Clermont Florida Triathlon Training - Guide To Swim, Bike, Run - Cycling Orlando, FL

Strava Heatmap of Clermont FL
Swim, Bike, Run
Clermont Florida is a popular destination for active endurance athletes who like to participate in triathlon or swim, bike, and run. It is just 25 minutes from downtown Orlando and the Orlando International Airport (MCO). It is a popular training destination and camp for many professional athletes including track & field, rowing, wakeboarding, water skiing, golfing, fishing, motocross, and triathlon. Clermont isn't your typical pancake flat Florida and is quite rolling and it makes for some great riding. Beautiful spring fed lakes make for great open-water swimming and the famous Clay Trail make for great running.

Numerous athletes have made their homes in Clermont including track and field Olympians Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin. Gwen Jorgensen, winner of the 2016 Rio Olympics Triathlon gold medal was a frequent visitor to Clermont along with permanent triathlon residents Sarah Haskins, Alicia Kaye, and Jarrod Shoemaker.  Many other world champions including: Richard Murray, Andreas and Michael Raelert, Mario Mola, and Katie Zaferes have all made Clermont a frequent training place. Many amatuer triathlon teams and camps have also visited including QT2, Base, and AJ Baucco Coaching.

This guide is primarily focused on those that are coming to Clermont for triathlon but is also applicable to anyone just swimming, biking, or running. If you have something to add or notice an error (even grammatical) please leave a comment below.


Swimming Resources & Pools 

Swim - NTC Pool
NTC Swimming Pool
Long-Course Configuration (50M)

Clermont is home to the National Training Center (NTC) which features an oversized outdoor Olympic Pool (50m). The pool is typically heated in the winter to 80-81 degrees and features the automated Thor-Guard Lightning Detection system in the summer to handle objective pool closures and reopenings. The NTC has a day pass at the cost of $15. Cheaper options may be available for longer stays.

The pool has great hours on weekdays and is open to 8pm. On weekends the pool is only open to 4pm. There is always a lane available except for rare regional swim meets. The pool switches between long-course (50M) and short-course (25Y) depending on the day and time of year. Long-course has typically been Thursday - Sunday during the past few years and primarily only in the winter.


Swim - Open-Water - Lake Minneola

Waterfront Park
Open Water Swimming
Clermont is home to super clean and beautiful springfed lakes. While many triathlons have taken place at Lake Louisa State Park, people generally prefer (myself included) to swim at Lake Minneola in Downtown Clermont. Specifically people swim at Waterfront park. There is a set of 11 poles that is roughly 200 meters longs. The poles are an equal distance apart and allow for athletes to structure workouts in open water. Alternatively you can just swim around the poles for a continuous swim. The water depth at the poles is generally 5-6 feet deep. The water is very clear for a Florida lake but has a strong orange tint to it.

Water temps in the winter can vary widely but usually range from 60-75 degrees. Water can get colder for a brief period in January but is usually fairly mild otherwise. In the late spring, summer and fall, the water temp is between 78-88 degrees but the lake can get considerably hotter with no rain and plenty of sun.

You will find lots of kids and families swimming in early spring thru late fall. While the lake is not free of alligators, generally the city will remove any alligator once it reaches a certain size. With that being said, please swim at your own risk. Pros have generally worn wetsuits in Dec, Jan, and Feb. Here is a strava file of mine.

Open Water Swimming @
Waterfront Park, Clermont FL


Swim - Open Water - Lucky's Lake Swim

Lucky's Lake swim is another popular option that has a daily swim that is attended by many people of many levels. A waiver is required to be signed but it is free to all. The swim is 1k and takes place in the morning.


Running Resources 


Waterfront Park - Downtown Clermont - 330 3rd St, Clermont

The lakefront path stretches 5 miles west of downtown Clermont and you can run 14 miles east to Winter garden. Many athletes, do brick workouts and park at Waterfront park. There are 4 sets of water and toilets in and around the Clermont section of trail but outside of Clermont you are on your own. Here is a strava file of mine.

Waterfront Park Run


Clay Trail Loop - 5 min south of Clermont - Intersection of 5 Mile Rd & N Bradshaw Rd

Runners at the Clermont Clay
The famous Clay Trail is one of Clermont's best assets featuring a 9.3 mile loop on soft clay roads that was once all orange groves. The course is very rolling and challenging and can be a few degrees hotter than you expect on a sunny day.

The clay trail is frequented by many runners on Saturday and Sunday mornings if you are looking for company. Parking at the Clay trail is free but please be considerate of the land. There are no porta potties or water.

The trail is easy to follow. Going in a clockwise direction (keep taking right turns) it is impossible to get lost. The loop is 9.3 miles in total but there is more soft clay out there if you want to explore and extend the run. Here is a strava file of mine.

Clay Trail Run Loop



Lake Louisa State Park - 5 min south of Clermont - 7305 US-27, Clermont

Lake Louisa State Park offers a quiet peaceful place to run, either on the road or thru the trails. Open 8am to sundown, 365 days a year. $5 to enter whether on bike or by car. Here is a strava file from a runner.


Green Mountain Scenic Overlook Trail - 15 minutes northeast of Clermont - 20700 County Road 455, Minneola

Green Mountain Overlook Trail is another soft surface trail that is a popular spot for athletes in the area. Often times it is where people do their long runs. Expect to see Florida wildlife on this run. There is parking and facilities at the trailhead. Here is a strava file from a runner.

Green Mountain Trail


Clermont Park Run @ Lake Hiawatha Park - Downtown Clermont - 450 12th St, Clermont

Clermont Park Run is a weekly free 5k that is done every Saturday morning at 7:30am. You must register prior and complete a waiver and and bring your barcode in order to race. Registration is handled online only. The course starts and finishes at Lake Hiawatha Preserve, 450 N. Lake Minneola Shores, Clermont, FL 34711.


Cycling Resources

Bike - Ferndale - Montverde Loop 

The Ferndale loop is a popular loop for people all around the state to come ride. It is very rolling and is 12.5 miles around. In the dab smack middle is Sugar Loaf Mountain.

An easy way to access the Ferndale route is Waterfront park. Take the trail East until you get to your first stop and go light (Hancock Road). The trail splits and goes two different directions. Take a left on Hancock will take you north to the Ferndale loop. Take Hancock till it ends out in the country and take another left. You will be now be on the Ferndale loop going in a clockwise motion. Here is a strava file with a Ferndale loop in it. Alternatively you can also ride and do all other rides from the NTC.

Ferndale Loop

Bike - Centerhill 

Centerhill is an easy add on to the Ferndale loop ride and adds another 33 miles or so. You have a short ride on a busy SR-19 before turning on to a remote and rolling Dewey Robbins road. Then you have 1 mile stretch on US-27 before getting back on a nice quiet road and rolling into Centerhill where the is a Dollar General to refuel. A lot of people will ride intervals and park at the corner of Dewey Robbins and SR-19. There is also a church a few blocks away on SR-19. Here is a truncated strava file of mine.

Centerhill Ride



Bike - Van Fleet Trail - 72 miles round trip

The Van Fleet is a multi-use path that goes thru the heart of the green swamp and is pancake flat. You are likely to see plenty of wildlife on this ride including alligators, snakes, and many turtles. There is easy access to the start of the Van Fleet just 12 miles west of Clermont and right off Highway 50. The trail is highly shaded in many parts and makes a great place to beat the summer heat.

There are bathrooms, water and parking at the trailhead start. Heading south, it is about 10 miles to the next bathroom and benches but there is no water there. It is another 10 miles south to the next bathroom, benches and water. Then it is further 14 miles to the end where there is a bathroom, benches, and water. There is also a couple of convenience stores just another 1/2 mile away if you need something additional.

Van Fleet Trail


Bike - Winter Garden Coffee Ride

Park at Waterfront Park in downtown Clermont and ride to Winter Garden to enjoy some coffee at Axum Coffee. You can take a multi-use path trail the entire way. Route is about 26 miles. This is ride does have quite a few stop signs and makes a great recovery ride.

 Clermont - Winter Garden Coffee Ride



Bike - Sugarloaf Mountain

Riders ride up Sugarloaf mountain
Sugarloaf is the highest point in Florida and the closest thing we have to a mountain. A lot of athletes will do intervals out there. Like many Clermont rides you can park at Waterfront park or the NTC and take the trail system out to the country or use the bike lanes too. People also park out at Sugarloaf but please be considerate of those who live out there. There is a family at the top of the hill that provides water to athletes via a small water station.

The following ride file is from some intervals I did with the Base camp at Sugarloaf and leaving from the backside parking lot at the NTC.

Riding out to Sugarloaf
 from the NTC

Bike - Lake Louisa State Park

Many people will bike at Lake Louisa state park. The cost is $5 to enter and there are a lot of other activities you can do as well. The park itself is quiet and the roads are in great shape. You will be limited to loops of about 10 miles.


Events - Triathlon, Running and Endurance Events

Clermont is home to quite a few triathlons, swims, bikes, runs, aquathlons including:

- Florida Ultraman
- The Great Floridian
- Cool Summer Mornings Triathlon Series
- Girlz on Fire Triathlon
- Great Clermont Triathlon
- Lake Minneola Sunset Triathlon
- Clermont Splash n' Dash Aquathon Series
- Clermont Clay - 15k & 5K


Triathlon Camps Clermont (Jan-March)

- QT2
- AJ Baucco Coaching
- Base


Other Resources

The following are some resources that you might enjoy while in the Clermont Area

Pool Swim - NTC National Training Center - Clermont FL right off 50

Mobile Bike Shop - JPR Mobile Services - He comes to you

Bike Shop - Winter Garden Wheel Works - Downtown Winter Garden FL

Bike Shop & Coffee Bar Epic Cycles - Downtown Clermont FL

Triathlon Run Shop - Dash Sports -  Downtown Clermont Fl

Chiropractic - Dr. Sorchy (works with a majority of the athletes in town) - Clermont FL right off 50

Sports Massage - Maria Arrendondo - Maria give amazing sports massages and has travelled as a staff masseuse with team Australia. Originally from Columbia, Maria has worked on many World Champions and Olympic Gold medalists.

FoodLucky's Market - No Whole Foods but we have a Lucky's Market with lots of healthy eats. Makes for an easy stop either going to or leaving the NTC.

Cortisone Shot for Runners with Plantar Fasciitis Heel Pain

Should you get a cortisone shot for plantar fasciitis heel pain? The short answer for most is no. While it is true that cortisone shots can temporarily remove inflammation and pain associated with an acute injury like plantar fasciitis, the reality is the often times cortisone shots do more harm than good. Research has been shown that cortisone shots can actually permanently weaken the tendon leading to reinjury and even worse, complete tearing.

Often times people with plantar fasciitis are desperate to fix it. In my experience it is usually runners I hear from, whose only outlet is running, and they can't stand not being able to run. The reality is that plantar fasciitis is an injury and your body produces pain and inflammation to protect itself. Masking pain is rarely a good idea because it gives us a false sense that a hurt is now healed. Getting a cortisone shot is just ignoring what your body is telling you. You need to stop doing whatever you are doing that makes it hurt and focus on letting the body heal itself

A better approach would be to stop worry about getting back to running and focus on what you can do. Find a pool and do some swimming or jump on spin bike / peloton. Find something that doesn't aggravate it as much as running. Plantar fasciitis can be a very nasty injury, especially if you have never had an injury before. Don't be surprised if it takes 3, 6, or even 12 months to heal. I will write a separate article about how I have healed from my own plantar fasciitis but in the meantime here are few things that may help:

Foot exercises designed to strengthen your feet
to both heal and prevent reinjury of plantar
picking up stones with your foot 

is a great exercise regardless
of whether you are injured or not
Heating pad - I liked to use a heating pad to heat the area. This can be done in the morning before getting out of bed when your foot is extra stiff or at night as you are winding down and watching tv, reading etc. In my experience ice is not as effective. Part of the goal of plantar is keep it relaxed, loose, and supple.

Buy Irregular marbles / stones - the best thing you can do is start to strengthen and rehabilitate your foot. Buy a set of marbles and stones, slightly irregular is better and dump them on the floor. One by one pick them up with your feet / toes and place them into a container. I like to do this twice a day for 5 minutes.

Foot Log Massage Roller - the following is a foot log backed by a simple money back guarantee. Buy two, carry it with you and put one under your bed. Before ever placing your foot on the ground from either sleeping or sitting, make sure you gently roll your plantar for a few minutes to warm it up and lighty break up any scar tissue without causing significant acute stress that you would get from getting up and standing on it. A soup can works too.

Plantar Fascitis Boot - the boot can be a great device that keeps the calf /achilles / plantar slightly stretched at night. Don't be surprised if you wake up and you removed the boot in your sleep. This can be especially important device for anyone that sleeps on their stomach and keeps their toes essentially pointed

Strassburg sock - same idea as the boot but in slightly less bulky design


Best Iron Supplement for Anemia & Low Ferritin Levels

The best iron supplement for low ferritin levels is going depend on each specific athlete and their nutrition views. Many smart and experienced people would say that eating a diet rich in foods, that provide good sources of iron, is the best way to raise your iron and ferritin levels. Some of those foods include meat while other include nuts, seeds, legumes, and vegetables.

Others might say that taking a heme form of iron is the quickest and most effective way of increasing your iron and ferritin levels. Keep in mind that heme iron supplements are derived from animals. Others that don't consume animals products might suggest a non-heme form of iron.

What I can say is that as a professional athlete I have had my blood tested numerous times to optimize my blood and my body for athletic performance. I use a super simple service called Athlete Blood Test to do this and here is a link to all my blood work posts where I post my actual iron test results, ferritin test results, and all my other blood biomarkers (testosterone, thyroid, you name it).

Heme IronGrass Fed Beef Liver
As you can see from those tests, I have been low on iron a few times and have used various supplements to increase my iron, sometimes almost too well. Too high of iron level can be just as bad or worse than too low so make sure if you take a lot of supplements to get your blood checked periodically. Regardless here are a few of my favorite iron sources that have proven to raise my own iron and ferritin levels effectively.

Heme Iron Supplement Recommendations - animal-based supplement, typically much more expensive but offers better bioavailability and is absorbed better to potentially raise levels faster.

- Proferrin ES Heme Iron Polypeptide
Ancestral Supplements Grass Fed Beef Liver

Non-Heme Iron Supplement Recommendations - basic iron supplements not derived from animals. Less expensive but typically not absorbed as well heme iron.

- Amazon Elements Iron
- Nature's Made Iron

Iron Rich Foods


Best Swim Goggles For Triathlon Swimming

Best Swim Goggles
for Triathletes
The BEST swim goggles for triathletes are going to depend on the specific athlete, their specific face and the specific swim venue that they will be swimming at. One best pair of goggles that works for one athlete may not work at all for another athlete as each goggle has a specific fit.

As an uber-geeky and long-time professional athlete, that was also an adult onset swimmer, I have formed some strong opinions in terms of what you want in a goggles. These opinions have been formed using 40+ different pair of goggles from many different companies including: TYR, Speedo, Roka, BlueSeventy, Aquasphere, Swedes, and many more.

If you know me, you know I am a huge fan of cheap things, but cheap goggles is not one of my things. You want goggles that make swimming as enjoyable as possible. Many triathletes struggle to swim enough and bad goggles are just one more road block to more swimming.

Universal Basic Features I Require

The following are basic featureas I require for all my goggles:

- Soft gaskets that won't leave deep marks around your eyes and hurt
- Slim profile with good suction that won't fall off your face with the push off the wall
- Durable
- Won't leak
- Won't fog easily
- Good and easy adjustability 

Lens Options

Then there are some basic features of swim goggles that are situational. Not every lens is the right lens for every particular situation. Each lens has a purpose.

Mirror Lens of the Aquasphere Cayenne
Mirrored lenses - Mirrored lens swim goggles are best for swimming outside at the pool or in a race when you are swimming into the sun. However, mirrored lenses tend to be the least durable lenses and often times require frequent replacing.

Clear lenses - Clear lens swim goggles are best for low light visibility days, early morning racing, and night swims. Everyone needs a pair of clear googles.

Polarized lenses - Polarized lenses offer some of the benefits of mirrored lens in helping cut glare from the sun. They also allow me to see buoys more clearly and have the benefit of being more durable than mirrored lenses. You won't have to replace polarized lenses as often as mirrored.

Tinted lenses - I prefer to have polarized or mirrored glasses over tinted, but tinted work fine too. They are more affordable and still can meet all my other basic requirements. The idea is they bring down the level of light just like sunglasses.

Goggle Recommendations

Here are my top goggle recommendations. Keep in mind, I am actually sponsored by BlueSeventy. You can save 20% off all BlueSeventy products with discount coupon code: Gerlach2020. In my experience both personally, and talking to others, these are the goggles that work for the most amount of people and is a good place to start your goggle search. Many people with smaller faces will benefit from the small-fit version of goggles. Personally, my preference is for small fit goggles but I am definitely a tweener.

Aquasphere Cayenne Swim Goggles - This is hands down my all-time favorite goggle. First the field of vision is larger than most goggles but without being overly bulky. The field of vision is specifically helpful in open water when trying to site buoys. They come in mirrored, polarized, clear, and small-fit frames. Personally the small-fit frames are the perfect size for my face and is a big part of why this is my go to goggle.


TYR Special Ops Swim Goggles - Great goggles that come in variety of lenses and colors. Super soft gaskets that are durable. Come in a women's fit too.

TYR Special Ops

BlueSeventy HydroVision Swim Goggles - Comes in polarized and mirrored lenses that offer crystal clear vision. Great durability and easy adjustability. My only wish is they made this in a small fit version.
BlueSeventy Hydra Vision

Summary

Anyone that definitively says their goggle is the best is full of it. There is no one goggle that is best for everyone. Spend some time and money trying out different goggles and find what fits your face best. The best fitting goggle will often be the best goggle for you. Here are links to the following goggles that I recommend.

- BlueSeventy Hydra - Clear
- BlueSeventy Hydra - Smoke Tint
- BlueSeventy Hydra - Mirrored
- BlueSeventy Hydra - Polarized 

- TYR Special Ops - Polarized
- TYR Special Ops - Clear Transition
TYR Special Ops - Women's Fit Clear
TYR Special Ops - Women's Fit Polarized

Aquasphere Kayenne - Clear
Aquasphere Kayenne - Polarized
- Aquasphere Kayenne - Mirrored
Aquasphere Kayenne - Smoke Tint

Aquasphere Kayenne Small Fit - Clear
Aquasphere Kayenne Small Fit - Polarized
Aquasphere Kayenne Small Fit - Mirrored
Aquasphere Kayenne Small Fit - Smoke Tint