Category: recovery

What 200 Calories Look Like in Different Foods

Here’s a photo series showing how much of a given food you get for 200 calories. As you think about your training and race day nutrition, check out the benefits of eating well vs junk food.

Being able to visualize how much of a given food pays back in calories might help you make decisions come snack or meal time.

Vegetables are good value for calories. And I know I’d rather eat three eggs than eight Hershey’s kisses.

Nutrition is a key part of training and racing triathlon. Use these photos to guide your diet and decision making.

What does 200 Calories Look Like?

How many calories are there in the foods you eat?

How many calories are there in the foods you eat?

Monday Motivation: Swimming World Records from London 2012

Swimming World Records from London 2012 Olympics

From the Olympics video vault: all the World Records broken during the 2012 London Olympics, recapped in 90 seconds.

Nice little bit of swimming inspiration!

It’s Labor Day in the US, the official end to Summer, and we’re all looking into the Autumn/Fall and then Winter… what are you doing to gear yourself up for a good off-season?

Race Week Tip: Get More Sleep

We should be racing fully rested. We achieve this through our taper and a gradual reduction in training levels so our body feels fresh and full of energy.

Tapering and eating well (healthy carbs) are well-documented. One under-rated form of performance enhancement is sleep.

Napping helps boost recovery and triathlon race performance

Asleep. From sk31k’s flickr

One way we can boost recovery benefits is by getting extra sleep the week of the race. You’ll feel fresher come race day, your body will heal quicker from the training miles and come race day you’ll be raring to go!

Recent Wimbledon tennis champ, Andy Murray aims for 12 hours sleep per day, including a 2 hour nap in the afternoon.

Andy Murray gets 12 hours of sleep per night to boost performance

Credit: Getty

Murray says: “Rest is so ­important. On the days when I am not playing I try to get in and do my work early, deal with ­everything else that has to happen, and then get home and have a nap.”

  • Try and sneak in a nap during the day – even just 20 mins.
  • Get to bed an hour earlier.
  • Can you wake up later before work?

My plan for this week, is early nights every night. In bed by 9 or 10pm, read for a bit and then lights out.

On Saturday afternoon I’ll check my bike into transition and then head straight home for one last nap before the race on Sunday morning.

Follow my tips to become both a triathlon and Wimbledon champion!

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence #30: Perform HOT by warming up

“31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is a series of those tips that will kick your performance to the next level, without any inordinate expenditure of time or money. How are you going to reach your goals?

Today’s tip to enhance your performance is #30: Perform HOT by warming up

Warm up like the pros before your triathlon practice or ironman training

Many of the athletes I interact with take a warm-up for granted, if they do one at all. They loiter on poolside chatting before swim practice and stand still awaiting instructions before run training.

Look at your favorite pro sports team or athlete before they compete or train. Look at the focus and attention they put into warming up. There are many theories on how to warm-up but the benefits of warming up before intensive exercise are well-established:

  1. Injury prevention
  2. Warmed muscles can contract and relax at faster speeds
  3. Improved range of motion
  4. Increase the heart rate to exercise levels
  5. Improve blood flow and oxygen utilization of muscles
  6. Mentally prepare for the workout
  7. Faster recovery post-workout

It is worth investing time in a good warm-up. An extra five minutes of quality warm-up can help you perform far better in practice and lead to much improved racing times.

Of course, a warm-up does not have to take a long time – focus on quality and tailor it to the practice ahead, e.g. if you are doing some sprinting make sure you build into speed work during the warm-up.

Warming up can include high quality technique work in the form of drills, which over the long term will improve efficiency…all while you warm up for the day’s session!

Have I made my point about quality above all? 🙂

Many warm-up options exist:

  • Jogging: light jogging as a gentle warm-up
  • Technique drills: e.g. single leg cycling on a bike trainer, pull and kick in the pool
  • Dynamic stretching: As opposed to static stretching where you hold stretches these are movement-based, e.g. arm swings, lunges, leg kicks, squats
  • Higher-intensity work: build into faster work in order to get your body used to higher intensity, e.g. 25m sprints in the pool, gradually increase your reps from 90 to 100 rpm on the bike, fast feet and build to sprint while running

Sample elements of warm-ups:

  • Cycling: Light pedaling, gradually increasing rpm’s. Can include single pedal drills practicing good technique and posture (alternate left and right for 5 minutes total). Spin up cadence pyramids (increasing from 80 rpm-100/110 rpm and reduce back down).
  • Run: light jog for 5 mins, introducing dynamic stretching (butt kicks, lunges, hip activators, squats, “fast feet shuffle”) and then adding short runs of increasing speeds building from medium to fast to sprints over short distances.
  • Swim: Initial aerobic swims (e.g. 3×200 swim, pull, kick) then drills (eg 8 x 50) and into sprints (4 x 25 build each length to fast + 4×25 increasing speed with #1 fast and #4 fastest).

Tailor your warm-up to what makes you feel good. Ultimately a warm-up  is subjective and you should include those exercises that prepare you to perform well in training.

As the season progresses, refine the warm-up and keep in mind what you will do to warm up on race day. What will give you confidence to go out and dominate the race? It all adds up to stronger performances in training throughout the season and ultimately on race day – all for a little focus during a warm-up.

How do you warm up?

The “31 Easy Tips” Series:
#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: 
Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3:
 Ask an Expert
#4: 
Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: 
Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
#8: 
Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
#11: 
Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
#13: 
Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
#16: 
Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18: Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door
#19: Stay Healthy!
#20: Do LESS Freestyle
#21: Grind it Out on the Foam Roller
#22: Engage Your Core
#23: Don’t Break the Bank!
#24:
 
Be Persistent and Patient (Like Skyscraper Builders)
#25: Kick!
#26: Sprint!
#27: Race-day training
#28: Visualize Victory
#29: Invest in Recovery

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence #25: Kick!

Woah! How is it February already? Time really does fly, reminding me of the urgency to do what I can to get faster and stronger in the time that I have. In order to maximize performance gains I try to focus on efficiency and effectiveness in my training.

“31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is a series of tips you can apply in your daily triathlon training in order to kick your performance to the next level, without any inordinate expense in time or money. They are small, focused tips but require application in order to make them habits.

With one month down so far this year, what are you doing to improve your performance? What tips would you add to the list? How are you going to reach your goals?

Today is #25: Kick!

Work on your kick to improve your swimming for triathlon - and your bike & run

Kick past your rivals! (2thin2swim’s Flickr)

In swimming for triathlon, the goal is NOT to kick in order to save our legs for the bike and run legs. Swim efficiently, use your upper body to power through the water and let your legs trail behind.

As a result, most triathletes never work on their kick.

That makes sense, but the kick is a very important part of the stroke.

  1. An efficient kick will help with streamlining and body rotation as well as helping propel us forward. At the very least, a good kick and streamline kick will minimise drag and prevent us slowing down.
  2. Kicking also provides a great warmdown and recovery set after a long a long run, by helping eliminate lactic acid in the muscles. The days when I jump in the pool and do 500m easy swim and kick after a tough run, my legs feel infinitely better the next day.
  3. When I was a swimmer cycling really helped my kicking in the pool. In the same vein, working on my kick more regularly has helped my run and cycling. I believe it helps maintain our range of motion and flexibility, particularly in the ankles. It also helps in a holistic manner those muscles that are under-used but provide support.

There are also several types of kicking you can do:

  • Freestyle
  • Backstroke
  • Breaststroke (front or back. Double-arm backstroke with breaststroke is a great warmdown drill)
  • Butterfly (front or back – fly kick on your back is a great ab workout!)
  • Kicking on side (great drill for hip rotation)

You can do it as part of a warm-up (100m kick), a kick-specific set (6×50), incorporate it into a main set (300m swim with every 3rd length fast kick) or swim down (200m easy).

There are plenty of options  so grab a board and work that kick.

“31 Easy Tips” thus far:

#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3: Ask an Expert
#4: Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
#8: Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
#11: Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
#13: Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
#16: Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18:  Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door
#19: Stay Healthy!
#20: Do LESS Freestyle
#21: Grind it Out on the Foam Roller
#22: Engage Your Core
#23: Don’t Break the Bank!
#24:
 Be Persistent and Patient (Like Skyscraper Builders)

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence #30: Perform HOT by warming up

“31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is a series of those tips that will kick your performance to the next level, without any inordinate expenditure of time or money. How are you going to reach your goals?

Today’s tip to enhance your performance is #30: Perform HOT by warming up

Warm up like the pros before your triathlon practice or ironman training

Many of the athletes I interact with take a warm-up for granted, if they do one at all. They loiter on poolside chatting before swim practice and stand still awaiting instructions before run training.

Look at your favorite pro sports team or athlete before they compete or train. Look at the focus and attention they put into warming up. There are many theories on how to warm-up but the benefits of warming up before intensive exercise are well-established:

  1. Injury prevention
  2. Warmed muscles can contract and relax at faster speeds
  3. Improved range of motion
  4. Increase the heart rate to exercise levels
  5. Improve blood flow and oxygen utilization of muscles
  6. Mentally prepare for the workout
  7. Faster recovery post-workout

It is worth investing time in a good warm-up. An extra five minutes of quality warm-up can help you perform far better in practice and lead to much improved racing times.

Of course, a warm-up does not have to take a long time – focus on quality and tailor it to the practice ahead, e.g. if you are doing some sprinting make sure you build into speed work during the warm-up.

Warming up can include high quality technique work in the form of drills, which over the long term will improve efficiency…all while you warm up for the day’s session!

Have I made my point about quality above all? 🙂

Many warm-up options exist:

  • Jogging: light jogging as a gentle warm-up
  • Technique drills: e.g. single leg cycling on a bike trainer, pull and kick in the pool
  • Dynamic stretching: As opposed to static stretching where you hold stretches these are movement-based, e.g. arm swings, lunges, leg kicks, squats
  • Higher-intensity work: build into faster work in order to get your body used to higher intensity, e.g. 25m sprints in the pool, gradually increase your reps from 90 to 100 rpm on the bike, fast feet and build to sprint while running

Sample elements of warm-ups:

  • Cycling: Light pedaling, gradually increasing rpm’s. Can include single pedal drills practicing good technique and posture (alternate left and right for 5 minutes total). Spin up cadence pyramids (increasing from 80 rpm-100/110 rpm and reduce back down).
  • Run: light jog for 5 mins, introducing dynamic stretching (butt kicks, lunges, hip activators, squats, “fast feet shuffle”) and then adding short runs of increasing speeds building from medium to fast to sprints over short distances.
  • Swim: Initial aerobic swims (e.g. 3×200 swim, pull, kick) then drills (eg 8 x 50) and into sprints (4 x 25 build each length to fast + 4×25 increasing speed with #1 fast and #4 fastest).

Tailor your warm-up to what makes you feel good. Ultimately a warm-up  is subjective and you should include those exercises that prepare you to perform well in training.

As the season progresses, refine the warm-up and keep in mind what you will do to warm up on race day. What will give you confidence to go out and dominate the race? It all adds up to stronger performances in training throughout the season and ultimately on race day – all for a little focus during a warm-up.

How do you warm up?

The “31 Easy Tips” Series:
#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: 
Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3:
 Ask an Expert
#4: 
Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: 
Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
#8: 
Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
#11: 
Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
#13: 
Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
#16: 
Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18: Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door
#19: Stay Healthy!
#20: Do LESS Freestyle
#21: Grind it Out on the Foam Roller
#22: Engage Your Core
#23: Don’t Break the Bank!
#24:
 
Be Persistent and Patient (Like Skyscraper Builders)
#25: Kick!
#26: Sprint!
#27: Race-day training
#28: Visualize Victory
#29: Invest in Recovery

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence: #24 Be Persistent and Patient (Like Skyscraper Builders)

Woah! How is it February already? Time really does fly, reminding me of the urgency to do what I can to get faster and stronger in the time that I have.

“31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is a series of tips you can apply in your daily triathlon training in order to kick your performance to the next level, without any inordinate expense in time or money.

With one month down so far this year, what are you doing to improve your performance? What tips would you add to the list?

Today is #24: Be Persistent and Patient

The triathlon season is long but is like building a skyscraper - take your training plan step by step

Approach your triathlon season like building a skyscraper – with patience and persistence. One window pane at a time! (photo: David Marcel’s flickr)

In triathlon, the season is long and the training sessions are too. 3/6/9 months of toiling in three different sports – and bricks. 5,000 yards in the pool, 10 mile runs, 4 hours on the bike. Seemingly endless at times, it’s hard to persevere when tiredness kicks in.

One of the keys to success in triathlon is being persistent – and consistent – over the course of a very long season.

When training loads peak it is hard to get out of bed, we feel heavy and sluggish, every muscle and joint aches and mentally you just don’t want to go another yard.

However, do everything you can to maintain forward progress. Yes, it’s tough, you might feel you are performing below peak but everything contributes to your race day performance.

It is like building a skyscraper – the foundations take ages but eventually your season takes shape as improvements start revealing themselves. Then as your training plan progresses you add on the windows one by one, until you top out and the job is done – you’re ready to kick ass in a race.

And race day is only a small number of days and weeks away. The adage “time flies” applies to the long triathlon season as well (even if you’re not having fun!). Summer season and race day will come all too quickly. Prepare yourself by being consistent in training throughout your program.

The key is not dwelling on your mistakes or “bad sessions” but to keep trying and keep fighting. Remember your goals.

Enjoy the process, it is not always fun, it is likely tough, but enjoy the progress you make, the milestones you achieve and enjoy the sport, your teammates, the endorphins.

One element that helps me keep going is tracking my progress. By writing down my training performance, I can see in black and white how much faster I am compared to last month or year. It’s a great motivator.

By being persistent and patient, eventually we all finish building the skyscraper. So, don’t give up, just like this Peruvian llama. You will reap the benefits on race day – guaranteed.

“31 Easy Tips” thus far:

#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3: Ask an Expert
#4: Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
#8: Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
#11: Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
#13: Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
#16: Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18:  Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door
#19: Stay Healthy!
#20: Do LESS Freestyle
#21: Grind it Out on the Foam Roller
#22: Engage Your Core
#23: Don’t Break the Bank!

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence: #21 Grind it Out on the Foam Roller

How is the “31 Easy Tips…” series treating you? I hope it is helping. Implement one or two things from the list (don’t try to do too much) over the course of a few weeks and track your progress. These tips are elements of triathlon that you might not come to mind, but will contribute to improved performance without significant effort.

Today’s tip is #21: Grind it Out on the Foam Roller

Using a foam roller for triathlon recovery stretching fitness

In this case “it” refers to any knot in your muscles. If you have tight or achy muscles a foam roller will help. The nature of triathlon is that we perform the same movements over and over – be it on the bike or while running – and this leads to sore and tight muscles.

You can use it before or after a workout as a form of massage and to break down trigger points in your muscles.

When you start using one, it will likely hurt like hell, so vary the pressure and ease into it, and after a couple of weeks it will hurt less as your muscles loosen up.

There are many benefits to using a foam roller. One major one is injury prevention – I used to have ITB problems but once I started foam rolling I have experienced no issues.

It is the one piece of equipment I recommend before all others. OK, maybe except for a swim suit!

All it takes is 10 minutes a few times a week. Incorporate it into your stretching routine and/or do it in front of the TV. Spend $20-50 on a foam roller and you have access to unlimited free massages!

Previous tips in the 31 Easy Tips series include:

#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3: Ask an Expert
#4: Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
#8: Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
#11: Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
#13: Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
#16: Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18:  Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door
#19: Stay Healthy!
#20: Do LESS Freestyle

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence: #20 Do LESS Freestyle

How is the “31 Easy Tips…” series treating you? I hope it is helping. Implement one or two things from the list (don’t try to do too much) over the course of a few weeks and track your progress.

Today’s tip is #20: Do LESS Freestyle

Phelps is a world class in breaststroke as well as his traditional fly and free, which helps his all-round game

Yes, you read that correctly – do LESS freestyle!

Most triathletes swim freestyle and only freestyle, given that it is the fastest stroke. Fair enough.

However, experimenting with the other three strokes will benefit your swimming in a number of ways:

  • Give your freestyle-specific joints and muscles a break and avoid overuse injuries
  • Make your swim practices more interesting
  • Develop your non-freestyle muscles (e.g. strengthen your legs doing breaststroke)
  • Give you options in a race should you need to switch strokes – take a breather, fix your goggles, etc.
  • Up the intensity in the pool by adding butterfly
  • Give you confidence in your overall swimming ability by mastering the ‘other’ strokes
  • Maybe counter-intuitively, a strong kick can help with sighting in open water as you can use it to get your head out of the water and maintain forward progress

Try adding a mix of the different strokes in the warm up and warm down, and go from there. Your freestyle muscles will thank you!

Previous tips in the 31 Easy Tips series include:

#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3: Ask an Expert
#4: Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
#8: Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
#11: Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
#13: Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
#16: Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18:  Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door
#19: Stay Healthy!

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence: #19 Stay Healthy!

“31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is designed to provide suggestions for areas of improvement in your triathlon training and racing which offer great gains that you might not be aware of.

Today’s tip is #19: Stay Healthy!

Portrait-Photo-Sick-person-going-to-Lourdes-to-take-in-the-water

Easier said than done of course, especially in the cold winter weather.

However there are a lot of things that we can and should do to minimize our chances of getting sick, and reduce the training days we miss due to illness:

be proactive to avoid getting sick and race your best triathlon or ironman

By being proactive we can maximize our training effectiveness over the course of a season. Consistency throughout the season is key when it comes to performance and racing our best – be it triathlon, ironman, open water swimming or running (etc, etc).

Previous tips in the 31 Easy Tips series include:

#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3: Ask an Expert
#4: Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
#8: Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
#11: Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
#13: Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
#16: Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18:  Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door