Triathlon Training in Tucson

March 29th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Paul Raynes

Predictable sunny weather, beautiful mountains, and abundant training opportunities, all reasons why Tucson Arizona became my home for the first two months of 2022.

At 2400 ft. of elevation, the valley of Tucson is a caldera, and the surrounding mountains the remains of an ancient collapsed volcano. Because of the beauty, weather, and available outdoor activities, Tucson has been my winter destination for the past four years.

Tucson has an expansive and highly accessible recreational parks system. Just down the road from my Airbnb casita, a large 158 acre indoor and outdoor recreational facility, Morris K. Udall Park.  Udall Park became my primary destination for biking, running, and relaxed evening walks.  The desertscape of the back half of Udall Park was a great place to run, and practice transitions off the bike – just me, a few rabbits, birds, roadrunners, and that one coyote that would trot by, stop, and stare at me like it was assessing my running mechanics.

From there, I had a direct link to the Chuck Huckleberry Loop (The Loop), nearly 140 miles of well-maintained interlinked paved trails – approximately 55 miles to circumnavigate the metro Tucson area.  You’ll find exit points for gravel or mountain biking on certain areas of The Loop. Or, if desired, travel to one of the many specific off-road cycling destinations. Most major roads have wide bike lanes, however, for non-stop riding and safety reasons, I chose to stay on The Loop.

South Loop

Tucson has a robust cycling community, great bike shops and features the annual November event, “El Tour De Tucson.”

Like many of the larger parks, Udall had an outdoor lap pool. Regrettably, it was not open during the winter months. I did find at least four outdoor pools with winter hours. The pool at William M. Clements Center, was a short drive from my casita. A drive well worth the 82-degree water, no reservations, and there was always a lane open. A mere $2, for out of towners.

Mount Lemmon is a must-see destination. A 9000 ft. mountain regularly used by the cycling community, sight seers, and hikers. If you’re so inclined, you’ll find a ski resort near 8,500 ft. of elevation. If you do visit Tucson, make sure to take Catalina Highway up the mountain. There’s hiking along the way, and great overlooks, like Windy Point. If you make it to the top, you’ll experience a significant change in eco systems, and have an opportunity to grab a bite to eat in the quaint little town of Summerhaven, some 26 miles up the mountain.

Apparently, I prepared for an Octathlon: road bike, running shoes, hiking shoes, swim gear, 20lbs. dumbbells, elastic bands, self-massage tools, and golf clubs. I used it all, including the golf clubs – I completed a ton of base training, and feel healthy. The sun and hikes into the mountains helped with the sense of health and wellness. After all, it’s not just about the physical being.

Udall Park

My thoughts have been on the purpose of the 2022 season, and during my stay, I received notice of an age group national qualification. Some of the reasons and excuses for not pursuing past qualifications no longer exist. So, why not take advantage of being the youngster at the bottom of the 65-69 age group?

A question to myself, a question of motivation…   Questions of ambition regarding competitive endurance sports surfaced during my soul searching.  Can passion transcend a waning competitive spirit?

It’s been a long journey, and as I enter my tenth age group, I question where my heart is, the desire for intensity, the intensity and discipline it takes for me to be my best.

I’ve learned over the years, if you want something, hangout with people on the same mission, and mind set. Place yourself with the right people, in the correct environment, and the energy will come.

Here in Southwest Michigan, we are also fortunate to be integrated into a large active community.

These communities don’t manifest on their own, and we are especially privileged to have organizations, athletic families, our Athletic Mentors Team – creating the environments where people are motivated to express their passion through athletics and healthy community engagement.

I’m going to do something this season, I’m just not sure what that something is…  I do know, staying healthy and enjoying the moment is important to me.

Staying connected to the athletic community and team, will help me with that vision.  The truth, I can use a nudge in the right direction, a word of motivation, and perspective…

To a safe and purposeful athletic season…

My Experience with AeroTune; Aerodynamics without a Wind-Tunnel

March 22nd, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Jay Campbell

Like most triathletes, I wish I had cheap access to a wind-tunnel. I could fine-tune my cycling body-position, hydration system position, gear selection, and so much more. If you need to be convinced that reducing drag during the cycling leg of a triathlon is important, just wallow in this fact: A recumbent with fairing (eg. a very very aerodynamic bike/rider) only requires 50 watts to maintain 22 mph on a flat course!! (Wilson, D.G., Bicycle Science, 3rd Edition, 2004, p.188.)

Sam Whittingham averaged over 52mph when he set the one-hour world record in his faired recumbent.

Last year, I read about a German company, AeroTune, that was using a rider’s speed and power data to calculate a drag coefficient. Whaaat??!! Here is the gist of how it is done: The rider pedals a 1000m flat course, turns around and pedals 1000m back to the start. The power and speed data are used by AeroTune to calculate a Cd (coefficient of drag). The rider can then make changes to body position or equipment and repeat the test. The change in Cd between the two rides indicates the improvement or degradation in aerodynamics.

Why does this work? Aren’t there a bunch of other factors that affect the speed:power relationship? Let’s take them one at a time (or skip this paragraph if you are not an aero geek).

Elevation change: This factor is reduced by setting up the course on flat terrain. Riding the course in both directions is also intended to remove any effects from “doing work against gravity.”

Wind: Once again, the out-and-back course is intended to subtract out any effects of wind. Even so, I would suggest doing the test on a calm day. If the weather changes during a testing session, either redo the baseline “setup” or come back another day. More on this below.

Frictional losses: These exist, but if you keep the test-power at about 90% of your race-power, frictional losses will be a small fraction of the total power.

Rolling resistance: Aerotune uses empirical data to approximate rolling resistance based on your setup and speed. [Aerotune can also calculate your actual rolling resistance, but that requires a separate test at a lower speed.]

Aerodynamic Drag: Once all of the power losses above are subtracted from your total power, the remainder is consumed by aerodynamic losses. These are typically 80 to 90% of total power at race speeds. The relationship between Power consumed by aero losses and Velocity is roughly Paero = k x Cd x V3 where k is a constant. The test generates data for V (speed) and Paero from which Aerotune calculates a Cd for each setup.

What do you need to use AeroTune? The basic requirements  to do an AeroTune test are a power meter (I use garmin pedals), Garmin bike computer (I have an old Edge520), a mobile phone with Garmin Connect app installed, and the AeroApp on your bike computer (downloaded using ConnectIQ). The procedure is not super-complicated, but is definitely not simple. In fact, I created my own “Gear List” and “Step-by-Step” even though AeroTune provides both on their website, My list includes a tripod, bike stand, and whiteboard, so I can take pictures of each “setup.” A bathroom scale is handy for weighing rider and “rider-holding-bike.” Aerotune suggests a speed sensor but it is not required as speed can be calculated from the GPS data.

Photo of Setup for #3. See table below.

You will also need to create an account at The basic account is free (“Freemium”).

Finally, you need a course. Currently, the only public course in Michigan is my course just north of South Haven, but it is fairly easy to create your own course. You just need a 1000m straight, flat, quiet road. A big/fast truck passing will screw up the results.

Screenshot of Allegan County course at


I had a couple questions I wanted to answer before last year’s Age Group Nationals. What hydration system should I use? Are aerosocks worth the time to put on? Is my 25-year-old heavy disc wheel helping or hurting?

I paid for “premium access” for one month to get the results of this study in a pdf format (otherwise the results are only on-line.) Aerotune reports the results in several different forms. In this case, I had Aerotune report the results as predicted finish times for a 40K Time Trial.

AeroTune results for six “Setups.” The green indicates an aero advantage of the setup over Baseline (Setup #1)



Setup #1 is my “baseline” ride. This is my tri bike with training wheels, no hydration system, road helmet and cycling jersey/shorts.

Setup #2 is with a Profile hydration system between the aerobars. It gives a slightly favorable aero advantage over baseline. This is the working hydration system I used at Nationals. (See photo below).

Setup #3 is with an aero-bottle on the seat tube. (see photo above). This gave quite a favorable aero advantage, so I elected to ride Nationals with this bottle in place (empty). See photo below.

Setup #4 is with carbon race wheels. Once again a definite advantage

Setup #5 is carbon race wheels and aero socks. The aerosocks appear to not be effective in this configuration. This ride probably is showing the reproducibility issues with aerotune. The wind was starting to pick up, and may have been a factor. In any case, as you can see in the photo below, I selected not to wear aerosocks at Nationals.

Setup #6 This setup was throwing everything on: race wheels, socks, hydration systems, PLUS aero helmet and Roka trisuit that I had tested previously. I was looking forward to my lowest Cd of the day. I was very confused when this setup turned out to be 2 minutes slower than baseline??!! It made me question all of the results. By this time the wind was picking up, so I discounted this result on that basis. (The wind was a crosswind, so it was slowing me both out and back). I was also starting to get tired and perhaps I was getting lazy with head position. I have some data that the Giro AeroHead is not very aerodynamic if the tail is sticking up (gaze falling down to cycle-computer) or if the tail does not smoothly transition to the spine. I talked with one of the founders of AeroTune and he thought the results were real and that I should do more tests to understand the interaction of various items in the “cockpit”…my shoulders, head, aero-helmet, front water bottle. Unfortunately, I have not had the time to conduct these tests.

My setup at Nationals. Note: no aero socks, empty aero bottle (white) on seat post, working aero bottle (black) between aero bars.

Was all of this worth it?

  • Because I enjoy the science of aerodynamics (I have a PhD in Fluid Dynamics), I may find more pleasure in this than others would. I am not convinced it really made me that much faster, but I am intrigued enough that I will be doing more test rides.
  • I got frustrated a few times when the AeroApp froze during a ride which invalidated the test. [Have you ever had a coach tell you at the end of an interval, “That one didn’t count, Do it again.”? That’s how it felt.] I now turn off any communication between my phone and Garmin during the ride. [The glitches happened after Gale Warning were streamed to my Garmin Edge during a ride.]
  • My new protocol includes a “Baseline” ride every fourth setup. That will give me a better idea of the reproducibility of the results.
  • I am happy to share my written “protocols” if anyone is thinking of trying out AeroTune.
  • More reading:

    AeroTune Test Guide:

    Aerotune Test Protocol:

    Are shaved legs faster?:

    Sebastian Schluricke on Scientific Triathlon:

    Five Ways to Improve Your Metabolism

    March 3rd, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

    By:  Raquel Torres

    Metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.

    These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning; the molecules are constantly changing shape, renewing and rearranging themselves to either build things (heal), use energy, or save it as fat. 

    Sports training can have a significant effect on metabolic rate – this can determine weight gain and weight loss. This is because it boosts calorie burning.

    However, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with metabolic rate, or the number of calories you burn.  The higher it is, the more calories you burn and the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off.  Having a high metabolism can also give you energy and make you feel better.

    Metabolism is a tricky thing. It’s not as simple as “eating a certain food” or “running a 10k every day”, and certainly not “taking a diet pill”. But the right balance of factors can lead to a healthy metabolism that’s metabolically flexible and sustainable.

     1. Enough sleep.

    Sleep is one of the most important factors in maintaining (or improving) metabolism. In fact, studies show that sleep deprivation leads to changes in glucose metabolism and hormonal functions. The result is a decrease of levels of Leptin Hormone (control the feeling of fullness/appetite suppressant), and an increase in the Ghrelin Hormone (which invokes the hungry feeling), along with other issues, known as metabolic dysregulation, which also has links to an increase in obesity and diabetes. 

    2.  Keep a good combination of exercise with CARDIO + STRENGTH. 

    For example: 40 minutes of any Cardio 3-5 days a week, including some H.I.I.T (high intensity interval training) and 2-3 times a week of Strength Training. People who include strength training burn significantly more fat than those who only perform cardio exercises. 

    People who are leaner with higher muscle mass burn more calories at rest, compared to those with higher body fat. 

    Fact: 1 pound of lean muscle in the body burns 14 calories a day at rest , while 1 pound of fat burns 2-3 calories a day. 

    Tip: Strength training can be weights at the gym or bodyweight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, or resistance bands.

    3.  A well balanced nutrition.

    Avoid extreme diets. While some studies show that fasting is healthy, if you are underfeeding your body on a regular basis, your metabolism will adapt to the lower caloric intake and your metabolism will work to preserve the remaining calories as fat rather than energy, hence slowing down your metabolism.

    Fact: Eating some type of food, like proteins, can increase your metabolism for a few hours.

    Tip: Reduce calorie intake at a healthy and realistic pace to lose weight sustainably. 

    This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb, and process the nutrients in your meal.  Protein causes the largest rise in TEF. It increases your metabolic rate by 15–30%, compared to 5–10% for carbs and 0–3% for fats.  Try to include proteins in every meal. Proteins can be: nuts, meat, fish, yogurt, cheese, egg, and many vegetables, such as green vegetables, as well as rice and beans are rich in proteins. 

    Fact: While carbs are necessary for energy, studies show that some are better than others. Consuming complex carbs (ex. oats, potatoes, rice, fruits, veggies, beans, or grains) versus simple carbs (ex. white bread, pasta, food with raw sugar, corn syrup, and concentrated fruit, etc.) means that the body requires more effort to break down the foods. That’s why when you eat complex carbs, you feel full for longer.

    Tip: Try to have 30% of your total of food intake in proteins.

    4.  Caffeine / Coffee. 

    Studies have shown that caffeine can boost metabolism by 3 to 11%. Most fat burners supplements have caffeine as their #1 ingredient. That doesn’t mean that you need to be a coffee addict, or spend all day long drinking coffee expecting to lose weight–you still need to put in the effort. 

    Tip: Caffeine/Coffee before exercise can improve your workout, speed up metabolism, and burn fat more efficiently.

    5.  Age ain’t nothin’ but a number.

    Age is just a number, but it still affects your metabolism. The rumors on this one are true.

    From about age 25 until age 65, your metabolic rate decreases with each year by a rate of 2-5%. This means the number of calories your body burns without you doing any sort of physical activity actually decreases. 

    Tip: The best way to beat the reduction in your BMR is to regularly exercise. Following a healthy eating plan helps as well. The more lean muscle you have, the more calories your body is burning.

    Remember, you are in charge: don’t get in that defeating mindset about “your genes or your age”; there are areas that you have total control over your metabolism: your lifestyle, nutrition, sleep, weight, and well-structured exercises.


    15 Ways to Get Mentally Stronger

    January 26th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

    By Raquel Torres

    “Fear is the biggest disability of all. It will paralyze you more than being in a wheelchair”. Nick Vujicic.

    Tough people handle difficult situations with strength and grace. They stay positive instead of letting criticism rule their day. Being mentally tough is essential to staying positive, happy, and moving forward.  For many of us it doesn’t happen overnight, it takes practice and time; after consistent work we become braver not less afraid

    Coming back from many life setbacks, personal and in triathlon as a professional elite, I dedicated many years researching about mental strength and how to improve it, learning from many different authors, doctors, scientific studies, and experts in several areas like psychology and sports medicine, so I can improve myself and help others better as a coach.

    First, we decide to be brave then we become braver, being courageous is a personal constant decision.

    Here is a recollection of recent scientific studies and data related to this topic from doctors and elite athletes, also practices and tips that can help us to have better life experiences, no matter who you are, what you do or want to do.

    1.Wake Up! You are not your thoughts, you become what your most predominant thoughts are, sometimes our thought patterns are not even ours, they are from the environment, society, friends, family etc. Tip: with some practice we can change and create new healthy thought patterns. 

    2.  Guard your thoughts, you must become aware about what you think, where your thoughts go, your life follows. Certain thoughts should never be in your head for more than 2 seconds. Tip: replace weak thoughts like: “I can’t, I’m tired,” or “I’m bored” with: “I am strong”, “I got this!”, “I have what it takes!”.

    3.  Take responsibility. Have strong boundaries. Are you spending too much time and energy with fearful, negative, lazy people or someone with a bad attitude? Cut the time, attention or cut them off from your life. Tip: a practical way to guard or track your energy and thoughts that I heard some use, is to have an elastic band on the wrist and every time you catch a negative thought or listen to a negative comment, pinch yourself and replace that thought with a positive one, or with a ring and turn it around your finger or touching mala beads can replace the elastic band with the same mental effect of switching thoughts to positive.

    4.  Get out of your comfort zone and fix your problems.   Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. When life is hard, we want comfort, not change. Those who have learned the secret of being mentally tough have learned that sometimes comfort now can mean pain later, whereas a little discomfort now can yield a big reward in the future.

                  “Courage is grace under pressure -E. Hemingway.

    5.  Confront your fears and break it down to identify your triggers. For example, make a mental list or write it down, dividing the scenario into little pieces, for example in triathlon, if you fear open water, write down in detail what you are afraid of: dark water, animals, deep waters, waves etc. Tip: with the adequate safety protocol, start from the shore, and build your confidence up while training in that environment, spend time with others who are braver than you or have extensive experience in the area that you want to get better at or mentally stronger, apply visualization techniques. Keep in mind that animals are more scared than you, because we humans are so creepy. 🙂

    6.  Be accountable and careful. Whatever you are working towards, have someone like a coach that can hold you accountable in areas you are likely to give up.  Tip: there is a time for sharing your goals to help with your accountability, and other times you’re better off keeping them to yourself. You just need to be strategic and rational in your decision. Sometimes a “friend”, a family member, doctor, partner, psychologist, teacher, no matter the role or the relationship with you, some people are secretly frustrated with themselves and sometimes intentionally or not, they’ll try to sabotage, discourage, or distract you from your personal goals or aspirations.

    7.  Pump up your confidence. Toughness and confidence go hand in hand. Being tough comes down to the choices you make about handling any given situation. Having confidence in yourself makes it possible to make the right choice and follow through with it. Tip: remember/visualize times when you were brave and accomplished something.

    8.  Don’t take opinions personal. You can be a good person, a decent,  good hearted human and have thick skin, don’t worry about the little things, comments, or opinions. If you’re going to be tough, you can’t let a negative comment ruin your day. Tip: Realize and keep in mind the difference between truth and opinion. Focus on what you have total control: your mind, your actions. 

    “An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, the negativity of the world can’t put you down unless you allow it to get inside you.” — Goi Nasu

    9.  Consistent rest can make you tougher. To be tough does not mean to be masochistic or a brutal person. You need to be tough when needed, the situation will tell you what mental attitude is the best or is required, the sacrifices to accomplish a goal can be personal and sometimes circumstantial. Example: not everyone needs to wake up at 5:00 am to work or train “hard”, if your responsibilities requires you to stay up late and you do not need to wake up until 7:00 am, with those 2 extra hours of sleep you can have a better-quality rest; which is an essential ingredient to have enough energy to be tough and overcome any challenge. The saying “the early birds eat the worms” has its exceptions. Never look for validation or attention from others on what is working hard or being tough for you, because we all have different pain thresholds, challenges and lifestyles. To be tough is a tool that we need to be diligent on how, when and what is mentally required. Some people spend their lives and energy trying to “show off” to someone or others on how “hard they work” or how “tough” they are, this is very common, and not surprising when they end up overdoing stuff or doing things that can be counter-productive in the long term with achieving good results, happiness and personal satisfaction. Tip for endurance sports: in the podcast about the book “How bad do you want it” by Matt Fitzgerald he explains how studies show now that elite endurance athletes can get tougher applying some techniques while training, like listening to music and the consumption of moderate caffeine, can bring the benefit of improving the “perception of effort” while training (working harder while feeling less hard) and with time reap the benefits of becoming tougher, with an adequate training, applying the 80/20 Rule (Total Training Volume=80% Easy training +20% Intensity training). Matt also mentions about how often recreational or amateurs athletes make the mistake of over training, getting in that security blanket mindset that “hard work pays off”, “that’s true and it pays off until some extend in endurance sports” he comments, most elites athletes have the capacity to take a day off and take the easy days easy, the opposite of most amateurs or recreational athletes.

    10. Engaging in the activity makes you tougher. When athletes engage 100% in the activity the body increases the number of secreted Endorphins within the brain and nervous system, these are the natural Painkillers-hormones (causing an analgesic effect). Scientific studies show that athletes that have a total engaging mentality in their activity or goal, feel less pain while doing the same exercise with the same effort compared with other athletes that mentally try to distract themselves from the activity. Ex. watching a movie or reading a book while exercising or trying to distract or think of other things rather than the goal or activity or try to “avoid the pain”.

     Note: In the Book “how bad do you want it?” This method of engaging in the activity can be the opposite when training and during an event, race or test. For example, studies show that athletes or students that engage in the activity (focusing on inside feelings) while they train or practice make them improve the perception of exertion and pain tolerance (by increasing endorphins creation) on the other hand during a math test, event or a race if they focus on external factors, rather than inside feelings, the athletes have a more pleasant experience and better results.  

    11. Prepare your mind for the upcoming activity as a tough one and that you will be tougher than the activity. Tip: Resent scientific studies show that athletes that visualize the event as a tough one, feel less pain or discomfort than the ones who are expecting an easy experience.

    12. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. While pain is what happens to us, suffering is what we do with that pain. While changing our perception of this concept may be difficult, it is possible. We can avoid or lessen our actual suffering based on what we choose to do with the pain we experience. Tip: keep the pain in the body and relax your thoughts with your favorite mantras.

    13. Get active and follow through with your goals. If you want to be tough, be willing to put in the time and effort it takes to accomplish your goals. Tip: keep in mind that just “having the information” does not do the work, just reading or listening about other stories alone will not make you tougher, you need to put in the work, nobody will do it for you.

    14. Be selective. Remember that some societies, communities, governors, religions, and the most dangerous humans in world history use fear as a tool of controlling others or the masses. Tip: stay out of that mentality, protect your mind and be very selective on what information you allow in your mind, what you choose to believe, and what you need to ignore.

    15. Forgive yourself. Pick yourself up after making a mistake. Tough people use their mistakes as a tool for learning how to do better next time. Do not get in a trap of staying in low energy for a long term or feeling sorry for yourself. Tip: Learn and reflect after a mistake or failure and turn the page asap and  come back wiser and stronger.

    “A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor”

     Toughness can only be acquired through experience, every challenge you must face gives you a chance to get tougher. What is the story you’re telling yourself? That belief is the key to being mentally tough.

    Sources: The Physical Performance Show and Matt Fitzgerald – Best-selling Author ‘How Bad Do You Want It?’


    How Many Wetsuits Do You Need?

    November 24th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

    By:  Dawn Hinz

    WAIT! Am I really saying that you should have MORE than one wetsuit? … Possibly.

    I have to confess that I have 3 wetsuits. Yes. Really. One for very cold water. One for regular cold water. And one for warm water. In water below 60* I wear my cold full sleeve suit with a neoprene hood, booties and gloves. In water below 68* I wear my regular full sleeve suit. In water below 78* I wear my sleeveless suit.

    Let’s think about this. A wetsuit’s main purpose is to keep you warm in “cold” water; temperature below 78*F according to USAT. As an added bonus it also makes you more buoyant, improving your body position and helps you slip through the water faster than without it. 

    Cold water is a relative term. What’s cold to me might be comfortable to you. Michigan gives us a large range of water temperatures throughout the year. Down right frigid to balmy.

    Does that mean you should go buy the thickest full sleeve wetsuit? … Again, maybe or maybe not. You’ll want to consider how cold the water you’ll be swimming in will be and how comfortable you are in “cold” water. Also, a thick wetsuit can decrease your range of motion or could cause you to overheat.

    For example; I am very cold blooded. I’m always colder than the people around me. So I lean towards a warmer or full sleeve wetsuit. Whereas some people naturally feel warmer and would overheat in a full sleeve suit but they would be comfortable in a sleeveless suit. 

    I try to extend my open water season as much as possible so I swim in cold water, water below 60*, by wearing my warmest wetsuit with a neoprene hood, gloves and booties. Still I would be too warm in that wetsuit during the summer months but I want to take advantage of a wetsuit’s buoyancy so I also have a sleeveless suit for those occasions. 

    Do you want to swim in as much open water as possible? Will you possibly race in a range of water temperatures? Perhaps you should consider having more than one wetsuit in your arsenal. 

    Use this simple guide to help you choose the best wetsuit or wetsuits for you. Remember this guide is anecdotal and based on my experience swimming in Lake Michigan and Inland lakes.

    Now is the time to buy with giving 50% off. Use code 2021BlackFriday50 until Dec 5, 2021.

    Running is more than “Athletics”, it’s a Lifestyle

    November 4th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

    By:  Raquel Torres

    Running is an excellent physical activity not only to get fit, but also to feel good, and even to meet new friends and see new places. Starting a new habit does not have to be complicated, running is one of the most practical, affordable and effective disciplines, because we simply need a pair of running shoes (in good conditions) and the desire to move, wherever you are.

    For those who want to start this new discipline it is highly recommended that the first thing to do is to set a goal, look for an event or race, register and put it on your agenda or calendar.

    For those who are starting from scratch, those who have no running experience or people who may have experience, but they feel very out of shape, for any reason, it is advisable to first look for a local event close by your home and a short distance like a 5K or 10K. Every distance is possible for any level, we only need enough time to train and prepare for the distance.

    The goal that you set will be the main pillar from which workouts, nutrition and rest will be combined.  The goal will help you to focus on the really important things, it will be the reason to strive every day and build discipline. 

    Some of the benefits of running is feeling happy.  If you are already a runner you have experienced this, no matter how you feel good or bad, after running or doing a physical activity for more than 40 minutes you will feel better, this goes beyond the so-called “Runners high”, it is the production of “happy hormones” (endorphins). 

    Recent scientific studies in sport medicine now confirm that exercises like running or cycling for 40 minutes or more at 70-80% of maximum heart rate is able to significantly improve some mental and emotional disorders such as depression.  When exercising you can experience the benefits of spending time in nature and how it positively impacts humans physically, mentally and psychologically.  It helps to decrease the number of stress hormones in your body that feed anxiety and depression like Cortisol and Adrenaline.

    How to start training: The Run-Walk Method is an excellent option for those who have never run and for runners to improve their times. Contrary to what many people think, this technique doesn’t mean to walk when you are “tired”, it means to take recovery walks.

    You must use this technique of running / walking that best suits you, here some examples:

    Experience/Fitness level: Running time:   Walk time:
    Beginner   10-30 Secs    1-5 minutes
    Intermediate   1-5 minutes      1-3 minutes

    This technique is simple: for example, start trying to do a total of 20-40 minutes of exercise, doing 1 to 5 minutes of running + 1 to 5 minutes of walking (alternating run/walk/run/walk), after a 3-4  weeks and some progress you can slowly increase your running time while decreasing the walk time.  There are a number of apps for your phone that can be setup depending on how long your run and walk  timed are.

    It is important to identify where you are and what your personal goals are, if you have any questions look for a running coach’s advice.

    Setting short term goals will help you to stay motivated and long term goals to stay consistent, always take 1 or 2 days off every week and try to run/walk at least 3 times a week. 

    Have a plan, be patient, enjoy the process and always remember, do your best for yourself and avoid comparing your progress or goals with others. Adding the habit of running to your life will attract many other good habits and benefits to you, your family and friends.

    Training in Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Program

    October 13th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

    By: Sean Siems

    Hello, my name is Sean Siems. I am 13 years old. I go to St. Augustine and I’m in the 8th grade. I started doing triathlons because my dad introduced them to me when I was around 9 or 10.

    In the past, training wasn’t something I gave much thought to. We always just raced. All of that changed this year!

    This year I had the opportunity to join the Youth Triathlon Team at Athletic Mentors. Our goal was to train for and race the Grand Rapids Triathlon super sprint distance and Athletic Mentors private race at Gull Lake. The coaches at Athletic Mentors set up a Youth Triathlon Program for us to follow and also held group training sessions at various locations depending on which discipline we were focusing on that day. We had coaches swim, bike and run with us in order to keep us safe in the water and on the road. They also encouraged us to do our best and helped push us along.

    As it turns out, training for triathlons is just as fun as racing them. I have done five triathlons. The first three were the Shermanator. The fourth one was the Grand Rapids Triathlon. The last one was the AM triathlon at Gull Lake where we raced with adults. So far I am enjoying triathlons and I hope to keep doing more in the future and eventually do an Ironman.

    Training for Life from a Young Triathlete

    October 11th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

    By Kellen Siems

    Hello, my name is Kellen and I am in the 7th grade. I have done 5 triathlons and I’m on the Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Team. I play soccer, tennis, and I swim and ski.

    I do triathlons because my parents want me to be active. They also help me to be more athletic, which makes me better in the other sports that I play. Not to mention, it’s also a lot of fun!

    My favorite triathlon was the Grand Rapids Triathlon. There were many members of Team Athletic Mentors there both racing and cheering us on. It was a pretty big race so I was nervous. My brother and twin sister are on the team too, so that helped. If you have ever raced anything before then you know that as soon as it starts, all the nervous feelings go away. All that’s left is to focus and enjoy the race.

    My goal one day is to do an Ironman and be fast. I also want to be able to do triathlons more easily. That will come with more practice. Most important though, the training involved in racing triathlons will help me lead a fit and healthy lifestyle.

    Joining a Triathlon Team at 12 years old

    October 8th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

    By: Brie Siems

    Hello, my name is Brie Siems. I am 12 years old. This year I completed my first season on the Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Team. After a long delay due to the pandemic, it was nice to finally be part of the team. Although I have raced many triathlons already, this year was my first experience with a structured program geared toward racing.  As a group we trained together as well as followed a plan individually throughout the weeks leading up to our race. Our training included the usual swimming, biking and running but also some exercises to strengthen our core.  This year the Youth team raced the Grand Rapids Triathlon. We focused on the super sprint distance because we are all pretty young still. The distances were 200 yard swim, 6 mile bike and 1.5 mile run.

    My 2 brothers are also on the team. The nice thing about racing with a team is that although triathlon is an individual sport, being part of a team helps us all to be our best. It is also nice to see teammates before and after the race and to cheer each other on.

    I love to do sports and activities too. Some of the sports I did this year are soccer, tennis, swimming, skiing/snowboarding and cross country. I have been playing piano for 6 years and love it!

    I started doing triathlons because my parents wanted me to become an athlete. My dad also does triathlons so I guess it was only natural. My dad actually said that when my brothers and I are 18, he would be watching us do an Ironman triathlon. I joined the triathlon group here at Athletic Mentors to help myself become a better athlete. Currently, I go to school at St. Augustine Cathedral School. I am doing this strength and conditioning program to help myself become strong and better at running. I am looking forward to becoming a better athlete

    Taking Triathlon Off Road

    September 30th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

    By:  Kathy Braginton

    Are you a triathlete looking to spice up your triathlon race?  Or, maybe you are a cyclist with a gravel/mountain bike thinking about trying a triathlon?  With their latest event that made its debut this past weekend, the race directors of GR Tri and MiTi have found the solution: The Dirty Mitten.  It was composed of a swim, gravel bike and trail run that spanned over the grounds of the YMCA’s Camp Manitou-Lin in Middleville, Michigan.  The Dirty Mitten featured both sprint and olympic distances, also known as the Shorty and the Long One.  You don’t like to swim or run?  No problem!  This race also offered Duathlon (run/bike/run), Aquabike (swim/bike), and Relay options!  

    The swim distances were advertised as a 750m swim for the Shorty and a 1500m swim for the Long One.  The placement of buoys for these race directors at their events this year has turned into a amusing comedy of mishaps, so why would The Dirty Mitten be any different? That being said, the Shorty swim was anywhere from 600 – 700 yards.  (There is some question as to how straight the author of this blog really swam.)  The Long One was 2 loops of the Shorty course.  I’ve heard reports that it was approximately 1100 yards.  With the water temp at 68 degrees and the air temp in the 50’s, there were no complaints on the swim distances being a tad short for both races.  As with most triathlons now, the swim start was a “time-trial start” with athletes entering the water 2 at a time every 5 seconds.

    The bike course for the Shorty was a 14 mile route out and back with about 4 miles of paved roads and the rest gravel.  The gravel portion was hard packed and rolling with 450 ft of elevation according to my Garmin.  The bike course for the Long One was another story.  If you are familiar with Barry Roubaix, all I have to say is “The Wall”, “Graveyard Climb”, and “Sager” and you’ve got the idea.  It was 32 miles and 1900 feet of climbing.  I’m told it even included an added feature that required you to climb off your bike and hop over a tree.

    As a competitor in the Shorty distance, I found the run to be the most challenging leg of the race.  It was a mix of trail, gravel and field with a 170ish feet of elevation gain.  The field consisted of tall grass that had been driven enough to create a path.  The trail portion was partial horse trail which meant some uneven terrain and the occasional “road apple”.  I ran in my regular running shoes, but I wished I’d owned a pair of trail shoes for this event.  The Shorty duathletes and the Long Ones ran 2 laps of the Shorty course.  If you were doing the Long One duathlon, that made 3 laps total!  Yikes!  The distances were approximate, but again, there were no complaints with it being a tad short.

    With the laid back atmosphere of this race, it was especially fun to participate.  Transition never truly “closed”.  This was especially appreciated by those doing the Shorty with an hour wait from the start of the Long One until the start of the Shorty.  It allowed us to keep our warmer clothes on for as long as possible.  Plus, we could cheer from transition for all the Long Ones during their T1.  As a seasoned triathlete, I found the wide array of bikes in transition rather amusing.  There truly were all shapes and sizes of bikes in attendance and suitable for this race.  This was a USAT sanctioned race, but there were no officials (that I saw) at the race site or out on the course.  There was some question as to whether or not drafting was allowed on the bike.  Nowhere in the athlete guide could I find anything that said this was NOT a draft legal race.  I have to admit I may have taken advantage of a wheel or 2.  

    With this race being a sell out in its inagural year, you won’t want to delay when registration opens for 2022!  It was a great opportunity to conclude the multisport season on a high note!

    *Photo credits to Team Stellafly and Terry Hutchins

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