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

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

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:

http://www.retul.com/about-retul.asp

My Fit Experience . . . 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

Race Planning

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

“Before Break Through Training, Chop Wood, Carry Water, After Breakthrough training, Chop Wood, Carry Water”

I borrowed today’s title from the Zen saying, “Before enlightenment, chop wood carry water, after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

What is break through training?  For me, it is about viewing it the right way . . .  it is a continual quest with no end date, and no real peak.  When the goal is to qualify, it is not fair to the coach or the athlete to pick a specific race or year.

I am going to qualify.  I do not care when, or how old I am.  The race isn’t going anywhere.  It could be this year; it could be in 5 years.  What I do know is that for now I’m going to chop wood and carry water, and when I qualify, I imagine I’m going to do much of the same. Continue reading

Mental Toughness

When people talk about being tough, they tend to think about gritting their teeth, sucking it up, pushing through the pain and displaying to themselves and those looking on that they go hard all the time.  They do not rest or take it easy; surely this is the result of a strong mind that allows them to push through the pain.

From my viewpoint, this couldn’t be further from the truth, nor is it what makes someone mentally tough.  The aforementioned attributes can actually define someone with a weak mind and a lack of confidence. Therefore, they constantly push beyond what is necessary in order to prove to themselves they have what it takes.

Those reading this article likely do not need to be pushed through a session or asked to go hard (though few athletes understand a truly hard effort—but that is another article!)

On the flip side, athletes that are cool and calm, backing up training week after week, never looking to test themselves, are the tougher athletes; hitting the prescribed session no matter how “slow” or “easy” it may be.  That is what makes them tough—they cannot even be broken down by their own ego. Continue reading

Poolseverence by Ben Rabin

My name is Ben Rabin.  I am not an athlete.  But, I love to do athletic stuff.  Unfortunately, I have a business to run, clients to help, four kids to herd and a whole bunch of hobbies to neglect.  Can I balance all of these things?  Not going to happen.  So, this is my version of “training” and despite the right intentions, it is unorthodox, silly and maybe even downright ugly.

WATER PROOF HEADPHONES

Let’s face it – there is not much you can do while swimming.  No talking, no sightseeing, no playing endlessly with random electronic training aids.   And, if you are training to swim for a race longer than 20 feet, you’ve got some boring hours ahead of you.  Solutions, I’ve tried many.

Singing- First, my singing is awful and bothers even me.  Second, if you do this in an open water environment, you risk attracting previously unknown forms of marine wildlife.  Third, the people swimming past think you have gone off the deep end (yes, intentional pun).

Counting laps or strokes- At about the third length I am already wondering – “is this three laps or twelve?”

Look at the clock and count the time that goes by- My goggles fog up by the end of the first lap.  Besides, I much prefer to imagine I have been swimming for two or three hours than face the reality of actually seeing the clock, and knowing that I have gone for a whopping two and a half minutes and am ready to get out.

Like almost everything else in the world, swimming would be better with music.  So, with great delight, I discovered that there are a bunch of ways to get an iPod into the water without destroying it.  And, to my further delight, my fairly new waterproof iPod shuffle has been under water for several hours and still works fine. Unfortunately, it turns out that the iPod is not the hurdle.  The problem is the headphones. Continue reading

An Interview on Ultra

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?”

Continue reading