Multi-Sport

The 4 F’s of a Successful Triathlon Season (without using the F-word)

September 20th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Belinda Vinton

I have been racing triathlon for 10 years. Some seasons have been more successful than others! So how can an athlete prepare for a successful season? Besides spending time swimming, biking, and running, here are 4 ways to help make your season a good one.

Focus – Carve out some time each day to workout. Concentrate on upcoming races. Set some goals for yourself. It always helps me to write out my goals and put them in a place where I can see them each day. Read books about triathlon. Join a triathlon Facebook group and follow some triathletes on social media. You will find that your focus on the sport will improve!

Follow the plan – Find a training plan that works for you. I worked with a triathlon coach through  Athletic Mentors. My workouts were well defined and specific to my needs. I could see the improvements by knowing exactly what I needed to work on each day.

 

Fair/Foul weather – Although I am definitely a fair weather athlete, don’t let the weather control you. It’s important to plan for the worst. You may have to race in rain, heat, cold…in Michigan it’s hard to know! So practice for those situations. Know what to do on a hot day. Know how you will be successful through rain. Hope for the best, but don’t let the weather ruin your day.

 

Friendships – Find someone who has the same love of the sport as you do! Join a club or a team. Find folks at the gym who you can meet for a workout. Maybe you have a swim buddy, a biking partner, and someone who loves to run. Even if they don’t want to compete in all three, you’ll always have someone who wants to join you. Triathlon can be a lonely sport, so find those friends! 


Canoeing the Au Sable River – Part 2

September 13th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Ross DiFalco

Day 3

We were off! After you cross the 4001 bridge, you are officially in the Huron National Forest. It’s hillier in this section and you see a lot less homes. I don’t know if we were canoeing ourselves into shape, but we felt the best on day 3. The only problem is that we were running low on water, and now that we were in the Huron National Forest, it would be harder to come by. Today we needed to make it to just before the loud dam. Between that dam and us was 28 miles and one more dam, the Alcona. When we reached the Alcona, it was a more difficult portage. There was construction, so there was a temporary portage set up. We had to pick the boat up over a 3ft seawall, pull the boat up the levy, and then go about 400 yards down a hill back to the water. It was not ideal. The red line is where the portage is supposed to be, and the yellow line is where the re-route took us. The other thing we were quickly learning was that dam sections were bad for making progress. Portaging was slow, but the real killer is the massive lake sections that lead up to them. The river widens for 3-4 miles before each dam and there is no current to help you along.

After we had been paddling for a while again, we started to reach water that is more stagnant. The river was marshy and wide. As we paddled along, looking forward to having 5 miles to go, we heard some yelling from the bank. As we looked closer, it turns out my mom and a friend were waiting on the riverbank for us to go by. As we get to the bank, I realize this is not a coincidence. Due to the fact that we had lost cell service for the last two days, my family was concerned for our well-being. My mom started by calling the forest service to ask if they could go look for us. Turns out, they can, but it costs $10,000. The second best thing was to wait by the river for us to go by. After proving that we were okay, it was time to get back on the river. Having stopped was a blessing in disguise, we were able to get two gallons of water that we desperately needed. We also offloaded anything we didn’t need any more to reduce weight.

Paddling again! The rest of the way was slow going but we got there with plenty of time. The campsites in this area are all about a ¼ mile apart and have a small number plate indicating which campsite that you reserved. The wind was ripping across the lake and we had to paddle as hard as we could to overcome the drag. The drag in a canoe seems much worse than when cycling. Once we made it to our campsite, it was completely worth the wait. The campsites at Loud Dam are incredible! This was our best campsite by far. They are only accessible by water and you feel like you have the place to yourself. There was a nice fire ring with grilling attachment and we even had a stack of cut firewood.

Day 4

Day 4 was easily going to be the hardest. We had learned that three things made it difficult to canoe. Portaging, lake sections and wind. On day 4 we had plenty of all three. There were 4 dams, it was almost all lake sections, and the wind that kicked up the day before was still going in the wrong direction. We were determined, but the unseasonably hot weather and long mileage was starting to take its toll on us. We portaged the Loud Dam right off the bat. This was an easy portage because of the canoe wheels we used. You put the wheels on and walk with the canoe on the boat launch road that was provided.

If you were going to canoe any section of the river, I would do the upper sections. This section is much more akin to being on a large lake. It’s still very nice and you rarely see other people. You will see many more motorized boats in this section. Some people training for the River Canoe Marathon also passed us. People do the entire 120 miles in 14 hours. I do not know how it’s even possible to go that fast, but it’s incredibly impressive! I had dreams of trying it, but I now have zero desire to try.

As the day progressed, we went over the Five Channels and Cooke dams and continued to chug along. The wind remained in our face and we were working harder the last day than we worked on any other day. If you have ever been to Lumberman’s Monument, we were paddling past this section of the river when we realized we had cell service. At this point, we had to decide if we wanted to make it to Oscoda or cut it early and end at the Foote Dam. We decided that we had enough fun and were going to get picked up at the next dam. This was the best decision we made. Foot Pond is massive and the wind had really picked up, and we had lightning and thunder. The boat was rocking all over the place and we didn’t feel safe in an aluminum canoe, in the middle of a lake during a thunderstorm.

Tips/Advice

  • Plan and try your canoe before doing a trip – see how fast you can comfortably travel
  • Canoe wheels are worth it if you portage
  • Tie down all of your stuff
  • Pull food into trees at night – we made some raccoon friends
  • Create an itinerary and let people know where you are going to be (having a satellite phone would be useful too)
  • Know where food and water sources are
  • Have a working water purifier and have iodine as a backup
  • Don’t bring fishing gear if you aren’t going to use it often
  • Put sunscreen on often
  • Check the flow of the river before going – the river was down and was moving slower
  • I would recommend doing no more than 20 miles a day if you want to have maximum fun

Reflection

It’s a beautiful place out there. This river is vastly underutilized. If you want to go on an adventure, I would highly recommend it. Despite our blunders, I will have these memories the rest of my life. Learn from our errors and limit travels to a reasonable distance and enjoy the time on the river.


Canoeing the Au Sable River

September 8th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Ross DiFalco 

For those of you that don’t know, in northern Michigan there lies a beautiful winding river with an incredible amount of wildlife and diversity. The Au Sable is a fly angler’s paradise, and is professionally managed to keep it that way. The other reason that people know of the Au Sable River is for the Au Sable Canoe Marathon that takes place each year in July. The Marathon, as it’s commonly called, is a 120 mile canoe race from Grayling to Oscoda. This is where our story begins, kind of.

My dad has wanted to canoe the entire length of the Au Sable since he was a kid. This spring, he asked me if I would join him on an adventure to make that dream a reality. Given that I love being active and outdoors, I said yes without hesitation. We both talked a big talk and decided we would train for this trip, and even do some over-night excursions to be acclimated with paddling all day. Fast forward until 3 weeks before our trip, none of this has transpired (we didn’t even have a canoe yet!). This is where the canoe marathon starts to become important. I started researching how much time I needed to take off work, and my source of data happened to come from ex racers. Here is the data I used to prepare: 

  • Speed – river 3mph   – canoe 5.5mph (estimated)         
  • Estimated daily travel- 5 hours at 5.5m/h = 27.5mi 
  • Current river temp- 59 degrees                                                 Total Length- 138mi           
  • River race length- 120 river race time 14:17 (2018)              Race speed – 8.5mph 

Based on the research, we planned for a 4 day (3 night) trip to do 115-120 miles of the river. We figured if the river were flowing at 3mph, then we would have to average a normalized 2.5mph to maintain our estimated speed of 5.5 mph. In order to complete the trip we would need to average about 27-28 miles a day to stay on track, and that puts us at 5 hours moving time. We even discussed worse case scenarios, which we thought was no paddling and floating down the river at 3mph (10 hours in the canoe). I even mapped out where food was along the river so we could go get new things to eat along the way.

What to bring? We made the excellent decision to borrow a bunch of dry bags. If you do any canoe/kayak trips, get dry bags. We each brought a sleeping bag, camping mattress, camping pillow, 64oz bottle, and clothes. Collectively we had a tent, 6 dehydrated meals, bagels, peanut butter, jelly, protein pars, fruit bars, a backpacking stove, knife, flashlight, battery back (solar), two ropes, and some canoe wheels picked up on Amazon. We even brought some fishing poles and gear. One of our most valuable items ended up being canoe backrests and instead of lifejackets, we brought floating cushions to serve dual purpose. All of this fit in our borrowed 15’ Michicraft Canoe that was from the late 60’s or so. All in, our setup was probably about 180-200 lbs. 

  •  Day 1 

Here we GOOOO! Day 1 was Friday 6-4 and it was gorgeous weather. We started in downtown Grayling, the sun was shining, and we had a high of 84 degrees. We packed our canoe, tied all of our gear down, and we were off! The first part of the river is the narrowest section and winds tightly. There’s pines everywhere and many that are bent over the river. It’s a very cool experience travel down this section. For day one, we packed “real” food so we wouldn’t have to start eating the dehydrated variety just yet. By 12:30 we had made it 12 miles (4mph) and it was time for sandwiches. It was also a time for reflection because 4mph was a long way off from 5.5. We decided that we should push the effort a bit to make sure we make it to our campsite, Parmalee Bridge State Park Campground, at a reasonable time. Around 3pm, we took a break because we were dying and needed to filter water to refill. Here is snag number two, our filter was having problems and the water that was coming out was awful. We lucked out though! On our map, I listed that there was a convenience store .25 miles up the road. I ran down there, picked up 6 Gatorade’s, and ran back. This gave us the energy to push on.  

We pulled into our campground at 7:30 pm, after canoeing all day. To say this was a rude awakening would be a massive understatement. We unpacked the canoe, and had to hike with our stuff to our campground. Once set up, it was time to figure out food. My dad set up the backpacking stove and started to boil water and I went looking for sticks so we could have a fire. Once our food was ready, we sat down and started to eat. We looked at each other and laughed about how ridiculous this had been. Sitting at this campsite was a low mental point for sure. Knowing that we had 3 days like this ahead, and the weather was calling for it to be 94 degrees was oppressive. To make things worse, we talked with others at the campground canoeing the Au Sable, but they were taking 8 days! It was at this point we had some serious doubts. On a positive note, Parmalee had a hand pump so we were able to get fresh, cold water.  

  •  Day 2 

We woke up around 7am feeling decent. Shoulders, lats, and traps were all fatigued but not too sore. We packed our stuff, ate and were on the river by 8:30 am. The river looks completely different from where we started. It was wider, shallower, and had a rocky bottom. It was a nice change of pace. I don’t know if it’s because you can see the current, but the river looks faster in here and provides motivation. Today our goal was to travel 31 miles to a campsite called Buttercup Campground. Starting earlier than the day before was a huge help. It didn’t feel like we were playing catchup all day. Early on, we had our first Bald Eagle sighting! The eagle was sitting in a tree close to the water and took off as we paddled by. The best part about the second day is that you go through Mio around lunchtime. Before reaching Mio, you have to traverse the Mio Dam. This is the first of 6 dams that we would have to portage over. You will be looking for a canoe shaped sign that says “portage”. These signs are not very large, so keep your eyes open!  This portage is right next to the dam and is 9 concrete steps. All of the dams require you to walk a ways after leaving the water, so plan for this ahead of time. When we reached Mio, my dad walked to the grocery store, bought more bagels, sandwiches, water and pretzels. Eating food after being on the water felt so great! 

 Back on the water we went! The rest of the day went smoothly. This section of river is popular for tubing and rentals, so you will have to share the river much more than day 1. 6 miles after Mio all the tubers get picked up and everything will be peaceful again. Overall, I was shocked at how few people you see on the water. Day two ended on a much more positive note than day 1. We arrived earlier and had time to relax a bit. The only negative is that Buttercup did not have any water source so we were running a bit low.  

 Check out part two to see how day 3 and 4 go! 


Mackinac Island Swim

August 31st, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Dawn Hinz

What do you consider a “long” swim? Anything over a mile? How about 2 or 3 miles? Or have you ever done a point to point swim? Is it crazy to swim 8.2 miles around Mackinac Island? Yes it is. Crazy, exciting and beautiful!

The event starts on the shoreline in front of the Grand Hotel and then goes clockwise around Mackinac Island to Mission Point Resort. (Optional to swim around marker buoys near the harbor to make up for not being allowed to swim through the harbor itself.) Water conditions could be wavy and rough or flat, cold or not as cold but crystal clear and rocky. You could stand or reach shore quickly if you wanted a standing break.

A storm blew through the night before the race bringing 4-6’ waves but luckily calmed down by race start. Lake Huron was an enjoyable 68*. 237 swimmers entered the water two by two. Miles 1-2 had a gentle head on current. That current increased over miles 3-4 and then disappeared for miles 5-8, except the last 350 yards from finish. There it pushed you to the final buoy and I had to dig deep to make the final surge back to the finish line. Garmin officially recorded 13,532 yards, about 1000 yards shy of 8.2 miles. Views of the Island were beautiful and you could use various points to sight. The crystal clear water allowed you to see all the rocks and boulders and old logs beneath the surface, along with numerous tiny fish. Oddly enough M-Dot had road construction in the middle of our swim course. They were unloading rocks from a barge at mile 3.5 to repair the road that goes around the Island.

Training for this distance meant swimming 10,000+ yards, broken over 3-4 swims weekly since February with a lot of emphasis on technique. It also meant getting into open water by late May to acclimate to cold water. Long continuous swims started in June at 2 miles and increased mile by mile up to 7 miles in August. If I could go back I would add a few 3 mile pool swims in before hitting the open water.

Are you up for the challenge of a distance swim? There’s actually a few in Michigan. Swim to the Moon offers distances from 0.5 miles to 10,000 yards through a few connected inland lakes. Mackinac Island Swim can be taken on by individuals or relay teams. The Mighty Mac Swim across the Straits of Mackinac will hopefully return in 2021. It’s a 4 mile swim but is more like swimming 5+ miles due to the currents and there is no bottom to touch for a break. 

If you do take on a long distance swim I recommend starting with technique improvement. Bad form over miles and miles could cause a major injury. Follow a solid training plan or work with an experienced coach who can improve your technique and give you an individualized plan. Also, swim in conditions that closely match your event and practice your nutrition.  Happy Swimming, Coach Dawn 


Don’t Give up – Keep “Tri-ing”

August 16th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  JoAnn Cranson

Do you have that challenge in your life that no matter how hard you try – you just can’t get better or fix it? Do you feel like giving up?

I experienced that feeling last Sunday! I qualified for the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship 2021 for the Sprint Distance in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This race is once a year and you are racing against the top women in your age group from all over the US. The race entails about a ½ mile swim in open water, a 12.5 mile bike and a 5K (3.1 miles) run.

I really struggle with the swim portion. I didn’t learn to swim until about 4 years ago and it is so hard for me to figure it out and get better. It is so discouraging! I realize this is a minor issue to someone being plagued with health issues, family problems, abuse, addictions, etc. But….no matter how big or small we all get that “feeling” of discouragement in our heart and minds.

I don’t have the solutions to your personal challenges but I hope this blog will give you some encouragement on your journey through life as we each live it. I don’t even have the solution of how I’m going to learn to swim!

But what I can offer from my race today is “keep the faith”. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

So on with my race – out of 80 women I crawled out of the water totally exhausted in 76th place! I still had the bike and run to do with 75 women ahead of me. Now I’m a competitive person so it wasn’t about completing this event – it was about getting a good place. At this point, I could have said to myself – “Why continue to push yourself, just go through the motions and get it done” but what I decided to say to is “Don’t Give Up – Keep Tri-ing” until the race is done!

I ran to my bike, put my helmet and biking shoes on and started pedaling. Biking is my favorite so I said to myself “I’m going to give it my all even if I have nothing left for the run”.

Now back to our daily personal struggles. Life is already hard but then you get “kicked in the teeth” when you are already discouraged – it’s just not fair. But how are you going to deal with it? We just have to acknowledge it and figure it out. Right?

Shows angle of handlebars that dropped and how I had to grab my drink bottle.

So what do you think happens as I’m pedaling just as hard as I can and hit a big bump? My aero-handle bars drop down to a 30 degree angle and my drink bottle started sliding out of the holder on the front of the bike as I’m going 25+ mph downhill. I grabbed the bottle, so now I’m hanging on with one hand and holding this bottle wondering what the heck am I going to do with this? I can’t throw it and I can’t insert it back in the holder that is now slanted at a 30 degree angle. This isn’t fair – wasn’t my race hard enough already!!!

I’m like think fast, figure it out. I remembered just watching an Olympic marathoner stuff her water bottle down her shirt so as I’m still flying downhill I unzip by tri-suit and stuff the bottle down my shirt and zip it back up with the straw flopping out the top of my suit. I had to be quite a sight, but I just couldn’t stop, I could tell those handle bars where not going to move back up and I still had 4 miles to go! So I just keep pedaling!

I made it off the bike and was off on my run. I’m real tired now and it’s really hot. Just like in the day to day grind – it’s easy for us to all say when the going gets tough – I’m tired and give into the negative self talk of “It doesn’t really matter”, “You aren’t really good enough to be here anyways”, “So & so is better”, “Others have it easier”.

Instead I decided to put one foot in front of the other and Run. As I was running my daughter yelled out to me – you’re in 32nd place! What – how did that happen?? I was 76th out of the water but during my pedaling I had passed 44 people. I kept going – I tried to encourage people around me, I walked some, I took ice from volunteers to try and keep my body cooled down. I did the best I could to encourage others and care for myself while trying to do my very best.

I think that was my lesson today that I learned. I needed to keep “Tri-ing” during the hard times and not let my circumstances stop me from completing what I set out to do.   I’m going to seek out more training with Athletic Mentors.   We all need to take action to improve our circumstances the best we can.

So….you want to know how my race ended??? I finished 23rd place. Between the bike and run I had passed 53 of my competitors! I had the 6th fastest time on the bike and the 16th fastest run time in the women’s 60-64 age group.

I encourage you to Never Give Up No Matter What Your Challenge Is because you never know how it will end if you do!!


It Can Happen To You!

July 1st, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Bob Schultz

The Grand Rapids Tri was my first triathlon nine years ago.  I average five tri’s a year including Xterra off road triathlons.  The Grand Rapids Tri in the Olympic distance was my third of 2021 season.  The first on the year was in Oak Mountain, Alabama with the Xterra SE Championships where the temperatures and humidity were in the 80’s then I did the Greenville Tri two weeks ago.  

Photo By: Stellafly

I approached this year’s race knowing I had trained better than any other year and felt good about aging up to the 65-69 age group, which yes, made me the youngster.  I enjoyed the rolling start for the swim and averaged within 4 seconds of my training swim pace and had a good bike ride within ½ mile off my planned pace, so I took off on my run feeling good wanting to do a 10 minute pace.  I took my normal “Gu” in the transition followed by a swallow of water and headed out.  I saw another guy in my age group in transition, so knew he was relatively close behind me.

The run-out on Thornapple Drive went as planned.  I stopped at both aid stations on the way out and took my cup of Gatorade and water before heading off again. After the turn, I started to feel the heat a little more.  Instead of cruising to the aid station, I could not wait to get there for my Gatorade and water.  After drinking a splash of water, I would dump the remaining on me.  Both stations had cups of ice, but I declined.  I remember the final station throwing my cup in the basket and missing.  My training teammates rode bikes out by me to encourage my final kick before they headed back to the finish line to watch for me.  This is where things got bad.  I thought I tripped and fell forward hitting my head on the pavement before the Camel Back bridge.  I actually made it to the bridge and started staggering which caught the attention of a lady who is coached by Athletic Mentors and is in healthcare.  She asked if I was okay, and I responded yes.  This tipped her off I was not and started towards me.  I apparently was trying to get myself to the side of the bridge, saw her and reached to her when I fell down face first.  A volunteer on a cart was driving by and stopped and helped get me sitting up.  The lady took my heartrate at 200 with erratic and shallow breathing.  They got me in the cart and took me to the med tent where I was put in a chair and given water until I felt I could stand.  Cheryl stopped to check on me and I assured her many times I just tripped.  Only after a nap back home did I realize I had no memory from the time my teammates left until the med tent.  If not for the lady who saw and helped, I would not know what really happened.  

My takes on this episode are:

  • First there is no normal race.
  • The weather was 77 when I collapsed, not hot by GR Tri standards and much cooler and less humid than Oak Mountain Xterra. 
  • The bike and run are relatively flat straight courses. 
  • When I came in on my bike, I had trouble taking my shoes off and could not figure out the latch to release the strap which I have done hundreds of times.  This should have tipped me off then something was not right.  
  • On the run I knew my competitor was behind me and assumed he was faster than he was.  He never did catch me. 
  • When I knew I was getting hot, I did not take the extra time in the aid station to drink a complete cup or two of Gatorade to hydrate and pack myself with the ice provided and then run at a slower pace to the next station.  

When my teammates told me I was not looking good and could slow down I should have listened to them.  These guys train with me multiple times a week and know me as well as I know myself.  Most importantly you know yourself best and need to listen to your body.  While I did a couple of 15 second walks, when I felt myself heating up I should have walked until I felt my heartrate go down.  I knew I was pushing myself, but I continued.    

My incident turned out fine.  I have had an EKG which was normal and will have an echocardiogram to rule out a heart issue and confirm it was just the heat and dehydration.  I may not be so lucky the next time if I don’t keep track of myself.  You do the same!


Top 8 Benefits of Sweating

April 26th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Raquel Torres

Sweating can be embarrassing if you are at work, school or a meeting, but sweating could also be beneficial for your health.  The almost 1 liter of sweat our bodies produce per day can strengthen our immune system and give us healthy-looking skin. 

Doctors, scientists and dermatologists talk about the several benefits of sweating.  It is the way the body and the skin protect itself from overheating. Sweating also increases the blood circulation and the drips of sweating is the proof of our body’s built- in mechanism to keep it cool while opening up and unclogging the pores, the dropplets consist primarily of water, sodiums, chloride and potassium to an extent.

  • Detoxifies The Body

Sweating can flush the body substance of alcohol, cholesterol and salt. In fact, a 2012 study found that sweating plays an important role in expelling heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic from the body because they dissolve readily in water. Sweat can’t flush out all toxic compounds, so it’s important to drink filtered water and follow a healthy diet in order to avoid other low-dose chemical threats.

  • Lowers Kidney Stone Risk

Sweating is an effective way to flush out the salt and retain calcium in our bones.  This limits the accumulation of salt in our kidneys and urine, which is where the stones come from.

  • Good Mood By Boosting Endorphins

Group exercises like zumba or hot Yoga, like any other workout, can help to put a smile on your face. Sweating releases endorphins, which are hormones that trigger  positive feelings in the body. This can do wonders for your mood and overall well-being.

While you certainly don’t have to venture to a sweat lodge on a hot summer’s day to experience the benefits of sweating, you can find a practice that works for you in order to get in on the feel-good effects of this natural bodily function. Just be sure to recover from any cardio workout or sweat session with plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.

  • Immunity

The skin is considered a vital part of the immune system, which makes sense considering it’s often the first line of defense against everything you come in contact with each day. Any bodily fluids are part of this biological defense system, serving as a deterrent for germs to take hold; additionally, human sweat contains a natural germ-killing protein called dermcidin, which can protect against strains of germs and viruses that cause diseases. Several research documents show  that these natural substances are more effectives in the long term than traditional antibiotics because germs are not capable of quickly developing resistance to them. The natural antibiotic is naturally activated with salt and slightly acidic sweat. 

  • Weight Loss

First and foremost, sweating is thought to boost weight loss. Yes, you may lose water weight during a session that will inevitably come right back, but because your body is working so hard to cool you down, you’re also using energy and burning calories, which contributes to more permanent weight loss. 

  • Improves Your Skin

Sweat purges the body of toxins that can clog the pores and plague the skin with pimples and blemishes.  It can also expel impurities like pollutants, dirt, and makeup embedded in the skin. It’s thought to improve the tone, clarity, and texture of the skin and is known to improve circulation, which can benefit the skin as well.

  • Muscle Recovery

Although a sweat session alone (like sauna)  won’t help you build muscle, it can aid in muscle recovery. Sweating boosts circulation and helps flush out lactic acid, according to researchers this can alleviate soreness and speed up the recovery process.

  • Heart Health

Putting the body in a situation where it needs to cool itself down by sweating can get your heart pumping similar to a cardio workout. Additionally, research shows that sweating, whether it be from physical exercise or from sitting in a sauna environment, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular health problems.  A study published in 2015 by The Jama Internal Medicine; followed Finnish men for 20 years, found that those who sweat in a sauna more frequently were less likely to develop a fatal disease over the course of the study.

So will all this information, let’s get motivated to do your favorite physical exercise and get sweating!

 


The Power of Visualizing Your Goals

February 15th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Raquel Torres

If you want to increase the likelihood of reaching your goals and dreams, visualization is where it all begins. Just as affirmations or mantras are beneficial for motivation, focus, and effective goal setting, so too is a visualization or mental imagery.

What is Visualization?

It is the use of the imagination through pictures or mental imagery to create visions of what we want in our lives and how to make them happen. Along with focus and emotions, it becomes a powerful, creative tool that helps us achieve what we want in life. If used correctly it can bring about self-improvement, maintain good health, help you perform well in sports, and accomplish your goals in life.

In sports, mental imagery is often used by professional athletes to improve their skills by picturing the achievement of a specific feat, such as hitting or shooting a ball, riding a bike, swimming, or running a race, among other things.

Some benefits of visualization:

  • The idea behind visualizing your goals is that if you “see” your goal, you are more likely to achieve it.
  • It creates an inner motivation to strive for your goals and dreams.
  •  When you visualize your brain learns to recognize what resources it will need to help you succeed in reaching your goals.
  • The consistent practice of visualization promotes positive thinking, it helps you to stay on track to be successful in the long run.

By experience, the more I practice this, the better mentally prepared I am before any life event or race week, this increases the possibilities to enjoy the whole process. 

It’s a very good habit to do the visualization first thing in the morning, I also do it during training, or before going to bed. 

We can apply this technique to anything in our life, big dreams, goals, interviews, speeches, personal life, any life challenge, or skill that we want to improve or learn.

Before any big event or activity, it’s very important to do the full movie in your mind several times. Dreaming is free and legal.

Visualization Scenarios Tips for Triathlete’s Race Week: 

  • The race briefing, the expo, the environment with good energy.
  • Setting an alarm the night before.
  • Your waking up routine early in the morning.
  • How your breakfast will taste, yummy.
  • Getting to the race venue. Listening to your favorite music.
  • Doing your gear checklist and completing all the to-do lists.
  • Bringing your bike in the car or packing it.
  • The weather (cold/hot/windy/raining).
  • Setting up your transition. What do you need? 
  • Imagine the sounds, music, smells, the whole feeling.
  • You see a lot of smiles and nervous people but you are staying very calm.

Some examples of a Triathlete Race Day simulation visualization:

This can help to ease any race day nerves.

For better results start 2 weeks or some days before, visualize for around 5 minutes or more your event, here some examples of scenarios to visualize for a triathlon race day:

  • Waking up early: preparing to get to the race venue, how is the weather? is it dark or sunny?
  • Preparing your transition: warming up, practicing your favorite mantras for that day.
  • The race start countdown: 10, 9,8,7… Are you feeling cold, warm, confident,  focused, positive?  3,2,1….Beeeep!
  • The swimming: visualize a lot of athletes swimming close by you, the water temperature and waves?  clear or dark water?  You are feeling light, breathing often. And using  your favorite mantras. 
  • Transition #1: Running from the water to the transition, finding your bike spot, do a mental rehearsal of all you need to do in the transition before touching your bike and getting out  the T1 for your ride
  • The bike ride: a smooth ride, how is the circuit?  hilly or flat? You are feeling alert and strong, focused on your nutrition, how it tastes?
  • Transition #2: Getting off the bike, running to find your bike spot, again a mental rehearsal with details of what you plan to do in the T2 before heading out for your run.
  • The run: Visualize having a good form, well managing your thoughts with encouraging self-talk,  then you see yourself crossing the finish line.

The intention of visualization is to prepare your mind and body for the reality ahead of time, when the day comes your mind/body will definitely feel familiar and perform better. 


Is Lactic Acid an Athlete’s Friend or Foe?

October 22nd, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson
By:  Raquel Torres
Lactic acid or lactate, is the substance that our body generates during physical activity when our body cannot obtain energy through oxygen, this has always been a source of debate in sports science.
Physical trainers believed that this substance was the cause of cramps, sports injuries and, for a time,  it was the “bad guy” by experts in health, physical exercise, and sports.
However, sports science has made it clear that this was all wrong. That there is no relationship, for example, between cramps and lactate. And that lactic acid did not have to be an impediment to the high performance of athletes, but even, if it is known to control it, it can become another ally in the improvement of physical performance.
During exercise, the body’s cells demand more energy than they can actually provide, so the body reacts by acquiring energy from sugar (muscle glycogen), converting these large molecules into smaller molecules, in two possible ways: aerobically and anaerobically.
  • The energy produced aerobically (with oxygen) more energy is obtained, but slowly.
During aerobic metabolism, a series of enzyme-catalyzed chemical reactions are involved in aerobic metabolism. These reactions cause energy to be produced.
Aerobic metabolism is the primary energy system in endurance sports that last several hours and in short-duration events with low or moderate-intensity exercise, it depends on the good blood supply to the muscles and releases oxygen and energy to eliminate waste products. When muscle glycogen stores are depleted, fatigue begins and affects performance, the body becomes dependent on fat as an energy source, speed, and intensity of work is reduced. Once the supply of glycogen is depleted, it takes approximately 24 to 48 hours for the body to recover and replenish glycogen in muscle fibers and the liver.
  • The energy produced anaerobically (without oxygen) the energy obtained is less but faster, and the muscle takes this energy-producing waste, which in theory is one of those responsible for cramps.
Anaerobic metabolism, also known as the ‘starter system’ because energy is immediately available at the start of exercise, uses creatine phosphate metabolism in the process, does not produce lactate as a waste product, and does not require oxygen in the development of energy.  The higher the intensity of the exercise, the higher the use of carbohydrates in contrast to fats.  The anaerobic lactic system (without lactic acid production) is the primary energy system in the early stages of exercise, as it allows rapid acceleration and speed with the support of creatine phosphate stored in the muscles, although it suffers a sharp drop after 10 to 20 seconds.
  • The third type of metabolism in energy generation is lactic anaerobic.
The anaerobic lactic system depletes glycogen stores rapidly. Lactate, a toxic waste product of anaerobic lactic metabolism, is produced faster and cannot be eliminated, leading to accumulation in muscle fibers. It reduces the pH of muscle fibers and slows down the chemical reactions responsible for generating energy.  Lactic anaerobic energy is the primary energy system in sports that require maximum effort (high intensity) for a period of 20 to 120 seconds.
In other words, lactic acid is a substance generated by the body that is beneficial in principle, but too much and without good training can lead to low performance, even muscle damage and injuries.
Lactic acid is produced primarily in muscle cells and red blood cells when it breaks down carbohydrates under conditions of low oxygen levels. That is, lactic acid is a source of energy for the human body.
The oxygen level in the body could drop for two reasons: during strenuous exercise (sprinting) or if the person has an infection or illness (because of the amount of energy required by the immune system). In these cases, lactic acid comes from the breakdown of glucose when oxygen is not present, that is, in an anaerobic exercise such as lifting weights or swimming at full speed 50-100 meters where there is a lot of intensity and little duration. Under normal conditions that lactic acid  when we are training is reused and there is no major problem. But when there is a lot of lactic acid in the body, we have neither energy nor the ability to contract muscles, this is nothing more than tiredness, fatigue and the best thing we can do is stop the exercise or activity.
In other words, from a natural perspective lactic acid is a “turbo button” feature of extra energy, a survival mechanism to keep humans and other creatures safe under a fight or flight threat.  
 
How can we avoid the accumulation of lactic acid?  With a smart training plan, based on training the organism displays adaptive mechanisms that prevent lactic acid from accumulating so quickly and if it begins to do so, the muscle supports it more effectively.
Beware of some bad combinations of specific exercises (like speed work and/or weights) in a bad combination can make the body accumulate lactic acids and cause injury.  That is why the importance of having a good training plan with a wise balance between intensity, volume, frequency, and rest is key.
Here are 10 practical tips on how to avoid accumulating lactic acid:
1.Train more frequently and consistently.
2. Warm up well in each activity.
3.Breathe deeper for better body oxygenation.
4.Stretch frequently.
5.Hot baths.
6. Massages.
7. Maintain good hydration.
8.Consume enough: antioxidants (fruits like berries), magnesium- helps the metabolic system (dark green vegetables like spinach also legumes, nut,s, and cereals), vitamin B, natural proteins (creatine), omega 3 Oil (cold-water fish/salmon, avocado, olive oil or some nuts).
9. Beware of lifting weights (frequency and intensity) and speed exercises and their combination with other physical activities.
10. When you feel a lactic acid burn in your workouts, reduce the intensity so that the body can channel its natural mechanisms, and avoid acid accumulation. It is the way the body warns us so that we do not over-do.

Why Tri?

October 8th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By Belinda Vinton

When I tell folks that I am a triathlete, they usually think that a triathlon is an extreme and unattainable goal for the average athlete. But I think that triathlon has saved me! I have been a runner since middle school. I ran the distance events in track and field and ran many road races. As the years went on, I was strictly a summer athlete. My children’s activities kept me so busy! And being a school teacher, I felt like June, July, and August were the only months I could run. But I also was strictly a runner. How did I train? I just threw on my running shoes and ran. No strength training. No cross training. Just running. In my early 40’s I decided to train for my first half marathon. I didn’t follow a training plan. I didn’t ask for advice. I just kept doing the same thing I had always done. I just ran! Different distances on different days. Maybe a little speed work. Rest days? Not if I could help it! I’m sure you can guess what happened…by the time the half marathon arrived I was really hurting. Foot, knee, hip. Injured. So I vowed never to run a half marathon again. 

A few years after that, my sister convinced me to try triathlon. I borrowed a road bike. I took swim lessons. I joined a gym. And that’s when my body came to realize the importance of strength training and cross training! I started taking regular TRX classes and boot camp classes. I participated in an Athletic Mentors tri camp and came away with an actual training plan! I started training with the plan, adding in strength training. What a difference it made! 

I’ve been competing in triathlons for 9 years now. I wish I could say it was without injury, but I can’t. The pandemic came at a good time for me! I would not have been able to compete to the level I would have wanted to this summer due to a lingering hip injury. As I have made my way to several different doctors over the last 2 years I hear much of the same. My injury is caused by arthritis but is worsened by pounding the pavement. As one doctor put it, “Your hips are like a tires. The tread will wear down eventually. And you have a lot more miles on your tires than most people!” Each doctor though has encouraged me to continue cycling, swimming and strength training. These activities have kept me strong and have actually helped me! 

In hindsight, I wish I would have started doing triathlons sooner! By adding cycling and swimming to my workouts, I believe that I have helped my body and helped extend my active time. I do love running, and I always will, but I think that triathlons have helped my body by working different muscle groups and making me an overall stronger athlete.  So I encourage everyone to expand your variety of exercise to keep you motivated and to help your body parts from wearing out!



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