4 Better Off-Season Habits

This article about your Off Season might be from a little while ago, but all of the habits are still good one!!    Check out this article that was originally posted on the Ironman website about 4 habits to pick up on your off season.


1411offseasonhabits 740

This series is presented by Arctic Ease

by Sage Rountree

Whether your off season begins at the finish line on Ali’i Drive or has been in effect for a few months already, this is the time to establish habits that can enhance your recovery for the 2015 race season. Good recovery habits are critical when your training ramps up; now, when things are not as intense, is the time to make them a part of your everyday routine. Here are some worth fostering.

1. Sleep a lot

It’s patently obvious that sleeping more will aid your recovery. But when you’re in the full swing of your busy season, sleep is often the first thing you sacrifice. Take the time in the off season to develop good sleep habits. Go to bed and get up around the same time each day, and shoot for eight to nine hours a night.

2. Eat well

Again, this is an obvious decision—but smart nutrition often gives way to convenience foods when you are in periods of heavy training. Take these steps now to develop good eating patterns.

Expand your repertoire. With less training outside and more free time on your hands, learn some new recipes, new techniques, or new cuisines. Take a cooking class—better still, do it with your family. Mastering these skills now will make them second nature when your season heats up.

Make changes. If you’ve been considering eating vegetarian or vegan, or cutting out gluten, try these changes now, so that you can observe their effects on the body without sabotaging your training quality. Shifting your diet now gives your body time to adapt before big training sessions.

Choose anti-inflammatory foods. Instead of reducing inflammation with NSAIDs, aim to eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Emphasize fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, fish and nuts heavy in Omega-3 fatty acids, and avoid saturated fats and processed foods as much as you can.

Eat real food to support workouts. When you’re deep in high-volume training, meals seem to come in wrappers and bar form—and sports drinks replace water. These products certainly have their use, but the off-season is a good time to cut back and to experiment with a homemade granola mix instead of a sports bite, a few bites of dried fruit instead of a gel, or using plain water instead of sports drink. If you botch the snacks and bonk, you won’t have wasted a critical training session, and you will have learned about your physiology.

3. Plan and track

Beyond eating well, you should take the off-season as a time to develop a systematic, sensible progression for next year. Training willy-nilly will get you only so far and it makes recovery difficult. Build a smart plan and your recovery will be consistent.

Build into your plan a consideration of your busy periods at work and the times when family or relationship demands might impact the amount of time you can spend training. You may need to choose races and plot key workouts based on their meshing with your other obligations.

While you’re at it, develop a good system for tracking both your training and your recovery. Make notes about how much you slept, how well you ate, your performance, and your mood. If things start to go wrong, you’ll have a log showing how your training and recovery were connected through the off season.

4. Connect with loved ones

The more you can connect with the people who matter to you, the more supportive they’ll be of your in-season training commitments. Remember that there is a life outside of triathlon. Live it.

Sage Rountree is author of several books on yoga for athletes, athletic recovery, and mindful racing, including “The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery.” Visit her online at sagerountree.com.

Originally from: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/news/articles/2014/12/recovery-series-off-season-habits.aspx#ixzz4y3o1nkLh


Things Don’t Always Go As Expected

The 2017 Ironman World Championship was a much different race than I ever expected. After 15 Ironman and countless other races I finally found the course and conditions that would test me beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. The days and weeks leading into this race were not ideal to say the least. I had been dealing with a case of plantar fasciitis in my right foot all summer and I knew that my run would be compromised because of it. However, that didn’t seem to stop me 5 weeks earlier at Ironman Wisconsin. I hadn’t ran more than three times leading into Ironman WI and still had a pretty good run.  So I expected to gut through a somewhat difficult marathon in Kona, but still post a decent time.   I never would have guessed how wrong I was!!


Race week we were scheduled to depart Chicago on Tuesday evening before the race. However, the week before we were in Maryland so that Kristin could race Ironman Maryland. I was an Iron Sherpa!! She had a hard but great race. Me on the other hand….had to deal with a toothache that showed up the day we arrived in Maryland. It sucked!! I spent the next 5 days popping Motrin and drinking beer to get through the pain in my jaw until I could get back to Libertyville and see my dentist. During our time in Maryland I was unable to sleep much and my diet consisted of fast food and beer…..NOT the ideal way to taper for an Ironman!

Finally, on Tuesday morning (2-days after we got back from Maryland) I was able to see the dentist for an emergency root canal. That was 12-hours before I got on the plane for Kona! I knew I had 4 days to get my head in the game and be ready to toe the line Saturday morning in Hawaii. It would be a challenge but I was confident I would be able to perform well, at least on the bike. The days leading into the race were relaxing and enjoyable. The dentist had put me on antibiotics and pain killers for the week following the root canal, my jaw felt okay and I didn’t see any reason to be concerned.

Our trip to Kona was a special one for a number of reasons. For the first time I would not be racing alone on the Big Island because AMS had raced Ironman Texas earlier this year and wound up with 4 guys earning Kona slots (Trey had earned his the year before at Ironman Wisconsin). It was going to be an epic event!! More importantly, Kristin and I were getting married on the beach 2 days after the race!! I could hardly wait!

Race day finally arrived and we all hit the warm waters of the Pacific ocean. I had decided to just swim in a speedo instead of my speed suit for the swim leg of the race. I was amazed that I swam as well as I did given the fact that I hadn’t swam once since Ironman Wisconsin. But I was somewhat surprised at how warm the water was.  It had to be at or above 90-degrees! When I exited the swim I spent extra time under the water hoses trying to cool off. I never thought that I’d have to cool off from the swim! After a ‘not-so-quick’ transition I was off on the bike. This was my strongest part of the event, or so I thought?

As usual, I started to pass other athletes right away on the bike. This was normally how I raced Ironman, mediocre swim…fast bike. However, by mile 30 I started to suspect something wasn’t right. I didn’t have quite the power I normally had and I started to struggle a bit. By mile 40 I was getting passed by EVERYONE and I didn’t feel well. The strength and power I was accustom to having on the bike was nowhere to be found!!  In its place was a feverish, full body ache. My heart rate was elevated well above my normal race effort BPM. To make things worse I was having a hard time ingesting my normal nutrition mix. I reached Kawaihae (mile 42ish) and was starting to wonder if I could even finish the bike! I began to coast down all the hills and spin very easy up hill. It was going to be a long day!! By the time I reached the turn around at Hawi I was well off of the pace that I had expected to ride. In addition, I saw Kristin and Don right past the turn and asked how far ahead were the other guys. Kristin simple said, “oh….they are WAY in front of you!” Haha! Great, but at least I had special needs coming up and then a nice long decent off of the Hawi climb.

I hit special needs and grabbed my extra bottle of Infinit and the elixir of the Gods….a cold Dr Pepper!! I thought for sure this would get me right and I’d find my legs again…but….nope. Life still sucked!!  By the time I got to the bottom of the decent, I felt achy and had no power in my legs. I couldn’t stay in my aero bars for longer than a couple of minutes. I knew that I would just have to suck it up and get through the bike portion and hope for the best on the run. I just kept pedaling and working through gut issues and trying to find some kind of power reserves. By mile-95 I had given up on drinking Infinit and had started to fuel with Coke. Yes! They had Coke in a sport bottle and it started to work! I started to feel half way normal and my stomach settled down a bit. I began to pass people again and feel like I might be able to salvage my race. I was so grateful to see Kailua again as I rolled into town.

Time to run!

Or so I though!  I hit T-2 and really took my time getting ready for the run. I knew this was going to suck.  I had a hard time leaving the changing tent. It was just so nice in there! But I finally pulled myself together, put on a smile and headed out. To my surprise, it didn’t feel too terrible to start running except that my right foot still had that mild stabbing pain in the heel. I put one foot in front of the other and kept making forward progress. Things were going okay until I hit the first hill and immediately started walking…..I was .2 miles into the marathon. Just 26-miles to go!!! I struggled on for the first mile or so until I came to the 1st aid station. This was a welcome sight because it was so damn hot. I eased into a walk as I came through the aid station and started to take on fluids and calories. Normally I would wait until the second half of the marathon to start drinking Coke but seeing how I had already started on the bike, I simply continued. I was about to start running again when I heard someone behind me call my name! When I turned around I saw a buddy of mine from Grayslake, IL!!! It was Dan Jeromin!

Dan had qualified the year before at Ironman Wisconsin but had suffered through an injury over the summer and was essentially untrained for this race. However, he did what any self respecting Ironman would do when faced with the daunting task of racing the Hawaiian Ironman with little to no training…..HE SHOWED UP!!! He suggested that we re-enact “Iron War” (Dave Scott & Mark Allen) and run the rest of the marathon together. I said “Hell Yea!” I knew this was going to suck and having company would be awesome! Besides, misery enjoys company!

Over the next 25-miles we ran/walked and talked. We worked out most of the major problems of the world, kids, marriage and how absurd these races really are! We even share the first time experience of getting our first ‘glow sticks’. And sometime after the sun had set on the Pacific ocean we crossed the finish line to the sound of Mike Reilly’s voice, “You are an Ironman!”

As always, I’m grateful for the opportunity to compete/complete at Ironman. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to learn something new about myself. I typically have had good races, but this was not one of those days. The 2017 Hawaiian Ironman will go down in (my) history as the hardest race I’ve ever competed in. I had to force myself to struggle on even when I felt like I couldn’t finish. I had to abandon my normal strategy and simply work the problem. I knew that if I just kept making forward progress I would eventually step across the finish line. And that’s what happened. I learned something that I’ve always known….sometimes you just have to merely finish. Nothing more, nothing less. Just finish, because the other option…is not an option. I cherish what I experienced in Kona, always will.

Aloha Friends,


How to Treat Your Bike Nicely in the Trainer

It’s that time of year, Computrainer season is upon us and that can only guarantee a few things….  Early mornings, countless boring hours, great winter workouts and a ruined bike!!  For those of us who do not own a dedicated trainer bike we are forced to put our pride and joy on to the trainer so we won’t waste away in the winter months. This presents a number of problems in the form of corrosion.

We all sweat while on the trainer.  Since there is no wind pushing the salt away from our bike, the sweat drips directly down into some of the most important areas of our bikes. The headset, front brake, handlebars, seat post and bottom bracket.

The headset is comprised of bearings that allow your fork and handlebars to turn. While on a trainer, you are bent over in a position making it perfect for drips of sweat from your chin to go down on to these bearings. This can rust them solid, making steering of the bike difficult and unpredictable once summer rolls around. It also can rust the compression nut and stem, which can drastically effect the safety of your bike. Stems and headset spacers can  become fused to the steer tube making service on your bike difficult. Below are some photos of rusted bearings and a star nut.

(The black star nut on the top right is what one should look like)

This also applies to your front brake. Salt can impair a brake’s function making it hard to adjust and not function correctly.  Examples are jamming the pivot points, quick release lever or cable.

Another thing to think about are our handle bars.  Just because they are covered with tape does not make them safe from corrosion. In fact, the tape can trap sweat and wreak havoc on your aluminum and carbon handlebars. It can even rot completely through the bar which can allow it to snap while riding. Although we all love saving a buck but it is not a bad idea to spend the $40 or so on new bar tape once the summer rolls around. This allows our favorite mechanics to clean any salt deposits from under the tape and allows you to switch colors which is fun because who needs black bar tape?

The seat-post is often overlooked because it stays in one place and holds you seat steady, but sweat from your body often drips straight down your torso, to your legs and directly down the post and seat-tube. This can freeze the post in the frame which makes adjustments or service impossible. I have seen posts that have had to be methodically cut out of frames, put in a vise upside down to have the bike pushed back and forth and numerous other attempts to free a stuck post. This always results in a destroyed post, which can get costly depending on the model. Don’t let it happen to you.

bike 5

Finally, when the sweat has worked its’ way to the bottom of the bike, it collects in the bottom bracket.

This is where the crank bearings are located and is probably the biggest concern on a trainer bike. If your bearings are rusty the bike may be harder to pedal, make terrible creaking noises and ruin your drive train. This is not just applicable to aluminum bikes, sweat in this region can also jam internal cabling for the front derailleur and ruin press-fit bearings and crank spindles on carbon bikes.

bike 6

So how do you save your bike this winter? Use a towel or a CycleOps Bike Thong Sweat Catcher on your handlebars and headset. Do not forget to wash those items once and awhile too. Another great prevention is to have your bike dissembled to have Boeshield T9 applied to the steer-tube, spacers and bearings to add a protective layer from salt. Change bar tape at the beginning of the season to wipe clear the bars of salt and sweat. Have your seat-post and tube lubed with waterproof grease to ease movement. This is also a good idea if you have not moved the seat in a long time. Bottom brackets should be cleaned out and re-adjusted once a year anyway so it may as well be done before or after winter season.

If you have a dedicated trainer bike this may not apply to you but doing these simple checks and actions can save you money on the long run and keep you bike happy for a long time.


– Jeff (AMS’s favorite mechanic)


Let me start this off by saying be careful what you wish for! The Kona course is the real deal be prepared to work all day long.  The experience from the moment I stepped onto the island was a dream. The fittest people on the planet in one location and somehow I was part of it.

From packet pick up to the post race massage they treated us like rockstars. Everyone knows how I love free stuff and they gave us a bunch of it  (But no free aero helmets). Friday during bike and bag drop off we were assigned our own volunteer to help us through the process. When you walked your bike in they had an announcer tell everyone your race number, name and city. And since I had a Cervelo bike I scored another free T- shirt from the company.

It was great to have Marty, Trey, and Nick to relax with before we entered the water for the swim. I asked Nick where he was going to line up for the swim? I normally line up on the buoy line and Marty lines up out of the masses and cuts a diagonal that works great for him. Nicks answer “I just look for calm people and get in the fourth row”. Well I line up with what I thought were calm swimmers including me. That is till the cannon went off and it was like feeding time for the piranhas. I had a great swim although I got kicked in the nose within the first 10 strokes and kicked in the mouth the last 25 yards. T-1 went as planned I felt like I was floating on air. Off on the bike leg I saw our whole cheering crew that was loud and proud all day long (Linda, Kristin, Don, Katy, Fabrice and the entire Robinson crew. The first 30 miles on the bike was a breeze because we had a nice tailwind. I was thinking wow this course is to piece of cake I may set a PR in Kona. Big mistake the wind starting blowing from every direction except from the back. At one point I was pedaling down a steep hill and I looked at my Garmin and it said 10 mph. Oh no the bike leg is getting real, real hard I guess this is a tough course. I made it through the bike leg a little slower then I wanted but still having a good day. T-2 went smooth with a nice volunteer putting an ice cold towel around my neck. Coming out on the run course I was excited and scared at the same time. In the back of my mind be careful what you wish for you are on the Kona Course HOT WINDY OH MY. The first 3 miles I was able to maintain my goal pace 9:09 per mile for a 3:59 marathon split. I realized quickly that with the heat I had to adjust my goals so I slowed down. To maintain that pace I could end up dead beside the road. And dying isn’t much of a living so that wasn’t the plan. The run sucked!!!! LAVA ASPHALT AND EXTREME HEAT AND HUMIDITY. The best part of the run was running down Ali Drive knowing that I would soon be done. I was so happy crossing that finish line goal achieved! It was great seeing and having the support of Marty, Trey, and Nick during the race.

Huge thanks to My wife Linda, Son Bill, daughter Chelsea, and Granddaughter Addison for their love and support even when it seemed more like an addiction than a fun hobby. Big thanks to Kristin and Marty for being so smart by opening up Amphibian Multisport to feed my habit. If it wasn’t for them and the whole extended family at AMS I would have never made it to the big island. Dreams do come true, but be careful what you wish for!


Bring On the Exercise, Hold the Painkillers



Taking ibuprofen and related over-the-counter painkillers could have unintended and worrisome consequences for people who vigorously exercise. These popular medicines, known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, work by suppressing inflammation. But according to two new studies, in the process they potentially may also overtax the kidneys during prolonged exercise and reduce muscles’ ability to recover afterward.

Anyone who spends time around people who exercise knows that painkiller use is common among them. Some athletes joke about taking “vitamin I,” or ibuprofen, to blunt the pain of strenuous training and competitions. Others rely on naproxen or other NSAIDs to make hard exercise more tolerable.

NSAID use is especially widespread among athletes in strenuous endurance sports like marathon and ultramarathon running. By some estimates, as many as 75 percent of long-distance runners take ibuprofen or other NSAIDs before, during or after training and races.

But in recent years, there have been hints that NSAIDs might not have the effects in athletes that they anticipate. Some studies have found that those who take the painkillers experience just as much muscle soreness as those who do not.

A few case studies also have suggested that NSAIDs might contribute to kidney problems in endurance athletes, and it was this possibility that caught the attention of Dr. Grant S. Lipman, a clinical associate professor of medicine at Stanford University and the medical director for several ultramarathons.

NSAIDs work, in part, by blunting the body’s production of a particular group of biochemicals, called prostaglandins, that otherwise flood the site of injuries in the body. There, they jump-start processes contributing to pain and inflammation. Prostaglandins also prompt blood vessels to dilate, or widen, increasing blood flow to the affected area.

Taking NSAIDs results in fewer prostaglandins and consequently less inflammation and less dilation of blood vessels.

Whether these effects are advisable in people exercising for hours has been uncertain, however.

So for one of the new studies, published Wednesday in the Emergency Medical Journal, Dr. Lipman asked 89 participants in several multiday ultramarathons around the world to swallow either an ibuprofen pill or a placebo every four hours during a 50-mile stage of their race.

Afterward, he and his colleagues drew blood from the racers and checked their levels of creatinine, a byproduct of the kidneys’ blood filtering process. High levels of creatinine in an otherwise healthy person are considered to be a sign of acute kidney injury.

The researchers found that many of the ultra runners, about 44 percent, had creatinine levels high enough to indicate acute kidney injury after running 50 miles.

But the incidence was particularly high among the runners who had taken ibuprofen. They were about 18 percent more likely to have developed an acute kidney injury than the racers swallowing a placebo. Furthermore, their injuries, based on creatinine levels, tended to be more severe.

The study did not follow the racers in subsequent days or weeks, but Dr. Lipman believes that they all recovered normal kidney function soon after the event ended.

The experiment also was not designed to determine why ibuprofen might have increased the risk for kidney problems in the racers. But Dr. Lipman and his colleagues suspect that, by inhibiting prostaglandins, the drug prevented blood vessels from widening as they otherwise might have. Slightly strangling blood flow to the kidneys, he says, might make it harder for those organs to filter the blood.

The second study, published in May in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, raised similar concerns. It found that by reducing the production of prostaglandins, NSAIDs change how a body responds to exertion, this time deep within the muscles.

For that study, researchers in the department of microbiology at Stanford University looked first at muscle cells and tissue from mice that had experienced slight muscular injuries, comparable to those we might develop during strenuous exercise. The tissue soon filled with a particular type of prostaglandin that turned out to have an important role: It stimulated stem cells within the muscles to start multiplying, creating new muscle cells that then repaired the tissue damage. Afterward, tests showed that the healed muscle tissue was stronger than it had been before.

This microscopic process mimics what should happen when we exercise strenuously, straining and then rebuilding our muscles.

But when the researchers used NSAIDs to block the production of prostaglandins within the muscles, they noted that fewer stem cells became active, fewer new cells were produced, and the muscle tissue, even after healing, was not as strong and springy as in tissues that had not been exposed to the drug. They saw the same reaction both in isolated muscle cells in Petri dishes and in living mice treated with NSAIDs.

We are not mice, of course. But the findings imply that in people, too, anti-inflammatory painkillers might slightly impair muscles’ ability to regenerate and strengthen after hard workouts, says Helen Blau, the director of the Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology at Stanford, who oversaw the experiment.

“There’s a reason for the inflammation” in the body after exercise, she says. “It’s part of the regenerative process and not a bad thing.” In fact, at the cellular level, she says, “it does look as if no pain means no gain.”

She suggests that those of us who exercise might want to consider options others than NSAIDs to relieve the aches associated with working out and competing.

Dr. Lipman, who is a clinician as well as a distance runner, agrees. “Maybe consider acetaminophen,” he says, a painkiller found in Tylenol that does not affect inflammation. Or skip the drugs altogether. “I often tell people, think ice baths,” he says.