The Daylight Savings Time Triathlon Checklist


Daylights Savings Time is a little inconvenient in that we lose an hour, but it marks a great time for triathletes to conduct a reality check. With March marking the start of the triathlon season, this is a great time to run through a checklist and get ready to rumble; taking inventory of your planning and gear.  Preparedness is a huge part of a successful triathlon.

Here a few things to check to make sure your season gets off to a good start. The list is not entirely complete, but it covers the most important concepts to help you be prepared:

  • Planning
    • Have you made a list of your races and ranked them by A, B and C?
    • What are your goals?  How many people know about your goals?
    • Do you have the first few weeks of your training plan scheduled?
    • Is your gym membership renewed?  Have you paid your triathlon club dues?
    • If you are using a coach, have you communicated your races and other needs to them?
  • Swim
    • Check your goggles, are they in decent shape?  The lens too scratched? The strap worn? It might be time to replace them.
    • Do you have a skull cap that fits you well?  Skull caps can wear out and be ill-fitting.  Silicon skull caps tend to last longer than latex and have a more comfortable feel.
    • Does your suit fit?  Whether you are wearing a speedo in a pool or a wetsuit in the ocean, does it fit? Poorly fitting suits that are too large can cause access drag in the water and slow you down.
    • Do you have enough anti-chafing gel for your first triathlon? Now is the time to stock up.
    • A small amount of baby shampoo.  When applied to the inner side of the goggles, it will prevent fogging and not sting the eyes.  (Thanks coach for this tip!)
  • Cycling
    • Is your bike clean?  If it is still sitting in the corner yet to come out of winter hibernation, now is the perfect time to dust it off and get it looking sparkling again.
    • Take the bike for a ride around the block; is everything in working order?  Do the brakes work?  Is there any hesitation in shifting gears?  Make note of anything that is abnormal.
    • Take the bike in for a tune-up.  Whether or not there is anything wrong with the bike from your test ride, take it to a good bike shop and have a tune-up performed.  This will help lube bearings and make any minor adjustments.
    • When you pick up the bike, get fitted.  You would be amazed at how minor adjustments to the fit can make a huge difference in your performance and your body can change since last season.
    • Check you helmet and make sure it hasn’t been damaged or shows signs of rot and that it fits properly.  If the helmet is damaged and needs to be replaced, it will be obvious.  Make sure the fit is snug and the straps are appropriately trimmed.
    • Grab your cycling shoes, shorts, and jersey and make sure they still fit.  Again, loose fitting clothes cause drag, so invest in new ones if need be, especially the shoes.
  • Run
    • Since we just took a look at your bike shoes, check your running shoes next.  Running shoes should be replaced about every 300 miles.  If they show the slightest bit of wear on the bottom, go ahead and buy a new pair, your feet with thank you.
    • Check your running shorts and shirt.  Replace if they don’t fit right or perhaps show off more than many people care to see.
    • Are you a FiveFingers wearer of the barefoot running movement?  Ah, okay, so when was the last time you washed your FiveFingers?  Maybe that is why you are running alone?
    • Adjust the fit of your hat and make sure it is snug but not tight.  Also, wash your hat.
    • Grab your running belt and make sure the zippers work and it is in good shape.  If it needs to be washed, wash it.  If it comes with matching water bottles and you’ve lost one, consider buying a new running belt as the bottles need to fit snugly into their holsters.
    • Do you have a number belt?  If so, make sure it too is in working order.  If not, toss some safety pins into your running belt.  You don’t want to arrive at a race and not have a way of securing your number to your clothing.
  • Nutrition
    • Have you made a nutrition plan? Are you going Paleo?
    • Have you documented your race fueling strategy?  If not, makes notes of how long your events are and what your caloric needs are.  You’ll have to experiment, but start by writing down a preliminary strategy and modify as you train.
    • Is your training/race fuel in your workout bag?  Nothing like leaving the house to start a long run to realize you left your fuel at home.  Always put extra bars in your workout bag.
    • Are you near your race weight?  If not, consider losing a few pounds. Your feet will thank you.
  • Transition
    • Do you have a spare towel?
    • Consider purchasing a helium filled balloon to mark your transition area for the upcoming season.  They can be re-used with a helium refill only costing a few bucks at the store.
    • Have you made your transition area checklist?  I’ll post one in coming weeks.
  • Other Stuff
    • Do you have a foam roller?  If not get one as I recommend foam rolling and stretching every night before you go to bed.
    • Purchase a RoadID.  If anything happens to you during training or a race, this simple strap can give emergency personnel much needed information at a glance.
    • Replace the batteries in your heart rate monitors and GPS devices.  I was on a long bike ride (30 miles) when my GPS’s heart rate strap battery gave out and it sucked.

I hope this list helps.  It is rather comprehensive, but there is no time like the present to give yourself a triathlete reality check and kick off your season right.   Taking a little time now to buy a few new pieces of gear and getting the bike tuned up can save you a major headache and possibly a “DNF” later.

Available at the following link is a triathlon race day equipment checklist to make sure you don’t forget any essential equipment on race day.  <Download our Triathlete_Race_Checklist>

Cheers!

PS If I left anything out, please leave me a comment or send an update to @AricInTraining on Twitter.

What To Do When You Are Sick…


Being that I am still recovering from the flu and not able to get out and go full out on a training workout, the triathlete’s heart in me is broken.  I have never gone this long without punishing my body in some way.  My body knows it too, the muscles are restless, the brain is starting to feel depressed, and the cabin fever is making me wish I bought a condo at the beach.

So, while I was sick in bed, miserably thinking about the torturous training that I enjoy so much, I had to do something.  At this point, the inner artist in me spoke up and reminded me of that sketch pad and pencils that my grandmother gave me a while back.

“Hhmmm…. this could be the best thing since the Mona Lisa,” I thought as I turned to a clean page and started thinking about my ideal swim, bike and run.  It wasn’t long before I had the sketch roughed out below.

Colored Pencil on Sketch Paper ~ Copyright 2010 - Aric In Training

While it may not be the Mona Lisa, for this bed ridden triathlete, it was the best thing since cold medicine.  Swimming in a slightly rough water in a cove, biking along the waterfront of a tropical island with water on the right, high mountain peaks on the left, and finally finishing my fantasy event with a trail run, up, up and up to the top of those peaks so that one can relish in their accomplishment.

The wonderful world of triathlon is alive and well in this triathlete.  I may be bed ridden and miserable, but my mind is full of the adventures yet to come!

Cheers!

Triathlons, Kayaks, Runners and 2010


2009 was such an awesome year for my fitness goals.

I finished three triathlons, half dozen running events, and found inspiration where I never thought I would.

With my recent completion of the UCSB Triathlon, I am looking toward 2010 with more motivation than ever.  That sense of competition, meeting people and hearing their fitness stories, sharing tips, pushing myself to the next big milestone, and enjoying the wonderful outdoors all make my 2010 fitness goals that much more alluring.

With one down, what’s next?  Morro Bay Triathlon, a very unique race, including a 3 mile kayak of the Morro Bay Harbor.   I have never kayaked before, which makes this that much more challenging.   Time to start kayak lessons! The bike and run will be great as well, but the kayak is the icing on the cake.

After Morro Bay, let’s PR (personal record) at the Ventura Triathlon Sprint, my first triathlon of my fitness career.  This year they are taking the venue to the harbor, with a challenging swim, an awesome bike, and run around the harbor.  Last year I did well, finishing it in 1:38:00, but this year will be even better!

Of course, the biggest goal this year is the Santa Barbara Triathlon Long Course.   This will be the longest triathlon I have ever done to date.  While I may not do it fast, finishing is going to be sweeter than finishing the recent UCSB Triathlon course.

In addition, I plan to carry forward with many running events in 2010, I already have done two, the Boney Mtn Trail Run, the Resolutions 5k.  Coming up in April is my first 10-mile run, the Chardonnay 5k/10 fun run.    I will also be putting my FiveFingers to use and using them in more events, on and off the road. Barefoot running is the wave of the future.

Looking at this brief list, I am amazed at the challenges ahead.  As daunting as they appear, meeting each one head on and putting them into the history books is going to rock!

Cheers!

My Race Report: UCSB Triathlon


UCSB Campus Point

The UCSB Triathlon has been one of those important races that every triathlete, athlete, and runner must encounter at one point in their racing careers.  Setting the goal to compete in it last November, I knew I had a lot of work to do over the winter off-season.

Before I knew it, November 2009 became February 2010 and life events really started to pile up and I hadn’t sufficient time to improve where I really needed to improve, the ocean swim.  Not only were things at work getting hectic, but the weather prevented me from getting proper practice time in the ocean up until a week before the event.  To make matters worse, I was coming off a month long burn out and was not psychology ready for the first big challenge of 2010.

I stayed on the fence of whether or not to compete up until the last few days.  My trainer told me I was backing out and not participating in the event clearly disappointed many more.  Even with a few ocean swims during the final week, I was no where prepared for this event.  However, life is not always a walk through a field of wildflowers, so I bit the bullet and went for it, nervous, exhausted, and scared to death of the swim.

Here are some highlights.

Pre-Race

The day before I picked up my packet.  I took this opportunity to get one last practice swim in.  While the advantage of this was to get familiar with the conditions, I ended up wearing myself out and even hurt my right knee.

Continue reading “My Race Report: UCSB Triathlon”

Consider Barefooting the Triathlon


The concept of barefoot running has been around for a while.  Interest in it increased dramatically in September 2009 when Vibram launched their new FiveFingers footwear.  Marketed as the “barefooting alternative” to more traditional shoes, they have developed a cult following.

Needless to say, I have a pair of FiveFingers, the KSO model to be specific.  I love them.  I wear them often, run in them often, and have seen the benefits of wearing them.  Yes, in the beginning I discovered I had muscles that I never knew I had as my body started adjusting to them.  My glutes and calves in particular were most bothersome.  But after a few weeks and many miles running, I discovered that barefoot running is the only way to go.

FiveFinger Issues

The reality is that I am a triathlete at heart, not a runner.  I love my FiveFingers so much, I really, really want to wear them during my next triahlon.  Sure, I can put them on after cycling, but I wonder if they would take too long to put on.  Maybe wearing them throughout the entire triathlon is best?  But what to consider?  Here is what is on my mind:

  1. How can you ride the bike in them?  Clips? Cages?
  2. Can I wear them during the swim portion of the triathlon?
  3. How long does it take to put them on?
  4. Are there any rules that preclude me from barefoot running in a triathlon?

They seem like simple questions, but let’s take a look at how the FiveFingers will look at each stage of the triathlon.

Swimming in FiveFingers?

Seems a little odd wearing an Xterra wetsuit with FiveFingers, but not really different than wearing booties and a wetsuit when you think about it. Black KSOs might blend better than the cool blue camouflage color.

The USAT rules state that one cannot wear any devices that aid in propulsion.  FiveFingers definitely do not aid in propulsion.  I would have to argue that, if anything, the FiveFingers will cause more drag since they have an open mesh top, a contrast to a solid neoprene bootie.  On the plus side, they might actually keep your feet a little warm?? hmmm…

Cycling in your FiveFingers?

Cycling presents the biggest stumbling block to this issue.  The way I am looking at it, there are two ways to do this.

1) Wear the FiveFIngers and replace my clipless, snap-in pedals with cages.   Why don’t I like this idea?  I really don’t want to replace my pedals with cages since I don’t like how they look so amatuerish.  Second, cages don’t give you the same efficiency as clipless pedals do.  Nothing like being physically attached to your bike.

2) Wear the FiveFingers inside the cycling shoes.  Seems crazy, but when you think about it, this might be the fastest solution. Coming in from the swim, you can simply slide them into the shoes.  When cycling is done, simply pull your foot out and start running.  Yes, this could actually REDUCE TRANSITION TIME.  Exciting thought.  What’s the downside?  I need to buy a much larger pair of cycling shoes, assuming they make a pair big enough.  This is going to require a trip to the cycling store and a follow-up post.

Running in the FiveFingers

This is the best part and does not require much explanation other than barefoot running is the only way to go.  Running in my FiveFingers feels natural, powerful, free, and light.  for more information on the health benefits of FiveFingers, checkout Vibrams’ Health/Wellness page.  What more is there to say?

The Barefoot Triathlon

Whether or not my next triathlon is my first barefoot triathlon, the thought is exciting.  Worse case scenario, I can put the FiverFIngers on after cycling, but wearing them for the WHOLE triathlon means a lot more than, “I wore my FiveFingers for the run portion of triathlon.” Why not?

Have you considered barefooting your next triathlon?

Are We Really Born to Run?


Are we really born to run?

I don’t know.  Wish I knew the answer, but after reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, I think I will be a lot closer to the answer.  You see, McDougall’s book is about the quest to find the answer to the question.  He ironically states:

“These were very good questions.  But as I was about to discover, the only ones who knew the answers – the only ones who lived the answers – weren’t talking.  Especially not to someone like me”.  – Christopher McDougall, Born to Run, p 13

Clearly I am only thirteen pages into this book and I am captivated.  Whether it was chapter one’s tail of find “El Caballo Blanco” or the strange commonality to my own quest for the same answers, I really can’t wait to see how this book unfolds.

Before I go, let me leave you all, my loyal readers, with one last quote from the book.  I found this to be very motivating and might blow it up really big and hang it in my cubicle for inspiration:

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.  It knows that it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed.  Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve.  It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle – when the sun comes up, you better be running.” – Christopher McDougall, Born to Run, p 13

With that said, more to come as I explore the world of Born to Run.

One Picture, Seven Months of Training


For those of you who have been watching my journey from office potato to triathlete, the following picture shouldn’t surprise you.  You already know how far I’ve come.  In fact, the picture below really, really inspires to make 2010 the best year ever, better than 2009!

Aric in Training April to November
April on the left, November on the right

On the left, April 2009 was the Chardonnay 5k.  On the right was the NewsPress Half Marathon 5k. For more comparison on the two races, read Tale of Two 5k Competitions.

7 months of training in between.  You can see:

1) I’ve slimmed down, a lot.  Lost about 25 pounds from left to right.

2) My posture is better and my muscles are more built.  Thanks to lots of strength workouts, including plyometrics.

3) I’ve embraced technology!  Gone is the polar HR on the left, replaced with a Garmin 305 GPS hr monitor on the left.

4) I dress better.  Having a decent body makes me want to show it off more.  Wearing clothes that fit is awesome!

5) I shunned the shoes!  On the left, I am wearing FiveFingers.  In fact, I’ve now completed two 5k’s and numerous running workouts wearing FiveFingers. I love ’em!

6) I am far more confident in my abilities.  I look so much more relaxed on the right compared to the left.  The right was my first competition ever and you can see it on my face.

At the end of 2010, I hope to have a similar picture that shows my progress.  I definitely have some inspiration to make it happen!