Thursday, May 28, 2009

Top Ten List to Save Your Legs (part two)

This is the second part of a piece centered around saving your legs for race day.

6) Map out your "game plan" prior to the start of the race. Knowing exactly what you're capable of racing will afford you the luxury of mapping out your splits for the crucial first two miles of the race. THE NUMBER- ONE MISTAKE MADE BY AMERICAN FOOT RACERS IS TO SURGE OUT TOO QUICKLY OVER THE FIRST PORTION OF THE COURSE. Running the first mile 30 - 45 seconds faster than your targeted pace can bring a whole world of hurt to your unsuspecting body over the latter part of the race. So, take it easy over the first part of the race, especially the first half mile. Your goal should be to negative split, to run the second half of the race faster than the first half. Sadly, most folks do the opposite.

7) Position yourself in the appropriate pace group on the starting line. The folks up front are trying to win the race and most of us have no business hanging out in their neighborhood. If it's hot (above 60-70 degrees), adjust your game plan by lining up farther back and slowing up your pace a bit.

8) Take advantage of the DOWNHILLS along the course by leaning forward and opening up your stride length. Folks like to complain about the uphills, more challenging on some courses than others, but so many of them miss the opportunity to make up loads of time taking advantage of the descents.

9) After you finish, cool down with a half mile (or so) easy jog, so as to reduce the risk of post race sore legs. During this light jog, celebrate your racing accomplishment. You have just conquered the course...and done it all before sitting down to breakfast.

10) Proper post race recovery is on of the most neglected facets of a runners road map. In the days (and week/weeks(?)) following the race, keep your running to a minimum, no more than 2-5 miles at a time, so as to avoid injury (the whole point of all of these blogs) and to allow your body and mind to feel refreshed again for your next big challenge, whatever that may be.

Thanks again to Mark Lorenzoni

Monday, May 25, 2009

Top Ten List to Save Your Legs (part one)

"The road is long, with many a winding turn." The Hollies

It's a week before your first ten mile (or 10K)race of the season. Here are ten tips to guide you to a successful finish. (Secondary to space limitations, I'll post 5 today and the other 5 mid week.)

1) During the week of the race never run any mileage on a given day, that goes beyond the number of days it is prior to the race. In other words, on Tuesday, four days before the race, your run shouldn't exceed four miles.

2) Staying off your feet as much as practical the day before the race, in addition to the above, will approximate a taper and give you fresh legs on race morning. Being cognizant of previous race related injuries from anything that could have been avoided/corrected can save you from repeating a similar process.

3) If possible, pick up your race packet containing your timing chip, race number, etc. the day before the race so as to avoid the stress of worrying and standing in line minutes before the race starts. (The years I've raced Ironman Hawaii, I always tried to be the very first one in the registration line of all 1800 competitors. But it wasn't easy beating course record holder Bob Scott to the head of the line!)

4) Never try anything "new" the evening before or the morning of the race. Your body thrives on familiarity and nothing warms the sole (pun intended) like "routine."

5) Do not grossly overdress on race morning. Joe Friel says to, "Slightly overdress for the weather conditions that greet you on race morning...and it assists you with the warm-up." A good runner's rule of thumb is that you, after only ten minutes of running, will feel 15 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. So, unless temperatures aren't predicted to get out of the low-mid 40's, try to avoid tights, long sleeve shirts and wind jackets.

Part 2 mid week. Thanks to Mark Lorenzoni for the above.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Camel You're Not

"I've got dozens of friends, and the fun never ends, that is as long as I'm buying." Styx

Dehydration - At mile 95 in the 2004 Ironman Hawaii, I was forced to stop(OMG) at the aid station. It was either get off my bike or fall off. I was terribly dehydrated. My pre-race refueling plan proved far from adequate.

In the early years of Ironman racing each athlete was weighed at predetermined intervals on the course to prevent this problem. As I entered the tent I inquired about the presence of a physician or a scale...maybe even just a blood pressure cuff. Although none were available, a kind nurse from Kona General Hospital operating room named Alice was and she quickly became familiar with the problem and it's solution.

Not infrequently an endurance athlete's GI tract shuts down and oral fluid intake is inadequate requiring intravenous rehydration. These athletes might best consider finishing the contest on another day. It wasn't too many years ago that scads of folks, with perfectly functioning GI systems would slide into the medical tent for, "My I.V." acting more out of bravado than common sense. Know anybody like that?

Alice saw to it that over the course of 30 minutes (you don't have to finish until midnight...but you do have to finish) that I had sips of cool water and Gatorade, probably over a liter, and I was raring to go. Alii Drive here I come. Well, in a few hours anyway.

So, how do you beat the heat? To me the obvious answer should be well before the race starts. Training Bible coach David Warden did an excellent piece on recently about heat acclimation. Couple that with a well thought out race plan that's tailored to your needs, not someone else's, and you're off to a good start. During the event, it's critical to listen to your body. One of the skills that got you into triathlon is your ability to suffer and keep going, a talent better mastered by some than others. But, if you feel nauseated, light headed, etc. you may be having hydration issues and be overheating. Start your race "topped off," teaches coach Troy Jacobsen as he has his athletes simply walk around with a sports drink in the hour before race start sipping. We're learning more about sodium metabolism and hyponatremia so the jury's still out here. Pee right before the gun goes off and you're set.

How about light colored clothing? Get used to wearing a breathable mesh hat. Summer training runs might best be accomplished before 9 a.m. unless specifically planning shorter events for heat acclimation.

Although Danish TdF cyclist and Polka Dot Jersey winner Mikel Rassmusen refuses to carry fluids if climbing, you do. Happy Drinking!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Race Day Readiness-All You Have To Do Is Think

"He was a Midwestern boy on his own. She looked at him with those soft eyes, so innocent and blue. He knew right then he was too far from home." Bob Seger

We've travelled to our first out of town tri of the year and our goal is to be relaxed at the start of the race. We've come from different backgrounds be it former runner, biker, swimmer, other, and we may have extensive experience in our sport but now we're adding two other disciplines - 3 if you count the transitions - which you should.

Our preparation begins weeks before the event. Race entry, lodging, taper (if planned), get bike inspected by local bike shop for whatever we may have overlooked. (Although some feel this both unnecessary and a waste of money, I always have my bike inspected by someone else - another pair of eyes, another pair of hands, and I've never had a bike related issue on race day! How do you feel when passing another athlete a mile into the bike portion of the local race when he/she is at the side of the road addressing some tire or chain issue that might have been preventable? Please, learn from their misfortune.

One week ahead, start piling the items you'll need in a heap in your bedroom - using your checklist and review the list a couple times before leaving the house. Practice your transitions. Practice them again, even if you feel foolish in your wetsuit in your front yard, repetition is an invaluable friend on race day.

The day before the race is an ideal time, particularly at the same time of day as the race to swim a couple hundred on the planned race course (with a buddy), ride easily along the bike portion, get a feel for the area so it's not new with the rising sun. Think about the conditions, the sun, wind, etc.

On race day you're up early, pre-race meal (previously practiced before hard workouts) and an early arrival at the race for a short bike and short run before body marking and bike inspection. Check out the competitions equipment, learn something, set up your transition area and then walk through the entrance and exit of T1/T2 so you know it by heart. A warm up swim, final pee, yes, even in a wetsuit, head to the swim starting area and relax. Think about your pre-swim goal, appropriate line up're prepared for everything. THE GUN! Early adrenaline, relax you've got two more sports.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Triathlon Humor - It's Hot

Not all blogs are intended to be serious training or injury assistance. Sometimes we just need to sit back and laugh. A friend from Texas sent this.

Texas Chili Cook Off

Cinco de Mayo

Notes from an inexperienced chili taster named Frank, who was visiting Texas from the East coast.
Recently I was honored to be chosen as a judge at a chili cook off....because no one else wanted to do it. Also, the original person called in sick at the last moment, and I happened to be be there standing at the judge's table asking for directions to the beer wagon when the call came. I was assured by the other two judges (native Texans) that the chili wouldn't be all that spicy, and besides, they told me that I could have free beer during the tasting. So, I accepted.

Here are the scorecards from the event:


JUDGE ONE: A little heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick.
JUDGE TWO: Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.

FRANK: Holy s***, what is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway with this stuff. I needed two beers to put the flames out. Hope that's the worst one. Those Texans are crazy.


JUDGE ONE: Smokey, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeno tang.
JUDGE TWO: Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.

FRANK: Keep this out of reach of children. I am not sure what I am supposed to taste besides pain. I have had to wave two people off who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to walkie-talkie in three extra beers when they saw the look on my face.


JUDGE ONE: Excellent Firehouse chili! Great kick. Needs more beans.
JUDGE TWO: A bean less chili. A bit salty. Good use of red peppers.

FRANK: Call the EPA, I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I've been snorting Drano. Everyone knows my routine by now. Barmaid pounded me on the back; now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I'm getting drunk.


JUDGE ONE: Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.
JUDGE TWO: Hint of lime in the beans. Good side dish for fish.

FRANK: I felt something scraping across my tongue but was unable to taste it. Sally, the barmaid, was standing behind me with fresh refills: at 300 lbs she's starting to look HOT, just like this nuclear waste I'm eating.


JUDGE ONE: Meaty, strong chili. Considerable kick, very impressive.
JUDGE TWO: Chili using shredded beef. Cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

FRANK: My ears are ringing and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted and 4 people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly from a pitcher on it. It really upsets me that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Rednecks!


JUDGE ONE: Thin yet bold vegetarian chili. Aggressive peppers, onion and garlic.
JUDGE TWO: The best yet. Good balance of spice and peppers.

FRANK: My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulphuric fumes. No one seems inclined to stand behind me. I need to wipe my butt with a snow cone!


JUDGE ONE: A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.
JUDGE TWO: Ho hum. Tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last minute. I should note that I am worried about Judge #3.

FRANK: You could put a #)$%@*! grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn't feel a thing! I've lost the sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it's made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava-like poop, to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy they'll know what killed me. I've decided to stop breathing. It's too painful. If I need air, I'll just suck it through the four inch hole in my stomach.


JUDGE ONE: A perfect end. This is a nice blend chili.
JUDGE TWO: This final entry is a good balanced chili, neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 passed out, fell, and pulled the chili pot on top of himself. Not sure if he's going to make it, poor yank.

FRANK: .........mama? (Editor's note: Judge #3 unable to report.)