Hey, CBCG Coaches, What's With the Pancakes?

The Classic CBCG Pre-Race Breakfast Explained by CBCG Athlete and Chief Marketing Officer Amy VT

CBCG head coach Chris brings his own real Maple Syrup

CBCG head coach Chris brings his own real Maple Syrup

“The Grand Slam breakfast already comes with pancakes and toast, sir.”

“I know, I’d like an extra tall side of pancakes and additional serving of toast. Oh, and do you have real Maple Syrup?

Well, it was Denny’s so they didn’t have real maple syrup (we now travel with our own), but our server was clearly more confounded by our breakfast order, in general, than the syrup request. If you’re a CBCG athlete, then you’ve been prescribed the standard colossal pancake breakfast the day before your race. It’s not necessarily a widespread practice throughout the long-distance triathlon community, though, so what gives?  We’re committed to this pre-race nutrition plan, and if you wonder if there’s any proof in the pancake batter, then note these success stories who’ve followed the same ritual: Justin Metzler, Heather Jackson, and Linsey Corbin, among many others. 

Why breakfast for the carb load?

Someone got the memo in the end of the 20th Century that you should have a huge pasta dinner the night before, and eat oatmeal the morning of your race. Head coach Chris Bagg has studied endurance nutrition for decades, and has, with the influence of myriad experts including Jesse Kropelnicki of QT2 Systems®, determined that the latter is problematic because oatmeal can be fibrous and high(er)-glycemic. He’s confident debunking the former, too, because it’s not necessarily the best idea to load up your furnace before bed the night before a race. 

Chris states, “It’s proven that you need to load up on carbohydrates the day before a race to bolster your glycogen stores. It doesn’t matter, however, when the carbs go in during those prior 36 hours, so breakfast makes the most sense for your biggest intake. That way, you get it done before your busy pre-race day, and conquering the feat as early as possible ensures you can process it all (and expunge it all) before the start line.”  

#CBCGathletes Sebastian Pastore, Doris Steere, Devin Salinas, and #CBCGcamper Jeff Rippey pre-Ironman 70.3 Coeur d’Alene 2018

#CBCGathletes Sebastian Pastore, Doris Steere, Devin Salinas, and #CBCGcamper Jeff Rippey pre-Ironman 70.3 Coeur d’Alene 2018

Why Denny’s?

We’ve done the math: roughly 75% of major half- and full-iron-distance events take place in a city with at least one Denny’s. It’s reliable, convenient, fast, and easy. Moreover, it boasts a kitschy novelty that makes for awesome memories and photo ops. The first time my coach proposed it I was appalled by the company at the joint: redolent of the endemic American nutrition issues that lead to widespread health issues. The last time I went there I was giddy and skipping before we opened the front door. 

It obvi doesn’t have to be Denny’s, though. My fave memory of a non-Denny’s pancake breaky was at Kona when Wattie of Wattie Ink. flipped a gajillion chocolate chip pancakes over the griddle as he was nursing Foster’s 40-can and we were swimming. Can you imagine how stoked we were to come home to that smell and taste?  I’m drooling just thinking about them. My fave story of an athlete adapting to a non-Denny’s environment was when CBCG athlete Greg Dufour was in Paris for the marathon and found a crêperie and ordered eight crêpes. 

CBCG coach Josh Sutton and CBCG athlete Greg Dufour improvised while camping at the Wildflower Triathlon Festival 2018

CBCG coach Josh Sutton and CBCG athlete Greg Dufour improvised while camping at the Wildflower Triathlon Festival 2018

What if I’m gluten free?

You can do it!  You might not be able to revel in the glory of Denny’s, but most North American locations should have some local breaky joint with GF options. Better yet, if you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen, then just pack some ridiculously affordable Trader Joe’s® GF pancake mix. They even make punkin’ flavor in the fall.  If you don’t have a kitchen, then pack or buy some GF frozen waffles and toast them in your hotel lobby. My mom hoarded some for me all summer, which she protected for me from my ravenous brothers. 

My mom’s effort to protect my GF waffles, planned ahead for Ironman Mont Tremblant 2018

My mom’s effort to protect my GF waffles, planned ahead for Ironman Mont Tremblant 2018

How do I fit it into my busy pre-race day?

Great question. I always say: if I’m in my room watching the Bourne Trilogy by 4pm, I’ve done it  right. It’s so hard, though!  Having to “shake-out” all three sports and check in your bike snd bags and everything can be involved. Once, at Kona, I left for bike check-in at 10am and got back at 3pm!  

But we can’t skip breaky, so the biggest trick I’ve learned is to either do my run or swim (depending on logistics) as soon as I wake up (even before coffee!), and then report to breakfast by 8am. If you get one quick workout in before breaky, you should only have one or two little shake outs, bike check-in, and bag drop off for the rest of your day. Prepping everything the day before is clutch: your bags, nutrition on your bike, and mixing and filling ALL the bottles you’ll need the next morning. You’ll be maxin’ and watching a movie marathon before you know it. 

Taunting my brother in Mexico: mandatory breakfast = perfect forced downtime with family and friends

Taunting my brother in Mexico: mandatory breakfast = perfect forced downtime with family and friends

Send us your pics!

CBCG athletes and coaches thrive on community, and the mandatory pre-race gorge sesh is one of our fave ways to get together. In fact, it makes for some forced moments of relaxation before things start goin’ down for reals. By the end of 2019, we hope to amass an individual pic of every single CBCG athlete in front of a plate, er, plates of pancakes. If you’re a current athlete, alumnus, friend, or family member, send us your pics, and safe travels to #CarbTown.  

CBCG athletes Doris Steere & Marc Nester courted over pancakes, and now they’re soon to be married!

CBCG athletes Doris Steere & Marc Nester courted over pancakes, and now they’re soon to be married!

Swimming Spotlight: Scott G.'s Path from Bambino to 1:25 Ironman Swim

Scott G. back in December 2015—a textbook “Bambino”

Scott G. back in December 2015—a textbook “Bambino”

by CBCG Head Coach Chris Bagg

Whenever we have an athlete perform at a new level, we hear from that person’s friends: We’re so amazed by _________’s swim/bike/run! What did you do differently for that person?" Today we’re going to use one of our proudest examples, a recent breakthrough swim for CBCGer Scott G., who swam 1:25 at Ironman Arizona in November 2018. 1:25 not seem super fast to you? Well, let’s consider where Scott came from, which was a total alien in the water, only three years ago. As you can see in the video above, Scott was what we would call (using Swim Smooth’s terminology) a “Bambino.” These swimmers have a bunch of issues, many of which are apparent above. They are:

  • Poor water feel: Bambinos usually haven’t spent much time in the water and they just don’t “get it.”

  • Sinky, jittery legs: Bambinos often have their legs sink behind them, and display a leg kick that jitters—usually they kick from the knee instead of from the hip

  • Holding their breath: one of the reasons Bambinos struggle so much is that they tend to hold their breath underwater. This fault causes their chests float and exacerbates the sinking leg issue. Breath holding also makes the swimmer feel very anxious as carbon dioxide builds up in his or her blood.

  • Poor rhythm and inefficient catch-and-pull: Bambinos tend to display little rhythm and “oomph” in the water, usually due to a catch-and-pull that mostly pushes down on the water, instead of back on the water.

Now, let’s look at Scott when we did his yearly swim analysis (something all CBCG athletes get) in December of 2018:

Quite different, yes? When Scott joined us, it would take him more than 45 minutes to swim 1500m (an Olympic-distance triathlon). At Arizona, he swam two-and-a-half times that distance (3800m), in 57 degree water, in less than twice that amount of time (1:25). Here’s how he did it:

  1. Consistency of approach. Yep, you knew this was going to be here. Scott has been uniquely focused on getting better at triathlon since he joined us in 2015, coming over from a mostly-cycling background. He has lost weight, dropped his open half-marathon time to 1:29, and committed to improving all aspects of his game. He has been in the pool 2-3 times a week, every week, for close to 150 weeks straight, now. That is the kind of commitment that improving at swimming requires. We’ve said it a bunch of times: swimming is more like golf than cycling or running, and it rewards patient skill acquisition.

  2. A focus on fitness. Even though skill acquisition is important, it is far from the whole enchilada. If you can’t swim 200 meters without getting gassed, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got good form for that amount of time/distance: you simply won’t be able to maintain it even in your workouts, let alone your races! We focused on Scott’s swim fitness, giving him lots of sets with long intervals, forcing him to build his aerobic capacity in the water.

  3. Addressing his limiters. For Scott, our hierarchy was:

    1. get rid of the breath-holding!

    2. improve the kick: use the glutes not the quadriceps to straighten his leg, so he’s actually getting some body lift from his kick

    3. improve the catch-and-pull to generate more force, which will both make him faster AND reduce drag (with more propulsion, his body sinks less)

  4. Practicing pacing. As with many cyclists, Scott likes to go fast. He often started too hard and blew up early, reverting to bad form and slowing down drastically in the second half of the swim. He now approaches swims at the pace he knows he can hold, aiming to swim harder in the second half of the leg rather than the first half.

  5. Growth mindset versus fixed mindset. We hear, so often, triathletes say things like “I’m a 1:15 swimmer,” and abandon any plan of improvement, forgetting (or not realizing) that even if you swim the same speed, you can do so and expend less energy. These swimmers tend to struggle over the whole race, even though they focus on the biking and running. They simply give up too much during the swim, due to their lack of training. Scott has consistently focused on the fact that he can improve, and been patient with that process. Scott’s goal is to qualify for Kona, and that’s going to require slicing another 15-20 minutes off his Ironman swim, and getting their will require belief, confidence, and patience, but most of all the mindset that change IS possible.

And that’s kinda it. No silver bullets, magic drills, or mystery pull sets that will transform your swimming. Unsurprisingly, it takes understanding what you’re doing wrong (analysis), a plan to move those faults up the competence ladder (from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence), and commitment to that plan. That’s what we do every day at CBCG, for every athlete. If you’d like to talk to one of our coaches as to how you’d be able to pull off this kind of improvement in your own swimming, you can inquire here.

The Ultimate Top Ten Gifts for the Triathlete Who Has Everything

by CBCG Athlete Amy VT

Triathletes are pretty particular about their gear, if not certifiably hyper. The latest models, lightest material, freshest colors, and most inventive bells and whistles describe another kind of race, and personal preference and style can make gift-giving seem nearly impossible.

So what do you get the triathlete who has everything?  Here are some sure-fire bets, with a range of cost, that any triathlete would thank Santa for, no doubt.

#1 Swim Video Analysis

From the first out of the water at Kona, to those who just learned to swim and are worried about cut-off times, everyone, we repeat everyone could benefit from a personalized analysis by an expert coach. With a CBCG Swim Video Analysis, CBCG coaches go the distance by offering a one-to-one session complete with video coverage from three angles, a sit-down analysis, individualized drill prescriptions, and a takeaway thumb drive of your footage, comments, and visual overlay graphics.

Even if they already underwent an analysis, most athletes renew this invaluable service once or twice a year to encourage continued development.

CBCG coaches film three angles of swimmers for their analyses.

CBCG coaches film three angles of swimmers for their analyses.

#2 Camp

Dream gift!  If you purchase a slot in a triathlon training camp, you’re giving the gift of training, camaraderie, coaching, and an ultimately memorable experience. There are tons and tons of camps of different styles, durations, and foci, all throughout the year, and all over the world. Check out our CBCG Camps for a few ideas.

Of course you’d have to be certain the Camp dates and timing work for your athlete, so this one may require some research and sneaking, or some transparency making it not so much of a surprise. If you do want it to be a secret, we recommend surreptitiously asking your athlete’s coach and boss if the dates and timing are feasible.

Happy Campers at our Bend Camp in May…registration is still open!

Happy Campers at our Bend Camp in May…registration is still open!

#3 Super rad socks

Show us a triathlete who doesn’t want some rad new socks, and we’ll show you...um...err...something that doesn’t exist. In fact, I dare you to shop for super rad socks and not want some for yo’ self at the same time.

No one can have too many socks, especially triathletes, and finding a hip or wild graphic will make your gift personal. We recommend The Athletic®, which also has a drool-worthy brick-and-mortar store in NW PDX.  Their best gift option is their “The Athletic Sock Club.” If you drool so uncontrollably you just gotta get your own, consider their “Surprise Sock Pack” grab bag from last season deal.

Of course we’re going to reco some Wattie Ink. socks, too, which feature the added benefit of compression particularly conducive to racing. Check out those purple confetti “Prism Socks.”

The Wattie Ink. “American Punk” mismatch style are currently on sale!

The Wattie Ink. “American Punk” mismatch style are currently on sale!

#4 Travel-sized torque wrench

You’ll have to check to ensure your giftee doesn’t already have one. If not, and if you’ve got the coin, drop everything and order a travel-sized torque wrench right now.  Don’t even read the rest of this list.

Torque wrenches are crucial to triathlon and TT bike maintenance, since carbon frames and seat tubes, and complex headsets require a specific measure of Newton meters for tightening. As triathletes travel all over the world for races, it can be dangerous guesswork to make adjustments without a torque wrench, or a hassle to find a mechanic at the race site.

Any brand that looks relatively like the below pic is ideal, so long as it’s sold by a reputable cycling retailer, is relatively lightweight and compact, and has at least eight attachments. Borrow a paint pen or label gun (my mom has both) because everyone will want to swipe your athlete’s new prize possession.  

Anything that looks roughly like this wrench will do!

Anything that looks roughly like this wrench will do!

#5 Imperfect Produce subscription

Great idea, right?  All off us need viteys, and busy triathletes who focus on quick carbs for fuel and quick protein for recovery might find it challenging to hunt and gather the recommended rainbow spectrum of fruits and veggies.

Every major city in the US offers a CSA-like weekly subscription to a box of farm fresh produce, and some focus on a rad idea: delivering to you the mis-shapen or over-harvested fruits and veggies that grocery stores won’t accept.

Imperfect Produce® in Portland and a few other cities is radical. They fight food waste by finding a home for “ugly” produce sourced directly from farms, and deliver it to customers' doors weekly for about 30% less than grocery store prices. They support good farmers, create good jobs, and get this: they donate their extras to food banks. Win-win-win-win-win.

We got this motherlode last week forcing us to get creative with turnips and persimmons.

We got this motherlode last week forcing us to get creative with turnips and persimmons.

#6 NormaTech® recovery pumps

Like Camp, this one would be more of a splurge, but it’s a definite winner. “Do you have NormaTechs?” is a frequent question from those who own them and are ready to gloat. It’s like the triathlete community is bifurcated into two bastions: those with, and those without NormaTech® recovery pumps.

If you’re uncertain what they are, imagine the sleeve around your bicep as you’re getting your blood pressure tested. NormaTech® pumps zip up over your entire legs, delivering an intense and scientifically-controlled measure of compression to aid in recovery for fatigued muscles, utilizing the “compressed air to massage your limbs, mobilize fluid, and speed recovery.”

Most importantly, this gift would be one of self-care. It’s like a gift cert for a massage, only this one doesn’t need to be scheduled, and it lasts forever. Athletes relish sitting in their pumps, multitasking, watching Netflix, eating cereal, or being forced to do nothing since you have to be prone for a sesh. Dream gift.

I always multitask in my pumps, which often entails peanut butter.

I always multitask in my pumps, which often entails peanut butter.

#7 A super rad swimsuit

“I could never get her a swimsuit because I don’t her size or style.”  WRONG! That’s just plain lazy. All it takes is sneaking into her or his drawers, double entendre intended, and finding the size of her or his other suits. Or ask a best friend or training partner. For a girl, also determine if she prefers one- or two-piece suits. If you’re still unsure, buy two and return the other later.

Then, report directly to the Wattie Ink. swimsuit collection. You’ll find both some phenomenal sale prices and some fresh graphics that will make for a perfect and personalized gift. Pro tip: add a silicone cap to complete your bundle of joy.

Rachel McB and Amy VT rocking the W.

Rachel McB and Amy VT rocking the W.

#8 Hipster instant coffee

There IS such a thing!  I betchya if you get some for a gift, you’re gonna get your own. Triathletes travel a ton, and especially in foreign countries we can’t always rely on good coffee to be avail. Enter the Instant Coffee Revolution.

We used to equate the concept with a brand that rhymes with waynka, but now some of the highest quality roasters are offering up little travel packets of rocket fuel that actually taste good, too.

Our fave: Stoked Roasters® out of Hood River Oregon. Stoked Instant Coffee is 100% Certified Organic, and comes in medium or dark roast, in packs of eight. Pro tip: add a full bag of their espresso beans to your gift bundle.

So cool, right? Those cute little packets pack a mean punch and are perf for travel!

So cool, right? Those cute little packets pack a mean punch and are perf for travel!

#9 A tub of Fieldwork Primo Smoothie®

The Lamborghini of protein powder. [Fieldwork Nutrition Company® synthesizes a science-based concoction of ingredients with remarkably good taste. Athletes honestly find themselves making smoothies with Fieldwork® just for a treat, and I know a friend who topped one with whipped cream and a cherry.

The best feature of a quality protein powder is the inclusion of stuff we need, but often fail to get elsewhere. In addition to 20 grams of clean protein from grass fed whey, Fieldwork® also packs in healthy fats and omega-3s, vitamins D, E, C, magnesium and iron, curcumin from turmeric and probiotics, creating their signature orange color. A tub of their popular “Primo Smoothie” powder is what we recommend.

Imagine wrapping that huge tub of quality protein powder. Big hit, fo sho.

Imagine wrapping that huge tub of quality protein powder. Big hit, fo sho.

#10 Recycled inner-tube gear

Eco-conscious gifts always deliver that special dose of love. So even if your giftee already has a saddle bag, drop kit, wallet, zip pouch, or shoulder bag, it won’t be redundant to get another.

Check out the suite of Wattie Ink. recycled tube gear, and if you’re in PDX, check out the brick-and-mortar shops that carry Alchemy Goods® gear like Tender Loving Empire.

Sweet saddle bag! All recycled. All awesomeness.

Sweet saddle bag! All recycled. All awesomeness.

We recommend avoiding these items: hydration systems (too many options), wetsuit (you’ll get the wrong size), goggles (too individual), bike travel cases (unless you’re pozzy you know exactly what they want), magazine subscriptions (the quality varies), bumper stickers (if you have to ask...). Gift cards are also always a winner, in which case we recommend Wattie Ink. or your local grocery store.

The above list, however, should give you some much more exciting ideas for your giftee, or maybe you, yourself, in which case you should just forward this message to your whole family. If that’s too blatantly hinty, send us their email and they we’ll forward it for you.

Happy Holidays from the Chris Bagg Coaching Group!

How to Come Down from Caffeine

IMG_5787.JPG

by Chris Bagg

It’s 2:34 PM, thirteen days before my last Ironman of the year, and I’m breaking my commitment to stick to only two cups of coffee a day. Great way to establish credibility, right? And you thought you were here to learn about how to kick the habit, huh? Well, we’ll get there (I hope). First of all, though, why am I even trying to get off of caffeine in the first place? And why so far out from the race, too? Wasn’t there a study, like, just last year, that established you only needed three days to get clean from caffeine?

It’s a well-established fact that caffeine is a performance enhancer. WADA (the World Anti-Doping Association) toyed with the possibility of putting caffeine on the banned list a few years ago, before basically the entire cycling industry lost their collective shit. So we do know that it improves performance, but—as with anything—it’s important to know how caffeine improves performance, and under what circumstances. Caffeine is a stimulant of the central nervous system, and one of its effects is to block a chemical reception that triggers the onset of drowsiness. So, first of all, you get less tired/sleepy. Not too many athletes get sleepy during their events, but a little more alertness never hurt anyone. The next helpful effect of caffeine is that it helps us utilize fat as a fuel source, especially as we run low on glycogen. For any athlete doing an event longer than 90 minutes, this is hugely helpful. Thirdly—and probably the most pertinent—caffeine changes our perception of effort. Think about that again. Most of what drives our performances out on course is our perception of how things are going, rather than how they are actually going (this is a whole other blog post). If we can change our perception of effort, it is possible we can rewrite our entire experience of the endurance event at hand, perhaps turning in a performance we never even thought possible.

Before you head to the store, though, to stock up on beans, a very important caveat. As with any drug, we build up tolerances. And, like many Americans, we tend to already drink two to three cups of coffee a day, numbing our response to the popular drug. And if you’ve ever had to go until noon without your fix (or if a clever spouse switched the decaf on you), you know that the withdrawal symptoms of caffeine addiction are no joke: lethargy, terrible headaches, irritability. That aforementioned study on coming down from caffeine breezily posited that only three days are necessary for the body to be rid of its addiction to this particular drug. I’ll bet that those freaking study authors drink tea, and herbal tea, at that. Try to kick your habit three days before a race, and you will be so miserable in the days leading up to the event you may decide to DNS.

But it IS important to get off the drug. If you don’t, you’ll need caffeine simply to bring yourself up to your normal level of ability. For some, that may be fine, but if you are looking for that extra zip on race day to nab that Kona qualification, then getting off of caffeine may really help. If you’ve ever managed to get away from it for a stretch of time, you know what that first cup back is like: speed in a mug. How is this legal? you may think to yourself, and I’m not sure if I should drive right now…caffeine to the virgin (or, at least, scoured out) system is fairly amazing, and it can really power great performances on the race course.

OK, I hope I’ve convinced you. So how do we get there? Here’s the system I usually put into play while getting down from caffeine:

13 days out: 1.5 cups of coffee in the AM, with the freedom to have half a cup around 2-3 PM
12-9 days out: repeat the above process
8-6 days out: 1 cup of coffee in the AM, with the freedom to have half a cup around 2-3 PM
5-3 days out: 1 cup of coffee in the AM, nothing else
2-1 days out: 1 cup of green tea with only 35mg of caffeine in it (one tea bag, steeped for three minutes)
Race Day: nothing with breakfast, 100mg caffeine pill 45’ before race start

Why no coffee itself on race day? Well, the tannins in coffee can mess with your stomach on race morning, moreso than the caffeine, so I avoid the drink entirely, take my 100mg of caffeine pre-race, and am usually absolutely flying by race start.

Why Camps?

This article originally appeared on the Fuse Lenses blog. We’re reposting because it’s camp season, and that means our Tucson and Bend Camps are open for registration. Regardless of whether or not you’re coming to one of our camps, you can follow the below structure to give yourself a boost of fitness if you can set up your work schedule to allow for it.

Why training camps? Each spring (or whichever season describes the early part of your competitive year), athletes of all stripes head to different locales to train in groups, in better weather, or to spend some valuable time with his or her coach. But how much really changes? My old training partner, Olympic-probable Eric Lagerstrom, often points out that when other athletes talk about camp, they’re really just describing their normal training in a new setting. This is quite true. I’m in Carlsbad, California right now, with Amy and my training partner Heather Jackson, posted up in a beautiful house in the San Diego County hills. We’ll be here for twenty days, and training doesn’t look too different from normal: big days Wednesday and Saturday on the bike. Big runs Sunday. Long hard swims Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Short but hard runs sprinkled throughout. Easier rides wherever they fit. So why pull up stakes, go somewhere else for three weeks, spend a bunch of money on renting a house, driving the entire length of I-5, find coverage for our jobs and businesses?

That might seem like a stupid question. Sure, the weather is nicer in Southern California than it is in Portland during the winter, but training effectively in Portland isn’t hard at all. It’s wet, yes, but the temperature is fine, the running is always top-drawer, and you can swim anywhere, really. The real value of a camp is not in the amount of training you can get in, or the convenience of nice weather, or the company of strong athletes—the value of a camp is the efficiency it provides: you can do more than you normally can, not by freeing up more time to train (there’s always more time to train, it just depends on how you feel about running/riding/swimming before light or after dark, or when you’re exhausted from work), but by freeing up more time to recover and rest.

When Amy and I are back in Portland, chaos basically reigns. We both run our own small businesses: my coaching company has five coaches and 55 athletes, and Amy counsels high school students through the byzantine, competitive world of college admissions. Like most long course triathletes, amateur and professional alike, we fit our training in and around our work commitments. I think most small business owners will sympathize that you can always work—if you’re not careful you find yourself logging 80-100 hour weeks. Training camp gives me, for a wonderful three weeks, the chance to fit my work around my training, and fit my training around my rest. Long course triathlon also requires a bunch of hours (Heather and I put in 25-30 hour weeks; Amy is in the 21-25 range), but all that training requires a ton of recovery. Stepping away from Portland and getting out of my business bubble allows me to really focus on the work hard/rest hard equation. Here’s what a week looks like, coupled with appropriate recovery blocks.

And that’s basically it! Wash, rinse, repeat for however long you’re at camp, and then schedule some time to really rest the week after camp. We’ll be here for three total weeks, putting ourselves in a pretty deep hole by the end of March. That kind of heavy training requires heavy resting afterward, cutting training volume by 50-70%, depending on how exhausted you feel. Many athletes train hard enough, but don’t rest hard enough, and they find themselves getting tired and slow by mid-summer. Camps are great for training stimulus, but you don’t get faster until you let that stimulus soak into your body. As my first cycling mentor, Captain Dondo, once said: “Riding your bike isn’t training. Lying on the couch afterward—that’s where everything actually starts to change.”

Want to experience the highs and lows of camp yourself? Come to our legendary Bend camp in May, or our Heather Jackson/Wattie Ink. Camp in Tucson, where YOU get to train with Heather Jackson for five remarkable days.

How to Race in a Radically Different Time Zone from Your Own

by Amy VanTassel

Someone once said (was it Confucius?) that to properly adapt to a new time zone, you need one restful day in your new location per every hour difference. Ergo, if you’re heading for the Gold Coast of Australia, with a nine hour difference, you should arrive nine days in advance to get a shot at adaptation. For athletes attempting to actually compete abroad, it should probably be even more.

CBCG friends Rachel McBride and Steph Corker traveling to compete in Ironman World Championships, 2018

CBCG friends Rachel McBride and Steph Corker traveling to compete in Ironman World Championships, 2018

Not every athlete, however, has the luxury of showing up on site several weeks in advance. So, as CBCG athlete and five-time participant at CBCG Camps Don Geddes discovered, there are strategic ways to prep for races abroad. The strategies begin at home, well in advance to flying overseas.

“Before I left for Worlds in Australia, I read an article from University of a Sydney professor, Steve Simpson. Since the time difference to Portland was seven hours behind, I had already started staying up a bit later every night, but after I read this research I committed to practicing the following:

CBCG athlete Don Geddes at the 2018 ITU Age Group Standard Distance Worlds in Australia

CBCG athlete Don Geddes at the 2018 ITU Age Group Standard Distance Worlds in Australia

1. I began going to bed 90 minutes later every day until I was staying up until 3-4 AM, ultimately getting up around 11 AM - 12 PM in Portland.  

2. My drastically later wake up time put me in sync for a 4 AM wake up in Australia, which was pretty much in line with my wake up time on race day. 

3. I started doing my workouts close to when my actual race times would be - real time in Australia. Since I had a late wave start of 8:23 AM, that meant shifting my workouts to 3-4 PM. 

4. In turn, I needed to adjust meal times by having lunch around 4 or 5 PM, and dinner around 8:30.

5. To shake out the stiffness and cobwebs for sitting so long on the 14-hour flight I opted for the formal Aquathon offered to all competitors, which was a 750 meter swim and 5k run the day after arriving. I felt this was really helpful as it let test the water and shake out the legs. Doubtful that a similar event is available for other races, at least I recommend discussing your shakeout routine upon arrival with your coach. 

Don ended up 3rd American in his age group that Sunday, in the triathlon!  He has clinched multiple PR’s and impressive podia positions in his time working under CBCG head coach Chris Bagg, which is principally due to his diligence and perseverance as a world-class triathlete.

Geddes on his way to 3rd American and 15th in his Age Group in Australia

Geddes on his way to 3rd American and 15th in his Age Group in Australia

We at CBCG recognize that such adjustments may be relatively easier for Don, or any athlete who doesn’t hold-down a 9-5 career, but there should be some universal takeaways from his experience. So, in addition to Don’s above sage list of tactics, we offer some general rules-of-thumb for anyone planning to race in a significantly different time zone:

1. Talk to your coach. Whether or not you can get ready in terms of training and fitness, it’s half the battle to ensure you can realistically thwart for the ramifications of jet lag. The best-trained athletes in the world are no good if they’re not acclimatized, so ensure you can meet the afncdd requirements to set yourself up for success for your dream race on the other side of the planet. Your coach can help.

2. Talk to your family. If you’re combining racing with a family adventure, which is a fantastic idea, let’s make sure you’re not throwing them under the bus. If you’re phasing into a new time zone, so should they, at least a little. If they cannot phase-in at least some degree of sleep change, you’ve got to consider the impact on both your racing, and/or their vacation.

3. At least do something. Again, if you’re all, like, “Yeah, must be nice to get to go travel a few weeks in advance, but I gotta work!” at least practice some behaviors while still holding-down your day job. Going to bed just a littler earlier or later, depending on the location, will do wonders. And then controlling your sleep on the flight and upon your arrival will be key, which many people don’t realize is largely controlled by other daily practices...

Eating and training closer and closer to your global race time will be increasingly valuable, so check out Don’s advice and the article he engendered. Talk to you coach and fam, an consider if traveling to Nice, France for 70.3 World Champs or something similar is right for you!

CBCG head coach Chris Bagg waiting for a train in Strasborg

CBCG head coach Chris Bagg waiting for a train in Strasborg

Service Spotlight: How to Do a Swim Analysis

Here at CBCG, every new athlete gets a free swim analysis included with their coaching subscription, and we update that swim analysis each year at our CBCG Bonanza, held each December in Portland (with other locations around the country coming soon!). Why is getting a swim analysis so important that we make that the first thing we do with a new athlete? Well, swimming is more like golf in terms of technical requirements than cycling or running. So many things need to happen at the same time for you to move in an alien orientation (horizontal) through an alien medium (water). Our swim analyses look at you from each pertinent angle, letting you know where you’re doing things correctly and where you could make some improvements. We’ll roll through our six angles in order below, and you can watch, above, as I go through an analysis of one of our athletes.

Angle One: Side View Above Water

This is usually the most flattering angle, so we tend to start here. When we look at a swimmer from the side, we’re watching the following aspects:

  1. If the swimmer lifts the head to breathe

  2. How the breath is timed to the stroke (early breath/late breath)

  3. How the arm is recovered over the water and how it enters the water (want to read an entire POST about this subject? You can do that here)

  4. We also watch for the rhythm of the stroke. Some athletes look like they’re trying to attack the water, flailing down the lane. Others are very “polite” and probably take too few strokes, thinking that fast swimming is about trying to disturb as little water as possible.

Angle Two: Side View Below Water

This is usually the least flattering angle to swimmers, since it reveals what odd things their bodies are doing underwater. When we look at a swimmer from the side below the surface, we’re tracking these qualities:

  1. If their legs sink behind them

  2. How much/how little they kick

  3. The quality of their catch (from hand entry until the arm is directly below the shoulder) and pull-through (from end of catch to hand exit)

  4. Where they look in the water

We tend to really focus on the quality of the catch, here, since that is going to have the biggest impact on other aspects of the stroke, in particular if the swimmer has sinky legs. Usually those sinky legs are a result of a so-so catch and pull-through, so if we can fix that issue of propulsion, then the legs tend to correct as well.

Angle Three: Top View

The top-down angle reveals many other crucial aspects of the swimmer’s stroke. Here, we are looking for the following qualities of the stroke:

  1. Do the swimmer’s hands cross an imaginary centerline, drawn through the spine, out in front of his or her body? If so, this is going to ramify down through the body, usually leading to a swimmer snaking down the pool (or swimming off course in open water). A crossover in front often leads to our next issue…

  2. A scissor kick. Created when the swimmer rotates too much or creates instability at the front of the stroke by crossing over. You can see this happening when a swimmer’s legs spread apart behind them in a wide “V.” A scissor kick is essentially deploying a parachute behind you, so fixing this issue is crucial.

  3. Breath timing. Top down gives us another chance to watch the swimmer’s timing of the breath vis-a-vis the stroke. We want the swimmer to finish her breath before her hand passes her face above the water (on its way towards re-entry). If the swimmer isn’t doing this, it’s a clue that they’re not getting enough air out while their face is under water.

  4. General lack of movement. You’re supposed to rotate along a long axis while doing freestyle, which means your spine, hips, and shoulders should be aligned, and there should be a relative lack of movement as they rotate.

Angle Four/five: 3/4 view front

When we watch from the 3/4 front angle, above water and below, we’re watching to see the swimmer’s breathing patterns. From above the water, we’re looking for the mystical bow wave. What’s a bow wave? Well, OK, some nautical terminology, here. If you’ve ever seen a boat move through the ocean or a lake, it makes a little pile of water right at its prow. That pile of water has to go somewhere, so it flows “downhill,” creating a small trough right behind the boat’s nose. Here’s a good example:

bow-wave-of-a-ship_4wsuh5a9g__F0000.png

You can see that depression, right behind the bulge of water out in front of the boat, right? Well, we make that, too, as long as we keep our heads still as we swim forward. That trough is a really nice place for us to breathe into, as there’s air there that we don’t have to lift our head for. So when looking at the swimmer above the surface, we look to see if they are making that bow wave AND making use of the trough behind it. When we go underwater, we look to see if the swimmer is holding his/her breath. In the video above, you can see our swimmer isn’t creating a bow wave (or is making a very small one), and therefore having to lift her head to breathe. And when we go underwater, you can see that she’s not exhaling regularly—we should see a steady stream of bubbles coming out of her mouth while underwater. Instead, you can see that her mouth is slightly open, with no bubbles. This swimmer is holding her breath, and making it much more difficult on herself! As yourself this: would you ever hold your breath while running?

Angle Six: Front

And our final angle: directly in front of the athlete. Here’s what we’re looking for:

  1. Is the angle of the swimmer’s arm, measured from the elbow, between 100-120 degrees? This should result in the swimmer’s hand being about 2-2.5 feet below their body and directly under the shoulder.

  2. The hand should not sweep under the body (the dreaded “s-curve,” taught in the 1980s and 1990s to swimmers such as Yours Truly.

  3. The swimmer should rotate in a 90 degree arc, from 45-50 degrees to the horizontal of the pool floor, to 45-50 degrees on the other side. Anything more than that is over-rotation and will cause breathing and stroke timing issues. Anything less than that is under-rotation, and will cause issues of not being able to recover the arm properly over the surface of the water.

Summary

So that’s “it.” We get it—there’s a lot there to think about! Swimming really is very technical, and you shouldn’t be daunted by the amount of information above. Improving at swimming takes a long time, and is more akin to improving at golf than cycling or running—you simply must put in the practice time AND the fitness time. If you just get in the water and do drills, you’ll never build your fitness to a place where you can actually get through a practice without falling apart and watching your form suffer. If you never work on your technique, you won’t progress much in terms of speed. You’ll become more enduring, which is good, too, but speed gains will elude you.

We offer 1-2-1 video analysis here at CBCG, and if it’s something you think might benefit you, you can contact us about it here!

How to Choose the Right Triathlon Coach for You

Head Coach Chris Bagg working with CBCG athlete Devin Salinas at our 2017 Bend Training camp

Head Coach Chris Bagg working with CBCG athlete Devin Salinas at our 2017 Bend Training camp

by CBCG Partner Coach Molly Balfe

So you’re ready for a coach. You’re committed to taking your triathlon training to the next level, and you’re cognizant that expert guidance and accountability is the best way to get there. Hiring a coach provides you with an ally and guide who can help you achieve your goals, manage your time, and take the guesswork out of your training, but the complex worlds of triathlon training, racing, gear, and nutrition can be overwhelming for new (and seasoned) athletes. For the self-motivated athlete, there is no shortage of info available online and in print, but you will quickly find that not only are there are several different schools of thought, but many of those theories directly contradict each other!

How should you proceed? If navigating the online options for coaching can be overwhelming, then how could you even begin to search specifically for the right person with whom you will forge a meaningful relationship? How do you find a good match? What is a good match?A cheerleader or a drill sergeant? Someone who pushes you or reins you in, or both? Whether you’re looking for someone to help you out for a few months as you find your bearings or are set on finding a long-term coach to help you continually improve, it can be tough to begin this process.

#CBCGcoach Molly Balfe working with camper Sarah Barkley at our 2017 Bend Training Camp

#CBCGcoach Molly Balfe working with camper Sarah Barkley at our 2017 Bend Training Camp

We at the Chris Bagg Coaching Group are passionate about the coach-athlete relationship. We love this sport, and we want you to find an ideal coach who doesn’t just have that love in common, but whose style and approach creates the best rapport to empower you to be the fastest, happiest, and healthiest you want to be. To help you along your way, we compiled a list of suggestions that we think will help you identify a qualified coach who is the right match for you.

Dive in. The first thing we recommend is to stop second-guessing your desire to hire a coach. We are inundated with disclaimers from athletes about not being fast enough, young enough, fit enough, strong enough, or whatever enough to take their training seriously. In all honesty, very few coaches make their living working with elite athletes. Most coaches were drawn to this profession because they are passionate about the sport and want to support athletes as they work towards their goals. Athletes participate in triathletes for a myriad of great reasons; they want to stay fit, get healthy, challenge themselves, and create a healthy lifestyle. These are all serious reasons, and we take your commitment seriously whether you are looking for podia or finish lines.

When you have made the decision to hire a coach, begin with a self-assessment. Define your reasons for seeking assistance so you can articulate them to the coaches you meet with. Here are a few recommendations to help you clarify what you are hoping to get from your coach: 

Know your limiters. Where do you struggle the most? If you aren’t sure, take a look at your recent race results and where you ranked in the swim, bike, and run (and while you’re at it, check out those transitions!). If you had the fastest bike split in your age group, but you ranked 30th in the swim, your coach may well want to focus on what is happening in the water. If there are big improvements to be made, it may help to spend a few weeks or months focusing on one sport, as it is extremely difficult to make considerable gains in all three sports at the same time. Many coaches use the “off” season to spend targeted time on the sport that holds an athlete back. This way, as the race season approaches, the plan can focus more on intensity and volume across all of your training.

Identify your short- and long-term goals. How will you know that your season was a success? Where do you want your training to be in five years? You and your coach need to be on the same page about where your training is headed, so tell them what your goals are and ask for their feedback about whether they think your goals are achievable. If your goal is to complete a race, you may only need a season of training to get there. However, improvements take time (and the faster you become, the harder those minutes and seconds will come by). Most coaches are looking for athletes who are in it for the long haul and hoping to get stronger and faster each year. The longer we work with you, the more we know about your specific needs and how you respond to training. Short-term goals can be extremely motivating, but should ultimately move you toward where you hope to be in the long-term.

The Author, Molly Balfe, in her Element, Working with Athletes on Swim Technique

The Author, Molly Balfe, in her Element, Working with Athletes on Swim Technique

Consider your capacity. Think about how much time you have to devote to training. We all know that life gets in the way of training sometimes, but it is helpful to be aware of whether an athlete’s job requires frequent travel or if they have other obligations (family, other hobbies, getting the band back together) that will determine their available time for training. Especially for longer races, the weekend time commitment can be significant, so make sure that you have the support of the people in your life. If you do travel frequently, you should expect to integrate your workouts into your travel schedule so your training isn’t derailed. If your schedule is typically flexible, but you know you have a few busy weeks each year, make sure you communicate that in advance so your coach can design your plan with these periods in mind. Every coach-athlete dynamic is different, so after you have determined your needs, we recommend embarking upon your search by taking into account the following: 

1.  Strengths – Make sure that the coach you choose has the sport-specific knowledge to help you improve on your limiters. If you are one of the many triathletes who struggles with their swim, make sure you choose a coach who has a history of helping swimmers become more competent in the water. If you know nutrition is holding you back, make sure the coach you select can provide you with the information and feedback you require to help you manage your diet and race needs. Most coaches can provide some level of guidance in each of the three sports, but if you are hoping for specific improvement, make sure you find someone with specific expertise. Likewise, if you already have a long history in one of the three sports, make sure you find someone who is able to provide you with workouts and training that will match your ability and experience.

2.  Availability – How often do you need/want/expect feedback? Are you looking for a static plan with little or no direction or do you want to be able to communicate directly with your coach about a schedule that is tailored specifically for you? Regular email and/or phone communication allows coaches to make real time decisions based on how their athletes are responding to training. In person meetings are rare, and are typically more expensive (especially if they involve evaluating your technique, which is generally a consultation and comes with an additional fee). How frequently you hear from your coach should be explicitly agreed upon by the coach and athlete. The amount of access you have to your coach varies considerably - be clear about what you expect and what your coach is offering.

3.  Style – Are you looking for a cheerleader? Someone to tell you to get off your butt and stop making excuses? Some combination of the two? Know what keeps you motivated and look for someone who can work with you in a way that you find motivating and productive. If possible, talk to some of their former or current athletes to find out more about their experience. If a coach has a reputation for being hard on athletes and you know you need a little fear to keep you motivated, this could be a great match! However, if you know you tend avoid conflict, you may well end up hiding from this coach so you don’t get in trouble. This is not an effective form of training, and does not benefit you. Find someone who works with you in a way that will best ensure your success.

4.  Experience/Education – Make sure your goals align with your coach’s interests and expertise. If you are new to the sport, ask whether a coach has worked with beginners. If you are hoping to qualify for Kona or get your pro card, make sure your coach has a specific plan to help get you there. If you are hoping to balance a busy schedule while getting fit and having fun, choose someone who knows how to be flexible and supportive. Great coaches never stop learning about the sport – they want to be aware of the best new techniques and any worrying trends that are emerging in triathlon. Ask your coach how they stay sharp and increase their sport-specific knowledge. Many coaches hold certifications in the sport; these do not mean that they are more skilled than other coaches who do not, but it does guarantee a baseline level of knowledge.

5.  Cost – There is a lot of variation in coaching fees. In general, coaches who are the most experienced and accessible (meaning how often you can contact them) are also the most expensive. These are typically career coaches who give a good percentage of their time and energy to their coaching business. They work with several athletes and tend to have a great deal of experience. The most economical choice is typically buying a static training plan, but you lose the benefit of a coach’s guidance. When making decisions about cost, be honest with yourself about how much you can afford and how your investment aligns with your goals.

6.  Location – If you want to be part of a triathlon team or are hoping for one-on-one evaluations, it can be helpful to look for a coach that is nearby. However, with the constant evolution of new internet-based evaluation tools and techniques, this may less critical. Many coaches are using video analysis to determine where their athletes can make improvements. Phone and Skype communication can also help bridge the geographical gap between you and your coach. If there is someone who you really want to work with, location can often be overcome.

Finally, we maintain that the absolute best way to know whether a coach is right for you is to talk to them. Much like finding the best house, car, bike, or trainers, sometimes if you simply feel like you click, and you like what they have to say about their style, that should indicate that you will work well together. Remember that you are accountable for at least 50% of the relationship between you and your coach. If something is missing, or if you feel like you need additional help in a specific area, make sure you ask for it clearly. Coaches are highly invested in their athletes’ success, and we want to see you happily and healthily participating in this sport for years to come.

The athletes at the Chris Bagg Coaching Group are all bound by the same goal: to become faster, happier, healthier people. It's an ethos shared by all the coaches at CBCG, and nicely wrapped up in our motto: Go Fast, Have Fun, Be Nice. We think that keeping these three principles in sight at all time lead to strong performances and happier lives.

We are taking new athletes! Our roster of experienced coaches is ready to form a relationship with you, and help you get better, faster, happier, and healthier for your next training and racing season, so meet the coaches , learn how it works, and become a member of the CBCG family, if, and only if, we’re right for you

What To Expect When You're DNFing

by Amy VanTassel

I came all this way and spent all this money! All my training was leading up to this race. This was my last chance to qualify, and now it’s gone! My family even traveled to support me...all for nothing.

There’s arguably no worse feeling than DNF-ing a major race. Perhaps it was the classic issue of not being able to run, thereby facing the awful decision of whether to walk it in or step off the course, or an uncontrollable like major mechanicals on the bike. Or maybe it was a “biomechanical,” like a wrecked knee/ankle/glute, heat stroke, or hypothermia. It can be dreadful to bear a DNF on race day and beyond, so what can we do to cope with the awful feeling? As someone who’s grappled with the sitch more than once, I’ve given it a ton of thought and rendered the following humble advice.

COPING WITH YOUR DNF ON RACE DAY

CBCG Head Coach Chris Bagg down for the count

CBCG Head Coach Chris Bagg down for the count

1. Don’t even think about it for a nanosecond!

Distraction is paramount for the rest of the day, so every time that demon named Regret rears its head, think. “Squirrel!”  You basically have two options to distract you from going to the Dark Side: staying at or returning to the race scene, or partying with family and friends,

If you change out of your chamois and return to the scene, your new job is to become the best spectator evah.  If friends are competing, holler to them that you’re fine, and then go bananas spectating them. Maybe there’s still time to see what’s happening at the front of the race and assure your favorite pro that there’s no one behind her or him. Personally, my jam has always been cheerleading for the back of the pack, high fives and encouragement all-around. The last finishers are remarkably inspiring, especially midnight at a full, proving convenient since you should distract yourself right up ‘til bedtime (and even then you should read a Dostoyevsky novel or play Angry Birds until lights-out). 

There is a potential risk with spectating, though: seeing your own gender athletes whom you perceive to have been your close competitors. Sour grapes can be fierce, so in the spirit of distraction, I say turn around three times, and then look at the shoes of the next racer and decide if you like that color. 

If you’d rather flee the scene, you should bond with your friends or family. Are there go-kart around?  How about the beach?  Wine tasting? Or perhaps there’s a fascinating nautical museum in town. My preferred pastime would be watching a game at a brewery, which leads me to my next point...

Go Karts are available just a few minutes walk from the famed race course in Penticton, B.C. Photo courtesy Penticton Herald News

Go Karts are available just a few minutes walk from the famed race course in Penticton, B.C. Photo courtesy Penticton Herald News

2. Go directly to #carbtown

You might be tempted to wallow in self-loathing restriction, especially if you dropped out early and didn’t get to burn all those pancakes, but you should treat yourself - think of it as coddling yourself - all day.

If it’s safe and not too heathenish for you, I recommend finding beer immediately if you don’t need to drive. If you don’t drink or don’t have a driver, I’m sure french fries are less than a block away, and ice cream is even closer. If you’re in Canada, now’s the time for poutine.

In addition to hitting a brewery, avail yourself of local #carbtown delicacies, such as Canada’s poutine

In addition to hitting a brewery, avail yourself of local #carbtown delicacies, such as Canada’s poutine

3. Make zero decisions. 

I recognize my cardinal rule of distraction is easier said than done. I bet the moment you knew you were going to DNF you considered your racing future. What now? Register for another race ASAP? Never race this stupid sport again?  I’ll tell you “what now?”...nuthin’. Put a moratorium on any judgments, decisions, or plans, and see below for how long. 

4. Ugh! The money I spent!

Regarding the inevitability of negative thoughts creeping in, it will likely occur to you sooner than later that you spent a shit-ton of coin on race entry, travel, and, well, everything leading up to your race. Allow that sucky thought to surface, but remember how much you lived and learned a lot during all your training. And you still got to hang out in a cool place and maybe can tomorrow. More esoterically speaking, consider the cost of the race is more like an entry fee for being a triathlete in general. OK, that last idea was weaksauce, but seriously you got to go to Couer d’Alene, or wherever. 

5. Nuh-uh...no social media, fool

If you need to tell the world you’re OK, I urge you to just text a few key people. Even if you think you can handle checking your accounts, risking seeing race-related garbage, I promise you you’d glimpse some little post that will make you feel regretful or envious. And for the love of God, please no “Not my day...” race reports, IMHO. 

CBCG Athlete Doris Steere spectating Heather Jackson like crazy at the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

CBCG Athlete Doris Steere spectating Heather Jackson like crazy at the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

COPING WITH YOUR DNF AFTER RACE WEEKEND 

1. Disappointment is mythical 

Nobody, I repeat, nobody is disappointed in you! I have personally cried, worrying my brother would see it as a waste to have traveled to Mexico for nothing. I’ve been anxious my coach would feel let down, or my husband would feel like we tossed all that coin down the toilet. (Imagine if your coach and husband were the same person.) 

Simple solution: envision yourself in their shoes...would you be disappointed?  True, you might feel disappointed in yourself depending on the race circumstances, in which case you should check out #4 below. 

2. Modify your social media. 

I know it’s radical, but I personally suggest not engaging in any race-related content after your DNF. The worst thing to do would be to check out results in an effort to guess where you would’ve finished. Um...point in that?  The two exceptions are congratulating friends who raced or giving shout-outs to your sponsors, but you know that feeling when you check out Instagram and you feel a little nauseated? I guarantee you get that pang if you travel down the rabbit hole of content specific to your race. And I know I covered this above, but it bears repeating: please spare the world from the “Not my day...” post?  Please?

3. No decisions for a week

When you catch up with your coach, I bet you a million bucks she or he will point to what actually went well that day. CBCG coaches certainly will postmortem everything you nailed leading up to the gun, and depending on how long you made it until you dropped out, your successes and takeaways from the first legs. 

I also bet you a million bucks your coach won’t be frantic with plans for your next race, especially if you’re thinking “replacement race.”  VT’s rule: no new decisions for a week. The only exception would be if race registration is time-sensitive alá and early race reg invite, or a race being at risk of selling out - but don’t do anything without your coach’s blessing. 

4. On to the next!

That being stated, when you get the next race on your calendar, or perhaps there already is another, try to transfer your regretful emotions from your DNF to motivation for your next. This rule might seem the most obvious, but I also find it to be the most effective coping mechanism of all.

CBCG Athlete (and your author) Amy VT crashing out of a cyclocross race. Photo courtesy of Jenny Greeve

CBCG Athlete (and your author) Amy VT crashing out of a cyclocross race. Photo courtesy of Jenny Greeve

For a lighter take on DNF’s, check out my article about dropping out of a ‘cross race published on the Cyclocross Magazine site. Back to sparing the world from a “Not my day...” post, think about that pic of you in your go-kart race or demolishing some poutine. 

Your 12-Week Sprint Triathlon Training Plan

by Molly Balfe

Ed. Note—CBCG Coach Molly Balfe checks in with thoughts as to how to prepare for your first sprint-distance triathlon. The former president of Tri Team PDX, coach for Team in Training, and current globe-trotting triathlon expert joins us today with both a complete 12-week plan for your first triathlon, AND a complete, free guide to the process, which you can download from our website here.

So you’ve just signed up for your first triathlon!

Whether you were reluctantly roped-in by a spandex-clad friend, or the feat has always been on your bucket list, we, the CBCG coaches, would like to congratulate you on deciding to try your first tri. Unlike stepping into a simple running race, triathlons take an exceptional deal of courage, likely testing your comfort zones in at least one of the disciplines, and this plan will help you along your way. So here is some expert guidance that our CBCG athletes have valued while preparing for their first races.

CBCG Athlete Don Geddes on his way to winning his age group at the 2018 Rolf Prima Tri at the Grove

CBCG Athlete Don Geddes on his way to winning his age group at the 2018 Rolf Prima Tri at the Grove

Necessary Gear

If you’ve begun to gather information for your first tri, you’ve encountered a seemingly endless array of toys and tools you can spend your money on. The fastest and lightest gear may help you at certain points in your triathlon career, but we recommend starting out with the basics. That way, if you conclude that triathletes are nuts, you didn’t waste your comic; but conversely, if you find you‘re up for more triathlon adventures, you can slowly fill your gear closet as needed, with smart gear appropriate for you.  That stated, a few pieces of equipment are necessary to train for and complete your first race:

  • Bike – Repeat after us: “I do not need to buy a race bike for my first triathlon.”  Pretty much any bike with working gears and brakes will get you through your first sprint. If you already own a mountain bike, hybrid, or entry-level road bike, that will work! True, a heavier bike may slow you down a bit, but you’ll have the chance to experience your first race and see if you want to invest something more sport-specific. 
  • Helmet – This one’s a non-negotiable. All bicycle training and racing should be done wearing a CPSC approved helmet. Same thing as above applies, though: it would be total overkill to invest in a race-specific “aero helmet” for your first one.
  • Running shoes – Want to know which running shoes are the best?  Guess what: it totally depends.  CBCG coaches  highly recommend you visit your local running store to have someone help you select a shoe that works for your specific stride and biomechanics. Fashionable fitness shoes may look rad, and deals on online warehouses can be a steal, but they might not protect you from injuries. You’ve likely been running already, so you shouldn’t make any major changes in terms of going minimal or more structured.  In fact, the only major change you should make is considering quick-draw laces.  Invest in a pair of running shoes, and break them in a bit before your race.
  • Swimsuit, cap, and goggles – Think about where you’ll be racing when you pick your goggles. If you’ll be in a pool, or a foggy or cloudy lake, get clear lenses. If you’ll be staring down the sun at dawn, go for something tinted. Try them on for at least the distance of your first race, and when in doubt, get something pretty.
  • Watch – While this one isn’t entirely necessary, a cheap running watch can make a big difference in your triathlon training. You don’t need bells and whistles, but a watch that can show total time elapsed (and ideally lap splits) comes in very handy. Many people use their smartphones for this function, but we believe it’s best to keep your smartphone technology far away from sweat.

Following the Plan

CBCG coaches have created a plan that contains two workouts per week in each discipline (swim, bike, and run) as well as one strength session. See to treasure yourself to the plan, empowering yourself to perform your fastest, happiest, and healthiest first triathlon possible! Ideally, you will complete each workout as written. However, CBCG coaches are hugely understanding of life getting in the way, so if you’re time-limited, focus on completing the two workouts for the sport you struggle with the most (do it!), and at least one workout each for the other two sports. 

We also included a few “brick” workouts in this plan, instructing you to run right after you ride. “Bricks” should be considering key workouts: they’re a perfect time to practice your bike-to-run transition, and grow accustomed to how your legs feel right off the bike. These workouts are also great opportunities to practice your race day nutrition (more info on nutrition below).

If you need a day off, or you’re just feeling blasted, take a day off! If you’re unsure, we suggest at least attempting the workout to see if you just needed a warm up to blow out the cobwebs. If you start the main part of the workout and it’s just not happening, then call it quits.

The majority of these workouts will be at an easy effort, especially during the first 6 weeks of training. In order to safely build up your endurance, you need to gradually increase your training volume. Even if you feel good, keep the effort level low unless otherwise indicated.

CBCGer Devin Salinas putting in some miles

CBCGer Devin Salinas putting in some miles

Nutrition for Training and Racing

Your diet makes a huge difference in how you feel during (and after) your workouts. It is important to pay attention to what you eat while training and what you eat during your regular life. A lot of newer triathletes make the mistake of training to eat, instead of eating to train. While a workout in this plan may feel difficult, it probably hasn’t created a caloric deficit that only an entire pizza can fill. Conversely, if you have been restricting your caloric intake, you may need to eat more to ensure that you are meeting the needs of an increased training load. 

Perhaps most importantly, if you find yourself feeling depleted throughout the day, take a look at your total caloric intake to ensure that you are eating enough. Fueling with training and recovery in mind can help ensure that you enjoy your workouts and feel strong throughout your day. When in doubt, maintain a healthy diet focused on vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. 

While training and racing, you’ll probably need to explore the sugary world of sports nutrition. For any workout over an hour, you should plan to take a bottle of sports drink to help replace calories and replenish sodium. You should also plan to practice using gels, chomps, or beans during a few of your longer runs, since they are what athletes typically use during races. 

Your nutrition needs for the race itself should be relatively low (provided you aren’t dehydrated or under-fed at the start line). Plan to use a bottle of sports drink during the bike, and take sports drink at each aid station on the run. You can also take a gel or other 100-calorie snack towards the beginning of the run – many CBCG athletes including coach Molly prefer the type with added caffeine.

CBCG coach, and author of this blog and the training plan, Molly Balfe practicing good nutrition

CBCG coach, and author of this blog and the training plan, Molly Balfe practicing good nutrition

Preparing for Race Day

It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with USA Triathlon’s rules and regulations prior to your race, especially their most common violations.

On race day, plan to arrive early enough to set up your transition area. Transition is where you will rack your bike and transition from swim to bike and bike to run. You do not have much room for your equipment, so pack only what you will need during the race. For reference, here is a picture of a well-organized transition area:

An exceptionally, if not obsessively well-organized transition area

An exceptionally, if not obsessively well-organized transition area

While it may seem obvious, make sure you know the layout of your race, including where you will enter and exit the water and where you will enter and leave the transition area for the bike and run legs. Knowing where you are headed will save you valuable time during your race.

A Final Word of Advice

Have fun! We love this sport, and we hope that you will love it too. Triathlon is an individualized sport, with a lot of potential hyperactivity and focus on expensive gear, so it can be easy to allow yourself to get caught up in the pressure, anxiety, and competition of training and racing, so remember that we do this for fun. Be generous with your gratitude and give copious high-fives. The more fun you allow yourself to have, the more likely it is that you will continue to come back to this sport for years to come. In fact, it’s been empirically determined that if you smile during a race, you will go faster. Happy training!

How to Adjust (and Not Adjust!) your Triathlon Training: the CBCG Coaches' Best Practices

by Amy VanTassel

Pop quiz: can you spot the workout adjustment below that was a good idea?

  1. “I missed a run earlier in the week, so I ran twice the distance today.”
  2. “I didn’t know if I could hit those watts, so I mashed my intervals as uphill repeats.”
  3. “I felt so thrashed after work and felt a sore throat coming on, so I skipped my run and went straight home to dinner with my family.”
  4. “I wasn’t making my sendoff in the pool, so I just got out early.”
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Adjustments to training schedules are inevitable. As coaches and athletes develop their relationships and communication, ideally an athlete should feel increasingly empowered to make judgment calls as life’s inevitabilities happen. Still, even the most experienced athlete questions how to adapt when a workout isn’t going as planned, or can’t happen at all, so we asked our CBCG coaches for their sage insight on what makes for both wise and obtuse decisions on the fly. Here’s what they had to say:

CBCG Coach Donna Phelan

CBCG Coach Donna Phelan

What is your worst example of an athlete making an adjustment to a workout that was a horrible idea?

“Changing an easy taper run of 30 minutes into an hour long run with intervals! Yes, one of my athletes did this not too long ago; doubting your fitness race week and trying to cram at the last minute is never a good thing!”

What is your best example of an athlete making an adjustment to a workout that exhibited smart adaptation based on conditions?

“The best example is an athlete stopping a workout early because they feel a niggle coming on. Better to cut one workout short rather than to be on the sidelines for the next couple of weeks with an injury.”

What’s your worst example of a weekly adjustment in schedule?

“That would have to be an athlete doing a run interval workout one day, and then moving their long run from two days later to the next day—just not enough time for the running system to recover and be ready for a hard stimulus again."

How about your best example of a weekly adjustment in schedule?

“Feeling a cold coming on and taking a rest day to let their immune system recover."

CBCG Coach Ivan Dominguez

CBCG Coach Ivan Dominguez

What is your worst example of an athlete making an adjustment to a workout that was a horrible idea?

“I haven’t get any of those yet, but I’m sure few of my athletes would love to add some crazy stuff to their training plans.”

What’s your worst example of a weekly adjustment in schedule?

“Not training for few days for whatever reason, then attempting to make up for it all over the weekend, trying to do what they were supposed to do few days ago. Basically cramming in a week of training, or close to it, in just two days.”

CBCG Coach Molly Balfe

CBCG Coach Molly Balfe

What is your worst example of an athlete making an adjustment to a workout that was a horrible idea?

“An athlete saying ‘I felt good, so I pushed harder than I was supposed to.’ This is especially troublesome with long runs, which are often used to build volume. When unintended intensity is added on top of that, athletes are significantly more fatigued, which can get in the way of upcoming workouts (or even contribute to injury).”

What is your best example of an athlete making an adjustment to a workout that exhibited smart adaptation based on conditions?

“The best adjustments I’ve seen happen when athletes let go of their pace expectations and work with their current conditions. This is already a really hot summer, so I’ve seen athletes make smart calls like slowing down their repeat paces for longer intervals on a hot track. Your run pace is really impacted by heat and your body takes some time to acclimate to it. Cut yourself a little slack when conditions are extreme (and HYDRATE).”

CBCG Coach Chris Boudreaux

CBCG Coach Chris Boudreaux

What do you never want your athletes to do when adjusting workouts?

“Big thing for me: putting back-to-back hard same-sport workouts right next to each other. Like missing a Wednesday or Thursday tempo run, then going Friday tempo run/Saturday brick session/Sunday long hard run...just never do that.”

How about the worst bike workout adjustments you’ve seen?

 “Going way above the watts ‘because you could.’ Not every workout is a test of your max ability for that session. Ironman and half-iron races are a lot about that uncomfortable pace - neither all out nor easy - and you need to feel that in training. Additionally, there may be other reasons a workout keeps you from going all-out, like other key sessions coming up. I usually give a range, so you can have freedom to be on the higher or lower end, but ideally not much more. So if an athlete feels a workout is too easy, I’d way prefer she or he should send me a message and ask the purpose, and never just blast it ‘because you could.’”

CBCG Coach Chris Bagg with CBCG athlete Matt Feldmar

CBCG Coach Chris Bagg with CBCG athlete Matt Feldmar

And finally CBCG Coach Chris Bagg chimes in with some universal words of wisdom on how to adapt when a workout isn’t going as planned, or can’t happen at all:

"What we're after, at CBCG, is that you develop mastery of your sport. Mastery doesn't mean performance—it means understanding the sport, and how to alter your behavior when things don't go as planned. Being able to make sensible adjustments on the fly results in more consistent training over time, which leads to more consistent race results. As consistency improves, you'll see your results improve, too, as you build a pyramid of strong performances. So how do you get there? Well, the secret is understanding that your training plan is not the Ten Commandments (or Code of Hammurabi, or whichever literally carved-in-stone set of precepts is your particular jam). Slavishly sticking to a training plan, despite being sick/injured/depressed, is the mark of an athlete who wants his/her race to be a paint by the numbers experience: if I do everything, then I can't fail! This is, sadly, not true. It's actually the athlete who can adjust who will have better results over time. The athlete who just does everything, or plays catchup, usually can't deal with it during a race when the plan goes out the window, since there isn't any catching up available during competition." 

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So, we should all remember that every athlete has to make judgment calls as workouts aren’t going as planned, or if life gets in the way of a perfect weekly schedule. Perhaps the above sage advice from our expert coaches will prep you better for your next adjustment, and if you recognize yourself in one of the above examples, give your coach a virtual hug today. 

Better Swimming for Those with Tight Shoulders (Hint: Probably You)

Since triathlon became a thing, and well-intentioned triathletes have been showing up at Masters swim groups all over, we've all gotten used to hearing a whole bunch of swimming orthodoxy: try to limit the number of strokes you take per length, make that elbow point at the ceiling, glide, do fingertip drag drill to open up your shoulders. Happily, Paul Newsome and Adam Young at Swim Smooth have been hard at work debunking the "fewer strokes is better" myth for years, and have also done good work with tossing Fingertip Drag out the window. I'm going to hitch my rhetorical wagon, today, to their argument against Fingertip Drag, but extend it to what I've seen in my swimmers at Nike and at the triathlon camps we run every year. 

As Paul and Adam point out in the Fingertip Drag post, it's a bad drill because it forces the whole population of swimmers into a position they can't achieve. People who have been swimming their whole lives (as kids, in high school/college, and then later as Masters swimmers) tend to have hyper-mobile shoulders. They can do fingertip drag in their sleep, as well as maintain perfect streamline position off the wall. They've just done it for a million years, and when you can't do it, they'll look at you the way a native English speaker looks at a confused tourist. "You can't do this? Sheesh." It's not their fault—their bodies have changed over a long period of time, and they simply assume that all humans can hit that position. We all do things like this (how did you treat that new hire at your company last week when they didn't know how to run the coffee machine? OK, so cool it on the outrage), but the answer is never just slamming the new swimmer into a position they can't achieve: it's like speaking English louder at the person who doesn't speak it—there's only one person who looks foolish in that situation.

Just so we know what we're talking about, here, here's a picture of a swimmer deploying the classic high-elbow, fingertip-draggy recovery:

Brian Side View.png

When doing swim analyses, this is what we look for: when the upper arm is vertical vis-a-vis the camera (i.e. the biceps is pointing at the sky; it's not really pointing at the sky, but due to the miracle of perspective it's a useful landmark) we like to see the lower arm in line with the upper arm. If that's confusing, here's what we DON'T like to see:

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In this case, the upper arm IS vertical (pointing at the top of the picture frame), but the lower arm is WAY out in front. We see this most often with people who have come to swimming later in life (90% or so of triathletes), and it's usually due to a very understandable misconception: triathletes think swimmers swim with their hands, when really swimming comes from the hips. More on that later, but since they think it's all about the hands they try—desperately—to get those hands forward as soon as possible, leading them to lead with the hand. They're also probably trying to get into that high elbow recovery, but since their shoulders are too tight they have no choice but to bring the lower arm forward, low over the water. Here's what happens:

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This is a swimmer who is headed for a crossover in the next few moments of her stroke. She probably doesn't mean to, but with an elbow angle that acute, she's got no choice. The crossover in front (when a swimmer's hands cross the centerline of his/her body) is an agreed-upon issue in the swimming community, so we don't have to do too much debunking there. So that's not great. But there's another issue. Since the swimmer's shoulder's are tight, as she tries to bring that hand forward, angling the elbow, her shoulder is effectively in her way, and to alleviate the tension she has to move away from that tension, shifting her body to the right. Here's where she was only a few moments earlier:

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This is just before the picture taken two above. This swimmer is about to finish the pull with the left hand and start bringing it forward. Her body is straight, here, but then let's go back to where she ends up:

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Her body is kinked, right, where it was straight only a few moments ago? That's because she's had to move her torso away from the source of the tightness in order to actually bring the arm forward over the water. Her torso moves to the right, and that yaw translates down to her legs, which wash back and forth behind her. Watch some swimmers in the pool: when you see people's legs fishtailing back and forth behind them, it's usually because they've got this going on behind them.

OK, great, you big jerk, how do I fix it? Two ways, both of which are simple but not easy.

1: Straighten the arm a bit

Before you freak out, swim coaches, go and read Paul and Adam's comments in their posts above. Just straighten that arm out during recovery and flop it out over the water, landing it in front of you in line with your shoulder. Doing so will alleviate tension in your shoulders AND make you a better open water swimmer.

2: Open up those hips!

If you look at the picture above, where our swimmer is trying to bring the arm forward, you can see her hips are pretty flat in the water—she's not tipped up on her side at all. In swimming the hips and shoulders need to move together, and in this case the shoulders are trying to roll while the hips are staying behind. Swimming is more like golf than like running or cycling, and never more so than at this moment. If you rotate your hips a little more (without over-rotating), opening them up to the side of the pool, you'll suddenly find you have more room to swing that arm forward over the surface of the water, and you don't need hyper-mobile shoulders any more!

3: Loosen up your shoulders!

What? I thought this whole post was about swimming even though I have tight shoulders! Well, sorry, Buttercup, but you still need to do your homework and eat your veggies. Having more flexible shoulders will help you be a better swimmer long term (and a healthier human being, which is really a big part of what we're after with this whole exercising as competition thing, right?). But I'll return to this subject in a subsequent post. For now, stop trying to bring that arm forward! Just open up the elbow angle a bit, rotate your hips more, and stiffen up through the core!

CBCG Professional Triathlete Andrew Langfield Gets IT ALL Done

Andrew flying into 9th place among a world-class field of pro triathletes at Wildflower Long Course 2018 photo: kaoriphoto.com

Andrew flying into 9th place among a world-class field of pro triathletes at Wildflower Long Course 2018 photo: kaoriphoto.com

A few things you should never say to a professional triathlete:

“Well, it must be easy for you since you don’t have kids.”

“Well, it must be easy for you since you’re so skinny.”

"Well, it must be easy for you since you don't have a normal 9-5 job."

Not only are those futile questions in a chicken-and-egg capacity, but they involve personal situations that most likely entail sacrifice. Moreover, there are extreme exceptions among the roster of successful pros.  Body type runs the gamut, nearly half the field has children, and multiple professional triathletes concurrently hold-down full time jobs. 

CBCG professional triathlete Andrew Langfield, does even more. Like, way more.

Andrew in perfect aero form at Wildflower Long Course 2018 photo: kaoriphoto.com

Andrew in perfect aero form at Wildflower Long Course 2018 photo: kaoriphoto.com

"I actually just finished up the first year of my internal medicine residency here in Oak-town, like... two days ago! Super exciting, and pretty hard to believe. But the quick summary is I moved to Portland back in 2011, to become an Oregon resident for the purposes of applying to med school at OHSU. School then became a 5-year ordeal from 2012-2017, culminating at graduation just over a year ago and relocation to Oakland last June. Both my wife Elena and I matched at county hospital programs (think Cook County from the TV show ER), which provide care to an incredibly diverse patient population here in the East Bay. One year down, two to go for both of us! Then we actually get to start working as independent physicians. We both have 3-year commitments with the National Health Service Corps as part of a loan-repayment program, so post-residency will go work as primary care docs in a medically-underserved area somewhere. That is basically the long-term life/career goal anyway, so it's a great deal for us. But yeah, embarrassed to admit that when I first moved to Portland 7 years ago, I didn't fully appreciated I was signing up for the 11-year plan, haha."

Coach Chris and Andrew chillin' w/ their medals aprés Wildflower Long Course 2016 photo: kaoriphoto.com

Coach Chris and Andrew chillin' w/ their medals aprés Wildflower Long Course 2016 photo: kaoriphoto.com

Amidst his wildly demanding daily, weekly, monthly, and annual schedule, he also manages to train for triathlon, but not just any triathlons, and not just to compete in the middle of the pack.  He’s a successful pro triathlete who just keeps getting better. 

Wifey!  Elena Phoutrides and Andrew traversed medical school together and just got hitched

Wifey!  Elena Phoutrides and Andrew traversed medical school together and just got hitched

 

So how does Andrew fit in not just triathlon training, but professional-level training and racing?  Moreover, he’s a devout husband to the wonderful Elena Phoutrides, another amazing budding MD whom he met at OHSU, as well as dedicated member of his totally wonderful family in Boise, serving as an exemplar of many things many people would like to be. Welp, here’s a typical day in the life:

"Oh man, so many days to choose from for this! I seriously love my job, and never a dull day goes by at Highland Hospital. The backbone of any internal medicine residency is the experience on inpatient wards, which is the majority of what I did this past year. These are the patients that were too unwell to make it to their clinic appointments or be sent home from the ED, and had to be admitted to the hospital. I'm actually working on a little write-up for my own blog, about one of my most memorable days on service. So if you are interested in a little more insight on the inner workings of a busy county hospital, stay tuned! But a general summary of one of those days might go something like this:

5:10 - alarm goes off, snooze too many times, finally out the door on the commuter bike by 5:25

5:35 - be late to the pool for masters, miss most of warm-up

6:20 - out of the pool 10 minutes early (45' is better than nothing!), finish the commute in to work

6:40 - hit the door of the hospital, put on scrubs, first cup of coffee

6:50 - get sign-out from the night team on my patients (any overnight events, new admissions, etc.)

7:00 - pre-rounding on the computer (vital signs, morning labs, imaging studies, specialist recs, etc.)

8:00 - start seeing patients

8:30 - BREAKFAST! best part of the morning, usually an omelette +/- a big ol' pancake, second cup of coffee, banana for later

8:50 - finish seeing patients

9:30 - formal rounds begin (meet with rest of team, go see the entire census starting with the sickest)

12:15 - LUNCH! and noon conference, chow on a sandwich + yogurt + fruit + cookie + milk while getting some knowledge, third cup of coffee

1:00 - finish rounds with team if needed, then start working on all the to-do's (phone calls, orders, consult questions, discharges, procedures, etc.)

5:00 - SNACK! usually bowl of cereal + granola bar

6:30 - ride home, 6:30 is always the goal but of course some days this doesn't happen, other days done earlier but stay to catch up/work ahead

6:50 - home, decompress

7:15 - evening session, usually 45-60' run, or trainer session, or strengthening (kettlebells and plyos)

8:30 - DINNER! I'm lucky that my wife loves to cook, but she's arguably busier than I am, so we usually try to cook a big meal for the week

9:30 - DESSERT!, or beer, or both

10:00 - bedtime

Andrew exiting the swim at Wildflower Long Course 2018 photo: kaoriphoto.com

Andrew exiting the swim at Wildflower Long Course 2018 photo: kaoriphoto.com

And how does Andrew manage to travel to compete?  Most of his competitors have the luxury of arriving a week or more early to any location, with no rush to get home aprés race, putting them at a clear advantage to acclimate to a scene, thwart mechanical issues, and rest. Welp, here’s a typical race weekend sched for Andrew:

Wildflower weekend was a whirlwind, as always. Love that race, the campground scene, the woodstock vibes, the hospitality, everything about it. I was stoked to get Friday completely off, so had the car packed up Thursday night, waited out the morning rush hour here in the Bay, and was on the road by mid-morning.

-Friday-

8:30 - hit the road!

9:00 - obligatory Denny's pre-race breakfast

12:00 - arrive at campground, eat all the pretzels, set up camp

1:00 - shake-out ride and run, get things dialed, jump in lake

4:00 - pro meeting

5:30 - dinner, hang at campsite with wife, friends

9:30 - bedtime

-Saturday-

RACE MORNING! - went fast, had fun, tried to be nice

12:15ish - cross finish line, lounge, chit-chat

1:30 - post-race lunch, more chit-chat, shoot breeze with Bagg, VT

3:00 - break camp, hit the road

7:00 - dinner with Elena's family in Palo Alto

10:00 - return rental car

11:00 - finally home, unpack

Midnight - bed time

-Sunday-

6:00 - wake up, bike commute/recovery ride

6:45 - start work, woof"

More bike course scenery at Wildflower Long Course 2018 photo: kaoriphoto.com

More bike course scenery at Wildflower Long Course 2018 photo: kaoriphoto.com

 

The example of Andrew’s exceptional lifestyle and triathletic success is not to urge anyone to “suck it up, buttercup” (phrase courtesy CBCG coach Ivan Dominguez). It’s more of a marvel at what’s possible - an inspiration for us all when we’re feeling overwhelmed. His coach looks to him as a paragon of execution and devotion, and sincerely hopes Andrew never burns out of his drive to compete, since his talent and execution are truly an inspiration to us all.  

Family!  Andrew's top priority among three major life commitments

Family!  Andrew's top priority among three major life commitments

CBCG Athlete Salvatore Lo Leggio's PR at Ironman 70.3® Coeur d'Alene

Salvo on his way to a PR at Coeur d'Alene

Salvo on his way to a PR at Coeur d'Alene

Twenty-six CBCG athletes showed up to the races last weekend, and at least six (!) set personal records. 2018 was already proving to be a banner year of successful racing for CBCG, and with Ironman 70.3® Coeur d'Alene and Mont-Tremblant, and Why Racing's Pacific Crest Endurance Sports Festival®, among others, last weekend was no exception. We're still aggregating all the amazing results and race reports, so we might be missing someone, but special PR-Shout-Out's go to: Devin Salinas, Roman Gratteri, Nathan Gaither, Annarose Pandey, Sebastian Pastore, Marc Nester, Julie Kowal (CBCG Emeritus), and our very own Salvatore Lo Leggio, who slayed the CDA 70.3 course Eddie Merckx style.

Another PR: CBCG Athlete Roman Gratteri at CDA 70.3

Another PR: CBCG Athlete Roman Gratteri at CDA 70.3

How did Salvo get there?  Hard work and expert coaching, of course! CBCG Coach Donna Phelan channels her own lifetime of success as a professional athlete, as well as her vast experience coaching cyclists and triathletes to do their best, and Salvo assiduously followed her guidance. 

Coach Donna raved, “Salvo has been working diligently to prep for CDA 70.3, en route to his first Ironman® in Whistler next month. Coming from a long distance running background, we've been working hard on his swim and bike these last several months, in addition to a big emphasis on nailing his nutrition strategy. He nailed his prescription of 300-350 calories plus a bottle of fluids per hour on the bike, and 220-240 calories per hour on the run. Salvo's swim was over five minutes faster than his inaugural half-iron swim a year ago; he put up a blazing three hour bike split on a very hilly course, and finished with a 1:35 half marathon, besting last year’s split by ten minutes. Congrats on a great race, Salvo! Also a big thank you to Coach Chris Bagg who coaches Salvo at the Nike Masters swim sessions.”

Hangin' loose, but following the nutrition plan on the bike at CDA 70.3

Hangin' loose, but following the nutrition plan on the bike at CDA 70.3

Hailing from northern Italy outside of Bologna, Salvo works at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. As Donna mentioned, he takes advantage of CBCG Coach Masters program at Nike, in addition to his invaluable CBCG swim video analysis (offered to any athlete, anywhere!). 

Felicitazioni to our Italian stallion, who has clearly taken advantage of all CBCG his to offer. Salvo says, “Donna not only helped me prepare physically for this race, but most importantly she made sure I was in control of my race, which regardless of one’s goal is a great accomplishment itself. Now onto the next one!”  Up next for Salvo: Subaru® Ironman® Canada in Whistler, and, um, getting married to his bella fiancata. This guy’s livin’ large. 

Race Highlight: Mike Brown, Promoter Extraordinaire

The winning finish of the 2016 Great White North Triathlon, Ken Anderson Photography

The winning finish of the 2016 Great White North Triathlon, Ken Anderson Photography

Being a Race Director must be comparable to spearheading FEMA: a full-year, full-time job entailing pre-planning, contingency planning, coordination, and orchestration that peeps won’t generally recognize unless something goes wrong. Our hands-down favorite, Mike Brown of Edmonton, Alberta, puts on the most highly-produced and flawless races, but unlike FEMA, he and his team add a je ne sais quoi, making them the most exciting, enjoyable, and family-like events in the world. Check out these two...

Mike in his element as Race Director for 2017 ITU Multisport World Championships in Penticton, B.C

Mike in his element as Race Director for 2017 ITU Multisport World Championships in Penticton, B.C

The Great White North Triathlon

Arguably the funnest, best-produced, and most adventurous half iron-distance race in North America, the Great White North Triathlon in Stony Plain, Alberta is still open! There’s plenty of time to register and book an easy flight into Edmonton, or Calgary if you want a spectacular drive with the possibility of an aprés race diversion through Banff.

Race day is July 8th, but Mike and his crew put on two days of events that give the weekend a family feeling alá Tri California Events@ Wildflower Triathlon Festival. In fact, the primes and giveaways at the familial carbo load dinner (everyone goes) are so upper shelf that a fat bike is given away to any lucky duck who wins the oh-so high-tech heads-or-butts competition.

Mike on stage the night before the race giving away a fat bike, Ken Anderson Photography

Mike on stage the night before the race giving away a fat bike, Ken Anderson Photography

“The race has a long history, taking place every year since 1991...with approximately 800 athletes hitting the water at Hubble Lake each...and an enthusiastic 550+ volunteers. The female record [was] set by the legendary Heather Fuhr in 1993...4:14:18. Choose form a variety of race distances – Half Distance, Team Half Distance, Olympic Distance and Duathlon.”

Join CBCG-ers! Coach Chris, who took the tape in 2016, is competing again, along with Amy VT and Matthew Feldmar. Not enough incentive? How about a significant discount? Just contact anyone at CBCG and we’ll hook you up.

Amy VT at GWN 2017, Ken Anderson Photography

Amy VT at GWN 2017, Ken Anderson Photography

Super League Canada

Holy Moly you’d be honored to tick off this bucket list race! Professional and age group triathletes, alike, will revel in this thrilling format, a departure from typical races that synthesizes the components of stage races, short-course ITU, and long-course racing.

The inaugural Super League Canada takes place August 17-19 in our favorite racing town, Penticton, B.C., and serves as a qualifier for pro athletes looking to grab a lucrative contract for the Championship series, and age group athletes seeking a totally awesome weekend with three days of racing.

“The first event is the Equalizer, a two-stage event. Stage 1 is a stand-alone time trial (think Tour de France) that will be approx. 20km on Friday. The second part of the Equalizer, Stage 2, is a Swim (500m), Run (2.5km), Swim (500m), Bike (20km), Run (2.5km) on Saturday morning. Your two times

[are calculated for you standings. On Sunday is} the Standard Enduro: Swim (750m), Bike (20km), Run

(5km), Swim (750m) Bike (20km), Run (5km).”

Mike is no stranger to directing a powerhouse international triathlon over the course of several days in Penticton. He was at the helm of last year’s ITU Multisport World Championships, which attracted record numbers of participants and the top names in professional athletes and sponsors.

Bagg at 2017 ITU Multisport World Championships in Penticton, B.C., directed by Mike

Bagg at 2017 ITU Multisport World Championships in Penticton, B.C., directed by Mike

Mike Brown, Friend Extraordinaire

“Mike Brown is the only celebrity I talked to at Kona this year.” Someone in the CBCG community uttered this phrase last fall, making it official: Mike is a legend. Directly intertwined with his success is the fact that he’s also a tremendous, steadfast, and hilarious friend. When Mike visits us here in Portland he marvels at the hour-long lines at overpriced ice cream shops, birds swirling into chimneys as hipsters spectate, and, well, hipsters in general.

As with any good leader, friends and family are central to Mike’s endeavors, and at any race you can see his alarmingly beautiful wife working like mad, his close friends Jenny Ayers and Stan Anderson making everything work behind the scenes, and Darren Hailes and the legendary Steve King announcing dawn-to- dusk. They’re all running around on foot, and golf cart, and four-wheeler with walkie-talkies, addressing everything from road closure misdemeanors to athletes exposing themselves inappropriately pre-swim.

Mike, Bagg, VT, Rachel McBride, Nathan Killam, and Jenny Ayers aprés race

Mike, Bagg, VT, Rachel McBride, Nathan Killam, and Jenny Ayers aprés race

In an era of big-name triathlon series, and profit-oriented race monopolies, Mike Brown maintains a vestige of high-quality experiences. Where else could you race a world-class tri where the Race Director plants a beer in your water bottle cage the night before?

VT’s bike compromised by Mike the night before Great White North 2017

VT’s bike compromised by Mike the night before Great White North 2017

Smoothies: An Endurance Manifesto

“Why do chicks dig smoothies?”

“They’re not just for chicks, dude, and pretty much every endurance athlete I know digs smoothies.”

“Yeah, but why not just eat your food and spare yourself cleaning up a blender?”

My brother actually had a good point, and our exchange incited me to consider specifically why most of we endurance athletes are smoothie obsessed. I’m personally a devout consumer of Fieldwork Nutrition Company®, so I asked CEO and founder Casey Weaver why he created and espouses his stuff. “With our product, it’s important to blend due to the whole food ingredients, as well as fats and fibers, which require a bit more than just ‘shaking.’ We look at Primo Smoothie not as just a nutritious food in itself, but moreover as a vehicle for delivering daily nutrition. I compare how many fewer fruits and veggies I eat on days I don’t have a smoothie and it’s shocking and sad!” 

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Inspired by his words, my own experience, and polling Campers from our recent CBCG Camp in Bend, Oregon, I’ve concluded these chief benefits to practicing recovery fueling via the wonder that is smoothies:

  • Palatability - Have you ever crossed the line at an iron-distance race and walked the pizza gauntlet about to barf? We don’t always feel like putting down Real People Food aprés racing or training, so smoothies can thwart the risk of blowing off eating and drinking. I have come home from several five+ hour runs, revoltingly disinterested in chewing anything. Powders and bananas are hella better cloaked as a peanut butter-chocolate drinkable cocktail you can take into the shower. Just like hiding vegetables from toddlers in the sauce of Spaghetti Oh’s®, we can trick our stomachs into imbibing key nutrients and protein while we feel like we’re relishing an In-and-Out® milkshake.  
  • Digestibility - Packing in said amalgamation of nutrients in a fluid beverage accelerates absorption and, ergo, the recovery process.
  • Convenience - While some argue that it’s less convenient to assemble your ingredients, bust out the blender, and clean it later, there’s no arguing with the reliability of ingredients you can control, the concentrated power of powders (see next bullet), and the ability to grab your drink and go to the car/shower/floor/Timbers game. One athlete pre-makes a cauldron for the rest of the week (see below). 
  • Powders - Premium product like Fieldwork pack-in invaluable sources of proteins, combinations of viteys, and types of nutrients relevant for athletes that only a mad scientist (see: Casey Weaver) could amalgamate. You’re hard-pressed to get all these beneficial ingredients by grazing from your cabinets aprés workout.  Fieldwork, in particular, packs-in clean protein from grass fed whey, healthy fats and omega-3s, vitamins D, E, C, magnesium and iron, curcumin from turmeric and probiotics. 
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At our recent annual CBCG Camp in Bend, Oregon, 25 athletes endured five days of long and intense swimming, cycling, and running, enjoying the tremendous boon of Fieldwork Nutrition Company® as an official Camp sponsor. A horrifying amount of blending and Fieldwork consumption ensued, rendering our kitchen a massacre site for all things blendable, with five (!) blenders blazing at a time. 

Our personal Camp Chef Aaron Vinten of The Athletes Table® procured an array of gourmet ingredients to add to our Fieldwork, including pumpkin seeds, dates (pitted by CBCG coach Molly Balfe), organic berries, flax and pumpkins seeds, spices, natural sweeteners, alternative milks, and much more. Aggregating my data for my pressing question about why we love smoothies, I asked for testimonials from a few Campers:

  • “I’m always coming up short on time to make and eat nutrition, particularly after training. I can pack all the protein, carbohydrates and nutrients I need after a workout into six smoothies on a Sunday, and then drink them in the car between locations throughout the week. Plus, I get some extra hydration as a bonus.” - CBCG athlete Sebastian Pastore, coached by Donna Phelan
  • “For me, smoothies minimize my recovery time to maximize my next training session. It’s a matter of both time and ease. My coach plans my workouts to just barely squeeze into my busy schedule, so I don’t have time to plan ahead for a meal of ideal nutrients. Way more convenient.” - CBCG athlete Roman Gratteri, coached by Chris Boudreaux  
  • “I drink smoothies for the quick recovery intake of all the essential nutrients after a long or hard workout. Plus it's a great way to get my two-year-old, Cooper, all the fruits and veggies he needs!” - CBCG athlete Greg Dufour, coached by Chris Bagg
  • “I always have a smoothie immediately following any workout over two hours. My coach taught me, and I trust and follow.” - CBCG athlete Doris Steere, coached by Chris Bagg
  • “When I first started drinking smoothies for breakfast it was because I could put a good dent in my daily allowance of fruits and veggies, stay satiated through my morning workout, and sustain plenty of energy well into the day. I’m a huge fan!” - Maureen Callahan, coached by CBCG coach Donna Phelan
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Camper Bridget Freudenberger of New Hampshire was utterly converted at Camp, seen below assembling her potion with Fieldwork Primo Smoothie, dates, greens, banana, blueberries, strawberries, peanut butter, flax, almonds, and milk.  She raves, “Generally, I didn’t care for smoothies because I really love food, but this one was so good!  It didn’t taste like artificial sweeteners and it was filling. I placed an order on my way back from Camp, and am currently using Fieldwork as my recovery meal after my morning training.”  

Sing it, Bridget.  ‘Nuff said.

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CBCG/Wattie Ink. Spring Training Camp is a Wrap!

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Ed. Note—this article originally appeared on the Wattie Ink. blog. Reproduced here with permission.

What makes a training camp great? It's 2:42 in the morning, on the final day of the Wattie Ink./CBCG Spring Training Camp, and I can't sleep, thinking of the final things that have to happen to wrap the 2018 edition of Bend Camp, our 8th (how in the world did that happen?). I don't think it's the food, the bike routes, the swim workouts, the video analyses, or the massages, although all of those things help. As with most things in this world we love and value, it's the people. This year's camp set a new bar in terms of our campers and our staff, one that will be tough to clear in 2019. From the moment that Amy and I left Portland last Thursday morning, our staff and our participants have made this the calmest and happiest camp to date, resulting in higher quality training for everybody, and better results down the road. But I am, as usual, getting ahead of myself. Here's what we did this year!

Friday, Day One

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OK, I know I said it wasn't all about the food, but something that took Bend 2018 to the next level was the presence of Aaron Vinten, who is The Athletes Table and an all-around great guy. Aaron came to our Tucson Dream Camp and made himself indispensable, so I asked if he could come up to Bend to help out with our second camp of the year. To say that he hit it out of the park would be an understatement (and a cliché, too). Aaron is a real cook, and he took the menu that I use—with some tweaks—year in and year out and made it brand new. We've been eating sesame peanut noodles most years at camp, but I can tell you it never looked (or tasted) as good as it did this year. The training? Right. Friday camp we like to get the travel out of our athletes' legs with a short hill session on the run, and also hit them with the highest intensity swim on the schedule, knowing that they'll probably be too tired later in the weekend to go fast in the pool. CBCG co-owner Molly Balfe wrote a challenging and mysterious set, asking swimmers to perform an unspecified number of fast repeat 100s, challenging them to keep going without knowing when they'd hit the stop line. This mystery was a theme of camp; we purposefully withheld the schedule from campers, forcing them to steadily confront the unknown, as they would have to do in races. It's a format I stole from QT2 Systems head coach Jesse Kropelnicki, as it's what he puts his professionals through each year at his own camp in Florida.

Saturday, Day Two

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We've written about the magical Prineville Ride before, but the cycling gods gave us an extra level of stoke on Saturday. Cool temps and favorable winds made the 100 miles roll by in record time for many of our riders, and when the scenery looks as it does above, the living, as they say, is easy. 

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Saturday evening is always a fun night, as the biggest ride of the weekend is behind us, and that's when one of the local heroes of Bend comes to visit. We had the incomparable Linsey Corbin join us this year, and she got right down to business, answering a question right out of the gate and not letting up for an hour straight. 

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Sunday, Day Three

By the third day of camp, people were beginning to get tired, so we backed off on the volume a bit. We headed to Sisemore Road, on the eastern edge of Bend, for Sunday Runday. Depending on upcoming races and historic volume, campers ran between 60 and 120 minutes. Sisemore Road is a long gravel ribbon that connects Bend and its smaller satellite, Sisters, and the road is perfect long run territory: undulating, windy, and beautiful. 

That afternoon we returned to the pool for another tough session that Molly cooked up, putting campers through a descending pace set of 2x400, 2x300, 2x200, 4x100, 200, then 800 for a grueling 3200 meters at Juniper Swim and Fitness Center, Bend's outdoor Olympic-sized pool.

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After swimming we held a smoothie party back at Base Camp, using Fieldwork Nutrition Company's Primo Smoothie Mix as the base for our creations. Campers drew upon a huge array of ingredients to compete for top honors: spinach, maca powder, peanut butter, strawberry jam, almond milk, yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, honey, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds...the list goes on. 

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Monday, Day Four (Memorial Day)

By the penultimate day of camp, legs were close to toast and fatigue was on the rise. Regardless we headed west, towards Sisters, and another epic ride: Mackenzie Pass. It's less dramatic name is simply Oregon Route 242, and it snakes over the Cascades from Central Oregon towards Eugene. It's chief attraction, though, is the month or so from when the snow clears until early June, when a 22-mile stretch is closed to car traffic. For once, we cyclists are kings and queens of the road, able to ride carefree along some of the most beautiful scenery North America can provide.

Speaking of America (well, the United States of America), it was Memorial Day. We're incredibly proud of our Made in the USA status here at Wattie Ink., and we all stopped for a moment before the ride began to think about the servicemen and women who keep our way of life protected throughout the world. We're super grateful for your service, and to all those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice.

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Tuesday, Day Five

Well, that brings us to right now. It's 3:39, now, almost an hour after I started writing this, and it's time to go and start shuttling some campers to the airport. Regardless that a few people have had to return to work, we're going to run and swim again today, before sending the campers away tired, faster, and happier. We couldn't be prouder or more grateful. Thanks to our participants who were awesome and positive, my staff who killed themselves to make every detail amazing, and to our sponsors who made the whole thing possible: Wattie Ink. (of course), Picky BarsFieldwork Nutrition CompanySkratch LabsSellwood Cycle and RepairWorthy Brewing, and Stoked Roasters!

Interested in coming to the 2019 edition of the CBCG/Wattie Ink. Bend Training Camp? Head here and you can learn more and get signed up.

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A Power Meter for your Swimming

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Ed. Note—This article originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2018 issue of RaceCenterNW, and you can find it here.

I’ve become a curmudgeonly swim coach late in my triathlon career, so bear with me as I air a grievance. Say I’ve given my swimmers something simple but hard, the classic 20x100 on 1:30, aiming to hold 1:25 per repeat, for example. Wanting to ensure that they make the interval, they set off with abandon, swimming the first 50 in :40 (1:20 pace) and the second one in :45 (1:30). At the end of the set they are satisfied, reporting that they “nailed every interval exactly.” It takes a lot of restraint on my part to point out that, actually, they swam exactly zero yards at the goal pace of 1:25/100, starting too hard and then fading in the second half. This “fly and die” attitude is pervasive in endurance sports, born out of a well-meaning (but ill-fated) desire to “put some time in the bank.” Apply this approach to anything longer than, say, a 200, and you’ll quickly discover that you give back that time in the bank quickly, along with interest. The sad reality about athletes like this is that they are actually training to slow down in races, which is probably the opposite of what they’re trying to do in the first place.

So how to fix the problem? Any triathlete, faced with my criticism above, usually counters with a foreseeable argument: “But all triathlon swims start out fast, right? You’re supposed to race to that first buoy, so I’m just training specifically for my event.” Here’s the thing: those swimmers that race to the first buoy and then settle into a group, once they’ve made a gap? They didn’t have to slow down; they chose to slow down. A group established with a gap behind them, they know that they’ve done the necessary work to whittle down the group to a more manageable size, and they can afford to back it off and save some energy. If you’re utilizing the fly and die method, you might make that group for a few meters before getting unceremoniously dumped out of the group, having exceeded your sustainable pace for that distance to the first buoy. As a triathlete or open-water swimmer, you have three main areas on which you need to focus on, ranked in order of importance:

1.     Aerobic endurance—basically your swim fitness. Your ability to hold long, steady intervals at a pace that is not easy, but isn’t gaspingly hard. This is a crucial area that I find too many athletes avoid, preferring the sexier shorter and faster intervals that look good but do little for a triathlete/open-water specialist.

2.     Pace change—your ability to deal with and weather accelerations and decelerations, once you’ve found the group you can finish the event with.

3.     Starts/lactate tolerance—yes, it is important to be able to deal with the red-line that occurs at the beginning of a triathlon or OWS race. However, you will actually improve your lactate tolerance the most by focusing on aerobic endurance, above. So this third focus is actually a distant third.

So what do these subjective descriptions actually mean in a pool setting? It’s all well and good for me to tell you to focus on something, but I need to tell you how to get there, too. First of all, you need to establish your threshold pace, which is similar to your Functional Threshold Power on the bike or your threshold pace on the run. We could get into the weeds on what all those “thresholds” mean, but basically it’s your highest sustainable pace for a relatively extended period of time. For swimming, coaches have coalesced around your best 1500 pace as a good compromise for threshold. How to establish that number? Here are a few options.

1.     Go swim a 1500 time trial! Sounds like fun, right? Well, although you may think it’s fun, a lot of problems persist with this. Just as on the bike it’s hard to get an athlete to pace a 60-minute time trial well, it’s hard to get someone new to swimming 1500s in the pool to pace correctly. That said, if you’re Bruce Lee where pacing is concerned, then this is a good option (of course, if that’s true, this article isn’t really for you…)

2.     Use the Critical Swimming Speed formula. This formula (CSS for short) has been around for a long time, and has been popularized by Swim Smooth. After a solid warmup, complete a 400 time trial followed by a 200 time trial. Take the difference between the two and divide in half. This will spit out a pace per 100 that you can probably hold for 1500. You’ve found your threshold pace.

3.     Perform the following “broken 1500” test, taking the exact rest specified: 2x250 with :25 rest; 2x200 with :20 rest; 2x150 with :15 rest; 2x100 with :10 rest; 2x50 with :05 rest. Take your time for THE WHOLE SET, rest included, and then subtract 2:25. This gives you an estimated 1500 time, which you can divide by 15 to get your pace per 100.

OK, you’ve got your threshold pace for swimming! Good work. Now how to use it? Well, let’s return to our types of workouts, above. A tool that will be REALLY HELPFUL, here, is the Finis Tempo Trainer Pro. You can set it to paces based off your threshold, and it will pace you through sessions. They sit up in your cap and you can see me using one below. Apparently I also have a redundant one on deck.

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1.     Aerobic Endurance: complete longer intervals (300s to 1000s) at anywhere from threshold pace + 3 seconds per 100 to threshold pace + 6 seconds per 100 with short rest. A classic is the Swim Smooth “Red Mist” workout, which is 10x400 with :20 rest in between each interval, swum as follows: 4x400 @ TP + 6 seconds/100, 3x400 @ TP + 5 seconds/100, 2x400 @ TP + 4 seconds/100, 400 @ TP + 3 seconds/100. This workout looks easy at first, but I promise you it is not.

2.     Pace Change: get in a good warmup, then do the following:

a.     4x100 at threshold pace with :15 rest, 100 easy after the four 100s
b.     4x100 at threshold pace + 3 seconds per 100 with only :05 rest, 100 easy after the four 100s
c.     4x100 2 seconds faster than threshold pace with :20 rest, 100 easy after the four 100s
d.     4x100 at threshold pace + 2 seconds per 100 with only :05 rest, 100 easy after the four 100s
e.     4x100 4 seconds faster than threshold pace with :25 rest, 100 easy after the four 100s

3.     Lactate tolerance/starts: after you’ve gotten your aerobic endurance in place (a good test is that you can make it through the 10x400 workout above without slowing down or having to extend the rest), here’s a simple session for improving your body’s ability to deal with the start speed of triathlon. Get in a solid warmup, and then go through this following set twice:

a.     2x100 SPRINT with :20 rest (you may feel inclined to extend this rest—don’t; there’s a scientific reason not to; you can email me about it at chrisbagg@gmail.com)
b.     2x400 @ threshold pace + 2 seconds per 100 with :15 rest in between 400s
c.     100 easy and :30 rest before repeating the main set

OK, I’m over my word count, so I’ve gotta call it there, but I hope you found this useful/helpful! Remember, triathlon is a pacing game; it’s not really a racing game.

Amy VT's Ultimate Packing List

“Did you print out our European Federation receipts?” “D’oh! We totally forgot them.”

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I’ve been traveling to races for over a decade, and it’s still seems chronically inevitable that I forget something every time. But!  I’ve gotten hella better, and I do believe I just designed my best system ever.  The key features of my new suite of packing lists: 

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SORTING INTERFACE. This feature is my fave development of our new system. You’ll see the classic Sheets filtering feature at the top of each column, evidenced by the tiny triangle. There are a gajillion to-do apps that could also hosts all my lists, which I might migrate to one of these days, but the key for me is being able to sort by category, so I can only focus on BIKE, for instance, and to sort by YES or NO, to reveal what’s left to pack, which I’ve also separated by HERS and HIS, which could obvi be extrapolated to HERS and HERS, HIS and HIS, traveling buddies, or racer-spectator duos. I’m sure families with kiddos would warrant a whole ‘nother spectrum of list items like nappies, plane games, and legal narcotics. Here’s our Flying to a Race Abroad Packing List: 

REDUNDANCIES. I found it impossible to segregate each item into only one category, such as shades and trucker hats. Duh, I need those for traveling, hanging, training, and racing. Since the point of a compressive list is to not forget anything, I err on the side of listing things twice. Here’s our Driving Across the Border Packing List: 

MULTIPLE LISTS. You don’t need your foreign docs when you’re driving to a state-side race, but you can pack all the CO2 cartridges you fancy. There are tons of items to remember (or forget) for different types of events, so I maintain several.  Flying versus driving is obvi the biggest departure between lists, especially when flying with bikes. I also created a to-list before, one for just going to Camps, bike races, and so on.  Here are all the lists we maintain:

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I will offer an editorial note that we pretty exclusively travel with the phenomenal Rüster Sports Bags, enabling us to transport our bikes for a mega discount, or even for free on Southwest. The soft bags do necessitate, however, complete disassembly and reassembly, which makes our lists all the more important, because if you ain’t got your pedal wrench or crank tool upon destination, you’re SOL.

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A final note is that these lists should be highly individualized. I don’t pack compression, but I do pack a mallet. I don’t pack body glide, but I do pack crafts. I don’t pack multiple helmets, but I do pack multiple books. As races season enters full-swing, I totes suggest you make your own and pick out your Sheets colors or find the perfect app. Amy VT’s special packing extra: bring thank-you cards and maybe even little gifts from your homeland with you to give to homestay families, race directors, or new buddies you meet along the way. And don’t forget the sandwiches you packed in the fridge for the plane (precedent).

Athlete Profile: CBCG Athlete Devin Salinas Raises $14,830 for Charity Water

Ed. Note—our athletes do amazing things all the time, both on and off the race course. Today we bring you CBCG athlete Devin Salinas' story about raising $14830 for Charity Water, an organization dedicated to bringing clean drinking water to the 663 million people who have to go without clean water for most of their lives. CBCG is proud to have contributed $1000 to that effort, and we're happy to have helped almost 500 people get access to clean water through Devin's work. CBCG Coach Chris Boudreaux coaches Devin, and helped him get ready for his birthday ordeal.

On April 21st, 2018 I turned 30 years old! If you would have asked me five years ago how I would be celebrating this "milestone" birthday my answer would have most assuredly involved something about international travel, a boat, or maybe a chartered plane. My how times and priorities change...Instead, I ran 30 Miles in an effort to raise $30,000 for Charity Water!

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I think at times endurance sports can feel a bit isolating. We commit so much of ourselves to the lifestyle, and sacrifice so much to training, that it might seem absurd to an outsider. If we are impelled by the right reasons, however, what we can get back from our sport is so extraordinary. Not only do we discover unprecedented revelations about ourselves throughout our processes, but we forge amazing relationships with others, and optimally, find avenues for giving back to our communities.

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The CBCG family is the perfect example of this phenomenon. It's not just a group of athletes training for events; it's a group of likeminded people who come together to support one another on the journey. Not only has CBCG helped take my training and racing to another level, but they've helped me remember why I love the endurance community so much. The people, the experiences, and the shared memories.

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I first heard about Charity Water on an episode of the Rich Roll podcast with founder Scott Harrison. I was finishing a long ride through Malibu and Latigo Canyon and on my way back to Santa Monica on the Pacific Coast Highway. I was literally moved to tears as Scott Harrison shared the story about Rachel, a little girl from Seattle who donated her 9th birthday as her last wish before she tragically passed away in an auto accident.

The combination of the beautiful scenery, the incredible story of Charity Water, and the cycling induced endorphins coursing through my body inspired me to try to do something BIG, and at that moment, the idea for 30 on 30 for $30,000 was born! I could combine my love for endurance sports and my desire to do something significant for others in celebration of my 30th birthday!

Overall, the run was a great experience! I had friends and family to support me before, during, and after the run which was awesome. Physically I felt great! My coach, Chris Boudreaux, had a great training program put together and a very clear approach to the run itself. “THIS IS NOT A RACE!” Keep my pacing in check so I can protect my legs and go throw down at Ironman Saint George 70.3 coming up on May 5th. 

I went out super conservatively for the first 10; between miles 15-18, I started getting a little too excited, and my pace started dropping into the low 7’s, which was red flag zone, so I pulled it back and stayed committed to my “mid 8’s,” as dictated by my coach. That all being said, 30 miles is still 30 miles, and by the last 3 or so my legs started to lock up on me. I got some salt and hydration and finished the run in 4:15 right at 8:29’s. “Present, Patient, Persistent,” was and is my mantra, which kept me focused through the entire run.

My first thought when I finished was, “less painful than a 70.3,” which was ironically the complete opposite of what I was expecting. In a race, even a race as long as 70.3, you’re constantly flirting with that line of maximum effort which means a much stronger pace than what I did in the run. It was a great learning experience and gave me more confidence as I head into my 2018 race season!

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My hope was not only to raise $30,000 and bring clean water to over 1,000 people in need, but to simultaneously raise awareness of the great work that Charity Water does. It's so easy to lose sight of how fortunate we are just to live where we do. To have access to something as simple as clean water is not a thought for most of us. But for over 650 Million people around the world, access to clean water is a daily struggle. It is THE daily struggle.

Want to do more? Miss your chance to contribute to Devin's work? Head over to Charity Water and help others gain access to clean water.