Written on August 14, 2014 at 10:36 am , by Molly Ritterbeck
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.
More from FITNESS:
Written on November 8, 2013 at 4:59 pm , by Samantha Shelton
This week’s fit links from around the web:
- You pay a lot of money for your personal trainer, but are they worth it? Here’s 10 signs you should ditch ‘em for good. -Daily Burn
- So you want to do an Ironman? This is your race-day breakdown of what to expect (with an extra dose of inspiration). -Meals and Miles
- Research shows that electro-pop music makes you move the fastest. Pump up your pace with this heart-throbbing playlist. -Songza
- This woman has run 100 marathons, so we take her word from it when she says these are the products for getting through 26.2 miles. -50 by 25
- Bucket list items are all the rage today. Make sure these six are on yours. -Thought Catalog
Written on November 1, 2013 at 1:56 pm , by Lauren Cardarelli
Granola-topped yogurt or smoothie? Power bar or peanut butter on toast? Coffee or juice? Why is it that, come race day, we always question fueling? Lucky for those running in this weekend’s New York City Marathon (and anyone else looking to tackle a big race anytime soon), we got the 26.2 diet dirt from sports nutrition expert Ben Greenfield. The coach, ex-bodybuilder and Ironman triathlete is the go-to pro on prepping for peak performance. Here are Ben’s top five tips on eating for the run and recovery. Hint: Carb-loading isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
Stick to what you know. OK, you’ve heard this before, but according to Ben, many athletes still break down mentally and try something out of the ordinary the week—or even day—of the race. Not a good idea. “Do exactly in the race as you have practiced in training,” he says. “Remember to train with what you’re going to use in the race about four to six times before the race. That’s what it’s going to take to train your gut to get used to the fuels you plan on using.”
Carbs: A yes…sort of. “If athletes limit carbohydrates, then taking in extra during race week become far less important,” says Greenfield. Should you decide to nosh on a bagel or big bowl of pasta, two to three days prior to the race will do the trick. Ben’s easy-to-digest suggestions: sweet potatoes, taro and white rice. (Phew, I guess we can still use the excuse that we’re carb-loading…)
Rule of yum. When it comes to pre-run drinks, err on the side of caution. “Juice is simply empty calories that actually has potential to cause blood sugar spikes,” explains Greenfield. But what about java? Stick to just one cup, so long as you have sipped on it prior to a long run in the past. No one wants an unplanned porta potty pit stop.
To GU or not to GU? That is always the halfway point question, and according to Greenfield, energy chews/replenishers may not be as necessary as you think. “The more sodium you take in, the more your kidneys are going to push out,” he says. Opt for electrolyte capsules such as Athlytes, Endurolytes or Salt Stick instead of the sugar-laden stuff. Effervescent tablets like Nuun or GU Brew are also good options.
Recover like a champ. The old school ways of thinking—foam rolling, ice bath, massage, post-workout shakes—are instilled in our brain for a reason. They work! In addition, Greenfield suggests a few options that may not have crossed your mind. “I’ve found the occasional acupuncture session to be an incredibly useful method for everything from nagging aches and paints to full-blown adrenal fatigue,” he admits. Another tactic to consider? Deload (also known as an easy “recovery week”) every four to eight weeks, according to Greenfield. Hey, it can actually improve your fitness levels, especially since it takes a minimum of 72 hours to recover from a tough run.
Still concerned about what to eat the morning of your race? Greenfield suggests blending (it’s easier on your digestive system!) an energizing kale smoothie with coconut water or coconut milk. “Blending or juicing helps to pre-digest the food so your body doesn’t have to work as hard during digestion,” he says. This frees up precious energy for you to devote to your stride! For efforts greater than three hours in duration, add 20-30 grams of protein powder to the mix (Ben’s fave is Mt. Capra’s DEEP 30 protein). Ben also swears by ATP energy sources like X2Performance to naturally increase energy, enhance endurance and improve recovery. Best of luck this weekend, runners! You’re going to kick major asphalt.
Now tell us: How do you fuel up for a big race?
Written on November 1, 2013 at 10:35 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern
Earlier this month, world-class triathlete Paula Newby-Fraser traveled to Kona, Hawaii like so many times before to experience the Ironman World Championship. But this time the Hall of Famer enjoyed the race from the sidelines, supporting all of the athletes who dream of one day accomplishing as much as she has over the course of her career.
The Queen of Kona was an athlete from birth, competing on swimming teams in South Africa until she was 15 years old, but she didn’t fall in love with fitness until after college. With a little positive peer pressure, she began running and going to the gym with friends in lieu of extended happy hours. “I started with running a 5K, then a 10K and just generally working out, enjoying the benefits of being back in shape and being healthy,” Paula tells us.
One thing led to another, and when a pal learned of Paula’s swimming background, a triathlon became the new goal. The rest is history. She won a spot in the 1985 Hawaii Ironman, despite the fact that her newfound passion was her most challenging feat yet. “I had never ridden 112 miles and I had never run a marathon, so when I went to go and do that event, I pretty much did everything wrong,” she says. “But I knew that once I got through it, it opened the door and the possibility of pursuing it on a multiple-time basis.”
Almost 30 years later, Paula has won 24 Ironman Triathlon races—eight of which were Ironman Triathlon World Championships. She holds the Ironman world record of 8:50:24, and along with the “Greatest Triathlete in History” title from Triathlete Magazine in 1999. Her mental and physical connection to the sport kept her focused on the finish line every time she stepped up to the racing line. “I would say to myself, ‘There’s nothing I haven’t faced in training. I’ve had days where I felt brilliant, I’ve had days where I felt absolutely awful, I’ve had very average days,” she explains. “I’ve been out there when it’s cold, when it’s raining, when it’s windy, when it’s hot, when I’ve had mechanical problems and yet somehow you make it through all those workouts and just deal with what the day gives you. There’s nothing that I can’t handle.”
Outside of race training, Paula loves taking her mountain bike to the trails near her home in San Diego, California. “It’s so incredibly peaceful and interactive because you’re off road and on the trails,” she says. “Off-road running is also something that I absolutely love. Being able to go up a mountain is always something I think is special.” She even looks for good trails when vacationing—Utah and Colorado are two of her frequented spots.
What’s next after the current Ironman season comes to an end? Paula has a few more race ideas up her sleeve. “Running an ultra-marathon is definitely on my list of things I would love to do. There are also some ultra-mountain biking events that I just feel like I have to get to do once or twice before too many more years go by.” She literally never stops, which explains why this ambitious gal lives by one word: consistency. “Find a way to integrate consistency in no matter what you choose. Being able to make it a part of you, of your life, of your grounding routine will make something rewarding, will make you want to do it, and give you the benefits,” she says. “If you can do something and make it a part of who you are, it just throws open the possibilities.”
More from FITNESS:
- Ready, Set, Goal: Win-It Strategies from Top Athletes
- Unleash Your Inner Winner
- Conquering a Triathlon, Relay-Style
Written on August 8, 2013 at 2:13 pm , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Chloe Metzger, editorial intern
The FITNESS office has come down with a case of race-fever. It seems like every staffer and her brother/mother/significant other has either signed up for one and is in training, or they just kicked major asphalt. Granted, we are a little passionate over here—we recently crossed the happiest 5K and the New York City triathlon off our lists—but with fun races and Ironman events happening every weekend around the globe, how could you not get bitten by the fitness bug?
Of course, being excited about racing doesn’t necessarily make us seasoned experts. So we chatted with two of the most experienced triathlon pros, Jessica Jacobs, three-time Ironman winner, and Linsey Corbin, third-place winner at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships and Kamut International spokesperson, and nabbed their top tips to help you train harder, race smarter and reach your ultimate goal. Away we go!
When training for the race…
Find a support group. “Having a group of people to train with is great because it promotes both healthy and social aspects,” says Corbin. “On days when you’re not that motivated, you have people who are holding you accountable, while still giving you a fun, social outlet.” (No friends nearby to form a group? Don’t sweat it! You can find a local running club at Running in the USA.)
Set small goals. “Sometimes your ultimate, long-term goal can be pretty daunting, especially if it’s to run a marathon or complete the Ironman,” says Corbin. “Having lots of small goals that act as stepping stones will help you stay motivated while you reach that major milestone.” For a step-by-step guide to get you started, follow one of our 5K, 10K, or half-marathon training schedules. Want to step it up to three sports? Check out our tri guide.
Have an inspiration. “When I don’t feel like training, I tell myself, ‘I don’t have to do this, I get to do this,’” says Jacobs, a former U.S. Army officer. “I see military veterans who have wounds and scars that prevent them from being able to do what they would otherwise be capable of doing. On my low motivation days, I suck it up and tell myself to do it for those people. They’re the ones inspiring me; it’s my honor to get to do what so many of them have fought for.”
Be consistent. Consistency is key to shaving big time off your triathlon, according to Corbin, who recently ran a half marathon in only 1:20:16. “Rather than be a superhero and try to fit in just one amazing workout of the week, you’re better off having really consistent training every day of the week, regardless of intensity level,” says Corbin. “By setting up that week-to-week foundation, you can build up to consistent month-to-month training. When your training has a purpose, you’ll start to see big fitness gains.”
Written on July 19, 2012 at 3:54 pm , by Samantha Shelton
If you’re looking for someone who lays everything out on the line, regardless of what other people are going to think of her, then you need to immediately click over to One Twenty Five. Liz, the writer behind this weight-loss blog, shares her uncensored thoughts, which is exactly what we love about her. Now if we could just pack up and visit her in Melbourne, life would be pretty swell, don’t you think?
On my fit life list: Drum roll please…an Ironman. I know it sounds ridiculous to say as, um, I’ve never biked more than a 5K or swam more than one kilometer. But (and this is a big but), I once dreamed of doing a full marathon when I was over 200 pounds and the mere thought of a 5K made my heart skip a beat. And guess what? I ran that full marathon. So I know it’s possible to dream big and accomplish something once deemed impossible.
I’m happiest when I’m: doing CrossFit or running. Wait, what? Did you really believe me? Let’s clarify that: I’m happiest when I just finished a CrossFit session or a run. The moment I stop my watch after a run I didn’t want to do, or the moment I fall to the ground to get my breath back after a CrossFit WOD (workout of the day), is always my favorite. They’re my happy, self high-five moments. It’s always a battle to get out there, but always so worth it when I’m done.
Most embarrassing song I’ll admit I work out to is: Are you ready for this? I don’t actually listen to music when I run. Nope, I listen to super-duper-steamy-trashy romance novels. I found out when I get into peak training for a marathon, I can’t download music quick enough, so instead I listen to, “she felt his burning eyes…” They’re entertaining, cheap on iTunes and so silly that it’s easy to distract myself from the pain of a long run.
My “I Did It” moment: Since I decided not to be a couch potato and actually knock off some of my “bucket list” tasks, I have to admit I’ve managed to accomplish some pretty awesome things. Three full marathons, a month-long hike to Mt. Everest’s Base Camp, and a move to Melbourne, Australia, to name a few. But my favorite “I Did It moment” was, without a doubt, when I was running the last 50 meters of the Chicago Marathon. Going from obese to running a full marathon within a year is very emotional, and seeing that finish line was just incredibly overwhelming.
My motivation comes from: Knowing I am capable of more than I’ve done. Which yeah, I know sounds really corny, but I’ve decided I am no better or worse than anyone in this world, so why can’t I do all the awesome things out there? Exactly – I can.
Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email us at email@example.com.
Written on October 27, 2011 at 8:56 am , by Jenna Autuori
A few days after being a top finisher at the Ironman in Kona, Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae sat down with us to talk strategy, relationships and the toughest competition on the course.
Congratulations on an awesome race this year! How does it feel to be among the top three fittest women in the world? [In my opinion! But that's the top three Ironman female finishers!]
Not quite as good as last year when I won. Haha! It feels great to be back up on the podium in the best triathlon race in the world (in my opinion).
It was a close race this year at Kona between you and first place finisher, Chrissie Wellington. You both clearly have a lot of respect for each other as from what I saw at the finish line. Besides the competition, why do you like racing with her?
I think it was a great women’s race this year. There were some women out there riding ridiculous times and I think Chrissie and I were just lucky they slowed down a little when it came to the run. I love going out there and racing the best women in the world and Chrissie certainly is the best right now. When you have women pushing the boundaries like Chrissie has done you open up a whole world of possibility. All of a sudden, what once seemed impossible is now what everyone is pushing to achieve. I don’t think we would be racing as fast as we are now if we all weren’t chasing this crazy Brit.
Do you have your eyes on the prize again for Kona 2012?
And I will absolutely be chasing the big prize again in Kona 2012.
How did you get involved with the sport of triathlon?
I was doing some strength and conditioning for the upcoming basketball season and ended up training with the local triathlon group. It didn’t take them long to convince me to give triathlon a go. I was pretty much hooked right from my first race, after being involved with team sports my whole life I just really loved the individual aspect of the sport.
Why are you excited about this sport?
As I said earlier, I love the individual aspect of this sport. If you want to improve then it’s up to you to do the work to make those improvements. You do need to have a good support crew, but at the end of the day it’s you that has to go out there and get the job done. I also love that it’s three sports in one, you can never really contain the sport—there is always something that you need to work on and I think that keeps you motivated and excited for the next challenge.
If you hadn’t gone pro, what reasons do you have for competing? More and more everyday women are getting involved with this sport, so why do you think that is? Read more
Written on October 26, 2011 at 3:36 pm , by Jenna Autuori
If you’ve ever done a triathlon, then you can appreciate something as powerful as an Ironman—the ultimate competition of some of the world’s fittest people. What I consider fit may be different than what others consider fit, but there’s no denying that this 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26. 2-mile run (yes, a marathon) is a beast of a competition and one of the most physically and mentally demanding challenges you will experience. Training for a race like this takes much experience, determination and commitment, not to mention willpower, to get through those many miles and long hours of constantly pushing yourself.
Having competed in a couple Olympic-distance triathlons (that’s a mile swim, 25-mile bike and 6.2-mile run), I can tell you that training is intense: Long hours spent before work, after work and on weekends getting in the practice in the pool, on your bike and on the road. Sometimes, doing all three in one day. But if you’ve ever done one of these competitions, or have thought about it, then you also know how seriously fun they can be. Combining three sports in one breaks up the monotony of a regular marathon or a long bike ride. Plus, if you’re semi-”Type A” or uber competitive like me, then you might enjoy the challenge, and accomplishment, of completing each leg of the race and checking it off your list as you rush to the next challenge—swim, bike, run. To be able to train for an Ironman takes an understanding of how this sport works, including learning the proper nutrition and how to stay fueled throughout the entire race.
When I got the most amazing opportunity to watch the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii on October 8th, I literally jumped for joy! Instantly upon arriving in Kona, I developed a much bigger appreciation for what these athletes accomplished just by being there.
Much to my surprise, it wasn’t just the elite athletes, who blew my away—it was the oldest competitor, an 81-year-old man from Oregon, and the 60-something-year-old breast cancer survivor, and Scott Rigsby, the man with two prosthetic legs who crossed that finish line before the 17-hour time limit that brought tears to my eyes. To be fit and healthy is something that anybody can practice and aim for, no matter the obstacles pitted against you—and these athletes are proof of that. Just like the three amazing people mentioned above, everybody racing has a story worth telling.
Written on August 25, 2011 at 3:09 pm , by Samantha Shelton
Affectionately known as “Sweaty Emily,” the blogger behind Sweat Once A Day knows how to dominate—whether it’s in races, food consumption or shower-avoidance is irrelevant. Emily most recently triumphed at Lake Placid, where she completed her first Ironman in under 14 hours despite facing multiple stomach-wrenching (literally) obstacles. Read on to find out how this athlete continues to cross items off her bucket list with a sweaty smile.
My “I Did It” moment: Crossing the finish line at Ironman Lake Placid. I signed up for the race more than a year beforehand, mere seconds after finishing my first half Ironman. For some insane reason, I thought trying to double the distance that had just kicked my butt was a great idea. I spent the next 12 months getting ready to conquer the toughest athletic feat I’d ever attempted by enduring the hardest, and most gratifying, training cycle of my life. On the actual race day, I was elated to finally be racing, but faced obstacle after obstacle on the course. I’ve never been more proud of myself than when I fist pumped my way across that finish line after 140.6 miles of racing. In the battle of Emily vs. Finish Line Tears, I stood no chance against a waterfall of happy crying as soon as I heard the announcer yell, “Emily Halnon, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”
On my fit life list: My next big goal is to run a sub 3:20 marathon. I have a hot date in Long Beach, California this October where I plan to make it happen. Long term, I’m on a mission to run a marathon in all 50 states and then start attacking the continents. And even longer term, I want to stay healthy enough so I’m still racing and loving it when I’m 93.
My biggest indulgence: My favorite foods to find at a finish line are chocolate donut holes and chocolate milk. And if you read my blog for more than a hot second, you’ll quickly discover my deep and meaningful love for cupcakes.
My fitness mantra: “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift,” said by track legend, and my personal idol, Steve Prefontaine. I truly believe that anyone is capable of achieving any goal as long as they commit to working for it. Anytime someone tells me they can’t run a marathon or finish a triathlon, I tell them all the reasons they can. My secret to succeeding at my athletic goals and endeavors is to attack them with guts, heart and tenacity.
Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.