Monday, February 1, 2016


Dealing with Bike Envy

I’ve often felt that life would be better if I had a better bike.

In May, I had a chance to ride a bike that was far better than anything I’d used before. The bike was a De Rosa Protos with Campy Super Record electronic shifting. The bike was everything I’d imagined, not surprising for an MSRP of close to $16,000.

The first two rides on the bike were heaven, with my mind scheming to justify how I could purchase such a fine machine.

Small Unit: A Woman's Tri Perspective - Part II

As a follow up to my original article on training and racing as a woman, I want to cover some equipment issues of importance to small athletes.

Heat Training "Secrets"

Heat. I love it. The hotter, the better as far as I am concerned. I am not sure why I love the heat so much. Even as a swimmer in college, when the water temp was 81-82 I would swim my best, 78-79 degree water had me in the warm up pool right to the minute of my event.

My fellow athletes would have their hypotheses why heat didn’t affect me as much as others. Reasons like low body fat, having grown up in Bakersfield where the average temperature was about 105 in the summer or maybe I had some heat training secrets that I was not sharing were always the top of the list.

The Power of Perspective

I have had my share of disappointments in races. Mechanical issues, poor pacing, or simply an “off day” has provided me with some shockingly bad results relative to expectations. I always try to learn from these experiences, but sometimes the result is so bad, or the key reason behind it so obvious, that I question whether it was worth it at all. However I have come to understand something very important and fundamental to my enjoyment of endurance sport. It is worth it. It is always worth it. Why? Perspective.

Getting Used to the Heat

The first true day of summer is just around the corner and hot weather racing is becoming the norm for most of North America.

Here, we're revisiting some hot weather training and racing tips from Coach Marilyn Chychota McDonald.

Redefining Aging

I’d like to share what I know about exercise. Exercise can be defined as: “Bodily exertion for the sake of developing and maintaining physical fitness.” This definition will have a different meaning for each of us.

The human body is an amazing mechanism. It will do whatever you train it to do and as I have learned and am still learning, is not limited to just the younger generation. Of course, as you age, your body's metabolism does slow down so your results also slow down, but that doesn’t mean that exercise does not continue to allow you to develop and maintain fitness.

Making the Best of a Bad Race

It’s very hard for me to have a bad race. Not because I’m an especially brilliant, flawless athlete but because it takes a lot for me to define something as bad. Obviously, the easiest way to define something as “bad” is to say the goals you set didn’t match the reality. But often in practice that is inadequate. Say you wanted to come first in your age group, but ended up coming second behind some ex-domestic for a pro tour team who also happened to be a squad swimmer -- is that a bad race?

Training Your Weakness: Speed and Power

In my last article I looked at typical triathlete development patterns. I suggested that endurance takes a long time to be maximized and that, while it is being trained, the typical athlete will tend to fare relatively better at shorter events than his peers who have a more developed aerobic base. But what if you’re an atypical athlete?

The Art of the Warm Up

The prime North American race season is starting to ramp up, with many big races already on the books in the South. Now seems like a great time to revisit an earlier article from Justin Daerr on training warm-ups and developing your pre-race routine.

From the Athlete’s Heart Mailbag

We invited readers to submit heart-health questions for Dr. Larry Creswell. Periodically through the coming months, Larry will devote his column to answering questions that should be of interest to triathletes and other endurance athletes.

In this edition, Larry answers a question about cardiac screening to determine risk for sudden cardiac death at triathlon.

Your Best Bad Day

Bad races -- all of us have them. With three disciplines, the odds for something to go wrong is pretty high. But what do you do with a bad race? Do you use it as an excuse for why you did not meet the goals you set for yourself or do you take what you learn and apply it to the next race? A bad race can serve a purpose but you need to look at it the right way.

I have two bad race experiences that I will never forget. They molded me as an athlete and helped me make a decision to become the athlete I wanted to be.

Long-Term Health and Exercise

I’ve been coaching athletes and tracking my health markers since 2000. It’s fashionable to think we are unique but I suspect you can group athletes into three categories:

  1. Slow responders
  2. Gradual responders
  3. Rapid responders

Coping with Falling Short

There is an old expression: "Confidence lost, everything lost."

As athletes, we put ourselves out there in a black and white situation where we are judged based on goals we've set and seeing if we can meet our goals by stepping on the start line. It takes a lot of guts to do that. Setting a goal and seeing it through can be a lesson in self growth far beyond what we imagined.

Expect or Accept

In our house, the “expect” word is comparable to saying “never” or “always” -- anytime those words come flying, it’s generally negative and usually prefaced by “You.” When, “You never... “ or “You always… “ comes flying, it’s predominantly in a negative sense and in the midst of less than desirable conversation (read: arguing!).

“Expect” follows close behind. Expectations can be dangerous and usually prompt disappointment. If I expect my son to sit still in his chair through the entire course of dinner, I’m setting myself up for disappointment, because 10 times out of 10, he won’t.

Any Questions About Sport and Health?

Many athletes have health-related questions, but they aren't sure where to go for answers or -- all perhaps more commonly -- they forget to ask at their annual physicals. Endurance Corner's Larry Creswell, M.D., a cardiac surgeon and Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, the author of The Athlete's Heart blog and a co-author of the recent USA Triathlon Fatality Incidents Study is here to help.

Have a question about a recent health issue that impacts your training or racing? Have a personal experience that you think will benefit others but you're not sure how to translate it into a larger message for the triathlon community? Contact Larry via e-mail at to share.

Managing Mental Fitness

From the start of my racing career, I was able to perform above my training and beat athletes who appeared fitter than me. The mental side of life has been an area where I’ve done well over the years.

Small Unit: A Woman's Tri Perspective - Part I

Small woman triathletes have unique physiologies and should approach the sport differently than their larger male peers. I believe you qualify as a small unit if you are 66 inches (5’6”) or less in height and under 135 lbs. Chances are you have a reputation as being a poor to okay swimmer, fine on the bike and a really good runner!

Competitive Surf Entry Swim Start

by Kevin Purcell, D.C.

A skillful surf entry can save you minutes at the start of your race, or save the life of another. I am going to share some ideas that I picked up surfing, over four years as a junior lifeguard and seven years as a professional guarding beaches in California.

Before your race start, walk into the water and get to know what you will be sprinting into. Look for holes that may trip you and sandbars that could injure your head or neck. Be sure you pick your entry position after scouting out the ocean bottom and currents. If there are holes and dips move away from that line. If all areas have holes and dips, that may influence decision making. At work or racing I always checked the ocean bottom, made note of tides and knew how far out I could run.

Closely examine the ocean itself prior to start. Notice up coast or down coast currents. Float in the ocean that is waist or chest deep during warm up and note where the current takes you (if anywhere). Or, out of race entry area, throw a stick in the water and notice what happens to it (up or down). Then alter your line to the first buoy.

The benefit of a great surf entry may be lost if you are swept up or down coast away from an optimal buoy line. I have started races where I didn’t run toward the water. Instead, I ran down coast dozens of yards before entering the surf because I knew where the current would take me. It is best to enter so that you never fight the current. Instead, let the current do its thing.

Once you enter the water, forcefully kick your heels out wide so that you can run (not wade) into deeper water; at least knee deep while your feet fly wide above the water. If you look at the picture to the right you will notice that everyone is aggressively focused on urgent forward motion.

Evaluating Early Season Performances

The triathlon season is starting to get underway here in North America and the weekends are filling up with events. If you live somewhere with a warm climate, you might be well on your way to peak fitness, while others are just starting to get their feet wet with competition. Assuming you did have a break in winter and you are only a few months into the new season, your approach to racing might be different than it will be later in the year.

Rib Rehab

Rib injuries pop-up fairly frequently in our team.

I crashed hard in October 2011. Despite having to cope with some dark days, I got a lot right with my recovery from that injury.

Setting Yourself Up for Success

Race season has started. As you head into your race it's key to have a clear view of your plan. Things can happen on race day out of your control and you just have to roll with that, adjust and adapt. For the things you can influence, it's important to take control and set yourself up for the best day possible.

Getting Ready Early

Now that we are well into April and some of the early races have begun, I wanted to share some experiences and approaches for early season racing I have used with success. Most recently I had a large group racing at Oceanside 70.3 and although everyone was 100% motivated and fitness looked good across the group, I always have apprehensions about how “race” fit athletes actually are. Then again, sometimes early season racing opens a window to what needs attention for the remainder of the year.

Athletic Option Value

Last summer, in an effort to improve my cycling, I stopped running. This proved to be a serious screw up that required months of rehab.

I’m a past champion of Ultraman Hawaii and the concept of doing less, doing the minimum, getting by... none of these are appealing to me. I’m all about more and I lose interest when winning isn’t an option.

However, the concept of only needing 12 weeks to ramp myself up (and kick booty) is highly appealing to me. How can we put ourselves in a position so we always have the ability to scale up for a race?

The Purpose of Early Season Racing

When I started the sport of triathlon you could barely find a race earlier than Wildflower which was, and still is, the first weekend in May. I was living in San Luis Obispo at the time so of course the famous Wildflower Festival was the marker that triathlon season had officially started. It wasn’t until I started racing as a professional a few years later that earlier races even entered my mind.

Am I Really Okay With This?

Am I really okay with this?

Or another question is, am I okay with letting go of a result? My last two articles focused on giving myself permission to let it go and re-evaluating the actual importance of all of it. Am I okay being slower than I used to be? Am I okay with not winning or at some point perhaps being in the middle of the pack?

Learning from the Best

There are three main reasons that I attend training camps:

  1. Learn from successful people who think differently from me.
  2. Exercise all week in a socially acceptable manner.
  3. Surround myself with fellow crazies and rekindle my passion for sport.

This week’s article is about the first point above and covers lessons from our most recent camp in Tucson.

Our next camp is June in Boulder -- we cater to all ability levels and distances, including road cyclists and mountain bikers. The camp is priced excluding accommodation so you can scale up or down depending on your budget. Contact us with any questions.

I’ll be there and I hope you can join me.

Beta Testing Your Season

I am close to launching my new company. Before the official launch, I need to start beta testing our program. Beta testing is where I ask people to poke holes into our program. Does it work? Where are the bottlenecks? What are we missing?

The last few years I have started beta testing my triathlon season.

My Month on Mount Lemmon

Looking back at over 10 years of training and racing, I must admit I have done some pretty “crazy” things in training. Epic Camps, back to back races and challenge workouts in extreme conditions are all notable entries in my training diary. However, my most memorable block of training was in October of 2011 when I spent a month living and training on Mount Lemmon.

Crazy Training

People who know me know I get up to all sorts of crazy training. It is very rare that the weather stops me from riding. This week I set off on a bike ride in the pouring rain. Within minutes the rain had turned to hail, but I carried on as normal and ended up riding into a 20 mph block headwind through a hail storm which lasted 25 minutes.

With this is mind, I'd like to share the greatest hits version of my crazy training, which may raise an eyebrow or two.

Break to Breakthrough

This past year, I have embarked on a new project involving a small business startup. It has been 16 years since my last “I know nothing about this industry” start up.

In all those years, I completely forgot the emotional energy required to manage a start up. I am continuing my no drama management approach despite having moments that fluctuate from the flash terror of “this is going to be a colossal failure” to “what happens if it takes off?”

Again I have learned that if I had known everything involved in a startup in a new industry, I would have never taken on this project. The best part about being overwhelmed in the information dump from a new industry is that the learning curve is steep, fast and perpetual.

I love every moment of it.