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Blog posts tagged with 'racing'

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

New Home, New Fire

It’s been a whirlwind summer. I didn’t expect to be racing, not with moving across the country and after opening my new business, but by now, I should expect to be surprised at what can be accomplished. 

Opening night at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center symbolizes the start of the track cycling season on the east coast. International competitors come from Europe, Asia, the Oceania countries for some of the best racing in the world, week after week. Even prior to moving across the country, summers were spent in Pennsylvania for the mere fact that the talent and experience cannot be found anywhere else.

And so it came as no surprise, when opening night came around, and athletes from around the world continued to ask, “Are you racing?”, that I would have a number 31 pinned on my back, and I’d be lining up for a women’s UCI Class 1 scratch race. I lined up that night, expecting nothing, and I came home with a bouquet of flowers, and the win.

Taking it one day at a time, I’ve come to love my sport again. Not only have I enjoyed racing, but I’ve been involved in the community cycling programs: BRL, PeeWee-Pedalers, and Gear Up Academy. From day one, I’ve always said, it doesn’t matter how far I go, as long as I show that track sprinting is possible within the united states, and I show young girls they can make their dreams come true. Working with young kids, helping them conquer their fears, and watching their faces light up for those first few laps they ride around the velodrome is why I started doing this. Finding those roots has helped my connection with track cycling form again. 

Every Friday night I’ve been lining up, no matter what the races are, to support women’s cycling, and to relight the fire. I’ve come away with a few wins, a few losses, and a few tired legs. Then every Saturday morning I wake up to the bright faces of 5 year old kids, and keep it going. What a drastic change from where I was a few months ago! 

In just a week, the US Elite Track National Championships will begin. I’ve signed myself up for one event, the Scratch Race. Traditionally, I’ve been considered a sprinter, but what few know is my numbers actually define me as a pursuiter. Competing is what I love to do, and now I’m branching past my usual team sprint, 500m, keirin, and match sprint, to an endurance event I’ve been doing well in. This nationals, it isn’t about winning. It’s about continuing on, being strong, and giving those little kids someone to cheer for.

Ttown is slowly becoming my new home, and with the amazing support of my sponsors and 5 year old Saturday morning buddies, it’s slowly building a fire under me again. 

- Miss Erickson 

 

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

ALL OUT for Racing and Recovery

As a sprinter I'm always looking for an opportunity to sit down and put my feet up. I go all out for 8 seconds to 1 minute then rest for 20 minutes. I know, it sounds tough! But somebody has to do it... When I got into the RecoveryPump system over 2 years ago I went from just sitting around, to active recovery. This was great! I now had an excuse to sit down whenever I wanted :)

I am a professional track sprinter on the velodrome and my training is very unique. Because all of our efforts are done at 100% we have ample recovery time in between efforts. Anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes depending on what we're doing. I love being able to have a RecoveryPump system at the track to use for 10 minutes in between my efforts to flush out the lactic acid and keep my legs feeling fresh. When you can win or lose by as little as .001 of a second every little bit counts every day.

There are the obvious uses for the RecoveryPump system like starting your day for 20 to 30 minutes to get some blood flow in your legs or ending your day to make sure all of the trash is flushed out, but one of my favorite ways to use the system is when I travel. It fits great into my carry-on luggage and is awesome to have during long layovers. People might look at you little bit strange in the airport, but it is totally worth it!

As for the other "similar" systems out there, I do not think there is any competition at all! First off, your legs should not go numb during your time in the boots. This happened when I tried out other systems, but not with RecoveryPump. Also, the RecoveryPump system is by far the easiest to travel with. This is not a tool that you should only be able to use at home, but you should be able to take it and use it wherever you'd like. RecoveryPump makes this possible.

Lastly… If you have not tried the recoveryCORE unit YOU NEED TO!!! It is a life-changer ;)

 

Thank you RecoveryPump for making such an amazing system and being such a great company in all areas. I look forward to continuing our relationship and the benefit of all the great products that you produce.

 

-Nate Koch, USA Professional Track Cyclist

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