My “Giant” Family of Bikes

October 25th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

Submitted by:  JoAnn Cranson

It’s time to ride bikes year round no matter where you live.  I have a wonderful family of “Giant” brand bikes in my garage for the variety of riding I do.  Giant brand bicycles is the world’s leading brand of high-quality bicycles and cycling gear.  Their focus is being builders and innovators, but to also create a global community of cyclists. Giant owners are athletes, adventurers and advocates for cycling.  Some are Tour de France racers, singletrack explorers, neighbors and friends.

I get asked the question on a regular basis by friends “What kind of bike should I get to ride”? Well…. that is a loaded question that only you personally can answer.  The bigger question is “Where do you want to ride this bike?”

I can’t answer the question of what bike you should get, but I can certainly help you come to an answer for yourself!

How about I explain each bike and what I use it for along with a picture.

Road Bike (which is my personal favorite) is designed for pavement riding only. This bike is designed for long touring (higher mileage-40+) and group riding on the road. You can go longer distances faster than any other bicycle. The riding position takes some time to adjust to with a more hunched over profile to make you more aero dynamic and the seat is usually smaller and lighter. My “Giant – Propel Model” – is a great ride with an aero design to the bike that allows me to glide down hills like no other!

Gravel Bike – OK, so you don’t want to just ride on the roads, you want to ride the Rails to Trails or some gravel roads, I get it. Then we pull out the “Giant – Liv” (Liv models are designed specifically for women) with a more upright position on the bike and knobbier tires that make you feel safe and steady on gravel and unpaved roads, plus you can still easily ride on pavement just at a slower pace. Remember these bikes can have different tires put on them to accommodate what you want to do with them. A smoother tire would allow you to be on the pavement and go faster, but not as easy to handle on gravel.

TT Bike – But wait, you are taking up doing triathlons or an Ironman? Well you will want a bike that you can save your energy on, be totally aero-dynamic and pedal as fast as you can! You need a “Giant – TT bike”. This bike can fly as you are laid out on the handlebars to have that air go right over the top of you. TT bikes require a bit of practice to get comfortable with arm position and obtain overall control. But, the energy you can save on these bikes for the run directly after dismounting is well worth the bike choice.

Mountain Bike – You want to enjoy the woods and some adventure? You need a mountain bike that will take you over the logs, bump over ruts and stones and get you through the sand. Now I had a “Giant – 29er Talon” for some time, but like I said, everyone has their personal preferences and mountain biking wasn’t for me. I think I started too late in life and I’m a scaredy-cat and wasn’t comfortable on the rough terrain. But just because it’s not for me, doesn’t mean this isn’t your greatest enjoyment and challenge!  This is a great bike for fall and winter pedaling!

Fat Bike – But what about best of all you “Win” a bike like me last year and get a Fat-Tire Bike!!! This Fat bike is ideal for  Winter riding in snow (some people get studded tires) or beach riding in deeper sand,  or riding in the woods with a less scary, slower ride. Now these bikes will not keep up with the roadies on pavement, but you can comfortably ride any terrain at a more relaxed pace with nice wide tires to provide security and more bouncy comfort.  Giant does offer the Yukon fat tire bike in their lineup.

Electric Bike – One bike I don’t have in my family yet is a Giant Electric Bike. Giant offers Electric Bikes in Road, Mountain and Gravel styles. They allow you to ride farther and faster than you thought possible. If you struggle to keep up with younger family members or friends that you want to spend time riding with, this may be an option that is the right fit for you.

There are many other styles of bikes I don’t have, check out Giant’s website for their wide array of choices.  Whatever bike you pick, just get on it and pedal the way you want to. It’s a great way to exercise without extra strain on knees and other joints. You get those endorphins flowing which pushes stress away. It allows you to spend time with family and friends of varying ages. As you pedal, breathe the fresh air and take time to see the beauty of nature in this journey called life!

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Is Lactic Acid an Athlete’s Friend or Foe?

October 22nd, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson
Lactic acid or lactate, is the substance that our body generates during physical activity when our body cannot obtain energy through oxygen, this has always been a source of debate in sports science.
Physical trainers believed that this substance was the cause of cramps, sports injuries and, for a time,  it was the “bad guy” by experts in health, physical exercise, and sports.
However, sports science has made it clear that this was all wrong. That there is no relationship, for example, between cramps and lactate. And that lactic acid did not have to be an impediment to the high performance of athletes, but even, if it is known to control it, it can become another ally in the improvement of physical performance.
During exercise, the body’s cells demand more energy than they can actually provide, so the body reacts by acquiring energy from sugar (muscle glycogen), converting these large molecules into smaller molecules, in two possible ways: aerobically and anaerobically.
  • The energy produced aerobically (with oxygen) more energy is obtained, but slowly.
During aerobic metabolism, a series of enzyme-catalyzed chemical reactions are involved in aerobic metabolism. These reactions cause energy to be produced.
Aerobic metabolism is the primary energy system in endurance sports that last several hours and in short-duration events with low or moderate-intensity exercise, it depends on the good blood supply to the muscles and releases oxygen and energy to eliminate waste products. When muscle glycogen stores are depleted, fatigue begins and affects performance, the body becomes dependent on fat as an energy source, speed, and intensity of work is reduced. Once the supply of glycogen is depleted, it takes approximately 24 to 48 hours for the body to recover and replenish glycogen in muscle fibers and the liver.
  • The energy produced anaerobically (without oxygen) the energy obtained is less but faster, and the muscle takes this energy-producing waste, which in theory is one of those responsible for cramps.
Anaerobic metabolism, also known as the ‘starter system’ because energy is immediately available at the start of exercise, uses creatine phosphate metabolism in the process, does not produce lactate as a waste product, and does not require oxygen in the development of energy.  The higher the intensity of the exercise, the higher the use of carbohydrates in contrast to fats.  The anaerobic lactic system (without lactic acid production) is the primary energy system in the early stages of exercise, as it allows rapid acceleration and speed with the support of creatine phosphate stored in the muscles, although it suffers a sharp drop after 10 to 20 seconds.
  • The third type of metabolism in energy generation is lactic anaerobic.
The anaerobic lactic system depletes glycogen stores rapidly. Lactate, a toxic waste product of anaerobic lactic metabolism, is produced faster and cannot be eliminated, leading to accumulation in muscle fibers. It reduces the pH of muscle fibers and slows down the chemical reactions responsible for generating energy.  Lactic anaerobic energy is the primary energy system in sports that require maximum effort (high intensity) for a period of 20 to 120 seconds.
In other words, lactic acid is a substance generated by the body that is beneficial in principle, but too much and without good training can lead to low performance, even muscle damage and injuries.
Lactic acid is produced primarily in muscle cells and red blood cells when it breaks down carbohydrates under conditions of low oxygen levels. That is, lactic acid is a source of energy for the human body.
The oxygen level in the body could drop for two reasons: during strenuous exercise (sprinting) or if the person has an infection or illness (because of the amount of energy required by the immune system). In these cases, lactic acid comes from the breakdown of glucose when oxygen is not present, that is, in an anaerobic exercise such as lifting weights or swimming at full speed 50-100 meters where there is a lot of intensity and little duration. Under normal conditions that lactic acid  when we are training is reused and there is no major problem. But when there is a lot of lactic acid in the body, we have neither energy nor the ability to contract muscles, this is nothing more than tiredness, fatigue and the best thing we can do is stop the exercise or activity.
In other words, from a natural perspective lactic acid is a “turbo button” feature of extra energy, a survival mechanism to keep humans and other creatures safe under a fight or flight threat.  
 
How can we avoid the accumulation of lactic acid?  With a smart training plan, based on training the organism displays adaptive mechanisms that prevent lactic acid from accumulating so quickly and if it begins to do so, the muscle supports it more effectively.
Beware of some bad combinations of specific exercises (like speed work and/or weights) in a bad combination can make the body accumulate lactic acids and cause injury.  That is why the importance of having a good training plan with a wise balance between intensity, volume, frequency, and rest is key.
Here are 10 practical tips on how to avoid accumulating lactic acid:
1.Train more frequently and consistently.
2. Warm up well in each activity.
3.Breathe deeper for better body oxygenation.
4.Stretch frequently.
5.Hot baths.
6. Massages.
7. Maintain good hydration.
8.Consume enough: antioxidants (fruits like berries), magnesium- helps the metabolic system (dark green vegetables like spinach also legumes, nut,s, and cereals), vitamin B, natural proteins (creatine), omega 3 Oil (cold-water fish/salmon, avocado, olive oil or some nuts).
9. Beware of lifting weights (frequency and intensity) and speed exercises and their combination with other physical activities.
10. When you feel a lactic acid burn in your workouts, reduce the intensity so that the body can channel its natural mechanisms, and avoid acid accumulation. It is the way the body warns us so that we do not over-do.

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Why Tri?

October 8th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By Belinda Vinton

When I tell folks that I am a triathlete, they usually think that a triathlon is an extreme and unattainable goal for the average athlete. But I think that triathlon has saved me! I have been a runner since middle school. I ran the distance events in track and field and ran many road races. As the years went on, I was strictly a summer athlete. My children’s activities kept me so busy! And being a school teacher, I felt like June, July, and August were the only months I could run. But I also was strictly a runner. How did I train? I just threw on my running shoes and ran. No strength training. No cross training. Just running. In my early 40’s I decided to train for my first half marathon. I didn’t follow a training plan. I didn’t ask for advice. I just kept doing the same thing I had always done. I just ran! Different distances on different days. Maybe a little speed work. Rest days? Not if I could help it! I’m sure you can guess what happened…by the time the half marathon arrived I was really hurting. Foot, knee, hip. Injured. So I vowed never to run a half marathon again. 

A few years after that, my sister convinced me to try triathlon. I borrowed a road bike. I took swim lessons. I joined a gym. And that’s when my body came to realize the importance of strength training and cross training! I started taking regular TRX classes and boot camp classes. I participated in an Athletic Mentors tri camp and came away with an actual training plan! I started training with the plan, adding in strength training. What a difference it made! 

I’ve been competing in triathlons for 9 years now. I wish I could say it was without injury, but I can’t. The pandemic came at a good time for me! I would not have been able to compete to the level I would have wanted to this summer due to a lingering hip injury. As I have made my way to several different doctors over the last 2 years I hear much of the same. My injury is caused by arthritis but is worsened by pounding the pavement. As one doctor put it, “Your hips are like a tires. The tread will wear down eventually. And you have a lot more miles on your tires than most people!” Each doctor though has encouraged me to continue cycling, swimming and strength training. These activities have kept me strong and have actually helped me! 

In hindsight, I wish I would have started doing triathlons sooner! By adding cycling and swimming to my workouts, I believe that I have helped my body and helped extend my active time. I do love running, and I always will, but I think that triathlons have helped my body by working different muscle groups and making me an overall stronger athlete.  So I encourage everyone to expand your variety of exercise to keep you motivated and to help your body parts from wearing out!

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Night Riding Tips

October 2nd, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By Ross DiFalco

As the days get shorter and cooler, you might find yourself coming home from work in the dark without the ability to ride outside. Instead of relegating yourself to the indoor trainer, you do have another option. You can learn to ride in the dark. For the uninitiated, riding in the dark may sound crazy and scary, but it doesn’t have to be.

Where to start

You will need a good set of lights. I recommend getting a helmet mounted headlight with an external battery. If you have a spare helmet, I find it beneficial to keep the light mounted so it’s one less hurdle. Get one with greater than 1000 lumens that can run for a minimum of two hours. When you test a light, it might seem bright, but while you are riding it will seem much less so. Brighter is better, with a long beam distance being very important. You also should have a backup light on your handlebar for a “just in case” moment. There should be two rear facing lights as well. I like a very bright seat post strobe light and a helmet strobe light. The name of the game is being seen and being able to see.

Once you have your lights and have charged them, it’s time to select your bike. If you are like many cyclists, you probably have a bike for every niche around. For night riding I highly recommend using a mountain bike. Having flat wide handlebars, an upright riding position and wide tires/suspension all act as a pothole security policy. Potholes sneak up on you and it would be bad to crash in the middle of the night. If in case you do crash, ride with your phone charged. Before you head out the door, tell someone where you are going and how long you will be gone.

Let’s get riding!

Choose a route that has minimal traffic, and preferably slow traffic. I really like riding through neighborhoods, dirt roads, paths, and rail to trails. I avoid riding on sidewalks and roads with minimal shoulders. It’s very similar to riding in the light, those areas tend to pose the greatest risk to cyclists. Do be aware that a bright helmet mounted light can blind drivers so be cognizant of where you look. Another word of caution, deer are much more active at dawn and dusk. Watch out for deer that might hop out in front of you.

Take it slow, get used to the feeling of riding in the dark, and enjoy the differences. I am a cyclist that loves to get outside and be in nature. If I can ride longer outside and avoid my trainer, I will gladly do so. If you are like me, give riding in the dark a try! It’s an exciting feeling to glide through the night in the chilly fall air.

 

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The Power of the Mind

September 23rd, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Brian Reynolds

Every triathlete should know that a Triathlon is not only physically demanding on the body but is also mentally demanding.  Our body will only go as hard as our mind will allow.  If our mind doesn’t want to push the pace then our body will not push the pace.  Our mind and body are one which means it’s imperative to work on your mental game in training since it can have a big performance impact on race day.

Let me share a quick story with you about one of my 5 hour rides I did this summer.  The long ride was supposed to be a steady zone 2 aerobic effort on a warm Saturday morning.  I felt ok for the first 2 hours considering it was warm and humid.  I was holding around my usual power for the first half of the ride.  By the 3rd hour I was starting to feel more fatigue in the legs and my power began to gradually decline.  This is unusual for me to start slowing down by the 3rd hour into a 5 hour ride.  Normally I’m able to increase the effort and push the pace harder.  When this was happening I was starting to doubt if I would be able to maintain the same power throughout the ride.  It felt like a war was going on in my head.  My doubt and fear was my enemy and I was in a retreat during the 3rd hour of the ride.

By the 4th hour of the ride my doubt and fear had taken over my mind and I didn’t have any motivation or willpower to keep pushing through the discomfort.  I just gave up and rode between 140 to 180 watts.  Normally I would be pushing 230+ watts by this time into the ride.  In my head it felt like I had retreated from my enemy and I was hiding out in the bunker until the ride was over.  I was making excuses for myself  by saying that it was ok to take it easy and just soft pedal back home.  Besides all of the races have been cancelled anyways due to COVID so what am I killing myself for?  I got to a point into the ride where I couldn’t accept this excuse.  I had to find a way to get myself out of this rut and the only person who was going to do it was going to be me.  I had no support crew to cheer me on and encourage me along.

When I got to the 4:10 hour mark it was like a light switch got flicked.  I went from soft pedaling at 140 watts to 200 watts just like that.  I was able to average 200+ watts for the remainder of the 5 hour ride and the effort felt the same or slightly easier than when I was pedaling 140 watts.  What was the difference?  How did I go from being weak to being strong in a very short timespan?  I changed my headspace.  Instead of thinking of the discomfort and feeling sorry for myself I flipped the script.  I envisioned that I was strong and couldn’t feel pain.  I concentrated all of my focus on being strong and having total control of my mind and body.  I wondered to myself how can changing your headspace make you go faster?  Apparently through this process I was getting neural energy from a release of dopamine which put me in a “feel good” state.  In addition dopamine will buffer adrenaline which is important because every bit of physical effort requires adrenaline and when your adrenaline level reaches a certain threshold in the body our brain stops voluntary muscular control.  Basically your body is saying “I quit”.  Dopamine pushes back the level of adrenaline and it gives you more energy.

As I rode with higher power and a lower effort level it got me excited and I began to zone in even further.  It’s likely my body was releasing more dopamine because I was able to raise my power even more by the end of the ride.  What I learned on this ride is no matter how bad I was feeling or how bad the situation I was able to turn it around.  You always have the power and that power is your mind.  Your mind can give you the infinite energy so long as you have control of your mind to keep fear and doubt at bay.

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Morning Workouts – Here I Come!

September 1st, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson
By:  Belinda Vinton One of my biggest struggles as a working, single mom is finding the time to fit in my workouts. Over the years I have come to find that the best time for me is the early morning hours. This was not something that came easy to me, but over time I have learned to appreciate my early morning workouts. Getting that workout in early means that I have the rest of the day to accomplish all of my other duties. I don’t have a workout hanging over my head. I don’t have to worry about whether or not I will be too tired in the evening. I can eat and drink without having to check the clock. I actually have more energy for the rest of the day by getting an early morning session completed. So how can you become an early morning person? Here are some tips from my experiences!
  1.  Plan ahead. I pack my gym bag the night before. I then lay out my clothes so I can change right away. I even set a snack on the kitchen table to get me going.
  2. Set an alarm…on the other side of the room. Yes, I set the alarm on my phone which is on the headboard. But then it is too easy to hit snooze. I have an old-fashioned clock radio on the dresser across the room. That means I have to get up, walk over, and turn it off. That’s half the battle! Now I’m out of bed. And my clothes are right there, ready to dress for my workout. I'm glad my gym happens to have the best workout equipment.
  3. Set small goals to start. I started out by setting a goal of one morning a week to get up early. I planned mine for Wednesday. I told myself that I could sleep late on the other days, but hump day was early workout day.
  4. Find an accountability partner. It was a friend who first convinced me to meet her for a 5:30 am class. I wasn’t feeling great about it, but I knew she was counting on me. Text your partner to make sure they are up! It was so much easier coming to the gym during the early hours knowing that I would be able to see my workout partner. Even during the quarantine, I looked forward to seeing my friends on Zoom workouts!
  5. Don’t give up! I started the once a week routine in October and by springtime, a strong habit had formed! Not only was I enjoying my early workouts, I liked it so much that I began to do it every day! 
I am now a fitness instructor and personal trainer at the Jackson YMCA. My favorite time of day is still 5:30am! I feel refreshed and ready to face the day with that workout under my belt.  The post Morning Workouts – Here I Come! appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.

Should I Wear a Bike Helmet?

August 24th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson
As summer progresses and more people start to venture out of their houses, especially after being locked up for so long, I see more people out and about on their bikes. And that’s great to see, both from enjoying the summer perspective but also from a healthy one! 
 
However, every year I am shocked to see the vast majority of people not wearing helmets. When I started learning to ride, many, many years ago unfortunately, helmets just weren’t a thing. Then in 1990, Australia came out with a law that said you had to wear a helmet while riding your bike. Anyone. not just ‘proper’ cyclists but any person who swung their leg over their bike had to strap on. And after the initial push back, it just became a thing. And this was before I took up triathlons. Everyone wore a helmet. You never saw any different. 
 
Leap forward to 2011 and we arrived in the US.  Like so many other new experiences we came across, the lack of helmet wearing cyclists was the norm. It was so strange to us. As I continued my love affair with triathlons I would religiously wear my helmet and saw the same everywhere I went with my fellow triathletes.  However, what changed with us was that my husband (also a triathlete) and I became more relaxed about wearing our helmets while riding recreationally and especially when out with our children. There was no conscious decision to not wear one, and we always made sure the girls were wearing theirs whenever we went out. We just slapped on a cap and off we went. It wasn’t until a gentlemen came upon us riding one day that we reverted back to our helmet wearing ways. As we cycled along he yelled at us to “put your helmets on Mum and Dad”. At first I was outraged at being called out for not wearing a helmet when so many others don’t. In my most obnoxious Aussie accent I told him to go mind his own business and stop scaring my kids.  Then he said, “Well if you don’t wear one, take them off your kids”. 
 
Hmmm. That got me. I wouldn’t put my kids on bikes and have them ride on the road without one. Ever!  So it got me thinking, whilst I would protect my children with everything I have, why wouldn’t I display the same behavior myself. And to my fellow riders point, if I don’t wear one, how can I ask my children to wear one?
 
Fast forward again to 2020. My little kids who dutifully wore a helmet are now teenagers and are still required to strap on the helmet while riding their bikes. Even since our run in with our stranger years ago, we have also been very diligent in wearing helmets no matter where we are riding. And very conscious of the fact we are in the minority among recreational cyclists. Our teenagers know they can’t fight it. But on almost every occasion love pointing out that they are typically the only ones among their friends who are ‘forced’ to wear them.
 
So it made me wonder, should I wear a helmet?
 
When I am on my own riding, or with my husband we are typically on the road and going at faster speeds than with my children or friends. We are riding with the traffic and sometimes the roads are busy. When I am on the Fatty on trails, I am on uneven ground and being an upright challenged mountain bike rider, often getting up close and personal with a tree root. I wouldn’t risk the ride without a helmet. I believe that they offer a better chance of protecting my head should I have an accident that might result in a head injury. And obviously you have to wear them when you race. 
 
But what about other times? So I did some research. What are the statistics for helmet vs non helmet injuries? What do the experts say? What about countries outside of the US? I read a lot and learned alot.  Here are a few links about the stats: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Bicycle Helmet Statistics
 
Whether from US or other countries, I learned depending on the research that 50-79% bike accidents normally involve head injuries.  The New York research gave the worse result of 97% fatal accidents were not wearing helmets.
 
Accidents on bikes can happen if you are 100 miles in or 1. If you are riding to a friends or on a solo training ride. 
 
Not every road has a sidewalk, not every path is free from debris. Whilst my children have ridden enough miles with us to know the rules of the road in relation to safely riding a bike, others have not. I also know that accidents can happen if you are riding 40 miles per hour or 4. I know that not everyone who rides a bike will be involved in an accident. I know that some accidents are just little scrapes and some are deadly. 
 
But I also know that I am not willing to take the chance with my head and especially not that of my children. I have adopted the phrase, the only reason to not wear a helmet is if you have nothing to protect between your ears. My kids hate hearing it. But I don’t care.
 
I know that my stance on helmets is not for everyone. I am not trying to change anyone’s mind. It’s just a topic that has arisen again as we are out riding more and something that I was wondering about more and more. I will admit that I think it’s stupid to not want to protect your head from something that could have a serious impact on your life. I choose to protect the brain I’ve got. And am ALWAYS proudly wearing my helmet! 

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Transitioning from Athletic to an Athlete

August 11th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Christina Vipond

It still seems surreal to me that I am a sponsored athlete for the first time in my life at the age of 48. When I tell family or friends, the response is usually something like, “I’m not surprised, you have always been athletic”.  I respond by saying “but now I’m an athlete!” This is usually followed with a look that says “what’s the difference?”

Great question, what is the difference? Do the definitions give a simple answer?

Athletic is an adjective meaning physically strong, fit and active.

Athlete is a noun meaning a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.

Not really an answer there. 

I played softball in high school. As an adult, I played  rugby and currently spend the winter season playing hockey. These sports do require some athletic skills, there is definitely some level of physical fitness required to play 3 periods of ice hockey,  but I don’t train or practice. I show up at the ice rink one time a week. I competed in a body-building show in 2010. This did require intense training and a strict diet but I didn’t think of myself as an athlete while doing this. Body building was mostly about sticking to a rigid diet and lifting weights for a couple of hours every day. 

So back to the question, what is it about racing for Team Athletic Mentors that makes a person go from athletic to an athlete?

One obvious answer is that I have a contract. I committed to fulfilling certain criteria and wearing the team kit that has the names of team sponsors. I don’t have to sign a contract to play hockey, I show up when games are scheduled and if I can’t make it one night, I let the captain know so she can get a sub. Getting a sub is not an option when I sign a contract.

The training is specific as an athlete. I learned with this training where my strengths were and how many weaknesses I needed to improve. I quickly learned how my body felt and reacted to workouts.  As a club rider, I would ride everyday so when I was told I had to take days off to rest, I bulked and proudly stated “I don’t need days off”. It didn’t take long before I was grateful for a rest day. I had no idea my legs would be so tired when training as an athlete. 

Nutrition is also different as an athlete.. I had to learn what and when to eat food that allowed me to maintain energy, repair muscles, and keep an ideal weight for racing. The diet for body-building was strict but it had a specific purpose: decrease fat, increase muscle mass. This diet was extreme and could only be maintained for a short time. The diet as an athlete, and one who may be doing hours of riding on any given day, has to be sustainable during the training and racing season, which is the entire year. 

I also had to be pushed out of my comfort zone and learn the nuances of racing. Braking around corners was okay as a club rider. I didn’t have to ride with other cyclists right next to me. The thought of continuing to ride on single track while someone passed me never crossed my mind, nor did the thought I might actually pass someone on a trail.

How is being an athlete different than being athletic? Athletic means I can do certain physical tasks. Being an athlete requires so much more. The training and nutrition are specific to achieve maximum performance. The education is continuous. Being an athlete requires commitment, dedication, and perseverance. I am honored to be an athlete. 

 

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GREENWARE Creates PPE

July 21st, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson
Submitted by: Dawn Hinz Team Athletic Mentors/Greenware is proud of all of our Sponsors for stepping up and adjusting to the dynamic changes of this year. We thoroughly appreciate the support we have received from them. It enables us to encourage healthy living; albeit from a distance this year. In past years, Team Athletic Mentors gave back to the community by volunteering at multiple events including Team Athletic Mentors Greenware’s Youth Programs.  Along with Greenware’s willingness to give back to the community, they stepped forward during this critical time to create Personal Protective Equipment to keep people safe and healthy amidst the COVID Crisis. Fabri-Kal is a local company that was incorporated in 1950 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, when they purchased the Kalamazoo Paper Box Company’s plastic segment and set up shop in 5,000 square feet.   The first products Fabri-Kal produced were paint cups for the paint-by-number industry. The company soon expanded into manufacturing polystyrene meat trays and pizza lids and then diversified into proprietary stock packaging products, including plastic cups and lids.  In 1961 the company expanded to a 25,000 square foot manufacturing facility on East Cork Street in Kalamazoo.  In 2005 Fabri-Kal recognized the need to create plastic-like products from renewable sources. That’s when they created GREENWARE; a plastic made from annually renewable plants, not petroleum. Greenware is created from PLA; polymerized lactic acid from corn sugar. PLA is perfect for making biodegradable products such as cups, lids, and to-go boxes. When COVID struck in early 2020 there was a surge in need for Personal Protective Equipment. While Greenware’s PLA is a fabulous product, it is not the best choice for every application. It’s too brittle to form plastic face shields. That didn’t stop Greenware from moving forward to find a way to manufacture face shields by the thousands. Greenware under Fabri-Kal collaborated with Tekna and Schupan, who are experts in design & manufacturing of medical products to create a new product; face shields. They quickly decided on using Pete #4 Plastic which is flexible, clear and perhaps more importantly highly recyclable. Since late January Greenware has sold out of the 4,000 face shields it produces daily!   The post GREENWARE Creats PPE appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.

The Wetsuit Test

June 30th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By Brian Reynolds

A question I get asked often by triathletes is “what is the fastest wetsuit”?  I usually just shrug my shoulders and say “you just have to try out different wetsuits to find the fastest one”.  It’s not the answer most people want to hear but it’s true especially based on a wetsuit test I did this year.

The wetsuit test I did was 5x 100 at race pace effort with about 10-15 seconds rest.  This test set needs to be done in a pool to ensure an accurate/repeatable distance.  You need to wear a different wetsuit per each 5x 100 set to determine which wetsuit is the fastest.  Ideally you should only test 2 to 3 wetsuits at a time.  Any more than 3 wetsuits and you risk getting fatigued which will negatively affect your 100 pace later on into the test set.  When doing this test you need to have someone time you so it’s a blind test.  After the test you take the average time for the last 4x 100s and that is your 100 pace for that particular wetsuit.  The first 100 doesn’t count because it’s usually the fastest and it could falsely inflate your “true” 100 pace average.

When I did my wetsuit test my friend, Eric Abbott let me try out two of his wetsuits which were the Blue Seventy Helix ST and the Roka Maverick Pro II S.  To test the wetsuits I did a baseline test with my current wetsuit which was the Aquaman Goldcell.  I did the 5x 100 at half ironman effort with 10-15 seconds rest in between the 100s.  Below includes my warm up and 5x 100 results:

Warm up:  250 swim, 3 x 50 strong

Aquaman Goldcell

Comments: The shoulder mobility was poor because I could feel the suit pulling down on my arms.  During the swim my arms were getting fatigued.  There was water filling up in my suit and arms.

4 avg 100s – 1:12.47

Blue Seventy Helix ST

Comments: The shoulder mobility was good.  The fit around my neck and torso was snug.  The suit was pulling down around my neck which may be due to the fact I didn’t have the suit pulled up all the way.  No water got into my suit.  The suit was made with a stiffer material which helped keep my body taunt.

4 avg 100s – 1:08.93

Roka Maverick Pro II S

Comments: The shoulder mobility was good.  It felt like there was extra bounce in the legs and a better torso fit.  No water got into my suit.

4 avg 100s – 1:09.15

Conclusions:  The 100 pace times between the Blue Seventy and Roka were almost a dead tie.  The Roka was a little more comfortable around the neck area.  Both wetsuits were 3.5 seconds faster than the Aquaman wetsuit.

I was surprised by the results.  I did not expect a 3.5 seconds difference between wetsuits! If you do the math that calculates out to being 1:06 minutes faster in a 70.3 Ironman and 2:13 minutes faster in a full Ironman swim.  As they say “free speed”!  I probably couldn’t shave this amount of time from 1 year of swim training only since it becomes harder each year to shave more time especially when you’re already a proficient swimmer.  Hopefully when the gyms and pools open up you can give this test a try!

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