Thursday, September 29, 2011

What do I wear for my triathlon?

I frequently see the question, "What do I wear for my triathlon?"

You can find many different solutions online.  Search the forum at or and you can find this question has been answered over and over again.

Personally, I'm a big fan of the two-piece tri suit.  I have three.  I train in them religiously and I have my favorite.  One of them even matches my bike.
But I've learned several things about what to wear, and what not to wear during endurance sports.

First, the baggier your clothing is, the more likely you are to chafe.  Coming from a running background, I have all the cute running skorts.  Guess what.  I used to bathe in body glide to keep from chafing so badly that I'd walk bowlegged for a few days.  I once saw a guy during the Austin Marathon bleeding from his nipples from chafing so badly. No more cute running clothes...

Second, everyone wears tight fitting lycra, and no one cares!!!  If you catch a stranger looking at you, they're probably admiring your tri suit or jersey, and wondering what brand it is.  In one race, I saw athletes with their names on their bottoms.  Try not to stare at that!

Third, train in it.  If you wear your pretty new tri suit the day of the race, you won't know where the hot spots are.  I have one tri suit that I have to coat the inner seams so I don't chafe or blister.  I'm glad to have found this out before race day!

Unless you're doing an Iron distance event, the likelihood is that you won't have a changing tent-meaning you won't get to change.  Tri suits reduce the time spent in transition and give you one (or more) fewer thing(s) to worry about.

Since I started doing triathlon, my running gear has gotten a makeover.  I now run in either a tri suit, or compression shorts and a racerback top.

The most important thing to remember is that no two bodies are alike.  What fits one person just right and doesn't chafe may be too harsh on another person's shape.  One brand may work well for one person, but not at all for another.  Be prepared to try different things.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Kerrville Triathlon Festival

With the Kerrville Triathlon Festival on Sunday, I look at my training this week a little differently than most weeks.  How do my shoes feel?  How does my saddle feel?  What do I need to do to make sure my heart rate monitor doesn't give me blisters?  Don't go too hard this week, an injury would derail my racing plans...
All season I've been training like each day was a race; maybe not the speed or the endurance, but practicing the nutrition, paying attention to the hydration, wearing the right clothes, and working on the other major aspects of Triathlon.  This is the week to look at the little things.   The things that irritate us, but don't really derail our training.  These are the things that might derail our race.  Unfortunately the dreaded DNF comes in many forms, and even small things can precipitate the dreaded DNF.  The fourth discipline of Triathlon to master is nutrition.  And nothing ruins a good race faster than poor nutrition. Can you finish a race if you "bonk?"  Think you can run on a blister?  What about one that covers the entire bottom of your foot? 

Now is the time to notice the raw spots in the shoes, in the tri suit, in the numerous straps we wear.  I favor body glide for race lubrication, and use it quite liberally.  At a suggestion from another triathlete, I coated some problematic seams on the inside of my first tri shorts.  Ahhhhhhhmazing race.  Another race saw a band-aid wrapped around a trouble spot on my heart rate monitor strap.

My point is get familiar with your swim/bike/run.  Know how it feels.  And don't be afraid to do something about those little annoyances, because the little annoyances become big ones.

Everything is in place for Kerrville.  A few hours of training this week will focus on maintaining strength and movement, rather than any gains.  A few (hundred) prayers to the tri-gods for a swift, smooth race...

Sunday will come all too quickly.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Garmin Sets the Bar for Customer Service

I want to send a shout out to Garmin customer service.  Twice now, I've had an issue with my Forerunner 310xt.  Twice now, I've called customer service.  And twice, I've looked back at the decision to use a Garmin training device and been thoroughly pleased with it.  Fortunately, the unit is still under warranty, so the issues are covered.

Devices break.  That's the nature of sports, especially triathlon. Endurance athletes play hard, and expect that our toys will last.  Well, the reality is, we outlast the devices we use.  We beat them up in use, put them away wrong, and expect that they'll keep working.  Since the technology is computer based, you need to have at least a Doctorate in working and caring for gps devices, mp3 players, phones and their apps, and have the ability to know all about the newest gadget within two days of its release date.  DC Rainmaker can help you with education you need to keep up!  But, I digress.  We need a company that keeps up with our rock star attitudes and diva behavior, and gets us back out training yesterday!  Enter Garmin.

The first problem I had was a heart rate monitor strap that reported a heart rate of 220ish.  Ummmmmm.  I don't think so. I wasn't running THAT hard. Google the problem.  Trouble shoot on my own.  Call customer service.  Trouble shoot again with people who know what they're doing.  Didn't solve the problem.  Part ordered.  Be there in a week.  Showed up in three days.  Problem resolved as soon as I paired the new strap.  Done.  I was so pleased with the service that I called back to talk to a supervisor and let them know how happy I was.

Last night the wrist strap broke.  It might have something to do with the 9-10 hours a week of training and racing I've been doing.  Maybe.  Wasn't really sure what to expect this time.  But when a company takes the time to walk through potential (temporary) solutions in order to keep you swim/bike/running, while the needed part gets ordered.  THAT is customer service.  I've easily spoken to more than a half dozen Garmin representatives total, and the service has been equally as good with each person.

Garmin, I'm impressed.  Kudos to you for your quality customer service team.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hydration Equation, What's Your Situation?

Hydration math...

Yep.  That's about how it can feel sometimes after a discussion of hydration math.  With the drought and the fires in Texas, I thought I'd take a moment to put a few words in on this very important subject.  While not everyone needs to worry about it during a race, everyone should be considering their hydration status during other times.  Proper hydration is important because it can affect your performance, helps lubricate your joints, helps your body recover, and even affects cognitive function.  There is so much that proper hydration does for us, that to list it here would take away from the intent of my post.

Let's start with how much fluid you lose during a training run.  I'll use an example from a discussion held a few months ago...

First, a important message from our sponsor, Water.  Water equals a little more than 8 pounds per gallon, so 1 pound is about 16 ounces...  Keep in mind, the math gets a little fuzzy and I round for simplicity and to eliminate decimals.

Say you're a 155 pound athlete that went for a 8 mile run in 100 degree heat, you drank 24 oz of water and it took you 81 minutes.  Weigh yourself naked before your run.  Then weigh yourself after your run, also naked.  For our example, you lost two pounds.  155-153 is 2 pounds of hydration loss.  24 ounces of water taken in is about a pound and a half.   Add that together and you lost roughly three and a half pounds of fluid.  3.5 divided by 8 miles is .4375 pounds of fluid.  A calculator helps me find (16 oz per pound, so 16 times .4375) that .4375 pounds of fluid roughly equals 7 ounces per mile of fluid loss.  I prefer the per mile measure rather than per minute because it tends to be more constant through the different speeds we run and easier to figure than using per minute.

So, you lost 7 oz per mile of fluid through sweat, exhalation and other normal body functions.  This is good to know.  But these numbers may change as the weather changes, as your exertion changes, and even as you become a more finely tuned athlete.  So, for endurance athletes, weight is your best measure for hydration information, and as you get more familiar with this method, you'll be able to predict where you'll be.

Okay, so I lost a billion ounces of water on my run this morning.  Now what?

Now, you replace it.  Not at once, but gradually.  Evidence shows that your body can process about a liter of water per hour.  If you drink more, you risk affecting your electrolyte balance.  Want to your body to get the most use of that expensive bottled water or sports drink?  A liter per hour, max.

So what does that mean for me?

It's all weight based. The minimum amount of fluid you drink every day should be one half your body weight (pounds) in ounces of fluid every day.  So, if you still weigh 155, then you should start by drinking 78 ounces a day.  Then, you went out and ran for 81 minutes.  Replacing fluids by weight lost is the preferred method.  If you know how much weight you lost during a workout, attempt to replace that much fluid  (16 ounces per pound) in addition to your minimum daily intake.  Since in our example, you lost 2 pounds, drink at least 32 ounces of water (at a liter per hour).
If you don't know how much weight you lost during a workout, start with the following formula:
Hours of training x 32 = total fluid.  Total hours of training is how long you should spend rehydrating following this method.  In our example, you ran for 1.3 hours, so drink at least 42 ounces of fluid at a liter per hour.

Real life application (in a bubble)

Now it's time to apply the formulas.  You got up and ran this morning, as soon as you got up.  You weigh 155 pounds, so you need to drink a minimum of 78 ounces a day of fluids.  You lost 2 pounds during your workout, so you need to replace 32 ounces of fluid (16 oz per pound), but don't forget the 24 ounces of fluid that you drank during your workout.  78 + 32 + 24 =  134 ounces of fluids.

I want to point out that recent research points to sports drinks, certain teas, juice and other fluids being acceptable for hydration.  Caffeinated drinks aren't the hydration nemesis they were once thought to be.  However, hydration math has its limits, as it cannot predict sweat rates in different weather conditions, differences in individuals and other wrenches that get thrown into the works.  Your best gauge is the color of your urine.  If you are peeing clear to light yellow, all signs point to well hydrated.

Having said all the above, you'll need to find out what works for you.

Electrolyte Replacement

I also want to mention sodium.  I've spent several years researching, practicing and seeing what works for ME.  You'll need to find out what works for you.   Don't forget potassium, calcium and magnesium either-these are also crucial to proper electrolyte balance, proper muscle contraction/release, and for life.