swim to feel very far out.  And to my surprise it was a counterclockwise swim so all of the buoys were on the left!  It was almost like this race was meant for me!

Start time for the first group was at 8 am.  I started with the novice, aqua bike, and relay swimmers at about 8:21.  I was very nervous so I stood behind all of the other swimmers at the start.  I quickly realized that was a mistake.  I had to stop multiple times to let people get ahead and move to the left to keep from running into people.  I finally got through and got into a good rhythm.  I had in my head that I was going to look for the buoys every 5-10 strokes, but I didn’t because I didn’t like how it took me out of my rhythm.  Because of that I swam out of the way a few times and had to swim back.  I will not make that mistake next time.  I made it out of the water in 16:05.  Almost 3 minutes faster than I expected!

Transition was really close and easy and I got in and out of there in 1:08.

My heart rate was really high coming up from the swim and I had a hard time getting it under control on the bike, but I pushed through it as best I could in the bike portion.  The ride was very hilly, but I had biked lots of hills around my house so I felt prepared for them.  I was able to pass quite a few people and it fueled my desire to push faster.  Eating and drinking on the bike was so hard!  I need to practice that more.  I finished the 14.7 mile bike in 52:12.

Transition was easy here too and I got in and out in 1:04.

The first mile of the run felt really hard.  I don’t know how fast I was going, but it really didn’t feel like I was going faster than 9:30-10 min/mile.  After the first mile it (finally!) occurred to me that I should practice controlling my breathing (3 in, 2 out) and once I did that I got my breathing under control and was able to pick up the pace.  I finished the 5k in 26:22.  Slower than I was hoping for, BUT, I finished the race in 1:36:54.  8+ minutes faster than I anticipated!!!  To top it all off, I ended up getting 2nd in the novice category.  It was pretty amazing.

Next I’m doing the duathalon at Blalock lakes on June 22.  I feel very ill prepared for this one because I haven’t given myself (or my coach Savannah) enough preparation time for this race.  It’s a 5k, 24 mile bike, and a 10k.  It’s going to be much hotter and much tougher.  After I get through this, though, I’ll be well prepared for the tanner park intermediate distance!

By Kelly Rothwell ~ TTP Scholarship Winner