8 Accessories Cyclists in the Know Won’t Ride Without

Just take a walk or just ride a bike. We hear it all the time, some of the simplest exercises in the world are the healthiest for you. Championed for significant cardiovascular and fitness benefits, as well as accessibility, activities like cycling are equally touted for their affordability. In the beginning, at least!

8 Accessories Cyclists in the Know Won’t Ride Without

However, the more committed you become to riding, the longer your routes become, there’s a unique set of bells and whistles you’re going to need to invest in.

For cyclists, the accessories and gear needed for longer than a ride around the neighborhood a couple of times a week can be extensive. That’s not to put you off at all, if anything, the gear makes the ride that much more inviting. Those bells and whistles make your rides stronger, more comfortable, safer, and more productive.

We polled leisure cyclists to the more intense triathletes, and this is what they won’t ride without.

Stronger

  • Insulated water bottles, which will “keep my water from tasting like hot tea,” advised Lacy Hansen. A hydrated ride is a better ride, as your muscles aren’t as likely to cramp up. As well, you’ll stay cooler throughout the ride.

More Comfortable

  • Padded shorts keep your bum cushioned against those hard, narrow seats. “It makes your butt look funny, but trust me, you won’t care after one long ride without them!” reported Gina Nutile.
  • Sports Bras keep the ladies out of your way while you’re on the road. There’s still enough bounce, jostle, and opportunity for rubbing on a bike as in a gym class. Avoid that nightmare altogether with the ENELL LITE, which is ideal for cyclists.

Safer

  • Helmets are a must and one place you should truly make an investment. There’s nothing else between your head and the ground when the unexpected happens.
  • Sunscreen that stands up to sweat and the distance. Just “don’t put sunscreen on your forehead under your helmet. It will get into your eyes and ruin your life!” cautions Amy Hamilton.
  • Front and Rear Bike Flashers because, as Adrian Ornelas put simply, you “gotta stay visible!”

Productive

  • Lace locks allow for a faster transition. You won’t get hung up in loose shoes or, worse, untied shoes. There are actual “locks” from a variety of brands; there’s also a specific lace lock technique you can try yourself.
  • Clip shoes that double as hiking shoes, allowing you to walk around, stay clipped, and not have to mess with a change of shoes.

Quit Making Boobs Your Excuse: Breast Health Depends on a Good Sports Bra

Driving down the road last week, I saw a woman running. My first reaction was, “Good for her!” Just drenched in sweat, killing it. I love seeing people out being active.

My second reaction was, “I wish I could pull over and give her a better sports bra.” She may as well have not even had one on. We’ve all seen it, or probably been her, when you workout and the breasts take off like the arms of a kid jumping out of a swing. They move every which way but that which they should be headed.

ENELL9 (1)

It’s not just unsightly or painful, this multi-directional effect of a good workout and bad sports bra on the breasts can actually have a detrimental effect on your breast health. Strap ‘em in ladies; the cost could be more than a quality sports bra investment.

New research from the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, published by the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, found that “the breast was a barrier to physical activity participation for 17 percent of women.” Our recent sports bra nightmare stories are clue enough — the wrong sports bra can scare any woman away from the mildest workout. Sitting around looks better than the pain, embarrassment, and poor breast health that can come from a low performance or low quality sport bra.

No matter how small or large your breasts are, proper support throughout any workout is imperative. Not only does it minimize superfluous movement from “the girls” that could interfere with the workout, but it minimizes or eliminates pain associated with those movements. While the woman we saw running last week was committed to her workout, there’s no doubt she was painfully uncomfortable.

The scariest part is that there is real damage being caused to the breast tissue when “the ladies” aren’t properly stowed away.

“Not properly supporting your breasts, or wearing an ill-fitted sports bra, can potentially be harmful to the tissues of the breast over time. Running pulls on the breast in all directions: in, out, up, down and side-to-side. This movement can weaken the connective tissue that supports the breasts causing it to lose elasticity and even permanently damage your breasts,” explained personal trainer and fitness expert Kelly Turner in an interview at DietsInReview.com.

Running, doing Zumba, riding a horse, cycling, or anything above a mall walk can put great strain on your breasts. Wearing the right sports bra for the right activity can ensure your breasts are protected, and that you feel comfortable enough to make the activity routine.

Sports bras weren’t the only thing keeping women from exercising. Study respondents cited energy or motivation at #1, time constraints at #2, and general health at #3. Breasts were the #4 reason women don’t workout.

The goal of the study is to spread the word about the breast health/sports bra relationship.

“Breast health knowledge increased the use of a sports bra and levels of physical activity,” the study cited.

The researchers, Emma Burnett, Jenny White, and Joanna Scurr, concluded that with 33 percent of women not meeting minimum physical activity recommendations, the importance for increased “breast health knowledge” could be an effective tool in reducing known barriers and getting more women logging more physical activity.

If I’d had a spare ENELL in my trunk, I’d have pulled over and properly outfitted that woman on her evening run. I can hope you won’t be the next victim of a bad sports bra on a good run!


Sports Bra Nightmares

Punctured left lung. Attempted asphyxiation. Dislocated shoulder. Cut-off circulation. This sounds like a list of injuries after a boxing match, not your standard Tuesday undressing in the ladies’ locker room. These are actual things women have experienced during and after a workout while strapped in to their non-ENELL sports bras, not to mention sheer panic and terror when you realize you’re actually stuck inside. We have all been there!

Busty Girl Problems solved with #enell sports bras

There’s Dani Stone who recounts a nearly dislocated shoulder after trying to unhinge herself from a sports bra. “I gave myself a charlie horse in the neck that lasted two weeks,” she said. “Damn sweaty straight jackets is what they are!” Thankfully, the ENELL has a front closure system so there’s no gymnastics required to get out of it!

For Kenlie Tiggeman, it’s a six-of-one, half-dozen-of-another fiasco. “Either my circulation is getting cut off, or they’re not staying in place,” she recounts of her sports bra nightmares. She’s even had to do the multi-bra walk of shame. “I wore two sports bras last week in the hopes of keeping everything in check, but they rode up while I was on the elliptical. I had to cross my arms and walk out of the gym to put everything back in place.”

Stop the double bra madness with #enell sports bras

And she’s hardly the only one who’s had to double up. Or even triple up, in Gray Brand’s case. In high school, she remembers forcing herself into three sports bras while running the two mile “while an audience of my peers chanted ‘Uniboob!’ as I raced by them on the track.” It’s one of her most shudder-worthy memories, and she notes she’s got an archive of stories just like it.

What about nursing moms trying to take care of themselves and the baby? No, they don’t get a break either! “Nursing sports bras, in theory, are a great idea,” says Kerri Burr. “Hey! I can go work out, and nurse the baby right when I get home! Perfect!” But like much of motherhood, she recalls that it never goes as perfectly as you’d planned. “You go out for a jog. The little clip unhooks itself, and all of a sudden you are way too ‘free’ to be in public.”

But then, sports bras don’t have to be the root of all apparel evil. For some women, they’re a saving grace. Kay Cherryholmes, a woman who has taken on such physical endeavors as swimming the Alcatraz Escape from the Rock, climbing to Mt. Everest base camp, and hiking the Camino in Spain, says she switched to sports bras full time when a “broken underwire almost punctured my left lung.” Stuffing her bras with tissue to deflect the wire only ended in embarrassment when the wad fell out during jump-roping next to a cute guy at the gym. “So I switched to sports bras and I’ve worn nothing else for about two years. It’s LOVE,” she says. (Pro Tip: The ENELL LITE is great for everyday wear.)

Do you have any sports bra nightmares? (Pre-ENELL, of course!)


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?