Thursday, April 28, 2011

One thing many recreational triathletes dont touch up on enough..

is Stretching!

Stretching is something that ALL recreational athletes should really work on as I've seen far too many get sidelined after one game.

Stretching is so important to triathlon. Triathlon is not really 3 sports but about 11 or so that go hand in hand. Swimming, biking and running just get showcased at a race as the culmination of maximum effort at all of these foundational steps.

Coming back to stretching, stretching helps keep us injury-free, limber, and maintains proper circulation throughout the body. This is crucial for triathletes because we are training everyday, therefore; tightening our muscles everyday.  Over time this tightness will add up and reduce our range of motion.  Reduced range of motion leads to less powerful movements, less than satisfactory workouts and a higher risk of injuries.  Because of this we MUST MUST MUST stretch at least twice on every day that we workout.

This is so important for not only the race but arguably more important for the workouts leading up to the race.  Less range of motion-->Less efficient/improper technique--->less efficient workouts and possibly injury.  And as many know injury derails training schedules and sometimes races when they get severe.

So with this I hope to hammer home stretching because it is so VITAL in this sport as well as all other sports.

There are two types of stretching:
Static and Dynamic (kind of like engineering physics, with the same overall principle)

Static stretching is the stand-still-and-hold-it kind.  These are preferable when your not about to do a workout, such as before bed, or right after a workout.

For a good static stretch hold the position for AT LEAST 30 seconds.  The reason behind this is that the muscle you are stretching reflexes and does not fully relax due to built-in wiring to protect itself from injury.  Just like a cat exploring new territory, its cautious at first.  After 30 seconds, this reflex relaxes and real stretching can begin. 

Dynamic stretching is the active kind such as doing lunges while emphasizing the stretch in the quadriceps.  These are preferable in the warm-up before a workout.

For a good dynamic stretch do them slowly and ease into the stretch.  DO NOT , absolutely do not "bounce" in your stretches it does not help at all as the muscle contracts more so to protect it self.  Again the nerves help to protect the muscles.  Much like static stretching this reflex arc can be circumvented by easing into it and building up from slow to fast movement in dynamic stretching. 

Key muscles for triathletes are in no particular order

Lower Body:
  • bottom of your feet
  • gastrocnemius (upper calf)
  • Soleus (lower calf)
  • Achilles Tendon
  • Quadriceps (all sides)
  • Hamstrings
  • Hip Flexors

Upper Body:
  • Shoulders
  • Rotator Cuff
  • Triceps
  • Rhomboids: your upper back 
  • Trapezius (traps)
  • Latissumis dorsi (lats)
  • Lower back
 Not all of the specific muscles but most recreational athletes should know the general area of these.

This guy has a good 3 part series on stretching for Triathletes

Monday, April 25, 2011


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

-Rudyard Kipling
Chrissie Wellington recited this to herself during her countless Ironman victories.  No need for that but some good motivation nonetheless!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Most important things

that I have picked up on to help keep focused on a goal:
  1. Little things- did you go on a 15 min. walk or did you sit down and watch tv? type that 1/2 page response or whittle away on facebook? did you get ranch dressing or balsamic vinaigrette? Chicken nuggets or a deli sub?  You can't walk 100 miles without walking 75 miles or 50 miles or 1/4 of a mile.  Goals need consistence and persistence.
  2. Put pride in everything you do- because then it is a reflection of yourself to others and is a motivator help you put forth your best effort. No one is ever proud of half-ass, shoddy work, so don't do it!
  3. Positive thoughts ALWAYS- There is ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS a good side to everything that happens to you or to those around you. Even if it's a "small" positive, put the negativity aside because its cancerous. Obstacles happen in life, but those who rise up will reap the rewards. "Think of yourself as on the threshold of unparalleled success. A whole, clear, glorious life lies before you. Achieve! Achieve!"- Andrew Carnegie
  4. Failure=Success- Learn from failures.  I see many people that get discouraged when they're not perfectly doing something their first try.  Learn from your mistakes and apply that knowledge to future tries.  Failure is the greatest teacher.  For my engineering project this semester we're learning how to make a computer program to control an intersection of traffic lights.  They told us to pretty much teach yourself to program (which is one of the reasons why I like this school).  I failed many, many times during lab but now I can program in Python like a champ. You get out what you put in. 
  5. Watch out for pessimistic people- they drag you down and soon you start adopting these traits unconsciously. Misery loves company and that's the truth.  Help pick these people up but don't let them get in the way of you achieving something great. Lupe Fiasco said it best: Never ever put em down, you just lift your arms higher.
  6. Goals are easier when: you put yourself with people that similar goals and when you "broadcast" your goals to everyone you know. The former helps by giving you a support group and the latter keeps you accountable.
  7. Empowering music- especially for workouts but I even like to listen to them in the car. Draw motivating music from different genres. Personally right now I like ,
  8. Reward yourself- Life is not about having the perfect diet, perfect job, perfect grades. Take some time to relax, smell the roses, take some pictures (check previous post I did this on a 3 hour bike ride ha), and eat some chocolate. I eat those Whoppers candies every Sunday like nobody's business
  9. Be GTH-  Not a variation of GTL(gym, tan, laundry) but rather be grateful, thankful and helpful to everyone who helps you on your journey. This may seem like common sense but a lot of times we get so focused on our own goals that we forget about others, the help they have given us, and the help that others need. Always keep in mind who helps you along the way because without them reaching your goal may be very hard and sometimes without their help you would have never even had a shot.
* By no means is this an all-inclusive list, I'm always looking for ways to improve myself!