Triathlete Europe Europe's leading source for triathlon news and information. Thu, 03 Sep 2015 12:30:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 An athlete’s guide to salt Thu, 03 Sep 2015 12:30:30 +0000

Photo: Shutterstock

Even those who proclaim not to sweat much will feel the effects of sweating out water and key electrolytes during long, hot training ]]>

Photo: Shutterstock

Even those who proclaim not to sweat much will feel the effects of sweating out water and key electrolytes during long, hot training sessions. If you’re confused about exactly how much sodium you need and when, you are not alone—I get the same questions on salt and electrolyte supplementation from triathletes every year.

The bottom line seems pretty simple at first glance: Endurance athletes need to replace the fluids, carbs and sodium lost during endurance training and racing. Sports drinks contain both flavour (from sugar/carbs) and sodium (from various forms of salts) to help increase the drive to drink and ensure optimal hydration.

Many triathletes will choose to alternate between sports drink and plain water (to take a gel or with solid foods on the bike, or to add additional fluid intake in the heat) and will therefore need to rely on supplemental salt.

Why use extra salt?
It is possible to be both dehydrated (low in total body water) and hyponatraemic (dilution of electrolyte sodium in blood, leading to swelling of cells). This is because for hours on end you sweat out not only water but also key electrolytes, including sodium. Countering that fluid loss by drinking plain water means you’ll not only not retain the fluid as needed (because it doesn’t contain the sodium needed for fluid retention) but you’ll also further dilute the electrolytes left in the bloodstream.

The options at right provide electrolytes, not fuel, so consume them in addition to your carb-rich sports drink. Learn your sweat rate, choose a drink you like, and the rate you can realistically consume that drink during your race. Then add supplemental carbs and sodium appropriately, and practice!

Do the Math
1 liter (32 ounces)
Typical triathlete fluid/sweat loss per hour

750–1000 milligrams
Amount of sodium athletes should replace per hour

110 milligrams per 8 ounces
Amount of sodium in a typical sports drink (or 440 milligrams per 32 ounces). Gatorade Endurance, which will be served on Ironman courses again in 2015, contains 200 milligrams of sodium per 8 ounces.

How to Supplement
Here are two examples of how to incorporate electrolyte supplementation into your hot-weather racing nutrition plan.

Triathlete 1: 160 pounds, needs 32 ounces per hour of fluid intake, salty sweater per observation. Plans to consume 24 ounces of Gatorade Endurance per hour on the bike (total 600 milligrams sodium, 150 calories)
Add per hour: 8 ounces of water as needed, 1 energy gel, 1 Thermolyte tablet

Triathlete 2: 120 pounds, needs 32 ounces per hour of fluid intake, moderate salty sweater per observation. Plans to drink 16 ounces of sports drink with 200 milligrams of sodium per 8 ounces and 16 ounces of water per hour on the bike.

Add per hour: 1/4 PB&J sandwich for calories and 1 “lick” of BASE Performance salt per hour

Lauren Antonucci is a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, three-time Ironman finisher and the founding director of Nutrition Energy in New York City.

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Data analysis: Lessons learned from the Ironman 70.3 bike Thu, 03 Sep 2015 11:30:34 +0000

Source: TrainingPeaks

The 2014 70.3 World Championship was my thirty-ninth Half Ironman distance race. So, I’ve had some opportunities to figure out what works ]]>

Source: TrainingPeaks

The 2014 70.3 World Championship was my thirty-ninth Half Ironman distance race. So, I’ve had some opportunities to figure out what works well for me and what does not over the years. I am a bit of a data dork and love to analyse my race data.

Race Day Numbers
My effort on race day is dictated by triangulating my perceived effort, heart rate, and power in that order. I have found that I need to ride to my own feel. If I get too hung up on a certain power number or heart rate, then I do not race as well. However, I do know my zones very well from my training. When I line up for a race, I know exactly what I am capable of. I may have a good day or a bad day, but I am not just guessing what I can do. So I keep a close eye on my numbers like Normalized Power® (NP®), heart rate, cadence, and speed throughout the race to see how I am riding. I have found that this helps me to stay patient at the beginning of the bike leg, when my legs are fresh and to stay focused in the middle to later sections. I have had a tendency to flake out a bit in the past and my effort has dipped due to the lack of focus.

This article first appeared on For more click here.

Post Race Analysis
According to Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan in their book, Training and Racing with a Power Meter, the optimal Intensity Factor® (IF®) range to race a Half Ironman is .83-.87. IF shows how intense your effort was as a percentage of your Functional Threshold Power (FTP).I have, personally, seen mine range from .76-.87 over the years.

Another one of the other parameters I look at after a race is the Variability Index (VI). VI indicates how smooth your power output was over the ride. The lower your VI, 1.0 being perfect, the more evenly your power production. Joe Friel has stated that an optimal VI for triathlons is 1.05 or below in order to run well off the bike. I have ranged between 1.00-1.08 during my Half Ironman events.

Data in Action
Here is a look at my data from the 2014 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Mont Tremblant, Canada

Proper Bike Pacing
My Intensity factor came in at .82 for this race. While slightly below what I normally see, I felt that I performed well on the day. I had gotten dunked during the start of the swim segment, which cost me a little bit of time. So, I knew I needed to ride well in order to be in a competitive position starting the run.

Each race is unique and the dynamics of the Mnt. Tremblant bike course were frustrating at times as packs formed and the tightness of the course design caused a few bottlenecks. In spite of these unfortunate situations, I was able to ride consistent and pretty much stuck to my game plan. I ended up with a variability index of 1.02 for the entire ride. However, even with the proper VI, my quads were very fatigued coming off of the bike as I pushed the last 7.5 kilometres as hard as I could. My goal was to create as much separation as possible during this hilly section.

The bike effort brought me into T2 first in my age group. I had an uncharacteristically slow transition and dropped two places coming out onto the run. I could see my competition right in front of me, but I could not match the leg speed of my competition. I ended up getting run down by another athlete and just barely held on for fourth place in the M40-44 bracket by four seconds on fifth place. There were some speedy runners for sure. I was happy with my effort on the day and really felt that I gave everything I had.

While my bike numbers indicated I should have been able to run well, I had used a couple of extra bullets that clearly affected me in hindsight. This illustrates that using numbers can help you make good decisions on race day, even if you gamble a bit. Racing is all about fitness, execution, and good decision making. Using data allows you to build on each of these elements. While my numbers were good, I gambled a bit and it was a good learning experience.

About the author: Team Timex athlete Chris Thomas has won multiple USAT Age Group Athlete of the Year awards, National Championships, and overall victories. Thomas is also an Executive Level Coach with LifeSport Coaching.

This article first appeared on For more click here.

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Three exercises to build a stronger butt Thu, 03 Sep 2015 10:15:40 +0000

Sumo Lunge With Side Kick (click for larger image)

Squats and lunges are great for building your glutes, but they can miss your gluteus medius — or the side of the butt. Those muscles are ]]>

Sumo Lunge With Side Kick (click for larger image)

Sumo Lunge With Side Kick

Sumo Lunge With Side Kick (click for larger image)

Platypus Walk

Platypus Walk (click for larger image)

Bent Left Deadlift

Bent Left Deadlift (click for larger image)

Squats and lunges are great for building your glutes, but they can miss your gluteus medius — or the side of the butt. Those muscles are key in the quest for a firmer derriere.

David Kirsch, founder of David Kirsch Wellness Company and author of the upcoming book, David Kirsch’s Ultimate Family Wellness: The No Excuses Program for Diet, Exercise and Lifelong Health (December 2015), has three signature moves that will tighten the side of your tush and lead you to a better butt.

Sumo Lunge With Side Kick
(1) Stand in a “sumo” position with your feet slightly wider than hip width, knees bent, and your body weight in your heels. (2) Take a large step sideways with your right leg, bringing your right knee in toward your chest and then over to the right in one continuous motion. (3) As soon as your right foot touches the ground, bring your knee back into your chest and complete a side kick, kicking your right heel out to the side into the stomach of an imaginary opponent (or jaw, if that imaginary person is height-compromised). (4) Lower your right leg to the floor into the sumo position. Squat down while sticking your butt out. Keep your knees just above (not in front of) your toes. (5) Spring up while thrusting your arms overhead. Land on your heels, rolling forward onto your toes. Repeat with a sumo lunge and side kick with your left leg and another frog jump. Continue alternating right to left until you have completed 10 lunges on each side and 20 frog jumps.

Platypus Walk
(1) Grab a medicine ball with both hands and extend your arms overhead. Squat in a sitting position with your knees aligned with your toes and your butt sticking back as far as you can get it. (2) Keep your core tight as you walk forward, pushing off through each heel. If you perform the move correctly, your butt and inner thighs will be on fire. Walk across the room in one direction and then reverse and walk backward. If your room is small, repeat crossing the room one time.

Bent Left Deadlift
(1) Holding a body bar, dumbbells, medicine ball, or even a broomstick in a pinch, stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. (2) Bend forward, hinging at the waist. Keep your knees soft and back flat. Come back to starting position. (3) Make it easier: If you’re feeling shaky, hold the back of a chair or the edge of a table for balance. (4) Make it harder: If you’re feeling great, try lifting your alternate leg as you go down.

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Blog: The triathlon-parenting balance Thu, 03 Sep 2015 09:01:04 +0000

As a married, working mother of two, I morphed into a grand master of time management when I took on Ironman training. Well, not really. I ]]>

As a married, working mother of two, I morphed into a grand master of time management when I took on Ironman training. Well, not really. I barely figured out how to show up at work without goggle-eyes, walk without limping from my 4 a.m. long run, or stay awake long enough to put the kids to sleep each night. But still, I picked up some great tips for tri-ing in the middle of everyday life madness.

Become A Triathlon Ninja
Wake up early, put on your clothes in the dark and sneak out of the house before anyone can stop you. Let out your own personal battle cry (for emphasis only) when you reach the driveway.

Stick To Your Training Schedule
Sometimes life gets in the way of training, yes. But being fairly inflexible about the actual workout — and more flexible with how and when you complete the workout — is key. If you are up all night with sick kids, then the morning workout may be blown. However, accomplishing the same workout later in the day will keep you on track, physically and mentally. If someone gets in your way during the second attempt, just play dead.

Just keep moving forward
A mantra is good for all things in life, but especially at mile 18 of the Ironman marathon. As long as the big goal is held out like a carrot (or cookie) and you are heading toward it — no matter how slowly — you are making progress. Take time to acknowledge the progress you have made and the carrots (cookies) you have eaten, because this makes the future seem more attainable.

Put Yourself In Time Out
Are you at the end of your personal and professional rope? Understandable. But when you begin to call your beloved bike horrible names, you better go to time out. Sit down, find your blankie and reflect quietly. Whine, cry, but also come up with a checklist or a plan to make your life and your training better. Then execute it like only a Type-A triathlete can do.

Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
“But this is racing!” you scream. Indeed. But for many of us — the guy or gal with a gaggle of kids, debt and laundry — triathlon is a focused goal that makes life better. Do your best, but stop fretting about your thinner, faster, more-carbonised riding buddy.

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Carbohydrate manipulation for better performance Wed, 02 Sep 2015 12:30:16 +0000

Photos: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image

Carbohydrate manipulation across your training cycle is one of the simplest nutritional strategies to boost physical and mental fitness. ]]>

Photos: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image

Carbohydrate manipulation across your training cycle is one of the simplest nutritional strategies to boost physical and mental fitness. For more than 20 years, I’ve used this strategy on myself, as well as with many of the athletes I coach, and have had great success.

In a nutshell, you supplement with carbohydrate before and during long runs early in your training cycle. Then, you wean yourself off carbohydrates for long runs in the middle portion of your training cycle. Finally, you sprinkle in some low-carb runs in the final few weeks of training, but balance these with long runs that practice your race-day carbohydrate fuelling. The end result is that you get the performance benefits from using carbohydrate before and during long runs—higher quality long runs—but also get the positive physical and mental benefits from low-carbohydrate training, including exposure to race-like suffering, greater fat burning and carbohydrate sparing.

Training Goals
When training for longer races like a half marathon or marathon, there are three main goals:

1. Increase the proportion of energy at race pace that comes from fat as opposed to carbohydrate. Race-pace running requires energy from both fats and carbohydrates but carbohydrate stores are limited. So, if at race pace you can get a higher percentage of your energy from fat, you’ll spare those precious carbohydrate stores.

2. Increase the total store of carbohydrate available. Think of this as having a larger fuel tank. You’ve probably read that carbohydrate stores typically last 90-120 minutes before they get low, so if you have a larger tank and burn the fuel at a slower rate, you’ll have more fuel at end of the race. No more hitting the wall for you!

3. Get acquainted with the “pain” at the end of long races. Racing your best half marathon or marathon is going to be mentally challenging. It will require more mental fortitude than you are often used to, so while training for the race, you actually want to experience the level of fatigue—physical and mental—where the brain is screaming at you to stop. You want to have some experiences of running in extremis.

You’ve probably read about the central governor theory whereby the brain, if it feels threatened by your rapidly depleting energy stores or tired muscles, will consciously send greater and greater sensations of fatigue and can actually cut the power to the muscles and slow you down. This leads to the “wall” or “bonking” that runners fear. Given that, some of your training must expose your brain to these feelings so it will feel less threatened on race day.

Manipulating your carbohydrate intake across your training plan can help you optimise each of the adaptations.

Case Study

Lynn, an athlete I coached, was about to embark on an 18-week marathon training plan. She had three marathons under her belt—so she knew she could finish—but was now looking to finish faster and qualify for Boston. As I built her plan, I broke it into three, 6-week phases for how we would modulate carbohydrate intake to boost her fitness.

Phase 1
In Phase 1, she ate carbohydrates before (breakfast, slow-release carbohydrates) and during (sports drinks, gels) so that she could complete her long runs feeling fresh mentally with only the usual muscular fatigue from running so long. Her long run increased for three weeks, then we took a shorter long run in week 4 for recovery. Then, she finished off Phase 1 with two more high-carb long runs.

The goal of Phase 1 was to help her finish those runs feeling good. This would build her motivation and get her long runs building without undue fatigue.

Phase 2
With a few long runs under her belt, Lynn felt more confident in her fitness. At this point, she slowly eliminated her carbohydrate intake before and during her long runs. She was “training low” or training on low-carbohydrate stores in order to challenge her body to burn more fat for fuel (when carbohydrates aren’t plentiful, the body burns more fat) and stimulate her body to store more carbohydrates after the runs (increasing the fuel tank).

We took four long runs to eliminate the carbohydrates. First, she eliminated breakfast. In the second long run, the next weekend, not only was she building her distance but she also spread out her carbohydrate intake, taking carbohydrates only every hour instead of every 30 minutes during the run. In the third long run, she only took a gel in the last 30 minutes of the run—no carbohydrates before or during the run except that one gel.

In Week 4 of Phase 2, her long run was 45 minutes shorter than the previous week and was a perfect time to go carb-free. Lynn didn’t eat breakfast before the run and didn’t ingest any carbohydrates during the run—only water and electrolytes.

To her surprise, Lynn did fine, which is what most runners find if they wean themselves off carbs gradually like Lynn did. She was more tired toward the end of the run, but this was expected. I also added an extra recovery day after the long run just to make sure we respected this additional training stress.

For Weeks 5 and 6 in Phase 2, Lynn ran carb-free on her long runs. These were tougher because they were longer than the “down” long run of Week 4, but she quickly learned that these long runs are not about pace. They are simply about getting time on your feet. If you get really tired, that’s good. You are forcing your body to burn more fat and you’ll store more carbohydrate for future runs. You’ll also get a hefty dose of the mental challenge that will be faced at the end of the race.

Phase 3
For the final phase of training, we had two goals:

1. Extend her carb-free long runs to her maximum duration (3-3.5 hours).

2. Practice her race-day nutrition strategy on the other long runs.

In practice, this meant that one week, she did a carb-free run where she just ran for time and didn’t worry about pace. On the other week, she carbed up before and during the long run, following the nutritional plan she’d implement on race day. This allowed her to dial in her marathon nutrition plan and she also improved the quality of the run by finishing fast the last few miles.

Powering to the Finish
On race day, Lynn ran a new PR and qualified for Boston. But, the most important takeaway for me was how strong she was over the last few miles. This is exactly what I experienced when I first used this strategy. It wasn’t that I could suddenly run faster than the pace my training indicated. It was just that I didn’t get the usual mental and physical fatigue at the end of the marathon, or at least to the extent I usually did.

Lynn had a new level of power over the last few miles. She had a larger carbohydrate store and used these stores more sparingly across the race. So, when the last few miles hit, she had this fuel available instead of having it running low.

And, because her fuel stores weren’t depleting rapidly, and because the carb-free long runs exposed her brain to the type of fatigue she would experience in the race, her brain didn’t perceive the pace to be a concern. She wasn’t going to run out of gas so her brain was happy and a happy brain is a brain willing to keep pushing.

The mental and physical fatigue make carb-free runs very tough. You will likely have “bad” long runs where you may bonk. This is precisely the training stress you’re after, as it conditions the mind to those feelings of severe fatigue and stimulates the body to adapt.

— Not for first time runners. Use carbohydrates to help you finish.

— Not for those with blood sugar issues (hypoglycemia).

— Use common sense and gradually wean off of carbohydrates on long runs.

— Plan for extra recovery (day of and an extra day after) after carb-free long runs

— Have a rescue gel with you and a buddy with you.

— Use carbs on race day! Carb-free is a training strategy.

About The Author: Greg McMillan, M.S. provides training plans and online coaching for runners of all abilities through his website Outside Magazine calls his McMillan Running Calculator the “Best Running Calculator” and his latest book, YOU (Only Faster), continues to receive rave reviews from runners and coaches.

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Positivity for better swimming Wed, 02 Sep 2015 11:30:49 +0000

Your mental outlook toward swimming can have a tremendous effect on your results in the water. When things get challenging, do you stay ]]>

Your mental outlook toward swimming can have a tremendous effect on your results in the water. When things get challenging, do you stay positive and motivated or tend to go through bouts of negative self-talk? Negative thinking creates stress and destroys your self-confidence, which can hinder performance.

The process to change your feelings about swimming is more than just “think positive.” Self-talk for success must be positive, but it also needs to be believable and achievable. The first step is to be aware of your thoughts and actions before, during and after a swim practice. Listen to your internal monologue and make notes of how you are talking to yourself. Observe how you are presenting yourself to the world. Would you say the same things or act the same way toward your best friend while watching him or her swim?

The next step is to look at each negative thought with rational thinking. Challenge each one with a rational answer or explanation:

“I am a terrible swimmer.” Are you consistently putting in the pool hours to become a better swimmer? Are you receiving coaching and tips from knowledgeable resources? If you are swimming laps in a pool, you are a better swimmer than a large percentage of American adults who cannot cross the pool.

“I am going to be last out of the water in the race.” Your performance should not be judged by things outside of your control such as other participants. Commit to be the best you can be and don’t fixate on how you measure up to others.

“I am embarrassed by what the other swimmers think of me.” Surprise! No one in the pool is thinking about you, except for you! Everyone has his or her own internal monologue and it is often self-critical, so try to let it go.

Finally, replace the negative thoughts with positive ones and specific affirmations. What you say to yourself must be possible and believable in order for the self-talk to be effective:

I am training to become a better swimmer. I am practicing to achieve my goals.

I am prepared to complete the race. I am ready for everything that might reasonably happen in the open water.

I am doing the best I can. Other swimmers respect me for accepting the challenge of learning to swim.

Simple tips to stay positive
Smile each time you think about swimming, while you drive to the pool, and as you walk to your lane. Your external outlook can help shape your internal attitude.
Set short- and long-term goals that are measureable and attainable. Write them down and cross them off when achieved. You can easily forget how much you have improved since day one.
Ask questions. Seek help. Try new things. Sometimes the smallest change can result in the biggest improvement.
Allow yourself to forgive and forget. Don’t punish yourself after a bad set or experience at the pool. Analyze it with rational thoughts (e.g., Did I have to wake up extra early for work?) and then don’t allow yourself to dwell on the negative.

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A chair stretch to eliminate knee problems Wed, 02 Sep 2015 10:15:13 +0000

Photo: Scott Draper

Many knee issues, from IT Band Syndrome to a sore knee, are often rooted in the hips. The chair stretch can help fix the problem before it ]]>

Photo: Scott Draper

Many knee issues, from IT Band Syndrome to a sore knee, are often rooted in the hips. The chair stretch can help fix the problem before it gets out of hand.

“The chair stretch is a simple body weight exercise used to open up the quadriceps and hip flexor muscles through hip extension,” says Zach Thew, owner of Catoctin CrossFit.

How to do it:
Step 1: Using a chair or couch to support your rear leg, position yourself in what looks similar to a lunge stance. Keep your rear leg bent so that knee is resting on the ground. The foot of your lead leg should be planted firmly on the floor.

Step 2: Slowly raise your chest and aim to keep your shoulders and hips square. The top of the stretch is when your chest is upright and your butt is touching your rear heel, although that may prove difficult when you first start doing this stretch. “As your positioning improves in this stretch, you may begin to close the gap between your heel and glutes,” Thew says.

Step 3: Hold the stretch for up to 2 minutes before slowly lowering yourself and switching leg positions. “This can be used as a tool to mobilise the hip area before or after a training session,” Thew says.

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Windsor Triathlon entries open on 7th September Wed, 02 Sep 2015 08:15:02 +0000

The esteemed Windsor Triathlon will return for a 26th year on Sunday 12th June 2016. In 2015 places sold out months in advance, and high ]]>

The esteemed Windsor Triathlon will return for a 26th year on Sunday 12th June 2016. In 2015 places sold out months in advance, and high demand is expected again when entries open on Monday 7th September at 9am. Since its debut in 1991 tens of thousands of participants have competed, with 2015 boasting the largest field yet. Two distances will be on offer, with the choice of the sprint (750m swim, 30k bike, 5k run) or the popular Olympic distance (1,5k swim, 42k bike, 10k run).

Triathletes will once again start in the River Thames, known for its unpredictable current, before exiting and heading to transition located in Alexandra Park. From there they follow a carefully designed bike course that heads through a number of beautiful rural villages in Berkshire and back into town. Finally the multi-lap run section takes everybody past the famous Eton College and alongside the illustrious Windsor Castle. The finish straight takes participants back alongside the Thames where crowds of supporters congregate to cheer them across the line.

Windsor has a special place in the history of triathlon, becoming one of the first high profile meetings in the UK and quickly becoming a must-do for all triathletes. It became the first event to win the BTF triathlon of the year award a massive seven times, and continues to be a favourite attracting visitors from all over the UK and the world to take part. In 2015 Olympic triathlete and former winner Stuart Hayes returned to Windsor to take the male title, whilst Sarah Lewis took the female accolades.

Nick Rusling, CEO of organisers Human Race Events, said “Everybody I speak to in the world of triathlon knows how illustrious the Windsor Triathlon is and what an important part it has played in the history of the sport. We are ecstatic that we will once again be hosting this marvelous event in such historic and beautiful surroundings.”

Limited places in the revered Windsor Triathlon are available from Monday 7 September. To secure your place visit

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How to improve your run foot strength Tue, 01 Sep 2015 12:30:12 +0000

The feet are an important link in the kinetic chain that we sometimes forget about. The foot is a dynamic structure that needs to be strong ]]>

The feet are an important link in the kinetic chain that we sometimes forget about. The foot is a dynamic structure that needs to be strong and stable while also being soft and malleable. Thanks to its design and muscular attachments, it can store and utilise elastic energy with each footstrike. The strength and stability of the arch, referred to as the “foot core,” are required for proper foot function.

Both local and global muscles control the shape and function of the arch. The local muscles are primarily stabilisers known as the intrinsic foot muscles and are smaller in cross-sectional area. The global muscles are primarily prime movers of the foot and are larger in cross-sectional area. With each footstep and running stride, the local foot stabilisers function to control the amount and speed of arch deformation. Dysfunction of these muscles can result in an unstable arch and abnormal foot movement. Excessive deformation of the foot has been linked to plantar fasciitis and other lower limb injuries.

Traditional foot strengthening exercises usually involve curling the toes to pull a towel toward you or picking up marbles with your toes. These types of exercises will target the local foot muscles but will also involve the global muscles. Ideally “foot core” training should only target the local foot stabiliser muscles.

Enter the short foot exercise.

The goal of the short foot exercise is to “shorten” the foot by contracting the intrinsic muscles to raise the medial longitudinal arch, or in science-speak, pulling the first metatarsophalangeal joint toward the calcaneus (heel bone). Care should be taken to ensure the foot is in neutral alignment and that the toes are not flexed or extended. The short foot exercise is best learned seated and can be progressed to bilateral standing, single-leg standing then to functional activities such as squats, deadlift, lunges and hops. It should also be noted that being completely barefoot would enhance sensory input detection from the plantar surface of the foot and help you develop the sense of creating the short foot posture.

Your Arch Strengthening Routine
This routine consists of some exercises that can be performed daily (e.g. short foot, toe splaying and big toe presses) and exercises that can be performed 2-3 times per week (e.g. leg swings and calf raise to big toe press).

Short Foot Exercise
Sit in a chair in your bare feet. Form a 90-degree angle at your knees and ankles. Without crunching your toes, try to shorten your foot by doming the arches in your feet. You can focus on one foot at a time or do both at once. Try not to curl or extend your toes and keep your foot neutral. It’s harder than you think! Practice this throughout the day. You can even practice while sitting at your desk. Once you become competent in performing the short foot sitting, attempt the exercise standing on two legs then on one leg. (See an image here)

Toe Splaying
Try moving your toes away from each other but be careful not to curl or extend them. Practice throughout the day.

Big Toe Presses
Press your big toe into the floor while extending your other four toes. Hold each press for 8 seconds and perform 12-15 reps per foot.

Leg Swings
Dissimilar to dynamic leg swings that are commonly performed with a large amplitude, these legs swings are performed with a small amplitude to challenge your balance and hip and ankle stability. Stand on one leg in your bare feet and attempt to create the short foot posture. Swing the non-stance leg forward and backward 15 times. Without rest, swing the same leg left and right in front of your stance leg, also 15 times. Repeat this sequence without resting, then repeat on your opposite leg.

Calf Raise to Big Toe Press
Stand on the edge of a stair in your bare feet. Let your heels drop below the level of the stair. Then perform a traditional calf raise, but then proceed and press onto your big toe. This part is difficult for most. Feel free to hang on to something for balance. Perform 12-15 reps.

About the Author: Jon-Erik Kawamoto, MSc, CSCS, CEP is a runner, strength coach and Managing Director of JKConditioning in St. John’s, NL, Canada. He specializes in strength training endurance athletes and is currently in the middle of preparing a strength training resource for runners. Stay in touch by checking out and finding him on Twitter at @JEKawamoto.

References:McKeon, P.O., Hertel, J., Bramble, D., & Davis, I. (2015) The foot core system: a new paradigm for understanding intrinsic foot muscle function. Br J Sports Med, 49, 5, 290. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092690

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How to use Critical Swim Speed training Tue, 01 Sep 2015 11:30:36 +0000

CSS is the pace at which you’d currently swim a 1500 Time Trial (in yards or metres). There’s nothing complicated to worry about, but ]]>

CSS is the pace at which you’d currently swim a 1500 Time Trial (in yards or metres). There’s nothing complicated to worry about, but it’s a super-effective way to prepare for race distances of 400 and above. Here’s why CSS training is effective and how you can use it.

The Benefits of CSS Training
CSS is a pace that’s tough enough to develop your aerobic capacity but not so hard that it’ll take you days to recover. So you can improve your swim fitness and still have enough energy to go running or cycling (or swimming again).

This article first appeared on For more, check out their blog.

CSS is a race-specific training pace. It may not make you the fastest 50 or 100 swimmer, but it will train you to sustain a moderately high speed for longer distances.

CSS training teaches you about pace awareness the hard way (which is usually the best way) Go off too fast and you’ll pay the price later. Ouch!

Thankfully you can test your current CSS pace without having to swim a solo 1500 Time Trial. See below for instructions.

Once you know your CSS pace, you can use a Finis Tempo Trainer Pro to help you train. It’s a small beeping device that attaches to your goggles. Dial in your CSS pace and it’ll happily beep every lap so that you can maintain perfect pace.

How To Test Your CSS
To test your current CSS pace you need to swim a 400 and 200 Time Trial within the same session (see Test Workout below). Ideally, get a friend or coach to time you and record your 100 splits and strokes per minute. Failing that, simply record the 400 and 200 times yourself. Once you’re done, enter your 400 and 200 times into this CSS CALCULATOR.

CSS Test Workout
Warm Up 300 easy freestyle as 200 fins as 50 choice drill, 50 freestyle – 4 x 50 freestyle (25 fast + 25 easy) +10 seconds rest then 4 x 100 freestyle (20 seconds rests) Do these 100’s at what you perceive to be the AVERAGE pace that you can sustain for a 400 Time Trial.

Main Set 400 time trial

Take 5 to 8 minutes easy swimming/stretching. Feel fully recovered, then:
200 time trial
Warm Down 100 easy choice of stroke

CSS Sample Workouts
Once you’ve worked out your CSS pace, the training possibilities are endless. You could start off by trying these four simple workouts. You can shorten them if you’re not quite ready for 2000 metres or yards yet. Don’t forget to include a warm up (400 to 800m/y) and warm down (100 to 200m/y) too.

1. 20×100 with 15 second recoveries. All at CSS
2. 10×200 with 20 second recoveries. All at CSS
3. 5×400 with 30 second recoveries. All at CSS
4. 3×600 with 45 second recoveries. All at CSS

Including CSS sets into your swim training can help improve your sustainable speed and enhance your pace judgement. In addition to CSS training, it’s also important to strike a balance between speed, threshold and endurance workouts in order to meet the needs of your target races. Technique work and open water training are equally important too! For more information about CSS training check out the SwimSmooth Training System.

About the author: Phil Mosley is a multiple top-ten Ironman finisher and five-time national UK age-group triathlon champion. He is the current Coaching Editor of Triathlon Plus magazine and in the UK and has written hundreds of expert features for titles including Runners World, Cycling Plus and Cycling Weekly. He has an honors degree in Sports Science and 10-years experience as a triathlon, running and cycling coach. His coaching company is called

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