Triathlete Europe http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com Europe's leading source for triathlon news and information. Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:33:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 60 minute session: High-intensity trainer intervals http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/19/60-minute-session-high-intensity-trainer-intervals http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/19/60-minute-session-high-intensity-trainer-intervals#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:33:42 +0000 http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/?p=48909

Every Friday we’ll feature a different coach’s workout you can complete in 60 minutes (or less!). This week’s bike workout comes from ]]>

Every Friday we’ll feature a different coach’s workout you can complete in 60 minutes (or less!). This week’s bike workout comes from Justin Chester, a USAT Level II coach and the owner of TriCoach Colorado. “This workout is deceptively hard,” he says. “While the rest interval makes the set look easy, the intensity of the intervals makes it anything but. This a perfect workout on the trainer during the winter months. A simple alternative would be to put on your favourite one-hour crime drama and sprint at upper Zone 5 for all of the commercial breaks.”

Warm-up
10–15 min easy spin at 90+ RPM with 4×30-sec pick-ups mixed in

Main Set
This is a high-intensity session. Intervals are 4 minutes on with equal recovery. Don’t go into the interval too fast, instead you should be hitting the Zone 5 HR at or near the end of the interval.

Five times through:
4 min at upper Zone 5, 90+ RPM cadence. Recovery is 4 min easy spinning at 90–110 RPM.

Cool-down
10–15 min easy spin at 90+ RPM

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Spice up your swim sessions http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/19/spice-up-your-swim-sessions http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/19/spice-up-your-swim-sessions#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:10:50 +0000 http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/?p=48912

Illustration by Oliver Baker

Go outside your comfort zone with these four challenging (but fun!) drills that will help you become a more relaxed and efficient swimmer. ]]>

Illustration by Oliver Baker

Go outside your comfort zone with these four challenging (but fun!) drills that will help you become a more relaxed and efficient swimmer.

Tombstone Kicking
Develop a strong kick by pushing a large surface through the water. Grasp the sides of a kickboard and hold it vertical with only the top inch of the board out of the water. Push off the wall and kick the length of the pool. Keep your body flat and your face in the water except to breathe.
Example set: 6×75 with 15 sec rest as (25 Tombstone/50 swim)

Underwater Recovery (aka Dog-paddle)
A key element to efficient swimming is learning how to slip through the water. To practice finding the smoothest path, swim the freestyle stroke but keep your hands and arms underwater during the recovery. Don’t lift your hand out of the water after it passes your hip. Instead, slide it up the side of your body, keeping your arms and elbows tucked in close. Move your hand forward into the reach position and then start another stroke.
Example set: 12×25 with 10 sec rest as 3x(2 Underwater Recovery/2 swim)

Pop-ups
Use the edge of the pool to strengthen your swimming muscles. Put your hands on the top and push yourself out of the water. When your arms are completely straight, drop back into the water, and then pop out again. Keep your hands on the wall, shoulder-width apart during the drill.
Example set: 400 swim with five Pop-ups after each 50

Tennessee Tumblers
This is a different take on the hypoxic breathing sets. Swim 20 yards toward the opposite wall, and when you reach the flags, dive underwater and kick/pull to the wall. Remain underwater as you touch the wall, turn around, and push off. The goal is to make it past the flags before breaking the surface and starting to swim.
Example set: 8×50 Tennessee Tumblers with 10 sec rest

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Reviewed: Giro Synthe Helmet http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/19/reviewed-giro-synthe-helmet http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/19/reviewed-giro-synthe-helmet#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:30:03 +0000 http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/?p=48906

Photo: John David Becker

Weighing in at a mere 250 grams, the Synthe melds the qualities of two helmets in the Giro lineup—it features the aerodynamic features of ]]>

Photo: John David Becker

Weighing in at a mere 250 grams, the Synthe melds the qualities of two helmets in the Giro lineup—it features the aerodynamic features of the Air Attack aero road helmet and the lightness and ventilation of the company’s traditional training helmet, the Aeon.

Although wind tunnel tests showed the Attack is still faster when the head is tucked, Giro claims the aerodynamics of the Synthe are on par with time-trial helmets in a traditional road or climbing position. It features the same internal locking system as the Attack, which pulls the helmet up and away from the head.

For racing a triathlon, a true aero helmet is still the fastest bet, but for a high-performance training option with supreme ventilation, the Synthe is a welcome upgrade.

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Challenge Family and MaccaX announce global partnership http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/19/challenge-family-and-maccax-announce-global-partnership http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/19/challenge-family-and-maccax-announce-global-partnership#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 09:00:03 +0000 http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/?p=48904 Challenge Family and MaccaX have announced a multi-year partnership between the world’s fastest-growing long-distance triathlon series and the online coaching platform run by two of triathlon’s most successful athletes ever, Chris “Macca” McCormack and Belinda Granger.

This partnership will see all of the Challenge Family’s 44 full and half distance triathlons offer MaccaX custom training plans from 2015 on, delivered through interactive calendars on-line and on mobile devices.

Macca, a four-time Challenge Roth champion and Challenge Family ambassador, is thrilled about the partnership.

“Belinda and I will be helping write and approve custom training plans (men’s and women’s) for all 43 of the Challenge races in 2015. Better yet, we’ve pledged to keep the prices way down, under $50. We want these to be accessible to as many competitors as possible so they can have some solid structure in place and feel confident come race day that they’ve done the work necessary to have a great day.”

Athletes will enjoy access to Macca, Belinda, and other industry experts to answer their training- and racing-related questions for better preparation. They will also benefit from the exclusive community aspect of MaccaX, networking with like-minded people around the world for support, friendship, and encouragement.

“We’re delighted to partner with Macca, Belinda and the Macca X team, providing our athletes with access to expertise provided by some of the sport’s most respected athletes,” said Challenge Family CEO, Zibi Szlufcik. “We place significant importance on our partnerships, providing real value to athletes of all abilities with a focus on unbeatable quality and building a true triathlon community.”

The Challenge Family celebrates the sport of triathlon through its global series of long distance events and festivals that are changing the face of long distance racing around the world with its focus on athlete experience. Featuring spectacular courses in iconic destinations, Challenge Family events focus on delivering the race of a lifetime to every athlete, and creating a memorable spectator experience that captures all the excitement and emotion of this inspirational sport. The Challenge Family series currently features 44 events around the world in 19 countries including the world’s largest long distance triathlon, Challenge Roth in Germany. For for further information visit www.challenge-family.com.

MaccaX is a global online platform for triathlon training advice and support, whose mission is to elevate triathletes of all abilities to train and race at their fullest potential. MaccaX provides the tools and expertise necessary to realize each individual’s goal via access to top experts in the sport. For more information, log on to www.maccax.com

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Get race-strong through nutrition http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/18/get-race-strong-through-nutrition http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/18/get-race-strong-through-nutrition#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:32:40 +0000 http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/?p=48898

Photo: John David Becker

If you want be able to retrieve you personal best or just to cross the finish line without struggling too much, your body has to be in ]]>

Photo: John David Becker

If you want be able to retrieve you personal best or just to cross the finish line without struggling too much, your body has to be in robust equilibrium. The following article picks up the rather vague term of “balance” and tries to explain how balance can be achieved and maintained. To stay balanced is the secret for keeping yourself healthy despite strenuous work- outs and competitions. An all-but-forgotten natural nutrition supplement can help.

Before you start browsing through the text below, just imagine your body being a densely woven network in which all elements are communicating. A current of signals is permanently rushing through our bodies connecting all the knots (cells, organs, organ systems) with each other. This very dynamic process is holding together our bodies and is responsible for keeping the balance. Beestings, also known as colostrum, is a physiological cocktail of signal molecules stabilizing the network connections.

During periods of severe stress signal transmission is either increasing to an extent that over- burdens the control mechanisms, or the signal transmission comes to a halt with the same consequences, namely jeopardizing the body‘s balance. Training should always remain within the borders of balance. The connections between the knots should be highly dynamic and flexible. If they become rigid, then the connectivity might break down in certain areas of the body, where the strain is extra high. Training has to increase the flexibility and stability of the network connections of the body. This applies to the body as a whole not only to the muscles and the metabolic pathways. If you keep these paths in mind, the science and the thought concept behind beestings will be easier to understand.

Training for your biggest race
The weeks and months of training for your biggest race of the year are hard times for the body. During this time, you have to permanently push the limits without destroying the continuity of balance. You have to abstain from a lot of sweet things to receive the reward in the end. This drives your body into a delicate situation.

To reach a peak on race day a bunch of conditions have to coincide. Staying balanced by pushing the limits at the same time over the long months of training may be a shaky walk along a thin line. As an athlete who has to combine training with regular working hours, the task of being optimally prepared is even more challenging.

Due to the training stress your body is floating in an inflammatory state of varying degrees beyond the normal. To control this condition and not tilting over the edge is the tricky part. Don‘t risk your hard work by getting sick or injured. Sufficient recovery, a reasonable tapering phase, abstaining from processed foods and consuming the necessary nutrient-rich foods are the pillars of balance.

Controlling the inflammatory states in your body is essential for staying fit and healthy

Regardless which training program you follow the continuity of the training is essential. No injuries, no infections, no bouts of allergy and sufficient recovery times are the preconditions for a successful build-up. You are well familiar with the fact that endurance training means stress for your body: positive stress in the case of proper training intensity, negative in the case of overtraining.

The more you push your body to exertion, the more stressed it gets. If you manage your training within the limits where the training stress is not harming your immune system, autonomic nervous system and/or your hormone regulation, then the reward will be a body that can endure a lot. If you do otherwise and drive your body permanently

over the edge, then inflammatory processes may take over and lead your body into a state of a chronic systemic inflammation. Then, training becomes inefficient.You feel permanently fatigued and stressed, and you may call yourself lucky, if you don‘t come down with an illness, an injury or the worst an overtraining syndrome.

Here are some cues how you can find out whether you are balanced. When you don’t feel this way, that’s an indication that you’re over the edge:

Deep and recreative sleep.

No mood swings, emotionally stable.

Extent and duration of fatigue within the scope of your training exertion. Duration and extent of muscles soreness not longer than 3 days.

Good appetite, no craving for sweets, body weight stable or controlled weight loss respectively. Normal temperature sensation, no bouts of sweating in the cold and no freezing in the heat.

Beestings makes you more stress-resistant and modulates the inflammatory processes in your body. You can take it as a preventive measure and as a therapeutic agent. As a natural food, consumption is totally harmless. You cannot overdose it. You will always benefit from it, as you do from other quality foods. Beestings has anti-inflammatory effects,strengthens your immune system and balances the activity of your autonomous nervous system.

The tapering phase
For endurance competitors, tapering is a key element of the physical preparation in the last 2 to 3 weeks up to the race.

Prof. Timothy Noakes, the author of Waterlogged and The Lore of Running, gives the following advice for this critical period of time: “Once you decide to taper, do as little training as your mind will allow you, but do that little at a fast pace!”

Tapering is a very individual thing. It‘s about finding the right duration of the taper, the right volume, intensity and frequency of the specific training sessions and about the best pattern of tapering for yourself.

Beside all controversial discussions around this topic there is an agreement about the fact that the tapering phase is a very critical part of the preparation period. The body is very frail in the final weeks before a big race. Susceptibility for illnesses and injuries increases tremendously.

During tapering the activity of the autonomous nervous system and the immune system should not decrease dramatically because otherwise the inflammatory conditions in the body spread and become more severe.

“It has taken me a while to learn what kind of taper works for me,” says pro triathlete Rachel Joyce. “I used to do too little in the week or two leading up to a race, and this leftme feeling lethargic and flatcome race day”

The slow-down of the training during a taper leads to a drop of the activity state of the autonomous nervous system and the immune system. If one does not maintain a certain amount of training stimulus, however, the body loses its race-readiness and falls into the “holiday trap.”

Be generous in your use of beestings during taper. It supports immunity and the nervous system by improving healing.

The race: Peaking on a solid balance
In endurance races the body faces mainly two critical conditions, one is fatigue and the other are gastrointestinal complications. The stress of a race jeopardizes the fragile balance.

Muscle activation depends on brain activity. When fatigue kicks in, signal control becomes weaker and weaker. In that case, storms of signals can reach the muscle without being properly filtered. This lack of control of the signal transmission from the brain to the muscle and back may lead to cramps followed by exertion and finally exhaustion. This type fatigue takes place in the central nervous system, not in the muscle. Consequently, you need your brain working at full capacity to retrieve your personal best.

Stomach discomfort
Endurance performance affects the integrity of the intestinal barrier. Heat stress, mechanical shearing forces, oxidative burst, reduced blood flow and excessive carb intake are only a few of the many stress factors that may induce an integrity loss of the intestinal barrier.

The consequence is increased intestinal permeability. Plainly, the stomach and/or gut start leaking and the selective absorption of nutrients from the gut stops. Bacteria and toxins penetrate non-selectively into the body‘s interior and harm its balance. Cramps, diarrhea, bloating, nausea, vomiting, pains or/and stomach bleeding are the symptoms.

Beestings positively influences the stomach and gut, and it is bolstering against fatigue. Therefore,take it leading into a race.

Recovery: Time for build-up, inflammation control and healing
Recovery is a highly active phase for the body. If you see this part of training through these eyes, it may be easier for you to accept taking a rest without feeling bad. Beestings as an inflammatory modulator is a real asset during this time of your training program.

It is common knowledge that endurance strains always go hand in hand with micro-injuries in muscles, sinews, connective tissue and smallest blood vessels. These tiny injuries are required in order for the muscle to adapt to a higher performance level.

The injuries can be as tiny that you don‘t not even notice them or so bad that long lasting muscle pains arise (DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness).

All these injuries induce inflammatory processes in the body, forming the foundation for all healing and adaptation processes that finally bring about the training effect and performance improvements.

Healing processes demand a strong and balanced immunity
The immune system is steering the inflammatory and subsequently the healing processes. An intact immune system can heal micro-injuries within 3 to 5 days. If micro-injuries do not heal well, due to a weakened immune system, which may be caused by an insufficient recovery time, then muscle ruptures and injuries may be the result.

When the body is in a state of inflammation, beestings works as an anti-inflammatory agent. The growth factors it contains influence the cells’ regeneration. Molecules in beestings foster muscle growth and repair processes within the gut, the bronchi and the stomach.

Susann Kraeftner, MD, the founder and scientist behind Biestmilch, has worked in intensive care and the pharmaceutical industry. For many years she was looking to escape medicine and finda way to get involved with a more creative way of working. Since 2000 I have pursued my life experiment to resuscitate beestings as sports nutrition. We call it Biestmilch. Go to Biestmilch.com to learn more.

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Different shoes for different run types http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/18/different-shoes-for-different-run-types http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/18/different-shoes-for-different-run-types#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:00:16 +0000 http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/?p=48895

There has been so much evolution and discussion related to footwear the past few years; it’s appropriate to unpack how it all relates to ]]>

There has been so much evolution and discussion related to footwear the past few years; it’s appropriate to unpack how it all relates to training. From overbuilt stability shoes to minimalist models to the rise of ultra cushion shoes, runners have more options than ever. And advancements in footwear are a great thing: They’ve made runners less susceptible to injury, improved performance and given them more overall enjoyment while running. The key is not being pulled too far to the fringes or adapting a fad mentality when it comes to your choice of footwear. Educating yourself about shoes, being honest with yourself as an athlete and staying in touch with your individual goals are critical. Below are a few guidelines that will help you identify the type of runner you are and what types of shoes are appropriate for you. In addition to the suggestions below, it is also essential that you are fit correctly for running shoes.

Shoe Categories
Daily Trainers: These include the various types of shoes in the minimal, moderate and maximum support categories.

Lightweight Trainers: These are lighter-weight shoes that have good cushioning but are several ounces lighter than a daily trainer. They feel like less shoe on your foot, and are noticeably lighter without compromising impact protection.

Racing Flats: These are very lightweight shoes that are much lower to the ground than daily or lightweight trainers and fit very snugly. Not necessarily a “minimalist” shoe, flats still have a layer of cushioning underfoot and are designed for fast, efficient running.

What type of runner are you?
New Runner: If you are a running newbie, training more consistently or participating in a race or two, one pair of daily trainers is sufficient. Fit is very important, as is the level of support and cushion for your needs, which can be analyzed at a local running store. How the shoes actually perform is far less important and should be considered last. You can wear your daily trainers for various types of runs: long, short, easy or fast.

Enthusiast: If you run multiple races each year, meet with a training group and have targeted time goals, then you should own multiple pairs of shoes to fit your training routine. Rotate through one or two pairs of daily trainers and a pair of lightweight trainers. This will allow your shoes to recover, thus helping them last longer and feel better day to day. The daily trainer serves as your primary shoe for all your easy and long runs. The lightweight trainers should be used for your harder workouts or races—two to three times a week. Lightweights work really well for tempo runs, fartlek workouts or even interval sessions on the track. They should also be your first choice come race day, as they promote a much more efficient foot strike based on shoe geometry, as well as make workouts—and races—more effective.

High Level: If you have graduated to pushing yourself to your highest potential, have raced for years and are always looking to set a personal best or battle it out for age-group honors, consider three varieties of shoes: your daily trainers (preferably two pairs to rotate), a pair of lightweight trainers and a pair of racing flats. As mentioned, lightweight trainers are great for quicker workouts, such as tempo runs or intervals at 10K to marathon pace. For workouts faster than 10K pace and shorter in duration, racing flats should be considered. These should not be worn excessively, as they are not built to last very long and can compromise your impact protection.

Two-time U.S. Olympian Alan Culpepper helps runners of all abilities via his website at culpeppercoaching.com.

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Doug MacLean blog: Triathlon’s dirty secret http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/18/doug-maclean-blog-triathlons-dirty-secret http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/18/doug-maclean-blog-triathlons-dirty-secret#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:00:55 +0000 http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/?p=48893 A lot of sports have their “dirty little secrets.” In rugby, it’s concussions/brain trauma. In cycling, it’s random heart attacks from drug-affected blood. In bowling it’s… carpal tunnel syndrome? Well, triathlon’s “dirty little secret” is skin cancer.

There are three basic types of skin cancer: melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Of those three, melanoma is by far the most likely to spread, and eventually kill. Our sport mostly consists of a bunch of white people spending a crap ton of time out in the sun. So yeah, we’re a “high-risk population.” I know a LOT of people in the sport who have had skin cancer, and unfortunately, I’m just the latest victim. The last 4-5 weeks of my life have been horrid, after I received a diagnosis of melanoma, on Nov. 10, 2014. The whole process culminated with surgery on Dec 9, 2014. The surgeon dug out all of the skin around the original melanoma spot, and then also removed three nearby lymph nodes, to check if the cancer spread. Fortunately, as I just found out, the cancer did not spread. So, it appears that I’ve dodged this bullet.

Here’s the part where things get interesting. I originally went for a dermatology appointment on Aug 27, and showed them a spot on my hairline. I have no idea how long it was there. I only noticed it because I buzzed my hair for a race in August.

The dermatologist said it was “fine,” and sent me on my way. But, the spot was still bugging me, and so my girlfriend (the lovely & talented Lisa Holt) encouraged me to get another appointment to get it checked out again. So, I went back on Nov. 5, and made the dermatologist remove the spot and biopsy it. Five days later, it came back as positive for melanoma. I was floored, and cried for the first time in a looong time.

Luckily, its depth was relatively shallow, indicating that we caught it early. And the biopsy results I just got back confirmed that the cancer did not spread (although as anyone who’s had cancer can tell you, waiting for surgery, and biopsy results, is awful).

Here’s the point: I’ve dodged this bullet, but only because I was so friggin’ insistent that something was wrong with that spot. I urge you to learn the “ABCD“s of melanoma, they could literally save your life. And the other thing to look for is the “which one of these is not like the other?” concept: If there’s a mole on your body that looks different than all of your other moles, get it checked out. If you catch it early, melanoma is relatively easy to treat, and cure. But if you don’t catch it early, things can get ugly.

Luckily, I was doggedly insistent that they remove the spot. Otherwise, the doctors would have left it there, and it would slowly still be boring into my head, a ticking time bomb waiting to kill me.

I’ll leave you with a couple more nuggets of advice:

1) Sunscreen is good, but clothing is better.

2) I didn’t just get this because I’m a ginger. Out of everyone I know who has had melanoma, I’m the only ginger. Sure, fair-skinned folks are more susceptible to it, but ANYONE can get it. I had a friend who died in 2011 from melanoma, and he was not a ginger… Do not make the mistake of thinking you’re “immune” to skin cancer!

3) The skin “never forgets.” I’ve been super vigilant about sun protection for the last 4 years. Unfortunately, I wasn’t vigilant about sun protection from ages 16-29. My melanoma wasn’t caused by sun exposure from 2011 to 2014. It was caused by sun exposure from 1996 to 2010.

Doug MacLean is a pro triathlete who blogs at Dmactri.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@dmactri).

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3x indoor swim-bike brick sessions http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/17/3x-indoor-swim-bike-brick-sessions http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/17/3x-indoor-swim-bike-brick-sessions#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:30:58 +0000 http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/?p=48887

Photo: Shutterstock

Training for the transition from one sport to another should not be limited to bike-run workouts. Below are three swim-bike bricks perfect ]]>

Photo: Shutterstock

Training for the transition from one sport to another should not be limited to bike-run workouts. Below are three swim-bike bricks perfect for off-season practice.

Brick #1
Bring your bike and stationary trainer to the pool and set up on deck (if allowed).

Warm up with 10 minutes on the bike and five minutes in the pool. Repeat the main set 2–5 times:

» Swim 600 as 200 fast, 400 at mid-race effort

» Bike 15 minutes as 3x (4 minutes at race effort/1 minute recovery)

» Pedal or swim 5 minutes easy between sets

Brick #2
Reserve a stationary or spin bike inside the gym. Set the seat and handlebar height before the workout starts. Warm up with an easy five-minute swim in the pool.

» Swim 1,500 meters (or 1,650 yards) at race effort

» Quick transition to dry off and change in the locker rooms

» Bike 60 minutes (increase effort or tighten knob every 15 minutes)

Brick #3
No access to a bike near the pool? Substitute running or a lower-body strength routine for cycling. Warm up with 5–10 minutes of easy jogging outside or on the treadmill. Repeat the set 1–4 times as your schedule allows:

» 5×200 swim with 15 seconds’ rest (descend 200 time from 1–5)

» 10 minute run or 2x(20 deep squats, 20 walking lunges, 10 burpees, 30 bicycle abs)

Use these sessions or adapt them to the facility where you work out. Spread the word to the Masters team, your training partners and even the staff. Maybe they will formally schedule time on the spin bikes or treadmills for a weekly group training session.

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Improve your bike race performance http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/17/improve-your-bike-race-performance http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/17/improve-your-bike-race-performance#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:05:42 +0000 http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/?p=48890

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

Many triathletes choose to enter a sportive or two during the season. In this article, our friends at VeloNews take a look at improving ]]>

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

Many triathletes choose to enter a sportive or two during the season. In this article, our friends at VeloNews take a look at improving race performance (it applies to races and training alike).

Know where you are in your cycling
Initially, power output is king. As you become more developed as an athlete, Overton said, success comes through tactics, strategy, and consistency. “As you get up to the pro level, it’s all of the things you read about on the Internet, like recovery, being on the right team, having the right team schedule, equipment, clothing, and sports psychology.”

Be consistent
For Overton, consistency is critical to raising your level. “Riders that have other things going on in their lives — they may have three or four weeks of really good training, then a week of bad training, or a business trip. They go up, they go down, but they never really get anywhere.”

Get to the finish
Endurance training and base work should be the focus for new cyclists. “Earlier on [in your racing career] you just focus more on getting home. From there you figure out how to win,” Howes said.

Train at a higher level
“A great technique is riding with the next-level group ride,” Overton said. “If you’re a Cat. 3, join the Pro-1-2 group ride. If you’re a masters athlete, ride with the stronger masters.”

Gain race experience
“Know the races, know the course, certainly know the competition,” Howes said. “You don’t just wake up knowing those things on the first day. You have to be there, and learn in the trenches.”

Learn how to win
Winning is a key skill, said Howes. “A lot of times guys never learn how to win. If you learn in the Cat. 3s by winning 15 races in one year, they kick you out of the Cat. 3s. And then, when you get to the Pro-1-2s, you have a pretty good idea of how to win a bike race. If you jump straight into the Pro-1-2s, you never really learn how to be a champion.”

It’s all feel
“It’s a sport where it’s hard to quantify improvement. Most of the time you finish in the pack,” Howes said. He looks at how he feels in those races. “Last year [2012] there were a number of races where I was really on my hands and knees getting to the finish line. Just finishing the Tour of Catalunya was a big achievement. This year [2013], it was quite a bit better and well rounded. I was able to go into the Vuelta with no doubt in my mind that I’d get to the end.”

Be patient
“If you’re moving up a category every two years,” Howes said, “you’re doing just fine.”

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the January 2014 issue of Velo magazine. In it, Trevor Connor talks to Garmin-Sharp’s Alex Howes and Frank Overton of FasCat Coaching about how to improve without moving too quickly. Connor is a long-time cycling coach and researches both exercise physiology and nutrition at Colorado State University.

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Study shows that ab crunches work http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/17/study-shows-that-ab-crunches-work http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/12/17/study-shows-that-ab-crunches-work#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 10:09:23 +0000 http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/?p=48884

Photo: Shutterstock

In a new study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise, researchers found that the traditional crunch is actually more effective ]]>

Photo: Shutterstock

In a new study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise, researchers found that the traditional crunch is actually more effective at activating the abdominal muscles than several popular abdominal tools and other exercises. The University of Wisconsin–La Crosse research team incorporated popular equipment as well as bodyweight exercises in the study, which used electromyography to measure muscle activation. But triathletes should also do other “trunk-strengthening” exercises, says ACE exercise physiologist and triathlete Jacque Ratliff. By doing exercises “that emphasise the mobility of the thoracic spine and stability of the lumbar spine, [triathletes] are protecting themselves from injury and promoting efficient movement patterns.”

The Correct Crunch
Lie face up, either with feet on the floor or feet off the floor with knees bent at 90 degrees, and rest your head on your hands, which are interlaced behind your head (or you can cross your arms over your chest—the study showed there was no difference between the two). With your chin off your chest, focus on using the abdominals to move your rib cage toward your pelvis, lifting your shoulder blades off the ground, then come back to the floor for one rep.

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