The market is full of hundreds of different products. It can be hard to know what is worth your time and what is a waste of money. So, I’ve handpicked four self-myofascial release products to review for you: the Trigger Point Ultimate 6 Kit and GRID Foam Roller, the Theracane, the Power Stick, and the Acuball Kit. I chose these because of personal experience and market research.
I’ve used all of the products now for several weeks and am excited to report increased mobility, faster recovery after workouts, and increased performance in all my lifts. All four have some great advantages, but for most people you simply can’t afford to buy everything. Use the guide below to find out what will work best for you.
I recently read an article written by someone who spent some time at one of the hot beds for running in Kenya. I was happily surprised to read that the author noted the strong presence of drills in their daily training programs. Happy because I also make a habit of incorporating drills into my own training and let’s be honest, it’s always nice to hear that you are doing something similar to the Kenyans when it comes to running. And surprised because I suppose like many people I thought the basic elements of running technique may go by the wayside at such a high level.
Drills are an essential part of any sport. They take often complex movements and break them down into manageable chunks. They can also be used to elicit certain neuro-muscular responses in an athlete. Running drills are a great way to generate desired technical outcomes that may not be easily executed when actually running.
Some of the most common drills I use during workouts are the following:
Reach your arms as high as you can above your head and hop on both feet (mid to forefoot landing). Forward motion is negligible. The primary goal of this drill is to promote a tall posture (the arms above head help this) and to promote mid to forefoot landing. Do this for ten seconds then immediately start into a 50m acceleration while maintaining the desired landing surface on your foot and the tall, proud posture.
Standing in one spot balance on one leg while lifting the other foot off the ground towards your buttocks. Hamstring engagement is required to left the leg. Hands should be in a natural running position. Balance in this position with tall posture and allow your entire body to fall forward. Just as you reach the point of no return put down the raised foot and lift up the foot on the ground- balance here and repeat. This is a drill used frequently in the POSE method of running. The POSE method was developed by Dr. Nicholas Romanov and you can check out more on POSE here.
While running swing both arms in a circular motion in front of your body (as if you were going to draw a giant circle on a chalk board in front of you with both hands). This drill is designed to generate stability through the core. Your arms are heavy and throwing them out of the normal vertical plane while still moving forward is a great way to force core activation. If you do not activate you will find it difficult to keep running forward. This drill is great for people who experience too much upper body movement while they are running. The effect should be to create some separation between upper body movements and the action of the legs.
There are literally dozens of examples of great drills that can be incorporated into your run training. They are a fun and effective way to make positive changes as well as simply warm up for a workout. Have fun!
WHAT CANADA DID WELL AT THESE LONDON OLYMPIC GAMES
It would be easy with only one gold medal to consider these Olympics somewhat of a disappointment even though we got 18 total medals. The Canadian officials had wanted 20+ medals and a top 12 finish. That didn’t occur and there are a number of reasons that I will discuss below. We have to properly assess what Canada did well (and we did some things very well), and what we need to improve upon to move up in the overall rankings by Toronto 2015 Pan American Games and 2016 Olympic Games in Rio Brazil. Below are some of the things that I think the Canadian Olympic Committee, Sports Canada and Own the Podium did very well at these Olympic Games.
PROPERLY FINANCED OUR BEST ATHLETES: Top Canadian Olympians were the best financed they have ever been in our history (training camps, equipment, and competitions). Later on I will discuss the problem with not funding younger development athletes (but the top athletes were well funded and money should not have been an excuse why they did not win).
INJURY PREVENTION OF “MOST” OF OUR BEST ATHLETES: In general our athletes showed up at these Olympic games with very few injuries. This is a huge tribute to the Canadian Sports Medical Services across the country (physios, massage, chiro, osteopaths). As athletes are training at a higher and higher level, Sports Medicine moves from being optional to being absolutely mandatory for them to have a chance to win. Without being able to train healthy and consistently our future athletes will not be able to be competitive on an international stage.
SUPPORT FOR OLYMPIC PARENTS: Companies like P & G (with their “THANK YOU MOM” program) and PETRO CANADA (with their FAMILY SUPPORT program) were important to our athletes. Simon Whitfield and others talked about how valuable it was that their parents were taken care of (so that the athlete could just focus on their sporting needs).
TOP 10 FINISHES: I will talk about getting gold medals later on, but Canada had its deepest Olympic Games when it comes to top 10 finishes. We had many life-time bests (4th-10th place finishes that don’t show up on the medal count, but are an indication that we are becoming more competitive internationally. Our challenge now is to covert top 10’s to podiums and to convert our many bronze medals to GOLD!
DESIRE TO INSPIRE OUR COUNTRY: Virtually every single athlete on our Olympic Team, were terrific, articulate kids who want to be great role models in the Canada. Our Olympians have done many talks to schools and groups and want to do more in the future.
DEDICATED COACHES: I know many of the coaches and I am amazed at how hard they work and how dedicated they are to their athletes. These coaches are paid a very modest income and the number of hours they are away from their families and homes in a year (particularly the Olympic year) is massive.
THINGS THAT I BELIEVE CANADA NEEDS TO IMPROVE UPON TO BE COMPETITIVE
HELP FINANCE DEVELOPMENTAL ATHLETES: Right now the vast majority of any government carding, and corporate sponsorship is going to the already established small group of Olympic athletes. The Clara Hughes and Adam Van Koverden type names are currently reasonably well financed (right now), but the future champions are starving to death and in many cases dropping out of sport. If Canada wants to have great athletes in 2016 and 2020, we have to support those kids now (because many of them will be gone from sport long before they are world-class simply due to financial stress). I have seen first hand, how the modest amount of money I am able to raise keeps elite athletes in sport until they are able to be better sponsored by the Federal Government and other private Sponsors. I guarantee you that there are Olympic medalists from 2016 and 2020 in the country, right now, who we will lose simply due to them not being able to afford to stay in competitive sport. Your money (whether its through donations, sponsorships) does make a difference. If you can, I encourage your money and time to go to smaller organizations. Larger groups like the Canadian Olympic Committee and others do have money in the bank (which they usually save for a rainy day and rarely spend it on developing athletes). Putting your money into smaller programs where the active clubs and coaches are directly helping Canada’s future star athletes it will make a direct impact. The Burl Oak Canoe Club that Adam Van Koverden & Mark Oldershaw belong to have created those paddling champions and your small donations to organizations like Burl Oak or my C3 Canadian Cross Training Club have direct impact on creating future champions. Obviously I am not saying DON’T SUPPORT THE COC OR CANFUND, but I am simply saying that to significantly help future Olympic Champs, the COC, SPORTS CANADA and OWN THE PODIUM make little or no attempt to help the younger athletes who are not on the international stage yet and this is a great place where Canadians can make a direct impact.
2. SHARE ATHLETES BETWEEN SPORTS: I have fought tirelessly for four or five years and will work even harder in the years to come, to get athletes to move into the sport they can ultimately be best at. You see some ex-gymnastic athletes now getting into diving. You see some ex-sprint athletes (like Jesse Lumsden from football, or track runners) becoming bobsled team athletes. Essentially, athletes need to be encouraged to move from a sport where they will have modest national success, into a sport where they can have International success for Canada (perhaps even win major titles in the new sport). My sport of triathlon is a perfect example. There are likely 20-30 swimmers and runners in Canada right now who should be directed to triathlon from their single sports. The level of running against the Kenyans and swimming against the Americans is so ridiculously high, that very few Canadians will ever even make it to the Olympic Games (and if they beat those odds to make our Olympic swim or run team they would have a very very low hope of an Olympic medal). Swim Canada or Athletics Canada can pretty much already identify their 1-2 future Ryan Cochrane or Dylan Armstrong superstars and keep them in swimming and athletics. Bu there are many athletes in Swim Canada and Athletics Canada who already swim or run fast enough to beat the triathlon champions we saw in London this past week and if we work on their other skills, they could be a champion by Rio Brazil 2016. American Gwen Jorgensen was a collegiate swimmer and runner in Wisconsin just three years ago. After graduating and starting into her accounting career, USA Triathlon recruited her into triathlon even though she had never done a triathlon in her life. Within 2 years Gwen made the American Olympic Triathlon Team and has won major races in her first 2 years in the sport. That would have been virtually impossible for her to accomplish in swimming or running. Universities, Colleges, and National Teams should be working together to push athletes into sports that they are more physically suited for (and which Canada could be successful at in the future).
3. BETTER SUPPORT FOR OUR COACHES: While I don’t want to get into specifics in this newsletter, I personally believe there were elite coaches, heading to London, that needed some extra help and mentoring themselves. In general, coaches believe they are an endless battery that has to continually support their athletes and have all the answers. Over 1, 2, 3+ years coaches wear down and become less effective. Under the stress of an Olympic campaign, I believe some coaches become less effective. We are spending more resources on our athletes, but I believe the coaches need some “coaching” and “mentoring” themselves. I personally would like to see a resource team be put together to focus just on our high performance coaches (and how the coaches can be more effective to help our elite athletes). Their role would be to interact with the Olympic coaches (not the Olympic athletes). If we want better athletes, we need better coaches (and resources for those coaches).
4. STREAMLINE THE SPORTS WE ARE COMMITTED TO: The great Olympic Gold Medalist Swimmer Alex Baumann 100% believed that Canada should focus on less sports at the Olympic Games. This is a controversial topic that will have some people loving me (if I keep their sport) and hating me (if I drop their sport). Canada only has 30 million people. There are some activities that we have never been successful at and the chances are very slim that we will ever be successful at them. To keep pretending that we will be a power in certain sports is unreasonable and low probability. We have to prioritize which sports we fund. This prioritization should take into consideration some of the following items.
A. Are we currently showing success in this sport (or have we). Obviously we will always be great at ice-hockey but perhaps not cricket (just an example)
B. Do we have the infrastructure to do well in this sport. That includes buildings, coaches, clubs, participants and likely (or proven) sponsors.
C. How many other power house countries are already excelling in the sport. The more big countries already doing well in the sport will make it tougher for us in the future.
D. Are there sports that most nations don’t care about (we could move up quickly in that sport with some extra focus/attention).
E, Do we have some “special” thing that makes us successful in that sport (ie. our culture of paddling and water in Canada = many successes and past medals)
F. Do we have an abundance of coaches or resources in that sport (i.e.. A very deep competitive development program of Canadian female soccer players or ice hockey players).
5. FOCUS MORE ON FEMALE SPORTS: Wow I am going to get gang tackled for this one, and it might sound sexist. But if you look at the past trend, Canada is getting more and more medals from our female athletes (and our team is now made up of more then 50% females). This is not because our male athletes are weak, its because the entire world does not treat their female athletes as fairly and equitably as Canada does. As a result, relative to the rest of the world, our Canadian female athletes are better funded and resultantly staying in sport longer and performing better at the Olympic Games. I have known for a decade that the same amount of time and money I invest in one male athlete will not get me the same number of medals as if I invest the exact same time and money into a female athlete. So if we are looking for medals, we should be giving more opportunities and encouraging our Canadian females even more. This is not to say stop supporting male sports, its just to realize that the same amount of time and money we invest in our male athletes, will give less medals than our female athletes. With Milton building a new world-class cycling velodrome for the 2015 Pan American Games, I would personally recruit and hugely support a group of female track cyclists. There are not many female track cyclists in the world (due to the need for a great track). I believe we could become very competitive in a short time in women’s track cycling.
6. BRING OUR BEST ELITE ATHLETES TOGETHER MORE OFTEN: There is a great energy and learning that the top athletes have when they are around each other. In my mind, we have not taken full advantage of this resource and they only see each other every four years when they are under great stress. Perhaps every 18-24 months (half way between Olympics), bring a group of our top current summer and winter athletes (and best future prospects) together to learn, share and challenge each other. Adam Van Koverden may have some wisdom he can share with our younger track sprinters and Clara Hughes could certainly help and improve Paula Findlay’s competitive package. You can’t tell me that having ex-NHL hockey player Mark Messier could not teach Dylan Armstrong something that might have made the difference in moving from 5th to 3rd or 2nd. While I understand the practical challenges (location, time of the year within your sport’s competitive time, cost), I do believe it could be worth while on many levels and is worthy of considering.
7. BETTER EXECUTION OF OUR TAPERING & PERFORMANCE ON DEMAND REQUIREMENTS: Many athletes can perform well once or twice a year when it really doesn’t matter, but they are not capable of executing as well “on demand” “ON DEMAND PERFORMANCE” is performing on the day of your Olympic Final (even when you don’t feel 100%). I believe a number of our athletes/teams were over-cooked and missed their tapers. In some cases I believe this may have occurred based on poor Olympic Team selection criteria set up by their sport leaders/federations. Simply picking 1st, ,2nd and 3rd athletes across the finishing line at a National Championship may leave your best athletes off the team (due to the flu, a flat tire, or some bad luck). I have seen National Federations nearly kill their athletes putting them through the “hoops” just to make the Canadian Olympic Team and in the end, they were so tired and exhausted chasing the selection criteria that they had nothing left to compete against the other competitors on race/competition day. Make sure that the selection and the resultant taper is more optimal for the athletes to actually perform well on race day.
8. BETTER – MORE COMPETENT GYM CLASS IN SCHOOL: The grade schools and high schools are the breading grounds for Future Champions. We need to do a much (much) better job at encouraging and supporting more and better physical activity in schools. While some schools in Canada have great gym classes and varsity teams, it is declining and every senior retiring teacher I speak to tells me its significantly worse than it was 20 years ago. That does not bode well for us having many future star athletes. Simon Whitfield was a great soccer and basketball player and because of that he created extraordinary sprinting power and agility. We need more kids with higher skill levels graduating from grade 8 into high school and from grade 12 into college.
9. WE NEED TO MAKE THE PEAK ATHLETIC EXPERIENCE FOR MOST KIDS TO BE AT UNIVERSITY / COLLEGE AGE: Far too many sports have a major “peak” at about 12-14 years of age. That is to say, they try to have very very competitive athletes by 12-14 years of age and if your not winning at that time, you generally drop out of the sport completely (I could write a full paper on just this topic). With few exceptions, I believe that the age we are trying to get GREAT PERFORMANCES out of many athletes should be significantly pushed up to older ages (19-24) while at University. By making the University age a high priority, we delay drop out of sport to a much later time and catch late developing kids. Olympic Swimmer Rick Say (2000 Sydney) was a summer swim club athlete in BC until he was 17 years of age. American Gwen Jorgensen didn’t do her first triathlon till 3 years ago. To have more kids involved in sport at a later age, means a healthier population AND more kids to eventually pick from for future Olympic Teams.
10. CONTINUE TO MAKE SPORT MORE ACCESSIBLE: Organizations like JUMP START (with Canadian Tire) and KIDSPORT and other organizations are trying to help make it cheaper and easier for kids to get involved in sport. We know how much money it cost to lockup juvenile criminals up in a detention center or prison. A fraction of that amount of money can be spent to keep more kids (particularly kids in high risk areas) involved in sport.
11. BETTER MENTAL PREPARATION: While this was hit and miss in London, I definitely believe numerous top Olympic athletes WERE NOT fully prepared to deal with the stress. Look at how many of our much talked about medal hopefuls came up short of the podium. While some of the athletes had a bad day (or bad luck), there were numerous ones that appeared to me to be overly (or under) stimulated. Many of the top OWN THE PODIUM ATHLETES seemed to be overly stimulated by the burden of being one of Canada’s medal threats (and faces of the team). Dylan Armstrong openly talked about how nervous he was and how much pressure he felt being in that role. Instead of seeing it as a privilege, some only felt the pressure of having to bring home a medal. I 100% believe in the value of the OWN THE PODIUM program, but I think there are some holes and areas where we need to enhance our athlete support and MENTAL PREPARATION is one of those areas.
12. BETTER PERIODIZATION: I have sort of discussed this in other areas, but in general we had some athletes who were too old or improperly prepared. That is they to stay they were stars 1-2 years ago, but they were headed in the wrong direction by the time the Olympic Games came along. Or, they may have won their big tournament or competition 1-2 years ago (that got them recognized for OWN THE PODIUM). In numerous cases our best athletes who did not perform in London, had their best performances 12+ months ago and did not come close to their best performances at the Olympic Game. Because some of these athletes were earlier identified as our MEDAL THREATS (Mary Spencer, Dylan Armstrong, Paula Findlay) and the media continued to write about them as medal threats, there was a growing pressure on those athletes. While World Championship or Circuit Championships are valuable, I saw athletes like Dylan Armstrong be injured in early 2012 due to pushing too hard to win titles in 2011. It would be interesting to see how many of our 18 medal people were on top of their game in 2011 (or did they peak in 2012 when it was most important).
13. GOOD LUCK: Sometimes you simply need some good luck to go your way. I like the old saying “the harder I worked the luckier I became”. Canada is a small country (relative size to the world) and we try to be very competitive in winter and summer Olympics (very few countries try to do this). So when you add summer & winter Olympic participation, with just 30 million people, and a cooler climate, you need to be wise in your decision making and resource allocation to ultimately be successful at Olympic sport AND to ultimately win medals (preferably Gold).
The ability to deal with the mental stress of important situations is critical if you want to do the very best job you can on race day. Even if you are a beginner, you still want to do your best. So how come it is so difficult for people to do this? Why do so many people break down or “choke” when it matters the most?
I personally think it’s because our approach to what we think is mental toughness has largely been flawed. In the past we have always focused on things like visualization and simply saying “you need to be more mentally tough” but what does that actually mean?
The goal is to put yourself in a mind space that allows you to perform freely and at your best. Visualization can backfire for people who are already in an overly heightened state of mental energy. Visualization is also more or less important depending on the nature of the activity. Diving for example likely requires a very high degree of visualization because the elements are so technical. Simply saying to someone “be more mentally tough” can also backfire if it creates a situation where someone “over-tries”. I’ve found these strategies often fail to lead to a useful headspace. Perhaps the very notion of trying to be mentally tough is the problem.
Perhaps we need to adopt a softer approach, one that allows full engagement without actually trying to engage fully in the task. Being “in the zone” is something athletes refer to on occasion but what does that actually mean and why is it so hard to get there if you try to get there? After several decades of competing I think “the zone” is simply nothing more than the ability to stay present. On rare occasions we get there without trying and have one of those magical days and wonder how on earth everything flowed so effortlessly. Inevitably we try hard to get back there the next time but the very act of trying is the problem and quite often we end up choking instead.
Choking is the term used to describe someone who has a significant mental and physical breakdown when it counts. Choking is usually a result of “mind noise” or fear based thought patterns that manifest in the body. The thinking mind or “ego” takes over and the result is often a disastrous performance. The problem with the thinking mind is that it is concerned mainly with outcome and during times of stress it can become consumed by a fear of not realizing that outcome. The unfortunate thing is that choking tends to perpetuate itself. Fear or worry about an outcome creates tension in the body, which causes physical malfunction, which generally causes failure in execution, which creates more fear of failure, which in turn creates more choking.
Here are some signs that you may be overthinking your current situation or in danger of choking:
Worrying about the outcome (thinking too much about the past or future)
Doubt, fear, anxiety and worry are all emotions and thoughts that most humans experiences when a race is approaching. It doesn’t matter how good someone gets, he/she will always have to deal at some level with ones own mental sabotage.
What separates great performances from mediocre performances is the ability to deal with the onslaught of destructive or debilitating thought patterns that can be generated by the brain when a competition draws near. The most important strategy you can implement is learning to stay present. There have been many great books written on the power of this idea. Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now is a great example of how powerful the present moment can be and has some great strategies on how to be present.
Ideally we give the brain something to think about that exists in the present moment, is relevant to the task and is positive. Timothy Galloway’s “Inner Game” book series has great strategies for staying present when it matters the most. Examples include technical, motivational or strategic thoughts that remove the thinking mind from the actual act of doing. When the thinking mind tries to control the body, choking is usually inevitable.
We can learn from very young children and animals because they don’t choke. They may not always win or execute a task perfectly but they don’t choke because the thinking mind does not exist in their brains. They simply do, they don’t think about doing and by and large they are always engaged in the present moment.
But why is the ability to be present so important in a sport like triathlon? Part of the challenge in a long distance event is to be fully engaged throughout and to be able to endure deep amounts of discomfort. Someone who can either distract the thinking mind from the current state of discomfort or simply learn to observe the present moment without judgment will have a mental edge every time. A triathlon or long distance event can seem overwhelming if we project into the future and think about how long it is but quite often if we are fully engaged in what’s happening now we can handle the now.
Learning to become more present takes practice. Here are some steps to help.
Learn to observe your thoughts and become aware of the fact that you are having them. More often than not we are so deeply entrenched in thought we are not actually aware we are having a thought. Thought patterns can take over and will manifest themselves as physical tension.
Learn to observe those thoughts without judgment. By attaching negative meaning to thoughts we are placing judgment on something, which is pointless. If it’s raining on race day don’t view it as a positive or negative thing, just a thing that may require adjustments to your execution. (Judgment often creates a spiral of more negative thinking)
Know that your brain can only occupy one thought at a time. Knowing this is very powerful because it allows you to give your brain something constructive and useful to do that exists in the present moment.
Learn to bring yourself back to the present moment as much as you can. By focusing on things like breathing we are engaging the brain in a useful activity that exists now.
The transition is often considered the fourth event of a triathlon. The transition refers to the time spent between swimming and biking (T1) and between biking and running (T2). Quite simply it is when you have to “transition” from one sport to the next.
Transitions are usually timed and will show up on the final results sheet so it’s important to practice them and get as good as you can in order to have extra bragging rights!
Having a great transition can set the tone for the event you are transitioning to and can improve your overall time. Here are some tips on how to nail your transition.
Know the flow
It’s incredibly important to know how the transition “flows”. Part of your warm up should include a walk through the transition area so you have a mental picture of where you are supposed to go.
During your walk through, start as if you were exiting the swim and follow the path you will have to take during the race. Walk into transition and practice finding your bike. Spotting your bike among the masses can be challenging but if you have walked the path a few times before you will nail it. Counting bike racks or using other identification markers like a sponsors banner near your bike can really help.
The next step is to pretend you are exiting with your bike. Again, follow the exact path you will have to take and note where the mount line is (the line where you are safely and legally allowed to get on your bike).
Next, you will need to walk as if you are coming back in from the bike. Notice where the dismount line is (the line where you are required to be off your bike or you will face a penalty and possible disqualification). Walk back into transition and back to where you will have to rack your bike. The second transition can be tougher to negotiate because your bike is not there as a strong visible marker. Picking some identification markers will really help you during the second transition. The last step in your walk through is to follow the path you will have to take in order to exit the run.
There are a few key things you will have to do during a transition and visualizing them can help train your brain so they become automatic. After you have done a walk through take some time to visualize not only the flow of transition but also what you will need to do.
Key Aspects of Transition 1 (T1) (Swim to Bike)
Exit the water
Take off your wetsuit (take the top half down while you are running to your bike)
Remove your cap and goggles
Take the bottom half of your wetstuit off at your bike rack
Put your helmet and glasses on on (**MUST BE DONE BEFORE YOU TOUCH YOUR BIKE)
Put your shoes on (if you are not comfortable leaving your shoes attached to your bike)
Put your number belt on (if it’s not already on)
Take your bike off the rack and walk or run with it out of transition
Mount your bike after the mount line
Key Aspects of Transition 2 (T2) (Bike to Run)
Dismount your bike before the mount line
Walk or run with your bike to your transition rack (**DO NOT REMOVE YOUR HELMET UNTIL YOUR BIKE IS RACKED!)
Rack your bike
Remove your helmet
Remove your bike shoes (unless you left them on your bike)
Put on your running shoes
Put on your running hat or visor (if you are a hat or visor wearing type)
Walk or run out of transition
Skills you should practice
Taking your helmet on and off is simple enough when you are not under pressure but this can be a problematic part of your first transition. When you add in the fact that you may be dealing with cold hands that don’t work properly it can be down right frustrating. You can practice taking your helmet on and off at home while watching TV if you really want to nerd out! The more you do it, the more your hands will automatically go to the right place when it counts.
Taking your wetsuit off can be practiced whenever you finish an open water swim. Practicing this skill is not as easily done at home while watching TV so make a habit of getting out of your suit in a hurry after your open water swim practices.
Putting your running shoes on during the second transition is an important skill to practice. Elastic laces or toggles with your laces will really improve your second transition time. Fiddling with normal laces and trying to tie them up is simply unnecessary, there are numerous products available specifically to help you get into your running shoes without having to tie them up.
Every race will have different transition rules. Most races allow you to have all of your gear at your bike rack and you can create your own small space to manage it. Many of the larger races like Ironman and 70.3 events have a bag system that requires all of your gear to be in a bag that you collect and manage in a change tent. Some races will supply a bin that you must keep all of your gear in that is then placed at your transition rack.
Tricks used by speedy transition masters
Keep your sunglasses on your bike- you don’t need to put your sunglasses on in transition. Keeping one arm of your eyewear under the Velcro part of the arm pads on your time trial bars allows you to get up to speed on your bike before removing them and putting them on.
Wearing a race belt under your wetsuit is a great way to avoid having to put one on in transition. The less you have to do in transition the better **NOTE** some races do NOT allow you to do this so make sure you know the rules.
If you are tying your shoes up in transition then you are missing out on one of the easies ways to make your transition faster. Invest in some elastic laces or some toggles for your normal laces. There is no need to be tying up shoes in transition
Putting your helmet and/or glasses on while you are taking off the bottom half of your wetsuit is a great way to save some time. Again this type of multitasking requires some practice.
Cut the legs on your wetsuit a bit shorter so it’s easier to get off (DO NOT CUT BEYOND THE TAPE SEEMS)- We highly recommend you do this in the presence of someone with experience so you don’t ruin a perfectly good suit!
Another great way to save time in transition is to practice leaving your shoes on your bike. This is a huge time saver because not only do you avoid having to stop in transition to put on bike shoes but you also avoid running, often on pavement, in a slick carbon or plastic sole. This strategy also allows you to be moving forward while you are putting your shoes on.
Always be moving forward- any time you are not moving forward you are losing time. Think of things you can do that will allow you to keep moving forward. For example, when exiting onto the run you can be running while putting on visor, your number belt and sunglasses. You don’t need to do these things while you are standing still.
Keep it simple!
Despite all of the information in this article, the transition is actually very simple. The phrase “simple is better” certainly applies to a transition. The less you have to do, the faster you will be and the less likely you are to forget something. It’s amazing sometimes to see the amount of gear that people have at their transition. From swim to bike all you should really have to do is take your wetsuit off and put your helmet on (once you have mastered the art of keeping your shoes on the bike). From bike to run all you should have to do is rack your bike, take your helmet off and put your running shoes one (possibly a hat or visor as well)
Practice makes perfect
At least one of your weekly workouts should include transitions. It is often more realistic to practice bike to run transitions simply because of the wetness factor but you should also practice the swim to bike particularly if it involves taking a wetsuit off.
As runners, our main goal is to get the finish line as fast as we can and in most cases, ahead of as many people as possible. To achieve this goal, we set up complex training plans which include: long runs, shorter aerobic runs, tempo/threshold intervals, speed intervals and hill repeats.
Now, what if I told you that you could also get faster by investing some extra time in ‘NON-running’ workouts?
No, I am not referring to hitting the pool or jumping on your bike! I am suggesting that you can get faster as a runner by hitting the gym for strength and resistance training.
You have probably heard many times that RESISTANCE TRAINING can improve run performance. Some cite reasons such as ‘increased strength’ or ‘increased power’ or even ‘fatigue resistance’ for improved performance. Although many of these outcomes do lead to performance enhancement, resistance training, if done properly, has the most profound impact on performance because of its effect on run economy.
RUN ECONOMY is formally defined as the amount of oxygen consumed to run a given speed for a given distance. To illustrate: Erin may require 49ml of oxygen to run a 4:30 km, while it may cost Wes 54ml of oxygen to run his 4:30 km, making him ‘less economical’. With all things being equal, who do you expect to get to the finish line first? I bet you wish you were Erin!
You can also understand this concept by comparing your body to a car, and oxygen to gas; the more economical your car, the less gas you require to get from A to B at a given speed. And since gas (oxygen) is one of the limiting factors of performance, you want be as economical as possible.
Interestingly, most recreational (and even professional) runners loose a great deal of economy through their RUN MECHANICS. Below are some of the more common mechanical flaws:
Slow foot contact time
Poor hamstring activation
Insufficient knee drive
Therefore, a sound (run-specific) strength and resistance program that focuses on improving hip & core strength, foot contract time, hamstring activation and knee drive will inevitably make you a faster, more economical runner.
Below are examples of exercises that might be seen in such a program:
1) Hip raise with hip abduction against resistance
- lie on you back, knees bent and feet firmly planted on the ground with resistance band around your knees
- raise your hips forming an incline bridge while pushing your knees out against resistance
*Start with 1 set of 12, move to 2 sets of 12-10 then 3 sets of 12-10-8
2) Plank on swiss ball – “Stir the pot”
- form a plank on your elbows on a medium sized swiss ball
- contract your core while ensuring the integrity of your back stays strong
- use your forearms to ‘stir’ the swiss ball to the right and then to left while keep plank stable
* Start with 1 sets of 6xeach way; 2 sets of 6x each way; 3 sets of 6x each way
3) Hip raise with single straight leg
- Lie on your back with your left knee bent and foot firm planted on the ground and right leg straight on the ground
- Raise your hip (as in #1) while keeping your right leg straight; focus on leading the movement with your right leg so that your right hip is parallel with left hip and the end of the movement
- Lower hip (and right leg) + repeat
- To add a challenge, you can have the foot of your bent leg on a medicine ball creating an unstable surface
*Start with 1 set of 12x each leg then 2sets of 12xeach leg + 10xeach leg
4) Running A’s against resistance
- Anchor a strong looped resistance band around a stable pole or piece of equipment
- With your back to equipment and the resistance band at waist level, run as hard as you can forward against the resistance
- If done properly, the resistance band should keep you running in one spot despite your efforts to power forward
- Continue to lean slightly forward and drive your knees, executing a perfect running motion
- 5-8 sets of 10sec; powerful running with high knees and perfect body condition
Thanks Megan Brown for providing us with this awesome article about run economy. Megan is a multiple-time Canadian cross country running champion and the current Canadian 1/2 marathon champion. She coaches a wide array of runners in Toronto as part of MB Performance and can be reached at email@example.com.
Your immune system can take a beating this time of year. One of the reasons is that it is typically under more stress. Shorter days, less sunlight, colder temperatures and varied eating habits can contribute to a higher prevalence of colds and flus. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of bad luck when you get sick but there are things you can do to at least give us more of a fighting chance.
Here are seven simple things you can do to decrease the chances you will get sick.
1. Get More Sleep
It sounds simple but we seem to be moving away from the one fundamental type of recovery that has sustained us since birth; sleep! Have you ever noticed how much animals sleep? Animals are typically much more in tune with their bodies and their need for sleep. They are not bound by the daily routines that we take on, nor do they rely on an endless supply of stimulants such as caffeine and sugar to make it through the day. If they are tired, they sleep. Most people could use more sleep. It is the safest, most productive way to recover and help your immune system stay strong.
2. Great Nutrition
Eating well sounds easy but too often we default to foods that generate more stress in our systems than provide quality nutrients for life. Foods that are high in refined sugars or bad fat sources take energy to deal with rather than provide energy to live with. Too much of these food sources can leave your immune system and your body in general, starving for the building blocks of sound health.
3. Micronutrients and other powerful body support
Micronutrients are nutrients required by humans for many different physiological functions. It doesn’t take much to become deficient in one of the many micronutrients we depend on for basic body health and immune support. Antioxidants for example are molecules capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. When oxidation occurs the resulting molecule can become a free radical or charged molecule that can cause detrimental reactions within the cells of the body. Micronutrients such as vitamin C, Vitamin E and Beta Carotene all contain antioxidant properties and are easily found in most North American diets or supplement products.
Ginseng is another powerful body supporter that has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Ginseng is most noted as being an adaptogen. Adaptogens are herbal products that are believed to increase resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety and fatigue. Ginseng is commonly used to help boost the immune system as a result of its adaptogenic properties.
Instill some healthy, rejuvenating exercise into your life. There are things you can do that may not be scientifically proven to boost your immune system but can definitely mitigate some of the stressors. A great example is yoga. Yoga is a very restorative type of exercise meaning it doesn’t beat you down but works to rejuvenate and regenerate. Yoga poses can increase blood flow, circulation and general well being which all contribute to a healthier body, mind and nervous system.
5. Less Stress
Stress can come in any form and typically our bodies can’t really tell the difference between stressors. Whether it’s job related, relationships, travel, overexertion, extreme exercise or pathogens, the body can only handle so much before it cracks. Too much stress can leave your immune system compromised. It’s important to periodically step outside your life and evaluate where you can eliminate stress.
6. Wash your hands
Most cold and flu pathogens are spread through simple contact. Washing your hands regularly can be a very simple way to decrease the spread of a pathogen from one host to another.
7. Stay Hydrated
One of the most common issues athletes can run into during the winter months is dehydration. Often in the winter we underestimate fluid loss. In the summer we are typically more diligent about hydrating because we are constantly reminded to do it. Hotter temperatures and visible sweating are clear indicators that we need to hydrate. In the winter we still sweat and experience fluid loss and often at very significant levels but we don’t have the outside stimulus to remind us. Dehydration is another form of stress on the body that can inevitably lower your defenses.
Fall usually means one of two types of training cycles for multisport athletes in North America. Some will continue to compete and focus on running or cycle cross. The second group may take time off and eventually start rebuilding their sport specific fitness.
Both groups should be using water workouts as part of their training and recovery.
For triathletes it is incredibly important to swim 12 months of the year. Many elite swimmers never take time off out of the water. Losing your ‘feel’ (or proprioception) in the water happens more quickly in swimming than other sports so it is imperative that triathletes swim on a weekly basis. I recommend that my athletes swim at least twice a week. Swim workouts do not need to be hard or long during the fall season. In fact, I would recommend quite the opposite. The fall season is a great time to make technical changes to your stroke that you put off during the heavy training months. Investing time to get videotaped, either by a friend or coach, could ensure that you are putting your focus in the areas that will give you the biggest speed payback. If you train in a group setting, this is the time of year to drop down to a slower lane to reduce the pressure to swim fast. This way you can concentrate on proper technique. It is also the time of year to be the squeaky wheel and to ask your coach for help with your stroke.
For the athlete that chooses to do leg based races in the fall the pool should also be incorporated into their training plan as part of their recovery strategy. Recovery is accelerated when it is active. Blood is returned to the heart with the help of muscle contractions and by the chest’s ‘pumping’ action when breathing. Your veins are squeezed between your muscles when they contract and the blood is forced upwards towards the heart. The blood is prevented from returning due to gravity thanks to one-way valves in your veins. Muscle movement results in a larger volume of circulating blood which means that more nutrients and oxygen are delivered to your tissues for repair. Swimming and water running are two of the best types of recovery exercise because they increase muscle contraction and breathing rates without eccentrically loading leg muscles. Eccentric exercises involve any exercise where a muscle is weight bearing in a lengthened position. An example is the eccentric load on the hamstring when the foot strikes while running. The hamstring is in the lengthened position but it is bearing the weight of your body. Eccentric muscular-skeletal loading can further damage muscle tissue and delay recovery. To best use swimming and water running as recovery strategies you should get to the pool within 24 hours of a hard leg workout.
The idea of heading to the pool to get wet may not be enticing when the weather starts throwing snow and rain at you. Convince yourself to make the trip with the promise of a hot shower, a sauna or a steam bath after your session. Bring a warm sweater, joggers and your warmest toque to snuggle into post practice. However you motivate yourself to do it, get to the pool at this time of year. Your body will be the better for it.
It’s that time of year again; the season between summer and winter when bike riding temporarily loses it’s identity. It’s a tricky time of year. The weather can be all over the place, North American road and triathlon races are by and large finished and it’s hard to know what kind of bike you are supposed to ride or whether you are supposed to ride at all.
Your road bike is a bit of a prima donna; it likes warm weather, clean streets and the energy of a good group. Your tri bike is even more of a snob, craving long open stretches of road in the blazing sun, you can’t even think about taking that out in the fall months without serious attitude. Your mountain bike is always eager to go out but it craves the trail networks, some mud and a few decent jumps. Granted the fall months are great for this but what if you just want to get out and do some long consistent riding?
Well there is a solution and it’s the cyclocross bike. Yes it’s totally fine to justify the purchase of yet another bike. If you already have three then why not four? Four is a nice round number if you’re a cyclist. You cover off all your conceivable bases unless of course you live in a city whereby you will probably need to purchase a really cool cruiser bike for those trendy jaunts about town.
Cyclocross has grown significantly in North America over the past few years. A good example is a small weekly race series here in Victoria that started several years ago with attendance around 15 people. Now there are close to 100 people ever week who race around various parks in town as the sun is setting on cool fall evenings.
Cyclocross offers the perfect balance between road riding and mountain biking and is ideal for semi off road adventures. Cross bikes typically take the shape of a normal road bike with a few small tweaks including a higher bottom bracket for greater clearance and tires that literally cross between road and mountain. Similar to a road bike, they are thin but with small treads like a mountain bike.
The main benefits to riding a cross bike at this time of year are numerous. You can access any type of road or bike path or just stay on the road. You won’t be moving as fast as when you are on a road bike so generally cooler conditions don’t affect you as much. Cross bikes generally have more clearance for fenders which is a good thing if you are planning on doing a fair bit on the road in wet conditions. In places like Victoria where we ride all winter most people are on cross bikes for this reason.
Cross bikes are typically cost effective unless you are fanatic about the component group you chose to run. Usually the frames are a little heavier and the components are not so high end so you can get into it for about a thousand dollars, which is not bad in todays often high-priced bike world. If you are really thrifty you will realize that your cross bike can essentially be transformed into a road bike with a $50 tire change and voila you’ve got a bike for all seasons.
So if you are sitting there thinking of all kinds of lame excuses why you can’t ride this fall why not dig into the cross scene? Most bike companies have cross bikes in their line up at very reasonable prices. Who knows, you’ll probably venture out onto some roads you would never dare touch with your road or triathlon bike. Have fun!
Ironman Canada is one of the longest running Ironman events on the planet. For many Canadians it is the big race of the season. It typically takes place at the end of August making it a perfect climax to a Canadian summer of racing. For many athletes this is the race they are peaking for.
We asked Ironman Champion Jasper Blake to share five tips on how to make Ironman Canada your best race of the season.
1- Don’t Change
The biggest mistake I see people making when they get close to an Ironman is the sudden urge to make significant changes to their plan. It is normal to get anxious and have small panic attacks leading up to the race but it is a mistake to suddenly think you need to change your whole game plan. It’s hard not to be influenced by others- race week everyone is walking around, talking about what they are going to do pace wise or nutritionally and it’s hard to not get sucked into different ideas. The biggest advice I can offer is to stick to your game plan. If you have practiced something in training and it has worked then stick to your plan. The time to make big changes is not race week.
2- Break the bike course up mentally
Ironman can always seem daunting- it is a long way and a long day- so break it up into manageable pieces. Ironman Canada is a great course to break up especially on the bike. The first leg involves a fast ride down to Osoyoos. Once you are there you are already a third of the way through the bike portion. The next piece is the climb up Richters pass and the rollers, which can be a welcome break after 60km of flat time trialing. The next piece is the out and back which can discourage people because you literally head straight back to where you came from but remember, 180km is 180km- it’s just a piece of that. The next piece is the climb up Yellow Lake- again a nice break from the flat time trial efforts. And finally you get to descend down into Penticton- 20km downhill, which is a great way to finish off the bike.
3- Pace yourself up Richters Pass
Richters pass is the first significant climb at Ironman Canada. It comes about 60km into the race and is often the place where people make the biggest tactical error. At 60km everyone feels good and many people go way too hard up Richters. If you overextend yourself on Richters it will haunt you going up Yellow Lake. The people who are smart on Richters are always doing the passing up Yellow Lake.
4- Run one mile at a time
A marathon after all that biking is not the best way to think about the run. Instead, think of it as one mile repeats. The aid stations are typically one mile apart so make it your goal to simply run from aid station to aid station. The brain prefers small chunks- everyone can run a mile so run a mile at a time.
5- Think Ahead
When the run starts getting tough (which it does for everyone), remember that you are not alone. Everyone is basically experiencing the same thing you are- the steps can be downright painful. A good mental trick is to simply think ahead to the end. The last mile in Penticton is along Lakeshore drive where there are literally thousands of people screaming and cheering. It will be the best mile of your life! So if you find yourself at mile 14 and you are struggling- zip ahead in your mind and get excited about what’s coming at mile 25. Sometimes this little mental boost can get you through a tough spell.
Starting out at a very conservative pace will pay huge dividends in the end. I often use the first 1-2 miles as warm-up and then I settle into my goal race pace and then try to pick up the pace over the last 1/3 of the race. I have had my best results when I paced the opening miles properly and have suffered horribly at the end when I haven’t.
2-Plan for adversity
I find that most people focus on and visualize having a perfect day, but things rarely go according to plan in endurance races. When the athlete has something go wrong they are mentally unprepared and it throws them off their game. Rather, expected the unexpected and be pleasantly surprised when things go right. It’s win-win
3-Focus on form & Have a routine
The main difficulty with endurance races is staying focused and in the moment. Having form cues, that you have used in training, can keep you engaged when you catch your mind wandering. If you have a coach, use the cues that they have given you, or if you don’t simple words like relax, or quick feet etc… can bring your mind back into the moment. Much like form, I find that having a routine in the race helps me stay engaged.For instance, I plan when and what I will eat and drink and I focus on that task.
4- Celebrate success
Endurance racing at its core comes down to discomfort. How much discomfort can you handle, while still being efficient & fast? I find that celebrating successes along the way with a smile, a fist pump, a little surge etc.. give me a mental boost. I usually celebrate distance milestones in the race, such as 1/3 done, 3/4 done, or managing hill section well, gives me a mental boost. I never focus on how much I have left, just what I have already done.
5-When you feel good eat &/or drink, when you feel bad eat &/or drink
I can’t take credit for this mantra, I believe it was either Dave Scott, or Mark Allen who coined it, but it has been invaluable to my ultra-racing. I find that my mood directly reflects whether or not I am properly fueled, so when I stop being engaged in the moment and start to get too confident, or overwhelmed with what I have left to do, I focus on nutrition.
Traveling can be one of the hardest things to do while trying to maintain fitness and overall health. The general stress of the journey combined with time changes and jet lag can really throw a wrench into your performance goals. Considering a large percentage of multisport athletes are business folks and avid travelers it’s important to establish some good travel habits so you can maximize performance on the road.
1. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead is a simple way to avoid unwanted mental stress when you are traveling. If you are traveling overseas it’s good to assume your destination may not have all the usual supplies you regularly need and use. This includes things like the nutrition you are used to, essential equipment and even facilities to use. Always take what you need in terms of nutrition and equipment and research training venues online before you go. It will save you time and energy when you get there.
2. Compression Gear
Compression gear is essential when you are traveling, especially during flights. Sitting on a plane for hours with altered air pressure can cause major swelling in the lower body especially the ankles. This problem becomes even more apparent post race or post hard training. The body is already in a state of breakdown and flying only ads to the physical stress. Compression gear is a simple way to limit swelling and help blood flow, which ultimately aids in recovery and performance.
3. Smart Luggage
Investing in a proper carry on suitcase can save your shoulders and back when doing long haul trips that require lots of walking and standing in line. Heavily loaded backpacks can put strain on your shoulders and lower back. They are also not as space efficient. Often items disappear into the abyss of the bag and are frustrating to find and get out. Smaller carry-on suitcases have plenty of room so you can take a few extras with you on board to increase your comfort level and they usually have a set of wheels that takes the load off your shoulders and lower back.
4. Comfortable Clothes
Bringing a change of clothes for really long flights is a great idea. If you are going to sit on a plane for 10-15 hours why do it in a tight pair of jeans? Bring some loose fitting track pants and a warm sweater so you can really chill out. Little things like this go a long way to decreasing travel stress.
You’ve heard it before and it’s true, flying can be a major source of dehydration. The air is often very dry. In fact, the cabin of an airplane can get down to 1% humidity, which is significantly dryer than most deserts. Hydration and electrolyte loss can be a major factor in performance and recovery. It’s almost a good idea to treat long flights like a race. Regular consumption of water and something with electrolytes is a great way to stay on top of your body chemistry.
6. Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol can and does have a stronger affect on the human body in flight.This is primarily because the lack of moisture in cabin air causes you to absorb any fluids faster. When your body needs to perform or recover, the negative affects of alcohol can seriously hamper your ability to do your best. Avoiding alcohol on flights altogether is good practice.
7. Sleep and Rest
Sleep deprivation can have detrimental affects on performance and recovery and nothing deprives you of sleep more than travel does (aside from perhaps children). Sleeping on the plane is often difficult with limited space and a foreign environment but if you can manage it on long haul flights it’s a very good idea. It’s also a good idea to avoid really hard intense workouts the day after traveling. The combined affects of sleep loss, dehydration and stress can leave you close to the health tipping point. Make sure your training and racing schedule allows for as many recovery days post travel as possible to ensure you actually recover from the travel.
When considering training for any sport there is truth in the idea that a change can be as good as a rest.
There is no question that changing your environment periodically is good for your mental state, which inevitably translates into more productive training. Many people will migrate south for the odd week to soak up some sun and train in a different environment. But what if you cannot spare the $1-$2k it’s going to cost for such an adventure?
There is a simple solution. Making a few small changes to your regular routine throughout the week can be as good as going on a camp or taking a rest.
Here are SEVEN simple ways you can spice up your winter training months.
1) Changing Pools
If you live in a larger city with more than one pool or aquatic center, try swimming at a different location once per week. The pool may be the same size but the simple change in stimulus can be good for your motivation. Light conditions, smells, temperature of the water, even the subtle difference in paint color on the bottom of the pool can be enough to freshen things up.
2) Change bikes
Winter training doesn’t always have to be on a computrainer or winterized bike. Mountain biking is possible in many areas especially in the absence of snow. But even with snow it’s possible to ride a fat tired mountain bike if you run tubeless tires with very low tire pressure. The sound the tires make on hard packed snow is enough to jazz you up significantly
3) Cross Train
The winter months are a perfect time to cross train. Yes even in a sport like triathlon it is possible to cross train. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, even downhill skiing can benefit your fitness.
4) Try night activities
Winter days are short which can either be a source of doom and gloom or something you embrace. Many winter sports areas provide lit venues for activities when it’s dark. After a couple of hours on cross-country skis in the dark, hot chocolate tastes very good.
5) Change Running Routes
Contrary to popular belief you don’t always have to run the same routes. One of my favorite workouts during winter months is doing an urban adventure run. I try and run on streets I have never been on. The city you live in can be as new and exciting as the trails you run on in the summer. You would be surprised how many new streets and subdivisions you can discover on a long run.
6) Training Groups
You don’t always have to do bike trainer workouts in your garage by yourself. Chances are there are dozens of other individuals in your area who are sitting in their garage at the same time by themselves. Group trainer sessions can be a great way to get people together for an hour of good work. Time flies when you are hammering it out with other people.
7) Get in the weight room
A block of training in the weight room during the winter can be a good thing for many athletes. Although it’s not for everyone, some basic strength and stability work often proves to be highly beneficial. The weight room itself is often as new to endurance athletes as the type of training done in a weight room. New incoming stimuli force us to be more alert and more engaged. This often means we will get more out of the experience.
For most summer athletes the winter months are a time for base building and cross training. In Canada we are lucky to have winter because it provides a venue for some of the most fun sporting activities on the planet. Winter is by and large great but it can also create added mental and physiological stress. Cold weather and shorter, darker days can cause macro and micronutrient depletion that can leave you tired, fatigued and often under the weather.
1) Perhaps the most obvious example of micronutrient depletion is Vitamin D. Northern climates in particular leave people prone to Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is produced naturally in the body through sunlight exposure. In the winter months we are exposed to less sunlight particularly through the eyes and on the skin. Incorporating a multivitamin supplement that contains Vitamin D can help you stay healthier during the winter months.
2) Hydration is another area that people often neglect in the winter. This happens primarily because people don’t think to drink as much. Cooler weather doesn’t prompt us to hydrate as readily as a hot summer day. However, we still lose water at a rapid rate especially when exercising. We lose water through sweating but also through respiration. It’s not uncommon to become chronically dehydrated in the winter months. If you exercise regularly make sure you follow a similar protocol for hydration as you do in the summer. It’s also a good idea to make a habit of drinking a glass of water upon waking in order to replace lost water through respiration during sleep.
3) The immune system is probably the area that people focus on most during the winter months. Ginseng has long been used in traditional medicine as an immune system booster. Ginseng is often referred to as an adaptogen. An adaptogen is a term used to describe a herb that increases the body’s resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety and fatigue by balancing the endocrine and immune systems. There are several products that claim to boost the immune system through the use of Ginseng.
Incorporating a good multivitamin/mineral supplement into your daily routine can help you stay healthy during the winter months. A product like 7SYSTEMS Endurance Sports Supplement provides a complete spectrum of vitamins and minerals and added extras like the adaptogen ginseng. And although 7SYSTEMS does not contain any water, you will likely consume a glass of it when taking the product so you will be inadvertently hydrating.
Songs 1-4 are warm up
-Focus on your form. Watch your pelvis and make sure it is not rocking.
-Pedal in a full circle to maximize the muscle efficiency.
-Start at lower effort and build effort with each song.
Song 5 (Accelerations)
-without shifting gears increase your rpm to the edge of your comfort and technical efficiency (meaning no rocking or bouncing).
-accelerate for 15-30sec and then slow it back down for the equal time and repeat this for the duration of the song
Song 6 (Cruise)
-Active Recovery @ 90-100rpm
Songs 7-8 (Single leg drill)
-shift to an easy gear (for neuromuscular development). Start with short repetitions of 30sec to 60secs on each leg. Cadence (rpm) should also vary. As a general rule, keep cadence below that point when your stroke begins to ‘break up.’ The leg that is not pedaling can rest on the arm of the stationary trainer or a chair. Alternate back and forth for the duration of the two songs
Song 9 (Cruise)
-Active Recovery @ 90-100rpm
Songs 10-12 (Fun time)
-Steady State riding
-goal is to put to work out that you worked on above
-effort is a 7/10 or Zone 3 wattage/hr
Songs 13-end of the hour
-Cool down working on higher rpm at a very low resistance
-Focus on ‘planting’ your butt on the saddle and don’t bounce! Stay smooth and relaxed at all times. Maintain ‘pressure’ on the pedal at all times, but keep the pressure ‘light’.
If you enjoy the workout above, then check out other Indoor Rider programs. Indoor Rider in 2010 made a major impact on many athletes’ cycling performances all around North America.
1. Over 26 (1 hr) Cycling Videos that can be downloaded from
Indoor Riders Website
2. By signing up you get access to the videos.
3. The videos are downloaded in three formats (WMV-Low, WMV High,
Ipod) and can be burned, played from your computer or Ipod.
5. In addition for signing up you get Simon
<http://www.indoorrider.com/news-2/> Whitfield’s video and Coach Pickerings
Race Day videos as well.
For more information, contact Richard Pady, Head Coach of Healthy Results Training and Creator of IndoorRider.com at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The TRX Suspension Trainer is becoming a popular training tool amongst runners and triathletes. Using the TRX can help you train those core muscles that your body will call upon to stabilize yourself and stay strong in the late stages of a race.
An effective exercise on the TRX for runners and triathletes is the TRX Atomic Push-Up. See the video below for a demonstration. This is a functional movement for runners as it engages the hip flexors and core.
1. Come up to a push up / plank position, with your toes suspended in the TRX. Ensure your core is engaged and your back is flat.
2. Draw hips into the air and your knees into your chest.
3. As you drop back down you move into a classic push up position and perform a push up.
Warming up for any event is crucial but not all warm ups are created equally. It’s important to have several different warm strategies in place. There are numerous factors that affect what type of warm up to do. For example warming up for an endurance event when it’s incredibly hot requires some tempering. There is no sense spending an hour depleting your body of water and electrolytes before the race even starts. You still need to get your muscles and heart ready to do work but you need to factor in the cost. For marathons a similar problem occurs. How much time can you really spend warming up when the race itself is going to take 2.5-6+ hours depending on who you are. Typically the shorter the race the more warm up is required and conversely the longer the race the less warm up is required. This is in part due to the pace you are going to go (shorter is much faster) and in part due to the actual energy loss you can afford to give up. For marathons you shouldn’t need more than about ten minutes of light jogging and some strides to really get warmed up. Of course if you are an elite runner and aiming for a time in the low two hour mark you will likely need to get your lactic buffers fired up but if you are in the 4 hour plus crowd the first few miles will do just fine.
2- What to wear
Obviously weather is a huge component of longer races. You cannot get away with something that is too hot or two cold when you have 3+ hours ahead of you. It’s important to know what the conditions will be like and dress appropriately. As a general rule you are likely to feel warmer when you are racing than when you are training probably in part due to the intensity. Probably the number one rule when considering longer events is to make sure that you are comfortable above all else. Wear what you feel good wearing and that includes your footwear. Never make drastic changes on race day unless you have tried them in training and know you will be comfortable.
3- Blisters and Chaffing
It’s rare that we ever run a marathon in training when preparing for a marathon. It’s important to know that chaffing and blisters can happen when the length of time increases. You may not experience either of these things in training simply because you may not have run for that long before. It’s better to prepare for these two things and avoid them all together.
Blisters are obviously most common on the feet. There are several strategies that can help you avoid blisters. Double layer socks are a great idea. A company called “wright sock” make very lightweight, thin socks that are perfect in any shoe. The basic idea is that the layers of sock rub against each other opposed to your skin rubbing against the sock. There are several great products out there in cream or powder form that can also help stave off blisters that are easily massaged into the feet or put into the shoes.
Chaffing is a different story. Chaffing can happen in some of the most unexpected places and it’s a good idea to prepare accordingly. Some common places for chaffing are inner thighs, underarms and nipples. Combine the constant rub of clothing or skin on skin mixed with a bit of moisture and salt and it can be a painful experience. Chaffing can be avoided with the right clothing and of course some anti-friction cream. I’ve even seen people put band-aids on their nipples, which is as effective as it is interesting.
Pacing is probably the most important aspect in a marathon. You must have a plan when it comes to pacing or chances are that you will go out too fast. The longer the event the less chance you have to do anything different than you have been doing in training. By the time the marathon rolls around you should be well versed in your pace and should stick too it. There is a tendency in races to feel very good particularly in the beginning and this can lead people out of their appropriate pace very quickly. Inevitably it will come back to haunt you in the later stages if you go too far beyond your capacity. At larger marathons it’s common to have “pace bunnies”, people who are designated to hit a certain pace so you can run and pace off of them. Regardless, most races are usually marked in miles or kilometers and all you need is a stopwatch to figure it out. Stay on pace and you have a greater chance of reaching your goals.
5- Mental Resiliance
One of the best mental strategies you can have for a marathon is to break it into pieces. The thought of 26 miles or 42km can be daunting. However most people are comfortable with one mile. So instead of running 26 miles run one mile, then another, then another and so on. It’s also a good idea to be familiar with the course. Often a route seems longer when we first do it but as you do it more and more it gets smaller in your head. The brain likes familiarity and if the route has been studied it’s easier for the brain to manage.
6- Nutrition and Hydration
The longer the event the more important nutrition becomes. Anything up to an hour and nutrition is almost a mute point. The body typically has enough glycogen stores to last 60-90 minutes but beyond that it needs a steady stream of carbohydrate to keep going. Anyone who has bonked knows what it feels like to have depleted glycogen stores. It doesn’t matter how fit you are, if you run out of glycogen it will seriously affect your day. It’s important to have a plan that you have tried in practice. It’s also important to know what they have on the course and know that you can handle consuming what they provide. Typically aid stations are every 1-3 miles so it’s also valuable to know the timeframe with which you will have access to nutrition. If you are on the slower side it might be a good idea to bring your own. The best strategy is to take little amounts frequently so as never to dump too much sugar into your gut at once. As intensity goes your ability to absorb calories decreases and vice versa.
Hydration is a major factor in longer events. Water loss happens from the blood stream, which makes the blood thicker and harder for your heart to move. This causes an increase in your effort level. Water loss also decreases ones ability to cool down. We sweat so that our body can regulate its core temperature. Sweat on the skin has a cooling effect. If we lose too much water we decrease our bodies ability to cool down which increases core body temperature and increases perceived effort. Hydrating during long events needs to happen at regular intervals. Like caloric intake, we can only absorb so much water at one time. Dumping too much fluid into the gut at once is a recipe for disaster. Sodium loss and intake also becomes an important factor when we consider hydration. Most sports drinks have sodium for a reason. Sweat contains salt and the more we lose the harder it is for us to move water from the gut to the blood stream. Bloating is one of the major side effects of sodium depletion. When the blood is low in sodium the osmotic gradient required to move fluid across membranes no longer exists and water sits in the gut. You can have great quantities of fluid in your gut but if it’s not in your blood stream you can still be severely dehydrated.
The marathon is probably one of the hardest events to fully recover from. It’s easy to ride your bike or swim for several hours but the repeated pounding that happens when we run really takes a toll on the body. There is a reason why people rarely actually run a marathon in training prior to the actual event, it just takes too long to recover from. Studies have shown that even 3-4 weeks post marathon there can be micro-tears in the muscle indicating that they are still not recovered.
There are several strategies you can use to recover quicker from a marathon.
Stick to low or no impact sports for at least two weeks
Limit the time on your feet to walking for a couple of weeks
If you must run try water running- a low impact alternative
Focus on great nutrition and lean protein to help muscles rebuild
Contrast as in hot/cold treatment work wonders
Massage or any physical contact that promotes blood flow to muscle groups is a very good idea
Consumers generally take for granted that the contents inside a bottle of supplement X matches exactly the label on the outside. Fortunately and for the most part, thanks to the rules currently in place, this is true. However, there are multiple opportunities during production where the contents of the bottle may no longer be represented correctly by the label. Somewhat analogous to bicycle frame builders, most brands of nutritional supplements are manufactured in a limited number of facilities, or contract labs. It’s not economically feasible for a small company with a product line of nutritional supplements to have its own production facility.
Contract labs specialize in production of supplements, analytical testing, and packaging. These labs can be either cGMP or non-cGMP compliant at this time, and the resulting product could be affected by the way the company treats each batch of product being produced. Until 2010, supplements can be legally produced in non-cGMP facilities. The actual contract lab used by any given supplement company is usually a guarded secret as part of one’s competitive advantage. Therefore, rather than looking to the name on the bottle, one must look at the actual contract lab as the source of the product, and the inherent production risks.
From start to finish at a contract lab
a) Starting Materials
Most contract labs source their raw materials from a wide range of outside suppliers, many of whom specialize in certain classes of materials, such as amino acids, protein powders, minerals, etc. Each supplier provides to the contract lab a certificate of analysis (COA) that is issued for each and every lot (batch) of raw material. Suppliers can be located overseas or domestically with the actual starting material produced anywhere around the world.
When raw materials are received by a contract lab, they should be positively identified. This is usually done easily and quickly by near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy. By matching a characteristic fingerprint spectrum of the raw material with a reference spectrum for the material, identity can be confirmed. Purity (the percent active content of the material) is not usually assayed at this time, depending on the COA of the material for this and any other details. This is the first intersection where impurities that originated in the starting material factory or packaging would enter the contract lab undetected. Note that the NIR identity confirmation is not sensitive to pick up foreign matter in the raw material and is a bulk test only.
An entirely different set of concerns arises with herbal ingredients. Many materials such as St. John’s wort, royal jelly, ginkgo biloba, yucca root, grape seed extract, and many others originate from plant extracts. Currently, there are few standards in place to qualify these raw materials for potency or purity. This means that a bottle containing 100 percent St. John’s wort may actually have 5 percent active while another labeled the same way may have double or triple that amount. The FDA final rule guidance on these materials is still 100 percent identification testing, which is problematic due to current analytical testing limitations of some of these materials. At this time, manufacturers can apply for an exemption to this testing. It is hoped within the herbal industry that further clarity on this situation will arise before the FDA final rule takes effect.
As a result of these regulations, products containing herbal ingredients are generally non-standardized and consumers need to be especially aware of potential issues with these products. As a visual rule-of-thumb, if the “Supplement Facts” panel indicates “Daily value not established” for a given ingredient, it is likely that less than adequate information is known about that particular ingredient. Not only are herbal ingredients of often unreliable content, but their toxicity and benefits have generally not been tested in clinical settings, which further prompts the warning: buyer beware.
b) Processing of ingredients
Once the raw materials are identified upon receipt, the contract lab prepares the formulation according to specifications required by the supplement company. This can include dry mixing, wet mixing, granulation, and other physical handling steps. Containers used for these processes are part of machines that can be manually or automatically operated. Often made of stainless steel parts, these complex mixing bowls are used for a given batch and then cleaned and readied for the next product, one that may be totally distinct from the batch before and after it. cGMP contract labs will follow a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that dictate how the machine is to be cleaned, rinsed, and dried. Some facilities conduct a “cleaning verification” whereby some of the rinse wash is tested for the active ingredient from the previous batch. Possible source of contamination #2 arises if a machine is incompletely or incorrectly cleaned leading to carryover from one product to another. In this way, for example, a steroid material from one product batch could be carried over to a protein supplement in the next batch of processed product.
c) Encapsulation/bottling/packaging of the product
The final step within the contract lab takes the mixed product into its final form for the consumer. This can include bulk powder in plastic tubs, pressing powder into pills, or filling capsules with powder. Once again, industry-specific machines are used for this step. Careful cleaning between batches of different product is critical to ensuring no cross-contamination between products. Once the product is in its final packaging, a quality control (QC) unit serves to qualify and inspect the final product. Once again following SOPs, the QC analyst inspects the product against specifications that can include fill weight, color, particle size and other physical characteristics.
Testing of the final product for quantitative content of active material is currently not required, but is coming into place with the new regulations by 2010. What this means is that upon QC approval and issuance of a batch-specific certificate of analysis (COA), the product is ready to be released to consumers. What is not positively known at that time is: Was production and mixing even and complete across the batch? Are there any foreign contaminants in the mixture? And most importantly, do the contents of that bottle match the writing on the label? Fortunately, the FDA final rule of June 22, 2007, requires manufacturers to address these questions. For contract labs already following cGMPs, implementation of these rules should be fairly straightforward, although costs to producers are likely to increase due to additional analytical work required. Expect non-cGMP contract labs to get in gear with the rules or face the prospect of shutting down in the coming years.
WADA and the difference between illegal and prohibited substances
At this juncture, it is worth defining the difference between an illegal substance and a prohibited substance. We are all familiar with materials that are regulated by the government that can include cocaine and other opiates, prescription products such as antibiotics, anti-seizure, antidepressants, etc., that are regulated as suitable for certain applications only, under the administration or prescription of a physician. Some of these materials are illegal under any circumstances while others can be used as needed by those to whom permission is granted (usually by a doctor’s prescription).
WADA has defined a list of substances for which their consumption has deemed to be “against the rules” of sport. Athletes who fall within a sport governed by WADA rules are responsible for observing the WADA prohibited substance list. To be clear: WADA-prohibited substances are not necessarily illegal from a regulated standpoint, but are listed because they can provide an athlete with an unfair advantage in sport. The consequence is that some WADA-prohibited substances can legally be produced in the same contract lab as other nutritional supplements. Looking back to the production discussed earlier, one can quickly determine how cross contamination between products can present an otherwise compliant athlete with a tainted product.
Does natural equal safe?
Health food companies and pundits for healthy living often cite that something is “natural”, implying that this automatically equates to “good” or “safe.” It is worth noting here that the most toxic substances in the world are natural (botulism toxin, and other plant and animal toxins such as from the puffer fish and poison dart frog). In the context of nutritional supplements, your body does not know the difference between purified calcium carbonate from the White Cliffs of Dover and purified chalk produced in a laboratory. While allowing for certain unique natural preparations available only in nature, at a chemical level, there is no difference between a substance in “nature” vs. the “lab.” CaCO3 is CaCO3 wherever you find it. With the above under consideration, it is worth keeping an open mind on both synthetic and natural ingredients, and selecting one over the other as needed and on a scientific basis alone.
With the vast majority of athletes competing at the amateur level, one must ask if it matters if a little bit of X gets in my supplement? Focusing specifically on triathlon, age group athletes are not tested currently at any race except the annual ITU World Championship. Therefore the vast majority of triathletes will never see a drug test. Are they willing to pay a little bit more for a supplement that had been prepared in a cGMP contract lab and tested for WADA prohibited substances? The professionals are tested much more frequently and races worldwide. National governing bodies (NGB) such as USA Triathlon inform their athletes that they must comply with the WADA prohibited substance list, informing athletes that it is their own responsibility to do so. However, other than conducting their own testing or avoiding all nutritional supplements altogether, there is no way that a dedicated professional athlete can ensure that neither the food that they eat nor the supplements they consume are clean. Until now…
Sleep is often the most overlooked factor when considering injury prevention. Sleep is without question the number one strategy for staying healthy in all respects and these days we get less and less of it. Consider the average Ironman athlete who is juggling full time work with a family and 20+ hours of training per week. No wonder we have become a nation addicted to caffeine!
Among other things sleeps primary function is to allow recovery on all levels. Sleep is a heightened anabolic state, accentuating the growth and rejuvenation of the immune, nervous, skeletal and muscular systems. It is observed in all mammals, all birds, and many reptiles, amphibians, and fish. So if you’re not getting enough sleep this is the first place to start if you want to avoid injury or illness.
People don’t often make the connection between nutrition and injury prevention but it might be one of the most crucial factors to consider. Training involves a systematic breakdown of the body both physically and mentally. Endurance sports (stress) triggers the release of cortisol, a catabolic hormone (meaning it breaks down molecules into smaller units). We need cortisol to help metabolize sugars fats and proteins but it also suppresses the immune system and decreases bone formation. Cortisol has the opposite effect of sleep by creating a catabolic (opposite of anabolic) state in the body.
If we don’t replace what we have lost after a training session it can be a recipe for injury. What we ingest provides the building blocks for restoration. This includes everything from water to solid food and of course supplementation. We need to provide a steady flow of macro and micronutrients to allow for this recovery and effectively prevent injury.
Get a Coach
If you are considering tackling any kind of sport one of the best things you can do is employ the expertise of a good coach. Endurance athletes in particular have a tendency to overdo it on a regular basis. The “more is better” philosophy seems to be ingrained in our psyche not matter how flawed it actually is. A good coach will offer two things. First and foremost, smart planning. A good coach will structure a program to allow for periods of work and periods of recovery and if it’s done properly your body will adapt and get stronger after each load. Secondly, a good coach offers an objective look at how you are actually doing. Sometimes it’s tough to make smart calls on your own. A good coach can see what’s happening from outside of your “box” and help you make the right call when your body is breaking down.
Sports by nature are very repetitive. Endurance sports in particular lend themselves mainly to overuse injuries. Overuse injuries can be caused by too much of a good thing or simply poor technique. Proper biomechanics and technique are critical when you are repeating movements over and over again. It’s important to consider technique all the way up the chain from your feet to your upper body. Take cycling for example. Not only is it important to learn how to pedal properly but it’s also crucial to be set up on your bike and in your shoes in such a way to allow you to pedal properly. How your feet interact with the shoe and pedal is as important as the actual training. Technical practice is as important as energy system practice.
Be Cross Fit- Be Athletic
Endurance sports have a nasty habit of getting people moving in one plane and in very fixed positions. Sports such as running and biking require a more or less fixed position whereby the legs and arms move linearly with very little variation. Counter balancing these movements with alternate exercises is very important when considering injury prevention. It’s important to work opposing muscle groups on a regular basis. In the off-season one strategy is to become cross fit. Try different activities that challenge you muscularly. When you are in-season make sure you pay some attention to opposing muscle groups so you don’t overdevelop your prime movers.
Good Pain vs. Bad Pain
The expression “listen to your body” is used regularly but what does it actually mean? When considering injury prevention it means everything. It means acquiring the ability to know the difference between good pain and bad pain.
Discomfort is necessary in sport in order to move to higher levels of performance, we need good pain. Good pain occurs with normal physical exertion and includes things like increased breathing rate, lactic acid build up and muscle fatigue.
Bad pain is anything that doesn’t feel “right” and can often be pinpointed directly as in “it hurts here”. Bad pain is anything that causes us to move out of our normal range of motion or biomechanical pattern in order to compensate for the pain.
The best athletes know when to push through good pain and when to recognize and heed the signs of bad pain.
Use an injury prevention specialist
Believe it or not there are professions that specialize in recovery and injury prevention. Massage therapists, Physiotherapists, Chiropractors and Yoga instructors are all examples of professionals in the recovery and injury prevention business. Massage therapy for example increases blood flow to muscle groups, which provide oxygen and nutrients that help repair damaged tissues. Chiropractors focus on the spine and nerve pathways to make sure you are firing properly. Physiotherapy focuses on maintaining proper movement and function throughout the body. Yoga is a form of physical and meditative practice that has been used for its restorative properties for thousands of years. So when considering injury prevention, remember that you can and should seek the advice of a professional.
About ten million Americans have osteoporosis, and another 34 million have low bone mass (osteopenia). A disease without symptoms, osteoporosis affects about 20 percent of men and 80 percent of women.
Because the bones gradually become weaker, they will probably break in a minor fall or, if left untreated, even from simple things like a sneeze. The most common fracture sites include the hip, wrist and spine, although any bone in the body can be affected.
A diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis could be scary, leading some people to quit exercise due to fear it will cause fractures.
The reality is that those with low bone mass should make sure to exercise often. Being active may not simply aid the prevention of osteoporosis, but slow bone loss once it has already begun. Before beginning a training program, it is important to talk with a medical expert for guidelines, as degree of bone loss determines exactly what workout is best. Physicians can assess bone mineral density and fracture risk by scanning the body by using a special kind of X-ray machine.
As well as exercise, treatment may include dietary modifications and/or estrogen replacement therapy. The more you know concerning this condition, the more you can do to help prevent its onset.
To create strength and bone mass, both weight-bearing and resistance training exercises are ideal.
Weight-bearing workouts are those that require the bones to fully support your weight against gravity. Examples are walking, jogging, stair climbing, dancing or using an elliptical machine. Non-weight bearing exercises include biking, swimming, water aerobics and rowing. Weight-bearing activities such as walking as little as 3 x per week will benefit the bones.
Resistance training places mechanical force (stress) on our bodies, which in turn increases bone mineral density. Start by lifting light weights, moving in a slow and controlled manner, increasing resistance when you become stronger.
It is usually highly recommended that individuals with osteoporosis avoid the following kinds of activity:
Step aerobics and high-impact activities including running, jumping, tennis.
Activities that involve rounding, bending and twisting on the spine.
Moving the legs sideways or across the body, particularly when performed against resistance.
Rowing machines, trampolines.
Any kind of movement that involves pulling on the head and neck.
Even if you don’t have osteoporosis, you should seek advice from your health care provider prior to starting a fitness program.
Remember to warm-up before starting and cool down at the conclusion of each exercise session.
To find the best benefit to your bone health, combine several different weight-bearing exercises.
When you build strength, increase resistance, or weights, instead of repetitions.
Remember to drink a lot of water whenever exercising.
Vary the types of exercise that you try every week.
Combine weight bearing and resistance exercise with aerobic exercises to help increase your overall health.
Bring your friend along to help you continue or better yet, bring your family and encourage them to be healthy.
Add more physical activity in your day; take the stairs vs. the elevator, park further way, and walk to your co-worker’s office instead of emailing.
Put LIVE into action!
L – Load or weight-bearing exercises make a difference to your bones
I – Intensity builds stronger bones.
V – Vary the kinds of exercise and your routine to keep interested.
E – Enjoy your exercises. Make exercise fun so you will continue in to the future!
Specific factors boost the probability of developing osteoporosis. While a few of these risk factors are controllable, others are not. Risk factors that could be controlled are: Sedentary lifestyle, excess intake of protein, sodium, caffeine and/or alcohol, smoking, calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies and taking certain medicines. Body size (small frame), gender, family history and ethnicity are risk factors that cannot be controlled. Women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone mass in the five to seven years after menopause, which makes them more vunerable to osteoporosis.
It is never too soon to start considering bone density.
About 85-90 % of adult bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and 20 in boys.
Nutrition and Exercise are critical for Healthy Bones in childhood and Adolescence
Much of the reserve of healthy bone is built in youth and before the age of 30.
Women may be more susceptible to an inadequate foundation process at this time than men.
Sufficient calcium intake,a balanced diet with a lot of fruit and veggies and load-bearing exercise will be the recommendations for solid bone growth when you’re young.
Even if you do each of the right things while maturing and into adulthood, your inherited characteristics- your genes -can present you with bones that are susceptible to osteoporosis. This is even greater reason to maximize your lifestyle to prevent poor bone health.
Writer’s note: The info provided on this article are designed to support, not substitute, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician.
Michelle Aultman writes for the elliptical machine blog, her personal hobby blog dedicated to guidelines to prevent osteoporosis trough fitness at home. She has no professional intent and does not accept direct source of advertising coming from health or pharmaceutical firms, doctors or clinics and websites. All content provided by her is based on her editorial judgment and is not driven by an advertising purpose.
Most people involved in endurance sport do so to maintain or improve their overall health. Endurance sport stresses the body in certain ways causing physiologic change leading to these health benefits. These same stresses may have implications for dental health.
A main area of consideration for dental health for endurance athletes is tooth structure health. This area of health relates to tooth decay and erosion. Both involve loss of tooth structure. Decay is loss of tooth structure from bacterial acid production. Erosion is loss of tooth structure from dietary acid or gastric (stomach) acid.
Long periods of training or racing cause metabolic events that can reduce salivary flow. Saliva has a cleansing and buffering function for both acid and bacteria. As salivary flow is reduced, the oral environment may become more acidic. Dentists now believe that decay can happen because of many (possibly more than 300 different types of bacteria). The process is due to the biofilm on teeth. The pH of the mouth can select for bacteria. The more acidic the oral environment the greater the selection pressure for bacteria who produce and live in an acidic environment. This can lead to increased risk of decay.
Sport drinks are often low pH. Some energy drinks have a pH of battery acid. In addition, they may contain citric acid which binds calcium. This is a serious problem as the acid dissolves calcium from teeth and the citric acid binds it and takes it away.
To ensure that endurance sport activity does not have a deleterious effect on tooth structure, it is best to consult your dentist. There are tests available to determine the decay risk of an individual’s bacterial biofilm. There are management protocols to break up the biofilm, increase the pH and put selection pressure for healthier bacteria in the oral environment. This can reduce the risk of decay. Your dentist can also advise you related to use of sport drink and maintaining dental health. The goal should be to enjoy the health benefits of endurance sport and not compromise dental health.
Dr. Derek Hopkins (DMD, MS, RDT, FRCD(C)) is a restorative dental specialist practising in Victoria, British Columbia.
So I raced my first Ultra, the Chuckanut 50km in Bellingham WA. It is one of the most competitive ultra races around and I wanted to test myself to see how I would stack up. I finished 3rd, having a solid battle between the 3 podium finishers. It was a super fun and hard race and I’ll definitely try more ultra events.
What I (think I) did well:
I trained relatively well for the event. Jon Brown set me up very well with his emphasis on strength and endurance. When a runner/coach of his caliber gives you advice, you listen. Our long tempo outings and hill reps are not fun, but they build character. There is no focus on one big workout, or key day, rather it is the consistency over a season and years that really count. I also find that with my schedule of school and being a husband that I have to be okay with allowing some flexibility into my program (although Lauren is incredibly understanding of my NEED to run).
After talking to Hal Koerner (aka the Man), I understand that a lot of the bigger ultras will have some “running sections”, so being fast will definitely be an advantage here. I think that keeping up some sort of efforts, mile reps, tempo work etc… will make a huge difference.
I realized that I have become a decent single-track and downhill runner. All my work on it last summer paid off. So yes, it can be trained. Still, I needed a few more long downhill efforts, but those will come over the summer. This is a big advantage, sort of free speed, so hopefully I can work these parts of the course, taking people out of their comfort zones during the race.
For the most part, I managed to stay emotionally neutral. Never getting too up or down on myself. The few times I did, it cost me. I think these emotions can be related to and managed with nutrition (yes, I am an emotional eater).
I was glad that I was aggressive. I like to be at the front of races (who doesn’t). I feel that you have to take some “calculated” risks. It is a race after all, so treat the event as a race! You do need to be realistic about what your abilities are though, so aggressive is a very subjective term. Unrealistic aggressiveness=a whole bunch of suffering.
No blisters/chaffing! I have wicked gear!
I made sure to enjoy the experience. As cheesy as it sounds, I know that I am fortunate to be able to run a hilly 50km and also that I am confident enough in my abilities to be able to “race” my first ultra. Not everyone can. Also, I really enjoy running along trails, so I don’t want to get too worked up about it.
What I could/need to improve:
What I think I was lacking was training on long sustained climbs at effort and working long downhills. I also probably should have done 1-2 longer runs. Most of my long runs were in the 2.5 hour range, but I was getting in good total weekly volume.
I needed to get in a massage or two. I definitely need to make sure that my hips and back stay loose, especially after long runs. I spend a lot of time sitting now, so I need to be more diligent about moving around and getting up to stretch out my hips while in class/working. I also need to be more diligent with core work.
I think that I need to get back on the bike. For some reason, biking (not just easy spins, but actual steady rides with some climbs) helps my uphill running. It strengthens my back and allows me to practice getting in calories during long sustained efforts. If I lived right at a trailhead this might be different, but for now, I don’t, so I have to figure out how simulate it. Running is, and will always be, the best training for running!
I remember reading a quote once, either by Peter Reid, or Mark Allen about nutrition during ultra events. That is when you feel good, eat, when you feel bad eat! I skipped a few gels and that was a mistake. When racing, I need to make sure I get at least a gel down every 40 minutes or so. I should also always have a “Just In Case” (JIC) gel on me and I need to keep eating through the last miles.
I also need to make sure that I practice getting gels in at effort. I also think I drank a bit too much fluid early on, or was a tad short on electrolytes.
Remember that in long races, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. A lot can happen in the last few miles. I was passed with about a mile to go. I don’t think that I expected to be in that much of a race at the end.
Obviously, I need to do a few more races. I had never run that long at a hard effort, so not surprisingly, when it came to the unknown part of the race, the last few miles, I was unprepared to deal with what came up. Although I had an idea of what it would feel like, you have to actually experience it a few times before you can develop coping mechanisms, or develop a plan to manage the pain/emotions of the rough patches.
•“schooner” of Porter
What I ate that AM (8am start):
•2 pieces of raisin toast-almond butter+honey (6:20am)
•shot of oil (6:20am)
•Starbucks Americano (7 am)
•3 sharkies about 30 min. before the start
•some sips of Vega electrolyte drink, maybe a 1/4 bottle
During the race:
•started with a capful of CarboPro+Nuun (not a great xombo)
•5 gels—too much caffeine in my gels (70min, 2hrs, 2:30, 3:00 , 3:20).
o 1 Power Bar, 4 Cliff shots.
•second bottle with Nuun (Mile 20)
•top up of Nuun at Mile 24
It is generally well accepted dogma in the health and fitness industry (as in athletic conditioning) that stretching is an important part of a regular training program. We’ve been told that passive stretching will help prevent injury, improve performance, reduce DOMS, and should be part of a warm-up and cool-down. However, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims, and in fact there is mounting scientific research to show otherwise. Despite this, there seems to be a lot of conflicting advice about how and when to stretch. I’ve seen too many trainees unable to perform optimally or suffer from recurring injuries, in part due to improper stretching habits. It’s time to take a closer look at stretching and flexibility training.
According to the ACSM, flexibility is the measure of the range of motion at a joint or group of joints and the ability to move a joint through its complete range of motion.
There are 2 main categories of stretching: passive and active.
Passive stretching is when you use an outside force other than your own muscle to move a joint or limb beyond its active range of motion, to put your body into a position that you couldn’t do by yourself (such as when you lean into a wall, or have a partner push you into a deeper stretch). Unfortunately, this is the most common form of stretching used.
Active stretching eliminates outside force and it’s adverse effects from stretching procedures. It involves actively using your own muscles to achieve range of motion; as the antagonist (opposite) muscle contracts, the agonist (target) muscle groups lengthen and relax. This is a safe, effective, and recommended method of stretching.
Stop Being So Passive!
Although most people are more familiar with traditional passive stretching (where you push into a deep stretch, without muscular effort), it can actually hurt your performance and can potentially cause injury! Research from the American Journal of Applied Physiology and reports brought to us by the American College of Sports Medicine show that passive stretching can decrease strength and muscular power output by up to 20 %.
Passive stretching can also tear your soft tissue thus creating less available muscle for you to create power. This is especially significant if you consider that many athletes are still doing passive stretching prior to training or competition!
Static passive stretching will dampen the nervous system activation of the involved muscles, essentially making them looser, weaker, and less stable for at least an hour afterwards (Reduced strength after passive stretch of the human plantar flexors, 2000, Fowles). This reduces strength and joint stability and can negatively affect your athletic performance as well as increase risk of injury. Stacy Ingraham, an exercise physiologist at the University of Minnesota, concluded that passive stretching not only has no effect on preventing injuries, but it can actually make you even more likely to get hurt.
A study consisting of 1543 serious runners linking stretching to muscle problems was carried out by David Lally, PhD, (University of Hawaii). The important finding in Lally’s survey was that 47% of all male runners who stretched regularly were injured during a one-year period, while just 33% of male runners who didn’t stretch were hurt; a statistically significant difference (9).
Another study indicates that athletes in the highest 20% of the flexibility continuum are actually the ones with the highest rates of injury (15)!
Some people might argue that they can achieve a greater range of motion using passive stretching. However, this increased range of motion in static positions does not carry-over to the dynamic range of movement associated with sport. Even worse, achieving excessive range of motion is not necessarily beneficial to an athlete, and could even be injurious.
Although this type of stretching may temporarily relieve joint, muscle and back pain in some cases, it can ultimately aggravate the underlying condition, and increases weakness and instability. This may be hard for many trainers, coaches, and athletes to accept, but it is evidently very hard to justify including passive stretching anywhere in a training program. It is generally a less desirable way to improve flexibility and range of motion. If you are going to use passive stretches, at least do them only at the end of a workout or practice (never before) and follow each stretch with an active hold of that position.
So what is the alternative for improving flexibility? Active stretching is a safe effective method of maintaining a healthy range of motion, while increasing joint stability and strength. Because muscle ‘tightness’ is often due to compensation for joint instability or weakness in another muscle, developing strong, stable joints allows a greater range of motion. It is recommended to perform active range of motion (AROM) exercises following a workout, game, or practice session. The “stretch” positions can be very similar to passive stretches, but they are being held using muscular effort, not outside force. Actively hold each position for 10 to 15 seconds. Active stretching can also be incorporating into effective flexibility techniques such as ProprioNeuromuscular Facilitiation (PNF).
Examples of some basic AROM static stretches include:
· Lats- reaching your arms straight overhead
· Chest- extend your arms out to the sides, and retract your shoulder blades
· Quadriceps- flex your heal toward your butt, contracting the hamstrings
· Hamstrings- extend your leg straight in front of you, and contract the quads
Warming Up To A Dynamic Approach
Dynamic stretching is another form of active range of motion that is recommended before training, practice or competition, and has been shown to reduce muscle tightness while increasing nervous system activation. Dynamic warmup exercises involve moving parts of your body and gradually increasing reach, speed of movement, or both. Do not confuse dynamic stretching with ballistic stretching (which is not recommended)! Dynamic stretching consists of controlled leg and arm swings that gently and progressively move you within the limits of your range of motion. Conversely, ballistic stretches involve bouncing or “jerky” movements, trying to force a part of the body beyondavoids bouncing motions and tends to incorporate more sport-specific movements, such as arm circles, torso rotations, butt kicks, high knee lifts and walking lunges (without weights). its range of motion. Dynamic stretching
Recent scientific studies indicate that dynamic stretches before physical activity are preferable to static passive stretches (4,20,21). This may be particularly true for strength and power athletes.
Athletes, coaches, trainers, and others need to use the combination of strength training, conditioning, and warming up that’s best for a given sport or activity. In general, it is recommended to perform a dynamic warm up before training and incorporate some active range stretches afterwards. Also consider that stretching naturally occurs when you exercise. In order to contract a muscle, the opposite muscle groups have to be relaxed and lengthening.
I understand that this may be new information for many readers. However, to quote Emma Wilkinson from the British Medical Journal on the subject of this new scientific research:
“These findings are contrary to what many athletes and coaches believe and what is common practice. Yet much of sport and exercise medicine and the management of musculoskeletal injury have developed empirically with very little research evidence. The culture is changing, and this study makes a valuable contribution to the debate on stretching.”
I encourage you to research this information more yourself and make an educated decision. It may be time to re-evaluate your approach to flexibility training. That’s the long and short of it.
(1) ‘Should Static Stretching Be Used During a Warm-Up for Strength and Power Activities?’ Strength and Conditioning Journal, Vol. 24(6), pp. 33-37, 2002
(2) ‘A Randomised Trial of Pre-exercise Stretching for Prevention of Lower-Limb Injury’, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Vol. 32(2), pp. 271-277, 2000
(3) ‘Injuries in Australian Army Recruits, Part III: The Accuracy of a Pretraining Orthopedic Screen in Predicting Ultimate Injury Outcome’, Military Medicine, Vol.162, pp.481-483, 1997
(4) ‘Effects of Static Stretching on the Maximal Length and Resistance to Passive Stretch of Short Hamstring Muscles’, Journal of Orthopaedic Sports Physical Therapy, Vol. 14, pp. 250-255, 1991
(5) ‘Viscoelastic Response to Repeated Static Stretching in the Human Hamstring Muscle’, Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, Vol. 5, pp. 342-347, 1995
(6) Shrier, I. Stretching before exercise does not reduce the risk of local muscle injury: critical review of the clinical and basic science literature. Clinical J. Sports Med. 9: 221-7. 1999
(7) ‘Predicting Lower-Extremity Injuries among Habitual Runners’, Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 149, pp. 2565-2568, 1989
(8) ‘The Ontario Cohort Study of Running-Related Injuries’, Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 149, pp. 2561-2564, 1989
(9) ‘New Study Links Stretching with Higher Injury Rates’, Running Research News, Vol. 10(3), pp. 5-6, 1994
(10) ‘Muscle Damage Induced by Eccentric Contractions of 25% Strain’, Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol. 70, pp. 2498-2507, 1991
(11) ‘Acute Muscle Stretching Inhibits Maximal Strength Performance’, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, Vol. 69, pp. 411-415, 1998
(12) ‘Identification of a Threshold for Skeletal Muscle Injury’, American Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 22, pp. 257-261, 1994
(13) ‘Influences of Strength, Stretching and Circulatory Exercises on Flexibility Parameters of the Human Hamstrings’, International Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 18, pp.340-346, 1997
(14) ‘Physiology of Range of Motion in Human Joints: A Critical Review’, Critical Reviews in Physical and Rehabilitative Medicine, Vol. 6, pp. 131-160, 1994
(15) ‘Strength, Flexibility, and Athletic Injuries’, Sports Medicine, Vol. 14, pp. 277-288, 1992
(16) ‘Flexibility and Its Effects on Sports Injury and Performance’, Sports Medicine, Vol. 24(5), pp. 289-299, 1997
(17) ‘Investigation into the Effect of Static Stretching on the Active Stiffness and Damping Characteristics of the Ankle Joint Plantar Flexors’, Physical Ther. Sport, Vol.2, pp.15-22,2001
(18) ‘Passive Properties of Human Skeletal Muscle during Stretch Maneuvers’, Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, Vol. 8, pp. 65-77, 1998
(19) ‘Stretching during Warm-Up: Do We Have Enough Evidence?’, Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, Vol. 70(7), pp. 24-27, 1999
(20) ‘Dynamic Warm-Ups’, Sports Coach, Vol. 24(1), pp. 20-22, 2001
(21) Yamaguchi, T., Ishii, K. Effects of static stretching for 30 seconds and dynamic stretching on leg extension power. J. Strength Cond. Res. Aug;19(3):677-83. 2005
Josh Hewett is a personal trainer and strength & conditioning specialist with Top Form Fitness. He also coaches and competes with Team Barbarian Strength Athletics.
Josh holds a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Western Ontario, as well as personal training qualifications from several agencies including CanFitPro. He is a qualified personal training specialist and competitive strength athlete with over 14 years of involvement in the health and fitness industry including employment, academic, competitive, and volunteer experience. Whether your goal is to improve your health and fitness, excel at your sport or hobby, or to recover from an injury, Josh is prepared to motivate and guide you toward reaching your objective.
Josh would like to hear your questions or comments. Feel free to contact him at email@example.com or visit his training website at http://www.teambarbarian.com
You won’t hear much about these stories unless you were at the Winter Olympics in 2010…
I experienced the village of Whistler, saw skiing competitions live, talked to volunteers and witnessed the excitement the Olympics brought to kids’ faces. I also had the chance to walk the streets of Vancouver to experience probably the biggest party of 2010, heard languages from all over the world, haggled for tickets and felt the beat of a city standing prouder than it ever has.
So for those that only had a chance to experience the Olympics through TV, web and newspaper coverage, here’s a look at the top 7 stories that you won’t hear about.
1- Spectators make the events- TV show the athletes but rarely promotes the spectators that come from different countries, bearing their flags costumes and traditions that go with each sport. For cross-country skiing, the Norwegians and Austrians bring 16 foot flagpoles covered in the flags of their favourite countries, while dressed in their traditional costumes. For speed skating, the Dutch come in yellow riding hundreds of bikes imported from Holland just for the Games.
2- Athletes are Anynomous- With the exception of a few hockey, snowboard and downhill skiing stars, you could walk by a medalist and not even know it. I’m sure I saw two women downhillers walking around Whistler Village unrecognized while the day before they had been idolized on TV. Without their helmets and ski suits, they were like any other spectator on the scene.
3- The various ‘Houses’ are Incredible- Nations and organizations find bars, building or other large venues where their athletes and entourage can go gather. They celebrate the best that country has to offer and create a bit of a home away from home for them. These are the places to try to get into and really get an understanding of the incredible effort it takes to send athletes to compete at the Olympics. Just make sure you know how to say hello and thank. These Houses are committed to speaking their languages and celebrating their traditions.
4- We were made for this- It’s a slogan that really hits home when you see the coordination, logistics and innovation that goes into pulling off what many are calling the Biggest Gathering of Humankind. To witness the busses, volunteers, athletes, spectators and media moving about, eating, working and playing with barely a glitch is amazing. As a spectator, I experienced nothing negative. Certainly there were events with their issues, but definitely no more that water other Olympics have experienced. Keep in mind that the events are the toughest to organize as VANOC is not solely responsible for them…rather it is a collaboration of various sporting, judging and building organizations that are ultimately responsible for each events success. It saddens me when I hear people refer to Vancouver 2010 as the Glitch Games…it’s such a typical Canadian perspective. Instead of focusing on an event that has helped Canada define what is at it’s core, the media lets itself fall victim to focusing on the inevitable fallout that comes with putting on any major event.
5- Walk through the streets- After a busy day, it’s easy for spectators and media to retire to their room to watch the recaps. The real action and energy takes place in the evening as the events close and people head out to celebrate and see the city. You get to see the city at its best and have the ability to talk to strangers and celebrities like you’ll never experience otherwise.
6- Try to get into restricted parties and venues- It’s the unwritten challenge that everyone is trying to score. Why? Simple human nature of wanting what you don’t have. Except at the Olympics you end up meeting some really interesting people and experiencing events hard to see anywhere else. It’s a thrill when you get into special venues like Austria House, Canada Hockey House and sold-out concerts.
7- Volunteers are the real heroes- Most athletes have fame, fortune or four more years of inspiration they get out of the Olympics. Volunteers have nothing to gain but the personal satisfaction of knowing they played a small part in creating the Olympics. Most have to be at their work-site by 6am and work until they get called-off by the crew chief. Yes they get nice swag and free tickets to events, but standing around on a ski hill for 6 hours freezing with your only mission being to respond to a radio request like “I need some tape” takes special dedication to the spirit of the Olympics. They are the one’s that really are the link between the organizers and the athletes. They are the one’s that are the biggest heroes in my mind.
Probably the biggest lesson we can take from the winter Olympics is that there are literally dozens of great sports that can keep us fit during the winter months. Triathletes often get stuck in a rut during the winter months and forget that there are other great ways to stay fit in the snow.
I was fortunate enough to enjoy a day of skiing in Whistler during the Olympic games and I can tell you I am incredibly sore from one outing. I was amazed with how vigorously my core and back muscles were worked during a day on the downhill slopes, not to mention my quads!
Other great sports that are perhaps more relevant to the aerobic athlete are cross country skiing and if you are fortunate to live in an area with an oval; speed skating. The cross over from cross country skiing and skating to cycling and running is remarkable. Take Clara Hughes for example, Olympic medalist in both cycling and speed skating. Many sports compliment each other and as Canadians I truly believe we should take advantage of and embrace the opportunity to participate.
Classic cross country skiing is said to transfer very well to running and skate skiing and skating compliments cycling very well. Many national level cyclists play in recreational hockey leagues during the winter. It works similar muscle groups, is a great interval type workout and is incredibly fun.
So use the Olympic inspiration from the last two weeks and get outside into the Canadian winter, you won’t be sorry!
As the weather gets colder, people ask “what can I do to keep my riding up and not get completely bored?”
One of the best services we have seen to help with this comes from Indoor Rider, created by one of our 7SYSTEMS athletes Richard Pady. Indoor Rider is a series of cycling video workouts for you to download from Indoorrider.com once a week. The program builds you slowly, safely, and in the most time efficient way towards success.
When you join, you are provided with a new video every week, each approximately one hour in length. You will increase your fitness and power while staying excited about your training and not getting bored this winter.
By following the program, you will train smart and avoid overtraining or
burn out this season. The sessions also allow you to work at your own level and progress at your own pace.
On top of the weekly videos you get the opportunity to workout with another 7SYSTEMS athlete Olympic Gold and Silver medalist Simon Whitfield. Simon’s videos will be available to members with an annual subscription only.
Pain – unfortunately – is a familiar concept for runners. Running is a high-impact activity and a certain degree of pain is to be expected.
But when the pain a runner experiences is recurring or increasing, both after and during workouts, we might be looking at an injury.
Injuries are usually caused by a mix of three factors: sudden increase in training volume, incorrect technique and biomechanical unbalance. In most cases you can diagnose your overuse injury on your own, as runners typically fall victims of one of the following four common injuries. This doesn’t mean you should avoid seeing a specialist, but it is important to recognize the symptoms at an early stage, so that you can correct your training and prevent the injury from becoming something serious.
Knee Pain, Runner’s Knee
Runner’s Knee is the common name for chondromalacia, a condition where the cartilage underneath the kneecap wears as a consequence of the friction caused by an incorrect tracking of the kneecap during the running motion. The recognizeable symptoms are inflammation and pain under the kneecap while running.
The main biomechanical causes of this condition are overpronation of the foot and an imbalance between the hamstrings and the quadriceps – in particular loos quadriceps and tight hamstrings. The quadriceps-hamstrings imbalance can accentuate overpronation.
Shin splints is a name commonly given to an array of issues related to the shins. Practically, a shin splint is a pain on the inside or the outside of the shin that occurs during running. The most probable cause of shin splints is increasing the training volume too soon too early. They usually occur in one leg at a time, usually the runner’s dominant leg.
Anterior shin splints are associated with overpronation, medial (internal) shin splints are commonly associated with an unbalance of the muscles of the lower leg.
Plantar Fascia. The plantar fascia is a band of tissues that runs from the heel to the forefoot at the bottom of your foot. This tendon maintains the arch during each stride (walking, running, jumping…) and absorbs the shock. Plantar fasciitis is a condition that occurs as a consequence of tearing and scarring of the plantar fascia.
Early symptoms of plantar fasciitis are pain in the heel while walking first in the morning and while starting to run. As the condition develops, the pain lasts longer in the morning and while running. Acute plantar fasciitis can be so painful that makes running impossible.
The Greek mithology tells us that Achilles – the strongest of the Greek warriors – was dipped by his mother in the waters of the Styx river in order to make him invulnerable. Unfortunately, his mother was holding him by his ankles while dipping him in the water, therefore making his ankles the only vulnerable part of his body. Years later an arrow would hit him in the ankle – and Achilles would die.
We refer to Achilles Tendonitis (tendinitis) as an inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which connects the two major muscles of the calf to the heel bone. This condition needs to be taken seriously, as the tendon can develop nodules of scar tissues or even rupture.