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So you wanna do a triathlon? Choosing your first race

We live in a world where we always want more. Some people want bigger houses, better vehicles, and a quicker climb up the corporate ladder.

What does that mean for an athlete? We want to be faster, we want to go further, and we want to push harder.

You hear about people who start running and their first race is a marathon. Professional women in Kona (Ironman World Championships) are getting closer in time to men than ever before.

For me in triathlon? My husband and I signed up for a half Ironman and then full Ironman a few months later. No try a tri, sprint or Olympic distance for us. Did it work out? Yes; however we’d been endurance runners for years.

My advice? Sign up for a race you think you will be successful in. If you really want to embrace and love multisport, set yourself up for a positive experience.

  • Get your family on board. Their support is crucial if you want to make it work.

    My then nine-month-old niece aptly watching Kelly and I in Arizona for our first Ironman!

    My then nine-month-old niece focussed while watching Kelly and me in Arizona for our first Ironman!

  • Consider training time mixed with family/work/life commitments. Don’t sign up for an iron distance if you have a summer full of weddings, or a crazy schedule. Race a shorter distance and go longer when you have more time.
  • Think about your history: race distance, training, injury, etc. If you’ve predominately raced 5 or 10km races, it’s probably best to start in sprint or Olympic distance race.
  • Talk to a coach or friends who tri. They’ve experienced multisport training and can offer advice to ensure your success.
  • Determine your strengths and figure out what you’d be best suited towards. If you are scared stiff of swimming, perhaps you could start with a duathlon and take swimming lessons to get more comfortable.

Road triathlon
There are a few set triathlon distances and then various other races have their own swim/bike/run distances (like Escape from Alcatraz).

Sprint: swim 750m / bike 20km / run 5km
Olympic: swim 1500m / bike 40km / run 10km
Half iron/long course: swim 1.2 miles (1.9km) / bike 56 miles (90 km) / run 13.1 miles (21.1km)
Iron distance: swim 2.4 miles (3.8km) / bike 112 miles (180km) / run 26.2 miles (42.2km)

JumpFinish

Other options
There are plenty of multisport options to choose from in addition to road triathlons:

  • If you prefer trails to road, choose an XTERRA off-road triathlon.
  • If you don’t want to swim, sign up for a duathlon that consists of run bike run.
  • Don’t want to run or injured? Race an aquabike, which is a swim then bike race.
  • An aquathlon is typically run swim run, so you don’t have to bike if that’s a hurdle.

Go watch a triathlon and I’m sure you’ll be amazed and inspired by some of the people you see crossing that finish line.

What was your first race distance (running or tri)?

Read part 1 (five things I wish I knew before I started triathlon) and part 2 (getting started) of the tri series, and let me know if you have any other questions! I’m no expert, but I love helping people reach new finish lines!

Weekend camping in Radium

We spent the past two weekends camping, hiking, and just enjoying the mountains. It certainly is hard to come home when you’re surrounded by this beauty!

SinclairCreek

We’ve been going to Radium Hot Springs, a small village on the edge of Kootenay National Park in the Rocky Mountains in BC. The weather is typically a lot warmer there than our beloved Jasper, so it has been nice to hike in shorts!

Two other things stand out: the varied flora and fauna, and all the bighorn sheep! I think they’re Radium’s unofficial mascot, and they can be seen nearly everywhere from the trails to walking the streets.

sheep_Radium

On the first weekend, we went on two very different hikes. One was a typical mountain hike that started at Sinclair Creek and went up and up! We ended at the hot springs but had Harold with us so didn’t go for a dip…this time!

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The second day we did a short hike around the hoodoos near Fairmont. I was terrified of going close to the edge, but Kelly had no fear!

hoodoos

This past weekend we went on two more gorgeous hikes. On Saturday we went to Mount Swansea, which is a downhill biker’s dream! They also have hiking trails. We ended up taking the long way up, but I’m glad we did as it was longer (got my sweat going) and had various lookouts!

SwanseaHike

We saw a bunch of hang/paragliders, and at the top we saw the launch pad. My stomach felt weak watching them floating in the air!

SwanseaView

The next day Kelly went for a trail run in the morning; yup, my heart was broken! Then we went on a walk close to town along the creek. Harold was pretty tired, so it was nice to walk mostly flat ground. And my quads were trashed from coming back down the mountain!

SinclairFamily

The bears are out in full force. On our drive on Friday we saw a bear rubbing his scent on a tree, and one crossed the road right in front of us! They had a lot of hikes temporarily closed while the bears are predominately in the valley bottoms.

I can’t wait to get back out to the mountains and explore more of the area! I know Harold’s excited, too!

HaroldWildflowers

Are you afraid of heights?

KT Tape review & giveaway

At this time last year I was desperate for healthy knees. I had two big races on the horizon and didn’t want injury to get in the way.

I took the usual routes and lowered my mileage, went to physio, did my prescribed exercises, and rolled my legs like crazy. Everything helped a little, but nothing helped a lot.

If you read my blog last year of followed my Instagram (thechangeofpace), you would also notice the bright tape I wore for all my races and any long rides or runs.

IMCdARun27

IM Coeur d’Alene 2013

Kelly, dealing my frustration, picked up a few rolls of KT tape for me to try. I was instantly a fan.

KT tape is an elastic sports and fitness tape designed for muscle, ligament and tendon pain relief and support. It creates neuromuscular feedback that inhibits or facilitates stronger firing of muscles and tendons (from their website).

In simple language, it provided my knees and quads the additional support they required and took pressure off my kneecaps.

The good

It really does help. I fell in love with the tape instantly. Sometimes I doubted its ability and thought it might be placebo effect. But each time I tried to go long without it, my knees hurt. Each time I used it, I felt great.

You can wear KT tape for virtually any activity. I wore KT tape to bike, run, and even swim. I wore it for a half iron distance triathlon and two Ironmans. The tape stayed on throughout the full 12+ hours!

IM Canada Whistler 2013

IM Canada Whistler 2013

It’s user-friendly. The KT tape website has instructional videos for nearly every body part. (Side note- don’t know why I haven’t thought of it before…I’m going to try it on my hamstring!)

It also comes in handy strips and easily tears for application. You can put it on anywhere. (I actually put extra KT tape in my transition bags in case I’d need to reapply during my races, as I knew it would be easy to do.)

Comfort. I wore the tape literally hundreds of times over the summer. It never irritated me, and most of the time I forgot I was even wearing it. KT tape flexes with your movements.

Pops of colour. Call it superficial, but I love the colour selection of KT tape. It’s bright and reflective. I made it my mission to match my KT tape to my outfits!

AbbySummer4

The bad

Tan lines. Depending on where you need the tape, it can make for bad tan lines!

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Cost. KT tape can be expensive if you’re using it often and for multiple body parts. But, it is on par with other tapes out there. To me, you can’t put a price on running/biking/insert your activity here pain free!

Adhesion. The website says you can wear it for up to five days but I found I couldn’t wear it for more than two. With the amount of sweat and water I poured into the strips though, I couldn’t have asked for more.

Truthfully, there aren’t really any negatives to KT tape. I am convinced I wouldn’t have made it to the start line of both races, nonetheless achieved a personal best in one.

Since I started using it, I’ve recommended it to numerous people! If you have a niggle that’s causing you problems, or if you’re trying to recover from an injury and still train, KT tape may be the answer.

Giveaway time

One reader will receive a roll of KT tape to test out! Here’s what you can do to win…

USE THE RAFFLECOPTER LINK to enter! : http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/85a9af0/

Mandatory: Visit the KT tape website and leave me a comment about what colour you’d like or what body part you’d use it on.

Optional extra entries:

The giveaway ends Sunday, April 27 at midnight. Open to residents of the US and Canada.

*KT Tape offered to send me a roll to try. Since I know I love the product, they offered to give one to a reader! I wasn’t compensated for the review; I just truly believe in the product.

My first personal training conference

I attended my first personal training conference last weekend!

canfitpro hosted the conference, which is the organization I got my certification through.

They hold events in all of Canada’s major cities, with the biggest event in Toronto each summer. Apparently Toronto’s conference is one of the largest in the world for fitness professionals with over 10,000 delegates and 400 sessions with speakers like Jillian Michaels.

I was quite impressed with Edmonton’s and learned so much in one day. I went to four amazing sessions. Despite there being four sessions at each time, I went to the same speaker three times in a row. I wish I could have attended many more sessions!

I wanted to share a bit about each session so put a blurb of what they were about under the title then listed the three top tips or lessons learned. I’ve listed the sessions in the order I attended them.

The gentlemen I listened to are experts in their fields and were big on research and citing other professionals and studies.

Effects of strength training on weight loss. By Alexandre Pare
Proponents of strength training have long claimed it to be a crucial part of weight loss programs. But is that true? This workshop may shock some of your training concepts.

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  • If you gain one pound of muscle mass, you only burn an extra 20 calories per day at rest. (Cardio is a better option for weight loss; however, strength training is important and there are so many health benefits.)
  • Lactate production is crucial to elicit a growth hormone (GH) response, which burns fat. Large, multi-joint exercises produce lactate.
  • GH increases during the night, so adequate rest and sleep are essential.

Women’s symposium. By Scott Josephson
Muscle strength, body composition, metabolism, peri-menopausal challenges and the hormone roller coaster can play an enormous role in cardiovascular and weight training programs. Learn how to create a superb training program for women, and determine the appropriate dietary intake and energy expenditure guidelines.

  • Genetic variations influence energy metabolism. (Studies show that genes explain approximately 50% of weight. Also consider hormones, age, body shape, etc.)
  • Females tend to restrict calories, which contributes to BAD (bone loss, amenorrhea and disordered eating) and a lower metabolic rate.
  • When your hormones lose balance, your body acts in unpredictable ways (increased fat storage, poor thyroid function, cravings, etc.) The body strives for homeostasis.

Eating for energy. Eating for performance. By Scott Josephson
There’s a fundamental difference between regular fitness and athletic intake – training like a pro requires eating like one. We’ll cover several steps for specific nutrient timing, calorie intake and caloric quantities, helping hormones, and the role of phytoestrogens, probiotics, and antioxidants. Sports nutrition is the core component to any program.

Fuel for IM Canada 2013

Fuel for IM Canada 2013

  • Training as an athlete requires eating like one to maximize performance, recovery, and repair. (What you eat and what nutrients your body absorbs today prepares you for tomorrow.)
  • Nutrient timing – 65% of carb intake for the day can fall into a five-hour window around workouts.
  • Eat protein with a high biological value (the quality of a protein- how well a body can use and absorb it). He cited whey proteins or Sunwarrior as a vegan option.

If you don’t already read Cotter Crunch, check out Lindsay’s blog. She’s a Nutrition Manager and Fitness Consultant who keeps her professional triathlete husband well nourished! She often writes about eating for performance.

No bones about it. Osteoporosis programs and prevention. By Scott Josephson
Over 30 million Americans have osteoporosis and 80% of them are women. Learn about practical preventive treatments, functional techniques, bone physiology, risk factors, and dietary and pharmaceutical supplementation.

  • People at high risk for osteoporosis: small or thin-boned Caucasian or Asian women, family history, consistent amenorrhea (loss of period), early menopause, excessive exercise, and eating disorders.
  • Prevention programs: high resistance training focusing on hips, spine, and knees (bone loading), and proper vitamin absorption.
  • If someone has it, maintain their bone density levels with multi-joint movements with a focus on functionality, mobility and balance.

Remember, I’m not a dietitian or expert in this field! This information is for interest. If you want to learn more, here are some resources:

Women have unique needs, especially if they’re active. Find a sports nutritionist or dietitian to help ensure you’re fuelling your body the right way.

Have you seen a nutritionist or dietitian? Do you have any healthy links to share?

Shedding layers

My run yesterday was what running is all about, and it was a reminder of the benefits it has to my health and sanity. It was a literal and figurative shedding of layers.

I went on my run in pants and a ¾ zip sweater. I started my run stressed out, with my shoulders set higher up with tension. I ran slow, skirting around puddles.

I got warm and unzipped my sweater. I ran through shallow puddles and sped up. I felt a little lighter.

I stopped and took off my sweater. I ran through the mother of all puddles, splashing myself all the way up my back and picked up the pace a little more. And I realized I was full-on smiling with a much clearer mind.

blurrypuddle

Sorry for the blurry photo- I was running, and my phone was in a bag!

Running in a t-shirt in March!!

Running in a t-shirt in March!!

Can each and every one of you do me a favour? Shed layers.

Leave your Garmin, and even your watch, at home on your next run. Run at a different time of day. Take a new route. Hit the trails instead of the road.

In other aspects of your life: shed layers and cut yourself some slack. Ditch the self-set expectations whether they’re at home, at work, with friends or family, wherever.

For example, I like having home-baked muffins for us to take to work as snacks. If I don’t get to it, I beat myself up. When I apologize to Kelly for not having baked goods, do you think he cares? Of course not! It’s a self-set expectation.

March is a busy month for me. Combine that with coming home from holidays, getting back into the swing of things, and life stressors and I don’t have time for everything.

Running is incredible therapy, and one of my greatest stress relievers.

Running pains
With all that being said, I haven’t been running much since we’ve been home. It’s my darn left side. I’ve mentioned hamstring issues before, and in California it turned into piriformis/hip/iliac crest pain, too. I stretched, rolled, and took over a week off running. I finally scheduled a physio appointment for last Friday.

I ran the day before my appointment to really pinpoint the pain. I was grimacing.

At my physio appointment, he used Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) on me. IMS uses a needle to activate a reflex causing the muscle to release, easing the pain. I’ve had it done before, but not over such a large area on such defiant muscles.

I had it done from the top of my hip down to the bottom of my hamstring. I was sweating buckets by time it was finished, but I felt so much better! I took that day off, rode on the trainer on Saturday, and then ran on Sunday. I was able to go 10 pain-free miles.

It felt good for the remainder of the day and the next one, too. It’s slowly tightening up again but a massage really helped and I’m trying to be diligent with keeping loose. Yesterday’s run was basically pain-free, too (minus calf tightness).

I’m trying to deal with the root of all my left side issues. I read Anatomy for Runners: Unlocking Your Athletic Potential for Health, Speed, and Injury Prevention by Jay Dicharrry. I hope to make some major changes based on his book but want to reread it first!

I also plan to review his book on here since I swear it could be a life changer for so many active people and runners!

I still hope to post a California recap, too. I’ve given myself a deadline of next week otherwise it’ll be way too far gone.

It may be quieter around these parts, and I may have to clear my blog feed occasionally, but soon enough life will slow down again. In the meantime, I think I’ll just go for a run!

Does running help you shed those layers of stress? Is it spring where you live?

Yoga for runners, part II

It has been almost a year since I last posted my favourite yoga poses. Since then I’ve attended more classes, tried more DVDs, and I still use my books and the Yoga Studio app.

yoga

However, some of my original favourite poses still feel the best to me.

I am a workout at home gal, but I simply love the soothing energy the instructor provides at class, from her cues to her voice.

The most beneficial cue to me is when she reminds us to breath into a stretch. After she says it and I focus on doing so, it’s a lot more comfortable.

Here are five poses that I love now.

  • Fire log pose
    My hips are a constant hassle, so I try to take care of them focussing on exercises to help them out. In turn, they need some work to stretch them. This pose opens my hips up so nicely. It also helps to stretch the groin.
  • Wide-legged forward bend
    I’ve been battling super tight hamstrings, my left in particular. This pose feels awesome on them, and if I shift slightly it reaches even deeper or focuses on one side.
  • Warrior two
    I like this pose for the sole reason that it makes me feel fierce and strong, which I suppose is why it’s called warrior and named after an incarnation of Shiva, a fierce warrior!
  • Runner’s lunge, toes down
    from the athlete's pocket guide to yoga by sage rountree

    from the athlete’s pocket guide to yoga by sage rountree

    The first time I did this, the stretch was too intense in my tibialis anterior muscles (beside the shin). I worked into it, and now it’s not painful but man is it good!

  • Thread the needle
    This feels so good on my shoulders during a lunch hour class when I’ve been working at a desk all morning.

I am still very much a beginner at yoga but hope to continue practicing and learn more poses.

What’s your favourite pose? 

How often do you practice?

Thanks for reading! I scheduled a few posts to go up while I’m cruising the California coast with my family. I don’t expect to be online much, so I won’t be commenting on blogs or writing trip updates on here. However, I hope to post to my Instagram feed (thechangeofpace) when the mood strikes!