You Are Not a Before and After

AprilstatsYou are not a before or an after. So many people in the fitness industry are focused on getting clients by promising some awesome “after” version of their bodies all the while, posting pictures of their progress. Why? Because that is exactly what sells. Please. Do yourself a favor and repeat: “My body is not a before or after.”

You will not find happiness in a shake or by cutting out entire food groups or in skipping events because you can’t eat what’s there. For all that is holy: please eat more real food than processed food and find ways to move your body–whether it be swimming, cycling, running, team sports, or fitness classes at your local gym.

You need to eat real food because you are on a journey. I’m not going to call it a fitness journey because even if you are a professional athlete, I’m sure you have a family, other hobbies you love, and places you enjoy. Your overall health and fitness is part of your life. Sure, if you’re a casual athlete you might have goals of qualifying for Boston, completing an Ironman, or competing in your first ever race. Goals are good. But they are not everything. You and the people around you are everything.

In the picture above are my stats for the month of April. Some of those miles were early and tough, some were with friends, and there are more than a few miles missing because I needed rest and time with my family. Do the hard work and do what’s important to you, remembering why you chose triathlon or running in the first place. There will certainly be more miles in May and for years to come.

Last of all when you look at your body in the mirror, thank it for all it does for you. Be grateful that you can still move, compete, and inspire others to do the same. And, if you want to wear that bikini this summer without sipping on any expensive shakes to shed those stubborn pounds, just put it on and be proud. Celebrate the you that you are right now. And, give the whole fitness industry a big middle finger when you do.

Haver Tri at the Haverford Area YMCA

YPoolOh my goodness, people. If you want to start off your triathlon season right or if you’re new to the sport, then I highly recommend the Haver Tri on Sunday, April 29, 2018 at 1pm, hosted by the Haverford Area YMCA in Havertown, PA. And, it’s not because I helped to organize it either.

It’s only $20 to sign up for this race that will award prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, men and women. The first 100 athletes to sign up get a t-shirt too! Here’s what the event is all about:

300 yard serpentine swim (swimmers will be sent off 20 seconds apart)

9 miles on the spin bikes in the cycling studio

1.5 mile run/walk on the Pennsy Trail

Oh, and we won’t be timing transitions, so no worries there!

That’s ALL! This event will also kick off our Ironman in a Month Challenge in May–more on that soon! I’ll be on the pool deck volunteering as a timer, so I hope to see you there!

Click on the link below to sign up. All proceeds go to the YMCA’s annual fund campaign so that everyone has access to a great place to workout.

Sign up for the Haver Tri

Kick Cancer’s Ass

For the month of June, I plan to ride at least 300 miles to help raise money that will fund research for childhood cancer with the Great Cycle Challenge. You can ride anywhere in the world and help this great cause. Besides riding 300 miles in June, for the month of July, I will ride a mile for every dollar donated. Please consider riding for the Great Cycle Challenge yourself or donate to my page below.
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Donate to the Great Cycle Challenge

My daughter’s friend, Hope, beat cancer last year, and my goal is so that no family will ever have to deal with childhood cancer or cancer of any kind. For all of you out there riding, ride because you can and do some good in the process. For my mom, Tina, and running twin, Mira, I hope you continue to stay cancer free. To Lynda, keep fighting. I’ll also be riding in memory of Bethany and Daniel who were gone too soon.

If you are interested in joining my Great Cycle Challenge Team, please send me an email at greekgirlruns@gmail.com, and we’ll get started. Together, we can make a difference. Wheels down, and ride on.

What’s in Your Saddle Bag?

For bike rides, there are a few essentials that you should have with you in your saddle bag, just in case of a flat or to fix something on your bike when things go wrong. If you’re prepared, you’ll be able to correct the problem and continue on your ride.

  1. Spare tubes. You’ll need these to replace the tube inside the tire in case of a flat (unless you ride without tubes, and then you’ll need a patch repair kit). The guys at my local shop recommend taking the tube out of the packaging, coating it with baby powder to keep it from sticking, and then wrapping the tube with plastic wrap. Your new tubes will be ready to go when needed. I carry two tubes with me at all times.
  2. A set of allen wrenches for all of the nuts and bolts that can get loose on your bike.
  3. Tire levers for removing the tire from the rim so you can take the tube out. You’ll need at least two levers.
  4. CO2 cartridges. Have the right size for your tire. My TT bike has smaller tires than my road bike, so 16g is what I need to not overfill my tire, but my road bike needs 20g. Use the bad tube or a glove to hold the CO2 cartridge because it will get really cold.
  5. A saddle bag for everything.

Make sure you have lights for your bike and check them before you leave just as you would fill up your tires. Use the lights during the day too so that you’re more visible to vehicles. I always assume that cars don’t see me: I’ve had too many friends injured while riding because of cars, trucks, and even a school bus. On the trail, look out for dogs on retractable leashes, runners with headphones, and unsteady kids on bikes. Let’s not forget squirrels or groundhogs too. I keep my jersey zipped tight because bees often hit me and fly down my jersey… fortunately, I didn’t fall off of my bike.

Other cycling essentials:

  1. Bike helmet
  2. Padded shorts and cycling jersey (for the pockets)
  3. Cycling glasses to protect your eyes
  4. Padded gloves to keep your hands from going numb
  5. Bike lock

Carry keys, water, food, cash, a credit or debit card, ID, and phone too. Your cycling jersey can keep some of these items, but have water bottle cages for drinks and possibly a bento to hold food for those long rides. Happy riding!

How to Change a Flat Tire

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Yes, that’s my road bike, Bia, off the trainer and appearing to be dead on the basement floor. I had an hour and a half ride planned, my podcast was ready to go, I logged into Zwift, and set my watch to view my heart rate. About ten minutes into the ride when my heart rate should have been up in zone 2, it kept dropping to zone 1. Frustrated, I switched gears to make it harder to pedal and increased my cadence. Nothing happened until I got off of my bike and realized that the tire was completely and totally flat even though I filled the tube moments ago.

I had a few choices: go to the Y and pedal away on the spin bikes, leaving the flat for later, or taking the rear flat tire challenge head on and learning once and for all how to fix a flat. I took the challenge. I repaired the flat all by myself, and then, I finished my ride before heading up to my local shop to purchase some spare tubes for Bia and Ikaika, just in case.

If you’re like me and nervous about changing a flat, go to your local bike shop when they do bike maintenance clinics or watch a helpful video like the one below. And, above all else, practice often.

On the Main Line at Trek Ardmore, check out this event:

Ladies’ Night Out

Here’s an excellent video (I’m not affiliated with Trek, but they do have great information; I really wish I could get paid for advertising for them, but I don’t).

How to change a flat video

Between Training and Jet Lag

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As you might already know, I just returned from a week long trip to London with my family. Because of Daylight Savings Time, England is only four hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. That doesn’t sound like a lot and should make for an easy adjustment to the new time zone: all you have to do is try to sleep a little on the red eye flight, and then do your best to stay up until about eight o’clock the next day thereby giving you a full day awake so you can sleep the next night. Presto! You’ve adjusted to the time change.

Well, none of that happened. We had over two hours of really terrible turbulence that shook me awake whenever I tried to sleep, so I stayed awake on the plane for the entire flight until ten minutes before landing. Yes, the landing gear touching the ground woke me up with a snort. I stumbled around the train stations to our flat and promptly went to bed for three hours, starting at 8am. That was not my intent, but I simply couldn’t function without some sleep.

I did pack one pair of running clothes and wore my running shoes in the hopes that I would go for a run around Battersea Park, but that didn’t happen. For the entire week we were there, I couldn’t fall asleep before 2am and wanted to sleep until noon (although I begrudgingly woke up at 8am with my alarm).

So, if you are planning a race abroad or in a different time zone, plan to arrive to the location early, preferably a week prior to the event to allow your body time to adjust. I know I didn’t feel like getting up and going for a training run until the Friday we were leaving. And, if you can’t arrive that early, give yourself a break. Same goes for any training while traveling. If you are simply too tired, rest. A much needed break from your workouts may be in order. The same rules apply upon your return home: sleep and rest.

Tri it Forward

TriSwim

The 2018 Triathlon Race Season is almost here! If you have friends who are interested in the sport of triathlon, or if you are new to the sport yourself, click on the link at the bottom of this post and tri it forward!

And, if you’re like me, you like free stuff. Who doesn’t? To get two free weeks of triathlon training, message, email, or call me at 610-241-4164 to get started. You have to be brand new to the sport of triathlon or have competed in a few races at the sprint distance and want to improve.


Tri It Forward

 

Happy International Women’s Day!

Many of the runners and triathletes I coach are strong women who work hard to accomplish their goals–whether it’s getting up for a 5am run, training for their first triathlon, or preparing for the Chicago Marathon. These are only a few of the women who inspire me to keep going every day. I’m so glad my mom encouraged me and my sister to pursue sports–she’s the original Greek athlete in the family who played football in the street as a kid and now challenges herself in cycling races today. She’s Sophia’s Yiayia, and she kicks butt every single day.

So, to all of the strong women out there, and that means ALL of you, today is your day. Get out there and show yourself what you’ve got!

Training with Heart Rate Zones

 

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Training with heart rate zones may seem overwhelming at first, but once you understand your zones, you can properly train for any endurance sport. Get out your calculators or put on your thinking caps for the rest of this blog post. Let’s do some math!

 

First of all, find your resting heart rate. Without a heart rate monitor, you’ll need to take your HR (heart rate) before you get out of bed every morning for seven days. Take your heart rate for a full minute in the carotid artery. At the end of the week, find the average out of seven days. Mine is 59 bpm (beats per minute).
Secondly, to find your max heart rate without a VO2 max test, which you can do if you choose: run a hard workout such as 6×800 repeats on the track with 2 minutes rest in between while you wear a HR monitor. Look for the max HR after uploading your workout. Mine is 185 bpm and may spike higher, which is different than the standard 220-your age.
Third, calculate your HR reserve. Here’s the formula:
Max HR – Resting HR = HR Reserve
For example, mine is 185-59= 126 bpm for Heart Rate Reserve.
You can base your training on heart rate reserve or a percentage of your max HR.
                                                      Max HR %                         HR Reserve %
VO2 Max (Zone 5)                          93-95                                91-94
Lactate Threshold (Zone 4)         82-91                                77-88
Marathon Pace (Zone 3)               79-88                                73-84
Long Run (High Zone 2)               74-84                                65-78
General Aerobic (Zone 2)             70-81                                62-75

Recovery (Zone 1)                          <76                                    <70

To calculate HR Reserve:
(HR Reserve x percent from table) + Resting HR = HR Reserve for zone
Example from my numbers:
(126 x .77) + 59 = 156     156 bpm (for the lower range of zone 4)
You would do the calculations for the whole range, so here it is for the higher end of zone 4:
(126 x .88) + 59 = 179
So, my range for zone 4 HR Reserve training would be 156-179 bpm. I usually train by percent of max HR, so that is just taking a percent of your max for the ranges. Therefore, for my lactate threshold of zone 4, I would be in this range: 157-168 bpm. Please note that these calculations are for running.
For cycling, everything is about 8 bpm lower in all of the ranges. To set it up manually on Garmin from Garmin Connect–first login and then click on your device:
1. Go to your device
2. Device settings
3. User Settings
From here, you can add HR zones that are customized for you. You’ll have three choices: Percent of max HR, HR Reserve, or Percent of Lactate Threshold. Garmin calculates it automatically, or you can manually change it around based on your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). I originally had Garmin calculate the percent of HR Reserve, and then adjusted it manually a little higher because zone 2 felt too easy.
Here are a few things you should know when using heart rate to train: heart rate is useless if you are doing short sprints on the track or on the bike. It takes too long for your heart to recognize that it needs to work harder, which is why you see a spike in the recovery phase of really hard and short efforts. Go by rate of perceived exertion or by time for really, really short distances.
I also want to mention that for swimming, your heart rate zones will also be different, which is why I use rate of perceived exertion for swimming as well as timed intervals and train all of my athletes as long distance swimmers, but that’s another blog post. Not to mention that looking at your watch on the swim, if you can actually see it, messes up your swimming form, which doesn’t make this coach happy. If you wear a HR strap during the swim, analyze your heart rate later on and write down notes about how you felt on the swim for comparison.
Remember, your numbers will be unique to you and your training. With HR training, you will eventually become more efficient at each zone so that you’ll see your pace increase while your HR stays the same. It takes about six weeks to see progress, following the 80/20 rule where 80% of your workouts are in zone 2 and 20% are in zone 4. Train slower to race faster. It’s also true for ALL endurance sports. Happy training! And be sure to comment below with questions.
References and further reading: 
80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald
Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas (where all of the heart rate charts are from)
Be IronFit by Don and Melanie Fink
Daniel’s Running Formula by Jack Daniels (if you only get one book on running, this is it)
Joe Friel also has excellent books and online resources, so check him out too!

Cold Weather Cycling

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OK. So there was this one day that the temperature reached 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Yeah, it felt like spring. I even needed sunscreen, but forgot to put it on and ended up with early season cycle chick tan lines. When it’s that warm outside, all you need is a cycling jersey and a pair of bike shorts, and you’re good to go. However, when the temperatures drop, like they have since the dreaded Nor’easter hit the Philadelphia area and the whole East Coast, you’re going to need some layers beyond the basic bike gear of a helmet, glasses (not just regular sunglasses, but special cycling ones to project your eyes from debris), chamois butter, and padded gloves. It’s important to note that whatever the temperature is outside, it feels about 10 degrees colder on the bike.

70 degrees F and up: All you need is a lightweight jersey and bike shorts. If it’s closer to 80-90 degrees F, test out your tri kit and remember to wear sunscreen, even when it’s freezing outside.

50-70 degrees F: Start layering. Consider a long-sleeved jersey, long pants, thicker socks, and possibly gloves.

40-50 degrees F: Thermal layer underneath bike jersey, long pants, gloves, a buff for your face, and foot covers.

40 degrees and below: Prepare for Arctic conditions. Two layers under your jersey, long pants with possible thermal underwear, shoe covers, buff, hat, gloves. And ride fast in order to reach your destination sooner.

That’s all for now! I’m planning on doing a post on what you carry in your saddle bag, so comment below!