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Three things you must pay attention to in the winter- by Jasper Blake

Vitamin D, H2O and Ginseng

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.


Top 7 Marathon Tips- by Jasper Blake

1- Warm 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.

4- Pacing

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.

7- Recovery

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
  • Replace sodium and fluid that has been lost
  • Sleep- nothing is as restorative as sleep


Linnea Humphrey

Linnea began doing triathlon in 1992 and did her first Ironman in 1999.  Now at the age of 44 and after almost 20 years in the sport this Toronto area resident has completed 17 Ironman races and countless others at various distances.  Despite the many years in the sport, Linnea keeps getting faster and is matching or bettering times she did over a decade ago. 

 
Her fabulous result at Ironman Brazil this year and her positive outlook and ability to always find a way to DO MORE certainly says something about her ability her ability to stay healthy.  Linnea started training for Brazil in mid January on her bike trainer and the treadmill, usually in cramped quarters at the spin studio or the gym combined with a couple of warm weather cycling camps down south.  With the help of 7SYSTEMS she managed to stay injury and sickness free the entire winter and spring and hit the starting line ready to go.  This solid block of un-interupted training paid off with a 10:16 finish at IM Brazil, which put her 12th female overall and 5th female amateur.
 
 
“I believe that 7SYSTEMS helps keep my immune system strong so I can maintain my health and maximize recovery thereby staying injury free.”
 


Luke Ehgoetz

FINALIST

Target Race: Muskoka 70.3 on September 12, 2010

Taget Time: 4:40

TARGET RACE REPORT

First of all, let’s get one thing straight.  This race should be called the Muskoka 72.8, since the bike course is actually 94K instead of the usual 90.   As a result, you certainly get your money’s worth doing this race.

So essentially, my whole summer was geared up towards doing this race.   I had several shorter tri’s and a few longer distance ones, which all worked well as training for this race.

So let’s get into it shall we?   
The days leading up to this event were a bit nerving, as a lot of people (myself included) spent a fair bit of time watching the weather reports.   The weather trend was very cool mornings and they were calling for light rain most of the day.   Rain on this bike course can be treacherous, due to the tight turns and hilly course.   In 2008 when I did this event, it rained most of the day, but at least it was warm.    10 or 11 degrees and rain was not going to be fun.  

In previous years, I went up with my family on Friday and attended the athlete banquet which was always very good.   A great way to carbo load for the race.  This year, the family stayed at home (hockey try-outs and questionable weather) and I came up with another athlete I know from New Dundee, Greg Hallman (who by the way did awesome in his first ever half iron distance event – congrats Greg!!).   I picked Greg up at home at 6am, and we made great time getting to Muskoka just before 10am with a couple of quick coffee and restroom stops.

We were staying at Hidden Valley, which is nice and close to Dearhurst, and it allows us to keep our vehicle with us (as opposed to the airport parking for Dearhurst guests).   Upon arriving, we checked in (YES!! our room was ready at 10am!), so we put our bags into the room and then proceeded to walk our bikes to the bike check-in at Dearhurst parking lot.   From there, it was onto registration, a tour of the race expo, a quick walk around the swim start and exit, and then we headed to the Power Bar Pro Panel question and answer session that they put on.   Like last year, many of the top pro’s were there to answer questions, including 2x Kona champ Craig Alexander and last years Kona runner up, Mirinda Carfrae (also both winners of this race last year).  

5:20am Sunday morning, alarm goes off, and I am happy to have woken up after a pretty solid night’s sleep.   I quickly ate some oatmeal and a whole wheat wrap with peanut butter and a banana rolled up inside.   After a bit of coffee, my 7 systems supplements and some packing up, we were out of HV by 6:15 and walking in the dark over to Deerhurst.  Saturday was a great day weather wise, and likely everyone wished we had that weather for Sunday.   As it turns out, most of the rain passed by overnight, and we were greeted race morning with overcast skies and what seemed like a comfortable 13 or 14 degrees.   It didn’t really feel cold at all.   It was almost “ideal” racing conditions…almost!
We arrived in transition and I quickly got to work taking all of the wet bags off my bike and then getting everything set up.   After an easy run to get warmed up, I started putting on my wetsuit for the long walk to the swim start.   Once there, I did a good warm-up, and was ready for this race to get started.   I felt calm and comfortable, and before we knew it, the Canadian national anthem ended, and the pro’s were off and running (actually swimming….but you know what I mean!).  I was in wave 2, which was a good thing, as that would mean little traffic to negotiate in the middle parts of the swim.   4 minutes later, and the horn went off, and it was game on!   

1.9K Swim

I don’t know if it was me, or what, but I thought the swim course was slightly different than the prior two years.   The course is normally a perfect rectangle, but this year, it seemed like we had to take a bit of a left hand turn at the first buoy, right beside a bunch of boats.   This made for a bit of congestion in the swim, likely the most I have ever experienced in this race.   I got a bit knocked around, hit, pushed and slapped, but nothing I haven’t experienced before.   I tried to just find some open space, and after a few minutes I was pretty much OK and swimming free and clear.   After the right turn at the 2nd buoy, I was more or less just trying to hold a nice steady pace and try to find some feet to draft off of as much as I could.   I did a bit of drafting here and there, but likely swam most of the race on my own.   Nothing else was too memorable about this part, and 34 minutes later, I exited the water.   Ideally, I was hoping to go 33 minutes in the swim, but 34 was definitely alright, and a 4 minute improvement over last year.    After the swim exit, I took advantage of the wetsuit strippers which is definitely a good idea, and also decided to slip on a pair of runners for the 300m UPHILL run to the transition zone.   Once in T1, I quickly got my helmet and clear sunglasses on and was off on the bike.   It was warm enough that gloves and arm warmers or an extra shirt was not required (for me at least).

94K Bike

With the 1.9K swim and 300m uphill run to transition, my heart rate was high right off the bat.   The first 20K of the bike course is definitely not easy.   A lot of steep rolling hills to keep that heart rate pumping.  At this stage, I was passing a lot of people from my wave, as I was only 28th in my AG on the swim.   This was motivating, and kept me pushing hard.   Once we got on the main roads of Hwy 35, it was time to push the pace.   The roads were freshly paved, overcast, no wind and cool.   Perfect biking weather.   I was making good time here and the average speed kept going up.
My nutrition plan on the bike was as follows:
– Start off with a normal concentrate (260 calories) of Infinite in my aero drink bottle;
– Carry a double concentrate (520 calories) of Infinite in a bottle on my frame;
– After the aero drink is empty, put the 2x concentrate bottle in my aero drink bottle and pick up 1 water at each aid station to last the rest of the race;
– I also grabbed one gel at each aid station to give me that little extra bit of calories;

This plan worked well and I had no issues with it at all.

The middle 35 or 40K of the bike course went by really fast.   I found myself going back and forth with two other athletes, which kept things interesting.   After the 2nd aid station down in Baysville, things started to get tougher.   Firstly, it started to rain.   Not too heavy, but enough to get the roads wet and slippery in the most difficult and technical part of the course.   At this point, I found myself all alone.   A few of the guys I was riding with got ahead of me and joined up with another small pack.   For 15 or 20K, I struggled to catch back up with them, as I really wanted to be with a group, rather than all by myself.   I’d say with 15K to go, I got passed by Chris Van Kooten who started in a wave (or two or three) behind me.   For some reason after he passed me, it helped pull me along (no drafting of course) and we caught up to the pack of guys I was trying to catch for the last half hour.   Chris carried on, and left us all, but I was now back with the group of other riders, which really helped.   To my surprise, one of the riders in this pack was Jeff Beech, a former pro triathlete from Waterloo, where I am from (more or less anyway).   That was super motivating, as he is in my AG.   If you would have said I would be going into T2 with Jeff Beech at the beginning of the race, I would have said you were crazy.   That being said, we all rode together for the final 5K of the ride and as we approached T2, I had a nice smooth dismount, and I actually beat him over the dismount line, and was likely in about 3rd place in my AG at this point, making up 25 spots over the 94K bike.

Into T2 though however, that would be the last I would see of Jeff.  He is an awesome runner, and with his quick transition, he was gone.   I took some extra time to put my Garmin watch on to track my pace, socks on my feet to avoid any blisters and then grab my Nathan Speed belt, for extra nutrition for the run.   I think this added 15 or 20 seconds over Jeff’s time, so by the time I got out to the road, he was already 100m ahead and gaining ground quickly!

21.1K Run

So although I didn’t really know it at this point, I think I was in 4th place in my AG starting the run, as Jeff Beech took over 3rd in T2 and eventually would end up in 2nd.   Right off the bat at the 1K marker, we had to climb a pretty decent hill on the run.   I could totally feel my quads starting to tighten up, which made me nervous.   I don’t think it was nutrition, but purely the effort put out on the bike.   I quickly took another salt pill, and hoped all would get better once we hit some of the “flatter” sections on Hwy 60.   Once there, things seemed to get better and I was ticking along at a nice pace.   I got passed by only a few runners, and I past a few, so things were staying pretty even.  Starting at about the 8K mark, things got tough on the run.   We had a few good climbs to get to 9K and this really took a lot out of me.   On the bigger climb, I did a few short walking breaks of only a few seconds, but it did seem to help.   I never really lost any ground on the athlete that was in front of me who just kept running.   The turn-around point was at about 10.5K and after that, it was supposed to be a lot easier, as it was mostly downhill from there.   As it turns out, I progressively felt worse as the run went on.   The downhills were pounding the legs, and every type of incline was making me more and more fatigued.    I figured after seeing some of the athletes coming back from the turn-around, I had a decent chance of getting on the podium if I can just keep the legs moving, so I was definitely motivated.

I was keeping the nutrition up by taking in a gel every 5K or so.  In addition, I was taking in salt every 20-25 minutes.   I never really had much more cramping like I did in the first K, just a lot of fatigue.   The last 6K were quite tough, and I just had to keep telling myself to keep moving, as you’ve been doing so well up to this point.   I got passed by another athlete at 17K, but that would be it for the rest of the race.   Once we got back to the top of the hill on Canal road, it was a nice downhill to the 20K marker.   The last K of the race has a pretty tough climb back to Dearhurst, but this is where the crowds were.   Half-way up the hill, I just wanted to take a few quick walking steps to feel better, but the crowd wouldn’t have it.   They yelled for me to dig deep and fire up those quads as there was a runner about 30 meters behind me.  This definitely got me going.  Funny enough though, as I passed, I heard them yelling to that guy to dig in and go after me.   They just wanted to see a battle, but I wasn’t about to give them one.   Since I had no idea if the guy behind me was in AG or not, I just had to give it all I had for the final 600 meters.   So going as deep as I could, I rounded the transition zone and sprinted (all relative at this point) to the finish line to finish the run and the race with a new half iron PB of 4:56:26.

Although I was one of the finalists in the 7 Systems improve more contest, I would have had to do 4:40 in this race to improve upon my previous years time of 5:01.   I knew all along that was not really an option, so my real goal was to podium and take a spot for the Foster Grant 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater, Florida in November.   Mission Accomplished!!   Sweet!

AUGUST UPDATE

With less than a week to go I think I am on track and haven’t had any downtime in my training….thanks to using 7 SYSTEMS endurance sports supplement!

My only race in August was the Toronto Island Sprint Triathlon, which you can read about in my blog.   I’d say it was a success, despite having a poor swim in my opinion.

In the 3 other weekends available for training this month, I did the following:

August 8th – Biked 114K to a family cottage in Bayfield and followed that up with a 10K run.   The ride was almost entirely into a headwind or crosswind, so that was tough.   In addition, it was super humid and I got rained upon twice.  The 10K run was not fast!

August 22nd – Biked an 83K loop around New Hamburg and followed that up with two loops of 8K around town for a total of 16K worth of running.   Again, VERY humid day.   I took all the hydration I could on the ride (72oz of Infinite), and consumed another 48 oz running as I filled up both my Nathan Speed Belt 2 bottles after the first loop.   When it was all said and done, I lost 6 lbs all while consuming 120 oz of fluid.   Glad I wasn’t doing an Ironman, as I’m sure I would have bonked at some point!   I just find it hard to drink much more than I did!

August 28th/29th – I had planned on another long ride/run on Sunday, but after getting a quick training email from Jasper Blake (a bit of a benefit from being in this contest), I decided to mix it up this weekend.   So on the Saturday, I thought I’d see how quick I could just run 15K.   So, in the middle of the day in hot and humid weather again, I did a 15K run in 1:01:45.  This was a pretty hilly run in windy conditions, so I was pleased with the effort.   Garmin data available here.

In addition to the weekend stuff, I’ve still be getting to the New Hamburg pool 3x week, biking to work (58K round trip) 3x week and doing my Tuesday tempo run (~6K – 9K), and Thursday Intervals (usually 5 x 800m w 200m recovery).   If it works out, I’ll hit the gym for some weights/stretching/hot tub once or twice too!

This routine is similar to last year’s effort where I did 5:01 at the 2009 Muskoka 70.3, but this year, I’ve definitely stepped the swimming up a bit more and have done more mid week running.   I actually have a spreadsheet that has tracked every run I’ve done since 2004.   I’d share it with you, but it’s huge!   Here are some highlights of it though.

Due to more speed work, my average run speed has dropped 5 seconds per K.   This includes all the long runs training for the Around the Bay 30K and Ottawa Marathon this year.   In addition, I am on pace for about 150 runs in 2010, which is 20 more than last year.   Each year I am seeing improvements in training and racing (both running and triathlon) so this in encouraging.   At 37, I have to wonder how much more improvements are left.

I hope this final week prior to Muskoka goes well and that I can have a good race once again. 

JULY UPDATE

I’ve done 2 triathlons since starting on 7SYSTEMS. The first one was the Multisport Canada Belwood Sprint Triathlon (1K swim, 30K bike and 7K run) on July 18th. I had a good race and finished 2nd in my age group and 15th overall out of 400 athletes. Next up was the Muskoka Long Course Triathlon (2K swim, 55K bike and 13K run) on July 25th. This race is generally more competitive, so I actually wasn’t expecting to get on the podium in my age group. To my surprise, I once again had a solid race and managed to finish 4th in my age group and 27th overall in the race out of 350 athletes.

My training generally consists of the following on a weekly basis:

  • 3 swims per week in the pool (around 2500m per session) and if possible, one open water swim;
  • 2 mid week runs. One interval session and one tempo run;
  • 2 gym strength training sessions;
  • 3 bike rides to work. This is my primary bike training that I do. It is about 28.5K each way, so 57K round trip and 170K per week.
  • If I am not racing, I will look to do a long brick type of workout each weekend. A typical workout would be about a 70K ride and 16K run;
  • In addition, a lot of stretching and leg rolling is key to maintaining flexibility and working out any muscle tightness.

It is still early, but so far 7SYSTEMS endurance sports supplement has been working well. I am hoping that it will keep me healthy and injury free, as I continue to train for my goal race.

ABOUT LUKE

I’ve done this race in both 2008 and 2009 and I hope to use the 2010 race to qualify for the 70.3 World Championship down in Clearwater Florida in November.

Read more about Luke, who he is and more details about training and racing since starting to take 7SYSTEMS: http://mytriathlonandtrainingadventures.blogspot.com/


Gord Henderson

I’ve often found it difficult to get the balance right between ‘fitness’ and ‘health':  training for and racing endurance events, parenting a young child and stress from unpredictable work often left me feeling run down – even while I was fit enough to race well.  Although I thought that supplements would probably help with some of these problems, I was confused by the range of products on offer and concerned about using something with uncertain efficacy whose composition I didn’t understand.  7Systems addressed each of those issues:  it contains everything I need and nothing I don’t, and since starting to use it, I’ve felt healthier than at any point in the recent past.  I’m better able to juggle work, training and parenting, and have more energy and mental focus;  I’ve found that 7Systems does exactly what it claims to.

Gord Henderson