2009 SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY SPECIAL EDITION GEAR >> TRAINING >> RACE SCENE >> LIFESTYLE
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18 Starting Lines
By Mitch Thrower
20 Editor’s Note By Brad Culp
23 Mail Call 24 Checking In
106 Big Ring
By Mark Deterline
110 On the Run
By Brian Metzler
115 Speed Lab
By Tim Mickleborough, PhD
Columns 132 Cutting Edge By Jim Gourley
134 Triathlete’s Garage By Jay Prasuhn
137 Gear Bag
120 Tech Support
140 XTERRA Zone
123 Dear Coach
142 Ticket Punch
126 Nutrition Q&A
144 Kona or Bust
99 Training Feature: Don’t Let a Few Pounds Fool You
146 Up Front
104 Lane Lines
130 Triathlon Heresies
148 At the Races
IndusTri; News Analysis; Pro Bike; On the Web; Recipe; Medically Speaking; ITU Q&A; Endurance Conspiracy; Training Tip; Get Leaner; Iron Kids; Light Read
By Luis Vargas
By Sara McLarty
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By Christopher Kautz
By Paul Huddle and Roch Frey
By Pip Taylor
By Ian Murray
By Marc Becker
By Melanie McQuaid
By Samantha McGlone
By Matt Fitzgerald
By Andy Potts
168 Tinley Talks
By Scott Tinley
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On the Cover Cover: Vinu Malik • Photo by John Segesta Vinu Malik 48 2009 Sports Psychology Special Edition 62 Efforts to Diversify Triathlon 78 5 New Road Rockets 92 The Easy Way to Ride Hard 130
48 A Decade of Fueling the Fire 10 Questions for FuelBelt’s Vinu Malik By Jay Prasuhn
52 We Report, You Apply Triathlon has witnessed the coming and going of several training trends in the past quarter century. What will the next trend be? By Matt Fitzgerald
62 What Really Motivates You? You can create unstoppable motivation by uncovering the truth about yourself. Why do you do triathlon? By Ben Greenfield
70 The Link Between Perfectionism and Performance Researchers from the United Kingdom recently investigated the effects of perfectionist personalities and personal goal setting on triathlon performance. We summarized this study to give you the skinny on how you can use your head to shatter your PR at this season’s A race. Summary by Brad Culp
74 Training Your Brain to Push Yourself Farther Traditionally, the body’s performance limits have been defined strictly in terms of physiological limits such as in the muscles or the cardiovascular system, but what about the mind? Here are five proven ways to make your brain let your body try harder. By Matt Fitzgerald
78 Minority Report: Stretching Triathlon Across Racial Lines It’s a widely held cultural misconception that non-white athletes just don’t swim or bike. Is triathlon predominantly a white thing with only mild interest among people of other races? By Jim Gourley
88 The Mind Body Connection: The Importance of Mental Preparation How can you prepare your mind as well as prepare your body for race day? One way to look at mental preparation is to use the same approach you use for your physical training. By Danelle Kabush, PhD
92 Aero Road Bike Guide By Jay Prasuhn
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3X Ironman Champion CHRIS LIETO
This monTh on
Deemed the world’s largest triathlon, the Chicago Triathlon is expected to host more than 11,000 participants.
Race coveRage Triathletemag.com continues to bring you to the starting lines of some of the top events around the world. As the Ironman World Championships at Kona, Hawaii, edge closer, many pros will be making their way to North America for a chance to compete in the final Ironman races leading up to the big one. Ironman Canada held Aug. 30, Ironman Louisville held Aug. 30 and Ironman Wisconsin held Sept. 13, round out the Ironman season leading into Kona. With many of the top athletes still looking for qualifying spots, Ironman Canada and Ironman Louisville could feature some big names vying for a last-chance spot (Ironman Wisconsin is a qualifier for the 2010 Ironman World Championships). Another exciting North American race, the Timberman Ironman 70.3 at Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H., will take place on Aug. 23. This race has been sold out for months and always provides a fun environment and a stellar professional field. The Chicago Triathlon held Aug. 30 highlights the age-group race scene, with more than 6,500 athletes expected to start the Olympic-distance race. Also this month, the ITU World Championship Series comes to a close. Three key races take place, including the ITU World Championship London on Aug. 15, the ITU World Championship Yokohama on Aug. 22, and the Grand Final at the ITU World Championship Gold Coast on Sept. 9-13 to close out the series.
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Triathletemag.com also continues to offer training and lifestyle articles from professional athletes and their coaches. New this month, the editors have invited key professionals, including American Linsey Corbin, to blog about their day-to-day lives and their progress toward their career goals.
videos and PhoTos We’ve made it a goal to provide online readers with unprecedented triathlon-related multimedia. Be sure to check out the site regularly, as we are constantly adding training, race and tech video features, as well as photo galleries featuring your favorite athletes. september 2009
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Brain Freeze LARRY ROSA If jumping off a ferry into freezing San Francisco waters is your idea of a good time, then you understand why the Escape from Alcatraz is considered one of the nationâ€™s most popular events. Brrrr.
In with the New DELLY C ARR/TRIATHLON.ORG ITU superstar Alistair Brownlee, 21, leads the menâ€™s race past the National Archives building at the Washington D.C. world championship event. The young Brit won his second Dextro Energy World Championship Series race in D.C., making him the favorite to take the inaugural series title.
Starting Lines Ah, but at the end of it all, there is more than the usual shared medals, a shower and post-race good feeling. Some might call it synchronicity.
Your race by mitch thrower As you stand in the sand at the start line for Ironman 70.3 Hawaii, you think for a moment that triathlon is an individual sport and you start to feel alone. But looking around, you realize that this emotion is just an illusion. Rinsing your goggles, you look into the eyes of some of the 1,200 other racers and many are probably having the same thoughts: “Where should I start, left or right? Will I get whacked in the head or find some open water?” You can see that the wind has blown the fog away and the sun is cresting over Mauna Kea, the largest mountain on earth when measured from the ocean floor. You know in your heart that there is quite a lot beneath the surface of a triathlon, and much of it is emotion, a collective consciousness 18
of shared nerves, hopes, dreams and very human sensations. The announcer is still talking when the cannon goes off. Ready or not, you start to swim in the beautiful clear water at Hapuna Beach. As you launch into the South Pacific, all the dark inner tension is released in an explosion of sunshine and energy. You can see fish below darting around to get out of the way of this thrashing cavalry charge of churning limbs and bubbles. And so it begins, a few hours passed in the rawest, most human fashion. Yes, you arrived on this exquisite atoll in a 500 mph jet. Yes, you are wearing and riding the latest in synthetic compound materials, adorned in the brightest laser-applied colors. You are measuring your pedal strokes, heart rate and speed with impossibly accurate, high-tech, waterproof monitors. But deep inside you are chasing something primal—seeking an unattainable perfect race and some things as basic as survival, food and love. For the next few hours, you will be focused on traveling swiftly at maximum physical exertion from one place to another. You will be eating, drinking and thinking as you swim, bike and run along a ribbon of pavement, grass and dreams amid the lava fields of this South Pacific jewel. On the bike to Hawi, you will hear something fall and see that the clamp holding your nutrition-filled water bottles and spare tires fell off. You will think, “Oh well,” as you continue to battle the headwind, and you will rationalize with the power of positivity, “My bike’s significantly lighter now, so I can go faster.” You know that when challenging things happen in triathlon, you can always choose how you react. The self-absorption of competition fades on the run when you pass aid stations where
people really want to help. You will yell as you approach the next one, “Ice, water and cola!” and the first person yells it down the line to the other aid station helpers who react and deliver with the miraculous speed and dexterity of NASCAR pit crews. Letting people know what you need (and paying attention to what others need) is one of life’s—and triathlon’s—little secrets. You know that the final mile of the run is always easier because the finish is in sight, and it is always great to see friends at the finish line. You raise your hands as you cross the finish line and you feel how special it is to receive a hug from someone when he doesn’t care how sweaty and gross you are. Ah, but at the end of it all, there is more than the usual shared medals, a shower and post-race good feeling. Some might call it synchronicity. You learn that you qualified for Clearwater, but then you notice that a guy in the slot allocation roll-down line seems a little nervous. You also see that his wife really wants him to get the slot—but he is the sixth guy in a five-slot lineup and you are number one in that line. His eyes show how much he would love to race it, and you know you can always find another triathlon to race. So you make an instant decision and you forfeit your slot, and it rolls down to him. The joy in his face was completely worth it. You find out later that his name is Kris Kiser and his wife, Kym Kiser, had qualified for Kona. So had he, but he gave up his Kona slot because he felt he wasn’t yet ready for the big show. So earlier in that roll-down, the slot he forfeited allowed someone new to race in the Ironman. Talk about Hawaiian karma—in return, the exact same thing happened to him, and he got his Clearwater slot. On the flight home you think about the fact that every day offers an opportunity for us to roll a slot of opportunity down to another person. As you get sleepy, wearing your compression socks, you smile and think that everyone has this gift. You know that you don’t have to give up your slot to race in one of triathlon’s big shows to positively affect someone else. Your last thought before you fall asleep is that you can simply offer support to others, wherever they land in your life. Train Smart, Mitch Thrower email@example.com september 2009
– Brett Sutton, Team TBB coach, 2009
No piece of equipment will save them more time in a non wetsuit triathlon... period.”
“When Team TBB athletes ask me if it is worth them wearing a swimskin, I give them a very simple answer:
An Imperfect ScIence, perfect for ArtIStS At the start of my sophomore year of college, I decided to change my major from kinesiology to psychology. That was, seemingly by coincidence, the same time I gave up competitive swimming for triathlon. Both of these somewhat-minor life changes seemed out of character for me, at least according to the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator assessment I had taken in my Psych 101 course the previous semester. I had an ISTP personality. This means I used introverted thinking with extroverted sensing—according to a century-old questionnaire. ISTPers are known as the “mechanics” of the 16 possible personality types. Up until that point in my life, it was an apt description, especially when it came to sport and school. Swimming fast was a definable process. I always thought that if I trained X number of hours, I would drop Y seconds off my time and I would win Z number of races. It worked, for the most part, but it was getting stale. Kinesiology was an even more austere science. The human body was designed to move in very specific ways. It was interesting, for the 20
No. 305 | September 2009 Publisher John Duke Associate Publisher Heather Gordon VP, Event Marketing Sean Watkins Editor Brad Culp, firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Editor Somyr McLean Perry, email@example.com Senior Editors Matt Fitzgerald, firstname.lastname@example.org Jay Prasuhn, email@example.com Associate Editor Susan Grant, firstname.lastname@example.org Online Coordinator Kurt Hoy, email@example.com Online Editor Liz Hichens, firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Interns Ashley Slaney, email@example.com Bethany Leach, firstname.lastname@example.org Copyeditor Marilyn Iturri Photo Editor John Segesta, email@example.com Graphic Designer Oliver Baker, firstname.lastname@example.org Medical Advisory Board Jordan Metzl, MD; Jeff Sankoff, MD VP, Production/Circulation Heather Gordon, email@example.com Senior Account Executive Sean Watkins, Cycling & Events firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Account Executive Lisa Bilotti, Nutrition, Apparel, Footwear & Auto email@example.com Marketplace Sales Laura Agcaoili, firstname.lastname@example.org Ad Manager Deena Hancock, email@example.com Ad Coordinator Lisa McGinn, firstname.lastname@example.org Accounting Vicky Trapp, email@example.com Customer Service Linda Marlowe, Linda@pcspublink.com Nancy Pomeroy, Nancy@pcspublink.com
most part, but it seemed there was a finite amount of information that could be learned. I saw triathlon as the best way to break the route and routine of the pool. The training was varied, the distances were longer, the gear was stranger and the tan lines were worse. I saw psychology as the best way to escape the puritanical precepts of kinesiology. Even better, it was the best way to learn about me, which would ultimately be the best way to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. At that point, I was only really sure of one thing: I didn’t want to be a psychologist. I retook the personality assessment shortly after finishing my first Ironman, at which point I finally realized that there was no turning back to swimming. This time, the pair of now-deceased psychologists’ tests told me I was an ENFP, which means extroverted thoughts with introverted feelings. ENFPers are deemed the “inspirers” of the 16 possible personalities. It was the exact opposite of what the same test had labeled me a year earlier. One of the first lines in my Psych 210 notebook said that personality type doesn’t change throughout one’s lifetime. Now I was even more confused and intrigued, which was bad for my GPA but good for keeping me from stagnating again. We dedicated our August issue to expanding your knowledge of highly scientific products and highly scientific training. This month’s issue is dedicated to expanding your views of sports psychology—perhaps the least scientific of all the sciences. More like an art, psychology becomes broader and increasingly complicated as you learn more. And maybe that’s a good thing. The learning process never really stops or stumbles in our sport. But as you continue to learn about the race, be sure to continue learning about yourself along the way. One of my textbooks said that’s the best way to stay young. If the book is right, maybe we all got into this strange sport because we think it’s the longest route to the fountain of youth. Being comfortable in Lycra at the age of 85 may be as close as you can get.
Triathlete Magazine Offices 10179 Huennekens Street, Suite 100, San Diego, CA 92121 Phone: (858) 768-6805; Fax: (858) 768-6806 Triathlon.competitor.com Attention Retailers: To carry Triathlete in your store, call Retail Vision: (800) 381-1288 SUBSCRIPTIONS: Your satisfaction is important to us. For questions regarding your subscription call (800) 441-1666 or (760) 291-1562. Or, write to: Triathlete, P.O. Box 469055, Escondido, CA 92046. Or, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Back Issues available for $8 each. Send a check to Triathlete Magazine Back Issues, 10179 Huennekens Street, Suite 100, San Diego, CA 92121 and specify issues requested, or visit Triathlon.competitor.com. Submission of material must carry the authors’/photographers’ guarantees that the material may be published without additional approval and that it does not infringe upon the rights of others. No responsibility is assumed for loss or damage to unsolicited manuscripts, art work or photographs. All editorial contributions should be accompanied by self-addressed, stamped envelopes. Printed in the USA.
Triathlete Magazine is a publication of the
David Moross Peter Englehart Scott P. Dickey Steve Gintowt John Duke John Smith Bruce Herring Dan Vaughan David O’Connell Rebecca McKinnon Sean Clottu Heather Gordon
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IT WAS THE BEST TIME. IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES.
“THE DAY WAS WET AND MISERABLE AS HELL. SO WAS I – WITH A FEVER OF 103. I WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO STANDING IN THE SHOWER MORE THAN ON TOP OF THE PODIUM. JUST FINISHING WOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH.” READ MORE ABOUT FABIAN’S WIN ON THE TRANSITION AT I-AM-SPECIALIZED.COM
RUN FAST. RECOVER QUICKLY.
REPEAT. GRAVITAS=GRAVITY WOMEN’S PERFORMANCE NEUTRAL TRAINER
science in motion.
Boy, was I wrong about all these bad boob jobs being unattractive. I guess it’s just us gals that think, “You’ve got to be kidding me if you think I’m swimming, biking and running with those things. Think about the extra drag and weight they would add.” Keep up the swimsuit issue; it makes for great fodder. Lynnette Palmquist Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
fAnning the flAme
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That’s two issues in a row where Mr. Tinley seems to have “hit the wall.” Is anyone at the magazine staging an intervention? At 34 and new to triathlon, I am consistently beaten by people twice my age. Maybe you guys need to put some more sugar in his Kool-Aid. No more alluding to riding off into the sunset—we newbies count on that upbeat cynicism grounded in a love for the sport.
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Eric Simonsen Jamestown, R.I.
I have seen many of your swimsuit editions and always laugh at all the mail garbage you get. This year, though, I have to comment. The cover girl on your June issue is definitely artificially endowed, as any woman could tell you. Usually your models are more fitness-oriented, but when I tried to show my disbelief to my husband, his comment was, “So what?” This led to us having the fake versus real conversation that in 14 years of marriage had never been broached. I was truly surprised that it didn’t matter to him or the other guys I showed the photo to. They said, “Breasts are breasts, so there.”
Having done my first triathlon (a sprint) at age 61, I have become captivated by this sport that can be so many things to so many people. The August 2009 issue of your magazine demonstrates this through its breadth of topics—from the indefinable David Goggins to the engineering entrepreneurship of T.J. Tollakson to the thoughts and insights of Scott Tinley. I only wish I had discovered all of this sooner. LIVE: TRIM: 2.25 X 9.5 BLEED: GUTTER: SCALE:
YOU NEVER STOP IMPROVING. NEITHER DO WE.
it’S never too lAte
CLIENT: JELLY BELLY JOB NUMBER: DESCRIPTION: BRAD SENG INSERTION #1: TRIATHLETES SEPT INSERTION #2:
Bryan Swanson Via e-mail
Paul McKeithan Raleigh, N.C.
While I was reading through the swimsuit issue a couple of months ago, I had an awesome idea pop into my head: Let readers be the ones you have in swimsuits for the issue. Sure, it is cool to see good-looking people from page to page posing for the camera, but is that what triathlon is? At races you see people of all shapes, sizes and ages. I’ll volunteer myself for something like this because I think it would be cool to have an issue that shows what triathlon is and not just the sexy-looking people. Triathlon is for any and all! I am not dogging the magazine at all; I love it dearly!
We Come in All ShApeS And SizeS
CD: K. NICE
This is my first time writing to any magazine, but Ben Schloegel (Kona Q&A by Holly Bennett, July 2009) deserves someone to fan the flame a bit. He’s a hardworking firefighter and pro triathlete who is humble and funny. He is a great example of several top athletes in this sport with great attitudes and why I love this sport. His answers made me feel like he is out there “agegrouping it” with the rest of us. Just a great interview all around.
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*Campbell C., Prince D., Braun M., Applegate E., & Casazza G.A. Carbohydrate-Supplement Form and Exercise Performance. Intl Journal Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 18:179-190, 2008.
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IndusTRI News Analysis Pro Bike On the Web Recipe Medically Speaking ITU Q&A Endurance Conspiracy Training Tip Get Leaner, Go Faster IronKids Light Read
IndusTRI 3t SponSorS eMMa SnoWSill Australian Emma Snowsill, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist in triathlon, recently signed a sponsorship agreement with 3T, an Italian manufacturer of aero components. She is a top contender in the 2009 ITU World Championships Series and will exclusively use 3T components. “I’m delighted to be using 3T equipment. It was easy to adjust to my position on the bike, and I felt really comfortable from the start,” says Snowsill. 3T chief executive René Wiertz says, “We’re proud that Emma is joining our sponsored riders. We’re already well represented in the pro peloton in road racing. Now, with Emma on board, we expect 3T to be very visible in pro triathlon.” Snowsill mainly competes in Olympicdistance races, where she has won three world championship titles and a Commonwealth Games gold medal in addition to her win last year in Beijing. She also participates in a few longer-distance races and hopes to improve her endurance racing. Visit Thenew3T.com.
Blue and lifeSport Join forceS LifeSport Coaching recently announced its new partnership with Blue Competition Cycles, a leading bike manufacturer known for its expertise in crafting high-end bicycle frames out of aerospace-quality carbon fiber. “Blue listens carefully to athletes, coaches and sport experts, coupling that feedback with its own expertise to continually create new generations of unparalleled performance bicycles,” says LifeSport president Lance Watson. “We are really excited to be partnering with Blue and putting our athletes on Blue Bikes to give them a competitive edge on the race course.” “LifeSport is recognized as the worldwide leader in triathlon coaching, and we are thrilled that it has chosen to endorse our product,” says Chance Regina, product manager at Blue Competition Cycles. Blue Competition Cycles is the official bike sponsor of USA Triathlon, and leading cyclists and multisport athletes have ridden Blue bicycles to victory in time trials, road races, elite triathlons and cyclocross events. For example, Brent McMahon, a member of LifeSport’s pro team, won this year’s Ironman 70.3 New Orleans on a Blue Competition bike. Visit Lifesportcoaching.com and Rideblue.com.
C heC king in
finland’S univerSity of JyväSkylä StudieS karHu SHoeS Since the mid 1980s, running shoe manufacturer Karhu and the University of Jyväskylä, Finland’s leading sports and fitness research institute, have worked together to develop advancements in running shoe technology. The result of more than two decades of rigorous testing was fulcrum, a technology that promotes collaboration between the foot and the shoe and was introduced in Karhu’s new running shoe line. Now, the two organizations have announced a partnership to investigate technologies that can further improve efficiency and performance by working in harmony with the natural biomechanics of runners. “Research on runners using the fulcrum technology showed significant,
measurable results in lowering heart rate and decreasing oxygen consumption,” says Huub Valkenburg, chief executive officer of Karhu. “Our partnership with the university provides us with additional critical information that could essentially change the way we look at running performance.” “The department of biology of physical activity has a long history of working with Karhu,” says Janne Avela, of the University of Jyväskylä. “We look forward to our continued involvement in this research and with the Karhu engineering team.” Karhu’s momentum began immediately during the March 2009 launch of its new running shoe line when Runner’s World named the Strong Ride the Best Debut of 2009. Included as one of the season’s best running shoes for its annual spring shoe guide, editors and wear testers compared it to hundreds of other shoes and declared it the winner. Visit Karhu.com.
teaM Jaggad introduced to Motivate age-group atHleteS Triathlon apparel manufacturer Jaggad has founded Team Jaggad, an initiative to support and reward amateur triathletes for achieving their training and racing goals. This unique program provides benefits to age-group athletes normally only available to pros, such as complimentary Jaggad products and a 50-percent discount on the Team Jaggad custom race kit. The members of Team Jaggad register their training or competition goals on the team website. Their goals may be as lofty as competing in the World Championships
or as personal as losing some weight. When they achieve their goals, they earn Jaggad gift certificates worth $50 each that they can redeem for Jaggad technical wear. When they first join, athletes choose either the basic Team Jaggad membership, with a one-time fee of $84, or Team Jaggad Plus, which has a one-time $167 fee but offers extra discounts on Jaggad products. Athletes can later upgrade their memberships to Team Jaggad Ambassador or Team Jaggad Development Group to increase their commitment to the cause. Visit Jaggad.com.
Sdtc WinS inaugural rock n’ roll San diego MaratHon tri cluB cHallenge This year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon invited triathlon clubs from across the country to go head-to-head in the first-ever Tri Club Challenge. With its homefield advantage, the San Diego Tri Club took the grand prize of one free entry to the 2010 Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon. SDTC’s top three men and top two women posted a combined time of 16:24:40, which was more than three
hours faster than the combined time of the second-place L.A. Tri Club.
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a tranSition in tax policy, part ii By Jim gourley
Last month, Triathlete examined the debate in state and local legislatures over the implementation of bike licensing fees. Hawaii has successfully collected a $15 fee on bikes for 20 years to fund bicycle infrastructure projects. However, when the City of Los Angeles attempted to enact a similar policy, cyclists protested and the city couldn’t enforce it. Now the debate rages in Oregon, where two legislators have proposed a bill that would require all cyclists over the age of 18 to register their bikes with the state. Those who support it say that cyclists should contribute to the cost of maintaining the roads and paths they use, while the bill’s opponents say that the fee would discourage people from biking and that they already help pay for infrastructure through property taxes. Here we examine additional aspects of this proposal. There are still questions of how out-ofstate and competitive bikes would be managed. For example, competitors in triathlon and cycling might have their training bike and a separate race-day ride. Should they pay tax on their less frequently used, more specialized rig? Profoundly, no one interviewed had any detailed plans for addressing specifics. One can only go so far down any road before realizing that the devil is in the details. Bike lanes are no exception. There are indicators that, be it a lane or a road, it’s still a slippery slope. CalTrain, a rail network company in Northern California, stopped issuing permits for bikes on rail cars, deciding that the effort was too administratively taxing relative to the financial benefits. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of Los Angeles ceased charging fees and now issues permits free of charge. The Transportation Research Board of the National Academies states that most transit authorities around 28
the country stopped charging cyclist-specific fees after 1995 due to the minuscule revenue generated and the fact that infrastructure such as bus-mounted bike racks can be procured using federal dollars. Of 13 agencies surveyed, only four required permits, and only two charged for them. Perhaps most notable is that the cities that make Bicycling magazine’s best in the nation list with the same frequency that ACC basketball teams get into the Final Four don’t have taxes on bicycles. Oregon state representative Wayne Krieger (R-Gold Beach) and Seattle Times editorial page editor James Vesely continue to advocate bicycle taxation. In one of his columns Vesely said, “Critical Mass, the earnest congregation of cyclists who sometimes take over our streets, would be beneficial to law and order. A Critical Mass accumulation of cyclists would allow Seattle police to quickly spot those who have a bike license and those who do not, with appropriate fees and penalties.” The answer may reside between the lines of the response to our request for comment from Krieger’s office: “This bill is not going to be moving. Also Rep. [Sal] Esquivel and Rep. Krieger have both been working hard on other things … Rep. Krieger did not come up with all the language in the bill either. In reality, there is no story.” Rep. Esquivel defended his position and notes that all Oregon municipalities are required by law to install and maintain bike lanes. While this is very useful for such hightraffic areas as Portland, Esquivel wonders if this burden is fair to more rural communities with meager cycling populations. He dismisses the idea that the startup costs for the initiative would be prohibitive, citing that DMV databases are already prepared
C heC king in to handle the new registrations and that, while tags would require an initial expense, color-coded stickers showing renewal status would require minimal overhead. As for your speed machine, Esquivel especially wants to see it carrying a tag. According to him, the tagging system would provide faster identification and recovery of stolen bikes. He fires back at the property tax argument from Karl Rohde, the government relations and public affairs director of Oregon’s Bicycle Transportation Alliance, with the rationale that Oregon recently capped property taxes at 3 percent. Unable to raise this tax further, increasing costs and inflation hamstring the ability of rural areas to generate necessary revenue. His main point remains that cyclists aren’t paying their fair share. From numbers provided by Rohde and Esquivel, if the 7,000 most frequent cyclists in Portland paid the $54 fee, they’d purchase approximately 1.61 miles of new bike lanes each year. Can Rohde claim that as unfair? Can Esquivel justify that as covering cyclists’ “fair share”? As Tip O’Neill said, all politics is local, so it serves little purpose in the national debate to have the Oregon Office of Budget Management run the numbers to figure out just where the funds for bike lanes come from and what share drivers pay versus cyclists. Esquivel and Rohde do share common ground. Esquivel notes that, as a Republican, he hates taxes of any kind. He also has ideas for improving rider safety, such as chips that alert stoplights at intersections. Certainly the BTA wouldn’t mind paying for those. Ultimately, Bill 3008 failed to make it past the committee phase of deliberations in the Oregon Legislature. The BTA’s activism, with support from state senator and Athletes in Action International Cycling Team member Jason Atkinson (R-Central Point), quashed it before it could gain any momentum. While the bill itself may have been exorbitant, there was always the amendment process, and intelligent debate has never been a bad thing. It serves as an important lesson to cyclists, though. Whether they live to ride or ride for livelihood, these economic times threaten all aspects of our lives, even the seemingly innocuous ones. Let the biking community be aware that the Veselys and Kriegers of the world are still out there, but they can be stopped. Organizations like the BTA have the right to demand explanations from their government, but they also have the obligation to listen to people like Esquivel. So, do Ben Franklin proud and speak out—just don’t throw those new Campy groupsets into Boston Harbor. september 2009
Ne w s A n a l y s i s
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saddle Fi’zi:k Arione Tri 2
travel Case: Trico Sports IronCase Fitter: Matt Reed tires Vittoria Triathlon EVO-CS, 700cx21mm tubulars
GrouPset Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 10-speed, 11-23 cassette
Headset Full Speed Ahead Orbit IS, 1 1/8”
CoCkPit Profile Design Volna aerobar; Profile Design Cobra Carbon stem, 120mm; Profile Design QSC carbon brake levers
Frame Fuji D-6, Matt Reed Signature Edition, size XL Hydration Profile Design AquaLite, Profile Design Karbon Kage
Crankset Shimano Dura-Ace 7900, 175mm 53-39
Pedals Shimano Dura-Ace 7900
WHeels Zipp 1080 Zedtech front, Zipp Sub9 disc rear
Matt reed’S fuJi d-6, Matt reed Signature By Jay Prasuhn
Photos by Jay Prasuhn
When Fuji debuted the ultra-aero D-6 last year, I thought it was a bit presumptuous of the company to make a signature model for its (for lack of a better word) signature athlete, former ITU mainstay Matt Reed. Yeah, he was USAT’s 2008 ITU male Athlete of the Year, a U.S. Olympian, had won St. Anthony’s and Alcatraz and everything in between. But he hadn’t done much in the way of long-course racing to merit an out-in-the-wind, deep aero ride. Well, the man called Boom-Boom is proving me wrong. He raced the Miami International Triathlon, Ironman 70.3 California and the Revolution3 Triathlon, and he won them all. The egg is squarely on my face. And he made all his moves on the bike aboard the D-6, a unique frame throughout, highlighted by a rear brake that is tucked into massive cowling between the seatstays. Also unique is Reed’s downward-sloping aerobar position. “It’s just where I’m most comfortable,” Reed says. “I tried it flat, I tried it up, and it hurts my hamstrings when it’s flat and up, but this way I get more power. It may be because I’m a taller guy. If it works for me, I’m sticking with it.”
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On the Web
5 WayS to WaSte tiMe
C heC king in Work: Those eight or more hours of the day between workouts, during which time you likely sit at a desk and think about your next workout. A great way to make the time until your next swim, bike or run fly by is to find a favorite time-sucking website. Depending on where you work, some of the best productivity-halting sites may be blocked at your office. If that’s the case, here are a few that your boss and IT department might not know about just yet.
By BraD CulP
Kill boredom and help feed hungry people at the same time—it’s win-win. For every question you answer correctly on this trivia site, 10 grains of rice will be donated to the U.N. World Food Program to help end hunger around the globe. You can answer questions in one of six categories: art, chemistry, English, geography, language learning and math.
If you’re a guy who was born between 1955 and 1995, chances are you wanted to be the lead drummer in a rock band at some point in your life. Now that dream can come true—right at your desk. The webpage turns your keyboard into a drumset so you can be the rocker you always wanted to be. Droning out your boss and coworkers has never been so easy.
This site is a user-generated reminder of just how dumb people can be. Users upload images and videos of failed endeavors from all walks of life. Some of them are truly unbelievable, like the store clerk who put a few rubber-bouncing balls in his gumball machine. Choking hazard anyone?
This site’s tagline is “mentally stimulating diversions” and it’s certainly apt. Sporcle.com contains more trivia games than you ever thought necessary and allows you to test your knowledge of any subject against the world. Try the “Countries of the World” game, which gives you 15 minutes to enter the name every country on a world map. Your lunch break just got way more educational. 32
Warning: This user-generated blog is seriously addictive and should probably be blocked at offices worldwide. The site proclaims that it’s “where dreams become heart attacks” and that tells you pretty much all you need to know. The picture blog started off as a place where users could post pictures of the unhealthiest food in America, but has since digressed into a contest to see who can make the most arteryclogging fare on Earth. It’s updated almost every hour and once you start browsing, you won’t be able to stop. Our pick for the most gut-wrenching recipe so far is the Strasburg Pie: duck foie gras wrapped in bacon and baked in a puff-pastry loaf. You could do an Ironman after eating this thing and still gain weight.
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andy pottS’ puMpkin cHocolate cHip MuffinS Triathlete columnist Andy Potts and his wife, Lisa, gave us this recipe combining two dessert favorites: chocolate and pumpkin. These muffins can be a warm desert or a decadent, calorie-rich breakfast treat on the go. —Compiled by Ashley Slaney
4 eggs 1 ½ cups vegetable oil 1 ½ cups sugar 14 ounces pumpkin pie filling 3 cups flour 1 tablespoon cinnamon 2 teaspoons baking soda 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 2 cups chocolate chips
Pr eheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together the eggs, vegetable oil, sugar and pumpkin pie filling. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to wet ingredients. Add chocolate chips. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin and bake for 15 minutes.
Cut this page out and save it in your recipe book!
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BeWare old Sol By Jeffrey sankoff, mD When you’re a child, the leading authorities on all things related to your health are your parents. That is because they always have the right answers to keep you healthy and out of danger. Or at least I used to think so. My mom—whom I will heretofore refer to as the Greatest Mom in the World, or GMW for short—actually dispensed all sorts of sincedisproven axioms. Remember how reading in low light is bad because it will make you blind? Hogwash! Wait two hours after eating before swimming? Wrong again! Don’t run with scissors? OK, she did get that one right. However, GMW also unknowingly put me in harm’s way 36
when she told me to turn off the TV, get off the couch and go outside for some sun and fresh air. Never mind that the air is dangerous enough in many places, but the sun, old Sol himself, has proven to be far more treacherous than GMW ever would have thought. The harmful effects of the sun have become manifest as an ever-growing number of cancers of the skin. In fact, these have become the most common forms of cancer in the U.S. Nearly all cases are one of the following three types, and all are caused by sun exposure: BaSal cell carcinoMa (Bcc): In the U.S., BCC is the most common of the skin cancers. BCC arises from the cells that are at the deepest part of the skin. BCC is almost always found in sun-exposed areas, with the face, scalp and hands being the most common locations, and early detection is the norm. BCC is a very slow-growing cancer
and almost never metastasizes. Treatment consists of surgical excision and is uniformly curative. SquaMouS cell carcinoMa (Scc): Constituting approximately 16 percent of skin cancers, SCC is found on the uppermost layer of the skin. Like BCC, SCC is most commonly found in sun-exposed areas. Unlike BCC, SCC can metastasize, and of the almost 200,000 people diagnosed in the U.S. each year, nearly 10 percent die from the disease. Malignant MelanoMa: Melanoma arises from melanocytes, which are cells that secrete the melanin that gives color to the skin. Darker-skinned people have more melanocytes and thus more melanin. Melanoma accounts for only 4 percent of skin cancers but for more than 80 percent of skin cancer deaths. Melanoma almost always begins in moles, which are areas of concentrated melanocytes. When detected early, melanoma has a 95 percent cure rate. However, once this form of cancer metastasizes, it is nearly impossible to treat. The best measure of protection from skin cancer is to avoid unprotected sun exposure. This is particularly true in the summer months, at altitude, in areas closer to the equator and during midday, when the sun is strongest. If you must do your training at those times or in those locations, wear full-length clothing and sunscreen. I recommend a sunscreen with a protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more, and waterproof sunscreens are best during exercise. Once skin cancer of any form develops, early detection and therapy are critical to ensure a cure. You should bring any new or suspicious lesion on the skin to the attention of your physician as soon as possible. Because melanoma often arises insidiously within pre-existing moles, it is important to check moles regularly. A mole that changes in size, shape or color, bleeds or itches is a potential melanoma. In addition, remember that as opposed to moles, melanomas usually have asymmetrical shapes, irregular borders, uneven color and a diameter larger than that of a pencil eraser (about 5mm). So, while GMW had the right idea, she may have wanted to insert some additional motherly advice about applying a thick coat of sunscreen in between getting off the couch and heading outside. Jeffrey Sankoff, MD, is a two-time Ironman triathlete and ER physician at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. For more information, visit his website at Home.comcast.net/~jsanko20. september 2009
The sun, old Sol himself, has proven to be far more treacherous than my mother ever would have thought.
A NEW WIND ON THE QUEEN K
Despite the Ironman® wins on its resume, we knew the Zipp 808 could be stronger, stiffer, more durable, and more aerodynamic. For 2009, we made it happen.
The new 808 shaves 9 seconds from its predecessor’s 40km split with an updated
81mm rim shape and the third generation of our ABLC dimples. The larger axles, improved seals, and higher flanges of the all-new 88/188 hubs improve every aspect of performance without adding a gram to the sub-1500g wheelset. Kona athletes had good reason to pick Zipp more than any other aerodynamic wheelset for their World Championships. This year the choice will be even easier.
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C heC king in Maybe someday, but no time in the near future. I’ve only done a year of Olympic-distance racing, so I think I’d be a bit keen to try and step it up again in the next couple of years.
Some of the top pros in Ironman racing continue to be highly competitive into their late 30s and even their 40s. Can you imagine racing for 19 more years? That’s as long as you’ve been alive so far. I always say in life that you have to be happy with whatever you are doing. Life is so short; you have to make the most of it. If it gets to a point in my sporting career that I’m not happy, then that will be the time to stop. I don’t think I could give an age when that will happen. All I know is that I love triathlon to bits at the moment, I’m extremely happy and I’m going to try and keep it that way for as many years I can.
Q: Hollie avil By holly Bennett One of Great Britain’s hottest ITU stars, Hollie Avil, dishes about the student-athlete balance, the limitless future and a topic on every teenage girl’s mind: the opposite sex.
You’re all of 19 years old and already quite an accomplished athlete. You’ve said that your goal is to dominate the 2012 London Olympics and come away with the gold medal. Beyond that, what do you see in your future, athletic or otherwise? As well as dedicating 24 hours of my week to triathlon, I dedicate 20-plus more hours to my degree in management sciences at Loughborough University. I am a strong believer in elite athletes keeping up their education; I feel it’s so important to have something running alongside your sport. It’s not just a backup plan, but a bit of an escape from sport too—you get to meet so many interesting and lovely people through earning a degree. Once my sporting career is over, I’d love to run my own business, maybe in marketing and advertising. But my only future plan that’s set in stone is to get to the London Olympics, get on top of that podium and make Great Britain proud.
Are you committed to ITU (International Triathlon Union) racing, or do you think about getting into Ironman 70.3 and full-distance Ironman events someday? 38
What was going through your mind during the 2008 Olympic race? You were so sick, actually vomiting during the event, that you were ultimately forced to withdraw. The first time I was sick on the bike I just thought to myself, “Come on; keep on going, dig in, be tough.” Then I was sick a few minutes later, and that’s when I could feel the energy slipping right out of me. I couldn’t keep up with the girls I normally ride with on the bike. But I didn’t want to stop. I passed my coach, who was on the side of the bike course, and told him I’d been sick twice. He told me to stop straight away. My coach, Ben Bright, is my conscience, so when he told me to stop, I did. I finally saw sense in the medical room though, where the doctor tried to make me take in fluids and I just kept getting sick. There was no way my body would have let me carry on in the heat of Beijing for two hours without any fluid.
Would you classify yourself as an overachiever? You did, after all, qualify for the Olympic team at your fourth-ever Olympic-distance race—all while studying for your A-Levels. I wouldn’t call myself an overachiever. I’m just a person who sets a goal and does everything she can to reach that goal. Hard work, dedication, listening to my coach, passion, drive and determination got me to the Olympics.
What’s your living situation? I live in athlete-friendly student accommodations on campus. We’re put on a quiet part of the campus, have larger rooms with our own bathrooms and only have to share a kitchen between three of us. So we get a
bit of luxury! I share a flat with a netballer and a badminton player—they’re great and we all understand each other’s sporting commitments. I’m also great friends with the distance runners who live above me; we always have fun cooking together, going out for meals or taking shopping trips. I’ve just bought myself a house, though, which is really exciting.
What about other pro triathletes: Is there anyone you idolize or look up to? Any of the guys you have a crush on? The triathlete I look up to the most is Tim Don. Tim and I have the same coach, so I spend quite a bit of time with them both. Tim is like an older brother to me, always looking out for me and giving me great advice. He’s a fantastic athlete. In regards to triathletes and crushes, naah—they’re a bit too skinny for my liking. But don’t get me wrong: The sport does have some lookers and some lovely guys in it.
On that subject, do you have a boyfriend? You’re so busy with training and racing and school that I imagine it’s difficult to find the time or energy for much else. You’d think I’d be in my element here at Loughborough University, the biggest sporting university in England. We have rugby teams, football teams and all sorts of athletic teams, and for every one girl there are three guys. But unfortunately, at the moment, I’m a single gal. I don’t think it helps with the lack of spare time I have. There’s always lots of guy eye candy in the gym though, so that keeps me happy as I’m doing my gym sessions.
At 19 in particular, friendships are pretty critical to most young women. Do you socialize with any of the girls you race against? Is it hard to switch to the mindset of wanting to crush them on the race course? One of my bestest friends is Rosie Clarke, sister of Will Clarke. Unfortunately, she’s stopped triathlon now, but we’ve been close friends for years, and even though we raced and trained with each other, it never affected our friendship.
What means more to you: winning a race or having fun along the way? Like I said before, you’ve got to be enjoying it to keep on doing it. It’s all about having fun along the way.
What are five words that best describe your life these days? Swim, lecture, bike, lecture, run! september 2009
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Photos by Don Karle
tHe iMportance of viSualization By tim DeBoom In 2002, I learned what it means to really fight for an Ironman world title. I started the run with Peter Reid and Cameron Brown, running three astride down Aliâ€™i drive for the first five miles. Peter put in the first little surge, and Cam was the first to fall back. I continued the surge, and Pete fell back. Thomas Hellriegel was up the road, but the battle was between Pete and me, even though we never ran side by side again. Things can seem pretty easy when they 40
are going right. You lose yourself, and you lose consciousness of yourself. It is a great escape. In my 2001 Kona victory, my run never felt better. I was in control and could push the pace at will. Once I was in the lead, I felt like I was home. The race in 2002 was very different. I never felt comfortable for more than a mile at a time. I would have preferred to run with Pete and judge his stride, breathing and pace for myself. Instead, I was out in the lava fields alone, getting inaccurate splits and fighting every doubt creeping into my head. When your body is not performing as you expect, you have to rely on your mind to compensate. That is why putting yourself into race-like situations before your actual races
can be as important as the physical training. Just as I can make myself physically nervous at any time just by thinking about race morning in Kona, I can also turn any training run into a race against potential competitors. I would be lying if I did not admit to winning the Ironman several times in my head before it actually happened. I was taught visualization techniques as a young swimmer. I would picture every aspect of my races, including my warm-up, being on the blocks, starts, turns, finishes and everything in between. I have continued to use those techniques throughout my triathlon career. I imagine my next race several times before race day, both in and out of training. I imagine different scenarios and develop strategies september 2009
C heC king in aid station right before running back onto the Queen K highway. I dumped a couple of cups of cola down my throat and committed to my plan. I replaced every “Am I slowing?” and “Is he gaining?” with, “Move!” and “Three more miles is nothing!” I looked for a friendly face and an accurate time split, but I knew neither of those mattered. There was no runner’s high or great escape this year. I was alone out there and had to call on everything I had done in training just to get to the finish line. When I crossed the finish line for win No. 2, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I did not know I was capable of this experience until I actually did it. Although nothing I could have visualized could compare with the actual feeling of winning. Pete has told me since then that he probably should not have smiled. I wonder if he practiced that in training.
When your body is not performing as you expect, you have to rely on your mind to compensate.
to handle any situation. When someone on the side of the road yells, “Dig!” I dig into my mind to find the answer. So, back to the lava fields in 2002. I was in the lead, but I did not know how far ahead I was. I had been in this same position on several of my training runs back in Boulder. I knew that the only chance I would have to see Pete would be after the turnaround in the Natural Energy Lab. I tried to relax, fuel and be ready for what was coming. I made the turn, checked my watch and waited to see Pete. It didn’t take long. There he was. I did not notice how his running form looked. All I saw was that he was smiling. Pete does not smile at Ironmans. I guess I missed that one in my visualization exercises. I checked my watch and had about 40 seconds on him. I decided to relax until I got out of the energy lab and then give it everything I had for the final 10 kilometers. There was an
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dealing WitH irritaBle BoWel SyndroMe By molly hurforD It was an almost perfect start to my first triathlon when those three little words made my heart sink into my already churning stomach: no toilet paper. For a nervous triathlete, hearing that is akin to the end of the world. For a nervous triathlete with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it’s a death sentence. Since then, I’ve learned my lesson: Always bring a spare roll. Endurance athletes can hardly afford to have undiagnosed gastrointestinal problems. Athletes and IBS patients are scarily similar in their profiles: According to a study published in Gut, IBS patients were less likely to rest in the face of their illness and exhibited all-or-nothing behavior by continuing their activities despite their symptoms. Sound familiar? While up to 60 percent of runners may suffer stomach problems, only a small handful actually suffer from IBS. It’s a chronic disorder characterized by abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits and bloating, stemming from an overactive colon. According to the National Health Institute, it’s one of the most commonly diagnosed disorders, though no definitive cause for it has been found. Athletes find this condition especially challenging, since the pain can interfere with training; changes in bowel habits leave us perfecting our 100-meter dash for a bathroom on runs, and bloating can make even the toughest athlete shrink away from being seen in a tri suit. Perhaps the worst news for athletes is that IBS is commonly brought on by stress, like right before a race starts. 42
C heC king in Diagnosing IBS can the sport drinks and energy gels consumed be difficult, since it is on the bike may come back to haunt racers characterized by a lack during the run, when movement of the bowels of evidence of other may cause an emergency that sends a racer stomach problems. sprinting to the nearest Porta-Potty. So how Athletes, espe- can a triathlete properly fuel during a race c i a l ly t h o s e w i t h without succumbing to stomach upset? pre-existing stomach First, don’t focus on the hours before pains, are at risk for the race. Rather, look at the days preceding developing IBS. In a the race. Since large meals have been known study published in to worsen symptoms, avoid carb loading the American Journal the day before the race. Instead, increase of Gastroenterology, your carb intake throughout race week in a survey showed 71 the form of frequent, smaller meals. Moder percent of runners and suggests trying different combinations before 65 percent of cyclists race morning to see what works, and lists suffered from either bagels, toast, cereal, milk and bananas as lower or upper GI problems. good race-day breakfasts. While there is no cure for IBS, it is possible Terri Schneider, a triathlete and triathlon to treat the symptoms holistically and medically, coach, says that psychology can play a huge though the most effective treatments vary by part in improving an IBS athlete’s race. “It individual. Studies have shown that exercise comes down to getting in the zone,” she says. can help with IBS by improving mood and “You want to be excited but not over the edge.” relieving stress, and it can help to speed up what Schneider also emphasizes a nutrition plan for could otherwise be painful bowel movements. any race longer than Olympic distance; since Some can point to trigger foods and avoid calories must be consumed, it’s important for them to prevent pain, but for most people, IBS athletes to have a strict plan. there’s no specific food that triggers pain. Of Of course, the situation is not without course, people with IBS should pay careful humor: Tim Phelan, author of Romance, attention to nutrition, as a recent study has Riches, and Restrooms, a memoir about his shown that subjects in IBS remission ran a IBS struggles, is quick to open up about his higher risk for malnutrition. Clinical nutri- experience as a struggling triathlete learning tionist Michelle Moder says that eating too to cope with IBS. much high-protein and high-fat food (such Triathlon was exactly what he needed. “In as bacon and eggs) shortly before exercise Masters swim, I was always 25 meters from can cause GI problems. a bathroom,” he says, and Perhaps the worst when running and biking, Instead, she suggests eating low-fat, carbohydrate-rich “the Rockies are the biggest news for athletes favorites as part of a daily open-air bathrooms in the is that IBS is com- world.” Phelan learned the training diet. Examples of GI-friendly pre-workout monly brought on best ways to cope, saying, foods are low-fiber cereal “It’s a regimented, preby stress, like right planned existence.” and milk, a bagel with lowfat cream cheese, oatmeal before a race starts. Athletes experiencing and a banana, and yogurt. frequent gastrointestinal Moder’s most important nutrition tip is to distress should ask their doctors about IBS. ignore strict nutrition advice: Try different There’s no single medication, diet tip or foods and see what works for you. Hydration holistic remedy that’s a surefire cure for IBS, is also key, especially during workouts. but you can learn how to control it. After Your doctor can also prescribe medications all, when you train this hard, shouldn’t you including laxatives, antispasmodics and anti- be able to fully enjoy the rush of competdepressants for those in extreme pain. Perhaps ing instead of waiting on the sidelines for a the best advice for an athlete with IBS is to Porta-Potty to open up? develop a routine, including a sense of when On the bright side, triathlons are posmajor bowel movements occur, a basic diet sibly the best competitions for people with plan and a training schedule. IBS. After all, as Tim Phelan reminded me, Triathletes with IBS have a lot to be ner- just look to Julie Moss, the original Ironman vous about on race day. While the swim and legend. He asks, “What other job can you have bike legs of the course have relatively low where you finish second, crap your pants and impact on the digestive tract and bowels, people love you?” september 2009
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dana doBBS triMMed doWn HiS SportS repertoire and BecaMe a HigH-perforMance age-grouper Most new triathletes have to learn new sports disciplines. Dana Dobbs, a hearingimpaired two-time Deaflympics Decathlon gold medalist, had to forget a lot—hurdling, high-jumping, discus throwing, etc.
Like many former star college athletes, Dobbs, 43, now a teacher in Annapolis, Md., with a wife and two children, took up triathlon in his 30s as a way to get back in shape and give his competitive instincts a healthy outlet. With each passing season, he became more serious about the sport until he set his sights on qualifying for the Hawaii Ironman. Along the way he transformed his beefy, 172-pound decathlete’s body into a lean, 145-pound triathlon machine. It all paid off in his eighth qualifying race, when he finished second in his age group at the 2007 Eagleman Ironman 70.3 and punched his ticket to Kona. Now that he’s reached his ideal body weight and body composition for triathlon performance, Dobbs is determined to stay there. “My theory is that consistency is best,” he says. “I don’t want my body to have to experience drastic changes.” Dobbs found the diet habits that work best for him through trial and error. He doesn’t have an overarching diet philosophy. Rather, he uses a collection of individual practices that seem to work for him. “I’m careful of my fat intake,” he says. “I don’t drink soda. I don’t eat
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dave Scott’S tip Did you know that one in four calories in the average American’s diet comes from beverages? Our taste for nutrient-poor soft drinks, energy drinks, coffee drinks and alcoholic beverages is considered to be a major cause of the weight struggles that affect so many of us. The good news is that replacing these beverages with low- or zero-calorie alternatives such as tea and water is a simple way to eliminate excess calories from your diet and get leaner. Dave Scott is a six-time winner of the Hawaii Ironman World Championship.
“No man competes to lose. But competing without character guarantees losses even if you finish on the podium or set a PR. Multisport Ministries was founded to equip and encourage you, the Christian Triathlete, to “run in such a way that you will win.”... Join our team of Olympic, world class, and amateur competitive triathletes today. We know you’re racing, now it’s time to race with more purpose.”
- Kenny Luck Founder & President, Every Man Ministries Author of RISK, DREAM, FIGHT, and Every Man, God’s Man Multisport MINISTRIES Advisory Board Member
“For physical training is of some value, but Godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8)
“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:19)
A TRIATHLON TEAM WITH A PURPOSE
Racing is competition and healthy competition builds character.
red meat or pork. I don’t eat past the point of fullness.” Healthy diet habits seem to be more sustainable when they are simple. Dobbs’ advice for other triathletes is not necessarily that they copy his specific dietary habits but rather that they emulate the trialand-error process that led him to develop these habits. “Everyone is different,” he says. “It’s important to find what works for you. Develop a plan and then execute that plan.”
C heC king in
faMilieS tHat train togetHer, Stay togetHer Courtesy Vinu Malik
By kevin maCkinnon I still remember the conversation I had with my daughter’s third grade teacher who disapproved when I let her know that Chelsea would be missing two weeks of school to attend a kids’ triathlon camp I was coaching in Barbados. “You’re suggesting that she might not get more out of spending a week with 17 children from nine different countries than she will sitting in this classroom?” I’ve always felt that you should never let school get in the way of your education, which is why my wife, Sharon, and I have never hesitated to bring Chelsea, 15, Sean, 13 and Ian, 11, along with us to see more of the world through triathlon. With a former professional triathlete father who now works in the triathlon industry and a mom who is the defending world sprint champion in her age group, it should come as no surprise that our three children have
done their fair share of triathlon events over the years, and started young. Sean was too young to tie his shoes at his first race – he stuck his foot out under the fence in the transition area for his mom to tie up. After watching his big brother and sister race for a few years, Ian couldn’t wait to get into his first triathlon. Now we’re all involved in the local kids’ triathlon club, either as athletes or coaches. Families don’t have to come from our competitive background to enjoy the sport, though. Dave and Kara Deschenes got into the sport because of their son, Kyle, 12, who became an avid triathlete six years ago after
he saw a flier for a kids’ triathlon in Florida. Kyle signed up for the Tampa Bay Tri-Sports club and within a few years, Dave Deschenes, who had been a cyclist but quickly found himself becoming a triathlete thanks to his son, became the USAT-certified head coach of the club. While his parents were spectators as Kyle won his age group at the recent IronKids event in St. Petersburg, the family often competes at the same event and does training sessions together. “In what other sport can you all get out and be involved at the same time?” Dave Deschenes says. Like the Deschenes family, we’ve also enjoyed the chance to compete as a family at different races. My kids still talk about the super-competitive Swiss children they faced at the kids’ event held in conjunction with Ironman Switzerland. They’re also starting to talk about taking on Mom and Dad at an upcoming race, too—something we’ll have to deal with in the very near future as we struggle to keep up with our kids. Kevin Mackinnon has written two books on children’s training: A Healthy Guide to Sport and A Healthy Guide to Competition.
C heC king in
Would you ratHer … By holly Bennett “Whhhrrrrrr, whhhhrrrrrr,” buzzed the drill, warming up before invading my mouth. I was strapped into the dentist’s chair, awaiting a procedure for a permanent crown. To say I was nervous about this appointment would be an enormous understatement. The logical part of my mind knew that getting a crown, in and of itself, was no big whoop. But I have memories stashed away of severe trauma from previous oral surgeries. At the age of 17, I had my jaws completely reconstructed. In the process, I lost a doubletransfusion’s worth of blood, was hospitalized for four days before the “experts” bothered to do a blood count and suffered the wrath of a screeching nightshift nurse who assumed my lack of energy was teenage laziness. Not surprisingly, I waited nine years before visiting a dentist again. Then, when it came time to meet the surgeon who would perform a necessary wisdom tooth removal, I greeted him warmly with the statement, “I don’t believe you’re not trying to kill me.” The wisdom-tooth surgery itself was uneventful, but the pain and swelling I experienced afterward were extraordinary. The surgeon vowed to refill my Vicodin prescription as often as I requested, warnings of addiction 46
be damned. I was working as a waitress at a breakfast joint at the time, and our contingency of regulars was up in arms, convinced that I had been horribly beaten by some ill-intentioned attacker. It did look rather like someone had taken a hammer to my face. Next up was a root canal several years later to the same tooth that my dentist was now preparing to crown. Suffice it to say the endodontist had less than perfect aim. X-rays show the inaccurately angled path he initially drilled, nearly penetrating the side of my tooth before correcting his drill and driving straight down the midsection. So there I sat, knowing that the crown procedure would be boringly minor, clutching my BlackBerry nonetheless, as if it were my only lifeline to the outside world of safety. I texted a friend: Mouth is numb. I’m scared to death. His reply: Would you rather be tucked in that chair or halfway through an Ironman swim, gut cramping and goggles knocked off, gulping seawater and struggling to stay afloat? Me: In the swim, of course! Hell, I’d rather be puking on the side of the road in an Ironman with 20 miles to go in the marathon, blisters on both ends of both
feet and the threat of a glow stick looming large, than sitting in that chair, waiting for the dentist to grind my tooth down to a tiny cone. I’m that kind of crazy. What is it that makes a thing painful or frightening to one person, yet pleasurable (or at least reasonably bearable and worth repeating) to another? When I think of Ironman, words such as incredible, challenging, life-altering, emotional and slightly bizarre fill my head. Pain is something I acknowledge, but it’s nowhere near the top of the list. Of course, even we endurance athletes have our arbitrarily drawn boundaries. I’ll run a marathon any day, but look me in the eye and tell me that an ultra-run is a good idea, and I’ll tag you as certifiably insane. Incoming text: Would you rather be there or in a twin-engine plane in brutally stormy weather? OK, he had a point. Even greater than my anxiety about oral surgery—and completely incongruous with the amount that I travel—is my fear of crashing in a plane. Sure, throw me in a body of open water with a three-foot swell and demand that I swim 2.4 miles, and I’ll stroke my way through with a smile. But the slightest in-air turbulence will send me straight into the lap of the stranger next to me. I relaxed back into the chair, stopped white-knuckling my BlackBerry and opened wide for the drill. september 2009
A Decade of
In 1999, Vinu Malik, an East Coast-based age-group triathlete, was churning through the marathon at Ironman Lanzarote when he spied an athlete with a jerry-rigged drink belt and thought, “I can do better than that.” Ten years later, the enigmatic and driven founder of FuelBelt has more than 120 products in a segment that he single-handedly created. FuelBelt has won accolades from the race course, such as multiple Ironman wins, to the boardroom (placement on the Inc. 5000 list in 2007,
2008 and 2009) and partnerships with USA Track & Field, Gatorade and Team in Training) and has built an identity within endurance sports that holds the same brand niche as Kleenex. And he does it all while balancing training and qualifying for the Hawaii Ironman. We chat with the affable husband and father of two about building the brand, juggling time with family, infiltrating the run segment and things to come in the hydration belt market.
By Jay Prasuhn TriaThleTe: You’re arguably one of the busiest guys in our sport: You run a booming hydration system company, you own the popular triathlon website Xtri.com, you’re training for your 28th Ironman at Lake Placid to qualify for Kona, and you are a husband and dad—a model for maximizing your time. Vinu Malik: Time is the one commodity we’re all short on. If you want to be good at anything, you need to be clear about the outcome you want and you need to involve those closest to you. Family time is always my No. 1 priority because it makes everything else in life seem easy. FuelBelt is a very busy company, but it never feels like work because I surround myself with great people who know exactly what it takes to stay out front. Training for Ironman is definitely hard work, and time management is the key. Training to qualify for Hawaii raises the bar even higher, which means I need a focused prep of six weeks. When people say they don’t have the time, they are making excuses. My schedule is not for everyone, but it goes to show that you can have a very rich life if you focus on family first. Q: What were you doing before you launched FuelBelt? a: I was working for a start-up company in Boston called Student Advantage that was on the fast track to go public. I had stock options in the business, which allowed me to get FuelBelt off the ground. I bought a house, a car and invested everything else into my new business. Ironically, I am working very closely with the same team on a new venture called Mission, which makes great skin care products designed for athletes. Q: How did you get the capital together to start the company, and what were some of the stumbling blocks? a: Start-up money came from savings and from the stock options I cashed out from the IPO. FuelBelt does not have any outside investment money and has been profitable since year one. We’ve had strong success over the years because we focused entirely on triathletes for several years 48
before targeting the run channel. Now, 11 years later, we’ve made the Inc. 5000 list three years in a row and have set our sights on building one of the top brands in endurance sports. As with most businesses, there are challenges, too. There are many sleepless nights when you start something on your own—there’s a lot of risk involved. Nothing can really prepare you for the experiences you will go through when you leave everything behind to go on your own. I put everything on the line, including my house, my portfolio and all of my savings. That’s what it took to build the business in the early years. You really need to believe in yourself if you’re going to make those kinds of sacrifices. Nothing in life is free, and there is no easy way. I made my best decisions when I had the least amount of money. People see a successful business on the outside, but they have no idea how much I put on the line to get it off the ground. Q: Tell me about starting this brand—did anyone doubt that people would actually latch a belt around their waist? a: I remember a close friend stopping by my one-bedroom apartment back in 1998. I had racks set up in the living room loaded with FuelBelts. He said, “Don’t give up your day job.” That was a memorable experience, as I was just about to walk away from my full-time job to pursue FuelBelt full-time. I have this unique quality of never forgetting the negative things people have said or done along the way, which only motivates me to prove them wrong. For the most part, I had very little support in the early years, including from my own family. Both of my parents were doctors and came from India and the Philippines. They worked very hard to make something of themselves. As the oldest son, they didn’t understand my interests or motivation, let alone starting a business. I had a lot of pressure from just about everywhere, but over time we proved that you can accomplish a lot if you put it all on the line despite the odds. september 2009
There are many sleepless nights when you start something on your ownâ€” thereâ€™s a lot of risk involved. Nothing can really prepare you for the experiences you will go through when you leave everything behind to go on your own.
the run, no other company has had as big an impact on performance as FuelBelt. If you think about it, the run is the hardest event because it is physically demanding, and it’s the last event. If you get low on hydration and nutrition, game over—you’ve just lost several minutes and won’t come close to your potential. Take a close look at Craig Alexander or Andy Potts. These guys run very fast at all distances, yet they wear the Helium belt when they race—they know the importance of hydration and nutrition because it is the difference between first place and second.
I’ve been racing for 25 years and worked my way through the ranks to become a Hawaii qualifier year after year. That speaks volumes to others who appreciate the commitment and hard work that goes into standing behind the sport, along with putting it all on the line when I show up to race. Q: Tell me about those first proto-belts. Who was your first pro athlete, and how bad, good, crude were those early ones? a: We had some very early support from athletes like Chuckie Veylupek, Cameron Brown, Scott Molina and Lisa Bentley. I took the first 50 belts and sent them out to anyone I could get a hold of. Athletes started turning up at big races wearing the FuelBelt, and that really helped us get the visibility we needed. We also invested in advertising space with John Duke at Triathlete and also at Xtri.com, which we later acquired. The first belt designs were constructed of knit-elastic webbing, which held several six-ounce plastic bottles with an ergonomic shape. The bottles were originally lotion containers, which were held in such a way to reduce bottle bounce. The initial belts were very basic, but they functioned very well. As we grew, we put more time into enhancing the comfort, fit and feel of the belts. Today, our Helium belts are outperforming all previous designs, and we’ve really stretched our appeal by offering a range of colors. We are working on the next generation of hydration systems, which will be a technical breakthrough on many levels. Q: You always seem to have the right athletes endorsing the product. I know they have been—and continue to be—a key part of your research and development. a: I definitely check in to see what we can do differently for our pros. Cameron Brown is a go-to source for me because he uses the FuelBelt more than anyone I know. Chris Lieto is always interested in product testing, so we’ll have him in the mix for the new designs that are coming out next month. We have back-to-back Kona wins, and last year we had both Craig [Alexander] and Chrissie [Wellington] at the front. All of our athletes were using our products before we put any agreements in place. Q: How do you gauge the importance of having a belt in the grand scheme of a triathlon? a: It seems like the industry puts way too much emphasis on the bike channel. Everyone is searching for free speed, but when it comes to 50
Q: At what point did this little triathlon product suddenly become a monster that we see on tons of athletes in running events, from 5Ks to ultramarathons, but mostly in marathons, a market that can be hard to penetrate? a: Most of our business today comes from the run channel. There are more than 40 million runners in the U.S., which means it’s a very large opportunity. We currently support more than 95 percent of all run stores across the country and work very closely with our partners at Gatorade, PowerBar and Team in Training to reach more runners. Triathletes are very forward-thinking, and we’re seeing more of this attitude in the run channel. We will see a big shift in attitude with runners over the next five years that will more closely resemble the openness to new gear options designed for hydration and accessories. Q: I know it’s just like anything successful, but which is the more prevalent feeling: flattery or irritation when you see several companies that have followed your model and gone into the belt hydration business? a: As a long-time competitor, I greatly appreciate the end result of my hard work. With more than 98 percent of the market share in triathlon and 85 percent in the run channel, that is a pretty big deal. When it comes to competitors, there are some companies that blatantly copy all of the best products of other companies and challenge you to take them on. This could be through legal action or by making investments in new product and marketing initiatives. Both are expensive, but both directions are necessary. As I’ve said before, building a road is far more difficult than simply driving through it. The competitors underestimate the importance of being genuine, relevant and authentic. We’ve invested more in triathlon than all other companies in our space combined and will continue to do so. There’s a lot in the works that will make it difficult for them to gain any traction. Q: You talk about authenticity, and as a front-of-the-pack age-grouper who earns his Kona slot every year, do you feel as though your personal identity gives the brand a greater core identity? Further, do you have athletes at races that come to you and say, “This is great how this is designed,” or “You ought to change this?” And how valuable is that feedback on a peer-to-peer basis? a: I’ve been racing for 25 years now and have worked my way through the ranks to become a Hawaii qualifier year after year. That speaks volumes to others who appreciate the commitment and hard work that goes into standing behind the sport, along with putting it all on the line when I show up to race. The fact that the FuelBelt brand is tied to me is a unique responsibility, which deserves my respect and best effort at all times. I meet thousands of athletes each year, and I receive a lot of great support from the field about our products. We are overwhelmed with positive stories. I also receive a number of suggestions on how to improve products. When customers take the time to send their ideas to me, we definitely listen. I also test every product we have so that I understand first hand what works and what needs to be changed, and I often take the time to answer customers directly. My team is very focused on customer service, and it ranks as a top priority for all of us. september 2009
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We RepoRt, You ApplY TriaThlon has wiTnessed The coming and going of several Training Trends in The pasT quarTer cenTury. whaT will The nexT Trend be? By Matt Fitzgerald â€˘ Photos By john segesta
According to legend, Bruce Jenner did not train to win the decathlon in the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics. Instead, he trained as if he were going to Montreal to compete in the 10 individual track and field events that comprise the decathlon. Jenner would show up at the track every morning and look around to see who else was working out. Spying a group of hurdlers, he would approach them and say, “What are you guys doing today?” Then he would join them for their workout. After that he’d look around and spot some javelin throwers. “What are you guys doing today?” And so on. The first triathletes, who came around at about the same time Jenner appeared on the Wheaties box with his gold medal, did something similar. Most of the sport’s first-generation competitors came from backgrounds as competitive swimmers, cyclists or runners. As these athletes tried to figure out how to train for the new hybrid sport they were creating, the swimmers contributed their familiar swim training methods, the runners contributed their familiar run training methods, and the cyclists contributed their familiar bike training methods. Thus, as a result, the first triathletes trained like swimmers, cyclists and runners simultaneously. Triathlon training has evolved considerably since the late 1970s. It didn’t take the pioneers too long to discover that they had to modify traditional training methods in each of the three triathlon disciplines to 54
accommodate the other two. They had to reduce the number of highintensity runs and rides to prevent overtraining and to take advantage of a crossover effect between the two disciplines. Some interval swims were replaced with long, steady swims to better prepare athletes for the specific challenge of open-water racing, and so forth. Subsequent to these early adjustments, other influences have come along and effected further changes in triathlon training. Today, one can look back on the 30-plus-year history of triathlon and identify several distinct trends in training, although the word “trend” must be used loosely here. Most of the influences that have marked new periods in the evolution of triathlon training have become permanent features of the sport, although not always as prominent as they were at the height of their trendiness. Let’s take a stroll through the years and define the five biggest trends in the evolution of triathlon training.
More is Better It was the first Ironman, held on the island of Oahu in 1978, that established triathlon as a legitimate new sport. This event was conceived not so much as a race but as an epic test of human endurance. Most of those who participated were not your everyday marathon runners and 400 IM swimmers, but were instead endurance adventurers who got their kicks from long days of training more than from racing the clock. september 2009
The first generation of triathletes, most of whom were drawn to the sport by television coverage of the Hawaii Ironman, was full of men and women who shared the same lust to see just how far they could go. So it was only to be expected that the first identifiable trend in triathlon training was a steady inflation in training volume as the sport’s pioneers essentially competed to out-train one another—a laurel they coveted as much as they did race victories—and to find that point of negative returns beyond which additional training hurts rather than helps race performance. There were few triathlon coaches back then, so triathletes received most of the training instruction directly from the top athletes, including the so-called “Big Four”—Dave Scott, Scott Tinley, Mark Allen and Scott Molina—in the pages of Triathlete. The magazine’s early issues are littered with interviews with these legends in which they shared their prodigious training numbers, which were then emulated by readers who probably had no business doing so. Some of the subjects of these interviews have admitted to deliberately inflating their training numbers to pressure their rivals, who responded by actually going out and beating those numbers, boasting about it, and thereby putting the pressure back on the instigator. “There are days I’ll get up and start training at seven [in the morning] and won’t finish until seven or eight that night,” said Scott Tinley in the July 1984 issue of Triathlete. In that same interview, Tinley conceded that the training inflation trend was beginning to get out of hand. “It seems every year the ante
goes up,” he lamented. “A few years ago we did 300 miles [a week] on the bike and that was plenty. Last year it was 400. Now it seems like 500 is the magic mark.” Tinley was asked who was to blame for this trend. “The top four or five guys are to blame,” he said. “Each of us feels we have to do more than the next guy. I’m not so sure that’s the right way to train, to improve. No one really knows.”
eAsy does it The second major trend in triathlon training could be seen as something of a backlash against the first. The late 1980s witnessed the emergence of a new group of triathlon training authorities who shared a philosophy that stressed moderation and balance in training. This philosophy came to be well-codified by the motto of coach Joe Friel, author of the seminal Triathlete’s Training Bible (second edition, Velo Press, 2008). Friel said, “The athlete should do the least amount of training necessary to achieve his or her goals.” This wisdom had two distinct sources. One was those elite and hardcore triathletes who discovered that more training is not, in fact, always better. The most noteworthy, if not the first, elite triathlete to discover this was Mark Allen, who in a 1984 interview said, “Too many people get caught up in the whole mega-mileage image of triathlon training. They’ll say, ‘Oh my God, my log book says I’ve only gone this many miles this week; I can’t take a day off.’” The other source of the wisdom that moderation and balance in
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training are the most reliable path to maximum race performance was the less hardcore wave of triathletes who came flooding into the sport as it grew throughout the world. Many of these athletes had neither the time nor the inclination to train 20 or more hours per week, yet they still wanted to perform as well as possible in races, so they sought ways to get the most benefit from the least amount of training. In an article on “The State of the Sport” published in May 1987, Triathlete reported, “Most triathletes have fit the sport into their lives in a more manageable way [than the hardcore first-generation triathletes did]; they’ve discovered that they can participate on their own terms, that they don’t have to plan on doing the Ironman to be triathletes.” The man who became the poster boy of the “Easy Does It” trend in triathlon training was Phil Maffetone, who happened to be Mark Allen’s coach. Maffetone developed a method of training slow to get fast. He urged elite and age-group triathletes alike to do nearly all of their training at a low heart rate associated with the maximal rate of fat burning. There is a legendary story of Mark Allen having to walk some of the hills in his early base-building runs to keep his heart rate where Maffetone wanted it. Such stories became legendary throughout the worldwide triathlon community and produced thousands of Maffetone Method devotees.
and VASA Trainer inventor Rob Sleamaker, MS, who coauthored the book SERIOUS Training for Multisport Athletes (Human Kinetics, 1996), which prescribed a training system that seemingly required a master’s degree in exercise science to be understood and applied. Blood lactate analysis was a big part of this trend. Among the prominent endurance coaches who based his training programs on lactate testing in those days was Tom Craig, best known as the husband of world-class miler Regina Jacobs, who swore by the effectiveness of the lactate testing he did with all of his athletes. “He collects a series of measurements garnered from tests, time trials and daily log entries, and uses the manufactured fabric of information to formulate his coaching,” wrote former Triathlete editor T.J. Murphy of Craig in a 1997 article. “Craig is, in effect, using science to diminish the unpredictability of individual variation, and blood lactate readings serve as would a compass.” The poster boy of the scientific training trend was Belgian pro triathlete Luc Van Lierde, who won the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in 1996 and 1998 and based all his training on the results of blood tests. The teaser copy for a 1997 Outside magazine profile of Van Lierde says it all: “Assuming that the calibration of my heart rate and recovery times has been optimally linked to my individualized nutritional needs, I will kick your ass.”
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Almost from the very beginning, triathlon has been a sport that embraces science and technology. In the mid-1990s, that embrace led to the emergence of a trend of highly scientific training. The coaches who created this trend formulated training systems based on blood lactate testing, heart rate zones and complex periodization formulas. Among them were seven-time Ironman winner Ray Browning, MS,
In the first years of the second millennium, triathlon training became more holistic. Coaches and athletes expanded their attention beyond workouts to include techniques of recovery enhancement, injury prevention, health promotion and such. Perhaps it happened because the first generation of top triathletes was getting older, and many of its members were increasingly concerned with keeping their
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bodies intact. Or maybe it happened simply because workout formats had reached such a state of refinement that coaches and athletes had to look elsewhere for better performance. Whatever the reason, it happened. Triathlete’s March 2002 issue was typical of this time. T.J. Murphy contributed an article on deep-water running, a form of cross-training that was then gaining popularity as a way to train through running injuries, and an article on strength exercises to correct the common muscle imbalances that increase the risk of overuse injuries in triathletes. That issue also contained an advertisement for Endurox R4 recovery drink, among the first of many products appealing to triathletes’ growing interests in ways to gain performance advantages between workouts. Recovery became a borderline obsession during this period. In March 2003 Triathlete published an article under the title “RecoveryBased Training,” whose author (yours truly) commanded, “Begin thinking of workouts not as ends in themselves but as tools to stimulate recovery, which is exactly what they really are.” Not long after this article was published, Triathlete received a letter from Wayne Goldsmith, a swim coach in Australia who claimed to have coined the term “recovery-based training” and politely asked whether I had stolen it. Well, no, I had come up with it on my own, but a quick Internet investigation revealed that Goldsmith had in fact come up with it independently before I had. And not only that, but other coaches were using it as well. Something was in the zeitgeist.
The DigiTal age The dominant trend in triathlon training today is digital support. Power meters are appearing on more and more bikes,
and more triathletes are downloading their power files onto computers for analysis on software programs such as TrainingPeaks WKO+. Speed and distance devices using GPS or accelerometer technology are seen increasingly often on the wrists of triathletes performing their run workouts, and the data that these devices collect is being downloaded and analyzed. “The data that I get out of a power meter and a speed and distance device has revolutionized the way I coach athletes,” said Joe Friel, a leader of the digital training trend. “It’s dramatically different than it was even two years ago—much more effective.” Also part of the ongoing digital trend is an explosion in the popularity of online coaching. Thousands of triathletes pay monthly fees for one-on-one coaching from services such as Carmichael Training Systems and Ultrafit. Online applications such as Joe Friel’s Virtual Coach and Mark Allen’s eGrip, which generate customized training plans automatically based on user input, are also popular. All of this digital support is actually changing how triathletes train. Power meters and speed and distance devices encourage triathletes to set performance-based benchmarks for workouts (instead of using physiological parameters such as heart rate) and to plan for and monitor their training development in the same terms. Meanwhile, the use of online coaching and training applications is shifting triathletes away from a race-to-race approach to training to a seasonal approach, which is what the pros have long used. What will the next triathlon training trend be? A trend of individualized training based on genetics? A return to the “more is better” philosophy? A mania for high intensity? Only time will tell. september 2009
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T r i aT h lo n p s y c h o lo g y
What Really Motivates You? By Ben Greenfield
There is one distinct moment in triathlon that can give you a gripping sense of panic. No matter your stamina, your training or your experience, it can instantly suck the energy from your legs, the willpower from your mind and the deep desire to finish from your heart. If you encounter this moment unprepared, your race might be over. But if you are armed with the ultimate answer, you might quickly launch yourself toward your greatest race ever. This moment is that fleeting thought that sweeps into your brain during the stiffest wind on the bike or the steepest hill on the run, when you are mentally and physically drained—the precise time when you mentally scream at yourself: Why the hell am I doing this? Go ahead, ask yourself that question right now. Sure, your response may not be as raw as when you’re in the heat of the race, but the simple mental drill of questioning yourself will give you an answer now that you can later use as a powerful motivator for training and racing. So, what is your answer? In my attempts to understand what motivates the athletes I coach, I have questioned literally hundreds of individuals about why they do the sport. Common responses given by all ages and skill levels include staying healthy, relieving stress, setting a good example or the all-too-common answer: “to climb my september 2009
own personal Mount Everest.” These are logical responses. They are rational, immediately understandable and socially acceptable. But can this type of cookie-cutter response truly motivate you in your hardest hour, when you’re digging as deep as humanly possible to put one foot in front of the other to reach the finish line? Can the fuzzy and warm motivation to improve your health profile or lead a balanced lifestyle really pull you through a five-hour brick workout or a marathon in 90-degree heat? Probably not. On the other hand, consider the possibility that your participation in the sport may be driven by some illogical reason, a highly emotional want or fear. To look good naked, perhaps, or to eat horribly and not gain weight. To prove that even though you didn’t land your dream promotion at the office, you can still beat your boss by 10 minutes in the local 5K. Any of these reasons might be considered irrational motivation. Contrast these with rational, but emotionless, motivation. The rational motivation is based upon logical but non-specific reasoning, such as being healthy. The irrational motivation is based upon a powerful and specific emotional craving, such as fitting into your size 4 jeans and turning every head in the room when you walk into the Christmas party. The rational motivation is respectable triathletemag.com
T r i aT h lo n p s y c h o lo g y and easy to explain to your friends. The irrational motivation can be embarrassing and difficult to identify, but it can illuminate our deepest, darkest fears and desires. So how can you identify your irrational and emotional motivators for triathlon? Try the following exercise, but don’t do it in the back of your head while you’re turning laps. Sit down for several minutes with a pen and paper and take the exercise seriously. Ask yourself, “Why do I do triathlons?” If you said, “To feel better,” then ask the same question to your answer. In other words, ask yourself, “Why do I want to feel better?” If you said, “To be more productive at work because I have a hard time being productive unless I exercise,” then ask the same question to your answer again. For example, ask yourself, “Why do I want to be more productive?” Perhaps now the answer is, “So that I get a job promotion and earn a bigger salary.” Continue the pattern. “Why do I want to get a bigger salary?” You have now arrived at your emotional motivator for triathlon. You respond, “Because I was never able to afford the education that I wanted, but I can give my kids the means to pursue their college dreams.” Now, imagine your alarm clock blaring at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning to wake you up for a 20-mile run. You tell yourself, “I do this so that I feel better.” Are you motivated? Next, you tell yourself, “I do this because it helps me make the big money so that my children can get a good education, become successful and live their dreams.” Now are you motivated? Congratulations, you now understand how to harness the power 64
of the emotional motivator. Unfortunately, when I recently posed the question “Why do you do triathlon?” on my blog, I received a host of responses that were brutally honest but often narcissistic, carnal or too depressing to use for motivation. Some examples: “I want to be able to eat and drink whatever I want, but I don’t have enough self-control, so I compete in a sport where excessive exercise for caloric balance is OK.” Be careful with this motivator. Although it is a popular irrational reason for many triathletes, it will probably not provide you with the extra mental kick you need in the middle of a race or a hard training session. If this is indeed your rationale, consider framing it differently: “I compete in triathlon because I love food, and knowing that I have to maintain fitness for my next race keeps me swimming, cycling and running with an incredibly consistent, metabolism-boosting exercise schedule that completely decimates every calorie I consume.” In other words, your non-triathlete neighbor doesn’t have the same performance pressure as you do to be able to balance out pizza, pasta and beer. Here is another popular but irrational reason. I call it the “I’ll show them” motivator: “I was never good at sports growing up and was always the last person picked for team events. But I’ve discovered a sport where it is socially acceptable to call myself an athlete, no matter where I finish in the event.” This motivation is the driving force for the individuals who wear their Ironman sweatshirt to every high school reunion. If this is your reasoning, consider a slight alteration, such as, “I compete in this sport because I am an athlete, and triathlon will allow me to improve my september 2009
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T r i aT h lo n p s y c h o lo g y
Consider the possibility that your participation in the sport may be driven by some illogical reason, a highly emotional want or fear. skills and be an athlete forever.” With this change of phrasing, you’ve removed negative self-talk and given yourself a simple driving message to send to yourself during a race: “I am an athlete!” A third common motivator that typically occurs after completing your first triathlon or first Ironman is: “I do triathlons because I did just one, this one time, and then I had to keep coming back and trying to beat my performance from the previous year.” This is a good start, but it stops one question short of being a true motivator. Why do you want to beat last year’s performance? Be careful with the answer. Many people respond with the same canned reason for climbing a mountain, “Because it’s there.” Isn’t it really because you want to prove to yourself that your body 66
is getting better and not worse? If you can just add just a few watts to your cycling hill strength, train that right arm to stop crossing over in your swim stroke and improve your cadence by five rpm on the run, then your body will perform better in this year’s race. And if your body performs better, it means that aging isn’t making you slower—instead you’re becoming faster and stronger. As your peers spend their sedentary lives in office cubicles or grow obese at weekend winery concerts, a yearly return to triathlon forms you into a battle-hardened, ageless warrior. And so you tell yourself on mile 23 of the marathon, “I need to increase my pace because I can beat last year’s time by two minutes, and when I cross the finish line, that feeling of eternal youth is irreplaceable.” If you find difficulty in the mental drill of discovering your irrational or emotional reason for competing in this sport, then stimulate your creativity with these other popular reasons: “I know that my family has a history of heart attacks and I don’t want to die early because my dream is to take my grandchildren to vacation in Europe.” “I want to be able to fit into any clothes that I want, and I am addicted to that feeling of supreme confidence when I look good in spandex and tight pants or shorts.” “I want to show my children that I can do more than just drive september 2009
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T r i aT h lo n p s y c h o lo g y them to soccer games, cook, clean the house or make a bed. I am a super-mom.” “I like the feeling that I get when I can see the veins in my arms and the cuts in my calves, and I hate the chance that I might lose those beautiful parts of my body.” “All my friends are triathletes. It is more than my sport: It is my social network, my outlet for meeting friends and one of the only truly exciting things in my life.” Finally, unless you are a professional triathlete, you should be aware that the following irrational motivator may not be popular with your significant other: “I have a socially acceptable excuse for ignoring my honey-do list and not doing yard work on the weekends because I’d miss the key workouts in my training plan.” The identification of these deep emotional wants, fears, irrational desires and true motivators is rarely discussed in the triathlon world and is hidden behind the generic catch-phrases of “increase fitness,” “conquer your personal Everest,” and “spend time in the great outdoors.” Perhaps we are afraid of the potential embarrassment when we realize that we aren’t doing triathlons to stay fit. We do triathlons because we’re trying to rebuild self-confidence lost in high school, we’re sick and tired of feeling like failures, and we’re ready to take 68
charge of our lives by actually completing something more significant than punching a clock. We don’t do triathlons to enjoy nature. We do triathlons because we have to fit back into our college jeans, look good in any swimsuit and never have to go on any diet, ever. We don’t do triathlons to create a challenge for ourselves. We do triathlons to satisfy our primal urge to fight other people; to fill our brains with dopamine and endorphins to replace past addictions; and to deny our muscles the ability to atrophy, our lungs the ability to shrink and our blood vessels the ability to disappear. You can create unstoppable motivation by uncovering the truth about yourself. There is no right or wrong answer. Do not care about what other people think. Just be honest with yourself. Now it’s your turn: Why do you do triathlon? Ben Greenfield is the director of sports performance at Champions Sports Medicine, Champsportsmed.com, in Spokane, Wash., where he manages bicycle fitting, run gait analysis, swim stroke analysis, blood lactate testing and exercise/resting metabolic analysis. As the head coach for Pacific Elite Fitness, Pacificfit.net, he trains all levels of triathletes from around the world and hosts a free nutrition and performance podcast at Bengreenfieldfitness.com. For coaching inquiries or training information, e-mail him at email@example.com. september 2009
T r i AT h lo n P s y c h o lo g y
The Link Between Perfectionism and Performance ReseaRcheRs fRom the United Kingdom Recently investigated the effects of peRfectionist peRsonalities and peRsonal goal setting on tRiathlon peRfoRmance. We tRimmed this fiRst-of-its-Kind stUdy of most of the psychobabble to give yoU the sKinny on hoW to shatteR yoUR pR at this season’s “a” Race. Summary by brad Culp StudieS by JoaChim Stoeber, mark a. uphill and Sarah hotham During my sophomore year of high school I took a public speaking course, and our first assignment was to give a motivational speech to the class. One of my best friends opened his speech with the quote: “Shoot for the moon, because if you miss, you’ll fall among the stars.” I didn’t even wait until the speech was over to ridicule him for that one. Not only was it the cheesiest one-liner I’d heard since watching “Home Alone 2,” but I wholeheartedly disagreed with the message. Sure, achieving true perfection in any endeavor may be impossible, but settling for the consolation prize is a bad habit, and it’s not one that serious triathletes are familiar with. When it comes to attracting athletes with perfectionist personalities, few sports rival triathlon. The very nature of our sport has some serious gravitational pull for people who strive to be the best at everything. Anyone can be great at a single sport, but only a true perfectionist can do three sports in a row faster than his buddies. Researchers at the University of Kent and the Canterbury Christ Church University performed a pair of studies to explore the role of perfectionism, achievement goals and personal goal setting in triathlon performance (Stoeber et 70
al., 2009). Some of their findings were expected, yet others pose some interesting questions to explore in future research. Before we dive into the specifics of these two studies, let’s review a few key terms: Perfectionism: “The uncompromising pursuit of excellence” (Thompson, p.1015). Personal standards perfectionism: A self-oriented striving for perfection. Evaluative concerns perfectionism: Concerns over failing to achieve perfection. Performance goals: Also called ego goals, these are goals focused on performing better than others. Mastery goals: Also called task goals, these are goals focused on performing better than one has performed before. Approach-oriented goals: Striving to achieve something. Avoidance-oriented goals: Striving to avoid something. According to the studies, researchers in sport psychology have adopted the 2x2 framework introduced by Elliot and McGregor, which differentiates between four achievement september 2009
goals: performance approach, performance avoidance, mastery approach and mastery avoidance.
Do better than others
Doing better than before
Avoid doing worse than others
Avoid doing worse than before
The researchers note that prior studies on perfectionism in sport have demonstrated that personal standards perfectionism is most often associated with approach goals, whereas evaluative concerns perfectionism is most often associated with avoidance goals (Stoeber et al., 2008). This notion supports the dual-process model of perfectionism (Slade and Owens), which holds that perfectionism can be both positive and negative, depending on whether you strive to achieve perfection or you are afraid of not achieving perfection (for example, by making mistakes). Basically, some perfectionists want to be perfect, while others are afraid of mistakes and the shame and embarrassment they experience when making mistakes (Sagar and Stoeber). Before the studies in question, only two other studies sought to explain the relationship between perfectionism and performance in athletes, and the findings were somewhat contradictory. We’ll spare you most of the heavy details of these two studies and give you the CliffsNotes version instead. The first study (Anshel and Mansouri), which was performed in a lab, found that striving for perfection might actually impair athletes’ motor skills, particularly when the participants were given false negative feedback. The second study (Stoll et al.), which studied athletes during training, found that striving for perfection resulted in better overall performance. While these findings may appear to be completely divergent, september 2009
the different settings the researchers used may suggest that perfectionism can hold you back in the lab but help you on the practice turf. The present studies sought to further this research by gathering results from actual competitions—triathlons, of course. Why triathlons? Our sport provides a completely objective measure of performance at the end of the day (i.e., the amount of time it took athlete X to finish race Y). Second, the three separate disciplines that make up triathlon allowed the researchers to measure multiple variables for a single athlete. Lastly, in triathlon goals and performance satisfaction are almost entirely self-determined, unlike team sports in which individual performance is to a large part determined by the team’s performance or the performance of your opponents (unless you’re Terrell Owens).
hyPoThEsis The pair of studies had one main goal: to investigate the role of perfectionism, achievement goals and personal goal setting in triathlon performance. The researchers expected that personal standards perfectionism, performance approach goals and setting higher personal goals would predict race performance over and beyond what could be expected from triathletes’ previous performance level. sTudy 1 Participants. A sample of 126 athletes (98 male, 28 female) was recruited at a half-iron-distance triathlon. The mean age of the athletes was 36.5 years. All athletes had preregistered for the race and were recruited during registration on the day before the event. Overall, 190 questionnaires were distributed, of which 126 (66 percent) were returned. Of the 126 athletes who returned questionnaires, 11 did not enter the race, did not finish the race or experienced problems with the timing device. Consequently, the researchers gathered race performance data from 115 athletes. triathletemag.com
T r i AT h lo n P s y c h o lo g y
Procedure. Athletes who were registering were asked whether they would participate in a questionnaire study. Athletes who agreed completed a questionnaire measuring perfectionism, achievement goals and personal goal setting. Moreover, the questionnaires asked athletes to indicate their performance level (seasonal best race). Athletes’ participation was voluntary, and there was no financial compensation. Data on athletes’ race performance were obtained from the official race results provided by the race organizers. results. In line with expectations, personal standards perfectionism predicted race performance over and beyond what was expected from their previous performance level (previous best triathlon, seasonal best triathlon). Athletes who had perfectionistic personal standards achieved faster times and finished the race before athletes who did not have such high standards. Moreover, results showed that athletes who pursued performance approach goals rather than performance avoidance goals (see Chart 1.1) achieved faster times and finished the race before athletes who pursued performance avoidance goals rather than performance approach goals.
sTudy 2 Participants. A sample of 339 athletes (281 male, 58 female) was recruited at two Olympic-distance triathlons. The mean age of athletes was 37.2 years. All athletes had preregistered for the race and were recruited during registration the day before each race. Overall, 900 questionnaires were distributed of which 399 (44 percent) were returned. Of the 399 athletes who returned questionnaires, 24 did not show a total time in the official race results because they did not enter the race, did not finish the race or experienced problems with the timing device. Procedure. For the most part, the procedure was the same as in Study 1—except that athletes were asked about their seasonal best and their personal best (best performance ever), athletes were asked for the personal goals they set for the race (the times and the rank they wanted to achieve), and an incentive was introduced at the second Olympic-distance event to increase the number of questionnaires returned. Athletes who returned questionnaires could enter a lottery to win one of two cash prizes of £100 (approx. U.S. $160). results. Replicating the findings of Study 1, personal standards perfectionism again predicted race performance over and beyond what was expected from the subjects’ previous performance levels (personal best triathlon, seasonal best triathlon). Athletes who had perfectionistic personal standards achieved faster times and finished the race before athletes who did not have such high standards. And again, athletes who pursued performance approach goals rather than performance avoidance goals achieved faster times and finished the race before athletes who pursued performance avoidance goals rather than performance approach goals. In addition, results showed that personal goal setting had a positive effect on race performance. Athletes who set higher goals (faster times, higher ranks) achieved faster times and finished the race before athletes who did not set such high goals.
WhAT doEs This All MEAn? While the researchers go into far greater detail in their studies, there are really three major patterns that these two studies reveal: Athletes who show a self-oriented striving for perfection in triathlon (but are not afraid of making mistakes) are likely to achieve faster race times and finish before their competitors. Unlike the findings from the studies done in the lab, the studies’ findings suggest that during competition, perfectionistic personal standards enhance performance. 72
Athletes who are more approach-oriented than avoidance-oriented regarding their performance goals achieve faster times than athletes who are more avoidance-oriented than approach-oriented. Athletes who set higher performance goals for themselves (such as a new PR) and those who set higher outcome goals (a better finishing place) demonstrated better performance than those who did not set such lofty improvement goals. As one would expect, higher goal setting (“reaching for the stars”) led to higher performance.
noTAblE liMiTATions of ThE sTudiEs The samples for both studies were overwhelmingly male, which means that the findings are likely more representative of male triathletes. Estimates of previous levels of performance were made using athletes’ previous best races, which doesn’t take into account differences in courses (hills, wind, temperature, road conditions, etc.).
cAn ThEsE findings hElP you rAcE fAsTEr? For the most part, these two studies don’t tell us anything we don’t already know. Rather, the findings tell us to listen to something we too often ignore. From the time of our first grammar-school gym class, we’ve all heard about the importance of setting goals in sports. Many triathletes go into big races with two goals in mind: Of course, we all set best case scenario goals, but we also set fallback goals. If nothing else, these studies remind us that aiming for the best case scenario goal and forgetting about your consolation goal helps you race faster. Further, the studies demonstrate that having a positive mind-set when competing against others—striving to do better than others, not to avoid doing worse than others—helps you improve your times and be more satisfied with your results. If you run not only for your own pleasure, but also for the pride of doing better than others, approach performance goals will ultimately help you race faster. It’s important to note that you don’t have to subscribe to every ounce of traditional perfectionist doctrine to reach your potential. Rather, adopting certain traits commonly regarded as perfectionistic, namely ambitious goal setting and having a positive frame of mind when competing against others, can help you shatter your PRs. RefeRences 1. Anshel, M.H. and H. Mansouri. “Influences of Perfectionism on Motor Performance, Affect and Causal Attributions in Response to Critical Information Feedback.” Journal of Sport Behavior 28 (2005): 99–124. 2. Elliot, A.J. and H.A. McGregor. “A 2 × 2 Achievement Goal Framework.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 80 (2001): 501–519. 3. Sagar, S.S. and J. Stoeber. “Perfectionism, Fear of failure and Affective Responses to Success and Failure: The Central Role of Fear of Experiencing Shame and Embarrassment.” Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology In press. 4. Slade, P.D. and R.G. Owens. “A Dual Process Model of Perfectionism Based on Reinforcement Theory.” Behavior Modification 22 (1998): 372–390. 5. Stoeber, J., O. Stoll, E. Pescheck and K. Otto. “Perfectionism and Goal Orientations in Athletes: Relations with Approach and Avoidance Orientations in Mastery and Performance Goals.” Psychology of Sport and Exercise 9 (2008): 102-121. 6. Stoeber, J., M.A. Uphill and S. Hotham. “Predicting Race Performance in Triathlon: The Role of Perfectionism, Achievement Goals and Personal Goal Setting.” Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology 31 (2009): 211-245. 7. Stoll, O., A. Lau and J. Stoeber. “Perfectionism and Performance in a New Basketball Training Task: Does Striving for Perfection Enhance or Undermine Performance?” Psychology of Sport and Exercise 9 (2008): 620–629. 8. Thompson, D., Ed. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English. 9th ed. Oxford: Clarendon, 1995. september 2009
T r i aT h lo n p s y c h o lo g y
Training Your Brain To Push Yourself Farther By Matt Fitzgerald
Last year, I presented a seminar on brain training, the subject of a book I wrote for runners, at a CrossFit facility in Los Angeles. At the beginning of the seminar I called for a volunteer to join me up front. I asked him to grab a dumbbell in his right hand, extend his arm forward from his shoulder and hold that position as long as he could. You may recognize this test as an old military punishment, where a rifle is used instead of a dumbbell. I told my volunteer that I would time his effort, but I would not give him any time feedback information until after he failed. He lasted about 15 seconds. I then asked the gentleman to repeat the test with the dumbbell in his left hand. This time, however, I informed him that he had lasted 15 seconds with the right arm and I wanted him to beat that mark with the left. Also, this time I gave him constant time information feedback by counting the seconds as they elapsed. And, as it happened, the other seminar attendees spontaneously shouted encouragement at my volunteer as he held the dumbbell. This time he held the dumbbell aloft for 22 seconds. My volunteer was right-handed. His left shoulder was no stronger than his right. So how was he able to hold the dumbbell longer in his left hand? It has to do with the fact that he had a goal, feedback and encouragement. But what’s interesting is that until recently, the theories and models of exercise science were incapable of answering this question that regular exercisers are able to answer intuitively. That’s because exercise science almost completely excluded the brain from its explanations of exercise performance and muscle fatigue. Traditionally, the body’s performance limits have been defined strictly in terms of physiological limits of 74
the muscles themselves or of other systems such as the cardiovascular system. But within the past 15 years or so, sports scientists have learned that exercise performance is really governed by the brain. When fatigue occurs, it is not because the muscles or cardiovascular system has run up against a hard functional limit. Instead, it is because the brain has essentially voluntarily shut down the muscles before they hit a limit to prevent the body from suffering serious harm. The fact that the true limits of exercise performance exist in the brain does not make these limits any less real. You cannot increase the maximum duration you can sustain, such as 225 watts of work output on your bike, by simply recognizing that your muscles could do more than your brain wants them to do. You can’t override those brain-based limits through “mind over matter” any more than you can jump off a building and use mind over matter to override the force of gravity. The mechanisms that cause your brain to impose fatigue in response to warning signals from your body are designed in such a way that it is almost impossible to kill yourself by exercise through sheer force of will. Essentially, what this means is that you can never truly exercise as hard as you can. There is always reserve capacity in your muscles at the point of fatigue. Triathletes hate this idea because they want to believe they are exercising as hard as they can in their toughest workouts and races. But a true 100 percent effort is actually unattainable. Your brain won’t allow it. But here’s the good news: The fact that you can never exercise as hard as you can means you can always exercise harder. That’s a concept that triathletes can get on board september 2009
with. Because fatigue is imposed by the brain before failure occurs elsewhere in the body, the threshold of fatigue is movable. Indeed, the threshold of fatigue is more like a zone than a line. This means that circumstances affect how close any given athlete may be able to push toward the point of true physiological exhaustion. So the athlete for whom maximum performance is important can learn the factors that enable him or her to push closer to “muscle catastrophe” and then ensure that all of those factors are in place when maximum performance is desired.
Before I identify some of those factors, let me first explain the fascinating science that proves that our exercise performance limitations reside in our brains. Much of this evidence comes from studies in which fatigue is imposed through some sort of exercise protocol, and different types of electrical sensors are used to determine whether fatigue occurred because the muscles quit, the brain quit or some balance of the two. One recent study of this sort involved trained competitive cyclists. Eleven subjects rode for two hours at roughly 66 percent of VO2peak and performed one-minute sprints at evenly spaced intervals throughout the ride. Before and after this test, the researchers measured the maximum contraction force of the quadriceps muscles through direct magnetic
stimulation. Normally, the muscles contract as a result of electrical stimulation from the brain. But because its job is to prevent harm to the body resulting from overexertion, the brain cannot stimulate the muscles to contract as forcefully as an outside force can. So outside forces such as magnetic energy can be used to determine the true internal functional capacity of the muscles. In this study, the subjects were also asked to contract their quadriceps muscles as forcefully as they could on their own before and after the cycling test. By comparing the decrease in magnetically stimulated contraction force to the decrease in maximum voluntary contraction force, the designers of this study were able to determine the contributions of central fatigue, or brain fatigue, and peripheral fatigue, or muscle fatigue, to overall fatigue. They found that before the cycling test, the force generated by magnetic stimulation was 17 percent greater than the force generated voluntarily in the quadriceps muscles. This means that even in a fresh, non-fatigued state, the cyclists were unable to use 17 percent of the full capacity of their muscles. After the cycling test, that gap increased to 29 percent. So even though magnetically stimulated contraction force itself decreased, indicating that there was some loss of capacity within the muscles themselves, the major contributor to overall fatigue was a reduction in the brain’s capacity—or willingness—to drive the muscles.
T r i aT h lo n p s y c h o lo g y
However, while we can never use sheer willpower to completely override the brain’s protective fatigue mechanisms, there are some things we can do to delay the activation of these mechanisms and use a little more of that reserve capacity to perform better. Here are five proven ways to make your brain let your body try harder.
Train for physical confidence
In endurance sports such as swimming, cycling and running, the brain performs its job of balancing your desire for maximum performance and the need to protect your well-being by enforcing a pacing strategy. In other words, pacing is the brain’s way of enabling you to swim, bike and run as hard as you can without actually exercising yourself to death. Ross Tucker of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, has coined the term “anticipatory regulation” to describe the brain-based mechanism that allows endurance athletes to feel their way to the right pace in maximum efforts such as races. Anticipatory regulation works better in experienced endurance athletes than in beginners because it uses past training and racing experiences to make accurate calculations about how fast the athlete can go without either bonking or finishing with too much left in the tank. Even in the most experienced athletes, these calculations aren’t perfect—thus a perfectly paced race is a rarity—but it is very reliable. It knows what your body is capable of. Thus, the primary objective of your training should be to make your anticipatory regulation mechanism believe that you can achieve whatever performance goals you have established for your next big race. In other words, the objective is to build what I call physical confidence. How is this done? Adhering to the conventional principles and methods of endurance training will do the job, but I believe you can get even better results by sometimes straying from convention for the sake of building physical confidence in a particular way. Specifically, I encourage triathletes to step back from their training periodically and ask themselves, “What sorts of workout experiences would give me the most confidence to achieve my race goal?” This is because mental confidence tends to follow the lead of physical confidence. Thus, if you execute key workouts and training patterns that leave you feeling mentally confident that you can achieve your race goals, it’s probably because those workouts or training patterns have changed your body and your subconscious mind in ways that make your anticipatory regulation mechanism predict that you can achieve your goals. So listen to your gut, develop your hunches into ideas and plans, and then act on them—even if they defy conventional wisdom. To cite a personal example, conventional wisdom says it’s crazy to run a marathon at 95 percent effort as a tune-up for a marathon peak race. But after an injury threw my training for a marathon PR off course last year, I got a hunch that doing just that would help me. I ran 2:46:58 in that tune-up, just 16 seconds off my existing PR, and I felt great and recovered quickly. In the marathon peak race I competed in three weeks later, I ran 2:41:34, and I’m convinced I would not have gone that fast if not for the physical confidence yielded by the tune-up.
seT goals In the example of the volunteer holding a dumbbell as long as he could, the primary reason he held it longer in his left hand than is his right was that he had a goal to shoot for the second time. Numerous studies in sports psychology have shown that athletes perform better with goals than without. Perhaps the most effective way to set goals is to simply aim to beat your own best performance standards. This can work not only in races but in workouts, too. Next time you perform 76
The fact that you can never exercise as hard as you can means you can always exercise harder. a set of 10x 100-yard intervals in the pool, aim to beat the cumulative time for the set that you established the last time you did it.
gaTher feedback Many years ago, when I set my 5K PR, I thought I had gone out too fast. I ran the first mile in 4:56—about 20 seconds faster than I meant to. When I reached the two-mile mark at 10:10 I assumed that my inevitable unraveling had only just begun. Sure enough, shortly thereafter I started to feel terrible. My suffering took on cosmic proportions. But when the finish clock became visible in the distance and I realized I had a chance to break 16 minutes for the first time, all of that disappeared. I caught an instantaneous, powerful second wind and kicked to the finish line. This is a clear example of how fatigue is essentially a choice that the brain has a certain amount of leeway to reverse under the right circumstances. The motivation derived from monitoring performance feedback is one circumstance that can push back the wall of fatigue. It works both ways; on your bad days, feedback will make things worse, but it will also make your best days better.
grade MenTal Toughness In the traditional, “brainless” scientific explanations of exercise performance and fatigue, the mental suffering of hard exercise serves no purpose. But in the brain-centered model of exercise performance and fatigue, suffering is seen as serving the essential function of anticipatory regulation. Specifically, suffering encourages you to slow down, or at least avoid speeding up, when necessary to avoid both self-harm and performance-destroying involuntary bonking. But it’s clear that some athletes can tolerate more suffering than others, and that those who can tolerate more suffering often perform at a level that is closer to their true physiological limits. I used to feel that I often failed to “leave it all out on the racecourse,” and I hated myself for it. So I decided to programmatically increase my mental toughness by grading my effort level after each race. This grade became more important to me than my actual finish time and placing, and it had the intended effect. I am now much more mentally tough in races than I was several years ago. And I think that can work for you, too.
coMpeTe and perforM In a fascinating study by Arizona State University researchers, volunteers were asked to lift as much weight as they could in three scenarios: first, in a group without competitive comparisons, again in an actual competition, and then in front of an audience of passive onlookers. The subjects were able to lift significantly more weight when performing alone before seated watchers than they were in competition, and lifted least in the non-competitive group environment. These results suggest that competition and being watched trigger social instincts that allow us to push closer to our true performance limits than we can otherwise. You can use this instinct to your advantage by actively involving yourself in your age-group competition, such as by having family and friends mark and report your age-group placement throughout an event and by inviting everyone you know to watch you compete in your next triathlon. september 2009
Bring on your venomous speed
STRETCHING TRIATHLON ACROSS RACIAL LINES BY JIM GOURLEY # 27: mArAthonS. # 61: biCyCLeS. # 65: Co-ed SportS. # 87: outdoor perFormAnCe CLotheS. # 96: new bALAnCe ShoeS.
these could be items from the top 100 list of what makes one a triathlete. but these are actually taken from the top 100 list on the humor website Stuffwhitepeoplelike.com. its creator, Chris Lander, satirizes his own ethnic culture in ways no one can avoid laughing at. At your next triathlon, take a look around. you might wonder if he’s onto something. Remarkably, until this year, American triathlon didn’t have a clear view of its constituency. There wasn’t an adequate body of statistics describing the ethnic makeup of the triathlon population. Skip Gilbert, chief executive of USA Triathlon, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., decided to put an end to the guesswork. He asked Steve Lafar, chairman of Tribe Group, LLC, a market research company specializing in multisport, to conduct a comprehensive survey of USAT athletes. The study, titled “The Mind of the Triathlete,” concluded in March, and already there are evident trends regarding minority involvement. Of 14,661 respondents, 469 were Hispanic, 303 were Asian, 384 identified themselves as multi-racial or other and 60 were AfricanAmerican. While this initial result speaks volumes, extrapolations must come with the caveat that the small sample size reduces accuracy with regard to the entire population. Evidence indicates that athletes from minority races are among the more recent additions to triathlon’s ranks. Approximately 25 percent of minority athletes have been participating for less than a year, a larger percentage than the 22 percent of white competitors. At the 10-year mark, the numbers are roughly 15 percent for Caucasians, compared to about 12 percent for triathletes of other races. While the percentages are close, they make for a marked difference in actual populations. september 2009
The number of new non-white competitors is correlated with athletes’ plans for triathlon-related expenditures over the course of the next year. According to the survey, per capita, minority athletes plan to spend big bucks in comparison to their white counterparts. New bikes account for the bulk of these outlays. Hopefully, this indicates that new non-white athletes plan to stick around. This could become a self-reinforcing trend, as non-white triathletes report that seeing other members of their ethnicity compete motivates them to continue.
Are pAStimeS deFined by ethniCity? It’s a widely held cultural conception that non-white athletes just don’t swim or bike. But is this really true? And to the extent that it is, should it be defined as a problem? Or should we just accept that triathlon is fated to remain predominantly a white thing with only mild interest among people of other races? Despite the fact that triathletes put themselves through brutal training to gain a competitive edge, triathlon is considered a leisure activity. Fifty years ago, baseball was “America’s pastime.” Today, spectators have passed that title to football. In many South American countries, soccer is, literally, the only game in town. Six years after his last game, Michael Jordan maintains Arthurian status among African-Americans. Is sport cultural? Are your pastimes defined by your ethnicity? If so, would USAT’s creation of a minority recruiting initiative be a good idea or a bridge to nowhere? Three outstanding athletes offer insights that give reason to hope. Manuel Huerta is currently the only non-white on the USAT elite roster, Omar Fraser is an African-American semi-professional XTERRA triathlete and Derrick Milligan is an African-American Ironman with more than 25 years of triathlon experience. Huerta upends the paradigm when asked about Latino participation in Miami-area events. “If you look at any race results from local triathlons, you will see Latinos aren’t the minority,” he says, noting that no single ethnic group has a noticeable majority in the crowd. He says it is a more balanced population, which is significant given the overwhelming preponderance of whites in the sport nationwide. Fraser defies suppositions regarding ethnic associations, saying, “I’ve always associated with people based on common interests instead of a skin color.” Milligan questions the Michael Jordan analogy. “If people are influenced by seeing others of similar ethnicity succeed in a sport,” triathletemag.com
he asks, “how come Kenyan marathoners haven’t inspired more black youth to become distance runners instead of sprinters?”
Swimming in the inner City If all the superficial assumptions are wrong, what’s the truth, and how deep do you have to dive to find it? One aquatics expert shows the way. With his Olympic teammates, Cullen Jones grabbed the world record and a gold medal for the 4x100m freestyle relay in Beijing. He’s the third African-American in history to make the U.S. Swim Team. These are great accomplishments under any circumstances. Now consider that Jones almost drowned when he was 5 years old, and the story takes a more meaningful turn. After Jones nearly lost his life in a water park ride, his parents enrolled him in swimming lessons. He became a standout and competed throughout his childhood. After successful performances at North Carolina State University and the Pan American games, he earned his ticket to Beijing. While Jones was among only a handful of African-Americans to compete at that level, his experience is unique in other ways. The teams on which he competed during his youth were mostly composed of black children. While the teams he swam against were predominantly white, there was a sense of ethnic identity and solidarity within his own team. That changed at the age of 15, when he transferred to an upper-level club team. “In my earliest competitions, I’d always realized that the other teams were predominantly white,” he says, “but I didn’t really think much about it until my first day on one of those teams.” While he quickly gained acceptance and made friends, he remembers that initial experience as an anxious moment. Like Jones, Fraser was also a Division-I swimmer, at Auburn University, but unlike Jones he got his start in the sport growing up 80
in Germany where sports such as swimming and cycling are more popular. While both athletes are highly successful, it’s hard to ignore the fact that their circumstances are more the exception than the rule. Jones’ observations on the challenges to getting non-white children in the pool are cause for consideration. “The most immediate challenge to inner city kids is availability of pools,” he says. In crowded cities, lanes and hours come at a premium, which is usually measured in dollars. Others fault segregation laws of the 1960s, which kept non-white people out of public pools. Milligan says this history has an effect on the present, but not in the way most people think. “There is some truth that if your parents didn’t participate in an activity, you may not,” he says, “but the biggest holdover from that era is that pools weren’t built in minority-inhabited areas of cities.” Exposure to the water might be more a matter of distance than discrimination. Lafar, of Tribe Group, indicates that this is a significant concern. “The bulk of minority athletes in our survey live in urban areas,” he says. Jones notes other obstacles specific to African-Americans. “Black women are very self-conscious about their hair, and the pool chemicals are a deterrent,” he explains. As for boys, Jones reflects on the anxiety associated with putting on a swim brief for the first time. For an African-American youth who already feels awkward in a locker room filled with white kids, this can be daunting, he says.
A negAtive FeedbACk Loop For non-white youth in urban areas, the socioeconomic dimension is an unavoidable consideration. According to Milligan, many parents just don’t have money for a bike. If bikes were cheaper, it wouldn’t september 2009
ItÕ s a widely held cultural misconception that non-white athletes just donÕ t swim or bike. So the first questions to answer are: Should this be defined as a problem? Is triathlon predominantly a white thing with only mild interest among people of other races?
necessarily solve the problem, though, he says. A native of Chicago, he explains the factors discouraging cycling in urban areas. Traffic is an obvious issue, but there’s a more disturbing problem. “A lot of the neighborhoods these kids live in are infested with gangs. It’s dangerous,” he explains. It creates a negative feedback loop, Milligan says. If it’s not safe to go outside, kids end up leading a sedentary lifestyle where they don’t get adequate exercise. Many of them never learn how to ride a bike. It’s a disappointing anecdote that’s grown into a tragic statistic. In June 2008, Time reported on childhood obesity in America. Prominently featured was the inordinately high rate of obesity among people from minority races, hitting a staggering 43 percent among Native-American children in South Dakota. The contributing factors cited were family income and municipal prosperity. Fraser is familiar with that experience. When he was 5 years old, his family moved from Germany to a predominantly white suburb north of Baltimore, where he continued swimming. When his team competed against a primarily non-white squad from the inner city, he could see the difference in the quality of their training. “Their pool was run down, constantly shutting down for maintenance,” he explains. “The coaches spent more time acting as parents than professional coaches. It was a little discouraging.”
bringing triAthLon to inner-City ChiLdren The model that Jones and Milligan propose to solve the problem is not based on creed, color or culture. Instead, the main points are exposure, expenses and encouragement. It’s a problem, but triathletes aren’t known for shying away from a challenge. In Milligan’s first triathlon experience he learned the rewards of embracing a challenge, and that motivated him to become involved in helping disadvantaged Chicago 82
youth discover triathlon. “My first triathlon was immensely painful,” he says. “But I was elated. It was the first thing I’d ever done that felt like a personal journey. I felt like I knew myself better.” Since then, several groups have formed to introduce triathlon to disadvantaged children of all races. Faith Inspired Triathlon Training LLC, founded in January 2008 by Ovetta Sampson, is an initiative in Colorado Springs. Another is Profound Sports in Minneapolis. Formed in 2007, it teaches leadership and character development to youth in the inner city. While these groups are already successful in their infancy, they aren’t venturing into uncharted territory. Others have been in the game for some time. African-American triathlete Alvin Hartley formed the Tri-Masters Sports Initiatives Programs in New York City in 1987 as a way for minority triathletes to train together. The idea exploded in popularity thanks to the vision of Bernard Lyles, who met Hartley in 1990 and soon after formed the Chicago chapter of Tri-Masters. Growing up in a family of 15 children, Lyles was familiar with the challenges facing minority youth there and wanted to use triathlon as a way to help kids realize their potential. Funded by grants, Lyles held the first Tri-Masters camp for kids in 1992. There were 30 in the first group, and it was so successful that more support quickly rolled in, allowing 100 children to attend the second year. Today, Tri-Masters has introduced triathlon to more than 1,300 disadvantaged children of all races in the Chicago area. The Tri-Masters mission is to show kids that they can achieve anything through hard work and personal responsibility. The approach to working with these at-risk youths isn’t as tender as people expect from typical outreach programs, and with good cause. You can hear anguish in Milligan’s voice when he says, “It’s a challenge just being a child these days.” september 2009
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Lyles also discusses the uphill battle participants face. “You’ve got to be a competitor just to get a job these days, let alone move up in one,” he says. Kids find their limits and break through them with help from the staff. “The kids that give you the most problems, they’re always the ones that come back for a second and third year of the program,” says Lyle, exposing his soft side. “They’re also the ones you never forget.” Milligan relates an encounter between Lyles and a youth participant who’d forgotten his gear. “Where are your swim goggles?” he asked. “My mom forgot them,” the boy responded. Somewhere else, this might have gotten the boy a reprieve. At Tri-Masters it garnered an object lesson. “Is your mom learning to swim today?” Lyles shot back. “Is your mom here? Where are your swim goggles?” After pausing to realize that there was, in fact, a correct answer to the question, the boy replied, “I forgot them.” Lyles wants kids to achieve their full potential, and the first step is realizing that their potential isn’t defined by where they live, their income level or their ethnicity. It’s defined by their approach to life. Some may say that growing up on the mean streets is different than finishing a triathlon. But Lyles will show you a legion of Tri-Masters alumni, one of whom is finishing medical school this year, who refutes that notion.
What’s the next step toward increasing involvement by non-white athletes on the national level, and what’s the direction for the long term? Skip Gilbert has been laying groundwork for a couple of years now, and affirms his commitment. “USAT has been working on a long-term strategic plan, and one of the issues that we are looking at is to increase minority participation within the multisport lifestyle,” he says. “We have a number of programs that have launched at the local level that our specific regions have embraced.” Gilbert is cautious of making things too organized, though. “We’ve already got a large body of regional programs out there,” he says. “Trying to bring them all under a singular plan would actually hinder them.” With regard to swimming, Gilbert sees duathlons as a way to get kids involved without getting discouraged by the lack of a resource that’s unquestionably difficult to provide. The hope is that these young athletes get hooked on multisport and take up swimming later. It goes to the heart of Gilbert’s intentions. “I want kids to get involved in triathlon. But if my efforts encourage a child to become a cyclist, runner or swimmer, will I be disappointed? Absolutely not. The focus that everyone shares is getting more kids into a healthy lifestyle and to adopt habits that they will maintain for life,” he says. Jones feels an obligation associated with his success. To that end, he started the Cullen Jones Diversity Tour. Traversing the country at a frenetic pace, Jones headlines events intended to raise awareness of water safety and swimming as a sport among minority communities. More information for interested clubs and pools is available at Cullenjonesdiversitytour.com/about.php. Tri-Masters continues its expansion, and not just geographically. The Chicago crew doesn’t believe in remaining limited to the 6 to 14 age group. By reaching out to high school freshmen and sophomores, Lyles hopes to give opportunities to kids who don’t get picked for team sports in schools with large populations and small budgets. To fight the gang issue, he’s working with law enforcement through the Chicago Alternate Policing Strategy program to provide a safer environment for kids. 84
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If there’s any remaining doubt regarding the viability of programs for minority and disadvantaged kids, Huerta is a shining example of the potential benefits. While he isn’t the first non-white athlete to earn USAT elite status, he’s the only current one. He’s also one of the most inspirational. Huerta’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba when he was 15 years old. In their mid-40s and unable to speak English, they took jobs washing dishes and waiting tables at a Miami restaurant, a giant swallow of pride for a former physics professor and a high school principal, but it was worth it to give their children a better future. In Cuba, Huerta swam competitively until the age of 12, when he was cut from the national team. Castro’s government had determined that he would never be tall enough to represent the country in the Olympics. As far as they were concerned, Huerta’s swimming career was over. “I remember coming home and telling my parents that I had to retire from swimming,” he says. “I couldn’t do any good for the country, so there was no point in letting me swim anymore.” That was one of many incidents that convinced Huerta’s parents to leave. And so he found himself in Miami in 1997, struggling to fit in, learn English and get back into athletics. Swimming came back easily to Huerta, however. “In Miami, I didn’t have the same problem as kids in other cities because there are pools and lakes everywhere,” he remembers. He also started running with the cross country team, setting school records. Coaches encouraged him to join an after-school triathlon program in the Little Havana district. The program overcame financial barriers by asking event september 2009
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officials to allow participants to race if it provided an equal number of volunteers to help on race day. Huerta worked transition areas as often as he ran through them, but it was a good experience. His race performances got him noticed by a local club known as the Phantoms. They provided him with his first bike, a steel-framed Fuji. Huerta soon found that he was competitive on the state level. However, he hardly had money for registration fees, let alone transportation or hotels. Members of Team Hammerheads, another group of South Florida triathletes, offered Huerta logistical support. Thanks to them, he traded his steel bike for a faster ride after winning the Junior Nationals in 2005. From there he moved to the ITU circuit. He plans to represent the U.S. in the 2012 Olympics. Huerta’s is a Cinderella story by any measure, but it demonstrates just what’s possible when people take the time to help a kid in the Miami barrio looking for a chance. Huerta has words of encouragement for kids who may feel trapped by their ethnicity or some other set of conditions into which they were born. His training philosophy always was and still is one of desire to improve his life. “No matter how bad things got growing up, quitting was never an option,” he explains. “I knew that no matter how bad or how hard [it was], nothing was worse than Cuba. I was not going back there, and I knew that my parents hadn’t come to the U.S. to see me stay in a poor neighborhood in Miami. I owed it to them to take advantage of their sacrifice.” Finances, distances and statistics were all stacked against Huerta. But those were just numbers, easily overcome by his heart and mind, and with a little help from a few friends. september 2009
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The mind body connecTion:
By Danelle KaBush, PhD
the importance of mental preparation september 2009
ou’ve put time in the pool, worked on technique and improved your swim times. On the bike, you’ve put in the miles on the road or trail, and you’ve followed your progression by working with watts, heart rate and lactate testing. Similarly, on the run, you’ve put in the distance and interval repeats to get stronger and faster. Many aspects of physical training are measurable and can help you “guesstimate” how ready you are for race day. But when physical abilities are equal, the most mentally prepared competitor will have the edge. One way to look at mental preparation is to use the same approach for your physical training. Have a good foundation in place, consistently training the skills you need to manage the emotion and anxiety you face on race day and developing the focus you need to bring out your best performance.
Laying The FoundaTion: Race FoR a Reason Without aerobic base training in the off-season, your body would not be ready to handle the intensity training you need to get in shape for race day or sustain a suitable level of fitness throughout the season. Get in touch with your motivation; you should know why you train and race. Develop a specific plan to reach your goals and have the right attitude to carry you through the highs and lows of racing, injury, illness and other obstacles you may encounter. In my experience in triathlon, and working with athletes from a variety of sports, the best performances are followed by the athlete saying, “I was having so much fun out there!” On the other hand, not-sogreat performance days are often associated with excess stress, self-induced pressure and anxiety. To give yourself the best chance of reaching your full potential on race day, consider what motivates you. What do you enjoy most about training and competing in triathlons? While reaching the podium, breaking records and capturing recognition are positive motivators to get you out the door on a rainy training day, focusing on the more intrinsic motivators, such as enjoyment and the satisfaction of pushing yourself in a disciplined way, allows you to continue training over the long term. If you find yourself feeling more anxious than excited for an upcoming race, focus on why you are out there. If you can say you’re motivated by fun, the challenge and exploring your own performance potential, you’re well on your way to having a blast going fast. Once you have a clear understanding of your motivation, you can creatively tap into your personal motivators whenever you need them. For example, on days I have to drag myself out the door for a training session, I come up with something exciting about it to look forward to, such as a new set to try in the pool, exploring a new running route or meeting with training partners to socialize during a long ride. As in physical training, the next key part of laying the mental foundation is setting clear goals with specific plans for how to achieve them. It is usually more fun to work on your strengths than your weaknesses, and it takes discipline to tackle your weaknesses head-on. To assess your mental fitness, think about your best and worst performance days. It can be helpful to keep a race log. Look for patterns and changes in your pre-race routines (e.g. workouts, nutrition, travel and arousal levels), race plans (how well you set a race plan and follow it) and your ability to focus during the race.
tool for enhancing physical performance when you tap into its power. While it was previously believed that the ability to voluntarily control bodily functions such as heart rate, temperature, muscular tension and emotional reactions to stressful situations was impossible, performers of all types, from astronauts to performing artists to athletes, now use this type of training to handle stress and perform optimally under any circumstances. My first introduction to mental training was in high school when my dad gave me a book on relaxation training. I was running track at the time. Over the next three months, I worked on my breathing and learned to progressively relax my muscles with a short daily routine. While strengthening muscles through resistance training doesn’t happen overnight, neither does the ability to relax under pressure. With progressive relaxation training, I was amazed by my ability to make my body relax to an optimal level immediately before a race with just a few deep breaths. Even in the heat of a race, it is important to relax the muscles you do not need, breathe efficiently and deeply, and send all the oxygen and power to where you need it. Another powerful mental skill that can be trained is visualization. Think of the last time you had a dream so powerful that when you woke up, it took a minute or two to figure out what was real and what was the dream. Visualizing your goals for an upcoming training session,
While it was previously believed that the ability to voluntarily control bodily functions such as heart rate, temperature, muscular tension and emotional reactions to stressful situations was impossible, performers of all types, from astronauts to performing artists to athletes, now use this type of training to handle stress and perform optimally under any circumstances.
TRaining The mind-body connecTion If there are areas of your mental fitness you can improve, it’s time to come up with a plan. There is no doubt that the mind is a powerful september 2009
your next race course or how you react most positively to various race scenarios allows you to focus well and commit your body to the effort. Another common theme in best performances is a feeling of being on autopilot, accompanied by a feeling of total focus on the movement experience, with all extraneous thinking turned off. Part of what allows this to happen is doing all the training and planning ahead of time so nothing is left to chance on race day. Finding your focus also involves thinking ahead. Sometimes it is comical to consider all the thoughts that pass through your mind during a race. Having negative thoughts (such as, “My legs hurt,” or “I don’t know if I can keep this up”) or distracting thoughts (such as, “Wow, I’d love to just dive into that lake right now instead of running”) is normal and not necessarily a bad thing. However, what is critical to staying on pace is how quickly you deal with distracting or negative thoughts and focus back on the race. Think about how someone cheering hard for you on the sidelines helps you find that extra gear and spurs you on to the finish. Work on the habit of being your own best coach and encourager. Think about how you will work to quickly regain your focus if distractions or negative thoughts threaten to slow you down. One aspect of preparing mentally for races is anticipating the pain and suffering inherent in endurance sports and having a strategy to push you through the tough moments. Anticipate the parts of the race in which triathletemag.com
Ready FoR Race day If you’ve physically trained to the best of your ability, have a clear sense of why you spend a lot of your free time swimming, biking and running, and have used a specific plan to reach your goals, you should reach the starting line with plenty of confidence. However, what can make all the difference in the lead-up to race day and during a race is your ability to manage anxiety and focus. We’re all familiar with our bodily reactions to race day—be it numerous trips to the port-a-potty, a fluttery stomach, extra sweating, flushing or shakiness. What is important to your mental focus is how you choose to interpret these changes, ward off any doubts about your readiness and find your best focus. For example, if you feel your anxiety mounting, how will you reduce it without losing your intensity and readiness? Use each race as a learning opportunity to discover what helps you perform well. For example, consider when and what you like to eat
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you struggle most to keep your focus. Are you scared of certain swim conditions? Does your mind wander on the bike? Is it hard to stay positive on a long, hot run? If so, find ways to stay in the moment by focusing on one segment of the race at a time. Depending on the course, you can break your race down into parts of each discipline (e.g. start, middle, finish), miles or landmarks. Give yourself a simple cue to focus on for each section, such as rhythm, turning it over, breathing deeply, a strong push-pull on the pedals or relaxing your stride—whatever reminds you of what you need to do to perform your best at each particular point in the race. If you practice staying in the present and dealing only with what you can control, before you know it, you’ll be across the finish line and proud of your effort.
before a race, how early you like to be at the race venue, if listening to music helps you, if you like to spend some quiet time on your own or joke around and socialize beforehand, and what you need to pay attention to most in each stage of the race, including transitions. I like to think of a race as the celebration of all the hard training that goes into it. It is time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. The last few days before a race are all about finding a routine of workouts, nutrition and rest that keeps you feeling fresh and ready to race. After your last hard training session, the physical preparation is done, and it is time to enjoy the countdown. Because you’ve done everything in your power to be as ready as you can, all you need to do is relax. If you find yourself overexcited, have strategies in place, such as relaxation exercises, taking some alone time or hanging out with others that relax you. And most importantly, don’t sweat it if everything doesn’t go perfectly. There are plenty of examples of great performances by athletes who have just come off an injury or illness, or have gotten less than an ideal amount of sleep. Use any adversity as a challenge to rise above and still perform your best; never let it be an excuse to lower your expectations before the gun even goes off.
a FinaL WoRd on PeRsPecTive Think about the athletes and people you admire most in life and who you would like to emulate. Competition has the potential to bring out the worst and the best in us, and we have the power to decide which it will be through conscious preparation. Sport is a microcosm of life in general. Think of an important goal you have down the road. When you reach that goal, what do you want to be able to say about yourself? How would you like others to remember
you? Races come and go, and results go up and down, but what endures are the attributes of your self that are independent of how your training session went or your latest race result. Athletes with great mental perspective are fierce competitors who also live with a great degree of humility and gratitude. Success is viewed as an enjoyable experience, not a source of entitlement. On the other hand, failures are accepted as disappointing experiences, not as a compromise of personal value. When you think about some of your most memorable races, what are you most proud of? Now in my fourth season of off-road racing, I am most proud of the races that I prepared well for, where I kept my focus, enjoyed the race and finished feeling that I had given it my very best. On top of any successes, what also sticks out in my memory is the full spectrum of each race experience: enjoying the process of getting there, the interactions and friendships I developed with other competitors, unconditional support from family and friends, and appreciating all the experiences made possible by involvement in sport. In the end, good mental preparation is also about finding a balance that enables you to manage your time and energy well so you can achieve your goals and enjoy the experience. Prioritize your various daily commitments, such as career, school, family and athletic pursuits, as necessary without compromising how you most enjoy spending your time. Danelle Kabush is a professional triathlete from Courtenay, British Columbia, with a doctorate in sports psychology from the University of Ottawa. She has three podium finishes at the XTERRA World Championship and finished as the runner-up at the inaugural XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in 2008. Kabush also competes on the pro mountain biking circuit.
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RoadÊ RocketS THE NUMBER OF AERO ROAD BIKES CAN BE COUNTED ON ONE HAND. BUT IN THIS GROWING SEGMENT, TRIATHLETES WILL FIND THAT AERO ROAD BIKES OFFER DAY-TO-DAY UTILITY AND RACE-DAY SPEED. BY JAY PRASUHN
he aero road bike craze (if you can call it a craze with just five viable brands on the market) started in 2001 with two bikes: the Cervelo Soloist and the Kestrel Talon, the first road bikes featuring aero tubesets. But why would a road bike need anything aero? Cervelo’s Phil White and Gerard Vroomen considered that very question, and it took then-CSC team member and breakaway specialist Jens Voigt to come up with the answer. Anytime a rider is in a solo breakaway, he’s in an effective time trial, out in the wind. And for that, aero tubes are a true advantage. And aren’t we as triathletes effectively in a breakaway throughout the bike leg? Ask Simon Lessing, who won Ironman Lake Placid in 2004 aboard an aero road bike. And isn’t there a proliferation of races that, in the true spirit of “the tougher, the better,” feature challenging, hilly
bikecourses that befit a road bike more than a tri bike? If you think about Lake Placid, Alcatraz, Ironman 70.3 Monaco, Revolution3, Savageman and the Alpe d’Huez Tri, you’ll start to get it. Aero road bikes have a place in triathlons. They handle better on steep climbs and descents, and they still deliver an aero advantage on the flats. That’s why we think this small category is going to take off for triathletes. Not only do some of us like a challenging race, but we also want the weapon best suited for the job, both in terms of climbing and descending handling. Road bikes in tri aren’t just for ITU pros anymore. Here’s a look at the forward-thinking brands that have created bikes perfect for triathletes, at home in training and in racing, as well as a few accouterments that are ideal for an optimized racing experience.
The Talon established its name under Chris McCormack and still stands as the first carbon fiber standard. A multi-position seatpost provides fore and aft saddle clamp placement, allowing for a greater range of saddle position. The SL underwent a design change a year ago, taking on a deeper downtube and becoming more aerodynamic. And at a claimed 16.4 pounds, this Shimano Ultegra SL-equipped model is more than 1.5 pounds lighter than the brand’s standard Talon model. Kestrelbicycles.com
The top-end S3 carbon aero road bike debuted under Simon Whitfield, Nicola Spirig and Mariana Ohata at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. But it’s the S3’s aluminum counterpart, the S1, formerly the Soloist team, that Simon Lessing rode to win victory at Ironman Lake Placid in ’04. While carbon fiber is de rigeur, aluminum is the material used to create not only one of the most affordable race rigs on the market, but also one of the stiffest,. This stiffness is a feature you’ll appreciate when climbing switchbacks at Ironman 70.3 Monaco. It comes with a Shimano Ultegra SL groupset to keep the price affordable, and it is available as a frameset for $1,200. Cervelo.com 92
FeltÊ ARÊ TeamÊIs sueÊ$8,999
This is the one for those who love argyle, or who perhaps just love having a rig that has ProTour pedigree, is race-ready and is tunnelproven. What sets this flagship model apart from two lower-tier models within the AR series is the use of UHC Nano carbon (a higher-grade carbon resulting in a lighter weight frame). That, and the inclusion of a color-matched Zipp 404 tubular wheelset. It also features a Shimano Dura-Ace groupset. Feltracing.com
New for 2010, Blue’s first aero road racing rig found its shape in the wind tunnel. In fact, it tested as being 14 percent faster than Blue’s existing road offering, the RC8. The AC1 SL downtube, fork and seatstays are oriented for a truly optimal aero cross-section against the wind. Internal cable run (with sleeves for easy maintainence) helps keep the bike quick against the wind. It’s set with a BB30 bottom bracket and is outfitted with your choice of Shimano Dura-Ace or SRAM Red, a TRP magnesium brakeset and Zipp 404 tubulars. Final weight? Less than 14 pounds complete. It’s available as a frameset as well, at $3,200. Rideblue.com
The unique design of the Noah—which mirrors Ridley’s tri offering, the Dean—is highlighted by the use of R-Flow slots. These true jet foils, located along the length of the fork blades and seatstays, accelerate air through them, dropping drag. Ridley’s testing shows it has 7.5 percent less drag than standard forks. Further, Ridley added a bumpy paint strip on many of the frame’s leading edges, designed to better channel wind as it travels along the frame. And true to tri, Ridley offers a model that comes with Oval Concepts clip-on aerobars. Thefastestbikeintheworld.com
AerobarS 3T Zeﬁro Team $700
In just two years, 3T has moved to the forefront of aero technology (which will invariably happen when you hire a Formula 1 racing engineer onto your design staff). The uniquely-designed Zefiro features the length-adjustable PiWing aerobar with the forearms falling into a natural, ergonomic position on the flat, aero and silicone-padded bar top. Internal cable routing keeps this thing as aero as possible. Debuted at the Giro d’Italia, this bike showed itself in our test experience to be comfortable for rides as long as a half Ironman. Thenew3T.com
OvalÊC onceptsÊ A911Ê CarbonÊOv erUnderÊ Clip-On $299 (stem soldÊs eparately)
Interchangeability is the hallmark of Oval Concepts’ entire line, and nowhere is that quality better exhibited than in the A911 OverUnder. While most carbon fiber road drop bars have limits on use of clip-on aerobars, the A911 eliminates the issue. The entire setup exists off the aero front faceplate, which mounts off an Oval RBT stem, eliminating any issues of clamping onto the bar. So you can use them on any superlight road bar setup, without risking damage. Ovalconcepts.com
Proﬁle Design T2+ DL $110
SEPT '09 TRIATHLETE 1/3 Vert 94
A popular choice of ITU pros and hilly long-course racers, the T2+ DL is an easy-to-install, easy-to-remove clip-on with length adjustability as well as canting of the S-bend extensions when used independently. It comes with an aerobridge as well, and it’s even compatible with Profile’s AeroDrink. Available in 31.8 clamp diameter, with 26.0 shims. Proﬁle-design.com september 2009
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T R A INING
TRAINING FEATURE: RACE WEIGHT
ON THE RUN
CONGRATULATIONS ANDY POTTS AND MARY BETH ELLIS 2009 ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ TRIATHLON CHAMPIONS ®
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T R I AT H L O N F E S T I VA L
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T R A INING
Don’t Let A Few Pounds Fool You By Luis Vargas september 2009
y first experience with what triathlon fitness was all about came at my first Ironman in Japan in 1990. All the international athletes were invited to a party a few days before the event. As usual, we were checking each other out. One Kiwi athlete I met looked like he was going to win the race. He was ripped and could have easily been used as a muscle anatomy chart. (This sport certainly has its share of healthy-looking, beautiful people.) Then I met a very nice Aussie who was having a good old time and even had a potbelly bigger than mine. I never even considered him a threat. Oh, how much I still had to learn! On race day the Aussie passed me during the marathon and gave me a lot of encouragement. We both ended up qualifying for Hawaii. Where was the Kiwi? He finished about an hour and a half behind us. At first glance, people with extra pounds often get a thumbs-down on the fitness and health meter. This image of low potential extends beyond sports into just about every aspect of life. Certainly it would be nice if everyone were thin—but leaner does not always equate to healthier, and it does not always equate to faster either. What is fitness? The dictionary does not define it as being thin or super-lean, which is how most of us define it unconsciously. The dictionary defines fitness as being capable and ready. For our purpose, we may define a fit person as someone who is capable and ready to compete in a triathlon because of her training and cardiovascular capabilities. How do you develop these capabilities? You do it by exercising. Obviously, you can exercise many hours per week, but if you still eat too many calories, you probably won’t lose a significant amount of weight and you might even gain weight. In addition, if you are muscular and overweight, you may have a fairly large body mass index even though you could finish an Ironman. So you can be overweight and fit, lean and fit, lean and unfit or overweight and unfit. The main difference is exercise. If you are reading this, you are most likely fine. Keep exercising. What is being healthy? For our purpose, we will define it as being free of disease and able to function at a high level up to the end of a long life. Time after time, research shows that if you are overweight, you are more likely to contract certain diseases and live a shorter life. But while this is true on average, again, if you are reading this and you are overweight yet you exercise, you are not average, and you are already beating the odds. In 1999, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study in which researchers triathletemag.com
T R A INING
Even with a very muscular upper body, Bryan Rhodes has won four Ironman titles.
examined the health benefits of leanness and the hazards of obesity while simultaneously considering cardiorespiratory fitness.1 They followed almost 22,000 men ages 30 to 83 for eight years. They performed body composition tests and maximal treadmill tests. There were 428 deaths in the eight years, and as expected, the fit, lean men did the best. However, the fit overweight and even fit obese men did better than the unfit but lean men. Their conclusion was, “The health benefits of leanness are limited to fit men, and being fit may reduce the hazards of obesity.”
Keep exercising The study above was touted as “fit and fat” by the media and drew a lot of attention. 100
Surely many would disagree. Another researcher published a separate study in Archives of Internal Medicine, and again it was picked up by the mainstream media. It was touted as debunking the fit and fat myth.2 Critics of this study pointed out that researchers only looked at data from questionnaires and follow-ups from a separate study on low-dose aspirin and vitamin E for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Cardiovascular fitness was never measured, but rather, the researchers relied on what people reported. But the researchers made good points. Weight matters, and having fat around the waist releases inflammatory proteins that are directly related to heart disease. Even high quantities of exercise do not reverse the
risk of coronary disease. No disagreement there. Carrying extra pounds is not ideal, but if you exercise and eat balanced meals, you may be healthy regardless of your body weight. I have asked many of the triathletes I’ve coached to get a blood test, and their results are not always related to their body composition. You can have extra pounds and have normal blood pressure, normal lipids, a good balance of LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol and normal blood pressure. By all accounts, you can be healthy and carry a few extra pounds without having to take any medications.
Body Weight in triathlon OK, we’ve established that it is possible for an overweight person to be healthy, but september 2009
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TRAINING can this same person be faster in a triathlon than many thin people? I think so. First, let’s examine how weight affects each of the sports in triathlon. Can a person with a few extra pounds be faster in the water? For sure! All you have to do is go to a Masters swimming class: You will not be able to pick out the faster swimmers until you watch them swim. Swimming is mostly about technique. Furthermore, you can hide your pounds in the water without any problem. Drag in the water is about body position more than weight. In fact, many skinny people with very little fat sink in the water. Fat has a lower density than water, and bone and muscle have higher densities. Having extra fat is just like wearing a wetsuit. There will be less of you underwater and much less drag, causing you to swim faster at the same level of effort. Some elite triathletes who manage to lose a few pounds in an effort to go faster in the run find that they can no longer stay with the pack in the swim. It’s also possible for a person with a few extra pounds to be fast on the bike, especially on flatter courses. Speed on the bike is directly related to weight if you are going uphill. However, on a flat course, speed is directly related to drag and overcoming wind resistance with pedaling power. Someone with a few extra pounds can easily compensate for the pounds with a good aerodynamic position and strong legs. The lighter cyclists are rarely the best time trialers unless they are going uphill. So if you are weight-challenged, do not sign up for Ironman Canada; sign up for Ironman Florida instead. It is, however, rare that a person with a few extra pounds is a faster runner. Running is definitely a sport for smaller, thinner people. When you examine data on weight versus performance, you find that if you lose a pound of fat, you can expect to go anywhere from one to three seconds faster per mile. Of course, if you are super-lean already, there may be more harm than good in trying this. However, if race day arrives and you have not lost all the extra pounds, there is hope. The run in triathlon is the last leg. So on race day, if you take care of yourself on the swim and the bike, you may be able to run faster than others who are thinner and faster runners when fresh. My advice is to use your head. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? It applies to triathlon very well. If you are overweight, you had better learn to use your head on race day. Our sport is unlike most endurance sports. It takes a long time to get to the finish line. Even a sprint triathlon can last from
At first glance, people with extra pounds often get a thumbs-down on the fitness and health meter. one to two hours, and an Ironman is an allday affair. Triathlons are not so much about speed but about the ability to not slow down as much as the next guy. Your pacing, your nutrition and your hydration are as important as, if not more than, fitness. How many times have you seen the top professionals in our sport walk to the finish line? Being the leanest and fittest person is only one piece of the race performance puzzle. With better pacing, a sound nutrition plan and an effective hydration method, even the Clydesdales among us have a chance. Obesity is an epidemic in the U.S. and other industrial countries. I am not advocating being overweight, as it is better to be lean. But the reality is that many will line up on race day with extra unwanted pounds. We live more and more sedentary lives, and many people still consume an amount of food that is more appropriate for a person who does physical work all day. This may have worked for our active ancestors, but not for many of us today. As triathletes, we should be thankful that we have found a sport we love that will keep us fit and healthy. Just remember, the next time you see a triathlete with a few extra pounds at the start line, don’t think for a second that you’ve automatically got him beat. Many people with extra pounds have only one disadvantage. Triathlon is not a beauty contest. Luis Vargas is a USAT level II coach, a six-time finisher of the Ironman World Championships and the co-founder, along with six-time Hawaii Ironman world champion Mark Allen, of MarkAllenOnline.com, an online triathlon coaching site. He is a longtime resident of Boulder, Colo., and was initially inspired to do triathlons by watching the Ironman on television. He gradually worked his way from Olympic-distance racing to half-Ironman events and then eventually to the full Ironman, posting his PR of 9:34 in Hawaii in 1993. RefeRences: 1. Lee, C.D., S. Blair and A. Jackson. “Cardiorespiratory Fitness, Body Composition, and All-Cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality in Men.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 69.3 (1999): 373-380. 2. Weinstein, A., et al. “The Joint Effects of Physical Activity and Body Mass Index on Coronary Heart Disease Risk in Women.” Archives of Internal Medicine 168.8 (2008): 884-890. september 2009
Multiple Kona Ironman World Championships â€“ both mens and womens. Numerous victories in every Ironman race in the world. Countless stages and overall victories in The Tour De France, The Giro and The Vuelta. National TT championships (in18 countries), TT World Championships, Track World Championships and The Olympics. Everything, everywhere, all the time, the legend continues.
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l a ne l I ne s
swim stroke Variety Improves strength By Sara McLarty
used to have a sticker on my car that said, “IMers do it four ways.” I was an IMer in my past life as a swimmer. The 400m individual medley was my favorite event because I got to change strokes every 100 meters. I like the unknown factor of the event; how the lead can change multiple times during a race. The 400 IM does not forgive swimmers who have a weak stroke; only a well-rounded swimmer can be great. That concept goes the other way, too. Athletes who excel in the medley events are also usually strong competitors in the singlestroke swimming events. People who train all the strokes are muscularly balanced, very comfortable in the water, strong for sprints and fit for endurance events. Many triathletes search for those four virtues in their swimming: balanced and healthy muscles, comfort, strength and endurance. The secret to finding them could lie in adding the three non-freestyle IM strokes to your training program. Each of the alternative strokes-butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke--can have a positive effect on your freestyle swim times. Just be sure to consult your coach, start slowly and don’t expect results overnight, as you would do in making any other modification to your usual training program. 104
The BreasTsTroke Breaststroke might be the easiest stroke for beginning swimmers. Some people are more comfortable doing breaststroke than freestyle. One reason is the ease with which you can keep your head and face out of the water. I see a lot of swimmers using breaststroke during an openwater event to look for the buoys. Because it is the most relaxing stroke, it’s also a great way to take a break from freestyle while continuing to move forward in the water. On the downside, breaststroke is the slowest of the four strokes. It is one of the short-axis strokes, and most of the recovery is performed underwater. This doesn’t mean that you should never use it, though; breaststroke has its benefits. Use it during a race for sighting, getting your bearings, keeping your face out of the water or just resting. In the pool, use it during training to engage your muscles in a different way. My forearms were the first things that gave out during a breaststroke race. The big, outward, sweeping motion made at the catch phase of the stroke is where you derive most of your power. It lifts your torso up, moves you forward and gives your legs a rest between kicks. As a result of many yards and meters of breaststroke training, my wrists and elbows were strong for the distance freestyle events. I was able to
maintain a strong wrist and a high elbow for the 1,650-yard or 1,500m races. Use breaststroke as a drill during a kick/drill/swim set. The breaststroke kick looks like frog legs. It is completely different from the steady flutter kick associated with freestyle. Too much breaststroke kicking can cause sore knees, groin muscles or ankles. But I still suggest that the average triathlete add this kick to her workout. Test it by kicking slowly and smoothly for 25m. You will immediately feel a nice stretch in all of your leg muscles. Ankle flexibility is critical for a breaststroker, and triathletes can benefit from increased flexion for running and extension for freestyle. Kick every fourth 25m breaststroke during a kick set.
The BacksTroke The backstroke is usually the second-easiest stroke for new swimmers to learn. It’s nothing more than freestyle on your back. It is a long-axis stroke like freestyle, as rotation occurs along the spine. It can be a quick way to move through the water when performed correctly and in a straight line. With your face up to the sky, there is no limit to how much and how often you can breathe. However, with your face up to the sky, you can see where you came from but not where you are going. It’s not so good for following buoys in the open water, but it’s great for taking a break, controlling your breathing or eating an energy gel. Backstroke is completely legal during triathlon races. I use it a few times every race to check out my competition. Using backstroke in the pool is one of the september 2009
l a ne l I ne s smartest strategies for an athlete who swims predominantly freestyle. A freestyle swimmer can be spotted a mile away with the infamous swimmer slouch: huge muscled shoulders hunched forward over his chest. This occurs because of the over-development of the pectoral muscles in freestyle swimming. On the other hand, backstroke swimmers have great posture: They stand tall, with shoulders back and chest out. Swimmers and triathletes can create a healthy balance between chest and back muscles and prevent injuries by substituting some laps of backstroke into workouts. Add a few laps of backstroke to your warm-up and cool-down. The flutter kick is used in both backstroke and freestyle, but there are plenty of benefits to rolling over and kicking on your back. The upward kick requires a strong effort from your quads and hip flexors. This will make your legs stronger for freestyle kicking as well as for cycling and running. Beware of doing too much of this kick in the streamline position, with your arms stretched out over your head. If you develop any shoulder pain, bring your arms down to your sides and keep your hands on your thighs. Put fins on for a long, straight backstroke kick. Enjoy your screaming muscles!
25m or 50m intervals alternating laps of
Before you add butterfly to your workouts, make sure that you are performing the stroke correctly. This short-axis stroke puts the most stress on the shoulder joints because of the two-arm, over-water recovery. The timing of the breath is also hard to perfect, but a knowledgeable coach can help you make it efficient and smooth. Once you have the basics, create a set of
Not only will you go faster, but you will also improve your lung capacity and strengthen your abs and lower back. I swam my last 400m individual medley race five years ago. Even though I swim freestyle only in triathlons these days, I still train all the strokes in the pool. And now I have a sticker on my car that reads, “Triathletes do it three ways.”
Finally, we arrive at the fourth and newest butterfly and freestyle. stroke: butterfly. Just mentioning it can send “Dolphin kick” is the correct term for shivers down even the most expert swimmer’s the motion of your legs during butterfly. spine, especially when it’s mentioned in the same If you watched any of the Olympic events, sentence with 200s. So, go ahead and get that you might have noticed that almost every immediate reaction out of the way. It’s time swimmer used dolphin kick at some point. to discuss why you should It is widely recognized as embrace this stroke. fastest way to move Using backstroke in the Butterfly is hard. Plain through the water. If the pool is one of the your 100m times have and simple, butterfly is the toughest of the four smartest strategies stagnated, try doing two strokes. It’s complicated or three dolphin kicks for an athlete who underwater each lap. Afto learn, fatiguing to swim and exhausting to race. It swims predominantly ter pushing off the wall, makes everything else in the put your arms in a tight freestyle. water seem easy. And that is streamline, engage your exactly why everyone should core and make a short and swim butterfly. fast up-and-down motion with your legs.
B I g R I ng
The Evolutionary Bike Fit By Mark Deterline
f you’re uncomfortable on any of your bikes or just don’t feel as one with them, help is within reach. I was first fitted to a road bike in Italy in 1997. I had become friends with Marcello Lodi, who at the time served as a biomechanics consultant to the world-famous sports center at the University of Ferrara. He had advised the who’s who of European cycling greats, including Tour de France champions Miguel Indurain and Marco Pantani, Olympic track gold medalist Silvio Martinello and former world road race champion Maurizio Fondriest. Lodi observed my position, pedaling technique and self-adjustment tendencies while riding (how I moved around on my saddle, where I held the handlebars) as I underwent lactate and maximum threshold testing to see how these variables related to my power output. He examined almost every aspect of my physiology, biomechanics and positioning and considered each as part of an integrated whole. Before putting me on the bike, he measured 106
my inseam and divided that measurement into femur and tibia lengths. He also looked at my foot strike while walking, jogging and running. After the bike fitting, he took me to a trusted friend and orthopedic specialist who outfitted me with orthotics that I still use today, more than 10 years later. Twenty or or 30 years ago, the general consensus among fitters was that riders should sit high and forward on road bikes. This standard was especially prevalent in the U.S. because so much racing consisted of criteriums—short and fast races that often finished in a sprint. Further contributing to the popularity of steeper fits was the geometry of Italian racing bikes, which was then widely considered the ideal. Many Italian manufacturers, I was informed, defaulted to steeper seat angles in part because of the peculiar physiology of the Italian body type: longer legs relative to a shorter torso called for a shorter toptube. Interestingly enough, Lodi’s philosophy diverged from that popular Italian and American
thought; he had been preaching more setback and correspondingly lower (to the ground) saddle positions for years. He believed that my longer-than-average femur called for a more relaxed saddle position (more setback) and frame design (a shallower seat angle). Lodi faxed me a form with the following details: Ideal seattube angle, if I should order a custom frame. (Eventually I did, but I have since gone back to stock frames.) Specific saddle height. This was measured from the center of the bottom bracket to the top center of the perch area where I sat atop my saddle; it tends to be slightly different for everyone, even on identical saddles. Ideal distance from the perch center to the center of my stem’s steerer clamp. Ideal handlebar width; reach and drop with respect to the then-popular lightweight alloy bar bends. Ideal stem length. (It was a non-standard 125mm recommended length provided by september 2009
B I g R I ng only a few manufacturers). Thus fitted, I found that I had more stamina and recovered faster, meaning that I had fresher legs on subsequent rides. I was sold and hadn’t questioned any aspect of that fit until a couple of months ago, save for twice lowering my saddle a few millimeters as carbon shoe soles and lower-profile pedal systems brought my feet closer to the pedal axle. And though I’ve now modified my position somewhat from what Lodi recommended back then, that process greatly affected the outcome of this latest fit and my appreciation of it. One of my road racing teammates, Paul Kundrat, is a professional fitter at Endurance Performance Training Centers in Mill Valley, Calif., and San Francisco. My exposure to a New York Times Magazine article and a local TV news segment featuring Kundrat piqued my interest. The segment featured happy customers who had sought his help because they had discomfort, repetitive stress syndrome or inefficient technique. On rides, Kundrat occasionally commented on my position and pedaling style and how we might better accommodate them, making the idea of another bike fit even more compelling. But why change now, since Lodi had nailed it back in ’97? Over the years, many cycling acquaintances have sought the help of fit experts. Each expert had a different approach that went beyond what could be considered individual differences between one rider and another. Eventually my curiosity got the best of me, and I thought that a competent bike fit would at least serve as a helpful second opinion to Lodi’s. After all, it had been almost 12 years. Another incentive was Endurance’s use of CompuTrainer technology and SpinScan analysis; it had also been several years since my last pedaling technique assessment. If I was going through the trouble of doing a thorough bike fit, I wanted to get checked on all of my bikes, and I wanted to have some latest-generation custom insoles made (in this case Conform’Able Bike+ models by Sidas). I showed up at the Endurance center in downtown San Francisco with two road bikes and my TT rig, and then I met with Kundrat for a four-hour appointment. Kundrat started by looking at my bare feet and then the position of my cleats, offering to move them farther up my shoe soles, explaining that each foot and calf might thus be used more effectively. I declined since I was happy with my current placement and because I was mindful of some researchers’ claims that arch-cleating (moving the cleats farther down the shoe toward the arch) can improve sustained power. Kundrat acquiesced but noted the suggestion on the september 2009
computer-based form he was filling out that would generate my final fit specs, including his comments and recommendations. Kundrat and his employer emphasize that a good bike fit is a team effort between rider and fitter. While Kundrat lifted my road bike onto the raised platform and placed it in the CompuTrainer, he explained that the best sports performance centers encourage a collaborative approach. He had me at hello. He watched for 20 minutes from all angles as I warmed up, and then he asked me to vary my pedaling cadence and intensity. He took his time, allowing me to settle into a natural rhythm, after which he asked questions and made initial observations. He turned on the SpinScan software, which recorded and displayed in real time the power I applied to each pedal throughout its rotation so that we could view the graphical display on a nearby monitor. Two of the extremely helpful features of the Endurance fit studio are sidewall mirrors and a laser apparatus. Having opposite walls functioning as mirrors made it possible for Kundrat to project perfectly horizontal and vertical laser-generated lines onto whichever body or bike part was the immediate focus.
And lasers don’t lie. One of Kundrat’s first observations was that my hips were slightly slanted and rotated. He confirmed the subtle slant by projecting the laser’s horizontal line along the axis of my hips and then along the surface of the back of my saddle. He moved the laser in front of me to demonstrate the slight twisting rotation of my hips to the right. He asked me to pedal out of the saddle for a minute and confirmed—again, by laser—that one side of my saddle was slightly lower than the other, probably forced downward by my bodily imbalance over many months. None of my riding companions noticed these imperfections. Kundrat explained that it could be a permanent or temporary condition that effectively lengthened one leg (the one whose hip joint was lower) and shortened the other (whose hip joint was higher). He then aimed the laser at the shift levers—one lever was lower, making it a tad farther away and down the curve of the handlebar than the other. Was it a cause or result of the imbalance? “We’ll determine that over time,” he said, leading us to the essence of this article. In many types of treatment, there is first a descriptive assessment made in the form
A proper bike fit must include input from both the fitter and rider. If your fitter wants to alter your cleat position, you must provide feedback on what changes you feel.
B I g R I ng
Custom insoles can help fix alignment issues throughout the legs and can also eliminate “hot spots” on the feet.
of a diagnosis. Then there are choices to be made regarding how to address the issues in the form of prescriptive measures, which could mean the fitter recommends modifying saddle or stem position, switching to a different handlebar width and/or shape, replacing the saddle, installing a crank of a different length, placing shims under cleats or slipping wedges or insoles into shoes. You can also take adaptive measures, such as performing exercises to improve symmetry, visiting an orthopedist or chiropractor to identify and correct potential alignment or postural issues and working with weights to improve muscle support and stabilization. I like to refer to the type of holistic approach that is represented by these measures collectively as “evolutionary” because there really are no absolutes or quick, definitive fixes, and because it recognizes that our needs can change over time. Ideally, the first appointment with a bike fitter is a starting point. In my experience, that fit with Lodi was key to establishing parameters and helping me to understand my body. In fact, that first fit confirmed the value of my latest consultation. For example, Kundrat immediately appreciated how far back my saddle was positioned due to the length of my femur. He did raise the saddle, but he did so along the axis of my effective seat angle, which moved it back a little, preserving the relationship of saddle height and setback I had established with Lodi. And though my TT position is farther forward than my road position, Kundrat made a similar up-and-back modification to the saddle on my TT bike. As a side note, these adjustments subvert the conventional wisdom of placing triathletes or 108
time trialists in an extremely forward position, something I’ve heard questioned by Chris Lieto, one of triathlon’s überbikers who also excels at road bike racing. Many triathlon-centric fitters might have encouraged me to move farther forward on the TT bike, but my arguably relaxed aero position is one of the reasons I love riding my TT bike and can do so comfortably for several hours at a time. Kundrat noticed weeks before that I have a heel-down pedaling style that won’t change if my saddle position is modified. Even when I used a higher and farther-forward saddle position in years past, my heels dropped; the only thing that changed was my knee angle. He also reassured me that if I felt more comfortable coming out of the saddle when climbing, even for several minutes at a time, it wouldn’t necessarily tire me out more quickly if I was accommodating my unique physiology by doing so. Finally, by projecting a vertical laser line down the front of each leg, Kundrat confirmed that custom insoles could improve the lateral orientation of my legs from hip to foot by bringing them into better overall alignment. All this affirmed that I was dealing with someone who carefully considered all aspects of my body, riding dynamics and equipment. There seems to be a variety of valid solutions for almost every scenario, and each of us is unique. Be wary of purported standards, patented exclusive systems or doing something that has reportedly helped a professional athlete, unless your particular situation is similar to hers. Pros are different from you and me on a variety of levels and are often willing to be less comfortable to attain their goals. Find a reputable fit expert—as you would a
coach—who is sensitive to your personal needs, preferences and concerns. Look for someone who takes a consultative approach, one who asks questions and truly listens. A few months after my fitting, I’ve confirmed that the tweaks and recommendations from my Endurance-Kundrat fit have yielded performance benefits. I am better able to get on top of a gear and feel that my leg muscles are more comprehensively engaged throughout the pedaling motion on both my road and TT bikes, whereas in the past I had a tendency to be quad (downward driving) dominant. Teammates say I recover faster from repeated efforts during a hard road race or training session, something I might not have noticed on my own. Sure, I am fortunate. I train and race with my bike fitter, and EndurancePTC is close by. But bike fit doesn’t need to be a one-time life-altering experience. As long as you work with experts who help you approach it as an ongoing and collaborative process, you’ll be in good hands. Bikes change, bodies change and demands change, so ideally you will revisit your position every year or two. In short, bike fit shouldn’t change your life just once; it’s evolution versus revolution. Long live the evolution!
A few of our fAvorite fitters While this is by no means a definitive list of the best places to get a bike fit, here are a few locations we’ve worked with and recommend. Check one of them out if you can’t get comfortable on your bike: B&L Bikes in Solana Beach, Calif., Blbikes.com Dan Empfield in Valyermo, Calif., Slowtwitch.com David Greenfield in Philadelphia, Elitebicycles.com Fit Werx in Waitsfield, Vt., Fitwerx.com Get a Grip Cycles in Chicago, Getagripcycles.com Hi-Tech Bikes in San Diego, Hi-techbikes.com Jack & Adams in Austin, Texas, Jackandadams.com Nytro Multisport in Encinitas, Calif., Nytro.com PK Cycling, Fairfax, Calif., Pkcycling.com Signature Cycles in New York, Signaturecycles.com R&A Cycles in Brooklyn, N.Y., Racycles.com Retul in Denver, Retul.com TT Bike Fit in Providence, R.I., Ttbikefit.com The Bicycle Ranch in Scottsdale, Ariz., Bicycleranch.com september 2009
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Once a Runner
Olympian JarrOd ShOemaker imprOveS hiS run by wOrking On Swimming and biking. By Brian Metzler
or years, Jarrod Shoemaker dreamed of becoming an Olympic runner. But he came to the realization that he wasn’t going to be fast enough to finish in the top three at the U.S. Olympic trials in the 5,000m. Some dreams die hard, but the 27-yearold former Dartmouth College All-American runner still found a way to make his Olympic quest a reality. In just his fourth season as a pro, Shoemaker earned a spot on the U.S. team that competed in Beijing last summer and finished a respectable 18th place in his first Olympic race. 110
But now he wants to take his game to the next level, so he’s working like a fiend in the pool and on the bike to improve on his weaknesses. He’s also working on his running, even though it’s always been his overwhelming strength. But, like many triathletes, he found his main sport suffered while he worked on the other two. “I found out pretty quickly that you need to be near the front of the race off the bike to be able to use that run,” Shoemaker says. “When I first started working on swimming and biking, it made it a little tough to hold on to my running speed. But, I think, at some point you have to take a step back and work on the swim and the bike in order to take a step forward.” While in college, Shoemaker improved considerably as a runner, winning an Ivy League cross-country title as a junior in 2002 and lowering his PRs in the 3,000m (8:09) and
5,000m (14:09) every year. As a senior, he finished 12th in the 5,000m at the 2004 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Although he was a standout swimmer in high school, he was not a standout swimmer when he started racing triathlons. His teenage swimming success was based mostly on athleticism, not on functional stroke proficiency, and he had never raced on a bike before his first triathlon in 2003. In fact, the only reason he got into triathlon was because he started biking and swimming for an hour a couple times each week as a means of cross-training in college. “My body usually broke down when I hit about 75 or 80 miles a week, so I knew that I’d have trouble keeping it together as a runner,” Shoemaker says. “What I found out during my senior year was that, when I added in a little bit of cross-training, my running actually got better. That’s when I figured triathlons would september 2009
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be better for me.” He was right, but it didn’t come easily. His overall athleticism brought him some initial success, including a win at the under-23 USAT national championship race during his first season as a pro in 2004 and a handful of top-15 ITU World Cup finishes over the next two years. But even with those results, he was far from being a great swimmer, and he was still a relative newbie on the bike, which meant that he was often too far behind when he left 112
T2. He’s worked hard at those two sports since he turned pro, using a similar work ethic and intensity to those he’d honed as a runner. “I try to equate a lot of stuff in swimming and biking to running. Going out and running a 5K, for
me, is like 15 minutes of pain,” he says. “When I started biking, I didn’t know what biking was supposed to feel like. I just knew it should hurt like it does when I’m running and to try to make it as hard as running, and that helped me get the intensity I needed.” In the last two seasons, he’s been relentless in the pool, working on stroke technique and efficiency while also upping his workout volume. He’s also improved his cycling prowess and technique, optimized his position in the saddle, increased his anaerobic threshold and learned how to ride his bike in an efficient manner. The bottom line is that he’s more comfortable and confident with those two sports, and that’s enabled him to maximize his firepower on the run. He’s also made some small tweaks to his running form and has changed some of his workouts. He’s been doing intervals for years, but this year, instead of running repeats around a track, he runs 6x 1,000m or 8x 800m sets in a straight line on a gravel road to better simulate racing in a triathlon. And instead of doing 10K worth of intervals, he typically does only 6K to 7K this year. “I have fun running. But swimming is the one I’ve worked the hardest at because it means so much in our races,” he says. “And it’s starting to pay off. Now I feel like a front-pack swimmer. And I feel more comfortable on the bike, so now I can really use my run to my advantage.” In the first half of this year, he posted three top-10 finishes in World Cup and World Championship Series races, including a fifthplace effort at the Hy-Vee World Cup on June 26 in West Des Moines, Iowa. He also ran a blazing 14:13 open 5K at the Carlsbad 5000 in April—good enough for 14th overall in the elite field and just a few ticks off his college PR. Everything is starting to fall in place for Shoemaker, and he’s done it without sacrificing his running speed. He’s been patient and put in the work, and now the sky’s the limit. “Over the next couple of years I’ll get a little bit better, a little bit better, a little bit better,” he says. “I look at someone like Hunter Kemper, who had the same kind of trajectory I think I’m on. He was a solid athlete, and when races went his “My body usually broke way, he’d do well. “But he kept imdown when I hit about 75 or proving and improv80 miles a week, so I knew ing and now he’s able that I’d have trouble keeping to swim with the front guys and bike and run it together as a runner.” with those guys, too. That’s what I’m hoping —Jarrod Shoemaker happens to me, too.” september 2009
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By Tim mickleBorough, PhD Dear SpeeD Lab,
Does taking oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) affect athletic performance? From what I have read, no one really knows the answer. Are there any consequences of taking OCPs on the body during training and racing?
Female athletes are unique in many aspects, not the least of which is their hormonal makeup. From puberty through adolescence, the reproductive years and the postmenopausal years, the female athlete must train and compete with a kaleidoscope of ever-shifting hormones. The
Lindsey Wagner Springfield, Ill. september 2009
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Spee d L a b The data from this study suggests that during certain phases of the menstrual cycle, for women on OCPs and those not taking them, hormones can influence performance and hydration status. female sex steroids vary considerably during different phases of the menstrual cycle, while taking oral contraceptive pills and during hormonal replacement therapy. Estradiol and its congeners have a number of metabolic effects, including increased glycogen storage and uptake in the liver and muscles, glycogen-sparing effect at rest and inhibition of the breakdown of protein and glycogen to glucose. Estrogen also spares glycogen through shifting metabolism towards free fatty acids for fuel. It therefore promotes a greater reliance on fat for energy at the same relative exercise intensity, in addition to increasing actual lipid availability. Progesterone enhances glycogen storage and uptake in both humans and animals. There is no doubt that the OCP diminishes PMS symptoms, monthly dysmenorrhea and blood loss, and it regulates the cycle in a predictable fashion. However, the consequences of taking the pill on athletic performance are less clear. Oral contraceptives have not been shown to cause significant changes to cardiovascular and ventilatory functions. Researchers do not agree on either quantitative or directional effects of taking the pill on a variety of physiological parameters. This field is complicated further by the diversity in the strength and preparation of the estrogen and progesterone components used. Early studies with much higher-dosage pills demonstrated a small detrimental effect on maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max). It is likely that because newer formulations of the pill diminish many of the troublesome side effects, so too is any september 2009
significant decline in athletic performance reduced. It has been suggested that in the elite female athlete, there might be small positive effects on performance, but it won’t affect women who exercise at recreational levels. Additional studies have investigated differences between female athletes taking OCPs and those not taking them. The results are difficult to interpret because changes in hormone levels and core body temperature can affect both groups and are dependent on a women’s individual cycle. However, it has been shown that OCPs can significantly affect core body temperature and heart rate, and this difference was magnified as the duration of the exercise increased.1 Interestingly, an additional study examined whether OCPs influence hydration and sodium levels in female athletes.2 Researchers asked the athletes to consume a high- or low-sodium beverage. Half of the athletes were taking OCPs and the other half were not. Each woman was tested during the peak hormone phase of her menstrual cycle (whether natural or controlled by OCPs). The athletes were then required to cycle in hot conditions, and the athletes who ingested a drink high in sodium before cycling could exercise for a longer period of time, and their core body temperature did not increase as quickly as in the lowsodium group. The data from this study suggests that during certain phases of the menstrual cycle, for women on OCPs and those not taking them, hormones can influence performance and hydration status. Female athletes should not drink more liquids or consume
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Spee d L a b more electrolytes just because of their menstrual cycle. They should monitor their hydration status and be flexible since the amount of liquids and electrolytes that their body needs will fluctuate with their cycle. Another factor to consider regarding hydration, body temperature, heart rate and exercise performance is the chemical makeup of a particular OCP. Some OCPs, such as Yasmin, contain drospirenone, which may increase potassium levels. Potassium is an electrolyte found in sports drinks such as Gatorade. Proper electrolyte balance is essential for athletes, especially those competing in endurance events longer than a few hours. If a female athlete is considering taking OCPs, she should talk to her physician about how it may influence her hydration status and if a different OCP may be
better-suited for her lifestyle. Because of the differences among women and their cycles, it is difficult to find universal truths regarding the impact of OCPs on the menstrual cycle and on exercise performance. A female athlete should keep track of her cycle and monitor any changes in performance or hydration to get an idea of what works best for her.
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1. Martin, J.G. and M.J. Buono. “Oral Contraceptives Elevate Core Temperature and Heart Rate During Exercise in the Heat.” Clinical Physiology 17.4 (1997): 401–408. 2. Sims, S.T., N.J. Rehrer, M.L. Bell and J.D. Cotter. “Pre-Exercise Sodium Loading Aids Fluid Balance and Endurance for Women Exercising in the Heat.” Journal of Applied Physiology 103 (2007): 534-541.
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choosing Appropriate rim Depth By Christopher Kautz Dear Tech SupporT, I’m having a hard time finding the best race-day wheelset for me. I have access to a large number of wheels with different depth rims, including a full disc wheel, but I don’t know how to select the appropriate setup. Gray Augustus Idaho Falls, Idaho
Gary, This is a common dilemma for riders going into big races. It’s also the most frequently asked question of the wheel gurus at Zipp and HED, so clearly you’re not alone. This dilemma used to be much easier to 120
answer, as there were not nearly as many choices in the wheel world as there are now. Today, however, most manufacturers make a large number of wheels of varying depths, starting with a shallow box section rim, ending with a full disc, and often with three or four rim depths in between the two extremes. And they make so many different wheels because there is more than one right answer to your question. Tim Mulrooney of HED says that wheels have become like golf clubs—you need a whole set to have the right combination for every situation. Obviously, this is not financially feasible for the overwhelming majority of triathletes. But you can make the right choice for your
needs. There are two main areas to address in selecting wheels: your needs as a rider and the demands of the event you’ll be racing. On top of this, there is a whole subset of details that are becoming more significant as technology develops. To fully address this topic, including all the important details, there will be two installments. In this piece, I will cover the basics of wheel selection, namely rider needs and course demands, and in next month’s column, we’ll sweat the smaller stuff. Starting with your needs as a rider, according to Mulrooney, the basic formula is a function of your height and weight. Lightweight riders will be more impacted by side wind september 2009
Athletes who are relatively new to the sport or less confident in their bike handling abilities need to run less depth than comparably-sized athletes with better abilities. forces, and therefore need to ride wheels with less surface area. Conversely, bigger and heavier riders can have more depth in their wheels and still maintain good control of their bike. Bike control is where Josh Poertner of Zipp says another part of the rider equation has to be factored in, namely bike handling skills. According to Poertner, athletes who are relatively new to the sport or less confident in their bike handling abilities need to run less depth than comparably-sized athletes with better abilities. “To make the right wheel choice, people need to be honest with themselves about their bike handling skills,” says Poertner. Athletes shouldn’t sell themselves short and ride wheels shallower than they need because that means giving up free speed. But they also shouldn’t exaggerate how well they can handle a bike and run wheels that are too deep because they’re compromising their ability to stay in the aero position. The last aspect that comes from the rider’s needs is a function of how fast she is. As a rider goes faster, her effective wind angle changes, becoming less of a crosswind and more of a headwind. This change means there is less side pressure on the wheels, allowing faster athletes to ride deeper rims and still maintain good control. However, slower riders, as in below 18 mph, will experience more of a push from crosswinds, which creates more instability. Almost as important as the athlete’s needs are the demands of a course. It’s important when going into an event to understand how much climbing and descending will be involved, as well as the strength and the direction of the wind. On flatseptember 2009
ter courses, heavier and more aerodynamic wheels will provide more speed than lighter, less aero wheels, but as a course becomes increasingly hilly, weight becomes more of a factor. The wheel needs of triathletes participating in non-drafting events are much easier to select than those of a road racer, where tactical considerations play a role. Since the bike leg in a triathlon is a steady state effort, the wheelset that minimizes power consumption is the right choice, whether that power is being lost through aerodynamics or weight. While discs are generally considered the fastest wheels aerodynamically, Mulrooney cautions against their overuse because of the added weight that normally comes with them. On the other hand, Poertner says that from Zipp’s research, no one should ever run a rear wheel shallower than a 404, which is 58mm in depth, and that most athletes can comfortably run rims deeper than that on the back end of a bike. The front end of the bike is a different story. The rim depth of a front wheel has a much greater influence on a bike’s handling than its back wheel, so most athletes use shallower front wheels. Front wheel depths for triathlon will generally start at 45mm for less confident bike handlers and windier conditions, and increase from there. However, as I will explain in part two of this article, rim depth is only part of the equation when selecting wheels. Christopher Kautz is the owner and founder of PK Cycling, and one of the originators of the fit studio concept. His clients include numerous Ironman World Champions, Tour de France veterans, and Olympians. Visit Pkcycling.com.
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avoid Nausea and Improve Your climbing By Roch FRey and Paul huddle Dear CoaChes: I have a problem with races that are half Ironman-distance or longer, including marathons. Every time I do these distances, I become nauseated to the point of vomiting during the last quarter of the race. This occurs even when I am fit and physically feel good. I have tried eating more and eating less and have tried drinking more and drinking less, but nothing seems to help. I have become very frustrated because this hinders my racing and makes the race less enjoyable. Do you have any suggestions that might alleviate this problem? Blair Villemaire
Blair Is there a clearer statement of rejection than the physical act of vomiting? Is this, perhaps, your body’s way of letting you know that it refuses (or would prefer to refuse) to do events longer than two to 2.5 hours? Since it sounds like you’re not regurgitating to feed your young, we’ll have to assume that there is some aspect of the event or what you put into your stomach september 2009
during the event that causes you to throw up. Causes of nausea include motion sickness, unpleasant odors, stressful encounters, ulcers, migraines, meningitis, gastroenteritis, mono, scarlet fever, strep throat, gallstones, radiation and chemo—wait, hold on now. What are the potential causes of throwing up during endurance events? No. 1 is probably the amount of calories or fluid consumed combined with the intensity of the effort. Beyond the steps you’re already taking (eating and drinking more or less), the suggestions we have might seem obvious. Here we go anyway: Consider exactly what you’re eating. Is it high in fat, protein or carbohydrate? What forms of each of these are you ingesting, and how might these affect you? Consider what you eat and drink in training. What works and what doesn’t work? Remember that if it tastes great in training, it might work in a race situation. If, however, it’s just so-so in training, it probably won’t work in an event. At what rate are you taking in your nutri-
tion? While you might have the correct amounts, you might be taking in too much too infrequently. Consider spreading out your intake into more frequent sips or bites throughout your event instead of consuming a whole bottle of fluid or a whole energy bar at once. How many different things are you taking in? Some athletes do better when they limit the number of distinct products they ingest. Think of the combination of foods and liquids you ate and drank at your last event and ask yourself if you could have stomached this combination while sitting at your desk, let alone while racing. Have you tried an antacid? Some endurance athletes swear by Rolaids or Tums during events to keep nausea at bay. Are you running into your ex-spouse at longer events? Consider doing some research on his race schedule and choose other events. See your primary health care provider. We know; that’s so sensible. Why would you do that? triathletemag.com
De a r co a c h When an endurance athlete gets nauseated, it’s often the result of a high work intensity combined with challenging environmental conditions and excessive food or fluid intake. The tougher the conditions and the higher the intensity of exercise, the less food and fluid you can tolerate. Determine how many calories (the average seems to be around 250) and how much fluid you can comfortably absorb per hour while working aerobically and spread out this intake over the race with products you’re accustomed to. Above all, make sure you’re practicing your nutritional and hydration strategy in training in a variety of weather conditions—this is the only way you can figure out what might and might not work in a race situation. As you’ve found out, getting your race nutrition right can be as important to a successful day as the physical training you do. Good luck, Paul and Roch
Dear CoaChes, I am doing my first Ironman this year in Wisconsin and I am a little intimidated by the course as it has lots of short, steep climbs. I have both a tri bike and a road bike. Which would be better for this type of course? Also, I am not a naturally strong climber. Can you recommend some workouts that might help? Heather Malloy
heather, The bike you should use at Ironman Wisconsin depends on how much time you will spend in the aero position versus sitting or standing on the pedals with your hands (instead of your elbows) on the bars. In our experience, even hilly Ironman courses warrant aerobars, so the tri bike might be the best call. If you will spend a significant percentage of the time you spend covering those 112 miles in the aero position, a tri bike will save you minutes. While there’s no question that a road bike would be better-suited to a hilly and technically demanding course, even truly hilly courses like Lanzarote are probably best done on a bike with aerobars because of the long stretches of gradual grade. You could put aerobars on your road bike and adjust the saddle to accommodate them. If you feel that you’ll be more comfortable doing this, then we say go for it. The factors to consider when deciding what to ride for a given Ironman event are comfort, power and aerodynamics. If you’re not comfortable, all bets are off. If you can’t provide power to the 124
Which is the best song to listen to while hill climbing: “Cry, Cry, Cry” by Johnny Cash, “Burning Down the House” by Talking Heads or “I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins or CCR? pedals, it doesn’t matter how aerodynamic you are. When possible, however, put yourself in the most aerodynamic position (without compromising comfort of power), as it will save you a lot of time over 112 miles. Now, on gaining specific strength for hills, consider your background and which aspects of your training might be missing. The best training you can do is to simply get out in the hills and ride. Yes, this is a simplified answer, but it encompasses the reality of improving one’s climbing ability. Beyond riding more hills, consider doing some specific strength training like squats and lunges. Remember that strength training will affect the quality of your sport-specific training, so you have to decide which will provide more benefit. But there’s no question that some concentrated effort in the gym can help your climbing. Finally, try some over-geared riding. This entails riding in a gear that is one to two cogs (maybe more) harder than would normally be optimal for the gradient you’re riding on. The prerequisite to this kind of work is a solid base of miles in your legs. And be sure to introduce such work gently and increase it gradually so you don’t “blow up” your knees due to the higher joint and muscular loads. Build up to the point where you are spending one day each week riding one to two gears above those you’d optimally push on a given ride. This overloads the specific cycling muscles involved in climbing and strengthens them for the task. Another option is to perform over-geared work as high-intensity intervals. Safe training, The Coaches
Dear esteemeD CoaChes, My pal and I disagree on the all-time best music to sing to yourself while hill climbing: “Cry, Cry, Cry” by Johnny Cash, “Burning Down the House” by Talking Heads or “I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins or CCR. This bet pays for a sixer of Schlitz tall boys. High Reverend Brad Rex
Dear high reverenD BraD anD pal, Huddle says he remembers you from the old days when pros didn’t whine and actually finished every race they started unless a bone was sticking through their skin. While your question smacks of sarcasm and has undertones of foolishness in it, there is a hefty reward riding on our response, so we’ll answer as though it were serious and might make some impact on your potential performance. As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is motivation in the ear of the listener—it’s a purely subjective issue. One man’s Mozart is another man’s nails across a chalkboard. What’s important is that you actually sing the chosen tune while climbing, as this is what provides you with optimal aerobic benefit and heart rate zone attainment. If you can come as close as possible to the true tone and harmony of the ditty, you’ll maximize the physiological benefit. Now, though our decision with regard to the selections you’ve offered is based on opinion rather than objective fact, it is, nonetheless, our decision and, therefore, the most correct choice. That you’ve given us options that show your (and our) age shouldn’t matter any more than the fact that you and Huddle once sported mullets (ouch). By the way, even though he is a NASCAR fan, Roch’s past hairstyle was not considered a true mullet; it was a ponytail. Of the choices you give, “Cry, Cry, Cry” by Johnny Cash and “Burning Down the House” by Talking Heads are clearly the best tunes for climbing. That said, we suggest you try the audio portion of any Tour de France mountain stage narrated by Phil Liggett—if that doesn’t get your cycling legs going, nothing will! Let the Schlitz pour, Huddle and Roch Paul Huddle and Roch Frey are not winners of the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, but they’ve trained with and coached many of them. They have lived the sport of triathlon on every level for the past 30 years and use this extensive background to assist others with their goals. Based in Encinitas, Calif., Paul and Roch are partners in Multisports.com, an endurance coaching service that includes camps, online coaching and personal coaching. Never resting on their considerable laurels, both continue to explore strange new worlds (adventure racing), seek out new life (ultra-running) and new civilizations (paddleboarding and stand-up paddling), and to boldly go where no man has gone before (The Underpants Run). If you want to consider coaching that emphasizes experience, common sense and simplicity, go to Multisports.com. If you have a question that begs for ridicule and sarcasm, please send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org. september 2009
i m /tr r wi an m fo S Pl ee g .co r F in it ch a in is oa V a c Tr im sw tri w. ww
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By PiP Taylor
What do I eat the night before a race? Do I have to have a special meal or follow a strict diet the day before? Do I ever have a beer or a glass of wine?
I get asked these questions a lot. Mostly the people asking are not as interested in what I eat or drink but secretly hope that their pre-race pizza and lager will be justified, or that their lucky steak and chips the night before is the secret to a good race. The elements of performance include genetics, training and fitness, nutrition and mental state. Each of these is important on its own, and each influences and interacts with the others. For instance, one athlete, knowing she has had ideal nutrition going into her race can boost her mental confidence, but for another, state of mind may be influenced more by his ability to relax and socialize. Similarly, good nutrition plays
a role in ensuring one’s ability to achieve optimal training and recovery, yet perfect nutrition will do nothing for performance without dedication and a willingness to work hard. Still, all of these amount to nothing without at least some natural ability and genetic disposition. The reverse is also true—the world is full of talented athletes who have never gotten off the couch. So the key to performance is to get as many of these elements in sync at one time while recognizing the unique qualities of the individual athlete or situation. So yes, good nutrition is important, especially for racing. But it is not the be-all and end-all of performance and must be put into perspective. There’s a large scientific basis for preparing well nutritionally for a race. If the race is two hours or longer, there is a benefit to having loaded muscle glycogen september 2009
(carbo-loading), being wellhydrated and consuming foods that your body can easily digest without causing any gastrointestinal upsets. However, a wide range of foods can meet these needs—the list extends well beyond pasta—and will also depend on your individual needs. Gender, size, fitness, environmental conditions, nutritional status leading into the event and nerves play a role in what and how much you need to eat the day before a race. Additionally, while you can store up glycogen in the days leading up to an event, the prerace breakfast is really the key to ensuring that your muscles are fully stocked and ready to go. So what you plan on eating before the race the next morning and during the race is more important than the previous night’s dinner. If you are dedicated enough to get up early to eat a decent breakfast and have a good race nutrition plan in place, the second and third bowls of pasta the night before become less of a good thing and more of a burden you’ll have to carry around the course with you the next day. In fact, with a reduced training load the day or two before a race, it is likely that you will be sufficiently carbo-loaded without even having to think about it for events lasting up to a couple of hours. (Ironman is a different beast when it comes to fueling.) The power of food and nutrition extends well beyond the physiological effects. As long as you meet some of the recommended nutritional guidelines, the psychology of food can be far more powerful. If you truly believe that you have a lucky din-
Don’t try anything new. Outside of that, indulge your food superstitions and compulsions. september 2009
ner without which you simply cannot race, it really will not matter nutritionally what it is. I know of one professional triathlete who must eat salmon the night before a race, another needs a stout beer and another must have a burger from a particular fast food place. I have also heard of pizza (no cheese) and pad thai being necessary components of race preparation. Of course, this psychological phenomenon can be beneficial, as it helps you feel prepared to race or calms you because you don’t have to figure out what to eat for that crucial meal. However, it can also backfire if you are not prepared to be flexible. What if, because of travel or limited availability, you can’t find that favorite and now-necessary food? Do you panic? Refuse to race? Move on to Plan B, knowing that you can get the necessary nutrition from many other food sources. Remember, too, how many times you have had a good training session even though you probably ate something different for dinner the night before on each occasion. Besides accounting for food and nutrition the evening before the race, it’s also important to relax and socialize. No matter what level athlete you are or how important the race is, being relaxed is paramount to performance. If a glass of wine or a beer helps put you in a positive frame of mind for the day ahead and give you a good night’s sleep, go for it. Nutritionally, you will not ruin your day. Whatever you eat, aim to consume some carbohydrates, some lean protein, not too much fat, and something that you know will not cause you to wake up feeling queasy or full of regret. Don’t try anything new. Outside of that, indulge your food superstitions and compulsions. If you are convinced that they will make you race faster, relax you or just put you in the mood for a race, go for it. But also be flexible enough for Plan B. triathletemag.com
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Tips for Running Your Best By Brad Culp
here is no finer feeling in the sport of triathlon than finishing strong. Best results also come from being able to increase pace through the run, sustain good form and pass other athletes right up to and through the finish chute. In the March issue of Triathlete, the “Fundamentals” column hit on one of the major issues of running technique: stride length. Here are more tips to help you run your best. Posture: Run with a tall, proud posture. The spine should be in a comfortable alignment, the chin slightly tucked. There should be a mild forward tilt of the torso so it leans into the run. The ankles should also be tilted forward to initiate the lean from the ground up. During your next run, play with the degree to which you lean into your run; you may find a faster pace at the same intensity. s h o u l d e r s : Hold your shoulders comfortably back to keep the chest open and to avoid forward rounding. Let your shoulders relax so they are resting low and not shrugged up near the ears lobes. Finally, let the shoulders rotate slightly as you run so they move to complement the run motion. Arm swing: Your elbow angles should be roughly 90 degrees. Allow the arm to swing 128
comfortably from the shoulder. Guide the hands forward and aft, rather than dramatically crossing the body. Send energy through your arms toward the finish line. BAlAnce stABility with relAxAtion: Seek a state of muscular control without being tense. To do this, keep your upper body quiet while the legs are active underneath. Your head should be looking forward rather than wagging side to side or bobbling. Relax the jaw so that your cheeks are loose. Allow your hands to form a loose fist. Keep your core firm without being flexed. Check in on these pieces as you run to find areas in your body that can be relaxed or stabilized. run well At All times: If your run form deteriorates, stop to regroup by walking for a minute or two, then start again. If you are coming off an injury or a long break, don’t hesitate to run for only a single minute before walking for a minute or two. This ratio of run to walk will progressively increase over the coming weeks to several minutes of running with shorter walking breaks. By applying these techniques, you will soon be passing competitors all the way to the finish line. september 2009
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Ride Like a Demon By Marc Becker
e Tour” is underway, and with Lance Armstrong in the mix, there will inevitably be cyclists and triathletes attempting to mimic the high-cadence riding style of “The Man.” At Ironguides, we believe that nothing has compromised the average triathlete’s ability to improve on the bike more than the all-toocommon assumption that a faster cadence will equal faster times. Remember, not only do professional cyclists compete at far higher power outputs than most multisport athletes, but they also do not have to run at the end of the bike, so they can afford to really push their legs. To better understand the importance of cycling cadence and effort in triathlon, you first should understand how your bike cadence relates to competing in a triathlon as a whole, and how changes in cadence impact your body while you train or compete.
The easiest way to visualize cadence and its effect on your body is to picture the bike segment of a triathlon as an amount of work to be done. Think of it as a huge boulder in your backyard that you need to move from point A to point B as quickly as possible. You can equate trying to move the boulder in one exhaustive effort with trying to complete the bike segment with one enormous pedal stroke using a huge chain ring. The other option is to break up the boulder into a large number of small rocks that you can carry from A to B. This isn’t a bad way to go, unless you break up the boulder into so many pieces that you spend time hurrying back and forth, increasing your heart rate and putting a lot of aerobic stress on your body. This scenario is akin to riding the bike leg of a tri at an absurdly high cadence (such as 110 average rpm). The ideal strategy lies somewhere in between: breaking the work into manageable pieces to move as much of the boulder with each trip while completing the work in as little time as possible. In other words, the right cycling cadence balances the stresses of higher cadences placed on your aerobic system with the stresses of a low cadence. To understand this better, picture the contractions your leg muscles make with each pedal stroke, momentarily blocking the flow of 130
blood into and out of the contracted muscles. A short contraction, or high cadence, enables blood to flow into and out of the muscle more often, which supplies nutrients and oxygen to the muscle and transports waste products and carbon dioxide away from the muscles more often. All this is done at the expense of your aerobic and nervous systems. The contractions force the heart to work harder and the nerves to fire more frequently. Conversely, a longer contraction, or low cadence, blocks the transport of oxygen and nutrients into the muscle and traps breakdown products in the muscle for a longer period. This style of riding taxes the aerobic and nervous systems considerably less than high-cadence pedaling. The right cadence balances these stresses so you can apply the greatest amount of force for the longest possible time. When you’re trying to find what cadence works best for you,
don’t compare yourself to what professional cyclists are doing. Instead, look at what you can deliver on the bike. The stronger you are, the more forceful the contractions you can make on the bike. The fitter you are, the longer you can make these contractions.
YoU still Have to rUn There’s one more piece to the puzzle, however. Unlike cyclists, triathletes also need to consider their approach to cycling in the context of what comes next—the demands they face on the run. You’ve heard this before, but it’s a point worth hammering home. Look at run speed as the product of stride length and stride rate. The most effective way to run faster in triathlon is to increase your stride rate, which can be learned, rather than trying for a forceful leg contraction. What does all this mean? In a nutshell, you september 2009
t Ri at hL on heR e sies cadence approach as your cycling abilities improve. Athletes with years of experience on the bike, or those training specifically for shorter events, might benefit from using a cadence greater than 90 rpm. Also, elite athletes who must ride with a high power output might be able to ride faster at higher cadences.
Finding tHe rigHt WaY to train
need to ride your bike in a way that reduces the stresses that you will encounter on the run and keeps those systems as fresh as possible. The slow contractions of a slower cycling cadence will recruit slow-twitch muscle fibers to a greater degree, which spares your fast-twitch fibers for a high-turnover run. Because a low cadence fires your motor neurons less frequently, you will reduce nervous system fatigue and enable fresher, stronger nerve signals on the run. Also, because slow-twitch fibers don’t contract as explosively (and by definition, not as often), you reduce the strain on your aerobic system. By riding with a lower aerobic intensity, you also burn less glycogen and can preserve this muscle fuel for the run. Try a few weeks of pushing a bigger gear, maintaining your speed while reducing cadence into the 75 to 90 rpm range. Simply training with a lower cadence will not make you faster. september 2009
Unlike cyclists, triathletes also need to consider their approach to cycling in the context of what comes next and keep in mind that their goal is not to have the fastest bike split but to have the fastest possible overall time. You’re training to race, and the intensity level in training needs to mirror how you expect to perform on race day. A low, powerful cadence at a high-intensity level will make you a stronger rider. Of course, there are exceptions to the low-
At Ironguides, we use simple tactics and tools to improve our athletes’ cycling splits in a triathlon-specific way. One of the sessions most of our athletes perform regularly is best done on a spin bike or stationary trainer, which allow for plenty of resistance. After a thorough warm-up, they complete anywhere from 10 to 30 efforts of one minute with the highest maintainable resistance, followed by one minute with almost no resistance. Yes, producing more power on the bike is this simple. We typically have athletes ride at 40 to 45 rpm for each hard minute, even though we would never advise riding at such a cadence on the road. The goal here is to force the athletes to ride well above their sustainable power output so that their muscles can recover, adapt and improve. You can create variations of this approach by pushing a massive gear on the road as well. We recommend performing big-gear efforts in the aero position to ensure that you’re working all of your race-day muscles. Your consistent efforts to push hard against resistance will recruit more muscle and train your bike-specific strength faster than anything you could do in a gym, as long as each session is properly structured. A properly structured training session does not mean that you have to use power goals to outline the session. Instead, each athlete can complete his assigned sessions on a best-effort basis. You can use your power readings to provide feedback on how you are improving over time, or to quickly spot fatigue and track improvement. But it is the structure of each session that generates the physiological changes you’re after. Whether you’re aiming to improve power with shorter intervals or you’re looking to develop muscular endurance with slightly longer intervals, each session must be structured to address that specific goal. Putting it all together, if you want to improve your overall triathlon times and your abilities as a cyclist in triathlon, you should adopt a lower cadence than you would use if you were training purely for cycling. Just because Lance does it, that doesn’t make it right for you. Ironguides.net triathletemag.com
Cu t t i ng E d g E
How computational fluid dynamics is cHanging bike design. By Jim Gourley
n the past decade, triathlon has developed a fascination with wind tunnel-tested bikes. This trend has motivated manufacturers of frames and components to boast ever-increasing hours spent in tunnels to back up claims of everdecreasing drag coefficients. The assumption of proportionality between time spent in the tunnel and speed of the end product seemingly culminated in the debut of and subsequent media campaigns for the Cervelo P4 and the Ridley Dean. Wind tunnel mania has been a boon to sponsored pros with large financial backing and big-name bike builders with a stockpile of cash for research and development. But to 132
smaller companies and the average age-grouper looking for a speed machine with aero cred, the term “valuable seconds” takes on a whole new meaning when you consider that an hour of wind tunnel testing can cost as much as $1,500—and that’s just to crank the turbines and get raw data. Many more hours and dollars must be spent to set up the bike in the tunnel, prepare the test and interpret the data. And then, if the data indicates that a change in component shape is necessary, it’s back to the wind tunnel for another costly hour to test the changes. This leads potential purchasers and developers to wonder if there isn’t a more efficient—read, cheaper—way to make a bike more aero. There is now. It’s called computational fluid dynamics, or CFD. CFD is a process by which a computer models, then analyzes an object using mathematical algorithms to approximate how air will flow over its surface. The model is generated
through the creation of a wire frame called a mesh, in much the same way that animators create the characters in your favorite Pixar cartoons or video games. The mesh consists of intersecting lines that form a network of grid squares that approximate the surface of the object. Each grid square is flat, so depending on the size and number of the squares, the model may look a bit more angular than the real thing. Airflow over grid regions of the leading edges is analyzed, and the results are used as input to the adjoining surfaces, continuing back to the trailing edge of the object. In the aerospace industry this technology has been used for decades to yield revolutionary concepts that have saved airlines thousands of gallons of fuel and made military planes invisible to radar. So why is it just now catching on in the bike world? september 2009
Cu t t i ng E d g E
Images courtesy of Felt Bicycles
of its bikes. The payoff came in 2005 when Lance Armstrong asked for a design overhaul of his TT ride for the Tour de France. Using CFD, Trek accomplished what is normally a four-month task in 30 days, and it did it on PC workstations. Before the Beijing Olympics, the British Cycling Team turned to scientists of the Sports Engineering Research Group at the University of Sheffield to help identify which helmets had the least amount of drag. They used CFD to save time and money, and made the process even faster through the use of another innovation: By importing the initial computer models using 3D scanning and then digitally laying the meshes over them, researchers did not have to create models from scratch. But the biggest benefit to the athletes was in the presentation of the study’s results. Making further use of CGI animations and digital design, the researchers could allow the team to see how air flowed around the helmets, thus giving them a hands-on understanding of what made one helmet more aerodynamic than another. They accomplished all of this in a matter of weeks, at a fraction of the potential cost. This does not necessarily mean that CFD is the wave of the future and that wind tunnels will soon be relics. No matter how small the grids, a mesh-based CFD model will always be an approximation of the real thing, and items like wire spokes, derailleurs and chains are just too small to model accurately. The wind tunnel remains the place where the rubber hits the airflow and is valuable for validating
virtually created designs in the real world. This is particularly the case with pro athletes looking to improve their position on the bike. The surface of a triathlete’s body is complex indeed, covered with computer-frustrating crevices and curves. The Pentium may be fast, but it’s not quite ready for Potts. What the arrival of CFD does mean, however, is that while hours spent in the tunnel will certainly show up on the price tag and in some gains on the road, the discerning bike buyer shouldn’t put all her eggs in one breezy basket. If a manufacturer spends weeks on end swapping out parts on a new design in a wind tunnel without having first done some homework in the computer lab, it might be doing a lot of extra work. After all, the first rule taught to every engineering student who obsesses over thousandths of a millimeter, and the big takeaway for athletes shopping for new bikes, is that you don’t have to get the exact answer. You just have to get close enough. Jim Gourley is an Ironman triathlete who holds a degree in astronautical engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy. RefeRences: 1. “Trek Bicycles Integrates CFdesign Into Upfront Design Process, Accelerates Innovation.” Press Release. B-Net Business Network. June 2005. 2. Hart, J.H. “The Use of CFD in the Chase for Olympic Gold.” Sports Engineering Research Group. University of Sheffield. 2008.
Only in recent years has the technology become reliable enough to deal with an object as small as a bike. Hundreds of calculations must be performed for each grid of a mesh, which was a daunting task to even the supercomputers of the ’80s. However, the problem was simplified for aircraft, where large sections of planes had fairly flat (and easily approximated) surfaces. Bikes, with their sharp contours and complex components, required much smaller meshes with so many grids that a computer couldn’t handle the load. Today we have the technology. Computers today are powerful and affordable enough to provide the cycling community with CFD. And they’re being used with great benefit. Trek bicycles saw the value of CFD early on and began experimenting with it in the design september 2009
TRIaThleTes GaRaGe Available as a frameset only (frame, fork, headset, brakeset and post), the uniquely engineered and tunnel-tested Quintana Roo Cd0.1 retails for $3,399.
Quintana Roo Cd0.1 By Jay Prasuhn
owe Quintana Roo an unabashed apology. I met with Dan Empfield two months ago and expressed concern that the legacy that he had built would grow staler—or extinct. That was before TriFest in Tucson this spring when I got my first tour of the debut model from QR, the Cd0.1. The current owners allayed my fears, discussing the technology that went into this debut. Then I got a ride on the Cd0.1, and as for my fears? They’re more for QR’s competitors now—QR is squarely back in the game. Quintana Roo has one of the finest design engineers in the industry in Brad DeVaney. It was his tireless work at the wind tunnel (and dialogue with a few athletes) that he saw to fruition the concepts that made up a bike I consider one of the most innovative in the last decade from any brand. So my apology is sincere. That’s because at first I thought it was a marketing ploy. The “shift” of the downtube by 18mm toward the already dirty air of the driveside (thus directing frontal wind more easily across the less turbulent non-driveside) sounded, shall we say, slick. But it deserves more attention. While that may provide a level of aero advantage, I think the less flashy reason for moving the downtube toward the drivetrain has greater benefits: stiffness and balance. Where does it say that a chain-driven bike has optimal balance with the frame in biaxial alignment, when you consider that the chain (and power deflection) is focused on one side 134
of the bike? Therein lies an inherent flaw in bike design that DeVaney aimed to remedy and capitalize on. With added material being dedicated to the higher torsional stress of the drive side of the bike, the Cd0.1 has an inherently stiffer frame—one that tracks straighter, especially, as QR contends, when crosswinds are prevalent. While the aero element will sell bikes, the steering benefit will keep buyers happy. Around the rest of the frame, there is more innovation: The front fork legs have an immensely wide-bowed flare and stance. Instead of making a standard blade width of about 9cm, the Cd0.1 stance sits at nearly 11cm. QR contends that moving the fork blades as far apart as possible (thus further away from the churning spokes) helps create an unimpeded flow of wind toward the shifted downtube for a magnified effect. Another element that is a first comes in the aero carbon post. Anyone who is familiar with fit knows that when moving your saddle up or down, it needs to move respectively fore and aft, in an arc, generally in a 3-1 ratio (that is, the saddle comes up as the saddle moves forward). QR is the first company to account for this: The
fore and aft adjust of the post (which provides effective seat angle from 75 to 82 degrees) moves on an upward axis as it goes forward. Furthermore, the saddle tilt and fore/aft movement are independently adjustable. Fore and aft adjust from the standard side bolt, but smaller 4mm bolt heads at the bottom of the clamp control tilt. This pre-calculated accounting is a fitter’s (or a self-fitting athlete’s) dream. Of course, it has a hidden brakeset, and another unique feature is a seattube that bulges significantly at its leading edge. QR says that it helps drop drag as wind moves across it and the seat stays. In the end, QR claims that its testing of the Cd0.1 at the A2 Wind Tunnel in September came out highly favorable in drag at zero and 10 degrees of yaw when compared to a few industry leaders. To say I was shocked with how wonderfully the Cd0.1 rode is not an understatement. I rate a select handful of bikes that have both an optimized stack and reach, and a headtube angle that is neither too slack (sloppy steering) nor too steep (twitchy steering). QR has a proper tri geometry and perfect steering balance. I felt fast but never on the verge of losing control. It climbed well, descended and cornered confidently, but in the aerobars, it felt perfectly fast, comfortable and balanced on a four-hour training day. Any bike that I want to ride for more than four hours is something special, and the Cd0.1 saw me add on a bit after returning home. That never happens. Certainly the aero spin contributes to that speed, but I give the credit to DeVaney for creating a bike that doesn’t make the rider feel fast as much as it makes that person feel comfortable. The more comfortable you are, the more time you’ll want to spend in the saddle. QR may have been out of the limelight the past few years, but it’s squarely in it again, befitting the very brand that invented the tri bike. For more, visit Rooworld.com
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gear bag GoFit Gravity Bar $100
It’s amazing how something that looks so simple can induce so much pain. If you despise strength and core training, then we advise against installing GoFit’s Gravity Bar into one of your doorways. Weight-suspension training is seriously difficult, but if crosstraining is your forte, you’ll dig it—just not at first. Performing exercises such as push-ups, flys and rows is considerably harder on the Gravity Bar than it is at the gym because balance is so critical when you’re suspended. It’ll make you sorer than you ever thought possible, but with consistent use, you’ll be more ripped than the actors in a Bowflex commercial. Gofit.net
Endorphin rEport $9.95
As triathletes, we’re helpless against the power of good, clean, objective feedback. Numbers are how we vindicate all those hours of training. If you’re a numbers geek, Endorphin Report is your new best friend. Endorphin has partnered with almost 100 events (mostly in the eastern U.S.) and allows athletes to sign up to receive a report before or after the race. Once the results are official (usually within two days), your Endorphin Report will be e-mailed to you in a PDF. The report first breaks down your race by segments and provides your time, pace and rank, as well as how you stacked up against the competition in each discipline. Each report then displays 13 charts to give you a graphic representation of how you fared. There’s literally nothing that these reports don’t tell you. Our favorite was the Stage-Strength pie chart, which displays how strong each of your stages was in relation to the others. There’s no more hiding from your weakest leg. A sample report and a list of races where the service is available is on the website. Endorphinreport.com
pEarl izumi p.r.o. SpEEd Suit $200 Pearl has always had a solid selection of race suits, but never anything in the ultra-high-end category until the debut of the P.R.O. Speed Suit earlier this year. After seeing the success of its P.R.O. fabric among roadies last season, Pearl developed a trispecific P.R.O. line, and we’re damn glad they did. Sure this stuff is a bit on the pricey side, but if you’re wearing something for 140.6 miles, comfort trumps all. The lightweight, ultra-thin suit retains almost no water, and with more mesh than Yao Ming’s basketball jersey, the suit does a top-notch job of dissipating heat. If onepiece suits aren’t your thing, Pearl also offers a P.R.O. SL Tri Jersey ($80) and P.R.O. Tri Short ($85). All models are available in a women’s-specific version as well. Pearlizumi.com
mixmyGranola CuStomBlEndEd CErEal (priCE variES)
Just like Jell-O, ice cream and TMZ, everyone loves granola. For triathletes on an anti-Atkins diet, carb-rich granola is hard to beat. MixMyGranola lets you custom blend your very own granola on their website in a matter of minutes. You can choose between four granola bases—we recommend the French vanilla—19 dried fruits, 17 different nuts and seeds, 20 “extras” (everything from wasabi peas to candy corn), as well as 16 enhancer powders from caffeine to bee pollen. The enhancers are a new feature for MixMyGranola and make it possible to address specific nutritional needs without popping pills. You can add as many ingredients as you’d like, but picking two items from each category will run you between $15 to $17 for 16 ounces of granola. The more you buy, the more you save. Mixmygranola.com
gear bag JaGGad’S Sprint ShortS $100
The new Sprint shorts were developed in conjunction with Jaggad’s team of professional triathletes and are made from lightweight body-hugging fabric that moves smoothly through water and dries quickly. Jaggad’s unique $20 optional grip removable chamois system provides comfort on the bike but allows the shorts to be transformed from the comfort of bike shorts to free-moving running shorts in seconds. Jaggad.com
trionz aCtivE ioniC BraCElEt $22
Golfers such as Vijay Singh and NASCAR drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr. have been using TrionZ’s 1,000 Gauss magnet bracelets of late, using alternating north-south polarity for increased magnetic flow. The bracelets are designed to deliver negative ions to the body to offset positive ions introduced into the body via electronic equipment, cell phones, physical stress and UV rays. TrionZ now has a silicone bracelet perfect for triathletes, ready for swim, bike and run. And they’re available in several colors so you can train in style. Trionz.com
triall3 pro-SEriES iSp CaSE $599
Safely packing your bike for travel has been the bane of athletes with integrated seat masts—until now. The new integrated seat post case is designed with the added material of an integrated mast in mind. It has the same features of existing Pro-Series cases, but it is six inches taller internally than the original VeloSafe. Still, it is narrower than the original VeloSafe, yet you can still leave your pedals on. Further, TriAll3 says that it doesn’t exceed the maximum combined dimension of 164 inches, thus avoiding additional shipping charges. Triall3sports.com 138
aSSoS F1.millE $259
As triathletes, our training volume means we should do our training in a road kit rather than a tri kit, and there are few that can beat the comfort delivered in the unique F1.Mille chamois. The F1.Mille chamois not only features a unique padded and anatomically curved waffle foam chamois, and silicone leg grippers, it delivers as much mobility and comfort in hour one as it does in hour five of your ride. And in an effort to infuse some style, the F1.Mille comes in brilliant blue, white and red, as well as standard black. Assos.com
udo’S ChoiCE oil $27.50 (17 Fluid ounCES)
Any oil rich in Omega-3 and-6 fatty acids is going to taste absolutely awful. However, we think it’s worth a few seconds of mouth-puckering pain to get a healthy dose of what is widely regarded as the best-for-you supplement out there. Udo’s Oil is like the Grey Goose of Omega-rich oils—it’s top-shelf stuff. It’s derived only from plant sources of Omega-3, 6 and-9 fatty acids (like flax and sunflower seeds), which keeps the blend free from contaminated fish sources. The oil is also pressed in a completely oxygen-free environment, which keeps every bottle as pure as possible. Suck it up and down a teaspoon before workouts for more energy, less inflammation and faster recovery. Oilthemachine.com
hypr SportS drink $25 For 12 paCkEtS
Instead of using sucrose, which can cause blood sugar crashes, as a sweetener, Hypr uses galactose, a monosaccharide that allows for a more even output of blood sugar. That results in a more sustained level of energy and eliminates the crash that many drinks might cause. Hyprsportsdrink.com september 2009
X tEr r a zonE
Knowing Your Limits By Melanie McQuaid xcelling at one sport is difficult. Becoming proficient, if not excellent, in three is an exponentially more difficult. Doing all the work required to perform better creates a mountain of fatigue. This is why recovery is the holy grail of training and why so many articles have been written about it. Athletes often get overzealous in their training and find that the results they were looking for do not come after a lot of hard work. Physiologists call this debt of fatigue after training “overreaching,” and if an athlete does enough of it, she becomes “overtrained,” which takes even longer to overcome. Athletes who overreach have not recovered enough. Some athletes believe that if they feel good the day after a workout, they have recovered from it. This may or may not be true. Recovery can be defined as “the compensation of deficit states of an organism; a return to a healthy or normal condition; to get back or regain.” So to be recovered is to get back to the state you were in before you were exposed to the training stress. Physiologists find it difficult to determine whether an athlete has recovered because there is no good way to quantify recovery. Several measures are used to establish trends (heart rate, sleep hours, sleep quality, mood, step tests, etc.), but there is no definitive measure of how well an athlete has recovered. Therefore, determining your level of recovery requires an unbiased analysis and common sense. You can have good days of training back to back, but that does not mean that you don’t carry fatigue into the next session. Triathlon demands a high volume of training. To succeed, you have to maintain a rigorous schedule to get training results in each discipline and thus improve over time. If you apply too much volume with too much intensity, you might find yourself overreaching. But if you don’t train with enough, you will not apply enough stress on your body for it to super-compensate and get faster. It can be a tricky balance to strike. Some athletes recover faster than others, and those who recover quickest can absorb more training and gain the most improvements. But can individual athletes accelerate their own recovery? Triathletes use several popular modalities 140
believed to speed up the process of recovery. The short list includes massage, heat/cold hydrotherapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and compression garments. An honorable mention goes to electrotherapies such as TENS and e-stimulation machines, stretching, more sleep, active recovery and nutrition. Assuming you are well-trained and normal rides and runs do not result in appreciable muscle damage, you may train consistently with no appreciable soreness after workouts. In the absence of critical muscle damage, do any of the above modalities really speed up how fast you can bounce back from training, and if so, would you be able to measure it? Training stress that you need to recover from include energy depletion, dehydration, muscle damage (in some cases), metabolite accumulation, oxidative stress, endocrine stress, central nervous system stress, peripheral nervous system stress and inflammation. These are never processed in isolation but are always mixed together with every other form of stress in your life, including work, diet, relationships, illness and sleep. To get faster, you need to absorb all of this stress, recover and then hope your body will super-compensate and make you a faster athlete. What is not negotiable is recovering. No matter how much you have done, you will not go faster until that stress is relieved. So if you consider recovery in its totality, how effective can you really expect the popular recovery modalities to be? How can socks remove endocrine stress from your body? Numerous scientific articles show that while hot/cold therapy, massage and compresseptember 2009
sion garments provide relief from soreness, there is no indication that they speed up physiological responses to training. Some documents actually suggest that using NSAIDs and hot/cold therapy after hard training may inhibit the body’s ability to repair itself. So, instead of speeding up your recovery, you may be slowing it down. Not a good strategy. I am not saying that massage and ice baths have no place in a triathlete’s regimen. They are crucial. However, you should understand why you use them. Think of them as tools for injury prevention. Massage and ice baths can help reduce inflammation and tightness in muscles and fascia that, if left untreated, can lead to overuse injuries and layoffs from training. The end goal is to maintain a reasonable load of training and a long-term, methodical approach to improvement. Staying injury-free in the long term will make you faster than smashing yourself for three weeks and then being laid up for the next six. However, using recovery modalities that reduce your soreness might fool you into thinking you are ready for more training. Without a subjective measure of fatigue, you might get yourself into trouble. At the end of the day, if you wear compression garments after training, there is no harm in it. My point is this: You should establish a sensible training plan in advance and adhere to it. Just because your legs feel great after an ice bath doesn’t mean that you should do back-to-back-to-back sprint workouts. Use your common sense. Taking naps and eating well give your body the chance to repair itself. Take time off from training if you are sore and tired. Make sure you manage dehydration. There is some scientific evidence that taking omega-3s and antioxidants helps your body repair itself, but you should employ those nutritional strategies regardless of whether you train to manage environmental stress such as viruses, pollution and free radicals. These are the old-school recovery methods, and they still work. Remember that it is better to be underdone than overcooked on race day. Keep that in mind as you pursue your big goals this year.
No matter how much you have done, you will not go faster until that stress is relieved. september 2009
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Recovery, On the Rocks By Samantha mcGlone
long soak in the hot tub after a hard workout may sound like the perfect end to a day of training. But recently, the traditional idea of heat as the solution to sore muscles has been turned on its head by the rising popularity of the hot tubs’ ugly stepsister, the ice bath. It may not be as enjoyable or glamorous; I doubt that we will ever see supermodels lounging by the cold plunge pool at fancy resorts. But in relation to recovery from endurance training, cold is the new hot. The micro-tears and trauma that result from heavy training form the basis of the overload principle: Muscles are broken down during training, which stimulates the building of bigger, stronger fibers in their place. This process is what makes athletes get faster, but micro-tears are also what cause the delayed onset muscle soreness that can interfere with 142
subsequent workouts. Ice baths are thought to work by constricting blood vessels and flushing waste products, such as lactate, out of the affected tissues as well as reducing swelling and tissue breakdown. But the real recovery benefit is thought to come after the fact, as the blood vessels dilate and new, fresh blood enters the muscles to stimulate the healing process. Scientists are still on the fence regarding the efficacy of the ice bath to improve muscle soreness and flush lactate; two recent studies published in major sports medicine journals show contradictory results. The first, from the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that the test subjects experienced no decrease in pain, swelling or muscle impairment following three one-minute immersions in 40-degree water after doing heavy leg-extension exercises. The second, from The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, also had its subjects perform leg presses, but it had them take a longer ice bath and concluded that the technique helped them retain more strength and power immediately following strenuous exercise and regain it more quickly.
Many professional athletes, including marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe, have used cold pools as a recovery tool for years, and whether they are scientifically supported or not, swear by them after hard workouts. Exact protocols differ among individual athletes, but the standard seems to be eight to 12 minutes in a cold tub filled with water at about 48 to 55 degrees. Any colder and there is a risk of damaging superficial tissues; any warmer and the cold won’t penetrate the deeper muscle tissue. Training centers and therapy clinics have stainless steel water tubs kept constantly circulating at the correct temperature, but the do-it-yourself way to ice bathe is as easy as grabbing a couple of 20-pound bags of ice on the way home from a workout. Dump them in a bathtub or kiddy pool and fill with cold tap water until you can completely submerge your legs. Wearing warm clothing on the upper torso or drinking hot tea while icing can keep your core temperature from dropping. Distractions are also useful; music or a book can help you while away those first excruciating minutes. The first two to three minutes are usually the most uncomfortable as the muscles adjust to the cold temperature, but once everything numbs up, the rest is easy. An alternative is contrast baths. These are trickier to orchestrate because they involve alternating every two minutes between hot and cold tubs three times. Some gyms and spas have cold plunge pools as well as hot tubs, so this can be a good option if you are of a more delicate constitution and struggle with staying in a cold tub the whole time. Just be thankful you are not a gymnast—those athletes at the Olympic Training Center have to sit neck deep in the ice bath to reach all the muscles they trash in practice. So even if the jury is still out on the question whether a cold immersion routine effectively reduces recovery time, many coaches, therapists and doctors still encourage their use. It certainly won’t hurt your performance, and there is some good evidence to suggest that it might be just what the doctor ordered. Next time your legs are trashed after a hard brick, try it. If you feel better the next day, who cares what the guys in the white coats think? september 2009
Even if the jury is still out as to if and why a cold immersion routine effectively reduces recovery time, many coaches, therapists and doctors still encourage their use.
OFFICIAL COACHES ®
Where Can LifeSport Coaching Take YOU? Linsey Corbin From: 2006 Age Group Triathlete To: 2008 Top American Pro in Kona
Michelle Ball From: Lawyer and Dog Walker To: Kona Qualifier in first Ironman (and third triathlon!)
Chris Thomas From: Father of 3 boys and NY Trader To: Ironman 70.3 World Champion in Men’s 35-39 Age Group
Bree Wee From: Teacher and Mother To: Fastest Time ever recorded by an Age Group woman in Kona (in her first Ironman!)
through leisure pursuits as well. “So if I can set goals and train toward them and work my body toward them, that just reaffirms my identity elsewhere.” The Hawaii Ironman serves a special purpose within the worldwide triathlon subculture that serves these social needs, Atkinson says. “In any sport there are certain mecca events—mecca in the sense that you have to do it once in your life,” he says. “That’s what Ironman becomes for some people. Ironman used to be a small group of dedicated people who were looked at as crazy. But it grew, and every group, once it gets big enough, starts to define standards. You have to have some way of aligning identities and creating status hierarchies within groups—to measure who you are by comparison to other people. So if you want to be considered a serious triathlete, you’ve got to do Hawaii at some point.” But why did the Kona dream take hold precisely when it did, beginning in 1978? Why not earlier, say in the 1950s, or later—say in 2002? “You started to see in the 1970s tremendous growth in the service sector economy,” Atkinson explains. “You saw the mobilization of a different workforce and you saw the extension of workdays. And every major sociologist of modernity has pointed to the existential and physical angst, the boredom that comes from that kind of culture. “We were essentially being told to sit down, shut up, don’t move all day, but to be happy with that. It’s no accident that the rise of the self-help industry also occurred at this time. It was another way of responding to this new harder to answer it than Michael Atkinson, form of angst. Some people went in for that PhD, a sociologist at England’s Loughborough stuff while other groups started surfing or doing University, and a triathlete and ultrarunner. triathlons. People in the middle class said, ‘You Atkinson says that endurance sport—and know what? I’ve had enough of this nonsense. particularly the suffering that endurance train- I want to go out and do something.’ ing and racing entails—satisfies a social need “People are really tired of living a sort of that is strongly manifested in certain groups. dull, boring and sedentary lifestyle,” Atkinson “I’m really fascinated with suffering,” he continues. “I hear this so often. A lot of the says. “You don’t go into an Ironman thinking, people I’ve talked to in my work have long ‘Tra-la-la-la-la, this is going to feel fantastic.’ histories as athletes, but not all of them do. You know it’s going to ache. Learning to like that Quite a few of them actually don’t, and they ache becomes part of the process. And if you come to triathlon later in life because they’re want to look at why, most of the people who be- looking for something tough, and they have come engrossed with the longa mentality of being tired of distance events come from down all day. They’re in You know it’s going sitting middle-class backgrounds service sector jobs; they don’t and have middle-class work to ache. Learning use their bodies; they use their ethics and ideas about setting or their voices all day, to like that ache minds goals and about learning to and they really like the physibecomes part of cal aspect of doing something achieve a sense of identity not only through the business and grueling like triathlon.” the process. Sound familiar? family things that they do, but
Why Are We so Hell-bent on reaching Kona? By Matt Fitzgerald
t any given time, tens of thousands of men and women around the world are actively pursuing the dream of participating in the Hawaii Ironman triathlon. This pursuit consists of early-morning wake-ups, daily and often twice-daily workouts, weekends in which relaxation and travel are sacrificed for long rides and runs, strict diet control, spending large amounts of money on equipment and race-related travel and entry fees, and selfimposed limitations on late nights, drinking, socializing and other hobbies. For those fortunate enough to earn qualifying slots, the pursuit of the Kona dream culminates in nine or more hours of intense suffering in hot, miserable conditions. When you look at it this way, it is natural to wonder why and how the Kona dream became such a powerful and widespread phenomenon. This question has captured the curiosity of many sociologically minded triathletes and triathlon observers, but perhaps no one has worked 144
K o nA or bus t
Who Wants To Smile? By Andy Potts
hat does it take to get that smile? You know the one I’m talking about—the one that extends from ear to ear and is as wide as the Grand Canyon. If you close your eyes, you can see the smile spreading across your 146
you, some who do not even know you, reflect your smile because they see the investment that went into making it possible. The best news I have is that you don’t have to win to have that silly grin. However, there are some prerequisites to that smile. First you have to enter a race. Next, you have to make a genuine effort to properly prepare for said race. Did I mention that you have to make some sacrifices? You have to make some sacrifices, but trust me, they will be worthwhile. Lastly, you have to give the race an honest effort. That smile that you see on my face comes from a lot of things. Mainly, it comes from making sacrifices along the way such as giving up some precious hours of sleep to get up early and ride, diving into a cold pool when I would rather go out for coffee with my friends, or heading out for a run when all I want to do is spend some quality time with my family. The sacrifices I have made along the way only make crossing the finish line that much sweeter. Those types of sacrifices make the smile genuine. Smiling is the outward sign of a deeper feeling. It is the feeling of having tested yourself and proved that you could overcome the mental and physical hurdles of a race. The feelings that accompany your smile will extend beyond the few moments in the finishing chute. You’ll get that feeling of happiness all over again in the shower after a race, when you sit down for that post-race meal, when you travel home, and when you reminisce with friends and family about your race-day experiences. These feelings are what I strive for during training and what I dream about in my sleep. I love the satisfaction that I get from a job well done. Yet they don’t last forever, so those feelings are also what will get you to enter your next race. While I always wear that smile when I win, I sometimes also have it when I don’t win. That is because I treat each race as an opportunity. I don’t want to throw away any opportunities, especially ones that can teach me something about my training, my race strategy or about me as a competitor. This may all sound a bit corny, but I believe what I am telling you. Win or lose, I know I have given everything face as you achieve something meaningful. If I have when I finish a race with a smile. The you are having trouble imagining your smile, feelings of happiness, satisfaction and more all you could think of mine come out in that smile. at the end of a race. The sacrifices I have made If you want a true baThe smile I’m referring rometer of your race, along the way only make let your smile be your to can be the result of a lot of different emotions: crossing the finish line guide. Use each race as happiness, pride, shock and celebration of your that much sweeter. Those atraining, and reward amazement, among others. That smile will have a types of sacrifices make yourself with that one contagious effect too. You’ll thing that only you can the smile genuine. notice that others around give: your smile! september 2009
u p f ron T
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Athletes raced down Pennsylvania Avenue and past the Capitol building, the National Monument and the White House on their way to the finish line.
Brownlee, Moffatt Victorious in washington By SuSan Grant Residents of Washington, D.C., are used to Pennsylvania Avenue being closed as the president makes his way back to the White House, but on June 21 it was dozens of the world’s greatest triathletes shuttling along the National Mall—not a presidential motorcade. A high-caliber field of Olympians and rising ITU stars were on hand for the debut of the Dextro Energy ITU World Championship Washington, D.C., the third stop in the world championship series and the only stop in North America. The field included Beijing 2008 Olympic Games gold medalists Jan Frodeno of Germany and Emma Snowsill of Australia, as well as perennial long and short-course U.S. superstars Andy Potts and Matt Reed. The men’s elite race had the men battling strong currents and tree debris from the previous day’s thunderstorm in the waters of the Potomac, along with strong winds on the 148
bike. Star swimmers Potts and Hunter Kemper of the U.S., Great Britain’s Alistair Brownlee, Germany’s Maik Petzold and Spain’s Javier Gomez broke free from the swim pack during the swim’s second lap and navigated the branch-strewn course expertly. “Getting hit in the head by logs wasn’t so great, but it was a really great swim and explosive right from the start,” Potts said. Brownlee and the other four top swimmers formed an impenetrable force on the bike and were already 32 seconds ahead of the chase pack by the time they hit Pennsylvania Avenue for the start of the eight-loop bike course. Belgium’s Peter Croes, who led the chase pack for much of the race, was in awe of the lead group’s unstoppable power. “Those five guys were really great,” Croes said. “We tried to organize as a group and chase them down, but it just wasn’t happening.” The top five guys exited out onto the
run course more than a minute and a half in front of the chase group. Brownlee pulled in front early on, and by the end of the first lap Brownlee, Gomez and Petzold had a 50-yard lead in front of Potts and Kemper. From there, Brownlee continued to push Gomez and Petzold harder and harder. Brownlee said he always had his eye on Gomez, who is recovering from an injury. “I had to really push hard to keep Javier back,” Brownlee said. “He’s getting stronger every race, so the next one will be really tough.” By the last half of the run course, Brownlee and Gomez had pulled away from everyone. Brownlee made his final move in the last half-mile of the race to finish first in 1:48:57, 13 seconds in front of Gomez. Petzold held on for third place in 1:49:23, followed by Potts in 1:49:50 and Kemper in 1:50:23.“This was a world-class field out here today,” Potts said. “I’m really happy to september 2009
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Emma Moffatt was an unstoppable force, easily securing herself the lead spot in the female ITU World Championship standings.
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By the top of the third lap, the chase group was quickly gaining ground on the lead pack, going from a 35-second gap to 20 in less than 4 kilometers. Soon after, the two packs merged, and riders continued to break away in an attempt at breaking in front. With only one lap to go, Haskins and Great Britain’s Mary Beth Ellis broke away from the lead pack, eventually gaining 30-plus seconds heading into T2. But it didn’t last long. By the end of the first lap, Haskins and Moffatt had passed Ellis, and Snowsill was quickly gaining ground. “I had that 30-second lead heading into T2 but that’s not really enough running against the Emmas,” said Haskins. At the halfway mark Snowsill had successfully pushed into second, followed closely by Haskins and Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf. Moffatt, however, was in her own time zone by then, running 25 seconds faster on her third lap than on her second, and coming in first in a time of 1:59:54. “I knew that I had Emma behind me the whole way,” explained Moffatt. “You never know what she is going to be able to do because she is such a strong runner, so I really had to keep the pace up.” Snowsill crossed the line for the silver medal in 2:00:19, followed by Ryf in 2:01:00. Moffatt and Brownlee’s wins put them in first place in the ITU World Championship Series standings leading into the next race in Kitzbühel, Austria, on July 11.
have been here representing the U.S.A. in the nation’s capital.” While the men’s race saw a small group take the lead and hold it throughout the race, the female elite race was full of surprises and tactical moves. Battling the tough currents of the Potomac River along with a large, tight pack of swimmers, a strong pack of U.S. athletes, including Sarah Haskins, Laura Bennett and Sarah Groff, headed out of the water and Dextro energy ItU WorlD ChampIonshIp onto the bike course Washington, D.C.—June 21, 2009 first. “There was a 1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run surge right off the bat in the swim,” Snowsill Women Swim Bike Run Total said. “It was one of the 1. Emma Moffatt (AUS) 20:06 1:04:27 34:24 1:59:54 more fierce swims I’ve 2. Emma Snowsill (AUS) 20:26 1:04:08 34:46 2:00:19 had; a lot of war injuries on my arms and 3. Daniela Ryf (SUI) 20:42 1:03:50 35:29 2:01:00 my back, so I wasn’t 4. Sarah Haskins (USA) 20:05 1:03:54 36:14 2:01:17 too impressed by that.” 5. Helen Jenkins (GBR) 20:06 1:04:29 35:53 2:01:26 Within the first lap of the bike, men Swim Bike Run Total several groups had 1. Alistair Brownlee (GBR) 20:06 57:01 31:00 1:48:57 formed, the second 2. Javier Gomez (SPN) 20:08 56:59 31:12 1:49:10 one behind the lead including Australians 3. Maik Petzold (GER) 20:04 56:57 31:26 1:49:23 Snowsill and Emma 4. Andy Potts (USA) 20:04 56:56 31:50 1:49:50 Moffatt, who waited 5. Hunter Kemper (USA) 20:06 56:55 32:29 1:50:23 to make their move.
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reed, carfrae take inaugural reV3 triathlon titles By Jay PraSuhn The inaugural Revolution3 Triathlon kicked off with a raucous debut, with American Matt Reed and Australian Mirinda Carfrae taking top honors. The first-year race, organized by pro triathlete Heather Gollnick and her husband, Todd, earned credit even before the first athlete hit the water. The race featured a taxing rolling bike course and an equally tough rolling run course, supplemented with a $100,000 pro prize purse, and accordingly, it brought some of the biggest names in the sport to Connecticut. In the men’s race, Reed and recent 70.3 St. Croix winner Timothy O’Donnell exited the water together in just less than 22 minutes, and O’Donnell had a clear plan. “The first 10 miles I was trying to keep Matt in check, but I just had to tone it back and see if I could get him on the run,” he said. Reed rode away and grew his lead to three minutes as O’Donnell joined Joe Gambles and David Thompson in pursuit. Clocking the day’s fastest bike (2:15:49) netted Reed a three-minute lead over Thompson heading onto the run, which was enough for him to coast in for the win. Gambles passed O’Donnell and a fading Thompson to take second, and O’Donnell claimed third. The women’s race was a tighter affair. Early leaders Joanna Zeiger and Rebeccah Wassner were pursued early in the bike by Leanda Cave and Carfrae, and all four were pegged as potential race winners. Midway through the bike, multi-time Hawaii Ironman world champ Natascha Badmann rode through the leaders and assumed 150
Once again, Carfrae comes from behind in the run, passing Badmann and Wassner to take the title at the inaugural Rev3 Triathlon in Middlebury, Conn.
a lead of one minute by run transition. But the run lead would be challenged. Zeiger joined Badmann early and the two traded the lead while Wassner and Carfrae chased from behind. While Wassner patiently settled on the shoulders of the two veteran pros up front, Carfrae simply ran up to and past the trio, extending to an ultimately decisive lead of one minute. Wassner passed Badmann and Zeiger to take up second in the final miles, but she was unable to reel in Carfrae. Badmann filled out the podium, taking third.
2009 revolUtIon3 trIathlon June 7, 2009—middlebury, Conn. 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run Women
1. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS)
2. Rebeccah Wassner (USA) 24:20
3. Natascha Badmann (SWI) 27:46
4. Joanna Zeiger (USA)
5. Amanda Lovato (USA)
1. Matt Reed (USA)
2. Joe Gambles (AUS)
3. Tim O’Donnell (USA)
4. David Thompson (USA)
5. Richie Cunningham (AUS)
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afternoon delight alexanDer, tIsseyre take BoIse 70.3
By Jay PraSuhn The second Ironman 70.3 Boise was a record-setting event. With the race starting at 2 p.m., it was the first 70.3 to kick off well into the afternoon. It also produced one of the most exciting finishes of the season. The men’s race saw a main pack of hitters out of the water, including Americans Brian Lavelle and Chris Lieto, Hawaii Ironman world champ Australian Craig Alexander, and his countryman, Joe Gambles. Bike powerhouse Lieto ripped out a 2:04:27 bike split, entering T2 with a sixminute lead. Alexander quickly separated himself from his fellow chasers in the opening miles of the run and began pursuit of Lieto gaining a minute on Lieto in the first two miles.
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With 500 meters left to go in the race, man 70.3 title. Corbin took second, and Sam Alexander made his move for the win. “We McGlone took the final podium spot. were both sprinting, and he nipped me at Ironman 70.3 BoIse the line,” said Lieto, June 13, 2009—Boise, Idaho who collapsed across 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run the finish. Gambles took up third, four Women Swim Bike Run Total minutes back. 1. Magali Tisseyre (CAN) 28:57 2:16:28 1:24:31 4:12:29 In the women’s 2. Linsey Corbin (USA) 31:24 2:21:16 1:25:36 4:20:58 race, up-and-coming French Canadian 3. Samantha McGlone (CAN) 29:05 2:25:03 1:28:50 4:25:10 Magali Tisseyre blazed 4. Brooke Davison (USA) 26:38 2:30:44 1:27:07 4:26:46 out of the swim seven 5. Melissa Vandewater (AUS) 31:24 2:28:43 1:29:46 4:32:34 minutes ahead of her LifeSport teammate men Swim Bike Run Total Linsey Corbin. 1. Craig Alexander (AUS) 25:39 2:10:08 1:13:44 3:51:46 Tisseyre had a 2. Chris Lieto (USA) 25:43 2:04:27 1:19:12 3:51:48 nice lead off the bike, and padded it further 3. Joe Gambles (AUS) 25:46 2:09:16 1:19:04 3:56:24 out of T2, running a 4. Ben Hoffman (USA) 28:04 2:06:38 1:19:21 3:56:32 1:24:31 half-marathon 5. Justin Hurd (USA) 31:18 2:09:43 1:13:23 3:57:29 to take her first Iron-
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Andy Potts ruled the cold waters and hilly roads of Alcatraz to claim his third-straight title.
Potts goes for three, ellis stuns field at alcatraz By Liz hichenS The day at the Escape From Alcatraz threw athletes the usual tough conditions in front of the beautiful backdrops of downtown San Francisco, Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge. In the end, Americans Andy Potts and Mary Beth Ellis walked away with victories. While athletes were relieved to find that the water was mild at 59 degrees F, the relief ended there. The currents were stronger than usual, making it very difficult to navigate a straight path through the 1.5-mile swim course. Australia’s Clayton Fettell led the men out of the water in 30:37. American Dustin McLarty and Potts followed him just seconds later. Potts hammered through the bike, finishing the second leg in field-leading time of 45:40 and heading into T2 with nearly a three-minute lead over fellow American David Thompson. Once on the run, Potts kept a steady pace over the 8-mile course to earn him his third-straight victory at Alcatraz with an overall time of 2:07:25. Thompson worked quickly on the run to 154
her in first place heading into T2. Ellis stayed strong on the run, with Cave and Lavelle hot on her heels throughout. The three climbed the infamous sand ladder only 20 seconds apart from each other, making for an exciting finish. In the end, Ellis pulled out her first Alcatraz victory with a time of 2:21:23. Cave crossed the finish line in second in 2:23:02, and Lavelle came next in 2:24:00.
cut into Potts’ lead. While Thompson and New Zealand’s Graham O’Grady ran faster than Potts, their efforts only cut a slight chunk out of Potts’ overall lead. In the end, Thompson finished second in 2:09:51 with O’Grady taking third esCape From alCatraz trIathlon in 2:10:37. San Francisco—June 14, 2009 The pre-race story for 1.5-mile swim, 18-mile bike, 8-mile run the women was the battle between three former AlcaWomen Swim Bike Run Total traz champions: Australia’s 1. Mary Beth Ellis (USA) 33:23 51:07 51:30 2:21:23 Michellie Jones, Great Brit2. Leanda Cave (GBR) 32:57 53:01 51:56 2:23:02 ain’s Leanda Cave and the U.S.’ Becky Lavelle. Lavelle 3. Becky Lavelle (USA) 32:40 53:14 52:52 2:24:00 led the women out of the 4. Kelly Couch (USA) 35:09 54:08 50:13 2:25:39 water with Cave, American 5. Michellie Jones (AUS) 34:18 54:05 53:51 2:27:43 Jasmine Oeinck, Ellis and Jones following close bemen Swim Bike Run Total hind. The women’s battle 1. Andy Potts (USA) 30:53 45:40 46:22 2:07:25 remained tight throughout 2. David Thompson (USA) 32:55 46:22 45:49 2:09:51 the race, but Ellis managed to take the lead early on the 3. Graham O’Grady (NZL) 31:38 49:13 45:07 2:10:37 bike. Ellis’ bike split of 51:07 4. Brian Fleischmann (USA) 31:01 49:34 47:14 2:12:42 was the fastest of the field by 5. Victor Plata (USA) 32:15 50:16 46:24 2:13:52 nearly two minutes, putting
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Bozzone, carfrae rule eagleMan By nan KaPPeLer Despite overnight thunderstorms, race day in Cambridge, Md., started with calm, warm waters—enough to prohibit the pro field from wearing wetsuits. Terenzo Bozzone, who finished second in last year’s race, looked to lead from the start, exiting the water first in 23:36. American Holden Comeau and Aussie Richie Cunningham exited second and third and trailed by less than a minute. Bozzone maintained a lead on the bike, clocking the top bike split of the day at 2:08:12. American Michael Lovato quickly gained ground on Cunningham, exiting the bike just one second ahead. Cunningham’s 1:13:25 run split wasn’t good enough to beat Bozzone’s 3:51:11 overall
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time. Cunningham finished in second at 4:17:00 and Ficker rounded out the podium 3:51:27. Lovato held on for third at 3:56:50. at 4:24:49. Carfrae gained an early advantage eagleman Ironman 70.3 by beating both Cambridge, md.—June 14, 2009 Natascha Badmann 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run and Maryland-native Desiree Ficker on the Women Swim Bike Run Total swim. Badmann used 1. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 26:29 2:24:42 1:19:33 4:13:27 her powerful biking 2. Natascha Badmann (SUI) 30:26 2:16:38 1:26:48 4:17:00 skills to take the top spot about 35 miles 3. Desiree Ficker (USA) 29:07 2:28:08 1:24:17 4:24:49 into the bike, clocking 4. Amanda Stevens (USA) 25:08 2:30:50 1:28:47 4:27:29 a 2:16 split and head5. Kelly Handel (USA) 26:18 2:36:36 1:22:25 4:28:18 ing into the run with a four-minute lead. men Swim Bike Run Total Carfrae clocked 1. Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) 23:35 2:08:11 1:16:54 3:51:11 the fastest women’s 2. Richie Cunningham (AUS) 24:15 2:11:14 1:13:25 3:51:27 run split at 1:19.33, regaining the lead at 3. Michael Lovato (USA) 26:26 2:08:59 1:18:43 3:56:50 mile 6 and finishing 4. Mike Caiazzo (USA) 28:23 2:11:34 1:15:05 3:58:11 in 4:13:27. Badmann 5. Paul Fritzsche (USA) 27:23 2:13:03 1:18:00 4:01:07 came in second at
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Moffatt and whitfield cash in at hy-Vee Once a year, the normally tranquil area of West Des Moines, Iowa, becomes the center of the triathlon world as the Hy-Vee ITU Elite Cup rolls through town. With a total prize purse of $1 million on hand for the 112 elite athletes participating in the Hy-Vee ITU Elite Cup, the competition was fierce, but Olympians Emma Moffatt of Australia and Canadian Simon Whitfield proved they were up to the task. High winds and sweltering heat greeted the women’s elite field as they dived into Blue Heron Lake for the start of the race. American super-swimmer Sarah McLarty was first out of the water, more than 30 seconds ahead of the group, but her lead wouldn’t last for long. The Washington, D.C., Dextro Energy ITU World Championship winner Moffatt, Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins, New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt and Americans Sarah Haskins and Laura Bennett quickly closed on McLarty during the first few laps of the eight-lap bike course. 158
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Emma Moffatt ran her way to her second win in six days, clocking a 35:38 10K and taking home the $200,000 Hy-Vee ITU Elite Cup first-place prize.
By SuSan Grant
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sill ran her way to second place in 2:01:18, followed by Canadian Lauren Groves in 2:01:31. The men’s race was yet another finishline showdown, with Whitfield proving once and for all why the 23-year-long veteran of triathlon is a three-time Olympian. Spain’s Javier Gomez, American Hunter Kemper and Aussie Courtney Atkinson were first out of the water, with Whitfield, German Jan Frodeno and Aussie Brad Kahlefeldt close behind. The bike saw a dozen different attacks by different riders trying to take the lead, but American Matt Reed eventually pulled ahead in the last lap, and he was a minute up on the chase pack heading into T2. By the end of the first run lap, the lead pack took shape: Whitfield, Frodeno, Kahlefeldt, Gomez, Jarrod Shoemaker of the U.S. and Kiwi Kris Gemmell. With only 400 meters to go, Whitfield executed his famous sprint ability, sliding into first just one second ahead of the rest of the pack in 1:49:43. Kahlefeldt and Frodeno dived their way across the finish line in 1:49:44, with Kahlefeldt edging Frodeno out for second by the tiniest of hairs. “It’s been an amazing year with these spring finishes and today I had a good one,” Kahlefeldt said. “I felt really easy out there and I thought I could win it, but Simon [Whitfield] used his experience and placed himself really well in the last technical section and there was no stopping him.”
An unexpected missing member of the lead group was Beijing gold-medalist Emma Snowsill of Australia, who is usually one of the first women out of the water and on the hy-vee ItU trIathlon elIte CUp bike. Snowsill ended West Des moines, Iowa—June 27, 2009 up in the chase group 1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run for the entire 40K of the bike before making Women Swim Bike Run her move into the lead 1. Emma Moffatt (AUS) 19:35 1:03:16 35:38 pack during the 10K 2. Emma Snowsill (AUS) 20:09 1:03:42 36:16 run course. But while Snowsill 3. Lauren Groves (CAN) 20:06 1:03:46 36:22 slowly picked away at 4. Magali Di Marco Messmer (SUI) 19:37 1:03:23 37:32 the lead runners, Mof5. Liz Blatchford (GBR) 19:36 1:03:17 37:50 fatt was gaining speed on everyone. Hewitt men Swim Bike Run held on with Moffatt 1. Simon Whitfield (CAN) 19:23 58:12 31:34 for the first run lap, 2. Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS) 19:27 58:08 31:35 but eventually Moffatt was alone in front, 3. Jan Frodeno (GER) 19:25 58:09 31:38 safely securing the 4. Kris Gemmell (NZL) 19:26 58:09 31:38 $200,000 first-place 5. Jarrod Shoemaker (USA) 19:34 58:10 31:32 prize in 1:59:45. Snow-
Total 1:59:45 2:01:18 2:01:31 2:01:48 2:02:04 Total 1:49:43 1:49:44 1:49:44 1:49:44 1:49:47
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wellington and Bell doMinate in kansas By SuSan Grant No, it wasn’t a tornado that spectators saw ripping through the fields of Lawrence, Kan., on June 14; it was Great Britain’s Chrissie Wellington. The reigning Ironman world champion only felt what it was like to be in second place for the brief amount of time it took her to exit the water and hop on her bike. She established the lead over first-outof-the-water Pip Taylor of Australia early on in the bike and never let it go. In a 2008 Kona déjà vu moment, Wellington suffered a temporary setback with a punctured tire, but this time she had her CO2 cartridges in order and changed it quickly—with enough time left to post an impressive 2:26:51 bike split and an overall time of 4:14:52. Taylor came in five minutes
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later in 4:19:42. New Zealander Joanna Lawn 3:50:44. American James Cotter of Austin, was third place with a time of 4:20:44. Texas, finished third in 3:54:05. After losing the Ironman Florida 70.3 Ironman 70.3 kansas title last month by a Lawrence, Kansas—June 14, 2009 margin of just three 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run seconds, Australia’s Luke Bell wasn’t taking Women Swim Bike Run Total any chances. After exit1. Chrissie Wellington (GBR) 25:11 2:26:51 1:20:16 4:14:52 ing the water in a com2. Pip Taylor (AUS) 24:17 2:30:18 1:23:02 4:19:42 fortable fourth place, Bell blazed on the bike 3. Joanna Lawn (NZL) 26:37 2:27:48 1:23:55 4:20:44 and never looked back, 4. Amy Marsh (USA) 25:51 2:26:29 1:26:46 4:21:38 pedaling his way to the 5. Nina Kraft (GER) 26:08 2:33:35 1:23:16 4:25:26 day’s fastest bike in 2:11:05. Bell held off men Swim Bike Run Total the competition on 1. Luke Bell (AUS) 23:24 2:11:05 1:13:15 3:49:35 the run, posting the 2. Timothy O’Donnell (USA) 23:22 2:11:24 1:14:14 3:50:44 fastest run split of the day as well (1:13:15) 3. James Cotter (USA) 23:26 2:14:03 1:14:22 3:54:05 for a first place finish 4. Stephen Hackett (AUS) 23:22 2:11:16 1:18:56 3:55:25 in 3:49:35. O’Donnell 5. Brandon Marsh (USA) 23:27 2:13:44 1:16:33 3:55:46 came in second in
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minutes. He recovered well enough, however, to enter T2 in third place. American T.J. Tollakson proved his strength on the bike by moving up the ranks and coming into T2 in second place. On the run, Pontano continued to dominate, maintaining a comfortable lead over Tollakson, a faltering Rhodes and German Maximilian Longree, who pushed himself to third place during the first half of the run. Pontano won another Ironman title with a time of 8:32:12, Tollakson came in second with a time of 8:42:03 and Longree came from behind to grab third with a time of 8:50:19.
Tyler Stewart shattered both the Ironman Coeur d’Alene bike record and course record, winning her first Ironman victory 10 minutes ahead of the competition.
stewart and Pontano win in coeur d’alene By aShLey SLaney It was American Tyler Stewart’s big day at this year’s Ironman Coeur d’Alene: She not only won the race by almost 10 minutes, but she also set new bike course and overall course records. Stewart took the lead halfway through the bike and maintained it for the rest of the race, claiming her first Ironman victory. In the men’s race, Spain’s Francisco Pontano lived up to pre-race predictions, putting in strong performances on all three legs to capture the win. In the women’s race, Caroline Steffen of Switzerland led the pack through the swim, emerging from the water first, with Aussie Kate Major, Italy’s Edith Niederfriniger and last year’s champion, Canada’s Heather Wurtele, only seconds behind her. Steffen maintained her lead for the first half of the bike, but Stewart overtook her by the 56-mile point. Stewart demonstrated her reputation as a strong cyclist as she grew her lead throughout the remainder of the bike and set a new bike course record of 4:59:16 despite stiff competition from Major and Wurtele. During the run, Stewart maintained her lead, but Major and Wurtele gained on her, 162
Francisco Pontano biked his way to the lead and held off Tollakson and Longree on the run for the title.
with Major cutting her deficit down to just less than four minutes by mile 16. By mile 19, however, Stewart pulled away again, crossing the finish line in 9:23:21. Major came in second with a time of 9:32:10, and Wurtele finished Ironman CoeUr D’alene third in 9:34:24. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho—June 21, 2009 I n t h e m e n’s 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run race, American John Flanagan had a nearly Women Swim Bike Run two-minute lead over 1:04:38 4:59:35 3:15:28 1. Tyler Stewart (USA) the rest of the field 2. Kate Major (AUS) 58:29 5:16:25 3:13:55 out of the water, but Kiwi Bryan Rhodes 3. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 58:35 5:12:41 3:19:08 and Pontano quickly 1:04:30 5:19:24 3:24:01 4. Haley Cooper (USA) passed him on the 1:03:46 5:22:06 3:23:59 5. Rachel Kiers (CAN) opening miles of the bike. Pontano swiftly men Swim Bike Run assumed the lead, but 1. Francisco Pontano (SPA) 50:28 4:40:41 2:57:50 Rhodes remained mere 2. TJ Tollakson (USA) 56:07 4:41:49 3:00:32 seconds behind him until he experienced 3. Maximilian Longree (GER) 59:48 4:52:28 2:54:31 a problem with his 1:12:52 4:50:11 2:49:32 4. Justin Henkel (USA) pedals that set him 5. Tuukka Miettinen (FIN) 1:01:33 4:47:23 3:09:41 back more than eight
Total 9:23:21 9:32:10 9:34:24 9:51:11 9:53:43 Total 8:32:12 8:42:03 8:50:19 8:56:08 9:02:49
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ZAMORA PEREZ TAKES FOURTH WIN DECKERS SHATTERS COURSE RECORD IN NICE BY SUSAN GRANT
Fast times and repeat wins were on hand along the French Riviera at Ironman France. In the men’s race, Spain’s Clemente McKernan-Alonso beat Switzerland’s Olivier Marceau out of the water by seven seconds, followed shortly by defending champion Marcel Zamora Perez of Spain. On the bike, Argentina’s Oscar Galindez and France’s Simon Billeau and Herve Faure joined the leaders on the bike. Ultimately, it would be Marceau who reached T2 first, with Zamora Perez hot on his tail. From there it was a Marceau-Zamora Perez duel along the Promenade des Anglais, with Zamora Perez passing Marceau on the second loop, crossing the tape in a new course record of 8:30:06. In the women’s race, Great Britain’s Yvette Grice exited the water first in 56:22, followed by Belgian’s Tine Deckers. Local favorite Christel Robin exited farther back in 1:00:18, but quickly made up time on the bike, passing Deckers in the first 30 miles and holding the lead heading into T2. Deckers gained speed quickly heading out onto the run, took the
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lead in the final lap, setting a new female course record time of 9:30:29, making her the first Belgian woman to claim an Ironman title.
IRONMAN FRANCE Nice, France—June 28, 2009 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run WOMEN
1. Tine Deckers (BEL)
58:04 5:14:36 3:11:58 9:30:29
2. Christel Robin (FRA)
1:00:18 5:05:22 3:22:23 9:34:19
3. Martina Dogana (ITA)
58:53 5:31:37 3:01:20 9:37:35
4. Abigail Bayley (GBR)
59:41 5:34:42 3:07:07 9:47:22
5. Alexandra Louison (FRA)
1:00:33 5:29:44 3:16:03 9:52:28
1. Marcel Zamora Perez (ESP)
53:10 4:48:59 2:43:17 8:30:06
2. Herve Faure (FRA)
53:16 4:48:35 2:54:26 8:40:55
3. Simon Billeau (FRA)
54:46 4:45:40 3:00:41 8:46:30
4. ClementeAlonso-McKernan (ESP)
51:04 4:58:59 2:52:28 8:48:59
5. Olivier Marceau (SUI)
51:11 4:45:00 3:11:50 8:52:53
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Sad things too often get pushed to the back. Things near the end are perceived as remnants swept away in the wake of better content before. Up front is where we look for the excitement of anticipation: the early days of a relationship, a song’s opening stanza, our first home run, a young life. The sadness of finality, though, could perhaps be less about the loss than the fact we will miss the pleasure it brought us. Good things can happen near the back, and they can last well beyond the end. Because when something of value is gone, it’s not necessarily lost, only renegotiated in our new connection to it. The passing of endurance athlete Steve Larsen on May 19 is like that. He died suddenly at 39 years of age of coronary heart disease, and the initial mourning by the extended endurance sports family and that emotional force of disbelief and anger have come to mean a lot more. As word spread, people reflected deeply both on his achievements and how they might signify something in their own continuing existence.
No one sees the White Horseman coming, athletes especially. An athlete’s life is rarely a soft continuum. Instead, we feign some kind of physical sovereignty, bootlegging our youth well past the immediate horizons of rationality. We never see that tipping point of greatness. One day and in one breath, we just aren’t as fit or as fast as the moment before. As Bob Dylan suggested, “Those that aren’t busy being born are busy dying.” But if we are lucky or humble enough, we soon realize that after our peak and beyond the banality of real life there is joy in the embracement of real life. Steve knew that better than most athletes. How many world-class, four-sport endurance athletes choose to have five children, three businesses and one wife? It is exactly there, in his role as a regular sportsman, that his legacy is both the beginning and best of a too-early ending. It is exactly there, in the thousand and one posts from those he had patted on the back and offered an unpretentious hand, where we consider our relationship to values that might conflict with our win-at-all-costs worlds. We liked Steve because he was just like us. Only faster. You see, it’s not easy finding balance, if not self-acceptance, in a sport that uses scales
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The Champion Next Door
favoring single-digit body fat percentages and five-figure bike prices. Looking through the athlete images up front can cause what American poet Adrienne Rich calls “psychic disequilibrium, as if you looked into a mirror and saw nothing.” You get the feeling that Steve always saw well past the finish line. Somehow, I imagine that as a child Steve rode his bike many blocks away but still made it home before the streets lights came on. How does one athlete find the higher middle ground when another feels he needs grave-stepping arrogance to succeed? How do you get really fast and really nice and have a bunch of kids and fight the good fight but always check your weapons at the door? The day after Steve’s passing, the blogs and websites were ablaze with incredulity. Triathlon had yet to lose a competitor of his stature at such a young age. But the outpouring of care by the endurance armies of the night was something indeed. For many, the sudden death of that kid on a bike for reasons that only reason knows somehow catalyzed a feeling, a new way of being in the world of sport. Forget the notions of fairness or that sometimes the good die young. Forget that his three youngest children will know him through the tales handed down by the many he inspired. Forget that for his wife, Carrie, the whole damn thing just sucks. But think for a moment about propping yourself up against a superior regularity, walking a fine line of excellence with a trophy in one hand and a dirty diaper in the other. Think for a moment that the wisdom of compromise has a kind of grace to it, a mutual victory in and of itself. Perhaps the greatest rage that we can have against the dying of the light is to realize that it shines equally on the podium and in the child’s nighttime closet. Soon enough the buzz over Steve’s tragic passing will pass as well. And triathletes will be thinking about Kona and run splits and racing wheels. And that’s OK. The living go on living, and the dead stay dead. But what is not OK is our ambivalence towards those who have come before us and created memories upon which we build what is left of our own lives. What is not OK is allowing ourselves to forget because it reminds us of our own mortality. Better that we aspire to be like Steve Larsen—the guy right next door with a worldwide following, returning phone calls, pushing the kids in the swing and winning a few races in between.
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