Triathlete’s Gift Guide 2017

Gifts under $25! Gifts under $50! Stocking Stuffers!

This time of year there are so many gift guides out there for anyone and everyone. For any budget and every budget. Last year I did a full on gift guide with my recommendations on gear for your triathlete. This year, I’ve got a bit different take on the gift guide with a few specific recommendations thrown in.

(As a side note, if you are doing your Christmas shopping online, I’d love for you to use my Amazon link to support the site. It doesn’t cost you anything and it helps me keep going with my multisport pursuits!)

What not to get your triathlete

Let’s start here: what not to get. Triathletes are a peculiar bunch. We get finicky with the smallest of things. Whenever something is messed up we obsess over it. When there is new gear released we compare it to what we already have.

We also know what we want. We have our favorites and it takes moving a mountain to get us to try something different (or maybe just a horrible race… then we try EVERYTHING different!) With this in mind, don’t get your triathlete anything without researching what they have already and what they want/need. You don’t have to straight up ask them what they want, but a little peak in the closet, at race photos, etc. and a simple google search can go a long way.

For more on this subject (and a good laugh) check out this article by pro triathlete Jesse Thomas. (And this other one too)

What to get your triathlete

Here is the part you came here for: What to get your triathlete. After reading the above, probably the best thing to get them is a gift card so they can buy something themselves! Start with an online triathlon shop like Trisports. Then maybe their local bike shop. Also, Amazon has everything.

The next best thing is something to help their training. An indoor bike trainer like the Tacx Vortex, Flux, or Neo trainers. These are all smart trainers that can control power output for more structured training. If that’s a little too much for your budget, the Travel Trac is the best non-smart trainer out there! Throw in a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription to TrainerRoad and your triathlete will be a happy camper!

Consumables are also always a great bet. Obviously this would include their sports nutrition and supplements like gels, bars, hydration, recovery drinks etc., but I would also throw running shoes in there (make sure you get the brand and model the use!) and bike tires and tubes. These things are all going to need purchased anyway so it saves them from buying them laterso they have more money to spend on the shiny new aero items they’ve had their eye on.

Lastly, if you want to go big, I suggest you hit up the latest gadgets. Triathletes are almost always data nerds. If they don’t have the latest bike computer or GPS watch (like the Garmin 935) that’s always a great buy. A power meter is always welcomed as well! Just make sure to get one that is compatible with their bike. An easy way around this is a pedal based power meter like the Garmin Vector 3 or PowerTap P1.

Stocking Stuffers for your triathlete

The last thing to think about it stoking stuffers. I’ll do a whole other post on this next week, so for now I’d tell you to look for some great socks, those consumables we talked about, or even some small tools to keep their equipment going!

Happy shopping everyone!

And don’t forget to use my Amazon link to support the site!

If you like what you’re reading, you can sign up to get all my posts in you inbox as soon as they are posted! I only post once or twice a week and I promise not to spam you! Plus, you’ll get access you my free 5k Beginners Training plan AND my Beginner Sprint Triathlon Training plan!

Run Durability

Run durability is not one of the most glamorous topics in triathlon. There’s aerodynamics, weight, nutrition, so many topics that are way more fun to talk about. But, the seconds you save on that fancy aero bike that costs more than my car (both of them… combined…) won’t matter much compared to the minutes you loose because you have no run durability.

For that sentence to make sense, we need to clarify what run durability is, and then we’ll transition into how you can build it.  Continue reading

Skip the Run this Off Season… Focus on the swim!

Everywhere you look, leaves are changing, pumpkins are out, and it’s getting colder, and everyone is gearing up for a Turkey Trot!

That’s right, it’s off season. Most Triathlete’s change gears, take some time off, and focus on bringing their run form around with an off-season 5k, half or full marathon. Don’t believe me? Take a gander at Triathlete’s or TrainingPeak’s website and see how many different articles you can find on the off-season run?

May I suggest a different course of action?

Focus on the swim!

Yes, it’s the shortest of the 3 disciplines. Yes, most triathletes suffer through their swim sessions because they have to. But, here are 4 good reasons to focus on the swim in the off-season. Continue reading

Running with Power: A Crash Course

I’ve been running with a power meter for several months now. My first impressions were great, but I never went “all in” on training with it… until now.

It’s “off season” which means taking a break from the normal  structure of training, but not from exercise all together. I did take a bit of a break, but a Thanksgiving day Half Marathon is calling my name! For 6 weeks I thought it would be a good idea to train with running power alone and not even look at pace on my training runs. I’ll let you know how it goes after Thanksgiving, but for now, let’s get a bit of a crash course on training with running power.

1. Running Power is not measured same as Cycling Power

This is the first thing you need to understand. Cycling power is now a very mature technology. Almost all power meters for cycling measure direct force (the amount of force you are directly putting into the pedals/crank/rear hub). A Running power meter, however, is a different animal. Most running power meters measure movement or force in a 3 dimensional plane. In other words, not all of your running power is used to propel yourself forward. Side-to-side, up-and-down, and forward motion all add to running power.

This can help us see that as our pace goes down but we go up a hill, there is less forward progress, but we can still measure our work consistently (see next point).  It also tells us that as we bounce or wobble we are using power but not going any faster (see third point!)

2. Running with Power keeps your effort consistent

Many times we get a workout that prescribes running at X pace for X minutes. That is great, but what about going over a hill? What if the course we are running is rolling? Our effort going up the hill will need to increase to keep the same pace, and it will decrease when we are going down the other side. Multiply that by numerous hills on course and you many be spending half the prescribed amount of time in the prescribed zone.

Running power can help us stay on track when we are going over hills. Slow down going up and speed up going down. Too many people slow down running down hill and that only is wasting energy, fighting gravity, and trashing your quads!

3. Running with Power puts more emphasis on form

Form is so vitally important. The goal of a triathlon is not to get from point A to point B as fast as possible. It is to get from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. Efficiency not only makes you faster, but it also helps you go further, faster. As a race progresses, running form usually goes out the window. This is true in straight running races too!

My first run with a power meter opened my eyes to this more than ever before! The longer the run was, the slower I got and the more watts I was putting out. Both bad things!

One workout I found online was a form run where you hold a set wattage and try to up the pace through weeks in form. Something you couldn’t quantitatively measure before without a power meter!

So that is a simple explanation of running with power. A crash course if you will. Obviously pace and great rate are still very important metrics, and running power is still in it’s infancy, but it is a game changer for sure! I’ll be running solely off power until Thanksgiving, and I’ll pace my Half Marathon solely on power. Stay tuned for the results and my thoughts along the way!

If you like what you are reading, why not subscribe? I promise I won’t spam you, but you’ll get my future posts in your inbox and you’ll get access to a free 6 week 5k training plan, and a free sprint triathlon training plan! So sign up now!

Post Season Break- Won’t I loose Fitness?

Ahh… Off Season! There are so many different emotions that come to mind when you talk to a triathlete (or his family) about off season. First is relief! A hard, successful (hopefully) season is behind you. Time to focus on the holidays, put on a few pounds, and spend a little extra time with the family!

But so many athletes balk at the idea of taking a post season break! “Won’t I loose fitness?” They ask. Well… Continue reading

Trisports Under New Management

A little while ago, Trisports announce to it’s staff, sponsored athletes, and then the public that it would be forced to close it’s doors at any time. Since then they have been liquidating their stock and putting up amazing deals on in-stock items.

A Change of Fortune

Just Thursday afternoon, however, a few of us noticed that they had changed their contact information on their facebook page including a new address in Portland, Oregon. I asked on a private team page about the update and at about the same time received an email that was sent to all the people on Trisports email list announcing that the company had been purchased by a company out in Oregon and the current owners were working with the new owners on a smooth transition.

I am so thrilled to hear that Trisports will live on, even if my friends Seton and Debbie will not be at the helm. The email I received made sure to note that the new owners would be working to continue support of the services, products, athletes and teams that Trisports is currently known for. I am excited at that as well!

The Plot Thickens

Later in the day, the founder of Trisports, Seton Claggett, replied to me and confirmed that Velotech, the parent company for multiple smaller bike shops, had bought Trisports. Then, overnight, I received an email from Slowtwitch founder Dan Empfield that he and a partner had bought Trisports to help usher it into new management. From the sound of the email he was just a temporary owner until the Velotech deal was struck.

There are other tid-bits of info floating around the interwebs such as the merger between Western Bike Works (a Portland bike shop) and Athlete’s Lounge (a Portland Tri shop) to help both shops survive and focus on an online retail platform (assuming with the expertise of Trisports) all under the umbrella of Velotech.

Where does that leave us?

I’m going to be honest, this all is very complicated and confusing. Parent companies and sister companies and mergers with middle men. I bet someone could make a movie out of it all. Regardless, I am hopeful. Trisports has been a cornerstone of the triathlon community for many years and I was sad to see it go. Something in me knew it wouldn’t be for long. Looks like it has new life before it ever fully went away. For that, I am thankful.

The one question is: will it still be the same company we have grown to know an love? With Seton helping with the transition I am hopeful it will be. And it that is the case, they still have my support!

What do you think of all this? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Let me know in the comments below or hit me up on twitter!

OBX Triathlon Race Report (2017 Half) Part 2- Vacation

Racecation! There is nothing better than combining a vacation to an awesome destination with a race weekend! This is the second year in a row I’ve come to the Outer Banks Triathlon for a racecation. The Outer banks are a great place to vacation, and Outer Banks Sporting Events puts on a great race.

This is part 2 of my “racecation” report. See part 1 for all the details of the race portion of the racecation. Here in part 2, I’ll go over some of the things you should look at when planning a racecation and how things went for us this year!

Timing

This year we decided to arrive a day earlier than we did last year. For a Saturday race we got in to town on Thursday afternoon to give us a half a day to get settled and then a morning to relax and enjoy the beach before focusing on pre-race activities like packet pick-up, naps, dinner, etc. we also back loaded the trip with a few extra days to enjoy the beach and the sights before we had to head back. We prefer back loading the trip instead of front loading it so that we can enjoy time off as a family instead of spending most of the trip thinking about the race that is coming up.

Accommodations 

This year we went with a VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) instead of a hotel. This was the right move. First of all, sharing a hotel room with small children is a nightmare for sleep. Second, being able to cook your own food is a must. I don’t think I’ll do it any other way for a race ever again (I know I know… never say never!) The rule of thumb for a race is to be as comfortable as possible and keep to as close to a normal routine as possible. Being in a house instead of a hotel made a world of difference in that department!

Plan for the worst 

Nothing new on race day is always the biggest rule for an A race. Practice everything! I had everything down and practiced, but I wanted to make doubly sure, so I went for a bike ride in my race gear the day before the race. I’m so glad I did! Somewhere in transit between the bike shop and the beach, one of my tires started to run AND I had a bit of brake rub too! I spent a good 30 to 45 minutes getting that all worked out and went for my ride. On the ride, my power meter was going haywire! Dropping to 0 and then never really getting over 200. S bit of troubleshooting that afternoon and I decided the best thing was to replace the batteries. I didn’t bring any so I went to the grocery store and bought the LAST PACKAGE OF BATTERIES they had that fit my power meter. Altering replacing those and recalibration etc. things were as good as new.

Lessons learned… bring extra batteries (and change them before a big race even if you think you don’t need to). Also, check everything and bring extras. I had a back up plan if my power meter was shot, but it would not have been fun at all. Thankfully I was able to get it all worked out without taking it to the local bike shop. But that’s another lesson: know where the LBS is before you go on your trip!

Unwinding

Like I said, we backloaded our trip with real vacation days after the race. The OBX is a great place for a family to visit! I’ve been going there since I was a little boy and now I get to take my family and keep that tradition alive!

We spent most of our time beaching it up… so basically… spending a hour getting all the kids changed and sunscreen on, loading the car, driving a block to the public beach access, and setting up on the beach. Then we spent about 1 1/2 to 2 hours trying to keep the little ones happy and especially keep the littlest one from eating any sand. It’s great fun!

In all seriousness, we love the beach and even the slight hassle of taking small children to the beach is worth the memories.

We also hit up some of the local restaurants like Sugar Creek Seafood. This one of our favorites… you have got to try the Shrimp and grits! It also have an awesome sunset view over the sound! We also found a sweet little coffee shop that we took a couple of trips to over the weekend. It’s called the Front Porch Cafe and it is wonderful! They roast all the coffee locally and have a wonderful environment to just hand out including a little play area for the kids! Score!!

Obviously the Outer Banks is known for 2 main things: Lighthouses and the Wright Memorial/ Jockey’s Ridge. We spent one afternoon seeing lighthouses and another flying kites at Jockey’s Ridge. Pro tip: park at Kitty Hawk Kites and walk across the road to the park. It’s a long walk if you park at the actual state park parking area. Plus, you can also buy a kite right there if you need it!

Final Thoughts

We had a great trip with the family all around. There is just nothing like going to the beach and enjoying time together, and to add in a race and the fact that it was not peak beach season makes things even better! I hope you have been able to pick up some pointers on planning a racecation and that I’ve inspired you to plan your own. The OBX Triathlon is a great place to start, but any destination race would be awesome to bring your family along and enjoy time together after a successful race!

What are you favorite places to “racecation.” I’d love to hear about it! Hit my up in the comments below or on Twitter!

OBX Triathlon Race Report (2017 Half) Part 1- Race

There’s just nothing like a racecation! A race combined into a family vacation in a wonderful destination. The last two years I’ve been taking a “racecation” to Nags Head, North Carolina for the Outer Banks Triathlon. Last year I raced the Olympic distance, but this year I decided to take on the half iron distance race!

As I started to write this report, I realized many of you may not have done a racecation before, so I’m going to do this in two parts. Part 1 (what you are currently ready) is all about the race. Part 2 (coming out later this week) will be all about coordinating a vacation with race week and how we did it.

So with that, let’s take a look at the best fall triathlon on the east coast!

Pre race

The people at Outer Banks Sporing Events have this thing down to a science! They organize races all year long and they really know what they are doing. Packet pick up on Friday was a breeze! I was in and out in around 15 minutes including the time I spent talking to a few guys about the course and finding out what the water temperature was.

Race morning was easy. Transition is set up between a small airport used for flight tours of the area and the aquarium in Manteo. After the disaster that parking was last year, things were a lot smoother this year. Good on OBXSE for learning and improving year after year! I got set up and ready to roll in no time. Except for all the sand that got wedged in my front brake wheeling into transition. I had to totally take my front wheel off to clean everything out.

The thing I love most about setting up in transition is how much everyone in the triathlon community helps each other out. We are completing against each other but have no problems giving tips and tricks to new athletes and helping calm each others nerves. We are also accepting of any and everyone! There was a guy on my rack doing his first race… a half iron distance triathlon… on a beach cruder with a basket on the front! I think the USAt official made him take the basket off, but other than that we all applauded him for his grit to get through a race like that on what bike he used!

Swim 45:09

This was the best swim of my life! Going into it I had one goal… swim straight! Last year I swam almost the same distance as a half iron swim but I was on the Olympic course… it was bad. This year, I slotted neatly into the second pack and, for the first time, I actually was able to take advantage of a draft for the first 800 meters or so! It was at that point that I pulled ahead of that pack I was in and got caught in no-man’s land for the rest of the swim.

T1 2:00

Coming out of the sound you have to run a good 200-300 meters or so to transition. It’s not a fun run though sand, concrete, grass, and then concrete again. The up side is if you can find your legs in a decent amount of time it is an opportunity to gain a few positions in transition.

I felt like I took my time, but it was still a pretty fast transition.

Bike 2:36:03

Lead up to this race, everyone had tigger eyes on the potential of Hurricane José making landfall somewhere along the east coast. OBXSE did a great job with communication on that by the way! The good news is that José stayed away… the bad news was he was hovering right off the NC coast. This made the bike course super windy!

For the half iron distance race we did two laps of the course which meant going over the bridge to the mainland 4 times! Going out was a tail wind, coming back was a head wind. With the wind at your back you just fly over that bridge! I set my top speed there going close to 40MPH! Coming back into a head wind… I was doing good to get 15MPH.

There was another first for me in this course and that was working with some legal drafting on the course. I came out of the water in 27th place. I made up a few spots in transition and went to work reeling people back in on the bike. I passed a group of 7 or so people within the first 6 Miles. From there I was counting people at every turn around and really started making up positions. Going back over the bridge I caught a guy who was taking it easy on the only up hill section of the race. Going into that headwind made it really hard and he passed me back once we got to the mainland. At that point I was a little spent and was content to sit at a legal distance in his draft. I was amazed that in the legal draft I was able to ride 20 watts less and keep my same speed! It was also helpful that he was in my age group so I wanted to keep him close.

I sat there for a few miles until the start of the second lap. We got to the turn around and looped around the sign making the turn around point. Except… that wasn’t the turn around. We were suppose to go around a traffic loop AFTER the turn around sign. 3 of us made the mistake and had to turn back around to get the loop. It was all of 75 feet or so but we lost a lot of time turning around twice.

In all of that I made up one slot and once we were in a tailwind I made my pass on my draft partner before the bridge. I went hard for about 30 seconds and made my gap. I also kept that going over the bridge and never saw my friend again 🙂

It was on the bridge that I actually passed the SAG car (an ATV they used to pick up the cyclists who dropped out of the race for whatever reason). The problem was that he was taking up the whole lane on the bridge. I couldn’t pass on the right because there was a concrete barrier and I couldn’t pass on the left because you are suppose to go over the double yellow line. I yelled and yelled but he never heard me. I threw up my hands and the race official coming the other direction got his attention and he pulled over so I could pass. That was a bit frustrating and another place I lost time on the bike.

I ended up with the 3rd fastest bike split and I came off the bike in 5th. From 27th to 5th… not bad 🙂

T2 1:45

Coming into transition I took my feet out of my shoes before getting off the bike like I normally do. That is when I knew there was a problem. I cramped. Bad. So much I had my right leg sticking out to the side unable to pedal or more at all. It was all I could do to keep coasting and not fall over. I got it loose enough to jump off at the dismount line and jog to my rack.

I had taken a HotShot before the bike, but I needed another one and couldn’t find it in my bag. I sat down to put my shoes on and took a big gulp of water. That was enough to get my mind back in the game and run out of transition.

Run 2:10:25

I thought I just needed a little food and water and I’d hit my stride on the run. Sadly, that never happened. I ate and drank as much as I could on the run and I couldn’t make it back up. My theory is that I didn’t drink enough on the bike. It was a warm day, but I think it was deceiving because of the wind on the bike. I only used the 3 bottles I brought myself and never grabbed any extra. I probably should have had at least 4 if not 5 for the bike.

I started running at 8:00/mile. I started taking walk breaks every mile. That turned into every other mile. Then my running was only 9:00/mile. Then I was walking every quarter mile and running 10:00/mile. It was all I could do to keep the cramps at bay. I’ve honestly never gone deeper in a race. Ever.

I was still towards the front of the race and I know I had a top 10 coming into the last mile. Then it felt like every muscle in my leg was cramping. That last mile is along the open field at the end of the Manteo airport, totally exposed to the sun. I got passed by 2 people (ladies no less…) and it was there that I lost my top 10.

I was able to limp along to where I saw my family at the beginning of the long finishing chute. I knew I had to run past my awesome fan section, but once I passed them I cramped again. I limped for a bit and then was able to run across the finish line. I’ve never been so happy to finish a race in my life!

Post Race

The post race was a little disappointing compared to last year. I guess all the Olympic athletes took all the good food and drinks. I was left with only a sprite, but at that point I really wasn’t complaining. Oh… and there was pizza too 🙂

Checking my results I realized I got 2nd in my age group. First place was the guy I (legally) drafted for a while who then passed me around mile 3 of the run.

I think there are really only 2 things I could have done better. 1) drink more 2) knowing I was towards the front of the race I should have stayed with the pack and benefited from the legal draft. That may have saved me some more energy for the run and let my muscles work to their full potential.

I ended with a 5:35 finish time. My plan was 5:05 after a 1:45 run. So the extra time was all in the run. And I think the conditions really wanted a slower time. The overall winner finished in 5:06. At the end of the day I am very pleased with that race and I think I made a successful jump up to long distance triathlon. I may have found my distance sweet spot 🙂

Stay tuned for part 2 of my report on the vacation side of the “racecation!”

How Local Race Directors Can Harness the Power of Super League Triathlon

Super League Triathlon has taken the triathlon world by storm! A great mix up on the Swim-bike-run format that leads to more excitement and better viewing both in person and on TV. The format is great for a pro race, but how can local race directors harness this same experience for age groupers?

The Special Sauce
The main ingredient that generates all the excitement the “special sauce” so to speak- is the multi-day, multi-stage, race within a race format.

A local RD needs to start there. A simple stage format would be awesome for a local race! Start with a Friday, Saturday, Sunday layout. Go with a simple sprint triathlon on Friday night. Anyone can participate. Many will do the Friday night sprint and not participate in the other days of racing. This is actually great for a few reasons.

1. More “easy revenue” to make the race as a whole stay afloat
2. Those Friday only participants may stick around to be fans on Saturday and Sunday
3. It allows a qualification race to set the stage, groups, etc. for the following stages

Keep it simple
In these early beginning of a new format, simplicity is key. I would stay away from a points format simply because an age grouper wants to know if he won as soon as he crosses the finish line. The final day of racing has got to be a pursuit style. That means that whatever you do on the second day, you need to let the athletes start the final race in the order and at the interval that they need to overcome to win. The order they cross the finish line is the final finishing placing

Mix it up
One of the great things about super league is the triple mix format. Start Saturday with swim-bike-run, then do a bike-run-swim, then finish with a run-swim-bike. The order doesn’t matter. What matters is it’s not a traditional triathlon. Another option is to go time trial style like the Island House Triathlon and have the second day be 3 individual time trials. Cumulative time overall wins.

A word of caution here is to not make the second day pursuit style. That is needed for the final race (see above) but it could either be discouraging for the racers, or it could be logistically challenging for the organizers.

Keep the competition separate
This is going to be the biggest obstacle to making this work at the age group level. You don’t want to have other racers on course confusing things. I would suggest doing waves that complete a whole race before going to the next wave. Either create your own groups based off of the Friday sprint qualifiers, or combine age groups and keep them separate through each stage.

A simple bracket format with only the top 20-30 completing on the final day would work too. This all depends on the number of registrants and your area, but please, please, please make this clear to the athletes ahead of time (at least a week out). There is nothing more frustrating than a tournament organizer doing things on the fly!

Final thoughts
There is definitely a lot of potential in this area of new, exciting formats for triathlon. This is the perfect time for a local RD to get a plan together and promote a neat race for age groupers in 2018! I would love to see races like this pop up all over the country and get a new and exciting flare in the Multisport community and give people more to work towards beside going longer distances. Pushing the envelope is awesome, but pushing it in different directions is even better.

Do you have any ideas for a neat race format? Let me know in the comment or on twitter! I’d love to discuss them?

Are you a race director and want to put something like this on in your area? I’d be glad to lend a hand or even just a brain to help work through ideas! Use the contact form, hit me up on twitter, or email me directly!

70.3 Race Plan

For many people, the Half Iron distance is the first big step into the long distance triathlon world. It makes sense. 70.3 is a whole lot shorter than 140.6. Most people can only handle one Ironman in a year, and the jump from Olympic to Half Iron isn’t as insurmountable as the jump up to Full Iron. The biggest hurdle comes in the form of planning. Pacing, nutrition, gear… it all changes in the jump to long course! Continue reading

« Older posts

© 2017 Triathlonpal

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑