Triathlete.com http://www.triathlete.com The latest triathlon gear, training, nutrition, photos, races, movers, shakers, and more Tue, 06 Dec 2016 18:24:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 http://www.triathlete.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/apple-touch-icon-180x180-120x120.png Triathlete.com http://www.triathlete.com 32 32 Keeping Your Bike Clean With Muc Off http://www.triathlete.com/2016/12/gear-tech/keeping-bike-clean-muc-off_296629 Tue, 06 Dec 2016 17:45:53 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=296629 As the saying goes, a clean bike is a fast bike. While you should clean your bike regularly throughout the year, it can be even […]

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As the saying goes, a clean bike is a fast bike. While you should clean your bike regularly throughout the year, it can be even more important during the winter months when there is more dirt and grit on the roads. Keeping your bike in good working condition takes less than 20 minutes, especially when you have all the right tools. UK based Muc Off started with motorcycle cleaners in 1991 and has since branched out to the automotive and bike industry. Trusted by the likes of Team Sky, their line of cleaners, lubes, brushes and more is impressive. I put a few of their products to the test to see how well these purpose built products worked.

Cleaning

The first step was a general cleaning with their bright pink Nano Tec degreaser ($15). All that was needed was to spray it on, let it sit, then brush it down.

The 5 brush kit ($40) allows you to get to all the critical parts without struggling to reach the smaller areas. The large Soft Washing Brush made it easy to get the major stuff like large tubes. The Detailing Brush worked well for smaller areas like between aerobars and around the cranks. The special shapes of the Wheel and Component Brush were good for quickly getting between spokes and into odd angles. The Claw Brush worked out the grit and grime from my chain and drivetrain. Finally, the large Two Prong Brush was good for hitting the bottom bracket and cranks.

While the brushes worked well, the biodegradable degreaser did a great job of getting the majority of the grit off my bike. The amount I had to scrub was kept to a minimum, though the high traffic areas like the underside of your bottom bracket and crank area will need some extra attention.

After a quick rinse, the next step was to work specifically on the drivetrain. In addition to slowing you down, squeaky chains and pulleys are an annoyance for those around you. Again, this was a relatively straight forward affair. After shaking up the biodegradable Drivetrain Cleaner ($20) and spraying it on my chain, chainrings, cogs and derailleurs I waited few minutes and hit the dirt with the Claw Brush. Another quick rinse took care of any leftover residue.

Protecting

Muc Off’s Bike Protectant ($15) is a preventive step that helps keep your frame clean. I like this product since it keeps with the theme of reducing build up before it starts. For riders in cold climates, riding in the winter means more grit, sand and general debris on the road so your frame could use a little extra protection. Good for carbon, metal, rubber and other surfaces, this spray provides a protective layer that stops dirt from sticking to your bike. Like the other steps, all I had to do was spray it on, though Muc Off does warn you to avoid spraying your tires and rims.

Lubing

The last step of the process is to lube your chain. There are many options depending on the conditions, and of course Muc Off has all of those covered. For road rides on dry roads, I chose the C3 Dry Ceramic Lube ($13). For cyclocross, I chose the ultra lush Team Sky Hydrodynamic Lube ($28). Both are applied like any other lube, however, Muc Off provides a small UV light to shine on the chain to ensure that every link is covered.

Both lubes worked extremely well. During a wet and muddy ‘cross race my shifting remained smooth and I had noticeably less debris on my chain. On dry road rides, I did feel that the ceramic coating added some efficiency.

Final Thoughts

Yes, you can you use a generic degreaser, a brush and some rags to get your bike clean. However, it will take you much longer and you likely won’t have as clean a bike. And no, a protective spray is not a must, but again, preventing grimy build up in the first place cuts down on the work later.

All the products from Muc Off are well thought out with a purpose and performed well. Having the right tools for the job allowed me to get my bike cleaned and prepped in less time than ever. It also took less effort as I let the cleaners simply do their job. Afterwards, my drivetrain felt more efficient and everything was whisper quiet. The added bonus of cleaning your bike is that it can keep you motivated knowing that your machine is ready when you are.

For all the time you spend abusing your bike, make it a habit to give it some love. If not for the bike, do it for yourself since a well maintained bike makes your ride that little bit more enjoyable. Smooth and silent, that is how a bike should be.

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One-Hour Workout: Monthly Swim Ladder http://www.triathlete.com/2016/12/training/one-hour-workout-monthly-swim-ladder_109091 Tue, 06 Dec 2016 15:22:58 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=109091 Use this swim ladder to test your fitness and improvement over time.

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This week’s swim workout comes from Dan Graovac, a USAT Level I coach and the owner of Boston-based GForce Multisport. “I like to give my athletes a swim ladder to test their fitness and improvement over time,” Graovac says. “After an initial warm-up, the main set includes a timed swim ladder of approximately 1 mile. Do this once a month and compare total time for the ladder. If you are improving you should be getting faster each time you repeat the ladder.”

RELATED: What Are The Best Test Sets For Swimming?

Monthly Swim Ladder

Warm-up:
800 total as:
200 easy swim
200 kick with no fins
200 easy swim
200 pull

Main Set:
Swim ladder (in yards followed by rest in seconds)
25 :05
50 :10
75 :10
100 :10
125 :15
150 :15
175 :20
200 :25
175 :20
150 :20
125 :20
100 :20
75 :25
50 :25
25 DONE!

Cool-down:
As needed

RELATED – Quick Set Friday: Pre-Season Test Set

More one-hour workouts.

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How To Qualify For Kona, From Age Groupers Who Just Did It At Ironman Arizona http://www.triathlete.com/2016/12/ironman/kona-bound-athletes-share-advice-aspiring-qualifiers_296596 Mon, 05 Dec 2016 22:12:13 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=296596 We chat with 12 of the Kona qualifiers from Tempe to get their advice on earning the right to race at the Ironman World Championship.

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The Importance of Staying Hydrated During Winter Training http://www.triathlete.com/2016/12/nutrition/importance-staying-hydrated-winter-training_296584 Mon, 05 Dec 2016 18:15:55 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=296584 As the weather turns colder, many intrepid triathletes continue to brave the elements to get in their workouts.

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As the weather turns colder, many intrepid triathletes continue to brave the elements to get in their workouts. You may be heading out for a trail run, hike, snowshoe, cross country ski or fat bike for fun, but you still need to pay attention to how well you hydrate.

What happens when you workout out in the cold

Nick Suffredin, a race day fueling expert, avid triathlete and Director of Research and Development for Post Holdings Active Nutrition Division, explains how your body reacts differently when you train in the cold versus warmer conditions. “With every breath in the cold air you lose a great deal of fluid,” he says. “When you add on the amount of extra clothing you are exercising in and you are still perspiring, typically your body will have to work much harder than it normally would due to the extra weight. Don’t forget that sweat evaporates quicker in the cold, dry air.”

To make things worse, Suffredin points out that your thirst response is not as active in cold temperatures as it is in warm temperatures. So while your body may be working harder, you won’t feel as thirsty. This leads to not drinking enough during their workouts and becoming dehydrated. For longer sessions, say a cross country ski workout, this can be a very big problem.

Andy Blow, the founder of Myh2pro, agrees saying, “If you’re working hard, you won’t sweat much less than you do in the summer. Bear that in mind for all of your high intensity winter sessions your hydration needs will still be pretty large.”

Learn your sweat rate

The first step to ensuring that you have a good winter hydration plan is to know what your sweat rate is. Sweat rate is very individual and depends on your current fitness, gender, clothing, level of acclimation to the conditions and more. Even if you have done a sweat rate test before, it’s worth doing one in cold temperatures to see how different conditions may affect your sweat rate.

To learn your sweat rate, start by recording your nude body weight prior to exercising. When you are done, dry yourself off the best you can and record your nude body weight again. Record what and how much you consumed of fluids during your exercise. Subtract your pre-exercise weight from your post-exercise weight and add the amount of fluid you consumed to that number.  This tells you the amount of fluid you lost while exercising. Then divide that number by the amount of hours you exercised for and that will equal your sweat rate. Record the weather conditions to see how your sweat rate fluctuates.

Stay warm

Staying warm is not just about being comfortable. Blow points out that if you don’t stay warm, you can lose extra fluid through cold diuresis. Cold diuresis typically occurs during mild to moderate hypothermia. It is believed to be caused by blood being redirected from your extremities to your core. This causes the arterial cells of your kidneys to sense a rise in blood pressure and as a result your kidneys excrete more fluid to balance out the pressure. In turn, the kidneys produce more urine, filling your bladder and creating the urge to urinate. The more often you go to the bathroom, the more fluid you will lose. While the basic concept is not overly complex, this phenomenon is still not completely understood by scientists and it does seems to affect some people a lot more than others.

Preventing cold diuresis is fairly straightforward. Dressing warm enough, paying special attention to your hands and feet, will keep your body from sending too much blood to your core.

Hydration guidelines and advice

“In general, overall fluid and electrolyte requirements will be a bit lower than they are in the summer for most athletes,” says Blow. “However with the above points plus the fact that most of the sweating that happens to athletes in training is driven by their work rate not just the environment it is true that you’ll need to keep an eye on hydration in the winter and not just worry about it when the summer comes around again.”

Your hydration goal of any workout should be to minimize fluid loss. The standard guidelines of approximately 16 to 20 ounces of fluid per hour still apply during the winter. With a repressed thirst mechanism, you may want to se a timer on your watch for every 15 to 20 minutes to remind yourself to take a drink. Plus, there are several great drinks on the market that are designed to be warmed up for colder weather. Pour them into an insulated bottle for a drink that will not only hydrate you but also keep you warm.

Winter training can be as difficult as what you do in the summer, so be prepared. Dress warmly, make sure you bring enough hydration with you, and drink at regular intervals. These simple steps will keep you training through the cold and enjoying your workouts.

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Video: Single-Leg Dead Lift Strength Exercise http://www.triathlete.com/2016/12/training/single-leg-dead-lift-4_53097 Mon, 05 Dec 2016 15:10:45 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=53097 This essential injury-prevention exercise for runners strengthens the hips, engages the hamstrings and gets the glutes firing.

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In this video, Tim Crowley and friends show us the single-leg dead lift, an essential injury-prevention exercise for runners that strengthens the hips, engages the hamstrings and gets the glutes firing.

More “Monday Minute” videos.

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3 Premium Hitch Racks To Haul Your Bike http://www.triathlete.com/2016/12/bike/3-premium-hitch-racks-haul-bike_296577 Mon, 05 Dec 2016 13:35:30 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=296577 These three premium racks are some of the most popular two-bike haulers on the market and should be at the top of your wish list.

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Screen Shot 2016-12-05 at 6.29.20 AM
Kuat Sherpa 2.0


The process of figuring out the best rack to haul your bikes can be more daunting than finding your dream bike. There’s a heap of different rack styles and loads of models within each style. Hitch racks are the easiest to load, can hold a variety of different bikes and won’t have much of an effect on your gas mileage compared to roof racks. The downsides: They weigh more and are typically more expensive than trunk or roof racks. But when considering all the variables, hitch racks are worth the splurge—particularly if you tend to drive into garages with bikes on top of your car.

These three premium racks are some of the most popular two-bike haulers on the market and should be at the top of your wish list. All three can accommodate 1.25-inch or 2-inch hitch receivers and have available add-on extensions to allow you to carry two additional bikes.

Kuat Sherpa 2.0

$489, Kuatracks.com

With a powder-coat finish topped by a protective clear coat, the Sherpa 2.0 won’t look out of place on your luxury vehicle. But its dashing good looks are just the start of this rack’s impressive features. The foot-actuated tilt lever, which tilts the rack away from your car so you can access the trunk or tailgate, makes this rack stand out. If you’re transporting your tri bike on race day, a softer material on the inside of the rear wheel straps won’t scratch your carbon rims. With wheel cradles that can accommodate tires up to three inches wide, your fat-tire toys can hitch a ride too. At only 32 pounds, this rack weighs about 20 pounds less than the competition, is easy to assemble and can be taken off your car in a few minutes without using tools. It comes with one semi-integrated lock and is available in black, white or black with orange accents.

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How To Pick Your Off-Season Goal http://www.triathlete.com/2016/12/training/how-to-pick-your-off-season-goal_126276 Fri, 02 Dec 2016 19:00:18 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=126276 You’ve just spent a season pushing your body to its limits, so think of the off-season as a time of recovery.

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You’ve just spent a season pushing your body to its limits, so think of the off-season as a time of recovery. While it’s a period within the annual plan to take both a mental and physical break from the focus and intensity of the past few months, it’s also an opportunity to set long-term goals, note any weaknesses and take steps to improve in those areas.

Refine your SBR skills

How effective is your swim stroke? Does your running form need tweaking? Are you pedaling efficiently? Most coaches don’t like to introduce major technique changes during the season because you often take a few steps backward before the big performance gain comes. The off-season is the time to work on refining technique and form.

Change body composition

The off-season is also a time to hit the weight room to gain lean muscle mass, or to increase strength in any areas you are lacking. If you’ve put on a few pounds, it’s easier to lose weight now rather than at the height of competition. If your dietary habits need an overhaul, use this time when you have a reduced training load, which could mean more free time to test nutritious recipes and come up with some “go-to” meals you can whip up in the busier months.

Address weaknesses

Continue to work on core strength and stability and exercises to address any muscle imbalances or lingering injuries. A lot of triathletes have restricted range of motion, so I also recommend exercises that address mobility, especially in the hip flexors, ankles and shoulders.

Rediscover your life balance

As triathletes, we have driven personalities, and sometimes that means our lives get out of balance. Use this time to evaluate your own situation. Did any aspect of your life suffer as you focused on training last year? Take this time to reconnect and nurture important relationships.

Up the fun factor

Don’t forget that triathlon is supposed to be fun. Schedule a workout with friends you don’t normally train with or try out that new group class that didn’t fit into your structured training plan.

The off-season sets the foundation for a successful year. Take some time to recover, and then begin working on those small details that will give you big gains for 2017!

Kim Peek is a triathlon coach based in Kansas City with certifications from USAT, USATF, Newton, Lydiard and RRCA. Her website is Powerofrun.com.

RELATED: 7 Habits To Create In The Off-Season

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Quick Set Friday: Time Out http://www.triathlete.com/2016/12/training/quick-set-friday-time_296566 Fri, 02 Dec 2016 14:24:00 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=296566 Most swim workouts are based on distances you must complete in certain intervals. Here, we flip that approach.

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Most swim workouts are based on distances you must complete in certain intervals—10 100s on the 1:30, for instance. Here, we flip that approach on its head, working off of time first. Think: How far can you go in 2 minutes while still getting to rest? It’s a fun break from tradition, and it’ll let you do the same workout with friends of all abilities. So without further ado, presenting a 1-hour set based entirely on time.

How to do it: Where there is a “??” in this swim set, plug in a distance that you can swim under 2:00 and still have enough time to rest on the wall and leave on the 2-minute interval. For example, if you swim 50 yards in 1:00, choose 75 as your distance for this set. You will complete the 75 in about 1:30 and have 30 seconds to rest on the wall before starting the next interval. If you swim 100 yards in 1:20, choose 125 as your distance.

10 min choice warm-up

6 min kick (30 sec hard kick, 60 sec easy kick, repeat)

3 min swim (all stroke or drills)

5 x ?? on 2:00 swim
(everyone starts together every 2:00)

5 min pull (steady effort)

3 min swim (all stroke or drills)

5 x ?? on 2:00 swim (everyone starts together every 2:00)

5 min choice cool-down

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3 Treadmill Workouts For Winter http://www.triathlete.com/2016/12/training/3-treadmill-workouts-winter_296563 Fri, 02 Dec 2016 14:11:51 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=296563 The treadmill is an all-weather tool always on the ready to keep you going.

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Three treadmill workouts to keep your training on track through the winter.

Consistency is the most important skill you need as an endurance athlete, but things like snow, fewer daylight hours and travel can get in the way. Enter the treadmill, the all-weather tool always on the ready to keep you going.

Outdoor purists might consider the treadmill boring, but consider this major advantage: You can create near-perfect race simulations of your upcoming events. Does your race have a 4 percent grade for a half mile that starts 2 miles in? You can test that exact scenario on a treadmill.

The fastest runners in the world, including Olympians Kara Goucher and Norway’s Marius Bakken, use a treadmill to get fitter and to go faster, and it can help you too.

At right are the key workouts I like to use with my triathletes. Build speed first, tackling that workout once or twice a week for 4 to 6 weeks, then swap a speed workout for the hill progression. About 6 weeks out from a hilly race, switch to the advanced hill work twice a week to build strength.

Start each workout by setting the treadmill to 1 percent, and running a 1- to 2-mile warm-up. 

Speed progression

5K pace for 1 min, with 1–2 min recovery. Start with 10 rounds. Total time of the workout will be 45 min. Build this set up to 12×1 min in week 2 and then 15×1 min in week 3. If you want to increase the difficulty, decrease the rest time and keep the speed the same.

Beginner hill progression

Start with 3–4 percent grade and 10K speed. Just like in the speed progression above, start with 10×1 min with 1–2 min recovery, and build to 15×1 min reps by week 3. Once again, decrease the rest to make the workout harder.

Advanced hill progression

(aka “Teeter Totter Hills”)

Use 2 percent as your base grade and 3 percent as your hill grade. Run 4–5 x 3 min and vary the grade every 30–60 sec. For example, at half-marathon race pace, run:

30 sec at 3 percent, 60 sec at 2 percent,

45 sec at 3 percent, 45 sec at 2 percent,

60 sec at 3 percent, 30 sec at 2 percent.

Recovery is 2–3 min very easy.

For a longer (harder) workout:

At half-marathon race pace, and using 1 percent as your base grade and 4 percent as your hill grade, run 4–5 x 3 min and vary the grade every 30–60 sec. For example:

45 sec at 4 percent, 45 sec at 1 percent

30 sec at 4 percent, 60 sec at 1 percent

60 sec at 4 percent, 30 sec at 1 percent.

Recovery is 2–3 min very easy.

Mike Ricci is a USAT Level III certified coach and the 2013 USAT Coach of the Year. He founded D3 Multisport in Boulder, Colo.

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Try It This Off-Season: Tabata-Style Workouts http://www.triathlete.com/2016/12/training/try-off-season-tabata-style-workouts_296556 Thu, 01 Dec 2016 21:14:49 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=296556 If you're looking for something new to try this winter, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than Tabata training.

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Whether you’re looking to sneak in a time-efficient workout or simply want to shake up your routine during the off-season, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than Tabata training. Similar to high-intensity interval training (HIIT), the original Tabata Protocol was developed for Olympic speed skaters and put to the test by Japanese sports scientist Izumi Tabata. These workouts are all about getting the most bang for your buck. Bust your butt for a few minutes at top-level effort and the research shows you’ll burn a ton of fat, and improve aerobic and anaerobic fitness too.

Start with a 10-minute warm-up before going into this tabata-style workout. With each move, do as many as you can in 20 seconds, take a 10-second break, then move on to the next exercise. Once you’ve completed all five exercises, take a 1-minute break and repeat the entire sequence three more times. (Similar workouts can also be done while running or riding a spin bike.)

Photos: Oliver Baker

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5 Steps to Losing Weight This Winter http://www.triathlete.com/2016/12/nutrition/5-steps-losing-weight-winter_296536 Thu, 01 Dec 2016 17:58:12 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=296536 Trying to lose weight in the winter probably feels counterintuitive, but it might actually be the ideal window.

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More people start weight-loss diets on Jan. 1 than on any other day of the year. The reason is primarily cultural, of course. Putting self-improvement resolutions into effect has become a traditional way to bring in the New Year.

Winter is also the best time for triathletes to pursue weight loss, but for a different reason. The goal of every triathlete is to perform to the best of their ability in races. Gaining fitness and shedding excess body fat are two effective ways to improve performance. However, the most effective dietary and training methods for gaining fitness are different from the most effective dietary and training methods for shedding excess body fat.

For this reason, it is best for triathletes to pursue these two objectives at different times. Obviously, fitness is the top priority during the summer racing season and the spring preparatory period. This leaves the winter as the ideal time to prioritize weight loss and to adopt the dietary and training methods that shed body fat most effectively.

Set aside four to eight weeks to function as a winter weight-loss focus phase. Use four weeks if you have just a little excess body fat to lose, six or eight if you’re well above your ideal racing weight. During this period, practice the following five dietary and training methods.

1. Count calories

When your primary goal is building fitness, it’s important that you eat enough to supply your body with enough energy to optimize your performance in training and your recovery between workouts. The best way to do this is to pay attention to your body’s hunger and satiety signals and allow these signals to regulate your food intake. In my experience as a sports nutritionist, athletes who instead limit themselves to prescribed calorie intakes tend to eat too little, sabotaging their own fitness development.

During a weight-loss focus phase, however, it does make sense to count calories. Specifically, you should aim for a moderate daily energy deficit of 300 to 500 calories. Research has shown that a moderate calorie shortfall yields significant weight loss in endurance athletes without sabotaging their training (provided you aren’t training at peak levels, as you shouldn’t be during the winter).

2. Eat more protein

High-protein diets are not conducive to endurance fitness building. A 2002 study found that runners who switched to a 30 percent protein diet experienced a nearly 10 percent decline in performance. Why? Research involving animals indicates that high-protein diets inhibit the creation of new mitochondria in the muscle cells in response to training, a crucial aspect of aerobic development.

However, when your primary goal is not gaining fitness but losing fat, a high-protein diet becomes a good thing. Studies show that elevated protein intake reduces appetite, making it easier to sustain a daily calorie deficit, and also increases resting metabolism, so more calories are burned outside of exercise. Aim to get 25 to 30 percent of your total calories from protein during your winter weight-loss focus phase. Here’s an example of what a 30 percent protein diet looks like:

Breakfast
Egg and vegetable scramble
Coffee

Snack
Fruit smoothie with protein powder

Lunch
Sausage and lentil soup
Whole grain bread

Snack
Celery sticks with peanut butter

Dinner
Chicken and broccoli stir fry
Quinoa

Snack
Greek yogurt with berries

3. Don’t cheat

Every high-performing triathlete whose diet I’ve studied eats a small number of unhealthy treats. Not only is it possible to attain maximum endurance fitness on an imperfect diet, but in a sense it’s even easier, because eating a treat here and there makes the diet as a whole more sustainable.

But within a weight-loss focus phase, it’s a good idea to eat as few treats as possible. Most athletes can muster the willpower to go treat-free for a few weeks, and doing so will give you that much more momentum in the direction of fat loss. Refined grains (e.g., most breads), sweets, processed meats, and foods containing added oils (including fried foods) should be avoided at this time.

4. Train less, but more intensely

Research has shown that endurance athletes of all experience, ability, and fitness levels improve the most when they do about 80 percent of their training at low intensity (i.e., below the ventilatory threshold, or about 77 percent of maximum heart rate) and the remaining 20 percent at moderate to high intensity. But the best way to train for weight loss is to do about half of your training at low intensity, half at high intensity, and little to none at moderate intensity.

Because high-intensity exercise is very stressful, the overall volume of training you do during a weight-loss focus phase should be significantly lower than it is within a race-focused training cycle. Here’s a basic example of a sensible weekly training schedule for this period.

Weekly Training Schedule

 

 

 

 

 

5. Lift more weights

You probably noticed that the sample weekly training schedule given above includes as many strength workouts as it does swims, rides, or runs. There’s a reason for this. The true goal of a weight-loss focus phase is not really to lose weight, it’s to lose fat while preserving muscle. Research has shown that men and women who combine a calorie deficit with strength training lose more fat and less muscle than do people who eat less without lifting weights.

It’s a good idea to strength-train year-round, of course, but whereas two short gym sessions per week may be enough to keep you strong and injury-resistant at other times, three longer sessions will do more to help you get lean in a weight-loss focus phase. This shift in emphasis will also give you a reserve of strength—alongside a leaner body composition—to carry through the next racing season, during which strength training will necessarily be a lower priority.

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PROfile: XTERRA Pro Ben Allen http://www.triathlete.com/2016/12/lifestyle/profile-xterra-pro-ben-allen_296534 Thu, 01 Dec 2016 17:57:37 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=296534 Ben Allen, 31, was on his way to a career in surf lifesaving—a popular Australian sport involving several skills from ocean swimming and board paddling […]

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Ben Allen, 31, was on his way to a career in surf lifesaving—a popular Australian sport involving several skills from ocean swimming and board paddling to surf ski racing—when Triathlon Australia targeted him as having the potential to become a world-class triathlete. He accepted the challenge and started racing ITU in 2008, “but I felt a little lost,” he says. That’s when a friend encouraged him to race an XTERRA—an off-road triathlon with mountain biking and trail running. “I fell in love; it captivated my heart and was everything I was searching for and more. I have never looked back since,” he says.

He nabbed podium finishes in his first season, and after six years of racing has more than 20 first-place XTERRA titles to his name. Now he wants top honors at the XTERRA World Championship in Maui, after finishing third in 2013, 2014 and 2016. Something tells us he can do it.

My proudest moment has to be my most painful moment in my career so far. At the 2012 world champs in Maui, I had a great swim, exiting second behind Javier [Gomez, the eventual winner], was feeling great and working hard chasing him down, when at mile 6 on the bike my chain snapped and I was forced to make a decision: either walk back and DNF, or carry my bike for 23 miles into T2, rack my bike and then run 6 miles to finish the race. I chose to finish the race. It wasn’t my day. That’s racing, and I will live to fight another day.

Our life in general is crazy, weird and awkward. XTERRA takes you to places off the beaten track, and some of the places Jacqui [Slack, Allen’s fiancée who’s also a pro XTERRA racer] and I have been to most people haven’t even heard of. Rather than tell you a story, you should come with us to the airport. It’s an experience in itself. I have lost count [of] the amount of times we have had blood, sweat and tears flowing at the airport all over the world. It’s priceless.

It’s funny—I didn’t really know I had so much surf skill and awareness until I made the cross over to triathlon. As a surf athlete you are surrounded with like-minded people just as educated and skillful as you are in the ocean, and making the switch to triathlon has given me huge advantages when negotiating tricky or difficult ocean conditions.

Balance [is key in our relationship]. We both get angry and frustrated when we tip the scale toward focusing on one thing. We basically live and breathe triathlon 24/7, so we try to concentrate on other aspects of our lives to balance us out, and that’s what helps to keep us grounded as people. Having a solid support network is also a huge factor, allowing us to live our life the way we want.

Benny’s faves

Race destination: Philippines

Post-race meal: Burger

Pump-up song: 360’s “Live It Up”

Beverage: Ginger beer

Family tradition: Christmas Slip ‘n’ Slide competition

Trail: Mount Keira ring track trail

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Food Pouches Aren’t Just For Kids Anymore http://www.triathlete.com/2016/11/nutrition/food-pouches-arent-just-kids-anymore_296531 Wed, 30 Nov 2016 19:34:37 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=296531 The adult version of your kid’s favorite slurp-ready food is catching on, and it’s about darn time.

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Squeezie pack. Pouch nutrition. Whatever you call it, the adult version of your kid’s favorite slurp-ready food is catching on, and it’s about darn time.

For triathletes, the main appeal is portability. You can stash “fresh” food in your jersey pocket, workout bag, or car and forget the days of dealing with mushy, bruised bananas. And most pouches are re-sealable, so you can precisely control your intake.

We say “fresh” food because most pouch makers are right on trend, following the current movement in sports nutrition toward using more natural ingredients instead of processed fuel. Many squeeze packs are a mash of nutrient-rich whole foods, including fruits, veggies, grains and even Greek yogurt. Bonus: Because it takes manufacturers less time to stick food in a pouch than, say, a jar, the ingredients are often fresher than those in anything else you can buy off a shelf.

Triathletes with gastrointestinal issues will want to give these things a try. VP of marketing and innovation for pouch maker Baby Gourmet says ultrarunnners have been swapping out solid food for their products to avoid the nausea that often sets in after constantly fueling for hours.

Clif Bar’s Organic Energy Food pouches for athletes are designed with the same goal of minimizing GI distress while getting calories in. “The size of the pouch allows for greater water content,” says Clif brand manager Dai Deh, “and the higher water content aids in faster absorption.”

Two to Try

Clif Organic Energy Food
The newest flavors in Clif’s Organic Energy Food line, banana maple and apple cinnamon, are both oatmeal-based. Apple cinnamon was our test winner for its apple pie-like spice and pleasant texture. With 23 grams of carbs, 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, electrolytes, including magnesium, and 140 calories, it makes a good gel substitute on a long ride. $2.99, Clifbar.com

Slammers Protein+
Originally designed for kids, Slammers protein pouches are a smoothie-like snack that tastes best chilled. Made with Greek yogurt and other nutrient-dense ingredients such as sweet potato, acai, beets and bananas, the pouches’ 60 to 110 calories come almost entirely from carbs and protein, making them a great post-workout recovery slurp. Our top flavor pick: creamy banana chocolate. $5.99 for four, Slammerssnacks.com

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Struggling To Improve Your Weakest Sport? This Advice Is For You http://www.triathlete.com/2016/11/training/struggling-improve-weakest-sport-advice_296527 Wed, 30 Nov 2016 19:03:54 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=296527 You might not be addressing the underlying cause of your inefficiencies in that sport.

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Q: I spend my off-season increasing the volume of my training in my weakest discipline. Why am I not improving?

A: You’re not alone—many athletes use this approach to improve during the off-season. The problem is that by only increasing volume but using the same techniques, you might not be addressing the underlying cause of your inefficiencies in that sport. For example, if you wanted to pack on muscle, increasing your time at the gym may sound like a great idea. However, if you spend more time lifting but still lift with poor form, you will likely get injured, not bigger. Only by increasing reps over time and using proper form can you achieve your goal. In the same way, you need to consider form when trying to improve your swim, bike or run in the off-season. Check out these three tools to catch inefficiencies so you can become a very clearly improved athlete:

Periodize your training

Too little training volume is typically not the concern; however, doing too much volume or intensity into too short a time period can lead to overtraining and a higher risk of injury. For this reason, most qualified coaches will use a periodized training plan—a plan in which you build volume and intensity, often over a three-week period, then back off for a week—to help an athlete reach their potential while reducing the risk of a negative outcome.

Get on camera

Video analysis is a great way to identify issues with technique. Treadmill videos can help experts analyze your gait, while above- and below-water videos allow you to review your bodyline in the water and analyze your swim stroke. Contact your local tri club for referrals to local coaches or physical therapists who offer video analysis. USA Triathlon maintains a database of clubs across the country (Usatriathlon.org).

Try some tech

Bike training aids such as CompuTrainer and TrainerRoad can reveal how consistent your pedal stroke is and identify weak or dead spots. The software can also help you determine appropriate training and racing paces based on testing performed while using it.

Rich McLellan is an Ironman-certified coach, USAT-certified coach and a USAC-certified coach based out of Fairhope, Ala.

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2016 Triathlete Gift Guide: The Techie http://www.triathlete.com/2016/11/2016-gift-guide/2016-triathlete-gift-guide-techie_296399 Wed, 30 Nov 2016 17:14:45 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=296399 The latest tech makes your eyes sparkle and heart rate shoot up to Zone 4.

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The Techie

The latest tech makes your eyes sparkle and heart rate shoot up to Zone 4. You’ve probably been spotted waiting in line for an iPhone 7 or a Tesla Model 3, but what really gets you revved up is slick, state-of-the-art gear that’ll optimize your tri training and racing. Money can’t buy love, but it can buy months of training bliss. Presenting five picks that’ll do just that.

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2016 Triathlete Holiday Gift Guide http://www.triathlete.com/2016/11/lifestyle/2016-triathlete-holiday-gift-guide_296514 Tue, 29 Nov 2016 18:39:23 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=296514 Whether you’re scouting gifts for a friend or putting together your own wish list, we’ve got you covered.

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Photos: 2016 Ironman Cozumel http://www.triathlete.com/2016/11/photos/photos-2016-ironman-cozumel_296471 Tue, 29 Nov 2016 17:34:45 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=296471 Frederik Van Lierde and Michelle Vesterby captured the wins in Cozumel.

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Photos: Nick Morales

Belgium’s Frederik Van Lierde and Denmark’s Michelle Vesterby earned the victories at Sunday’s Ironman Cozumel.

Read the recap at Ironman.com

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One-Hour Workout: Off-Season Treadmill Pyramid http://www.triathlete.com/2016/11/training/one-hour-workout-off-season-treadmill-pyramid_90450 Tue, 29 Nov 2016 12:02:00 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=90450 Use this treadmill workout to keep some higher intensity work in your off-season routine.

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Every Tuesday we’ll feature a different coach’s workout you can complete in 60 mins (or less!).

This week’s workout comes from USAT Level I coach Maria Simone of No Limits Endurance. “This workout is a good way to keep some higher intensity work in your off-season routine, and can be included every other week or every 3 weeks,” Simone says. “While many of us will spend most of our time in aerobic training this time of year, small doses of threshold and suprathreshold training can provide benefit as well.”

Simone says the intensity work for the interval portions should hover right around threshold heart rate or pace. Each interval gets slightly harder, but it also gets slightly shorter. For example, you can add an additional six-minute interval to the beginning and/or add a few more one-minute max efforts at the end of the workout.

RELATED: Three Running Workouts For The Treadmill

Treadmill Progressive Pyramid Intervals

(45 minutes, add on up to 60 minutes)

Warm-up
10 minutes, easy/Zone 1
5 minutes, build to steady/Zone 2

Main Set
5 minutes, 85% max HR or pace
1 minute, easy recovery
4 minutes, 87% max HR or pace (slightly harder than previous)
1 minute easy recovery
3 minutes, 90% max HR or pace (slightly harder than previous)
1 minute, easy recovery
2 minutes, 95% max HR or pace (harder than previous)
1 minute, easy recovery
1 minute, near max effort
1 minute, easy recovery

Cool-down
10 minutes easy walk or run

RELATED: Turkey Day Treadmill Workouts

More one-hour workouts.

Follow Triathlete on Twitter @Triathletemag for inspiration, new workout ideas, gear reviews from our editors and more.

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2016 Triathlete Gift Guide: The Bookworm http://www.triathlete.com/2016/11/2016-gift-guide/2016-triathlete-gift-guide-bookworm_296419 Mon, 28 Nov 2016 22:51:52 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=296419 Whether you’re drawn to inspirational reads or informational writing, we’ve found a book for you to curl up with this winter.

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The Bookworm

You are a lover of the written word, and your idea of a perfect afternoon is digging into a good story—preferably with a mug of hot coffee in hand while sitting in front of the fireplace. Whether you’re drawn to inspirational reads or informational writing, we’ve found a book for you to curl up with this winter.

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2016 Triathlete Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers http://www.triathlete.com/2016/11/2016-gift-guide/2016-triathlete-gift-guide-stocking-stuffers_296425 Mon, 28 Nov 2016 22:50:19 +0000 http://www.triathlete.com/?p=296425 These 15 stocking-sized gifts are guaranteed to please even the Scroogiest of triathletes.

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Sometimes the best things come in small packages. 

These 15 stocking-sized gifts are guaranteed to please even the Scroogiest of triathletes.

Fitbit Flex 2

$100, Fitbit.com

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