Thursday, April 20, 2017

Aero Data: Vittoria Corsa Speed, Contintental GP TT, Continental Supersonic on HED JET+ 6 Black Wheel


In order to prevent a continued flood of personal inquires I promised I would expedite the release of Vittoria Corsa Speed aero data by this afternoon (4/20). There is lots more to come, this is just to satisfy those who have reached out to find out what tires they should race this weekend.

Thank you for everyone that contributed to the GoFundMe campaign to help make this success!!! Even though we didn't hit the target I am extremely grateful to see people value independent research. This seems like a true watershed moment and I hope as a community we do more testing in the future. For now, 7 years of good flat karma for those that donated!

I have started a Slowtwitch thread for technical discussion where the questions and answers will be answered and shared with all (if ok with Dan).

The following is the aero data from the A2 Wind Tunnel on 4/19/2017. I have release just the HED JET+ 6 Black data for simplicity. I also have the Enve 7 data.

We tested the 23mm tires (New SS and Corsa Speed) at 85psi, the 25mm tire at 81psi, and the 23mm OLD Supersonic which measures small at 88psi. Valve extenders was 72mm long. Tires mounted mounted in direction indicated by the manufacturer. Some tires had to be pumped higher initially to get bead to snap and then were deflated and reinflated to proper psi. The little plastic tips on the Conti tires were all plucked off prior to testing although some excess rubber as common with Conti tires is still on the center line. All tires were brand new, purchased by myself from retail stores. The exact same tube was used for all testing.

Click to enlarge






Friday, April 14, 2017

Aero Testing Tires + Wheels - Vittoria Corsa Speed & Continental Supersonic, Specialized Roval CLX 64, Enve 7 SES, HED JET+ 6 Black

Back to the wind tunnel
This post is for the purpose of defining the testing protocol and explaining the choices behind the equipment being selected for an upcoming wind tunnel test at A2 in Moorsville, NC on Wednesday the 19th of April. This test is part of a GoFundMe campaign started Friday, April 14th. Please consider donating. If you can't donate then please 'like', 'share', 'retweet', to help the cause.

Tires and wheels are always a hot topic and I am looking forward to finding the fastest combination of tires and wheels for Ironman racing. The tires for the test are the Vittoria Corsa Speed and Continental Supersonic. All tires and wheels are rim-based clinchers. I have selected three wheels including: HED JET+ 6 Black, Specialized Roval CLX 64, and Enve 7 SES. This is wheel-only testing, but wheel-only testing has been shown to be a good representation of how the wheel performs in a bike.

The equipment was selected based on variety of factors, but careful thought has been put into testing the equipment that could yield the fastest practical result without compromising safety.

Tire #1  - Vittoria Corsa Speed 

Recently, Vittoria has released the Corsa Speed which has been 2x independently tested to be the fastest rolling tire. It is also a tubeless compatible tire and can be used without a tube and sealant instead. It's 23mm width is smaller than the 24mm Specialized Turbo Cotton yet rolls much better - likely due to the elimination of a puncture protection strip.

In addition, the lip of the tire tread to casing combination may be thinner. It is believed that part of the poor aerodynamic performance of the Specialized Turbo Cotton could be explained by the pronounced lip of the tread to casing. Reducing the size of the lip could improve airflow over the transition. The shape of the tire inflated and width could also play a significant role, but this test aims to see how the Corsa Speed performs aerodynamically.

The Corsa Speed doesn't have a puncture protection strip, and the Turbo Cotton, a similarly constructed tire with a puncture strip, has had spotty results thank to numerous high profile flats by Ironman World Champion Jan Frodeno. The ability to use sealant may reduce the possibility of a puncture in a race situation

Tire #2  - Continental Supersonic

The Continental Supersonic was selected for its superior rolling ability as determined by independent testing. In addition it has been shown to have better aerodynamics than traditional cotton-based open-tubulars like the Vittoria Corsa Speed and Specialized Turbo Cotton.

In the past, the tire was 23mm wide but measured narrow. Continental has recently introduced a NEW slightly wider version of the tire using a similar casing width and tread pattern to the Continental TT. The Continental TT tire also rolls incredible fast and it is presumed the only difference is the Supersonic lacks the puncture strip which slows tires down. Presumably the Supersonic rolls even better given a wider width but it hasn't been tested as far as I know. In conjunction with this test I will reach out to independent tire testers to see if they would be willing to test the tire.

One false belief regarding the Supersonic is that it is "fragile" due to the lack of a puncture protection strip. Riders using the tire have experienced very little issue with the tire. I myself have used the 23mm Supersonic in 25+ Ironman 70.3 and Ironmans with success. TJ Tollakson has used the 20mm Supersonic with success. In my opinion athletes suffer from an irrational fear of flats and often choose tires like Gatorskins when in reality they could ride a faster tire, have a flat, change it and still come out ahead of riding Gatorskins.

Wheel #1 - HED JET+ 6 Black 

The HED JET+ 6 Black wheel is a 60mm deep wheel that features a black textured aluminum brake track. It looks like a full carbon wheel, but the wheel is an aluminum wheel with a carbon fairing. It is 18 spokes, 719 grams and has an internal rim width of 21mm. For comparison, the internal rim width of the Zipp 404 and 808 Firecrest is 16.25mm. The textured brake track offers superior braking in both dry and wet. The braking is so powerful that there was an adjustment period for me in getting used to them. Previous muscle memory from the Roval CLX 64, Enve 7 SES, and various Zipps, had me almost throwing myself over the handlebars from sheer stopping force.

Although the JET+ Black tested fractionally slower aerodynamically against the Roval CLX 64 in the Specialized wind tunnel with an independent observer. The tire tested was a Specialized tire which the CLX 64 was designed around. While the HED Jet+ is a wide rim, the maximum width of the wheel is not that great compared to the ENVE 7 SES and Roval CLX 64.

Wheel #2 - Specialized Roval CLX 64

The Specialized Roval CLX 64 has shown based on independent testing to be a very fast rim. It is 64mm deep, 16 spokes, and weighs 695 grams. Given Specialized has the ability to design and test wheels in their own very wind tunnel you would think they had all the opportunity to produce a fast wheel. The wheel uses a wide-rim, both internally and externally (20.7mm). The rim is also fairly easy to mount tires to. Use of the Corsa Speed on a HED JET+ or Enve 7 make installation and removal of the tire extremely difficult. In a race situation with a flat you might struggle to change the tire.

Wheel #3 - Enve 7 SES

The Enve 7 SES is a 71mm, 20 spoke wheel with a 19mm internal diamater and 29 mm external width. It also has a textured brake track but is not nearly as effective being carbon as HED's. The average weight for two Enve 7 SES I have weighed is 754 grams. While Specialized and HED indicate that a 22mm tire is the fastest tire aerodynamically for their wheels, there are compromises to be made in comfort and rolling resistance with those tires. Enve claims the the 7 SES is designed around a wider tire so the wider 23mm tires of the Supersonic and Vittoria Corsa may close the gap and the wheel/tire combo may perform better.

GoFundMe Campaign

The Gofundme campaign, if fully funded, will feature at least 7 runs. Each tire and wheel combo will be tested. This is wheel only testing of front wheels so it will be a single sweep from 0, 5, 10, and 15 or 0, 2.5, 5, 7.5, and 10. Tires have to warm-up to deal with expanding nature of air/rubber and need to stabilize before collecting data. As a result it is estimated it could take 10-15 minutes per run. The tube may have different length valve extender so as to best represent the possibility of the rim. The same two tires will be used across wheels. Raw data will be published and a summary of data will be prepared for easy readability and reference. Discussion if allowed will take place at Slowtwitch.

Tires will be inflated to 85 PSI.  Tire pressures need to be reduced with both wider tires and then again for the new wider internal rims. After talking with industry experts, other riders, and using wider rims for over a year myself, 85 PSI is an appropriate front-tire pressure for someone weighing 160lbs and will offer low rolling resistance, high comfort, and great handling.

If the GoFundMe campaign is not fully funded then I personally will fund the remainder required to make this trip happen but in that case I may only test one wheel and the two different tires. Or one wheel and few more tires than two. I do have two HED JET+ 6 to utilize time better in this scenario.

If the campaign is overfunded we may add other tires including Continental GP4000s, Continental TT, Specialized Turbo Cotton etc and keep the number of wheels at three.

If you have any concerns with the protocol please feel free to comment below, private message, hit me up on Slowtwitch etc.

Lastly, given the 16 hours round trip of driving I plan to do some of my own testing and tack on a few more hours. It is $1100 for 2 hours now and I will publish the results just as I did last year. Changes I will be making include incorporating Speedplay aero pedals, Trip Sockz vs 2XU compression sleeves, Kiwami LD Spider trisuit, LG aero trisuit, and Kiwami Tokyo Amphibian rear zip suit and testing the change from LG P9 to Giro Aerohead helmets.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ironman Taper Tips & Pro Taper Comparison of Ben Hoffman and Jesse Thomas

The Ironman taper, this might be the hardest thing for beginner triathletes to do properly. I don't know what it is about Type A personalities, but so many of us just can't relax.

Short anecdote... I will never forget Ironman Florida 2012. I had been riding better than ever coming off the bike 2nd at a handful of recent races including: Ironman Steelhead 70.3, Ironman Louisville, and Ironman Wisconsin. I was doing some openers on Friday, the day before the race, pushing 280 watts for 3 minutes and I was being passed by other athletes. All I could do was shake my head.

The next day I rode one of the fastest Ironman bike splits by an American ever. In fact, I came off the bike in a time of 4:15:57. I finished in 8:33:26, but I could not help but think about the athletes from the day before. I had remembered one of the easy numbers and checked the results. It read DNF. I couldn't help but wonder if the person knew what he was doing? Were they coached? Why were they going so hard? Needless to say the Ironman Taper is a favorite subject of mine.

In general, you should aim to reduce your volume to about 50% of your peak training volume. However, you want to keep the frequency of the sessions about the same and you want to keep some intensity, it is the duration of the intensity that is greatly reduced. The biggest problem for athletes is they tend to get carried away during their taper. They are too excited, too rested, and simply go too hard.

Below I have summarized two tapers from two superstar in the sport of triathlon before the 2016 Ironman World Championship. Ben Hoffman finished 2nd (2014) and 4th (2016) at the Ironman World Championships and Jesse Thomas is a six-time Wildflower winner.

I have highlighted some key sessions and to help with readability as well. This is reverse engineered from their Strava accounts. Ben doesn't include his pool swimming so I can't say what he did for that. What I want you to keep in mind while look at this is that these guys can easily push 370-380 watts and run 5:20 pace for an hour. They are fit. Ben Hoffman came in training consistently 30 hours with weeks up to 40. Jesse Thomas has been training in the low 20 hours a week. 


Day Ben Hoffman Jesse Thomas
Wed Day 10 Run:  Aerobic build, 13.5 miles, 1:30, building from 7:00 pace to 6:05 pace

Bike:
2:11 ride / 37 miles
Travel to Kona

Bike: Shakeout spin. 55 mins, 17 miles, 130 AP
Thu Day 9 Bike: Aerobic ride with 1 hour at race wattage (295). 58 miles, 3h10m, 201 AP / 250 NP

Run: 30 minute transition run at 7 min pace 
Bike: Easy ride, 2:00, 42 miles, 180 AP / 205 NP. 7 min effort building from Ironman watts to Ironman 70.3 watts. Additional build effort at 3:30

Run: Aerobic steady run. 5.3 miles, 39 mins, 7:15 min pace.

Swim: 47 min, 3200 yards, 1000 yards at race pace (1:15/100)
Fri Day 8 Run: Steady aerobic run just below race pace. 8.5 miles, 1h, 7:05 pace

Bike: Easy spin, 1hr 113 AP / 132 NP
Bike: Easy spin, 10 miles, 45 mins. 110 AP / 130 NP

Swim: Swam course, 4200 yards, 1:01:30
Sat Day 7 Bike: Shootout group ride, 72 miles, 3:22, 207 AP / 253 NP, with 40 mins at 337 watts for hard section of Shootout

Run: Transition run, 5 miles, 33 mins, steady at 6:30 pace

Travel to Kona
Bike: Aerobic steady effort, 64 miles in 2:40, 246 AP / 258 NP.

Run: Transition run, 3 miles, 19 mins, descend 1-3 from 6:15 pace
Sun Day 6 Run: Shake out run, 6.5 miles, 50 mins, 7:43 pace

Run: Aerobic, steady, 7 miles, 50 min / 7:08 pace

Swim: OWS 3200 yards / 48:22
Mon Day 5 Swim: OWS steady cruise with a couple of pick ups, 3k, 42 mins,

Bike: Aerobic, steady, 50 miles, 2:20, 218 AP / 232 NP 
Bike: Easy spin, 21 miles, 1:12, 120 AP

Swim: Easy swim, 2k, 40 mins
Tue Day 4 Run: Aerobic, steady, 8.5 miles, 1:00, 7:00 pace Run: Race simulation run in Energy Lab, 5.6 miles, 38 mins, 6:41 pace

Swim: steady aerobic swim, 3k, 42 mins
Wed Day 3 Bike: Easy ride with 2x10 mile aerobic efforts (230 watts), 40 miles, 1:52, 208 AP / 220 NP

Run: Transition run, build to race pace, 3.8 miles, 26:16, 6:49 pace
Bike: Race pace efforts, 1 hour with 2x10min build from Ironman pace to Ironman 70.3 pace with 5 minutes spin between. 1:03, 22 mi, 213 AP / 238 NP
Thu Day 2 Run: 5.2 miles, 37:34, 7:09 pace, run steady with some natural efforts from elevation

Bike: 45 mins with short natural race pace effort from climbing
Run: Run easy, Underpants. 2.8 miles, 37:24, 12:55 pace
Fri Day 1 Bike: 45 mins with 10 min effort climbing at about race pace (280 watts). 175 AP / 222 NP

Run: Transition run, 2.5 miles at race pace, 16 min, 6:37 pace
Swim: Easy swim with 150 yards hard in the middle, 739 yards, 12:23

Bike: Easy ride, 13.5 miles, 44 min, 157 AP / 189 NP

Run: Short run finishing at race pace, 1.5 miles, 12 min, 7:22 pace. Build to race pace. 
Sat Race Day Swim 1.2 miles, Bike 112 miles, Run 26.2... Brag for the rest of your life!!! Swim 1.2 miles, Bike 112 miles, Run 26.2... Brag for the rest of your life!!!


Analysis:  
At first glance this may seem like a lot of sessions, but that is a key component to the taper. Again, you first and foremost keep the frequency of the sessions about the same. What changes in the taper is the volume and intensity. Although it may not seem like it, the total volume has been reduced to about 50% of the peak for these two athletes.

Volume only tells one part of the equation, the other part is intensity. Many of Jesse's efforts may seem big, but for Jesse these efforts are at his race pace for Ironman. While they may be Zone 4 or Zone 5 for you, they are no more than high Zone 2 / low Zone 3 for him. In addition they are not long. His longest effort is about 10 mins at race pace.

Ben Hoffman's last big workout is on the Saturday before the race at The Shootout with a 40 minute effort at 337 watts. With the transition run his day totaled 4 hours. However the Hoff is notorious for doing The Shootout then adding many hours to total over 8 hours. 4 hours is still 50% of his biggest days. And while 337 watts sounds like a lot of watts, again if he can hold 370 for an hour, it is a solid effort but well within him.

As an example of what not to do, if your goal is to ride 170 watts and run 9 minute miles on race day then you shouldn't be pushing 300 watts and running 7 min pace in the 10 days prior. I know it feels easy because you are rested, tapered and excited, but please save the energy for race day!!!

Other Ironman articles you might be interested in:
First Time Ironman Tips
- Recovering from your Ironman

Lastly if you are triathlete, endurance athlete, or marathoner, I have set up a FREE Q&A group on Facebook. It will always be FREE. As a long-time age-grouper I spent way too long determining what information I could trust and what I couldn't. As a TRUE student of the sport I have learned a lot, remain open-minded, and realize that so many people disseminate information blindly and then bad myths become lore. I am hoping to shed some light and simplify things for people. Feedback is always appreciated.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Ironman 70.3 Triathlon Race Recovery Tips - From Age-Grouper Turned Pro


Huge congrats on your Ironman 70.3 finish! Whether this is your 1st Ironman 70.3 or 10th you should be proud of your accomplishment! Now it's time to change your focus to recovery. Focusing on recovery can help you and your body recover faster, and if you have another event planned, to resume regular training sooner. Here are a few recovery tips from my own experience over 50+ Ironman 70.3s, 25+ Ironmans, and 40+ Marathons.

#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 easily digestible protein options are often lacking. Have a family member bring you a protein shake at the finish

You can stop at the local drug store and get a Muscle Milk or a Quest protein bar. I prefer to put some plain whey protein isolate (20g) + 1 scoop of Base Amino (10g) in a Blender Bottle. Whey is very quick absorbing and easily digestible, but Base Amino is free-form amino acid that doesn't need to be broken down and is even faster to digest.

Take another shake at night before you go to bed and one more the next morning. Personally, I continue this pattern for 3 days post race but if you want some real protein too then go with it!!
A must post race for DIY protein drinks

#2 - Keep moving - Don't sit for extended periods of time. Take frequent short walks to keep the blood moving thru the legs so toxins can be expelled. If you have a long drive home try to walk a few steps while at the gas station and when you get home. If you have a long flight get up mid flight to walk around.

#3 - Avoid caffeine - caffeine is going to add further stress to the system. Avoid or reduce intake if you can

#4 - Sit in recovery boots. If you own a pair of recovery boots then sit in them for 30 minutes post race and again before going to bed. If you have don't have a pair then think about investing in a pair. They are simply awesome!!!

Here is a short comparison on two units I have and continue to use daily: Normatec ($1395) Vs Air Relax ($370).

Possibly the most relaxing
way to recover!!!



#5 - Drink lots of water - if your urine is dark you need to be drinking more fluids but you also need to drink water to help flush the toxins. If using the boots or getting a massage remember to drink a glass of water afterward.

#6 - 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
#7 - Avoid NSAIDs and other painkillers as they 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 a natural anti-inflammatory.

You can buy and eat Pineapple or just buy Bromelain itself which is extracted from Pineapple. It also aids in the breakdown of proteins which will further the rebuilding process. My recommendation is this Source Naturals 2-pack. 240 tablets in total.

#8 - Limit Exercise - walking is great, swimming is great, spinning is good, some very light and short runs are ok. The key is to listen to the body. If you are used to wearing gadgets maybe leave them at home, or at least don't not look at them during your session. Go by feel in the week post race.

#9 - Take an Epsom Salt Bath - Epsom salt can help relieve general soreness with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). DOMS is what you are feeling when you feel that pain in your quads or calves and especially so walking down the stairs. Epsom salt can help relieve that pain naturally. Pour a generous amount of Epsom salt into a warm bath and soak for 15-20 minutes

Epsom salt baths can promote
bloodflow and helps with DOMS
.


#10 - Be cognizant of germs - The long race + travel can really wipe out your immune system. Before heading to the food tent grab some anti-septic if you can.

#11 - Use the foam roller. You might be too sore after the race or even the following day, but use the foam roller as soon as you feel comfortable doing so. Use the foam roller to break up adhesions, scar tissue, and to continue to promote blood flow.

If you don't have a foam roller, you might consider making the investment. My favorite one is the original Rumble Roller. It is a rough at first but once you use it consistently your tissues will become more supple. I have long version for home use (black, firm), and a short version for travel (blue, soft).

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

Lastly if you are triathlete, endurance athlete, or marathoner, I have set up a FREE Q&A group on Facebook. It will always be FREE. As a long-time age-grouper I spent way too long determining what information I could trust and what I couldn't. As a TRUE student of the sport I have learned a lot, remain open-minded, and realize that so many people disseminate information blindly and then bad myths become lore. I am hoping to shed some light and simplify things for people. Feedback is always appreciated.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Ironman 70.3 Triathlon Race Tips - From Age-Grouper Turned Professional

Here are some simple tips for a better Ironman 70.3 triathlon. Regardless of whether you are a first-time finisher or Ironman 70.3 World Championship qualifier, these tips can help you finish faster and fresher.

Rolling thru the corn fields at one my favorite 70.3s
Note, these tips come from my own accumulated experience as a long-time age-grouper turned pro and Ironman Champion competing in 50+ half Ironmans.

The 2006 Spirit of Racine 70.3 was may first triathlon and I went 4:48:50. Over a decade later I am still racing and going even faster. In 2016 I had my Ironman 70.3 PR at Ironman Texas 70.3 Galveston and went 3:55:13.

Race Week - Pre-Race


#1 Less is more - this is the theme of the week. The hay is in the barn. The logistics of Ironman 70.3 may keep you busy, but resist the temptation to get in any more serious training. It will only hurt you!

#2 Start planning your recovery now - it is easy to get caught up in what you need to do for the race, but start thinking about recovery too! There are a few basic things you can do to expedite the recovery process. One of the simplest and most effective is having your family members bring you a protein shake immediately post race. I wrote a separate article on Ironman recovery here and a lot of the same ideas apply.

#3 - Get good sleep - The night before the race you probably won't sleep well, so focus on getting to bed early and sleeping in as much as possible during the week leading up to the race. Do whatever it takes to create the proper sleeping environment for yourself. Take an extra day off of work if you can.

Flashback to my first race ever in 2006 at
The Spirit of Racine 70.3
#4 - Communicate with your team - Communicate with your support team ahead of time. Don't let it add stress. Often times our personalities can change in the days leading into the race as excitement builds. Everyone handles the stress differently and it is important for your support team to have an understanding of your needs. Communicate with them along with the way. If you need help, ask for help, if you need space, tell them you need space.

#5 - Write a list of everything you need before travel - Write a list of everything you need then check it off as you pack. If you forget something don't stress it. You can likely get whatever you need on site.

#6 - Stay hydrated. Focus on staying hydrated before the race. This is especially important if you are traveling by air or have a road trip.


Race Day Morning 


#1 - Morning breakfast - aim to have your breakfast finished no later than 2 hours before the start of your race. The simpler the breakfast the better.

For me I keep it super simple with a Ensures or a couple of PE Powerbars + 4 gels. Yes gels for breakfast. I know that sounds gross to many but it is fast to digest. That's about 800-1000 calories and then I have another gel about 20 minutes before the start of the race.

#2 - Be mindful of race day logistics - if this is your first 70.3 or your first 70.3 at this particular event give yourself more time for unplanned things like traffic, bathrooms, etc that can leave you feeling rushed. If you are veteran of the race you already know the gotchas.

Swim Cords - A great way to warm up when
you can't get in the water to warm-up
#3 - Refrain from putting on the wetsuit too early - Understand your core temp rises and your body starts sweating immediately when you put on your wetsuit. It is better to wear breathable clothes to keep warm. Start putting on your wetsuit about 15-20 minutes before you expect to get in the water. Wearing a wetsuit for extended periods in the morning, especially on warmer days, is a recipe for dehydration. I like to put on the bottom first, and leave the torso exposed even longer. If it is sunny try to stand in the shade.

#4 - If you aren't allowed a swim warm-up - bring some stretch cords to get the body warmed up.

#5 - If the water is really cold (ie below 62) - Please try to get in the water if you can for a warm-up. Cold water can cause some people to have a panic even if you have never panicked before. If you aren't allowed to warm-up then dump a bottle of water in your wetsuit a few minutes before getting in. This will help build a barrier and the cold water won't shock the system.

The Actual Race


1# - Slow down - You are likely tapered, excited, and caffeinated, and it is very easy to start too fast. The beginning of each segment should feel easy - if it doesn't feel easy then you are going too hard!

I suggest the 20% rule. For roughly 20% of each segment (ie, the first 400 meters swim, 10 miles bike, and 3 run) start below your race pace effort for that segment. This will allow your body to work into the effort and it will result in a faster and more pleasant experience.

#2 - Check your ego - don't let your ego get the best of you on race day. There will be people who are faster and slower than you and they come in all shapes and sizes. Stick to your race plan! Stick to your pace! Don't chase!

#3 - Be mindful of transition - Your heart rate will never been higher than in the transition from swim to bike. Be mindful of running thru transition and try to consciously slow down a bit. With the excitement of the crowd and moment it is very easy to get even more carried away.

#4 - Keep the nutrition simple - the less stuff you have on your bike the better from an aerodynamics, digestive, and simplicity standpoint. Focus on foods that are easily absorbed and digested even with a high heart rate. Gels, gummies, and very basic bars work the best.

#5 - It is ok to walk during run - yes sometimes incorporating some walking can be faster than continuous running. Doing so can give your muscles a chance to reset, let your core temp fall, and your body absorb calories.

If you are out there to finish, try incorporating strategic walking for 10-15 seconds per mile thru the aid station.

If you are racing competitively even a 3-5 second break in the aid station can be a great strategy to actually run faster.

Did you know that Craig Alexandar walked sections of the Ironman Kona marathon when he set the course record with a 2:40+ marathon? Strategic incorporation of some walking can yield faster running.

#6 - Keeping your core temp cool on hot days - For hot and/or humid races it is important to make sure you keep your core temp in check. Overheating the engine is the surest way to slow your pace dramatically. It is far better to follow the 20% rule and start the run 10-15 seconds per mile slower than goal pace for 3 miles and lose 30-45 seconds, versus overheating and losing 2 minutes per mile in each of the last 3 miles.

Things to keep cool include: grabbing ice and carrying it in your hands, chewing on ice, dumping ice down your jersey or shorts, wearing a visor, grabbing sponges and glasses of water.

#7 - If food or drink keeps coming back up - Then you are likely going too hard and/or taking in too much. Slow down and give your body a chance to digest whatever is in your stomach. You can't force it, your body is smart. Switch to water if you feel thirsty.

Trying to practicing what I preach -
Smiling & starting slow to finish strong!
#8 - Positive attitude & smile - Racing is as much about attitude as anything. For full Ironmans I always tell people if they can't smile at any point they are going too hard!

Ironman 70.3 can be very different for people because the distance is much more doable and some people can push a little more. Nonetheless, it is important to be able to smile for much of the day.

#9 - If you are struggling - try setting smaller goals like getting to the next aid station. Take it one pedal stroke and one stride at a time.

Also, try giving someone else encouragement out there. You would be surprised by how much energy you get back from what you give.

#9 Enjoy the finish - If you are setting a PR or racing for that coveted Ironman 70.3 World Championship qualification slot this doesn't apply to you, but for the rest of us, slow down and enjoy the moment that is the finish. There is such a special sense of accomplishment - take a few seconds to soak up the amazingly powerful drug that is Ironman and great personal accomplisment. You never know when you will get the opportunity again.

Lastly if you are a triathlete or endurance athlete, I have set up a FREE Ironman Q&A group on Facebook. Feel free to ask any question you might have about Ironman Training or endurance sports.

A few more Ironman 70.3 race tips for first timer triathletes


#1 - Body glide is your friend - make sure you have Body Glide for the back of your neck, arms, nipples, armpits, and legs to prevent chafing. In addition, Body Glide makes taking off a wetsuit much easier, and it prevents serious chaffing to your neck.

Body glide is your friend
#2 - Avoid changing clothes - you would be surprised just how hard it is to change clothes in transition. First, clothes don't go on wet very easily. Second, you might have severe mobility restrictions from tighter muscles after the swim. Third, you heart rate is high and your manual dexterity is greatly reduced

#3 - Never make your first open-water swim the race - If you have never swam open-water please at least swim open-water once before race day. Swimming open-water is different than in a pool.

#4 - Never make the race your first swim in a wetsuit - wetsuits can be restrictive, both from a psychological perspective but also physical perspective. If you can't swim open water in your new wetsuit at least once, then please swim in the pool at least once. You will understand what I mean the first time you swim in a wetsuit.



Monday, February 13, 2017

Bilateral Breathing vs Single Side Breathing - Comparison Pool Time Test

Open Water Worlds Wednesday
Clermont FL
Earlier this winter I had the opportunity to do some swim sessions without any real purpose. Instead of wasting the swims, I decided to take the opportunity to test:

(1) Bilateral breathing

(2) Single-side breathing dominate side (right)
(3) Single-side breathing
non-dominate side (left).

The impetus for this test came from racing. Despite swimming to my dominate side (right) in training, I occasionally take a few strokes on the opposite side (left) during races for the sheer purpose of mixing it up and helping my right side relax for a few seconds.

What I found was that despite feeling incredibly awkward during those few strokes, I felt like I didn't slow down at all and actually made up a little ground on my competition. As a result, I thought I should finally test my breathing and learn something about it.


Test Protocol


With all my tests, I am not trying to win over any scientists. Frankly, my tests are done more to satisfy my own curiosity. For this test, I swam 200s LCM, alternating between, right-side (how I normally breath), bilateral breathing (one breath right, one breath left), and left-side breathing. I did 12x200 per day, so 4x200 of each pattern each day (ie, left, right, bilateral). I tested over 8 continuous days. In total, that is 96x 200s, and 32x 200s in each particular configuration.  I averaged the 4 reps of each configuration per day in the graph below for simplicity sake.

The pace I choose to swim was the easiest possible swim pace I could for that particular day. It would be equivalent to my all-day pace. It is a pace that is natural and one I don't have to think about.

Test Results


Analysis

I was definitely surprised by the test results. Mainly, every time I swam a 200 on my left side I felt incredibly awkward. Bilateral breathing felt awkward as well but not as awkward as breathing to my left. I totally expected that I would be significantly slower bilateral breathing and breathing to my left side. Both configurations felt so slow in the water, but every time I hit the wall at the end of the 200 I was objectively informed that I was no slower. My stroke rate was a bit higher on my left and bilateral configurations, but if it was truly less efficient I would have suspected slower times as well.


Takeaway


What I learned from this process is that it really doesn't matter how I breath, at least while swimming easy. It would be interesting to do the test again at higher level of efforts to see if the result was different.

Regardless, it is a reminder of how important athlete psychology is in sport. Just because you feel slow doesn't mean you are slow. Just because you feel fast doesn't mean you are fast. Testing things or practicing things gives you confidence. Confidence I believe leads to faster overall times as there is less thinking involved and less second guessing.


Other "testing" articles you might enjoy:

- Speed Suit Testing - TYR Torque vs Roka Viper Elite
My Blood Test Numbers - Testosterone and all
- Wind Tunnel Testing My Shoes
- My Complete Wind Tunnel Test

Lastly if you are a triathlete or endurance athlete, I have set up a FREE Ironman Q&A group on Facebook. Feel free to ask any question you might have about Ironman Training or endurance sports.

$100 OFF Normatec Compression Recovery Boots Coupon Code - Expires Dec 31st 2017

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Recover Faster in 2017 today!!! Coupon code expires 12/31/2017 and brings the Normatec Recovery Pulse system down to $1395. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Athlete Blood Testing - Blood Work Test Results for Ironman Pro Triathlete

Complete blood tests results at bottom of post
Athlete blood testing - frankly it is one of those topics that no one talks about. While I have seen a few professionals talk Testosterone, I don't recall anyone discussing it openly in a general sense. As a result, I thought I would share my own blood test numbers, the process I took to get them, and the benefits I get from testing. Complete test results, Testosterone and all are at the very bottom!!!

Why I got my blood tested


Completing an Ironman Triathlon is tough and the months of high-level training can easily wreak havoc on the body. Getting a blood test before ramping up training is an essential part of the process as it establishes a baseline for my blood values. It also helps me understand if I am truly ready to embark on my training program and it gives me the confidence to do so.

Many athletes look to blood tests ONLY when they are feeling off in the middle of the season. The problem with this approach is that I would have NO baseline to compare values to. I might have abnormal levels which could explain the issues, or those levels could have been abnormal all along. Establishing a baseline can help me and my doctors make better and more informed decisions down the road.

The process of getting my blood tested


Getting blood tests proactively under the "wellness" category is no easy task in the US Healthcare system. Typically people only get blood tests when they are sick, and as a result so called "wellness" testing is not frequently covered by insurance. In addition, unless your doctor is familiar with endurance athletes, chances are he/she might not even prescribe the testing or understand why you need to be tested.

I decided to go with a Dr. Garret Rock at Athlete Blood Testing for my blood test. InsideTracker and BluePrint are two other services I considered but Dr  Rock has been intimately involved in research on using blood biomarkers in athletes for 8 years. He has personally worked with thousands of professional athletes including pro triathletes, runners, and cyclists. Dr. Rock's expertise allows him to truly understand the significance of blood biomarkers in a way that no general physician or other service can.

In his words, Dr. Rock says: "Don't try to interpret yourself. I have seen tens of thousands of tests on athletes now and analyzed a giant database that we've been populating over the last 4 years, as well as read thousands of studies...and I am still learning something new occasionally. To get the most out of your tests, rely on those that have a comprehensive understanding of how to tie all of the information together. It's much more complex than simply looking at a number and comparing to normal/abnormal range. Ideal ranges and normal ranges vary based on your age, gender, and frequency/duration/intensity of training/racing. These should be factored in to your interpretation."

In addition to Dr. Rock's expertise, Athlete Blood Test was super simple when it came to the process. Instead of a process that can take weeks, ie. getting an appointment into my primary, being sent for labs, and then getting another appointment with my primary to discuss the labs, Athlete Blood Testing took only days and I was over 2,000 miles from Athlete Blood Test the entire time. The whole process included:

1) Selecting the test panel. I opted for the Gold Panel as I wanted the most comprehensive panel to establish my baseline. I added it my cart and completed the checkout process answering a few questions along the way. I received a confirmation email that included instructions on the closet LabCorp location to get my blood drawn from.

Two vials of blood drawn
2) Get Blood Drawn - My LabCorp location doesn't need an appointment, but because I had already eaten that day and I was told to fast, I opted to use the online scheduler and scheduled an appointment for the next day, a Thursday FWIW. There is no additional payment at LabCorp, my payment to AthleteBloodTest covered all the testing. I was in an out of LabCorp within 10 minutes.

3) Get Results - I had my report emailed to me on the following Monday. I also had a chance to talk to Dr. Rock on Tuesday over the phone, although phone follow-up is an additional charge.

My Blood Test Results


Here is my report. Dr. Rock explained to me that I was the 1 in 100 with ideal labs and that the typical lab results and reporting are much more complicated than mine. His work with professional triathletes has shown that an extremely high number of them have deficiencies in: Iron, Vitamin D, and/or Magnesium. However, I did not have any deficiencies. I will say that I have been supplementing all three over the years, and I know MgSport is proud of me for keeping my Magnesium levels up. I know Matt Miller at Base Salt is proud of my electrolyte numbers.

While my Testosterone was on the low side of normal, Dr. Rock was also confident that my numbers were unlikely to fluctuate significantly given a similar training profile as previous years. He also assured me while they were on the low side of normal, they were quite normal among my professional peers. My LDLs are a little high, but frankly much lower then when I wasn't a triathlete altogether.

Overall getting my blood tested was a very positive experience. Not only did it clear the path for my training, but it was also hugely refreshing mentally knowing where my numbers were.

If you are interested in getting your own Athlete Blood Test you can do so and save 10% in the process with Athlete Blood Test Coupon Code: bloodtest10. 10% off brings the plans to Gold ($314), Silver ($224), and Bronze ($143).

Lastly if you are a triathlete or endurance athlete, I have set up a FREE Ironman Q&A group on Facebook. Feel free to ask any question you might have about Ironman Training or endurance sports.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

11 Recovery Tips for your Marathon Run

First off, huge congrats on your Marathon finish!! Pat yourself on the back for your tremendous accomplishment - you should be very proud of yourself!!

The Marathon is an absolutely grueling run that is extremely taxing on the body. Now that you are finished it is time to focus on recovery. Taking recovery seriously will help your body recover faster and better. Here are 11 tips to help you do so.

#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 work well too. 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 very quick absorbing and easily digestible. You should take another shake midday and another at night right before bed. Continue this pattern for the next 2-3 days.
A must post race for DIY protein drinks

#2 - Keep moving - although you might be exhausted, keep moving. It is ok to take a nap but don't sit for extended periods of time. Take frequent short walks to keep the blood moving thru the legs. This will help the body delivery the necessary nutrients to the body while allowing toxins to be expelled.

#3 - Avoid caffeine - caffeine is going to add further stress to the system. Avoid it if you can as it will delay the recovery process. I understand there may be situations where you need caffeine, like for a long drive home post-race.

#4 - Sit in recovery boots. If you are fortunate enough to own a pair of recovery boots then sit in them for 30 minutes post race, mid-day, and before going to bed. If you have no experience in recovery boots then here is a short comparison on the two units I have and use daily: Normatec Vs Air Relax
Compression Recovery Boots
 A great, easy, and relaxing way to actively flush the legs

#5 - Drink lots of water - your body has a lot of repairing to do and you are going to need a lot of carbs and protein to help the recovery process. But it takes a lot of water to process carbs, protein, and flush the body of toxins. Drinking lots of water will help expedite the recovery process. You don't need to go crazy, but have a greater conscious awareness about staying adequately hydrated. If you urine is darker at all then you need to be drinking more fluids.

#6 - Take a nap. If you have the time then 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
#7 - 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 a natural 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.

#8 - No running - You probably won't want to run, but refrain from running unless you absolutely feel capable of it in the days following your marathon. If you swim, get to the pool and do light swimming in the days following your marathon. Swimming and walking are the best activities to do.

#9 - Take Epsom Salt Baths - Epsom salt can help relieve general soreness with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) - this is what you are feeling when you feel that pain in your quads or calves. Epsom salt can help relieve that pain naturally. Poor a generous amount of Epsom salt into a warm bath and soak for 15-20 minutes

Epsom salt baths can promote bloodflow and helps with DOMS.


#10 - Be cognizant of germs - Marathons are very hard on the body and can knock out your immune system. If you are traveling home by air or returning to work be extra cognizant of germs. Wash the hands or use hand sanitizer on the go.

#11 - Use the foam roller. You might be too sore immediately post race or even the following day, but use the foam roller as soon as you feel comfortable doing so. Use the foam roller to break up adhesions, scar tissue, and to continue to promote blood flow.

If you don't have a foam roller, you might consider making the investment. My favorite one is the original Rumble Roller. They come in a long version for home use, and a short version for travel. Both come in two different firmness levels. I have a black one (firm, long, home use) and blue one (soft, short, travel use)

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


Lastly if you are triathlete, endurance athlete, or marathoner, I have set up a FREE Q&A group on Facebook. It will always be FREE. As a long-time age-grouper I spent way too long determining what information I could trust and what I couldn't. As a TRUE student of the sport I have learned a lot, remain open-minded, and realize that so many people disseminate information blindly and then bad myths become lore. Hoping to shed some light and simplify things for people.