Women

My Oatmeal Cookbook

February 9th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By Jared Dunham

As an endurance athlete you may be faced with many early morning or otherwise inconveniently timed workouts to your daily schedule. To fuel for one of said workouts it’s easy to reach for a protein bar, cereal or a similar product, however a better and more holistic option is oatmeal. Oatmeal is an empty canvas as far as food goes, it can be served in many ways and variations. Admittedly I’m an emerging oat addict myself, eating mostly oatmeal for a great deal of my past breakfasts. Nowadays I don’t eat oats nearly as much as I did in the past but still thoroughly enjoy the dish every now and again. With that being said, here are some of my favorite recipes for oatmeal. I hope they help break you out of your daily oat rut or make you take a shot in the dark and try some oats for the first time.

Quick Notes:

  • These oat recipes can be made easily in 15 minutes or less with the caveat that you use a microwave for cooking.
  • Most microwaves have an “Oatmeal’ setting on them, however cooking them for about 3 minutes is a good substitute.
  • Boiling oatmeal on the stove in a cooking pot also works, however this requires a little more time and cleanup, so I usually opt for the microwave if I’m trying to whip up some oats quickly.
  • All my recipes are based on one serving and are a ½ cup of dry oats each.
  • When cooking these oats, I use about ¾ cup of water.
  • Milk is a good substitute, which some of the recipes call for, but I use water most of the time.
  • Lastly, the amounts of ingredients in these recipes are in the eye of the beholder and all these meals are open to editing so if there’s something you wanted to change then go ahead and try it.

Classic Recipes

Pumpkin Spice

While the season for pumpkin spice lattes may be over, you can still enjoy this meal anytime.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 268
  • 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Spice Carbs: 38.5g
  • 1/8 Cup Pecans Fat: 10.3g
  • 1/4 Cup Canned Pumpkin Protein: 8g
  • ½ tbsp Brown Sugar

Directions:

  1. Begin cooking oats, about halfway through mix the canned pumpkin in with the water and oats.
  2. Finish cooking.
  3. Mix in brown sugar to be sure it melts while oats are hot. Afterwards stir in other ingredients and enjoy.

Cinnamon Apple

Cinnamon apple is a very simple recipe that is a good option if you are trying to fuel for a workout or day without many bells or whistles attached.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 204
  • ½ Finely Chopped Apple Carbs: 41.7g
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon Fat:3.2g

Protein:6.3g

Directions:

  1. Chop up half an apple while aats cook.
  2. When oats finish mix in Cinnamon and Apple.

Cooking Notes: If you’re looking to sweeten up this recipe then add half a tablespoon of brown sugar or maple syrup.

Maple Nut

This recipe was crafted to mimic the taste of the “Maple Nut” glazing that coats a doughnut of the same name. The main difference is this one speeds you up instead of slowing you down.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 300
  • 1 tbsp Natural Peanut Butter Carbs: 45.1g
  • 1 tbsp Real Maple Syrup Fat:11g
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract Protein:9.5g

Directions:

  1. Cook oats, then mix all ingredients.

Carb Load

Sweet Potato Oats

Sweet potatoes and oatmeal can be a match made in heaven especially if you’re looking to pack in a few extra all-natural carbs before a ride. This bowl combines the two with a dash of sweetness and salt.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 321
  • 1/2 Sweet Potato Carbs: 52g
  • 1 tbsp Brown Sugar Fat: 10g
  • 1/8 Cup Chopped Pecans Protein: 7g

Directions:

  1. Chop up the Sweet Potato while Oats cook.
  2. Stir in Brown Sugar to melt after Oats finish.
  3. Cook Sweet Potato in microwave if you need to.
  4. Mash Potato in with Oats until desired texture is achieved.
  5. Mix in Pecans.

Cooking Notes: The fastest way to make this recipe is to microwave the potato however, if you steam it, that will allow the spud to mix better with the oats. If you’re looking for more carbs add the whole potato.

The Fruit Bowl

Let’s see how many different fruits we can mix in with oatmeal. This is less of a standout than some of the other recipes but still holds true with how great oats taste when your average fruits are mixed in.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 259
  • ½ tbsp Honey Carbs: 55g
  • 1 Sliced Strawberry Fat:3.3g
  • 1 Sliced Orange Wedge Protein:7g
  • 1/4 Chopped Apple
  • 1/4 Sliced Banana
  • 6 Grapes

Directions:

  1. If Fruit isn’t already prechopped then do that while Oats cook.
  2. Mix Honey followed by Fruit when Oats are finished.

Cooking Notes: This recipe requires various fruits, but you can use whatever may be at your disposal. If there’s any leftover fruit salad, simply use that or chop up fruit to be used for several servings and then store in the refrigerator.

Beet Oatmeal

Studies have shown that beets can help improve performance in endurance sports when consumed before exercise. It only makes sense that we add them in with oats.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 260
  • ¾ Cup Beet Juice Carbs: 54.4g
  • 1/2 Finely Chopped Apple Fat: 3.2g
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon Protein: 6.4g
  • ½ tsp Vanilla
  • 1 tbsp Brown Sugar

Directions:

  1. Add Beet Juice instead of Water to Oatmeal for cooking.
  2. Chop Apple while Oats cook.
  3. Once Oats are finished, mix in: Cinnamon, Vanilla, Brown Sugar and Apple.

Cooking Notes: Unless you have a juicer or direct access to beet juice then mixing dried beet powder in with water will be your best option. That is what I do here.

Protein Packed

Greek Oats and Berries

For this recipe the Greek Yogurt provides a nice contrast to the citrus flavor of the mixed fruit.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 210 to 235
  • ½ Cup Frozen Mixed Berries Carbs: 38 to 40g
  • ¼ to ½ Cup Greek Yogurt Fat: 3g

Protein: 10 to 15g

Directions:

  1. Cook Oats.
  2. Cook Berries separately.
  3. Mix warmed Fruit with Oats and Greek yogurt.

Cooking Notes: I prefer to leave the fruit juice that comes with the frozen fruit in when I mix with oats.

Strawberry Dream

I was a little hesitant on mixing cottage cheese in with oatmeal but soon discovered that the pair have a similar flavor that jives perfectly.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 279 to 334
  • 6 Chopped Strawberries Carbs: 48 to 50g
  • ¼ to ½ Cup Cottage Cheese Fat: 5 to 8g
  • 1tbsp Strawberry Jam Protein: 8 to 17g

Directions:

  1. Chop Strawberries while Oats cook.
  2. After Oats are ready; mix in Cottage Cheese and Strawberry Jam.
  3. Lastly, add Strawberries.

Cooking Notes: This recipe can be adapted to any fruit, EX: Chopped Peaches and Peach Jam.

Savory Oat Bowl

Here’s another one you may have to be open minded about. Trust me though, there’s nothing under the sun that doesn’t taste great with bacon and cheese.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 361
  • 2 Eggs (Runny) Carbs: 28g
  • 1 Crumbled Slice of Cooked Bacon Fat: 18.3g
  • 1 tbsp Shredded Cheddar Cheese Protein: 22.8g
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Fry Eggs while Oats cook.
  2. Mix Cheddar Cheese in with oats after they’re finished.
  3. Add Bacon to mixture.
  4. Mix in Salt and Pepper to taste, then top with Runny Eggs.

Cooking notes: I prefer using runny eggs for this recipe because the yoke adds more flavor to the bowl, however I have tried mixing scrambled in with oats. Something I haven’t tried is mixing precooked oats in with scrambled eggs as they cook. If you want to make this recipe much faster with less cleanup make sure to pre-fry your bacon and then simply store in the fridge till you need to use it, then microwave to warmup for this recipe.

Indulgent Recipes

Elephant Ear

As the name would suggest, the main objective of this recipe was to have a similar taste with that of an Elephant Ear. This one is surprisingly low calorie compared to a lot of the other recipes that made it onto the “Indulgent” list.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 271
  • 1 tbsp Sugar Carbs: 32G
  • ½ tbsp Cinnamon Fat: 14.5G
  • 1 tbsp Melted Butter Protein: 5G

Directions:

  1. Begin cooking Oats
  2. Near the end of their prep add Butter to be melted.
  3. Mix Butter in with Oats and add other ingredients.

Almond Joy

We’re going for an Almond Joy candy bar here, enough said.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 577
  • 1/8 Cup Sweetened Coconut Flakes Carbs: 64.6g
  • 1/8 Cup Chocolate Chips Fat: 31g
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk Protein: 18.6g
  • 1/8 Cup Sliced Almonds

Directions:

  1. Cook Oats with Milk instead of Water.
  2. After Oats have finished mix in Chocolate Chips till they melt, followed by other ingredients.

Cooking Notes: Obviously if you’re looking for a leaner version of this recipe it can be done. I’d recommend replacing Whole Milk with Almond and lessening the rest of the ingredients.

PB&J

Here’s an idea to shakeup that average, packed lunch, peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 397
  • 1 tbsp Natural Peanut Butter Carbs: 49g
  • 1 tbsp Natural Jelly Fat: 17g
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk Protein: 15.3g

Directions:

  1. Cook Milk with Oats instead of Water.
  2. After Oats have finished mix in other ingredients.

Cooking Notes: If you’re looking to save a few calories, skimp out on the Whole Milk and replace it with Almond or Skim.

The Usual

The Usual was probably my favorite recipe for quite some time, it capitalizes on the banana and peanut butter combination that works so well with oatmeal. A note however, this recipe has a lot of horsepower so you may want to save this one for a hard workout or race.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 436
  • 1 tbsp Natural Peanut Butter Carbs: 64.5g
  • 1 tbsp Sliced Almonds or Other Nuts Fat: 15.3g
  • 1 tbsp Natural Maple Syrup Protein: 11.6g
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Chopped Banana

Directions:

  1. Slice up your Banana while Oats cook.
  2. When Oats are finished mix ingredients in as followed: Maple Syrup, Vanilla Extract, Cinnamon, Natural Peanut Butter, Sliced Almonds, and Banana.

Enjoy your Oats!!


Pumping Iron: Strength Training for Endurance Runners

October 28th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Erin Young

“I’m a runner, why should I strength train?” I get this question often and honestly there is no single, easy answer. But I do believe there is a time for strength training in every athlete’s year. It will look different for every runner. It may be an off season activity while the snow flies, it could be three days a week up until the competition or just 20 minutes a day to work on core, balance or weaknesses.

In the last decade, new research is showing that strength training can benefit many kinds of endurance runners–if the right types of it are done in the right doses. This newer research suggests that strength training can enhance endurance-running performance by improving running economy, delaying the onset of fatigue, improving maximal speed, and increasing anaerobic capacity.

When broken down to its components, strength training temporarily overloads the neuromuscular system, which allows for an improved ability to recruit individual muscular units, an increase in muscle-firing frequency, increased muscle-tendon stiffness (allowing you to have more stored energy with each step), and improved muscular coordination over time. These are all minor physiological changes but together and over time equal running-economy improvement which allows you to run a given pace with a little less effort. 

“But Won’t I Bulk Up?”: Addressing Strength-Training Fears

The most common concern I hear from endurance runners is the fear of putting on bulk from strength training. Now there is something to be said for individual genetic predispositions, but science shows almost a complete lack of muscle growth with strength and endurance training–in correct dosing. Why is this? Muscle growth with concurrent strength and endurance training seems to be blocked on a molecular level.

As we’ve alluded to a couple times in this article so far, there appears to be a dosing ratio at play. When athletes maintain a 3:1 ratio in the number of endurance sessions to the number of strength sessions they perform, muscle growth doesn’t occur. So if an athlete wanted to gain mass while still getting some of the benefits of concurrent strength and endurance training, they would need to increase the number of strength sessions or decrease the number of endurance sessions.

Strength Training and Injury Prevention

A lot of athletes will tell you that strength training helps them feel more durable. There is research suggesting that traditional strength training can reduce sports injuries significantly. This is done by increasing your tissue’s ability to manage load while modifying endurance-training volume and frequency.

For example, one study that replaced 30% of an athlete’s weekly running volume with strength training found that athletes remained injury free while improving their five-kilometer performances. Additionally, hard strength training has positive effects on circulating levels of testosterone and human growth hormone which can help the body repair muscular damage at faster rates post-hard-endurance and post-hard-strength-training efforts.

Maybe that’s what durability feels like? That is, creating enough physical change to more than manage your niggles and instead create more significant physiological adaptations that keep fatigue at bay longer and hold your form together longer because you increased your running economy. That is, you became physically stronger. I’m not certain we will ever have a perfect metric to measure durability, but if being stronger keeps you on the trail more consistently, that might be as close as we get to an answer.

Strength Training for the Aging Endurance Runner

When it comes to aging and declining endurance-running performance, naturally decreasing muscle mass seems to be the main culprit. This is because there is a direct link between the age-related decrease in VO2max and muscle-mass loss. This age-related muscle-mass loss starts somewhere just north of age 40 and accelerates rapidly after 70. Between the ages of 40 and 80 and with no intervention, you should expect to naturally lose approximately 40% of your muscle tissue. Also note that muscle loss in the aging woman appears to happen at a slightly increased rate than men.

What this means for our aging athletes is that strength training to maintain and build muscle mass is incredibly important. The current, best treatment for muscle loss is strength training. The general recommendation is that if you are over the age of 40 and not currently strength training, we should probably change that.

Need help with a strength training regimine for your next endurance event? Fall and winter is a great time to reduce your running load and hit the gym! Visit www.athleticmentors.com to see how we can make you better, faster and stronger on the trail!


The Iceman Weapon Selection

October 15th, 2019 by Kaitlyn Patterson

-By Kaitlyn Patterson, Team Athletic Mentors cyclist

The question of the perfect Iceman bike is a favorite perennial debate. The reality that there is not just one ideal Iceman bike was illustrated in the past several years where the men’s race has been won on bikes ranging from full-suspension to full rigid with drop bars. I’ve split the difference over my five previous Iceman races- two on a full-suspension, three on a hardtail and this year is yet undecided.

I started out the sport on an entry level full suspension, 27.5 Giant Lust which was my Iceman bike in 2014 and 2015. In 2015 it was enough to hang with the leaders but ultimately end up fifth. In 2016 I upgraded to a Giant 27.5 XTC Advanced hardtail which was a factor in vying for the win and ultimately ending up second. I selected the XTC as a race rig for the Michigan fall classics as the simplicity, weight and versatility is hard to beat and it has represented well over the past three years. The responsiveness and quickness of the smaller wheels is definitely a benefit when trying to make the definitive moves necessary to break up a lead pack on the high-speed VASA highway. Although my fitness level was only high enough to do this (almost) successfully in 2016, the bike was definitely a factor in gapping the field on the Boonenberg climb that year.

However, this year with my partner in crime, Alex Vanias prioritizing ski training, his full-suspension Anthem Advanced 29er has been generously offered as a potential Iceman rig. Now it is my turn to weigh the pros and cons of full suspension versus hardtail. Although it rides very fast, much of the Iceman course is not particularly smooth, especially by the end of the day when many of the downhills are rutted from thousands of prior tires. Although the number of punchy climbs especially in the second half of the race are deceptively hard, there is not a lot of total climbing, negating some of the benefit of a hardtail setup.  Given that my descending and handling skills remain my weakness and I haven’t clocked as many hours on the bike this year, the handling itself may be worth the costs in weight and stiffness.

Although I think they would be neck and neck when raced side by side, I’m sure there are many theories in both directions. I will decide in the coming week and be looking at Peak2Peak for a test run of the chosen Iceman bike!


Iceman Cometh Yet Again

October 11th, 2019 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Kaitlyn Patterson, Team Athletic Mentors cyclist

The first Saturday in November is a date circled in red for the past five years and stands as my favorite bike race/party. Thinking about riding into Timber Ridge into the celebration zone usually gives me goosebumps all year.

I would love to say that every year I carefully crafted my training to arrive at Iceman as fit and fresh as possible, with my equipment dialed and mentally ready. In reality, most years my build-up has been less than perfect and the race itself has felt like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, with me more surprised than the crowd about the result. Starting medical school in 2016 has been an awesome ride but also a complicating factor in bike racing, mostly in the unpredictability and uncertainty of the process. I didn’t necessarily expect how unpredictable the schedules, clinical demands, testing schedules, and travel would be when I started, but this has been just as challenging as the material itself. However, exercise has always been my way to recharge which is why I prioritized it, even if not in the form of structured training on the bike. Every year certainly brought its own different challenges and it has been simply good timing that the fall was possible to spend more dedicated time on the bike and the season that I would get the itch to race.

Now in my final year of medical school, this season is turning out similar. I have spent the last two months living out of a suitcase rotating at Mayo Clinic and the University of Utah and will begin interviewing for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residencies in the coming weeks. Although I didn’t plan to race given my interview schedule this fall, it looks like I may be able to line up in November. My summer and fall have been filled with plenty of explorations in new places by foot and bike, but certainly not structured training. However, Iceman is calling yet again and I will see what I can put together this year. The last several years have created some pretty high expectations but this year I’m just hoping to be able to stay in the mix.

In reflection of the past five years of Iceman and preparation of this year, I wanted to add to the Iceman banter. Over the following couple weeks, I will share a series of blogs sharing my thoughts and experiences on bikes, training and strategy for the big dance. Happy Iceman season!

 


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.


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.


Packing your saddlebag

May 2nd, 2019 by Marie Dershem

Written by Jared Dunham

If you’ve never had the privilege to be in the middle of the rain with a flat tire, and your last CO2 canister just leaked out, then you can’t truly appreciate having the proper tools fix a mechanical issue. Accidents on the trail will happen, and the only way to deal with these is to bring the right tools/supplies with you. The best place to store all the tools needed for your bike to survive hours of singletrack is in a saddlebag. The amount of equipment you bring in the bag is determined by the time/distance your covering. Let’s look over a few things that you should be including in your saddlebag before you go out adventuring.

Before we begin, the 3 durations we’re going to be considering for packing tools are:

  • Short Rides (Under 2 hour ride)
  • Medium Rides (2 to 5 hour ride)
  • Long Rides (5 to 10 hour ride)

Master link

  • Why should I bring it? They are generally the part of the chain that snaps when it breaks due to pressure.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: 1
    • Medium Rides: 2
    • Long Rides: 3+
  • Notes
    • Not all are re-usable, you might be able to take them on and off the bike, but they will not stay strong
    • Can be easily packed

Multi-tool

  • Why should I bring it? The Multi-tool exists to do any basic repairs or calibrations you need done on the trail.
  • Recommended Amount: Any Ride: 1
  • Notes
    • Make sure the multi-tool has a chain breaker, it will be one of the only things you can use to get your chain apart on the trail.

Spare Tube

  • Why should I bring it? In case you get a tire puncture from all sorts of sharp objects.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: 1
    • Medium Rides: 1
    • Long Rides: 2
  • Notes
    • You can zip-tie a tube to the back of your seat when racing.
    • If you have “deep” rims make sure that the valve stem of the spare tube is long.
    • zip ties, rubber bands, plastic sandwich wrap, or tinfoil to keep the tube wrapped tight.

CO2 Bike Inflator or Mini Pump

  • Why should I bring it? These devices are used to refill a fresh tube or one that has just been patched.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: 1 pump or
    • Medium Rides: 1 pump or 2 CO2 Canisters
    • Long Rides: 1 pump or 3+ CO2 Canisters
  • Notes
    • CO2 Bike inflators have a learning curve.
    • Some mini-pumps come with mounts that allow them to be attached near a water bottle cage.
    • If you mount the mini-pump, cover the nozzle from dirt and mud.
    • Mini-pumps take A LOT longer to fill a tube.

Cash

  • Why should I bring it? If your exhausted at a gas station it might save you from being forced to pawn off your bike for a ham sandwich.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: None
    • Medium Rides: $20
    • Long Rides: $20
  • Notes
    • Can be used to temporarily fill a gash in the sidewall of a tire.

Tire Patch Kit

  • Why should I bring it? In case all your tubes are punctured.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: None
    • Medium Rides: 1
    • Long Rides: 1
  • Notes
    • Get tire patches that require glue for use.
    • Make sure the patch kit includes tire levers.

Other Ideas for Trail Bag:

  •  Zip Ties
  • Packaged Rain Poncho
  • Meat Tenderizer
  • Fire Starter Kit
  • Miniature Knife

For the pack itself, I’ve recently been using a Topeak “Aero Wedge Pack w/ Fixer”. The bag is capable of fitting everything you’ll need and more. Something great about it is the “Fixer”, which is a piece that mounts to the bottom of the seat instead of relying on straps to hold the bag. However, no matter what you’re using to carry tools it’s always important to pack enough for the time you’re riding and the pathway conditions you’re faced with. Hopefully this helps a little bit when you’re considering what to bring with you on your trail travels.

 

 


2019 Liv Langma Advanced Pro 1 Disc review

October 14th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

By Elaine Sheikh
As I entered my first full year of competitive cycling, one thing was certain: I was due for a bicycle upgrade. This became very evident in April at the Tour of the Gila when there were no neutral wheels available to me as I was the only woman in the peloton with a 10-speed cassette! Since Liv, a sister company of Giant featuring women-specific bicycles, is a sponsor of our team, I knew I wanted to start there with my bicycle search. Fortunately, Liv offers a comprehensive line-up of race bicycles, so I knew I would find a bike that would meet my needs. After much research and vascillation, I chose the 2019 Langma Advanced Pro 1 Disc. With an advanced-grade composite frame, Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset, and Giant SLR-1 Disc 30 WheelSystem, I knew I would be getting quite an upgrade from my previous race machine.

The first thing I did was upgrade the crankset from a compact to a mid-compact with a Pioneer powermeter. I knew that with the 11×30 cassette, I would have no trouble with the larger chain-rings. Otherwise, the only other change to the original product was the saddle. The wheelset comes tubeless ready, which is how I ran it.
First impressions: The bike is gorgeous, with a sleek black finish and small dark purple and gold accents. I expected the bike to be light, but I was still surprised with the lightness of the bike when I picked it up. Riding over chip seal, I found that my wrists, arms and shoulders felt remarkably less fatigue than n my previous bike. The shock absorption of the composite frame lends itself to a smooth, comfortable ride. The bike accelerates quickly, with enough stiffness to be responsive. Additionally, it is also stiff enough in the lateral planes to corner confidently. Overall, I have loved my first week with the new bicycle and can’t wait to represent Team Athletic Mentors and Liv bicyles for the rest of the road season!

 



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