Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Runner's Guide to Base Building

Coach Jenny Hadfield

It’s funny how training for an event like a half marathon mimics the cycle of life. It ebbs and flows through a variety of training workouts just like the weather through the four seasons. It’s no wonder elite athletes succeed in winning races and breaking world records using cyclic training. We live in cycles every day of every year. The cycle of life can be broken into ages (baby, child, teen, young adult, middle aged and senior), by years, and by day. Our genetic makeup demands that we sleep by night and live by day (or vice versa if you work the nightshift, but you get the point). It is just as natural for us to roll through these cycles in life as it is in our training.

Organized training in sport is also known as periodization, or the process of breaking training time into shorter, more specific phases to avoid over training, optimize performance and peak for a target event(s). As tricky as it sounds, it is really just a way to organize your training, just as you would with your lifestyle or work planner.

For an athlete, there are typically three core phases in a training cycle (season); base building, peak and recovery. Base building can easily be compared to building a house. It starts with constructing a solid foundation, which supports the house even through the harshest of weather conditions for years. The integrity of the home is determined by the strength of the foundation. When adequate time is not spent gradually building a solid foundation of training, your body is more likely break down as you transition into the longer, harder training workouts. The key to building a solid base is to start by identifying where you are in your running or walking career.

For the newbie (or those who’ve fallen off the running wagon), base building means starting from a lower base of infrequent mileage and progressing to more frequent runs including two to three shorter runs and one long run per week. Base building for the newbie is defined by building regularity in training at consistent, easy-to-moderate effort levels, while high intensity, speed work is left to future training cycles when experience and mileage are well established. In one sense, the first training season for a newbie is an extended version of the base building cycle from which they will progress to run another event and try to improve their performance. Mileage should increase by no more than 10 percent each week and intensity should be kept at an easy to moderate level.

It’s a little like focusing on building the basic skills to ski down the bunny hill successfully before you attempt the more advanced green, blue and black ski runs (by the way, I wish I had known this a few years ago). The more advanced the ski run, the more specific the skills, stamina and experience are needed.

Another important ingredient for newbie base building is cross-training as it serves as active rest for the running muscles. By alternating running days with cross-training days, the newbie body can train at a higher overall frequency (five to six times per week) without the high risk of injury from running on back-to-back days. Cycling, swimming, and classes at the gym are a few favorite cross-training activities for runners and should be done at an easy effort level if your primary goal is a running event. Total body strength training twice per week can also contribute to the success of your running career by building strong muscles, tendons and joints that withstand the impact forces from running as well as improve your running economy.

As you progress in your running career, the base building phase diversifies to include short and long easy runs, hills runs and short interval speed workouts. The speed workout in the initial stages (three to four weeks) of base building can focus on short, very hard intensity intervals of 30 to 75 seconds with longer active recoveries jogging easy for three to four minutes. From there it flows into longer three to five minute intervals at around 5K pace. As you progress closer to the race, training becomes more specific to the demands and effort levels on race day. By the time you’re into the peak phase, the long run mileage continues to progress while the speed effort level more closely simulates that of race pace or slightly faster for longer intervals.

The progression and workouts for each cycle of training will vary from one person to another. That is because everyone adapts to the demands of training at different rates. Fred, who is 22 years old and eats a nutrient rich diet, sleeps eight hours a night and runs with the form of a Cheetah, may recover more efficiently than Joe, who is 42, eats a fast-food diet, sleeps five hours a night and runs like an elephant. This is why it is vital to keep a log and track how your body responds to the various workouts, the cycles of training and your lifestyle. Doing so, will help you create your personal training recipe for success.

Happy Trails…

Coach Jenny Hadfield is the co-author of the best-selling Marathoning for Mortals, and the new Running for Mortals and Training for Mortals series. Coach Jenny has trained thousands of runners and walkers with her training plans. Improve your running performance or train for your first race with Coach Jenny’s Active Trainer Program.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

4 Triathlon Training Tips to Avoid Plateauing

From TransWorldNews

Here are 4 tips that you can use in your triathlon training to avoid plateauing.

1. Racing Too Much

There are also those triathletes who drool over the race calendar and check off nearly every weekend with competition, from sprints to Olympics to 5K's to half-marathons. Not only does this subject your body to a volume of intensity that will probably cause it to break about halfway through the year, but it also decreases your chance of ever having a really "good" race, and instead just having a large handful of mediocre performance. And those of you with families are guaranteeing that your wife or children will regret the fact that every vacation has to be a "triathlon vacation". Choose and commit to a small number of good races, then focus on excelling at those events. You'll have more medals, less injuries, and higher quality triathlon training at the end of the season!

2. Not Practicing Transitions

If you glance over the race results for any triathlon, you'll notice some individuals with smoking fast swim, bike and run times who completely lost a podium spot or a personal best because they spent an extra few minutes in transition. Those minutes can really add up. An extra 60 seconds in transition at an Olympic distance race means you'll have to run almost 10 seconds per mile faster to catch the person who was able to shave a minute. Inserting just a few "transition"practice sessions at your local beach, park, golf course, backyard or driveway will pay off. Practice both swim-to-bike and bike-to-run changes during your triathlon training. This is one area of a triathlon where you can be just as good as the pros!

3. Winging It Nutritionally

You're asking for big trouble if you're going into a race or race day with absolutely no plan but to eat and drink when you're hungry or thirsty. Not only will you have no consistency with your nutrition, but you'll have no confidence about whether you're taking in too little or too much. Not only should you write down your pre-race meal and fueling plan, but you should also go over it again and again in your head while you're lying in bed the night before the race (not to mention including it in your weeks of triathlon training
leading up to the race). This mental preparation will stick with you on race day when you're deciding on whether you need to eat that extra gel, or it's just going to give you a stomachache.

4. Nutritional Rigidity

At the same time, if you decide that you're going to stick to your nutrition plan no matter what, then you could also be asking for trouble. What if it's hotter than usual and you decided not to take any salt tablets out with you on the course, or an extra water bottle? What if the bike course is easier and faster than you planned, but you still decide to try to shove in six gels during the ride? What if you planned on getting a banana at the aid station turnaround, but there are no bananas? Be ready and flexible with your nutrition plan, and these type of situations won't do as much damage to your race. Practice with differing amounts of fuel and fuel types in your triathlon training, and you'll be ready for anything.

What do you think? Are you at fault of committing any of the top eleven triathlon training mistakes? Now, skim through that list again. What can you change? Now is the time to take action!

Triathlon Training

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Quote for the Day

"You train best where you are the happiest."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Temperature and Exercise

Published: January 4, 2010
from the NY Times

Q. Does a person tend to burn more fat exercising outdoors in colder weather or in hotter weather? I am leaning to the colder weather side, since the body has to work harder to keep the body temperature near normal.

Victoria Roberts

A. “Contrary to conventional wisdom, the combination of exercise and cold exposure does not act synergistically to enhance metabolism of fats,” according to a study published in 1991 in the journal Sports Medicine.

The study, done at the Hyperbaric Environmental Adaptation Program of the Naval Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, Md., found that some of the bodily processes involved in fat metabolism were actually slowed down by the effects of relatively cold temperatures on human tissue.

The researchers suggested that the slowdown in metabolic processes might be linked to the constriction of blood vessels in the peripheral fatty tissues when exercise is done in the cold.

The study found that the volume of air inhaled and exhaled in one minute increases upon initial exposure to the cold but may return to rates comparable to those in warm-air exercise upon prolonged exertion.

The heart rate is often, but not always, lower during cold-weather exercise, the study found, while oxygen uptake may increase, something the researchers suggested could be at least in part the result of shivering. C. CLAIBORNE RAY

Readers are invited to submit questions to Question, Science Times,
The New York Times, 620 Eighth
Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10018,
or to

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What's in Your bottle? A drink with added value

December 09, 2009 from Runners World

What does red mean to me? Red cheeks from running in the cold, holidays, power, and... inflammation. Not just the inflammation you can see -- i.e., swelling and redness -- but the invisible inflammation that can affect joints and recovery.

There are a lot of products out there to help with inflammation, but how about something you could include as part of your daily fluid intake? Something with carbohydrate, potassium, and a dose of anthocyanins -- nutrients that may block pain receptors by inhibiting enzymes that may contribute to inflammation?

So what is this liquid? Tart cherry juice, which you can find in grocery stores, health food stores, or specialty food stores. (If you want the anti-inflammatory benefits, you have to choose tart cherry juice -- not sweet.)

Now, some full disclosure: I am a consultant to the Cherry Marketing Institute. But the research on tart cherry juice out there is compelling.

A study done recently at Oregon Health and Sciences University followed 60 individuals, ages 18 to 50, who drank 10.5 ounces of tart cherry juice twice daily for seven days before, and the day of, a long-distance relay. Subjects reported significantly less muscle plain post-race compared to those who drank other beverages.

In addition, a study from the University of Michigan demonstrated that those who consume tart cherries have higher levels of anthocyanins in their plasma, up to 12 hours after consumption.

So what does this mean to you? Well, first of all, most of us could do a better job with fluid intake, and with getting enough fruit in our diets. And enjoying foods that help to reduce muscle soreness may be more appealing than taking a pill.

Consider being proactive about managing pain before you run. Because if you're in pain, you can't train!

Check out (sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute) for research, recipes, and the Red Recovery Routine -- a tool to help you gauge fluid needs as well as tips for managing post-exercise pain.

Stay well.


Leslie J. Bonci, M.P.H., R.D, CSSD, LDN is a runner and registered dietitian with a master's degree in public health from the University of Pittsburgh, where she is now an adjunct assistant professor of nutrition. She is also a Board certified Specialist in Sports Nutrition. She has expertise in nutrition therapy for weight management, digestive disorders, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and eating disorders.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Compression Socks

Earlier this month my Seattle Triathlon LUNA Chix forum was talking about compression socks. I had posted that a cheaper way to get compression socks was through a medical supply store. I have bought mine through Discount Surgical Stockings. They're less expensive and really good quality. They are not as cool looking as the athletic brands, but the do the same thing and are way cheaper.

That led to the inevitable question as to what are the benefits of wearing them.

From what I've read, compression socks are supposed to help you recover faster because of increased circulation. That's the jist of my understanding. But there has been some controversy on whether it is true or not. For a more detailed explanation, here are two blog posts from my favorite triathlon guru, Joe Freil:

Can Your Socks Make You Faster?

and later he followed up with a Compression Sock Update

It's also interesting to read people's comments at the bottom of his posts.

MY personal experience-
after a hard run it feels really good to have a pair of tight tights on. your muscles are swollen and they kind of suck everything in. I'm not sure it helped recovery, but i like them. I've also worn the tights and socks to work out in when i'm dealing with an injury because i'm a little overtrained. For example if my quads are really sore i'll wear the tights. Or if a calf is feeling injured i'll run in the socks. It's kind of like putting an Ace bandage on; it helps the swelling with compression and holds things in place. Make sense?

I would be curious to read other's impressions.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Quote for the Day

“The pros had finished the Chicago Triathlon two hours before and I was headed out of transition to go to pack and catch a redeye flight home that night. I was walking past the finish chute which, when the pros and early finishers came through, was packed with people screaming and cheering. Then here comes this woman, who is a little heavyset, coming around the corner. There is not a soul standing along the fence cheering. But as I am walking, I see her coming, and notice that she is looking at the clock. I turn around and it shows about 20-25 seconds to get under the four hour mark. So when she saw it, she just went into this all out sprint. I put my bike on the grass and I started yelling 'Go!' And then I started crying. That is actually my favorite moment of all in triathlon. I’ll never forget it. Her eyes locking into that clock and thinking: ‘I’m going to get in there. For me. I’m just about dead last. No one is watching me. No one cares. But I’m gonna do it for me.’ That's triathlon. And so that's a beautiful thing.” 2004 ITU World Champion Sheila Taormina on her favorite moment in the sport

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Swim Training Outside the Pool

From Competitor

* December 27, 2009

With the winter and holidays comes pool closures. Professional triathlete Sara McLarty has some dry land swim workouts to try out when you can’t get in your local pool.

Written by: Sara McLarty

The National Training Center pool, in Clermont, Fla., was closed on Labor Day for both the holiday and for maintenance. The swimmers were unaware of the undertaking until we arrived for swim practice on Tuesday and peered down into a half-filled pool. This meant we had spent a total of three days out of the water since our last practice on Saturday morning. Getting a balanced number of practices is very important for multisport athletes, but I didn’t panic about this unplanned absence from the water. Instead, I used my knowledge and experience of swimming-specific strength training and got a great “swim practice” in the gym.

The following exercises are not just for days when you can’t swim in the pool. You will see improvement in the water just by including these strength-building and injury-prevention exercises into your regular gym session. It can be as easy as adding a swimming specific five to 10 minutes at the end of your regular strength routine. By staying ahead of the curve with overused joints and muscles, you can reduce the chance of being sidelined for a sore shoulder or another malady.

I perform all of these exercises during my gym sessions three times each week.

Shoulder strength is very important because I have dislocated my shoulders multiple times during my swimming career. Keeping all those little muscles strong is critical to preventing another trip to the emergency room. When I am traveling, I try to stay on top of the easier things, like core strength.


All of your power in the water comes from core strength. The kick starts at your hip flexors and gluteus while your arm stroke uses lats (latissimus dorsi), upper back and pectorals. Strong abdominal and oblique muscles are critical for good hip and body rotation through the water. There are some swimming-specific core exercises that can be mixed in with other crunches and sit-ups.

Supermans are performed by lying flat on your stomach with your arms stretched out over your head. Slowly lift your legs, head and arms. Pause about six inches off the ground (you should look like Superman in-flight) and then slowly lower everything. Pause again before repeating. Do two to three sets of 10 to 15 lifts. You should feel this in your lower back.

Side crunches are often overlooked. My favorite exercise is performed on a medicine ball by lying on my side and bracing my feet against the bottom of a wall. First, I lock my hands behind my head, face completely sideways, and crunch my top elbow toward the wall. After just 20 reps, I switch to the other side, sometimes pausing in the middle to perform a quick set of regular medicine ball crunches. Do two to three sets of 15 reps on each side.

Plank hold is a stability exercise for your whole core. The proper position looks a little like push-up-position by balancing on your toes with a strong, flat back. Keep both forearms on the ground; they should form a triangle under your face, with hands clasped under your forehead. Use a stopwatch or the second hand on a wall clock and try to hold yourself up for 30 to 45 seconds. As your core becomes stronger, try for 60 to 75 seconds. Do two plank holds each session.

Flutter kicks are great for strengthening your hip flexors. If you ever do a long or hard kicking set in the pool, you should feel these little guys screaming afterward! These are the same muscles used in the up-pedal stroke on your bike. Lie on your back, with your hands under your butt cheeks for support. Lift your head and shoulders off the ground, look down towards your feet. Lift your legs 5 to 7 inches off the ground, point your toes and flutter kick (just like freestyle kick in the pool). I like to time this exercise, between 30 and 60 seconds, two sets per gym session.


As previously mentioned, my shoulders are something I never forget about in the gym. After years and years of the repetitive motion of freestyle, my ligaments are very loose. I use the following exercises to keep the containment muscles strong and prevent future injuries.

Three way is basically three similar exercises combined into one session. Use small hand weights, between four and seven pounds. Start by holding the weights at your sides and perform all lifts with straight arms to shoulder height. First, lift your arms out to the sides (90 degrees), palms down. Lower slowly. Then, lift your arms in front of you, shoulder width apart (10 degrees), with palms facing each other. Lower slowly. Finally, lift your arms at 45 degrees, palms facing away from each other. Lower slowly. Do two sets of 12 to 15 lifts.

Overhead press: With slightly heaver weights, between 10 and 15 pounds, perform two sets of 10 to 12 reps of this exercise. Because the position of your arms is very important, I recommend standing in front of a mirror. Start with the weights next to your head, palms facing the mirror, shoulders and elbows at 90 degrees. Press the weights straight up with extended arms and lower them slowly to the start position. Next rotate your shoulders around in front of your face (keep elbows at 90-degree angles), turn your palms toward your face, and tap the ends of the weights together. Return to the start position and repeat.

Up-out-in-down is pretty self-explanatory. Use medium to light dumbbells for this exercise (5 to 10 pounds) and start with your arms at your sides, palms facing your hips. Lift the dumbbells straight up in front of your body to shoulder height. Spread your arms out to the side of your body (keep them at shoulder height), bring them back in together and then lower them back down to your sides. Repeat this motion 10 times, rest, then do a second set.

Rowing is a great strength exercise to prevent “swimmer’s slouch.” Multisport athletes tend to swim a lot of freestyle, resulting in overdevelopment of the chest muscles. You can counter this slouch by working the trapezius muscles with a rowing machine or just some dumbbells and a bench. I prefer to use the rowing machine so I can focus on using my shoulder blades to pull the weight slowly, and release the weight slowly. Think about pinching your shoulder blades together each time. Do two sets of 10 to 12 reps.

If you have access to a swimming machine like a Vasa, IsoCircuit or Halo swim bench, then a day or two out of the pool is not a concern. These tools so closely mirror the swim stroke that your body will hardly know the difference. The worst consequences of being out of the pool for a few unplanned days: Your skin will stop smelling like chlorine during other training sessions (have you ever caught a whiff of your sweat on a post-swim practice run?) and your goggle tan might fade a bit (raccoon, anyone?).

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rules for runners: Skip the ice bath and other secrets

A Q&A with "experienced runner" and author Mark Remy. His witty collection of unspoken rules of running is in his book "The Runner's Rule Book: Everything a runner needs to know — and then some."

By Julie Deardorff

Chicago Tribune

Originally published Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 3:10 AM

Runner's executive editor Mark Remy is the kind of guy you'd want to go for a run with. A veteran marathoner with a childlike love for the sport, Remy would not judge you for wearing a cotton T-shirt, he thinks the whole pasta thing is overblown and he might offer a trite slogan just when you need it most.

Best of all, Remy loves running. To spread the gospel and to help non-runners and runners coexist peacefully, Remy has created a witty collection of the unspoken rules of the sport. They can be found in his new book "The Runner's Rule Book: Everything a runner needs to know — and then some."

Remy was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about "The Rule Book" and running culture.

Q: Which rule do you always end up breaking?

A: I wouldn't say I always end up breaking it, but ... probably Rule 1.47: Let Angry Motorists Go. When I have a close encounter with a driver — e.g., he or she rolls through a stop sign or blows around a corner without looking my way — it's awfully hard for me not to express my displeasure. Especially if that driver is on the phone. This is why I don't run with a large stick.

Q: Are runners a misunderstood group, and if so, why?

A: I think we are, sometimes, to non-runners. If you're a non-runner and you see some poor sap out there in searing heat and humidity or driving rain or a snowstorm, running hill repeats or a 20-miler or whatever, you're bound to find it puzzling. And actually, for a lot of runners, I think that puzzlement is a source of pride.

Q: Which rule or rule of thumb generated the most debate at Runner's World?

A: I would say Rule 1.20 — the one suggesting that ice baths are bunk. I know that many of my RW colleagues swear by ice baths after a long run or race. Not me. I still maintain that ice baths are an elaborate practical joke being played on runners: "Dude, you know what you should do after your run? (snicker) Go sit in a tub full of ice water. (snicker) No, seriously, it'll be great." I'm not falling for it!

Q: The running tips speak to experienced runners, novices and non-runners. How hard was that to pull off?

A: Well, that's gratifying to hear, because it's just what I was aiming for. Not that hard, really. As a former non-runner and novice, and current "experienced runner," I like to think I can relate to all three groups. Although I'm apparently still unable to refer to myself as an "experienced runner" without putting that phrase in quotation marks.

Q: Are you tempted to kindly tell people running in place at stop lights to relax?

A: Sometimes. Then I remember Rule 1.13: Keep Unsolicited Advice to Yourself. And I move on.

Q: What is the most annoying running habit?

A: Oh, boy. That's a subjective thing, I think — a dozen runners will have a dozen different answers. For my money, though, the most annoying habit has got to be overall obliviousness — runners who, for whatever reason, behave as if they're running in a vacuum. That's a broad, catchall habit that manifests itself in all sorts of annoying and even dangerous ways: sudden stops during a race, weaving around, cutting other runners off, etc. Pay attention to your surroundings!

Q: Why do you love running so much?

A: Where should I start? I love running's simplicity. I love the fact that it hurts sometimes. I love that our sport's stars are so accessible, and so down-to-earth. I love how a 45-minute run on a bad day can act like a "re-set" button, leaving me refreshed and energized. I love how each time I run a marathon, I swear them off forever — then keep signing up for marathons. I love that when I ran my first Boston and made the final turn onto Boylston Street to the finish, I cried. (What other sport packs that kind of emotional punch?) I love being part of such a fantastic global community; as a group, runners are the nicest bunch of people I've ever met. And I love being able to eat ice cream pretty much with impunity.

Q: Finally, thanks for the Farmer's Blow (aka Snot Rocket) instructions. I can never quite get it right.

A: You're very welcome. Just give me some distance until you've perfected it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Baked Vegetarian Casserole

By Marni Sumbal (from USA Triathlon)

For many people free time is a thing of the past. If only there were 30 hours in the day, we could exercise at any time of the day and sleep wasn't necessary! Especially for athletes and fitness enthusiasts, who try to squeeze in a healthy 6-15 hours of training/exercise per week, meal planning is easier said than done.

You must understand that when you embark on a lifelong decision to live a healthier life (aka change eating habits and/or become more physically active), it takes slow transitions to find what works for you. Depending on the time of your life, you will likely change your eating routine to complement our lifestyle. Although there may be a few days per month that you just can't find the time to exercise or prepare meals, you will hopefully compensate by staying healthy on all of the other days during the year.

Baked Vegetarian Casserole
  • Veggies - canned, fresh or frozen (if using canned, give a rinse before using) (I used fresh jalepenos, canned chickpeas, fresh chives, fresh whole mushrooms (sliced), fresh roma tomatoes (sliced), canned black beans, frozen corn and fresh onions.
  • Veggie burger - my favorite is the Bruschetta Boca burger
  • 1/4 cup cooked rice or pasta (I used long grain rice)
  • 4 egg whites + 1 whole egg
  • 1/8 cup skim milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetarian stock (you could even use 1 can of vegetarian soup with vegetables if you'd like, instead of the vegetarian stock)
  • 1/8 cup stuffing cubes or croutons
  • Spices - pepper, paprika, no salt garlic and herb (or your favorite no salt seasoning)
  • 2-3 tbsp. shredded cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a non-stick loaf pan, sprayed lightly with non-stick spray, put all the veggies in the pan and mix. Add crumbled veggie burger (cook for about 1 minute in microwave to defrost).
  3. Scramble eggs and milk. Add vegetarian stock and spices. Scramble again with fork.
  4. Pour liquid mixture over veggies in loaf pan and press down veggies with a spatula.
  5. Crush croutons or stuffing cubes either in baggy or between two plates.
  6. Sprinkle croutons/stuffing over veggies.
  7. Cook in oven for 20-25 minutes or until top is golden brown.
  8. Turn off oven. Place cheese evenly over crumbs and leave in oven until ready to eat (or until cheese is melted).

Serve with Asparagus:
While casserole is cooking, lightly coat asparagus with 2 tsp olive oil and lemon pepper seasoning. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until asparagus is soft.

Marni Sumbal holds a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and is certified in Adult Weight Management by the American Dietetic Association. Marni is a Level 1 USAT coach and is currently pursuing a registered dietician degree. She is a Hammer sponsored athlete, 2007 Ford Ironman World Championship finisher and just finished her third IM, the Ford Ironman Louisville Triathlon on August 30, 2009, with PR of 10 hours and 54 minutes. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing. She has several published articles in Hammer Endurance News, Cosmo Girl and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes monthly to and You can check out her blog at

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Key to Athletic Success is Sandbagging

This was e-mailed to me by my friend Carrie. ha! ha! We all know women like this, and then it makes us (or at least me) mad when they kick my butt!

Sand what?

Sandbagging is the art of sabotaging your opponent or training partner (and, really, is there a difference?) with mind games. You downplay your fitness. You plant seeds of doubt with an innocent remark about her aging sports equipment or his unusually pale complexion. You drastically underestimate the distance, terrain, or pace of the day's workout. You use every dirty trick in the book to win, just like in real life!

How can you become a champion sandbagger-or just learn to recognize one?
Simply study our handy Sandbagger's Translation Guide. Soon you too will be crushing your ex-friends' egos.

Sandbagger Translation Guide

Sandbagger says: "Take it easy on me, OK? I'm really out of shape."
Really means: "I've been working out 25 hours a week for the past 3 months with my personal trainer, Sven, the Olympic decathlete. You are toast."

Sandbagger says: "Whoa! When did you get so buff? Looks like I'm in trouble today."
Really means: "How ya doin', french-fry boy? Wait till I remove these baggy sweats and reveal my 3 percent body fat."

Sandbagger says: "You'll love this route. It's pretty flat."
Really means: "There's 21,000 feet of elevation gain. Good thing I've been sleeping in my portable altitude-simulation tent. I've got more red blood cells than Dracula at a hemophiliac slumber party."

Sandbagger says: "I think it's great that you still use that classic (insert name of running shoe, bike, ski, ice axe, etc.). I don't care what those morons at the Consumer Product Safety Commission say-the old gear still rules!"
Really means: "My brand-new, carbon-fiber, Micro-Cushion, Anti-Swerve gizmo costs 10 times more than your year-old version, but they both perform about the same-except that now you're too busy imagining your hospital bill to keep up with me."

Sandbagger says: "Hope I don't slow you down too much today. I think I'm getting a cold."
Really means: "Every day I ingest $100 worth of vitamins, seaweed extract, and powdered rhinoceros horn. I eat only organic foods grown by aging hippies in Oregon. I go to bed at 8 p.m. and get up at 6 a.m. There are more germs on Martha Stewart's toothbrush than in my entire body. You're the one who's gonna be sick."

Sandbagger says: "You'll like working out with our bunch. We just like to have fun."
Really means: "We make Game 7 of the World Series look like a quilting bee."

Sandbagger says: "'Fraid I'm not going be much competition for you. My trick knee's acting up again."
Really means: "I make weekly visits to my massage therapist, my acupuncturist, my chiropractor, my yoga instructor, and my Rolfer. My worst injury this decade was a hangnail. I'm the injurer; you, pal, are the injuree."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Top 10 Nutrition Myths

Top 10 Nutrition Myths

Does eating at night make you fat? Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day? We sort the fact from fiction about these and other common misconceptions.

Your colleague at the office fills her gallon jug with fresh water every morning, forcing herself to finish it by day’s end. Your gym buddy’s been loading up on chicken and turkey to build muscle. And your sister is pleased that she’s found cholesterol-free cookies, which she believes provide heart-healthy benefits. If you’re thinking about adopting some of their “healthy” habits, think again. Read on to separate fact from fiction.

Myth #1: Eating late at night will make you fat.

Fact: Calories are calories—no matter what time they’re eaten. There is no magic hour in which your body decides that incoming calories must be stored as fat.

If you routinely overindulge after dinner, it’s the overindulging that’s sabotaging your weight-control efforts— not the hour on the clock. For some people, the “no calories after 8 p.m.” rule is an effective diet strategy because it means they take in fewer calories and less saturated fat over the course of a day.

But what if dinner is late or you’re hungry before bed? By all means, eat. Feed and fuel your body. No harm is done if you’re balancing your calories over the day and not scarfing down junk food.

Finally, if you train in the evening, eating at night is not optional: You must to replace the nutrients you’ve just lost. Depending on the activity, you’ll need water, electrolytes, carbohydrates and protein.

Bottom Line: What you eat—and how much—is far more important than when you eat it. But do make a point to spread your food intake out over the day to sustain your energy.

Myth #2: Eating extra protein builds muscle.

Fact: “To build muscle, you must have three key components: adequate calories, a good intake of protein and a good strength program,” says registered dietitian and American Dietetic Association spokesperson Roberta Anding, a certified specialist in sports dietetics. Without enough calories, “some of the dietary protein will be used as an energy source.” Likewise, protein intake beyond your needs will either be stored as fat or burned for energy.

The timing of your protein is important. “After resistance training, consuming a source of protein, such as whey, along with some carbohydrate has been shown to build muscle,” Anding adds.

Bottom Line: To build muscle, you need to eat a healthy diet, which includes a normal amount of protein, and strength train regularly.

Myth #3: Cholesterol-free foods are heart-healthy.

Fact: While it’s a good idea to limit egg yolks, whole milk, liver and other high-cholesterol foods, it’s just not that simple, says Dina Kimmel, New Jersey-based registered dietitian and nutrition counselor. Even more detrimental to your blood-cholesterol levels are the amounts of saturated and trans fats you eat. There are plenty of products on the supermarket shelves that contain no cholesterol, but are rife with artery-clogging saturated and trans fats. Scrutinize the nutrition facts panel carefully to see what’s in your cholesterol- free margarine, shortening, cookies or crackers. Chances are good that they’re loaded with either saturated or trans fats, or both.

The FDA allows a product to claim “cholesterol-free” on its label if there are no more than 2 milligrams cholesterol and 2 grams saturated fat per serving, but there’s no limit on trans fat. And your portion may be bigger than the listed serving size, so your meal could be serving up a not-so-healthy dose of fats.

Bottom Line: Load up on nature’s heart-healthy foods—whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds—to avoid artery cloggers. And read a product’s nutrition panel carefully.

Myth #4: Eating fish is the best way to get heart-healthy omega-3 fats.

Fact: The omega-3 family is credited with myriad health benefits, ranging from promoting brain development in infants to improving cognitive function in the elderly, but it is perhaps most recognized for its role in shielding the heart from disease.

Fish and marine-based supplements are the only ways toget EPA and DHA, two important omega-3 fatty acids. However, walnuts, flaxseed, canola oil, soybeans and some other plant foods offer ALA, a third omega-3 fatty acid. You need all three types of omega-3 fats for optimal health.

Plant-based omega-3 fatty acids offer distinct benefits you won’t get from fish. Without ALA, you’d have scaly skin and problems with hair growth and wound healing. There is even evidence that diets rich in ALA decrease the risk of fatal ischemic heart disease (the result of narrowing or hardening of the arteries, which impedes blood flow).

Fish or marine-based fatty acids, EPA and DHA, are recommended by many organizations, including the American Heart Association, to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease because of their strong triglyceride-lowering effect, says Penny Kris-Etherton Ph.D., R.D., professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. In addition, it appears that the marine-based omega-3 fats are especially important in aiding cognition.

“Based on the evidence we have at this point, I recommend that people include all omega-3 fatty acids in their diets,” says Kris-Etherton.

Bottom Line: For optimal health, include both fish- and plant-based omega-3 sources in your diet.

Myth #5: Athletes don’t get osteoporosis.

Fact: “Your sport may determine your risk for osteoporosis,” says registered dietitian and certified personal trainer Cathy Leman, owner of NutriFit, a nutrition and fitness consulting company in the Chicago area. Osteopenia—low bone mass, which precedes osteoporosis—is fairly prevalent among women who participate in sports that place a significant emphasis on low body weight, such as gymnastics and dance, Leman says.

When female athletes over-exercise and limit their calorie intake, they frequently lose their menstrual cycle. When these three things occur together—called the female athlete triad— women are at a high risk of developing osteoporosis and calcium won’t do any good, says registered dietitian Lisa Dorfman, certified specialist in sports dietetics. The triad has been reported to occur in 12 to 15 percent of elite athletes and at least 5 percent of normally active females. Although both running and strength training decrease the chance of osteoporosis, they won’t protect against the disease if the triad occurs.

Also, there are many nutrients beyond calcium important to bone health including vitamin D, vitamin K and magnesium. “Adequate diet, regular exercise and normal hormonal levels all work together to support healthy bones,” says Leman.

Bottom Line: It’s all about balance. Avoid over-exercising, and eat a healthy diet with enough food and calories to fuel your body.

Myth #6: If you’re craving certain foods, it’s because your body needs the nutrients they provide.

Fact: If this were true, more people would be craving fruits and vegetables, your best source for many vitamins and minerals. Rather, women tend to crave sweets, says Kerry Neville, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (ADA). Ask yourself what could be contributing to cravings. Consider biological signals like hunger and environmental cues such as smells and television commercials, suggests Malena Perdomo, an ADA registered dietitian. Many women experience more cravings around their menstrual cycles, a result of shifting or surging hormones.

Craving something sinful? “Select something healthy first, and if you’re still hungry for that piece of cake, then have a piece and move on,” says Perdomo.

Bottom Line: We have cravings for all kinds of reasons. If you focus on those good-for-you foods first, a little junk every now and then won’t hurt.

Myth #7: Dark breads are more nutritious than white breads.

Fact: “You can’t judge a bread by its color. You need to read the list of ingredients and look at the nutrition facts panel,” says Neville. “Wheat bread isn’t whole wheat bread,” she adds. You have to dig a little more to discover just what your sandwich is made of. The first ingredient listed should be 100 percent whole wheat or other whole grain (such as barley or oats). “Enriched wheat flour” is the long way to say white flour. Sometimes darker breads will have caramel or other coloring added, so you’re getting nothing more than a colored white bread, says Neville.

Bottom Line: Choose breads with the first ingredient listed as “100 percent whole wheat” or other whole grain (such as barley or oats).

Myth #8: Since herbs are natural, all herbal products are safe.

Fact: “All-natural certainly does not mean all-safe,” warns Anding. “Cocaine, opium and tobacco are all examples of plants that have serious side effects. In fact, many of our powerful drugs, like digitalis (a heart medicine), are plant derivatives.”

Because herbal and other dietary supplements are not regulated, different batches and different brands may have varying levels of purity and concentration. Without standardization, they may not be as safe as you think, advises Perdomo. And, they may not actually do anything to improve your health.

Bottom Line: Before self-dosing with a supplement, seek medical advice.

Myth #9: Water is all I need to rehydrate after exercise.

Fact: If you sweat a lot during exercise or other work, then you’ll likely need extra sodium along with your fluids. “The 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommended intake of 2,300 milligrams sodium per day is a good rule of thumb for recreational athletes, but if you’re an endurance athlete— like triathletes or marathoners—you may need to experiment with replenishing the sodium you lose through sweat,” says Leman. Since sweat contains water, sodium and other electrolytes, rehydration requires more than water. Sports drinks provide small amounts of sodium—roughly 50 to 200 milligrams in 8 ounces—and are often critical during activities lasting an hour or more. But they will not suffice for recovery. Make some of your recovery foods salty like pretzels, crackers and soup. Sometimes even the saltshaker is a good idea. But don’t take this as license to go overboard. If you’re not training or competing, stick to lowersodium choices most of the time.

Bottom Line: Drink small amounts of a sports drink throughout a workout lasting longer than an hour, and consume salty foods and water afterward.

Myth #10: I should drink eight glasses of water a day.

Fact: There’s no need to measure your water intake. Under usual conditions, let thirst be your guide, says the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies. IOM’s 2004 report sets a general recommendation of 91 ounces of water—from food or beverage sources—for women. You can meet your water needs from plain water, flavored water, sodas, juices, milk, as well as fruit and cooked pasta and rice.

And there’s good news for all you coffee and tea lovers. Caffeinated beverages contribute to our water needs. According to the IOM, previous thoughts about the dehydrating effects of caffeine were overstated. The water in coffee and tea compensates for the caffeine.

Hydration during endurance exercise is a different story. If you do not drink enough during exercise, you do risk dehydration. To gauge your hydration status and your fluid needs during exercise, weigh yourself before and after. Your postexercise weight should not be more than a couple pounds lighter than your starting weight. If it is, you’re not drinking enough appropriate fluids during activity.

Bottom Line: All beverages and even food contribute to your fluid needs. Drink to your thirst except during intense exercise and after. Then you may need to drink according to a schedule.

Read Between the Lines

Should you believe claims on a food label? It depends, and you have to look at the language of the claim very carefully. The FDA does not preapprove claims like “enhances the immune system,” “boosts stamina,” “maintains normal cholesterol” or “maintains healthy lung function.”

When a disease is mentioned, however, the rules are different. “Relief of heartburn,” “lowers cholesterol” and “prevents osteoporosis” each refer to a disease and require substantiation. The bottom line is to read labels critically and follow the old maxim: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

About the Author

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D., C.D.E., is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator for the Hampton Roads Center for Clinical Research in Norfolk, Va.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why I am not excited to do an Ironman

A lot of my friends did their first Ironman this year. This means I've read a lot of race reports, and most of them contain nuggets that reassure me why I am not training for an Ironman.

Here are some funny bits. I've left them anonymous for obvious reasons, and while I laugh and gag at them, I am very proud at the way everyone persevered...No DNF's!


When the cannon went off, I started swimming and immediately got pummeled. Within the first few minutes, I got kicked in the right eye and had to stop briefly to release the pressure on my eye. A few minutes later I got an elbow in the left eye. Somewhere else, I had some guy swim next to me and grab my shoulder and push it down. After he did it a few times I slowed a bit to get away from him. A number of times someone grabbed my feet and gave them a slight yank.

Eventually I was able to really start swimming but 5 min in I realized I had practiced the wrong sport.. this wasn’t swimming, it was a cross between rugby and sumo wrestling. I had an advantage in this situation since I grew up playing with my friends in our pool… you know “try to drown your friend” kind of games:)… well that is what this sort of felt like. I felt like a salmon trying to swim up river with a 1000 of my closest fish friends.

I noticed I was getting kicked in the face and people were trying to swim over me. I have been to triathlons before and seen a little bit of this, but this was the first time it was relentless. I got kicked in the face twice pretty hard but it didn’t really hurt that bad. One guy I did kick accidentally tried to push my feet down and then punch me in the side, which was pretty crazy.

The swim was fairly violent. A lot of thigh slapping, foot slapping, and side bumping. At one point I was drafting pretty well behind someone, and suddenly his feet disappeared in the murky water. I was wondering “What happened?” just as he kicked me hard in the face – he had switched to a breast stroke to sight and I had caught up too close.

soon after starting swimming I was getting hit around pretty good. There was one guy who kept head butting my side, and then in the span of 30 seconds I had been head butted from the right, slapped in the face from the left, my ankles grabbed from behind, then my right arm hooked and my head dunked while breathing so I choked badly. I had a panic reaction right then – I was incredibly hot, I couldn’t get any air, and a little devil in my head screamed “GET OUT NOW”!

[L - I could post a hundered more like this, but you get the point]


I ran to the mount line and it was like beginner-city. Two men in front of me fell off their bikes trying to get on in a hurry. One lost both water bottles and apparently decided his time was too important to stop and pick them up. Hey, people, it’s a freakin’ IRONMAN, not a sprint, get your crap together, take your time and get on your bike without getting hurt! "What’s with these people???" I thought. How could that guy leave all his nutrition at the beginning of the bike course!???!

[After she flatted just out of T1...] Just then, the boy I sent to get help came back to me and said if I wanted help, I had to go back to transition. WHAT??!?!? Crap. I chose to run back into transition. It was a nightmare. All these bikers were coming out and I was running all the way back in. I was almost run over several times by people who mounted their bikes and were still looking down at their feet as they rode off...they wouldn't even look up until I yelled to them. It was not only embarrassing, it was frustrating. Any lead I had built up on that fabulous swim was now gone....and then some... I saw some men standing under a tent and I asked them for a pump. They pointed across one of the aisles and I saw about 6 bike technicians standing there with a bunch of pumps. I called to them, but then one of the men I was standing by chastised me and said I need to go over there if I want to use a pump. I was like, "Dude, it's much easier to carry a pump across the aisle with all these athletes going by than it is for me to wheel my bike across the aisle!" He was pretty mean about it and told me I needed to wait for it to be clear. And just like Frogger, I maneuvered my way across the streaming flow of athletes and shoved my back wheel towards the technicians... I would later find out that no less than 700 athletes passed me during the time it took me to take care of this flat. Depressing.

Then I noticed I couldn’t see out of my left eye. I kept blinking and sure enough, my contact popped out! At mile 12 or so, I stopped to put it back in. I was a bit embarrassed as spectators asked me if I was OK. Man, I’d BETTER be OK considering as I’m only 12 miles into a 112 mile ride! Sheesh! The contact didn’t feel so good, but it was in and I could see, so I took off. Played more with my watch, not working. Mile 15, contact came out again. WTF! Pull over, tell the spectators I’m fine, and ride off. Now it’s stinging, probably from the salt on my fingers getting into my eye. Whatever, I got a ride to do. Between, mile 18 and 19, contact pops out again. YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! So I rip it out and continue the rest of the ride with just one contact in.

He also mentioned that putting ice in the crotch is the most important because it cools your body down without your body reacting to it. You have arteries that run down there and they don’t inform the brain you are cool and if you put ice on your head your brain can think that you are cool even if you are still hot. [L - my brain would think "WTF? Why are you putting ice in your pants?]

I looked down and the wrong display was on my computer. I must've looked down for too long because by the time I looked up, I was headed off to the side of the road in some deep, loose gravel. It was too late and my reaction to turn the bike back onto the road was too late. I fell less than a quarter mile into the bike course. I hit my elbow very hard and my head lightly tapped the pavement.

I rolled in to get my bike special needs bag and yelled out my number. The volunteer yelled back "It’s not here." I’m like, what do you mean, it’s not there, and I yelled my number again. She ran around, looking like a chicken with her head cut off and apologized, but my bag was nowhere to be found. Dejected, I pulled away from special needs and decided today just wasn’t my day.

I started to swing out around him, but he fell over and I wasn’t able to miss him. I hit him and went flying. I landed on my left shoulder and rolled over onto my right side. My first thought as I lay in the road was “this can’t be happening, it’s just not fair!” I laid there moaning, more out of pity than pain, then decided to stand and assess the damage. [L- OK, most of you know who this is. We don't call her Kollarbone Kris for nothing! ;-)]

I stopped at the top of the descent to retch, but managed to bring up only a little and only felt a little better. Yuck. Time wasted, and I still felt crappy and sloshy inside.

Around mile 80 I was really feeling the seat and i couldn’t get comfortable… I am sure if you were following me you would have thought i had ants in my pants because i just kept moving around on the seat attempting to find something that worked.

Now I'm at mile 90 or so and out of nowhere, both legs cramped up.

Physically I felt terrible and adding insult to injury my bike seat fell off at mile 70 forcing me to ride for an hour without at seat until I was finally able to duct tape it on for the final miles.

On the last descent I was going really fast and my back tire started locking up and skidding. I decided to keep the pace between 15-20 mph that way if I went down I would only break a collar bone or something and not worse. I looked down to see what was happening and then I saw it was my frame was cracked right on the back right wheel and basically my back wheel was about to fall off my bike and I was just like oh $H!t this is just great. I just kept preparing to crash to the right and mitigate the impact as much as possible when and if it happened.

While in the porta potty, I hear an athlete who just came out of another porta potty start swearing. Apparently, he broke his cleat. He’s screaming at the poor volunteer, who really has no idea what to do, nor is it his job, and I am happy I just don’t take myself that seriously.

After a decent swim and an uncharacteristically slow and uneven bike during which I was seeing spots and blacking out, I was pulled off the course before the start of the run and ended up spending several hours convulsing in the med tent with no idea of what was wrong with me.


My husband saw me immediately as I came out of the changing tent and yelled to me to ask how I was feeling. I was afraid to look at him because I thought I might start crying and I just shook my head.

I don’t think I even made it as far as the timing mat before I had to walk. It was just too painful. Walking wasn’t too painful, so I started preparing myself mentally for a long walk. After walking about half a mile I attempted to run again. I found that if I kept my arm tight against my body so that the shoulder didn’t move much, it was almost bearable. I continued running this way to the first water stop, they gave me some ice to put on my shoulder. After icing for 15 minutes or so, I asked the medical person to strap my arm down. She put it in a make-shift sling and I headed back out onto the course. Shortly before mile 22, there was a spot where we transitioned from a parking lot to a walkway, and for some reason there was a piece of carpet down. I tripped on the carpet and landed hard on my right side. Thankfully, I didn’t seem to have done any additional damage, so I got up and said a few expletives and told the volunteers I was okay, even though I didn’t really feel okay.

Everything was going really good, I was miserable and I felt like throwing up but I was making it.

About 1/2 mile later my stomach rolled and I barely made it to the side of the road to projectile vomit. I continued like this for miles.

As I crossed the bridge on the 1st loop, I watched one of the pros stop and throw up. I stopped and offered him ice, which he gladly accepted.

[I got] the hiccups at mile 18, which lasted (painfully) until mile 22, where I threw up again and got rid of them.

Right after Mile17 and my required gel, I yacked it right back up with a ton of liquid. I HATE PUKING!

Normally, I hate regular cola, but that day, it tasted like gold and I couldn’t get enough. I kept getting an ice and a cola, dumped the ice in the cola, waited a few seconds and chugged the cola like someone was going to steal it from me. After a huge belch, I started to feel pretty good! LOL! It became routine for the next several miles.

There were so many people crashed out on the side of the road and ambulances racing by. It was like a battlefield. I have since found out about 9 percent of the field DNF'd for various reasons. Not sure if this is typical or not but there were a lot of bodies scattered about for sure!

I continued trying to run as much as I could but I had to stop at every porta potty along the way.

Even "inspiration station" wasn't very inspiring. It was just one woman with a megaphone, yelling "Go runners" every minute or so.

My face was covered with salt. I’d take a sponge every few aid stations to wipe off my face, but then I saw them recycling sponges. That ended that little ritual.

My legs felt heavy and the sound of my feet shuffling on the pavement irritated me. I just didn't have the strength to pick them up high enough to not make that noise any more.

Thanks to leg rocking cramps, it became war out there.

In the second loop, I got supper dizzy and started walking again. At this point I knew I was in trouble. I figured I was pretty dehydrated and because of the goosebumps, close to heat stress. Rubbed ice on my face and neck to try to keep from passing out.

Once I got to 21 miles my body started sending me a lot of different signals that I had never felt before, I knew they were not good at all. My stomach I could tell was completely turned off, it wasn’t hurting anymore it was off. In fact nothing was hurting that bad anymore except my knees. I started to feel cold and I knew I was hot. I also noticed that I wasn’t producing saliva anymore so I would try to hydrate but I knew that my body just wasn’t taking in water.

The last 5 miles people kept yelling you are almost there and I kept thinking to myself damn it you don’t understand no I am not, this is a long way for me still considering the way I feel. In fact it started making me angry when people would say you are almost there because my body was getting weaker and weaker. I felt like blurting out, “you guys keep saying that this whole time!”

I started getting really tired on the last half mile to the finish and this lady passed me and this guy yells “don’t let that chick pass you!” and I was thinking man I should let her pass me just because it is so rude to say that and I know she heard that, but then I am like no I am not going to let her pass me, not because of what the guy said but because I know I can beat her and I should beat her to the finish, so I started to pass people.


When I arrived at the finish I just stopped and then I look to my left and right and two ladies are holding me and I was kind of frustrated they were holding me and I was like, “I am fine,” but then they said you think so and they let go for a second and I started to fall over and then I realized I was not standing up on my own. They informed me that I fell over at the end and that they caught me. They were asking me simple questions like what size shirt I wear and I couldn’t even answer the questions, so they plopped me down in a wheel chair and I was under supervision. I tried to get up and they wouldn’t let me go. Finally they convinced me that I really couldn’t walk on my own and it turned out to be true. It was about 5 minutes that I really wasn’t doing very good and then I started to feel really bad and when I started to feel really bad I knew that I was okay.

We sat and talked for awhile and I asked if it was ok to lie down and I think he said ok. That is about when I passed out I guess I got into a wheelchair and I remember hurling copious amounts of vomit first on myself and probably XXX and then into a ziploc. My blood pressure was taken and registered a whopping 73/60 and that was my golden ticket to an iv. I had 2 liters put in and was finally able to sip enough gatorade to be allowed out of the med tent 90 min. later. I was so cold it was unbelievable!

The Finish was in this order: Cross the line, a few tears, Leg collapse, Sit in front of heater under blankets, and a waddle to the car

The doctor in the medical didn’t even look at the shoulder, he just told me to go to the nearest emergency room... I had lots of company in ER. There were a number of dehydrated athletes there and we chatted about the race while waiting for our turns. I got x-rayed fairly quickly. Then I had to wait a bit to see the doctor. When he came in, he asked what happened and told me my scapula was broken. He said that because it takes a lot of force to break a scapula he needed to check that I hadn’t also torn my aorta! He didn’t really think I did, since I’d run a marathon afterward, but said he needed to be sure. [L - she didn't tear her aorta.]

XXXXXX convinced me that I shouldn’t sleep in the street and finally we got to a place that she could drive the car to. I found a nice rock and layed my head against it and a guy walked by and told me that a pillow would feel a lot more comfortable then that rock. I remember being really surprised at how there were actually some people that seemed to be able to walk after the IronMan, because I wasn’t one of them. I was done.

After that I went with XXXXX and my parents to Denny’s which was the only restaurant that was open that we could easily find. I kept falling asleep in the restaurant and was spilling my food.

My last surprise of the day was next. The girls had spent time in the SUV reading and staying out of the rain, and the story was: ”Uh, Dad? I know you told us not to, but we turned on the lights so we could read, and now we think the battery is dead.” So my post-race time was spent calling CAA and waiting for a jump, and that took long enough that all the restaurants in town had closed.

In spite of drinking a lot of water and Gatorade after the race, it took almost a full 24 hours after the race before I urinated.


YIKES! See what I mean? Lots of stories of crashing, barfing, cramping and passing out. And these are just the stories in print! Verbally I've heard:
- People would just get off their bikes in the middle of the race and lay down on the side of the road.
- My friend had such bad heat exhaustion in the middle of the run that we put him in a cooler of ice at the aid station.
- My knee really started bothering me about halfway through the bike, so I did 60 miles riding with one leg.

Yet at the end of all of these reports, the people say how happy they are to have finished, how proud they are of their race, and how they can't wait to do it again. And in all their picture they are smiling! So the suffering must all be worth it! And with that said...never say never. ;-)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Summary of Airline Baggage Fees for Bicycles

A big THANK YOU to pro triathlete Jessi Stensland who posted this to her blog in December. I thought you all might find it helpful. I enjoy reading her blog, it's on my blog list.

AirplaneFun I don't know about you, but I've found myself wasting precious time lately when booking travel, digging around airline websites looking for extra baggage fees, especially when it comes to bikes. Rarely is it enough to utilize only the basic search engine prices to determine the overall cost of travel airline to airline anymore. Extra fees make a huge difference in my decisions. I created this list to save myself, and you, valuable time in travel planning.

Here is a summary of the current baggage charges, gathered from a number of major airline websites today, December 28, 2009. They are listed in order from most reasonable to obscene. Props to Southwest Airlines and Air Canada who lead the way for domestic travel! Click on the airline name to be linked to their website page regarding bicycle charges (when applicable.)

NOTE: Most airlines will not charge extra for bikes packaged under 50lbs and 62" (L+W+H). The following list assumes the bicycle case is over 50lbs or 62".

NOTE #2: Not all websites were clear as to whether the airline would charge both the regular checked baggage fees in addition to the excess baggage fees, though I've found that to often be the case. For example, United Airlines will charge $20 for the first bag and $175 for a bike which makes the total cost $195 each way.

NOTE #3: Where there are two amounts mentioned for first and second bag fees, the lower price refers to the discount you receive when you check-in and pay for your baggage online prior to the flight.

NOTE #4: I've been choosing my flights in support of those companies that offer lower fees for bicycles even when I'm not flying with a bike, especially when there is no difference in price between two or more airlines.

**If you see any discrepancies or have any personal experiences worth noting, please comment below.

Happy travels!!


Southwest Airlines

$0 for up to two checked bags

$50 per checked bicycle

Air Canada

Within Canada: $0 for up to two checked bags + $50 per checked bicycle

Between Canada + US: $0 for first bag + $30 for second bag + $50 per bicycle

Jet Blue

$0 for first checked bag + $30 for second checked bag

$50 per bike domestically + $80 per bike international

Virgin America

$20 per checked bag

$50 per checked bicycle

Frontier Airlines

$20 for first bag + $30 for second bag

$50 per checked bike

Alaska Air / Horizon Air

$15 for first bag + $25 for second bag

$50 for baggage > 50lbs + $50 for baggage > 62" = $100 per bike

Northwest Airlines

$15/$20 for first bag + $25/$30 for second bag

$100 per bike checked within US + $150 per bike checked internationally

Continental Airlines

$18/$20 for first bag + $27/$30 for second bag

$100 per checked bike

American Airlines

$20 for first bag + $30 for second bag

$100 per checked bike

US Airways

$20/$25 for first bag + $30/$35 for second bag

$100 per checked bike

United Airlines

$15/$20 for first bag + $25/$30 for second bag

$175 per checked bike within US + up to $250 per bike checked internationally

Delta Airlines

$15/$20 for first bag + $25/$30 for second bag

$175 per checked bike within the US + $300 per bike checked internationally

Friday, January 15, 2010

Use Tips to Break the Sugar Habit and Prevent Cravings

By Fleur Hupston
from Natural News
Published December 13, 2009

People who eat sugar on a daily basis typically crave even more sugar. It can correctly be called an addiction. Blood sugar levels spike after eating sugar and then plummet, resulting in a craving for more after a couple of hours. Some people eat sugar in response to stress or depression, relying on the emotional comfort of say, cookies or cake to feel better. Eating balanced, healthy meals and controlling blood sugar are pivotal when trying to stop cravings.

Stop Sugar Cravings with Balanced Meals

Craving sugary foods can be an indication of a lack of certain nutrients in the body, such as chromium (found in broccoli, grapes and dried beans), phosphorus (found in nuts, legumes, grains, fish and eggs), carbon (found in fresh organic fruit) and tryphtophan (found in cheese, liver, raisins, sweet potato and spinach).

Combining protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy oils at mealtimes reduces the risk of triggering sugar cravings. Both healthy fats and protein leave the body feeling full longer than sugary foods and complex carbohydrates contain many of the essential vitamins and nutrients the body needs. Protein slows down digestion so that even when consuming complex carbohydrates, there is no rapid rise in blood sugar.

How to Control Blood Sugar to Prevent Cravings

Not eating regularly or going for long stretches between meals can cause a person's blood sugar levels to drop. When blood sugar levels drop too low, cravings kick in because the body craves food that can quickly be converted to energy. Typically, this is when people reach for a chocolate bar or quick "pick me up". Since the boost of energy is not sustained, another craving will take place a couple of hours later. The key to controlling blood sugar levels from dipping is to eat small meals and snacks frequently.

Excellent choices for snacking in between meals would be nuts (such as almonds, walnuts or Brazil nuts), seeds, fruit, dried fruit (such as raisins, dried cranberries, dried peaches) or vegetables (such as carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices). These foods will provide fiber, vitamins and nutrients and at the same time will keep blood sugar levels from plummeting.

The easiest and quickest way to stop the sugar habit? This would be to go cold turkey. Gradually trying to cut down is not likely to work as well. Coming off sugar may be hard, but cravings will subside after the first few days and the individual concerned will likely be astounded at the increase in energy levels he or she experiences.

If stress is given as the reason for turning to sugar, alleviate stress in other ways. Find the route cause and change the situation if possible. Exercise is an excellent stress-buster and will improve overall health.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Base Period Body Weight

From Joe Friel's Blog. I've put it red what I thought was the important part. I don't have a "race weight" and am constantly trying to shed a few pounds of fat! But this is good advice on how to drop a few, and to NOT do it during your race season.

Base Period Body Weight

Posted: 29 Dec 2009 04:42 AM PST

During the Transition period after your last race season you probably gained some weight. That is expected. And it’s probably a good thing - depending on how much weight you gained. Trying to stay at your optimal race weight year round is not good for your health. It’s also not good for your psyche. Staying focused on maintaining race weight 12 months of the year, regardless of your training load, requires a monk-like lifestyle of continual sacrifice and near suffering.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed life a bit and gained some weight in the last few weeks. The Base period is the time to start trimming down any excess beyond your best training weight. Training weight is a bit heavier than race weight. Your training weight by the end of the Base period may be roughly three to five percent more than your race weight – the weight you will have on the day of your first A-priority race. The higher workload of the Build period should be enough to gradually bring your training weight down to your racing weight by race day.

The extra calories you are burning as you move into the Base period may be enough to help you accomplish this initial weight loss. If not then you need to become more aware of your eating habits and modify them appropriately. Keeping a food log is a proven way of doing this.

Athletes who have been through this weight-loss process before generally know what they need to do to shed the extra flab. What I have found works best with the athletes I’ve coached is to greatly reduce their intake of starch and sugar replacing these foods with non-starchy fruits and vegetables. Examples of starchy foods are pastries, cereal, bagels, bread, corn, rice and potatoes. Limit your intake of such foods to the first 30 minutes following your long aerobic endurance and higher-intensity muscular endurance workouts. This will compromise your recovery a bit, but it’s better to do that now than in the last few weeks before your A race when recovery is becoming increasingly important to race performance.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

5 Tips to a Better Swim


Here are some tips to keep in mind as you progress to a more efficient, faster freestyle in your next triathlon!

1. Keep your head down- look down at the bottom of the pool

2. Don't bend your knees- well, a little knee bend is okay on the kick, but get your power from your quadriceps muscles and hips as opposed to trying to kick at the water.

3. Extend your arm with each stroke- glide!

4. Pull all the way through your stroke- finish the pull with an extended arm.

5. Breathe! Ultimately, breathing every 3 strokes is a good idea, but in your beginning stages, just getting air is more important- so start with what works.

Keep sticking with it and when you're ready, check out the additional resources on

Kevin Koskella
Tri Swim Coach

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Nantucket Bike Basket Co.

Cute baskets for your bike! What a fun way to dress up your "casual bike", great for running errands! Check them out.

Monday, January 11, 2010

LUNA Sport Clothing

Did I talk about this before? Regardless, you should check out the LUNA Sport Clothing!

LUNA, who makes the fabulous LUNA Bar and Sport products are making cycling clothing! It's comfortable and great quality. They have short sleeve, long sleeve and sleeveless jerseys; bike shorts and knickers; gloves; arm, leg and knee warmers; and saddles!


LUNA is beyond healthy food and nutrition bars. What began as a way to nourish the bodies and energize the spirits of active women has become a way of life.

Inspired by our pro racers, LUNA has created an all-new line of go-to riding wardrobe essentials for women. Developed from scratch with input from some of the best female riders in the world, the LUNA Sport Cycling Collection is all about authentic function and athletic pursuit, original design and flattering fashion, luxurious quality and smart materials.

What sets us apart.

Totally unique, LUNA Sport is a natural evolution of our dedication to women’s athletic achievement – the same dedication that originally led us to start the LUNA Chix Pro Team and local LUNA Chix teams back in 2002. With the LUNA Sport Clothing Collection, women can now choose to live in great-fitting, performance-driven, eco-friendly clothes that make a difference.

Pro-inspired, pro-tested.

Over the years, LUNA athletes have been a motivational force for all of us. The women of LUNA’s professional mountain bike and multi-sport teams have won hundreds of races, become world champions, set records, and competed in the Olympics. Here at LUNA Sport Clothing, we draw upon that experience and hold ourselves to that standard of excellence to develop, test, and refine the most unique, authentic women’s cycling clothing available.

Moving toward sustainability.

Sometimes, making a difference actually means minimizing your impact. Wherever we can, we try to lead the way with recycled and renewable fabrics. To further reduce our environmental footprint, LUNA uses a short supply chain and builds garments to demand. The idea is to cut down on waste and help take responsible steps toward a better planet.

Partners in Prevention.

LUNA has always been committed to helping women reach higher. As part of that commitment, over the last 10 years LUNA has donated more than $2 million through direction donations and fundraising programs that help the Breast Cancer Fund.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Running in the Cold and Snow

I was reading a not-so-great article on Runner's World, but thought the comments at the bottom had some great tips I wanted to pass on!

atomthompson wrote:
My "cut off" temp is around -20F or if the windchill gets much below -30F. I have no doubt that I could manage just fine in temperatures below that, however the risk is too high. First off you want to be careful, while you might be able to stay warm enough while running, if you fall and are unable to move you want to know someone can get to you IMMEDIATELY. Also make sure you don't have exposed skin when it's that cold.

As far as running on ice, there are some items you can add to your shoes which work great. One is "yak trax", they strap onto any shoe and provide wonderful traction in the ice. Although they do the opposite on regular dry ground. Also if you are running in shoes you don't mind hurting a little, taking very small screws and screwing them into the outer edge of your shoe works wonders. I put them so the head of the screw is hitting the ground and not the sharp end, this makes it so you can still walk on carpet (not hardwood though). Just make sure you don't screw it into where it could potentially come through the shoe into your foot. Hence the outer edge.

Breathing takes some getting use to. I suggest wearing a mask of some sort. There are many out there, some better than others. It can help hold in some heat so the air you breath isn't as bad. Otherwise you just need to get use to the air. I try to run outside as much as possible, taking a week or two off can start the adjusting process all over again.

As for pace, I tend to have a harder time running fast in extreme cold. The weather will affect your muscles. Just like trying to run hard right from the get go without a warm up. Also you are probably wearing more clothing and it's probably a bit restrictive. It all plays a part. Just focus on the effort you are putting into it. If it feels like you are working just as hard, guess what, you are.

Hope my suggestions helped. Happy running everyone!!

Dr. Ron wrote:
I run in NH year round and deal with the same icy roads and trails mentioned by adipocere. Another option that utilizes your favorite running shoe (rather than a specific model from one manufacturer) is Icespike -- semi-permanent hardened steel cleats that attach to your shoes. Last longer, lighter and more comfortable compared to other traction devices out there.

Here's the link:

Happy and safe running!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

Quote for the Day

"There is a great advantage in training under unfavorable conditions. It is better to train under bad conditions, for the difference is then a tremendous relief in a race."