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  For more general information you can visit his website

Triathlon Training: Cool Down, Recovery, and Flexibility

Cool Down, Recovery, and FlexibilityTriathlon Training: Cool Down, Recovery, and Flexibility

I’m sure that for many people when they cross the finish line all they want to do is collapse.  I can certainly understand that desire.  Sometimes it’s exhausting just watching you race!  Try to resist the temptation to stop immediately.  A good cool down and recovery can make all the difference for how your body avoids injury and continues to improve performance.

When completing an endurance event (or any exercise lasting longer than 15 minutes) it’s important to have a proper cool down routine.  A cool down involves continued activity at an easy pace for about 5-10 minutes.  Some people like a light jog, while others prefer to walk.  Where available a low resistance, slow-paced stationary bike is a great option.  You can also hop in a pool and do some lazy laps.  This allows for proper transition of your heart and muscles from a highly active state to a resting state.  The bottom line is to keep moving until heart rate and breathing have mostly normalized.

The other big aspect of recovery is to get fuel into the body.  This should include fluids (with electrolytes) and calories.  For more about electrolyte replacement see my tip about hydration.  Calories may seem like a no brainer, but there is actually an ideal way to do it.  The first part is timing.  You should eat within a few minutes of completing exercise.  During the first thirty minutes post exercise you have a significantly increased muscle protein synthesis, meaning your muscles are trying to recover and giving them the fuel to recover will improve that recovery.  After thirty minutes you still experience an elevated muscle protein synthesis, but it is not as great and is gone within about sixty minutes of exercise completion.

The second part of calorie replacement is what kind of calories.  Some people think that if you are rebuilding muscle then protein should be important.  Almost the opposite is true.  Excessive protein intake can decrease recovery effectiveness.  What your body has really lost is carbohydrate calories.  It needs to replace glucose and glycogen stores in order to rebuild muscle.  Try to consume about 100g of carbohydrates (roughly equivalent to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich) within those first thirty minutes post exercise.  You don’t want to make yourself sick by eating too much too fast, but those 100g are a good goal.  After that you should eat a good healthy diet the rest of the day and don’t starve your body.

The final step in cool down and recovery is flexibility.  Much of the research relating to flexibility training is about pre-exercise stretching and shows little to no effect, with the exception of dynamic flexibility (a topic for another time).  However, a recent study shows potential for decreased injury with static stretching (see the abstract here).  Flexibility is something I consider to be part of overall health.  Poor flexibility may contribute to back pain, shoulder pain, risk of muscle strains, and generally decreased body function.  Stretching won’t stop delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), but it may improve your overall well-being and help you avoid chronic injuries.

The best time to stretch is after you have been using your muscles.  Any muscle used should be stretched.  Since completing a triathlon involves heavy use of both upper and lower extremities you should be doing a full body stretch.  Include hamstrings, quadriceps, calves (both gastrocnemius and soleus muscles), iliotibial (IT) band, gluteals, piriformis, psoas, pectorals, and rotator cuff muscles.  Sounds like a lot?  You can do all this in less than ten minutes even if you hold each stretch for 30 seconds.

If you include these aspects into your recovery routine you’ll stay healthier through a long season and hopefully enjoy it even more.

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  For more general information you can visit his website

Hydration and Electrolyte Replacement: Why and How?

hydration and electrolyte replacement - triathlonsThere is already some great advice about hydration here on the RaceTri site, but I wanted to give a little more information for those who are looking for an advantage as they move forward with their training and competition goals.

 When we talk about hydration we should really divide it into two categories.  First, is simply good old H20.  You need water to function.  Failure to consume enough water can elevate blood pressure, contribute to increased risk of heat illness (including both heat exhaustion and heat stroke), and decrease muscle function.  If you break down the biochemistry you’ll see that water is a key component to basically every process in your body.  So make sure you drink enough water.  A good rule of thumb is one half cup per 20 minutes of exercise.

The second category of hydration is electrolyte replacement.  For this I recommend becoming aware of what I call the Big 3: sodium, potassium, and calcium.  These three are heavily involved in the normal function of muscles and nerves in the body.  This includes skeletal muscle as well as heart muscle.  Unfortunately, normal electrolyte levels can require a delicate balance to function well.  In all three cases the electrolyte in question can have negative effects when the levels are too high or too low.

For sodium, not getting enough is not usually the problem.  Even if you consciously eat a low sodium diet you probably still get plenty of it.  However, there is a condition called hyponatremia that most commonly affects endurance athletes.  Despite having adequate sodium in the diet, consuming large quantities of water without any electrolytes can dilute the concentration of sodium in the blood.  This is a serious medical emergency and the consequences may be severe.  The purpose here is not to scare you, but to make you more aware of the need to replace those electrolytes as you go.  This is why I recommend using a sports drink (or sports gel and water) containing electrolytes while you are doing any vigorous endurance exercise, especially if the conditions are hot and humid.

Potassium is almost an opposite of sodium.  Where most diets have more than adequate sodium, they often lack potassium.  There are two ways to combat this.  You can take a supplement or you can improve your diet.  The concern with taking a supplement is that it may not be absorbed as well and it may be too much.  Unlike sodium where too little is dangerous, having too much potassium can lead to a condition called hyperkalemia, which can also have severe consequences.  So I recommend getting your potassium from food sources.  Many people think of bananas as a great source for potassium, but better still are sweet potatoes and dark, leafy greens.  Here’s a link to other great food sources of potassium

Calcium is probably the least severe of the group since the body is very effective at regulating the concentration in the blood.  However, one of the ways this is done is by pulling calcium from bones when it becomes scarce.  This is one of the reasons female endurance athletes are more susceptible to conditions such as osteoporosis.  Dairy remains one the best sources for calcium, but can be accompanied by less healthy nutrients, especially if you think ice cream is the best way to get calcium.  In addition, many people choose to eliminate dairy due to personal choice or food allergies.  You can eat foods fortified with calcium (soy milk, some juices) or spinach and some other leafy greens.  The above link has tables for both typical dairy sources of calcium as well as non-dairy sources.

So what’s the bottom line for all this?  First, when hydrating during long exercise bouts, choose a sport drink (or gel and water) that contains sodium and potassium to reduce the risk of severe side effects.  Second, get enough calcium as part of your daily diet to prevent bone loss.  If you eat right and keep exercising you’ve put yourself in the best possible position to have a long healthy life.

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  For more general information you can visit his website


Mandy Seeley – RaceTri’s Athlete of the Week

Mandy Seeley - Triathlete of the Week

Our featured athlete of the Week
Mandy Seeley.  Mandy has graciously shared her amazing story and we are very proud of her.  GO MANDY!

“We’re calling for an ambulance to take you to the ER.” If my heart hadn’t already been pounding out 220 beats per minute (bpm) – fast enough to beat out of my chest and run back home to my freaked out kids in seconds, I’m sure hearing that announcement would have pushed it up into the 200+ range.ambulance

Everyone has their reason for doing triathlons. I have two. The first is that I have a heart condition called SVT, which means I have a circuit gone loco in my heart that causes it to beat too fast. The second reason is that for most of my life, I’ve listened to a couple of key people, and to the negative voices in my head, who tried to convince me I was stupid, ugly, and weak. My desire to overcome these challenges is why I do triathlons, and why I want to share my story with you.

Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)

 About a year and a half ago, I started having heart episodes lasting 30 seconds to my longest one of 11 hours. They happen at all times of the day or night. Sometimes I’m just sitting at work minding my own business. Sometimes it’s when I’m running or out for a long ride. If they last longer than 15 minutes, the pain kicks in and I pray with everything I’ve got that one of my techniques will make it stop. Caffeine, dehydration, bending over too fast, lack of sleep, and stress all make it worse.

The one I had last January was really bad, and landed me in the ER. The worst part was that because the EMT’s couldn’t find a vein to push some meds in the field (which is what usually happens), the ER doctors rounded up all their students to watch me when I came in so they could see what the meds do. If I hadn’t been so distressed by the pain, my first ambulance ride, and just wondering if my heart would ever slow down, having 20 pairs of eyes staring at me would have sent me diving under the covers. Once they had the paddles ready… just in case my heart didn’t restart on its own… the doctor worked his magic. It was the most uncomfortable 30 seconds of my life – but it did the trick. My heart stopped, and within seconds started back up at a normal rhythm. Within minutes, I was back to normal. Once the students realized they wouldn’t get to take turns yelling “Clear!” the room emptied faster than you can say S-V-T.

I’ve been on blood pressure medicine since then, but it hasn’t helped. My heart still acts up at random times. The longer episodes have been getting increasingly painful over the past few months. When I’m training, my heart has gotten up to at least 253 (but that’s as high as my Garmin has recorded). That and the medicine makes me really tired, and running faster than a 10-minute mile for an extended time is almost out of the question these days. It’s frustrating, and I hate feeling like I’m a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. I never know if this episode will be the last before my heart just poops out.

So I’ve decided to have an ablation surgery on April 4th. It’s not super complicated, but this is my heart we’re talking about. I’m nervous and scared, but also excited at the prospect of not having to worry about getting stranded on a run or passing out at the wheel or leaving my two kids motherless. I’m also excited to test the difference. I’m doing the Ice Breaker Triathlon five days pre-surgery and the Timp Triathlon nine days post-surgery.

Why am I doing this?

 Some may wonder why put my health at risk to do triathlons. There’s gotta be something easier right? Maybe. But for me, doing a triathlon is the first thing I’ve found that is helping me overcome the negative self-talk rumbling around in my grey matter at all hours of the day. From living with someone who constantly belittled me and made me feel like dirt for 8.5 years to just having the personality of constantly wanting to do better, be better, and never feeling good enough, it’s been hard for me to find a way to overcome this.

After three months of training, I overcame my fear of swimming – a huge accomplishment for me. I’ve done one sprint triathlon and have many tri’s scheduled this year. I have yet to find something that makes me feel better about myself than doing something I never thought I could do. I didn’t think I was strong enough to swim 750 meters, bike 12 miles, and run a 5k. But I did it! And that was enough to shut those stupid voices up. It taught me they’ve been lying. Because I can do anything I put my mind to. I’m not stupid, weak, or ugly. I am a triathlete.

So that’s why I’m not giving up. That’s why I’m having surgery to fix my heart. That’s why I’m training for my first Ironman in Cozumel in December. And that’s why I wanted to share my story with you. No matter what health condition you have, no matter what people – or your head – try to tell you, you can do it! You may not be as fast, or as skinny, or have the best gear as others. None of that matters. What does matter is knowing you’ve done something you never thought you could. And with that knowledge comes power – the power to make positive changes in your life. I am doing it. And so can you. Don’t give up. Just tri.

Mandy Seeley

Mandy Seeley - Triathlete of the Week

Getting ready for the swim at my first Tri – HITS Palm Springs sprint in Dec.


Finishing the bike


Crossing the finish line!

Keys to Winter Training

winter trainingFour Powerful Keys to Winter Training

by Hunter Allen

What you do this winter can really make or break your season in the coming year. Winter training is different for everyone since we live in different areas of the world and while some people spend a solid five months indoors, others can ride outside year round. However, there are some vital components to creating a very good winter training program and of course a power meter has a lot to do with it. Before you embark on your official winter training plan, you have to make sure you are well rested and recovered from the long season. Hopefully you have taken a couple weeks off and also given yourself at least two weeks of easy cross-training as this is essential to re-charging your physical and mental battery. Once you are rested, re-charged and ready to go, then your winter should contain at least these four important components: Focused indoor training workout, solid workouts in the “Sweet-Spot”, a cross-training routine and balanced rest period. These four components combine to provide you with a strong winter program that can give you one of the best winter’s ever. Let’s expand on each point, so that you can use them to your advantage.

In most of the US, the winter is quite cold and some of it is going to be spent on the indoor trainer. For all you southern California readers out there, keep on reading and try to incorporate some of these workouts into your routine as well. Even though most of us all love riding our bikes outside, the indoor trainer can provide some really great workouts, since there are no real distractions. No cars, no wind, no hills, no dogs, all things that can get in the way of focused session are not a worry on the indoor trainer. Once you have committed yourself to the indoor trainer and doing some workouts on it, then what workouts should you do? There are two basic types of workouts that I prescribe to my athletes in the winter. Almost all of the workouts that my athletes do in the winter are some permutation of these two basic types: Cadence based and ‘Sweet Spot’. Cadence based workouts typically do not stress the cardiovascular system, but are more focused on improving the muscular system and can range from high rpm efforts emphasizing neuromuscular power to very slow rpm efforts emphasizing muscular strength. What is the purpose of cadence based workouts and why should you do them this winter? The higher cadence workouts help to ensure that you maintain your ability to quickly contract and relax your muscles over the winter, which is a very important skill in cycling. By training your neuromuscular power, you can help to keep that critical ability to quickly change your cadence throughout winter and also enhance it. The indoor workouts for these are relatively simple and can also easily be done outside. One of my favorites is just simply one minute fast pedaling intervals, where you pedal over 110rpm for one minute and then pedal at your self-selected (normal) cadence for a minute and then repeat. This is a great ‘leg burner’, but does not get the heart rate too high and therefore push your training into more an anaerobic zone. On the other side of the coin, lower cadence workouts are also great to do in the winter because they can enhance your muscular strength, which can help you to sprint with more peak wattages and also help you to push a bigger gear into the wind, in a time trial or up a steep climb.

Muscular strength workouts are based around hard, but short intervals done in the biggest gear you can manage at a low rpm. Many people have long believed the myth that riding for hours in a big gear at a slow rpm will increase their muscular strength and consequently make them more ‘powerful’. However, this only makes you good at riding in a big gear at slow rpm’s! Riding at 50rpm for hours on end is just not creating enough muscular stress in order to strengthen the muscles. You can think of this analogy: If you are trying to bench press in a weight room 200lbs, then you need to start at 150lbs and build up to it with low reps, high sets and the most weight you can lift. You have to use heavier and heavier weights to stress the muscle in order for it adapt. Now, if you lifted 100lbs, but one million times, you would never adapt to lift 200lbs one time. This is similar in this ‘big gear’ myth in that when you are pedaling at 50rpm for hours on end, it’s just like lifting 100lbs for a million reps. While 100lbs (metaphorically speaking) is more than your normal pedaling force of 80lbs, it’s just not enough stress on the muscles to get them to strengthen. In order to increase your muscular strength on the bike, then you need to do hard, short bursts of effort in a big gear. For example, put your chain in the 53:12 gear and slow down to about 8-10mph, then while you stay seated, tighten your abdominals, grip your handlebars tightly and then with all your force, turn that gear over until you reach 80rpm. Once you have reached 80rpm, then the amount of force you are putting on the cranks has reduced to a point at which it’s just not enough stress to create muscular strength improvements. You should plan on doing about twenty of these power bursts in a session in order to create enough of an overload to achieve some benefits.

The second type of training that I prescribe to my athletes in the winter is called ‘Sweet Spot’ training (SST). When you ride just below your functional threshold power (FTP), approximately 88-93% of your FTP, you are said to be riding in your ‘Sweet Spot’. Why is it called the ‘sweet spot’? Well, if you examine the graphic below in Figure 1, you can see that when you are in this area of intensity, the level of physiological strain (read-amount of pain!) is relatively low, while the maximum duration (read-time) that you can stay in this area is quite high. As well, you can see that your increase in FTP is greatest in this area, so training in your ‘sweet spot’ really gives you a tremendous ‘bang for your buck’. When you do SST, start out with 15-30 minute efforts and gradually build up to 60-120 minute efforts if you can. These efforts are not easy ones, but you will get a tremendous cardiovascular benefit from doing them this winter. Make sure to do at least one to two sessions per week like this and you’ll see a big difference in your FTP come February.

Cross-training is another key to winter success that I believe in. One of the most important cross-training exercises you can do this winter is some type of core abdominal exercises combined with stretching. A Pilates or yoga class can really help you to develop some strong abdominals which in turn help you to transfer energy from your upper body into your legs and also help to protect your back from injury as well. A yoga class can help lengthen your muscles to put more suppleness in your muscles and also help to prevent injury. If you can, take a class a week or do a video, and that will be enough to make a difference.

For cardio-vascular work, I recommend doing some mountain biking, hiking, trail running, roller blading and also cross-country skiing if you have the snow! Just keep it fun and not too intense, as cross-training is supposed to enhance your cycling and not cause injury or major cardiovascular stress. One caution about starting a new exercise … take it easy for the first 2 weeks. I once had a client that was very fit, and decided to just go out and run 10 miles in the first day of cross-training. Needless to say, he was barely able to walk for the next two weeks and inadvertently pulled a muscle which forced him to take three weeks off completely. So, just be careful and break yourself in slowly when you start doing a new exercise. Cross-training is great to do in the off-season, since we don’t really move our muscles in multiple planes on the bicycle, and it provides some great muscular and cardiovascular stimulus.

The final component of a successful winter program is rest. It doesn’t sound like it’s that big of a deal, but too much training in the winter will make you a “January Star”. It is great to train hard in the winter, as that is the key to really pushing yourself to the next level for the coming year, but if you constantly train hard in the winter, then you’ll peak in January. The key to increasing your FTP this winter and making that your new ‘normal’ fitness level is that you only train intensely for two days in a row. After two intense days, give yourself a rest and then come back again to training. Every other week, make sure that you give yourself two days of easy training after two hard days, so that you can keep your battery charged. Your goal this winter is to never let your ‘batteries’ charge go below 97%. With two days of hard training, your battery will be a 97%, so a day off or day of easy training will allow it to re-charge back to 100%. That way you can balance hard training with proper rest, enter into the season fresh and strong, while at the same time you haven’t turned into one of those rides that wins all of the January rides!

These four components of winter training all combine successfully to ensure that you will create your best winter of training ever. A proper winter program will push up your FTP to the next level, maintain your ability to change cadences and arrive at the start of the season with a fresh mind and ready body for a strong and long season! Be sure to keep your focus this winter as the winter really is the time for you to rise to the next level and make this a breakthrough season!

Winter Outdoor Running Tips

By Coach Lora Erickson,

Many people are nervous to run outside; but it’s really fun to run in the snow and it can be a great break from the treadmill.  Personally I don’t own a treadmill and frankly it bores me, so I am an outdoor runner all.the.way.  I like to have things to look at and move past, so I run outdoor year round.  Yes, even in the deep snow like we are seeing in Utah this time of year.  When I started running nearly 30 years ago they didn’t have the winter running clothes selection they do now-a-days.  You can find gear for any weather conditions, so there are really no excuses.  Here are some tips for running in the snow.

  • Invest in a good pair of trail shoes.  They have more traction and are more water proof to keep your feet warm and dry.  Regular training shoes are very “airy” and allow more water in.  I have never needed to supplement with spikes or traxs for traction when I use trail shoes.  The shoes work just fine for me.
  • Gators keep the snow from coming in the top of the shoes.  Short ones, like the ones I am wearing in the picture at the top of this blog post are perfect.
  • Dress in layers, 10-15 degrees cooler than it is outside.  You will get warm when you run.  I usually double up with two light weight dry wicking shirts (one long sleeve) with running tights and do just fine.  If you dress in layers it’s easy to adjust your temperature by peeling of a layer when needed.  In temperatures 20°s or below (when it’s snowing a lot) I add a light weight waterproof breaker.  I usually wear gloves with my wool mittens (they look like oven mitts but I’m warm) and my Blonde Runner earwarmer head band too.   (pictured below)

  • Wear visible clothes, use lights and try to run in a group.  Safety in numbers.
  • I don’t usually wear a facemask but some people do.  I’ve seen a funny hat/facial hair combo for sale before.  Check this out:
  • If possible run in the daytime when it’s easier to be seen and you can view your footing better.
  • If you run in the road, run against traffic and move over for vehicles.
  • Run on cleared sidewalks whenever possible.  Snowblowers cut perfect running paths on sidewalks.  This will also keep you safe from cars that might lose control and slide.
  • Be aware of your surrounds.  Watch for vehicles pulling in or out of driveways or roadway turns.
  • Be careful of slanted drive ways or cambered roads.  These paths can be extra slippery because of the angle.
  • Choose wide road ways with less traffic whenever possible.  More space is always good.
  • If it’s currently snowing, wear a hat with a brim.  This will keep the snow out of your eyes and prevent you from blinking yourself to death (grin).
  • Take it slow around corners; I try to keep my feet flat and resist pushing off my toes which can cause you to slip.  When you keep your feet flat it gives you more surface area which is more stable.  I usually shift my center of balance back slightly to do this.
  • Run on fresh snow rather than packed snow or ice, you will have better traction.
  • Be careful when you are running on areas with refrozen tracks, they are hard to see especially if new snow has fallen over them.  They can create unexpected dips and grooves that can make you turn your ankle.  Be sure and warm up and stretch your ankles before you head out.
  • It takes extra time to warm up in the winter, so be sure and a lot more of your workout to warming up.  I often warm up on my indoor bicycle before I go out for a run.
  • Stay hydrated.  In the winter months it’s not as tempting to drink water and the dry air takes a lot of moisture from our body as we breathe.  Be sure and drink water with electrolyte regularly.  To learn more read my Cellular Hydration post here:
  • Make a workout of it.  To mix it up I like to utilize the deep soft snow by running in it for 30-60 second intervals.  It’s really great for strengthening your lower abs, quads, core and hipflexors.
  • Have a blast!  It’s fun to run in the snow!

Run Happy,

Coach Lora Erickson

To learn more about running, take my Running Class Saturday January 26, 2013, 9:30 – 11 a.m.
To learn more visit  or contact Coach Lora directly at

Want to do a Triathlon? Advise From a Newbie


kristy-uzelacI asked my good friend and co-worker Kristi Uzelac, what advise you would give someone who want to do a sprint triathlon. Kristi trained and participated in her first triathlon in October and is looking to do more this year.

Ooh this is a great question!  Did I tell you about the time I quit track because the coach wanted me to run the 400? One lap around the track and I quit!? Mind you, at the time I was running the 300 hurdles, which probably took the same amount of energy, but still! “Sorry coach, I’m not a distance runner, here is my uniform.”

I started running years later only for the free Great Harvest bread at the finish line of races…don’t judge. But now as I get older, I realize that I just like being around people and it’s a fun way to just get out there and do it, every day! When it came to deciding to doing the tri I was nervous as h3!! But don’t think just because you can jog and ride a bike and you like the pool doesn’t mean you can do it all in one day, because that’s exactly what I thought. It wasn’t until a month or so into training that I realized that I had to really focus on my weakness, the swim.

For me, I have to stick to a training schedule or I will fail and fall hard. I’m the laziest person I know but the most determined/competitive person anyone would dare to challenge. If I have something in front of me that I can see and cross of my list on a daily basis, you better believe I’m going to cross it off.  I was nervous going into the training and even the Tri but once into the race and after, I realized how much I LOVED biking.  I knew I liked biking around on my beach cruiser but pedaling on a road bike opened a whole new world to me, it was SO EASY and felt so free. I couldn’t get enough of it and wanted to bike all the time!

I will definitely do more tri’s.  I love that the sprint is just the right amount of distance for me in the swim, bike and run. It’s perfect!  I know what to work on for the swim, what to expect when I’m in the water, the transitions, to pack tissues to blow my nose so I can breath while I eat on the bike, and to know that even though my legs feel like they are lugging around my feet buried in cement for the first .5 miles of the run, it will break off and I can sprint my way in because technically I was half way through the race mid bike, “I’ve got this” and I’m more than on the down hill slope to the finish line, time to bring it home!

🙂  Two fists to the wind!


Kristy Uzelac

Moving From a Sprint Triathlon Distance to an Olympic Distance

Sprint distance triathlon to olympic distace

Sprint distance triathlon to olympic distaceBefore I start this article I want to be clear that doing a sprint triathlon is not easy and it can be more challenging that a olympic and even a half. Because participating in any triathlon is an individual effort, you make it what you want it to be. I know a few folks that all they race is sprint distances. They enjoying the feeling of going all out and their training regimen is focused on the that distance alone. That being said, this article is on moving from a sprint to an olympic distance.

When I began in the sport my plan was to do a sprint, then an olympic and eventually a half. I’m still mulling over moving to a full ironman, but the training time and cost are holding me back. I’ll make that decision around Jan 1.

I began training for a sprint by running and getting in the pool. I felt comfortable on the bike, so I need to spend more time focusing on my weak spots. As I trained, I knew I was going to do a full, so that’s what I was really training for so it wasn’t a big deal to move past the sprint distances. After two months of training I felt confident that I could do a sprint and survive. Instead of signing up for one and paying a bunch of money, I set aside some time every Friday to be my sprint days. I created my own sprint, swim, bike and run in one go the sprint distance. This was excellent, I was able to work on my transitions, and gained more confidence each time. If you can get a friend to join you it makes it even better as long as you set the ground rules – I’m not a competitive person, I like to run my race my way. If I’m feeling good I’ll put on the speed but I don’t feel like it, I don’t. So as along as my partner knows this and is cool with doing the same it works out great.

When making the transition, for most people its the longer swim in open water that holds them back. It’s true that there is a difference, but you can do it. Read our posts on open water swimming, attend a swim clinic, watch youtube videos, there are plenty of resources on open water swimming to help. As far as the distance goes, just spend more time in the pool. You don’t need to be fast, you just need to be comfortable and able. I’ve found that swimming in a 50 meter pool is a huge plus when changing distances. 16 laps feels so much better than 32 shorties. Breaking up your laps in to longer laps is also helpful, instead of taking a break every lap, take a break after two then four laps, this breaks up the swim into manageable segments that helps you feel a sense of accomplishment and eases the counting or remembering of laps. I have a hard time counting laps after 6, my brain gets all mushy unless I say the number out loud after each lap.
I was told once that -in swimming- after a mile its all downhill. I’ve found that to be very true. 16 laps or 32 laps, it’s just about time, not physical effort – this is a personal statement, when I’m going for distance, not speed.

The bike and the run, increasing your distance at the standard 10% rule is a good way to do it, I tend to go 20% on both, but to each their own. Doubling the bike distance isn’t that challenging, but take the time to work your way into it. If you feel absolutely wasted after a ride, you have over done it. Mentally keep in mind that you’ve got to run after that ride, so keep your reserves in check.

Running, on race day that 6 miles can feel a whole lot longer than your training days. Keep that in mind as you train. Run longer distances than your race as you train. Speed drills will help you know how much you’ve got and what your body can do if you need it to. Triathlons are all about the experience of knowing your body and being surprised that you can do more than you thought. Your running will speed increase slowly with time, you’ll get faster as you keep running.

You can do it, finishing your first olympic is amazing, beating your time from that first is even better.

Preparing and Training for Your First Triathlon

Preparing and training for your first triathlonPreparing and training for your first triathlon

You can do it! Let that be my first bit of advice when preparing and training for your first triathlon.  All you’ve got to do is cross the finish line and you will be awarded the title of triathlete.  For most of us the reasons for signing up for a triathlon are peer pressure, looking for another challenge, or a combination of both.  That is exactly what you need to have in preparing for your first triathlon, support and the excitement of challenging yourself.  I have been inspired by so many who have been doing triathlons for years but never really considered myself a candidate because I am a terrible runner.  Everyone comes into the sport with a weak spot.  I suspect that for most it’s swimming, that’s very understandable since most of us haven’t spent time in the pool outside of the irregular hotel stay or pool party during the summer months.  Overcoming your weakness isn’t an overnight deal.  It takes serious commitment, but you can do it.  One of my favorite books that I’ve never read, but am completely in love with is “Slow, Fat, Triathlete.”   Yep, I’ve never read it, but I love the sentiment.  You don’t have to be quick, slim, and super fit to be a triathlete, you just have to participate and finish.  OK, so here’s how I would approach preparing and training for your first triathlon.

Determine Your Goals

Determine how long your first triathlon will be. Starting your training for your first triathlon will all depend upon what your current aerobic levels are and what your goals are. What distance do you want to do? 1/2 sprint, sprint or olympic? A sprint length – 15miles total is a great first choice. Training will allow you to build up endurance, shed some extra pounds, improve your health immensely AND will not take a lot of time out of your busy schedule. If you are starting from scratch, I would recommend triathlons with total mileage between 15 to 20 miles. This will allow you to ‘test’ yourself. You will be able to get familiar with your technique in the two transition areas – T1 and T2, it will allow you to test your equipment PLUS you will have a good time since you will not be concerned with placing your first time.

I will focus on getting you through your first sprint program – 15 miles.

Building A Base (2-6 Months)

Very important first step. We can not just go out and run 5 miles or swim a 1/2 mile to start with? Our joints will fall apart! We need to get our joints used to these new stresses that we will be putting on them. Joints take longer to build up than aerobic stamina. So we build a base. A simple walk/run routine is best. Overweight beginners may find that their knees hurt when starting a conservative running program. NOT TO WORRY! You may be better off starting with biking and shedding off some extra pounds before running. Brisk walking for a few weeks will really help your body transition to jogging and then to running. Your joints will thank you. Everyone has varying degrees of fitness, some are active, but just not used to doing the particular sport.  Listen to your body and be patient. You don’t need to be able to run 3 miles, bike 14, and swim 500-800 meters tomorrow.  Use each week to slowly advance and by race day you’ll be mentally and physically prepared.

Rule#1: The most important rule is to follow the 10% rule. Never go up in training distance or duration by more than 10% the following week. If you do, you will be sorry.

Rule#2: Always schedule a ‘rest’ week once a month. One of the most important aspects to training is REST! You can’t keep going up by 10% every week – you will burn out. You need a 30-50% decrease in duration/distance AND intensity for a whole week at least once a month. Not to worry, you will not lose your base but will come back stronger.

With these rules, you can easily come up with a routine in the run, bike, or swim.

When building a base, try to do your single event training 3-4 times/week.

If you are new to training, focus on just either the run or the bike for 2-6 months – yes months – to build up your aerobic base. You may find that starting all three sports at once will be too much. Once you have focused on one event for 2-6 months, then you may add the next/other one or two in with your training while ALWAYS following rules 1 and 2.

Swim, Bike and Run Training Plan

Once you have built a base, you can start training for all three sports. Typically for a sprint triathlon, you only need to train twice a week in each of the three sports. That is 6 days with one rest day. OR you can have one day where you do two events, say a swim then a run. Then four others days where you just do one training session per day. That will give you two days off per week (my favorite).

To make your training schedule, follow the Rules (1 and 2), and make a plan where you swim, bike and run two times/week.

For weak events, you may slip in a third day of training per week for that specific event to help.

Tips for running, if you are like me and running is not your fun sport, start by walking/jogging for one mile, do this every-other day for a week – possibly two.  Then advance to jogging the whole mile 3x a week.  After this point you can begin to increase your distance and you’ll find that your pace will naturally increase as your body becomes accustomed to the journey.

Tips for biking, similar to running start off with casual rides, short distances at a conversational pace, but frequently.  Everyday or if possible twice a day, this gets your bottom used to the saddle and your legs and knees ready to add some distance.  After a week or two, take a longer bike ride, 7 miles or so, and take a nice rest day afterward.  Make time for a long bike rides every week and increase your milage each time.  It won’t take very long before your doing 20 or 30 mile rides.  These make great Facebook posts.

Tips for swimming, do not be surprised that you find yourself unbelievably out of breath and out of your comfort zone your first couple times in the pool.  Swimming is not something our bodies do naturally, using arms instead of legs, being vertical instead of horizontal, and breathing out face down in the water and breathing in on your side. Give yourself a at least two weeks of swim time before making any rash decisions.  Most people believe they are bad swimmers, until they realize they just need a little coaching and some time in the water.  Ask for help while at the pool.  I am seriously grateful for an older gentalman 70+ who gave me some pointers and a lot of encouragement when I first got in the water.  Go easy and push yourself when you feel you are ready.  Watch youtube videos on swimming, practice your stroke outside of the pool, and do push-ups to increase arm strength. After you can swim one mile, its all downhill from there. If you can float on your back, you’ll never drown.

Here is an example:











Run-20 min

Off Bike-X Run-20 min Swim-X Off Bike-X



Run-22 min

Off Bike-X+10% Run-22 min Swim-X+10% Off Bike-X+10%

Pre-Race Training – Final 13 weeks

For the final 13 week leading up to your sprint triathlon, go to Sprint Program

I recommend only one book to start your training whatever your current level is. The book is Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals by Steven Jonas, M.D. This is the best book for starting from scratch. Steven Jonas does triathlons for fun, not professionally, so it is very easy to relate to.

Besides learning how to run or to train for a triathlon, I also have The Next Level (weight-lifting). From having the experience of doing both at the same time, I would encourage you to check out both sites. BUT if your just starting any exercise routine after a long hiatus then pick your favorite. Contrary to popular belief, you actually can lose weight on a lifting routine if you are serious and don’t go to the gym for social hour. This would consist of a routine with lots of reps – so as not to build a lot of muscle (lots of muscle is counter-productive for the serious triathlete) combined with a walk/jog routine (Starting from Scratch). This might be a smarter way to start-up than starting training for all three of the triathlon events at once.

Starting with a weight training program with the walk/jog routine will build up your bone density, strengthening your joints, getting your muscles awakened from their long sleep. It will take a couple of months for your metabolism to ‘reorganize’ itself. Your cells will take this period to reconfigure its bio-machinery: enzymatic pathways, energy systems, different metabolic pathways, etc…this is a big step to get used to – your body has probably been in hibernation for quite a while. During this period you will feel sore, maybe worn out at times…you will probably not want to go back to the gym most of the time BUT if you can hold out for 2-3 months you will start feeling better, a lot less sore and you will start having confidence – getting that mental edge. Once this happens, you will start gaining momentum in your workout and how you feel. This feeling will auto-accelerate so you will want to go to the gym now! If you don’t go then you will feel ‘drowsy’ from doing nothing since doing nothing is allowing your metabolism to slow.

In preparing and training for your first triathlon – always remember, you can do this!  Start of easy and slow, and keep at it.  Post your accomplishments on Facebook, this will give you the encouragement and maybe a training partner or two to help you along your journey to becoming a triathlete.

Your thoughts on training for your first triathlon:

  • Who inspired you to begin training for your first triathlon?
  • What steps would you suggest for something thinking about preparing and training for a triathlon
  • How do you train and prepare for a triathlon during the winter?

Discount Codes for Triple Play, Grand Slam, The Olympian, and THE WORKS

To sign up for any of the Multi-Event discounts you can use the following codes

TripleRT2017 – Use this code when signing up for the Salem Spring (sprint distance), Rock Cliff (Olympic distance), and the Utah Half to get a 15% discount and to become eligible for a special award upon completion of these three challenging events – to be awarded at the Utah Half. Must sign up for all the events at once and use the code to be eligible. IMG_6590


GrandRT2017 – Use this code to sign up for all of RaceTri’s sprint distance events (IceBreaker, Salem, RockCliff, Herriman, Yuba) to get a 15% discount and to gain eligibility for a special prize upon completion at the Camp Yuba Classic. Must sign up for all the events at once and use the code to be eligible.


Grand Slammers



 OlyRT2017 – use this code. Introducing – The Olympian – Race and complete all three RaceTri Olympic Distance events – The OlympianRock Cliff, Herriman, and Yuba!!! Must sign up for all the events at once and use the code to be eligible.






WorksRT2017 – Use this code to sign up for all of RaceTri’s events competing at the longest distance available at each event (i.e. at Rock Cliff and Yuba, you’ve got to do the Olympic) – you’ll get a 15% discount and be eligible for a special award at the conclusion of the Camp Yuba Classic. Must sign up for all the events at once and use the code to be eligible.

The Works pic

The 2013 works finishers hold their personalized medal hangers that will display all their racetri bling!

 Jared Jones displays his 2012 finisher hardware with his Triple Play, and Grand Slam trophies. Also pictured is his podium finisher medals from Rock Cliff & Camp Yuba.  Thanks for the share Jared and great job in 2012!