SWIM: THINGS TO REMEMBER
The Wetsuit – BPC recommends that all athletes wear a wetsuit in all wetsuit legal swims. A proper fitting wetsuit can improve your swim time 20% or more due to increased buoyancy and decreased drag. Not to mention a wetsuit will help keep you warm in colder water and add to the safety of the increased buoyancy. If you have issues with getting your wetsuit off in transition you can use products such as Body Glide on your forearms and shins to aid in removal. (Don't use petroleum base spays or lubricants, due to the detrimental effects on the suit)
USAT rules state that competitors may wear wetsuits if the temperature is 78 degrees or lower if the temperature is between 78.1 and 83.9 degrees competitors may wear wetsuits but will NOT be eligible for awards and if the water temperature is above 84 degrees competitors may not wear wetsuits at all.
Before The Swim
Know the Course - prior to the swim start check out the layout of the course. Locate the first and last buoys; observe wave conditions, currents, wind direction, swim direction, sun direction, etc. It is often beneficial to site those first buoys from water level so you will know what they will look like when the swim segment starts. It is also beneficial to check the depth of the water and bottom conditions especially at the swim exit.
Getting Ready to Swim - most people will overlook the need to warm up prior to an open water swim. It's generally a good idea to do some light stretching 45 minutes prior to the race. As you enter the water let some water to enter the suit, this will allow your body to warm the water and thus keeping you warm for the rest of the swim. A series of easy, gliding strokes (100 yards) towards the first buoy will help with warming up your swim muscles. After you have done this a couple of times, do a couple of quick sprints toward the first buoy to simulate the start of the race.
The Race – If you are not fully confident we recommend trying to avoid that "center field" or "middle of the pack" position. We have all had the occasion where we were in the middle of the pack on the swim start and it is difficult to get into a rhythm and you will expend a lot of energy swimming over, around, and through other swimmers or the other way around. We suggest an outside start position with a clear line to the first buoy. It may add a few yards to the swim distance but most likely will save a lot of body contact. If this is your first open water swim, it will be less stressful to start at the back of the pack and just enjoy the tranquil water. If you are an experienced swimmer then by all means front line, poll position is where you should be!!
Practice in the Open Water:
Open water swimming should be done with at least one partner. No matter how good a swimmer you are, you should never swim open water alone!!
Open Water Sighting - There are many schools of thought on open water sighting. While it is the key to proper navigation, lifting your head, even slightly, will cause your hips and legs to drop. That adds drag and it is slowing you down. So, it's a trade off, sight too often you will slow down, not enough and you may go off course. We recommend to sight every 4 to 6 strokes or so. If you have a naturally straight swimming stoke, you may go as much as every 10 strokes. Try to sight as you are exhaling, then lower your eyes back into the water, turn to the side for a normal breath. The key
will be to only lift your eyes high enough to see the buoy or other landmark that you are using for sighting. It's good to practice this move in the pool. A good drill is swim with your eyes closed on the middle 15 yards of the 25 yard length and only open your eyes when you are going to sight. Try doing this every 3rd stroke to get the feel of sighting and closing your eyes will give you the sensation of swimming in open murky water.
Draft– The swim portion of triathlon is draft legal!! Try to swim directly behind a faster swimmer or even slightly behind and off to the side (practice this in open water and the pool) and see what happens. Drafting on the swim reduces energy expenditure by a reduction in resistive forces. Bottom line if get into a slightly faster swimmers “slipstream” you are going to have a faster swim split with less effort it’s that simple!!
Learn to breathe on both sides - Not only does it split the effort of your lat muscles by as much as 50%, but it's a good to be able to turn away from the sun or to be able to breathe on the side with less people splashing and kicking. It is also easier to spot buoys regardless of what side they are on.
The Last 100 Yards - This part of the swim will get you prepared for the next segment of the race. So far you have been using primarily your upper body muscle group. Now it's almost time to bike, which is primarily lower body, most of the blood hasn't made it to your quads so when you are jogging to T1 you may feel like your legs aren’t quite under yous. To help get the blood to move to the lower extremities increase your kick cadence the last 100 yards of the swim. This will help you get your "bike legs" quicker. Keep swimming until your hand touches the ground, then you will be able to stand up and gallop out of the water. If you are wearing a wetsuit start peeling down the top to save some time at T1.
Most Important - Never Panic. Stay Relaxed!! Sometimes cold water can make you breathe rapidly which may make you feel like you are so nervous your breathing is being impacted. If the water is cold and this happens, relax, your body is adjusting to the water temperature and with time will adjust. Concentrate on breathing deeply or visualize yourself handling the swim calmly.
- USAT rules state that competitors may wear wetsuits if the water temperature is 78 degrees or lower.
- USAT rules also state that if the water temperature is between 78.1 - 83.9 degrees, competitors may wear wetsuits but will not be eligible for aw
Rip currents- These can be found on many surf beaches every day. Under most tide and sea conditions the speeds are relatively slow. However, under certain wave, tide, and beach profile conditions the speeds can quickly increase to become dangerous to anyone entering the surf. The strength and speed of a rip current will likely increase as wave height and wave period increase. They are most likely to be dangerous during high surf conditions as the wave height and wave period increase. Rip currents may occur at fixed locations such as groins, jetties, piers, or other man-made structures where water can be funneled out to sea in a narrow channel. In coastal areas with structures, rip current may result when currents running parallel to the shore are deflected offshore by the structure.
How to Identify Rip Currents
Look for any of these clues:
- a channel of churning, choppy water
- an area having a notable difference in water color
- a line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily seaward
- a break in the incoming wave pattern
None, one, or more of the above clues may indicate the presence of rip currents. Rip currents are often not readily or easily identifiable to the average beach-goer. For your safety, be aware of this major surf zone hazard. Polarized sunglasses make it easier to see the rip current clues provided above.
Rip Current Myth
A rip current is a horizontal current. Rip currents do not pull people under the water–-they pull people away from shore. Drowning deaths occur when people pulled offshore are unable to keep themselves afloat and swim to shore. This may be due to any combination of fear, panic, exhaustion, or lack of swimming skills.
Groundswell- Caused by a storm usually far out at sea sometimes hundreds of miles away most of the time produces a bigger more organized wave with less chop.
Wind swell – Caused by local winds usually right on the beach most of the time very choppy and unorganized
Westerly, Northwest thru Southwest (offshore) – will produce a more even organized groomed effect on the ocean and waves with less chop.
Easterly, North/Northeast thru South/Southeast (onshore) – will produce a choppy unorganized effect on the ocean and waves with more chop
The Benefits of Chocolate Milk
Chocolate Milk Gives Athletes Leg-up After Exercise, Says University of Texas at Austin Study
June 22, 2011
AUSTIN, Texas — Not only does chocolate milk taste good, but two recent studies from The University of Texas at Austin show that it’s also the ideal post-workout recovery drink.
"Serious and amateur athletes alike enjoyed physical recovery benefits when they drank low-fat chocolate milk after a vigorous workout," said Dr. John Ivy, lead researcher on the studies and chair of The University of Texas at Austin College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Education. "The advantages for the study participants were better body composition in the form of more muscle and less fat, improved times while working out and overall better physical shape than peers who consumed sports beverages that just contained carbohydrates."
Ivy is a nationally renowned sports nutrition expert who established the importance of post-exercise nutrition to athletes' physical performance and recovery, as well as the timing of nutrition intake, and authored the groundbreaking book "Nutrient Timing."
The First Road Rides of the Year and What you Need to Remember
If you have been riding you bike on the trainer this winter and are thinking about hitting the road for a ride, be sure to change that tire! The trainer wears tire much quicker then the road and you will notice, depending on how much you have been riding, that the tire may be "squared off" from the trainer. Below is a list of things to remember to take on your first ride of the season:
- Two tubes
- 2 CO2 cartridges and an inflator
- Your cell phone in a Zip-lock bag
- Tire irons
- A pump
- A few dollars (They work well as a patch on the inside of a tire)
Running and the 10% Rule
by Dave Slavinski
AS THE new season begins and you have a renewed sense of determination to reach or exceed your personal best times or to reach the new goals for the new season, you need to approach your training with a bit of restraint. Triathlon training, especially when it comes to running, requires an approach that is calculated, measured, and designed to help preserve your health and improve your fitness over a period of months and years. YES, I said it, YEARS! But don’t let that scare you as this is a healthy sport meant to improve your longevity and keep you young, so you will be doing it for years and during this time you should get faster!
Running is the sport in triathlon that causes the most preventable injuries. While cycling accidents can be more dramatic and cause more damage, running injuries are more frequent because they are over use injuries that are many times avoidable if we would only take the training in a more measured way or if we treat the small issues before they become big problems. There is also a correlation between weight and impact injuries. The lighter you are, the less impact injuries you will have in most cases. This is a double-edged sword as the best way to lose weight is through running. It is both time and cost efficient. Many people avoid running for this exact reason, but us runners understand the overall benefits of run fitness.
One of the rules that we must follow is the 10% rule. With running you should not increase your mileage/time by more then 10% at a time. This doesn’t mean it is safe to increase your mileage by 10% every week, rather increase by this rate only after you make the physical adaptations to the stress and strain. This is normally 14+ day cycle. In short increase, make the time or mileage increase every third week and you will be safer then making quick and dramatic increases. Longevity is the goal, so don’t rush. Be patient and look at the big picture. Once you can run for 6-8 weeks at a mileage that is 20-30% higher then when you started you can increase again. But heed the warning, listen to your body, it will tell you when you have reached your peak mileage. Work smart as the progress you make should be steady and incremental throughout the year as well as over the course of multiple seasons. It does little good to run a few big weeks and then have to take time off. You are better off running a little less each week and getting 45+ weeks of running under your belt each year.
Early Season Training Tips
Early Season Workouts:
by Dave Slavinski
Early season isn’t the time for fast track workouts or crushing bike and pool workouts. It is the time for strength training and getting proper swim, bike, and run form. This consists of hill-bounding drills, hill running, soft sand beach runs, low cadence bike rides, one-legged bike drills, swimming with paddles, and lots of form drills in the water and on the bike or even a bike fitting. The goal of the winter is to prepare for the “real” training in the spring and the racing of the summer while becoming more efficient, more comfortable, and stronger so you can avoid the physical breakdowns of a long season.
Why not just go crazy all season long with track, pool, and bike workouts? The basic answer lies in physiology. First of all, you need to build a base both muscularly and cardiovascularly. Going a little longer each week in each discipline at a moderate to easy tempo will accomplish that. Combining more strength work with this will help you make gains when you add tempo and threshold workouts later in the spring. Moreover, the benefits of threshold/ anaerobic workouts will only get you short term gains. These gains may last a few months, but there will be a plateau and then a slow decline in fitness and performance especially since may of us push the fine line between threshold and anaerobic workouts. So save threshold work until April if your “A” race is August or later in the season, or start earlier if your big race is in June. But be prepared for the plateau later in the summer if you are doing an early season race. In short, go a little longer each week and keep your workouts in the endurance and tempo speed zones during the early season. Add speed and intensity later in the season, and pure speed at the end to achieve your best results.
Strength training is another key. For me, this is not doing bench presses or working on the machines at the gym but rather working with body weight, kettle bells, stability and Bosu balls and medicine balls. Very basic movements add up to one heck of a workout and they provide more for you then bench press strength. These provide core strength, working on the abs, back, shoulders and hips and other stabilizer muscles. These are the muscles that aid in every movement your body makes during triathlon and when they are weak you get injuries elsewhere that can be prevented. Two workouts weekly during the early part of the season and one weekly workout each week during the peak season will help you stay strong and injury free.
There is as much art as there is science when it comes to training. BPC uses Raceday to chart
fitness and fatigue levels so we know how to train you using the science. Following the basic guidelines listed above is a good start if you are training yourself, but if you are looking to take your
racing to another level using our creative coaching feel free to reach out to us for help.....that’s what we do!
Run Cadence and Stride Length
By: Dave Slavinski
Running is the most important part of triathlon and there are no short-cuts to becoming a better runner. This being said, there are plenty of training techniques that you can implement to become a better, faster runner. The one piece I have noticed to be the most prevalent is cadence as related to stride length as related to running.
To begin the cadence discussion I must confess that I am not a believer in whole-sale changes to running form. There are times I have tinkered with run form to avoid the re-occuring injuries I have experienced throughout my career with some degree of success. I even tinker with it on the track during certain workouts depending on how I feel and how fast I need to be running. But there is no clear evidence that one running style or method works best for everyone. You have a style and you can make subtle changes which will make you faster or less apt to injury, but without getting into a debate we will avoid saying that these changes will make you more “efficient.”
We have to understand a few simple rules before we combat cadence head-on. #1: when your body does work we refer to it as wattage. You have certain wattage capacities for swimming, biking, and running. With swimming and running we can determine wattage by speed most of the time, especially when we are running on a track or a relatively flat surface and it is easy to determine swim wattage through the use of a pool. But with cycling we cannot determine wattage through speed as the course we ride is always changing. These changes are not only the hills but also by wind conditions and aerodynamics of the rider’s position and the aerodynamics of the bike. Therefore we implement the power meter and ignore speed almost all together.
#2: You will ALWAYS use more watts running then riding. On a bike you are exerting the large majority of your wattage on the downstroke despite your style of pedaling while on the run you are absorbing the shock of landing (using energy ie. wattage) and toeing off simultaniously, thus using more energy or watts.
Cadence on the run is similar to the bike in many ways. You will go faster on a bike if you can turn a bigger gear at the same cadence.....simple fact. You will be a faster runner if you increase the stride length at the same cadence....another simple fact. The more ground you cover with each step, the faster you are going. Easier said then done though. How do you accomplish this?
First, you run across your training zones. Some days you will run easy/endurance runs. Add some tempo runs at a faster pace and you will get stronger. Push your aerobic threshold (AT) on the track once a week or even push your aerobic capacity with VO2 max efforts. That is where good coaching comes in. A good coach will guide you across these zones and with accurate athlete feedback a coach will turn the science into art by adjusting these workouts so you maximize your potential.
Second, there are a few simple alterations you can make to your running form to improve your stride length and get the proper foot position. Practice the snap or the downstroke. We all too often think about running as the extension or knee-drive. How often have you heard a coach yell “drive your knees!” I am here to tell you that they are dead wrong! It is quite the opposite in fact. Snap your legs under your body. Driving the knees without the snap leads to over-striding and the use of extra wattage (loss of energy) as you recover from what running coaches call “stepping in the bucket.” This happens when you increase your stride length to the point that you are impacting the ground with your foot well in front of your hips causing you to apply the breaks each time your foot hits the ground. You then have to pull your hips and torso over the foot and attempt to propel forward from a negative position. It is slow and requires MORE energy then someone who has better form.
To make slow and subtle changes to your form you should begin before you start running. Get them mind and the body into the act together. Hold on to a railing, fence, or wall and practice pulling your leg trough the bottom of the run stroke. You will need to lean forward slightly to achieve the optimal body position and you will concentrate on placing your foot under your hip, thus needing something to lean on. Do 30-seconds on each leg before you begin running. Each time you practice this you will be able to hold this form a little longer. You may only be able to hold it for 3-minutes on the 1st run. Fine, start from the beginning and work into it. You are re-training your body and your muscles and it will take time. Before you know it you will be a different runner altogether.
Here is the part you have been waiting for, the toe off. This is the piece that will subtract the most time from your 5k! Sprinters have been told to roll their toes UP since the beginning of time, but they forgot to tell distance runners about this. The best distance runners do this naturally and without realizing that they even do it. Wearing a GPS/Heart Rate Monitor is a great tool for quantifying this part of your run form. I was able to maintain a 10-second per mile faster pace at the same HR be simply rolling my toes up. It seems counterintuitive in some respects but when you look more closely it makes perfect sense without all of the science. We have already concluded that you use more watts running. You require wattage use for landing and propelling forward. If you can reduce the watts required for landing, you have more left for proplson. That is, if you are pushing your toes down as you attempt to roll from heal or mid-foot to your toes there is actually a breaking sensation occuring. You have taken a rounded object (you foot) and curved the end part (your toes) down creating MORE impact and requiring more wattage to be exerted to make up for this sudden impact. The faster you are attempting to run the more pronounced this negative effect is.
Through some careful inspection and interspection I know that no matter what the slope is may cadence remains constant. Uphill, downhill, at 7-minute pace or 5-minute pace my cadence remains relatively constant. What does change? Stride length.
Thus, through a slightly forward body lean, a reduced impact on the ground by pulling your leg through the bottom of your run stroke, and the rolling up of the toes, (plus track and distance training) you will become a faster runner. There is no “magic bullet” when it comes to running unfortunately, it is earned through hours and countless hours of running and it is not through increased cadence, but rather by reducing the amount of energy your body wastes impacting the ground that will help make you faster. This reduction of energy will allow you to increase your stride length slightly with the proper body lean and allow you to cover more ground with the same cadence and at the same wattage.
How to Train in the Winter!
What to do in the winter!
With snow on the ground and the threat of more to come, what do you do as a triathlete? Here are a few things to consider this winter.
- Concentrate on your core: Take classes working with kettlebells, stability balls, Bosu balls, TRX bands. Therapeutic Fitness offers courses where we work on muscles that you never knew you had.
- Swim: The pool is always open and there is never snow to contend with. Get an extra day in the pool and you wont have to work as hard when the temps hit 70 and you are dying to be outside running or on the bike.
- Spin: Bike strength is important to a good triathlon and knowing your body is the key. Go get a good trainer and ride YOUR bike this winter. Find a class and spend time getting know understand cadence, wattage, and heart rate and build your strength for the 2011 season. We are offering 2 classes every week this winter http://www.brielleperformancecenter.com/schedule.php
- Run: If you are lucky enough to live near the beach, run on the beach. When it snows the beach is clear, at least down past the high tide line. Salt water and snow don’t mix so there are always clear spots to run in the sand. If you aren’t so lucky, run on the treadmill. Be careful though! Raise the incline to 1-2% and don’t log too many miles on the thing. I can’t stand more than 40-minutes and I feel it in my knees and hips the following day. You can break up the running on the treadmill with some runs on the elliptical trainer as well so you can avoid the impact.
- Have Fun: Go out and walk in the snow, snow shoe, take the kids sleigh riding, mountain bike when the snow clears up. You need to change things up and enjoy the journey. Don’t get caught up in the “I need to do.... in order to ......” Gain fitness while having fun!