Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Quick Garmin 735xt Review + How & what Garmin products I use to train and race

New Garmin 735xt - I am passing on this upgrade

I saw the announcement this morning of the immediate release of the Garmin 735xt and decided to quickly review whether I need this device over my Garmin 235. Contrary to what I normally do, I am going thru publicly my own internal review decision, which only takes a couple of minutes, and sharing it with you.

A bit of background though. As a professional triathlete I use Garmin products almost exclusively now. The Garmin 235 has come to be my go to gadget on the run while the Garmin Edge 520 has been my go to bike computer having skipped the Garmin Edge 510, and using the Garmin Edge 500 like the rockstar it was for many many years. Surprisingly to some, I don't use the Garmin 920xt.

My go to bike device - Garmin Edge 520
The end result, although super flashy, the Garmin 735xt doesn't offer any new features I personally need over the Garmin 235. It has some extra features that some might be interested in, but for me, I like my simplicity. The Garmin 235 meets everything I need for training and racing in one device. Had the Garmin 735xt supported open-water swimming in a slimmed down profile I would have been all over it but alas I must wait.

Before leaving I thought I would explain how and what Garmin products I use to train and race.

First off, I don't use the Garmin 920xt. The only thing I would use the 920xt is for open-water swim workouts and seeing the Garmin 910xt is a lot cheaper for just this one feature I opt for that. I would never race with a Garmin 910xt or 920xt, the device is slowing you down in the swim considerably, and is simply one more thing to rip your wetsuit over.

Instead, I have a Garmin Edge 520 strapped into my bike and ready to go when I get there. The Edge 520 has 10 data field screens over 8 for the Edge 500, while having a considerably larger screen and weighing essentially the same and having a similar profile. The larger 800 and 1000s series weigh considerably more than my Garmin Edge 520 and have larger profiles creating more aerodynamic drag and slowing you down further. The Garmin Edge 520 is the perfect companion to train and race on.

Garmin 235 - My go to GPS watch
for running and casual cycling
For the run I use a Garmin 235. I have had nearly ever Garmin run device ever created but the Garmin 235 is the right device for me. Although the optical HR lags for interval workouts, for stable workouts and racing it works great. It is also super light. I have come to really like the automatic syncing of the Garmin 235 over Bluetooth to the iPhone and then Garmin Connect and Strava automatically. It grabs satellites super quick in comparison to previous generations. It's accurate!!! The only down side I experience with the Garmin 235 is it limits you to 2 specific data screens you can customize with data fields. I would like to have a couple of extra pages. I also use the Garmin 235 in the pool in the "other" mode for lap swimming. It acts as a great pace clock, especially when swimming at night. I also use it for all my casual bike rides where I only really care about pace and distance.

Lastly, I will say that I still use a chest strap for interval workouts and on the bike. The old-fashion Garmin chest straps (premium soft strap to be exact) are more responsive and more accurate - especially in interval workouts where you bring your heart rate up and down quickly. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Fastest Ironman Bike Shoes - Aerodynamics + Weight - Cycling

Fastest Triathlon Cycling Shoe - Giro Empire SLX

Anyone that knows me understands that I am a nut when it comes to my equipment. This past March I forked out $1,000 of my own money to take the opportunity to visit the wind tunnel at A2. One of the things I wanted to test were my shoes. The results were absolutely shocking!!!

Before I go into details, let me explain a little bit of my philosophy when it comes to equipment. Simply put, in the absence of an aerodynamic design or aerodynamic data, I go with whatever is lightest. Looking at my old shoes, Pearl Izumi Octane, they were light, sub-200 grams, but with two straps they didn't seem very aerodynamic. I had talked with friends Sebastian Kienle (Ironman World Champion) and TJ Tollakson (Multiple Ironman Winner) about shoe covers that tested fast for them, but the problem is they take time to put on in transition, time take off, and is extra weight and material. In addition, TJs were custom tailored just for his shoe which costs some significant money and know-how.

Dreitz 3/8inch ~9mm Elastic 
Fast forward, and some how I came across the Giro Empire SLX shoe. It is a traditional shoe with laces, and being a triathlete, I immediately thought I could re-engineer them to use elastic laces with the possibility of them being easier to use in transition.

With a Giro Empire SLX in hand I went ahead and got to work playing with the shoes. In the end, I decided that the best thing to do was cut the tongue from the shoe and I am still experimenting with lace pattern. Right now I have one that is laced the same tension from top-to-bottom, and another that is laced 3/4 of the way with a tighter tension and 1/4 at the top with less tension. The idea is that you have the benefits of full tension for most of the foot with easier in and out with less tension. Both lace systems work for me.

I also experimented with lace width. It turns out that traditional elastic laces are too wide so I bought some regular Dreitz elastic in bulk that is the most narrow I could find. It lays flatter for better aerodynamics. The end results is a super light shoe, < 162grams for size 9.5. Is super comfortable yet stiff, and super fast to get into and out of. Note, I drilled a hole in the back so that I can slip a rubber band in them.

Giro Empire ACC - Fast shoe, a little heavier but half the price of the SLX
The Giro Empire SLX is a superior shoe in all regards to the Pearl Izumi Octane, but I needed to see if it was faster aerodynamically speaking. It turns out that it was. At A2 in March, it was actually the fastest change tested in the day for me. It tested 4 watts faster at 0 degrees of yaw, and 12 watts faster at 10 degrees of yaw!!! This is at wind tunnel standard testing of 30mph with two data points at each wind angle.

If you don't want to fork out the extra money for the Giro Empire SLX, Giro also makes a cheaper version of essentially the same shoe called the Giro Empire ACC. For the record I have no relationship with either Pearl Izumi or Giro.

My Pearl Izumi Octane and Giro Empire SLX

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

MgSport - Best Magnesium Supplement For Endurance Athletes

Save 20% on MgSport Magnesium at
Amazon with Coupon Code TOMASP20
I have been using magnesium supplements for years to make sure my magnesium levels are sufficient given the amount of exercise I do as a professional triathlete. Magnesium plays an important role in over 300 body functions and endurance athletes can be prone to low Magnesium levels. However, a damning 2015 report by the New York Attorney General accused various big-box retailers, including: Wal-mart, Walgreens, Target, GNC and others of selling supplements not containing the ingredients they were purported to be selling and that had me questioning some of my purchases.
As an professional athlete, I am responsible for knowing what I am putting in my body and because of that report I started seeking out companies whose business it was to actually manufacture and distribute supplements that follow GMP standards (Good Manufacturing Practices). I was fortunate enough to learn about MgSport at an Ironman event last year and I have since replaced my big-box retailer Magnesium with MgSport.
There has been a lot written about Magnesium and why we need it but I don’t want to recreate the wheel. If you are interested I suggest Googling, “Why endurance athletes need magnesium.” Just know that despite eating a nutrient dense diet I would never go a day without also supplementing with Magnesium. It is cheap insurance as far as I am concerned.
What I do want to highlight is the benefits of MgSport. Unfortunately not all Magnesium is created equal. Most supplements you will find in stores contain Magnesium in the form of Magnesium Citrate, if they even contain that as claimed. In clinical research the Magnesium in MgSport was found to absorb 3x times better than Magnesium Citrate.
MgSport is GMP certified and is also made in the USA. Having Good Manufacturing Practices certification is important to me. In addition with it being made in the USA and not China, I feel better about any possibility for contamination.
MgSport Mag also contains Vitamin D which is essential for calcium absorption to strengthen my bones. I take a few supplements every day and it may not seem like a big deal but with MgSport I only have to take 1 small capsule, and with 100 capsules I have over a 90-day supply in 1 small bottle and the covers both my Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E levels. If you have ever seen a Magnesium pill from popular retailers you will know that it is a very large pill partly because they are trying to cram that recommended daily value, which doesn't absorb very well into a single pill.

As for me, I take 1 MgSport capsule at bedtime. Magnesium absorption happens best during sleep + it is also known to improve sleep quality in athletes. You can get your own supply of MgSport and save 20% with coupon code TOMASP20
. Just visit Amazon MgSport Magnesium.