Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Again: Some of you have been asking me about my schedule here it is!

Tentative Race Schedule
Here it is....2007 Race Schedule -

April 28: (Saturday) UW-L Coulee Duathlon- Out of town
May 5: (Saturday) St. Claire Health Mission Half-Marathon - Out of town
May 27: (Sunday) Mad-City Half-Marathon, Madison, WI ?????
June 2: (Saturday) Table Rock 5k West Salem WI
June 3: (Sunday) June Dairy Day Bike ride 62 miles West Salem, WI
June 10: (Sunday) Got Energy Triathlon (Olympic Distance), West Salem, WI
June 16: (Saturday) Grandma’s Half-Marathon, Duluth, MN
June 24: (Sunday) High Cliff Half-Ironman, Appleton, WI
June 30: (Saturday) B. P time trial Onalaska WI
July 7: (Saturday) Chileda Classic (10K Run), LaCrosse, WI

July 14: (Saturday) Lake Geode Triathlon (Olympic Distance), Burlington, IA
July 21: (Saturday) Castle Rock Triathlon (Sprint Distance), Adams, WI
July 22: (Sunday) Spirit of Racine Half-Ironman, Racine, WI
July 29 (Sunday) Chisago City Half Ironman Chisago MN
August 12: (Sunday) Oshkosh Olympic Triathlon
August 26: (Sunday) Ironman Louisville, KY
September 16: (Sunday) Tri-Quest (run-bike-golf) Maybe : )
September 23 (Sunday) Irongirl Bloomington Duathlon MN
September 29: (Saturday) Maple Leaf Races (5 mile run)
October 6: (Saturday) Dam Challenge (canoe-bike-run), LaFarge, WI
November 3: (Saturday) Ironman Florida

A little Note: The best thing about doing races like this, I can travel all over, do what I love to do, and have both my boys with me at all the races, unless it doesn't fall on my weekend! :)

Always Remember "Life is GOOD/GREAT and it is what you make it"!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Speedwork in Disquise

We demand our muscles to perform at a rate for which they are not conditioned. The truth is, our bodies can't supply the blood and oxygen that our hip flexors require to meet certain demands. Have you neglected working regular hill drills into your routine? Do you do them but don't know why? Do you vary the type of workouts you do? How do you approach the hill?
One of the most famous proponents of hill training is Olympic coach Arthur Lydiard. His hill circuit training requires the athlete to bound (focus on horizontal motion) or leap (focus on vertical motion) up the hill. Lydiard concentrated a great deal on hill running form to promote efficiency. Driving the knees, for example, is one aspect on which to focus -- as well as toeing-off and slapping the heel to the buttocks.
When done at a slower pace, a runner can focus more on technique and may actually feel more soreness than they expect from drill-like repeats. Consider a weight routine in which you are lifting and lowering the weight more slowly -- it hurts more. Gravity is our resistance on the hills.
The first cycle of hill workouts in Lydiard's ideal season is geared towards strength. It consists of 6-8 repeats on a 1,000-meter moderate incline. As the season progresses and the focus changes to explosive speed, the repeats increase to 8-10 and the length of the hill shrinks to 275 meters. The stride down the hill is always fast but in control.
Before the next hill repeat, Lydiard had his runners run about 250 meters at between 800 and 1,600 pace. For Lydiard, who primarily trained track athletes, hill workouts focused on building mileage after the base phase. However, incorporating hills throughout the season proves an effective way to improve efficiency without peaking too early.
Speed up
According to Stacy Osborne, an avid runner and podiatrist in the Cincinnati area, many of us don't address our biomechanics, one of the most controllable aspects of our training and keys to improvement. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the leg on the ground that's primarily responsible for generating the power for forward velocity.
Rather, it's the non-weight-bearing leg -- the leg in the swing phase -- that generates momentum by creating a tug on the runner's center of gravity as it swings forward. The foot on the ground acts as a lever, and the runner is thus propelled forward. Those muscles responsible for this power stroke, the key hip flexors, are the illiacus, psoas major and psoas minor. These are also some of the most important muscles for cyclists, recruited during the pulling-up phase.
One of the best ways to strengthen those hip flexors and improve the power of our swing phase is with hill repeats. As we gain strength, our chances of getting injured are diminished, and we gain mental confidence. Once you've done 15 X 2:00 of a steep hill, 1:00 climbing a similar incline in a race will look like a mole hill. This is because running hills improves speed.
Your effort increases as you run up a hill, even if you reduce your pace. So, in a race, the best way to run a hill is to maintain effort and forget about pace while on the hill -- even effort is the surest route to a faster time. Trying to maintain pace on the hill is like surging and varying the body's perceived effort, which will only tire you prematurely in the long run.

How else can you build tireless, feisty, power strokes using hill workouts? One way to maintain volume is to do hill fartleks (Swedish for "speed play"). Pick a course with hills and focus on surging up the hills. If you're doing strict hill repeats, try varying the pace. For example, if you are doing four sets of three hills, do the first at 5k pace and the second at 10k pace.
Focus on slow and exaggerated form on the third hill. Instead of varying the pace at which you run, you can vary the hill lengths themselves. If you are working in a group, pair up and run them like a relay such that your rest depends on how long it takes your partner to get up and down the hill.
Should you decide to run hills by time (i.e. 90 seconds on five hills), mark how far you get each time with a rock or little flag. Try to reach or beat that landmark each repeat. It is also good practice to try to surge over and past the crest of the hill.
The mental factor determines how well we run on hills. Many of us see hill repeats as an opportunity to practice conquering or attacking the hill. One tactic is to approach the hill as a friend rather than foe.
Another helpful piece of imagery is to imagine strings attached to your hands -- and the string ends tied to a point at the top of the hill. As you pump your arms and thrust your elbows behind you, imagine the strings providing you leverage to pull yourself up more easily. You don't have to turn your mind off to escape negative, self-defeating talk; instead, recruit your mind to help you.
As runners, triathletes need to recognize the importance of strengthening our hip flexor muscles. Strong flexors help us maintain a grueling pace, attack a hill, kick with speed on the flats, and protect our bodies from injury. They are an integral piece of training year-round and, with variation, can make us more efficient runners and cyclists.

By Amanda McCracken For Active.com

Go ahead, be king of the hill!

MMMMmmmm good!

The pre-race meal

By Matt FitzgeraldFor Active.com

Every meal is important, but no meal is more important than the one before a race. Choosing the wrong foods, eating too much or too little, or eating at the wrong time can affect your performance and possibly ruin your race, or at least make your performance less than optimal. Eating the right pre-race meal at the right time ensures that all your hard training doesn't go to waste.
The main purpose of the pre-race meal is to fill your liver with glycogen, especially if it precedes a morning race. Liver glycogen fuels your nervous system while you sleep, and as a result, your liver is roughly 50 percent glycogen-depleted when you wake up in the morning. Your muscles, inactive during the night, remain fully glycogen loaded from the previous day.
Timing is perhaps the most important consideration. The ideal time for a pre-race meal is about four hours before the race, because it's early enough to digest and store a large amount of energy (i.e. a large number of calories), yet late enough that this energy won't be used up by race time.
Most running races start early in the morning, and since sleep is also important, it's often impossible to eat a full breakfast four hours before the horn sounds. That's okay. It's usually possible to eat at least two hours out. While you won't safely be able to eat as much this close to race time, you can still eat enough.
The appropriate size of your pre-race meal depends on three factors: the duration of your race, your size and the timing of the meal. The longer the race you're competing in and the heavier you are, the larger your pre-race meal should be. The closer your pre-race meal falls to the race start, the smaller it must be. If you're able to eat four hours out, you can safely consume up to 1,000 calories. If you eat just two hours before the start, eat a smaller meal of 300 to 400 calories.
What to eat
At least 80 percent of the calories you consume in your pre-race meal should come from carbohydrates. Keep your protein, and especially your fat and fiber consumption low. These nutrients take up space that are better utilized by carbohydrate. Also avoid gas-producing foods such as onions.
The types of carbohydrate are not important. While some studies have shown a performance benefit associated with eating a low-glycemic index (GI) meal rather than a high-GI meal before exercise, these meals were eaten just 30 minutes before exercise (the worst possible time for a high-GI meal, because blood glucose levels tend to decrease about 30 minutes after a high-GI meal). Recall that in a high-GI meal, carbohydrates enter the bloodstream very quickly, whereas in a low-GI meal, carbs enter the bloodstream at a lower rate.) In studies involving a more sensibly timed pre-exercise meal, the glycemic index of the meal has had no effect on performance.
Choose foods and drinks that are not only easily-digested, but also easily-consumed -- especially if you're prone to nervousness. Few athletes have their usual hearty appetite on race mornings, but the butterflies in their stomach usually permit consumption of soft, bland foods such as oatmeal and bananas.
A liquid meal such as a breakfast shake is another good choice, as long as it's high in carbohydrate and low in protein, fat and fiber. If you don't have a ritual pre-race meal, try various options and pay careful attention to the results. As with your pre-race dinner, once you've settled upon a pre-race breakfast that works well, stick with it.
Here are my choices for the five best foods to eat (or drink) before a race:
BagelA bagel makes an excellent pre-race breakfast food, not only because it's rich in carbohydrate, bland and easily-digested, but also because it's something many runners eat for breakfast routinely, hence familiar. Eat it dry or top it with something low in fat such as a light smearing of reduced fat cream cheese.
BananaBananas are almost all carbohydrate. A large banana contains more than 30 grams of carbohydrate, just one gram of protein and no fat whatsoever. Bananas are also high in potassium (400 mg), which is lost in sweat during running. As mentioned above, their softness and light taste make them easy to consume even with pre-race nerves, and their natural "wrapper" makes them handy for eating on the road.
Energy BarEnergy bars such as PowerBar and ClifBar are made to be eaten before exercise. Most are very high in carbohydrates and low in fiber, fat and protein. The better bars also contain useful amounts of sodium, potassium and the antioxidant vitamins C and E. A cappuccino flavor PowerBar, for example, contains 45 g of carbohydrate, 110 mg each of sodium and potassium, 35 percent of the recommended daily allowance of magnesium and 100 percent of the RDA of vitamins C and E.
There's a huge variety of energy bars on the market -- some are better than others. Choose one that's close to the PowerBar formula I just outlined. Avoid the high-protein, low-carb bars that have become popular in recent years. The advantage of the wide selection of bars on the market is that it's easy to find one you like and can eat without unpleasantness before a race. Pay attention to texture too. Some bars are very chewy, and for some runners (myself included) eating chewy foods tends to exacerbate the stomach churning that's associated with pre-race nervousness.
Meal Replacement ShakeI drink one or two meal replacement shakes before almost every race. Brands such as Boost and Ensure have a nearly perfect nutrition profile, they take care of energy and hydration needs, they're super-convenient, and nothing is easier to consume before a race -- even if you're extremely anxious. And they taste good.
Ensure, for example, delivers a whopping 250 calories of energy in a little eight-ounce can, including 40 grams of carbohydrate. The one downside to these beverages is their efficiency. By providing so much nutrition in such little volume, they are not as filling as solid foods and can actually leave you feeling hungry in the middle of a marathon if you rely on them solely.
In the same general category as meal replacement shakes are performance recovery drinks including Endurox R4 and Ultragen. They are normally used immediately after exercise, but they can also be used for the purpose of pre-race fueling. They are sold as powders that you mix with water. Because these drinks are slightly more diluted than meal replacement drinks, they do an even better job of hydrating and fueling simultaneously.
OatmealLike bananas, oatmeal is almost pure carbohydrate, plus soft and light in taste. It is also the most filling food among the five best pre-race foods, which is good for those wanting something substantial in their belly before they head out to burn a few thousand calories. Some runners also prefer to eat a real breakfast food for breakfast, and oatmeal certainly provides that.
Oatmeal requires preparation that can be more challenging on the road than at home. If your hotel room has a microwave oven, you're all set as long as you've brought some kind of bowl with you. If there's no microwave oven, you can use the coffee maker to heat water.
There are so many factors we must think about before a big race. Following these guidelines can help you deal with one of the most important elements

Monday, May 21, 2007

Friday, May 18, 2007

Will Having a “Long Stroke” Help in Triathlon Swimming?

There is some debate going on in the triathlon world about whether it is important to have a long stroke in freestyle, and if so, how can this be developed?Being long means extending your arm and gliding with each arm stroke. It also means getting more out of your stroke while saving energy (ideal for triathletes).Don't get me wrong, you can achieve a lot with a shorter stroke- in fact you could go very fast this way. However, for most people, especially the beginner crowd, this stroke is just not efficient enough to allow them to swim 1/2-1 mile, and still have a good amount of energy to tackle 20-40 miles on the bike, and an additional 5-10 mile run.
Very True!
The mistake people make is comparing competitive pool swimmers who swim 50, 100, 200, or 400 meters as either an all out sprint or a controlled sprint, to triathletes who swim much further and have to complete a race lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to 10 hours!Here are some ways to achieve a longer, more fluid, more efficient freestyle:

1. Practice Kicking on Your Side. This will improve your balance in the water and aid in your ability to extend and glide. By all means use fins! I recommend getting a pair of Zoomers from Finis, which will help your swim in so many ways.

2. Count Your Strokes. Start by just keeping track of how many strokes you take per length when you swim. Then, begin to work on ways to lower this stroke count. Hint: Do not just kick harder to achieve a lower count! This defeats the purpose of the drill.

3. Play Golf. Well not really golf like the game the Scottish invented. Free golf! Do a set of 6x50's. Count your strokes, and for each 50, lower your stroke count. Also, keep track of your time on these. Maintain your pace as you drop the number of strokes you are taking for each 50.

4. Swim With Your Fists. Alternate a few lengths of swimming with your hands clenched in fists, with 1 or 2 lengths of open-handed swimming. This will force you to use your hips more as you swim, and you will not be able to "muscle" through the water.

5. Use This Paddle. Ok, I've been hard on paddles in the past. But the Freestyler (also by Finis) is different- it actually forces you to do proper hand entry, glide, and pull. Also, they do not cause shoulder problems. Use these for a long swim and then take them off for a few lengths. You will be amazed at how fluid you will feel! More details to come in the next issue on how you can get a discount on a pair of these stroke-improving paddles.While you may not ever become a top-notch freestyle sprinter, learning how to lengthen your freestyle will pay off as a faster, more fun overall triathlon.

Now that you have read this think about how much room you don't have in an Ironman when you are in the middle of the washer machine (the pack) unless you are in the front or in the back!

Remember what your goals are, they might not be the same as others, on that note they shouldn't be you are an individual, you make it what it is!

I hear this a lot!

Overwhelmingly, when I talk to triathletes and aspiring triathletes, I hear a similar theme when it comes to their view on swimming. It usually goes something like this:"I could to a triathlon, if it weren't for the swim!"or"My training is going well- except for my swimming- I'm just not getting any better!"or "I love doing triathlons, but I hate the swimming part!"If you've thought or said anything like the quotes above, the first thing you need to do is change your attitude!Admittedly, swimming is the most difficult part of triathlon in terms of technique and learning curve. It takes a lot of practice and drill work to get from beginner to competent open water swimmer.Most triathletes just want to work out hard and see the results in their race. Swimming starts to be looked at as a thorn in their side because it is much more complicated than just putting out more effort or adding distance.In order to succeed in swimming, and to fully enjoy the sport of triathlon, you must let go of these negative thoughts! There is no room for holding on to the beliefs that will hold you back.If you continually say that you "hate" swimming, you will dread going to the pool, and you will show up to your race with all kinds of uncertainty- and your chances of success will be slim!On the other hand, if you can train yourself to actually enjoy the swim, success will be yours!

Try these tips to turn yourself around and get the most out of your triathlon:

1. If you're using the word "hate" around swimming, drop it! Hate is a powerful word, and the more you say it, the more your brain will prevent you from being successful in the water, and it will make it pretty tough to ever enjoy the process!

2. It's not a destination! It's a journey! Yes, it's a cheesy, sometimes overused expression. But keep it in mind with swimming. You will grow as an athlete and as a person while you spend time doing your drills and improving your stroke.

3. Set reasonable goals and reward yourself. Don't think that because your race requires you to swim 1 kilometer, you have to do that distance on your first workout. Instead, set attainable goals for each swim workout (or each week of your training). The first few weeks it may be just working on one drill until it feels comfortable. Later, you may need to add 100 yards to each
workout. Make sure that you recognize your accomplishments, even the ones that seems small!

4. Realize that you are not a "bad swimmer". Nor do you "suck at swimming". You are a good swimmer that just has not realized your potential yet! Do all the right things and in time, you will see massive improvements. The physical part of training is easy. This is why many triathletes get tripped up in the swim- it goes far beyond cranking out hard workouts to improve.Improve your mental outlook and the way you look at the swim, and you will be amazed at the progress you make- and the FUN you will have along the way!


"If we all did the things we are capable of,we would astound ourselves."-Thomas Edison

Monday, May 14, 2007

Starting May 12th, it is "National Bike to Work Week." What a great time to promote physical fitness then showing your co-workers how dedicated of an athlete you are. So put that car in park, buy some extra bike tires and get out and bike. Oh yeah, you might even save some money since gas is now $3.15/gal.

Also, Tues May 15th is "National Boycott the gas Station Day."


Happy Training!