Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The CSU Tri Ladder Special

Got my ass thoroughly kicked by the CSU Tri team tonight. Here's how it went:

10 minutes at goal race pace (6 min/mile for me) *edit: Apparently math is beyond an oxygen deprived brain's abilities, 1:20 400s equals 5:20 pace, not 6:00. Happy to note the improvement.
30 seconds recovery
1 minute all out
1 minute recovery

8 minutes at goal race pace
30 seconds recovery
1 minute all out
1 minute recovery

6 minutes at goal race pace
30 seconds recovery
1 minute all out
1 minute recovery

4 minutes at goal race pace
30 seconds recovery
1 minute all out
1 minute recovery

2 minutes at goal race pace
30 seconds recovery
1 minute all out
1 minute recovery

1 minute at goal race pace
30 seconds recovery
1 minute all out
1 minute recovery

The goal of the workout is to surge over your anaerobic threshold and then come back down, simulating a race effort.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Why the Fastest Tri Might Not Be the Most Aero

Aerodynamics. We've all heard endlessly about it. It matters, a lot. After you hit the magical number 16 (mph, the speed at which the wind really starts demanding most of your energy), aerodynamics are the key to riding fast. In fact, research suggests that unless there are courses with extended climbs of over 7% gradient, that it's fastest to ride with a disc wheel, contrary to some athletes I know that will put on the climbing set at the first sign of anything but flat. Over 80% (some studies suggest) of an athlete's expended energy is going towards fighting the wind. Over an Iron-distance triathlon, things like an aero-bar mounted water bottle will save around 5 minutes over a bottle mounted on the down tube.

But, contrary to popular belief, the fastest set up on the bike may not be the fastest. Why? Because a triathlon isn't a cycling time trial, there are three disciplines to complete. And with a run after the bike there are certain things to think about. Look at a pro cyclist. The seat height to bar height sports a ridiculous drop. As BMC rider Taylor Phinney puts it: "Time trialing is all about putting yourself in an uncomfortable position for around an hour." The massive difference between saddle and bar height on a TT bike makes it easy to get a flat back, while maintaining a flat chest that is parallel to the ground, and easier to get the head lower. The goal of a TT specialist like Phinney is to get the shoulder and the hips nearly parallel with the ground, and level with each other. Draw a straight line from his hips to his shoulders and the angle will be less than 5%. But the strain on the back that a position like that puts on the body makes for a slower run in a triathlon, because the lower back will be tight, not supple like we want it.

In addition, most triathlons are at the maximum distance of a cycling TT. An Olympic distance, 24.5 mi ride is usually the longest you'll ever see a TT. And obviously, that means that the half and full Ironman cycle legs are far longer than most pure cyclists see while on a TT bike. Chris "Macca" McCormack put it best when he said, "The fastest position is the one you can hold for three hours."

Another example to draw on is the hip angle. The women in Kona have consistently run faster marathons, dropping course records in the marathon nearly every year. When analyzed, the hip angle of the women is also consistently more open. They don't have quite as aerodynamic position on the bike as the men like Sebastian Kienle, but comparatively, they run faster.

The triathlon is a unique combination of three of the most difficult sports to compete in individually. The bottom line here is that to compete well in triathlon, there is a consistent give and take. Individuals can be great swimmers, cyclists, and runners, but at the end of the day, it's about who can put all three together.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It's Different, Not Difficult

Let me tell you a story. Not too long ago, I was riding a trail with some friends. On a particularly hard descent, we stopped to scope out a line. Having done so, we re-mounted our bikes and proceeded to try it out. He went, a couple buddies went, I went. All of us either crashed out, or were caught by the others waiting at the bottom. So I went back to the top to try it again. And failed again, being caught right before I would have dropped off the side of the trail. Later, I was remarking to a friend about how much that descent "sucked," and he said one of the most profound things to me: "That descent doesn't suck, we just suck at that descent."

That, I think, sums up all of the difficulties of any sport. It's learning to adapt that we need to do, because no matter how you view it, a triathlon is still swim, bike, run. A 5k is still five kilometers, 3.1 miles.

When I joined cross country two years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. I had come from a swimming background, and after seeing some of the runners go out for swimming, I thought I was really hot stuff. I killed them in the pool, so they can't be in that great of shape, right? My friend and I figured that we'd be in the top five runners on the team (top seven are varsity).

We sure were top five. On the JV squad. On the first day, we came in cocky, tried to run with the best and promptly got our butts kicked. It confounded me. Here I was, a pretty good athlete who could kill any of these guys in the pool any day, and yet they were a mile and half in front of me after only a matter of minutes. But after a year, we were one and two on the JV squad. It all came down to adaptation. I learned that I worked no harder in cross country, just instead of shoulders and abs, I was working hips and calves. I learned that just like in swimming, there was strategy, just instead of trying to draft on the guy in the lane next to you, the best strategy was to sit and kick down the finishing straight, something nearly impossible for me in swimming.

Learning to adapt is what separates the good from the great. Not only have other sports taught me an appreciation for all athletes, they've made me better. At the end of the day, that's what matters most.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lake to Lake to Add Sprint Distance

I'm happy to announce that I've just been told that the Loveland Lake to Lake triathlon, held June 22 this year, is adding a Sprint Distance race to the agenda! Registration is now $90 per individual for both Olympic and Sprint distance races through April 30, it will bump up to $105 from May 1 to June 15.

This likely means that the Loveland Sprint Tri, run by the same organization but on a different date in previous years, is now gone forever. However, the hope is that new triathletes can now come out and "tri" (haha) the sprint distance and make a commitment to race a longer distance the next year if they enjoy the sport.

More information can be found here, as well as registration links, etc.

Monday, April 1, 2013

In Favor of Disbanding Sports

Sports are something we all treasure. Yet we refuse to acknowledge the absolutely negative effect they have. Sports bring us back to our primal nature in what is a modern, civilized world. They promote drug use (see: Lance Armstrong). They teach everyone involved, from children to adults, to be elitists. This is why we need to get rid of them.

Sports cause injuries. The only real way to tear a muscle is if that muscle is being used. And in today's lazy America, the only thing muscle can possibly be used for is sports (certainly not moving things or the like).

Kids in today's schools are athletic. There are approximately two million high school athletes playing football, basketball, and baseball alone. And I guarantee they all have friends from those sports. Together, they form a clique, leaving out the non-athletic kids. This lesson in elitism translates into the real world, hindering teamwork and friendship.

It's also teaching kids to dream. Most of those two million kids have delusions of grandeur, thinking they'll play in the NFL, NBA, or MLB. But out of those two million, only 1000 will make it to the pros (693 MLB, 253 NFL, 51 NBA are the exact numbers). Deluded kids start to work harder at sports than the things that really matter, like their studies.

Many athletes at the professional level have been caught doping. Is this the message we want to send to our young athletes? That using EPO, anabolic steroids, etc is okay? That it will bring you to the top of your sport? Because it will, if you can get away with it. They say that strict parents raise sneaky children. Athletics teach kids this, too. Just in a different way.

Many pros have also been arrested. Look at Ray Lewis, acquitted on second degree murder. But he also made millions playing for the Ravens, and won a Superbowl. So the message is that it's okay to lie, cheat, steal, murder, as long as you're really good at playing your sport?

We can no longer afford sports in today's economy. Tickets for a baseball game cost about $50 and that's not including the drive down, concessions, etc. And what do they go to? Some fat baseball player who still misses the ball at least seven out of ten times, but still gets paid about 5 million dollars a year. Or take Joe Flacco. That guy won't win another Super Bowl in the next six years of his 120 million dollar contract extension. Why? Because he's not that good in the realm of the NFL. The only reason he won is because he had excellent receivers and a staunch defense. But 120 million dollars over six year?! Give me a break.

When you look at the big picture, sports are a terrible thing, they teach kids to work hard at the wrong things. To be clique-ish. To be selfish and self centered. To use drugs. To pay some convict millions. We have to get rid of sports. Call your local newspaper's editorial section and comment. Write the NFL, NBA, MLB and every other organization. We can't allow our children to grow up idolizing cheaters, dopers, convicts, and jerks.

PS: APRIL FOOLS