Monday, July 31, 2017

Professional Endurance Athlete Blood Work Biomarkers - Q2 2017

ABT Report
This post is about my results of my Q2 blood work by Athlete Blood Test. My Q1 post detailed the simple process of working with Athlete Blood Test (ABT) and can be found here. 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.

Athlete Blood Test (ABT) specializes in blood work for endurance athletes. They have worked exclusively with endurance athletes over many years to understand the specific blood biomarkers that affect performance. They then apply that learning to help athletes proactively manage levels before they negatively affect training.

Their simple process of ordering a test online, going to a LabCorp facility (at your convenience), and getting the results and exclusive analysis emailed back is both quick, compared to your General, but also more insightful. The reality is that your General does not specialize in highly trained endurance athletes nor their blood values.

With that I present my Q2 blood values: Thomas Gerlach Q2 ABT Report.pdf

Analysis - My take on the blood work


- By and large everything looks pretty good.

- Testosterone - there was a slight bump in testosterone which may be because:
  • Took mid-season break before the test (1 week of yard work instead)
  • Took the test a bit earlier in the day (about an hour earlier). 
  • Lifted weights - I did far more weights in the first half of the year than I have ever done in the past. Lifting weight is one of the many things you can do to naturally increase testosterone. 
  • Stopped antihistamine Bendryl - I was using this for allergies and took it before bed. Bendryl has been shown to affect testosterone production negatively. I recently went back on Bendryl, after this blood test, to help with allergies issues I am suffering from.
  • Eliminated a calcium supplement I was taking for a broken foot last year. Over calcium fortification has been shown to reduce Zinc bioavailability. More on zinc below. 
I also started taking three new supplements recommended by another triathlete who has chronicled his story with low-T. They are supposed to help with natural testosterone production in the body and include:
  • Pregnenolone, a natural occurring building block needed by the body to create testosterone. It is legal today, but I wonder if in the future that may change. Here is the current USADA status.
  • Gaia HPA Axis - various natural herbs & plants that are known to help support adrenal health and natural testosterone production. 
  • Zinc - I switched from MgSport's Magnesium to their new product ZMG which has a very bioavailable form of zinc included in combination with the magnesium which I had been taking. The combo avoids taking a mag and zinc pill separately. Appropriate zinc availability is key in natural testosterone production, but too much zinc can be dangerous.
As for effects, I did notice considerably more night wood if I woke up to pee. It is a small bump in T but a noticeable bump in that area. It will be interesting to see how the number fluctuates as volume comes back up and time for weights and strength goes down.

- B12 levels up - I was a low last quarter so I started supplementing with a generic B12 pill. Based on the report I can reduce the IDU that I am taking. I like to reduce supplements if I can.

- Iron levels are low. Although well within the normal range for a human, my iron levels are low for an athlete to perform at their best.

Kim's Cabbage Patch - Clermont FL
Although I did NOT make a conscious effort to reduce intake of meat, my meat intake in the past quarter has been drastically reduced. The reason is because I moved recently to a new place and I have this great little fruit market (Kim's Cabbage Patch) across the street. More trips to Kim's and less to the store for meat may have caused this decrease.

I need to increase my consumption of meat and/or supplement with iron this quarter. I have opted to go with a heme (iron type found in animals) version of iron. Non-heme iron is the type of iron found in vegetables and most store bought iron. For meat eaters with normal blood levels of iron, heme iron has been shown to be better absorbed by the body. However iron supplementation in general is a really complicated subject so I will leave it at that.

- WBC a little low. Prior to this test I was on Amoxcillian for 10-days for a middle ear infection prescribed by guess-who, urgent care. Ironically I didn't have a ear infection at all as I would later find out, but it took a ENT specialist to figure that out. My low WBC is almost identical to a 2009 WBC value when I was also on antibotics.

Regardless, it will be good to check this next quarter because if it stays low that could be a problem. This is another benefit of these tests in having a track record of your blood labs so when something does pop up you can look back at the biomarker and see how it has changed. It is easy for doctors to draw correlation about symptoms to an objective finding like blood values, but if the blood value has stayed consistent then the correlation is probably not correct.

MgSport's new ZMG
Magnesium + Zinc
- Magnesium - this number I was most curious about because I know training in the summer can wreck havoc on magnesium levels, but training in an 110 degree heat index in Florida is just another level. And while magnesium can take a while to draw down, it also takes a long time to build up, so it is important to stay on top of it as magnesium plays a role in over 300 different vital body functions. The number is right where I want it to be. MgSport would be proud.

That is it for Q2. I'll work towards improving iron levels, reducing the amount of B12, and be sure to check that WBC number next quarter.

Links to items talked about in this post

- Athlete Blood Test - use code bloodtest10 to save 10%.

- Q1 Write Up w/Blood Results

- Q2 Blood Results

- MgSportMagnesium Blog - Why MgSportMag

- MgSport Magnesium on Amazon - use code  TGMS2017 to save 15%

- MgSport ZMG on Amazon - use code 
THOMAS77 to save 20%

- Heme Iron on Amazon

- B12 on Amazon

- Kim's Cabbage Patch - Clermont FL

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Best Value Aero Wheels for Ironman Triathlon - HED JET+ 6 Wheels $949

A frequent Ironman question I see is "which triathlon aero wheelset to buy?" The manufacturers are endless: Zipp, HED, Enve, Roval (Specialized), Profile Design, Reynolds, Flo, Knight, SwissSide, Edco, Mavic, Bontrager (Trek) and more.

HED JET 6+ - Best Value Triathlon Wheelset
While all aero wheels will save you time, the reality is picking a wheelset can be quite the process. Tubular vs clincher, aluminum vs full carbon, 60mm vs 90mm/Disc all add to the confusion.

The purpose of this piece is to provide a simple recommendation for an Ironman triathlon wheelset that is: aerodynamic, light, durable, handles well, rides great, comes with a full warranty from a company that has been in business for decades, is safer, easier to maintain, more forward-thinking, and more affordable. It is a wheel that has also been ridden to World Championships.

Whether a beginner or Kona qualifier, the HED JET 6+ wheelset is my personal recommendation as the Best Value Wheelset. Currently it is priced at $949 (42% off) via Competitive Cyclist, but you can save an additional 15% with coupon code: CC15OFF100 expires (8/22/2017). That brings the wheelset down to $807 (50% off). While this is still my choice at a much higher price point, originally when I first wrote this the wheels were priced at $1099 .

Below I discuss in detail some of the benefits of the HED JET 6+. The comparisons focus on what the HED JET+ offers that you don't get from a full carbon clincher rim. I won't discuss tubulars - they have no place in triathlon anymore.


Why HED JET 6+ (in no particular order)


1) Safer - The HED JET+ feature an aluminum brake track that brakes more consistently and faster, in both wet and dry conditions. In addition there isn't the same risk from carbon where under heavy braking the rims melt and potentially lead to catastrophic crashes from tires blowing off the rims. Lastly, for those running latex tubes, some manufacturers of carbon rims, like Enve, suggested not using latex due to possible heat buildup of the carbon rims which can then damage the latex. Latex tubes are fast but if you can't use them safely in the wheel then the wheel is going to be slower. If you don't use latex this isn't a concern.

2) Wide and tubeless ready - The industry has been transitioning to wider rims over the past decade. While 13mm internal diameter used to be standard, now the average is closer to 17-18mm. Zipp is at 16.25mm - 17.25mm, Enve has rims that are 19mm, FLO 19.4mm, while HED and Roval are at 21mm. 

In addition the HED JET+ have the new bead-hook design for tubeless setups where the tires "snap" into place. While Enve and Roval also have tubeless bead-hooks, most of the other manufacturers do not and thus are not truly capable of tubeless if you so desire to run them that way. This is more of a future-proof feature for those not familiar with tubeless.

3) More comfortable - Because HED JET+ have that large 21mm internal diameter your same tires end up being much wider. The reality is the air volume is much larger and you need less pressure. In fact HED has a max PSI of 90. Don't worry if you still think higher pressure is better or faster. In reality too much and too little is slow. PSI is all about balance and with HED you can run lower pressures without risking the same pinch-flats that can happen in other setups.

As an example, I road Zipp Firecrests (16.25mm) in training with 25mm Gatorskins for many years at around 95-100 psi. I have been running the same 25mm tires on HED JET+ at between 75-80 PSI (I am 155lbs). In addition while the 25mm tire will measure a hair over 25mm on the Zipps, it measures closer to 27mm on the HED JET+. The end result of the wider tire at lower pressures is a more comfortable ride.

4) Better handling - Similar to #3, the larger tires and lower pressures provides for better handling in corners. I also find they are also less twitchy in strong crosswinds.

5) Great aerodynamics - The late great Steve HED was a master at aerodynamics with decades of experience. The HED JET 6+ is yet another advancement that continues the long tradition of great aerodynamics that have been independently validated by others. You won't find a significantly faster 60mm deep wheel but you will find slower. 
Hed JET vs HED JET+ Wind Tunnel Data
San Diego Low Speed Tunnel

Some people may want a deeper front rim or a disc on the rear, but the 6+ front and back offer superior versatility in my opinion. If you do want a disc you can always add a wheel cover to the 6+ rear for under $100. Skip the 9+ up front.

6) Lightweight - One knock on aluminum race wheels is that they are quite heavy. For instance, according to Flo's website, their latest Flo 60mm front wheel is 910 grams while a 58mm deep Zipp 404 Firecrest is listed at 755 grams. Meanwhile my own HED JET 6+ with stickers removed weighs 725 grams. When you think about the fact that HED's are also 21mm wide, while the FLO 60s are 19.4mm and the Zipps 16.25mm, that is even more impressive considering how much more material there is for the wider rim. The HED Jet+ series is as light as carbon wheels without the negatives of a carbon brake track.

7) Simpler maintenance. Swapping brake pads when going back and forth between carbon race wheels and aluminum training wheels is a major pain. If all your wheels are aluminum there is no need to swap brake pads.

By the way, if you have carbon wheels you should be swapping out the brake pads. This is for two reasons. One is because carbon rims require a different brake pad to be able to brake effectively on the carbon surface. And two, if you use the same brake pads on both aluminum and carbon rims you will embed tiny bits of aluminum from the rim into the brake pads, which will then eat away at the carbon rims. 

8) Get immediately - Competitive Cyclists offers free 2-day shipping and the same great return policy and customer service as its parent company Backcountry. No waiting for slower retailers/etailers, or even worse, 8 weeks until the next "group buy" just to put in your order.

9) Warranty - buying new wheels from Competitve Cyclist or other retailers/etailers/lbs means you get the full backing of the warranty as the original owner. I myself have bought many used wheels because of the drastic price difference between new and used, however in doing so I know that most wheel companies will not warranty a wheel if I have an issue. It is something to think about if you are looking at used wheels.

10) Price$1099 shipped for the set is about as good as it gets. This includes, skewers, valve extenders and my preferred rim tape as well. I know that this is Competitive Cyclist's carrot to get you in their door so you buy more from them, but the reality is that you can likely ride these for a year or two and resell them and recoup much of your investment if you so choose.

In general HED has excellent resale value as well. You can check prior eBay sales to get a feel for what used wheels go for. As for this deal, it has been about a year since I recognized it. At one time last October it was as low as $799 for a short period but has mostly been bouncing around between $999 and $1099. The sale seems like a permanent sale and loss-leader to me.


My Personal Experience


I have owned a variety of HED wheels over the years including Stinger 9s, Ardennes, H3s, H3+, JET 6+, Jet 9+ (rear), and a Jet Disc+. I have over a year of racing and training on the HED JET+ series, and in that time I have really come to appreciate the superior stopping power of aluminum after many years on carbon. The ride quality with the wider tires at lower pressures is great and riding the JET 6+ in training gives me the opportunity to get comfortable with gusty crosswinds so that on race day I am confident.


Additional Notes


Cheap carbon wheels - there are lots of cheap carbon wheels floating around. You can even gets sets on Amazon shipped via Prime. Personally I would never ride a carbon brake track from anyone but Zipp, Enve, and Roval (Specialized), and Bontrager (Trek). While some people may get away with it, the reality is that wheels are mission critical and I have seen too many failed brake tracks on carbon wheels. You are gambling with your health going with cheap carbon wheels. 

HED JET+  Tire installation - Please not that tires may be slightly more difficult to get on these rims depending on what you have had in the past. While Zipps were always notoriously easy to get the tire on, that isn't exactly what you want when you are bombing down a descent and have a flat. Easy to get on, means easy to fall off as well.

HED JET 6+ vs HED JET 6 or JET 6 C2 - Many people are confused by the differences. The HED JET 6, or C2 as they are also known, are a prior generation. They are narrower and weren't designed with the tubeless bead-hooks. They are 23mm at the brake track instead of 25mm. They are 17.8mm internally versus 21mm. The new HED JET 6+ will perform better aerodynamically with wider tires than a HED JET 6.

HED JET 6+ vs HED JET 6+ Black - The Black series features an all black rim and a specially machined brake surface that according to HED provides 30% improvement in dry conditions and 70% in wet over standard aluminum. Having used Black I can say the brake track does offer even better braking but I haven't attempted to quantify it. The brake surface is very nice but it is twice the price. Some people really like the sleek Black look as well.

Links:

HED JET 6+ on Competitive Cyclist
HED JET 6+ Black on Competitive Cyclist
HED JET completed sales on eBay

Saturday, May 27, 2017

10 Tips for Purchasing a New Triathlon Wetsuit

My BlueSeventy Helix
Photo Cred: Tim Hughes
With triathlon wetsuit season quickly approaching I thought I would highlight a few things to think about when purchasing a wetsuit.

You can save 25% on a new suit or anything else at BlueSeventy.com using coupon code b70ThomasGerlach17 (good anytime in 2017)

Wetsuit Buying Tips:


1) It is all about fit - a proper fitting wetsuit is the most important thing when buying a wetsuit. A wetsuit should be snug when putting it on. It will loosen up when you get water in. It will loosen up over time as you use it. Keep this in mind when trying on a new wetsuit. If it is a breeze to get into and zip up then it is probably too big.

2) Features, Features, Features - The wetsuit industry has endless marketing terms for various "features". The majority of these features are worthless. I don't blame the manufacturers as each one does it.

The reality is that some users may like some features. An example for me with my BlueSeventy Helix is that I like the top-zip option. It gives me peace of mind in the water that another competitor isn't going to "accidentally" pull down my zipper in the middle of the race. They simply can't.

While some features offer minor benefits, the reality is that most features are over-blown. Don't get buried in features.

3) Return policy is key - You want to be able try out your wetsuit in the water to make sure it truly fits and will work for you. BlueSeventy has an awesome return policy and they let you try the wetsuit for 30 days. Here is their full policy. Also, if you are borderline in the sizing, you can always buy two suits and return the one that doesn't fit as well.

4) Low vs mid vs top-tier wetuits - Typically top-tier wetsuits offer the best rubber, that is the thickest to lift your body and legs out of the water for reduced drag. They also have really thin arms and shoulders so you don't feel restricted while swimming.

Lower to mid-tier wetsuits usually have thinner rubber in places you want thicker, thicker rubber in places you want thinner, and that rubber is usually less buoyant, more rigid, and often lacking a special coating to help you cut thru the water faster.

Sighting Open Water
Personally I do like the top-tier wetsuits and even when I was age-grouper, beyond my first wetsuit, I always bought top-tier wetsuits. If you can afford them I say get them. If you can't then I often suggest getting a sleeveless.

5) Sleeveless vs sleeved - If the water is 68 and above I much prefer sleeveless wetsuits than sleeved. The only time I prefer sleeves is if the water is cold enough to be uncomfortable, 55-64 for me. Even in 65-68 water I will often swim in a sleeveless depending on other race factors.

The reality is everyone's temperature gauge is different. I generate a ton of body heat swimming hard and easily overheat in sleeved suits. If I overheat I am far slower than I would have been with a sleeveless. From a feel perspective there is nothing more enjoyable than swimming in the freedom and flexibility of a sleeveless suit.

Keep in mind, a poorly fitting sleeved suit, or a sleeved-suit that doesn't have super flexible shoulders, is going to be slower than a sleeveless. Personally, my best swims in relation to my peers have always been in situations where I have worn sleeveless. If you aren't worried about water temperature I have no problems recommending sleeveless. This is especially so if you come from a swim background.

6) Look used if buying top-tier - Buying used can be a great option, especially if you trying to get a top-tier wetsuit on the cheap. You can often find $800 top-tier wetsuits for under $300. Check eBay for great deals. Look for wetsuits with fingernail tears that can be easily repaired to save even more.

Wetsuit cement for repairing fingernails tears in 10 minutes or less
Wetsuit tears happen to everyone and it is better to buy a $150 suit that is already torn, versus the feeling you get when you put the first fingernail tear into that new $800 suit. The reality is that wetsuit tears are common and can easily be repaired with wetsuit cement. Don't sweat them.

7) Buying used from a friend or Facebook groups - chances are the suit is way overpriced.
Look at past sales of wetsuits on eBay to get an idea of what suits go for.The reality is if you buy their used wetsuit then you are doing THEM a favor. Negotiation power is all in your favor.

8) Buying if you are an odd size, say Women's XS - Believe me, selling overstock wetsuits one summer, I realized just how hard it was to sell even a brand new $800 suit if it is an odd size like Women's XS. If you are at the far end of the sizing spectrum look for blow-out deals or check eBay. You might be surprised.

9) Xterra - Don't fall victim to Xterra pricing. Similar to Rudy Project in helmets and sunglasses, Xterra's whole business model is to take the Kohl's approach. Nobody pays more than 50% off for Xterra. You aren't getting a deal if you get 50%-60% off you just think you are getting a deal.

10) Two-piece vs one-piece - As someone who is 5 feet 8 but has a 33.63 inseam, I am the perfect candidate for a two-piece. The reality is that I owned one and I hated it. They are heavier and more complicated to put on and take off (the manufacturers claim they are less). It is just one more thing to lose too!! While a two-piece sounds like a nice idea, and I can understand why some think it might be great, the reality is that two-pieces for me was a huge let down.

Regardless of whether this is your first wetsuit or you are a seasoned pro, here a few reminders about getting that wetsuit on:

1) Make sure to apply Body Glide to your legs, arms, and back of neck.

2) Use plastic bags on your feet or socks to help get the wetsuit on.

3) Wear gloves so your fingernails don't tear the wetsuit. Wetsuits are very easy to tear with your fingernails. Usually the nicer the wetsuit the more easy it is to tear.

4) Pull from the inside of the suit, in small sections, working from bottom to top.

5) Pro tip - Once the wetsuit is on over your shoulders, you can bend over at the waist and that creates excess material which then you can pull further up to give more breathing room and space.

Links:
BlueSeventy.com - save 25% on a wetsuit, goggles, speedsuit, whatever, in 2017, using coupon code: b70ThomasGerlach17

Body Glide on Amazon

- Wetsuit Cement on Amazon

- Completed Sales of BlueSeventy Wetsuits on eBay

- BlueSeventy Wetsuits on eBay

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.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Post Ironman 70.3 Recovery Workouts

This past weekend I raced at Ironman Chattanooga 70.3. The result on the day was ok on paper coming in 7th and finishing in 4:04:27 vs 4:03:57 in 2016. Given that it was actually much warmer that was a positive for 2017. In addition, as many know, I was very sick in Jan/February with mono. I raced at Ironman Texas 70.3 last month (early April) in what was easily a career worst race so it was nice to take a huge step forward in my racing. On paper the day was ok but I needed to run faster and it is clear I am nowhere near 100%. Regardless it was nice to be 8-10 minutes faster than guys that were 8-10 minutes faster at Texas 70.3. 
Immediately following Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 I made the drive back to Clermont, Florida. Being self-coached I have a lot of flexibility in my training and decided to give myself three really easy days consisting of getting on the trainer and pedaling while working at a standing desk. The idea was to quit the ride when I felt like I had enough whether that was physical or mental. I also did 30 minute easy recovery swims on Monday and Wednesday and had planned on Tuesday, but due to some weather issues I never got the swim in. The idea was also on the bike to not look at the time and watts and just go by feel and let the leg fatigue totally dictate the watts. As you can see there was a nice progression over the 3 days. For reference I have had no trouble pushing 355 for more 20 minute efforts.

Today I got back at it with a longer aerobic run starting at about 1pm in the Florida sun. That was followed up with 40 minute spin before an aquathon where I was full gas swimming 1,000 meters and running 5k. I ran the 5k, again in Florida heat and humidity just under 18 progressively building from about 6:00 min/mile down to about 5:25 min/mile. Post race it was cool down jog of 1.5 miles at 10:30 before spinning again for another 40 minutes.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Why Latex Bike Tubes - Faster, More Comfortable, Less Flats

Michelin Latex (left), Vittoria Latex (middle),
Conti Race Light Butyl (right)
Vittoria latex bikes tubes are faster, more comfortable to ride, and less likely to flat. Nothing adds more speed per dollar than latex tubes but latex isn't for everyone. If you want to go faster and are willing to spend a little extra time learning how to install then they are for you.

Why Latex - The Advantages


They are faster - Rolling resistance is a big factor slowing you down. Latex tubes have lower rolling resistance than standard butyl tubes. The actual saving will vary based on how fast you are going and your weight. Those at the front of the race can save three to four minutes in an Ironman while someone at the back, who is heavier, might be able to save double that.

Regardless of the actual times savings, think of it this way, the savings going from butyl tubes => latex is greater than going from a standard training wheels => 80mm deep aero wheels. However you don't have to pay $3,000 for a set of latex tubes.

- They are less flat prone - Contrary to popular belief they are less susceptible to flats than butyl tubes. However they get a bad wrap if you read reviews, talk to the typical shop employee because these people are not installing them properly. Simply put the installation process is a little more involved but if you take your time you won't have issues.

- They handle better - Many people believe they handle better because they are so supple they are able to deform more easily and grab the road better.

- They are more comfortable and will leave you fresher for the run - Because latex is so supple they don't transmit as much vibration to your body. For Ironman triathletes coming off the bike this can be a huge advantage.

- No weight difference - you standard durable latex tube weighs about the same as the standard butyl race light tube at about 75 grams.

- Tire sealant works better in latex - the chance of sealant sealing anything in butyl is not great. Usually sealants are made of latex themselves and have a much greater chance of sealing punctures in latex tubes.


The Disadvantages


- Require frequent pumping - Latex tubes leak air a lot faster than butyl. They leak about 1 psi per hour. If you race latex tubes you have to pump them up on race morning. Adding sealant to latex tubes drastically slows down the rate of air leaks. Some people don't like this aspect for training so I suggest to those people just using them for racing.

- Requires careful installation - Latex is very sneaky and if you aren't careful in the installation process the tube can sneak its way underneath the bead of the tire and get stuck between the tire and the rim. When you pump up the tire the tube will explode. This is a very common installation issue that has lead to a bad rap by some of latex.

- Requires different rim tape - Because latex is very sneaky you will have all kinds of mysterious flats and issues if you use the cloth rim tape that likely came with your wheels. Instead you need a special product called rim tape. As an added benefit it is both thinner and lighter than the rim strip. Being thinner actually makes mounting tires easier. I have also used Veloplugs with latex. When it comes down to it, I always go back to tape. It is the most reliable way to run latex.

- Harder to source - Most local bike shops don't carry latex tubes so you will have to buy them online and I suggest in bulk. Shortages of latex during crucial racing months have occurred. Always good to order 4, 6, or even 8 at a time.

- More expensive - They are usually a couple of dollars more than something like a Conti Race butyl tube.

Product Recommendations
Stans Rim Tape (lower left) /
Silca Rim Tape (lower right)


Vittoria Latex Tubes - I have used brands including Bontrager, Michelin, Vredstein, and Challenge. When it comes down to it Vittoria are the most reliable and they also have removable valve cores so you can add sealant or just replace the valve when it breaks. Their valves are 51mm in length and come in two sizes - 19/23 and 24/28. Get the size that matches your tire width.

Stans Rim Tape or Silca Rim Tape - Stans is the defacto standard and works great. For a few dollars more there is Silca tape, which is what I am now using myself. The Silca tape is a little thinner and lighter and also slightly transparent so I can see things like the serial number if I ever needed it. Being thinner is the main reason I got it as it makes mounting tight tires even a little easier. 21mm is recommend for most wheel road wheels (17-19mm internal width). HED JET+ and Specialized Roval (21mm internal width) you will need the 25mm.

Conti Race Tubes - Even if you don't want to go with latex you can still save roughly 1/3 of the energy savings (1-2 minutes per Ironman) by switching to a thinner race day butyl tube. These Conti Race tubes are thinner than a standard tube, but still extremely durable. The ultrathin tubes (Conti Supersonic) is not durable and I do not recommend them after many bad experiences.

Orange Seal Sealant - Orange seal is my preferred tire sealant for sealing for both flats and reducing the natural rate of air loss from latex tubes. It does require you to remove the valve core. In an independent test it performed best in sealing various punctures of various sizes.

Vittoria Pit Stop - Not great at sealing but good for slowing down the natural rate of air loss from latex. It does not need the valve core to be removed as an added benefit. It can also be carried on the bike for portability

Installation Links

- How to install rim tape - will add next week
- How to install a latex bike tube - will add next week
- How to select the correct valve extender size for your deep aero race wheels - will add next week

Amazon Shopping Links:




Thursday, April 20, 2017

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

Trying to shed some light on tires in the A2 Wind Tunnel
Thank you for everyone that contributed to the GoFundMe campaign to help make this a success!!! Even though we were only at $700 at the time of testing it is clear that people still giving means they value this independent research. It seems like a true watershed moment and I hope others do more 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 of this.

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 SES data that will be coming. This is just aero drag at 30mph and DOES NOT include rolling resistance.

We tested clicnher tires, the 23mm tires (New SS and Vittoria 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

Analysis:

While the Specialized Turbo Cotton had been the top performer for rolling resistance for this style of tire. Recent research by three independent sources has shown that the new Vittoria Corsa Speed is the new top dog by a wide margin. While the Turbo Cotton 24mm has performed terribly from aerodynamic perspective, the Continental Supersonic tire had similar rolling properties but with much better aerodynamics.

The purpose of this test was to investigate the aeroness of this new Vittoria Corsa Speed. Testing showed that it was quite similar to the new 23mm Continental Supersonic. We tested a brand new OLD 23mm Supersonic (measures narrower) and it still performed better aerodynamically but the tire is no longer in production and cannot be easily obtained.

Kool Stop Bead Jack Tool vs Some Tire Levers
Much easier to mount the Vittoria Corsa Speed with this tool 
Regardless the Vittoria Corsa Speed tires present a unique opportunity because it can be run tubeless. Without a tube inside but with sealant. The extra weight of the sealant more than makes up for the weight of the tube but adds the possibilities of significant flat protection.

Unfortunately one draw back of this tire is it is not easy to mount and is significantly tighter than other tires and especially so on these tubeless rims like the HED JET+ and Enve 7. Likely that is by design to prevent high pressure from the tire escaping to the outside. As a result I highly recommend investing in the Kool-Stop bead jack which makes getting these tires on rims much easier. Use of metal tire lever is likely to damage to the carbon rim, don't do it. You also need to invest in a set of tubeless valves, Stan's rim tape, and Orange Seal Tire Sealant. Links below.

Amazon Links: 
Vittoria Corsa Speed Clincher 700x23mm Tubeless Ready Tire
- Continental GP TT 700x25mm Tire
- Kool Stop Bead Jack
- Orange Seal Latex Tire Sealant
- Stans 21mm Yellow Tubeless Rim Tape
- Stans 44mm Tubeless Valve Stem (good for disc wheels but too short for deep wheels)
- Silca Tubeless 80mm Valve Stem (good for deeper wheels)

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.

Some simple tips for your taper:
  • Aim to reduce your volume by about 30-50% of your peak training volume starting 2-3 weeks out.
  • Keep the frequency of the sessions the same. Reduce the volume and intensity of the sessions. 
  • Relax, less is often more.

Below is a comparison of two tapers from two superstars before the 2016 Ironman World Championship. Ben Hoffman finished 2nd (2014) and 4th (2016) at the Ironman World Championships as well as being an Ironman and Ironman 70.3 Champion.  Jesse Thomas is a six-time Wildflower winner and Ironman and Ironman 70.3 Champion.

I have highlighted some key sessions to help with readability. 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 looking at this is that these guys can easily push 370-380 watts and run 5:10-5:15 pace for an hour. They are fit and they do this for a living. Ben Hoffman came in training consistently 30 hours a week 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 2.4 miles, Bike 112 miles, Run 26.2... Brag for the rest of your life!!! Swim 2.4 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.

Add caption
Ben Hoffman's last big workout is on the Saturday before the race at the historic Shootout group ride in Tucson Arizona. He has a 40 minute effort at 337 watts. The day totaled 4 hours with the transition run. However the Hoff is notorious for doing the Shootout then adding many hours to total over 8 hours. 4 hours is still a 50% reduction from 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.

Links and other Ironman articles you might be interested in:
- Ben Hoffman on Strava
- Jesse Thomas on Strava
- My own pathetic Strava account

- Book: Iron War - Dave Scott vs Mark Allen

- Blog Post: First Time Ironman Tips
- Blog Post: 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 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 a foam roller as soon as you can. Using the foam roller helps to break up adhesions, scar tissue, and to continue to promote blood flow back to the tissues. Drink a glass a water after a solid 15 minute rolling session.

If you don't have a foam roller, you might consider making the investment. My personal 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 and you will never use anything else. I have long version for home use (black, firm), and a short version for travel (blue, soft).
My personal collection of *knobby* foam roller

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 a few tips for a better Ironman 70.3. 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.

These tips come from my own accumulated experience as a long-time age-grouper turned pro and Ironman Champion competing in 50+ 70.3s.

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 think 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 a family members bring you a protein shake immediately post race. I wrote a separate article on Ironman 70.3 recovery.

#3 - Get good sleep - The night before the race you probably won't sleep well. Don't sweat it, worrying about it will just make it harder to sleep. Instead focusing on quality of sleep in the days leading up to the race - especially the sleep two nights before the race. Do whatever it takes to create the proper sleeping environment for yourself. Take an extra day off of work if you can.

Rolling thru the corn fields
at one my favorite 70.3s
#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 two Ensures + a couple of 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.

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.

Personally, I like to put on the bottom first, and leave the torso exposed even longer. If it is sunny I try to stand in the shade.

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

#5 - If the water is really cold (ie below 62) - Try to get in and warm up. If that isn't allowed 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 when you do finally jump in.

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 this is likely the fastest way to do the race regardless of your fitness.

#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 be very high 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 carried away and blow your race.

#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, lets your core temperature fall, and your body absorb calories. Try incorporating strategic walking for 5-15 seconds per thru the aid station.

Did you know that Craig Alexandar walked sections of the Ironman Kona marathon when he set the course record? 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 temperature in check. Overheating the body is a sure way to slow your pace and make for a miserable run. Start the first 5k on the run below race pace.

You can help shed heat by 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 and dumping on to your head, neck, and shoulders.

#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 - you would be surprised by how much energy you get back from what you give.

#9 Enjoy the finish - There is such a special sense of accomplishment in finishing an Ironman 70.3 - take a few seconds to soak up the amazingly powerful drug that is Ironman 70.3. 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 time triathletes

Body glide is your friend

#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.

#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 in open-water is different than a pool.

#4 - Never make the race your first swim in a wetsuit - Wetsuits can be restrictive, both from a physical perspective but also psychologically. Get comfortable with your wetsuit by swimming in it prior to the race. Join an open water swim group or practice in the pool. If you don't have a wetsuit you should consider one, they make a big difference in terms of speed. Here is an article on some things to think about when purchasing a wetsuit