Thursday, February 25, 2016

Have You Heard of Caeleb Dressel?

I admit I hadn't until Stewart Nixon (Colorado) brought him to our team's attention last week... with the Olympics fast approaching, I'm sure the world will soon be hearing a lot more!

Caeleb is a 19-year old University of Florida swimmer and Olympic hopeful who just recorded two eye-popping performances at the SEC Championships.

If you've ever been in a pool, you've most likely completed a 50-yard swim... down and back. About as simple as it gets. Here Caeleb swims the fastest down and back of all time in 18.23.

Down, back, down, back. For people off the street it could unfortunately be down, back, drown back, but for anyone who's ever swam, you've done many a 100 in your day. Here Caeleb shaves one hundredth of a second off the American record, dropping it to 41.07.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Sufferfest: The Way Out Video Review

Chad Zeman first joined Triple Threat Triathlon out of Rhode Island, but now represents North Carolina on our national team. He is a recent "graduate" of Ironman University and the Head Coach at C2 Endurance.
Last but not least, Chad is a "Knight" in Sufferlandria, which he painfully earned by completing 10 Sufferfest videos back to back in a single day. Here he shares his thoughts on one of The Sufferfest's most recent releases: The Way Out.


Over the past three years I've come to love The Sufferfest 
videos - they make the trainer fun, they are to the point, and they get your heart racing. As a coach, I will only have my athletes ride these videos after the base phase unless they are absolutely antsy. Why? They stress the VO2 Max system at a time where the Northern Hemisphere is typically base training.

People have seen great gains when properly implemented, but what about those who are "recovering" or wanting to tax the fat burning system rather than the sugar burning system? In a non-Sufferfest type of workout - they did exactly that with The Way Out.

The Way Out is that perfect video that works you, but keeps you right below the edge. It's a 60 minute ride that has great landscape, music, and various workout queues to keep you on track. As a coach, this video is an essential for one of my athletes to have. 


It's a "sweet spot" workout. What this means is that you are going to be working hard enough to see fitness gains but you will not need a whole lot of time to recover. Efforts (with the exception of two) sit just below Threshold, so no lactate is going to build and stay in the system. Over the course of time, as you continue to work sub threshold, you are really recruiting muscle fibers to rebuild faster and stronger. In addition it also allows the blood vessels to provide better oxygenated blood deeper into the tissue. Below is the exact breakdown of the workout.

Serious kudos to The Sufferfest this time around - the warm-up is pretty sufficient. Notice the first Climb as well - no where near threshold. So really we are looking at an 11:30 warm up. Much better than the usual warm-up in their videos.


The video starts as all Sufferfest videos do - make sure you are cleared to ride, don't copy or pirate the videos. We also see short clips of real life cycling footage. In the video, the opening credits seriously feels like a movie production not a workout video - I almost felt like it was a murder mystery drama T.V. show or film. The opening credits seriously have improved and definitely sets the tone for the upcoming workout.

Another nice update they have done is screen directions/information. We now see the next RPE schedule in the workout, sit/stand que, Cadence, Perceived Effort, how much time is left of the interval and what is coming up next. As you are warming up, they cover what each area means.

As the workout begins, you are instantly settled in France - you actually ride a stage of The Tour de France. Crisp views of historical land markers, villages, and someone cooking. This seems to be a theme of recoveries showing people cooking and eating.

With that, we begin a story background of what is expected of you, what not to do, what is going to happen. The Sufferfest really does a good job to get a new rider informed while keeping a veteran interested.

Throughout this video, you'll also notice there isn't any real race footage. You are following endurance cyclist Michael Cotty. It's actually quite educational as if you are receiving a tour from within your own home. As the commentator continues to speak, various landscape views are shown, efforts change and you continue your workout. You never feel the need to truly push it which is key in this video/workout.

All in all, I'm actually a fan of this style of video. I am unsure how it will sell compared to the traditional "grind it out" style, but the Knights and Dames of Sufferlandria did request a recovery video for in-between days and The Sufferfest delivered.


Overall I'd give it a 10 out of 10. It provides its purpose, mixes it up, great scenic route, educational in terms of geography and more, and it does keep you interested riding on a stationary bike.

As a coach, I would recommend my athletes to download this and ride it on any Z1 and Z1/Z2 type of day no matter what phase in the plan we are in.

Check out more at The Sufferfest

Related Posts:

The Sufferfest: ISLAGIATT Review

The Sufferfest 9 Hammers Review

Tour of Sufferlandria Overview

Ironman Chattanooga Race Report: Chad Zeman

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Nixon's Nuggets - Spring Bike Maintenance 101

Think Spring!

Stewart Nixon represents the great state of Colorado on the Triple Threat Triathlon team. As I mentioned in his interview, he has a wealth of triathlon experience and wisdom... so much so, that I asked if he'd be willing to write a recurring guest column for the blog. He obliged, and we are all the better for it.

My main takeaway from the info below is that "never" is probably not a good strategy for any of the items... some I'll do on my own and others I won't, but the more educated and aware we are when it comes to bike maintenance, the better.

So sit back, relax, and learn as Nixon drops some serious nuggets of knowledge!

It’s getting to be spring time and along with the thaw of winter comes thoughts of venturing outdoors for our training rides. If your bike has endured a winter long season of trainer use, or even if it just sat all winter, unused since your last race, there are some steps you should take to ensure that your first day on the road, and the many days following, are not riddled with annoyances. 

This will be a two part post. Part one will cover some minimum maintenance items that I feel just about anyone can handle themselves at home. Part two will cover some advanced steps as well as a few tips to keep your bike cleaner while using it on your trainer. Of course, if you aren’t comfortable tackling your own bike maintenance, find a good local bike shop you can trust and develop a relationship. At the very least, you should be able to handle the first “minimum.” 

If you do wish to attempt any of this at home, I would highly recommend purchasing a bike repair manual to assist you. Sutherland’s Handbook for Bicycle Mechanics and the Barnett Bicycle Institute’s Manual are considered the Holy Grail of maintenance books but there are many adequate, less expensive options.


Wash your bike top to bottom. A thorough cleaning will get you up close and personal with many easy to check items, killing two birds with one stone. There’s no real need to get fancy with the wash product; a grease cutting dishwashing liquid is more than adequate. Use a soft bristle brush and rinse, wash, rinse, but skip a high power hose. The pressure can push gunk where you don’t want it and force out grease where you do want it. Dry it with a soft, absorbent cloth. 

Clean the chain. You can do this with the chain on the bike or you can remove the chain from the bike to clean it. My favorite solvent to use is a citrus de-greaser. The tools shown are convenient to use, allowing the chain to remain on your bike. 

Chain washer and cog/chainring cleaner

Lubricate the chain. Is your drivetrain loud as you pedal? It is not uncommon for people training indoors to think that the chain does not need lubrication since it is exposed to few of the harsh elements we encounter outside. Though the lubrication interval may be extended while using your bike inside, it should not be neglected, and is definitely something you want to do before your first outdoor ride. I won’t go into the best lubricants for chains, as there are a myriad of lubricants available, but I will say do NOT use 3-in-1 oil, WD40, or automotive motor oil. 

Check chain stretch. You can use a metal ruler, tape measure or use a “chain checker” to measure the chain wear of your current chain. To get the most accurate measurement, this should be done with the chain on the bike so there is some tension on the chain. Line up an inch mark of the ruler with a link pin and measure out 12 complete links. A brand new chain will have the other link pin line up exactly on an inch mark. If your chain’s link pin is less than 1/16” beyond the inch mark, you’re fine. At 1/16” or greater you should replace the chain. If the link pin is 1/8” or more past the inch mark, you will probably have to replace some rear cogs and/or chainrings. If you do need to replace the chain and you are going to do the work yourself, you will need a chain breaker even though most modern chains are connected with some type of master link. The reason is that all chains come longer than what you will most often use necessitating the removal of some links to fit the chain properly. The easiest way to do this is to use your old chain as a length guide, popping off the links of the new chain that extend beyond your old one. 

Chain breaker, link pin tool, and chain checker

Check chainrings and cogs for wear. If you have used your chain well beyond the “replace” measurement, your cogs and chainrings can wear to best fit the wear on the chain. A new chain will not fix the wear on the other drivetrain parts and you will speed up the useful life of the new chain as it adapts to the old wear patterns. If you see daylight between the cogs/chainrings and a new chain (when under some tension), it’s time to replace some of those other parts.

new chain on a worn cog

Replace brake and derailleur inner wire. Brake and derailleur wires stretch with use due to their mechanical nature of operating. Over time, your shifting and braking become compromised in the form of chain skip (getting stuck between gears) and spongy brakes. If your inner wires are fairly new, you can just use the adjusting barrels to “tighten” things up. But if your inner wires haven’t been changed since last season (or longer), now is the time to replace them. It is also a good idea to coat the new inner wire with a light weight grease or oil to reduce friction within the housing. My favorite is Phil Wood Tenacious Oil. 

Check brake and derailleur housing. Modern cable housing doesn’t compress like the cable housing of old and generally if you are replacing the inner wire, you might as well replace the housing as well. At a minimum, check that the housing doesn’t have any kinks, frayed ends, or worn areas. If it does, replace it. If not, it’s up to you if you want to replace it. If replacing, now might also be a good time to consider using a “compression-less” housing like Nokon or I-link. It’s more expensive than traditional housing but some advantages include almost no compression of the housing giving you crisp shifts and positive brake feel, tighter bends without kinking, and in many cases it’s lighter weight than conventional housing. 

Check bar tape. No one likes a bike with beat up bar tape, it just looks ugly. If yours has seen better days, install some fresh tape. 

Check torque of all bolts. I would consider this optional since it is unlikely that any bolts have loosened, especially if your bike has sat unused all winter and if they were torqued correctly to begin with. But it doesn’t hurt to check them. Many parts have recommended torque settings printed on them. In the old days of steel everything, we just cranked it down until it was tight. With the advent of different materials, especially carbon fiber, it’s way more critical to tighten to the correct torque so you don’t overstress parts and endure a catastrophic failure. 

torque wrench

Clean brake track on rims and brake pads. I like to use a toothbrush and rubbing alcohol to do this. The toothbrush allows you to scrub any gunk buildup and the alcohol evaporates so there is no residue left on the brake surface. If they are really grimey, use a solvent like 409 or Simple Green and a rag then finish with the toothbrush and rubbing alcohol. For brake pads, first wipe them off with a clean, dry rag to remove any brake dust. Then inspect the surface for any silver bits (if you have aluminum rims.) You will want to remove those bits using some sort of tool with a sharp point. My favorite is an old shop trick of using an old spoke with the end ground down to a point. Finally, once all the bits are removed, you want to run over the pad surface with an Emory cloth or fine file to remove any glazing. If your brake pads don’t have the vertical grooves in them anymore, it’s time to replace the pads. 

Check tires for wear and that tubes hold air. Before your first ride, you’ll want to check your tires for any foreign objects imbedded in them, check the tread for overall wear and check that they hold air. If your tread is really worn, has cuts or slices, or has foreign objects imbedded, replace them now. If you ride clinchers, this would be a good time to check the rim strip between the rim and inner tube. You will need to deflate the tire and remove it to do this. Tire levers will facilitate tire removal. If you have box style rims and a rubber rim strip, consider replacing it with a more robust rim tape, like Velox. 

tire levers

In addition to the above items before your first ride outdoors, there are things you should check before every ride: 

Spin the wheels to make sure they are true. You can use the brake pads as a guide to any lateral hops in your wheels. 

Inflate and check the tires. You can lose up to 10% of your air pressure overnight with butyl tubes, even more with latex tubes. You also want a quick visual check of the tires for any foreign objects. Make sure the quick release mechanism is engaged and tight. When you close the lever, it should leave an imprint on your hand for a moment. Squeeze the brakes. If you have excessive travel of the brake lever, check that the brake quick release is not open. 

Run the gears through their range. If any of the gears don’t engage properly, twist the adjusting barrel until the problem is fixed. If the chain will not pop up to the next larger cog when shifting, turn the barrel counter-clockwise to increase tension. If the chain will not drop to the next smaller cog when shifting, turn the barrel clockwise to decrease tension.

These checks should take about 2-3 minutes to complete and will help ensure that at least the start of your ride is trouble free. 

Happy riding!

Latest Nugget:

Project Build It - Yes We Can!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

I Heart Triathlon

It’s that special time of year where love is in the air. Well, I’ve had the hots for a certain sport for quite some time. Here are 10 things I love about the tough but adorable three-headed little monster known as triathlon.

10) Plan of Attack: I get downright giddy when thinking about my race schedule. I love picking races and preparing my training plan of attack around my goals.

9) Race Day: I love pre-race nerves and adrenaline, pushing through the pain, and that moment when you can finally taste the finish line. Once I’ve caught my breath, I love the post-race euphoria, food, and camaraderie with other triathletes.

8) Analyzing Results: I figure since I use excel a lot for my day job, I might as well put my skills to use, right? I love picking apart race results based on rankings, percentiles, competition, etc. I also have a database of races built up by now, so I can quickly compare multiple races.

7) Kinda Weird: I love the smell of my wetsuit. I’ll often take a big whiff of it the day before a race when I’m packing my stuff, which triggers the emotions of racing (note: from my experience it smells better pre-race than post-race).  

6) Reconnaissance Missions: Whenever possible, I love to scout a course before a race. If I can’t bike or run the course itself, even driving it gets me pumped!

5) Open-Water Swimming: I love the serenity of looking out over a lake or other body of water. Whenever I see a lake I think about swimming in it. I love getting psyched up in the water before a race. All that said, I also love when my hand finally touches sand and the swim is done!

4) Google Maps: I love planning out bike and run courses a day or few hours before a workout. Sure, sometimes I make it up as I go, but I find that I’m more motivated when I have an idea of my route. It's especially fun planning epic rides in the 60-112 mile range (strangely not always as fun to actually ride the route).

3) Kid in a Candy Store: Don’t get me wrong, I love candy, chocolate, ice cream, etc. But I also love stocking up on nutritional stuff, especially at a store where it’s something like “buy 12 get 20% off.” So many choices! So many flavors! In the last few years Santa has wised up... I find more gels, Hammer bars, and other such goodies in my stocking than Snickers and Reeses cups.

2) Burn One Down: I love the high I get from running (vast majority) and biking (often). I hate the initial shock of jumping into the pool, but I love that post-swim feeling as well.

1) Recovery: Recoverite has replaced chocolate milk as my post-workout drink of choice, and I love a tall glass after a tough session. Post-race the Triple Threat team is known to get a little crazy with it...

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Search & Rescue Mission: Triathletes MIA

I’m not pretending to have invented triathlon or anything (according to some historians that would be one Stewart Nixon), but I was slightly ahead of the curve in discovering it. When I saw that lonely flyer at the gym back in 2003, my thought wasn’t “oh yeah, these things are all the rage, everybody’s doing them.” In fact, I didn’t know anyone who had done a triathlon. It was more, “that looks fun. I’ll try that.”

That first race was the epitome of grassroots. Maaaybe 50 people. No transition zone, just lean your borrowed mountain bike against a spot on the fence. No helmet? (I forgot mine) no problem… just be careful out there, and go get’em!

Over the next couple years something strange happened… a tidal wave of people hopped on the triathlon bandwagon, and races started cropping up everywhere. It was a real phenomenon. Unlike the hipster who’s ticked off when “his” or “her” band goes mainstream, I thought it was great. I moved to Milwaukee in 2005, and despite the cold winters I found a vibrant triathlon scene, largely driven by the establishment of Ironman Wisconsin a few years prior.

I moved to Salt Lake City in late 2010, and after a visit to I was blown away by the number of races… I was in a local tri shop one day (no longer in operation, a bad sign...) and happened to mention that, and the guys at the shop agreed. Oversaturation.

I’ve been hearing rumblings over the past couple years about race participation at “local” races being down, at least here in the US. Some states seem to be more impacted than others, but it’s definitely a general trend.

I looked at the # of participants from a few races on my local scene as a small sample (note: I've updated this small sample size for 2015, and hopefully it's a sign that triathlon is on the rebound):

Salem Spring (Sprint) 2006:   571
Salem Spring (Sprint) 2011:   308
Salem Spring (Sprint) 2014:   262

Salem Spring (Sprint) 2015:   261

Escape From Black Ridge 2011:   331
Escape From Black Ridge 2014:   211 

Escape From Black Ridge 2015:   229

The Utah Half 2011:   360
The Utah Half 2014:   232

The Utah Half 2015:   304

I’ve raced a lot since moving here, and my opinion is that the race directors do a terrific job. In addition, we have breathtaking race venues. It seems like the quality and depth towards the top of the field is very strong. For some reason, it’s largely beginners & let's say middle of the packers who have come and gone.

So why??

Well, here are a few theories:

Supply & Demand

The increase in races was a legitimate argument that held water in the past. Going back a decade, many states only had a few races to choose from. Supply ramped up quickly, however, over a short period of time. More options meant lower participation at any given race.

That said, the once oversaturated market, at least in my neck of the woods, has scaled back. The number of races has actually come down. I was signed up for the Battle at Midway in 2012, with a run course on the Winter Olympic cross country ski course at Soldier Hollow. I was stoked for it, only to receive a refund check in the mail shortly before. Four other sprint/olympic races off the top of my head are no longer around, and there are probably other more rinky dink ones I’m not aware of.

Although a bummer, I think this is a good thing that will stabilize and bolster participation at the more well-known races going forward. But we haven’t really seen that yet, so what else could it be?

Movin’ On Up

Another theory is that some people enter the sport at the sprint level, then “graduate” to the olympic, then on to focus more exclusively on 70.3 and full Ironman distances. Instead of doing several local races, they focus on maybe 1-3 big IM branded races each year, in part because they’re perceived as more prestigious. There may be some truth to this, as Ironman races continue to do very well. On average, IM races aren’t selling out as fast as they used to, but they’re generally still filling up. The competition at the IM branded races is fierce… there’s certainly no shortage of talent. Once someone’s dropped a hefty race entry fee on an IM branded race, they’re probably less likely to race as much locally. I was a culprit of this myself in 2014, racing St. George and Boise 70.3, with fewer local races. I made up for it a bit in 2015 with several local races and only one WTC branded race. Which leads me to….


I paid my dues on a “commuter bike” with clip-on aerobars for a few years before getting a clearance deal on a Felt B16. My first wetsuit was an ebay buy, and after getting stolen at a race, my 2nd was a demo suit bought at a huge discount. Other gear was bought used or was received as gifts. Triathlon doesn’t have to be expensive, but it easily can be. There’s definitely some sticker shock with race entries (almost $700 for an Ironman??) and to a lesser degree also with local races. Certainly some people have done a triathlon or two and then chosen to spend their money elsewhere. That’s totally fair... we all know the economy was in the toilet for multiple years. I do wish sometimes that there were no medals, no race shirts, etc. at races… just racing. Virtually every shirt I own is a race shirt, and after an investigative study last year I found that most were unwearable in public. My wife and I hang medals in the pain cave just for fun, cause we don’t know what else to do with them. I’d be all for lower prices for “no frills” races. More bang for your buck. But maybe I’m in the minority on that… especially when talking about beginners, that may be what they want the most. They just don’t want a lot of them, I suppose.


Lots of things ebb and flow, get hot, then cool off. I’m sure the triathlon community has “lost” some people to hotter trends, whether it be CrossFit, Spartan races, Dirty Dashes, or dare I say Color Runs. There’s a segment of the population that likes to dabble with new things, which is totally fine. Completing a triathlon is also a “bucket list” item for many people. I know a few people who have set out to complete an Ironman, and signed up for a few local races as checkpoints along the way. Once they crossed that finish line they were done, seldom if ever to swim, bike, or run again! I love a lot of sports, but I’m wired to try to keep improving and not bounce around too much from one craze to the next.

you're gonna get hop ons
It’s Tough

It takes a lot of focus to be consistent with training, and I’m sure many people simply fall off, whether they intended to or not. They may train for a stretch, do a couple races, then take a year or two off, only to repeat down the road. Again, I get it.

In conclusion, each of these theories most likely plays a role in participation being down. On a positive note, however, the quality of racing and the fun of it is as strong as ever, in my state and across the world. Those on the periphery will come and go, but just like Jeff Kirkland, the core is incredibly strong. Participation may fluctuate in the short term, but I'm confident will continue to trend upward with time.

A key part of Triple Threat Triathlon’s mission statement is to be ambassadors of the sport. Hopefully triathletes everywhere can play a role in encouraging and supporting others to live an active lifestyle.

Training for that local sprint is a great place to start!

caught one!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Stryd Review - Running With Power

Professional triathlete and Triple Threat Triathlon friend Guilherme Ferreira Campos has the green light to contribute content whenever he wants... he's wicked fast, very knowledgable, and his reviews are among the most popular posts in our 3+ year history. Here he gives some insight into Stryd: the world's first running power meter. Thanks, G!

Hi friends of Triple Threat Triathlon! It’s always a pleasure to write here and be in touch with you guys!

A couple of years ago I introduced power into my training routine trough cycling. It helped me in many different ways, and when I recently saw the chance to incorporate power to my running as well I got immediately excited about it!

Although the concept is slightly different when we compare power in cycling vs. running, the idea of having a “raw” number I could trust and also correlate to heart rate and pace (the 2 numbers runners use to pace themselves) was a no brainer to start using Stryd right away. Power is a consistent number and it’s not directly interfered with by terrain, wind or climate conditions (heat, humidity etc.) so you can base your training and racing with reliability around it.

In cycling when you read power, the faster or harder you go, more watts you will see. Simple as that! With running your watts also “quantify” your level of effort (easy, moderate or hard) but it can also be used to work on your running form and efficiency. That being said, that’s the main reason anyone could incorporate Stryd to their training whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran runner/triathlete.

Now let’s talk a little bit about the device itself. Stryd is very easy and simple to use as soon as you take it out from the box. It works with any ant+ gps device many athletes already use for running such as the Suunto Ambit 3 or any Garmin XT series watch, and you “plug” the Stryd device on your heart rate strap. The device is light and slick and uses a regular 2032 coin battery that can be easily replaced when necessary.

Check out to learn how to pair Stryd with your gps watch, access the Stryd power center, get information about the Critical Power Test, the Stryd Power Center for workout data and much more!

Once you’re all set up Stryd suggests you find what's called your Critical Power. The test can be done by anyone at your local track and you will need to download the Stryd app (versions for both Android and IOS) and use one of those fitness bands to carry your phone while doing the test. The Stryd phone app “guides” you through the test protocol, and by the end it will not only tell you your Critical Power, but it will determine your power zones as well. Once you know your zones you’re ready to start using it for your recovery runs, intervals, hill reps and play with those numbers!

Science backs up more and more the use of tech tools for sports science and Stryd is definitely a game changer for the running community!

Stryd understands that many questions can come to your mind along the way and they’re always keen to help and give the best possible answers!

You can use the Stryd Club, which is a discussion forum where you have access to a huge data bank about questions and answers from other users and the Stryd staff! You can also join the Stryd Community, a Facebook page dedicated to Stryd users where you all can ask questions and share your experience running with power! That’s a great way not only to get more knowledge but also to get involved with other runners who are using power as well.

It was really cool to get the chance to talk about Stryd here at the Triple Threat Triathlon blog and if you want to follow me go to my Facebook profile and Athlete page.

See you all out there!


Learn more at!

Related Posts:

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ironman Winter Motivation!

In my neck of the woods it's cold and snowy... in order to get properly amped for my run in the dark, I sought out a little motivation. Thought I'd share with you all in case it helps get you out the door as well!