I’m not a nutritionist but I have stayed at a number of Holiday Inn Expresses before races. The reality is, a nutrition protocol, and the application of it, can make or break a long distance race and all the training in the world isn’t going to cover a nutritional screw up!
With the triathlon season in full swing, many of you will be putting down some of the most intense training of the year in pursuit of personal bests, age group victories, qualifications and other goals. The push for performance is an admirable pursuit, but it often leads you teetering on the edge of what’s possible. When you find yourself on this edge, you may end up tipping over it and landing yourself with a midseason injury.
While many people who read this site have some background in triathlon already, we're always getting visitors who are just starting out -- either as new entrants to iron-distance racing or those who are completely new to triathlon. I want to share some tips as a sort of primer for the inexperienced and as a reminder for experienced triathlete. Even if you've been at this a while, you might have drifted away from a basic principle.
These days, endurance athletes have an incredible variety of race day sports nutrition products from which to choose. Drinks, bars, gels, blocks, and beans are just some of the products on the market that help deliver carbohydrates, electrolytes, and sometimes protein to bodies in motion. There is still, however, some “real food” options that work very well for training and racing. One of my favourites is the baked potato.
Disappearing for hours upon hours without responding to emails, calls or texts might be considered suspicious behavior in some relationships but in our house, we call that Saturday.
A new kid is soon arriving in Gordo's house so it is easy to support him by swapping over to a new Endurance Corner coach. Over the years I've learned a lot from G, but I'd like to share five key things that stand out from his lessons that I think can benefit everyone, whether you are a coached athlete or not.
I have posted this photo for a credibility check. I am about 18 years younger in that picture. Things to notice (besides the bad fashion choices and the cute baby) are my weight and the bag of Cheetos behind me. Not pretty.
Unfortunately, that is not pregnancy weight. I actually adopted my daughter and managed to put on weight in the process!
I keep this photo next to my computer in my office to remind me where I have been and to reinforce my choices today. I was carrying almost 40-50 pounds of extra weight in that picture. Today I celebrate that I am a healthy weight and very fit.
Looking at the title, you might think this is about a Vietnam-era special forces dude who’s been wronged, but it’s actually about what can be a life-threatening medical condition. There has been a lot of interest in this condition recently in the mainstream media. Are endurance athletes at risk?
“You need to take your team to the finish line with you.”
I use that saying often when talking to people about building a team for success.
You could use an example that a CEO might sit down at a boardroom with his team of directors and he gives them the grand plan. He would then talk about what he needs from his team and how they go about executing the plan. Each director has a roll and they all go to the finish line together!
When you are looking at taking on the challenge of something that takes as much commitment as an ironman you need to consider the same approach for yourself.
As we start to hit the meat of triathlon season many athletes are fast approaching their key events. In the months and weeks leading into those events we plan to execute training based on expectations of how we would like to race on the “big day.”
As a tall and relatively heavy (85kg) guy I need to produce a lot of power to get around an ironman course, which means a big energy need. Due to my size, my energy stores are likely bigger than average, but like for everyone else, they are far too small to get me to the finish line.
I will start a race with somewhere around 3,000 calories in my stores, but will need around 9,000 calories to get to the finish line. This means I need to get 6,000 calories from other sources -- either fat or race day nutrition intake. So when I look at fueling, I look at energy production and fuel intake during the race.
To prepare for the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race, I’ve been riding my Super Fly 100 FS around the mountains of Colorado. The single best advice I’ve received was to ride my mountain bike as much as I can and get out on the Leadville course to learn the descents and turns.
Kona is tough… raising children is tougher.
When Gordo suggested I write this article, I laughed out loud. Who am I to provide advice on this topic? Yes, I qualified for Kona, but I hardly think I’ve mastered the art of juggling preschoolers with Kona goals. On the day I started writing this column, I overslept and missed my run (up all night with a screaming toddler), I ate a less-than-nutritious breakfast with one hand while holding a baby bottle in place and I left the house for work with two kids in hysterics. At some point, I think I passed by my wife and said, "Hi." On second thought, I think we just grunted at each other. The bottom line is that I have no brilliant gem of advice. I feel lucky to be going to Kona this year. So this article really isn’t about “How,” it’s about “Why.”
One thing I love (and hate) is when my business receives complaints. Why do I love a complaint? It shows someone cares and they want to give us a chance to retain them as a customer. Sometimes they just want to help us make our business better. Conversely, I hate complaints because it means we screwed up.
A couple of years ago, I realized that the same thing applies to my racing attitude.
Nobody should ever start an ironman without a plan, but come race day most athletes turn the plan into a suggestion and end up deviating -- towards disaster at worst and sub-optimal at best. These deviations happen pretty early on in the race and almost always involve going too hard. Why is that?
Successful long course athletes know that unlocking a run they can be proud of is a combination of fitness and execution. Knowing what you are capable of running over 26.2 miles after a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike is a topic for another article. Here, I am going to briefly cover executing the swim, bike and first 30 minutes of the run in a way that makes your run potential a possibility.
It is reasonable to say that my recent sporting performances have not lived up to past standards. While I could give many reasons for this, at its heart is the quality of my preparation: I am not training sufficiently to achieve peak performances. It reflects changes happening in my life that mean, at this time, my own triathlon performance is not a priority. Inevitably there are periods in life when sport takes a back seat and we focus our attention elsewhere, but when triathlon is also your business it raises the question: How important is a coach's personal performance to his athletes?
Race planning is an often an overlooked aspect of racing, with many athletes showing up and deciding to “wing it” on the assumption that 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.
This workout of the month is a little different. If you are an athlete with a permanent injury that hinders your ability to run but you still have the love and desire to do triathlon, then this is your month!
Most will tell you that your time is up and you should quit. I don't believe in that! I think it's the easiest and weakest way out for the person telling you to call it quits. The fact is, they just don't know what to do.
I recently wrote about my training trip to Italy and I thought I'd share some further tips based on that adventure. It turns out that week was the biggest week of cycling that I’ve ever done. At 43, these weeks become more and more precious to me.
I love to strategize, and like many triathletes, I have dreamed up countless ways to out-think the competition on race day. However I know deep down that time spent strategizing is almost always better spent improving my fitness. Luckily, there is a way to do both at the same time: the race simulation.
Having just returned from a week of training and racing on the Big Island, I thought I’d share my experience of racing after a week of John Newsom’s Kona Epic Camp.
In fairness, the camp was titled Kona Epic Camp Lite, as it would not involve the insane volume that Epic Camp is known for, and we were not subject to a points system or any other internal competitions within the camp. The idea was to go old school: get some big training done in the famous Hawaii lava fields, and then tackle the Hawaii 70.3 on the last day of the camp. I had no idea whether it would work, but as I boarded the plane to Kona I found myself hoping the camp would be more “Lite” than “Epic.”
"So, are you really going for it and racing? Or are you pacing things out over the day?"
I get asked this question a lot when chatting with age groupers and particularly from guys and gals looking to make the next step in their racing careers.
There are many answers to this question and I could honestly go on about it all day.
No catchy lead in here, just nine interesting facts worth knowing about the athlete's heart.
We train to race. This is the reason we do set after set, day in and day out. The race is the big day, the test, the party. It's where we get to head out and truly see where we are.
A lot of factors come into putting a race together: physical, mental, experience, equipment, conditions, courses, goals. You need to consider all of those factors when planning your race.
In business, I’m constantly looking for ways to spend time to save time. I spend my time learning how to do repetitive tasks more efficiently. As a consultant, I’m conscious of every shift, click and keystroke. Little changes, multiplied by the millions of shifts, clicks and strokes we will do in our lives, can be powerful.
Through the years, I have had had six direct competitors in my business. Two of them were national chains within throwing distance. Why did we prevail?
We knew our business.
I used a similar strategy to prevail at Ironman Texas this year.
Last year, a buddy went to Riccione, Italy, for a bike camp and had a blast. This year, I joined him and want to share some observations specifically about Italy and camps in general.
As regular readers will know, I’m a big fan of using fatigue curves as an indicator of the relative top end power versus submax endurance strength of an athlete. By looking at how an athlete’s power decays as event duration increases, we are able to make some conclusions as to the endurance capacity of that athlete and we are able to extrapolate down the curve to make some pacing goals/predictions for event durations which the athlete may infrequently attempt. This is especially useful for ironman athletes.
However, despite the usefulness of the fatigue curve, it still only represents a general impression of the athlete’s endurance.
In today's day and age of smart phones, email, Facebook, Twitter, and on and on, we all feel the need for constant feedback or information from the outside world.
I don't think things are a lot different in our sport of triathlon. There is more information available than we know what to do with.