Category Archives: Gear

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Ironman 70.3 Superfrog Training, Gear and Nutrition

Today is my first half Ironman in over 10 years. Even though my training has been more about improving my health than my fitness, I’m excited to have built back up to long course triathlon and I’m looking forward to many more to come. The following is an overview of my training, gear, and race nutrition plan.

Training:

I’ve been exclusively following the Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) Method of training in an effort to build my aerobic system while minimizing stress on my body so I can simultaneously improve my health. Normally I would “build” up to my primary race with periods of high intensity training. However, I decided to scratch that this year to prioritize health over fitness. Accordingly, all my workouts are done with a focus on keeping my heart rate below MAF (180 minus my age). After my marathon training, I have been balancing my triathlon training more equally between biking and running with a little swimming thrown into the mix. A good week of training for me would look like:

  • 2 x Fasted Morning Run Sessions of 5-7 miles
  • 2 x Fasted Morning Bike Sessions on the trainer of 40-60min
  • 1 x Long run session of 10-14 miles
  • 1 x Long bike session of 40-60 miles (sometimes followed with a 4-8 mile run)
  • 2-3 x swim session of 20-30 minutes

My swim sessions were mostly in the evenings after work when I was feeling good and had the time. Since I am a former competitive high school swimmer, I’m not as concerned about my ability to complete the 1.2 mile distance so my swim sessions were more about maintaining my form and “feel” for the water. Swimming is like a golf swing – you need to do it consistently. Occasionally I would do a longer ocean swim with the Triathlon Club of San Diego to get more experience with open water ocean swimming.

In addition to the above, I also try to stay active when I’m in the office.

Gear:

Honestly, sometimes I’m a little embarrassed about my lack of gear know
ledge. I am definitely not a gear-head triathlete that knows about the latest tech. My philosophy is I’m going to make far more performance gains by focusing time/money on my diet, health and fitness rather than the latest tech. Therefore, my gear bag is pretty basic:

gear

General

Transition Bag – Race morning usually requires a little walk/bike to get to the transition area so an easy way to carry everything in the wee hours of the morning is essential. Transition bags are designed to hold wetsuits, multiple pairs of shoes, bike helmets, bike pumps, etc. Mine is a basic version from TYR. I’ll pack it up a day or two before to minimize stress on race morning. I just need to grab my bag and go.

Tri Short/Top – Clothes that can go from start to finish in a triathlon are essential and comfort is critical for long course races. I’m currently a fan of 2XU. It dries quickly and the shorts have the right padding for the bike without feeling like a diaper on the run.

Sunglasses – I had enough eye problems as a kid that I don’t want to muck with contacts and putting stuff in my eye. Therefore, I need prescription sunglasses that allow for a fairly strong prescription. Rudy Project sunglasses have prescription inserts that do just that. The outer, non-prescription lens on the pair I have changes based on the brightness so I can also use them like straight-up glasses in low light.

Swim

Wetsuit – Besides making an athlete faster, warmer and safer, a wetsuit isn’t required for a triathlon. I have a TYR Hurricane Cat 1 that I have come to love (after learning how to get it on correctly over this lanky 6’5″ frame). For a full sleeve wetsuit it provides ample shoulder mobility so my swim stroke isn’t constricted.

Goggles – Because I don’t wear contacts and I need to see the buoys on the swim course, I use a pair a prescription goggles. This is a great article on prescription goggles. I use AquaSphere Eagles that have interchangeable lenses.

Bike

Freshly Tuned Bike – My 2004 Felt S25 will always have a special place in my heart. This bikeis the bike I rode in my 2005 Coeur d’Alene Ironman. I don’t think I will ever be able to part with this bike even when I eventually replace it. Before this race I put on a new pair
of tires because my other ones were getting thin and I’ve been plagued by fat tires recently. I also added a rear mount dual water bottle holder for extra hydration for the SoCal heat.

Bike Shoes – I wear Bontrager Hilos that are tri-specific bike shoes. Easy to put on with a single strap and mesh venting for quick drying.

Helmet – Nothing special here…just a standard Bell road biking helmet. Once I start getting faster then I will consider upgrading to an aero helmet.

Flat Kit – I really hope I don’t need this but I’ve got an extra tube, CO2 inflator, two CO2 cartridges and tire irons just in case.

Run

Running Shoes – I’m a believer in minimalist footwear and allowing the foot to work as designed without interfering with too much support or cushion. I love Skora shoes and I’m currently using their Tempo model. I’ve also added some elastic laces so they are easy to slip on while still fitting snuggly.

Race Belt – The fastest way to put on a race number while running out of T2.

Other Misc. Items

  • Swim cap
  • Timing chip
  • Socks – TBD…13.1 miles is a little too far to go with no socks
  • Hat – for sun protection on the run
  • Body Glide
  • Bike pump and tools
  • Small towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Headphones (pre-race)
  • USAT Membership Card

Nutrition:

I’ve been training my body to more efficiently use stored body fat for fuel so I don’t need to rely on sugary gels and exogenous calories. However, I’m still going to need some amount of nutrition to maintain performance but I prefer to use healthier alternatives than what is typically offered on the course. I’m planning to take in all my solid foods on the bike because digesting a large calorie intake on the run is usually a challenge.nutrition

  • Two water bottles with a mix of coconut water and regular water.
  • One small water bottle with a chia seed slurry made with coconut water, a little honey and sea salt
  • 3 packets of Vespa – These are only 18 calories a piece but they have a peptide that helps the body use fat for fuel. These are like magic. I’ll take one about 30 minutes before the swim start and then another one every two to three hours.
  • 2-3 blueberry Phive Bars – This is a whole foods bar that is made locally with a mixture of fruit and nuts.

The weather forecast is for sun with a temperature close to 90. Gotta love SoCal! Its going to be a hot one! You can watch a live stream of the finish line and track me HERE. I’m bib 465. I’m so stoked for this race!

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San Diego Marathon Training, Gear, and Race Nutrition

This Sunday is the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon and the first marathon I’ve ran since 2005. Even though my training hasn’t been on point with a few disaster weeks thrown into the mix, I’m excited! This is my first “A” race of the year and my first endurance performance test in a long time. The following is an overview of my training, gear, and race nutrition plan:

Training:

I’ve been following the Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) Method training philosophy.  I gravitated towards the MAF Method because it is a holistic approach in which performance, health, and lifestyle are all intertwined. Fitness and health are NOT the same thing. Ryan Hall is a recent example of an elite endurance runner that announced a surprising early retirement this year due to health concerns. I have no interest in sacrificing health for athletic performance.

The basic theory behind MAF training is most workouts should be done at, or below, the maximum aerobic heart rate, which is estimated to be 180 minus your age (in my case that is 147). As soon as my heart rate exceeds my aerobic max, I need to slow down/walk until it falls back below. With training, the body should get faster and more efficient at an aerobic heart rate. There are athletes that can run 6-ish min miles at a comfortable aerobic heart rate.

The magic of improving the aerobic system is that the body primarily burns fat for energy in an aerobic state. Fat burning is metabolically healthier and provides many other health benefits (more on that another time) than relying on glucose (i.e., carbs and sugar). This also means I don’t need to ingest as many carbs in a race to maintain performance. Besides…nobody really likes gels anyway.

The biggest drawbacks to the MAF method is that it requires patience and is very individualistic. You won’t be able to find a 16 week MAF training plan template online. Additionally, lifestyle factors (e.g., stress and diet) can inhibit training improvements. Therefore, if you aren’t seeing improvements in your pace at maximum aerobic heart rate, it may be caused by other health factors outside of training. There are a lot of nuances with this approach (e.g., when is OK to exceed maximum aerobic heart rate) and is the main reason why I’ve been consulting with Coach Tawnee (she is a MAF Method expert). So…if you are looking for quick performance results or just want a standard 16 week training plan..this method won’t be for you. However, if you want to be a lifelong athlete with good health…this approach is the way to go!

My typical PLANNED weekly training schedule over the last 6-8 weeks is below. Now…PLANNED is much different than ACTUAL. With our home renovation, move and work schedule…a perfect week of training was rare:

Run frequency of 4-5x per week:

  • 2 x 45-75 minutes runs at MAF heart rate in a fasted state (no eating beforehand)
  • 1 x intense run session with intervals ranging from 20 seconds to ½ mile or a moderate tempo session
  • 1 x long run at MAF heart rate with a goal of three 20 milers before the marathon. These can include fast finishes and should be used to practice race nutrition

Additionally, for some cross training, recovery, and to ease into triathlon training, 2-3 bike sessions and a few weekly swim sessions should be thrown into the mix as well. Mobility work should also continue to be a daily practice.

Check out my last training post if you want to see my build-up to the above.

Gear:

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Shoes: I’m a believer in minimalist footwear and allowing the foot to work as designed without interfering with too much support or cushion. I love Skora shoes and I’m currently using their Tempo model.

Socks: Nearly as important as shoes for long distance running in my mind. For the marathon and long runs I wear Wrightsocks. I use the Running II model which are double layered and are basically blister proof. They aren’t ideal on hot days because of the thickness but otherwise they are amazing.

Shirt & Shorts: I’m not too particular about either. I’m fine with a basic light weight tech t-shirt that wicks and I prefer running shorts that have a built in lining. I seem to mostly have C9 and Lululemon apparel though.

Sunglasses: I had enough eye problems as a kid that I don’t want to muck with contacts and putting stuff in my eye. Therefore, I need prescription sunglasses that allow for a fairly strong prescription. Rudy Project sunglasses have prescription inserts that do just that. The outer, non-prescription lens on the pair I have changes based on the brightness so I can also use them like straight-up glasses in low light.

Water Bottle: I like to carry some of my own hydration and I prefer a handheld water bottle to a belt. Running with a belt that is bouncing (no matter how well it fits) drives me crazy. I use this 16oz model from Amphipod. It is really comfortable, doesn’t leak, and has a pocket to carry additional nutrition (or cellphone, keys, ID, etc.) Speaking of nutrition….

Race Nutrition:

I try to avoid the franken-sugary gels and sports drinks that are on the course. Since I’ve been training my body to run more efficiently on stored body fat, I’m not planning to take in a ton of exogenous calories.

Sports Drink: I’m going to use a homemade sports drink consisting of coconut water, chia seeds, honey, and some sea salt. I’ll use about 1 to 1.5 Tbsp of chia seeds per 16oz of water and about a 3:1 ratio of chia seeds to honey. The chia seeds turn into little gummy balls and it looks gross….but is actually delicious!

Gel Alternative: Instead of gels, I’ll take in one pouch of Vespa immediately before the race and then one per hour during the race. Vespa has a peptide that supposedly helps the body use fat for fuel. Sounds a bit hokey and woo-woo but I actually noticed a difference on my training runs. Since each pouch is only 18 calories, the boost definitely wasn’t coming from the calories.

The weather forecast for Sunday is looking perfect so it should be a good time! If anyone has any interest in tracking me you can do so HERE. Wish me luck!