Tagged: 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?

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: #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: #22 Engage Your Core

We are now over two thirds of the way through the “31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” series. Have you started implementing some of the tips? If so, I hope it is helping. Implementing a couple of items (again, don’t try to do too much) will improve your triathlon performance in a holistic manner without a huge investment in time or effort. Train smart.

Today’s tip is #22: Engage Your Core

Roman's Amazing Dad, age 77!

It is not just his abs working here! (ritavida’s flickr)

This isn’t about doing a few ab exercises after your workout. It means to really engage your core while training in order to drive your efforts.

The core is the group of muscles that control and support your spine and pelvis, i.e. the stomach, back, and hip muscles.

Arms and legs fatigue fast, so use your hips and abs and pecs – all massive muscles – to maximize the output from your efforts. Our focus is on maximizing the results of our efforts (i.e. efficiency), not just working hard and pushing ourselves.

Strengthen your core with plenty of sit-ups and core body exercises (planks, squats, push-ups, etc). Then engage your stronger, more powerful core when training and racing:

  • In the water:
    Use your torso to rotate your hips and drive your arm forwards. We can only get so much from our arms in the swim before they fatigue. Rotate to drive your hand to the front of the pull quicker, increase your distance per stroke and power through the pull. Rotating your hips also improves your streamlining in the water
  • On the bike:
    Engage your abs when cycling to ensure you are staying stable and getting max power from your glutes and quads. Don’t bounce around in the saddle, stay relaxed and power your legs. Ensure all your energy is focused in one direction: forwards
  • When running:
    Use your core to maintain good posture and keep your legs and arms pumping while maintaining balance. A strong core will also give you greater range of motion allowing you to reach and drive forward

A lot of people focus on particular muscles (“work those guns”) but it is <abs>olutely criminal to not leverage a huge source of power! Along with the technique benefits above, a stronger core will also help with injury prevention.

The list of “31 Easy Tips” series so 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

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: #16 Do Yoga

The “31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is a series of easy-to-implement tips that provide avenues to improve your performance.

Today’s tip is #16: Do Yoga. All you need is 60-90 minutes and head to the studio for a (hopefully) free intro class.

yoga for triathletes to help swimming, cycling, core strength and running

Try yoga. Or rather *do* yoga, remember, there is no try!

Yoga is great for many reasons:

  1. Flexibility
  2. Recovery
  3. Core strength
  4. Balance
  5. De-stressing

It involves 60-90 minutes of concentration and keeping your focus in the room on each pose. I can be very scatterbrained and the focus required at yoga helps me during a tough set or on race day.

Also, I tend to really have to negotiate with myself to stretch after practice. Attending yoga is like a freebie: get 1 hour+ of stretching, core and flexibility work disguised as a decent workout. If, like me, you struggle to do 10 minutes of stretching after a workout, then yoga could help kill the proverbial two birds!

Give yoga a shot, you’ve got nothing to lose…except your stress!

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

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence: #13 Take a Bath

The “31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is a series of easy-to-implement tips that provide avenues to improve your performance. Be it recovery, technique or trying something new in training, the tips are relatively straightforward and yield larger gains than simply doubling your efforts in practice.

Tip #12 is Take a Bath. All you need is a tub, some water and half an hour to reap the recovery benefits of bath time.

Benefits of bath time for recovery for athletes triathletes ironman

You can take a nice warm bath after working out or at the end of a long week. Or if you’re brave and/or feeling particularly sore, take an ice bath. Ease into that with cold showers perhaps.

Add bath salts for some benefits (maybe) or just make it a bubble bath for relaxation.

Benefits include mental relaxation, release muscle tension, sweat out toxins, de-stress, recovery post-exercise, switch off from your family the world briefly, etc, etc.

How to do it:

  1. Fill tub
  2. Get in
  3. Tune out.

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

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence: #12 Don’t Breathe in the Pool

Today’s tip in the “31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” series is #11: Don’t breathe in the pool

I am a big fan of hypoxic work in the pool. I believe it strengthens the lungs both in and out of the water, helping your body process carbon dioxide more efficiently and helping it operate efficiently with less oxygen.

Holding your breath while swimming

Like anything new, it will be hard at first, but gradually increase the times and distances you limit your breath for. Be careful as you introduce it, but who knows you may eventually be able to hold it for 20+ minutes!

For example:

  • breathe every 3 strokes then every 5 strokes, then every 7 strokes
  • Breathe every 2 strokes for 25m, then breathe every 3 strokes on the next 25m, then every 4, and so on.
  • Do 25m sprints with no breath
  • Underwater for 25m

Here is a sample hypoxic workout and some tips on how to improve your breath-holding abilities.

As your lungs grow stronger you should be able to feel the improvements at the end of long runs or a race, where normally you would be sucking air.

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

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence: #11 Reward Yourself

Tip #11 in the “31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” series is: Reward yourself

Many of my athletes are so focused on their Goals and working hard towards them, that they do not pick up on how much progress they are making along the way.

Treat yourself to cupcakes after a good week's training

I try to emphasize how well they are doing and point out improvements. Season-long goals can seem very far away when you’re in the middle of a hard block of training. Regular rewards can keep motivation up and ensure you are enjoying the process of chasing your goals.

So, if you’ve mastered a piece of technique, holding faster reps in training, raced a best time or are lifting stronger weights than ever, take the time to reflect and congratulate yourself – and reward yourself for a job well done (thus far!).

  • Take a day off
  • Have a glass of wine
  • Have that second slice of cake
  • Go for a massage
  • Treat yourself to something nice

Savor the little victories along the way, the big ones will come too.

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

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence: #10 Cross train

Today’s tip in the “31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” series is #10: Cross Train.

Mix up your training program to keep it interesting and shock your body. Think through your normal routine and do something different. It will be a new challenge to get you out of your comfort zone and work your muscles in new ways.

Across the ice bridge: Simonov's flickr

Across the ice bridge: Simonov’s flickr

  • Take a spin class
  • Do circuits
  • Race a 5k
  • Try cross fit (but please focus on proper form before pure speed)
  • Do track sprints instead of a long run
  • Do individual medley in the pool instead of miles of freestyle
  • Hit the climbing wall
  • Blast your core with pilates
  • Take up martial arts
  • Improve your flexibility with yoga
  • Train with a group instead of on your own
  • Take a dance class
  • Have a bath
  • Go skiing
  • Play basketball with your friends

On top of refreshing your routine – and we’re all in this for fun, right? – cross-training can help with:

  1. Injury prevention by reducing repetition e.g. endlessly pounding the pavement
  2. Motivation – if you start something new, you will notice yourself improving quickly
  3. Greater fitness – through varied workouts

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