Monday, March 31, 2014

TriTips (One Post, Multiple Updates)

So I decided to start doing a more frequent posting method, more to keep things fresh and avoid falling into the trap of doing a single, long rant every couple weeks. TriTips will be updated as often as I find the time, so check back here frequently for updates and pictures! I may also sporadically include a FrisTip (FrisbeeTip) as I see fit.
Without further ado, here is TriTips!

TriTip #1: Be consistent. There is no substitution for hard work and dedication. It sounds super cliche, but just today I found probably ten or so of these workouts populating my Pinterest feed:

Yes, I have Pinterest, get over it. Anyway, the point here is that you will never be successful in the long run if you cut corners. Yes, this is better than no workout at all, and I'm sure it's great if you're cooped up in a hotel room on business. But will it make you a good triathlete? No. It will burn some calories and maybe make you a little tired (Yes, I tried this workout. No, it wasn't difficult). Work hard, Tri hard. 

TriTip #2: Sunscreen. All the time and everywhere. You would be shocked some of the places you can burn if you're not through. And it's spring time, which means that people are out trying to get a nice base tan for the summer. Or they think that they can't get burned because it was sunny but now it's overcast. 
And while we're talking about sunscreen, let me point out that it has an awesome dual effect. Put a nice layer on your forehead. It will help neutralize the salt in your sweat and won't sting your eyes when you put in a big effort on a hot day. I like Coppertone Sport SPF 50. 

TriTip #3: Find gear you like, and stick with it. No, that doesn't mean that you should keep the 30 year old Trek for races when you have a new Speed Concept. What I mean is that your gear selection should be what you're comfortable with. I've gradually realized that there is one model of shoes I really like (Brooks PureFlow). So now, instead of going out and trying a bunch of new shoes in an effort to find a passable one, I stick with what I know. It makes my life a lot easier. Not that there's anything wrong with trying a new model, but keep the old ones around, you know, just in case. 

TriTip #4: Patience is a virtue. My high school English teacher would be "rolling in her grave" reading this. She hated cliches. But this one is worthwhile. When I started racing triathlon, my race strategy went something like: Blindly swim as fast as possible, bike as hard as I could, and hang on in the run. It take time to realize what works for you. Try something new in the next race and switch things up. Conserve on the bike for a change and hammer the run. It might not work, but it's worth exploring. 

TriTip #5: That being said, play to your strength. If you were a pro cyclist back in the day and are now looking to try some triathlons, go for the bike with confidence. 

TriTip #6: And that being said, strive to become a balanced athlete. The best triathletes in the world rarely have the best of anything. Instead, they have the second-best swim, third-best bike, and second-best run. But their opponents are having fifth-best swim, best bike, and tenth-best run. See who comes out on top? 

TriTip #7: Hills, hills, hills. I used to cringe when my coach would tell us that we were going to run 22nd Street. That meant a long uphill climb. Now, I jump at the chance. Running or biking hills quickly helps increase V02 max, while a slower pace works on strength. 

If you're curious, this hill at the 2013 Tirreno Adriatico was so steep (27%) that more than a few rider walked up it. 

FrisTip #1: There's always time to take a break and throw some disc. Case in point, I could write another daily TriTip, but you all are sick of them, and I'm getting restless.

TriTip #8: Porta-lets are a blessing. Hey, someone had to say it. You should try to pee at least once during the bike portion of a 70.3 or twice in the bike of a full Ironman. I'm told this will maximize your potential on the run. 

TriTip #9: Distance Is Essential. Despite what everyone says about HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and it's affect on V02 max and all that jazz, you will not get the result you want unless you put in the miles. My rules of thumb for training and race distance are as follows:
Swim: Do the same distance as the swim in the race at least 3 times a week. 3 swim sessions is the minimum you'll need to do to maintain your swim fitness (you won't be getting any stronger or faster) and feel for the water. 
Bike: Long rides should follow this formula. For sprint distance, around 2x the distance you'll race (that's 24 miles), Olympic distance should be 1.5x, or 45 miles, half Ironman should be at least 1x or 56 miles and Ironman should be at least 1x as well. Keep in mind these are aimed at gaining enough aerobic fitness to finish the event well, not necessarily be competitive. Shorter rides through the week (I like to do my long rides on the weekend, when I have the most time) should be done with a specific purpose in mind, like training hills, holding a certain wattage, etc. 
Run: Long runs should total at least 1/2 of the race distance for half and full Ironman races, 1x an Olympic, or 1.5x a sprint. Shorter runs should again be done with purpose, focusing in on recovering from a previous effort or becoming accustomed to running right off the bike for example. 

TriTip #10: Heel vs Forefoot Striking. Despite all the so-called research being done by multiple people and the supposed benefits of each, it comes down to what works for you. For me, it's a forefoot strike, but I also know people who are perfectly content (and fast!) with a heel strike. Bottom line is that you're putting stress on muscles and joints, running on your heel exerts the same amount of force on your body that a forefoot strike does. Heel strikers tend to get more of the force dispersed throughout their knees, whereas forefoot strikers tend to absorb most of the shock through their metatarsals (bones in the foot). 

FrisTip #2: Layouts Are Sick. 'Nuff said. 

TriTip #11: The Most Aero Position is the One You Can Hold. Check out the difference in positions between two riders, Sebastian Kienle and Brent McMahon. Now, McMahon's position is by no means a bad one, but for the sake of argument, we're going to use it. 
Now, pretending that McMahon's position is closer to that of an age grouper. It's obvious in comparing them that Kienle has a far more refined position. His torso is almost completely level to the ground. Not many people can hold this position, but Kienle has proved over and over that he is more than capable of holding this position for the entire Ironman bike. However, McMahon's position (while less aerodynamic in the long run) is the one that he can hold the longest. This is an important lesson for every triathlete. You can have a super aerodynamic position, but if you cannot hold it and are going onto the base bar every few minutes, then you're compromising your aerodynamics. The easy solution is to sacrifice some aerodynamic advantages but being able to hold the position in the long run. The fastest position is not necessarily the most aerodynamic

TriTip #12: Cafeteria food is a no-go. This doesn't apply to everyone, because not everyone is in college, but cafeteria food should be avoided as much as possible. Even though workplace cafeterias have gone the way of the dodo, college students beware: Processed, salt-filled foods can erase gains and add pounds. 
Funny story: Over spring break I went home. Just eating regular food, I dropped 7lbs in a week. 

TriTip #13: Make Transitions Slowly. Whether it's a regular shoe to a zero drop or learning to open water swim, take things slow when you add something new to the mix. If you're transitioning from a 8 to 10mm heel to toe drop shoe to a zero drop shoe, start by doing some barefoot running after your regular run on grass and walking around the house barefoot so that your foot starts becoming accustomed to it. Then maybe cut your regular run off by a mile and change shoes and do the last mile in your zero drop shoes. 

TriTip #14: On using ice. From my own personal experience, I would highly suggest using ice sparingly. Use it in the immediate aftermath of an injury to keep the swelling down. This will make it easier to discern the nature of the injury. But research suggests that the post exercise ice bath may not be necessary and could actually inhibit recovery because it restricts blood vessels, reducing the blood flow to your muscles. 

TriTip #15: On pain medication. Ibuprofen is a wonderful thing, and yes, it can be beneficial. However, in my opinion, it should be used sparingly. For one, ibuprofen dulls pain, and pain is the body's indicator that something is hurting and should be paid attention to. Additionally, it has been shown that using ibuprofen before exercise can cause dangerous damage to the lining of your stomach. Use it when you actually need it, but be careful that it doesn't become a crutch. 

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