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
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
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?
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
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
This month at Endurance Corner, we have been talking about race planning. Often an overlooked aspect of racing, many athletes will show up and “wing it”, assuming their fitness is all they need to race well. I have seen “A” races blown to bits before the race even started due to a lack of a solid race plan. Another limiter I have witnessed is the inability to adapt on the fly and go to a plan B or C.
Showing up to a race with a plan is vital to doing well. Here are some points to consider: Continue reading
March is Ultra month at Endurance Corner and due to my limited exposure in that area, I took the opportunity to reach out to a friend who I met through the sport so I could learn more about the distance and share my discoveries with the readers here.
Adam Peruta, a Syracuse native and professor at Ithaca College, has been involved in endurance sports for 5 years. He recently discovered a passion for the Ultra distance events, including the Ultraman, a grueling 3 day event that consists of a 6.2 mile swim and 90 mile bike on day 1, a 171.4 mile bike on day 2, and finally a double marathon, 52.4 miles on the third and final day.
The length of the event intrigues me, and I was curious as to how the prep differs from events the typical long course athlete is accustomed to. When I caught up with Adam, he was just finishing up a new experience on the Start-up Bus, which consists of 25 people on a bus, where the group splits into small teams to launch a new idea, from conception to life. In essence, it is three days without sleep, pitching ideas. What drew Adam to the bus is the same internal question that drove him to Ultraman: “I’ve never done this before; I wonder if I can I do this?” He completed Ultraman Canada in 2010, and when he crossed the line thought, “Why would ANYONE want to do that again?!” It was only a few days later when he received an invitation to back up his Canada performance with Ultraman Hawaii, just four short months later…. he said he instantly knew he wanted to do it…. why?? The same internal dialog that put him on the start up bus this past week…”I’ve never done this before, it’s a new experience; can I do it?”
NWT Athlete Ben got prep month started with a great article on being prepared. Planning ahead for a long season of racing should not be taken lightly. You have worked hard during the winter months, so plan now for the good weather that is right around the corner!
As age group triathletes, the most precious commodity is time. Yet when you look at folks who complain about not having enough of it, you can see a lot of their deficits in training time are due to a lack of preparation.
There are very simple things you can do today to save training time in the future, so when spring hits you are ahead of your competition.