2014 Utah Half Race Report

Utah Half Report 4:30 am – text says “Bring your waterproof gear its def raining down here”. It wasn’t raining in Bountiful, but it was in Salt Lake. Driving down was downright dangerous. The rain was coming down in sheets and the road had a lot of standing water. Around the point of the mountain I hit a hidden patch of water and had that scary moment when the truck started to slide. Luckily I got traction and nothing happened but I saw two vehicles that didn’t have such good outcomes. I thought oh boy this is going to be epic.

We’ve trained too hard and long not to show up so we will be there, but mentally you have to gear up for the epic. I arrived at the lake and met Kelly Johnson directing traffic. It was coming down and she was wet. Everyone was parked with bikes still on top, this was kind of nice, I didn’t feel so rushed.

I got my kit together and chatted it up with other racers. The rain stopped and transition opened. . Kelly was missed. I got transition set up and felt pretty calm, the weather was turning perfect and the wind died down to nothing. A general feeling of cheer was showing on all the faces. Aaron Shamy gave his pre-race announcements and pep talk, which is always a blast. He totally busted that clipboard.

Swim

The elite athletes started and I walked into the water and it was actually really warm. It was pretty deep off the edge but then I was able to stand waiting for the gun. I always like chatting it up with folks. Talked to David Yang, a super nice guy who’s done a bunch of full distance races and is an animal on the bike. The gun went off (or horn or whatever) I ducked in and began swimming. I hadn’t really put myself in the best spot for not getting swam over, but I’ve done enough of these that getting knocked around a bit doesn’t bother me. As I swam I listening to the swish and gurgle of the churning arms and legs. I like to start slow on every event, but especially in the swim. I hate hyperventilating or getting my heart rate too high, so I try to take long strokes and push with an even flow. In the end this makes me slow, but comfortable.

I figure with a long swim I can push the second half of the swim. After the second turn I got a little disoriented and at one point started swimming in the wrong direction, crossing over the lanes – I thought to myself, it’s a little to lonely out here, too lonely. I popped up and saw that I was way off course and had to swim a ways to get back in line. (there goes my swim time). Rounding the last buoy and swimming the last leg to the swim out felt long and slow. I was putting some umph into it but the people on the shore were not getting closer. Then I reached the end and got out – always searching for that zipper pull. Utah Half 2014 - Swim Exit44:28

T1

I huffed into transition and fought the wetsuit. Socks, shoes, helmet, shirt, food, bike, go. I need to care more about transitions – my times were much worse than in years past. 4:36

Bike

I got on the bike and immediately felt that my saddle was a little low. I didn’t bring the tool, so it was what it was. This proved to be good and bad. I didn’t have any back spasm issues, but I didn’t feel like I was getting the push on the pedal either. I do like this course – flat and fast. After St. George and Vineman, a flat course was welcome change. I was going pretty strong at first but told myself to hold back a little, it’s a longish ride and I needed my legs for the run. I kept a steady pace and within a few miles I felt like I found a good pace that I could keep and have legs. I came ridding up on a fellow and we really had the same pace so after some chit chat we decided to ride together. Justin McPheters and I were both from Bountiful and we had a great time getting to know each other and pacing ourselves. It was his first half and fun to see him riding so well. Around mile 25 Justin got a little ahead but another rider was matching my pace. Introductions were made and Anna Cox and I rode together the rest of the ride. We had a great time, sharing stories, playing who do you know, and just enjoying the journey. I could have pushed it some more, but I was trying to hold back and push it on the run. Bike Utah Half 2014 2:59:37

T2

Dismount run into transition, park the bike and get off the shoes. I put on some longer socks – trying out compression socks, race belt, and sprayed more sunscreen. I almost ran off with my helmet still on – tried to put on the hat and said – oh the helmet is still on. I grabbed the hand bottle and ran out. I hate the hand bottle and like it at the same time. I like having the option of drinking when I want to instead of waiting for an aid station, but I hate having it my hand sloshing around. 3:04

Run

Oh I wish I could run faster. It’s the thing I’m going to really work on. I have my pace and have a very hard time pushing it and feeling like I can keep going for a long time. I do not have the VO2max of the normal person, (Asthma issues as a kid) so air is often the deciding factor on how fast my legs can go. I plodded along, my legs were threatening to cramp and I wasn’t going to let them, I just had to move along at a slow pace and hope they loosened up. That first out and back is always hard, but at the same time its always great to see Rory Duckworth and BJ Christensen flying past me on their second loop, for some that may be depressing but for me I love seeing the super athletes working their magic.

Got the out and back finished and hit the long beautiful road with it’s tree cover. The weather was great, so it was a lot easier and I started feeling better. By the time I got to the path my legs were good and I began playing with running faster. Even though I was being passed by everyone, I felt ok. No stomach issues. My pace actually got better or I felt like I was running faster. I got to the last bit and pushed it as much as I could and crossed the finish line happy to be finished. I got my huge finisher medal and love the killer design. RaceTri always does an amazing job with their finisher medals, podium swag, and race shirts! Run Utah Half 2:20:41

Total Time: 6:12:28

Post race My time was ok, I beat my previous Utah half by one minute. It was about what I expected, but not what I was hoping for. Run pace is the biggest thing I’ve got to work on. I needed to pick up the bike pace too, but I never know if I’m going to regret that. Need to get in the 9 min mile pace. I drank a lot of Winder Dairy chocolate milk and ate some peaches, my stomach wasn’t ready for anything else. I talked to my newly made friends and got my legs worked over by the very friendly DoTerra folks. I picked up my stuff and realized later that I didn’t have my Chacos with me. If anyone picked them up let me know. Great job to all the athletes who raced. A great day and an amazing event. I wish I could do a race like that every other weekend. I love RaceTri events, they are wonderfully organized, fun, and professional! I love the great people who put them on – a huge thanks especially to the volunteers!!!

2014 Icebreaker Race Report

2014 Ice Breaker Report

I pulled up to the parking area and its always great seeing bikes lined up in the transition area.  I set up my stuff and spent the morning chatting it up with all my tri friends and acquaintances. Racetri events are great and if you do a few you’ll start seeing the same dedicated folks.  The commodore of a shared interests and a high level of respect for professionals to first timers.  Everyone had to start sometime and it’s great to see a smattering of mountain bikes and old ten speeds at these events.

dave-and-rob

Swim start  

Another great speech and pool dive by Race Director Aaron to start things off. I was glad that I picked a close swim start, this way I didn’t have to worry about someone walking in the pool in front of me. It was good to see James Lawrence helping volunteering, he is a local coach and the World Record Holder for accomplishing 30 Full Ironmans in one year. His job was to say “Go!” to every athlete. That’s one thing that I love about these events, people who could be on the podium will volunteer and help out in whatever way they can. Mandy Oscarson  volunteers before the race begins, she then races, and hang out and help after the race. Anyway, James said go and off I went.  The pool swim is always a great way to start a tri, no freak out and short.  I felt like I swam well, I had a few pulls where my mind started freaking out, but I just took a few deep breaths and pulled myself together.  I tend to have a “freak out” moment every race and I’ve done enough now that I’m able to work through it.  I got passed by two guys, who were drafting me, then they got ahead and I drafted them.  I got out of the pool, ran out of the bubble, and into transition on the baseball field.  I was surprised at how much I was breathing and feeling worked.

dave-swimT1

I sat down and thought to myself I need to bring a bucket to sit on.  Got the shoes on, the helmet, and off I ran with my bike, feeling dizzy.

Bike

The bike was tough for me; I’ve been spending a lot of time on the trainer but didn’t feel like that paid off much.  I was slow and breathing heavy.  I had a hard time getting my legs to go.  It was kind of frustrating.  I don’t mind being passed, but when everyone is passing me I get a bit grumbly with myself.  When I finally got to the top of the hill my legs were finally coming together. The downhill was better I just took the road and went hard.  When I came to the next loop I knew that I was supposed to go strait but I turned down and had to zip around folks and get back on the road to do the second loop.  My brain wasn’t in the game.  I lost a bit of time there but the second loop was better, felt like I had more power. The downhill section was fast and fun.

T2

I was so glad to see bike catchers! What a nice feature to have someone take your bike into transition for you, this allowed me to dash into T2.  Off with the bike shoes and on with the running shoes.  I almost forgot to take off the helmet, but didn’t want to be that guy.

Rundave-running-icebreaker-2014

The run was as I expected it to be – up hill for the first half.  I kind of plod along, slow little steps.  I am always in awe of the guys who just jam on the run, especially when the number on their leg tells me they are over 50 years old … respect!   I got to the top and tried to pick it up, but the legs go at their pace.  The downhill was better – I increased my pace and stretched out a bit more.  The finish line was my best part of the run.  Literally I found a good boost of energy as I approached the Finish Line party, with the music and cheering crowds and was able to pick up my feet and move.  It felt good to pass a few people and finish strong.

I almost knocked over a gal giving out medals because I was running full out and didn’t really have time to stop so I had to dance around her. All participants receive a custom die cast one of kind finisher medal. They are HUGE, and have some real weight to them which I display proudly at the office.  I have a co-worker who loves the medals as much as I do.  I do these races for the medals and the pictures. RaceTri has a few cameras out on the course capturing your race day and then they load them onto their Facebook page. While they are not Brightroom or Zazoosh they are free for all the athletes, a nice value add at all the RaceTri events!

dave-finishing

I was a bit bummed at my early season performance but I needed a good kick to help me up my game as I’m training for a full Ironman this year.  Overall it was well managed by RaceTri, enthusiastic volunteers, great finish line goodies, complete with Winder Farms Chocolate Recovery Milk.  It was great to hang out with friends and congratulate all the folks that passed me.  I hope to see you at the 12th Salem Spring Sprint, it’s going to be awesome!!!

http://www.racetri.com/salem-sprint/

Camp Yuba Race Report 2013 – Kelly Hoose-Johnson

Here’s a race report from Kelly Hoose-Johnson.  She is new to triathlons and is going from zero to 60 this year. Her first sprint was this last spring and in November she’ll be going for it all at Ironman Arizona in Tempe.  Read her blog for fun stories, clever writing, and see her progress from race to race. We are very proud of Kelly and love seeing her at RaceTri events.
http://blog.hoosejohnson.com/2013/09/report-camp-yuba.html

Report: Camp Yuba

I’m notoriously bad at writing timely race reports, but my impressions of a race on race-day are different than when I’ve had time to sleep and think and recover and forget.

I thought it would be fun to do this today to keep me honest.

And honestly, just a few hours later, my impressions are already much … softer … than they were as I was putting my body and soul on the line this morning.

Camp Yuba was my last scheduled triathlon before IMAZ, though it’s only the start of my hardest training yet.

Last night I felt calm.

Compared to my first basket-case Olympic triathlon in July, merely 8 weeks ago, evidently I’m a different person.

Not so different that I did substantially better time-wise. But different enough that I was generally more at peace doing it.

I improved in some areas and devolved in others. All in all, I was a total of 12-minutes faster than I was 2 months ago over the same distances.

One big difference was that this was the first triathlon (and only the second race) where I had supporters with me. It was so nice to have Jeff and Bridgette come! In fact, I lost a few seconds here and there enjoying and interacting with them, but it was totally worth it.

So let’s go back to last night and distill this event sequentially.

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NIGHT BEFORE
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Camp Yuba Tri was at Yuba State Park, approximately 85 miles from home. The drive down was lovely.

Sunset near Mona Lake

We stayed in a hotel (and by a hotel, I mean the hotel) in Scipio — a town in which there is a Subway that no one staffs, so you can’t get a sandwich.

It’s pretty small.

You know your tri is out in the middle of nowhere when the Park Ranger says, “There isn’t a sign on your way back, so turn at the big tire.”

Yep. This is where we turned!

Scipio is a 10 mile drive from the Camp Yuba start line at the main boat dock, so all 5 of us bunked down in a king-size bed for a night of peaceful slumber.

Wait. Five of us?

Yes.

Even the dogs.

In one bed.

By the way, thiiiiis did not work out so well.

Chewy and Piper (and Stardust) on my legs.
Bridgette on my pillow.

All the youngsters seemed to need to be touching me at all times. It’s like I’m a magnet. Mommy-magnet.

It’s just the way things are.

No doubt they kept me extra cuddly warm, pinned into 2 square feet like that. But the trouble really started when the dogs couldn’t adapt.

They are hyper-vigilant and felt compelled to warn our pack of possible dangers by barking every time they heard a voice or a door snapping shut.

In a hotel.

Yeah.

It wasn’t long before the dogs were locked in the car.

This left only my daughter mashed up against my face or back or stomach or legs the entire night.

An acceptable though slightly uncomfortable arrangement.

Personally, I had a night full of the worst nightmares. They included Bridgette wandering dark streets alone, and everyone in my family being beaten mercilessly by a rogue band of gorillas.

But let’s face it, nightmares mean I was sleeping occasionally! That’s what really counts, right?

_________________________________________________________
PRE-RACE
_________________________________________________________

In the morning we had too many people/dogs to sort and organize, so we headed out *much* later than I had planned.

It was stressful. Me no likey.

Despite this, I got an excellent transition spot right by the bike in/out area. Not sure how that happened.

I hurried through my body-marking, bike check, chip pick-up, and transition layout and headed to the pre-race meeting late.

As I put on my wetsuit at the meeting, I started to get nervous. Tight stomach. Shallow, rapid breathing.

Though maybe it was constriction. Those wetsuits are not forgiving.

Johnson Family at Dawn
Race meeting in the background.
Sunrise over Yuba Reservoir!
Checking out the swim course.
I love this photo.
_________________________________________________________
SWIM
_________________________________________________________

As the meeting ended and they announced the starting waves, I realized how few people I’d be racing against.

116 people were doing the Sprint tri, a small group.

But there were only 80 people in the Olympic distance race.

And of the 80, there were only 16 women. Not just 16 women in my age-group. 16 women total. All age-groupers plus Athenas.

Sixteen!

We moved down the boat dock to the water.

And then we were off!
Camp Yuba Race Report 2013 - Kelly Hoose-Johnson

I think that’s me with my arm high, second from the front, but I’m not totally sure.

Swim is my best event, so I really tried to swim hard and strong.

I’d never done that before!

Every other open-water race (count ’em … two!) I’ve arranged myself at the back of the pack and paced off a slow, easy stroke and observed.

This time I decided to just … go for it.

I came in 5th of 16 in the swim!

I was also faster than about half the men. I know this is braggy, but it’s the only thing I have to brag about. So I’m just going for that, too.

The women who beat me pulled ahead early, in the first few seconds.

I passed one of them back eventually and managed to keep the others behind me the whole time. I also passed plenty of men who had each begun in waves starting between 2-4 mins before me.

_________________________________________________________
OH!
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It was also the first time I’ve been kicked in the face. Really hard.

It was both surprising and painful.

I came up short my nose and cheekbones throbbing. He came up short, too, and apologized. It was an accident of course. It was bound to happen sometime. Now I know what it feels like.

_________________________________________________________
BACK TO SWIM
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The swim course was a big, slightly obtuse triangle. Obtuse, I say!

Camp Yuba Race Report 2013 - Kelly Hoose-Johnson
A photo taken by someone else.
The farthest buoy is the little dot between the two boats.

The first point of the triangle was an orange cylindrical buoy close to the dock. I think you can see it in the photos in which we’re wading into the water.

The next was an orange pyramid buoy, and you can see that one in the photo of me and Bridgette checking out the course, pre-race.

The third buoy is pictured above.

I swam around this large triangle twice. The water was deep. There was no walking.

The hardest part of the swim portion for me is that I go in cold. Not because the water is cold so much, though that doesn’t help, but because my body isn’t awake.

Swimming is a hard way to warm-up in a long workout because, as my heart-rate and breath-rate increase, it’s challenging to have my face in the lake.

I don’t breathe water very well.

My body wants immediate, regular, panting gulps of air — can’t get them of course — so my legs start to burn from oxygen deprivation. And until I get warmed-up, I kind of (really) want to stop swimming.

(This might be most people’s biggest problem with swimming. They stop when they should just keep going. That, or they fight the water instead of gliding on it.)

My first 1/2 mile was slower than my second 1/2 mile as I tried to regulate my body and get in rhythm. I get faster as I go further.

I had few mental sighs when I swam slightly off course which meant I’d wasted those strokes plus gone extra distance. I usually sight fast and maintain a straight line pretty naturally, so I’m not sure why I pulled off a couple of times.

In the home-stretch I swam in feeling like … well. Like I’d just swum a mile and then got kicked in the face.

Which I had.

Yet unlike my normal head-talk which is short and positive (at first) a la, “Stay strong, Kel,” I found myself chatting to myself like an English gentleman. So I was obviously still calm and okay.

“Swim your own strokes in tried and true fashion. Don’t let circumstances dissuade you.”

I’m not kidding.

I was all like, glide glide glide …

“Maintain your natural rhythm, maximize efficiency, ignore external factors. Circumvent the zig-zagging man.”

Full sentences. Lots of syllables.

Later, in the run, I was like, “!%*!? the bleepity ^&#*! Uh-huh. Yeah. And bleep #@!# if I’m *%& another step up this hill!!!!”

I did reference devolving above. It’s not always purely physical.

But I get ahead of myself.

Swim time 32:50.

_________________________________________________________
T1
_________________________________________________________

I emerged stripping my wetsuit and was greeted by my very own very special Supergirl.

I honestly thought my first transition was fast. And compared to the EIGHT MINUTES I took at Echo (my first and only other wetsuit transition), it was.

But at 2:52 it was certainly nothing to brag about. Or cry about.

Room for improvement.

Camp Yuba Race Report 2013 - Kelly Hoose-Johnson
Camp Yuba Race Report 2013 - Kelly Hoose-Johnson
No leaping mounts for me.
Remember, I clipped-in for the first time in May.
Camp Yuba Race Report 2013 - Kelly Hoose-Johnson
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BIKE
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So then I was off for my little 25 mile bike ride. 🙂

Back at the hotel, a woman had told me the bike portion was as flat as a pancake.

Remind me not to eat breakfast at her house cuz thems were some mighty lumpy pancakes!

The Sprint portion was fairly flat, so must have been what she raced. But the Olympic included 19 miles of mostly gradual but unrelenting hills. On some rough potholed roads.

I definitely need to work on my uphills. But as I slowed down going up, I took the opportunity to drink and GU and try not to let my hydration or electrolytes slide.

On the flip side (of the pancake?) there was one decent descent, and I flew down that sucker. I don’t actually know my speed, but I’m going with… super duper fast!

I bet it was around 35 mph.

You scoff. But I’m totally holding up my Scouts honor fingers right now.

If only that downhill had lasted longer!

No pics on the bike course, but if I get any (like official ones or what-not) I’ll post them here later.

Hammies got tight, breathing hard for sure (and coughing a lot through the whole race — really need to figure this out), but otherwise I felt good coming into transition.

Coming in — bike time 1:25:50
Camp Yuba Race Report 2013 - Kelly Hoose-Johnson
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T2
_________________________________________________________
Wherein, for the first time in my life, I recognize myself as looking strong. Even though all I’m doing in this video is changing shoes. I feel like a small child, fascinated by myself in the mirror.

Second transition 2:06.

I miss my Pearl Izumi isoTransitions.

Zero laces. Way less time.

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RUN
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Here’s where things get sad.
And I get cranky.
And I lose.
WHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!? Why do we have to run in these oh-so-official triathlons?
Why can’t it be swim, bike . . . dance?
Or maybe swim, bike, kayak? Or swim, bike, read a book?
And then. The ultimate question. Why the #*&@ can’t I run any faster!?
If we evolved from sea creatures in the ancient past, apparently I didn’t get the memo. Because the water is dandy. Let’s just stay there, people.
With very few women in the race, I was able to track where I was in the line-up. Sorta kinda. And at the end of the bike, I actually (whether true or not) thought I might have a shot at the stand.It was heartening, even if I was totally misleading myself.
See, they remove the top 3 women for the overall awards. And then the remaining top 3 in each age-group get age-group medals. That means a total of 9 medals.And I wasn’t sure because this was a funky-small race, but I thought I was maybe competing against everyone 39 and younger.So if I was anywhere in the top 6, I had a chance to earn one.

At the end of the bike, I thought I might have been in the top 6 Olympic-female. Legit. After the swim and the bike I was in reasonable standing.

But I sure wasn’t after the run!
 
I watched everyone and their mothers pass me as I stumbled along.
(Their mothers are really fast, by the way.)
When I die, they’re totally going to name a triathlon move after me.
It’s called the Trudge-Run (TM).
Trudge. Trudge. Walk a little. Trudge.
It’s the Kelly way! Join in! Everyone’s doing it!
Well, no. Actually that’s the problem. No one was doing it but me.
I did try to run faster. But it hurt. And I thought I might die. And looking back, I don’t think it was solely about acting like a baby. Like, even now I don’t think I could have gone any faster.This is more of a lament than a regret.
It’s not that I think I could have medaled if I’d just tried harder, “Well, Kel, you could have sucked it up and run that one stretch where you didn’t give it your best effort.”
Naw. I think I did the best I could.
Yet I do think the whole head-space thing contributes. There are a lot of confident runners out there. And I’m not one of them.
In addition to joint pain, coughing, stomach cramps and bleeding toes, running turns my brain inside out. I deal with it in weird ways.
On this particular run, I went back and forth between menial and degrading curses and the most hilarious pep-talks a person could possibly procure. I gave everyone I saw a high-five. Sometimes I’d run between two people just so I could get two high-fives at once.
Like a nutty, slightly drunk runner-girl.
For example, I sang a lot. (See statement above.)
“Oh what a beautiful morning! Oh what a beautiful day! I’ve got a beautiful FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING …………. everything’s going my way.”
And I sang songs about loving to run uphill.
(I made those up.)
And I sang a song about not being eaten by a bear because it was far too hot for a bear to be eating me.
(I made that one up, too.)
And you know what’s the worst? I didn’t care that people were listening.
I was walking uphill next to this other guy who was only doing the Sprint and was struggling as much as me, and I started talking to myself.And then I realized I was talking to myself and he was next to me, so instead of shutting up like a normal person, I turned to him and said, “I’m talking to myself. Feel free to listen in.”
He said, “Yeah, thanks. I think I will.”
And then I said, aloud, “You love uphill. Keep it clear. Run at the turn-around. Run downhill. Make the most of it. Keep it positive.”
But as soon as he was out of earshot I totally shouted, “#*&@+%  the  @#$(@*)$ !!!!”
Because that’s really how I was rolling today.
Run time 1:21:21.
_________________________________________________________
LET ME EXPLAIN.
NO. LET ME SUM UP.
_________________________________________________________
Total time 3:24:56.2
FEMALE AGE-GROUP 1-39
Place 8 (of 8)
FEMALE AGE-GROUP 35-39
Place 2 (of 2)
OVERALL FEMALE
Place 12 (of 16)OVERALL MALE & FEMALE
Place 69 (of 80)
I’m not lying: RACE RESULTS
Hey look! That’s me!
Camp Yuba Race Report 2013 - Kelly Hoose-Johnson
Hey look! It’s the Trudge-Run (TM)!
Camp Yuba Race Report 2013 - Kelly Hoose-Johnson
Camp Yuba Race Report 2013 - Kelly Hoose-Johnson
Camp Yuba Race Report 2013 - Kelly Hoose-Johnson
Many thanks to Jeff and The Bridgenator for coming and cheering me on, and for making it to the finish line before I did (barely!)Thanks to the dogs for suffering in not-near-enough silence.And additional thanks to the race organizers for a great event. Despite the hills. Maybe because of them.

Though honestly disappointed by my run time, as Bridgette repeatedly pointed out, I got a medal.

So, really? It was a good day.

So I Finished My First Triathlon – Now What?

So I Finished My First Triathlon – Now What?

By Morgan Johnson

It’s official – you’ve crossed the finish line, become a “real” triathlete and you are now (officially) obsessed. So what comes next? I have had literally dozens of athletes walk into our training facility and tell me, “I just finished my first sprint triathlon and it was so awesome I signed up to do an Ironman this summer!” While the spirit is great, one of the things I am always looking for as a coach is how I can help the athlete have a positive, healthy, long-term experience with the sport. This might mean a long-course competition, or it might be something else, so take a deep breath and let’s talk about what this looks like for you.

Finished a triathlon now what - Morgan Johnson

First, let’s talk equipment. There are some basics I recommend for every new triathlete – first, a road bike, either aluminum or carbon fiber in good working condition that fits correctly is, in my opinion, essential for a beginner. Road bikes are generally faster and more efficient, creating a more enjoyable workout experience for you, the athlete, without the more aggressive geometry of a time trial or “tri” bike, which can be uncomfortable for newer athletes who have not had the opportunity to build the strength and flexibility a time trial bike demands. Your bike should be accompanied by clipless bike shoes and pedals – avoid hand-me-downs if possible, and make sure the shoes are a proper fit – and, of course, a comfortable road bike helmet (ventilation is a must!) with no cracks or crashes to its name.

Second, when it comes to the swim, get a “real” training suit (tight with no extra material), and a good pair of goggles that won’t leak and create frustration or interrupted laps. I also have my athletes purchase a swim snorkel (front-loaded) for kicking and drills in the pool – in my opinion, if you only own one swim aid, this is the one to have.

Third, make sure you get a pair of running shoes that are right for your run form and body type – I recommend visiting a running store where the employees can evaluate your stride and recommend a comparable shoe.

The most important piece of equipment? A heart rate monitor, accompanied with heart rate zones (many field tests exist to determine these, and some USA Triathlon performance centers, such as Playtri, offer the option of blood lactate testing for an even more accurate determination of zones). Knowing your body’s limits and abilities will make your training healthier and more effective.

Once you’ve got the gear, it’s time to talk training. First of all, having a plan, any plan is always better than having no plan at all. If actual coaching is in the budget, this is always the first choice (USA Triathlon offers a list of certified coaches all over the country on the website), but if not, a group training program or online training plan or program is definitely a good place to start. The less interaction you have with an actual coach, the more conservative your plan should be. While online plans can be great, they do not necessarily adjust for injuries, sick days, family emergencies and other obstacles and interruptions. Always err on the side of caution when making choices regarding training to avoid injury and over-training or under-recovering – you’ll never be the fastest if you don’t make it to the start line. Want to take some risks? Invest in an actual coach.

The number one aspect of training most age-group athletes ignore? Recovery. Training hard is only great when it is paired with proper recovery. Never forget that fitness occurs during recovery.

So what about that Ironman? Again, you need a plan based on your athletic foundation and personal strengths and weaknesses. Some triathletes might be ready to tackle this goal their first year in the sport, but generally speaking a more moderate progression is recommended to build a solid foundation for the endeavor. Get some more sprint triathlons in that first year, then next year focus on the Olympic-distance, then maybe a half Iron distance the next year, and so on. A coach will also be handy here for evaluating your current fitness level in the context of their knowledge and experience of the sport.

Always remember that the goal is not just to complete the race, but to finish healthy and wanting more.

Best of luck in your new favorite sport! You have a huge, friendly community of fellow athletes and coaches ready and willing to help you have the best possible experience, so never be afraid to ask questions and ask for help.

Morgan Johnson is a USA Triathlon Level I and Youth and Juniors certified coach and a USA Cycling Level III coach. She coaches Team Playtri Elite, a USA Triathlon High Performance Team, at the Playtri Performance Center in Dallas, Texas. For more information, visit her bio at www.playtri.com/morgan.

Salem Spring Triathlon 2013 Race Report

Here’s my race report for the 2013 Salem Spring Triathlon

The drive down to Salem was just lovely.  It was nice seeing other vehicles ahead of me with bikes on them going to the same place.  I parked and grabbed my bag and bike.  It was great to see Rory Duckworth and his wife.  They were volunteering which I really think is great being that they both could be vying for the podium.  I got my race packet and was pleased to get a racetri vinyl sticker – now proudly placed on my vehicle.

I set up in the prestigious triple play area, that was a really nice perk.  Luckily I didn’t forget anything, that’s always a big concern, I think of my cousin who lost his goggles after jumping in the water at the Tempe Ironman.

One of best things about these events is you start to get to know people.  As I was setting up I saw an old coworker of mine, Rick Bassett, we use to carpool together and so we had a great time catching up, this was his first sprint in a while and first open water swim. and then Rob Jacobson came over and setup next to me.  Rob and I met one morning at the American Fork Rec center and I had recently used his photo for a RaceTri promotion and so I introduced myself.  Rob is an awesome swimmer; He swims the Deer Creek open water swim – which is 10 miles – holy crap, that’s how awesome he is.  This year Rob and I happened to run together at the Provo City Half Marathon, just a few weeks earlier, so it was fun hanging out and and catching up – he really was one of the most popular guys at the event – everyone seems to know the guy.  dave-black-salem-spring-triathlon-2013-race-tri

We went over to listen to the Race Director Aaron Shamy’s speech.  He always puts together a great one – this time ending with the throwing down of a watermelon, which exploded upon impact.  I felt bad for Joel – he had to sweep it all up.  

After getting the wetsuit on I headed over to the swim start and got in the water.  Thankfully the water wasn’t cold at all.  I always like to swim around a bit and so I did and swam all the way out to the first buoy and turned around and thought – oh great now I‘ve got to swim back.   I always enjoy the moment just before the swim start – the air is electric with little clouds of emotion surrounding each person – gusto, anticipation, fear, and a few “what am I doing here” looks of panic.  It is was fun seeing the rabbit and the group of elite’s pound off.  I always wonder what is going through their heads and they hit the go button.  My age group was on tap and I laid flat in the water and waited for the go. 3,2,1 – go time.

Off I went, I always feel like I’m flailing at the start, but it doesn’t matter at this point, it’s go time.  We swam toward the first buoy and the sun was right in front of us so there wasn’t any need to sight – just head toward the glowing orb.  The water was really pretty clear – you could actually see a few feet in front of you.  As we rounded the first buoy I got clobbered but that always happens at the buoys.  Just after that my head started freaking out – this happens almost every time.  Usually its because I’m hyperventilating, so I slowed down my strokes and focused on breathing out slowly.  This helped and I kept pushing on.  I had one guy in front of me flip over on his back and he stared swimming sideways right across the herd of swimmers and I swam right over him.  Heading under the bridge and around the next buoy, I was pleased with how well I was keeping it together in my head.  The last stretch of the swim always feels long, after the last buoy I want to see the exit right away – I’m not the only one I saw a lot of heads popping up and looking for the exit.  But it was still far away, so I put my head down and got into a rhythm enjoying the hypnotic swish and gurgle.  When I got to the exit, I struggled to find my zipper pull – its never where I left it.  I run up the ramp and see Rory is stripping suits and so I run up to him and he goes to work (thanks Rory).  In a flash I’m out and running pathetically down the runway to T1.david-black-salem-spring-sprint-2013-racetri

I put on the helmet, shoes, and my glasses and I’m out of transition. Getting going on the bike is always tricky – I remember this great video where almost all the athletes go down.  I hopped on and was off. Getting going always feels slow for me.   I hit the hill and cranked up it slowly.  I noticed a lot of people having bike problems – shifting errors, chains falling off, etc.  The rest of the bike went fine.  There was this one guy who rocked it – on his old 10 speed he was an animal, blasting past a bunch of folks on tribikes.  I really enjoyed the second loop of the bike, got my legs back and tried to mash it.  I need to spend more time on the bike, some years that’s my strong point, but I’ve been training for marathons, so my bike has suffered.

I got to T2, got off the helmet and my shoes, put on the running shoes and I think I’m not going to worry about socks next race.  I was off – not even tying my shoes. I wanted a faster transition time. So after getting out of transition I tied my shoes and realized I’d forgotten my watch on the bike.  That was a real bummer, since I really need that to keep my pace, oh well.  The transition to running is always rough, but what really helps me get through it is the other folks who are struggling too, a shared misery.  I finally get my legs into gear and plod along at my pace.  I really wanted to push it on the run, but from the end results I wasn’t going much faster than usual – thus the need for the watch.  The last part of the run was downhill and I tried to put some speed on.  I feel so asthmatic sometimes on these sprints.  I got to the bridge went up and over and did my best to avoid the three bars of pain at the end of the bridge.  Then pushed it to the finish line.  I always love crossing that final blue pad. I felt great knowing I pushed it on the run – my lungs were sore for a couple of days.david black salem sprint 2013 racetri

I loved the big medals – big medals are the best!!!  Not only do they signify you did something but they act as a self-defense tool in a pinch.  Getting hit with one of these would make someone think twice about things.

Overall the course was great – country roads aside.  I enjoyed the swim, the bike was marked well and easy to follow and the run had a nice downhill finish. 

Support – the support at RaceTri events is always awesome, happy people who love to help.

These races are just awesome, seeing friends, making new ones.  It’s always a pleasure to be surrounded by athletes.  Very much like being at basecamp at Mount Everest or Denali – shared passions and intense desire to overcome the challenge.  I really enjoying seeing the teenagers and clydales.  Both of which often kick my trash and inspire me to keep pushing myself.   In the end I packed up my stuff, watched the super athletes take the podium, said goodbye to friends until the next weekend or racetri event.

Triathlete of the Week Christie Krompel

This weeks Traiathlete of the week is Christie Krompel – If you’ve been passed by a flash of brown hair during an event – then you’ve seen her.

Check out her great report.

 How long have you been doing triathlon & how many events have you done? 

My first triathlon was in October of 2011

What got you started in triathlon?  

January of 2011 I woke up and just decided to start running.  Running/triathlon quickly became a way for me to overcome a bad eating disorder.  After my first race, I realized I wouldn’t be able to perform without a healthy body.  I had it in my mind I was going to ‘Build A Machine’ of a body… a mantra I still use today to help me get through rough spots both in triathlon and in life.  I am so thankful I have been able channel the energy I spent on a bad addiction into the triathlon addiction.  

How did you get so fast?

Fast is all relative JJ 

 As cliché as it sounds, I think my progress has stemmed from really having ‘The Eye of The Tiger.’  I waaaaaaaant to do well, so things like willpower and discipline and grit and hard work are all apparent in my training.  I really think to push yourself to your own next level, you have to have relentless confidence to feel pain, experience it, and overcome it!

Are you training with anyone? Any special training routine?

I train by myself…. Just a lot of swim/bike/run with some weight training thrown in there too!

Favorite racetri race?
Icebreaker was my first Racetri event.

Favorite thing about triathlon?

Those moments when you are racing or in a tough training session and that outer “brave face” shell you wear to be tough and strong is cracked wide open.  In those moments you feel vulnerable and raw—wide open—no walls—not in full control, weaknesses exposed.  Those moments are actually an amazing thing to experience and make the physical pain you are going through seem strangely worth it.

Guilty pleasure?(ice cream, twinkies, McDonald French fries?)
Coffee.Coffee.Coffee!!! Or going out for ridiculously priced Sashimi after a race… Fuel The Machine with premium priced protein right?!

 Are you afraid of anything? (spiders? snakes?)

Every open water swim, I am afraid of a monstrous sized fish or shark biting my feet.  This fear actually ends up playing in my favor because I am concentrating on swimming as fast as I can to get out of the water before I get taken deep down under! J

One piece of advice for someone getting started would be …

Be confident in yourself and remember you are going to have to break yourself down to build a stronger you – AKHILANDESHVARI.  Realize that every single workout is not going to be stellar; but it is the consistency of every single workout combined that makes a stellar athlete.
Oh and don’t get caught up in all the ‘fluff’ of the sport… focus on building stronger muscles instead buying stronger equipment.  I finished my first 70.3 distance on a hybrid bike without clip-ins; expensive gear is not a necessity.   christie-krompel2

Read More about Christie on her blog http://www.buildthemachine1.blogspot.com/

Barefoot/Minimalist Running: Should You Do It?

barefoot-runningOver the last few years the idea of running barefoot or in shoes that offer minimal support has become increasingly popular.  Should we all change the way we run and do other activities to match this trend?  There are certainly those who would argue that we should.  Lets look at some of the ideas behind this style of running.

First, the foot is allowed to go through a more natural motion when running.  If you were to remove your shoes and socks and watch your feet while you walk around you might notice that your foot and toes spread out or “splay”.  When you wear typical shoes this splay is minimalized.  One of the major arguments in favor of barefoot/minimalist footwear is that this should be happening more.  Minimalist shoes have more space around the toes in the “toe box” to allow this motion.  This extra space can reduce the occurrence of bunions and other foot conditions caused from wearing shoes that are too tight.

Additionally, removing the cushioned sole of a typical running shoe may allow the body to follow its natural tendencies during gait.  Having the heel and the ball of the foot at the same level may also allow normal stretching of the Achilles tendon, which may decrease the occurrence of injuries.

The second major idea behind minimalist/barefoot running is that it forces the body to adapt and strengthen the muscles of the legs.  This may also prevent a variety of injuries.  Since the small muscles of the foot and the lower leg are used primarily to strengthen the long arch of the foot they should be allowed to do their job.  Having an unnatural support for this arch may weaken these muscles over time and result in injuries like plantar fasciitis.

These arguments make sense, but I hesitate to say they are valid in every situation.  Some people already have enough room for their feet to spread in a traditional shoe or they never have problems from the lack of foot splay.  It may also be the case for some individuals that the extra stretching of the Achilles will result in an injury.

In some cases the arch of the foot may be unusually high or low.  This might not be possible to resolve by strengthening the muscles of the foot.  It may require additional support from an orthotic or more supportive running shoe.

I like a lot of the ideas behind this new minimalist movement.  I personally wear a minimalist shoe for almost all activities now.  I like the way they feel and I don’t have any problems as a result of changing shoes.  However, if you are considering changing, transition slowly.  Start by walking in your new minimalist shoe (or barefoot) for just a few minutes at a time.  If this does not cause you problems then you can try running short distances.  If you still have no problems then this might be a great option for you.Researchers are looking into the benefits and drawbacks of these different styles of running.  So far the results seem to be inconclusive.  Some people have reduced injuries when they change their footwear, while others have new injuries.

Mild muscle pain that lasts only a few days may be a natural effect of the muscles being used more.  On the other hand, if you experience new pain that lasts more than a few days, minimalist shoes may not be the right choice for you.
Dr. Eagar
Dr. Eagar is a dual credentialed provider with degrees in sports medicine, chiropractic medicine, and exercise science.  Dr. Eagar owns Active Advantage, a private sports medicine practice with an emphasis on rehabilitation and chronic injury management.  He enjoys answering questions and can be reached at activeadvantagechiro@gmail.com.  For more general information you can visit his website http://www.activeadvantagechiro.com.

Weight Lifting and Triathlon Training

Incorporate Strength Training Into Your Regimen

weight-training-triathlon

By Matt Fitzgerald • Triathlete magazine
http://www.active.com/triathlon/Articles/Incorporate_strength_training_into_your_regimen.htm

Presumably, the majority of us triathletes have taken up triathlon because we enjoy swimming, cycling and running, or at least two of these activities.

People who, on the other hand, enjoy lifting weights more than they do swimming, cycling and running, generally don’t come any closer to doing a triathlon than spending a perfunctory 20 minutes on the StairMaster after a good pec session at Bally’s. And this is as it should be.

But while few triathletes feel any real pull toward the weight room, the fact that most triathletes want to race as fast as possible—and not just noodle around at an elevated heart rate for its own sake six days a week—is enough to get us to the gym right alongside those pec-session people. Infrequently. With a bad attitude. Which is not as it should be.

A great many tri-geeks are kinda convinced that strength training helps with triathlon and are therefore kinda committed to doing it. Can you blame us? There’s little enough time already for the pool, the road and the trail, and like we said, dumbbells just aren’t very exciting for birds of our feather. Trouble is, a half-assed approach to strength training does about as much good as going for a 10-mile run every 10 days, doing nothing in between.

As always, when in doubt, look at your heroes. The three individuals who together account for 20 Hawaii Ironman victories—Dave Scott, Mark Allen and Paula Newby-Fraser—all made strength training an important element of their triathlon training. All got exactly what you and I can get out of a proper strength-training program: enhanced strength, muscular endurance and power, and a higher resistance to injury.

“Weight training was the missing link for me,” says Allen, who began serious iron-pumping only in the latter stages of his triathlon journey. “I reached a point in my career where it didn’t matter how much I swam, biked or ran, I couldn’t increase my strength above a certain level. High-volume training and longer races break down your muscle fibers, and it really helped me to have a little extra reserve to draw on.”

Research proves it in the laboratory, and Ironman champions prove it in the proverbial pudding: Strength training is truly and rightfully triathlon’s fourth event. But you have to know what you’re doing. Keep reading.

I’ll Have What They’re Having

Of the three heroes just named, two, Allen and Newby-Fraser, received their strength coaching from the same source: Diane Buchta. If there is a strength training guru for triathlon, Buchta is she. Diane is a genius in her field, says Allen.

Buchta, the first strength coach of the United States Triathlon Team, taught strength training for 12 years at the University of California at San Diego, created the video Strength Training for Triathletes (featuring Allen and Newby-Fraser) and coaches at the Multisport School of Champions in Solana Beach, California.

One of her training legacies has been the development of a periodized strength training model whose five phases correspond to five specific sport-training stages in the triathlete’s calendar. The basic philosophy behind the model is to flexibly and unobtrusively support the triathlete’s swimming, cycling and running schedule.

When it was developed back in the 1980s, the model’s variability represented a major departure from strength training methods used by most triathletes. Each phase had its own goal, its own training method and distinct exercises. Even the speed of execution of exercises varied, explains Buchta.

The Program

The five phases of Buchta’s strength training program cover the whole year, save the one month you take off at the end of the season to focus on eggnog and napping. Phase I begins when you resume your event sport training around the New Year.

Phase V is reached shortly before your first race and is maintained (ideally) throughout the competitive season, except when you have a long layoff between races, in which case you can cycle through phases III and IV again. Buchta recommends that you cease weight training at least two weeks before any important race.

Each phase is distinct from the others in many ways, but the constant is a proper warm-up and cool-down book-ending each gym session. Buchta’s trademark warm-up exercise for triathletes is running arms, which involves simulating a running movement with your arms while holding light dumbbells (see full description below), and which we still see Mark Allen faithfully performing every time he pops into Powerhouse Gym in Cardiff, Cailfornia, for a workout.

Due to space considerations, we detail the correct execution of only half a dozen core exercises at the end of this article. Otherwise, the sample workouts offered here give you no more than the names of suggested exercises and guidelines for resistance, speed and number of sets and repetitions. Consult an experienced trainer to learn the correct execution for every exercise you incorporate into your training.

Phase I: Base/Acclimation (4 to 5 Weeks)
The Buchta method picks up where you do. “In December or January most triathletes want to get back into the weight room,” she says. During these first four to five weeks, the athlete is concerned with building a fresh endurance base, and the strength training component shares this goal.

“They need to retrain the neuromuscular system, relearn the skills and techniques, and develop a muscular strength and endurance base,” Buchta explains. You start off slow.
Begin by doing just one set of 12 repetitions (1 x 12) of each exercise, using 55 to 65 percent of your one-repetition maximum resistance (RM). Concentrate on maintaining good form and on taking a full two seconds on the concentric movement (lifting the weight) and four seconds on the eccentric movement (lowering the weight). Rest 30 to 60 seconds between sets. Build toward doing 3 x 12 and increase resistance for each exercise as necessary. Do three sessions per week.

Sample Workout:

Lat pulldown
Leg extension
Flat dumbbell bench press
Leg curl
Dumbbell pullover
Incline dumbell press
Biceps curl
Triceps pushdown
Prone raise
Abdominals (curl-up, reverse & oblique curl, crunch)
Roman chair
In week three, add:

Squat
Upright row
Side/lateral shoulder raise
Calf/toe raise
Phase II: Strength/Endurance Phase (4 to 5 weeks)
As you ramp up the aerobic mileage, your strength training goes with it. “What you’re trying to do in the second phase is go after the slow-twitch, endurance muscles fibers,” says Buchta. “The athlete tries to deal with higher blood lactate levels.”

Speed of execution remains the same in Phase II as in the previous phase, but each set should increase to 15 repetitions and there’s no rest between sets. At first do 2 x 15, then graduate to 3 x 15. Alternate between upper-body and lower-body exercises as in the sample workout below. You’ll probably have to decrease weights from the previous phase at first. Continue to do three sessions per week.

Sample Workout

Lat pulldown
Leg extension
Barbell bench press
Leg curl
Squat
Dumbbell pullover
Incline dumbbell press
Upright row
Rotated biceps curl
Triceps pushdown
Prone raise
Side lateral shoulder raise
Calf/toe raise
Abdominals
Roman chair
Phase III: Power/Endurance (4 to 5 weeks)
“There is a distinction between strength and power,” Buchta explains. “Strength applied quickly is the definition of power.”

Here, in Phase III, you begin to turn strength into power. This phase falls about two to three months out from your first race of the season, and involves the most intense and time-consuming strength training you will do all year. Buchta advises that you not combine hard event-training sessions and these heavy gym workouts on the same day.

Unlike the previous phase, the three weekly strength workouts of Phase III are different from one another. The first workout of the week is a swim-specific routine in which half the exercises are done for power and the other half for endurance. The power sets involve three sets of 8, 6, and 4 repetitions, performed with 85 to 90 percent of your 1-RM and performed to failure. Allow four seconds for the concentric movement and another four seconds for the eccentric movement. Cut these numbers in half for endurance sets, which consist of 15 reps each with no rest.

The second workout is a bike-specific routine involving the same structure. The third workout combines the exercises of the previous two routines in an all-endurance format.

Sample Workout (Swim)

Front lat pulldown
Dumbell pullover (power)
Triceps pushdown w/ strap or rope (power)
Upright row
Sample Workout (Bike)

Squat
Leg extension
Leg curl (power)
Barbell bench press (power)
Biceps curl

Phase IV: Peak Power (8 Weeks)
As the season approaches, you begin to incorporate high-intensity intervals into your event sport training. Accordingly, your strength training is modified to turn power into speed.

“I call this the Chisel Phase,” Buchta says. “All the exercises are dynamic. People love this phase, because finally they can feel the benefits of their strength work in their swimming, biking and running. Plus, they’re in and out of the gym in 20 to 30 minutes.”

Phase IV involves two workouts per week. Speed is the key. Do 2 x 12 sets at 55 to 65 percent 1-RM with no rest between sets.

Sample Workout

Bent-over row
Walking lunge
Flat dumbbell bench press
Pectoral pullover (with EZ curl bar)
Supine triceps press
Alternating biceps curl
Abdominals
Roman chair
Phase V: Maintenance
Phase V is your in-season phase. It is optional in the sense that you can reap most of the benefits of your past work without doing it and, in fact, “The majority of the pros I work with give up weights during the season,” Buchta admits. Nevertheless, for those who have time, maintenance is still recommended.

Hit the gym every three to four days during the competitive season. These sessions are quick and non-strenuous. Do just 1 x 12 for each exercise at 65 percent 1-RM. Allow two seconds for the concentric movement and four seconds for the eccentric movement.

Sample Workout

Lat pulldown
Stationary lunges
Barbell bench press
Pectoral pullover (with dumbbell)
Triceps kickback
Alternating biceps curl
Abdominals
Roman chair
CORE EXERCISES

Running Arms (warm-up): Stand in a runner’s lunge position: right foot one stride in front of the left, bending slightly forward at the waist, right knee slightly bent. Hold a 3- to 5-pound dumbbell in each hand and bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Beginning slowly, pump your arms in a slightly exaggerated running motion. Reverse your lunge position halfway through the warm-up.

Barbell Squat (quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back): Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a wide overhand grip on a weighted barbell that’s resting on your upper shoulder (not your neck!). Looking forward and slightly upward, squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep your back in a neutral position (maintaining its natural curve) and your knees over toes. Drive upright through your hips. Keep your weight on your heels.

Dumbbell Pullover (chest): Lie face-up on a bench with your knees bent and feet flat on the bench. Hold a single dumbbell by shaping your hands flat against the inside plate on either end of the dumbbell and allowing gravity to keep it snug. Do not bend your wrists during the movement. Hold the dumbbell directly above your upper chest. Slowly lower the dumbbell back behind your head, bending your elbows slightly. When the dumbbell is in line with the crown of your head, hoist it back to the start position. Avoid lowering the dumbbell too far behind your head.

Walking Lunge (quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back): Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a weighted barbell positioned as in the Barbell Squat (or, alternatively, hold a dumbbell in either hand at your sides). Take a large step forward with your right foot and bend that knee to 90 degrees, then drag your left leg forward to join the right. Now lunge forward with the left leg. Keep your back in a neutral position by looking straight ahead. If your left leg extends fully during the lunge, you’re stepping too far. If your forward knee gets in front of your toe, you’re either stepping too short or lunging too deep.

Lat Pulldown (upper back): Seat yourself at a high pulley station with your knees secured under the padded braces and get a wide overhand grip on the bar. Lean back 35 degrees at the waist and pull the bar to your upper chest, then smoothly extend back to the start position.

Supine Triceps Press (triceps): Lie supine on a flat bench with a narrow overhand grip on a short straight bar or EZ-curl bar. Your shoulders, elbows and hands are in a straight line. Keeping your upper arms locked, lower the bar until it’s just above your nose, then extend back to the start position. Keep your elbows in as you push up.

Reverse Stomach Curl: Lie face-up on a bench or mat with your legs together and bent so that your feet are flat on the surface. Interlace your fingers behind your head and curl your trunk up just slightly, until you feel tension in your stomach muscles. This is your start position. Smoothly draw your knees up toward your face, stopping just before your lower back leaves the mat, then return to your start position without letting your feet touch down.

Relieving Plantar Fasciitis

plantar fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis

You wake up first thing in the morning and you step onto the floor. Immediately you feel pain on the bottom of your foot close to the heel. You carefully step your way through your morning routine until the pain begins to fade. Later, you head out for a run. As you begin your run the pain in your foot returns, but you hobble along until it again fades. You repeat this routine for days or even weeks, but eventually the pain does not fade.plantar fasciitis

If this sounds familiar then it is likely you have experienced or are experiencing plantar fasciitis (perhaps better termed plantar fasciosis, meaning deterioration of the plantar fascia). Simply put, this is irritation to the connective tissue that crosses the long arch of your foot. When you stop walking and running (especially when sleeping) the tissue begins to tighten. Those first steps before the tissue stretches back out are the most painful.

Why do some people get this condition and not others? Lack of support for the arch of the foot is the simple answer. In the body muscles and ligaments support joints. Muscles should be our primary means of support, but when those muscles fail in their job ligaments are the back-up plan.

plantar fasciitis arch

The foot and lower leg are filled with muscles that support the arches of your feet. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue, like a ligament, that crosses the whole bottom of the foot from back to front. Its primary job is to assist these muscles in holding up the arch of the foot.

If the small muscles on the bottom of the foot and the longer ones from the lower leg are not strong enough then this may cause too much stress on the plantar fascia and cause pain with regular use. Some individuals may also have unusually high or low foot arches that cause increased stress and result in the same problem.

Ice/anti-inflammatories, stretching, and deep tissue massage can help plantar fasciitis. In order for the condition to be resolved, however, the support for the arch of the foot must be improved. Strengthening muscles can often be a simple solution, but in more severe cases a special shoe or an orthotic may be necessary to provide ample support.

If you are experiencing on-going symptoms of foot pain, don’t wait to get it resolved. The longer you experience the pain, the worse the injury will become. It’s always easier to fix an injury when it’s a small one.

Dr. EagarDr. Eagar is a dual credentialed provider with degrees in sports medicine, chiropractic medicine, and exercise science.  Dr. Eagar owns Active Advantage, a private sports medicine practice with an emphasis on rehabilitation and chronic injury management.  He enjoys answering questions and can be reached at activeadvantagechiro@gmail.com.  For more general information you can visit his website http://www.activeadvantagechiro.com.

Chronic Injuries and Sports Massage

For many athletes, the injuries that have the greatest long-term impact are chronic injuries or injuries that occur over time with no obvious incident.  Chronic injuries include things like patellar tendonitis (aka Runner’s or Jumper’s knee), Achilles tendonitis, “shin splints”, shoulder impingement, IT Band syndrome, and bursitis to name a few.

With the exception of bursitis, all of these injuries share one common element.  That element is scar tissue as a result of microtrauma.  Microtrauma can occur from repeated overuse as seen in activities like distance running, swimming, jumping, biking, weight lifting, throwing, or any other activity performed numerous times in succession.  It can also be the result of a single injury such as an acute sprain, strain, or bruise that fails to completely resolve and is exacerbated by continued activity.

Once microtrauma has occurred the body begins the cycle of inflammation and repair.  Inflammation on it’s own is not a bad thing.  It is the body’s way of removing damaged tissues and preparing the site for healing.  Inflammation can cause problems when poorly controlled or when the healing is incomplete.  One of the results of this is the development of excessive or bulky scar tissue.  As the body heals it lays down rudimentary scar tissue without concern for future use.  This scar tissue should eventually be removed and replaced by more refined scar tissue and eventually fully repaired tissue.

It is important that old bulky scar tissue be broken down and removed by the body in order to break the chronic injury cycle.  Anti-inflammatory medications can help break the cycle of bad inflammation and pain, but do not actively address the formation of scar tissue in chronic injuries.  Sports massage, or deep tissue massage, is an intense therapy used to assist the body in breaking down scar tissue so that it can ultimately be removed through the normal cycle of inflammation and repair.

In addition, the use of sports massage can help to re-align collagen fibers as healing occurs.  This re-alignment is important to establish future strength in healthy tissues.  Based on Wolff’s law (and the expanded idea of Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands), which says that tissues will adapt to the stresses placed upon them, increasing tissue stress during healing (carefully!) will result in a better overall recovery.

The other significant benefit of sports massage is that it decreases the overall muscle hardness.  Muscle hardness might best be described as abnormally high tension within the muscle.  This increased tension predisposes the muscle and tendon to injury.  Post exercise stretching can help reduce this (see the post about cool down and stretching here), but once chronic injuries have begun sports massage may be necessary to decrease muscle hardness to the point where stretching can maintain normal muscle flexibility.

Is sports massage something every athlete needs or should have regularly?   Not necessarily.  Some people never experience these types of chronic injuries and many injuries never become chronic because they resolve on their own.  However, if you are experiencing on-going symptoms that fail to resolve, sports massage (along with rehabilitative exercise) may help speed your recovery and may help prevent a re-injury in the future.

Dr. EagarDr. Eagar is a dual credentialed provider with degrees in sports medicine, chiropractic medicine, and exercise science.  Dr. Eagar owns Active Advantage, a private sports medicine practice with an emphasis on rehabilitation and chronic injury management.  He enjoys answering questions and can be reached at activeadvantagechiro@gmail.com.  For more general information you can visit his website http://www.activeadvantagechiro.com.