The latest triathlon gear, training, nutrition, photos, races, movers, shakers, and more Mon, 20 Feb 2017 21:06:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 32 32 Beginner’s Luck: My First Triathlon Mon, 20 Feb 2017 20:50:25 +0000 Beginner's Luck author Meredith Atwood shares the story of her first triathlon.

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“You can do a triathlon,” this guy named Gerry Halphen said to me. I looked at him with crazy eyes. It was 2010, and I was huge and even more clumsy than I am today. Gerry was the Spinning instructor who would later become my triathlon coach; I had been hiding on the back row of his class for over a year. Something about what he said, even though it was insane to me, stuck and resonated and would not leave my head. With those words, Gerry gave me a sort of permission to step out and try something as hard as triathlon. Because I also didn’t want to waste any opportunities, I signed up for my first triathlon a mere few weeks later. (Note: the swim was in a pool, so that made it a tad better).

My first triathlon was a reverse triathlon—so the order was run, bike and then swim in the pool. I woke up at the crack of dawn and did all the things you do before a race. Then it was go time—the race announcer gave us the rules and a summary of the course.  He warned us about the bike course being “quite challenging.” Oh my.

Before I knew it, the race started, and I was jogging at a snail’s pace, but breathing hard. At mile one, I looked behind me and there were only about 15 people back. Which meant about 200 were in front of me. And at that moment, I tripped on a root and nearly lost my footing. I finished the run with my 5K time around 38 minutes.

Photo provided by Meredith Atwood
Photo provided by Meredith Atwood

Out on the bike, the massive hill that welcomed me was brutal. I was sucking wind hard enough that people in front of me would hear me coming and look behind glaring, perhaps thinking a train was on their heels. Choo choo, I’m suffocating here, people.  Choo choo, better watch out. My bike and I were suffering in the granny gear, and squeaking like rusty wheels, but I was not getting off that bike. I was travelling at the speedy pace of 6 mph on the hill.  I saw a small, yellow snake slither along parallel with me, and thought, I have got to pick up the pace.

The bike was over, and I felt exhausted but thrilled. Then I saw one of the race volunteers waving his arms and screaming, “Dismount your bike! Dismount here! Dismount here!” I panicked. I clipped out my right foot and my left foot was stuck. And down she went. I hit the pavement.

The crowd kind of went “gasp!” and then “ooooooh!” and then when I stood up, they let out a big “ahhhhh” of relief, and clapped.  The same volunteer who scared me, had rushed over and tried to pick me up under my armpits when I fell. He was about 120 pounds, and I kept telling him “No no no no, I’ve got it,” and I wanted to scream, If you try and pick me up, I am SO going to unintentionally bring you down with me… so that was awkward.

But finally, I was on my feet. I felt like a clown, especially at the sports photographer who managed to continue taking pictures of me. But all was okay. (Actual injuries = 0, Pride injuries = 1).

I still had a swim to do. I unbuckled and unlatched everything and ran to the pool. This volunteer was screaming “No diving! No diving!” Yeah, I got that under control. The swim took place in the pool, alternating lanes, and before I knew it, a 13-year-old boy helped wrench me out of the pool, and I was finished. And elated!

I recognized the things I was not on that day:  fast, coordinated, smooth looking. But I also knew the things that I was: calm, focused and a triathlete—even a baby one. And I knew I would never be the same.

We want to hear YOUR first triathlon story! Tweet us at @Triathletemag and @Swimbikemom.

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To Run Better, Focus On Your Surroundings Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:07:37 +0000 Forget breathing patterns—new science says to focus on feel and your surroundings to become a better runner.

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Forget breathing patterns—new science says to focus on feel and your surroundings to become a better runner.

A lot of sports psychology research hones in on the idea of attentional focus—where your head is at during a run—and how it affects running economy. For decades, researchers believed that to perform their best, endurance athletes should turn focus inward toward breathing or foot strike rather than focus externally on the sun overhead or the dirt trail beneath their feet. But new research says it’s time to ditch that thought.

Researchers at the Institute of Sports Science at the University of Munster in Germany suggest that the idea of internal, or associative, thinking is more complicated. They say that there are two types of internal thinking—focusing on automated processes (like breathing) and focusing on physical sensations (like how your legs feel).

Interestingly, these researchers discovered that having your mind on those automated processes can negatively affect running economy when compared to paying attention to physical sensations.

“Our argument was based on the fact that consciously monitoring automated processes, such as breathing or the running movement, which you wouldn’t normally think about, hinders automated and efficient control processes, which in turn negatively affects running economy,” says lead researcher Linda Schücker, Ph.D.

Shedding more light on the topic, another study by the same group examined the effects of an external focus, finding that concentrating on your surroundings boosted running economy over focusing on the running motion and breathing.

“Based on the results of those two studies, either focus would be good—external or the way your body is feeling,” said Schücker. “We have also done a more recent study where we compared a focus on physical sensations, an external focus, a movement focus and a control condition, and found that the external focus was the one where runners were most economic. I can definitely say that a focus on automated processes is not advisable.”

Schücker, along with other sports psychology researchers, continue to pursue this topic in hopes of providing further clarity to athletes. In the meantime, the takeaway is to avoid overthinking processes that are already on autopilot. And don’t be afraid to take in your surroundings—not only will it make the journey more enjoyable, it may just boost your performance. Put simply: Enjoy the view.

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Monday Minute: VMO Dip Mon, 20 Feb 2017 12:20:50 +0000 Matt Fitzgerald describes the VMO Dip, an exercise that can help alleviate knee pain and develop more efficient knee cap tracking.

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In this video Matt Fitzgerald describes the VMO Dip, an exercise that can help alleviate knee pain and develop more efficient knee cap tracking.

More “Monday Minute” videos.

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Training In The Dark? Take These Visibility Products Along Fri, 17 Feb 2017 20:15:04 +0000 Make your inky sessions fun and safe with these six illuminating innovations.

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Spring (and your first race!) is right around the corner, but many of us are still left training in the dark. Make your inky sessions fun and safe with these six illuminating innovations.

1.Albedo 100 Invisible Bright

$19 for 4.6 ounces,

Make your train-in-the-dark apparel reflect light with this invisible (in daylight) spray. It’s designed to work on textiles, especially natural fabrics such as cotton and fleece, and can make your run shoes extra visible. The company also has a UV-resistant Light Metallic spray that—while not invisible—will stick to helmets.

2.Provis Reflect360+ Cycling Jacket


Super reflective cycling apparel that’s not neon? Yes, please. Proviz thought of everything when creating this sleek-looking, tailored cycling jacket. The film fabric is made from millions of tiny, reflective glass beads yet is somehow breathable and waterproof. It has four pockets and multiple vents, and the inside has a cotton mesh lining.

3.Cycliq Fly12


This handlebar-mounted camera-light combo from Cycliq both lights up the road with a 400-lumen headlight (which can also flash or pulse) and records the action ahead of you in full HD 1080p. The video loops until you have an incident, when the camera will automatically save the footage. It’s weatherproof, the battery lasts up to 10 hours, and it has a smart alarm that deters would-be thieves while on a coffee stop.

4.Million Mile Light


This mini motion-powered clip-on light stays lit as long as you’re jogging (the up-and-down motion powers the pulsing LED)—no batteries or recharging required. With 30-lumen intensity, the light is visible from 200 meters, plus it’s weatherproof and available in seven color combos.

5.Nathan Neutron Fire Runners’ Headlamp


Be visible from multiple directions with Nathan’s newest headlamp. In addition to the 115-lumen spotlight on the front, side strobes kick out red, green or blue LED light. Available in five color options, the lightweight lamp requires two AAA batteries, which can burn for 30 hours.

6.Revolights Eclipse


These lights are a well-thought-out solution to night riding. They feature a legal headlight, a functional brake light and 360 degrees of visibility with strips of rechargeable LEDs (eight 35-lumen lights per wheel) that attach directly to the wheels. Keep an eye out for the next iteration, the Eclipse+, which will also feature Bluetooth connectivity and turn signals.

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Kelly Hafer Was Exposed to a Deadly Chemical in Iraq. Then He Started Racing. Fri, 17 Feb 2017 17:10:08 +0000 Exposure to a cancer-causing chemical agent while serving in Iraq motivated Kelly Hafer to start racing.

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Exposure to a cancer-causing chemical agent while serving in Iraq motivated Kelly Hafer to start racing. 

While serving in Iraq as a member of the Oregon National Guard in 2003, Kelly Hafer began to suffer frequent nosebleeds, a skin rash and shortness of breath. For six years he suffered symptoms he thought were caused by spending time in the desert until a life-changing letter from the Army arrived in 2009 that directed him to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs to explain the onset of his symptoms. While guarding a water treatment facility in the Basrah oil fields at Qarmat Ali, Hafer and approximately 830 other service members were exposed to sodium dichromate dust, a chemical known to cause cancer. The chemical was used as an anti-corrosion agent by previous workers at the plant and was found on the ground after bags were opened at the site.

A doctor told Hafer he was in the middle of a 20-year window in which he could potentially develop cancer as a result of his exposure. After 20 years, he will not be in the clear entirely, but the chances of a cancer diagnosis will be greatly reduced. As a husband and father of five girls, Hafer didn’t want to take any chances—he chose to improve his health to be in the best shape possible.

“Dwelling on it wouldn’t do any good,” Hafer says. “If I get sick, I need to be ready to fight.”

Hafer wrestled in college but hadn’t taken great care of his health since the end of his service in 2005. After the letter in 2009, he gradually started to lose weight through diet and mild exercise. As the weight came off, he started jogging and tackling more challenging terrain during his hunting expeditions. “I have never been one for gym memberships nor personal trainers, so it was a struggle to exercise in any kind of a consistent routine,” Hafer says.

Hafer recognized he could improve his fitness, though, and in 2013 a friend talked him into trying a sprint triathlon. Despite feeling like he was “going to die” at the end, Hafer was hooked. He finished an Olympic-distance race a few months later and did a long-course event the following year. In May 2016, Hafer won the Clydesdale division at the Troika Long Course triathlon in Spokane, Wash., with a time of 5:45:44, taking 52 minutes off his time from the previous year.

Next, Hafer shifted his attention to training for a full Ironman. In July, he completed the inaugural Ironman Vineman in 14:44:25. “Starting triathlon gave me motivation to get at least one run, bike and swim in a week while in training,” he says. “Training for an Ironman took a whole other level of routine and dedication.”

Hafer said he would not have gotten into triathlon if it had not been for his exposure to the cancer-causing chemical in Iraq. While that experience has presented its own set of challenges, including ongoing nosebleeds and skin issues, he is grateful to have discovered triathlon.

“I’m in the best shape of my life, and that’s a huge blessing,” he says. “I can go for 15 hours straight and be all right.”

Hafer revels in the discomfort of triathlon, comparing the struggle of the last few miles of the marathon at the end of an Ironman to the agony of completing a 10-day field exercise in the Army. The sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a hard race combined with the feeling of camaraderie with other athletes have made him a triathlon devotee.

He’s now passing that passion on to his daughters (ages 2–11) who are starting to get involved in local running events. The love and support from his family have helped Hafer deal with his condition, making his story an inspiring reminder of the importance of keeping life’s challenges in perspective and the profound impact triathlon can have in dealing with difficult circumstances.

“I am grateful that I know the cause of my symptoms and have found a way to live with and push past them,” he says. “Triathlon has been a big part of that.”

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Quick Set Friday: Build To Fast Fri, 17 Feb 2017 16:09:11 +0000 Triathlete contributor and swimming all-star Sara McLarty shares a workout to try this weekend.

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Triathlete contributor and swimming all-star Sara McLarty has a blog with more than 500 creative workouts used in her Masters swim program in Clermont, Fla. We’ll feature a workout every Friday so you have new ideas to take to the pool. On her blog (, you can pick a Monday set for a long distance focus, a Wednesday set for sprint training, or Friday for creative open water skills.

500 (200 swim/50 kick, repeat)
300 pull (3/5/3 breathing pattern by 100)
200 kick (50 easy/50 FAST, repeat)
3×300 swim @ 4:20 (build to FAST)
50 easy/recovery kick w/ :30 rest
4×200 pull @ 2:50 (build to FAST!)
50 easy/recovery kick w/ :30 rest
5×100 swim @ 1:25 (build to FAST!)
50 easy/recovery kick w/ :30 rest
8×50 pull @ :45 (all strong effort)
50 easy/recovery kick w/ :30 rest
300 cool down (50 non-free/100 free, repeat)
*4100 total*

RELATED – Ask Coach Sara: Is It Important To Train With Fins?

500 (200 swim/50 kick, repeat)
300 pull (3/5/3 breathing pattern by 100)
100 kick (50 easy/50 FAST)
2×300 swim @ 5:45 (build to FAST)
50 easy/recovery kick w/:30 rest
3×200 pull @ 3:50 (build to FAST!)
50 easy/recovery kick w/ :30 rest
4×100 swim @ 1:55 (build to FAST!)
50 easy/recovery kick w/ :30 rest
6×50 pull @ :55 (all strong effort)
50 easy/recovery kick w/ :30 rest
300 cool-down (50 non-free/100 free, repeat)
*3300 total*

RELATED – Ask Coach Sara: Battling Foot Cramps

400 (150 swim/50 kick, repeat)
200 pull (3/5/3/5 breathing pattern by 50)
100 kick (50 easy/50 FAST)
2×300 swim w/ :45 rest (build to FAST)
50 easy/recovery kick w/:30 rest
2×200 pull w/ :30 rest (build to FAST!)
50 easy/recovery kick w/:30 rest
3×100 swim w/ :20 rest (build to FAST!)
300 cool-down (50 non-free/100 free, repeat)
*2400 total*

More swim workouts from Sara McLarty.

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Ben Kanute Hit 1022 Watts in Rio. How Does Your Olympic-Distance Power Stack Up? Thu, 16 Feb 2017 20:47:26 +0000 Kanute defines this race as the hardest bike effort he has ever done in an ITU race.

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For many months leading into the Men’s Olympic Triathlon in Rio, the script of how the race would go wasn’t a big mystery to those around the sport. The Brownlees would exit the water with a front pack, and the biggest threats to their Olympic podium hopes would exit the water behind them, anywhere from 20 seconds or more. They would have to establish an aggressive pace on the bike early and create a gap, which the fleet-footed runners behind them couldn’t overcome.

Graphic provided by
Graphic provided by

In U.S. Olympian Ben Kanute’s training and race planning, this was the scenario we predicted, and the one in which he trained for extensively. As a front-pack swimmer, he knew the first 10 minutes of the bike would likely be the hardest of the race, as the gap would need be established on the first few laps of the 5K loop. This 5K loop had two steep climbs per lap, up to an elevation of 66 meters, from the start of the bike at sea level. There was also one shorter climb peppered in between the two summits. The images below show the course and elevation profile for the bike leg of the race at Copacabana Beach.

Click here to see Ben Kanute’s full power file from Rio.

Kanute exited the water in 10th place, eight seconds behind the leader, Richard Varga of Slovakia, but only one second behind Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee. After exiting the water, there was a large group on the bike, but the intensity of the early pace established by the Brownlee brothers would quickly break up the group and establish a lead pack of only 10 athletes from the original field of 55.

Kanute was able to establish himself in this lead pack, and the group quickly began to expand their gap with the chasing pack of top medal threats, including Mario Mola of Spain, and Richard Murray of South Africa. The gap between the lead pack and this chase group would climb from just seconds after the first lap to 74 seconds by the end of the bike.

“It took me until halfway through the bike to even feel like I could catch my breath,” Kanute said. “That first lap was all out, and even into the second lap, there was no time to rest.”

Kanute wasn’t exaggerating, the pace was very aggressive. But just how hard was this bike leg? Though some think ITU and draft-legal triathlon tends to be an easy cruise on the bike, where the athletes simply wait to run for the podium, Kanute’s Rio data tells a very different story. In Figure 1, you can see the overall demands of the race required Kanute to spend most of time either coasting and soft-pedaling in Zone 1, or sprinting and surging in Zone 6.

Related from How USA Cycling is Using Data to Prepare for Rio

Figure 1: Overall Zones, Map and Cadence Distribution

1 (1)

But the hardest part of the race was the first part, so let’s look at those first 10 minutes in Figure 2, which was almost the first two full laps of the bike. Some highlights:

  • Normalized Power of just under 400 watts, at 388
  • Max power output of 939 watts
  • A Variability Index, (VI), of 1.18, meaning extremely large surges
  • An Intensity Factor of 1.14, meaning 14 percent over his FTP
  • Over 20 percent of the total TSS for the entire 55 minute race, happened in the first 10 minutes of the bike
  • The 97.3 TSS score in just under one hour shows the effort was nearly all-out, as the peak value possible for an hour is 100 TSS

Figure 2: First 10 Minutes of the Rio Olympic Triathlon Bike Leg

1 (2)

Interestingly, despite how hard the early laps were, Kanute’s peak power output for the race happened in minute 23 of the race, at more than 1000 watts, as shown in Figure 3 below. This surge didn’t happen on an uphill, but rather at the bottom of the first major climb of that lap, just before the second.

Figure 3: Kanute’s Peak Power Output for the Race of 1022 watts during the 23rd minute

1 (3)

Kanute defines this race as the hardest bike effort he has ever done in an ITU race, and video highlights of the race below, starting with the swim exit, help illustrate how the large group out of the water quickly dwindled down to the small lead pack of 10 due to the intensity of the bike.

Not every race Kanute does will be like this, as courses and competition change, as well as projecting the race tactics and demands will always play a role in any race you do and the training decisions you make in order to prepare for them.

But one thing is for sure, the Olympic Triathlon is one hard race!

This article originally appeared at

Jim Vance is a Level 2 USAT Coach, an Elite Coach for SuperFly/TrainingBible Coaching, and Head Coach of Formula Endurance. He is the author of Triathlon 2.0 – Data Driven Performance Training. His website is, where athletes can learn more about training with technology and coaching. You can find his training plans in our store here.

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8-Week Sprint Triathlon Training Plan For Beginners Thu, 16 Feb 2017 18:54:58 +0000 You can do a triathlon! Follow this road map to cross your first triathlon finish line in just eight weeks.

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You can do a triathlon! Follow this road map to cross your first triathlon finish line in just eight weeks.

If you’re brand new to triathlon, trying to figure out training for swimming, cycling and running in an organized progression can be a little daunting. Sprint triathlons—which vary but are typically around a 750-yard swim, 12-mile bike and 3-mile run—are a great entry point to the sport and achievable for anyone committed to following this eight-week plan for building endur- ance. This program will help remove some of the training mystery for the triathlon rookie!

Before You Begin

Before starting this plan, you should be in good health and injury free. You must be able to swim 100 yards non-stop with- out excessive stress (preferably freestyle). Your general fitness should allow for 20 minutes of non-stop cycling and 10 minutes of continuous running. This plan provides you with a gentle, targeted progression to get you to the start line confident you can cover the distance.

The program follows a routine of five training days per week, with one session per training day. Initially there are two swims per week, and alternating one run and two bike workouts one week, followed by two runs and one bike the next week. Eventually you progress to two swims, two bike rides and two runs per week, with one of those runs directly after your bike ride. Note the indicated terrain. Attempt to do the listed sessions on the scheduled days to maximize effectiveness of the plan and minimize risk of injury.

Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Training

All workouts are structured with training zones, according to rate of perceived effort.

Zone 1: Gentle rhythmic breathing. Pace is easy and relaxed. The intensity is a jog, or very easy swim or bike spin.

Zone 2: Breathing rate and pace increase slightly. You should still be comfortable but with slightly deeper breathing. Running and cycling pace remains comfortable and conversation is possible.

Zone 3: Become aware of breathing a little harder. Pace is moderate with a stronger swimming, cycling or running rhythm. This is “feel good” fast. It is slightly more difficult to hold conversation.

Zone 4: Starting to breathe hard, pace is fast and beginning to get uncomfortable and should be challenging to maintain. This effort is approaching an all-out 15-minute swim, or 30-minute bike and run pace.

Zone 5: Breathing is deep and forceful and you may notice a second significant change in breathing pattern. Pace is all-out sustainable for one to five minutes. Mental focus is required and it should feel moderately uncomfortable.


’ = minutes
” = seconds
RPM = revolutions per minute or cadence
Zone = perceived effort zone (see table above)
(”) = indicates rest in between intervals
Note: for the swim workouts (e.g., “16×25”), either yards or meters are acceptable, depending on your pool. A “25” is one length and a “50” is down and back.

Week 1: Build Consistency

Focal Point: Be conservative with your effort in week 1 but strong in your conviction to complete the schedule this week. Start sessions easy to warm up. Bike Tip: RPM stands for revolutions per minute, which is your cadence. To determine RPM without a cycling computer, simply count the amount of times your right knee comes up in the pedal stroke for 30 seconds, then double that number.
Monday: Day off.
Tuesday: Swim 16×25 (30”). Pace these evenly and start slow. Zone 1.
Wednesday: Run 5x(2’ walk/3’ run in Zone 1), flat terrain.
Thursday: Bike 30’ flat terrain, Zone 1 at 80–90 RPM.
Friday: Day off.
Saturday: Swim 10×50 (45”), Zone 1.
Sunday: Run 6x(1.5’ walk/3.5’ run in Zone 1), flat terrain.

Week 2: Build Consistency

Focal Point: You are already increasing your fitness at this point. Each session is a stepping stone to the following week, so take pride in executing the workouts well from start to finish. Take your rest days as scheduled and eat well.
Monday: Day off.
Tuesday: Swim 24×25 (30”). Pace these evenly. Zone 2.
Wednesday: Bike 30’ flat terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 15’ Zone 2 at 80–90 RPM.
Thursday: Run 2×10’ (2’ walk- ing rest), flat terrain, Zone 1.
Friday: Day off.
Saturday: Swim 12×50 (35”). Pace these evenly. Zone 1.
Sunday: Bike 45’ rolling terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 30’ Zone 2 at 80–90 RPM.

Week 3: Build Consistency

Focal Point: Always be moving forward physically and mentally with no coasting. When riding uphill, flat or downhill, pay attention to the pressure on your pedals, which is energy pushing the bike forward. When running and swimming, think about even rhythm and cadence pushing you forward. Mentally focus always on doing your best work, best effort and positive self-talk in sessions.
Monday: Day off.
Tuesday: Swim 8×75 (40”). Pace these evenly. Zone 2.
Wednesday: Run 20’ rolling terrain as 10’ Zone 1, 10’ Zone 2.
Thursday: Bike 55’ flat terrain as 20’ Zone 1, 35’ Zone 2 at 85–95 RPM.
Friday: Day off.
Saturday: Swim 4×100 (45”), Zone 2. 6×50 (30”), just a little faster in Zone 3.
Sunday: Run 30’ flat terrain, Zone 1.

Week 4: Increase Endurance

Focal Point: As you reach the midpoint of this program, reconnect with why you want to do a triathlon. What do you like about sport and what makes you feel good when you are out there training? The answers to these questions are what will get you through the most challenging days, and they are what you will draw upon on race day.
Monday: Day off.
Tuesday: Swim 12×75 (20”) as 6 in Zone 2, 6 in Zone 3.
Wednesday: Run 40’ rolling terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 25’ Zone 2.
Thursday: Bike 70’ rolling to hilly terrain as 20’ Zone 1, 50’ Zone 2 at 85–95 RPM.
Friday: Day off.
Saturday: Swim 10×100 (25”), Zone 2.
Sunday: Bike 45’ flat terrain, Zone 1 at 90–100 RPM. Make a quick transition into running shoes (less than 3’). Run 20’ off the bike, flat terrain, Zone 2.

Week 5: Increase Endurance

Focal Point: You are tough. Training is “good” discomfort, where you develop strong coping skills for race day. Your Sunday transition run (which, in combination with the bike, is called a brick workout) is a perfect place to practice physical and mental race skills as well. Be organized and focused on starting your run immediately off the bike by having a place to drop your bike and your run shoes ready. Create your own transition area.
Monday: Day off.
Tuesday: Swim 2×200 (30”). 4×100 (20”). All Zone 2.
Wednesday: Run 40’ rolling terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 25’ Zone 2.
Thursday: Bike 80’ rolling to hilly terrain as 20’ Zone 1, 25’ Zone 2, 15’ Zone 3, 20’ Zone 2 at 90–95 RPM.
Friday: Day off.
Saturday: Swim 500 (2’). 5×100 (20”). All Zone 2.
Sunday: Bike 60’ flat terrain, Zone 1 at 90–100 RPM. Quick transition (less than 3’). Run 20’ off the bike, flat terrain, Zone 2.

Week 6: Improve Race Fitness

Focal Point: This is your last two-week segment before you back off for race taper week. Make the most of each session, pull in all the resources and learning from the past five weeks and write down small goals you want to accomplish with each day. Be positive and calm: This is the ideal state in which to maximize your training sessions.
Monday: Day off.
Tuesday: Swim 1000 non-stop, Zone 2.
Wednesday: Run 35’ rolling terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 10’ Zone 3, 5’ Zone 4, 5’ Zone 2.
Thursday: Bike 60’ flatter to rolling terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 2x(5’ Zone 3, 2.5’ Zone 2, 5’ Zone 4, 2.5’ Zone 2), 15’ Zone 1 at 90–95 RPM.
Friday: Day off.
Saturday: Swim 10×100 (20”). Swim #3, #6 and #9 faster in Zone 4, the rest in Zone 1.
Sunday: Bike 40’ flat terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 15’ Zone 3, 10’ Zone 4 at 90–100 RPM. Make a quick transition (less than 2’). Run 20’ off the bike, flat terrain as 10’ Zone 4, 5’ Zone 2, 5’ Zone 1.

Week 7: Improve Race Fitness

Focal Point: You have accomplished a lot! At the end of this week, look back on all your sessions. This will give you a sense of confidence that you are ready to tackle the sprint distance, and it serves as a great reminder when nerves creep up. Racing will be simply doing what you have been doing in training: swimming, biking and running!
Monday: Day off.
Tuesday: Swim 500, Zone 1 build to Zone 2. 10×50 (20”) as 25 fast/Zone 4, 25 easy/Zone 1.
Wednesday: Run 35’ rolling terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 10’ Zone 3, 5’ Zone 5, 5’ Zone 2.
Thursday: Bike 60’ rolling to hilly terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 5’ Zone 3, 2.5’ Zone 2, 5’ Zone 4, 2.5’ Zone 2, 5x(1’ Zone 5, 2’ Zone 1), 15’ Zone 1 at 90–95 RPM.
Friday: Day off.
Saturday: Swim 5×200 (30”) as #1 in Zone 1, #2–3 in Zone 2, #4 in Zone 3, #5 in Zone 4.
Sunday: Bike 30’ flat terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 10’ Zone 3, 5’ Zone 4 at 90–100 RPM. Quick transition (less than 2’). Run 15’ off the bike, flat terrain as 5’ Zone 4, 5’ Zone 2, 5’ Zone 1.

Week 8: Race Week

Focal Point: If you are feeling excited and nervous, that is a good thing. It means that you care, and the race is important to you. This extra energy will give you a boost on race day. Follow the sessions closely and resist the urge to “test” yourself—save it up for race day! Take time to pre-organize your equipment so race day is simpler. If you can review the course, that will help ensure success. Visualize your best training efforts on the race course.
Monday: Day off.
Tuesday: Swim 200 Zone 1. 8×50 (20”) as 25 fast/Zone 4, 25 easy/Zone 1. 100 Zone 1.
Wednesday: Run 20’ flat terrain as 12’ Zone 1, 3’ Zone 3, 5’ Zone 1.
Thursday: Bike 30’ rolling to hilly terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 2x(2.5’ Zone 3, 2.5’ Zone 2), 5’ Zone 1 at 90–95 RPM.
Friday: Day off.
Saturday: Bike 15’ Zone 1 at 90–95 RPM.
Sunday: Race Day!

Print a PDF version of this plan here.

Lance Watson, LifeSport head coach and Ironman University Master Coach, has trained a number of Ironman, Olympic and age-group champions over the past 28 years. He enjoys coaching athletes of all levels. You can find him at LifeSport Coaching on Facebook or on Twitter at @LifeSportCoach.

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Get Your Bike Ready For Triathlon Season Thu, 16 Feb 2017 18:44:57 +0000 Check off the necessary items on this to-do list now so you can fully invest your time in riding when spring hits.

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Get your ride ready now to save time at the start of the season.

Besides a pre-season tune-up, there are a number of small details best sorted out in the off-season so your training won’t get derailed later. Check off the necessary items on this to-do list now so you can fully invest your time in riding when spring hits.

A fit or re-fit

Bodies change as far as strength and flexibility, and your fit may need an update. Or perhaps you’re a former long-course athlete who will be focusing on sprints in 2016 and you could use a more aggressive position. Whatever the reason, it takes a long time for your body to adjust to a new fit. Matt Cole, owner and chief fitter at Podium Multisport in Atlanta, says it can take up to 90 days for an experienced triathlete and up to 120 days for a beginner to adjust. The best time to make a change is when the miles and demands are low!

RELATED: Bike Fit Fixes

New cleats

It sounds like a very minor change, but I’m always amazed at the number of aches and pains that are caused by a cleat or shoe change. Think about it this way: Your body gets accustomed to thousands of pedal strokes in a certain position, and a minor change can have major repercussions. Best practice is to bring your old shoes in to a professional fitter to either help you get the position the same or see if a changed position would be optimal. That way you have time to adjust before you ramp up the miles and intensity.

RELATED: Your Bike Maintenance Schedule

(Finally) changing your saddle

Are you merely tolerating your saddle? If so, then the off-season is a time to take advantage of your local bike shop’s saddle trial program. Remember that changing the saddle may necessitate other changes such as seat height and position—both things that are best done when you don’t have a big race looming!

RELATED: Saddle Sore Tips From A Top Cyclist

Accessory updates

Considering changing up your hydration system or bike computer? The off-season is a perfect time to experiment with an optimal setup. Not only do you have more time during this period, but it’s likely that your mechanic does too, if you want help in deciding on the best angle for your new Garmin mount or a switch to bottle cage placement.

RELATED: Nutrition On Long Bike Rides

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4 Fruits And Veggies You Should Be Eating Right Now Thu, 16 Feb 2017 16:20:22 +0000 Baby spinach and blueberries aren’t the only exciting produce to hit stores once the temperature drops.

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Four health-enhancing fruits and veggies that should be on your menu now.

Baby spinach and blueberries aren’t the only exciting produce to hit stores once the temperature drops. Check out this quartet of seasonal vegetables and fruits, all proven to help athletes stay healthy when sweater weather takes hold.


If you’re looking to maintain your race weight over the off-season, consider making pears a go-to fruit option. A study from Louisiana State University revealed that people who eat pears tend to see lower numbers when they jump on the scale than those who do not include this cold-loving fruit in their diets. The slimming powers of pears could be chalked up to their lofty fiber numbers—about 30 percent more than what you get from apples.

Make: Pear Prosciutto Pizzas
Place naan fl atbreads under oven broiler and heat until toasted, about 30 seconds. Spread premade pesto on untoasted sides of naan and top with slices of pear, pieces of prosciutto and crumbled goat cheese. Broil again until cheese is softened, about 30 seconds. Serve garnished with arugula.

iStock_87081999_LARGECelery Root

What it lacks in aesthetics, lumpy celery root (also called celeriac) makes up for with a fresh flavor that’s something of a mix between parsley and celery. It also has laudable amounts of vitamin K , with 34 percent of the daily recommended value in a 3.5-ounce serving.

In addition to its famed role in clotting blood, vitamin K helps certain bone-forming proteins do their jobs better. Choose small- to medium-sized roots that are firm, heavy for their size and free of soft spots. Celery root can be eaten raw (try it grated into slaws) or cooked, but its knobby skin needs to be sliced off with a chef’s knife before preparing.

Make: Celery Root Mash
Steam a peeled and chopped celery root until very tender. Place in a bowl and use a potato masher to mash with 1/4 cup milk, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon minced rosemary and a couple pinches each salt and pepper.


The yellow-tinged, creamy flesh of the oft-overlooked rutabaga has a toothsome slight sweetness that’s combined with a peppery edge. Nutritionally, it harbors good amounts of vitamin C, hunger-fighting fiber and potassium to keep blood pressure numbers in check and improve muscle functioning.

Like many other root vegetables, rutabaga has laudable storage properties, lasting for a number of weeks when properly stored in a cool, dry place. Look for smooth, hard, heavy-for-their-size rutabagas without any blemishes, and peel them before using. Toss chunks into curries, vegetable soups and roasted root vegetable medleys.

Make: Maple-Glazed Rutabaga
Combine 1 tablespoon butter, 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, 2 teaspoons orange zest, 1 minced garlic clove and a couple pinches salt in a large bowl. Add 1 peeled and cubed rutabaga, and toss to coat. Spread rutabaga on a baking sheet and roast in a 400-degree oven until tender, about 40 minutes. Serve rutabaga topped with roasted pumpkin seeds.

iStock_93997683_LARGEBlood Oranges

Blood oranges earned their name because of the vivid red color of their flesh. Their flavor tends to be sweeter than typical oranges, and like your typical orange, they also supply a wallop of immune-boosting vitamin C. The flushed color of blood oranges signals the increased presence of anthoycanins, potent antioxidants that are thought to play a role in disease prevention and exercise recovery. Stored in the refrigerator, blood oranges will last for about two weeks.

Make: Blood Orange Salsa
In a bowl, toss together 1 peeled and chopped blood orange, 1 chopped orange bell pepper, 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 1 seeded and minced jalapeno, 1/4 cup cilantro, juice of half a lime and a couple pinches salt. Use as a salsa for cooked chicken or fish.

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How I Train: 70.3 World Champion Tim Reed Thu, 16 Feb 2017 12:34:13 +0000 The training tactics of the newly crowned, Budgy Smuggler-clad world champ.

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The training tactics of the newly crowned, Budgy Smuggler-clad world champ.

Nicknames: Reedy, The Angry Gnome

Byron Bay, Australia 

Standout Results
2016 Ironman 70.3 world champion, two-time Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific champion, Ironman Australia winner 

Reed realized he wasn’t going to have much of a future in the team sports he loved—“I was getting too short for basketball and too small for rugby,” he says. So he started running to keep up his fitness, which led to triathlon in college, and finally getting “serious” about racing triathlon in 2007. He earned his pro card in March 2010 and has been steadily climbing up the podium in bigger and bigger races. In September, Reed won a close battle for the 70.3 world crown over former 70.3 and Ironman world champ Sebastian Kienle, edging Kienle out of first by just two seconds. Reed’s secret? “Top priority is to have fun,” he says. We also theorize it may have to do with the aerodynamics of the Speedo-style Budgy Smugglers he wears in races and training—“sometimes in my garage and of course for all my non-wetsuit swim workouts.” When it comes to goal setting, the 31-year-old says, “next on the list is world domination.” With one world crown under his belt, we’d say he’s already there.

RELATED – Pro Bike: Tim Reed’s Trek Speed Concept

Typical training week:

In the middle of the season, Reed trains 20–25 hours per week, broken up as five swims, 4–5 rides, 4–5 runs and two 30-minute gym sessions. Within each discipline, he usually completes one or two aerobic endurance workouts, a strength endurance workout, a race-specific or higher-intensity workout and a recovery workout.

Favorite swim workout:

500 meters easy recovery
“Because I’m not a huge fan of following a black line for hours on end,” Reed says.

Favorite bike workout:

Three hours including 6×10 minutes, building from strong to very hard by the sixth interval. “It’s a solid duration ride with the intervals steadily building in intensity, allowing the body and mind to be fully ready for the really hard work in those final 10-minute blocks.”

Favorite run workout:

Two hours at Ironman pace, or 60 minutes including 6×1 kilometer at threshold
“[These two are] very different runs. I love locking in that solid aerobic Ironman pace. The aerobic intensity is difficult but never hard, while the strength component of the run becomes increasingly difficult as the duration progresses,” he says. “Six by 1 kilometer is a very common session used by many athletes to bring up their speed and lactate tolerance. It’s tough, but it’s over pretty quickly, and I feel I get a big boost to my running when I implement it at the right time.”

Favorite non-swim/bike/run workout:

“Touch football with my friends who do real desk jobs.”


Reed typically takes three weeks off in December and January, then another three weeks off in May. “I’m normally back where I grew up at this time of year on Lord Howe Island,” he says. “I don’t do any structured training, but I stay active just to be happy. I try to avoid exceeding 30 minutes a day, unless it’s a social activity. Typically, I’ll bush walk [hike] with my wife, play a lot of tennis, surf—poorly—and do a lot of fishing.”

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Triathletes Can’t Get Enough of This Crazy Swedish Sport Wed, 15 Feb 2017 20:40:48 +0000 Once upon a time, only Europeans got to swimrun. Not anymore.

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Once upon a time, only Europeans got to swimrun. Not anymore.

It all started with a drunken bet. A hotel owner, his partner and two employees challenged each other to get from Utö to another island in the Swedish archipelago called Sandhamn, 75 kilometers away. No boats—just swimming and scrambling over the dozens of islands in between. Drinks and hotel rooms were on the last pair to make it, but the joke was on everyone when they arrived to find the hotel full and had to sleep outside.

Fast-forward to 2016 and that route, now running in reverse, is one of the world’s premiere endurance events, called Ötillö (which means “island to island” in Swedish). Teams of two swim among 26 islands and run over them, ultimately swimming 10K in water temps hovering around 60 degrees, and running 40 miles. Just like the original Hawaii Ironman spurred the growth of long-distance triathlon and became a world championship event, Ötillö put swimrun in the international spotlight and is now the sport’s world championship race.

Jeffrey Cole watched a YouTube video of the 2014 Ötillö and was instantly smitten. “I said, ‘We have to bring this to the U.S.!’” says Cole, co-owner of Maine’s White Mountains Triathlon and a race director for various USAT events since 2002. “I immediately started mapping out the course in [Portland, Maine’s] Casco Bay. There’s no place in the U.S. with more similar terrain to where the race is conducted in Sweden than right here in my backyard.”

After a test run with about 20 athletes from the Kennebunk Beach Triathlon Club (their reaction: “This is wild!” Cole says), he and his co-organizer opened up registration to the inaugural Casco Bay Islands Swimrun. Cole received more than 1,000 applications in less than 10 days for 120 team slots, with triathletes making up a huge chunk of those swimrun hopefuls. The race took place on Aug. 14, 2016, covering 4 miles of swimming and 10 miles of running.

“It reminds me of what we used to do when we were kids, just run on the rocks, hopping and skipping and jumping around the islands,” says John Stevens, 37, who won the event with his partner, Matthew Hurley, 32. The two met through Portland’s local tri scene. “In triathlon, the distances are mostly the same. Swimrun is always different, depending on the tides and conditions. I was excited because of the unpredictability.”

The Casco Bay Islands race was the first and only U.S. event thus far to offer qualifying points for Ötillö, where only 120 teams are allowed to compete. Those teams are selected by points earned at one or more of eight merit races; the other seven qualifiers are in Europe.

Stevens is already looking forward to the 2017 edition of the Casco Bay race, set for Aug. 13 with two distances: a long course with 6 miles of swimming and 16 miles of running, and a short course with 2 miles of swimming and 6.5 miles of running. “We’ll definitely be back to defend our title,” he says. “It was awesome.”

California, Virginia and North Carolina are also getting in on the swimrun action. The California Swim Run Series already held one race in January and has another one coming up on May 7 in San Diego ( Swim-Run-Va, which supports a local non-profit whose mission is to make water safety accessible to all, will take place on Oct. 21 in Richmond ( The SwimRun NC event will take place on Oct. 29 at Hanging Rock State Park (

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ProFile: Olympic Bronze Medalist Henri Schoeman Wed, 15 Feb 2017 20:37:19 +0000 Schoeman’s bronze-medal finish surprised just about everyone in the triathlon world, except Schoeman himself.

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At one point during the bike leg of the men’s Rio Olympic triathlon, the commentators for NBC remarked that South African Henri Schoeman wasn’t being pressured to take any pulls at the front because he was the one person in the 10-man breakaway that the others were least concerned about. That all changed when the 24-year-old started the run. Less than 2 kilometers in, Schoeman was the guy everyone except the Brownlee brothers was most worried about, as he moved into third place and held on to claim South Africa’s first Olympic triathlon medal. Countryman Richard Murray finished just seven seconds later to put two South Africans in the top four—something nobody expected before the race. Schoeman’s bronze-medal finish surprised just about everyone in the triathlon world, except Schoeman himself, who’s long been considered one of the best swimmers on the ITU circuit. The question was: Could he run?

“[The WTS Yokohama in May] showed that my running had improved, and I ran my first sub-30-minute 10K off the bike, which was a big deal for me. It gave me confidence that I can rank myself as one of the best runners in the sport, and I knew a podium [in Rio] was very possible.”

“Every triathlete has some quality that makes him unique. Jonathan and Alistair [Brownlee, the silver and gold medalists, respectively] are great role models when it comes to giving everything you have and working aggressively to be successful. I have a lot of respect for Javier Gomez [the 2012 Olympic silver medalist] as well—his achievements are unparalleled and he is a true gentleman of the sport.”

“I was at a complete loss for words and absolutely elated at the finish. I was so happy and relieved that I had finally achieved what I set out to do. It’s a dream to become an Olympian and an even bigger dream to be a medalist. It was a very overwhelming experience, and I could only wish to relive that day over and over again.”

“The Olympics was an amazing experience. To be in the Olympic spirit with all the different nations and athletes from different sports was something very special and unique. The experience of the athletes’ village and the support from Team South Africa is something I will never forget. The support from the crowds and the scenery of Copacabana Beach and the rest of Rio was quite amazing. I would’ve loved to do a bit of sightseeing after my race, but after the medal my life became very busy!”

Henri’s favorite things

Race on the ITU circuit: World Triathlon Stockholm

Pre-race meal: Grilled chicken and vegetables

Place to train away from home: Wanaka, New Zealand, or Stellenbosch, South Africa

Movie he’s seen in the last year: “Joy” or “Deadpool”

Pre-race pump-up song: “Faded” by Alan Walker

Thing about being South African: Biltong, which is a South African beef jerky. And the Rainbow Nation—South Africa is a unity of many cultures.

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How To Perfect Your Flip Turns For Faster Swimming Wed, 15 Feb 2017 17:33:44 +0000 Perfecting your flip turn will keep your average swim speed within your sessions higher.

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Should triathletes spend time perfecting their flip turns? I get many requests for this kind of instruction, and I questioned its relevance to multisport athletes for some time. Usually it crops up during a training camp where we have a lot of time to practice. While the mechanics of the movement can seem quite straightforward, the act of following someone into a wall, executing the roll over at a slight angle with someone on your feet is just a lot to process for many triathletes. Many swimmers have more pressing swim improvements to work on for greater race day gains, so it depends on the ability of the swimmer and their overall goals as to whether or not it is worth their time.

Of course there is no direct benefit on race day as the very nature of a long and unbroken course is often the attraction of an open-water swim to a novice triathlete. However, perfecting your flip turn will keep your average swim speed within your sessions higher. Braking at the wall with an open turn (touching the wall with your hand) and pushing off can be a huge interruption to your swim speed. A smooth change of direction coupled with a continuation to your average swim speed makes more sense to the pace and rhythm of open water and thus of race-day simulation.

A good turn will not only speed up your swim repeat times, it will also develop breath control as flipping becomes a short hypoxic exercise as you wait for a breath after a good push off from the wall. The ability to control your breath will be of use on the occasions when perhaps turning at a crowded buoy you don’t get that window of opportunity to take your normal breath due to congestion, rough water or another swimmer drafting on your less dominant breathing side.

A complete how-to guide on flip turns would take hundreds of pictures and diagrams, so instead I will outline some key points to focus on and mistakes to avoid. A swim coach will quickly be able to take you through the finer points. An idea I use to initially connect the concept of swimming and then performing the “forward roll” (yes pretty much just how we did it in school gym class) is to swim freestyle down the lane and perform a roll or somersault in the water every 10 strokes. Think about combining the momentum of the last stroke in order to initiate the roll. Think about how that last stroke brings your chin down onto your chest into a tucked position. Perform the roll fully so you are facing the wall you are swimming toward, and continue with another 10 strokes before you roll again.

As you approach each roll, take your head quickly down with the last stroke to help raise the hips. A lift of the head during the final approach (which many swimmers do thinking it will help create momentum) will actually just sink your legs. A balanced roll with even momentum will have you face the wall you are swimming toward. Keep practicing this aspect until you are continually facing the right way. When you progress this into the wall you will not roll so much and by the time your feet land you will be facing up, performing what is basically three-fourths of a somersault. A nose-clip or a controlled nasal exhalation will be necessary. Both hands will find their way to the side of the body as you roll over and place your feet onto the wall. A small flick of the hands in a downward motion helps the body’s momentum. The hands then remain where they are so they are ready in the streamline position to push off the wall.

The below video offers a good example of this process. Notice how the swimmer keeps his head down and his hands move back so he is already in a nice streamline position as he pushes off of the wall:

The streamlined position involves pushing off from the wall with the arms outstretched. Ideally with one hand on top of the other, upper arms tight against the ears, legs together and toes pointed straight back away from the body. They should not be pointing to the bottom of the pool. A good streamline will reduce drag and maximize the speed gained from the powerful leg push off the wall. This will be the fastest speed you attain during the length of the pool (aside from a dive) so it’s best to try and maintain it for as long as you can before you slow when you start to swim.

Related from 3 Drills to Fix Your Swim Crossover

Many swimmers partially push off on one side, but to make life easier until you perfect your own style you can just roll straight over and push off on your back. The twisting onto your front can then take place during the push and glide making the movement easier to perfect.

The longer you take to somersault over, the more likely you are to sink lower in the water. As a result of this, when your legs finally get over they will be pushing from quite a deep position and you will likely need to come straight up for air, ruining the streamlined glide. Eventually you will want to push with your feet planted on the wall quite high up in order to help develop a shallow push and glide.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Avoid landing on the wall with the feet tight together. This creates a weak foundation from which to generate power.
  • Don’t miss out on the free speed off the wall by rushing into your stroke too soon.
  • As you land your feet, ideally your knees will be at a 90-degree angle. Less than 90 degrees leaves you too compact which will lengthen the time you spend in the turn.
  • Be close enough to the wall so that when you land there is some bend at the knee. There will be no stored energy returned from a straight leg push off.
  • Land the feet too deep on the wall or too near the surface and you will struggle to push off horizontally under the water.
  • Go with the simpler “forward roll” style, which will leave you on your back, face up and ready to push off and twist during the push and glide. Adding the twist earlier in the turn (i.e. a straighter-legged pike) complicates things.
  • Avoid lifting the head as the turn starts thinking that it will initiate the roll faster. All this does is sink the legs and slow the start of the turn.
  • Try to breathe on your last stroke into the wall, otherwise due to a lack of air the push and glide off the wall will be compromised.
  • The more speed you have heading into the wall, the easier the turn becomes to perform. It really is one of those leap of faith moments. The slower you approach, the harder it is generate the forces need to facilitate a good rotation.
  • Remember your nose clip for those upside down moments, or learn how to exhale out of your nose during the turn.

Slowly introduce the flip turn into your training. Preferably in a quiet, empty lane attempting clockwise and anticlockwise swim lengths before you demo it to your teammates during a workout. The basics will come quickly, so work on perfecting those before you add the stress of performing it while in a busy lane. Take time with the process, and then enjoy the free speed and increased efficiency that proper flip turning can bring to your workouts.

This article originally appeared at

A respected figure in the swimming community, Dan Bullock is a Speedo Coaching Advisor, Vasa Coaching Advisor and a coach with the London Disability Swimming Club. The founder of Swim For Tri, Dan regularly contributes to, H2Open magazine and was the H2Open Coach of the Year 2004, runner-up Coach of the Year 2016.

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Triathletes Suffer Better—Unless They’re Stressed Wed, 15 Feb 2017 12:53:33 +0000 Researchers discover a kryptonite to triathletes’ super pain-modulating powers.

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Researchers discover a kryptonite to triathletes’ super pain-modulating powers.

Triathletes are a tough bunch. This isn’t a statement of hyperbole, but one of fact: In 2013, researchers at Tel-Aviv University in Israel put a study group of triathletes through the wringer, exposing them to extreme hot and cold stimuli as a way to measure their ability to withstand pain. What they found was that triathletes, when compared to study subjects with casual exercise routines, exhibited higher pain tolerance, lower pain ratings, and lower fear of pain.

These findings shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has trained for a triathlon. After all, triathletes engage in an extremely intense sport involving sustained exposure to pain every day: hill repeats, hard gears and 50-meter sprints in the pool are the norm.

What is shocking, however, is that those pain-modulating superpowers have a kryptonite: stress.

According to a follow-up study released this month by the same Israeli researchers, triathletes lose their advantageous pain modulation under acute psychological stress.

In fact, the study found that psychological stress does more than just return pain modulation capabilities to mere mortal status; it actually makes triathletes more sensitive to the effects of pain.

“It is interesting, as the results of this study allow us to think of the stress response systems as something that might help the body to cope with pain,” says Dr. Jens Pruessner, one of the researchers who aided with data collection and analysis in the study.

Chronic stress, or a constant stress experienced over a prolonged period of time, can contribute to long-term problems for pain modulation as well, says Pruessner:

“Stress response systems are known to ‘wear out’ after excessive amounts of psychological stress—thus, pain from pre-existing conditions might get worse when the individual is or becomes chronically stressed.”

In other words, taking care of one’s mental state is just as important as the physical. Though it’s all but impossible to avoid stress altogether, experts say self-care can avoid making stress worse than it is: that means prioritizing sleep, practicing mindfulness and managing anxiety through relaxation techniques like deep breathing.

RELATED: How to Incorporate Mindfulness Into Training

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The Really Confusing Way Doping Gets Policed in Triathlon Tue, 14 Feb 2017 22:14:41 +0000 On Feb. 3, two pro American Ironman triathletes announced that they had tested positive for a banned substance and were facing suspensions: Beth Gerdes, 37, […]

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On Feb. 3, two pro American Ironman triathletes announced that they had tested positive for a banned substance and were facing suspensions: Beth Gerdes, 37, and Lauren Barnett, 32. But you will never find either of them on the U.S. Anti-Doping Association’s sanctions list, a continually updated chart of athletes currently facing sanctions for positive tests. That’s because triathlon’s doping ban system is at best confusing and at worst ineffective at keeping the sport fair.

Who Tests Whom

The world of anti-doping organizations is like an alphabet soup of acronyms. First, there’s USADA, the organization that’s responsible for testing for all U.S. Olympic sports organizations. USADA tests all USA Triathlon-sanctioned events—with the exception of Ironman races. USADA also provides in and out-of-competition testing for all USAT members. USADA’s tri-priority mostly lies in testing Olympic-bound elite U.S. athletes—but any member of USAT, including age groupers, can be tested at any time or place.

USADA is considered a national testing organization that follows the WADA code. WADA is the World Anti-Doping Agency. The WADA code is basically a set of standardized rules for drug testing and everything that comes with it. Simply put, Olympics-related sports organizations want the WADA stamp of approval to prove their testing is up to snuff because, in many cases, this ensures that an organization receives government funding. In Ironman’s case, it ensures credibility.

The World Triathlon Corporation, Ironman’s parent company, is considered an international governing body signatory to WADA, much like the International Triathlon Union. The WTC performs its own tests, collects its own results and hands out bans as it sees fit—all under the WADA code.

USADA, according to the agency’s representatives, only places athletes on its sanctions list if two requirements are fulfilled: The testing must be performed by USADA, and the results management must be performed by USADA. USADA told us that in the Gerdes/Barnett situation they had no role at all in either the testing or sanctions. Both cases were handled exclusively by the WTC under WADA code—even though both are Americans and one positive occurred on American soil. USADA essentially can’t vouch for the results and can’t in good faith place their names on its list. And not having a centralized list is a big issue in keeping the sport fair.

The Ban Plan

If an athlete receives a sanction from a WADA signatory, like Barnett and Gerdes did, the ban technically goes “downstream” to all sports organizations that follow the WADA code—including USAT. USAT confirmed to us that both Barnett and Gerdes are ineligible to compete in USAT-sanctioned events during their suspension periods.

To be clear, suspended athletes aren’t banned from the sport—only the events that fall under USAT or a similar organization’s rules. That’s how Lance Armstrong was allowed to race in Maryland’s Half Full Triathlon in 2012 after his doping bust; the event forfeited its USAT sanctioning to let him compete. (Side note: he won the race.)

Armstrong also faced last-minute issues with trying to compete in masters swimming events after his ban because U.S. Masters Swimming is overseen by an organization signatory to the WADA code. Armstrong was initially allowed to enter, but was ultimately unable to compete only because his high profile raised red flags. This was because WADA maintains no updated online list of sanctioned athletes like USADA does. An athlete can claim they had no idea they weren’t allowed to race, thinking they were only barred from one kind of event. And the race director has no way of knowing unless they follow doping news closely and effectively maintain their own list of suspended athletes.

While the unification of all anti-doping under WADA’s single code does a lot to standardize testing and results management, there is clearly still an extreme disconnect between receiving a ban, having a ban enforced and who knows about it. The ITU and WTC’s recent partnership announcement seems to point towards some sort of unification on the anti-doping front, but WTC officials said only that a general meeting was planned with the ITU and WADA to review the current policies and look at ways of making it better.

The reality is that testing is still improving while so much else post-positive remains the same. Until every organization—national, international, sporting, doping and in-between—gets on the same page, athletes, race directors and fans will sometimes still get lost in a confusing jumble of disjointed regulation.

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10 Awww-Inducing #TriathleteLoveStories Tue, 14 Feb 2017 21:31:13 +0000 We asked our readers to share how triathlon led them to love and we received several awww-inducing responses.

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Looking for some love-inspiration on this Valentine’s Day? Based on our experience in the sport, triathlon has brought together many couples. We asked our readers to share how triathlon led them to love and we received several awww-inducing responses. Whether you’re single or have already met your triathlete-love, you’ll enjoy reading these 10 stories. Happy Valentine’s Day from everyone at Triathlete!

Rompiendo mis limites con la mejor! Laguna del Neusa en bici 🚴🏽 90k + 8k 🏃🏼trotando! 😁😵💪🏻#triathletelovestory

A post shared by Alejandro Manotas (@emanotas9) on Jun 26, 2016 at 12:25pm PDT

This is for @triathletemag #triathletelovestory ❤❤ ......................................................................... Mark and I met in San Francisco's Golden Gate Triathlon Club at the kick-off meeting in 2014. We became good friends and started training together for upcoming races. Friendship turned to romance and we're now engaged to be married! 💍 ............................................................................ This photo is from Ironman Mont-Tremblant 2016. We trained together all year but it was no question that we would race our own race. Here's the story in Mark's words: "yeah, I totally got chicked by Carolyn at mile 9 on the run but I came back strong in the last 12 miles. Most folks by then were talking and asking me why I'm running so fast. I told them 'I'm catching up to my girlfriend...she's playing hard to get...again!' I finally caught up to her at mile 23 and we decided to run the last 3 miles and cross the finish line together!! I couldn't have asked for a better ending to this long Ironman journey." Our triathlon friends had a bet going about whether he would propose at the finish line... he didn't. He waited 5 days for the perfect post-race moment in Cape Cod. 💕 .................................................. We're so grateful for our triathlon club for bringing us together and for the many training and race adventures we've had together. Triathlon has strengthened our relationship and has given us these incredible opportunities to challenge ourselves. We plan on doing a cycling trip in Portugal for our honeymoon and then finish the year with some 70.3s. 🚴🏻‍♀️ ............................................... #triathletelovestory @triathletemag @mbollozos1 @goldengatetriathlonclub @ironmantri @immonttremblant #trilove #triathlon #tricouple #finishline #swimbikerun #sealedwithakiss #ggtc #triathlete #love #valentinesday

A post shared by Carolyn Rohde (@crohdster) on Feb 7, 2017 at 7:57am PST

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The Perfect Solution For Taking Granola On The Go Tue, 14 Feb 2017 21:22:46 +0000 Who says granola has to be served from a bowl?

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Who says granola has to be served from a bowl? These little bundles of nutrients are an on-the-go way to carry your beloved hippie food. You will be perfectly happy getting lost in the woods or stuck on the steepest of inclines if you have these nearby.

Dairy-free, Freezer-friendly, Gluten-free, Vegan or Vegetarian
Servings: 12
Active time: 20 min.

You can also make these in regular-sized muffin cups for a more substantial postworkout nosh or a take-and-go breakfast option. Just increase cooking time by about 5 minutes.

1½ cups quick-cook oats
1/3 cup wheat germ
½ cup chopped pecans or almonds
¼ cup hemp seeds
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
½ cup honey or brown rice syrup
¼ cup melted coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, stir together oats, wheat germ, pecans or almonds, hemp seeds,
cranberries, apricots, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg and stir in honey or brown rice syrup and oil. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until everything is moist.

Divide mixture among 24 greased or paper-lined mini-muffin cups and make sure to pack it down tightly to help hold everything together. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. Let cool several minutes before unmolding. Chill in the refrigerator for up to 1 week and transport in a small zip-top bag.

Game Changers: Use oats labeled “gluten-free” or replace oats with quinoa flakes, barley flakes, or spelt flakes Use almond flour or ground flaxseed instead of wheat germ Stir in sunflower seeds instead of hemp seeds Swap out cranberries for dried cherries, chopped dried pineapple, or goji berries

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Sneak Peek: Triathlete Magazine’s March/April 2017 Issue Tue, 14 Feb 2017 18:00:22 +0000 With the winter blues starting to set in and spring still on the horizon, are you dreaming of traveling to a new locale?

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One-Hour Workout: Race-Day Pool Prep Tue, 14 Feb 2017 15:19:28 +0000 A swim workout designed to work on race day efforts, ideally for the peak phase of training.

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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 swim workout comes from exercise physiologist, clinical/registered dietitian and USAT Level I coach Marni Sumbal of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition in Jacksonville, Fla. “This workout is designed to work on race day efforts, ideally for the peak phase of training,” Sumbal says. “However, to build confidence in the open water swim portion of a triathlon, try out the following set at least once a month as you prep for your upcoming triathlon season.”

Swim: 1 hour, around 2200 yards

Pre-swim (optional):

Warm up with 10–15 minutes of jogging, similar to warming up for a race. Include a few pick-ups to get the blood flowing but overall pace should be controlled and comfortable.

600 yards (or around 8–10 minutes) of form-focused swimming

Rest a few minutes and stretch if needed to lower the HR and to prep for the main set.

Main set (2–3xs):
8×25 FAST

Think powerful stroke but not sloppy swimming. Catch the water and pull with a strong stroke. Steady kicking with good hip position will move the body forward. Rest 5 seconds at each wall. This is designed to simulate the chaotic start of a triathlon.

Take an additional 30–60 sec rest to refocus.

300 steady at race-day effort (your distance of choice). Build into this and do not go all out at first. Try to swim smoothly in the water while trying to remove lactic acid build-up from the previous sprint set. Add in occasional sighting to the other wall, similar to race day.

Rest 2–3 minutes to re-assess form, breath normally and relax, then repeat swim main set for a total of 2–3 times. During this resting period you can float an easy 50 backstroke to keep the muscles moving.

100 easy

More “One-Hour Workouts”

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