Tagged: racing

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?

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3 Key Open Water Sighting Tips for Triathletes

Sighting is a seemingly small element of a long open water swim. However, when not performed well, poor sighting carries a significant cost. Watch the following video to see how much extra distance the highlighted swimmers go:

I coached at our team’s final open water practice of the season last weekend. It was a great session, with a lot of good, hard swimming done. However, in general the team’s sighting was poor. I watched them snake through the straight out-and-back course. I was secretly (and sadistically?) pleased as it made the workout longer but I recognize the need to correct their technique for race day.

My swimmers (and maybe you too?) have two key elements to correct:

1. Poor sighting technique

Poor form is tiring and inefficient.

  • One of the most common faults is lifting your head too long which expends energy and causes your feet to drop.
  • Not sighting within the rhythm of your stroke will cause a pause in momentum and break your cadence. Stop-start swimming is no fun.
  • Finally, don’t lift your head to sight just for the sake of it, lift and scan for your landmarks. Use it to make sure you are on course, or don’t sight, just swim normally. If you are swimming parallel to shore, there will be minimal use to lift your head up and to the front.

2. Not sighting regularly enough

  • The swimmers tended to sight too late, only to discover they had veered off track. It’s a trade-off (energy and rhythm) but sighting more frequently would have prevented them from swimming the extra yards.
Keep your head low while sighting in the open water!

Keep your head low while sighting in the open water!

 

Key tips for Open Water Sighting

  • Sighting Tip 1: scan the course pre-race for landmarks that are bigger and more obvious than the buoys, e.g. telecoms masts, distinctive buildings, boats (as long as they are not moving!), etc.Even though my fellow Coach’s guns are HUGE, it was tough to see them from the water. Swimmers had to work hard to spot him. At Coney Island beach on Saturday, rather than using Coach as the marker in the water, it would have been far easier and more effective to sight using one of the huge buildings behind him on the beach.
  • Sighting Tip 2: Incorporate sighting into the rhythm of your stroke. Lift your head only enough to spot your landmark and throw your head into the breath and next stroke.
  • Sighting Tip 3: Sight regularly, but not too often. It all depends on how ‘straight’ a swimmer you are and how much you trust yourself.  Somewhere between 3 and 12 strokes is the norm. Experiment in training to find what works best for you and your internal compass.

Review the Swim Smooth video above that clearly shows how far you can go off course if your sighting is off. Be sure to practice a little before your next race(s). You get no points for swimming extra distance!

Keri-Anne-Payne-open-water-swim-Beijing-2008_1127785 Olympic Open Water, A Seminal Event About To Occur openwaterswimmingnews

Keri-Anne Payne’s crocodile eyes – head barely out of the water

Photo credits: Flying Cloud & http://www.openwaterswimming.com/

Monday Motivation: Ironman Hawaii World Championship 2009

Ironman Hawaii World Championship 2009

One from the archives. An oldie but a goodie.

Watch this before your next session, and be inspired:

In the words of Waterboy, YOU CAN DO IT!

What tools do you use to keep your motivation levels up?

The Science Behind Usain Bolt and his 100m World Records

20130731-205618.jpgScientists say they can explain what makes Usain Bolt so fast.

“They say their model explains the power and energy he had to expend to overcome drag caused by air resistance, made stronger by his frame of 6ft 5in.

Writing in the European Journal of Physics, the team hope to discover what makes extraordinary athletes so fast.”

It would be really interesting to see models of top athletes in other sports. No doubt there would be a lot of learning for us all to enjoy and benefit from.

There should rightly be a lot of skepticism however given recent and not-so-recent drug testresults.

One thing I do not like about the article is the following section where the scientist talks about “improving” with a faster tail wind (all else being equal). Of course, he might run faster as a result but he is most certainly not improving as an athlete.

“Bolt’s Berlin record was won with a tail wind of only 0.9m per second, which didn’t give him “the advantage of helpful wind assistance”, he added.

“You’re allowed to have a wind no greater than 2m per second to count for record purposes, so without becoming any faster he has huge scope to improve,” Prof Barrow told BBC News.”

Secret of Bolt’s speed unveiled20130731-205759.jpg

First Out of the Water

I love this photo, from Ola Vista Photography on flickr.

open water swim triathlon first out of the water ola vista photography flickr

The photo is called “ITU San Diego Pro Men”.

I love how it captures the first athlete out of the water, with his competitors close behind, chasing him down. What a rush!

Do you finish the swim in first place?

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence #31: Don’t forget to have fun along the way

“31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is a series of holistic triathlon tips that will help you achieve your goals. The little things that give big results, the “20” part of the 80:20 rule.

Today is the final tip in the series, #31: Don’t forget to have fun along the way

As you storm through your daily practices, grit your teeth during those cold, long winter runs and push yourself to master that impossible drill remember to have fun along the way. Sure, we want to win and to achieve our goals, but remember why you are doing this in the first place.

Remember your goals and why you set out on this path. Remember the initial enthusiasm of your first few days in the sport. Be like a kid who has just discovered a new activity.

Enjoy your progress. Sure it’s tough, and some days we’d rather stay in bed, but enjoy the progress. Enjoy each second you get faster, how much stronger you feel or each pound you lose. We all have plenty of bad days, so make sure you enjoy the good ones when nobody can stop you.

Enjoy the bad days too. They are the ones that put ‘money in the bank’ for race day.

Some days we’ll finish last, bonk or lose half an hour fixing a stubborn flat. Who cares – we will learn what to improve or change for next time.

On race day smile, enjoy the race and thank the volunteers. Encourage your rivals as you run past them with ease. Everyone gets a kick out of a bit of encouragement. We all contribute to race day atmosphere and the camaraderie is one of the best elements of triathlon.

Support your team mates. Enjoy their progress as well as your own. We’re in it together.

Enjoy your improving fitness levels, your increasing strength, your toned muscles, your knowledge about obscure bicycle parts and your new-found energy levels.

Enjoy it all, especially the tough parts, and remember to smile throughout Chrissie Wellington! We should all take a leaf out of her book.

Smile like Chrissie Wellingotn

Train hard, have fun.

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
#30: Perform HOT by warming up

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 #29: Invest in Recovery

“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 #29: Invest in Recovery

Recovery for triathletes and ironman is important

I have had a few requests from various parties recently about recovery – what are the whats and the hows and the whys of effective recovery?

There are  – of course, since when was triathlon ever simple?! – many facets to post-exercise recovery, and many are open to debate so please let me know what I’ve forgotten or under/over-stated.

What is not in question is that proper recovery will boost performance by preventing injury and allowing you to perform at higher level for longer.

So, what should you be doing to recover after working out?

  1. Post-exercise warm down: do this purely for safety reasons if nothing else, as it allows your heart rate to return to a normal, resting state, and avoid a drop in blood pressure could drop and dizziness.
  2. Stretching: helps relax the muscles, flush out toxins and ultimately helps with flexibility which in turn helps prevent injury.
  3. Hydrate: hopefully you will be well hydrated from drinking throughout your workout, but be sure to drink plenty of fluids afterwards to aid recovery. We often lose weight while working out – this tends to be lost water. Drinking after training helps replace lost fluids and prevent sore muscles.
  4. Eat, eat, eat! as soon after training as possible, preferably within 30-60 minutes. Recommended foods vary, but some balance of protein and carbohydrates is important. Chocolate milk is on most lists as it contains both protein (to promote muscle repair) and simple carbs (to replenish glycogen). I like a banana as well. Make sure you have a good balanced meal after training to fuel your recovery.
  5. Massage: treat yourself to a pro or spend 10 minutes with your foam roller. One is more pleasurable than the next, but both methods may help flush out lactic acid, reduce swelling and heal faster.
  6. Naps & sleep: Get plenty of sleep to allow your muscles to recover. Increased sleep has been linked to improved performance, as when we are quietly (wait, do you snore?!) dreaming, our body is at work repairing our muscles.
  7. Cold/Hot therapy: in the form of hot/cold showers, ice baths and ice packs help boost circulation and flush out toxins. The other day I left my spinning class in my shorts and t-shirt went out into freezing weather on the way to the car. While all my muscles froze in the wind, this is NOT a recommended approach!
  8. Rest days: give yourself regular days off where you do nothing at all except enjoy some rest. While many feel the urge to keep training, a day off will allow you to perform better over the long term.
  9. Active recovery: is exercising at low-intensities and can include the warm-down immediately after a tough main set, or going for an easy swim shortly after your week’s long run. Studies show that rather than resting, active recovery helps flush out lactic acid and has psychological benefits – who doesn’t enjoy a nice, easy session from time-to-time?

There is a lot you can do to help you recover quickly and more effectively. While adopting the tricks above may take some practice, they are relatively easy and quick. Build them into your training plan and your daily routine.

Tons of equipment is available to help e.g. eye masks for a nap, ice packs, compression socks, foam roller, protein shakes and more.

Don’t just work hard during practice. Your training extends beyond your timetable and into recovery hours. The pay-offs will be clear over the course of a long season.

What have I missed? Vote now and I will try to include in the last couple of posts of the series!

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

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence #28: Visualize Victory

“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?

Your commitment to training hard for miles and miles is but one tool to excel in sports (and other endeavors). The hard work is required, but your effectiveness will only be maximized by taking a holistic approach to triathlon. Nutrition, recovery and technique are a few examples that will add to your performance gains with a little effort.

Today’s tip to enhance your performance is #28: Visualize Victory

10 Success Secrets of Olympic Greats - Phelps visualizing pre-race

Visualization is a technique that has been used by elite athletes for years. It involves mentally rehearsing your race and picturing yourself achieving your goals.

Picture yourself conquering a weakness, of racing fast and performing strongly. Imagine yourself crossing the finish line arms raised aloft, having achieved your goals.

If you get nervous pre-race, anticipate yourself calm and relaxed, steady heart-rate, breathing comfortably while awaiting the gun.

It is not my favorite sport but I am always impressed with the focus of baseball pitchers. They appear to visualize each and every pitch just beforehand.

The more you do it, the more stretch goals become achievable. Picture yourself swimming smooth and long, efficiently powering through the bike leg and finishing fast and strong on the run. The joy of visualization is that you can do it anywhere – while on a long swim or run, in the office, or commuting to work on the train.

Like anything, practice it and you will improve. I have heard anecdotes of swimmers, with practice, being able to rehearse their race within tenths of a second of their goal time!

Picturing yourself outperforming and conquering major challenges will help with your confidence on race day, and will help as you churn in the wash of the swim or as you struggle up that final, steep hill.

I’m in my 30’s but still fantasize about winning Olympic gold and later becoming a professional football player. The more I picture myself covered in glory, the more certain I am that it will happen!

Mo Farah wins gold - visualize yourself sprinting to victory in triathlon races

The difference between many athletes is often self-belief. Visualization can help your believe in yourself and your ability to achieve ANY goal.

What have I missed? Vote now and I will try to include in the last few posts of the series!

“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)
#25: Kick!
#26: Sprint!
#27: Race-day training

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence #27: Race-day training

I am a firm believer in efficiency and effectiveness in training. I don’t have the time, energy or attention span to plough away for mile after mile racking up insane training volumes. Sign me up for those things that allow me to achieve more in less time and have fun while doing so!

“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 is #27: Race-day training

Prepare for race day with race-specific training eg open water swimming for triathletes

The triathlon season is long and there are many miles to be covered on the road to race day. Along the way do not neglect your race-specific training. What are the things that will save you minutes on race day and help you outperform your expectations?

Adapt your training to the course you plan on conquering. Get plenty of open water training done and be sure to note if the swim is in a lake or sea which can offer very different conditions on race day. Is the bike/run course hilly? Make sure you are training on hills otherwise the effort on race day will surprise you.

Open water swimming is far different and more chaotic than pool swimming. Be sure to tackle the currents, waves, lack of visibility of open water swimming. Work on your sighting so you do not end up swimming extra distance!

Brick workouts should be incorporated into your training. Swim and then bike, bike and then run. Help your muscles adapt to the changeover.

Nutrition is another element you can practice. What will your pre-race breakfast be? What snacks and fluids will you take during the race (be it in transition or on the bike)? Experiment with various foods and brands. You will like the taste of some and your body will reject others – make sure you find which ones before you ruin your race! Find out when and what quantity you should consume in and around your race – that is equally important. Nutrition can make a big difference.

Get your nutrition right for triathlon race day

Equipment is another variable that can make a difference. While a $10,000 carbon bike will help your cycling time, not all of us can afford that investment. Plus you’re doing it to push yourself anyway, right?! With so much equipment there are lots of choices and a lot of margin for error. What socks are comfortable and do not give you blisters? Do you have a pair of goggles that fit well and are comfortable? Are they tinted in case of sunny conditions and do you have a spare pair in case one breaks? Do you have a comfortable cap for the run and tri shorts? What sunglasses will you wear? These are all smaller items that will not make you faster, but knowing them will determine your comfort level and minimize stress in race week and on the day itself.

Practice your transitions – knowing your routine and making it second nature will be the difference between a 45 second transition and a 3 minute one, which in turn could be the difference between hitting your goal time or missing it. Practice what works for you in terms of order of events, whether to eat or not, do you put on socks for the bike, do you dry off with a towel or air dry? etc, etc.

Learn to fix a flat – Murphy’s Law will dictate that you will NEVER get a flat in training but halfway through the bike leg, BOTH your tyres will pop! Be prepared. Don’t end up sitting by the side of the road waiting for bike support to arrive!

Preparing the smaller, seemingly less significant items will give you the mental confidence to race hard. Free your brain from stress and focus on racing hard and fast!

What tips would you add to the list?

“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)
#25: Kick!
#26: Sprint!