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Ironman Arizona Race Tips

It’s almost here. Ironman Arizona.

After all the hundreds of consumed GU’s and Gatorades, waking up feeling like a bulldozer hit you every morning for 4-12 months, and having your drive, courage and heart tested day in and day out, it’s time to see what it was all worth. Let me start by saying Arizona Ironman 2011 was my first, and I know what everyone has gone through with training. I’ve had the days when I’ve collapsed in tears on runs wondering how I was going to piece it all together come ray day, absolutely terrified of failing. It probably didn’t help I was only 22 years old and felt a little bit over my head. However, the fear is what fueled my training, and ignited my hunger to eat this race alive. With all of this said, there’s a few tips I could have used, and want to share some golden advice so you too can have the race of your life. I’d also like to note that this is what worked for me, and by no means should anyone think these tips are the only way to go.

Pre-Race Week

Let’s start by the week leading up to the race, because I’m going to bank on the fact that anyone reading this followed their training regimen semi-closely. Emphasis on the semi. THE WAY YOU TREAT YOUR BODY THE WEEK LEADING UP TO IRONMAN CAN MAKE OR BREAK YOUR RACE. Why did I put that entire sentence in caps? Because you’re already at a deficit prior to your race if you haven’t been prepping your body properly this week. What do I mean by prepping? Slow down! Nothing you try to throw in last-minute with training 10 days leading up to the race is going to benefit you. As far as working out, my pre-race week taper looked like this:

Monday= Easy 5 mile run, Stretched like crazy

Tuesday= Easy 20 mile ride, Stretched like crazy

Wednesday= Easy 2,000 meter swim, couple mile jog, Stretched like crazy

Thursday= Easy swim, 30 minute VERY EASY ride, Stretched like crazy

Friday= Walked/ Stretched like crazy

Saturday= 15 minute VERY VERY LITE jog, walked, Stretched like crazy

(I didn’t do the pre-race swim which you can opt to do Saturday, didn’t want to risk catching something from the water)

Sunday= RACE!

Take note I stretched every single day. To some, you may think this was not enough. It worked perfectly for me. You’ll be going crazy this week. You’ll feel like crap. Your body will be confused wondering why all of a sudden you’re not working out for 5 hours at time, and you’ll probably feel the most restless you’ve ever felt in your life. It’s OKAY! Remind yourself how crucial it is that your repairing your muscle fibers and preparing for one of the biggest days of your life.

Onto the eating part. Do it. A LOT. But not just anything. I’m 5’6, 135 pounds. I ramped my calorie intake up to about 3,000 to 4,000 calories the 4 days leading up to the race. Yes, four. Carb loading is not effective enough one day prior to race day. You’ll read different advice on this. Some say it’s not necessary to up your carb load due to you tapping into a different reserve store in your body. Because you’re racing at a lower energy level during an Ironman, you’re using much more of your fat stores as compared to solely tapping into your glycogen stores. Meaning, some will argue it’s not necessary to pack the calories on prior to race day because the process for utilizing fat as energy is much more complicated and slower. What am I getting at with this? Well, reflect on your hardest training days. The days where I simply didn’t eat enough prior to the days before my bricks, I bonked. Whatever works for you. I sweat close to (in my opinion) what a man does, and thus felt the need to eat. And I’m glad I did. I ate a lot of veggie/protein/pasta packed meals. I also started adding additional salt to my diet 3 days leading up. Two salt stick tablets a day prior to race day, as well as a gallon of water a day. I treated my body like a queen. Slept 7-9 hours a night.

To recap: Rest, don’t throw in crazy workouts, drink water like a mad man, eat healthy, protein packed meals, and stretch like crazy. And by god don’t eat at some crazy new eclectic restaurant you discovered down the street from your hotel the night before the race. That’s just dumb, and you’re asking for it. Eat what you’ve eaten the past 9 months before your hard workouts.

Race Nutrition

Prior to telling you my magical combination of food, I’d like to again, reiterate that this is what worked for me. All of our bodies will respond differently..

I didn’t figure out what Hammer Perpetuem was until 6 weeks out from my race. Wish I would’ve known about it earlier. Who knew that you didn’t have to jam 5 Cliff Bars, 7 GUs, and a plethora of fruit down to get all of your calories in?! Liquid calories are the two key words here. The quickest way your body is going to metabolize the necessary amount of nutrition is through a liquid/powder blend. This powder is a blend of almost everything your body will need:

Here’s what my race day nutrition looked like:

Pre Race Morning: 2 Oatmeal Packets with 1 banana, 20 ounces of water, 10 ounces Gatorade, 1 GU, 2 Ibuprofen. I had the solids down by about 5:30 am (ish).

Swim:

Nada!

Bike:

Six 24 ounce bottles in total. I think at the end I had about 1/2 bottle left that I didn’t finish by the end of the bike.

Bottle #1: Purely Water

Bottle #2: Gatorade

Bottle #3: 2 1/2 to 3 scoops of Perpetuem

(Bottles 4, 5, and 6 were the same, and in my special needs bag approx. half way through). I made sure to start with water, and have my last feed bottle (Perpetuem) down by the high 90’s miles so I wouldn’t be too bloated. Bottom line, don’t get off the bike hungry, and don’t assume you can make up calories on the run.

In addition, 1 Cliff Builder Bar, 1 banana, couple of orange slices, 4 GUs, 1 Bag of GU Chomps, 3 Ibuprofens and 5 Salt Sticks. I stored these in the back of my tri jersey as well as in my bento box. I also used a rear hydration system by Xlab and had a bottle cage on the bike. Tip: I froze both of my feed bottles about a 1/3 of the way up with water the night before. I then added the Perpetuem powder on top race morning for the bike bottle. You will have access to your bike race morning (you have to drop it off in transition the day before), but not your special needs bags. The powder isn’t too tasty lukewarm, so it’s smart to half freeze the bottle and add the water later on. Another note, also may be smart to bring a cover for your bike, as it will be outside all night in transition and subject to any elements. I saw people wrapping their bikes with plastic protectors or anything they could find to cover up their brakes and components.

Hydration set up under my seat

This is a cost-effective option for a hydration system. It can however be a bit difficult getting your bottles in and out of the cages, as they’re a bit stiff. A more convenient option in my opinion, is the Speedfil Hydration System. Below is a quick video on the system.


Remember, every 15 minutes you should be doing something. Whether it’s eating, drinking, or taking a salt stick, you have to keep a steady intake going. If this means setting a timer to go off every 15 minutes on your watch, then do that if you can’t remember to steadily be drinking and eating. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget about fueling.

Run

The idea here is to get off the bike feeling fairly full. If you’re getting off the bike hungry or thirsty, you’re in trouble. You’ll also find that once you get to about mile 10, you’re gonna get nauseous at the sight of GU’s. At least I did. I probably only ate about 3 Gus, some Power Bar Gel Blasts, a 1/2 of a nutrition bar, and some orange slices. I ate a few salt sticks during the run and also carried a couple Tums. I was sipping on some type of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes. I also gave into the Coca Cola at about mile 17, which was incredibly hard not to do earlier! My advice, keep eating small stuff lightly. Keep some kind of a sugar/salt intake going. If you planned your bike nutrition right, you really shouldn’t need to be taking in much. Just remember again, just as you did on the bike, do something every 15 minutes. There will be chicken broth offered later at the aid stations (towards 5pm) for those on the course a little bit later which can taste and work magic with its high salt content. You will find an aid station just about at every mile or so which I found myself slowly doing a shuffle through while eating. It’s okay to walk a bit to get your nutrition down!

The Course

Let’s start with the swim. Throw what anyone told you out the window right now. Unless you’re a pro, and starting your swim 15 minutes prior to everyone else, the water will never smooth out. When you go to get in the water, don’t wait until the last minute to jump in. I know it’s cold, but it’s important to 1. Not get stuck directly in the middle (or far back for that matter) and 2. Not get stuck near the wall. You’ll see a wall to your right. Stay away from it. Swimming is my strength and I moved to the front. I somehow still managed to have someone swimming over my back while getting kicked from the front in the meantime. All the thrashing for the first 500 yards or so is a bit unavoidable. Simply remember to just stay calm. It’s the shortest leg and will be over before you know it. I’d say your best bet is to stay to the mid-left away from the wall. The two shots below are a snap-shot of what the swim start will look like. The second photo is a much scarier one, and certainly from my perspective, a far better depiction. Wetsuits are a necessity.

Some words of advice:

Look up, often. Watch where you’re going. If you don’t, one or all of three things will happen: 1. Another irritated swimmer will give you a nice, hard jab. 2. You’ll smack your head right into a kayak or two. 3. You’ll add-on additional minutes/yardage. Learn how to spot.

When you go to get out, the stairs are pretty steep. Don’t be tough/guy, tough/woman and try to lift yourself out of the stairs. Let the volunteers lift you up so you don’t eat it and hurt yourself. They’ll literally carry you up the stairs. You’ll be so dizzy from being horizontal for so long that it’ll take you a minute to gain balance anyways. After allowing the wonderful volunteers to get you in and out of transition quickly, while putting your shoes on for you (yes, they literally do everything for you in the tent), let them lather you up with sunscreen as well. There’s a pack of 5 or 6 people ready to glob sunscreen all over you after leaving the transition tent. Very smart idea. Below is video of the swim exit. Narrated by my proud Mother. Take note of the vertical steepness. Below the swim exit video is a quick video to give you an idea of what transition looks like.

Bike! You have three loops as I’m sure you’ve already read up on. It’s not hilly. The most you have to worry about is a false flat up Beeline Highway. The biggest issue with this course tends to be the wind, as it was the year I did it. Hopefully, the wind will be at your back while going up Beeline. Regardless, I ended up being in aero position for about 95 of those miles. I opted to use an ISM Adamo Saddle, which served wonders, as it is designed for pressure-relief in aero postion.

If you don’t have aero bars on your bike for this race yet, I would highly suggest it as most of the course is flat. Below is the course outline for the bike.

The “climb” up Beeline Highway is approximately 10 miles. It really is more of a false flat. If you did any, and I mean any, hill training you should be fine. I’d say being mentally prepared to get through hours of a head wind is much more important. In my opinion, wind can be far more defeating than climbing a hill. Drafting is not legal, but there were tons of people doing so last year, for fear of literally being blown over. The wind will most likely heavily pick up on your third lap. Stay calm, and don’t try to ruin yourself on the bike. I thought having three laps was going to feel like murder, when in reality, it couldn’t have been better. You know exactly what to expect come lap 2, where to push, where not to push, you get to see your family quite a bit (awesome), and have a better time-lapse for your nutrition. If I remember correctly, your special needs bag on the bike will come at about mile 57 or so. Take time to use the bathroom! I got off my bike half way through to use the facilities. This is also why it’s a smart idea to wear a tri top and tri short as opposed to a trisuit on a race like this. Much more easy to get off. There are porta-potties all over the bike course. Just please take note to be careful when veering off the road to do so. Signal your way over. I did see a crash with this situation last year.

Run (The Best for Last)

Again, 3 laps of beauty around Tempe Town Lake.

I’d like to note that a good 20 plus of the marathon miles are on cement. Ouch. I found myself jumping on over to any patch of dirt or even asphalt I could find because my body didn’t take well to the pounding on the cement. Don’t try to use your race flats on this course. A stability trainer worked perfectly for me. Also keep in mind you’ll have your special needs bag at about mile 11 or so. The special needs bags are the bags you yourself put belongings in that you’ll need on the course. You’ll get one on the bike almost half way through, and you’ll have one on the run as well. I packed some more nutrition, some warmer clothing just in case, and a change of socks in the event that my feet got wet. Anything you think you just might need throw in there. They’re fairly large, and the volunteers are INCREDIBLY good about organizing and getting your bags quickly. The volunteers on the course are unlike anything you’ve ever seen at any race. Every step of the way they’re there to help you while cheering you on and making you feel like a million bucks. I ended up finishing at about 6:30 or so and only was in the dark for a couple miles. I could barely see during these couple miles. If you end up running in the dark, the course states you must use the glow sticks they provide. I don’t think it’s enough light personally. I’d say bring some other type of light because it really was hard to see, and you’re going to be pretty delirious at that point. Unless of course you’re Chrissie Wellington..and have more than enough light to see your way through.

This is your day. Soak up every second, and trust in the months of training you’ve done. Come prepared and don’t forget why you’re doing this in the first place. To see the finish. It’s everything you’ve dreamed of. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to thank your loved ones who’ve supported you day in and day out throughout it all. At the end of your race, I’m sure they’ll tell you as well that they felt like they did an Ironman too after cheering you on all day.

Me with my trophie. 2nd Place WooHoo!


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Open Water Swimming in Triathlon

The shortest leg of the race in triathlon is often funny enough, the most feared. By far, you’re certainly the least out-of-control of your surrounding environment in this leg, which can allow for the capability to put a nice damper on your time. Most triathlons take place in some kind of a body of open water, so assuming your pool skills will transfer right over isn’t the case, and often times, can be dangerous. There’s many tips that can be followed to keep yourself safe, and drop seconds to minutes on your swim. We spend tons of money on gadgets, wheels, aero-dynamic and light-weight everything to save seconds and minutes, so why not take the time to practice open-water techniques for the swim? Below are some triathlon swim tips.

Pool Swimming

Pool heaters, a line to follow, lanes to keep our flailing bodies in, and visibility as far down as the eye can see. What’s not to like about training in a pool? Well, it’s not a realistic representation of the race environment. Certainly, it’s great for things such as speed-work and interval training, but it needs to be used in conjunction with your open water training. We’re not required to lift our head up in a pool to see where we’re going, or to modify our breathing according to surprise waves smacking us over the head, and if we get tired, oh boy! …a nice wall or lane line to grab onto won’t be there. Certain aspects of oceans and lakes call for specific gear, technique, and safety measures. Train to increase your conditioning, practice being in the environment to get you mentally prepared for the elements.

Necessary Equipment

So you’ve been training in the pool and want to venture into a lake, river, or ocean swim. Where do you begin? Most people do fine with some swim goggles, some find that a wider-lens goggle allows them to spot better in the open water. Here’s an example:

Wetsuit? Or no triathlon wetsuit? You’ll find at your triathlon races, about 95% (depending on temperature) of triathletes will be in wetsuits. Your first idea about this is probably that they’re wearing them to keep warm. Swim purists are strictly against this notion of wearing neoprene to swim. I myself was one as well, until I saw friends who I was lapping in the pool beating me in the open water. Not gonna fly. Tri wetsuits will give you quite the advantage. Sure they’ll keep you warmer than not having one, but they’re designed to make you more buoyant and reduce your drag. This allows you to conserve power, thus saving you energy and making for a faster time. My advice: get one.

Chaffing. It’s painful and unnecessary, but has a strong likelihood of happening with your tri wetsuit if some kind of a lubricant is not used. The chaffing will most likely happen around the neck, but there’s a few areas we strongly recommend as well to put the lube. Below are the two options, BodyGlide and TRISlide.

TRISLIDE

Body Glide

Both will protect against chaffing, and also aid in getting the wetsuit off quickly. We suggest putting it around your ankles, wrists, and neck prior to putting on the wetsuit before training and races.

Now that you have the necessary gear, there’s a few things you should consider prior to your open water swim training. It’s best to be checking the swells and currents prior to when you’ll be swimming if you’ll be swimming in the ocean. In a recent race I did at the Camp Pendleton Sprint Tri, the starting wave did not take note of the strong current and swam an additional 200-500 yards at least. Those that caught on and realized they needed to start their swim further down to avoid fighting a current, were able to gain a few hundred yards (which equates to at least a 2-5 minute lead) HUGE.

For Your Safety..

If you’re not an experienced swimmer, trying to get past the waves (or break) will be almost impossible if it’s a large wave day, and incredibly dangerous. Check to see if there is a lifeguard on duty if possible, who will quickly notify you of any potential dangers such as undertows or rip currents. If you do have a higher anxiety about open water swimming, choosing a day when there’s greater visibility out in the water (usually on a sunnier day) is certainly a smart idea. If the ocean seems far too terrifying, I would highly recommend swimming in some kind of bay or lake if you can access one. There’s fewer possibilities of potential anxiety triggers, and will serve as a great way to segue you into unprotected open water swims. It’s incredibly important when you’re getting into any body of water to not go alone. You never know what’s going to happen in the water. As an example, a fellow friend of mine was swimming in the bay when an unsuspecting 10 foot wood oar split his head open from a boater. He luckily had friends to drive him to the hospital. With that said, there’s a reason fish swim in schools. So should you!

Specific Open Water Techniques for Racing

Where the heck do you put yourself in the start of the swim pack? Before you answer, consider this: Would you hop in the fast lane on a 5-lane freeway going 45 and expect to not get honked at, tail gated, or dirty looks? Probably not. The swim isn’t a good idea to do this either. Line up according to your ability. Fast swimmer? Jump to the front. Let’s just say if you’re swimming a sub 7 or sub 6 minute 500 yard time, you’d do fine at the front. Mediocre swimmer? Get to the middle. Consider this the equivalent of how people stagger themselves at 5k’s and marathon starts. It’s also smart to place yourself on the outskirts of the pack, not directly in the center. If swimming isn’t exactly your caveat, stay towards the back. You’ll thank yourself later. You will avoid unwanted kicks and elbows this way. Once you’ve figured out how to place yourself, let’s think about how you’re going to get yourself through the waves, or from the sand to the water. With a technique known as dolphin diving, getting through the shallower water and under the waves will save you time and energy (and maybe a few waves to the dome). Below you can find a perfect example of how to do this. I do not recommend doing this if you’re a beginner in very shallow water (let’s say, below the knees). Once you become more familiar with this type of diving, you can utilize it in shallower waters, but I wouldn’t recommend it until you get a better grasp. This method is often used in lake swims as well.

Once you’re past the waves or initial start of the swim, you’ll feel pretty crowded. In the majority of open water swims, the wave of people you start with will spread out within the first few minutes. The only race I’ve participated in that this is not the case is an Ironman. The Ironman Arizona swim will never throughout the 2.4 miles of swimming, spread out. Back to the point. Most races will. You’ll begin to feel synced with your stroke. However, it is IMPERATIVE you are looking up. This is what we call “spotting” in open water. Everyone will tell you differently on how often you should be raising your head to see where you are, but I say a good rule of thumb would be every 10-30 strokes, depending on how experienced with this you are. Most triathlons will have you swimming in some kind of twisted triangle or rectangle similar to the one pictured below:

There will be buoys marking the corners, which are what we’ll call your trackers. They’re huge and brightly colored. You need to make sure you’re staying in line with these trackers, by picking up your head to see where you’re going. The only reason you swim in a straight line in the pool is because of the fat solid black line you swim on top of to keep you in check. It’s a good idea to practice spotting in a pool, or at least practice in open water prior to racing. You can easily add on a few hundred yards or more depending on how long your swim is if you’re not spotting the buoys. You also might swim yourself into a nice kayak, which are often conveniently located right in the middle of the line of swimmers. I myself have smacked my head hard on one of these puppies and proceeded to blame it on the nice kayak volunteer for being in my way. Point being, look up. The example above is of a lake swim. Most ocean swims will have you swimming parallel to shore, which means you’ll have the waves at your back coming in. Body surfing these in and beginning to dolphin dive once it’s about waist deep can save you some precious time.

Key Points To Take Away…

  • Pools aren’t a substitute for open water
  • Get the necessary gear to make your life easier for open water swimming
  • DO NOT swim alone or at least tell someone on shore you’re swimming and to keep an eye out
  • Learn how to study your surroundings; know the currents and swells
  • Place yourself correctly at the start of the swim start in a triathlon
  • Learn what spotting and dolphin diving are and how to utilize them (know your swim course as well)
  • Enjoy it! Stay calm, and remember why you started it all in the first place

Further Guides to Help:

Sleeved Wetsuit or Sleeveless?

Choosing the Right Triathlon Wetsuit

Printable Triathlon Gear Checklist

What to Wear Under a Triathlon Wetsuit

The question of, “What am I supposed to be wearing underneath my tri wetsuit?” is undoubtedly the most asked in the shop. The idea of wearing clothing underneath neoprene,  seems odd to many first-time triathletes. In reality, you can’t tell a difference underneath your wetsuit, and will save quite a bit of time by swimming in what you will be racing in. Essentially you wear whatever it is you’ll be competing in underneath. Often times, it’s the same clothing that you’ve been training ever so hard in over the course of the past months/weeks. With that said, triathletes have a couple of options as to what they choose to wear underneath their tri wetsuit. There’s two main types of race apparel: a trisuit, or a top with tri shorts.

Option 1:

Why a trisuit?

Racing in a one-piece can certainly be convenient. You’re simply wearing one article of clothing, not two, and thus don’t have to really worry about your shirt riding up and revealing anything not wanting to be revealed (muffins perhaps?) Most trisuits also have a zipper as well as  built-in-bra for additional support. Some trisuits, depending on the brand, have side or back pockets as well, which are perfect for storing those gu’s. Negatives? Certainly, if you have to use the restroom during your race. I recommend one-pieces to those participating in shorter distances such as sprints, or olympics. It is not particularly ideal to get out of this puppy when you’re in a rush to use the facilities during a longer race.

Option 2:

Why a two piece?

I find more athletes tend to gravitate towards wearing a triathlon top and triathlon short as separates. This could be that people are simply a bit weary of the one-piece, and in many cases have never seen one before. Wearing separates offers the ease of potentially more pockets for storing your goodies. Some tops are more of a singlet style with zip up in the front (like the one pictured), whereas some are a racerback style. When wearing two pieces, you have the option of changing up styles, coloring and brands. For example, if you like the feeling of a looser fitting top, and a short that’s a particular length, (most range from 4″ to 8″ for women) wearing two pieces offers a bit more variability. This option tends to be the better choice for the longer distances.

Other options:

Some athletes choose to wear no top under their wetsuit for the swim (or in a woman’s case, just her sport bra) and then put on their top once they reach transition. This can be a difficult task to do, as you will be wet and will be adding additional time to your race.  There have been those to wear a one-piece bathing suit underneath their wetsuit (Speedos or jammers in the case of men) underneath their wetsuit and do their race in just that. This is an option, although not the most comfortable.

For the triathlons where the swim portion takes place in a pool, the trisuit may be the better option, as a loose-fitting top could easily create drag. Most triathlon apparel is composed of a lycra blend, meaning it’s quick to dry, and barely noticeable while racing. If you’re wondering what to use for strictly training purposes, most simply wear their swim suits or, for men, jammers.

Any of these options will work,  it depends upon what you’re more comfortable wearing. The cardinal rule is to race in what you’ve been training in. Choosing to wear new race apparel can lead to the awful surprise of new-found seams and possible chaffing.

These are the variations of questions that I get.
What do I wear in a triathlon?
What do I wear under my wetsuit?
What do I wear under my tri wetsuit?

Blue Seventy Axis Review


Oh swimming. With 85% of triathletes coming from a running, cycling, or other background, it’s no wonder so many people fear this leg of the race the most. If  swimming isn’t your strength, Blue Seventy has an answer. The Axis. Blue Seventy has recognized the fact that there’s different needs for different types of swimmers. Some athletes have denser leg compositions due to established thigh muscles and dense calves. Many of these swimmers tend to drop their lower half in the water. Thus, the Axis was innovated with balanced buoyancy zones. This suit in particular focuses higher buoyancy in the hips, thighs and lower legs. This helps to elevate the lower body, creating a more streamlined position in the water, and more efficient stroke for the swimmer.

The Blue Seventy Axis was also designed with Femme Fit, a design unique for women, designed by blue seventy. This fit is designed with a woman’s shapes, curves and all skill levels taken into mind. There should never be a one-cut fits all wetsuit on the market. Clearly, a woman’s body is shaped differently, and wetsuits should reflect this. Here are the differences:

  • Lowered neckline
  • Extended zipper length to accommodate wider hips, and in aiding exiting and entering suit
  • Slimmer, 1.5mm thick arms to allow for higher stroke cadence
  • Re-design of suit in bust and torso area (women tend to have shorter torsos)
  • A wider range of sizes to choose from (7 to be exact) from XS to Large Athena
  • 360-flex reach panels to create supreme flexibility and arm maneuverability

With all of this said, I hear over and over within wetsuit sales, “I need all the help I can get in the water and I’m not a strong swimmer. Which wetsuit do you recommend?”

The Axis it is.

2XU Elite Compression Tight

Say hello to the 2XU Elite Compression Tights. This tight is not simply your average compression, but part of a newly designed line by 2XU called PXR (Perform, XFORM, Refresh). In particular, the XFORM garments give you the benefit of two-in-one compression. It is designed as an Active + Recovery tight. This means that the grade of compression and construction of the tight is designed to be used while training, as well as post-workout recovery. How is this possible? This is done through varying levels of fabric denier (thickness of a fabric) as well as level of graduated compression. Essentially, a strictly recovery garment would have the highest level of deniers as well as compression. The strictly active line would have the lowest. The XFORM, falling in between, has just the right amount of compression for recovery, while having the flexibility to train in them.

Specs on the tight:

  • For athletes demanding more power + support while offering breathability
  • Combination PWX FLEX front panel + extra powerful PWX WEIGHT in rear panel for added calf + hamstring support
  • Delivers additional support to quads, abductors + gluts
  • Works to reduce muscle fatigue + damage
  • Graduated fit promotes increased circulation

Wearing compression during activity comes with a plethora of benefits. The first being what I would consider the greatest benefit, increased  performance. Our muscles are exposed to vibration during training which in turn causes what is known as muscle oscillation. By reducing this, 2XU Compression has scientifically proven improved muscle endurance, strength, power output and lower heart rate for greater performance. Other added bonuses from compression include: heightened agility, as well as increased comfort and protection. The fabrics are designed to wick moisture as well as come with antibacterial which is embedded in the material to keep any kind of bacterial growth at bay.

The largest benefit to wearing compression post exercise is the faster rate of recovery. This is done through aiding the pumping action of the cardiovascular system; removing blood lactate from exercising muscles leading to reduced swelling, allowing for faster muscle repair and reduction in muscle soreness.

Why spend money on two sets of compression when you can get the benefits of both in one?

Louis Garneau Tri Pack Revo

I present to you the Louis Garneau Tri Pack Revo. What’s so different about this tri bag you ask? Firstly, it dons a chair! Yes, a chair. A fold up seat to rest those tired legs in transition. Perfect for when the race is over and you don’t feel like bending down to take those running kicks off. Beyond the chair, there’s a plethora of pockets and zippers. One main as pictured below, which is sectioned off into additional pockets, and then another main. If you’re thinking this many pockets on a tri bag is overkill, then try to use a standard backpack for a race and see how hard it is to keep track of the insane amount of items we trek around to and from training and races. Everything seems to have a place in the Revo. With all these pockets to hold your gear, the bag may get heavy. Thus, LG designed the shoulder straps to be soft and ventilated, as well as putting in a cushioned and also ventilated ergonomic back.

  • Mesh pocket under bag
  • Adjustable sternum strap
  • Velcro fastener on one side for one pump
  • Buckle strap on top
  • Mesh pocket for water bottle
  • Helmet holder
  • Safety light holder
  • Water resistant 420 Deniers
  • Reflective
  • Full capacity: 46 liters / 2806 CU
  • Adjustable outer flap with buckles and barrel

Above is an open view of the inside of the main pocket. There’s a great soft, zip up pocket perfect to hold your shades as well as a larger zip pocket to better organize your items. This bag is also perfect for multi-use as a traveling bag. I take mine on airplanes, road trips, and any other place that I can get away with not needing to use a heavy luggage bag. The Louis Garneau Tri Pack Revo is what everyone needs for toting their schwag to and from races, training, and traveling, available at One Tri. Below I can be found utilizing my handy fold-up stool in the office.

TYR Hurricane Category 3 Wetsuit

“You’re only as fast as your wetsuit will let you be.”-TYR


With that said, and your money pockets taken into consideration, feast your eyes on the Category 3. TYR’s Hurricane wetsuit series is composed of three tiers (pun intended), 1, 3, and 5. For those that want the primary technologies of the Category 5, but don’t want to spend top dollar, the C3 is the perfect option for a mid range suit. The wetsuit boasts light-weight Yamamoto 38/39 SCS coated neoprene, as well as varying 5mm panels. The high-buoyancy 5mm panels found in the chest, legs, and core were designed to help the swimmer to be elevated in the water and keep the swimmer from dropping their lower half. This feature, known as Speed Wrap Paneling, as well as the ones listed below were carried over from the CAT 5. The only features the Category 3 doesn’t come with when comparing it the 5, are that the entire surface area isn’t 100% Yamamoto Nano SCS rubber, and the inside isn’t lined with soft jersey fabric.

  • Free Range of Motion Zones – Less pinching and constriction, meaning more flexible reach.
  • Form Fitting Wrist Cuffs – Multi-stretch cuffs at the wrist allow powerful strokes while keeping water from entering the suit.
  • Quick Release Ankle Cuffs – Tapered legs allow for a speedy release of the suit without much effort.
  • 360 degree core stabilization system: Creates the sensation of your core feeling a wrap-around support which works to elevate the swimmer, ensuring optimal body position and saving energy over the long-term of the swim.
  • Graded Force Catch Panels: Paneling along forearm allows for greater pull in the water, such as a built-in paddle would.

If you do have an entry-level wetsuit and want to make the upgrade to a mid range suit that’s going to come with all the bells and whistles, the Hurricane Category 3 by TYR is great choice. Check out this wetsuit and many other triathlon wetsuits at One Tri.

Zoot Endurance Tri Tank

Here we have the feminine Endurance Tri Tank by Zoot. It is a tri -specific top which is perfect for racing as well as training. It is composed of a nylon/spandex fabric featuring Endura technology. This technology is custom to specific Zoot items, allowing for optimum compression and muscle support, as well as reduces muscle fatigue and extends endurance. The stretch in the fabric allows for superior range of motion. The top also features a built-in bra, as well as a 10″ zipper. Zippers can be great on race apparel because it allows for venting should you get over-heated, and opens the top to feel less restricting. There are two pockets that are placed on the sides to avoid catching any water are perfect to hold your nutrition goodies. The top comes in an array of colors: Virtual Pink/Fuel, Tropic/Green Lantern, Indigo/Ice, Black. The collar around the neckline gives the top an added touch of style. Pair with the Zoot Endurance Tri Short to complete the look. Both on sale now at One Tri.

Bellweather Forma Bike Short Review

Recently while on my stationary trainer, I got the chance to wear the Bellweather Forma Bike Short.  Boy was I excited. This short comes with some noteworthy features worth taking a look at. As previously noted in another blog, I discussed the differences between tri shorts and bike shorts. The Forma falls into the bike short category, bringing with it a thicker chamois, longer inseam, and different material. The chamois and material are what drew me in. The material used in the short is called LYCRA POWER™ which just so happens to come along with compressive qualities to it. We’re all aware of the supportive dynamic compression offered to our muscles; of which I certainly could feel. The material is not only compressive, but comes with a ribbed surface, allowing more airflow into the short (we all know how sweaty we tend to get under all that lycra). Bellwether innovated this fabric by means of trying to achieve the correct balance of breathability and moisture transfer.

Onto the chamois…I’ve certainly made a point to make the padding a topic of interest in my posts when discussing shorts. Let’s face it, what our unmentionables get squished against better be comfortable. Here’s why it’s different:  The overall design was made with elite-long distance riding in mind. The foaming in the chamois was placed strategically to be more dense along the contact points that hit the saddle in order to alleviate pressure and reduce road shock. We’ve all felt that surprise pothole 40 miles into the ride and could use the additional suspension in our shorts. I also found that while I was in aero position, I continued to feel padding in the pelvic bone region. Most cycling shorts are a giant boat pad in the back and that’s it, not taking into consideration that one might be pronating their hips forward. This was great.  I felt added relief in the front, important to a triathlete who might spend most of their time down on their aero bars.

Another feature to note is the soft elastic band that didn’t create imprints on my hips. Always a plus.  Although not a tri-specific short, the Forma’s are perfect for the long distance rides and well worth the buy. Available for purchase at One Tri.

Zoot Women’s CompressRx Sock

Behold the Zoot Compression Sock. Along the lines of items necessary to your arsenal of tri gear, I would claim it fair to say these should certainly be included. With all the hooplah out there on the market about compression, let’s clear some things up on the science behind it all and why these socks in particular are going to help your performance.

Let’s start with the science. Zoot utilizes graduated compression, and more importantly, utilize it correctly. The amount of compression ranges from 26mmHg (mmHg is the unit of measurement used in compression garments) at the ankle and decreases to 18 mmHg just below the knee. The strongest amount of compression is found in the lower part of the leg. This method allows for deoxygenated blood to flow back to the heart. Within the ranges of compression, the 26mmHg falls under medical grade compression. This factor is important when choosing compression. Anything less than 20mmHg isn’t considered medical grade, and will not offer the same benefit. So what is all this doing? The socks help to flush out lactic acid in the veins as well as assist in proper venous flow and return. While running with Zoot CompressRx socks, one is able to get up to 40% more arterial flow in their calf by supporting consistent pressure on the muscle. The compression increases the pressure in the tissues beneath the skin allowing for reduced excess leakage of fluid from the capillaries and increasing absorption of tissue fluid by the capillaries. The goal is to assist the body in doing what it naturally does in flushing damaged muscle tissues.

So what the heck is the benefit? Well, here’s a couple noteworthy stats:

  • 29% decrease in lactic acid build-up.
  • 25% reduction of perceived effort.
  • 40% improvement in recovery time.
  • 5% increase in performance.

These socks in particular can be used as active compression (use them while training or racing) or recovery. Also, keep in mind that they’re perfect for travel use while flying, driving, or even if you plan to be on your feet for a prolonged period of time. The sock is also foot specific with padded foot soles to prevent irritation.

Measurements: It’s important that you measure your calf (circumference of the largest part of the muscle belly on your calf) prior to choosing your size. Proper fit will ensure optimal performance.

Train on!

De Soto Carrera Tri Short Low Rise

Comfort and looks. Quite frankly the two things I myself as well as most women are concerned with in apparel. I myself have worn these shorts through countless races and training rides and recommend firstly to those looking for a durable tri short. Why the Carrea Low Rise? Here are some specs

  • Carrera™ Skin– a nylon/spandex blend that is lightweight, breathable, quick-drying and keeps its support and fit, even when wet. (I could barely even tell my shorts were damp after the swim).
  • Low-rise – Not going to dig into your hips.
  • One-piece seamless tri pad- No surprise seam that you’re going to find.
  • Contrast Microlock Stitching
  • Drawstring Elastic Waist with Wide Band –This is a great feature that keeps a possible muffin top at bay.

All around fantastic short. Below is a shot of me in a recent race sporting the De Soto Carrera Low Rise’s and bringing home the medal. Coincidence?

FRS Soft Chews Review

FRS has come out with these tasty soft chews, which encompass a blend of vitamins and antioxidants aimed at giving you a nice boost during training or racing. Amongst the ingredients in the chews is a flavanoid called Quercetin, which is naturally occurring in nature. Quercetin is found in many vegetables and fruits, serving many benefits, (mos important in the case of training and racing) an anti-inflammatory effect, as well as extending your body’s natural adrenaline. Per FRS’ Website on Quercetin: “Its incredible benefits were first discovered by scientists searching for a way to give chemotherapy patients more energy. In further studies, Quercetin has been clinically proven to boost your immunity while raising your levels of focus, energy, and fitness. It works by triggering your cells’ ability to produce more real energy.”

In comparing antioxidant levels amongst berries vs FRS Chews:

Per 1 serving, there’s 2X the amount of antioxidants as a serving of blueberries, 6x the amount of one serving of raspberries, and 7x the amount of a serving of apples.

The individually wrapped chews (perfect for on the go travel) come in 4 tasty flavors: Pomegranate Blueberry (my favorite), Pineapple Mango, Orange, and Lemon Lime.

Perfect on the go energy source! Get them at One Tri.

TYR Competitor Triathlon Apparel Line

TYR has debuted a new line this year called the TYR Competitor Line. The line of tri shorts as well as triathlon singlets were designed particularly for comfort so that athletes could reap the benefits of their hours spent on the road training. What’s so great and different about this line? Let me explain….

Beginning with the TYR singlet, I’d like to note the fact that it’s white. No other company makes a top for women in this color. Why white? I get asked by countless people in the shop for white tops in general. After 4, 5, 6, hours on the road you’ll understand why a black top (in pretty hot weather mind you) will feel most certainly warmer. Beyond the fact that it’s white, it still offers 50 SPF and UV Protection. It conveniently has a zipper pocket on the back to store your necessary nutrition (my favorite part about the top, other than it being white). A front zip can be found on the front of the top, which is again perfect for adjustability in warmer weather.

On to the short..I realize that I have raved about the De Soto Carrera in a previous post. The only thing the De Soto Carrera tri short is missing is a decent tri pad. The Competitor Tri Short features the newly designed and advanced TYR Tri-Pad to help with even weight distribution and chafing, as well as irritation prevention. It’s hard to find a decent tri pad that’s perfectly in the middle of not-too-bulky-like-a-diaper, but still offers some padding. Fleece liners don’t quite cut it for me after miles 30 or 40. Another note-worthy addition of this short is the gripper. It is lined with a silicone beading, which keeps the short from sliding up and down, while leaving you WITHOUT irritation and sausage legs! A zipper pocket is also featured on the back of the short to store even more of your goodies. The shorts come in both a 6″ or modest 8″ inseams.

Zoot Conduit Wetsuit Review

I had the joy of swimming in the Zoot Conduit wetsuit, (formerly known as the Synergy), last weekend in an ocean swim. Quite frankly, after experiencing superior range of motion and essentially feeling like Gumby, I came to the conclusion alongside my co-worker that there really shouldn’t be any other triathlon wetsuit on your radar in this price range. That’s a bold statement coming from somebody who comes from a strong swim background and has swum in some of the best wetsuits on the market.

Here are some factuals on the Conduit as to why I most likely came to this wetsuit conclusion:

The tri wetsuit is a combination of 5mm, 4mm, and 1.5mm. What importance is this? The 5mm in the body gives you supreme buoyancy while the 1.5mm in the arms and shoulder makes for unsurpassed flexibility. The grade of neoprene is c39 with scs nano coating, which is on the higher end grade of materials. GLIDEflex panels can be found around the center of the chest where the arms stem away from your sternum, as well as down the ribs and continuing down the side of the legs. This feature is specific to this wetsuit, and one of the reasons I felt like I could move so well. The paneling allows for easy stretch and give where the limbs branch out from the core, allowing for free flowing movement.

Zoot has won me over with this suit. Perfect solution to upgrading your entry level wetsuit.

Get the Zoot Conduit Tri Wetsuit at One Tri.

SaltStick Review

With all the nutritional products on the market, we as triathletes are often left confused with what we really need. Between balancing carbohydrate consumption, calorie counting and protein intake, it’s easy to see why sodium can be an tricky monster. Not enough and you’re cramping, too much and you can easily end up in the medical tent.

Let’s look at when you really need additional salt and why SaltStick is clearly genious. Any time you’re racing or training longer than an hour you’re sending your body into some kind of (larger or smaller, depending) salt depletion. Longer than three hours, you’re at a definite depletion and it might be time to consider a salt supplement. So what’s in a SaltStick Capsule? Isn’t it just table salt? NO. Per Salt Stick’s webpage, it’s the combination of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and chloride which all aide in assisting with crucial roles in muscle contraction, relaxation, and performance. Without them, our muscle function will be inhibited to function properly. So how much salt are you actually losing? A whopping 400-1,000 mg per hour (heat, humidity and body size considering). Salt Stick notes to take 1 capsule every 30-60 minutes. This is very dependent upon how much you sweat. If you find a white residue that seems to be dried on a lot on your training clothing you’re most likely a heavier or saltier sweater. Training in harsher weather conditions will most times often warrant needing a higher salt and sodium intake particularly due to heat stress.

I myself was having a very difficult time with fatigue and nausea, and found out I was a heavy sweater and was losing large amounts of salt during my long rides. Once you get up to the half ironman and full distance, Salt Sticks are going to become a staple in your nutrition. Please be sure to follow all of their advice when taking salt tablets.

Nutrition Facts

De Soto Carrera Tri Shorts

Other than the obvious aesthetics of tri shorts, it all ends up coming down to how comfortable we are. Females in particular tend to be far more concerned with this, and when talking about a tri short, the Women’s Carrera Tri Short tends to be the favorite. Maybe I’m a little bit partial to the short, seeing as how it’s the only short I wear for racing and training (even for the Ironman), but when it comes to the fit, it’s designed like no other short. Here is my short Carrera Tri Short Review.

The primary feature of the short that separates itself is the wide-banded waist, which can either fit as low rise or right above the hip, depending on which model you choose. What makes this so important? The last thing you want with your triathlon short is for the waist band to be leaving awfully pretty indents in your stomach that dig into your waist. This isn’t an issue with the Carrera. The band is soft and wide enough to sit comfortably around your hips.

The actual fabric of the short (Carrera™ Skin ) is made up of a nylon/spandex make-up which is breathable, moisture-wicking, and lightweight. There aren’t any surprise seams that you’ll find in the short 30 or 40 miles into your ride, either. The pad (although thin) is seamless, and makes for a comfortable run when off the bike. The shorts come in various shades and lengths (inseams varying from about 5” to 8”). The Carrera is feminine, comfortable, and affordable…and to reiterate, my personal favorite.


If you are looking for the men’s version of the De Soto Carrera Tri Shorts then you find them here: Tri Shorts

About author (added by editor): WorldofTri3 is a woman triathlete who has competed in distances up to Ironman. This is her review of the De Soto Carrera Tri Short. If you have questions or comments please leave them below.

Orca S3 Wetsuit Review

Out of any entry-level wetsuit that I help fit customers into in our shop, the Orca S3 tends to be the top choice. With the price alone drawing customers in at a low $198, the fit of the suit becomes a larger deciding factor. Many suits out there on the market come with a “performance-type fit”. Ask any woman (or man for that matter) that don’t seem to fall into one of the charted categories, or with a simply curvier figure, and they’ll tell you that most suits just don’t fit right. Orca Wetsuits, however, tends to fit varying body types.

Beginners, or those newly stepping into the neoprene as a swimmer, will benefit from the quality of materials found in the S3, of which are often only found in mid-range wetsuits. The suit features 5mm in the core which aids in additional buoyancy as well as balance. It’s also designed with a 2mm Quadrastretch shoulder panel as well as 2mm QuadraFlex underarm panel help to aid in maximizing your range of motion while leaving your upper body feeling not too constrained (which tends to be a much heard complaint from triathletes).

Additional reasons this suit is a top seller:

• Full Smoothskin neoprene coverage across shoulders
• Excellent levels of buoyancy, flexibility and thermal protection
• [Lining] [Rest of body] Powerstretch
• Hydrolift Body Panel
• Hydrostroke Forearm Panels (Increases power in catch phase of stroke)
• Speed Transition Panels
• Flexiseal Neck (Tight enough to keep water out and not feel suffocating)

If you’re new to triathlon wetsuit world, and looking at your options, this is a suit that’s certainly worth another look. Price, fit, and flexibility. All three things that triathletes are concerned with. The Orca S3 boasts all three, and at first glance, would never appear in a class of entry-level.

More links:

Fuel Belt R2O Revenge Hydration Belt

Fuel Belt has become more innovative with their newly designed hydration belt. With new features taking after the Helium Belt, the R20 Revenge offers molded holsters to take your bottles in and out of with ease with one hand. As compared to the elastic-band holsters of the alternative, this new design is going to make our lives as a triathlete much easier. Nothing’s more irritating than your nutrition not being easily accessible, and these easy-to-grab holsters will take that problem away. These belts are key when you’re putting in the long miles out there on the run and need the hydration. The belt also comes with a convenient pouch to hold your gels and nutrition (about 4 gels to be exact). This belt is a one-size fits all, so not to worry on guessing which belt size you are. The Revenge also conveniently comes in a multitude of electric colors to match all of your swag. The belt is a necessary addition to your plethora of training accessories.

Triathlon Short Vs. Bike Shorts

“What’s the difference between tri shorts and bike shorts?”, “Why do I need tri shorts?”, “What are tri shorts?”

Working for a triathlon company, I get asked these questions quite often. Three distinct items differentiate tri shorts from bike shorts:

  1. Function: Running and Swimming versus Bike Riding
  2. Construction: How the short is designed
  3. Price: Which is more expensive? It really depends on what quality product you are going to pick.

Function: Whether or not you’re really going to need that diaper of a pad….

Bike shorts often come with the notion of having a “diaper-like” pad. This is based upon the fact that the padding (chamois) in a bike short is much thicker, as well it covers a wider surface area of the short (the pad reaches higher in the front, as well as the back for more cushion support). So why would you need a thicker pad as a triathlete? Simple. If you plan on logging in some serious training miles (let’s say beyond 20 or 30 mile rides) a thicker pad will eventually become a necessity. However, a biking short is just that: made for biking. A short with such a cushion would not be functional to run and swim in.  The bike short is designed for longer training rides. Thus, the need for tri shorts that have thinner pads designed with consideration for running and swimming in.

Construction: Tri and bike shorts have different design features. As previously mentioned, there’s the distinct difference of a thinner chamois in a cycling short but what else separates the two?

  • length:  A tri short tends to be shorter in length (a good 2-3 inches depending on the style). This difference is even more noticeable in some women’s styles.  Triathlon shorts generally range around 6” to 10”.
  • moisture wicking: A tri short is also designed to wick moisture, meaning they’re going to keep much drier and won’t absorb nearly as much water as a bike short. This in large part comes from the difference in the pad
  • shape: The actual shape of the shorts and chamois is designed with running in mind. Its shape moves with you while running, and the pad doesn’t span quite as wide. The cushioning is generally slight, and light enough to become unnoticeable while out on the run (but I’ve found this to be quite subjective among different shorts matched with different people). With most bike shorts you will find the short to mimic the shape of your body in a sitting position. With most tri shorts you will find them to be straight in construction like most pants and running shorts.

Pricing: Cost differences

On average, you’re going to be looking at a slightly steeper cost for a cycling short.

Bike Shorts: More material and a thicker padding usually translates to a little bit more of a cost. So when should you spend the extra cash? When a thicker chamois and longer short can’t be compromised. For many people longer bike training days equate to riding in cycling shorts rather than tri shorts. In this case comfort is paramount and sometimes it’s just not worth the saddle pains.

Tri Shorts: Some tri shorts can get very pricey when you consider the materials, pad, compression, etc… Look to spend between $60 to $100 for a pair of current/in-season/up-to-date tri shorts from a reputable company. For the most part, you’re probably going to want to stick to triathlon shorts for race day and even many training days.

If you’re looking for a best seller as far as cycling short for comfort reasons, check out the De Soto 400 Mile Bike Short.

Need an all around great tri short? Check out the 2XU Comp Tri Short. Get both shorts at OneTri.com

Happy Training.

TYR Cat 5 Hurricane Wetsuit Review

TYR has arguably put themselves in a class of their own with the Cat 5 Hurricane Wetsuit. The technology and science behind this suit is simply genius. Let’s begin with what I noticed the instant I tried it on, which I’ve never felt in any other suit:

The 360° Core Stabilization System. What is this and why does it matter? This is a panel on the wetsuit which surrounds the abdominals, providing what feels like a tightening affect. This system allows for two things.

  1. One, optimal body position in the water and
  2. Two, the conservation of precious energy due to not having to constrict your abdominals nearly as much.

Free Range of Motion: The ability to not feel constricted around the neck as well as the arms comes paramount to most triathletes when looking into wetsuits. This goes to say, the flexibility and Free Range of Motion in this suit are unreal. This can be attributed to the use of Yamamoto SCS Rubber which happens to be the lightest and most flexible on the market.

The Form Fitting Wrist Cuffs keep the water out around the writs and the Quick Release Ankle Cuffs allow for the suit to slide right off your feet (which we all know is a real pain in transition).

To sum it up, this suit is going to move with you, not against you.  This isn’t your every day wetsuit to train in. But, if you’re looking for the highest end best performance race wetsuit, here it is.

If you want to try out the TYR Category 5 Hurricane wetsuit here are some options:

1. Buy it:

Click here for the Cat 5 wetsuit for men (full sleeve)

Click here to buy the Cat 5 wetsuit for women (full sleeve)

2. Rent it

Click here to rent the suit at OneTri.com. (As of this writing I don’t think any other store in the country rents the Cat 5.)

If you want to see all triathlon wetsuits that One Tri offers you can click here.