Tag Archives: tips

In the off season

My bad tan lines have faded (my burn line is still there), my black toenail has fallen off, and my pants are mighty snug.

It has been eight weeks since Ironman Canada and I think I’ve mastered the recovery period…maybe a little too well.

I took a week completely off exercise, other than a little walking and fun activities. I took two weeks off running. I travelled a little. I indulged a lot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Classic Beignet from Cafe du Monde in New Orleans

Overall it has been fantastic.

Don’t get me wrong: I feel a constant yearning for long training weekends, exhausted legs, and a full Garmin Connect calendar. (Dramatic, yes, but also true!)

But after a physically and mentally taxing few months a recovery period is important.

Here are my top four recovery/off-season tips:

Give yourself a break. Take time totally off of training, be it a week or two. Catch up with family and friends you have most likely neglected. Take care of the yard work you’ve ignored. Sleep in!

I read after Mirinda Carfrae’s first Kona win she took two weeks completely off, another two weeks easy, then eased into training. If pros take time off, shouldn’t every day athletes afford their bodies the same respect?

Mix it up. Once you’ve enjoyed some time off, challenge yourself. I don’t mean challenge yourself in the same activities you normally do. Try something different and try an unstructured training plan.

AbbyDownhill1

I love to mix it up in the off-season. I cyclo-cross and/or mountain bike, cross-country ski, snowshoe, and even tried rock climbing last year. It’s fun and it makes those runs and bikes much more enjoyable when you’ve had some time away.

XCSki

Get stronger. Hit the weights (without a fear of bulking up). Run and ride short and fast to boost your lactate threshold and power output.

I’m trying out increased strength training and some speed. I hope to reap the benefits come spring!

Don’t worry. If you gain a few pounds, you’ll lose it. If you feel like you’ll never be where you were before, you’ll get it back.

Don’t let fear get the better of you and try to maintain peak fitness into spring. By summer your body will be begging for a break. I’ve been there and it isn’t fun to feel trashed when you should be in top form!

How do you do with recovery and off-season? Do you take one?

Cycling’s a pain in my butt

I’m not fed up with cycling. On the contrary. I cycled for almost four hours on the trainer on Saturday morning and really enjoyed myself! (Surprising since after an hour on the trainer I’m usually antsy.)

Cycling has literally been a pain in my butt for the last two years.

I bet some cyclists are nodding along in agreement. Chafing, saddle sores or hot spots, and rashes are unfortunate discomforts some cyclists have to deal with. (It’s running’s equivalent of chafed thighs or nipples, or chafing along the bra line.)

When I was training for Ironman Arizona in 2010, I experienced absolutely no chafing or pain.

I started to experience some discomfort down there last summer while training for Ironman Canada.

TdA1b

It started up again this year. And this time I decided to do something about it!

I’ve seen chamois (shammy) cream in various magazines and read a couple blog reviews.

Last week I went to a local tri store to see what they had to help me out. I decided to buy dznuts bliss. I was torn between it and Chamois Butt’r but they had sample-sized packets of the kind I bought.

I used it this past weekend, and I think it helped! I can’t say I didn’t have any discomfort, but it was definitely minimized.

I liked that it wasn’t greasy and didn’t numb me. It also didn’t have a scent, which was a bonus to my sensitive skin.

Although I’m a newbie in the whole chamois cream area, here are some tips for others interested in trying it out:

  1. Test it on a small patch of skin to ensure you don’t react to it. Can you imagine generously applying the cream only to realize you’re allergic once you’re on the open road?!
  2. Apply liberally. I hesitantly applied a few dabs. (See tip one. I didn’t test it beforehand.) Next time, I’d be a lot more generous to ensure full coverage.
  3. Try different kinds. If you aren’t completely satisfied with one kind, try another and another until you find the one that suits you best.
  4. Experiment with different shorts. My husband wears shorts with no padding. I have a thin chamois in mine, but it took me a while to find shorts that were comfortable. You might require more or less padding, or a different shape of chamois. Like anything, shorts fit people differently.

After sampling dznuts bliss for a few rides, I plan to buy and test the Butt’r.

I fell in love with cycling last year after riding for a few years.

VernonBike

Although running is my first love, my joints aren’t always healthy enough to do it. I hope to have a lifetime love affair with cycling. And I want to be comfortable in the relationship!

Do you cycle? Do you use a chamois cream? Any bad allergy stories?

How to survive a looong flight

We’re probably somewhere over the Pacific right now!

Our flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong is over 13 hours. I kind of felt like crying when my husband told me that fun little fact!

I’m ok on long road trips. Just this summer we drove home from Cannon Beach, Oregon in 19 hours. (But we stopped when we wanted breaks!) I’ve been on 17 hour bus trips. And we’ve been on a flight that long before- from LA to Taipei, but I think I’ve put it out of my mind!

I’ve come up with 10 tips to make a long flight more bearable:

  • Wear comfortable layers. I’m always cold on airplanes so it’s essential for me to layer. On a long flight, you’re going to want to wear something comfortable. (Don’t forget to wear comfy bras and undies, too!)
Soft North face t, warm sweater, and scarf to keep the heat in!

Soft North face t, warm sweater, and scarf to keep the heat in!

  • Put basic toiletries in your carry on. On every flight I always take my toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, and lotion. On a flight this long, I’m also going to take mini packs of wipes, deodorant, Kleenex, and mouth wash. After a snooze or before landing, you can go freshen up and at least fake feeling clean!

IMG_5443

  • Charge your electronics and update playlists. You can watch movies on your iPad, read books on an e-reader, or listen to music on your iPhone or iPod. I purchased books for my iPad and made some fun new playlists for my iPod ahead of time.
  • Don’t count on electronics. Take a real book, magazine, notebook, crossword bool, etc. You never know if your above items will malfunction or if the battery will die sooner than you think.
  • Take sleep aids. I’m not talking about medication but sleep aids for comfort. Take a neck pillow, eye cover, or little blanket to make sleeping a little easier.  
  • Get up and walk around. I usually hate to bug another traveller by asking them to move so I can stand up. On a flight this long, walking around will not only help your sanity, but also your health. But the person beside you. It’ll get them moving, too.
  • Wear compression. I’ve never worn compression gear on a flight before. After reading a Runner’s World article last week, I’m wearing compression socks!
  • Take snacks. I generally take an empty water bottle, a couple Crystal Light packets, and some snacks. Although I always end up buying stuff at airports, I don’t have to count on airplane food and their beverage delivery to get me through.
  • Read up. Foreign places are just that…foreign. Take a small guide book to peruse on the flight so you know what to expect. (i.e. when I was 20 and in Malaysia, I wish I had known not to wear shorts in Kuala Lumpur.)  Maybe you’ll even pick up some phrases in the local language or find a new place you must check out.

IMG_5445

  • Think of the destination. Lastly, in order to experience different cultures and lands, you need to get there! Keep your eye on the prize and remember the cool places you’ll see once you land!

What’s the longest flight, bus ride, or drive you’ve been on? Do you have any good stories?

On a bus ride from Brisbane to Sydney (roughly 17 hours), we had these two elderly Australian women beside us. They also brought a large bottle of brandy and drank it all. It was comical until they kept putting their bare feet on me, throwing shrimp tails everywhere (who eats seafood on a bus?!), and arguing loudly with each other.

Ice and running don’t mix

While some places and people are experiencing unusually cold weather, we’ve been basking in balmy weather and sunshine. (Don’t worry- we’ve already had our fair share of winter and I’m sure we’ll have a few more months of it!)

For someone who is always cold and avoids the treadmill at all costs, this is great news! Yesterday my favourite training partner (my husband, Kelly) and I set out for a run in minimal layers of clothing.

What we assumed would be a fantastic run didn’t turn out that way. Along with warmer temperatures comes melting snow, which in turn creates ice. The first part of our run was fine but a lot of it was treacherous. Miraculously, neither of us fell or hurt ourselves!

Here are some of my tips for running on ice or in slippery conditions:

  • Don’t! Suck it up and run on a treadmill, or take a day to cross train.
  • Wear a traction aid on your shoes to help grip ice or slippery patches.
  • Slow down. Running on ice or slippery sections can cause you to change your gait. Instead of changing your gait and risking injury, use it as a recovery run and slow down.
  • If you’re on a sidewalk, run on the sides where there may be some better traction from snow clearing tread. If grass is sticking out, even better.
  • Run on the road if it’s quiet and safe. Roads most likely have salt or gravel or have been cleared. Face oncoming traffic so you can see what is coming towards you.

I didn’t want to pass up warm outdoor running and couldn’t wear a traction aid since sidewalk was showing in lots of places. And the route we ran is pretty traffic heavy. So, we slowed way down and just enjoyed the run and conversation.

Do you ever have to deal with icy runs? What’s your ideal running temperature? 

Change the Pace – Mountain biking

Fall has arrived, the weather is crisp, and the leaves are changing colour and dropping to the ground. Maybe your knees are a little sore. Maybe you just want to liven up your training and have fun with fitness.

Whatever the reason, mountain biking is an excellent option for cross training and getting outside to enjoy the season.

I haven’t been mountain biking in almost a year due to injury and Ironman training. I finally got out yesterday.

It was freezing cold (9C) and pouring rain. My clothes were soaked through, it felt like I was wearing a wet diaper, and my lips were blue. But I had an absolute blast.

I love to mountain bike, but I’m not very good at it. I’m kind of a chicken and am incredibly cautious. That’s why yesterday was perfect.

I took easy trails. I went on my own, took my time down the hills and around sharp turns, and pedaled my heart out to reach the top of hills.

My husband loves to mountain bike and is really good at it. He’s taught me a few things over the years that I think will help anyone who’s a little cautious.

  1. Get comfortable before you hit the trails. Ride around on the roads and get to know your bike and your brakes.
  2. Learn your gears. You need to know how to change your gears efficiently if you want to crest the hills or change gears when the terrain quickly changes.
  3. Pay attention to where your pedals are when you ride. If you’re not pedalling, try to keep your pedals centred/equal with both knees bent instead of one up top with one leg bent and one down below with the other leg almost straight. I’ve hit a lot of large rocks by riding with one of my pedals down.
  4. Shift your bodyweight forward when climbing. If you don’t, your front wheel can lift. If you shift too far forward though, you can lose traction. Find the sweet spot!
  5. Shift your bodyweight backward when descending steep hills.

Most importantly, go your own pace and have fun!

Jasper, Alberta

Vernon, British Columbia

My favourite place to mountain bike: Jasper National Park, Alberta
Bucket list place to mountain bike: Moab, Utah

Do you mountain bike? Any tips? Where’s your favourite place to ride?