Multi-Sport

Handling Injury Before Your “A” Race

October 19th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Brian Reynolds

Age Group Nationals was an “A” race for me so I was doing specific swim, bike, and run workouts to prepare.  Three weeks before, I did a morning speed session run which went well but later that day my right calf became very sore and tight.  When I woke up the next morning and took my first few steps I had a throbbing pain in my calf. It was the worst muscle pain I’ve ever experienced, but I continued with my swim and bike workouts that week.  Three days after my injury was the Tri Del Sol race which I was signed up to do the Olympic triathlon. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do the run leg so instead I did the aquabike (Swim-Bike).  I was disappointed that I could not race the triathlon but it was the right call.

In order to get my calf healthy I had to cut my running back to just a really easy mile so I could keep my running streak going.  For the bike I only did easy rides to not aggravate my injury. The only high intensity workouts were my swims. It was frustrating I couldn’t do my normal training because I wanted to get in the best possible shape for nationals.  After I got through that low period I began focusing on the process of getting healthy again. My goal each day was to get my calf feeling a little bit better each day. Slowly but surely after  one week my calf made good progress and by the second week it was significantly better to the point where I could increase a few of my runs to 20 minutes.

Well three week later, I met my #1 goal which was to get the start line healthy! However, I did wonder how much run and bike fitness I lost from having to back off on training. I tried to not worry about my fitness and just focus on executing the best swim-bike-run and have fun while doing it.  I was at least very well rested for the race.

On race day for the Olympic distance they had to shorten the swim to 750 meters instead of the 1500 meters due to the rough waters.  In hindsight the shorter swim helped me since the swim is my weakest of the three disciplines. I ended up having a decent swim which put me 40 seconds behind the leaders.  When I got onto the bike my legs felt really good and I was able to produce a really good bike split. I ended up leading my age group coming into T2 (2nd transition). There was one guy that got ahead of me coming out of T2 but I was able to catch him by the 0.5 mile marker.  Once I made the pass I was leading the race in my age group. I thought to myself that 3 weeks ago I didn’t know if I would be able to do this race and now I’m in the lead contending for a national title. I held onto the lead until the 4.5 mile marker when the eventual winner passed me and beat me by 16 seconds.  I really wanted to win but I was still proud that I was able to put myself in a position to win.

The next day I did the sprint distance race just for fun.  I haven’t done a sprint distance in 3 years so I did not have any high expectations.  I ended up having a really good swim leaving me only down by 12 seconds to the leaders.  I had a solid bike and I was in the lead coming into T2. Through T2 Todd Buckingham flew by me and took the lead.  Todd would eventually win the race by a very wide margin. I ended up finishing in 2nd place. Unfortunately Todd got a 2 minute drafting penalty on the bike which bumped me up to winner of my age group.

These were the best results I ever had at the Age Group Nationals and I was very pleased considering my calf injury.  It was good to get a little redemption from last year when I crashed on the bike.

I had a few lessons to take away from this race:

Lesson #1 – You can still maintain good run fitness with very little running for 3.5 weeks assuming you’ve been consistent throughout the year.  My run split was not too far off from my usual run times when I’m in good form.

Lesson #2 – ATTITUDE!  My expectations had to change coming into this race. Instead of focusing on winning my age group, I just focused on giving my best effort and to be thankful just to be on the start line.  This led to a much better racing experience and reduced anxiety! This is a lesson I’m going to be applying to all of my races going forward.


Just TRI Being Part of a Relay Team

October 13th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Jacob Florey

Whether you are a runner, cyclist, swimmer or all of these, you can do your part on a triathlon relay team.  What better way to learn more about Triathlons.

In the process of deciding to assemble a relay team or if you are invited to be a part of a team, keep in mind the type of people you are racing with.  You want this to be fun!  You should be with people you enjoy being with.  Is your team super competitive or just doing this for fun?  You need to have the same mindset going in to avoid stress and disappointment.

How do you train for a relay?  Do you keep normal training?  Or if you normally do triathlons as an individual, do you focus your training on that one discipline?   For Michigan Titanium I focused on swim and that’s all. I really do believe it paid off.

Relays are a great way to focus on your best discipline, if you are on a really competitive team. But it’s also a way to focus on your weakest discipline, if your other teammates just want to do the relay for fun.  It is a great way to improve your discipline. You can focus on form and speed because you have more training time.

If you don’t change your training for a relay, that’s fine. There are reasons for not changing. For example you could have other races after or soon before the relay. Or it is just the start of your season and you are just getting back into things. But if it’s the end of the season or no races coming up, why not focus on just one discipline.

Once it comes to the relay it’s so fun. Typically you are much faster in that part of the event. You don’t need to conserve energy. You can just go all out. Then you can just relax and cheer on your team and it’s a great time!

This is a great way to get a closer relationship with teammates or enjoy time with family members or introduce a new person to the sport of Triathlons. Lastly don’t sweat it, relays are a fun and great experience.


41 Reasons to Trail Run

October 4th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By: Erin Young

Runners, just like everyone else, are often set in their ways.  We like the shoe brand that we have been wearing for years and will never switch.  We have our favorite routes, which we run religiously at least 3 times a week. And we are hesitant to leave the comfort of the road to try out something new, like trail running.

We have excuses like, It’s too hard on your body, I’ll get lost, It’s dangerous, the monsters in the woods will eat me… Well, I’m writing this to let you know that is is actually less stressful on your body, you can run out and back to avoid getting lost or download one of the nifty apps (Alltrails) for your phone, and I promise you that people are more dangerous than wildlife… and monsters.

I left the road years ago. Occasionally I have to run a little road to get to the dirt, but the road is much less adventurous to me after the years spent on trail. I love helping others find the adventure and beauty of the trails. It has made me a stronger runner, physically and mentally. But here are 41 other reasons to run trail as soon as tomorrow…

1)  You won’t find traffic lights on the trail.  There is nothing worse than stopping every block to wait for the light to change.  Avoid those pesky lights all together by hitting the trails.

2)  Wildlife on the road usually comes in the form of roadkill, but on the trail, you are one with nature and all the wildlife that comes with it. But remember they are more afraid of you than you are them!

3)  Trail running is easier on the knees than pounding the pavement.  The more giving trail will help prevent injury to knees and joints.

4)  Trail running strengthens ankles, also helping to strengthen the muscles that support your feet and legs.

5)  You aren’t going to get hit by a car on the trail, so while other dangers might be of concern, traffic most certainly is not.

6)  Balance is a big issue for many of us.  When trail running we are forced to adjust our balance with every stride.  Over time that practice will improve our balance which helps us not only in the present, but as we age.

7)  It is hard to get bored on a run, when you are constantly paying attention to your footing and your surroundings are so beautiful.

8) Trail running lets you experience the seasons in the rugged way nature intended.

9)  Roads are designed so that hills are not too steep or sudden.  Trails are not. You can run killer hill workouts on the trail that could never be done on the road.

10)  Some of the best running races in the world are run on trails.  By getting into trail running, you open yourself up to a whole new world of races both locally and elsewhere.

11)  By running the singletrack, you gain immediate membership into a new running subculture.  The trail running community is very friendly, I promise.

12)  If you want to run ultramarathons, you better start thinking about trail running.  Most ultras are run on trail.

13)  Trail running works a variety of  muscles in the legs and back, giving you a more well-rounded workout than running on smooth pavement.  This is important for strength and helps prevent injuries. 

14)  Trails can be found just about anywhere. Check out the AllTrails app for wherever you live and travel.

15)  Every new location provides a distinct trail experience.  The type, elevation, and views from one trail can be completely different than another.

16)  When running you can cover much more ground than hiking.  Turn that 5 mile day hike through the woods into a 10 mile trail run in the same amount of time!

17)  Nothing screams adventure like a trip deep into the wild wilderness.

18)  Slow trail running builds crazy amounts of muscle that road running just can’t do.  When you hit the roads after a few trail outings, you’ll notice that new strength speed.

19)  People, bikes, and strollers all crowd the sidewalks you are trying to run down.  Get away from the crowds by hitting the trail.

20)  Getting dirty is a lot of fun, and really easy to do when trail running. Think of it as being a kid again. 

21)  You can take a lot cooler pictures from a mountain peak or river bank than you can from a city sidewalk.

22)  Trail running can be turned into an entire vacation by camping out on the trail and running during the day. 

23)  Need a boost to your self-esteem?  Start telling people you are trail runner.  They will think you are a badass, trust me.

24)  Everyone likes to have an excuse to run slow.  You will naturally run slower on trails than the road, so now you don’t have to hide it!

25)  Training at a higher elevation makes running at low elevations easier.  Trails will often lead you up a mountain or along a ridge, providing great opportunities for running at elevation.

26)  When you read blogs like irunfar.com and atrailrunnersblog.com, you will relate.

27)  Being a trail runner doesn’t mean you can’t still be a road runner.

28)  You burn 10% more calories trail running than you do on regular road running.

29)  Many runners rank solitude as one of their favorite parts about running.  On the right trail, you will feel like you are the only person in the world. But there are often great opportunities to make life long trail friends!

30)  Trail hills can be tough, but no one in the trail running community cares if you throw your hands on your knees and power-hike your way up the hill.  In fact, it is expected!

31)  Trying out a new sport means trying out cool new gear!

32)  It is really easy to get lost when trail running (in your thoughts, hopefully not on the trail). And in my opinion, so what if you get lost on the trail. It might be the best adventure you’ve had in years. These days, it seems far more difficult to get lost than it is to find your way home.

33)  Adrenaline keeps a lot of runners going when they are tired.  By moving your run to a more extreme location (a trail), that adrenaline keeps pumping.

34)  When you need a rest, it’s a lot more pleasant to rest by a creek, under a tree, or on a mountain peak than on a street corner.

35)  You’ll begin to feel like a Tarahumara Indian. See Born to Run, required reading for all trail runners.

36)  It is easy to turn a short run into an all-day trek through the woods.  Switch between hiking and running if you want to spend more time on the trail.

37)  After following a few simple steps, even the indoorsman can feel prepared. There is nothing you’ll need that a handheld water bottle or hydration pack won’t carry.

38)  The softer surface will help keep your feet healthy as you break in those new minimalist kicks.

39)  Hikers think you are crazy, sexy, cool, when you speed by them.

40)  Right now you probably get weird looks when you break out the headlamp for early morning or late evening road runs.  No one out on the trail at that time of day/night would think twice about the glowing lantern coming from your forehead.

41)  Trail scars are impressive.

That might seem like a lot of reasons, and there are so many more.  If you ever need a guide, I’m your girl. Coaching endurance and trail runners is my favorite thing to do, besides running trails! erin@athleticmentors.com


Steelhead 70.3 vs Traverse City 70.3

September 13th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By Dawn Hinz

Many athletes were excited when Ironman announced the Inaugural Half Iron Distance Triathlon in Traverse City. It’s a beautiful venue and popular tourist destination in Northern Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. However, Ironman already had a Half Iron Distance located in Michigan; Steelhead. Steelhead is held in the Southwest Corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Steelhead is scheduled in late June and Traverse City is held in late August. How would these events be similar and how would they differ? Could an athlete do both?

Race Swim Swim Condition Bike Elevation Bike Road Condition Run Elevation Run Condition
Steelhead Lake Michigan Possibly Rough 1,306 Feet Good/

Some Hills

203 Feet Full Sun

3 Big Hills

Traverse City West Grand Traverse Bay More likely calm 2,455 Feet Nearly Perfect/ Very Hilly 314 Feet Partly Shaded

STEELHEAD SWIM EXIT

The SWIM-

Steelhead starts from the sandy beach of Jean Klock Park into Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan is one of the Great Lakes and shares more similarities with an ocean or the sea than it does an inland lake. Which means the swim can be unpredictable. It can be smooth or choppy. Sometimes the swim is cancelled due to large waves and strong currents. Then you run across the beach into transition.

Traverse City starts from Open Space Park into West Grand Traverse Bay. The Bay is actually a part of Lake Michigan. This means it could still be choppy but it is protected by land on three sides. Which means it’s more likely to have calm waters. However this is not guaranteed and you should still prepare for an “ocean water type swim”. You swim out a few hundred meters and then turn east; straight into the rising sun. You swim past a marina and exit at Clinch Park where you then run through a tunnel into transition.

The BIKE-

Steelhead’s bike course changed this year due to road closures. It’s an open course mostly along Blue Star Highway with some back country roads. Roads surfaces were mostly favorable with minimal fresh chip seal and only a few potholes to avoid. This course has a few rolling hills with 1306 feet of elevation gain. It’s a fast bike.

Traverse City’s bike course starts through Downtown Traverse City out to Sleeping Bear Dunes up the iconic M-22 Highway and back M-72 Highway. One lane is closed to vehicles in the direction you’re cycling. The first few miles is uphill and will probably be your slowest split of the bike but it gets fun after that. With hill after hill this course is anything but boring. It has 2,455 feet of elevation. You’ll want to practice going downhill as much as you practice going uphill. At mile 53 you start a nearly two mile decent before it flattens out down Grandview Parkway with the Bay along your left.

The RUN-

At Steelhead you’ll run two loops of a lollipop course around the Whirlpool Corporate campus park. There is very little shade or breeze. In full sun it was hot. There’s three decent sized hills and a total of 203 feet of elevation gain. The last 2.5 miles are downhill to the finisher’s chute.

Traverse City takes you through downtown out to Boardman Lake where you run along a path of paved surface and crushed gravel. There is actually a lot of shade on this course. You return back to the town with the finish line in view where you turn around for your second loop. Surprisingly there’s more elevation here at 314 feet of gain but there are no big hills and the last couple miles are flat.

My teammate – Kathy Braginton running at Traverse City

SPECTATORS And Crowd Support (Because it’s not all about the athlete)

At Steelhead family, friends and spectators can enjoy a day at the beach while occasionally checking back in to cheer on their athlete. There’s also a playground to help keep the little ones entertained. With one transition location they can see your swim, bike, run and finish without leaving Jean Klock Park. There’s food for sale at the beach or multiple restaurants a short drive away if they feel like leaving. If they don’t mind walking or biking a short ways they can cheer you on multiple times during the run.

At Traverse City the start is about a quarter mile walk from transition but there are many points where they can watch the swim and cheer you on as you leave the water. The crowd support as you start the bike and through the run was fantastic. There was a lot of energy and it helped keep athletes motivated. Spectators can find multiple restaurants to feast at while waiting for their athlete. Many children were entertained at a splash pad and park. Overall I feel spectators get to view more of the race in Traverse City but it was more crowded since this race sold out.

 

Teammates make racing anywhere more fun!

DECISION TIME-

Which race is right for you depends on your strengths, weaknesses and goals for your race day. I found more satisfaction at the finish line of Traverse City because it was a more challenging race but it was not a personal record. The faster of the two courses is Steelhead.

With two months between races you might not have to choose; you could do both.


Stressed out? Get Moving!

August 27th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By JoAnn Cranson

I’m getting that overwhelming feeling and I can feel the chronic stress and anxiety flooding into my body. Then my brain feeds on the total lack of control I feel with the stress. All the self-talk that I do does not convince my brain to let go of it. Sometimes it just seems circumstances build up including the unexpected death of a loved one, separation/divorce, family problems, health issues, financial difficulties and job challenges to name a few.

2019 has been a rough year for me and I’m left with how can I handle this? It’s so easy to fall into a depression and lack of motivation when that is the last thing I should be doing!

It’s time to get up and do something. Even days I don’t “feel” like exercising, once I put the effort in I can’t believe how much better I feel. My mind is clearer, my brain has had a break from thinking and I feel accomplished.

I started to read about some research that has been done. I was surprised to learn from the American Psychological Association that 75% of people in the US feel stressed out. The other two big issues that are contributing factors are unhealthy eating and lack of sleep. This, in turn, leads to one in three having depression.

As if that isn’t enough, when we are stressed our body creates extra of the hormone cortisol, which causes us to store more abdominal fat over time. Another doctor stated that stress is associated with just about every chronic disease we know.

All my self talk of trying to get my brain to think of other things, looking for distractions, or take a relaxing bath, but nothing works as well as exercising.

In more of my reading there is so many bonuses to exercising for my overall health. It’s the natural medicine that fights against many challenges we face every day. Through regular exercise it helps build up a resistance to stress. Cardiovascular workouts help the heart pump more blood to the brain which in turn is feeding our brain cells. There are even some studies that show as we age brain cells die off but now they are showing that exercise leads to preserving and making new cells.

Make the time and effort to find a form of exercise that you can enjoy and aim for 1½ to 3 hours per week. Start out slow, do the best you can, form a routine. Exercise is not the cure all for stress and anxiety, but it’s a piece of the puzzle that is helping me deal with the challenges of life.


Tips for Warming up for a Triathlon

August 8th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By Brian Reynolds

Have you ever wondered how to warm up for a triathlon race?  I don’t know about you but when I first got into triathlons this is something I wondered about.  I come from a running background and warming up for a race was pretty straight forward. My warm up was usually a 10 to 15 minute run followed by some form drills (i.e., high knees or butt kicks) and pick ups (i.e., strides or fartleks).  However for a triathlon there are 3 sports. Do you run, bike, and swim for 10-15 min for each discipline? What order should you do the warm up? Should I bike first or should I run first?  I’ll share with you what warm up routines have worked for me.

One item to note is that no matter the triathlon distance you should do some type of warm up.  How you warm up will greatly depend on the event’s distance and weather conditions. In general the shorter the race distance the longer the warm up.  Thus the longer the race distance the shorter the warm up. Short distance races such as a sprint triathlon are very high intensity (aka your heart rate is going to be really high!).  Your body needs to be warmed up so you can go full throttle at the start. A proper warm up will elevate your heart rate and will dilate your veins to allow more blood flow (oxygen) to the working muscles.  Long distance races such as the Ironman distance is a low-moderate intensity which doesn’t require a long warm up to get your body ready to race comfortably at this intensity. Your working muscles will not require as much oxygen at a low-moderate intensity so you can get by with very little warm up.

Weather conditions will play a big role during your warm up.  If it’s cold outside it’s important to wear warm clothes to keep the muscles warm and it may be necessary to do a longer warm up.  If it’s hot outside it’s ok to warm up in just your racing outfit to help stay cool. It may be necessary to shorten the warm up if it’s really hot to help prevent your body from overheating.

Below are general guidelines on warming up for the different triathlon distances.

Sprint:

  1. 10 – 15 min run.  Include some race efforts last 5 mins.  After your run do some dynamic stretching.

  2. Running form drills and pick-ups which are faster than race pace.

  3. 10 – 15 min swim.  Second half of swim should include several strong efforts at race pace or faster.  Note: If you’re not able to get in the water before the race then warm up with stretch cords.

Olympic:

  1. 10 – 15 min run.  Include some race efforts last 5 mins.  After run do some dynamic stretching.

  2. Optional: Do some run form drills and pick-ups which are faster than race pace.

  3. 10 – 15 min swim.  Second half of swim should include several strong efforts at race pace or faster.  Note: If you’re not able to get in the water before the race then warm up with stretch cords.

Half Iron Distance:

  1. Optional: 5 min easy run

  2. 5 – 15 min swim.  Second half of swim should include several strong efforts at race pace or faster.  Note: If you’re not able to get in the water before the race then warm up with stretch cords.

Full Iron Distance:

  1. 5 – 10 min easy swim with a few strong efforts towards the end.  Note: If you’re not able to get in the water before the race then warm up with stretch cords.

You’ll notice that there is no bike warm up because it’s hard to get a ride in before the race.  In addition it’s dark early morning which is not safe to ride the bike around unless you have a stationary trainer.  Besides the run will help warm up your biking legs so don’t stress out by needing to get a ride in.

Another important thing to note is to make sure you do the swim warm up last.  The race starts with the swim so you want your arms warmed up shortly before the race.  Ideally you want to finish the swim warm up 5 – 10 mins before the race. Sometimes this is not possible so it’s ok if you need to finish your warm up early.

If you do not have to time to get in a complete warm up then skip or shorten the run.  At least do some dynamic stretches and form drills to wake up the legs. In my opinion the highest priority is the swim during the warm up because you want to be comfortable and loose in the water before the race.  This is beneficial if you are on the fence of wearing a thermal cap or not. You can at least try it out in the water during your warm up.

I hope these warm up tips help!


The Physical and Mental Struggles of Injuries

July 13th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By Tammy Shuler

This spring has been a rough one! My training for the Boston Marathon was going great, my speed was up, heart rate down. Then in mid February I woke up with a terrible pain in my upper back. I couldn’t roll over or push myself up with my arms. I thought it was just from sleeping wrong, except it didn’t go away. Weird thing was it stopped hurting when I would run or work out, but then it would come back with worse pain about 45 minutes later.  An MRI showed a bulging disc at C7 and after a medrol dose pack (steroids) it was GONE! I was assured it wouldn’t come back. So far so good. 

Then the night before the Melting Mann bike ride I was very anxious, more than the usual race nerves. I had nightmares, felt like I couldn’t breath. I decided something wasn’t right and didn’t go to the race. An hour before my wave start, I got the chills, had this little nagging cough and then a high fever that lasted 5 days.  I didn’t do anything for 6 days, because I didn’t have any energy. This for an older athlete is devastating. I had pneumonia.

I missed two long runs in my training. Even after I could run my heart rate would shoot to the 180’s when I would get fatigued. My longest run for the month before The Boston Marathon was 8 miles. I did still run Boston, but it was my slowest marathon ever. A new PR right!

Later this Spring I was still having pain and the doctors discovered I now have two torn hamstring tendons as well as two torn glut tendons.  It’s so hard to not get discouraged. It’s the frustration that this body that has always performed for me is not cooperating. It’s one thing to allow my physical body to repair, but the other challenge is mentally being able to deal with not competing or exercising like normal.

How do I deal with my injuries, my pain, and the sadness of not being able to do what I want to do?  I think I need to give myself permission to feel sad and acknowledge that mentally I need to care for myself.  Just because I can’t run doesn’t mean I need to stop everything and isolate myself. I’m not giving up!

What else can I do to be a part of my running community? Well I didn’t run in the local Borgess run, but I volunteered. It was wonderful celebrating others victories of crossing the finish line and handing out those medals.

Am I just going to sit on the couch because I can’t run? NO, I can still do other activities. I competed in the Grand Rapids Tri doing the Aquabike Category. I could swim and I could bike! I finished first in my age group.

I’m finding other ways to stay active and fit. Maintaining a daily practice of some type of exercising is essential to my mental and physical health.  I am slowly digging myself out of this dark hole I’ve found myself in.  It’s very humbling and yet amazing what your body can overcome. I’m focusing on the big picture of enjoying this life and knowing that in time my body will heal. It will take patience and perseverance. I plan to listen to my body and adapt my goals for whatever the future will hold.


Balancing Life as an Athletic Teen

June 26th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Jacob Florey

Balancing life, school, and training is not an easy task as a teenage. You need to have a healthy mindset and also a good group of people that you are friends with. It helps to have something healthy that you really enjoy doing too.

Sports is a good outlet to help deal with the stress of school. School can stress you out by the pressure of keeping your grades up, peer pressure or just trying to measure up to others expectations.

If you get involved in sports, the exercise really helps. I am on a swim team and when we practice we all enjoy each others company. I also compete in triathlons in the summer so I’m doing a bunch of different activities.

There are good and bad “stresses”. The good stress is the pre-competition jitters you get before you start your event. But once you start the competition you are focused and having fun.

The bad stress is when it doesn’t go away. You know it’s bad stress by not being able to focus, you have stomachaches, you are tired and irritable and you don’t have Fun! You are always trying to measure up to something or someone but never feel satisfied. You need to ask for help if you feel this kind of stress.

You need a past-time other than training. Whether it’s a group of people that you hang out with, or even going for a nice relaxing walk, gaming, or something as simple as sitting on the couch and watching a funny movie or television show. For me it is just skating around town with some friends. I enjoy being outside rather than being inside and the fresh air is just good for the body.

Another important part is to eat healthy and get enough sleep. These both fuel my body to keep me going and helps me to focus in school and sports.

Trying to find the happy balance of life, school and training is a challenge for anyone, but I think since I’m young it’s really hard to know when I’m trying to do too much. You need to make sure you have set priorities, create a system that works for you to manage your time, and be able to recognize your limits.


Flat Fix Basics

June 26th, 2019 by Marie Dershem

Flat Tire Basics

Written by Ros Difalco

Nobody wants to think about the possibility of a flat tire while out enjoying time on their bicycle. In reality, if you are going to ride regularly, it’s really more a matter of “when” not “if” when it comes to flatting. So, when you do get a flat, you have a few options. First, you can annoy your friends and family and get a ride back to your house. Second, you can walk (from experience, probably not a great option!). Third is your best shot: FIX THE FLAT WHILE ON THE ROAD!

Let’s go over the things you should carry while riding to fix most flats. There are different ways people carry the necessities, but here are my recommendations.

First, carry a saddlebag. Many people like to stash their change kits in their jersey pockets, but I prefer the saddlebag. If I have to stock my back pockets each ride I am likely to forget something or leave something out due to laziness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In your saddlebag you should carry a

  1. spare tube (the correct specifications to match your tire width, wheel diameter, and rim depth). I like to keep the spare tube wrapped up in a plastic bag to prevent it from getting holes while rubbing against tools.
  2. 1-2 tire levers. Not being able to get a tire on or off is extremely frustrating.
  3. C02 inflator (2 of these, just in case the first doesn’t go to plan).
  4. Multi-tool (though you don’t need it for the tire fix)
  5. Optional: There’s a new thing I have been adding to my saddlebags the last few years. A few brands make stickers to patch holes in tubes. DISCLAIMER: these should be used as a last resort if your spare tube is punctured or if you get a double flat (two flat tires in one ride).

Now let’s get on to your flat tire! In our hypothetical situation, you are riding down the road when you feel the tell tale squirmy/squishy ride characteristics of a flat tire. Now you might be tempted to keep riding but please don’t! Pull over somewhere off the road and check the tire for air pressure. You don’t want to damage your rim by riding with a flat tire.

Fixing a flat tire requires that you remove your wheel from the bike. Most bikes have a quick release axle, but if your bike doesn’t, make sure to carry the tools to remove your wheel. You also need to know how to open up brake pads on many bikes to get the tire to fit but we won’t cover that topic here due to the various types of brakes.

Now that your wheel is removed, you need to make sure the tube is fully deflated. This is good time to explain that most bikes have both a tire and a tube. The tube is what holds the air in the tire. The tube is what we want to replace/patch. To get to the tube we must remove the tire. Tires may be stuck to the rim via the bead.

Using your hands, push the tire to the center of the rim bed. Do this all the way around the rim. Getting the tire to the center will give you the space to get the tire over the lip of the rim. Once the tire is moved to the center of the rim, get your tire levers. Pry the tire over the rim. Only pry one side of the tire off of the rim. Now you should be able to remove the tube from the rim.

Next, look at the tube and see if you can determine what punctured it. You also want to GENTLY run your fingers in the inside of the tire to make sure there aren’t any thorns or objects stuck in it. If you install your new tube with a thorn in your tire you will instantly get another flat. Now, unwrap your tube and put the valve through the valve hole on the rim and lay the tube around the diameter of the tire. We now have to get the tire back on without puncturing the tube. With your hands, work the tire back on the rim until can no longer go further. At this point, get your tire levers back out. You need to pry the tire the rest of the way on the rim. BE SUPER CARFUL NOT TO PINCH THE TUBE WHILE DOING THIS!

Now that the tire is back on the rim, it’s time to inflate it and get riding again. Tighten the C02 on the inflator to break the seal. Make sure the valve on the tube is open and press the inflator firmly against the valve and release the compressed air. It will feel very cold but do not let off until the C02 is empty. Your tire should now be full of air! Make sure to tighten the valve on the tube. At this point you can put your wheel back on your bike and tighten up your axle.

Before closing, here are a few pieces of advice I would give to avoid getting flats in the first place. Use a quality tire that is up to the riding you are planning. I have made this mistake and the right tire makes all the difference. It’s also worth noting that when a tire gets worn out its puncture resistance is greatly reduced. Cheap tubes can be the cause of flat tires when the valve stem becomes unbounded from the rubber so decent tubes are important. If your bike setup allows it, going tubeless with sealant can offer a more trouble free ride as well. Whatever you decide to use, get familiar with your bike and be prepared for any flats you may encounter.


Toeing The Line

June 13th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By Chelsey Jones

“When you recognize that failing doesn’t make you a failure, you give yourself permission to try all sorts of things.” – Lauren Fleshmen

It was 4 days before my event. Months of training, discipline, adequate rest and recovery, and all that went through my head was “No, thank you, I’d rather not
run hard. Easy sounds good. Do I really have to do this?”.  Despite all the proper training leading up to my race a voice in my head was there filled with what ifs and doubts. It was almost as though someone was going to have to pull me to the start line while I was kicking and screaming.

I have a coach (Michelle Dalton) who is fantastic, awesome, and challenges me to grow in many different ways.  When I contacted her about concerns with racing the event she
pretty much said because you don’t want to race it, I think you should.  You see, I struggle with this thing called pressure. Pressure to perform at my very best,
pressure to beat everyone around me, and pressure to have better results than I have in years past.  Pressure so intense I pretty much want to crawl in a hole and hide, or at least not race.  Give me friends and easy runs any day, but to put it all out there and see what I got, hmmmm, I dunno that’s a little different.

It took me a few days of thought and deliberation to decide that if I did not race it I would walk away wondering what I could of done. We are always going to
have voices in our head. Some of all the great things we can do, reminders of all our strengths, of everything we’ve worked for.  But we’re also going to have voices of doubt, wondering if we really can do it, and what if we fail. 

Each race I have competed in has taught me a lesson. Lessons about pacing and the importance of not going out to hard. Lessons about nutrition, what to do, and what definitely NOT to do. Lessons about mental toughness and how to push even when it feels like you can’t go on, but none of these lessons share the same importance as the lessons I learn leading up to a race. I have learned that when I line up at a race, or even a hard workout, it is not my performance that defines me. Failing, or not doing as well as I hoped for does not make me a failure. Far from it. Putting myself out there and giving it my best is what helps me to become a better athlete. Setting aside the competition and focusing on the joys of challenging myself and pushing myself right to that edge, just to see what I’m made of, that’s where I find growth.

I have been told many times that running is 10% physical and 90% mental. I have always thought about this during a race, but what if it’s not just while we are running that we are in that mental battlefield. Perhaps it’s the lessons we learn while in preparation that help us to grow into better athletes. I made it to the start line that day, focused on having fun and doing the best I can. Reminding myself that it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about going out there and giving it my all, whatever that may be.



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