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

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

Improving Content for Our Readers

In an effort to increase site content, I was going to increase my writing to a weekly basis, with a long term goal of writing daily.  After thinking about the commitment of that task, I realized it was something that would never happen without giving up another piece of my life, or reducing the quality of the content.  The time simply isn’t there, so I found myself facing two choices:

1-Eliminate other things in my life to create the space.
2-Reduce the quality of the content to pump out articles.

Neither of the above were an option!

Still wanting to share information and expertise, I stopped to consider the fact that Endurance Corner has a team of writers . . .  and I came to realize that by recruiting help from others I could maintain quality of content and share the knowledge of some people that I am very fortunate to work with!  My current team is made up of individuals with some amazing talent and knowledge that they have bridged to the sport of triathlon.  Each is a strong member of the community and possesses many of the characteristics I strive to establish within a team environment: positive attitude, easy going personality, and a willingness to help those around them do well.  So I asked myself: 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

The Big 4-0!

So I turned 40 last month . . .  The big “4-0”!  How the heck did that happen??  Seriously!!  It seems like I was only 30 just last week.  I have always had a problem with the “decade” birthdays – the ones with the big round numbers ending in zero.  My college roommate just reminded me of how I cried when I turned 20 because I was so sad to not be a teenager anymore.  Well, for the first time since I can remember, I was actually excited for this birthday!  I was totally ready to “age-up”, as they call it when you move from one age group to the next.  I guess it’s a pretty big deal in the world of triathlon.  Anyone on the cusp of an age group will tell you how they would’ve “placed” if they were just 3 months older or 6 months younger.  So hooray for me!  No more racing “thirty-somethings”!  In my mid-20’s, I actually used to lie about my age.  I decided that after 25, I would be each age for 5 years.  That worked for awhile . . .  but I finally realized that I get a much better reaction when I tell my real age.  At least I have that going for me!

I’ve made more than my share of mistakes, and learned quite a lot the hard way.  Though I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten some things right as well.  If I had the chance to do things over, of course I would do things some differently. Who wouldn’t??  I’m sure I could’ve avoided some trouble!   But, I love the life that I’m living.  I know that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.  I’ve even picked up a few lessons along the way: Continue reading

Triathlon Third

Triathlon Third

First and foremost I am a mother.  Six years ago, I begged my Financial Advisor husband to figure out a way that I could stay home with my babies.  He did, and as I was telling my boss that I was leaving, he asked me to work from home.  So I have since been juggling the two, and in 2008 I decided to be a triathlete too.  I used to feel guilty about spending so much time on my training, but I try to convince myself that it’s the only thing I do for me, so it’s ok.  However, it’s really not just for me . . .   My training actually benefits everyone around me as well.  When my training is consistent, that consistency carries over to all other aspects of my life.

Continue reading