Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What Kinda Soap Does This Got??

Maybe the whole world saw this before me, but I just discovered for myself over the weekend. The whole series is pretty hilarious. I don't know what all the fuss is about... that's about how much shampoo you need to not smell like chlorine or salt water all day, right?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Tapering 101: The Hard Facts From a Mediocre Marathoner

Thanks to Elaina (Iowa) for this guest post on the art of tapering. Great info!

#itsscience #itactuallyworks #tapercity #handmeanotherbreadstick

As I head into the final few days before marathon #7, I thought it might be appropriate to shed some light on the most horrible and difficult part of endurance training. The taper. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, tapering involves a decrease in exercise volume in the days leading up to a big event. Don’t get me wrong, from a scientific standpoint, research shows that tapering is an effective way to improve performance (somewhere between 2-8%), but taper tantrums are a real live thing.

Runners not only develop a physical addiction to exercise, we can also develop a psychological dependence. Take the exercise away, along with some nerves about a race you’ve trained many months for, and you’ve got yourself a nervous wreck! Now instead of having to worry about when you’re going to fit your long run in with your work schedule, social and family agendas, you have plenty of time to second guess your training, and wonder if you’ve really done enough to prepare yourself for the big day! SOOOOOO instead of doing that, I’ve decided to keep myself busy by writing this blog that will highlight all the great things about tapering- most importantly, a significant improvement in performance. So hold on runners, although the taper can leave you feeling out of control, and somehow like you’re getting out of shape, the truth of the matter is, it will pay off in a big way when you feel fresh as a daisy when toeing the line for your next big race! Let’s take a look at some of the methodology associated with tapering.

1. Duration of the taper: How long do you need to decrease your training? 

Turns out it can be a few days up to 22 days, depending on the event. Longer, more tolling events may require a longer taper (2-3 weeks for an Ironman, or marathon), while shorter races (10k or shorter triathlon) may only require 7-10 days. Also consider the importance of the event, and how long your training cycle has been. Bosquet et al., (2007) reported that 2 weeks seems to be the optimal duration of a taper for swimmers, cyclist and runners. More specifically, 8-14 days for cycling and running. Less research out there on swimmers, but the trend tends to be towards a longer taper for our water loving friends (14-20 days).

2. Volume of the taper: How much should you cut back? 

Exercise volume should decrease steadily, and may be anywhere from 10%- 60%. This means if you normally run 100 miles per week, with a taper you may decrease to between 90-40 miles. That just sounds ridiculous. I hope you don’t run 100 miles per week. Bosquet et al., (2007) reported that 41-61% decreased volume is optimal, but the intensity at which you complete this should remain the same. This part is tricky. No need to slow down, but on the contrary, just because you are feeling fresh and well rested doesn’t mean you should be sprinting around all over the place. Exercise should naturally feel easier while on the taper.

3. Training frequency: should I work out less often? 

In short; yes and no. Differing studies have shown both options to be effective. Whatever you need to do to decrease your overall exercise volume should be fine. I do a little of both. I normally run 6 days per week, but in the final week of my taper, I usually only do 4 days.

4. Why does it work?

Tapering decreases the energy cost of exercise. While all sorts of endurance athletes use the taper system, this seems to be true of runners and swimmers both. Not seen in our cyclist friends. This is related to biomechanical efficiency as well as improved neural integration with tapering.

Tapering causes an increase in aerobic endurance. The mechanism associated with this is not completely understood, but is probably likely to an increased storage of fuel, complete muscle recovery, appropriate hydration, and improved efficiency of heat dissipation.

In conjunction with our decrease in training volume, we should also address the glorious process of carbohydrate loading. Carbohydrate loading involves an increase in carbohydrate intake in the few days leading up to competition. The theory is that this will increase fuel storage in the liver and muscles, and hence allow us to improve performance. Carbohydrate loading is an effective strategy, and can result in performance improvements (2-3%) for events lasting 90 minutes or more. SO, if you are training for an event that will take you less than 90 minutes, carbohydrate loading will NOT help you. It probably won’t hurt, but research just hasn’t shown that it will improve your performance. Carbohydrate intake should be increased in the 3-4 days leading up to competition. We are talking like 7-12 grams/ kg body weight. Basically, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be eating 1900- 3200 calories of carbohydrates per day. So order that large serving of spaghetti, and grab that extra breadstick, because that is a lot of food!!! 

Want to read more about the taper? Check out this article.

Want to see what researchers are saying about carbohydrate loading?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Rrrrrip Into Battle! Argon 18 E-117

If you have a young son, chances are you've heard of the Lego spinoff series called Ninjago (or maybe you're into it yourself... it does feature some sweet ninja moves). My boy is a huge fan, quite possibly the world's biggest. Upon receiving the "Airjitzu Flyer" shown below for Christmas, he memorably yelled out "RRRRIIPPP into battle" as he pulled the ripcord sending a ninja named Zane into orbit.

Rrrrrrip into battle!!!!!

I've repeated this line many times, even periodically texting family members reminding them to "rip into battle today." Such wisdom!

On that note, I picked up my new Argon 18 E-117 last week, and I think it's only appropriate to name it "Rip." Here are some pictures, comparing to my old ride. My Felt B16 will always have a special place in my heart, but I'm excited for the upgrade!

"The truth hurts, doesn't it, Hapsburg? Oh sure, maybe not as much as jumping on a bicycle with the seat missing, but it hurts." - Officer Frank Drebin (Naked Gun)

dirty, dirty, dirty... I know

upgraded to Shimano Ultegra, along with Stages power meter on the crank
new cockpit

old cockpit, aluminum aero bars
carbon aerobars from Profile Design

old front brakes
new brakes... love this design, as they're tucked out of the wind. Very clean.

with this set up my Speedfil hydration system (for 70.3 & IM) was always awkward

on the other hand I love the hydration options on the Argon (see 5 screws on both tubes)

rear brakes on the Felt were pretty cool, tucked down low on the frame
that said the Argon system is way more aero, tucked out of the wind like the front brakes

attention to detail is obvious... the two little "nubs" on the top of the frame come out
and facilitate adding a food-carrying system (Bento Box, etc.)

no longer have to mark my seat height with a Sharpie

Main site: Argon 18

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Triathlon Burn Out

I've had twinges of feeling a little burned out of late as I've increased my volume for a 70.3 just over 3 weeks away. If and when you ever feel that yourself, here are the Top 10 remedies for getting your mojo and motivation back on track:

10) Look back at successes earlier in the season or previous years. Find strength in the hard work you've put in and progress made.

9) Track results of local races not on your schedule. This can help to get the competitive juices flowing.

8) Indulge in a small upgrade... could be something for your bike, new race gear, etc. Even simply cleaning the dirt and grime off my bike strangely makes me want to go ride.

7) Read a triathlon blog such as this one! For example, reading race reports gets me stoked to go train and race myself.

6) On that note I've found it's also effective to go watch and/or volunteer at a race.

don't burn all your matches!

5) Train with other people. Join a Masters swim workout, organized group ride/run, or simply call up a friend.

4) Set or re-set goals for late season races.

3) Take a day off. Last week I set out for a ride, but just wasn't feeling it. I could have powered through, but decided to turn in after 30 min. The next day I was much more refreshed and had a great run workout.

2) Lose the gadgets... no watch, heart rate monitor, etc. Set out for a bike or run just for the fun of it.

1) Get a change of scenery with some new routes. Especially with running, often times I'll drive to a starting point and explore new roads. This video always makes me wanna do just that.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Ego Officially Bruised

Today is a lovely spring day in my neck of the woods, and it's time to venture outside the pain cave and into the great outdoors. These clips best sum up the process of changing the worn out tire I've had on the trainer all winter for a new one... that thing was tight as a drum!!

First couple attempts... good intentions met with almost immediate failure:

After wiping my sweaty hands and giving the tire a stern talking to. WHY WON'T THIS LAST LITTLE BIT GO ON?!?:

After muttering a lengthy stream of choice words at the tire, gritting my teeth and SWEARING WITH AN OATH that the tire would NOT defeat me:

Now, if you'll excuse me, with small blisters on my thumbs and a significantly bruised ego, I'm finally heading out for a ride!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

My Sport's Funner Than Your Sport

Who has the most fun: swimmers, cyclists, runners, or triathletes?

This question was posed to us by 
Rudy Project North America CEO Paul Craig, and has morphed into a 2-post series. Dave Fisher (Connecticut) kicked things off with this Choose Your Own Adventure post, and here are some additional comments from a few members of our national team.

Gina (Virginia)

Credentials: Strong swimming background, in addition to having a daughter who swims competitively. Known to put her bike on the trainer at swim meet parking lot in between events. Consistently throws down at Ironmans.

Swimmers are the toughest:

  • They can sleep anywhere, anytime
  • They can look at nothing but a black line on the bottom of the pool for hours a day
  • They practice for hours a day to cut hundredths of a second
  • Have you ever tried to put on a kneeskin? Those things don’t give.
  • Meets last for 3-5 days, swimming twice a day and warming down in between, while trying to sleep and eat to keep going

Swimmers have the least fun:
  • Morning practice comes way too early
  • You only get to shave your legs a couple times a year
  • Chlorine is not the best perfume
  • Goggle and cap tan lines are not exactly cute

Swimmers have the most fun:
  • They never stop eating
  • Get to hang out with hard bodied, half naked people all the time
  • No one understands your dedication like your teammates

Joleen (Alaska)

Credentials: part fish/part human. Represented Alaska nationally beginning at a young age. Frequently 1st out of the water in her AG, even at large, prestigious races such as Ironman 70.3s.

Why is swimming the worst of the three in triathlon? 
  • No matter how hard I work it seems that I can only drop seconds from my race time. I still wonder how I ever swam a 100 free under 1 minute!
  • Outside of mixed martial arts, it's one of the few sports where you can get kicked in the face
  • I worry that so much effort increases the risk of injuries that might have been avoided if I didn’t work so hard in the pool
  • Beginner swimmers can actually be within a couple of minutes on the swim, depending on the race distance... I wish the swim were longer!
come on guys, enough with the Alaska jokes... no, this isn't Joleen's local pool

Why is swimming the best?
  • There is something about the peacefulness of the water, the rhythmic sound of your stroke and breath. Whatever my troubles are, swimming has always been the one thing I can turn to and my worries disappear. 
  • Swimming taught me how to set goals, skills I still use today
  • Swimming has brought me great friends, and through my Masters team I have friends in all age groups! We laugh together, suffer together, and encourage each other.
Stop it. No, this isn't her Masters team heading for a workout

Reece (Kansas)

Credentials: Reece the Beast doesn’t quite rhyme, but it is however accurate. Spends a great amount of his time standing on race podiums, whether triathlons or cycling races.

Cyclists are the toughest:

some have speculated Reece has
this inked in a discreet location
  • Cyclists aren't afraid to share the battlefield with motorists armed with 3,000 lb vehicles 
  • Cyclists not only pull their own weight up steep climbs, but also the weight of their bike
  • Cyclists aren't afraid to move at 30, 40 and even 50 mph risking great injury. Cyclists are involved in what are called crashes. What’s the swimmer's or runner's equivalent of a crash? Swimming into the lane line or wall? Running into a tree or bush? 
  • You are officially a cyclist when you’ve broken a collar bone. When are you officially a runner? When you poop in the woods? When are you officially a swimmer? When you pee in the pool?
Cyclists have the least fun:
  • You have to maintain and repair your bike
  • Cycling can get expensive: bike, clothes, cleats, bottles, computers, spare tubes, tools, helmets, etc.
  • As previously stated, it’s dangerous sharing the field of battle with motorists armed with 3,000 pound vehicles
Cyclists have the most fun:
  • You get to go fast, 30, 40 even 50 mph! You are rewarded with a descent after a tough climb and get to say “wheeeeeee”
  • You can see 50 to 100 miles of scenery on a single ride
  • You get to work as a team, taking turns pulling at the front, forming echelons to decrease wind drag and signaling road hazards
  • You get to chase KOMs (King of the Mountain) link --- on Strava

Check out Dave Fisher’s (Connecticut) comments on biking in Part 1 of this series:  Choose Your Own Adventure 

Elaina (Iowa)

Credentials: ran in college. Heading to Kona this year after qualifying at IMWI with a smokin run split. Kinesiology professor who does research on this stuff. Coaches triathletes & local cross country team

Running is the toughest:

  • Physiologically, running requires the most energy calorically, and the weight bearing impact placed in each step you take makes running undoubtedly the hardest mode of exercise
  • Mentally, running is the toughest as well! Some researchers support the concept that many elite runners are not actually physically superior, but may have a significantly higher pain tolerance that allows them to push themselves when the going gets tough!
Running is the least fun:
  • Because of the physical demands placed on the body, runners tend to have the highest incidents of injury. Mostly because we don’t know how to stop. Instead of taking a day off when we feel pain, we push it until we get some horrendously painful thing that we can’t get through
  • There is no glory for most of us in the sport of running…. We spend hours upon hours training for races that have few spectators, and we gain a measly medal at best. Distance runners are undoubtedly self-motivated!
Whether on dirt, snow, or sand, your only chance of beating Elaina is if she wears this again

Running is the most fun:
  • There is nothing more natural than running. It is one of the only sports that anyone can truly be good at, and the more you put in, the more you can improve
  • Technique really isn’t that important when compared to most other sports
  • Another awesome thing about running is you don’t need equipment, you can just walk outside and go! All you need is a pair of shoes, and a good attitude!
  • There are so many awesome places you can explore while running- and you need virtually no skill... Bike trails, sidewalks, grass paths, the woods, the options are endless!
  • There is nothing more mind clearing and invigorating than running through the woods by yourself! Running can also be done in nearly any climate- load up on the winter layers, and head on out!

Chad (North Carolina)

Credentials: ran in college. Ran 2:50 at Boston Marathon. Has coached on several levels.

Runners are the toughest:

  • Running has always been viewed as the punishment of other sports. No wonder why people hate running... You start running, you are sore - everywhere!
  • Heart rate is the highest and your lungs burn after races
  • Drafting is nearly non existent. Sure there is drafting, but it's not as effective as in cycling or swimming.

Sometimes a tough run will make you feel like this

Running is the least fun:
  • Because of the nature of the weight bearing, runners are more prone to injury
  • You hear "run Forrest run" daily
  • Your fitness is lost quickly
Running is the most fun:
  • It's where most triathlons are won
  • You can get lost on the smallest trails, have your dog join you and doesn't require much equipment
  • You can blast music while enjoying fresh air and stay safe

Jeff (Oregon)

Really fast. Won our president’s physical fitness challenge with a 4:47 mile. Tough as nails.

Everyone used to tell me that running was fun. So I started running and hated it. After some time, in some weird, warped way, it became fun.

I race triathlons, but I’m really just a runner in disguise.

Why is running the worst of the three in triathlon?
  • Running has to be the toughest part of a race simply by subtraction. I start with a nice relaxing swim. On the bike, I can coast but if I stop moving on the run, I stop moving. I’m tired, my stomach is turning. There is no other way to term it but, difficult.
Why is running the best of the three in triathlon?
  • I can sum up why in two simple words. FINISH LINE! There is no other discipline that propels you across the finish line but running. 
  • It is the one that you get to celebrate the most when it is over and that makes it in every sense of the term FUN

Of course as a site and national team devoted to triathlon, our answer to the question “who has the most fun” is clearly triathletes! Why not have the best of all three worlds??

Thanks to Rudy Project for being the catalyst for these posts.

Check out the full arsenal of Rudy Project sunglasses, helmets, and other products at:


As a side note, I personally had my first race of the season last week... the Iron Cowboy (he of the incredible 50/50/50 and a Rudy Project ambassador) spoke pre-race, which was pretty awesome. He talked about how he was clinging to the wall at his first triathlon (pool swim) not too many years ago. He said the great thing about doing your first is, "I guarantee you you’ll set a PR!"

Whether you're a cagey veteran or looking to do your first, get out and race! Triathletes definitely have the most fun.

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