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Blog posts tagged with 'Professional'

Offseason Improvements - Triathlon Training

The North America triathlon offseason starts with the last Ironman of the year, Ironman Arizona, and ends with the kickoff of Oceanside 70.3 at the beginning of April. Of course, there are races you can go to around the world such as in Australia and New Zealand yet most athletes in North America are trying to recover after a long racing season. There are some athletes who take this offseason and relish in the time away from training. Others keep the motor running to come into the season without losing too much fitness; each method is up to the individual as far as how they want to spend their time and how their body reacts to inactivity versus continuous motion. One thing that we should all agree upon is if you want to keep improving on your Ironman journey to reach your goals, the offseason should be used to improve on inefficiencies in your training and racing.

At the end of the racing season, you need to evaluate your performance, coaches, consultants, nutrition, hydration, gear, technology, organizational skills, balance and determine where you could improve to shave precious time off your racing. This is what any athlete in any sport does when they have a little time off so that they can get themselves into a better position the next year. Lionel Messi does not sit on his couch when the soccer season is over; the free time that he has is spent improving on his already dominant game. In order to keep improving, you cannot rest on your laurels, even if you are one of the best in the world. Serena Williams, as she gets older, knows she has to train and compete smarter, not harder, so her offseason is spent working on new ways to get better which usually involves boosting her weaknesses.

In my ‘offseason’, I do like to keep the motor running. Exercise and training have always been a part of my life and it rolls on after Ironman Arizona is complete. Yes, it does not make sense to go for long tedious rides a week or two after the last race of the season yet I do continue to move the blood and swim, bike, run and strength train when the season comes to a close. It also is a habit to use my recovery tools like my Recovery Pump boots; when I go home to Ohio for the holidays, I always pack them and use at night when hanging with the family. I go to the local pool and run on the treadmill to keep the blood pumping.

For the offseason of 2016-2017, my goal was to keep strengthening my hamstring, which was a nagging problem in the 2016 racing year, and improve my running off the bike. As women racers continue to improve, you have to be that much stronger in all three disciplines. If the race directors will continue to launch the women so close to the pro and age group men, you have to become that much better to overcome all of these obstacles that these types of situations organically create; the reality is, this practice doesn’t look like it is changing anytime soon so you just can’t worry about interference from these conditions and you have to rise above it.

My offseason consisted of more rehab by utilizing muscle activation technique (MAT) to keep strengthening the hamstring region as well as a more intense running program, compliments of Sean Jefferson, to reaching for that elusive three hour marathon in a full Ironman race. It was important to work with Sean in effort to help me design training programs to focus my attention on this deficiency. I have never focused this much on the running aspect of the triathlon and my comfort was growing in this capacity; preparation and training breeds just that, comfort!  

My first race of the year was Ironman New Zealand in early March and I was ready to see if my offseason preparation could translate into race success. As everyone who has raced triathlon knows, nothing ever goes according to plan. My legs were ready and the muscle memory of the run preparation was there but my body just couldn’t deliver that fast run that I was prepared to do. For some reason, I didn’t have that 2nd gear yet these are the highs and lows of racing; not every time out you will have that magical race. The good thing is that the offseason work will not go away; it has been banked and I look forward to using this knowledge and training in future events. Until that time, all you can do is keep working hard, recovering, repeating and ride the waves!

 

- Meredith Brooks Kessler, @mbkessler

Maverick Multisport Team: An interview about Coaching and Ironman Training Tools

 

Bevin: On today's hot property interview, we're very happy to be able to welcome Chris Hutchens from Maverick Multisport Team to the show. Welcome to the show, Chris.

Chris Hutchens: Thanks Bevin. Appreciate it.

Bevin: We just spoke before the interview and we were talking about how our podcast of light has just been focusing a little bit on the professional ranks and how professionals make money. This being the upsurge in professional Troy teams. We've been talking about BMC recently in Bahrain. You're not quite on those guys' budget levels just yet, but you've been around for a while now. Where did the concept of Maverick Multisports stand?

Chris: Oh gosh. You want the 60-second version or the long version? Which do you want?

Bevin: The long version.

Chris: Long version. Okay. Well, a little backstory on me. I was actually an airline pilot for about five years. When my wife and I had our third child, I ended up leaving Delta to be a stay-at-home dad. After about a year, I got a little stir-crazy. As a former collegiate swimmer and active triathlete, I started in the fall of I guess 2012. Helping out some pros in the sport that were really struggling with getting sponsorships lined up. That's what I went to university for.

I have some experience after college in that market. I stepped in and said, "Hey you're doing this all wrong. [laughs] Let me help. Please let me help you. I don't want to see you banging your head against the wall any longer." I hopped in and I helped three pros that year. It was one of those things where I said, "Hey, I'm not too bad at this. I'm actually having some success at it." That was in 2013, was the first full year that I did that.

From that I jumped in. 2014 is when it really took off. That year I had five pros. I had Matt Hanson on the team. His first year as a professional triathlete, he won Ironman Chattanooga that year and obviously, he's gone on to win Ironman Texas. I think everybody for the most part probably knows who Matt is. I had Amber Ferreira on the team that year. She won Ironman Lake Placid and went to Kona.

That second year, it just went like a rocket ship, and all of a sudden, everybody knew at least who we were as an organization. It just took off. Then last year, well I guess in 2015, we had six pros and we spun off an age group component to give us some additional bandwidth. Last year, it continued to grow with seven pros and 20 age groupers and now here we are.

In 2017, we've signed five pros for 2017 and we've got 48 age group athletes, now that raise for us. It's grown quite a bit from five years ago when I just had three pros and now we've got 53 athletes under the Maverick banner I guess you can say. It's been a fun ride. It's one of those things you can look back and say it like, "Wow. I can't believe where we are." It's just one foot in front of the other.

Bevin: Interesting. Really, really interesting. Would you say that you started off as more of an agent and working with them as individuals? Did it actually get to a point where you started to attract brands to these individuals and thought, "If I can retain all these brands, we may as well create a banner and then bring individual pros under that banner." How did it go from three or four athletes into what is your own brand?

Chris: Actually the name Maverick came from -- I started coaching youth and junior draft legal athletes. Here in the area where I live, I live in Louisville, Kentucky which is home to the Kentucky Derby. I was looking for something that would reflect the area. So horses and maverick and that's where the name Maverick Multisport came around. I started working with these three pros under that same banner and the pro thing really took off. The coach that I was running the junior team with, she moved to Colorado.

At that point I made a decision to say, "Okay. As much as I love coaching the youth and juniors, I'm putting all my chips in with the pros." It was one of those things where I really see a huge advantage being able to go to a company and saying, "I'm bringing to the table five, six, seven professional athletes that are going to have a very uniform look to them. Everybody is on the same bikes, the same wheelsets, the same power meters, wetsuits, everything like that." It gives a very clean look. Obviously if you're a company and obviously you use Polar as an example because Wayne sets this up.

Bevin: Great friend of the show.

Chris: If Polar comes to me, they're obviously a lot -- it's a lot easier for them to activate a relationship with me as one person as opposed to saying, "Okay, Chris. We would much prefer to go out and just find five or six or seven pros on our own." Well that takes a lot more legwork on their end where they can just come to me and say like, "Boom." It's a one-stop shop.

All the sudden, they don't have to worry about the contracts. They don't have to worry about anything else that goes on behind the scenes. It's just basically like, "Chris, we want to work with you guys." You activate the relationship and supply all the content and manage everything on the backside. If I was a company, I think it will be a dream relationship.

Bevin: Did it start like that though? Did you look when you had your first couple of pros and you were looking at them as individuals? Did you immediately into the market with that concept already fully formed?

Chris: No. I just went into the market with I'm going to package everybody under one umbrella as opposed to try and say, "Okay I've got this athlete. What can you do for this athlete, this athlete, this athlete?" I said, "I have a collection of athletes. This is what I wanted to do with them. Can you support these athletes as a single unit?" Fortunately, we had a couple companies that signed on that very first year which allowed it to start that snowball effect.

If that wouldn't have happened then, obviously we probably wouldn't be sitting here. Things worked out that first year and we got some traction. I think once you get a couple big companies signed on board, then the chips just started to fall into place like, "Oh okay. Well, you're working with XYZ company already." That's a pretty reputable brand. You must be doing something right if you already have a relationship with them. It just seemed to work out.

Bevin: Now that you've been doing this for a little bit, what is the sponsorships based like for triathlon? It seems that the budgets are getting a little bit tighter. We've got provisional triathletes that I coach. We talk to professional triathletes who are up and coming in and entering this market. You've just signed a couple of professional triathletes. One who's just entering the 70.3 space coming out of ITU, Dan Wilson who we had on the show a few weeks ago. Do you think that these teams are where most of triathlon is going to end up if you are actually trying to enter in as one of those newer pros?

Chris: If you are new or still relatively -- you're trying to establish yourself in the market, I think that getting onto a team is really and truly the way to go because again not just from a corporate standpoint but from an athlete standpoint if you go to a team, you immediately walk into relationships with bike companies, wheel companies, nutrition companies. You instantly even as an athlete have just a spider webbing reach where -- and then it takes a lot of the pressure of having to develop all these relationships.

I think that's something that certainly you have to do down the road, but if you are like you said Dan Wilson 10 years' racing ITU, coming into 70.3 this year, I think it's a great way for him to segway into non-draft racing. He may be on the team for a year. He may be on the team for five years, who knows, but I think it's a great way for him to get his name out there and step into a situation where he's got a ton of bandwidth behind him; because with 48 age group athletes on the team, all those athletes are obviously going to be following Dan and Clayton and Leslie and John and Rhuidean, all the pros that are on the squad- -and helping to like and re-tweet and follow and just do all the things that go on to help build a brand for them online.

Bevin: When did you decide to deviate into the age group side of things? And I noted from your website that initially you're only looking for a dozen age group for the team, but it's obviously moved out since then because it's successful?

Chris: Yes. I think at the end of the day, this is a business. As a business, you have to look at "Okay, how are we positioning ourselves to make money?" If you go to an Ironman race, a challenge race, 98% of the people on the starting line are age group athletes. How do we tap into that market? How do we leverage that relationship? Best by engaging with the age group athletes as a brand. We started that two seasons ago with six. Last year we had 20 and now we're up to 48.

It allows us to -- as a brand also go to the companies that we've worked with and say -- "The buck doesn't just stop with the five pros that we've worked with. You're also able to tap into and have a trickle down effect with these age group athletes. It's a good relationship. I think it's a win-win-win for everybody. It's a win for the age group athletes. It's a win for the company. It's a win for Maverick as a brand. It's just like a circle. You've got to keep everything going around and you don't want to break the chain. As long as we continue to do that, then I think it continues to work.

Bevin: Okay. Triathletes are trying to make money out there.

Chris: Right.

Bevin: Maverick's is trying to make money. How does it all work in terms of a business model because you're not doing it -- most of us in triathlon are doing it for the love [laughs] including a lot of the pros, but how does the business model actually work, so it serves both the pros and makes a sustainable living for you as a director of the team?

Chris: It's definitely tough. I wouldn't say that anybody is really getting rich off of it. I think we're able to provide a solid level of support for athletes. I think that there's probably 25 or so men and 25 or so women something like that. Really like globally that are able to I would say like this is --

Bevin: Yes. Paying the bills.

Chris: I've been around long enough to know what most people want, what most people are making. Like you said Bevin, I think most people are doing it for the love of the sport. There certainly are people that are making good money doing it. I know that for a fact. I think that we're able obviously to provide a lot of things that would be difficult to go out on your own and get. I don't want to go into it too much because I don't want to get on it all completely. We support the athletes to a degree where they're able to be successful.

Bevin: Also to a point where you see yourself in the market because as I say some of those other brands obviously -- there's no prints giving you --

Chris: On our back pocket of course.

Bevin: And no property you magnate in Europe.

Chris: We're basically in a stage, maybe you'll lose, get a President elect and put him in a pocket or something like that.

Bevin: Get one who's fond of triathlon.

Chris: That's perfect.

Bevin: What's the long-term goal for the team then? Obviously, it's really well established now. It's been running for a longest period of time. It's in that sickened tier of teams but it's successful and you've got some great brands aligned with you. Your job would be to obviously continue to try to expand.

Chris: Yes. Just like any brand, I come to look at it just like you would at any product. How do we make this watch better? How do we make this bike better? How do we make Maverick multi-sport as a brand better. We did that by continuing to recruit better pro-athletes. We try to do that by creating better relationships with the companies we work with. We try to step up to what we're doing from just a content creation standpoint. Because at the end of the day, as maybe shallow as this may sound, all these athletes is just an extension of the marketing departments for these companies. That's what an athlete really has to recognize that.

You're not part of their production. You're not part of their -- maybe sometimes they're indeed, but you're not part of their shipping department, you're not part of their executive department, you are part of their marketing department. We have to find the best and the most creative ways to help these companies market the products that we represent, so that we can provide the best ROI for them. So that when we come back around to the next year to look at contracts, they'll say "Yes. Dollar for dollar you guys gave us the best bang for our buck of anybody that we work with." That's what I've pretty consistently heard across the board.

The only complaint I've ever had from anyone is like "Chris, you gave us too much stuff," [laughs] which is a good thing. I guess our goal is to continue just to grow. Obviously just like any sport, whether if you're playing American football, you want to go to the Super Bowl. If you're playing in the NBA, you want to go win an NBA championship. Or you want to win a World Series in baseball. I think for us as a brand, obviously we want to try to continue to chase championships. 70.3 World's get somebody top 10 in Kona. Obviously podium at Kona maybe in the next two or three years. It's one of those things, it takes some time and it takes proper athlete. It takes at the end of the day money. But I think it's possible. I think we're on our way.

Bevin: One of the things that we've just talked about is actually last week on the podcast is that -- And I've been privy to a couple of contract offers for some of the athletes, my professional athlete that I coaches who sign for a team. There seems to be some push back from some of the brands at the moment as to where the athletes rise. Do you find that the market is Ironman scene trick from a sponsorship perspective? From the brands that you're dealing with? It is about 70.3 Worlds or do you find that it's a little bit more broader than that and the events like in the past we've had Rev3 and we've obviously got challenged and Toughman Tri's trying to establish itself. Or do you feel some pressure from the industry that it has to be 70.3 and Ironman focused?

Chris: I think that obviously Ironman and Ironman 70.3 is -- that's top dog. It probably will continue to be that way for the foreseeable future. I think challenge is second there. Some of the other brands you mentioned Toughman and Rev3, they're great brands. We've got athletes to do those races, but I think that they still need to establish themselves a little bit more. They need to develop those brands. They need to get the following behind them. It's hard to compete with the brand where you got athletes; as soon as they finished the race, the next day are going to tattoo parlors to stamp.

Though you've got people that are so over-obsessed with Ironman, it's hard to get people to get that focus away. I think from an athlete's standpoint though, as far as companies that we work with, I think they prefer Ironman. I haven't really heard anybody say like "You have to do all Ironman races." I think at the end of the day, it's about how you -- if you go and win Challenge Rugby or whatever it may be, I think that at the end of the day, it's how you relay that information and how you take those results and repackage them and then obviously distribute it, and then just really activate that.

I would rather have somebody go and get third place at a race and we really blow the marketing out of the water and really create some buzz around that- -as opposed to go and have an athlete win a race. And then it's just crickets where nobody hears about it. That does nobody any good. I think it's [sic] really falls on the athlete's shoulders how you put a spin on the race result.

Bevin: This year you've got a few new athletes on the team. It's an exciting year for you because there's always going to be athletes who come and go. Say in Dan Wilson's case, his entry to 70.3 race has been actually pretty spectacular today. You've actually maybe signed up someone who could be quite a heavy hitter at 70.3 before the end of the season. Does that excite you with the people that you're working with this year?

Chris: Absolutely. Yes. Like you mentioned Dan, he transitioned after 10 years of ITU racing to 70.3 and goes and wins Noosa, and then -- the world's largest Olympic distance race. And then he follows it up with a win at the Challenge Shepp and Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney. He's into 2016 on fire. I'm excited to see what his -- how 2017 starts. I think as long as he stays healthy and just continues to do what he's been doing, I think he's going to be just fine.

And then, obviously, we brought on Clayton Fettell, another Aussie and he's had a great career over the past few years. Obviously, he's been to Kona and he's got his sight set on Kona this year. He just got married and had a little boy last year. So I think last year was probably pretty busy for him. From a personal standpoint, I think this year, the focus is going to be pretty lasered and dialed in. I expect great things from him this year as well.

Bevin: Well, it looks like -- You never know, Dan sneaks a 70.3 world title, all of a sudden Maverick Multisport is going to be spoken about in the same breath as BMC in Bahrain.

Chris: You never know. You never know. I wouldn't put it past him.

Bevin: No, I wouldn't put it past him either. Anyway, Chris -- Well. Thank you so much for taking some time out this afternoon to have a chat to us about Maverick Multisport. We'll definitely put the links up to your website and Facebook on our show notes. It's exciting to see the team expand and evolve, and we wish you the best of luck for the 2017 season.

Chris: Well, thank you, Bevin. I really appreciate the time. Thanks for having me on today.

- Interview brought to you by Fitter Radio (http://www.fitter.co.nz)  & Chris Hutchens, Maverick Multisport

Check out Maverick Multisports recovery tools: (http://www.rpsports.com/recoverypump-products)

 

Instigate Change, Maintain Passion

Just as the branches of a tree extend in different directions and its leaves change appearance from year to year, 

so must we spread our wings and embrace opportunity as life presents itself.

Change is uncomfortable. It can be exciting, but it is often scary. We’ve all heard the saying, “we fear what we don’t know.” I consider myself fairly open to new experiences and one whom can appreciate opportunity, but I’ll be the first to admit, I enjoy my routine. The familiar feel of consistency, gauging improvement, and knowing (at least to some extent) what to expect around the next corner. I can be sentimental towards past experiences, memories and people who are important in my life. I try to acknowledge when I am hanging on a bit too much to something and try to ask myself ‘why’ I am doing so, because I know that change is essential for growth.

My husband Derick and I recently made a huge life change. We picked up and moved from our home of 10 years in Austin, Texas and headed back to the mountains. We didn’t completely step into the unknown, as we were both living here when we met back in 2003. But Austin had been so good to us. Derick got a graduate degree at University of Texas and started a successful coaching business. My racing flourished in an incredible city that seemed to nurture both of our dreams. He came into his own as a great coach and I found the competitive form I’d been long seeking in triathlon. But as each year came and went, we knew deep down we were missing living in a place where we could look out our windows and see mountains. We missed drastic weather changes; storms rolling in, dark ominous snowy skies; four seasons in a year. Every summer we would venture out to Colorado to spend a few weeks, get our fill, and then head back to Texas, to our home. But we hit a point last summer when we admitted, “We need to make a change. We need to move back and be where we know our hearts are content. We need to be open and honest with ourselves, even if it means it will be tough to leave where we are comfortable and life is good.”

Personally, I realized last summer that I felt a bit ‘bored’. It was a feeling that I had to accept, digest and figure out where it was coming from. I’ve competed in this sport now for 16 years, 14 as a professional. Suffice to say, triathlon has been a massive part of my life. Was I burned out of competing, of training? Was I tired of racing? I didn’t feel that was it, because I still loved what I was doing; but I knew I was seeking change in some capacity. When Derick and I make our trek out to Colorado Springs to look at houses in late November, we tackled change. It happened quickly. We made an offer on a house, went back to Austin and got our house prepped to sell. I was excited in December when this was all happening, but also a bit sad. Changes were swirling all around me. A new year of racing was about to start. We were going back to what we wanted, so why did I feel trepidatious? 

The holidays came and went, we visited our families, and January rolled around. It was crunch time. I found myself starting the new year with more excitement and less ‘fear’. Before we knew it we had loaded up our car and a U-Haul and off we went. We had made the 13 hour drive out to Colorado so many times the past 10 years; but this time, this one was for good. We were driving right into a new phase.

We quickly settled. And I do mean quickly…our car and U-Haul were unloaded within a few hours, our POD arrived the next day, and by Day 3 it was gone. Our house was filled with boxes. My ‘training’ was unloading one box at a time and finding a home for all of our random, eclectic items. It was fun. I told myself “Don’t worry about training/exercise this entire week, give yourself 7 days to settle in and maybe not even train at all.” But you know what? I was anxious to run in the cold, fresh mountain air. I wanted to get on my bike and explore this new (yet old) playground that was out our doorstep. I wanted to get in the pool to see how I handled the altitude. By the weekend, we had settled enough to disappear for 2 days to the mountains, hang with friends, and ski around in the backcountry. Our pup Amico loved the snow. Derick was excited. I swallowed my pride as some good friends took us on a trek skinning up to 12,000 ft making it look easy, while I had to stop a few extra times to try and do that important thing called breathing. But it was new, it was beautiful and it was invigorating. I got worked enough in those two days of skiing that on the drive home (in a snowstorm) I told myself “take an easy day tomorrow, you’re tired.” But I got back the next day and banged out a 2 hour session on the trainer, in the basement, looking out a window covered by snow. I felt motivated and inspired.

My point to this story? The passion had returned. I just needed to instigate a change to spark it.  

Don’t be afraid to step into the unknown. Listen closely to your intuition. Seek out things in life that make your heart happy, that make your soul sing. There often isn’t one single path for this. I was happier than I ever imagined I would be in Austin, but after many years, the call back to the mountains was too strong to ignore. Life is short. Do what fulfills you; even if it is a bit scary. Change keeps us on our toes, makes us feel alive, and allows us to always keep growing

- Kelly Williamson, Ironman Champion & #RPInspiration

@kmhwilliamson

My Top 3 Holiday Training Tips

 

Happy 2016!! Having just emerged from the annual round of holidays, coaching my athletes through them and trying to stay fit through them myself, I came up with a list of hopefully-helpful hints for maintaining fitness during this time:

1. Nothing can get in the way of a workout you do before the world's awake.

I think the most foolproof way to ensure that family/holiday commitments don't preclude you from getting your workout done is simply to get it done before anyone else is awake! There's not much that can stop the person who is willing to set the alarm early and be finishing before the day has started for everyone else.

2. Get the family involved.

Do you have any other active family members--anyone you can recruit for any piece of a workout, or maybe just to come to the gym with you and do their own thing while you do yours? Anyone up for a family hike? These are some of my favorite family activities (even within a relatively non-athletic family) that I've found can enhance one's holiday-training accountability.

3. Keep it simple.

You can run anywhere. No, really. Even if it is laps of the block, you can run. All you need is your running shoes. When all else fails, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater just because training logistics are too difficult with travel and other commitments. A run of any length, even if not specifically what you wanted or intended for that day's training, is infinitely better than a big fat 0.

-Hillary Biscay, Ironman Champion and Smashfest Queen Owner

@HillaryPBiscay

6 Day Racing... Rock Star Style!

 

2015 has been one crazy year of going in circles! Some would say that in 2015 I have finally found my niche as a Professional Track Cyclist. For the past five years since I started racing bikes the 2016 Rio Olympics was the focus. It is a life long goal and dream to become an Olympian and this new sport of track cycling was the way I would make it happen. I trained long and hard, traveled the world with my RecoveryPump boots by my side, and progress was being made. But with anything worth doing there are challenges along the way. Unfortunately for me my biggest challenge would be receiving the support I needed form my governing body USA Cycling.  Some days were good, but more days were bad. Ultimately they have never been fully invested in the sprint program. So with that, we as a team were unable to earn the Olympic points needed to qualify Team USA in the event that I race. This is heart crushing, but fortunately the blow has been softened.

Back to finding my niche. Last January I was 1 of 6 racers in the world invited to race at the Berlin 6 Day. A 6-Day race IS A PARTY!!! With 12,000 people a night packed into an indoor stadium with loud music, light shows, beer, and food it is an absolute spectacle. I love to race my bike, but I also love to entertain! Over the 6 days I won some races, but more importantly I won the crowd. I was given the “Most Entertaining Rider” award and was extremely welcomed by the German people.

Several months passed and I was still on a high from my Berlin experience. I looked forward to next year, but didn’t know if it was a performance I could recreate for them let alone another country.  Soon after I got BIG news. After 40 years of not hosting a 6-Day race London was bringing it back and I was invited! They said, “Nate, you are a good racer and we like that, but you are exciting and fun and we NEED that!” I was honored to be invited, but not sure if the English people would enjoy me as much as the Germans had. So there was only one way to find out... Go to London and give them a party on my bike!

I arrived to the Olympic velodrome in London and could still feel its energy from 3 years past. It is a stunning facility built for the best team in the world. As I walked through the sliding glass doors I could hear the base! DJ Too Smooth from the Ministry of Sound was going to be our live entertainment for 6 straight nights. As I slipped on my signature yellow jersey the people were funneling in to see something that many of them never have. The party was back in London and I got to be one of the very select few to get to put on a show!

A 6 Day race is like racing your bike in a night club! When the sprinters come on the lights go down and the music goes up. With this race being televised live by Euro Sport gave some fun opportunities to play in front of the camera as well. In between races it is all about having a good time as well. So during DJ Too Smooth’s long performance we sprinters decided it would be a good time to get our dance on because how often do you get to dance on a stage in front of 7,000 people? Along with countless pictures taken and autographs signed there was no shortage of getting to feel like a rock star.

During the mornings and afternoons before racing would start it was Recovery Pump time! It felt so good to get a nice solid squeeze after a long night of racing and entertaining. Especially once day 4, 5, and 6 came! I got to room with Denise Dmitriev from Russia and he was a BIG fan of the boots. I think he would put in at least an hour of squeeze time every afternoon. Because racing goes till midnight or beyond we really do feel like we are living the “Rock Star” lifestyle. Sleeping in till 11 or noon, grabbing breakfast then going back for another 3-4 hours of sleep.  We just have to make sure we are well rested to be able to put on our party at 50mph shoulder to shoulder with no brakes!

In the end London 6 Day was a huge success! Once again I was able to win the crowd and was the “crazy American” for the peoples enjoyment. Although the Olympics is no longer a chance it is amazing to know I still get to travel the world racing my bike and do it in Rock Star style!

 

- Nate Koch, Professional Track Sprint Cyclists

@Teamnater

12 Races + 8 1st Place wins in 2015 = Quite the Year

 

Training is easy; recovery takes discipline. I always have to tell myself this as the year comes to a close, the races add up, and the body is not as fresh. This is also true as you get older and you don’t have twenty year old legs anymore. For this piece for Recovery Pump, I wanted to diagram the lead in to Ironman Taupo 70.3, our 12th race of 2015 on December 12th. This race was a bit of a challenge because of the extensive event schedule throughout the year, travel to multiple destinations through multiple time zones, and Ironman Arizona being a few weeks prior on November 15th. The competition and the course were not the focus yet getting the body into racing shape was the priority in effort to try to compete at a high level.

Before Ironman Arizona, my body was feeling the effects of the beginning stages of pneumonia. After the event in the rain and cold, that all came to fruition. This required much Vector 450, http://vector450.com/, leading into the event to aid in being able to compete and to help afterwards. This also required using the Recovery Pump boots for an hour plus a day to help get the legs back into training shape. After the race-filled year, the fitness was there so the ability to maintain was key and not to overdue it. It was important to keep up on the workouts yet scale back the intensity. Complicating the matters was the sickness which, in a way, helped keep the vigorous workouts in check. This was not a time to gain fitness yet instead, a vital time to recover hence reminding myself of the phrase ‘recovery takes discipline’ over and over again.

Travel is always difficult for all endurance athletes, especially a twelve hour flight to Auckland and three and a half hour drive to Taupo. The ability to minimize damage on these legs of the journey is something my husband, Aaron, and I have worked on and tweaked for years. Compression clothing is worn on the plane, if possible Recovery Boots are carried on and used, fruit plates are requested for meals and packing proper food is a must (regular meals are usually too unpredictable and sodium packed), and a natural sleeping aid, such as melatonin, is used to help with the proper rest in an uncomfortable position. Aaron enjoys driving multiple hours (which is so appreciated) and Recovery Pump Boots are used in the car. Once we arrived in Taupo, a relaxing swim is a must to flush out the body and loosen up after the long travel.

Through the week, I kept telling myself I just needed to maintain and not reach for more fitness. At this point, only bad things can happen with too much conditioning so you want to keep the engine purring, not humming. Hydration and healthy nutrition is the focus along with proper supplements to aid in repairing and moderating the body. Paying attention to your tiredness level and keeping up with any time zone changes also is a priority to start the race as close to 100% as possible. The body is resilient, even after a jam-packed season, so if you concentrate on repair and recovery, your body will hopefully thank and reward you.

The competition was strong, the race course spectacular, and the body held up one more time in 2015! As another year comes and goes, recovery becomes more and more important. Life and recovery habits that I had ten years ago would not fly today. The time and effort spent on resting and recovery has been multiplied by three and will continue to sky rocket in order to be able to compete at a level that will help to try to reach athletic goals. If you don’t adapt and continue to try to improve in this capacity, it is easy to get left behind!  

Happy Holiday season to you and yours!  Think about snagging a pair of Recovery Pump boots for your family - it will make a world of difference in sport and in life!

-Meredith B Kessler 

@mbkessler - 

Use code: KESSLER when ordering @ www.recoverypump.com

Maintaining Balance through the Holidays

 

Another season has come and gone, which means the holidays are just around the corner. Some of you may be putting the final touches on your race season with one last event, others may be well into the “off season” and enjoying less routine and more flexibility with your days. But no matter where you are in terms of your race year, most all of us will be enjoying holiday festivities, a few more social events, and travel to see family and friends the next few weeks. That may instill fear in some; fear of losing fitness, gaining a few pounds, or a bit of both. While both of these things are not necessarily a bad thing at this time of year, if you’re seeking to maintain both fitness and a social schedule, it is possible with a little bit of planning ahead. I wanted to offer up a few tips for enjoying the season without worrying about ‘guilt’ while indulging a bit.

1-      Plan a few short fun races. Anyone who knows me well knows, I love my off-season 5k races! There is rarely a shortage of finding these with Turkey Trots and Jingle Bell 5k events, no matter what city you may be visiting. Put a few of these on your schedule as a fun way to keep you motivated to stay fit but also have a fun time out being active with family and friends. Maybe you can coerce a family member or friend who doesn’t run regularly to join in; even for a 5k walk. I know my niece and nephews have recently gotten into running; find siblings or kids to come along. The beauty of these events is they’re short, quick, and only consume a few hours on a weekend morning. They let you get out and move but spend the rest of your day being social, which is how this time of year should be.

2-      Maintain some routine with your eating. They key word here is “some”. For me this is just a few small things, such as enjoying lemon water in the morning, and dark greens most days, in some capacity. So I can plan to travel with a few lemons, and offer to throw together a salad at dinner one night. Don’t let this consume you, but if there are a few small things you do regularly that make you “feel good” try to maintain these. You don’t have to cause a scene or make meal requests, rather think ahead and choose to keep them incorporated into your holiday and travels. I find usually your body thanks you for doing this.

3-      Plan ahead for holiday visits. If you are heading to the in-laws house for a week, and you know you want to get in a few swims, look up to see if are any YMCA’s nearby; check the hours (I often call to double check) and see if you can squeeze in a few quick swims in the early mornings to avoid conflicting with daytime events. Check the weather forecast where you’re going and if you hope to run or walk a few times, be sure you plan ahead if it looks to be very cold (or hot). It’s pretty easy to get in some exercise if you think about it ahead of time, do your research on what is available in the area.

 

4-      Something is better than nothing. You may have wanted to do a 1 hr run but you sleep in (or stay up too late) and it becomes 20-30 minutes. That is ok. I am guessing most of us don’t have a goal event right after the New Year; and even if you do, missing a little bit here or there probably won’t make or break you. Enjoy this time of year when routine and structure are a little less strict. 

5-      Improvise & Enjoy It! My parents live in a very hilly area. After I run down their driveway, I come upon a very large hill. I love doing hill intervals at their place and the beauty is, the entire run can be 30-40 min but with 4-6 x hard hill intervals. If you are heading to the mountains, take advantage of it and get out to play in the snow! Cross country skiing or snowshoeing is phenomenal exercise. The key is if you want to get in some activity, try to do it in the early morning or perhaps afternoon when there is a lull in social activity. But if your ‘intended’ becomes a bit less, roll with it and enjoy what you can get in.

 

6-      Everything in moderation – even moderation itself. One of my favorites! Life is short. While I am a creature of habit and I like my routine, the times we get to visit with family and enjoy holiday festivities are a gift and something we should fully enjoy. If one glass of wine becomes a few, or an evening night campfire goes late into the night, roll with it. It is OK to have a bit more dessert or an extra beer. Most of us maintain structure and regimen the majority of the year. Let yourself relax and go with the flow over the holidays. Soon enough, January will be here and we’ll be ‘back on the grind’. Savor the celebrations and take the time to let your hair down a bit. There is a reason I enjoy a beer most evenings regularly; because that is all I really usually want and I don’t like how I’ll feel the next day if I have more! However if and when I go beyond that during a family visit or a holiday get together, just make sure the story is well worth the headache.

- Kelly Williamson, Ironman Champion

@khwilliamson

 

Kona Tips from the Other Side

I've raced the Hawaii Ironman five times (twice as an amateur and three as a pro), and have been there to watch and support athletes on another seven occasions. I've been fortunate to coach many age group athletes to Kona-qualifying and through their first, second, and third outings on the island. There are a few things that make this race unique, relative to other races of this distance, and that lead to some of the most common errors I see in race execution and prep. 

Save your energy.

It seems that with every passing year in Kona, there are more pre-race hype and activities and more opportunities to spend pre-race energy. Race week also means taper week-- it is time to store up energy. Beyond being on one's feet all day "taking it all in," remember that in Kona this also means being in the heat--which is a double whammy. 

Use discipline and spend non-training time out of the heat, ideally with feet up--you will be able to enjoy the experience of the race itself so much more having not spent your tokens on "the experience" before race day.

(Nearly) everyone is fast.

This seems like an obvious statement, but what I think so many athletes fail to realize before their first outing in Kona is what this looks like in practice. The vast majority of the athletes in Kona have qualified to be there. This means that even the majority of the age group field is comprised of the caliber of athlete who is accustomed to being at the pointy end of most every other race. Having people "up in your business" from start to finish all day in Kona can be incredibly disconcerting for these athletes even if they think they understand what this will feel like. 

Have confidence in yourself, your training , and your race plan, and don't let energy escape to the outside. 

Be willing to ignore the clock.

Despite its reputation, the course itself in Kona is relatively fast. So why are Kona times typically a good bit slower than other ironmans? Well, for one, because of the head trip people like to do on themselves (described above), and second, because the conditions in Kona will almost always throw a curveball our way. Be it a crazy current or swells on the swim, extreme, blow-you-off-the-bike wind, or relentless heat on the run, you simply cannot predict how much the times on each discipline will be affected by the conditions on the day. It is only in hindsight when evaluating everyone's splits that we can evaluate what the times mean. 

Never look at your swim split until after the race. Having target power on the bike and paces on the run is okay as long are you are willing to adapt to whatever the day brings and focus in on your desired effort/ perceived exertion.

 

-Hillary Biscay, Ironman Champion and Coach

@hillarybiscay

@smashfestqueen

What I have Learned about Recovery as I Grow Older

 

 

As we grow older, we need to train smarter. Aging is a process we all have to deal with, unfortunately, and you wake up one day and realize you don’t have twenty year old legs anymore. As a professional triathlete who has completed fifty-five Ironman distance races, there comes a point where you have to be smart about your training and recovery or you will not be able to perform consistently in endurance sports. I have really concentrated on recovery the past few years in order to hopefully stay at the top of my game and continue to compete with women who are only going faster. I have outlined some tips to help you recover as you grow older and those once young legs need extra encouragement to move!

 

After most every hard workout, training session, and race, it is marquee to religiously use my Recovery Pump boots which expedites the waste from your muscles and cells so they recover faster. When I was an age grouper working long hours at my day job in my 20’s, the toughest thing to do after a race was recover. I was back in the office and sitting for ample hours a day which pro longed the fatigue. After discovering Recovery Pump, it was so convenient and helpful to be able to use the boots after a race before going into the office and at home after a long day. As I have grown older, this commitment to Recovery Pump has only increased. I use the system at least once a day and a lot more in the days leading up to a race. This includes in the car traveling to a race, when I wake up the morning before the event, and always after. Why wouldn’t you use a system that has proven to help you recover faster? We all want to be consistent in our training and racing and this helps the cause.

 

There are a lot of athletes that define a race as the culmination of all their hard work which leads to excessive binging in the days after. Of course it is ideal to have that pizza and beer after a race yet the sooner you start eating correctly, the faster you will recover. I define a race as a blip in your overall triathlon journey to eventually reach your goals in the sport. The faster you can get back on the horse as far as training goes, the quicker you can get ready for your next challenge. This is magnified as you grow older and the niggles from a race can last a lot longer than if you were in your 20’s. It is such an imperative value add to start eating healthy, hydrating, and getting as much rest as much as possible after a large volume of training or a race.

 

It is very tough to receive all your nutrients from food so I have been taking supplements for years to prolong my career and help with recovery. Please consult your doctor before taking any supplements yet it can be a great way to absorb additional beneficial nutrients into your body that may be lacking from your diet. Some of the ones I ingest are calcium, magnesium, Omega 3 fish oil, and Vitamin D yet there are a lot of good things on the market, if you do your research, to aid in recovery. I take them every night with food and, even if some of it is a placebo, it makes me feel that I am doing all that I can to help the body.

 

These tips may seem obvious to some athletes. However, it is good to continue to be reminded that what you do to your body before and after races can mean the difference between running through that finishing chute completing a great race or trudging through in a march of agony. Hopefully recovery becomes a part of your routine just like brushing your teeth; it is a part of your routine and not a chore. There is really no substitute to sleep, hydration, and nutrition yet performing the tasks above will aid in your overall recovery and vibrancy. Your body will thank you!

 

MBK: www.meredithkessler.com 

www.lifeoftriathlete.com

My Mess Ups from the Last 20 Years

Just because I'm a pro doesn't mean I always execute races perfectly. As most of you know, I've been racing a long time and I've certainly made my share of mistakes in triathlon. I thought it would fun to do a run down of the more ridiculous mistakes I've made in races. 

20 years ago in my very first pro race back in the Gold Coast in Australia, I did a sprint format race. I had been training with my coach Cole Stewart who at the time had probably the best group of professional triathletes in the world with the likes of Miles Stewart, Matt Reed, Chris McCormack, and Shane Snuffy Reed, just to name a few. I had big shoes to fill in my first race with these guys either watching or racing. Back then I was a pretty terrible swimmer. As I got on the bike to start chasing, I realized I had put my left shoe on my right pedal and vice versa. At first I tried to put my feet in and ride like that, but after a couple of miles it got too painful, so I decided to try and switch them over. Instead of stopping, I thought I'd be smart and reach down and unclip one and put that shoe in my mouth while I switched the other shoe over. Although it worked, I lost a lot of time and a lot of dignity as most of my friends saw me doing it. I became the butt of everyone's jokes for a few weeks.

A few years later, I was racing in Phuket, Thailand. Me and Miles Stewart were putting our bikes together and I'd realized that I left my front skewer at home. I knew there was a bike mechanic down at the expo, so I thought it would be a great idea to just put the front wheel in and ride a few miles down to transition. As I was getting to transition, I was quite pleased with myself for making it without crashing and for some stupid reason, I sat up and took my hands off the handlebar. As I did that, I hit a pothole and my front wheel popped out. As my forks dug into the ground, I went over the handlebars and landed on the head stem and broke two ribs. Of course I tried to race. I made it a couple of miles into the run and then had to pull out.

 

After battling a few years of Cole Stewart's training, I managed to get a start at the Grand Prix sprint series in Australia, which was doubling up as the Commonwealth Games Selection Trials and also the Australian Sprint Championships. I was having probably one of the best races of my career at that point. I came out in the lead group in the swim and broke away on the bike with a group of legends including Hamish Carter, Miles Stewart, and Matt Reed. Towards the end of the bike, I managed to break away from them and put about a minute into them leading into transition. However it was a multi-lap bike course and when other athletes were lapped, they had to pull out. Riding on my own, I came up behind a large group on the bike and I got really excited to pass them all, but I was on my final lap and should have gone into transition. I ended up riding down to the turnaround and back which was an extra couple of K's that I wasn't supposed to do. By the time I got into transition, the group I had broken away from was just leaving on the run. That day I probably missed getting an Australian title and a spot at the Commonwealth Games.  

In the early days when I was in racing in Germany, I quite often raced double Saturday and Sunday races. This particular time I raced in Darmstadt on a Saturday. I borrowed my friend's hatchback car and drove to the Netherlands that night. Unlike America, small hotels in Europe close their doors around 10pm. I arrived closer to midnight and couldn't get into the hotel. I had to put the seats down in the car and just sleep in the back of that. I used my wetsuit as a blanket. All I had for breakfast was leftover pizza and a banana and then I went and raced.

Another race I did in the Netherlands was a ETU cup race. This race had two transitions. I had a great swim-bike and got off the bike with 2 or 3 guys in the lead. However when I went to get my shoes out of the transition box, they weren't there. I forgot to check them in at transition in the morning. Without thinking too much, I took off on the run in bare feet. This race was a 3 lap course. Luckily back then I was only doing Olympic distance and my friend was also racing. For some reason he had pulled out so he gave me his shoes going into the second lap. He's 6'2" and size 11 feet and I'm 8.5, however it was way better than running on bare feet. I still managed to hold on for a top 3 finish.

 

In 2009 at the 70.3 World Championships, I was probably in the best shape of my career. I had start number 2 and for some reason Ironman started using the plastic transition bags in 70.3 races. This was new for me and for some reason the pros just had to lay our bags out on the ground. I had a fantastic swim coming out of the water in the top 10. As I ran through transition, I grabbed the second bag and what I thought was my bike bag. I ran into the change tent where I dumped out the contents on the ground. As I put the helmet on, I realized it wasn't mine. At the time, I picked up the sunglasses and decided to race anyway, but as I exited the transition tent, my conscience got the better of me, so I ran back to grab the correct bag. By the time I got everything sorted out, I'd lost close to 2 minutes. This particular year, there was a 50 man front group on the bike and I got stuck riding alone behind them. I ended up with one of the fastest run splits running from 50th place into 11th, but it didn't do me much good. This led me to my next stupid decision, which was doing Ironman Arizona the next weekend. I had a great race in Ironman Arizona until the last 6 miles, where I completely imploded. I still managed to finish fourth but it scarred me for nearly 5 years.

The last time I raced at 70.3 Austin, I woke up early and had all my nutrition packed and ready in the fridge from the night before. Once I got up, I put my race kit on. I was still feeling a little sleepy and laid back on the bed. I still to this day don't know what happened. I thought I only laid there for one or two minutes, but apparently I'd fallen asleep for an hour. Once I got up, I went into the kitchen to make breakfast and then saw the time on the clock and it was only one hour before the start of the race. Luckily I had checked the bikes in the day before. I had a major panic attack and just ran out of the house and got in the car and started driving to the race, which was half an hour away. Once I got close to the race, I got caught up in the age group traffic trying to get into the parking lot, which took another 20 minutes. While I was sitting in the car, I realized that I had left all my nutrition in the fridge. I made an emergency call to BigSexy McDonald, who was living in Austin at the time. He managed to call his wife who brought a water bottle from home. As I ran into transition, she passed me the bottle with a couple of gels. I dumped the gels in the bottle and ran down to the swim start. As I got there, everyone was lined up and ready to go. Luckily the race was delayed 5 minutes, which allowed me to get my wetsuit on and start with everybody. I still managed to finish 2nd on just one water bottle.

Another dumbass mistake was when I raced down in Costa Rica. I thought I would be smart and charge my DI2 battery before I left so I wouldn't have to take the charger with me. Once I got there, I realized I had left my DI2 battery at home. This was back in the early days when I was one of the only people riding electronic shifters.  Back then, nobody had spare anything for electronic gears. Luckily a friend got delayed in Chicago coming to the race and they went to a bike shop and borrowed a battery and it ended up working out fine. You'd think I would have learned from this mistake, but it's happened a few more times since. 

Sadly this isn't all my stupid mistakes and I'm sure I'll make plenty more. I hope this makes all of your feel better anytime you make a dumb mistake. Don't stress or panic about the little mistakes - things always work out in the end. And if they don't, at least you'll have a good story and a laugh.

 


Richie Cunningham

www.richie-cunningham.com