Better Sleep for Better Results

March 4th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By  Jared Dunham

Recovery between workouts is crucial for improving your ability to perform in endurance sports. Proper recovery helps in many ways, some of which are:

  • Allowing your muscles to rebuild and recover from a hard workout.
  • Preventing over-training or burnout.
  • Managing consistent weight and body composition.

There are many ways to receive the right amount of recovery between workouts, popular methods are: protein intake, stretching, foam rolling, and time spent away from the sport. While all of these are important factors to consider, one thing that can be overlooked or set as a lower priority is the amount and quality of sleep you’re receiving. Those restful night hours are crucial because it can directly affect how hard you perceive a workout is. “That means biomechanically there’s no reason sleep will lessen your physical capabilities, but you will fatigue faster on less sleep, making it feel tougher to work out to your maximum capacity,” (How sleep affects fitness and vice versa: Everyday Health). This being said, here are my recommendations for getting the proper amount of sleep needed to recover best.

Get the right number of hours. The recommended number of hours would be eight per night, however with a busy schedule this can be difficult. Something I find that helps is scheduling my less crucial tasks near bedtime, that way the task I skipped to get asleep on time isn’t a big deal anyway. To really soak up those hours, create a sleep routine where you arrive and depart from the mattress at the same times every day. This will make getting to bed and waking up on time easier as your body acclimates to the schedule.

Improve your digestive system. An unhealthy gut can lead to poor sleep and poor sleep can lead to an unhealthy gut, it’s a vicious cycle. In my experience, three major contributors to a problematic stomach are: lack of variety in diet, lack of fiber in diet, or a calorie deficit. If you’re eating the same things every day then diversifying the food groups your consuming will draw more nutrients from your diet, which can aid gut health. Fiber is also an important factor, though it can sometimes seem difficult to take enough in while dieting. The average recommended amount is 35 Grams per day which I’ve found to work fine with me. Two foods that are low calorie and packed with fiber are Spinach and Berries. On another note, natural fiber is leagues better than supplementing it out of a bottle. Lastly, a diet that has you eating too little calories will slow down your metabolism and hurt not only weight loss but also sleep. Going to bed a tad hungry is okay but trying to sleep while you clearly did not eat enough is going to make easy rest a distant dream.

Remove distractions before bed. Generally one of the rules for getting good sleep is to shut down electronics prior to hitting the hay, however I think we may need to be broader than that. We should stop focusing intently on one thing in that 30 minute window before bed. I say this because concentrating on a task and then attempting to sleep could leave you with ruminating thoughts that keep you awake. Good examples of tasks not to do would be: playing an intense video game, doing stressful paper work, or watching a horror movie.

Stretching or Foam Rolling. Two things that have aided me in the transition from wake to sleep is stretching or using a foam roller immediately before bed. While there aren’t certain stretches or areas of the body to roll that I recommend everyone, if you’re a cyclist then obviously to get the best recovery from a workout stretch and roll your lower body.

Without the proper recovery and sleep, it doesn’t matter how hard you workout you will not yield the results to meet your goals.

The post Better Sleep for Better Results appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.


My Oatmeal Cookbook

February 9th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By Jared Dunham

As an endurance athlete you may be faced with many early morning or otherwise inconveniently timed workouts to your daily schedule. To fuel for one of said workouts it’s easy to reach for a protein bar, cereal or a similar product, however a better and more holistic option is oatmeal. Oatmeal is an empty canvas as far as food goes, it can be served in many ways and variations. Admittedly I’m an emerging oat addict myself, eating mostly oatmeal for a great deal of my past breakfasts. Nowadays I don’t eat oats nearly as much as I did in the past but still thoroughly enjoy the dish every now and again. With that being said, here are some of my favorite recipes for oatmeal. I hope they help break you out of your daily oat rut or make you take a shot in the dark and try some oats for the first time.

Quick Notes:

  • These oat recipes can be made easily in 15 minutes or less with the caveat that you use a microwave for cooking.
  • Most microwaves have an “Oatmeal’ setting on them, however cooking them for about 3 minutes is a good substitute.
  • Boiling oatmeal on the stove in a cooking pot also works, however this requires a little more time and cleanup, so I usually opt for the microwave if I’m trying to whip up some oats quickly.
  • All my recipes are based on one serving and are a ½ cup of dry oats each.
  • When cooking these oats, I use about ¾ cup of water.
  • Milk is a good substitute, which some of the recipes call for, but I use water most of the time.
  • Lastly, the amounts of ingredients in these recipes are in the eye of the beholder and all these meals are open to editing so if there’s something you wanted to change then go ahead and try it.

Classic Recipes

Pumpkin Spice

While the season for pumpkin spice lattes may be over, you can still enjoy this meal anytime.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 268
  • 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Spice Carbs: 38.5g
  • 1/8 Cup Pecans Fat: 10.3g
  • 1/4 Cup Canned Pumpkin Protein: 8g
  • ½ tbsp Brown Sugar

Directions:

  1. Begin cooking oats, about halfway through mix the canned pumpkin in with the water and oats.
  2. Finish cooking.
  3. Mix in brown sugar to be sure it melts while oats are hot. Afterwards stir in other ingredients and enjoy.

Cinnamon Apple

Cinnamon apple is a very simple recipe that is a good option if you are trying to fuel for a workout or day without many bells or whistles attached.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 204
  • ½ Finely Chopped Apple Carbs: 41.7g
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon Fat:3.2g

Protein:6.3g

Directions:

  1. Chop up half an apple while aats cook.
  2. When oats finish mix in Cinnamon and Apple.

Cooking Notes: If you’re looking to sweeten up this recipe then add half a tablespoon of brown sugar or maple syrup.

Maple Nut

This recipe was crafted to mimic the taste of the “Maple Nut” glazing that coats a doughnut of the same name. The main difference is this one speeds you up instead of slowing you down.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 300
  • 1 tbsp Natural Peanut Butter Carbs: 45.1g
  • 1 tbsp Real Maple Syrup Fat:11g
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract Protein:9.5g

Directions:

  1. Cook oats, then mix all ingredients.

Carb Load

Sweet Potato Oats

Sweet potatoes and oatmeal can be a match made in heaven especially if you’re looking to pack in a few extra all-natural carbs before a ride. This bowl combines the two with a dash of sweetness and salt.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 321
  • 1/2 Sweet Potato Carbs: 52g
  • 1 tbsp Brown Sugar Fat: 10g
  • 1/8 Cup Chopped Pecans Protein: 7g

Directions:

  1. Chop up the Sweet Potato while Oats cook.
  2. Stir in Brown Sugar to melt after Oats finish.
  3. Cook Sweet Potato in microwave if you need to.
  4. Mash Potato in with Oats until desired texture is achieved.
  5. Mix in Pecans.

Cooking Notes: The fastest way to make this recipe is to microwave the potato however, if you steam it, that will allow the spud to mix better with the oats. If you’re looking for more carbs add the whole potato.

The Fruit Bowl

Let’s see how many different fruits we can mix in with oatmeal. This is less of a standout than some of the other recipes but still holds true with how great oats taste when your average fruits are mixed in.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 259
  • ½ tbsp Honey Carbs: 55g
  • 1 Sliced Strawberry Fat:3.3g
  • 1 Sliced Orange Wedge Protein:7g
  • 1/4 Chopped Apple
  • 1/4 Sliced Banana
  • 6 Grapes

Directions:

  1. If Fruit isn’t already prechopped then do that while Oats cook.
  2. Mix Honey followed by Fruit when Oats are finished.

Cooking Notes: This recipe requires various fruits, but you can use whatever may be at your disposal. If there’s any leftover fruit salad, simply use that or chop up fruit to be used for several servings and then store in the refrigerator.

Beet Oatmeal

Studies have shown that beets can help improve performance in endurance sports when consumed before exercise. It only makes sense that we add them in with oats.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 260
  • ¾ Cup Beet Juice Carbs: 54.4g
  • 1/2 Finely Chopped Apple Fat: 3.2g
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon Protein: 6.4g
  • ½ tsp Vanilla
  • 1 tbsp Brown Sugar

Directions:

  1. Add Beet Juice instead of Water to Oatmeal for cooking.
  2. Chop Apple while Oats cook.
  3. Once Oats are finished, mix in: Cinnamon, Vanilla, Brown Sugar and Apple.

Cooking Notes: Unless you have a juicer or direct access to beet juice then mixing dried beet powder in with water will be your best option. That is what I do here.

Protein Packed

Greek Oats and Berries

For this recipe the Greek Yogurt provides a nice contrast to the citrus flavor of the mixed fruit.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 210 to 235
  • ½ Cup Frozen Mixed Berries Carbs: 38 to 40g
  • ¼ to ½ Cup Greek Yogurt Fat: 3g

Protein: 10 to 15g

Directions:

  1. Cook Oats.
  2. Cook Berries separately.
  3. Mix warmed Fruit with Oats and Greek yogurt.

Cooking Notes: I prefer to leave the fruit juice that comes with the frozen fruit in when I mix with oats.

Strawberry Dream

I was a little hesitant on mixing cottage cheese in with oatmeal but soon discovered that the pair have a similar flavor that jives perfectly.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 279 to 334
  • 6 Chopped Strawberries Carbs: 48 to 50g
  • ¼ to ½ Cup Cottage Cheese Fat: 5 to 8g
  • 1tbsp Strawberry Jam Protein: 8 to 17g

Directions:

  1. Chop Strawberries while Oats cook.
  2. After Oats are ready; mix in Cottage Cheese and Strawberry Jam.
  3. Lastly, add Strawberries.

Cooking Notes: This recipe can be adapted to any fruit, EX: Chopped Peaches and Peach Jam.

Savory Oat Bowl

Here’s another one you may have to be open minded about. Trust me though, there’s nothing under the sun that doesn’t taste great with bacon and cheese.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 361
  • 2 Eggs (Runny) Carbs: 28g
  • 1 Crumbled Slice of Cooked Bacon Fat: 18.3g
  • 1 tbsp Shredded Cheddar Cheese Protein: 22.8g
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Fry Eggs while Oats cook.
  2. Mix Cheddar Cheese in with oats after they’re finished.
  3. Add Bacon to mixture.
  4. Mix in Salt and Pepper to taste, then top with Runny Eggs.

Cooking notes: I prefer using runny eggs for this recipe because the yoke adds more flavor to the bowl, however I have tried mixing scrambled in with oats. Something I haven’t tried is mixing precooked oats in with scrambled eggs as they cook. If you want to make this recipe much faster with less cleanup make sure to pre-fry your bacon and then simply store in the fridge till you need to use it, then microwave to warmup for this recipe.

Indulgent Recipes

Elephant Ear

As the name would suggest, the main objective of this recipe was to have a similar taste with that of an Elephant Ear. This one is surprisingly low calorie compared to a lot of the other recipes that made it onto the “Indulgent” list.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 271
  • 1 tbsp Sugar Carbs: 32G
  • ½ tbsp Cinnamon Fat: 14.5G
  • 1 tbsp Melted Butter Protein: 5G

Directions:

  1. Begin cooking Oats
  2. Near the end of their prep add Butter to be melted.
  3. Mix Butter in with Oats and add other ingredients.

Almond Joy

We’re going for an Almond Joy candy bar here, enough said.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 577
  • 1/8 Cup Sweetened Coconut Flakes Carbs: 64.6g
  • 1/8 Cup Chocolate Chips Fat: 31g
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk Protein: 18.6g
  • 1/8 Cup Sliced Almonds

Directions:

  1. Cook Oats with Milk instead of Water.
  2. After Oats have finished mix in Chocolate Chips till they melt, followed by other ingredients.

Cooking Notes: Obviously if you’re looking for a leaner version of this recipe it can be done. I’d recommend replacing Whole Milk with Almond and lessening the rest of the ingredients.

PB&J

Here’s an idea to shakeup that average, packed lunch, peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 397
  • 1 tbsp Natural Peanut Butter Carbs: 49g
  • 1 tbsp Natural Jelly Fat: 17g
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk Protein: 15.3g

Directions:

  1. Cook Milk with Oats instead of Water.
  2. After Oats have finished mix in other ingredients.

Cooking Notes: If you’re looking to save a few calories, skimp out on the Whole Milk and replace it with Almond or Skim.

The Usual

The Usual was probably my favorite recipe for quite some time, it capitalizes on the banana and peanut butter combination that works so well with oatmeal. A note however, this recipe has a lot of horsepower so you may want to save this one for a hard workout or race.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 436
  • 1 tbsp Natural Peanut Butter Carbs: 64.5g
  • 1 tbsp Sliced Almonds or Other Nuts Fat: 15.3g
  • 1 tbsp Natural Maple Syrup Protein: 11.6g
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Chopped Banana

Directions:

  1. Slice up your Banana while Oats cook.
  2. When Oats are finished mix ingredients in as followed: Maple Syrup, Vanilla Extract, Cinnamon, Natural Peanut Butter, Sliced Almonds, and Banana.

Enjoy your Oats!!

The post My Oatmeal Cookbook appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.


My First Ore to Shore

November 18th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Todd Anthes

This race has been on my wish list for some time.  2019 was the year.

The trip to Marquette is an event in and of itself.  It is sufficient to say the we live in a great State.  I went a few days early so as not to feel rushed.

I traveled with a group of guys that I train with. They have been doing the race about a decade, so they knew all the ins and outs of the race.  I did not request a preferred start but was in the first row of general population. And right before the start the rope comes down and I was right at the back of the preferred starters.

The rollout on the road was somewhat mild, although within the first few minutes there was a crash on the right side of the field. The sound of screeching brakes and carbon hitting the road is never a good sound.

I raced on my hardtail as my shifter on my full suspension bike appeared to be failing the day before the race. I would have preferred to race on my soft tail given the rough trails and rocky two tracks. Regardless, the hardtail was nice on the limited roads and smooth trail.

I tend to like cross country and less techy courses, and this course delivers. 48 miles of two-tracks, gravel, rocks, and ending with a little bit of single-track.

About 5 minutes into the race I was passing a group that included a friend. I was chatting with him on the two-track when my front wheel was sucked into a wet little hole. It sent me over the bars and into the weeds. It was so quick I was really startled, but nonetheless ok. I was back on my bike, but my computer and race plate were dangling from my handlebars. It wasn’t until the top of Misery Hill until I stopped to adjust those items.

One of the funnier moments of the race, as I was going back and forth with a teammate, he asked me why I kept stopping. I just laughed it off given the crash; if he only knew.

My little spill at the start of the race caused me to work harder than I probably would have for about half the race. I ultimately caught the group I was riding with when I crashed, but I burned some matches in doing so.  The last ¼ of the race I was on the verge of cramping and couldn’t go as fast as I wanted.  Regardless the single-track at about 8 miles left was fun and familiar, especially given the pre ride on Friday.

The race didn’t go as I had hoped, but you just get up, keep going and enjoy the moment.  I’ve always had a conflict the weekend of this race. Moving forward it looks like I will be able to do this race, and that is a great thing as I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The post My First Ore to Shore appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.


First Time using Electronic Shifting on my MTB

November 7th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By:   Todd Anthes

This review is for the uninitiated. It is not an in-depth review of the product.  It is a scant overview of someone using electronic shifting for the first time.

It was time to replace my SRAM Eagle cassette (ouch), and in doing so, I was one of the first to purchase SRAM’s XX1 Eagle AXS Upgrade Kit. This is not the entire gruppo, simply the rear derailleur, shifter, battery, and battery charger.  When SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS was released you could only purchase the entire gruppo.  

I was neither in the market, nor planning on switching to electronic, but nevertheless I decided to give it a go.

Electronic shifting has been touted as a game changer.  However, I was not convinced. The thought of having a battery and relying on electronic means to shift off-road on a mountain bike seemed risky.  I don’t know that I am past that issue (although no issues yet, including the 48 mile “Hard Rock” Ore to Shore” and a few other races).

But what I can tell you is that electronic shifting is everything the proponents have suggested it is.  A perfect shift, every damn time. Nothing better than that “clunk” of a shift that is perfectly timed, especially in a race setting

The shifter is somewhat finicky.  You can’t rest your thumb on trigger like a regular shifter. If you do you will initiate a shift.  And if you hold your thumb on the shifter it runs through the gears without stopping. You really need to learn to rest your thumb on the bar and only touch the shifter when you want to initiate a shift.   I often bump the shifter when I am off the bike, which is somewhat annoying when you move the bike or start to peddle, and the bike is not in the proper gear.

Within a few weeks I purchased a backup battery.  A battery is supposed to get you 620 miles, but I rarely look at the lights on the derailleur to see if it is “red,” meaning a charge is necessary. Plus, if for some reason the battery de-chargers (e.g., cold, water, etc.).  I want to have a back-up as you can’t shift manually.

I have heard stories, but it might be an urban myth, that if you transport your bike on a rack or in the back of your truck that it might initiate shifts and prematurely drain the battery.  I have not witnessed this, but I am concerned that in the colder seasons that the battery life may be affected.

All in all, I haven’t experienced any issues with the unit. I am somewhat mystified as to how the shifting stays true all the time, but I suppose without a cable to stretch that is one less variable to control.

The post First Time using Electronic Shifting on my MTB appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.


How “Destiny” Brought Me to Racing

November 7th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Joe Bianchini

My first experience on a longer bike ride of sorts was in 2014, after I had just graduated college. My girlfriend at the time and now wife, had just received a road bike for her birthday and was eager to try it out. We were staying at her parent’s cottage near Bellaire, MI and had spent a lot of time meticulously plotting out how far we were going to go, what speed we wanted to maintain, what clothes to wear and most importantly how long we could afford to stay at The Dockside, a local bar on Torch Lake. When I say afford, I mean both how many beers we could literally afford having just graduated college and how much time we could afford before it got too dark out for our 15-mile return trip. These were the important things at the time that I needed to know before embarking on a ride over 5 miles of flat roads yet alone the 30 miles of rolling hills that we were about to do.

We ended up making it back okay but with about 3 miles left, we had one last climb to the top of a hill before this venture would come to an end. It was a twisty turny climb that I always thought people were crazy for biking up as I rolled past them in my car countless times. Now here I was doing it with a greasy hamburger and several beers sloshing around in my stomach. The biggest challenge however was the fact that I was on a hand me down children’s sized mountain bike from the 1990’s that had “Destiny” emblazoned across the top tube. Prior to getting to the climb, Brooke had very generously offered to ride “Destiny” up the hill and let me ride her bike. Despite the bike being heavy, too small and this being one of the steepest hills around; I was not going to let this challenge defeat me. Eventually, and not in quick fashion I made it to the top, but more importantly I had made up my mind about getting a road bike. 

I grew up playing a variety of sports including football, lacrosse, wrestling and rugby but I never had participated in sports that were more endurance related such as biking, track, cross country, etc. However, the last time I ever participated in any competitive sport was high school. Having that brief period where my mind switched over into that competitive mindset on that hill was so exhilarating and I was hooked. It was such a fulfilling experience to not think about anything else that was going on in my life and only focus on getting to the top of that hill. Although I am sure that I could climb that same hill much faster today, the fact of the matter is that my attitude was the same then as it is now: Get to the top as fast as I possibly can. 

That following winter I bought my first road bike and started going to spinning classes in anticipation of the coming spring. Once spring hit, I started venturing out on various group rides during the week but eventually hooked up with a small group of people who had work and life schedules that provided more opportunity to ride at 5:30 AM rather than the afternoon. We dubbed ourselves the “Morning Cranks” and over time the group began to grow, and the rides began to become faster. This provided me with a group of friends to ride with consistently, compete on Strava segments with, give me confidence to sign up for my first race and overall really made me enjoy the sport. Every time I got on the bike, I was constantly trying to learn from the other people around me to make myself a better rider and having fun doing it. Eventually, I began to partake in cat 4/5 races with varying level of success but knew overall that this was something I wanted to keep getting better at. It wasn’t until earlier this summer when I began talking to Terry Ritter about taking my racing to the next level. At first, I was a little nervous for a magnitude of reasons but eventually became confident that joining Team Athletic Mentors was something I really wanted to do. 

Since joining the team, everyone that I have met has been extremely helpful in a variety of ways. The thing that I look forward to most is being able to race among teammates and doing whatever I need to do to help us win some races. I have had a couple opportunities to do that in 2019 when racing the Summer Waterford Series, Cherry Roubaix, Uncle Johns Dirty Ride and The Lowell 50 and I can honestly say it has been way more fun and fulfilling than getting on the podium myself. Not only is the actual racing fun but all the conversation that is had leading up to the race and after the race is always something that I look forward to. I am very excited to be a part of this team and can’t wait to see how we perform during the 2020 race season.

The post How “Destiny” Brought Me to Racing appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.


11 Things That Have Gone Wrong for Every Triathlete in a Race

November 5th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By: Raquel Torres

It doesn’t matter how many Triathlons you have competed in everyone has experienced  these common things that go wrong.  The more important aspect is how are YOU going to handle it when it happens!

Especially for a beginner, you need to know that things do not always go right even for a pro athlete.  You can’t let  things that go wrong ruin your experience during an event.  Part of  the challenge of a Triathlon is overcoming situations that are out of our control  even including  Mother Nature.  Triathlons offer many benefits not available in other sports, such as avoiding injuries since you doing a variety of training and a great number of psychological benefits.  The  satisfaction of improving, resilience and determination are only a few of the many abilities and skills we develop as individuals as we overcome the challenges of a triathlon, thus strengthening our self-esteem. The following situations can happen in a triathlon to anyone regardless of their experience level:

  1. Getting water in the goggles during the swim. It can happen as another athlete strokes or kicks us and our goggles fall off. Also its common when the googles develop fog and we lose visibility. Solutions: Keep calm, take a deep breath, think positively, find the space to correct what is needed and take your time in this process. It’s better to get the water out or clean the googles than to continue swimming without good visibility, in the long run you will lose more time and energy unless you correct the issue.
  2. To get lost in the water, bike or run. It can happen in the water as you start to follow another swimmer by aiming at their feet or due to loss of visibility and becoming disoriented. Simple solutions: Stop, re-establish correct direction, swimming straight and breathing in front and using a quick glance in front. On the bike or run it is very common to lose the trail so it is very important to study the route.  Remember that it is your responsibility as an athlete to know how many laps you are suppose to do and keep track of how many you have done. We don’t want to leave the trail, do extra laps or less than required and risk disqualification.
  3. To feel that our breathing rate is accelerated more than the usual or to feel that we are outside our “ideal breathing” rate (It happens to all of us sometimes), due to multiple reasons such as not having a proper warmup, very cold water temperature, starting too fast, nerves or adrenaline. Solutions: deep breaths and positive thinking will help to adjust the breathing rate. In events over 200 meters in open water, experts recommend to breathe every 2 strokes so to give sufficient oxygen to our brain and body. Clarification, this is not recommended for training sessions it is to do during the event in open water and for the first meters.
  4. The feeling of heavy arms or legs during the swim. (Due to lactic acid accumulation) Solution: Focus on breathing well and with more frequency, give it some time, keep calm and positive as it will subside in a few minutes. If necessary, take a rest by swimming on your back (its legal to also hold on to a boat or kayak to rest).
  5. Dizziness and loss of visibility after the swim. Loss of balance , tripping or loss of breathing rhythm as you make your way to the bike transition are all very common things as we make the switch from swimming in a horizontal position to running in a vertical stance. Solutions: Remember there is #noshame. If we trip, simply get up, take a deep breath and keep going. It is always a good idea to take our time or pause, I believe that the transition is an opportunity to recover as needed.
  6. Needing to use the restroom right before the start. Solution: #Adaptation lol. It is good to always carry toilet paper or wipes and try to plan at which moment on race day are we going to stand in line to use the bathroom before the start.
  7. Not finding the bike or gear when you arrive to the transition. Solution: Keep calm, find an immediate solution or ask for help, always with a positive attitude. Ideally its best to study the bike location and your transition space. This is to be done after we set up all the gear in the transition area before the start. With hundreds of bikes it can be hard to find yours. A tip is to use a bright towel to set your gear on top.
  8. Mechanical problems with bike like flat tires. Most events provide some type of technical support, but remember that this help is not always prompt, keep in mind that it may take 10-30 minutes to resolve the problem and in events such as an Olympic Triathlon of over 2 hours it is worth to solve the problem and continue the race. Always remaining calm as we don’t want to spend energy in negative vibes.
  9. Being afraid on the bike. It could be the downhills, other racers passing close or riding too close, or being afraid to reach for our water bottles. It helps to practice before the race (ride with friends and practice the action of taking your water bottle and drinking from it). Another tip to consider to become more comfortable and sure of yourself is to be deliberatively obvious in your movements as to show other riders what your movement intentions are. Look in all directions before you adjust your position on your bike (in route). It’s important to make your movement and position changes slowly to avoid sudden and unpredictable changes. The rules and riding etiquette are very similar to those of driving a car. It is imperative to read the event rules before the race. This will better prepare you and make you feel more secure in yourself to minimize stress and nerves. Again, in a triathlon, the athletes are exerting themselves greatly and many are beginners. In these conditions, less blood is flowing to the brain and thoughts and reflexes may not be at 100% which necessitates our need to remain alert.
  10. Back pain, cramps, stomach problems or other digestive problems. (Vomiting or #1 & #2 bathroom needs). It could be a new or existing problem and depending on the race distance and the condition of the athlete many digestive related problems can occur. In races of over 2 hours it is required to consume some food along with hydration and for multiple reasons sometimes our body is not able to digest properly. During a strenuous event like triathlons our blood flow to the digestive system is reduced making the process slow and sometimes halting the process. It is critical to practice several sessions taking in the nutrition exactly as we plan to eat during the race. In many events heat may also affect the digestion. Something to also mention here is that many athletes will urinate on the bike or running be it by accident or simply because that is the only option. In many cases of stomach pain the body has the amazing ability to recover and deep breathing always helps. If you get cramps, its ok to stop, stretch, hydrate or take salt tablets or electrolytes. If you get back pain it will help to take short breaks by lifting up from the seat on the bike and also to shift the hand position on the handlebars. To prevent back pain it is important to work on core muscle exercises to strengthen the core such as sit ups, back extension at least 2 times per week. (Ex. Planks)
  11. Start the race too fast. You will later feel as if your body is shutting down. It’s a good idea to practice what is called “Bricks” = When you do two of the disciplines one after the other. (Ex. Bike + Run or Swim + Bike). In a triathlon at the start of the race, the legs will often feel heavy after the bike, so try to start the run with shorter strides than usual and adjust gradually as your body becomes used to the new discipline.

Remember that each and every one of these tips should always be taken with the understanding that they will be applied depending on the person and situation. It’s a priority to always be safe and healthy. The mental mantra will help us stay focused and positive, eliminating stress, increasing relaxation and  saving energy. The mind is like the steering wheel of a car, it will go in the direction we dictate and we have the control. To live in well-being, we must steer it in a positive direction.

The post 11 Things That Have Gone Wrong for Every Triathlete in a Race appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.


Wait… The Iceman is When?!

October 30th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Terry Ritter

In my almost 20 years of coaching I’ve had a few athletes that signed on to just do a short training plan for the Iceman. Many of these athletes were experiencing their first edition of this race, or one of their first few, and so I made sure I covered all the bases. This meant bike prep, maintenance, nutrition, and other points that could help improve their chances of success. For the ’19 season I have two athletes tying on an Iceman number plate for the first time, and I’m pulling out all my old information to help them prepare in hopes they enjoy this unique event. Here’s some of the important stuff if you need to quickly get things together to optimize your chances.

Proper Bike Set-Up

A number of aspects related to modern bicycle set up rely on volumes of air. Most fork designs that are in the mid-level and above price range have an air chamber for the supporting spring. Rear shocks are likely similar. And, of course, all bicycle tires will be relying on ambient gases as their means of pneumonic support. The tuning of these components depends on the pressure of the air inside, which is usually changed by a rider adding or releasing air. However, major temperature changes will change pressure as described by Charlie’s Law (chemistry alert!). A given pressure will lose about 1 psi for every 10 degree loss of temperature. This doesn’t seem like much, but if you inflate your tires to that perfect 24 psi in your hotel room, they could well be at 20 psi or less at the start of the race. Your fork and shock will be less stiff as well. Solve this problem by letting the bike sit out in the elements and then doing your air adjustments just before starting your warm up. Bonus Point: Don’t forget your shock pump!

Get the Nutrition and Hydration Right

For many racers that have been racing Sport or Beginner all season, the Iceman will be the longest event of the year. Even for a number of Expert level MTBers, if conditions are poor, they could be looking at the same situation. This year’s 30 mile course will add time to everyone as well. For most, what is needed hydration and nutrition wise is uncharted territory. My suggestion is to do a good breakfast a little earlier than normal, that has fewer carbohydrates and more fat and protein. This will allow you a steady energy source for longer. From there, 2 bottles should get most racers through 3 hours with the temps we are likely to race in, especially if you sip a different bottle during warm up (grab a fresh one before heading to the start line). Bring the energy packets of choice (gels, bars), and start supplementing around the 90 min mark. If a 3 hour or more event is expected, you should repeat this every 45 mins or so. A few important points are to never try something new the day of the race, drink early, and be sure to bring just a little extra for bars or gels. And, if it is going to be below freezing for most of the race, an insulated bottle could be a wise choice. Bonus Point: If you plan to eat a gel or bar during the race, don’t mix the energy drink as concentrated to prevent GI distress.

Iceman Maintenance

Nothing is more disappointing then to have your training, race strategy, and nutrition nailed for the big day, then have your bike let you down. Though this can happen no matter what, I have seen certain patterns after 20 plus events, many centered around drivetrain issues. The bike is running and shifting well during pleasant weather from a drivetrain that’s been on the bike all season. Then, race day comes and it’s muddy or sandy and wet. The chain and other parts get covered, and the bike starts skipping, shifting poorly, or chain sucking. Your chain could well be stretched and things aren’t mating well as the conditions turned. Or, you changed the chain after it had stretched a bit too far. Regardless, I have found a good way to avoid this is to either keep my chain changed earlier, or to swap out my big ring, chain, and cassette a few weeks before the Iceman (I usually get a year out of stuff), and so it’s fresh in case the conditions are bad, and that gives me a fresh drivetrain before the start of the next season. Another area of concern is getting an appropriate chain lube for conditions (so NOT using the drier, warmer weather wax based stuff you used all summer). People also will not lube their cables, or use a heavier lube/grease that’s fine in warmer weather, but gums up the cable, and so the shifting, when it gets at or below freezing. A thinner lube works well in both applications (I like wet lubes for chains and T-9 for cables this time of year). A few drops on the pedals won’t hurt, either. Don’t forget to put a little fresh sealant in your tires if that’s your set up. It might be a good idea to get your brake pad wear checked. You can burn through 3 months of dry riding in 30 miles of poor conditions. Bonus Point: Make sure you’re clutched derailleur is turned on if you run a 1x system.

Tool Bag

With the Iceman being a point-to-point race, self-support is a bit more important. Even if your result is going to be negatively impacted with a breakdown and you want to give up, it’s often difficult to get to a location that has people. Best to fix what you can and ride it home. Most common tool bag contents would fix most problems. These include a tube, CO2 inflators, tire levers if your tires need them, and a multi-tool. What will end a day poorly is if you can’t manage a broken chain. This is best done with a master link and chain tool in the bag. Bonus Point: Look through your bag to be sure it’s equipped with what you need… and make sure you know how to use everything.

Dress for Success

A common picture from the Iceman is seeing the new riders hopelessly overdressed. This is totally understandable as it might well be chilly before the start, and we all get stuck standing around for a while. But, one must resist the temptation to pile on the outerwear in these situations. You should be a little chilly standing there, as you’ll start heating up once the racing is underway. One trick is to have someone that can take a coat while you are in the staging area. Another good idea is to have the ability to open zippers or remove layered clothing (thinking windproof vest and arm warmers here). Best to have had a chance to test out some of the clothing before you race. This is not always possible, especially with the nice fall we’ve had in Michigan. Regardless, give yourself time to take a few things off after warming up. Don’t forget to look at the forecast. If it’s looking like rain and you’re going to be out there a while, it might be a good idea to pack a jacket. Bonus Point: If you are using chemical warmers, many need some access to air to work.

Scout the Course and Plan Appropriately

This year’s edition had a lot of racers pre-riding the course weeks before. Most of this was likely due to pleasant fall weather we enjoyed. Another fact might well be all the changes incorporated into this season’s route. Regardless, it’s good to know what you’re in for on your way to Traverse City. But the most critical areas are the start and finish. The later can be tackled on the Friday pre-ride, as they will have a small loop set up that riders can do a few times. This is good to get a grasp of where you’ll need to get ahead of riders that you might be racing to the line. For the start, knowing how the course will potentially bottle neck can help determine where a little more effort should be used. New this year is the start from the airport. This will meander around for a significant bit before crossing the paved two lane and heading down a dirt road. This road was in the early editions of the Iceman, and was always a cluster due to large deposits of sand. If you have a chance, be near the front of your class when this area comes up. The later waves will struggle to check it out before the race as there will be waves and waves of riders. But, any knowledge ahead of time could prevent a catastrophe. Bonus Point: You can’t win the race at the start, but you can certainly lose it.

Resting and Race Day Warm Up

There are two major things that can impact a race negatively, but are common mistakes. The first I have seen over the years is people riding too much leading up to the Iceman. They want to get as much riding in, either due to a late start to event training , or just not understanding the power of rest. They will post hard or long riding hours the week preceding, then rest a day or two with little to no training. Unfortunately, anything we physically do to improve conditioning won’t materialize for 7-10 days at the minimum. For this reason, your hard training should end earlier and you should taper into the race. This means reducing your efforts about 30% each of the two weeks leading up to the first weekend in November. However, if you haven’t done that to this point, understand you can’t carry fatigue into the race and perform your best. With less than one week left, get some shorter, intense rides in and rest a lot more. Don’t be completely off the bike, but make sure you have good legs the day we pin the numbers on. Also, I see people afraid to get out in the cold the morning of Iceman, and so they stick around in their vehicles and fall behind, rushing to get a warm up in and get to their wave early enough to position well. When the gun goes off you want to be the best you can be, rested, warmed up, and ready to go. Bonus Point: It’s a common practice to take two days before the race completely off, then do a short ride on Friday that has a few hard, short efforts.

With days before the big race, some of this advice might be too late. But, even if one little parcel of knowledge helps your event go better it will be well worth the read. And, you’ll be all the more prepared for your next Iceman Cometh!

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Pumping Iron: Strength Training for Endurance Runners

October 28th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Erin Young

“I’m a runner, why should I strength train?” I get this question often and honestly there is no single, easy answer. But I do believe there is a time for strength training in every athlete’s year. It will look different for every runner. It may be an off season activity while the snow flies, it could be three days a week up until the competition or just 20 minutes a day to work on core, balance or weaknesses.

In the last decade, new research is showing that strength training can benefit many kinds of endurance runners–if the right types of it are done in the right doses. This newer research suggests that strength training can enhance endurance-running performance by improving running economy, delaying the onset of fatigue, improving maximal speed, and increasing anaerobic capacity.

When broken down to its components, strength training temporarily overloads the neuromuscular system, which allows for an improved ability to recruit individual muscular units, an increase in muscle-firing frequency, increased muscle-tendon stiffness (allowing you to have more stored energy with each step), and improved muscular coordination over time. These are all minor physiological changes but together and over time equal running-economy improvement which allows you to run a given pace with a little less effort. 

“But Won’t I Bulk Up?”: Addressing Strength-Training Fears

The most common concern I hear from endurance runners is the fear of putting on bulk from strength training. Now there is something to be said for individual genetic predispositions, but science shows almost a complete lack of muscle growth with strength and endurance training–in correct dosing. Why is this? Muscle growth with concurrent strength and endurance training seems to be blocked on a molecular level.

As we’ve alluded to a couple times in this article so far, there appears to be a dosing ratio at play. When athletes maintain a 3:1 ratio in the number of endurance sessions to the number of strength sessions they perform, muscle growth doesn’t occur. So if an athlete wanted to gain mass while still getting some of the benefits of concurrent strength and endurance training, they would need to increase the number of strength sessions or decrease the number of endurance sessions.

Strength Training and Injury Prevention

A lot of athletes will tell you that strength training helps them feel more durable. There is research suggesting that traditional strength training can reduce sports injuries significantly. This is done by increasing your tissue’s ability to manage load while modifying endurance-training volume and frequency.

For example, one study that replaced 30% of an athlete’s weekly running volume with strength training found that athletes remained injury free while improving their five-kilometer performances. Additionally, hard strength training has positive effects on circulating levels of testosterone and human growth hormone which can help the body repair muscular damage at faster rates post-hard-endurance and post-hard-strength-training efforts.

Maybe that’s what durability feels like? That is, creating enough physical change to more than manage your niggles and instead create more significant physiological adaptations that keep fatigue at bay longer and hold your form together longer because you increased your running economy. That is, you became physically stronger. I’m not certain we will ever have a perfect metric to measure durability, but if being stronger keeps you on the trail more consistently, that might be as close as we get to an answer.

Strength Training for the Aging Endurance Runner

When it comes to aging and declining endurance-running performance, naturally decreasing muscle mass seems to be the main culprit. This is because there is a direct link between the age-related decrease in VO2max and muscle-mass loss. This age-related muscle-mass loss starts somewhere just north of age 40 and accelerates rapidly after 70. Between the ages of 40 and 80 and with no intervention, you should expect to naturally lose approximately 40% of your muscle tissue. Also note that muscle loss in the aging woman appears to happen at a slightly increased rate than men.

What this means for our aging athletes is that strength training to maintain and build muscle mass is incredibly important. The current, best treatment for muscle loss is strength training. The general recommendation is that if you are over the age of 40 and not currently strength training, we should probably change that.

Need help with a strength training regimine for your next endurance event? Fall and winter is a great time to reduce your running load and hit the gym! Visit www.athleticmentors.com to see how we can make you better, faster and stronger on the trail!

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An Exercise in Learning

October 23rd, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Ross DiFalco

Bike racing is an incredibly rewarding sport. It can also be very frustrating. This is the synopsis of my first season of trying to figure out this whole bike-racing thing.

To start things off, mentorship is the greatest thing you can hope for. Find some great people that have been in the sport and take their advice!  There are plenty of times when I feel I know best and the result is rarely in my favor. Beyond finding a mentor , what you can do is to learn to manage time. Bike racing is a time intensive sport. If you can’t find time to ride, winning is not in the cards. I am going to tell you the tips I use to make training happen while life tries to get in the way.

Structure

Structure is the name of the game for anyone who has a life outside of cycling. The problem is that I have always been someone that hates the idea of structure. To me, structure is what sucks the fun out of the sport. The problem with this mentality is that when life gets busy, you cannot be sloppy with your time. It’s taken the entire season of struggling along to realize that structure may actually bring sanity. Unless you have zero responsibilities, riding 10 hours a week can be difficult to fit into a 50-hour work week. Many people, myself included, can either maintain their cycling or their personal life, not both. A tip given to me is that you should create a training plan that lists all the rides and races you will be doing in advance. The idea is that you can then plan around these events and set expectations with family and friends so they know when you are committed to something. Creating balance that allows an efficient use of time will be my biggest goal for the upcoming season.

Prepare For The Worst

Things WILL happen. Everyone thinks they’re invincible until something happens. For me, it was a pretty nasty crash. The crash resulted in lots of road rash and a torn tendon in my finger. Now most sane people would go to the doctor when their finger stops working. When you’re delusional about training, the strategy is to avoid the doctor out of fear they will tell you not to ride. THIS IS A MISTAKE. By the time I caved and went to the doctor, the tendon had shrunk and I had done more damage. The worst part is that now I have to limit gripping things for 8 more weeks. Now I don’t know about you, but when I ride bikes I prefer to hold on. If I was realistic about the injury from the start things might have been different.

The Trainer

I hate riding the trainer. Riding indoors is something that I’m just going to have to come to terms with. The trainer is so efficient with time! Using training software, such as Zwift, allows you to get on a scheduled plan that will continually push our limits. When you are riding on a trainer there is no coasting, this makes for a much more condensed session. The second reason you should incorporate a trainer is that, like I said above, things happen. When you can’t ride a bike you may be able to ride indoors. The third reason that a trainer is a great tool is that it’s safer than riding in the dark. Autumn in Michigan means shorter days and a decision to either get lights or ride inside. Riding at night, while fun, comes with some added risk. On a trainer, it’s very easy to get up in the morning, get a quick ride in and go along with your day. It’s a low risk and easy thing to incorporate. If you are new to indoor cycling, I recommend getting a direct drive unit, like the Wahoo Kickr. I went cheap and bought the Wahoo Snap and it works but isn’t very consistent for training. I would also recommend Zwift or TrainerRoad as the training software.

If you can do one thing for yourself, it’s to find a mentor and listen to them! Beyond that, get better at managing the time you have and remember to have fun once in awhile!

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Local vs International Races

October 23rd, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Andrew Fathman

Over the past few seasons, I have had the privilege to compete in multisport races on every scale possible. From a local race of 100 to an international championship with 4,000 other triathletes. With the perspective provided by these opportunities, I have asked myself the question of which format I prefer? But maybe that’s not the right question. Maybe I should be asking which one was more worth it to me at the price tags that come with them. However, there may be a dozen other questions that, when answered, will help a dozen different people plan their race season. Below, I will lay out the pros and cons of both levels of racing because the conclusion that I draw from the facts may not determine which level of racing is also right for you.

Local Races:

Pros:

1. Price. Let’s start with the obvious one. Price is probably a big factor for many athletes, and being able to race for $70-$150 is much easier to stomach than an entry fee 3x that amount. After all, for most of us, triathlon is a hobby and our hobbies shouldn’t force us to Google “how to file for bankruptcy?”

2. Competition. This one may not seem so obvious, but competition at local races can be great. First of all, you’re racing against people of a similar caliber as you on courses that you know, so you can be pushed to go harder and faster. Second, these are people that you probably know and race with often so your motivation goes beyond just beating them to being in a (hopefully) friendly competition with them. Lastly, when you surge to beat somebody, it’s very possible that that surge can put you into the top three in your age group or overall. For the vast majority of us, a surge in a championship race will put us from one arbitrary place to another arbitrary race.

3. “Feel”. We all know the “home-turf” cliché, but I believe that, even in multisport, there’s a kernel of truth to that. To go and compete near the place that you live and/or grew up in provides a “comfortable” feel that, for some of us, we thrive on. I’m sure there have been times that the familiarity of your trainer, treadmill, or normal route has provided you peace of mind and has eased the mental burden of the suffering that you’re about to put yourself through, well the same goes for racing. This feeling is perpetuated by the fact that small races tend to build a sense of community. It feels like the race is supporting you as much as you are supporting the race.

4. Support. You just got off the bike. Your legs are dead and your heart rate just won’t come down. But then you see your family or a friend, and they’re cheering you on. Whether it’s that extra boost of encouragement that gets you across the finish line or just someone to hold your transition bag, having a support crew with you can make the race and the experience significantly more fun.

Cons:

1. Overly Convenient. Sometimes, local races can become too convenient and routine. You’ve been doing them for years so there’s the risk that the experience can become stale and your love of the sport can start to wane. You’ve trained on this course, you’ve raced on this course, but now the race stops feeling special and starts to become just another day.

2. Experience. As you approach the finish line, you are met with the roaring cheers of… 12 people. The thing that makes local races great is also what can hurt them the most. Their overall “athlete experience” can be underwhelming at times.

3. Pride. If you win a race, but nobody is around to see it, did it really happen? Sure, it’s on Strava, but to your coworkers, the only thing that happened over the weekend is someone drew on your arms with a Sharpie. It’s fun to have your accomplishments be notable, but for the common bystander, every race is non distinct unless it has the word “championship” in its title.

International Championship Races

Pros:

1. Experience. I believe that the easiest way to get someone into triathlon is to take them to a race. The energy is electric and contagious. At a big race that’s worth traveling for, that energy is turned up to 11. Not only that, but for the competing athletes, the whole process is just bigger. The scale of the expos, the speed, the transition, everything works together to create an exciting environment.

2. That Blue-Carpet Feel. Simply said, nothing beats that finish line.

3. Travel. For some, travel is nothing but stress. Others see the race as an excuse to see the world. The trip is basically just a vacation with a race attached and, unless you are on the hunt for your pro card and need to win, I believe it should be treated that way. Being able to explore new places and cultures is one of the best parts about traveling for races and if you’re into that sort of thing, this is a perfect opportunity to do so.

4. Competition. Wait, wasn’t this in the “pro” column for the local races too? Yep, it was, but for a different reason. One of the joys of competing on the world stage is that there are people from all over the world doing the same. You rarely get the chance to compete with the best of the best and this is your opportunity to do just that. This is exhilarating, but it can also be a shock for those who got too used to winning those local races.

Cons:

1.Price. You never want to be the one to tell your kids that you can’t afford to have them come because shipping your bike is the same price as a plane ticket, but sometimes that is the painful reality. Price is, by far, the greatest downside to championship races.

2. Stress. The planning. The packing. The preparations. The hundreds of moving parts to a multisport trip can be a bit overwhelming. I’m sure if you just got done with such a trip, you’re not all too eager to look at your bike case again for a little while.

3. Scheduling. Between getting to the race with a few days of lead time, racing, and not rushing back home right away, it’s very easy for a race to become a vacation. Unfortunately not everyone can take a vacation whenever USAT or ITU decides to schedule an event, so people are forced to decide between racing and work or school. This is a major barrier to entry for a lot of people and it takes careful planning to make sure that you can swing this much travel.

4. Support. Coinciding with price, it’s likely that you will not have as much or any support system while traveling across the country or the ocean for a race. Frankly, it’s more fun to compete and travel with people, although some people may find going solo can be put in the “pro” category.

5. Competition. Hold on, how is this one a pro and a con? Well if you are susceptible to feeling the pressure and anxiety of racing, increasing the size and scale of the race and the racers is not going to help matters. Figuring out how to relax and enjoy the journey, regardless of the results, is something everyone should work on and practice when planning their A-race. You have to judge for yourself how you respond to competition to determine which category this factor should go in.

You most likely noticed that many of the “pros” and “cons” were just reversed when going from local racing to traveling for an event, but that’s where your personal priorities come in. For some of us, the cost of a plane ticket alone is enough to disqualify us from traveling for a race. For others, that’s part of the fun. The question that I think that I believe is at the crux of this dichotomy is this: Why are you racing? If it is to do your best and be your best, then perhaps sticking to the local circuit and investing in better gear should be your priority. If it’s because you’re there to have the most amount of fun possible and racing the best of the best appeals to you, then you should probably start packing your bags. Whatever your reason is to be a triathlete, duathlete, Swim-Runner, or whatever other multisport race you compete in (Aquabike-athlete), have fun doing it and take good race photos.

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