Monday, August 8, 2016

Normatec vs Air Relax Recovery Boots Compression Pulse MVP

Newly Redesigned NormaTec Pulse System
As an aging professional triathlete I no longer recover like I used to.  As a result, I keep seeking out new and better ways to facilitate and expedite the recovery process. Although recovery boots have been out for many years in the triathlon scene, it wasn't until this winter that I finally became a believer in them.

Taking a step back, previously I had tried recovery boots at various races over the years but I found that the staff always set the level too high and I felt like my eyes were bulging out of their sockets. Having a medical device background selling implantable pacemakers and defibrillators I have developed a high level of respect for both the heart and the body and the devices simply scared me.

Fast forward and I lived with another athlete this past winter who owned a set of boots. This time, I was able learn about the boots, get into the boots, and most importantly start gradually at my own pace. I developed my own protocol for using them. The more I used them, the more my legs responded to them, the more I liked them. As someone who has always developed an injury in winter training, this was the first year I actually didn't end up with a injury. To say I am now addicted would be an understatement, they simply go everywhere with me.

Now the only real downside to Normatec is simply they are not affordable to the masses. Sure there are many people who can afford them, but there are many more that can't and that is unfortunate because I believe compression boots are the number one recovery tool in my arsenal, knocking off foam rolling, and pushing it to a distant #2. Fortunately there are other makers of recovery boots that are more reasonably priced and do an excellent job. One of the alternatives is the Air Relax system.
Air Relax Recovery Boots System

The Air Relax system is very similar to the Normatec system. This isn't going to be an in-depth review between the two because I have already done it. Both systems are amazing, I highly recommend both, and both have add-ons for things like the hips and arms. Here are some subtle subtle differences between the two:

Air Relax System (~$352 with discount)

- Small, portable, compression unit, smaller than the Normatec MVP system but bigger than the new Normatec Pulse unit.

- Pressure can go up to 230mmHg and has 4 pressure levels.

- If you are extremely tall the legs might be a little shorter than what you can get on the Normatec Pulse.

- Available in both US version for US plugs and European version for Euro plugs. Make sure you purchase the correct one.

- Highly affordable. You can buy them readily on Amazon or direct from Air Relax and save 7% with coupon code TGRLCHAZ8

Normatec Pulse (basic model, $1595) 

- Can be used without the AC Adaptor for a limited time on battery - think airport use when you can't find an outlet.

- Legs are a bit longer - if extremely tall this might be something you want

- Pressure can go up to 100mmHg and has 7 pressure levels

- Can easily set time in 5 minute increments

- More expensive, starting at $1595 for the basic model. Unfortunately I do not have a coupon code for Normatec to give you.

Again, both systems are amazing. If you can afford Normatec and want Normatec then buy them. If you can't spend that kind of money but want a comparable system for nearly 1/5th the price then go with Air Relax.

Air Relax on Amazon
Air Relax NA Distributor Website - Use coupon code TGRLCHAZ8 to save 7%
Normatec Website

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Blue Seventy Wetsuits Coupon Code Promo

Save 25% at with Coupon Code: TGb702016
Save 25% at with coupon code TGb702016. The code is good on everything BlueSeventy carries including wetsuits, skinsuits, goggles, Core Shorts, caps etc. Good thru 2016. No restrictions on make either, you can save 25% on the top of the line Helix wetsuit or Fusion, Reaction and any other suit.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Pro Recovery Tips For Your Ironman Race

Learned a few recovery tricks over my 10 years of doing Ironman
First off, huge congrats on your Ironman finish!!! Here are some tips on recovering faster from your Ironman. Please note that everyone's Ironman was different and everyone will have varying amounts of soreness.

Soreness is just one easily perceived feeling from your race, but there are so many things internally that are happening to your body that you can't see or feel. It is important to not let soreness be your sole barometer for whether or not you are recovered. Your soreness will likely be gone in days, but it could take weeks or months before you are fully recovered from your Ironman.

These tips will help your entire body recovery faster:

Night of race

A must post race for DIY protein drinks
#1 - Drink a protein shake as soon as possible after the race. This will start the recovery process as soon as possible. You will get plenty of carbs at the food tent, but there are usually no easily digestible protein options so have a family member bring one of these to you shortly after the race. You can stop at the local drug store and get a six pack of Ensure or bars as well. I prefer to put some whey protein isolate in a Blender Bottle as I drink protein shakes everyday. It doesn't really matter as long as there are some quick absorbing proteins in it. Whey is quick absorbing.

#2 - Keep moving - the night of the Ironman you might have a trouble sleeping either because of pain and discomfort, or because you took a whole lot of caffeine. If need be go for a 30 minute walk before bed if you finished in the 9-14 hour range. Light movement is the best thing you can do for your body post race to flush the legs.

#3 - Sit in recovery boots. If you are fortunate enough to own a pair of recovery boots then sit in them for 30 minutes before going to bed. No doubt you have seen Normatec's at Ironman Expos but you can get a similar experience for around $350 (1/5 of the price of Normatec) with the Air Relax system. I did a short comparison of the two units here: Normatec Vs Air Relax
Recovery Boots - A must for flushing all the edema post Ironman
#4 - Drink another protein shake right before bed

Post Race - Day 1 

I prefer pure Whey Isolate from reputable brands like ON
#1 - Drink a protein shake for breakfast and a glass of water. Your body needs fuel and protein to continue the recovery process. Have this before your normal breakfast. Real food takes too long to break-down and you want to keep the recovery process going.

#2 - Keep moving - if there are morning festivities for the race, attend them and try to go for a light walk before and after.

#3 - Avoid caffeine - caffeine is going to add further stress to the system. Avoid it if you can as it will speed up recovery. I understand there may be situations where you need caffeine, like you have a long drive home and you need to stay awake.

#4 - Drink lots of water - your body could easily be 10lbs heavier than before the race. Ironmans are incredibly tough on the body and cankles and fluid build up (edema) is quite common. Your body is holding on to a ton of fluid for a variety of reasons, but it is important to keep drinking water to help clear waste.

For my body at my usual effort it can take days to get back to a normal weight. Depending on how fit you are, your body and body type, and how deep you had to dig in relationship to your fitness, your retention period will vary. Regardless this is not a 70.3. Ironmans really tax the body and you may not be used to this kind of swelling.

#5 - Take a nap. If you have the time take a nap. The more naps the better. Don't think of naps as being lazy, think of them as aiding the recovery process.

Bromelain ie Pineapple Enzyme -
 Natural anti-inflammatory + Breaks down proteins
#6 - Avoid NSAIDs and other painkillers. Anti-inflammatories are going to be hard on your system. If you need something for pain look to natural anti-inflammatories like Bromelain, the enzyme in Pineapple that is an anti-inflammatory. You can buy Bromelain itself which is extracted from Pineapple and is very affordable. It also aids in the breakdown of proteins which will also help the recovery process. My recommendation is this Source Naturals 2-pack. 240 tablets in total.

#7 - Drink a protein shake for lunch and dinner along with normal food.

#8 - Take short frequent walks - this really helps promote blood flow and flushes the legs.

#9 - No running - If you are an exercise junky please refrain from running. If you feel really really good you could go for a short spin at the easiest possible effort for 15 mins. Swimming is your friend - a 1,000km swim is also acceptable. Absolutely no running.

#10 - Take a Epsom Salt Bath - Epsom salt can help relieve general soreness with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) - this is what you are feeling.

Epsom salt baths can promote bloodflow and helps with DOMS

#11 - Spend time in the boots - if you have the luxury keep using the boots. Ideally 3x30 mins sessions.

#12 - Take off work - hopefully you took a few days off work for your Ironman. If not consider it.

#13 - Be cognizant of germs - post-Ironman you have little to no immune system and it is very easy to get sick. I am not a stickler in general about germs but post-Ironman it is a good thing to think about and be a little more preventative. Often times post race you can't find any hand sanitizer but it is a great thing for your family to pack.

Post Race - Day 2

Post race day 2 is very similar to post race day 1. I won't re-write the tips, but you want to continue to do everything from Day 1.

If you are traveling via air and you have a long flight you want to make sure you get up mid flight and walk around a bit. You could very easily be even more sore on day 2. In addition, you might feel an overwhelming sense of lethargy. Believe me, although you can't feel or hear it, your heart is telling you that it is very tired.

If you are up to it, and have the energy, swimming is the best rehabilitation. Keep it very short and very easy. You can do up to 3, 1000 kms a day spaced out morning, lunch and dinner. If you did a hot race, swimming helps bring down your core temp. You can also walk or do a very light spin to promote recovery.

Post Race - Day 3

Re-read day 1 and day 2. The only real change on Day 3 is I add in some foam rolling to help facilitate recovery of the muscles and tissue. You can also get a massage as a replacement for foam rolling. You can stop the epsom salt baths or you can continue as well.

If you don't already foam roll then it is a good thing to get in habit of doing. Unfortunately, my favorite foam roller is a little tough on people who don't already foam roll. If you do foam roll, you will never go back to your old foam roller once you get used to the Rumble Roller. My preference is the firm black version for home and I have the blue (softer) in the smaller version that I take with me in my carry-on.

Rumble Roller - The best 'torture device' / foam roller in the world.

Post Race - Day 4

Again re-read the prior days. There is no additions and subtractions on day 4. Day 4 is the last day of what I call the "acute recovery phase".

Post Race - Day 5-7

There is less of need for hydration and protein shakes. You can resume your normal diet and your daily coffee. Your body may or may not be back in equilibrium - if you are someone who frequently weighs themselves, you may weigh yourself but keep in mind you may still be holding on to a lot of water.

Personally I do a lot of swimming after an Ironman but I do this for a living so I need to keep working towards my next event. I will usually see a lot of fluid come out of my body during my swims on Day 3 and Day 4.

When it comes to eating, I suggest people be mindful of what they are eating. Likely your immediate soreness is gone but your body may still have weeks and months ahead of it to fully recovery.  It is perfectly acceptable to gain a few pounds, but remember your body doesn't necessarily need the same amount of fuel as it did during training.

I would keep any exercise to really easy swimming and biking to continue to promote bloodflow and recovery to the tissues. Walking is always good too. Your own feel is your best barometer.

Post Race - Week 2 and Beyond

It is hard to write tips for the masses as everyone has different goals. Some people are one and done and will never do another Ironman. Some people were itching to get back to training the day after they finished.

Regardless of your future Ironmans plans, know that you spent a lot of time and preparation for your Ironman race. You probably spent so much time that the training may have defined who you are and gave you a real sense of purpose.

FYI, there is such a thing as the post-Ironman blues and it is a common feeling. My suggestion is to make fitness a life long process even if you never do another Ironman again. Exercising is great for the brain, but if you don't feel like it then take this time and spend it on family, friends, work and other hobbies you may have neglected in your training. If you want to continue your journey start planning the next one.

If you have any feedback please let me know below!! Otherwise, congratulations on your race, I know each Ironman finish is a very special feeling. I know I look forward to my next finish, my next win, and hopefully some day a World Championship on The Big Island of Hawaii.