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Triathlon Training: 4 Tips for Transitioning into the Sport

Written on August 21, 2014 at 9:00 am , by

Maybe you swam on your college swim team, you’re a runner looking for a bigger challenge or you’re addicted to spin class and want to take your cycling skills to the next level. Whatever your reason for being interested in triathlon, getting into the sport can be a little tricky and sometimes intimidating. Zoot-sponsored athlete Jennifer Vogel and I put our heads together to come up with the best advice for breaking into the sport.

Study up and train hard. 
One of the most valuable things I did before my first triathlon was research the sport like crazy. I wanted to know everything I could to be as prepared as possible. Once you’re armed with some basic information, like a starter training plan and transitioning tips, you can use your workouts and experience to figure out the rest. There’s a lot of info out there, so take advantage of reputable sources and then put what you know into action during your workouts.

Don’t overestimate yourself in one sport. 
Vogel points out that many tri-newbies are runners first. But just because you can run a sub-2:00 half-marathon doesn’t mean you should skimp on training for those final miles. The same goes for naturally gifted swimmers and bikers. Everyone has their favorite and strongest leg, but you still need to practice pacing yourself through three different sports and mastering the bricks (transitioning from one sport to the next).

Ease into the equipment.
Triathlon is a sport that requires a lot of gear. Gear costs money. But don’t let the initial investment scare you away; instead, start small. Vogel suggests easing in with short sprint races that you can do without expensive items like a wet suit or tri-specific bike. True story: I did my first tri in a sport bikini and borrowed my brother’s old bike! Once you get a better idea of how serious you’ll become and what kind of goals you have, you can invest in better equipment little by little along the way. Not sure of the essentials? Check out our go-to list here.

Join a tri group. 
It’s the easiest way to make new friends with a common interest and you’ll have an instant network of triathletes to train with and ask questions. Vogel notes that a group helps keep you accountable and makes it fun, too. I’ve done all my training and races solo and quite honestly, I wish I joined a group early on. Trust me, during those long training days, you’ll be happy to have the company and fellow finishers give you more reasons to celebrate during your post-race party.

Photo by Kevin Steele

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Your Sweat Could Soon Charge Your Phone

Written on August 20, 2014 at 10:09 am , by

Major #fitnessgirlproblems: when your struggling smartphone never seems to stay charged past the one-mile mark, leaving you music-free and potentially data-less. The solution? It could be those beads of sweat you’re forming.

A team of researchers at the University of California San Diego have created a sticky, temporary tattoo that acts as a bio-battery and uses lactate to generate power. Where does the battery get lactate? Right from your sweat.

“We’re trying to use our own body to generate power,” says Wenzhao Jia, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher at the University of California San Diego who led the project. “This happens when sweat contacts the bio-battery, and it’s less toxic than a [standard] chemical battery.”

But there’s one caveat: if you tend to be a heavy sweater, you can’t assume your device will be ready for an Instagram spree. “You won’t necessarily be creating more power,” explains Jia. In fact, it’s the other way around. The harder your body works, the more lactate it produces. In other words: “The fitter ones produce less power; the less fit make more,” she says.

While this form of power serves up some motivation to push through that last set, Jia says she and the team still have a long way to go before the bio-battery becomes powerful enough to charge electronic devices. Still, it’s an interesting development we’ll anxiously be tracking. Who needs wall outlets these days, anyway?

Photo courtesy of UCSD

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Fashion Favorite: CRAP Eyewear

Written on August 19, 2014 at 9:56 am , by

In every woman’s collection of accessories, a statement pair of sunglasses is a must. However, most people tend to stick to their one perfect shape and focus on practicality, rather than fun. But why do we do that? Don’t we all deserve a pair of sunglasses that makes us feel like a million bucks while spending a fraction of the price? CRAP Eyewear, ironically named, is your answer to a cool, funky pair of sunglasses that won’t break the bank.

Self-described on their website as “an independent sunglass founded by a couple of beach rats who still own and operate the brand,” CRAP Eyewear is gaining popularity all over the country as the low-maintenance, stylish option we all crave. With style names like “The Human Fly,” “The Diamond Brunch” and “The Nudie Mag,” the brand offers frame shapes that you don’t see everyday, which is exactly their angle. It’s a budget-friendly alternative that yields a big reward in the chic department. Every collection ranges in colors and shapes and every pair is under $60. Consider me sold.

Here are a few of my personal favorites, but check out the rest of their Summer ’14 collection on their website.

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The Prancercise Lady is Back!

Written on August 18, 2014 at 12:53 pm , by

Prancercise creator Joanna Rohrback just added some major accessories to her fitness wardrobe: horses. They’re completely fitting, given the creatures are what inspired her to invent the ”springy, rhythmic way of moving forward, similar to a horse’s gait and is ideally induced by elation,” which she demonstrates (flawlessly, of course) in her new video.

We listed Prancercise as one of the biggest fitness moments nearly a year ago (the original video—uploaded in December 2012—has over 10 million views). Naturally, this is a much-needed entertainment break for a Monday, even though the horses look miserable (scared?) the entire four minutes and 30 seconds of the video.

But at 62, Rohrback looks pretty amazing, so the galloping, skipping and frolicking through fields must be working for her. That said, we don’t necessarily encourage canceling your gym membership or calling your morning runs quits anytime soon. But when you want to let it all out, find a park and prance, girl. You won’t find any judgment here.

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We Tried It: Swerve Fitness

Written on August 15, 2014 at 10:10 am , by

What it is: The latest boutique studio to make its mark on indoor cycling, Swerve Fitness caters to those who want a blend of popular studios like SoulCycle and Flywheel Sports, or anyone who grew up participating in team sports.

Good for: Anyone who loves to get their heart rate up, work as a team and sweat—a lot. This workout is perfect cross-training for runners in the midst of training for a race (marathon season baby!) since it provides the analytics you crave after each workout. There’s also a healthy portion of upper body work incorporated into the class, so your arms get a hit of firm-and-burn power.

Where you go: The Flatiron District in New York City, specifically 30 W 18th Street, with plans to expand throughout the city.

How it works: Riders are divided into three team colors—red, blue and green—that compete against each other during class. Your bike is hooked up to a monitor to track personal metrics (think energy output, miles biked, calories burned, RPM), and the team’s average scores are displayed on boards at the front of the class. Riding on the beat is heavily emphasized, and you’ll encounter a 3- to 5-minute arm workout about halfway through class. Otherwise, there’s a ton of interval training throughout, alternating speeds and positions in and out of the saddle.

What you need: Comfortable, form-fitting clothing. Since you’re inside, we usually opt for capri leggings and a tank top (it can get hot in there!). Remember to bring a water bottle if you don’t want to pay for one, but good news: clip-in shoes are included in your class purchase.

Bonus feature: A smoothie bar is within the studio and you can either place your order pre-ride or right after. That way your refueling drink is ready as soon as you’re ready to go, or it’s prepared while you shower.

What it costs: $30 per class, but first-timers score 2 classes for the same price. Keep an eye out for their special deals online too, like their wedding package you can purchase with your sweetie or the refer-a-friend program. Don’t forget to share your #swervescore on social media too. Every time you do, you’re entered to win prizes like a free drink from the smoothie bar or a free class.

What we think: Love it! Whether you’re competitive with yourself or others, this class taps into that inner drive. If you’re more of a team spirit, seeing your color’s average swerve score will drive you to keep up the pace so you’re not letting the other riders down—and seeing someone else in your pack take the leader spot is enough motivation to pedal harder. More the win-it-all type? Every sprint race will kick you into high-gear, as the screens in the front of the class update which team is in the lead (thus winning more points). And if you just like to improve on your own terms, we recommend saving your Swerve Scores, which are emailed immediately after class. Can you go further in 45 minutes than last time?

Photos courtesy of Swerve Fitness

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Triathlon Training: Meet Zoot Sports Athlete Jennifer Vogel

Written on August 14, 2014 at 10:36 am , by

After hitting a brick wall of boredom with my fitness routine a while back, I decided to dive head first into the world of triathlon. Two years and four races later, I’m still a tri-newbie, but I’m learning more with each finish line I cross and gaining ground on becoming a triple-threat athlete. I’ve spent countless hours swimming, biking and running, but even more time surfing the web for expert insight, tips and advice on acing every race. Luckily for me (and all triathletes-in-training), we’ve teamed up with Zoot Sports to tap their sponsored athlete, Jennifer Vogel, an Ironman World Championship qualifier, for straight-from-the-source info on triathlon training.

Vogel is not your typical Ironwoman. She didn’t do sports growing up; she didn’t even start running until she was 21. The self-described “procrastinator” signed up for her first marathon in an attempt to “pull her shit together.” A few years later when her husband decided to do a triathlon with a friend, she didn’t want to be left out. So she signed up, too. “I pretty much knew right away I wanted to do an Ironman,” she says. About a year later, she did just that. Now at 33, Vogel has over 12 years of experience in endurance sports and personal training. Thanks to her first sub-10 hour finish at Ironman Florida, she is headed straight to the IWC for the second time.

For the next ten weeks, as we countdown the days to Kona, this blog series will be your one-stop-shop for everything triathlon-related. So whether you’ve just signed up for your first sprint or you’re as experienced as Vogel, there’s something in it for everyone—from the physical aspects to the mental challenges. Because it’s not really about a medal, your time or even a PR, it’s about who you become while training across three different disciplines. As Jenn says, “The subtle changes that occur from the day in and day out relentless pursuit of a goal that nobody understands but you. That is where the magic lies”—if you dare to tri.

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Mo’Ne Davis: Making Home Runs for Girl Power in Little League

Written on August 13, 2014 at 2:35 pm , by

Mo’Ne Davis can throw a baseball 70 miles per hour. Davis is also a 13-year-old female Little Leaguer.

During a game against Newark National Little League on Sunday, Davis struck out six and allowed just three hits during a shutout, earning the Taney Dragons of Pennsylvania the Mid-Atlantic Region Championship title after an 8-0 win. The team will play in the Little League World Series that begins tomorrow (they’ll play Friday against South Nashville, 3 p.m. EST on ESPN), making them the first Philadelphia team to do so, and making Davis the first American girl to play in the tournament since 2004.

“More girls should join boys’ teams so it could be a tradition and it wouldn’t be so special,” she told The Philadelphia Inquirer. Well said, girlfriend. Davis is the only girl on her team, and she’s certainly setting the bar high for other females who aspire to play sports typically dominated by men. (Anyone else feeling some major Becky Hammon deja vu here? Maybe they should get together with the Harlem Globetrotters ladies and all pow-wow about how much they rock…)

Watch Davis strike out the guys below, and make sure to catch her during the tournament on ESPN.

Images and video courtesy of ESPN

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Meet the (Very Few) Ladies of the Harlem Globetrotters

Written on August 13, 2014 at 10:24 am , by

Written by Mary Kate Schulte, editorial intern

We can’t help but swoon over any female athlete who fearlessly plays tough with the guys—and actually keeps up with them. So when we heard that three women—Joyce “Sweet J” Ekworomadu, Tammy “T-Time” Brawner and Fatima “TNT” Maddox—dribble, drive and shoot with an otherwise all-male basketball team, we couldn’t wait to get their stay-fit tips.

Members of the Harlem Globetrotters, a basketball team that travels across the globe mixing the game with a little comedy (audience chats, jokes, crazy moves, etc.), these ladies are three of just 12 women to EVER play on the team, and it’s been around since 1927. While we’re more than ready to see that number grow, we gotta admit: what they’re doing is pretty baller.

What are some of your favorite workouts? 

Joyce: When I played for the Nigerian national team, we practiced in a really hot gym—it was like playing in a sauna. It was awful while I was doing it, but I was in the best shape of my life. Now I’ll try to go to a hot room to do an ab workout, or I’ll do cardio outside, because it’s a more challenging atmosphere. That way, playing on the air-conditioned court isn’t as rigorous as the way I trained.  I always tell people to train harder than what your actual game-day situation would be.

Tammy: I like to stay away from weight machines. I really like natural exercises using your body weight or free weights. Every year I switch up my workout method. Last year I tried CrossFit, and it was one of the most insane workouts ever! Technically you’re not supposed to stop between each exercise and I was like, “Where’s my break?” No breaks!  But I saw results almost immediately. This year, I’m boxing to work on my reaction time. I love it. It’s a full-body workout.

Fatima: I’ve always been big on core strength, but being on the road so much is hard. I’ve begun doing exercises I can do in a hotel room.  I really like planks and side planks. I find them effective and easy to do while on the road.

What kind of diet do you follow to keep up with the cals you’re burning?

Joyce: In college, we worked out so much that I didn’t need to watch what I ate. But I noticed my body was not as lean as I wanted it to be—I was gaining bad weight. When I turned to professional basketball, I definitely started watching my diet. Now I’ll start breakfast with oatmeal and wheat toast, lunch is usually a salad or a tuna sandwich, and for dinner I have fish. I really like tilapia and salmon. I also started eating smaller portions, and because I eat every few hours, my metabolism sped up. I try to make good choices.

Tammy: I try my hardest to follow a healthy diet, but I’m also a junk-food junkie! We often get out of games late at night and our food options are limited. If we have to go to a burger place, I’ll get a turkey burger instead of red meat. I also eat a lot of seafood, and I love pasta for some energy when I’m working out twice a day.

Fatima: I try and eat as many fruits as I can. It gives me natural energy. It’s tough to have a daily regimen because we move to a different city every day. Often we get out of games late and you have to work with what’s available.

What keeps you motivated?

Joyce: Being passionate about what I do. Sometimes you don’t feel well or you’re having a bad day, but when you walk out on the court and see the kids start smiling and cheering, you get this energy out of nowhere. We get to have fun out there and crack jokes while playing basketball.  Those are two of my biggest traits: basketball and fun. It’s me.

Tammy: For me, basketball has always been an outlet and an escape. It’s peace of mind. I grew up around a lot of negativity, but when I played basketball it was like I was in a different world. Nothing and no one else mattered except for the basketball and the defender in front of me.

Fatima: I’ve been in sports for so long it’s become a lifestyle for me. I don’t have to drag myself to workouts because it’s embedded in me. I have a certain standard of how I want to feel on the court. I don’t want to feel overly sore or like I’m dragging. So I try to keep at it.

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FitFIT Makes Workout Classes More Accessible Than Ever

Written on August 12, 2014 at 2:34 pm , by

Calling all workaholics, mothers with screaming babies, insomniacs and general money savers: your excuses for slacking in the fitness department are officially inexcusable. (See: “I don’t have time” (yes you do), “I’m too tired” (eat cleaner), or “The gym is too far” (you don’t need one).) We get it. By the time you get home from a long day of work and meetings and spilled coffee fiascos and computer crashes and happy hours and crazy commutes, your pillow practically begs you to face-plant.

But that’s why you’ll need to check out FitFIT, a cloud-based service that will provide live-streaming access to gym classes across the country. The service is currently in four different California gyms, but CEO Michael Blake says they hope to expand to 10 to 12 other big-city gyms within the next year, like New York City and Miami. So if there’s a Yogalates class you’ve been dying to try but you can’t find a sitter (or you can’t find a studio that offers it), unroll your yoga mat and “om” at home using your iPad. If your friends are over and you feel like going to that cardio class like you feel like getting an unneeded surgery, whip out your smartphone and do a fun dance class together.

The classes never repeat, so you won’t get bored, and if you aren’t anywhere with Internet access to stream a class, you can watch it later on demand. Oh, and it’s only $10 a month. Pretty. Much. Genius.

While the FitFIT team is currently in the beta phase (they’re raising money through a Kickstarter), they hope to officially launch it this December (perfect timing for those cold gym commutes we love to hate). They’re aiming to offer access to more than 20 different gym classes (from TRX to barre to body-sculpting), and plan to release an iOS and Android app a few months after launch.

Stay up to date on the team’s progress by visiting the Kickstarter and following them on Twitter, but don’t wait to end the failed-exercise excuses. You’re overdue to toss those by the wayside.

Images courtesy of FitFIT

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Marathon Musings: 5 Strength-Training Myths for Runners, Debunked

Written on August 7, 2014 at 3:22 pm , by

When you commit to running a marathon, it’s pretty obvious that you’ll be doing one thing a lot: running. But what about all the other facets of fitness? I knew going into this that I’d be regularly cross-training (spinning, Barry’s Bootcamp and yin-style yoga are my faves), tons of foam rolling and squeezing in strength training. But I wanted to make sure that injury wasn’t waiting for me down the road, so I hit up my coach—Clif Bar pro athlete Stephanie Howe—for advice once more. Turns out there are a lot of myths out there, and she was there to bust ‘em all.

Myth: You gotta give all or nothing.
I used to regularly freak out that I wasn’t using weights enough, and became paranoid that injury was right around the corner when my work schedule only allowed me to hit the weights once or twice a week. Full disclosure: I’m a worry wart. When you’re training for a big race (um, I’d like to say this marathon is big), 1-3 times per week is OK. As a pro athlete who trains for 50-milers and beyond, Howe determines her gym schedule based on where she’s at in the season. “In the off-season, I try to get there 2-3 times per week, but when I’m training, it’s usually only once.” Once you find what fits for you, though, stick to it, she warns. “Consistency is key. I go to a strength training for runners class every week, and meeting a friend keeps me motivated and accountable.” Anyone want to join me? Tweet me @FITNESSsamantha.

Myth: Running does the same thing to muscles that strength training does.
When you’re sore, you’re sore. Doesn’t matter how you got there, right? Wrong. Not only will strength training help balance your body and prevent injury, but it will also give your body a break from the wear and tear it gets from pounding so much pavement. “Running is a catabolic activity, meaning it breaks down the body for energy,” explains Howe. “Strength training is an anabolic activity that stimulates the muscles to build up.” So in order to reach marathon-running perfection, I need to have a balance of both.

Myth: Abs are the only focus during strength training.
Yes, your abs are really important, especially when training for such a long distance (it’s where a lot of your energy comes from). But it’s not the only area that should be ready for action. “If you just focus on the core, you miss many other large muscle groups, like your arms and legs,” says Howe. Fun fact: the leg alone has 13 muscles in it, and well, they’re used quite a lot in running. So giving equal attention to other body parts not only covers your bases, but it helps prevent muscle imbalances. When you do that, you prevent injury.

Myth: It’s OK to lift weights on back-to-back days.
There’s one big thing I’ve noticed in my training schedule week-to-week: I’m rarely doing a “hard” workout two days in a row. So if I hit up bootcamp on Monday, I can count on an easy run being on deck for Tuesday. What gives? “You need to give your body time to recover and build back up between sessions,” explains Howe. “All the changes happen when you are are resting. If you don’t give your body that time, then you are breaking it down even further.” And nobody wants that.

Myth: You should avoid heavy weights.
It may seem counterintuitive—why grab heavy dumbbells when I want to be light and speedy?—but lifting heavier is pretty important, says Howe. ”It sparks neuromuscular changes that will make your body more efficient,” explains Howe. “These changes happen independently, meaning the benefits are found without changes in muscle size.” Translation: lifting heavy weights for a lower amount of reps, paired with running, will not result in Schwarzenegger arms, but rather a stronger bod and faster finish times. Noted.

And just for good measure, I wanted to know: what are the best strengthening exercises for runners? Howe recommends a lot of basics that focus on your foundation muscles (abs, back, glutes, lats, traps), arms and legs. “I grab heavy weights and regularly do bench presses, lat pull downs, squats and lunges,” she says. Make sure to focus on any imbalances, too. “I have weak hips, so I try to include a hip exercise each time I lift. And always take time to stretch.” Girl just won Western States (that’s 100 miles), so her plan must be a solid one.

Photo by James Farrell

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