We are working hard to try to make this race happen!
Posted on 07 April 2016 | No Comments »
Don’t’ sweat the small stuff, the famous quote and list of books made popular by Richard Carlson, PhD many years ago. Recently, I was preparing for a big time trial test on the indoor trainer and definitely did not start off as expected. In addition to rollers, I have used a Computrainer for the last 20 years or so (2 of them).
It just was one of thosedays; turn on the Computrainer for the warm-up and I find out that magnetic wheel was fried. I had it 12 years and no complaints at all. A great trainer and my estimate, 6000-7000 hours on the trainer.
Unlike the normal method of the past with doing some research on the Computrainer new models and eBay, I decided time for a change. The comp trainer was one of the first trainers that fully integrated technology with respect to watching on a screen – racing against a competitor with specific customized or pre-programmed courses. They were all the rage with the triathlon crowd when they first arrived on the scene.
However, over the years I noticed that the racing against the competitor was not something I focused on and just used the manual mode all the time and simulated the workout per my specific goal. Bottom line, the high cost and graphics were not a factor in the next purchase.
There are plenty of pro’s and con’s of using a bike trainer, but personally I actually enjoy riding on the trainer during the winter months to measure workouts which is sometimes a bit difficult in the winter with the ice and snow (with the road bike).
The help of Google and some research I settled on the Wahoo Kickr Snap and found a good deal on a refurbished one. The company sells refurbished – defined as a decal scratch, etc. It saved around $100 and seemed to be a no-brainer. When the trainer arrived, I inspected it and not even a scratch on it.
Wahoo also promotes the ease of transportation and fold up, etc. I know one thing for sure; I don’t travel with my trainer or ever take it down and wonder how many athletes actually take the trainer down and travel with it?
There are plenty of pro’s and con’s of using a bike trainer, but personally I actually enjoy riding on the trainer during the winter months to measure workouts which is sometimes a bit difficult in the winter with the ice and snow (with the road bike). The Wahoo trainers are definitely worth checking out if you are looking for an affordable, no frills, and workhorse trainer.
Posted on 31 March 2016 | No Comments »
The world of food and diets – Slow Carb, Gluten Free, no “White”, no sugar, Paleo, my question was how would they work for a long distance endurance athlete? Author, vagabonder, and entrepreneur, Tim Ferris discusses this approach to eating – slow carb in his best selling book the 4-hour body. He does not advocate long distance endurance training and is more of a HIT (high intensity training) and strength focused approach. One thing you have to like about the Ferriss style is he tries everything to disrupt his body.
The slow carb diet is defined by Wikipedia (excerpted by Tim Ferris):“The Slow-Carb Diet is based on eating foods with a low glycemic index. It can be summarized as the elimination of starches and anything sweet (including fruit and all artificial sweeteners) and a strong preference for lean protein, legumes and vegetables. The main foods are eggs, fish, grass-fed beef, lentils, beans, vegetables (like spinach, broccoli, cabbage, radish), mushrooms, fermented foods and drinks (natto, kimchi, sauerkraut), unsweetened tea or coffee and water. Calorie-dense nuts and legumes such as pecans, chickpeas, hummus, and peanuts are allowed under careful portion control. Plain coffee is allowed, but all milk products are to be avoided except cottage cheese.” Unlike Paleo – beans are allowed and recommended for carbohydrates and protein (lentils are a favorite). Also, one day a week is the fun day and consuming anything without limits to food types and quantity is recommended.
Ferris claims, “without doing any exercise he lost 25 pounds of body fat in 6 weeks.” As endurance athlete, not doing any exercise is never going to happen. This approach does not agree with my mindset and many friends and colleagues. The idea of rushing to get the most benefits in the shortest amount of time is find for some, including Ferris but personally these longer training sessions are the most fun. However, it was worth examining in detail through a personal experiment to see how my body would react with heavy training and the slow carb approach. My biggest concern, would I get sick of eating the same things over and over again?
Personal Slow-Carb Experiment with Training: 8 weeks with an average of 20 hours training (75-80% endurance running, cross country skiing, cycling and 20-25% weight and intense plyometric training). 60 days of continuous training and active recovery sessions every other week – hiking on the trails.
4AM – Eat immediately after getting out of bed – 1 chicken breast and a bean salad (same thing every day)
1 cup of Kimera Koffee (touted to help with energy level, athletic performance and concentration and it does!)
Multi Vitamin: Hammer Premium Insurance Caps, Endurance Amino Caps
3 Omax3 Fish Oil capsules
60 ounces of ice water
After workouts – Hammer Recoverite and Cocoa Elite, 40 ounces of water
Mid morning snack – Bean salad
Lunch – Green salad (Kale, parsley, dill, arugula, olive oil, salt, pepper, avocado and either pork, beef or chicken with the salad)
Mid afternoon snack – almonds
Dinner –Green salad, olives, and extra protein (meat, fish, chicken, pork).
So it was fairly basic diet but without any alcohol, juices, sugar and anything white. I did include alcohol on the weekend – red wine.
Early on I noticed that recovering from the hard weight workouts was difficult the next day so I increased both proteins (through food and recovery drinks) and more carbohydrate from greens and lentil salads. It just took a bit of tweaking to get the right balance of food to be able to push through the next day’s workouts.
One big concern was that losing body weight quickly might reduce power wattage on the bike and added in extra weight work – specifically the magical kettle bell. It’s amazing (with good form) the overall body impact that a simple kettle bell swing can do!
Personal Test Results in 8 weeks: 26 pounds of weight loss and significant increase in muscle mass. Clearly this was enhanced with all the strength work. Overall body fat dropped significantly and without getting very scientific with water weight analysis, skin calipers the easiest way to determine it is with the “clothing check”. Pretty simple, when your clothes start feeling very loose body fat is being converted to muscle. A great motivator especially as we all know the feeling of just a bit too tight with the cycling shirt in the early season!
Power wattage on the bike has increased in the 15-18% range with power/weight ratio, but the key was clearly ramping up the quad strength workouts.
Overall, I was very happy with the slow-carb approach with additional protein and carbohydrates. The best part of the program is that when you get hungry, just eat and this was crucial during the long training sessions for adequate recovery.
As the race season approaches, consider slow carb as it might assist you with your fitness goals. Looking forward to the next 8 week slow-carb and training push leading up to the Trans Am Bike Race with one new tweak – the addition of cold showers every day! See what happens.
Posted on 23 March 2016 | No Comments »
The annual gathering of ultra triathletes to the warm weather and sun of Florida is always a welcome sign that spring is almost here. This year’s annual Florida Double Anvil Triathlon moved the confines of the triathlon mecca of Clermont, Florida. Clermont has a rich history of the triathlon and the famous Great Floridian Iron distance event. Hard to believe it’s been around 26 years already.
Steve Kirby – race director, stellar volunteers and race team positioned the race in the beautiful park of Lake Louisa. It’s always amazing how things come together when we don’t try to hard and just let things flow. Personally, I had a trip planned with business and was able to help out and crew for an athlete on the back end of my business trip and was so worthwhile as always, helping out athletes and an event.
The race consisted of the typical “double iron distance” 2.4 miles of swimming in Lake Louisa (no gator problems!) 224 miles cycling through an out and back loop of approximately 6 miles, then the fun of 52.4 miles of running. The park offered the athletes locations to stay in cabins at the race site to eliminate going back and forth to hotels and the race “pit” area housed all the transition, crewing, food, etc. and had plenty of room to see the athletes.
A few observations for those of you considering the double iron distance, this bike course is not as flat as “typical” Florida terrain, and it has a few shorter grades but the road conditions are superb. After riding many miles on the course, I noticed clearly that there was not even a bump on the course. However, I did not ride 224 miles as all the athletes racing so I can’t fully appreciate what the small little grades felt like late into the evening!
The run course consisted of a 2 mile loop vs. an out and back with some off road sand that clearly slowed down the run splits. Steve Kirby mentioned that hewill examine other quicker options for 2017.
Crewing for an athlete – Andres Villagran (2nd men and 3rd overall) and working the bike turnaround during the graveyard shift was such fun. It’s such a different perspective to see athletes grinding and racing hard lap after lap from the sidelines. Interestingly, of all the athletes and teams competing, I hardly noticed any major suffering. Of course, internally in the mind of the athletes I am sure their legs and lungs were hurting just with the significant distance covered over 24-36 hours. The crews were fabulous and the diversity of minimalist vs. maximalist in terms of everything athletes brought was incredible! I clearly took a few notes on ideas of things to consider for future races – most importantly the lay back chairs for the crew – not an athlete as it would be impossible to get out of one of those when very tired!
The food worked wonders every lap for the athletes as always especially when new food was cooked –thanks to the great team preparing everything day and night.
It’s always interesting to examine the race performances by the athletes and the bike pace in this year’s event was over the top. The top men and women were pushing so hard on the bike. Many were gritting their teeth and especially noticed this when I was riding the course – truly amazing!
19 athletes toed the line for the race and 5 teams going at it with constant racing. The team-racing concept clearly was not easy, go a few hours then rest then repeat over and over again. 14 athletes finished the solo and a great showing by our women! The second overall finisher was Maria Simone and hats off to an amazing race – she was pushing hard constantly but I will always remember that smile every loop. Our men’s winner – Juan Carlos Sagastume was strong on the bike and run to claim the top spot with a time of 24:55. Andres came from way back in the field after the swim, (as normal) with his signature “catch as many athletes as possible” flying run to take second for the men. It’s was a great pleasure crewing for Andres and similar to Maria the signature smile and ease of letting things flow was his signature – borrowed bike and absolutely no walking at all on the run!
Congratulations to the ladies – wow super efforts from Laura Brock (2nd), Danielle Winkler (3rd), Colleen Wilcox (4th) and our very young Laura Knoblach (5th). Yes, 5 women starters and all finishers and with Maria’s amazing effort the women were incredible and great to see more than just 2 or three women competing.
The men’s results from 3rd -9th place: Johan Desmet, Pascal Morin, John Lee, Erik Hanley, Joey Lichter (CLEARLY Joey had the Super Crew of all time!), Michael Ortiz (just a fabulous run), Goulwenn Tristant.
The team challenge was great watching as each team had a different strategy in terms of rest and racing and clearly this was about team fun, racing and competition. They were all going after it and the start and stopping from each athlete clearly showed it was not easy at all.
For those considering moving up from the Ironman distance, this is definitely a great first time double attempt as the course is not brutal – but like many events, and this year was no exception – significant rain can occur and come prepared, especially for your crew. The race is convenient to Orlando International airport; the overall costs are reasonable (in the south of the US), close to Disney for post race crew and family fun.
Most importantly, time and again one of the main reasons so many ultra triathletes continue to come back and race is the family and community that is part of every single event. The crews, families, volunteers and athletes make these events full of lifetime memories.
Posted on 10 March 2016 | No Comments »
Mental training is a topic that we hear continuously in racing,but it continues to be a “hole” in many training plans. It’s one thing to talk about mental training and completely different to actually build a mental training plan and practice it DAILY – just like a physical training plan.
Here are a few techniques that I outlined in “Stronger Than Iron” that might offer insights to developing your own mental training plan.
Cycling – I learned over the years of racing in Ultra-Distance Triathlons that by just saying a mental statement to myself, “Stay on the bike.” works like magic. These personal affirmations repeated help especially when energy levels drop. Develop your own, one simple memorable statement.
Running/Biking Mental Technique – The Rope/ Magnet Technique – This strategy is highly effective during the later stages in the run or bike sections of the race. I call it my “rope technique.” Other experts call it the magnet concept. It’s a very simple concept that has worked for me for years. The technique can be implemented when you are at a crucial part of your specific race. Focus on a competitor that is in front of you that you can see up the road, and imagine this person has a rope around his waist and his energy is pulling you along.
The other thought is to think of the person with a magnet on his back, and you are “sticking” to them. Envision the magnet pulling you toward them. It might sound crazy if you have not practiced this basic mental-training technique, but it works! Just focus on the competitor and create a mental vision of them pulling you along.
If you tell yourself that they are doing all the work and use their energy to keep you maintaining their pace. Practice it regularly and you will see the results, especially late into a race when you are pushing the pace. Of course, you can call it something else and create a picture of anything to have the same benefits of using a competitor’s energy to pull you along. The next thing you know you will be passing them!
Top Six Extreme Mental Preparation Strategies: Use these strategies to incorporate into your training. These strategies should not be taken lightly. Start them gradually in terms of the total duration.
1. Bonk-Run Strategy: Plan on a slow run for several hours (four to six hours) and the key is to only drink water and some electrolyte capsules (carry food, gels, bars, etc.) during the run. Determine how long it takes (in hours) until you get very low on energy because of lack of calories — and then learn what it “feels like.” Eat, drink calories immediately to recover and regain energy. See how long it takes you to get back to a normal running pace again. This simulation of being in a bonk-down state trains your mind and body of what it will feel like potentially come race day. Of course, when finishing this run, rehydrate, drink your recovery drinks/foods immediately after finishing.
2. Stomach Distress Strategy: For those of you who have experienced gastro intestinal distress during a long race, it’s tough mentally to get back when the body and mind feel so bad. This technique is very brutal, but the goal is to stimulate stomach problems so you know how to deal with it. For those of you who never get stomach distress, I am jealous! The specific technique is to eat and drink items right before a run or bike that you know your body does not handle well. For example, I can- not eat yogurt or chocolate before a run or I will be in the bathroom for sure. So, what I do is to eat these items and force stomach problems in the bathroom (yes, this is brutal and sounds crazy and pretty nasty), but then I see how long it takes me to get back to a normal running stride and feeling good again. It’s purely simulation on how you will handle it if you have gastro intestinal problems during an Ultra-Distance Triathlon.
3. Blisters Strategy: You must know how to handle blisters if you’re susceptible to them in very long running races. It’s important that you learn how to fix your feet early.
What is the specific item you will use to treat blisters? Is it temporary or sometimes a nagging pain that cannot stop you unless very severe and infected? Don’t ever drop out of a race because of blisters, the pain is temporary but not finishing lasts forever! Also, the longer races may not only involve more blisters but severely swollen feet and numbness.
4. Forced Saddle Sores – Ultra Cycling Rookies – What’s the number one issue that causes so much pain – saddle sores? Incredibly painful – YES, but they can be managed. The toughest part is mentally how to push through the “adjustment” pain process until the healing occurs (they will heal a bit by repositioning on the saddle). The only way to get ready for them is to train a ton in the saddle – you will get saddle sores and then build a plan in your mind how to deal with them.
5. Long Indoor Bike Riding–Riding indoors can be very difficult mentally to stay on the bike and just keep spinning the legs with no coasting. Build very long 6-10 hour sessions and your head will change for sure!
6. Ultra Running Race Strategy (100-mile example)
Consider running a 100-mile or 24-hour running race with one key objective: finish the last six hours very hard. The key is to conserve your energy as much as possible during the early hours and get your mind focused on a very strong push late into the race. This technique will build mental strength to learn how to finish strong and run hard with significant fatigue.
Visualization – When you are training, visualize how you will feel during the race. Also, focus on checking in with your body to make sure you focus on breathing from the core and relaxing.
One additional item to consider into your daily routine is initiating a mindfulness practice. The calming of the mind, focus on the breath and being present will help get through the tough sections of the race.
If you don’t have a mental training plan, you are missing one of the most important aspects of racing and just as important as the “spreadsheet training program”. To change results – physical training is important, but changing your head is where the real measurable results will happen.
If you need help in designing your daily mental training plan email me for plenty of ideas of how we help our clients, email@example.com.