What Triathlete Veterans Know Now That They Would Tell Their Newbie Selves

That moment you commit to do a triathlon, your life races to another level. Mentally, physically, you’re never the same after crossing that finish line. An elite few can call themselves triathlete, but the number is growing almost as fast as most of us wish we could finish the course!

USA Triathlon reported in 2013 a record high in membership growth, noting nearly 175,000 registered triathletes. That’s an impressive body of people biking, running, and swimming to an almost super-human level of athletic greatness!

Triathlete Advice for Newbies from Veterans who have been there

Recently, at the fifth annual Fitbloggin’ conference, an entire session was dedicated to discussing the sport of triathlon, lead by Jennifer Sader @ToledoLefty. Many attendees of the conference have a triathlon medal (or several) hanging at home, and many were entering the sport for the first time. It was an incredible meeting of the minds where no question was too ridiculous and the experienced “elders” generously espoused wisdom to the newbies. The chat really embodied the spirit of the conference.

So what do these seasoned triathletes know now that their beginner selves probably could have used? We snagged some of their insights and hopefully you’ll feel more prepared when you start your own training.

Brick House

…Training that should include more brick workouts! @DubyaWife swears by the training style, which has you finish one training style (say, biking) and immediately transition to the next training (like a run) during the same workout. These intense sessions prepare your body for the realities of the actual event.

Lieutenant Dan Would be Proud

Wipe your feet clean and dry them before you transition to the bike ride. This tip can help prevent any discomfort from debris or moisture caught in your shoes.

Tarzan and the Monkey Legs

“Training to be comfortable and confident with open water swimming seems to be the hardest [part of tri training] to tackle,” said Erin Kreitz Shirey, an ACE certified master trainer with a degree in Kinesiology who trains at DigDeepPlayHard.com. She designed the following upper body drill to help gain that confidence in the water, as well as shake out what the group called “the monkey legs.”

  • Swim 25 yards (1 lap) Tarzan stroke (Swimming with head out every 4th stroke, “spotting the buoy”)
  • Hop out of the pool and do 5-15 push ups
  • Hop back in and swim a 50 yard sprint
  • Hop out of the pool and do 5-15 push ups
  • Repeat for 5-10 sets

“It helps to incorporate this drill at the end of the workout, when your body is already fatigued, to replicate the exhaustion from open water swimming,” she noted.

Save Your Money

Triathlons can be an incredibly expensive sport, but there are ways to save for newbies and veterans alike. Several suggestions were made to buy used triathlon bikes from sources like Craigslist, where bikes go for a few hundred dollars compared to upwards of $2,000 for new. These athletes suggested getting fitted at a bike shop first so you know exactly what you need to find. One attendee said, “Don’t spend too much in the beginning on a sport you don’t know if you’ll like.”

Too Close for Comfort

And that fit should be “right up close” ladies, according to @DubyaWife. She demonstrated on her tippy toes just where the bike’s bar should sit when you’re riding.

And Switch!

As for those transition stations, there’s as much a fine art to that process as there is knowing when to breathe and spot yourself in the water. @Sweating_It_Off said he likes to set up his bike transition at the very end of the rack. Not only is it easy to find when the crowd is hustling, but you can also get back on track quickly without wading through the sea of people.

Burst Your Bubble

Also, don’t try to mark your spot with something like a balloon; @ToledoLefty said she’s attended races where the officials cut them all down. Instead, get a unique colored towel to drape over your seat or some other kind of “qualified” marker.

Practice Makes Perfect

@DubyaWife dry runs half the race and transitions one week before the actual event. She wakes and dresses at the exact time she would on race day, and then goes through half the mileage, including walking through the transitions to feel more comfortable with the steps.

Remember What’s Important

At the end of it all, enjoy it. “Have fun and get fit, don’t worry too much about your time,” was @ToledoLefty’s closing thought on triathlon training.

You Still Have Time to Train for a Fall Half Marathon

All of your friends are doing it. You see the daily mileage check-ins, the sweaty selfies, and the bypassed invitations for drinks — they’re training. And while you may not be, it’s not too late. Summer’s far from over, which means race season hasn’t even started yet. If you’ve got a solid pair legs under you already, then find a race that’s at least 12 weeks out and set your sights 13.1 miles ahead.

Start training for a fall half marathon

“The reason for at least 12 weeks is that your body will have time to adapt to the training, work on endurance and speed, and then nail out a half marathon,” explained Erin Kreitz Shirey, owner of Power Fitness PDX and a certified personal trainer. She went on to say that our bodies need at least this much time to strengthen muscles and tendons, but also to mentally shift and adapt to the increased mileage.

“A big portion of running, as with other sports, is adapting to the mental game of attacking the distance one step at a time. It is also in that time that an athlete can have time on long runs to address their various nutritional needs, biomechanics, and muscular strengths and imbalances,” Shirey said.

How to Get Started

  1. Don’t be a total newb! If you can complete a three-mile run/walk, then you’ve got the foundation to complete a half marathon 12 weeks from now.
  2. Identify a training plan that suits your experience level, distance goals, as well as the realities of your lifestyle and other commitments. Shirey recommends the Jeff Galloway Run-Walk method, which she says helps to build a foundation while building endurance and mental agility. Another resource she recommends is a training plan from Competitor Magazine.
  3. Commit to the process. Shirey wants you to make the time to do the workouts, stretch, add in the cross and strength training, ad properly fuel your body, too.

How to Train Your Mind, Body, and Soul

During half marathon training, “treat your body as kind as you always should,” says Shirey. She means:

  1. Get to bed and sleep at least 7-8 hours each night. You’ll be the one bypassing the drink invites soon!
  2. Drink at least 80 ounces of water each day.
  3. Stretch before and after each workout.
  4. Read positive affirmations. “There are days when the training gets tricky, fitting it all in, but read and believe and you will do it!” said Shirey.

How to Cross Train

  1. Add plyometrics and agility work to cross training days and after long tempo runs. “The explosive movements help break down muscle fibers to build endurance and help with agility,” says Shirey, who recommends burpees, reverse jump lunges, and box jumps.
  2. Strengthen your core by doing planks, caterpillars, side planks, butterfly sit ups, and supermans.

“If you are thinking about it, then register and set the goal for yourself. Don’t put off something to the spring that you have the gumption and dedication to accomplish now,” advises Shirey.

“The feeling of success is so rich, it will carry over to conquering another health and fitness goal this winter,” she said in closing. And if you can crush a half marathon finish line by the holidays, just think what you’ll be ready to take on in the spring!

Are you training for a race this fall?

Ambassador Recap: Magnolia Hill Xterra Off-Road Triathlon

Today we have an ambassador race recap from Heather P. If you’ve applied to be an ambassador, don’t fret! We haven’t finalized all applications yet. Heather was an ambassador pre-program launch. Stay tuned to your inbox for more information.

I participated in the 2014 Magnolia Hill Xterra Off-road Triathlon a couple weekends ago, and it was an AMAZING experience. The race was located in Navasota Texas, which is 40 miles south of my home in Bryan, TX and about 75 miles northwest of Houston. The distances were ½ mile swim in a lake, followed by a 13 mile mountain bike, then a 4 mile trail run. I’ve never done an off-road triathlon before, in fact this was only my second triathlon. I would characterize myself as an excellent swimmer, I was actually a swim coach for years and still get in a few miles in the pool each week. I was a collegiate cyclist at Texas A&M years ago, currently teach a cycling class, and just got back from 4 days of mountain biking in Colorado. It’s just recently that I’ve become a runner- (thanks Enell for making that possible) – so I thought “How hard could it be to put these three things together?” Turns out, the toughest part was the mental aspect of the race.

So here we go, as I lined up for the swim – in a small lake – I was terribly nervous and my heart rate was already climbing. I’d asked friends for advice beforehand, and all their comments were buzzing through my head – “You’re a strong swimmer, so you’ll be fine”, “Kick your feet extra hard if you feel someone else around you”, “Wear your goggles under you cap, so you don’t lose them”, “Try to not get kicked in the face”, “Drafting in the water is real”, and my favorite “Eat a big meal of Mexican food the night before, you know, for that extra boost at the end!”

Then we started, all 150 people at the same time – men, women, good swimmers, bad swimmers, young and old. It was a mess, and overwhelming at first. If I had to describe it, I would call it a dogfight in the water. I made it to the first buoy with the lead pack, then got pushed around a bit as we all tried to turn and see where we were going to next. The next leg in the water was the longest, about 500 meters. Trying to see where you’re swimming in murky lake water with a bunch of other swimmers bumping into you, your cap falling off, your goggles fogging up, all while getting unexpected gulps of water instead of air when you turn to take a breath is definitely a challenge! But I was able to find another swimmer to draft off of, at least for a good while. She was swimming fairly straight, so I didn’t have to try to “sight” the buoy to stay on course. I evened my stroke out and kept telling myself “You’re a strong swimmer, you’ll be fine”. When we turned at the final buoy, the pack had thinned out and I was able to actually pick up my pace, and feel a little more comfortable. Then I saw my rock. My husband Byron on the shore scouring the water trying to find me. So I waved and waved and waved – which isn’t a hard thing to do when you’re swimming and your arms are moving around anyways. He saw me and snapped a few pictures. Was so very nice to see him supporting me and made me kick it into high gear for the last few meters.

Enell Ambassador Heather P.

Out of the swim and into the “transition zone” to throw on my bike gear and hit the trail. I chose to swim, bike and run in just an Enell and bike shorts, that way I wouldn’t have to change clothes or waste time getting ready for the different legs of the race. I threw on socks, shoes, helmet, glasses, bike gloves, and most importantly, stuffed a snack safely into my Enell to eat along the way. I was off!

Enell ambassador Heather P. in the Xterra Off-Road Triathlon

I’ve been a mountain biker for years, so I was confident that I would have no problem in this part of the race. My husband (who in addition to photographer and general race support, also plays the role of mechanic for me) had tuned up my gears, check my brakes, tire pressure, and even put my bike in the right gear to start off in. Because of his thoughtfulness and attention to detail I immediately cruised past 4 people who were trying to get into the right gear. I was onto the single-track and feeling great as I passed a few people here and there – then I found myself on the ground in a pile. The trails were super sandy, and as I was coming around a corner, I was ejected from my bike and hit the ground HARD. But I’m a tough cookie, so I dusted myself off and kept on trucking. The course consisted of 2 laps of about 6.5 miles each. Byron was perched on a downhill at the end of the first lap, waiting to take a picture and hand off another water bottle to me. That turned out to be great planning because, unknown to me, I had lost my first bottle in the spill I took. As soon as I saw him I was able to fish the snack (Peanut butter flavored Gu – trust me, it’s great!) out of my Enell and get it down before picking up my water. The second lap was uneventful, still keeping a decent pace and not getting passed, and also not crashing (always a great thing).

Enell Ambassador Heather P.

Into the transition zone one more time to get my shoes changed for the run. So, by this time, the temperature was about 95° with a heat index of well over 100°, gotta love Texas! I chugged the remainder of my water bottle, which was a mix of Skratch Exercise Hydration mix – this stuff is great, all natural, not super sweet, and enough calories and electrolytes to replenish you – and I was off to the trail run.

The trail was decent, some was freshly cut, so I had to carefully watch my step. I typically use run/walk intervals, but decided to keep a steady slow pace for the entire run and let the terrain tell me when I should walk. I tried to follow any shade there was on the trail to avoid the heat, but there really isn’t any way to escape Texas in July. Byron found me again at the bottom of a big hill, which ladies- if your husband asks you where he should take your picture, it should always be at the bottom of a hill, NOT the TOP. I’ve got a smart fellow – he was hanging out in the shade at the bottom of the hill snapping pictures and enjoying a beer from his favorite cooler that I had stocked for him early that morning. I was feeling good and holding my own on the run, the course was also 2 laps, this time about 2 miles each. Second time around I snatched a partial beer from my guy. Sounds crazy, but something about a few sips of a cold beer at the end of a race can be a true motivator. It keeps your mind off the race a bit, and gets you even more anxious to see that finish line – you know, where they have even more beer!

Enell ambassador Heather P.

Because the run portion of the race was 2 laps, it was easy to know when I should start picking up my pace for the finish. Just about 500 meters from the finish line, I passed one last lady – taking a quick look at her left calf (where they write your age), I saw that she was in the same age group as I was. At the finish line I was greeted with a cold towel, beaming husband, and plenty of post-race refreshments. We were able to hang out a bit, getting to know the crowd and congratulate other participants. I was surprised to hear my name called for 3rd place in my age group.

Enell Ambassador Heather P.

I’m sure there will be a next time for me in this kind of race, and next time I’ll know what to expect in the water, try to stay upright on my bike and remember to check out other competitors legs for their age! Thanks Enell for the support, this was the perfect gear for all three sports! And thanks to Byron for his support in all other areas!

5 Types of Yoga You Shouldn’t be Afraid to Try

You’ve either fully embraced yoga and have your favorite form, studio, teacher, and asana. Or, you still don’t quite understand the point and steer very clear; except, they are on to something with those pants! Either way, there’s so much more to this practice than meets the eye. Yoga is truly a layer cake that offers a style to suit any practitioner, and once you find what’s right for you, there is an exhaustive list of benefits in store.

5 Types of Yoga You Shouldn't Be Afraid to Try

Strength, peace of mind, detoxification of organs, and flexibility are just a few ways in which your wellness will improve with yoga, offers up Brendon Payne, a certified yoga teacher who founded Sequel Life Fitness. Further, he says the flexibility shouldn’t be a turn-off either. It’s not a prerequisite for your yoga classes. “Yoga is not based on flexibility. Yoga is most often focused on breath work.”

Whether you’ve been on the mat a while, or are starting to come around to the idea, there are a few yoga styles worth considering, and Payne has outlined those for us. Get the ultimate yoga experience and try each or some of these.

  1. Yin: This may be the style most people think of when they think yoga, suggests Payne, who says Yin is very calming, peaceful, and gentle on the body. It’s ideal for newbies, and can also be very effective for athletes as a recovery method thanks to the slow, lengthy stretches it employs.
  2. Vinyasa: Common on many studio schedules, this is a great style to graduate to once you grasp the basics. This Sanskrit word means connection, defines Payne, who explains that, like most styles, the breath is very important here. “Students practicing this style move with their breath in a very fluid motion. Hence the common nickname Flow Yoga.”
  3. Ashtanga: This style is known for building an intense internal heat with a progressive series of postures that allow you to work up a quick detoxifying sweat, explains Payne. If weight loss or a hearty calorie burn is what you’re after, this may be the class for you.
  4. Bikram: This is the hot yoga that has become quite popular in the U.S., created by Bikram Choudhury. It’s unique in that it consists of a set sequence of 26 postures, that Payne explains “works through the entire body, from the inside out to ensure maximum function of the human body.”
  5. Hatha: Hatha yoga refers to any series of asanas designed to align the body and calls us to focus more on the breath in order to be still in these postures, explains Payne. This style is ideal for those looking to disconnect from stress, reconnect with themselves, or simply rehabilitate worn, tired muscles.

Do you have a favorite type of yoga? 

The 31 Breast Nicknames for Your Tatas That Aren’t “Boob”

We love boob humor of any sort. After years of having a love/hate relationship with these mounds on our chests, you just have to laugh about them sometimes. This is a post by our friend Brandi, who has an expansive vocabulary of “boob” alternatives.

Once upon a time I was an awkward pre-teen girl with the biggest mess of curly mop, acne, and a completely absent sense of body image. I also had flowering buds upon my chest and I had no idea what to do about the unstoppable force growing beneath my pecs. Dear old dad loved to tell people that I was the president of the itty bitty titty committee. To this day I don’t know if I’ve ever been more humiliated.

I’ve been embarrassed too many times to count since then; my breasts at fault more times than once. I’ve fortunately graduated beyond the itty bitty titty committee and have even called them a colorful name or two.

31 Nicknames for Your Boobs

Boobs, no matter what you call them, become a life force all their own. Whether they are the bosom of your self identity, a titillating source of your sexuality, or an udder burden, there’s more than one fun way to talk about them.

  1. Air Bags
  2. Boobies
  3. Boobs
  4. Bosom
  5. Breasts
  6. Breasteses
  7. Bust
  8. Cans
  9. Chest
  10. Chesticles
  11. Cones
  12. Dirty Pillows
  13. Double Lattes
  14. Funbags
  15. Gazongas
  16. Globes
  17. hooters
  18. Jugs
  19. Knockers
  20. Lovely Lady Lumps
  21. Mammaries
  22. Melons
  23. Nips
  24. Snuggle Pups
  25. Sweater Stretchers
  26. Tatas
  27. The Girls
  28. Tits
  29. Titties
  30. Twin Peaks
  31. Udders

We came up with the first 31, but we want to know… what do you call the goods inside your over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder?