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FAQ and Assorted Topics.

Basics of triathlon and endurance sports training
If you have never trained or raced before in such endurance sports as triathlon, running, cycling, cross-country skiing, rowing or swimming, a desire to train for and to complete triathlon can be a daunting. Triathlon usually conjures up TV images of uber-athletes stoically fighting elements and each other, and falling apart under the pressure of the Hawaii Ironman. Our triathlon programs focus on a shorter versions - olympic or half-ironman distances. Olympic triathlons consist of 0.9 mile swim, 25 mile bike and 10km (6.1 mile) run. It can take anywhere from 2.5 to 6 hours to complete (depending on course difficulty, environmental conditions and athlete's fitness and equipment). Half-ironmans consist of 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run, and take anywhere between 4.5 to 9 hours to finish.

Our coaching experience with TNT lead us to a conlusion that swim is the most fearful segment of triathlon. Idea of almost one mile in the open water can be very traumatic to anyone who abstained from swimming for a few years. But our tested-by-many-athletes-before-you methodology allowed many complete novices to train in the local swimming pools and succefully complete their events. Our swimming training methodology is focused on a gradual increase in distance while constantly honing your technique and efficiency.

This triathlon training program also assumes that you have access to a safe, properly fitted and tuned bicycle, and helmet, as well as your ability to ride bicycle. We will work on certain basic skills of bike operation and repair, hoping to make you a confident cyclist in the process. Our training plan will specifically train you for your race course. While we suggest indoor cycling option (when weather is not cooperating), we are a strong proponents of outdoor cycling.

Run segment of triathlon can be surprisingly hard or easy for you. A lot will depends on your overall fitness, effort level during the race, motivation, and environmental conditions. Some athlets will fly, some will walk most of the run.

Training and racing will be easier if you will set certain expectation or goals for yourself. Set them for your racing day and for your training - goals should be challenging, yet achievable. You will cheat yourself by setting goals that are too easy or are too unrealistic.

You have a training plan designed by a professional coaches who brought hundreds of people like you to the finish line of their first triathlon - trust us and trust your training plan. But understand that such plan is only a map that shows direction and other specifics of your training and is not set in stone manual to be religiously followed. This training plan may change; you should expect such changes and be flexible.

Pace yourself through this training program. Do not start too intensely, do not miss too many group training sessions, monitor your pains and aches, and you will not get injured or burnt out before the race.

Your training plan will have days and weeks of reduced volume and intensity. Those occasions are for your body to rest and rebuild itself. You may feel super-energetic or super-guilty on some days but do not be tempted to do more than indicated by your plan.

Never try anything in the race what you have not try before in training (be it your effort, equipment, apparel, or nutrition).

Gradually increase your training mileage and intensity. Do it too rapidly and you will injury yourself. A good basic rule of thumb is to increase your mileage by no more than 10 percent per week. The key to a good training program is to build gradually and to allow sufficient recovery. The two exceptions to the 10 percent rule are: for experienced athletes (may increase weekly volume by 15-20 percent in the early base training where volume is reasonably low) and for a complete novice (when increases could be more dramatic at the start. For example, you have not been running and just starting with 20 minute jog/run, you can add 10 minutes after two weeks).

Allow for an easy training day or recovery day after hard training session - your body needs time to recover from a workout.

When you work a muscle, it contracts and generally becomes shorter. In order to keep the muscle flexible and able to travel through its full range of motion, you have to lengthen it again. That is why stretching is so important. Warm up prior to stretching. Cold muscles are hard to stretch and even prone to injury, so a warm-up of 5-10 minutes will make stretching easier and more beneficial. And definitely stretch after training.

Recovery hints. Cold water helps the legs recover quicker. Of course, resist the temptation to jump into Central Park Reservoir, instead get in the shower and run the cold water over your legs prior to your regular shower. You can also soak your legs in a hot bath with Epsom Salts (they have magnesium which can draw inflammation out of the muscles). The hot water also helps loosen up muscles so when you are done in the bath take a few minutes to stretch the muscles while they are warm.

Core strength. All of your core muscles are important in almost any activity you do. The core muscles are mainly abs, obliques and lower back. They are extremely important because they are used in almost all motion and act as your stabilizers. If you lack core muscle strength, then it is hard to generate full power you are capable out of the rest of your muscles (especially in cycling and running). For example, on the bike, especially in a seated position, if your abs/low back are weak, then you will have a hard time holding your upper body in the correct position and thus, will have to use a lot of arm strength to support your own weight. It will also make difficult to lock your upper body and allow your legs to power through their entire range of motion.


Swimming Topics
As your triathlon maybe your first open water swim, do not make race day your first open-water swimming experience. Make sure to experience it prior to the race. Open water is very different from the pool environment. There are no black line on the bottom to follow, no walls to push off of, no line lanes to grab and rest, and no coach to talk to.


Swimming Gear and Wetsuits
Swimming goggles
People have a different eye socket shape and level of padding around the eye. Therefore, the ultimate best goggles just don’t exist. You may find a perfect pair eventually - a pair that will fit you well and will serve its intended purpose (comfort and no leaks). You should try on a variety of models and brands for fit (borrow from swimmers in your pool, check your local retail shops). Once you selected a model that seems to work, buy it and use it in the pool several times. If you convinced at that point that this model ideally suits your eyes and face, purchase additional pairs (in clear and dark lens colors). Leave one or two pairs specifically dedicated for racing (in clear and dark lenses). Take a good care of goggles, rinse them in water after each swimming session (from salt or chlorine) and store them carefully.

Swimsuit and swim apparel
Swimsuit should be made of Lycra or nylon. If you feel you want to train in the same clothing you will race in, you may want to buy right away a pair of "tri-shorts". They are similar to bike shorts but are designed to be used throughout the entire triathlon. Since you do not have to change clothes, you save hassle and time. Their shorter inseam makes running and swimming more comfortable, and also protects your legs from chafing during the bike, while a small cycling pad keeps you comfortable during the bike portion.

Women tend to race either wearing one-piece (tri-suit or swimming suit with a small cycling pad, adding singlet for bike/run segment), or two-piece racing ensemble (tri-shorts with a sport top or tri-top). Your choice should be based on what you are comfortable wearing/exposing, support requirements, bike padding requirements for the distance of your race, the temperature and fabric selection. Men also have a choice of one-piece tri-suits or two-piece separates. Most triathlons require that men wear coverage on their torso while they bike and run. Having separates will allow you to use them often in training too. You should train in your racing gear at least once before the race (make sure to wash apparel first as items may shrink slightly and will get softer).


Triathlon wetsuit is designed to improve your swimming speed and to keep you warm.

Wetsuits are made from a variery of neoprene rubber, containing micro bubbles of air that provides insulation and buoyantcy. In addition, when you enter water, it penetrates wetsuit, forming a layer between your skin and the wetsuit. You warm up this layer while wetsuit insulates it from the outside. In races where the water temperature is over 75 degrees, USAT Triathlon rules may dictate that wetsuit use is illegal. In addition, wetsuit buoyantcy elevates your body higher in the water, reducing drag, while slippery outer surface makes wetsuits faster than human skin in contact with water, also reducing drag. The last benefit is safety in the form of buoyancy and protection against other athletes.

The only typical negatives are: discomfort of having anything on, with a potential movement restrictions for arms and shoulders and breathing (if wetsuit is too tight or made from inflexible neoprene), and chafing. Removal can also be an issue for some begginners.

Fullsuit or longjohn (sleeveless) wetsuit.
Mainly this is a matter of personal preference. Sleeveless suits tend to be colder since more water gets in contact with your arms and shoulders, and more water penetrates inside the wetsuit. Some athletes claim that they have a better "feel" for the water since arms skin is exposed, while many beginners feel less constrained in the shoulder and chest areas - they perceive better freedom of motion in the shoulder joint. Full suits, however, are faster for most people. They are also warmer. Full suits can affect your regular pool swimming stroke, but can help conserve significant energy during the swim.

Wetsuits - Putting them on.
1. The drier your skin, the easier this process will be (consider toweling off if you started to perspire).
2. Start the leg high - the bottom of the leg should hit between the ankle and the calf (most wetsuits are a short in the leg, so error on the side of placing the bottom of the wetsuit leg higher).
3. Pull up the legs like a pair of tights. Grab the material with your hand sideways. Do not grab with the ends of your fingers (avoid fingernail grab which may result in cuts in the wetsuit). Pull on the wetsuit slowly and carefully.
4. Once you set the bottom of the leg, roll the wetsuit up your legs. You want the wetsuit snug into the crotch before attempting to continue with the torso section and push through the arms.
5. Roll the remainder of the wetsuit up your torso. Pull up material in the arms away from the wrist to increase the amount of material in the shoulders (increasing flexibility of the shoulder joint).
6. Apply a lubricant on the back of your neck to avoid chaffing (petroleum-free, i.e., BodyGlide, Un-petrolium, Pam).

Taking the wetsuit off
1. The wetter your skin are the easier process, so start stripping immediately.
2. Unzip and get the upper body portion off as soon as you exit the water (the longer you wait, the drier you become, and the harder this process will become).
3. Peel off the suit like you are peeling a banana (inside out). Step out of the wetsuit like climbing a staircase. You can stretch and pull the wetsuit, even step on the legs, but be careful about the ground surface (you should stand on towel or some other forgiving surface).
4. Use your hands to pull the wetsuit legs off of your ankles (you may want to put a lubricant on your ankles and wrists earlier).

Wetsuit fit.
Wetsuit may not feel comfortable for a first time user. Be patient. Learn to differentiate and understand the difference between proper snug fit and too restrictive fit. Most modern wetsuits are made from an advanced wetsuit rubber that is supposed to act like a second skin allowing certain comfort and flexibility. Fit supposed to be skin tight on the body.

If there is pinching, or decreased circulation, then it is maybe too tight and wetsuit is of the wrong size. Once the wetsuit is on, you should be able to grab a bit of material around the torso, the thighs and the arms. If you cannot grab any material, then the wetsuit is too small. If the neck looks like it is being pulled down then the wetsuit is too short, or the wetsuit was not pulled on all of the way. If the wetsuit goes on with some difficulty, then it is probably the correct size. If the wetsuit goes on with ease and can easily be pulled around/adjusted while on the body then it's probably too big. On tall people, the wetsuit legs may end right below the calves. The wetsuit neck is cut to fit properly while being horizontal (swimming) and not while standing. Also remember that wetsuit loosens up in the water.

Wetsuit care.
Rinse your wetsuit in fresh water thoroughly after use, both inside and out.

Never leave it out in direct sunlight for extended periods of time. You may want to cover it in the transition area during a long distance race.

Store the wetsuit in a dry, cool area. Use a special wetsuit hanger or fold/roll loosely for storage.

Do not use Vaseline or other petroleum based lubricants - they will damage the rubber.


Bike Handling and Training Topics
Be smooth. Fast, jerky motions such as sudden grab of the brakes or swerving are dangerous. If you are startled by something, just relax and try hold your line, rather than swerving, screeching to a stop or falling down. Key to riding smoothly is to be relaxed on your bike, fighting tendency to tense up your arms and upper back. Staying loose and relaxed will also mean that the motion in your lower body or even sudden input by the upper body doesn't translate to movement of the handlebars and changes in direction of your bike.

Watch where you are going. This seems obvious but riding without concentrating on a task and/or unable to actually see and read the road ahead cause many crashes. You need to see and/or to be aware of person in front of you, people and vehicles on your sides, and read the road ahead. If you are mesmerized by the rear wheel of the person in front or not focusing on the road ahead you may not be able to anticipate and ride smoothly, negotiating any potential obstacles that come up.

Know your limits. Easy example here - guy in front of you is descending at warp speed in a full tuck position, curving through the corners and screaming war cries. Do you follow him down the hill with the same speed and abandon? Of course, y.. NO! He maybe a pro cyclist on a vacation in New York or he maybe be an idiot. You and your comfort zone should dictate the speed of your descend. Think of similar scenarios in the traffic of city streets and Central Park, any tight spaces that require slow speed bike handling, and certain uphills.

Never overlap wheels with the person in front of you. If the person in front makes a sudden lateral move or you drift into him, you are going down (rear wheel is much more stable than your front one).

Cornering. Look where you want your bike to go. Scan the line you want to take by looking far enough ahead in the turn. If instead of mapping your cornering line you will fix your eyes on the obstacle you want to avoid, chances are you will steer your bike into it. You need to register such obstacle and keep tracking a line you want your bike to take to avoid such obstacle. The faster you are going, the farther ahead you need to look and map your line. If you need to slow down for the corner, you must start braking prior to the turn. Once you hit your brakes, you will not be able to turn your bike nearly as well. If you brake too hard and jam your brakes in the corner, you may start to slide, fishtail, lose your line, and experience other unpleasant experiences with a possible crashing outcome. If you do find yourself in such scenario, gently release your brakes a bit, try to straighten out, get onto safe cornering line, and then start braking again.

Knowing Your Gears.

Your bike has a manually operating transmission mechanism which allows you to select a gear combination which is appropriate to the road profile or training task in hand. Easier gearing makes pedaling easier up hills. Easier pedaling also means slower speed. What makes easier gearing?

First, look at the shifting components of your bike. Most bikes now will have two to three gears in front (chainrings) and anywhere form 6 to 10 gears in back (cogs). The two gears up front on a road bikes now are most likely to be two chainrings with 53 and 39 teeth (number of teeth on each chainring). In the back, the most common road bike cogset right now is 12-23 9 speed combination. Such cogset (cluster or cassette) is a set of cogs with 12/13/14/15/16/17/19/21/23 teeth on each.

In such gearing, 39/23 is the easiest gear, while 53/12 is the hardest gear. This means that in 39/23 combination (chain is on 39 teeth chairing and 23 teeth cog) you can spin your legs with very little resistance on flat road). And in a 53/12 combination (chain is on 53 teeth chainring and 12 teeth cog), you will be challenged to turn your legs even on a fairly flat road. 39/21 is the next easiest gear, followed by 39/19 and so on.

Mathematically, you can compare gears by understanding gear ration. Without getting too technical, such ratios allows you to compare and find similar gearing combinations even when your chain is on a different chainrings. For example, gear ratio in a 53/16 is 3.3, which is similar to 3.25 when in a 39/12 combination.

Gearing and wheel size. The most common wheels sizes now are 650C and 700C, and your gearing is affected by the wheel size. For example, 650 wheels make gearing relatively easier, as a result many 650 bikes have a 55/42 chainrings to accommodate this.

"What about Spinning. With the current cold weather, I have been modifying my outdoor bike workouts to spinning classes indoors. I try to spend the class concentrating on 90-100 rpms as well as doing some hills (out of the saddle). Is this an acceptable alternative to biking on the regular stationary bike."
Considering the alternative - no cycling at all, this is a good choice. Word of caution on spinning instructors and classes methodology - very few instructors tend to be adequately knowledgeable in sport science, and most do not have a clue about actual road cycling or triathlons. So take with grain of salt all the super high intensity "jumps", super high rpm "sprints", and super low rpm "climbs". Your optimal high rpm's should be between somewhere between 90 to 105, the lowest (while moving a hard, but not impossible, gear) - no less than 55. Focus on developing your base - spin at steady state effort, with good form. Challenges of "climbs" and "sprints" are OK but should not be the main focus of your indoor cycling training. Also, spinning classes tend never to have an adequate warm-up or cool-down. Consider, 10-15 minute warm-up prior to the class and another 15 minutes cool-down after. Climbing, by the way, doesn't automatically means being out of the saddle. Most of triathlon events have hills that can be climbed in the saddle (anyway, it is more efficient).


Bike Accessories and Tools
Helmet, helmet, and helmet. Wearing a bike helmet is a must as safety issue, but also protects your head from the elements (sun, wind, bird droppings, beer cans). Have all straps aligned and tightened, so the helmet cannot not tip back on your forehead. Go to your bike shop to have them check the adjustment before you take your bike out for the first spin.

Cycling apparel also includes eyewear, cycling shorts, shoes and gloves. It is important to wear shorts made for cycling (or equivalent, as tri-shorts). A smooth chamois or synthetic liner will help to reduce discomfort, especially if it is padded. Please believe us that you should not wear underwear with your bike shorts. Gloves provide you with a non-slip grip, cushion your hands, give you something to wipe sweat with and protect your hands in a fall. The fingerless gloves are the most common, although during the winter you will need something with more warmth and wind protection. For a top, you can wear almost any shirt. Since more than 70 percent of drag is caused from wind resistance of the body, you can reduce this by wearing tops made of Lycra or other form fitting and wicking synthetic materials. You can buy special jerseys for cycling, but any close fitting fitness top (tucked in) will work just fine.

Cycling equipment, such as toe clips or clipless pedals are other necessities. Aerobars, drinking systems are secondary necessities. Please no headphones or cellphones while riding.

Waterbottle cages and waterbottles. We are strong proponents of two cages on your bike. Make sure cages are attached tightly to the bike frame and can hold waterbottles tightly.

Tire repair kit. Tire levers (made of strong durable plastic; make sure to practice with them to test them for comfort, strength and usability), tire tubes (of proper size for your wheels and tires - check both diameter and width), tube patches, and inflation system (frame pump or CO2 cartridge system).

Cycling mini tool. These gadgets are compact, lightweight and easy to use. Companies such as Topeak, Park Tools, Ritchey and Blackburn offer a wide selection of such tools. When choosing the tool make sure it is compatible with your bike components. Also pick a mini tool that matches the way you ride (for short trips and races, stick to a lightweight tool with basic features, for longer rides and demanding conditions, choose one with a more complete set of tools). Traditionally mini tool would contain the following: Allen keys (used to adjust everything from brake pads to saddles, the most commonly used sizes are 3, 4, 5 and 6 mm), standard/Phillips head screwdrivers (for brake-pad alignments and derailer adjustments), tire levers and tube patches (sometimes included in a mini tool, but should be always carried), box/open-end wrenches (used to adjust brakes; 8 and 10mm), chain tool (too fix broken chain or twisted link, or to remove your chain), spoke wrenches (for truing wheels and/or straightening them out, the most commonly used sizes are 14g and 15g).

Saddle bag. Appropriate size bike bag to fit your needs.

Bike computer. To measure your speed, distanced covered, etc.

Other items: 5-8 inches of electrical tape rolled around seatpost; valve extender for deep dish wheels; valve adapter for Presta-to-Schrader valves.


Bike Maintenance
There are certain things that you must be able to do if you ride your bike: you should be able to put your chain back if a badly executed shift throws your chain off, you should know how to disconnect your brakes in case you hit something and bend your rim, and you should DEFINITELY be able to fix your front or rear flats. Other major things may require you to go to the bikeshop but simple rules below will save you money and give you confidence in the reliability of your bike.

Keep you bike clean. It will ride faster and last longer. You can use dishwash soap, or a citrus type cleaner. Avoid using power sprays (never direct high pressure water towards the headset, bottom bracket, or hubs). Use a scotch brite pad to help you keep the rims shinny and clean. Wipe and wash your tires.

Keep the chain cleaned and lubed. Use specially formulated chain lubes.

Check and tighten everything. Regularly inspect the frame for stress cracks and tighten any bolts or nuts that may be loose (derailer bolts, pedals, brake cable anchor bolts, seat post, stem, and chainring bolts). Do not overtighten.

Tires and flats. Inspect your tires (for cuts, nicks, and any imbedded objects), wipe and clean them (do not use any lubricants on your tires and braking surfaces) and check your tire pressure before every ride. You should own a pump (preferably a floor model) with a pressure gauge. Underinfated tires can lead to flats (from snakebites) and rim damage, wear fast and make bike handle poorly. Inflate tires to recommended pressure (maximum inflation guidelines are found on the sidewall of the tire). But be careful, just as underinflation is an invitation for trouble so is overinflation. But even new, expensive and properly inflated tires may flat. It's a cruel world but by carrying flat repair and inflation kit and by knowing how to use them you minimize your losses. Large cuts and heavy use may necessitate tire replacement. If you feel this is a case, do not procrastinate until the last week before your race.

Good solution for people who ride mountain bikes to improve their cycling performance is to replace their heavy MTB tires. By replacing heavy and high rolling resistance tires by the new set (that fits your mountain bike wheels) you can approximate performance of a road racing tires (light, slick surface, low rolling resistance). Such sets usually have smooth surfaces, thinner profile, lighter in weight, and allow higher pressure. Among such tires are Hutchinson Top Slick Smooth kevlar bead tire, IRC Triathlon ATB tire, and similar models from Continental, WTB and Tioga.


Bikes - General Information and Buying
Here's are compilation of our thoughts on bikes, components, and purchasing process.

Bicycle Brands and Models Bike manufacturers are not limited to one brand name, many market and sell their products under multiple brand name (Trek also makes and sells bikes under Lemond and Bontrager label). Retailers (bike shops) usually sell a variety of bicycle brands and models. Typical product offering in the local bike shop are tend to be split into three categories: road bikes, mountain bikes, and recreation (i.e., hybrid) bikes. Retail pricing methodology is very confusing since a very similar looking bike (it may even have the same model name or designation) sells at a different price from one retailer to another. Such price fluctuation may be explained by discounting or season sales (or opposite, price gouging) by the retailers. But another, very common explanation, is the bike industry approach to designing their product lines. You may browse through a catalog and notice that the same bike model from the same season may share identical frame but posses a very different SRP (Suggested Retail Price). Such is a very common situation when increases in the overall price are dictated by the increased cost of a different (and hopefully) better components (all the stuff hanging on the bike frame) and/or wheels on this bike. For example, some of the lower cost Shimano brand components groups can be bought for less than 300 dollars while the company flagship, Dura-Ace group, sells for a reasonable (for its quality) 1200-plus dollars.

Lesson here - you can buy a lower priced bike (assuming a good, upgradable frame) and you can eventually replace components and other bike parts with a better ones. But it will be not a very cost-efficient path. Since this article is addressed to new to the sport athletes, we must point out that most people underspend when they join athletic community (by buying minimally adequate bike), and if they decide to continue in the sport, they face a more expensive and difficult upgrade path in the future.

Speaking of upgrades, the first component you may want to consider for an upgrade is the pedals. Most mountain bikes and lower cost road bikes have platform pedals (sometimes with cages with straps to keep your feet attached to the pedals). But the most efficient and direct energy transfer between you and your bike and better safety would be achieved via upgrade to a clipless pedals. Such upgrade will also require buying cycling-specific shoes. If you are received a holiday gift of such pedals, word of advice - practice getting in and out of clipless pedals in a safe location, maybe even your apartment doorway. Repetitive action of cliping in and clipping out will train your muscle memory and you will be more confident venturing outdoors. The next upgrade is aerobars - from all the potential aerodynamic equipment aerobars will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Other equipment upgrades that address both safety and performance include lighter and better tires/inner tubes, chain and rear cassette (rear cluster of gears - to provide better and more appropriate gearing for the type of terrain your are riding), saddle, and helmet (manufacturers suggest replacing helmet every 2-3 years even if it was never used), and aerodynamic and comfortable cycling-specific apparel.

If you are looking to buy a bike than you must get some idea of your bike fit. Usually, it can be established by an experience bike shop person with a help of a special stationary bike which allows to make adjustments and measurements for that elusive perfect fit (frame size and cycling position that it most comfortable for you and that still allows you to produce power) or by mounting bike on a resistance trainer. Such analysis may cost anywhere between 50 to 150 dollars but some bike shops will do it for free if you are buying a bike from them.

While we think that most good bikes (i.e., good frame with good components and good wheels from a good, established bike manufacturer with a good customer service) are being priced somewhere between 800 and 3000 dollars, there are also many good bikes at the lower range or below. Certain bike models made by Specialized, Fuji, Trek, Kestrel, Giant, KHS and Felt will probably be your best bets. Under 1000 dollar range, we've seen Fuji Aloha, Jamis Ventura, KHS Flite 500, assorted Felts, Giant OCR's, Trek and Kestrel Talon's older models.

If you had more time and expertise, I would suggest hunting for a high-end models by buying used. Some local bike shops have message boards for such purposes. On Internet, you can try and rec.bicycles.marketplace on Google groups.

While a mountain bike or hybrid is fine for your first few triathlon attempts, you will notice that most people in the sport use lighter bikes (i.e. road or tri models). The reason is that lighter bikes will let you go faster with less effort. Of course, no matter how expensive your bike, it is the engine and the driver operating bike (your body and your mind) that makes the biggest difference; and making that engine more powerful, efficient and comfortable will make you faster and will save you more energy for the run.

How price of a bike adds up to your sticker shock. The price you pay at the bike shop is a compilation of different costs - research and development, marketing, materials, manufacturing, shipping, custom duties, tariffs and taxes, and profit margins. Before your local retailer charges you 1000 dollars for a bike in front of you, it traveled a long path from, most likely, Asia. Assembler factory somewhere in Asia made 20 percent profit margin on 380 dolalrs to build your bike. Another 10 dollars to ship it to the USA, plus 3 dolars in customs and brokerage fees and 11 percent tariff (40 dollars), for a landed cost of about 430 dolalrs. Another 5 dollars to store the bike in the supplier's warehouse before shipping to a retailer. Supplier needs a 35 percent margin to cover its overhead and marketing costs and to make profit. Bike's value is now grown to about 660 dollars. Retailer sells it to you for 1000, making another 35 percent. Of course, some retailers work on very low margins (10 to 15 percent) for entry level bikes, while high-end specialist can achieve up to 50 percent margin.

Road vs. mountain vs. hybrid bike. Everyone is familiar with a traditional road bike with its skinny frame, thin tires, and dropped handlebars. Such bikes are designed to be very efficient for speed, possess quick handling and light weight for good all-around performance during climbing, descending, group riding and sprinting while training and racing. But the downside is that a good responsive frame can appear very harsh to ride. Flat tires are more common (though it depends a lot on equipment, how and where you ride and how much you weigh). Position is often low and not suited to a very inflexible person. Mountain bikes or MTB's are the most popular models sold for some time now. They are designed for rugged terrain, with sturdy frame, wheels, and knobby tires, upright flat handlebars, and drivetrain with low (easy) gearing. Some are available with front, rear, or both, suspension devices. MTB's tend to be durable, with thicker heavier wheels and tires. Rider position is very comfortable due to upright seating position. While designed and merketed for off-road riding, very few MTB's ever leave paved city streets. MTB's are not very efficient so they do not make a great long distance bikes (but can be improved with certain equipment swaping). Hybrids or town/city bikes or comfort bikes are designed primarily for pavement use but capable of light off-road riding as well. Their frames resemble sturdy MTB models but their wheels and tires are made for road use. Rider position tend to be very upright. Tires tend to be more resistant to flats than on road bikes. Hybrids can be lighter than MTB's but still not the ultimate for road or offroad cycling, kind of... little of the both worlds combined. They are not as fast or efficient as a road bikes (so not ideal for longer distances though better suited for it than an MTB).

Road vs. tri specific bikes. It is possible to make road bike into a tri bike but impossible to do otherwise. Our advice here is to stick to a road frame. You can always add forward seatpost and aerobars on a road frame to make it similar to a tri bike. If you are incredibly sure in your future (and that triathlons belong in that picture) you may consider buying a tri bike. Benefit of such is tri-specific geometry and aerodynamic tubing (helping you be more efficient, fast and comfortable in the aero position).

"What makes a triathlon bike?" Triathlon specific bikes are designed specifically for time trailing in the aerodynamic position (but not in overly aggresive and extreme position, in order to allow long distance cycling comfort and ability to have run afterwards). Tri-bikes are generally defined as a bikes with a tri-specific geometry (steep seat tube angle). They also feature aero bars, light weight, and often have smaller (650C) wheels.

"What's the point of a steep seat tube angle?" It is a currently accepted industry belief that the seat tube (one of the tubes bike frame is made of and one to which your seat post with saddle is attached) on a tri-bike should be more upright and forward than on a road bikes. Such geometry places athlete over the cranks further forward and into a more aerodynamic position. Such forward position also saves running leg muscles for the last segment of triathlon while recruiting more quads for generating power during the bike.

"What is the best bike frame material?" There is no answer to this. It depends on what distances you plan on racing, your weight and size, manufacturer offerings and your budget.

Aluminum is the most common and popular material right now. It is very light, produces strong tubing and frames, makes the stiffest bike frame material on the market (stiffness implies that all applied power is transferred to the wheel for forward motion), yet remarkably inexpensive. The downside of stiffness is that it makes for a harsh ride, particularly in the long distances on a bikes that are not well designed or built. Some high-end frame makers overcame the harshness but you will have to pay premium for such bikes. Heavier (175 plus pounds) athletes would prefer it but lighter riders may get shaken on long rides on bad roads. Another major disadvantage is that aluminum lacks the durability or damage and fatigue resistance of either steel or titanium.

Steel is the most versatile material and can be shaped and alloyed with other metals to accommodate a wide variety of strength and performance requirements. The result is usually a strong, comfortable frame with excellent handling, and good price. One disadvantage is that steel is much heavier than many other frame materials. Steel is also affected by corrosion. Steel's shock absorbency makes it a comfortable material for the long distances. High end steel frames are handmade, and this increases their cost.

Carbon fiber is the lightest of all frame materials. And since it can be layered and reinforced in a very specific ways and directions, it produces very stiff and strong frames. Obviously, it can be also molded into aerodynamic forms without sacrificing strength, making it a top choice of triathletes. One disadvantage is that cracks or frame damage is usually not repairable. Also, a poor quality carbon fiber frame may be brittle and lack the shock absorption of good carbon fiber. Carbon fiber frames have excellent shock absorbency which make them a great long-distance bikes. They are a great option for lighter athletes but good carbon fiber frames remain very expensive.

Titanium is a highly regarded material, perhaps the best all around material for bikes. It is extremely strong, lightweight, and durable, far outperforming even steel. It also flexes without deformation, providing smooth and comfortable ride, but still allows great power transfer. It is also the most durable of all frame materials and is extremely resistant to denting, corrosion, and metal fatigue. The disadvantage is its high cost.

Beam bikes by Softride and Titanflex made from aluminum with a carbon fiber, aluminum, or titanium beam (on which saddle is mounted) that flexes, absorbing road shock.

Components groups? The group (or groupo, to sound more exotic) is the package of components that accompanies a bike, consisting of shifters, brakes, derailleurs, etc. Two companies, Shimano and Campagnolo, have almost 90 percent of the market and well established and reliable. Each company has a hierarchy of component groups that get lighter and perform better as price increases. Campy, a classic Italian manufacturer, has currently five groups: top-of-the-line Record, high quality Chorus, mid-range Daytona, heavier Veloce, and entry level Mirage. Shimano, a Japanese manufacturer, is more common and currently has also several groups: top-of-the-line, light and pro level Dura-Ace, high quality Ultegra, heavier but still high quality and reliability 105, below mid-range Tiagra, and entry level Sora.

"What's the difference between a 650C and a 700C wheels?" There is no final word on this yet but proponents on both sides claim that either creates less rolling resistance. Fans of 650's contend that the wheels have less frontal area, and so have less wind resistance. Larger athletes are more stable on 700C wheels, and smaller guys and women are often enjoy 650C wheels.

"What are the most popular and common tri-bike manufacturers?" Aegis, Cannondale, Cervelo, Elite, Fuji, Griffen, Quintana Roo, Kestrel, Trek.

"I have a mountain bike and recently put lighter tires on it, and I have been training on this bike so far.  However, while riding, I often get frustrated with road bikers zipping by me and think about that exact feeling on race day.  At this point, I cannot justify buying a new road bike since I am not sure how triathlons will fit into my life down the road, but I am willing to invest in a used bike, if I can find one that fits right.  So the question is, what would you recommend - getting road bike, getting the right fit, etc. I also wanted to get your view on using my mountain bike at St. Anthony's, if I can get passed the fact that I will be slower than the other racers (I am a very competitive person).  Also, should I get clipless pedals?"
It's wise not to invest in a brand new road bike at this time. Race at St. Anthony on your current bike and have fun at the event. You have a bike you love. Go ride it. Decide later. You will not set a speed record on your mountain bike, but a new road bike is not going to drive you to the front of the race either. A road bike will absolutely be faster than a MTB but your engine is where you should invest your energy. And being overtaken is part of the race. Other athletes will overtake you and you will overtake others. What matters most is having a good time and enjoying the thrill of the event. Feeling in control over your effort, your mind, and your body, and in doing so conquering the challenge and crossing the finish line. You will feel very proud of yourself later especially since your MTB added to the overall challenge. We recommend clipless pedals and cycling specific shoes. It improves pedaling efficiency and handling control. The road tires were also a good call, as they will minimize rolling resistance. A bike computer is also a good purchase to monitor speed, distance, and cadence. Last option to consider is aero bars. They can significantly improve speed by minimizing wind resistance. But on some mountain bikes, due to their specific geometry, aerobars addition have low priority. As for the new bike purchase, this is the hard one to answer. You should start with honest evaluation of your bidget and how (and how much) you will be using this bike - for training and racing, what sport, riding for fun, on road or trails.

I don't have a bike yet. What should I do? Start looking for a bike you can have access to during yout training and your event. Family, friends, roommates - someone always has a bike they are not using. If found, such bike should be taken to a local bike shop to review its fit (for your body) and to make it safe and efficient to ride on.

If you are unlucky and unable to find or borrow bike, or if you want to buy one, here are pointers for this process. Visit local bike shops - you will see a large selection of brands, models and prices. Focus on the type of the bike you need and you can afford, and eventually you will be able fo find one perfect for you. Process of visiting bike shop, seeing bikes, talking and learning about them is a great start. Be aware that most salespeople are there only to sell, so try to make a friend out of such - tell more about what type you think you need, your concerns, your budget. After couple of visits, salesperson may feel that there is enough invested on both sides, that you are serious about buying (if you find a right bike for you), and will became, hopefully, more helpful. You also should consider bringing someone with bike knowledge with you to help on initial uncomfortable visits. Prior to the visit, you need to honestly evaluate your budget and what type of bike you really need. After limiting your choices to several bikes, consider test riding them.

For additonal information and links to bike and components manufacturers, as well as online retailers for cycling, running and multisports gear, check the rest of this website.


Test riding a road bike
You want to buy a new bike, and plan to test ride a couple of models. Here are a few pointers that will help you to compare them and make the right choice. (Note: If you have already got clipless pedals, bring them and your shoes with you - it is better to testride bikes with the same components you already used to riding. Also bring your cycling shorts, helmet and gloves).

Make sure the seat is adjusted properly - both for height and tilt. The nose of the seat should be level with the back, and even small variations here can make tremendous differences in comfort. Once you have the seat height figured out (either on your current bike or on the first bike your are trying on), have it measured (from center of crank to the top of the saddle) and set up each subsequent bike to exactly the same height. This is very important, as even small changes in seat height can have a dramatic effect on how a bike feels.

Good salesperson can evaluate your position on the bike, with your hands on the handlebars where you will be spending most of your time, and notice that you may need a shorter or longer stem. Sometimes, this change can be made quickly, due to new stem designs that allow you to change the stem without having to remove and reinstall the brake levers and handlebar tape. It is definitely in the best interest of the shop to make your bike as comfortable as possible, so do not be surprised if this is done before you take your test ride.

Tires should be inflated to full rated pressure, or checked by you or in front of you. This is as important as the saddle height. If you ride the ultimate bike for you with tires underinflated, and a less appropriate bike with its tires properly inflated, you could arrive to a wrong conclusion. This item will annoy a lot of salespeople (who will pinch a tire with their fingers and say it is fine) but this is an important point.

Ask if the salesperson could demonstrate gear changes, just to make sure you know how they are supposed to work and to ensure that they are properly adjusted. There are a lot of reasons why a new bike might not have perfectly adjusted gears and you want to make sure things work the way they are supposed to on the test ride.

Actual test ride.

Some bike shops will let you take the bike only around the parking lot or on a street in front. This is useful for having the salesperson check out your position on the bike and, in some cases, is as much of a ride some of you feel comfortable with (if you do not want to deal with traffic, etc.). For some, it will be very inadequate. In this case, try to negotiate couple of hours in the Central Park for a real test ride.

After the short ride you may feel that you love this bike but you need to test ride another to make sure. Adjust the seat height exactly the same as it was on that first bike, and have the tires checked/inflated, and run through the gears again. When riding your second choice, start comparing: check out for how each bikes accelerates while sitting and standing, comfort over big bumps, how it handles road buzz (vibration from road surfaces) and any sort of emotional appeal it might have for you.

If you think that you have found your bike (it has the right features, feels great while riding, etc.) and interested in buying it, now you need to get measured for proper fit/size. The frame size on what you rode might be correct, it might not. Right fit is more important than the price, age, or brand of your bike. The better bike shops should have a fit kit system, which takes a series of measurements of the rider, to make sure that you not only buy the correct frame size, but to measure top-tube plus stem distance (critically important and frequently ignored), seat-to-handlebar drop, seat height, handlebar width and more. It is not an old-fashioned and imprecise matter of how much clearance you have standing over the frame as your arm and torso measurements might dictate a frame size different than stand-over height might indicate. In a lot of cases, the stem length on the bike will need to be changed. This is not a big deal if the shop sells a lot of road bikes - they will have the various stems in stock and ready to switch them (and in most cases, there should be no charge for a stem swap, unless a new stem cost a bit more or because there is a need to replace cables and housings).


Running Basics
Optimally, you should have two pairs of training shoes and a pair of racing shoes. Rotate your training pairs so shoes can get "rested" (so cushioning materials can rebound). If you have only two pairs, try to save one specific pair for your race.

When drying your running shoes, keep them away from high heat (be it heat radiator or dryer), instead use newspaper inside them to help absorb water and dry them.

Since every athlete has a very different biomechanics, running style, body weight and shape of their feet, there is no such thing as the "perfect" or "the best" shoe. Rarely can athlete find a proper fitting and biomechanically appropriate shoe right away. When seearching and shopping, use only highly regarded running stores, bring your old running shoes, socks you run in, and go in the afternoon (to ensure you feet are near their largest size).

Do not use your current running shoes for anything but running training. They are designed for running and should be reserved in their first 500-800 miles for such purpose. Any other use will bring on an early demise to their efficiency and injury protection.


Running Form
Current running science suggests that you should run standing up fairly straight, not leaning too much forward, or to one side, or "sitting" backwards. You should be looking ahead 30-80 feet, not staring at your feet or looking higher than the horizontal axis.

Foot placement. There are "ball of the foot" runners and there are "heel strikers". Some studies indicate that most of the good long distance runners contact ground with the midfoot. Slower runners tend to land between the midfoot and the heel, faster runners - further forward. Traditionally, it is expected that only sprinters should contact the ground with their forefoot or the ball of the foot. Your own pattern most likely may have been already developed.

Arms position. Allow your arms to swing naturally, do not tense up and carry them stiffly with your hands in tight fists. Relax and carry your arms at your side somewhere between your waist and your chest. Make sure they are not too high or too low. One arm swings forward while the other one goes backwards. This occurs opposite to the foot and leg motion. Allow a slight arc as your arms swing toward the center line of your body but do not waste motion and energy by allowing them to move too much from across your body side-to-side (do not swing arms excessively in front of your body).

Knees. The knees do not have to come up very high for triathletes/long distance runners. But do not drug your legs; feel your forward-and-up knee drive.

Stride length. Do not overstride as it can lead to a host of problems including Achilles tendonitis, ITB pain, and iliopsoas muscle pain. Try to let your legs find an optimal stride distance.

Breathing. Breathe in deep, regular, consistent breaths. As you will go faster, you will breathe faster too. Most runners are "mouth breathers" or "nose-and-mouth breathers". Notice that it is very difficult to have adequate oxygen intake from breathing only through your nose.

Uphill and downhill running. You will naturally slow down on the uphills. Move your arms a bit more and shorten your stride. On gradual hills, continue running with your legs; on steeper and shorter hill, use your arms more.

On the downhill, be careful. The biggest risk, due to the overstriding and increased impact forces, is to your knees. Your quadriceps brake your downhill momentum and will be overworked without you being aware of it. If you are racing in a short race, then you may lean forward a bit and just fly down the hills using gravity as additional pull, but you must be more careful in training. In fact, many elite runners who use hills as part of their training regiment walk or jog very slowly down the hill while recovering. Not only this is a good way to recover but it avoids the excessive knee stress that downhill running can cause.


Training in the Cold
Winter time in the New York City is not a reason to stop your outdoor training just because temperature drops and everyone heads indoor (for the couch or gym). But endurance sports are heat-producing metabolic activities and as such are perfect for colder environment. With appropriate preparations (apparel, conditioning, and motivation), most athletes can train safely even when temperatures are in the low 20s. In case you absolutely not willing to brave the cold, you can use indoor substitutes (treadmill, stairclimbers, elipticals, rowers and cross-country ski machines).

First we will address certain misconceptions. Cold air will not get you sick or freeze your airways. We all know that virus is a real reason behind the flu, while inhaled air reaches your lungs warmed up to almost body temperature. Colder temperatures do not adversely affect your muscles health and performance, especially when properly dressed. And training in the cold does not require five layers of clothing or puffy jackets to maintain your body warmth (more on proper layering below). Cold will affect your exercise performance (function of the severity of the cold and the nature of the exercise) by lowering your body core temperature, and by imparing your athletic performance (physiologically and mentally). Moderate cold exposure may actually enhance your performance.

Like all warm-blooded animals, humans must maintain an internal body temperature close to 98.6 degrees F (37 degrees C). During exposure to a cold environment, normal body temperature is maintained by increasing heat production and/or reducing the rate of heat loss (heat conservation). Heat production can be increased by voluntary muscle contractions (exercise) or by involuntary muscle contractions (shivering). Your body metabolism (heat production from exercise) accounts for at least an additional 10 degrees (so if outside temperature is 40, it will feel like 50). Heat conservation can be achieved by adding clothing or physiologically, by constricting the vessels that carry blood to the skin and other extremeties. Such extremeties - hands, feet, ears, facial tissue, for example, will be colder while your legs and trunk tend to stay warmer. Extremeties should be checked regularly during the prolong exposure to cold and windy conditions since they are very susceptible to frostbite. Athletes may be unaware of this condition because extreme cold blocks sensation of pain.

If you are sensitive to breathing cold air, try to inhale through both your mouth and nose. Although nose breathing has a greater air-warming effect, most people can not get enough air through the nose alone to sustain fast walking or running. Breathing through both should ensure enough warm oxygen. Some athletes had success wearing scarfs and balaclavas over their lower faces, which allowed them to partially pre-warm soon to be inhaled air.

Proper warm-up is essential, to slowly elevate your core and muscle temperature. But post-exercise stretching may be better performed in a warmer indoors.

Appropriate clothing for the cold. Goal here is to ensure adequate insulation while avoiding oveheating and an accumulation of sweat. Several light layers are preferable to one or two pieces of heavy clothing. Layers are simply better at trapping and insulating your body with the air you warm up as you run. The key to comfortable winter running is to choose the correct amount and type of layers to wear. Again, there is no absolute rule here since every athlete has a very specific temperature comfort zone, metabolic rate, and training activity. What is proper to wear for a long training jog will not be appopriate on a same day for the short sprint race. Winter running gear should be easily removed and carried about your body, in case you begin to overheat. Avoid the temptation to overdress. Wind can increase heat loss form your body, so windproof outer layer is an important weapon against the cold. When training, consider starting against the wind and returning with the wind (wind in your back). This will help to minimize exposure to high wind chill while generating sweat.

The following layering progression is suggested for your torso:
above 50 degrees: short sleeve or long sleeve synthetic t-shirt
40-50 degrees: long sleeve synthetic t-shirt, with possible addition of light vest or jacket
30-40 degrees: long sleeve synthetic shirt and jacket, with possible addition of a light intermediate layer
20-30 degrees: long sleeve synthetice shirt, medium weight intermediate layer, adn jacket
below 20 degrees: long sleeve synthetice shirt, heavyweight intermediate layer, and heavy jacket

First layer ("base layer") of clothing should absorb sweat and transport it ("push") away from the skin. To combat chills and prevent hypothermia, moisture should be kept at the minimum contact with your body. Specific type of fibers had been developed to help in this "moisture management" process. Such layers should be worn very snug to the skin; air spaces between skin and fabric will destroy the intended benefit. Worn by themselves during the warmer weather, such materials will help sweat to evaporate, creating the cooling effect needed to control overheating in hot conditions. There is a wide variety of items made to be worn as a first layer: tops, shorts, tights, hats and gloves. Fabrics suggested for first layer include: Akwatek, Capilene, Coolmax, Corium, DriFit, Drylayer, Drylete, Dryline, Dryroad, Intera, Polyester, Polypropylene, and Thermax.

Second layer must continue to transfer moisture away from the skin. It should have the ability to trap some air to keep your warm while releasing enough vapor and heat to avoid overheating. Your second or middle layer should serve as a heat insulator. Some fabrics suggested for second layer: Akwatek, Dryline, Polartec, Polyester Fleece, Microfleece, Thermafleece and Thermax.

Outer layer should perform a double task. It has to be balanced between breathability and water resistance, it should protect you against wind and moisture (rain, sleet, snow), and at the same time allow both heat and moisture to escape to prevent both overheating and chilling. Be careful with "not breathable" fabrics and apparel designed for a low aerobic activities (hiking, for example), as your body heat and moisture will be trapped inside. You will not be able to stay dry, and this will make you very cold fast. Such apparel often described as "waterproof". The preferred choice are materials described as "waterproof-breathable" and "water-resistant", since will will allow the heat and perspiration to escape away form the body while keeping wind and rain out. Suggested outer layers (or membranes): ActiVent, ClimaFit, Clima-Proof, GoreTex, Microsuplex, Nylon, Supplex, Windkiller, Windstopper and Wind-Tex.

Hands, feet and head. As much as 30 percent of your body heat escapes through your hands and feet. On mild days, you should wear gloves that move moisture away. On colder days, you are better off with mittens (or warm socks over your hands). Mittens keep the hands warmer since the fingers share their body heat. A single pair of synthetic (NEVER cotton) socks is usually sufficient, as your feet generate additional frictional heat while running. Thicker synthetic socks work fine too as long as your running shoes can accomodate them. About 40 percent of you body heat is lost through your head. If you wear a hat (or headband), you can prevent this heat loss and circulatory system will have more heat to share with the rest of the body. Suggested fabrics for head and hands: Fleece, Thermafleece, Polypropylene, Dryline, Windstopper, Drylete, Gore-Tex and Wind-Tex.


Running Shoes
Know your foot type. First step is to determine your foot type. A simple test that can be done is the wet test - wet your foot and then stand on any surface that will leave an imprint of your foot.

Normal feet have a normalized arch and leave an imprint that has a flare but shows the forefoot and heel connected by a wide band. A normal foot lands on the outside of the heel, then rolls inward ("pronates") slightly to absorb shock. Runners with a normal foot and normal weight are usually considered biomechanically efficient and do not require motion-control shoes.

Flat foot has a low arch and leave a nearly complete imprint. That is, the imprint looks like the whole sole of the foot. This imprint usually indicates an overpronated foot that strikes on the outside of the heel and rolls inward excessively. Recommended last for runners with flat feet is straight or semicurved. Motion control shoes, or stability shoes are the best choice. Stay away from highly cushioned curved-lasted shoes.

High-arched foot leaves imprint showing a very narrow band connecting the forefoot and heel. This type of foot does not pronate enough, so it is not an effective shock absorber. Recommended last for high arched runners is curved. Cushioned shoes with plenty of flexibility to encourage foot motion are recommended.

Choosing the right shoe. Training shoes can be divided into four categories: stability, motion control, cushioned and lightweight training.

Motion-control shoes are the most rigid, control oriented running shoes. Designed to limit overpronation, motion-control shoes are generally heavy but very durable. You should buy these shoes if you are an overpronator who need control or if you wear orthotics and want a firm midsole and deep heel counter or if you are a heavy runner who needs extra durability and control. Runners with flat feet often do best in motion-control shoes.

Stability shoes offer a good blend of cushioning, medial support and durability. They are usually build on a semicurved last. You should buy these shoes if you are midweight runner who does not have any severe motion-control problems. Runners with normal arches often do fine in stability shoes.

Cushioned shoes have the softest midsoles and the least medial support; they are usually built on a semicurved or curved last to encourage foot motion. You should buy these shoes if you are and efficient runner who does not overpronate and does not need extra medial support. Runners with high arches often do best in cushioned shoes.

Lightweight training shoes are lighter of standard trainers. Usually built on a semicurved or curved last. They are used for fast-paced training. You should buy these shoes if you are quick, efficient runner.


Cross Training
Stair climbing. You will build strength for running rolling hills, or just running faster on the flat and you will not "pound" your legs with impact of the footfalls. Simulate your natural running motion as much as possible, without slouching; touch the handrests lightly or not at all. To build strength, sharply increase the resistance and do repeats of 30 seconds each, allowing yourself to recover 1 or 2 minutes of very easy climbing between repeats.

Aqua jogging and pool running. This exercise is about as low impact as it can get. It also promotes smooth running form, because the resistance of the water forces your legs and feet to reduce or eliminate inefficient motion.


Strength Training
Strength and weight training. The goal of such training is to strengthen not only your muscles but also the connective tissues that hold your body together. A weight training workout is made up of sets of different exercises. A set is made up of a number of repetitions (reps) of each exercise. Generally speaking, sets of lower reps with heavier weights build strength; sets of higher reps with lower weights build endurance.

"How should I integrate strength training? I have a weights routine that I am now struggling to fit in - where should it go? What should I be focusing on? Or should I let this go for now while I improve my swimming and running (weaker areas)? What if I pushed too hard with the weights and wind up with really sore quads - is there anything you can do (yes, I went back to doing squats and overdid it.)? And how do I make sure not to over do it next time?"
Yes, while strength training can be helpful, it can also be a hindrance. In your case, I think that it may be a good idea to cut back or cut it out completely for a while. If you are overdoing it and getting injured, what is the point? Strength training should help you ward off injury. I would only continue working on areas where you are prone to injury or are particularly weak. Consider a focus on your core strengthening exercises - abs and low back. If you are to continue a basic weightlifting program, we suggest fewer exercises and sets, and make them compound motions (that use more than one joint). These are more time efficient and simulate real world demands. Also, start with one set of 20-30 reps per exercise. This should take about 60 seconds per exercise and will keep the session relatively short, leaving time to focus on what you should be addressing - your weaker links.
Suggested exercises:
Upper body: Low Row, Lat Pulldown in front of chin, Dumbell Chest Press.
Lower body: Lunges, Squats or Leg Press, Hip Flexion exercise, Hamstring Curl, Leg Extension (last 30 degrees of extension). top

Stretching is the key to injury free racing and training. Here are a few stretches you already familiar with, since we make them part of our team training workouts. Calf stretch. Stand with one foot about two feet in front of the other and rest your palms against a wall. Slowly lean your body forward while pressing the heel of you rear foot into the ground. Keep your toes pointed forward and you back knee straight. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Switch legs.

Deep calf / Achilles tendon stretch. In the same position as the calf stretch, shift your weight farther onto your back leg and bend your back knee until your heel wanting to raise off the floor (keep your heel on the floor).

Ankle stretch. Standing, rise your right foot off the ground. Rotate your right foot drawing an imaginary circle, start right to left and then switch left to right. Repeat each foot 2-3 times.

Hip stretch. From a standing position, put one foot on a chair or step. Lean forward into a lunge position until you feel a stretch along the front of your rear thigh. Keep your back knee straight, with your foot pointed forward.

Quadriceps stretch. Stand on one foot. Lift the other foot (bend knee) with the opposite hand. Attempt to raise the heel of the lifted foot to buttocks. Keep the trunk upright.

Upper body stretch. Stand with legs apart, arms extended toward the ceiling. Grab air with your right hand, then your left, alternating as you rise on your toes. Do this for 10 to 15 seconds.

Back stretch. Stand with legs apart, hands clasped behind your back. Bend forward, bringing your arms overhead, tucking your chin into your chest. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Slowly rise back to standing position.

Side stretch. Stand with legs apart, right hand on the side of your right leg, left hand overhead. Bend to the right at the waist, also stretching overhead arm to the right. Look up to outstretched hand. Hold for 10-15 seconds, and alternate stretch to the other side.


Drink adequate volume of water every day. Use a sports drink for workouts greater than one hour (use drinks of the kind and type you will be using in the race). Drink before you feel thirsty as sensation of thirst lags behind your need for liquids. When you finish a very long workout, have a recovery drink that contains carbohydrates and protein (4 to 1 proportion). Get to recognize color of your urine – clear (or pale) and copious means you are well hydrated.

Eat aggressively (and healthy) night before a long training session so your body is full with glycogen the next morning. During dinner emphasize carbohydrates such as pasta, vegetables, bread, whole grains, and fruit. Same applies to your breakfast, as you need to re-fuel partially exhausted supply of energy. Remember that running may affect your stomach differently than cycling. Do not consume solid food right before your training sessions. If hungry, limit your nutritional intake to easily digested foods (banana, energy bar, and liquid shakes).

Endurance athletes should eat healthy. You know the drill: high carbo, adequate protein and a bit of fat. Include fresh fruits and vegetables, limit junk calories. Calorie needs vary per individual, the more active you are and the bigger you are physically, the more calories you will require.


Injuries, Human Body and Health Topics
"I have been out of training for the past week because of a horrible stomach flu. Should I be doubling my workouts this week - like a morning workout and an evening workout - to make up for the lost time or do you think this is a bad idea. I am a little nervous that I lost all of my fitness base."
It is a common misconception that if you miss a workout you should try to make it up. It is not necessary. Put the past in the past and do not try to make up for lost time. Training for a triathlon is demanding enough that you do not need to add the stress of double the workouts. Each week progressively builds in volume from the prior week. If you try to do 2 weeks worth of workouts in 1 week, what will you do the next week. So if you find yourself adding to the schedule you will be counteracting the design of the program. Do not stress over lost time. You have plenty of training before the event. Do what you can in coming weeks to get back into training. Do not feel like you need to do every workout either. Do what you can to make it to the coached sessions and focus on eliminating your weakest sport link.

"My nose runs while I'm cycling. No, it's not little drips here and there, it'a a constant copious flow that creates a blockage and makes breathing difficult. Am I OK, or do I need help?"
Such specific condition (on a bike only) is unusual. I'm at loss to provide any advice or explanation. I know that generally runny nose (or "athlete's nose") is very common on a bike, when more air is flowing into your lungs (since you are moving faster on the bike). Your body needs to humidify this air, and nose complies by secreting more moisture (mucus). Another explanation is that during the colder temperature, by breathing hard (in your case you maybe breathing harder on the bike than on the run) you will pull in a lot of cool, moist air into superheated nose and mouth. The resulting condensation creates a lot of mucus that body needs to expel. In your case, you mentioned complete blockage, so I can only suggest contacting health care professional for advice.

Another explanation for general running nose is sinusitis, an inflammation or swelling of the sinuses. Sinuses are the air passages behind your cheekbones, eyebrows and jaw. Chronic sinusitis lasts from several weeks to several months. Symptoms include pain in the face, head or neck, a runny nose, a cough that's often worse at night. Sinusitis can be caused by infections, allergies or medicines. It can also occur as a result of changes in temperature, air pressure and irritants in the air. A cold can put you at risk of sinusitis. Overusing decongestant nasal sprays, smoking, and swimming and diving may also increase your risk of getting sinusitis. Nasal polyps and other problems with the sinuses also increase your chance of getting sinusitis. The first approach to treatment includes making changes in your personal habits and your environment. For some people who have chronic sinusitis, exercise helps reduce congestion by increasing nasal discharge. For other people, exercise can worsen symptoms. You may want to try exercise to see if it helps you. If your eyeglasses pinch your nasal bridge, your symptoms may get worse. Air pollution can make sinus symptoms much worse. Some climates are worse than others for people who have chronic sinusitis. The damp weather in northern areas is usually the worst. Changes in air pressure can also cause symptoms in some people. For example, some people with chronic sinusitis feel worse just before a rainstorm, when the air pressure is changing. Saline nasal sprays help moisten dry nasal membranes and help make the mucus wetter and easier to remove. Wetting agents, such as propylene and polyethylene glycol, may also be helpful. Saline nasal rinses can also be helpful. Nasal sprays that contain decongestants are useful for treatment over short periods. Nasal sprays that contain corticosteroids may be helpful if you have allergies. Your doctor may prescribe them for you. Helpful oral medicines include decongestants. Antihistamine medicines can be helpful if you have allergies. Corticosteroid pills can also help reduce symptoms in some people. Antibiotics are only useful if there is a bacterial infection of the sinuses.


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