Balance in the “Off-Season”

The “Off-Season” is kind of an inside joke to those of us at NWT.  Each of us had a scheduled off-season of about one week, and hopefully everyone made the most of it.  The biggest lesson that our Head Coach reiterates throughout the tri season is that consistency is the key to improvement.  We are reminded constantly that we need to train at a level that we personally are able to back up . . .  day after day . . .  week after week . . .   year after year.  Since that is the main point driven into our heads throughout the race season, it seems a bit counter-intuitive to then take an “off-season”.   Though our coach still refers to off-season quite a bit – and most of us laugh at it.

Here at NWT, off-season simply means a brief time to shift your focus a bit.  When doing normal swim, bike, and run workouts, intensity and duration are cut back quite a bit.  Technique becomes a focus for all three sports as we go back to the basics and work those drills that we haven’t seen in months.  Though we are still training daily, this is the time of year to ”mix it up a bit” and throw in something that you may have had to cut out when the training got too intense, or even try something new.  Several of our teammates are killing it at CrossFit, while others of us are hitting it hard with yoga.  One of my favorite things about off-season is that our group rides turn into mountain bike rides.  I love hitting the trails!  It’s such a fun alternative to the trainer and there are usually some pretty good stories to follow.  Also, MC and I do tons of hiking with the boys since it keeps us active with low intensity, and they love it!  We love to explore new fitness activities in which we can include the boys.   And since we both thrive on competition, we are quite creative in finding ways to compete when we aren’t racing  . . .  just ask our boys who got to the top of the rock wall in under 40 seconds!

One really important thing to do during the off-season is to take stock of all your gear and decide if anything needs to be repaired, replaced or upgraded.  This is the time to make any major purchases, especially if it’s a new bike or shoes or something you will need time to get used to.  It’s also a good time to buy gear because most shops will have end-of-season sales, so you can probably get a pretty good deal.   For me, this year it means sending my bike out for a bit of touch up painting.  I got a couple of dings this year, and I couldn’t be without a bike until I was done racing.  For now, I have my mountain bike as backup or I can always hit the spin bikes at the Y. Continue reading

So I’m an Ironman . . . now what??

After completing my first full, it took me a little while to assimilate back into society.  I felt really overwhelmed in all aspects of life.  I felt like I owed my boys a lot of time, my house was trashed, and I needed to catch up on work.  Instantly, my training took the back burner.  Of course my body needed some well-deserved recovery time, but I’ve always been more of a fan of “active” recovery.  I definitely feel better sooner by moving, not by sitting.  But this time, it was tough trying to catch up so many areas at once, especially when I felt exhausted most of the time.   So I found myself missing workouts more than making them.  At first I kept telling myself, it’s ok…  I just did a full.  But that excuse started wearing pretty thin after a few weeks and I found myself really slipping off track.  I kept telling my coach, “I need to sign up for something”.  I said this because I know how I operate . . .  if I have an empty race calendar with nothing coming up, it is much easier for other commitments to become more important.  But as soon as I have something on the calendar, I’m really committed to my plan and make most of my workouts (unless mommy duties arise.)  Goal-oriented race results seem to be what motivates me to remain consistent,  so I tend to always have something on the horizon  . . .  doesn’t matter if it’s a half-iron or a 5k; if I have my registration confirmation, I’m all in!  After three weeks of this “hit or miss” training, I received an email from my coach saying, “Pick a Race!”

I purposely didn’t sign up for anything after LP because I wasn’t sure how I’d be feeling; I was concerned about my chronic patella tendonitis.  However, I’m happy to say that my knees didn’t bother me at all during IMLP!  Totally shocking, I know – I was expecting to be pretty shredded after.  But there I was three weeks after, feeling great physically – I think it’s because my pacing for the full distance was so much slower than what I would normally race.  So I started checking out which races were still left.  There were a couple of local sprints, but I didn’t think my body would respond well to me asking it to go fast.  I thought maybe a longer race would be good since I had already built a large endurance base over the past year.  I found the Ironman 70.3 Poconos at the end of September and emailed my team to see if anyone was interested.  I had a taker, but still didn’t sign up until a week later, when I received an email from my coach saying, “Sign up today.”  Funny thing is (though not surprising), that’s all it took to get me back on track! Continue reading

A Healthy Approach by Jamie Shuler

A Healthy Approach

I remember 3 years ago, July of 2009, I was sitting at a park with the kids weighing about 245 pounds.  I turned to my wife and said, “I think it’s really about time I do something about my weight.”  She said try to start watching what you eat and exercising.  I just thought to myself, I’ve tried this several times before without success, so how was I going to figure out the right formula to make this work?  I had gained about 75 pounds since high school and honestly was not sure how to lose it.  It is very difficult to stay focused with a training plan, especially not having any idea as far as what you are doing.  Sure, I know the medical aspect of it.  But the down and dirty of truly being fit, I had no clue.

So I started to run, and two months later I was down to 215 pounds, and had entered my first half marathon.  It took me almost two and a half hours, and it was tough.  At this point I was getting a lot of aches and pains from the constant pounding of running, so I decided to try cross training with swimming and biking.  At first I couldn’t even swim 25 yards, and the biking was a lot tougher than it looked. But I tried to simply focus on consistency, while balancing career and family.   After three years of consistent training, I have gradually gotten faster and more fit.

This past July, myself and six of my teammates from NWT completed our first full Ironman at Lake Placid.  It was an amazing experience for all of us, and was an overwhelming end to where I started three years ago that same month.

In my full time job as a physician assistant in primary care, I take a special interest in treating obesity, and educating patients on diet, exercise, and weight loss.  I think a lot of the problem is just lack of knowledge on what being healthy and fit truly means.  I even get a good chuckle when I hear people tell me how hard it is for them to lose weight, and that I wouldn’t understand because I’m thin.  What they don’t know is all the consistent training that is backed up day in and day out.  They also don’t know that I wish I could eat whatever I want, but I can’t.  I have to watch every calorie. Continue reading

Road Rage by Ben Rabin

Some people drive angry.  Some people normally do not, but get angry after certain experiences.  Some people never get mad while driving.  As runners and bicyclists, we need to worry about the first two categories.

There are things that we can do to protect ourselves and others on the road.  For example, when a car behaves badly, we need to know our rights.  Some of the good NYS laws are on the CNY Triathlon Club’s website already, and you should familiarize yourself with them so that you can have a valid and legally supported conversation with anybody who thinks you do not have a right to ride on the road.  But let’s face it – that opportunity is rare.

So, when the offensive driver does not stop or refuses to coherently and patiently talk to you, it is important that we get the identity of that car, including make, model, color and license plate if possible.  If we can identify repeat offenders, it makes prosecuting them both criminally and civilly much easier for any future wrong-doing committed by that car.

Finally, from a safety stand point, do whatever you can to avoid being hit.  I know this sounds silly, but being struck while you are riding or running in the legally correct spot still sucks.  It may not be fair, but it hurts a lot less to go on to the shoulder or even a lawn to avoid being hit by a big heavy car.

We also need to make sure that we do not create the second category of driver.  We must remember that our actions influence how drivers respond to other bicyclists and runners in the future.  It is illegal to ride abreast with another bicyclist if a car is approaching from behind.  It is illegal to ride a bicycle on any road unless you are as far to the right as practicable.  It is also simply a bad idea to not stay as far right as possible, because if an accident occurs, and you were not paying attention to the laws or your responsibilities, then the blame for the accident may be shifted in whole or in part from the car to you. Continue reading

Get Sweat! by Eric Hinman

I was beyond excited when two entrepreneurs, and fellow triathletes from Miami contacted us to develop a fitness-based social network, called Sweat.  Over the last six months, we’ve spent copious hours perfecting the application for iOS (iPhone, iPad, & iPod Touch). Instead of the barrage of emails, text messages, and phone calls, Sweat allows users to easily add activities that they will be doing and invite their friends to join in. For example, tomorrow I have a one hour run and a one hour swim. On the Sweat app, I can create an event, pick an activity type (ex. swim, bike, run, gym, etc.), name it (ex. 2 x 30 tempo run), select the location, dictate the time and date, and then invite people to join me. The event is then posted to my feed (similar to Twitter), so all of my followers can see my workout and join me if they are interested.

Followers can also like and/or comment on my events. I can also share the event on Facebook, so my friends not using the app can see the workout and choose to join me as well. Sweat allows users to easily find their friends via Facebook.



An Android version will be coming soon! Sweat is the future of organizing your fitness lifestyle!

You can download the app by visiting iTunes.





Eric Hinman is a technology enthusiast and co-founder of Rounded, a Syracuse-based software development company.  He has been racing triathlon since 2009 and is currently training for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas this September.

What’s up with Beet Juice? by Matt Curbeau

What’s up with Beet Juice?

Red Beet Root Juice is a natural beverage that contains a high amount of Nitrates (NO3).  It is because of these beautiful nitrates that the juice is now in high demand among endurance athletes.  The nitrates provide two physiological effects.  The first being that they widen the blood vessels, and therefore reduces blood pressure, thus protecting the heart and subsequently allowing more blood to flow through.  The second is that they improve exercise economy by reducing the amount of oxygen that is actually needed by the muscles for a given work rate during activity. (ScienceDaily; July 1, 2011) This means that the oxygen cost of exercise has decreased, which improves exercise economy.  Difficult efforts become easier based on the fact that more oxygen is getting to the muscles, and the muscles now require less oxygen to perform their task.   Thus, a certain work rate for the muscles can be maintained for a longer duration due to a slower rate of fatigue.

Beet Root Juice’s Place in Athletics 

Now that a basic understanding of the physiological benefits has been established, here is a look at the scientific research actually done with beet juice.  In my opinion, the fact that research at universities is even being done with beet juice is a very good thing as it lends credibility to the notion that Red Beet Juice can enhance performance of athletes at a noticeable level.

Here are the cold hard facts that were published by the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise online site in April of 2011.  (The study took place at the Universi ty of Exeter.)

•    Drinking 500 mL of beet juice 2.5 hours before a cycling TT improved:
•    4 km TT time by 2.8% (6.26 minutes vs. 6.45 minutes)
•    10 mile TT by 2.7% (26.9 minutes vs. 27.7 minutes)
•    The study utilized a placebo that was beet juice with the nitrates taken out, making it possible for the subjects to drink the beet juice without knowing which one contained the active ingredient.
•    Bottom Line: The cycling improvement shown by the testing came from only one dose of 500 mL of beet juice, consumed 2.5 hours before the event – which is just about the time you would be eating your pre-race breakfast for a half or full ironman.  It is also worth noting that in order to achieve the dose of nitrates from beet juice you would have to eat almost 7 pounds of lettuce! Continue reading

Ironmate by Darla Yennock

When asked to write a column on Spousal Support ten days away from IMLP 2012 I had mixed feelings.  It has been a long year – both for the Ironman athlete and for his “Ironmate.”

After my husband’s first sprint triathlon in 2006, I had a feeling of what our future held.  Soon after, I was gifted a bike and taught to ride; gifted a pair of goggles and wetsuit and taught to swim, and found myself on enjoyable long runs with my husband.  We then planned mini vacations up and around the East Coast, competing and meeting unbelievable athletes from around the globe.  We found a passion and we got hooked!

However, I soon learned that my husband was craving more!  When he went from a road bike to a tri bike, the writing was on the wall ~ in bold print!  He progressed from Sprints to Olympics, and onto the half iron distance very quickly. I found myself lost in his accomplishments. Our once peaceful and enjoyable tri-journey was no longer.

His training became diligent and uncompromised the day he signed up for IMLP 2012, and I have been spending a lot of time alone.  This “alone time” in the beginning was a bit dangerous. I had feelings of anxiousness, anger and frustration and I was not adapting to his long training hours at all.  It was recognizable that this type of endurance training could become a catalyst for marital disaster.

It was imperative that I change my attitude and somehow join in on this Ironman voyage.  I began to channel positive thoughts and focus more on the benefits gained, rather than feeling left out or better known as the “Ironman Widower”.  I needed to find my place in his world of Ironman training. Continue reading

Best Bike Fit Ever!

For some, triathlon can seem a bit intimidating with all the components, gear, techy gadgets, nutrition, and apparel.  It seems like there’s always something else you need to buy.    One area that I feel is definitely worth allocating your resources is getting a good bike fit.   When training for a long race, you better love being on your bike!  It should feel good and comfy for hours at a time. Cycling shouldn’t hurt.  Bottom line, if it’s not comfortable, you’re not going to ride.  So spending the time and money to get a proper fit is one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself.  There are many reasons to get a bike fit . . . a new bike, feeling pain or discomfort, and over time with more cycling experience, you mature as a rider and you may find you want a different position on the bike.

I bought a new saddle one week before the Syracuse 70.3 last year because my old saddle was a real pain in the butt – literally!  Normally I would never try anything new during race week, but I figured it couldn’t get any worse.  Saddle sores, blisters, pain!  I went in and purchased a saddle (because my friend liked it) and was not fitted.  Also, last summer I took apart my bike and put it back together myself – twice!  It definitely had not fit the same ever since.  Also, I have been cycling for four years and have not been refitted since I got my bike and I wanted to get into a more aero, more aggressive position.  So I went to Syracuse Bicycle for a fit with shop owner, Paul Komaneky.

Paul has been doing bike fits for over eight years, and holds certifications from Serotta, Retul, F.I.S.T, Michael Sylvester, and John Cobb.  There are a few different options for fitting:

  • Standard Road Fit: $125 Basic flexibility assessment, foot structure analysis and rider history interview conducted. Saddle height, saddle fore/aft, reach and drop to handlebar adjusted accordingly. This fit is for a road bike without aero bars or with absolutely no concern for aero position.
  • Standard Triathlon Fit: $150 Basic flexibility assessment, foot structure analysis and rider history interview conducted. Saddle height, saddle fore/aft, reach and drop to handlebar adjusted accordingly. This fit is for triathlon bikes or road bikes with aero bars.
  • Retul 3D Motion Capture Fit: $275 Biomechanical assessment, foot structure analysis, and rider history/injury interview. Dynamic fit data captured and analyzed in sagittal, frontal and transverse planes with Retul 3D motion capture system. Digitally captured repeatable reports of pre and post fit bike setup using x,y coordinates (millimeter accuracy) along with a thorough rider final setup report and video capture comparison of pre/post fit.

Because of the knee issues that I’ve been dealing with for the past few years, I decided to go with the Retul fit, since I wanted to make sure all of my “parts” were in proper alignment according to the program.

You can view a full description of the Retul process here:

My Fit Experience . . . Continue reading

Surviving Race Day with 3 Little Boys

Race season is upon us, and I must say that we are very lucky to have a family full of race groupies.  We’ve been dragging the kids to races since our little one was two, so they are quite used to it, and we pretty much have “Race Day” down to a science.  Here are a few things we’ve learned along our triathlon journey . . .

Don’t believe the weather forecast!  
Especially here in Central New York!  I pack for all types of weather.  I keep a bag in the car with rain suits, towels, sun screen, and baseball hats, as well as jackets, winter hats and gloves, and sometimes a blanket.  You really never know!  We have needed sunscreen and winter hats in the same day more than once!

Choose venues the kids will enjoy.
We are fortunate to have many great local events to choose from!  We could literally race every weekend of the summer within an hour or two from home.  Most local venues have play grounds and beach areas that the kids can play in during certain portions of the race:  Green Lakes, Oneida Shores, and Jamesville Beach.  However, if you are thinking of doing any travel races, consider places like Quassy, Cedar Point or Old Forge, or any place where there are amusement parks so the kids will be excited for the race.  We went to Quassy last weekend and the kids loved it!  And bonus – we received a few free tickets to the park with registration.  Now, the kids are asking us to do Cedar Point!  Also, many races incorporate a kid’s race into the festivities.  Whether it’s a run, du, or a tri, our kids love to do these, especially if there’s a t-shirt involved! Continue reading

Our Spring Break “Train-cation”

One thing I have learned about Ironman training so far is that consistency is key.  It’s about “backing it up” not only on a daily basis, but backing up those big efforts week-to-week as well.  Our weekends have entailed long rides and long runs consistently since last October.  Some say you can’t train big when you have kids.  Some might even think it’s selfish to try to do so.  So what’s my secret to balancing Ironman training with the demanding schedules of three little boys? How do I finagle enough time to get my training in?  That’s easy!  I simply focus on creating time for my husband to train. I know it sounds crazy, but I’m not kidding!  First of all, I know that MC and I are the minority.  Of the many married triathletes we know, in most situations only one spouse is involved in the sport, or at least only one races long.  The fact that we both are involved and we are both training for a full Ironman means that we both understand the time commitment, and we both “get it”.  Luckily, we truly care about the other person getting their training in.  When I have a big ride to get in on Saturday, I know that volunteering to get the kids to their games in the morning and helping MC get out the door early, helps me to get on my ride at a reasonable time.  We both realize that the more we focus on improving each other’s schedule, the more it comes back around.  This takes faith and trust in each other; a true partnership.  So this past April we decided to take this “partnership” to a new level.  We went on our first (of hopefully many!) Spring Break “Train-cation”. Continue reading