Although it won't necessarily increase my "street cred" with readers, I'm not ashamed to say that The Middle is one of my favorite shows. One reason I like it is it's set in good old Indiana, the state I grew up in. On a personal level, I'm glad that my old stomping grounds are so well represented on our national team thanks to oneAmy Fletcher. On the heels of a 90-min PR at Ironman Chattanooga in 2014, here Amy continues our goal series by talking about what's in store for her in 2015. I do not make “resolutions.” Instead, I set a goal and create a plan to meet that goal. The goal for Ironman Chattanooga (IMCHOO) was to actually run the marathon, and I did that (which helped PR by 90 min). I ran three marathons last winter as training to run the marathon in IMCHOO. The goal for 2015 is in two chunks. The first chunk is January through May, then the second chunk is May through December.
I live in Indiana and last winter was the absolute WORST winter since the blizzard of ’78 (photos). Our winter last year started in October and was in full force all the way through March. Having always done late summer Ironmans (IM Louisville in August and IMCHOO in September), winter training has been “maintenance” mode.
This winter, however, I am NOT in maintenance mode. Twenty-one weeks from tomorrow, I am doing Ironman Texas (16 May, 2015). I am in full-blown “Ironman training.” Training through the Midwest winter obviously has a major impact on bike training. Nearly all of the bike training will be on the trainer, which can be mind-numbingly difficult, but it is high-value, quality training. You cannot “mail it in” on the trainer. The other major consideration is that Houston in May can be brutally hot and humid and, while I love that weather, it is NOT the weather I will have for training…with high temperatures in the 30’s and colder, training is going to be inside in seventy degrees – still not Houston weather, but that is all I can do.
So, the goals for the first chunk of 2015 are (1) to love the training (2) arrive at the starting line happy, healthy, and injury-free (3) be considerably more balanced fundamentally.
Love the Training…I have noticed that since starting the Ironman distance in 2012, I actually race infrequently. I work several races and continue my own training later in the day. I really enjoy the training because each workout has its own little goals and I am wired to appreciate accomplishing goals. That’s probably why I enjoyed teaching beginning band more than any other grade…EVERYTHING they do in beginning band is a challenge and then an accomplishment!
Arrive Happy, Healthy, and Injury-Free…This will be impacted significantly by the third goal, but keeping perspective and a positive mental outlook is worth a lot.
Be More Balanced….this is the big one. Against my better judgement, I sort of listened to those that say lifting weights is useless in Ironman training. Prior to my triathlon days, I lifted frequently and was fundamentally balanced from my right side to my left side and did not have “neglected” muscle groups. During all three seasons of IM training, I got to the point where, when going down stairs, I could not bend my knees far enough to reach the next step and had to “buckle” to go down the steps. I think this was a muscle imbalance, but I did not want to take time to correct it. Also, I could routinely swim 1:40, sometimes 1:35, per 100 yards and now I am consistently 1:50/100 yards and this is due to loss of upper body strength. So, the plan is to return to what I know…lifting (and core work) matters. It’s the fourth discipline of triathlon. I sometimes call it “dry swimming” (I was a swimmer before triathlete so my technique is decent). Being a teacher, I know all too well that there has to be a measurement to assess progress, so by 16 May (IMTX), I will be able to perform, with perfect technique, push-ups and pull-ups (number TBD)
Chunk two of 2015 (May through December) will be unusual because summer band starts in late June and for the first time in many summers, I will not be training for IM…I will likely still do Ironman Muncie 70.3 (I live in Muncie) or, I have always wanted to do the RAIN ride (Ride Across Indiana). Specific race plans will be determined after IMTX, but anything is a possibility.
Today helmets are seen everywhere – ubiquitous with the peloton and highly scrutinized by triathletes looking to gain even the slightest advantage. But it hasn’t always been that way. Just as other headgear (think American football) and the bike itself have evolved, so to has the bike helmet. How did the industry and the dome protector evolve from simple strips of leather to the expertly engineered wonders of science we have today? Here’s a high-level look at the timeline of the helmet: where it’s been, where it is, and where it’s going, focusing in the modern era on the contributions Rudy Project specifically has made in helping us cheat the wind while keeping us safe on the roads.
1800’s - While there’s some debate surrounding whether the chicken or the egg came first, as you might expect, the bicycle was invented before the bike helmet. Almost immediately, however, the market for helmets was born, as 19th century cyclists discovered that it hurt really bad when you crashed… especially when landing on one’s head. 1900 – 1960’s - Around the turn of the century serious cyclists began using "helmets" made of strips of leather-covered padding. These evolved over time, but by and large the best available were made from good old cow hide. As you might imagine, leather helmets weren’t extremely protective and had a tendency to rot away over time.
Although triathlon wasn’t invented until the 1970’s, time trials have been a part of the Tour de France since 1934. The prevailing thought for many years regarding TT’s was that the regular bikes and equipment being used would forever be suitable for TT’s as well.
1970’s - Cycling, once considered child’s play, booms as a means of exercise and entertainment.
Leather strips still reigned supreme (often referred to as "hairnets" due to their shape) and the nicest ones were made in Italy. Approaching 50 years later, the country that brought us pizza and lasagna continues to be a major player in the helmet industry, with Rudy Project’s global headquarters in the northern Italian city of Treviso.
1975 - The Bell Biker helmet pioneers the use of hard, crushable foam with a hard plastic shell. Other manufacturers played the role of copycat, and this was the dominant model for a decade.
According to Triple Threat Triathlon national team member Stewart Nixon (Colorado), “in the mid to late 70’s people started to give more thought to their equipment. For example, some would actually drill holes in their steel bikes to make them lighter. On the helmet side, most cyclists were wearing the leather hairnets or none at all.”
1978 - Something called “Ironman” is born on the islands of Hawaii, the combination of three established local events: the Waikiki Roughwater Swim (2.4 mi), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 mi reduced to 112), and the Honolulu Marathon.
1980 (circa) - While he wasn’t exactly Thomas Edison, some historians trace the “aero helmet” to British cyclist Dave Lloyd’s “skin hat” invention. According to Nixon, “It was kinda like one of those FloJo track suits with the hood. It looked ridiculous, and only the 3,000% dedicated wore it… it never really caught on."
1984 - The famous title of a futuristic book written around 1950 is a pretty funny era to look back on. The US Olympic cycling team was no different, busting out some attention-grabbing gear on their way to 4 gold, 3 silver, and 2 bronze medals. So they transfused blood, big deal! Well, it is a big deal, but actually wasn’t against rules at the time. Similar to baseball writers attributing home runs in the steroid era to the ball being “juiced,” the media clung on to the US team’s high-tech equipment, including their funky “tear drop” helmets.
In addition, Francesco Moser, nicknamed “The Sheriff” in his native Italian, breaks the one hour time trial record held by Eddy Merckx since 1972. He rode 50.8 km, or 31.5 mph, aided by far superior aerodynamic thought and equipment compared to Merckx. This sparked another round of interest in aero testing and technology.
1985 – The brand "Rudy Project" is officially launched in Treviso, Italy. Although Rudy Project was still a few years off from designing helmets, they immediately made a major impression on the cycling world with performance glasses designed specifically for the sport.
the notorious skid lid
This is also the year the “Snell B85” was introduced, the first widely adopted safety standard for bicycle helmets.
Leatherheads, the Bell Biker, something called the “Skid Lid,” and other older helmet styles get kicked to the curb as the Giro Prolight takes center stage. It offered a lighter and more comfortable option thanks to an outer cover of thin lycra cloth.
1986 - Giro follows this up with the release an aero helmet called the “Aerohead.” 1987 - Although lacking the sex appeal of their counterparts on the "elite aerobic" scene, triathlon continues to boom, led by Ironman celebrities Dave Scott, Mark Allen and the popular Bud Light Race Series in the US. Pioneering aero products begin emerging from triathlon, such as Scott clip-on aerobars.
1989 - Aero pandemonium! Going into the final stage of the Tour de France, a mere 24.5km (~15 mi) time trial into Paris, Greg LeMond trailed Laurent Fignon by a seemingly insurmountable 50 seconds. Whereas the man known as “le professeur” rode with no helmet and his ponytail flapping in the wind, LeMond showed up armed with both the Aerohead and Scott aerobars, something never seen before at the Tour. Fignon rode the 3rd fastest time for the stage, but couldn’t hold off LeMond, who out road and out-teched Fignon to win by 8 seconds.
LeMond was ahead of his time
According to Nixon, “LeMond blew the aero scene up with that ‘89 TT. Totally blew everything up. After that there was a lot of attention to aero design, research, and testing. It was the advent of a whole lot of aero things coming out.”
1990 – On the casual helmet front, the Prolight’s dominance was toppled by the return of thin plastic glued to the helmet, which had significant safety benefits over a cloth cover.
1991 - Cycling’s governing body tries to introduce a mandatory helmet requirement for professional racing. However, the riders’ protest proves effective and the rule is not put in place.
Early 1990’s – LeMond’s fully-functional foam helmet from ’89 is overtaken by thin plastic shells, which had aero advantages but provided essentially zero protection in a crash (as mentioned above, protective helmets were not yet required). Regarding the era, Nixon commented “we had Bell and the Aerohead, and that was pretty much it as far as something that ‘Joe Athlete’ could pick up. But you would see all these radical (for the time) designs popping up on the professional scene.”
1995 – Speaking of radical, according to Rudy Project USA CEO Paul Craig, “Rudy Project’s entrance into helmets all started when legend Miguel Indurain (Rudy-sponsored for sunglasses) asked us to make him a racing shell in the ‘94-95 timeframe. It was basically a piece of plastic and had bugeye lenses… it looked pretty badass.” The so called “Sweeto” was definitely sweet looking, but wasn’t available to the general public. Added Craig, “many rode without helmets, but there was interest among some of the top pros in the aerodynamic benefits of a shell.”
1998 - With such lightweight, thin shells to work with, TT helmets grow longer over time due in part to increased wind tunnel testing. Soon cyclists were sporting helmets that doubled as back scratchers, sticking a foot up in the air when putting their head down. Many correlate this with the “Armstrong” era.
2000 – Italian headquartered Rudy Project naturally launched helmets in Europe before the US. In the year 2000 Rudy entered the US market with the T-Rex road helmet. According to Craig it was a nice foray into helmets, but pales in comparison to today’s technology. “We can make fun of ourselves now and say that it was hot, heavy, ugly, and stood out like a sore thumb!”
2001 – The Giro Rev V and other prototypes were made primarily for Armstrong, born from Texas A&M wind tunnel data, and never available to the general public.
2002 - Rudy Project releases its first mass-produced TT/triathlon helmet, the Syton. It was immediately lauded by critics, winning the ‘Timeless Design’ award from Men’s Journal and enjoying a great run, even up to a full decade later on the head of top pro Andy Potts at the Ironman World Championships.
2003 – Jan Ullrich out time-trials Lance with this bad boy on his head (left), a custom made Rudy Project design available only in Europe.
Also, as is unfortunately often the case, it took a tragedy to get a safety rule change pushed through…
29-year old Kazakh rider Andrey Kivilev crashed and hit his head during the Paris-Nice race. He was not wearing a helmet, slipped into a coma, and subsequently died of his injuries. A full 12 years after initially attempting to require helmets, the rule was finally implemented and enforced. This sparked a flurry of retrofitting, as manufacturers attempted to revamp their existing TT shells to meet the safety standard.
Mid 2000’s – From its phenomenal early growth, triathlon stagnated a bit as a sport in the late 1990’s. It was primed to make an enormous comeback, but as late as 2004, Stewart Nixon recalls having a triathlon helmet shipped to him from France due to limited options. The US market would soon catch up.
Late 2000’s – Rudy Project begins investing heavily in helmet R&D with the assistance of legendary aerodynamics guru John Cobb.
2010 – Rudy Project and other companies begin to re-think wind tunnel results that led to the extreme elongated tails of the past, the underlying thought being that real life riding is different from pristine wind tunnel conditions. The result is that recent models demonstrate something of a compromise… no tail, or too short of a tail, and you end up with an inefficient aero shape that spikes drag. However if a tired rider regularly puts his/her head down with a long tail, they’ve essentially wiped out any aero benefit from the wind tunnel.
This is also the year that Rudy Project introduced their best-selling road helmet, the Sterling (above). Crafted with the aid of an old Italian hat designer, the Sterling has been called "the world’s most comfortable helmet."
2011 – With its combination of aerodynamics, massive exhaust vents to keep cool, and good looks, Rudy Project’s newly released Wingspan quickly dominates the prestigious “Kona Count” as the #1 helmet worn at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.
2013 – Rudy Project’s Wing57, the “ultimate speed monster,” as Craig puts it, is released to much fanfare. It is the first Rudy helmet available to the general public with an integrated shield, and like the Wingspan, was developed in collaboration with Cobb. As Andy Potts put it in our recent interview, “I feel like a fighter pilot when I wear it.”
2014 – Between the Wing57 and the Wingspan, Rudy Project dominates the Kona Count for the 4th consecutive year.
According to Craig, Rudy Project has another breakthrough product in the pipeline for the coming years that “will change the whole way people see helmets.” What will the next Rudy Project innovation be?? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
the Wing57 in action
About Triple Threat Triathlon
TripleThreatTriathlon.com is a rapidly growing triathlon site centered around a US national team. Age group triathletes are selected as representatives of their individual states and local ambassadors of the sport, while contributing to the team's collective, national goals.
About Rudy Project
Rudy Project designs and manufactures performance-oriented helmets, sunglasses, goggles and Rx/prescription eyewear solutions by applying advanced science, cutting-edge technology and innovative aesthetics. Designed and crafted in Italy since 1985, Rudy Project has grown quickly as a premier brand throughout North America. Rudy helmets were recognized as the #1 most worn aero / time-trial brand at the IRONMAN® World Championships Presented by GoPro™ in Kona, Hawaii for the last four consecutive years, and have been designated the Official Helmet of IRONMAN® for North America. Rudy Project offers unparalleled customer service backed by a Lifetime Replacement Lens Guarantee and an industry-leading three-year frame warranty. Learn more about Rudy Project at www.e-rudy.com.
Next up in our series on 2015 goals is David Fernandez, representing Florida on our national team. He may practically live on the beach, but don't let that fool you... this guy is putting in the work! I had a pretty successful 2014 season (my second full triathlon season). I completed my first full Ironman distance race (actually, I completed 2 in 2014) and finished one of them just over 10 hours despite a bike crash. I also broke 5 hours on my Half Ironman Distance, won my AG in my only Olympic distance race of the year, and made solid improvements in my swimming, biking, and running times.
However, I am still far away from where I want to be. Despite these accomplishments, there are many areas that I need to improve on in order to have a successful 2015 season.
2015 Race Schedule
March 1st: Bayfront Challenge (Oly) – Homestead, FL
April 12th: 70.3 Florida
May 17th: 70.3 Chattanooga
August 2nd: IM Boulder
October 11th: IM Louisville
1. Recovery / Strength Training
Last year, I ramped up swimming, biking, and running volume to prepare for my IMs. I neglected strength training completely and recovery was an afterthought other than making sure I slept enough hours and wore compression gear. This approach led to some minor, but nagging, injuries (calf, foot, knee, etc.) that prevented me from being more consistent with my training, from being able to hit key sessions, and definitively to peak for 3 of my races.
This year I am going to incorporate strength training as part of my weekly volume (2 sessions per week minimum). I believe that a stronger and more balanced body will not only be able to handle training and racing demands better, but also it will be key to avoid injury.
I will also include recovery in my training program. Time off, sleep time, recovery sessions, massages, stretching, compression, ice baths, etc. Training hard is worthless if my body does not adapt to the stress, and proper recovery plays a key role in this.
Swimming is, by far, my weakest sport. Despite being the discipline that takes the least time of the 3 sports in a triathlon and the general thought that investing training time in biking and/or running will pay more dividends in the overall race time, I believe that becoming a better swimmer will make me a better triathlete. Not only will I save some time on my swim, but I will also be fresher out of the water and in a better race position.
Last year I swam 3 times a week, sometimes 4, and between 8,000 to 12,000 yards per week. In 2015 I will be swimming, at least, 4 times a week and 12,000 - 16,000 yards per week.
3. Interval Training
In 2014, most of my bike and run training consisted on zone 2 training. I wanted to increase my engine and make sure I was able to finish a full IM distance race. I was able to finish them; I had the endurance, but I felt I was lacking speed.
I wanted to focus the early part of the 2015 season on speed work, but a knee injury has me sidelined for 6-8 weeks (see point 1). As soon as I recover, I will ease back into running and work on my engine again, but make sure I don’t neglect speed work. In 2015, I will be including a lot more interval/speed sessions (2 per week on the bike and 1 on the run, maybe more during the early season).
One thing I've learned from triathlon is that I am a very determined person. I have no doubt that I will do whatever it takes to meet these goals, which will make me a better triathlete and help me have an awesome season!
Triple Threat team memberDave Fisher(Connecticut) recently had the opportunity to test drive the innovative Ambit3 from Finland-based Suunto. Keep reading for his detailed product review, including a highlight of pros & cons and direct comparisons to Garmin.
The Suunto Ambit 3 is a beast of a watch, and is now very happily my primary training data device for triathlon. There. You short winded readers can fall off and leave the rest of the review to the voracious readers out there. Still here? Wonderful, let's get started... (continue reading here).
Over the past two weeks we've heard from two Triple Threat team members on the subject of 2015 goals... one from the deserts of Arizona and another jokingly "from the igloo." Next up is Sean McLean, representing Pennsylvania on our national team and residing in the metro Philadelphia area.
2015 Resolutions – Sayonara to the BOP*
As the resident Slow Dude™ on the team, with just a few triathlons under my belt – my goals for 2015 are pretty clear – get faster. Same goal as everyone else, right? I’m going with a two-pronged approach this year, both driven by consistency.
Swimming: I can swim for a long time, really slowly. I’m finally going to bite the proverbial bullet and pay attention to swim training advice – as soon as I can decipher the workouts and learn how to use a pace clock! More intervals, more sets, and swimming more than twice a week. I’ll be spending lots of quality time at the pool with my new ROKA Sim suit this winter. I’m planning to pick up a wetsuit from ROKA as well, so I can stop giving up ‘free’ time. I'm also hoping to have a chance to do some open water swimming during the spring, and avoid having my first open water swim of the year be during a race. Cycling: Before I took up running, riding a bike was the only athletic thing I was quasi-good at (take that with a giant grain of relativity). Trouble with applying that to triathlon for me was two things: 1. Sporadic event-specific training, and 2. Being afraid to over-bike a segment, which might net me a few minutes but hurt my already sub-par running. I’m starting structured indoor bike training now in order to have a solid base when the weather warms up again. I also bought a bike computer so I can see how fast I’m going, keeping me honest during my workouts when I can get back outside.
Running: I only started running a few years ago, so naturally I’ve got tons of room to improve. I have made some significant strides since I first started running, but year after year the progress I’ve made into the fall has vanished over the winter as I neglected the sport out of my loathesome relationship with treadmills and cold air. Not this year. I’ve invested in some proper cold-weather running gear, and I’m determined to start the spring running season in shape, rather than just starting up again. I’ve also finally invested in a ‘serious’ triathlon watch – the Suunto Ambit3. I'm looking forward to more structured workouts and making sure I’m keeping within the pace and HR parameters that will help me improve.
Nutritional Consistency I'm really good at losing weight. I’m equally good at gaining weight. Coupled with not taking this winter ‘off’, I’m really going to focus on the nutritional side of things, and see if I can keep my weight chart from looking like a sine wave in 2015.
2015 Race Plans (so far)
Tris TriRock Philadelphia (Sprint) New York City (Olympic) Atlantic City (International) Road Races Broad Street Run (10mi) Philadelphia Half Marathon Handful of Local 5/10Ks Other Tough Mudder? (would be #3 for me)
*For those unfamiliar with the BOP acronym, Sean is referring to "Back of the Pack"
Thanksgiving was great this year, with family coming in from the east coast and Texas for a nice gathering. Especially this time of year, when you pack a lot of people under one roof, the chance of germs spreading like wildfire increases dramatically. What seemed to start with my daughter soon was passed to me, my wife, dad, and brother-in-law. It was just your run-of-the-mill cold… sore throat turning to leaky faucet nose turning to cough, but I was feeling pretty run-down for a few days. From a training perspective the timing was good, as it was a planned recovery week for me anyways. However, I once again was faced with the age old question:
Should you or shouldn’t you train when you’re sick??
In a nutshell, I think the answer is “listen to your body.” When I feel a cold coming on, I almost always cut back volume and/or intensity, but it often helps me feel a lot better to get in a modified workout. This is of course on both a physical and psychological level. For example, I went for an easy ride last Wed, a group Thanksgiving Day run, and played a little basketball on Fri. I could tell that I wasn’t 100%, but it felt great to work up a sweat.
Listening to your body also means knowing when to pull the plug. Saturday for example I had wanted to get in a short bike and/or run, but I was feeling completely wiped out. The thought of powering through a workout sounded terrible, and all I wanted to do was lay down. In those situations you have to be disciplined enough to let it go and rest up.
In addition to my experiences, I did a little research on the subject and found the following general info & guidelines:
First of all, good news: fit people recover more quickly and experience milder symptoms than more sedentary folks according to various studies, yet another benefit of exercise
If you feel as if you're coming down with a typical cold you can still exercise without significant limitations
That said, obviously cut back if you feel worse after your workout. Take a few days off or reduce your effort to 50%.
Remember the “above-the-neck” rule: if your symptoms include a runny nose, dry cough or sneezing you should be fine to exercise. Rest if your symptoms are below the neck, such a chest congestion, muscle aches, upset stomach, etc.
Stay home if you have a fever, stomach symptoms or the flu
If you're wiped out with fatigue there's no reason to work out. Also remember you're contagious the first 5-7 days.
Rest allows your immune system to recover
The basics: get plenty of sleep, fluids, and use OTC medications to help with symptoms
Don't go 100% the first three or four days back. Start at 75% and increase gradually for the first week or so.
Arizona and Alaska may be polar opposites in terms of climate, yet the power of setting goals in this sport is the same no matter where you live. Whereas Kristen Lodge drew her 2015 goalsin desert sands last week, here Joleen White chisels her own in Anchorage ice.
2015 Goals & Plan I turned 40 in 2014- and everything I have been told about training, injuries, nutrition, etc. is all coming to fruition and not in the best way! The past couple of years I have considered my goals but not written them down. I believe my lack of follow through has taken me on a repetitious cycle, one that I would like to change! So I am writing my goals as a focal point for myself- and to keep my eye on the prize…
My 2015 race plan: 1. Get more 5k races in throughout the year, as well as TT’s & Hill climb bike races (May-September) 2. May- Gold nugget sprint triathlon 3. June- Eagle river sprint triathlon, Boise 70.3 4. July- ?? 5. August- Lake Stevens 70.3
I would like to get two Ironman 70.3 races in this summer; Lake Stevens is easy to get to from Alaska and a beautiful course, and Boise is our team’s “Western Regional” event for 2015… I have also had Leadman on my calendar for 3 years but never made it, maybe this year??
Get my 500 swim time down to a 6’30 (editor’s note: daaaamnnn, girl!)
Get my Sprint tri time between 1’00-1’10 finish time
Break 5’20 Half Ironman*
*This means I need to get my half marathon time down to a 1’45. I am a strong runner, but tend to get into a rhythm and have a hard time keeping the tempo up.
Average 20+ MPH on my bike TT
The next 6 months is about:
Continue swim focus, communicate with coach
The gym: lifting and working core- keep a strong back this year
Keep focus on bike trainer throughout winter months
Getting my running mileage up and keeping it there
Getting lighter- which means less cheeseburgers and pizza (my weakness)
Staying injury free- listening to my body
Finding balance between training and family
I am training to my own schedule, so I hope that I am keen enough to meet these goals. More than anything, I am tired of feeling defeated. When I look at the end of each season I see what I intended to do and what I really did. I want more than anything to look back at my goals and see that I did the work- because I know if I do I could have one heck of a season!