Tag Archive | "Training"

Bike Trainer Product Review Wahoo Kickr Snap

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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?

Impressions:

  1. The trainer is built like a tank even though it only weighs about 30 pounds.
  2. Once challenge with my Computrainer in the past was with the skewer system of various wheels and bikes. The bike had to be set exactly perfect with and “old style” skewer.   The Wahoo comes with a skewer that must be used to ensure a sound fit.
  3. The quick release arm (see picture) made it so much easier to get the bike set up vs. the endless cranking tight of the Comp trainer.
  4. This trainer is all about training, very basic, less features and of course not the graphic race against another athlete media.
  5. The software to control the magnetic resistance wheel (back wheel) is a simple smart phone app called Wahoo Fitness. It’s simple to set up and almost no instruction manual.
  6. The software app is basic, with watts, speed, resistance controlled by IPhone and the availability for cadence, etc. It can be integrated with other platforms such at Strava, etc.
  7. The cost was approximately $1,000 less than the Computrainer, which was a plus as I stopped using every feature on the Computrainer.
  8. A huge positive is during standing; the front wheel block and level of the back make it feel almost like being on the road for a climb. The sturdiness of the trainer makes out of the sale climbing exceptional.
  9. Sound, nothing earth shattering in terms of being quiet.
  10. Good customer service –it only took a few days before it arrived.

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.

Running While Traveling For Business

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As passionate runners we all face the constant daily lifetime constraints during busy times to get in the run for the day.   If you travel for business as I do, it’s important to experience some adventures and new journeys while “fitting in the daily run”.

After traveling for business around the world for the past 20 years, I have learned a few items that you might find valuable when traveling on business.  Of course with a focus on the daily run.   Below are 3 items to consider:

  1. Convention/Trade Show/Conference – The biggest hurdle is time and what time is best get in the run.   As you are probably aware, conferences can be extremely busy from all aspects of meeting as many people as possible and they are normally all day affairs.  Breakfast at 6 or 7AM and then can go well into the evening.  Yes, they can be exhausting.  Recommendation:  Always have a headlamp in your suitcase depending upon the time zones, etc. so darkness is not an opportunity to bail out of the run.  In many cases, the run might start at 4AM or after the event ends for the evening.  Yes, try running at 11PM just to change up the routine (of course be safe as the number one priority – worst case jump on the “Dread mill”) and grab a partner from the conference.   You may be full from dinner, but hold back on the alcohol and you will be fine.  Yes, using the hotel fitness center is an option, but why not go outside and explore the new surroundings.  That’s where the best experiences are, normally not on the dread mill in the fitness facility.
  2. Airplanes and Jet Lag – The best thing to do no matter how tired you are from a long flight is to run as soon as you check into your hotel.  Always arrive a day prior to the meeting, which makes it easier and reduces stress.  Don’t wait till the next day as the impact on your mental and physical state will increase dramatically after 15-20 minutes of tiredness
  3. Always include a Power Yoga/ core, P90X, Insanity DVD (or if you have a body weight focused strength workout bring it along) in your luggage.   Pretty easy in most cases to be able to get a workout for 30 minutes in your hotel room.
  4. If safety is an issue where you’re traveling: run the stairs at the hotel and for an outside workout (yes can be boring) run around the parking area surrounding your hotel.  Think creatively and don’t focus on having your GPS unit to determine distance, calories, heart rate, etc.   Just go out and run!
  5. Even if your travel consists of an out and back in 1 day, always pack running shoes, workout clothing even though you are not planning on doing an overnight.   You never know with weather, etc. that you might get stuck and not able to get home.  I have learned this lesson too many times.  Always carry your workout items in a bag.

Traveling on business can be exhausting, but don’t get discouraged and you can definitely include your normal workouts while traveling.  With a little planning you won’t drop any fitness levels!  Travel Safely.

Flu Season – Should you Train or Not

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Winter is here and with it comes the cold and flu season. We would all like to just “power through it” and continue with our training, but at what point is that doing more harm than good?

Do we just stop training and wait for full recovery or train through it?  It’s important to remember that once you do get sick the main goal is to get back to your regular training as quickly as possible without regressing into sickness again.

Be sure to evaluate how you really feel (and not how you wish you felt). In most cases you can continue training through a cold, sore throat, or even some flu like symptoms.  According to an article on www.runnersworld.com:

“David Nieman, Ph.D., who heads the Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University, and has run 58 marathons and ultras, uses the “neck rule.” Symptoms below the neck (chest cold, bronchial infection, body ache) require time off, while symptoms above the neck (runny nose, stuffiness, sneezing) don’t pose a risk to runners continuing workouts.”

Remember, your energy levels will be reduced as your body fights your illness, so allow for a shorter, less intense workout. However if you’re facing a fever, no training! Raising your body temperature too much can actually make you sicker than you already are. Keep this in mind: general cold like symptoms can be miserable, but often running outside can help to clear your congestion and actually make you feel better.  Pay attention to your body if you decide to attempt even light training.

If you feel excessive fatigue after training, you may have pushed too hard or for too long. Focus on immediate replenishment of fluids and calories as you may find you become dehydrated quicker (especially if you’re taking certain medications).  Cold air can work both for and against you when you are ill. Depending on your illness, cold air can perk you up and clear up your head or the cold can aggravate any respiratory issues you may already be having.  Personally, I have found that cycling on an indoor trainer or slow jogging on the treadmill allow me to get my workout in while keeping the effects of the environment out of the equation.

Lewis G. Maharam, MD, a New York City-based sports medicine expert says, “Do what you can do, and if you can’t do it, then don’t.”  (http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/features/exercising-when-sick)  Seems like pretty sage advice.

It might seem like your cold will never end, but it will eventually. Once it does, it is important to be careful not to push your body too hard. If you over exert yourself too soon after an illness you may find yourself even sicker than you were to begin with. Take it easy. If necessary, begin with a brisk walk and slowly work back up to a jog then to running. Remember, a few days off your exercise schedule should have very little impact, if any, on your training. Listen to your body and, if need be, stop your workouts entirely and rest. Otherwise you may find you’re out of the game even longer than was necessary.

Check out http://blog-healthcaretips.blogspot.com/2011/10/four-alternative-exercise-when-sick.html for alternative exercises you can do when you are sick.

 

 

 

7 Items to Consider For Your Triathlon Swimming

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It’s the offseason, time to focus on the “dreaded” swim for athletes who are interested in triathlons but worried about the swim.   This is so common for athletes coming from running or cycling backgrounds.   As we all know it’s much harder to learn appropriate swimming technique when you learn as an adult vs. a child.   It’s just easier to learn how to run and bike.  I have conversations all the time with runners who want to attempt a triathlon but get intimidated with learning how to swim and the magnitude of swimming in a sea of bodies in the open water during a race.

It’s important to understand for all athletes that the race is never won in the swim; however it’s imperative that energy needs to be consumed to some degree for the cycling and running disciplines of the triathlon.    As we all know, joining a Master’s swim program or individual instruction from an experienced coach or training camp is a start to perfecting your swim technique.

More than cycling and running, swimming technique and getting a “feel” for the water is what is necessary for strong performances.   Since I started into triathlons from a swimming background it’s sometimes difficult to be objective with respect to the concern and sometimes terror I hear from other athletes concerned about the swim.   However, like anything else in life it’s important to spend time on your weaknesses and for athletes with no swimming background (and of course not as fun as their main sports of running and cycling) there is a tendency to not spend much time in the water.

7 items to consider improving you’re swimming and preparing for a triathlon:

  1. Don’t just swim in the pool.  If the triathlon swim is open water, spend 1 day a week minimum with another partner (not alone) with open water swimming.   Very different without lane lines to follow.
  2. Practice “sighting” with your head out of the water so you can simulate looking for buoys in the distance.   Practice this in the pool as well by doing several laps with your head out of the water.
  3. Practice swimming with fogged goggles – yes it can happen race day and be prepared and it will eliminate panicking.
  4. Practice how to efficiently turn around a buoy, which can cost a lot of time in a long swim such as an Ironman.   It’s important to set yourself up to come around the buoy and not lose much momentum if it’s a 180-degree turn.
  5. Learn how to swim in open water without goggles.   You may lose your goggles in a crowded swim and get hit with an elbow or hand.  If it happens in a race you will be prepared and not panicked.   Yes, you will get hit in the head at some point during a race!
  6. Experiment with different types of goggles that fit well and you can use for longer swims without eye socket pain.
  7. Practice quick transitions to remover your wetsuit.  Use Pam cooking spray around your ankles (it works best – better than Body Glide and petroleum based products) so the wetsuit easily slides off the most difficult section – your ankles.

Don’t get overwhelmed and intimidated by the swim.   Get the necessary instruction and make a personal commitment to improve over a period of time through gradual progression.   It’s the offseason so no better time to learn how to swim!

 

 

 

Top 10 Offseason Workouts

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What are you going to add to your off-season workouts to improve a weakness area?

There are many workouts to consider that will provide crossover benefits to your specific sport discipline.   Here is a list to consider if you have access to snow and/or the mountains in your respective area.

These are in no specific order of ranking just for consideration purposes:

  1. Cross Country Skiing – Aerobic Engine work!
  2. Snow Shoe Running – Power, Aerobic and Anaerobic
  3. Cross Fit/strength training – Intensive strength and Anaerobic Workouts
  4. Cyclo Cross – Cycling Technique, Anaerobic
  5. Mountain Biking if it’s not your specific sport – bike handling skills development
  6. P90X or Insanity DVD programs – Power, speed
  7. Alpine hiking (mountains) – Long Distance training within aerobic zone
  8. Mixed Martial Arts – You might think this is crazy but an amazing workout – Power and strength building of course with some pain involved!
  9. Stair Climbing (Racing as well) – Quad Burn and Lung Burn workouts!
  10. Speed Skating – Long distance or interval workouts – Aerobic engine workout along with amazing lactic acid quad burn.

This is just a list for considerations and there are plenty of other workouts to add to your normal routine.  There are various benefits to each of the workouts or sport disciplines above and find one that will provide additional benefits to you main endurance sport.

It’s time to embrace the off-season and get ready to build in areas for improvement for 2012!

Have fun.

 

 

 

Wayne’s Top Two Strength Training Workouts

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As outlined in Beyond The Iron book, www.beyondtheiron.com

Here are two cross training strength workouts that will help with overall body strength and explosive power.   I suggest doing each workout every week during your base-building period.    Have fun!

Cross Training Strength Test (Approximately 45 minutes)

  1. 5 minutes very easy spinning on the indoor bike
  2. 10 minutes hard resistance gear while seated (no standing)
  3. Immediately jump off the bike and do 100 Hindu Squats while holding a medium weight or medicine ball (look online for technique)
  4. After Squats jump rope for 5 minutes straight (preferably on a mat)
  5. Jump back to the bike (switch to biking shoes) and stand for 10 minutes on the trainer big gear – focus on power
  6. Immediately jump off the bike and do 125 Hindu Squats (no weight)
  7. 5 minutes of jumping rope
  8. 50 pushups

The goal with this workout is to increase the number of reps and overall power output (watts) on the bike over time.

Strength Training Workout

Two Super Sets

  1. 8 Squat jumps, working on a maximum height.  “Coil up” at a moderate speed, then explode up.  Can hold a dumbbell between legs
  2. 12 push-up to side plank.  Controlled down, then explode the arms up and into a side plank (six to each side, alternating)
  3. 60 second rest from first set to the second set

Two Super Sets

  1. 20 single leg step-ups on a bench.  Keep heel down and press through the toes at end of the leg extension.   Jump up and land on the other foot and repeat.
  2. 12 back extensions on a fit ball.   Mimic a dolphin swim, 60 second rest between sets

Two Super Sets

  1. 50 thrust squats, come down as far as your leg bends during a pedaling motion, allow arms to raise in front of you as you squat then lower, controlled not “jerky”.
  2. 60 bicycle kicks – 30 to each side.
  3. 60 second rest between sets

Two Super Sets

  1. 100 Hindu squats
  2. Plank – total time 1:30 or as long as you can hold it
  3. 60 second rest between sets
  4. Cool down stretching

 

 

Are you considering hiring a running or triathlon coach?

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It’s amazing how the coaching profession has taken off for endurance athletes over the last 25 years. I remember when starting out in triathlons we just trained and raced hard week in and week out. Off-season just meant cutting back the miles slightly but never a full recovery. There was limited science, technology and nutrition so we focused on training with the goal of more is better. Today, there are many options for athletes to work with a coach in various specific endurance sport disciplines.

5 benefits of hiring a coach:

  1. Provide some additional motivation
  2. Structure a year round training program
  3. Offer advice with respect to new techniques
  4. Offer assistance to improve form and technique
  5. A coach will keep you accountable for the workouts.

When evaluating coaches it’s important to ask some key questions:

  1. Is the coach available regularly – voicemail or email. Many online coaches will only provide access via email and separate fees for regular calls.
  2. You should evaluate coaches locally as well as outside of your area (online) and determine what will be best based upon your objectives.
  3. Ask the coach how they will adjust your program “on the fly” in the event you get sick, injured, business constraints. The original spreadsheet of workouts might need to be completely overhauled. Ask them what flexibility they have in making the changes and of courses the cost.
  4. Experience – Find out details of length of time coaching, do they still race (important), get not only testimonials but have a few phone conversations with clients.
  5. How often will you receive the workouts, weekly monthly, etc.
  6. Pricing options, flexibility, pricing discounts for a longer commitment.
  7. Ask what is their main sport background along with specific types of athletes they coach and accomplishments achieved by their athletes.

Of course it’s a personal choice to consider hiring a coach and the financial requirement is only one key consideration to determine if it’s right for you. Using a coach can provide a “sounding board” to bounce ideas off of him/her.

You comments are always welcome, feel free to email me at wayne.kurtz@racetwitch.com

 

 

Top 10 Reasons to Host a Fun Run

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It’s that time of the year again, the 3rd annual Greek Trail Runs that we host from our house tomorrow morning at 5AM. It’s continued to evolve just like any race with plenty of fun additions.

Have you considered hosting a fun run (any distance)? If not, it’s a great way to get together a bunch of passionate runners to enjoy and of course race (always fun to keep it a bit competitive) for some unique prizes. Personally living in a great park with access to 30+ miles at the end of our driveway is perfect for hosting an event. It’s easy for us; the aid station is in the front yard so no problems shuttling in water, etc. to various aid stations.

It’s not that difficult to organize and host a fun run especially if you can plan a loop course and have one aid station or make it all self supported.

Here are my top 10 Reasons to Host a Fun Run

  1. Don’t need any permits, licenses, fees to runners
  2. No ego’s allowed – just pure fun
  3. Our prizes are of course Greek pastries to the fasted runners covering the most distance.
  4. A great way to get everyone out for some exercise, no matter what age.
  5. Meet new runners in your area that you never met before that live within a few miles of your house!
  6. Of course a huge food picnic at the end of the event.
  7. Personal satisfaction of giving back to the sport that I have loved for the past 26 years.
  8. Recruitment of future younger runners to keep the sport alive (especially ultra runners)
  9. Great way to spend a Sat. in the summer to get everyone ready for their key fall races.
  10. Of course it’s so much easier to run 6 or 12 hours with a big group vs. running alone.

Consider hosting a Fun Run in your area, it’s personally rewarding, no question!

 

 

Top 6 Long Distance Racing Nuisances

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There are many muscle pains and fatigue that occur with long multi-day distance endurance races; however be aware and prepare yourself for the various minor nuisances that can be a nagging pain throughout the event.   These issues will not stop your from finishing the event compared to a major injury but as I have experienced they seem to pop up all the time in long races (especially events lasting over 24 hours).   I have experienced many of these in ultra-distance triathlons (Double Ironman to DECA Ironman distances).

Here are my top 6 Nuisances:

Sore Wrists while cycling – For many long events that require 200+ miles on the bike it’s difficult to stay in the aero position the entire time so resting the hands on the top of the aero bars can make the wrists very sore.   Make sure you wear high quality, well-padded cycling gloves and continuously move your hands into different positions.

Numbness on the tips of the fingers – This occurs with long rides when the blood flow is restricted because of the downward flow of blood with the hands on the bars.  This is a very strange feeling and common among all athletes in the DECA Ironman race.  It took several months for this strange feeling to go away.

Saddle Sores – Can be frustrating and painful.   It’s very important to make sure your cycling shorts are fitting properly.  There should not be any bunching or seam issues which can occur with poorly constructed cycling shorts.  Don’t buy cheap shorts and consider using cycling bibs for more comfort.  Also, apply standard anti-friction ointments for the very long rides.

Numbness on the mid-foot area caused by running – This is a tough one and can take months for recovery.  The continuous pounding on pavement for multiple days cause a lack of feeling if your a mid-foot striker.   Make sure you select a well cushioned shoe and don’t worry too much about having the lightest weight running shoes.

Sunburn - Common sense, apply sunscreen.  A few years ago I noticed many athletes in Europe completely coating (white paste) all exposed arms, face with sunscreen in a hot race.    Yes, it’ looks a bit funny but it’s highly effective.

Hot spots on feet while cycling – This can occur with using a small pedal (Speedplay) on the ball of the foot.   Continuously, move toes and feet to eliminate the hot spots and consider adding a cushioned insert into the cycling shoe.  Also, a larger flat plate pedal might be more comfortable.

Prepare ahead of time on how to deal with the common nuisances of racing!

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