How to Transition like a Pro

By Laurel Wassner, Pro Triathlete

Most people know of triathlon as a combination of swimming, biking and running.  Knowing how to switch from one sport to the next is a crucial part of the race.  These transitions may be a small percentage of the overall time, but they can be the difference between winning or losing, or getting that Kona slot or missing out by a few seconds.  So, how do you go from swimming to biking and from biking to running as fast as possible?  Try these pro tips:

Transition 1:  Transition from swim to bike

-Scout out the transition area and know where your bike is racked.  Have you ever parked in a garage and then come back from shopping and lost your car and taking forever to find it?  Well, you don’t want that to happen in a race!  When you go to rack your bike the day before the race, pick out some landmarks and visual cues to help you navigate the fastest way to your bike.  For example, trees or signs.  Also, make note of how many rows of bikes you have to pass before getting to yours.  It can help to put a bright colored towel or shirt in your area or even on your handle bars. Make sure to do a practice walk through transition so you have this route in your head.

-Just like you practice swimming, biking and running, rehearse your transitions.  Organize and lay out your gear in practice and then do the same thing when you get to the race. Keep in mind that you may have less room when you get to the race site, so be flexible and adapt.

-While you are walking down to the swim start the morning of the race, make sure to take a moment to check out the swim exit and where you will be running to your bike. Keep an eye out for curbs you might have to run over or potholes / places you could trip.  And once again, visualize where you need to be when you are running out of the water.

-Some races offer volunteers to help you strip off your wetsuit. If they offer you help, take it!  Those things can be hard to get off.  One tip is to put sportslick or body glide directly on the wetsuit on the lower leg openings.  Also putting a little on the back of your hands helps getting the sleeves off.

-Rubber band your bike shoes to the bike frame like a pro.  The fastest way to get on your bike and start riding right away is to have your shoes already clipped into your pedals before you jump on the bike. Most triathlon shoes have a loop in the back that can be used to loop a rubber band from there to somewhere (a bolt or screw) on the frame.  You place your feet on top of the shoes and start pedaling and within the first few minutes slide your feet into your shoes and fasten them.  The rubber band will break. If you try this, practice it first!

Transition training can also be fun for everyone from the athlete to their support team…have fun training!

Transition 2:  Transition from biking to running

-Scout out exactly where the dismount line is.  You want to be ready to hop off the bike at the appropriate place and not get a penalty for going over the line.  Just like I mentioned above, do a walk through to navigate the best route to your bike stand.  For example, pass 7 rows and make a left.  If you used a bright colored towel or shirt – look out for it.

-Put elastic laces in your running shoes.  Huge time saver.  Also, roll your socks in to a donut shape so you can easily unroll them and slide them on.

-Have a bottle of XRCEL ready to drink.  Unscrew the cap and then lightly close it, so it will be quicker to drink.  Drink it as you are running through the transition area.

-Also, have a bottle of water with your things. You never know if you’ll come off the bike thirsty, or if it’s hot it can be handy to have it there to cool you down.

The most important thing about transitions is to stay calm. When you get out of the water, take a deep breath and think about your mental map to your bike.  If you get back to your bike and your things have been knocked around, stay focused and make sure you collect everything you need.  The more focused and calm you are, the more efficient the transition will be.

And, don’t forget to practice the details before the race!

5 Real life signs of overtraining or a need for a rest day

By Carrie Lester, Pro Triathlete and Coach

I am not a doctor, an exercise scientist, or any other scholar when it comes to identifying signs of overtraining or when we as athletes are simply in need of a few easy days. I am, however a coach and an athlete, and have years of experience racing as a professional athlete in my body and mind. It has taken a long time to recognize the clear signs that I am on the edge, and I see similar signs in athletes I coach as they are Age Group athletes managing work, kids, training, social commitments and basic life chores. These are my top 5 signs:

1. Mood.

This one for me is the screaming sign I am in need of some easier days.

Feelings of depression, anxiety, irritability, lack of motivation, low self esteem, low everything…it starts to become consuming. Why? Without getting into the science = HORMONES.  What we do places an awful amount of stress on our body and mind and eventually our hormones start flipping out. They control everything. When I find myself in tears for no apparent reason, its time for a rest.

2. Food choices.

Where’s the sugar?? I want it ALL the time. Hormones are out of whack, mood is down, what is going to make me feel better…SUGAR! Most of the time I eat a balanced, healthy diet. But when I am at a low point, I make bad choices. Then feel worse because I made the bad choice. And turns out it didn’t make me feel better.

3. Strength & Power.

I have none. Just deep fatigue. In any discipline I am fighting myself in whatever I do. My legs, arms, everything is heavy, and no matter how much time I give myself to “clear the pipes” in sessions it just doesn’t happen and usually ends in tears (a little over exaggerated but known to happen). 80% efforts are capped at 60% if I am lucky because I can’t go any faster, my heart won’t let me. Hills become mountains and I scramble up them.  The list goes on.

4. Sleep.

It’s restless. And not enough to recover and feel rejuvenated. I always wake feeling I want more and am usually in a pretty deep brain fog. Don’t talk to me until I have had a cold shower and coffee (which at these times you should try and avoid!)

5. The scientific signs.

As I said, I’m no scientist, but it doesn’t take one to know that what we do creates inflammation within us. At times, this will create inflammatory conditions that will show as red flags should you have blood tests or ASI tests done. THIS DOESN’T MEAN A DOCTOR PUTS YOU ON MEDICATION. I REPEAT, YOU DO NOT NEED MEDICATION. Most of these conditions WILL stabilize with the correct diet, rest and lifestyle. If they don’t, then you should seek professional help and consider other options.

If you start noticing any or all of these signs communicate with your coach (if you have one) and plan a few easy days until your signs start to turn around.  Note, I said easier days. NOT days OFF.  Sometimes taking full days off is not what we type A people need, but in extreme cases may be ok with doing so. Consider it a time of adaptation to come back stronger.

It’s important to recognize the signs and not take it out on others or ourselves. Don’t beat yourself up, but instead treat your body and mind to a few days of R&R. Eat well, sleep as much as you can, back the training off, take a mini break, go out with friends and have a good laugh. Your body & mind will thank you!

9 Ways to Stay Injury-Free this Triathlon Season

By Patrick Evoe

     If you’re a triathlete, you’re now moving from winter off season towards racing season. Your fitness is probably coming around and you’re really starting to turn the screws in training. Nothing will derail your progress faster than an injury. If you want to have a successful racing season, staying injury-free should be a top priority. Here, I want to give you some tips and ideas to keep you off the injured reserve and training and racing strong.

1) Keep up the gym work: It’s an old school mentality that strength work in the gym is only for the winter or “off season.” Most professional triathletes stay working in the gym year round now. Maintaining gym work as part of your training regime throughout your racing season will not only help your overall strength and muscle recruitment, but it will also help keep your stabilizing muscles strong, thus helping to prevent injury during your larger volume training.

2) Soft surface running: Elite runners know that the pavement is your enemy when it comes to injury prevention. You can help reduce your risk of stress fractures and other injuries from repetitive impacts by staying off of hard surfaces when you lace up your shoes. The more miles you can run on softer surfaces rather than concrete and asphalt the better. Dirt trails or roads are ideal for putting in the bigger miles, but there are other options to minimize your pavement time. Treadmills, grass soccer fields, and tracks are all other excellent options for running depending on the specific training session. If you’re faced with an area where pavement is your only option, always choose asphalt over concrete. Asphalt actually gives a little with each stride where concrete does not, so the asphalt road will provide better shock absorption than concrete, and thus less pounding. If you want to know how much “harder” concrete is than asphalt, one source I found had the measure for how much an object resists deforming (modulus of elasticity) for asphalt at 380 kpsi and concrete at 4500kpsi. The moral of this story is stick to the softer surfaces for your running miles to help prevent those repetitive stress injuries.

3) Maintain your body work: Body work is to training what flossing is to dentistry. We all know we should be doing it all of the time, but as soon as we get tired, it’s the first thing we drop. Then when you’re injured and go into a physical therapist, the first thing they ask is how much foam rolling and stretching you do. When you’re tired, the last thing you want to do is hop on the foam roll, but the reality is that keeping up with a body work regiment will help keep your body happy and healthy. Massages, stretching, and foam rolling are very effective at helping with injury prevention.

4) When in doubt, don’t – My uncle, who is a lifetime runner gave me some advice when I was a new runner. He said an old coach of his used to say that during a taper “when in doubt, don’t!” If you’re not sure if your should do something in training, you’re probably better off if you don’t do it. I like to extend that advice to injury prevention. I learned the hard way (time and time again), that if you feel tightness or a little pain coming on, stop the workout. It’s not worth risking a pull or strain just to soldier through a session and check the box on your training program. It’s better to bag that workout, take it easy for a day and come back to hammer through the rest of the training plan, than to be out for a couple weeks with a calf or hamstring pull. Trust me on this one, I was the worst offender of this during the first two thirds of my racing career. It took a lot of pulls and strains before I gained the wisdom to stop a workout as a precaution rather than let my motivation and ego keep me going during a workout.

5) Keep your warm-ups slow – Moving into your racing season, your fitness will naturally improve as you try to reach your peak. As you get fitter, you may feel urge to start out faster on your swim, bike and run workouts because your winter paces feel easier. Keep in mind that your body still needs a nice, long, and slow warm-up to get your muscles supple and malleable before you start hammering away. Always remember the common analogy that your muscles at the start of a workout are like a rubber band pulled out of the freezer. Stretch it too fast before it’s warmed up and it will snap. The same is true for your muscles. Keep your warm-ups nice and slow, even if the pace feels too easy.

6) You still need recovery blocks – You’re now counting down your final months and weeks to your key races. You’re fit, strong, and better yet, motivated. This is a great position to be in, but it can also be dangerous if you overreach. Some athletes want to build and build; add in more and more intensity. True, you need to add volume and/or intensity to create a training response, but if you don’t give yourself recovery blocks, or back off for a week here and there, you will increase your risk for burn out and injury. Remember, you never get stronger in a workout, only during the recovery!

7) Substitute a long bike for a long run – A great tip I learned from a former coach was to substitute an extra long ride for a long run periodically. We all get in the mentality of Saturday long ride, Sunday long run. It’s the triathlon way. While long runs are an essential piece to your training plan, they are also the single workout that most increases your injury risk. Now and then, my old coach would have a weekend where I didn’t have a long run. Instead, Saturday would be a medium-long to long ride (3-5 hours) with hard intensity. Then Sunday would be a long endurance ride of 5-6 hours. Just relaxed endurance pace riding. You still get a great cardiovascular boost from the double long ride but without the pounding of the long run. It’s also a great way to boost your cycling fitness. For the type-A triathletes who mentally can’t miss a long run, don’t worry, you won’t lose your run fitness by missing one long run. Of course you need to have a solid cycling base before you try this because you don’t want to end up with a cycling injury.

8) Stay on top of your hydration – As the weather warms up and your training load increases, you will be in a constant battle to stay hydrated. If you become chronically dehydrated, you increase your risk for several types of injuries; more specifically pulls and strains. Calf and lower leg pulls or strains can sometimes be attributed to chronic dehydration because the muscles are not as supple when they’re in a dehydrated state. Make hydration a priority throughout your season. It should be something you stay on top of before, during, and after all of your training.

9) Proper Fueling – A tired body and mind resulting from inadequate fueling can contribute to injury risk from fatigue due to mechanical failure or poor decision making from sub-optimal brain fueling. Athletes talk anecdotally about the dreaded bonk, but in reality, if you reach the point in a race or training where you’ve sufficiently depleted your stores to put you in that state, you’re putting yourself at risk of harming yourself. Help mitigate that risk by ensuring you keep your mind and body fueled using XRCEL’s extended release micro-gel technology as your fueling source throughout your training and racing.

After reading this, you probably recognize that injury prevention is primarily about risk reduction. As you think through your training, racing, and recovery, try to get into the mindset to mitigate as many of the injury risks inherent to our sport as you can. Setting yourself up to have your best race is as much about getting you to the starting line healthy as it is getting you there fit!

about getting you to the starting line healthy as it is getting you there fit!

Prevent Burnout: 5 Self-Care tips for Triathletes

By Rebeccah Wassner, Pro Triathlete and Mother of 3

Consistency is the key in building strength, fitness, and endurance in the sport of triathlon. The athletes who perform the best are the ones who can put in the hard work day in and day out. But how do these athletes manage to stick to the grind without burnout or injury? Recovery, otherwise known as triathlete’s self-care, is the key to resiliency in training and racing.

Here are 5 self-care tips for triathletes

  1.  Remember your Post-Workout Nutrition: drink an XRCEL as soon as possible after a workout. The glucose in XRCEL replenishes your body’s depleted post-workout glycogen stores very quickly and can speed up recovery.
  2.  Eat Fish Tacos (or the healthy meal of your choice) at the end of a day of training. Fuel your body with a good amount of nutritious calories to get ready for the next day. AthleteFood.com offers plenty of healthy meal options.
  3.  Go to Physio. Physical Therapy is much more than a place to visit if you are injured. Regular treatments like ART (active release therapy) and massage will keep your body in check. Do some research and find a PT center that focuses on Sports Performance, like Fusion in New York City.
  4.  Stretch. Steal away 5-10 minutes for some easy stretching or strength exercises. You can focus on a different area each time you do this. Try searching YouTube for videos to guide you through a mini ab routine or foam rolling session.
  5.  Feet up. You don’t need any fancy equipment like Norma Tec boots (although they are pretty wonderful, even Brook Shields thinks so) for this tip. Lay down and elevate your feet as much as you can between workouts. But if lying down isn’t an option, just take the easy step to sit instead of stand whenever you can.

How to Prepare For Hot Races

By Scott Defillipis, Pro Triathlete & Coach

Racing a triathlon in extreme heat (90 degrees Fahrenheit or above) is something that some human beings can handle naturally. These are generally smaller athletes with low sweat rates, athletes that live in warm climates and never have to go through a winter, or very efficient athletes (Miranda Carfrae is a great example). But for the rest of us that don’t go so well in the heat, we must prepare weeks before the event or risk having a melt down on the run…(trust me I’ve been there).

Here are some quick tips to help you get ready for a hot race:

-Get in a sauna! Most local gyms have one. If you don’t belong to a gym that has one, see if you can get a trial membership, even if just for a week.  You don’t have to camp out in the sauna, but spending 15-30 mins max, 2-3 times a week will expose you to extreme heat which will help you come race day. You can include this as a part of your weekly training routine if time and facilities allow or simply get in a sauna a few times 7-10 days leading into you race.

-Take a sweat test. Precision Hydration offers a free one on their webpage

Most athletes think they are taking on enough sodium but chances are they aren’t getting nearly enough as their body requires. For a heavy sweater like myself, even though I am small and efficient like Miranda, I loose so much fluid I have to consume 1000 mg of sodium an hour in hot races or its lights out by the time I get to the run

-To train in heavy clothes or not?  I have seen lots of athletes who live in cooler places, and who are preparing for Kona, overdress for training sessions during the lead up to the big race. Personally, I have never tried this nor do I plan to or instruct the athletes I train to do so…I prefer athletes to maximize their training in comfortable conditions rather than unnecessarily overheat, which could negatively affect your training program.  Having said this, if you have access to a warmer pool (82-86 degrees) to swim in before a hot race, this can be very beneficial for heat adaptation. Be sure to dial back your intensity a good 10-15%.

-Have you tried XRCEL?  XRCEL’s Patented micro-gels increase the release rate of glucose when body temperature levels rise during strenuous activity, which in return keeps the core body temperature down… When I first started using XRCEL, the man behind the science, Fred Sexton, had me try it while I was home in NJ during the Christmas Holidays. I was swimming at a local indoor pool which was quiet, warm, 84 degrees. I had a 2 hour swim scheduled, the same 2 hour swim I had done a week before, barely completing.  This time with 2 XRCELs, it was a breeze, and I even swam Lifetime Best Times.

-Preload on Sodium the day before. Take in an extra 1000-1500mg of sodium the day before in the form of added salt to meals, or simply take a few salt pills throughout the day

Come race day in the heat of the moment:

-Dial your effort level back 10-15%, forget your expectations.

-Don’t pay too much attention to watts on the bike (unless you are using it to hold you back).

-If you train with Heart Rate, then use it to keep your level of effort towards the low end of your aerobic zone.

-Forget pace on the run…Simply run your best effort in the given conditions.

-Use ice and sponges to keep your mid-section and lower back cool. If ice is not available then keep pouring water on yourself at each aid station. And don’t be afraid to walk through the aid stations to get the fluid in.

-Lastly, don’t forget your XRCEL- it helps to regulate your body temperature.  “Never Leave Transition Without It”.   

Happy Training and Racing!

Stay out of trouble, Turn up the Base: the Importance of Base Training for Marathon Runners.

By Patrick Evoe

     “I’m just working on my base for a while”

     “I’m just doing base miles right now”

We hear athletes saying these phrases like a broken record during the off season. I think sometimes athletes are saying it because they know it’s what they are supposed to say this time of year. The question is, when it comes to putting in the base miles, do they know why they are doing it, and are they doing it in the right way to gain the most benefit for their marathon racing. All phases and types of workouts have a specific purpose in your training cycle. I think sometimes base training is marginalized or over simplified because athletes don’t know its importance or how to incorporate it into their training cycles.

Base training usually coincides with your initial training period as you start your build towards your peak fitness. Athletes can spend 2-4 months during this phase working on their foundational fitness. What you do in training and how you do it during this phase directly impacts your peak fitness potential as you approach your key race. The base training is the time when you build your aerobic engine and efficiency. There are several physiological reasons why base training increases your aerobic capacity. It increases the number and density of cellular mitochondria, which produce energy. It also improves your capillary systems, or the tiny blood vessels delivering blood to your tissues and organs. Think of this as improving your cardiovascular system’s plumbing by increasing the number of pipes. When it’s time to do the more intense work, the increased volume of your pipes will allow more blood flow so you can go harder.

The second aspect of base training that many athletes lose sight of during this phase is functional strength. Not only do you want to increase your aerobic engine, you want to increase your functional running strength through both “on road” strength work as well as work in the gym. Putting both of these together will help your muscular endurance as you move into future training phases.

The more you work on your aerobic engine now, the greater capacity you’ll have to do harder sessions as you start working your other systems. The stronger you are as you start adding more intensity the more power or force you can produce. It’s a pretty straight forward concept. I’ve always liked the analogy of thinking of your fitness as a pyramid. The bottom of the pyramid is your base aerobic fitness. The next layer up is your strength and muscular endurance. As you move up the pyramid, you have your tempo work, threshold, and anaerobic systems. The larger base you have on your pyramid, the higher you can build it. The reason it’s called base training is because it truly is the foundation of your fitness.

During your foundation period, it’s also an excellent time to work on your training and racing nutrition. Because XRCEL is a newer product to the world of marathoning, you may not have had the opportunity to try it in your training and racing. Many athletes struggle with gastrointestinal (GI) issues during races from using gels and/or sports drinks. XRCEL’s patented micro-gel technology ensures that the glucose-loaded packets of calories are delivered in the right concentration, to the right place in your GI, and remains there longer to increase your body’s caloric absorption without upsetting your GI. In other words, during your base miles, its a great time to start experimenting with XRCEL as part of your exercise nutrition plan. Find the best formula for how many bottles of XRCEL per hour you like. Try drinking XRCEL before your sessions for increased energy during those workouts. You want your nutrition to be dialed in and spot-on come race day. The only way you’ll get to that point is to start working now and finding how incorporating XRCEL into your sessions works best for you.

Now that you understand what base training is and how it’s beneficial to your marathon training, let’s discuss how to incorporate it into your training to be the most effective. The aerobic component is best done by slowly increasing your mileage (both through frequency and duration) throughout your base phase, but doing most of that training at a low heart rate. This is best accomplished by establishing a heart rate ceiling. That’s your speed limit, keep your heart rate under that number. You’ll need to find your own aerobic threshold. There are a lot of articles and on-line references describing self-tests to establish your threshold heart rate. From your aerobic threshold, you can establish your training heart rate zones. Your base miles are best done in zone 2 which is your aerobic pace. During your base phase, the majority of your miles should be here. You should slowly and carefully increase your running frequency (runs per week) and total mileage in this zone. The more time you spend here, the stronger aerobic engine you’re building.

While most of your time should be done in this zone, that’s not to say you shouldn’t do any faster work. It’s good to do some work to maintain foot speed. The trick is to incorporate some faster efforts periodically without turning your run into a tempo run. You want to stay south of heart rate zone 3. Your goal is to avoid that “gray zone” or junk miles which is the feeling that you’re running pretty hard, but not too painful. The best way to maintain leg speed during your base period without training in the gray zone is to incorporate short fartlek efforts into your zone 2 runs. Try spacing out one minute hard efforts into your run, but allow enough time between each effort for your heart rate to come down and you still get time in zone 2. This will help when it’s time to start picking up the pace in your next training phase, your legs will still have some snap.

Now let’s talk about strength, but more specifically functional strength. This is not about how much can you squat or dead lift, but rather building total body strength that’s directly applicable to your running. During your base phase, I think it’s the perfect time to work on your functional strength. Too many runners think the base phase is all about slow long miles. You want to come out of this period strong and with a great aerobic engine so your body can take the intensity as you start adding those sessions later in the year.

 You can always work on your functional strength in the gym. One to three gym sessions per week, depending on the athlete and how much time you have will build a great foundation. You want to work on your core, plyometrics, major muscle groups, but also work on mobility and activation exercises. There are a lot of resources where you can learn specific exercises or routines to get the specificity for the most benefit. Don’t worry, I can tell you that you won’t get “too big” by doing gym work. That’s an antiquated fear that circulates around old school endurance athletes and especially runners. I can tell you for certain that all of the top professional and Olympic distance runners spend a lot of time in the gym working on their strength. Take some time to talk to your coach, trainers at your gym, or research for yourself to find an effective gym routine to work on your base strength this winter.

In addition to the gym, working on your functional strength while running out on the road or trails is one of the best ways to prepare for the coming marathon season and also to take your gym work and apply it directly to running. Remember that during this base period, you’re still working on your aerobic engine, so when you do any strength work in the field, the focus is on the muscle resistance and not on stressing your cardiovascular system. Try finding long hills that are not too steep and incorporate them into your runs. As you run up the hills, don’t focus on sprinting, but rather try to pick up your knees and really drive down and engage your glutes. I’ve found it especially effective on steeper sections to bound up, almost like you’re doing a jump from one stride to the next. Think of it as an over exaggeration of your normal running stride. To do this you’ll need to really slow down your pace and think of using your leg drive to propel you up as much as forward. You’ll feel the muscle fatigue building in your quads and glutes as you bound up the hill, but you’ll be able to keep your heart rate more aerobic than if you sprint up the hill like most impatient runners.

Another great way to incorporate functional strength into your base phase is to put in sets of plyometrics directly after a run. As soon as you stop your run back at your car or home, try going right into sets of squat jumps, single leg hops, double leg hops, bounding, walking lunges, and you can even throw in sets of jump rope. You’ll already be fatigued from your run, so you’ll need to really focus to keep your form and push to get the most out of this strength work. If you can incorporate uphill bounding and post-run plyometrics into your normal running to supplement your base work this winter, I think you will notice significant strength gain come springtime.

There is one more, little talked about, benefit to having a base phase as part of you your marathon build. I’m referring to the mental rewards. First, if you’re working on your base running as I’ve described here, you’re giving yourself a mental break from the intensity of tempo runs, track sessions, and other similar hard work. Even though strength work is challenging in its own right, it’s very different than that “I want to cry, this run is so hard” type intensity. Think of this time as important to recharge your mental and emotional batteries. You’ll need that mental energy as you start the big build to your key event. Execute your base phase correctly and you will be mentally fresh when you need to dig deep. The second mental benefit is that if you have a proper base training phase, you will have the confidence that you are stronger and have a better aerobic engine that ever before. You will know that because of this, your body will be able to handle a bigger work load for the rest of the year, setting yourself up for your biggest peak just in time for your “A” race this season.

10 Tips for Improving your Open Water Swimming

by Patrick Evoe

     The swimming portion of a triathlon is the triathlon discipline which gives many amateur triathletes the most anxiety. If you had a competitive swimming background before taking up triathlon, then you’re in the minority. For the rest of us, we took up swimming later in life and with that comes challenges. We do most of our swimming training in a pool, then on race day we plunge into the open water. This environment differs from the pool, requiring additional know-how to be able to thrive. As a professional triathlete, swimming was never my strength, so I had to study, practice, and learn the unique set skills open water swimming requires. If you’re looking to improve your open water swimming for next year, read through and incorporate my tips for your upcoming season.

1) Comfort – As you read on, you’ll notice that most of the content I present all relates to making you more comfortable in the open water. The swimming pool is a very controlled environment. The water’s visibility is pristine. The lines on the bottom of the pool keep you swimming straight. The lane lines prevent collisions with other swimmers. The walls and lane lines limit the amount of surface chop and waves. There’s no dangerous aquatic life. The water is usually a pleasant temperature. To most people’s comfort, you’re never more than a few meters from a wall where you can stop if you get in trouble. When you enter an open water environment, depending on the conditions where you’re swimming, you are encountering the exact opposite of all of those attributes of a swimming pool. If you’re used to this nice, safe, controlled space where you do all of your swimming, then it’s no wonder many athletes are uncomfortable when they swim in the open water. Everything you work on in your preparation for open water should include ways to make you more comfortable. The more comfortable you are out there, the better you’re going to swim.

2) Composure – First and foremost, you need to learn to keep your composure, even when it’s dicey. The environment and the competitors around you can lead to stressful situations. You first need to teach yourself to keep your composure. Trust in your swimming training and preparation. If something spooks you, you need to go into problem solving mode instead of panic mode. Don’t dwell on the fear or panic, focus on finding a solution, then move on. In my 10 years racing as a professional triathlete, I’ve had a lot of things happen in races from being stung by jelly fish to getting a black eye from being kicked in the face. You need to have the mindset to be able to stay calm and manage any situations that arise out there.

3) Nutrition – Before you train in the open water or race, you need to make sure you’re properly fueled. The main difference between here and training at a swimming pool, or your bike or run training for that matter, is that you won’t have access to nutrition while you’re swimming. Some athletes will keep a water bottle at the side of the pool to drink during swim practice, but once you’re out in a lake or the ocean, there aren’t opportunities to take on fuel or fluids. XRCEL is the perfect nutritional product to fuel your open water swimming. For a morning race, I make sure to have a bottle of XRCEL first thing when I wake up so my body can begin taking on calories even while I’m making breakfast. I make sure to have another bottle about an hour before the start gun, then a final bottle anywhere from 15-30 minutes before the start. This way, I’m continuing to top-off my fuel tanks with XRCEL. I know the extended release formula will fuel me throughout the swim. Then if it’s a triathlon, after the swim, as soon as I get on my bike, I begin drinking XRCEL to start filling my fuel tanks for the rest of the race. Make sure to think about your nutrition plan leading into your open water swimming and using XRCEL to get the most out of your performance.

4) Conditions – The open water swim environment can host a variety of different conditions that can affect your swimming, comfort level, sighting and visibility. Waves, surface chop, swells, rain, clouds, sun glare, murky water, aquatic life, water temperature, air temperature, salt water, wind, and currents will make each swimming venue different. Your best ally to dealing with these conditions is experience and scouting. The more you swim in different conditions, the more you’ll be comfortable. If you have a few days at a race venue before your event, it can be very valuable to take the time to scout out the conditions. Practice swimming in them. Try to swim as close to the time of day that your race will be so you can understand and prepare for lighting conditions. Talk to other athletes or local swimmers to try to learn as much as you can about the nuances of that swim venue. The more you experience and understand you have of different open water swimming conditions, the more comfortable (and faster) you’ll be on race day.

5) Sighting – Navigating in a pool isn’t even a skill discussed because it’s irrelevant. You have the black lines on the bottom and the walls and lane lines as you breath or in your peripheral to ensure you swim in a straight line. In a lake or the ocean, there aren’t any easy indicators to ensure you’re swimming straight or the most direct route. If you’re navigation is off, then you’ll swim further as you zig-zag your way around the course. The way to counteract your misdirection is to sight, or briefly look up as you swim along. The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to do this without breaking your stroke and slowing you down. You need to be aware that when you look up while swimming, your legs drop in the water, adversely affecting your body position in the water. This slows you down. If you can practice only raising your eyes as high in the water as you need while looking forward, you’ll maintain better speed. The more you practice, the more it will be come part of your stroke’s rhythm. The timing and looking forward will become natural. You’ll need to find out for yourself the best frequency of sighting for you. If you swim pretty straight naturally, you’ll sight less often. If your natural navigation leads you to and fro, you’ll want to sight more frequently. I found that sighting every six strokes works for me most of the time. When I get closer to a buoy or in a situation where more precise navigation is required, I tend to sight every four strokes.

6) Entry/Exit – Every open water swimming race will have a unique swimming start and swimming exit. Some races have “deep water” starts where you’ll swim to an imaginary start line (usually between two buoys), then tread water until the start gun. Some you’ll start in ankle deep or waist deep water. Others you’ll have a beach start where you run into the water and then start swimming. Take the time before the race to scout out and learn about the swim entry. How long will you run before it’s deep enough to dive and start swimming. Can you dolphin dive for a distance before you start swimming (a fast way to move forward with little energy; look up dolphin diving for more information). Are there sand bars where after swimming out, you’ll stand up again and run for a few yards? Are there waves, if so where do they break? If you can, practice diving under the waves so you’re ready on race day. Are there rocks or debris you need to be aware of if you’re running into the water. I once saw another professional triathlete actually moving rocks in the shallow water away from the path he wanted to run  into the ocean. Experiment if you’re faster running further into deeper water, or starting swimming earlier. All of these can affect the success of your race start.

The same goes for the swimming exit. How quickly does it get shallow? Are there stairs out of the water onto a dock? Debris or rocks you need to be aware of? If there are waves, study the break so you don’t get bashed swimming into shore during the race. If you have the time, learn the basics of body surfing. If you catch a good wave coming into shore, you can ride it in and gap your competitors. If you take the time to learn about and practice your swim entries and exits, you will give yourself and edge on race day.

7) Rubbing’s racing – There’s a great line from the movie Days of Thunder: “rubbin’s racin’!” Body contact with other competitors is inevitable in open water swim racing. In the pool, the most contact you’ll have is the occasional hand or arm slap from someone else if you’re both swinging your arms wide. In an open water race, there will be contact. Some will be intentional by others, but understand that most is unintentional. No one has black lines to follow like the bottom of the swimming pool, so no one (not even you) is swimming a perfectly straight line. You’re going to collide.  Also, because there is a tremendous energy and speed advantage when you draft off another competitor, it’s advantageous to be as close as possible to other swimmers in certain scenarios and positions. You’re bound to bump into each other. You need to be comfortable with that, know that even if you get bumped around, you’ll be fine. Sometimes it slows you down, but if it does, just keep swimming until you get your speed and stroke back. Try not to expend extra energy by “fighting back”. Sometimes if you can think quickly and maneuver to find some clear space, you’ll get right back into your groove. You need to think of open water as a contact sport, embrace it and just go with the flow.

In the summers, the group I train with does one open water swim per week. We practice all of the open water swim techniques I’m discussing here. One of the most valuable parts of that practice is when we get in tight groups and swim around, bumping, playing, wrestling, dunking, and messing with each other as we swim around the lake. It’s a fun way to get used to the contact and learn that even with some bumping, you’ll be okay.

8) Turns – There aren’t any aspects of normal pool swimming that prepare you for turning around a buoy in an open water swim. First of all, if you’re not alone in a race or practice swim, everyone spatially compresses from the sides as we all try to take a tight line into the turn to reduce the total distance. We also compress like an accordion going into a turn and then the pace picks up out of the turn much like car traffic. So you have everyone compressing from all directions going towards one point. This creates an inevitable melee as everyone fights for space. This is a skill that you’ll be better off if you can practice in a controlled setting before a race. In my training squad’s weekly summer swims we use floating docks as turn buoys. If there aren’t docks, we’ve had friends swim out 75-100 meters and tread water to be a human buoy. Then 2-5 of us will swim out to the turn and simulate a  race situation: trying to find the right line, fight for the best position, hold your own around the turn, then accelerate through the turn and get back into your groove. The more I’ve practiced this, the more comfortable I’ve become in races as it gets dicey. If you’re swimming in a group, having great turns can make or break you staying with your group or bridging up to the next fastest group ahead of you.

9) Drafting – Every triathlete and cyclist knows there is an advantage drafting on the bicycle. You gain an energy and efficiency advantage from the reduced wind resistance. Drafting is even more important (and it’s perfectly legal) in open water swimming. Water is 784 times denser than air, so even though you are traveling at a much lower speed swimming than cycling, drafting skills in the open water are critical. The first skill to master is drafting behind another swimmer, just behind their feet. The closer you are, the better the draft. You may even touch the person’s feet periodically, but as long as you’re not doing it constantly, you won’t annoy the lead swimmer. The farther you drift back, the less draft benefit you’ll get. It’s not easy to stay “on someone’s feet”. People don’t swim in straight lines, so you have to keep close tabs on the lead swimmer. I frequently sight and feel with my hands for the bubbles generated by the lead swimmers kick. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.

     Even better than sitting on someone’s feet, best drafting position is just off the leader’s hip, but this requires much more skill and practice. You will receive more drafting benefit when you “board short” someone. This named for board shorts swimsuits indicating that you want to tuck in between the leader’s hip and knee, the area covered by material in board shorts. You need to situate yourself tight to their body and you’ll see the biggest dafting benefits. This requires the most skill and control of your body and swim stroke. If your position or timing is off, you’ll lose the benefit from frequent colliding or swimming over one another. This is a great technique to practice with friends to see if you can get the hang of it.

10) Practice Open Water Races – I brought up earlier that my training squad meets weekly in the summer at a lake to practice every skill I discussed here. We practice our entries and exits by doing relay races from the shore so running in and out is part of your time with your team mates. We use docks as turn buoys or if none are around, have a couple friends swim out and tread water acting as turn buoys to practice our lines going into and out of turns. We practice as well the inevitable melee that comes with turns as well. We practice drafting, getting into tight groups, as well as the bumping that goes on when swimming close. Here in Boulder, we’re lucky enough to have several open water swim races throughout the summer. It’s fun to then take the skills we practice and apply them in a race situation without risking our performance in an “A” triathlon race. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll be when it’s race day. Make a point to practice and put yourself into open water race situations so you can be ready to go when it comes time for your goal race.

A Busy Mom’s Secret Weapon for Getting Through the Day

When I became pregnant recently, my professional athlete’s training load was greatly reduced, and along with it my consumption of XRCEL…or so I thought.

I quickly found that with my body working in overtime to grow a human, even the shortest of workouts demanded the proper pre- and post-workout fueling that XRCEL provides. And what surprised me the most is that on my off days of exercise, I was still reaching for XRCEL to power me through days of parenting while pregnant.

I started always keeping a bottle or two in my car, in case I started feeling low on energy while stuck in a traffic jam or if I needed a boost before going grocery shopping. Those may sound like easy tasks, but at 8 months pregnant with two other little kids to wrangle, it feels like running intervals!

I also now always keep an XRCEL in my purse. It has saved me a few times recently – most notably while touring elementary schools (with lots of stairs) for my older daughter and while chaperoning a pre-school field trip. 

 So my theory is, if it’s good enough to fuel you through a grueling 12 hour race, why not use it to fuel you through a (just as hard) day of parenting? 

Bec

Training on XRCEL Athlete Fuel (and a Special Offer)

While XRCEL Athlete Fuel is a fantastic fueling source for your races it can be just as valuable of a tool in training.  Carrie Lester and I have been using XRCEL regularly for 2 going on 3 years now. At first we came on as ambassadors to help us in our races but we quickly found that XRCEL was helping us get through some really tough workouts in which we were going in under fueled for a variety of reasons….

Prior to using XRCEL I very rarely would use a GEL in training.  Between the consistency of traditional gels, and the goopy mess they can leave on your hands and face, I saved them for races only…But with XRCEL, it’s easy ready to drink bottle packaging, and liquid consistency, I found it much easier and cleaner to consume.

So, when do we use it in training? Most don’t realize this but many triathletes are walking Zombies because we are running low on calories. This is especially the case when an athlete is in the middle of a high volume training block.  In our case we typically swim 4-5 days a week first thing. Most days it’s a coffee and off to the pool. I typically save breakfast for post swim workouts mostly because of the lack of appetite in the morning.  For any swim session longer than 1 hour I take an XRCEL mid swim.  I can’t tell you how many early morning swims have been turned around after taking an XRCEL just before starting the main set….

Days when we run first thing I use the same principle of anything over an hour I either take an XRCEL before starting a run or I carry one with me that I’ll take after 30 mins of running.  Somedays if I’m dragging a bit or feel I didn’t eat enough the day before I’ll take an XRCEL before a run and then also carry one with me.

Longer bike days which are typically midweek and on the weekends, I’ll have breakfast but as mentioned if I don’t have much of an appetite I’ll take an XRCEL before rolling out for my ride.  Then typically take 1 or 2 more with me that I’ll carry in my jersey pockets to take as I need.

On brick session days I’ll normally have 1 XRCEL before heading out for my run, simulating what I do in races, consuming 1 bottle in T2 from Bike to Run.

Some of the other ways we like to train on XRCEL are for late afternoon or early evening sessions. Let’s say for example we have a double run day or a day in which we ride in the morning and come back in the evening with a run. These days will be a bit lighter on the lunch so that we aren’t feeling bloated or running on a stomach full of food.  On these days I can feel that I am a bit hungry and if I didn’t have a PM Session I’d have a much bigger lunch, so to insure I don’t crash and burn mid workout I’ll take and XRCEL before starting the workout.

So, as you can see, we are typically consuming at least 1 XRCEL per day to keep us topped in order to maximize our training days.  You might be asking yourself how we keep up on our supply of XRCEL?  Well, every month we get a delivery of 2 big boxes each filled with 36 bottles of XRCEL, 1 for Carrie and 1 for me.  If you are interested in signing up for automatic shipments of XRCEL please send an e-mail to Customerservice@XRCEL.com and the XRCEL team will work with you to get set up. Feel free to use our code SDXRCEL to get a 15% discount.

Thanks for reading and we hope this little bit of fueling strategy will prevent you from running on empty while you are pursing your athletic endeavors

Yours In Sport!

Scottie D.

Incremental Gains to Make Big Leaps

by Patrick Evoe, Professional Triathlete

Now that winter is upon us and your racing season has wound down, you’re probably looking forward to next year’s racing. No matter if you’re a swimmer, cyclist, runner or a triathlete, now is the best time to start planning how you intend to improve your performances next year. We all want to get faster, but that doesn’t happen on its own. Even if you have a coach, it’s your responsibility to take charge of your performance. We’re all looking for that breakthrough race or season. Have you thought through how you will make that happen?

Making a big leap forward isn’t always about training more or training harder. It certainly can help, but rather than shooting for the grand slam, to use a baseball analogy, why not instead look to “Moneyball” your performance. If you’re not familiar with the book or movie based on that book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis, I’ll summarize what you need to know and how it’s applicable to endurance sports. In the true story, the General Manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team takes one of the worst teams in MLB to being one of the best teams, not by acquiring the best and most expensive players, instead they identified the cheaper players who got them the small gains, the base hits. By building up all of the base hitters, rather than players who swing for the fences, the team became a force with which to be reckoned. Now to your sport, if you focus on making small incremental gains in many different areas, they can add up to make a massive improvement in your overall performance. Hitting a ton of singles can add up to a lot more points than a couple home runs.

To do this, you need to take a step back, break down your sport into its fundamental elements, and look there for smaller areas where you can make changes where each results in incremental improvements. You will need to do your homework, but hopefully, here, I can give you some ideas that will start you on your way. I’m giving you ten ways to make small gains to make next year your big leap forward!

Equipment – One of the quickest and easiest ways you can shave off your race times is through equipment improvement.

through  equipment improvements, especially in cycling. Luckily for us, the industry and enthusiasts are always researching and developing new ways to get faster. Even better for us, they continue to offer new equipment or publish how to modify our existing equipment for “free speed.” Your only barriers to making gains for next year in this area are your budget, taking the time to do the research, and your willingness to make equipment changes. First, you need to decide how much money you want to spend to get faster, then you need to research where you can get the “biggest bang for your buck” when it comes to purchasing or upgrading equipment. Most upgrades relate to making yourself and equipment more aerodynamic, lighter, or reducing the friction of your bicycle’s drive train. You can invest in race wheels, aero-helmets, bike frames, aero water bottles, ceramic bearings, low friction race bike chains, an aero sleeved race suit, just to name a few.

Not all equipment changes cost the big bucks, something as simple as changing the positioning and set-up of the water bottles on your bike can make you more aerodynamic and thus save you time over your race. One industry website I’ve found helpful for researching equipment is www.aeroweenies.com. Spend some time on the website reading their reviews, data, and explore their links to other useful resources.

One of the lower-cost improvements to shave time off is through faster racing tires for your bike. Every tire and tube combination has a certain level of rolling resistance that you have to overcome to move your bike forward. There are faster and slower tires, each costing a certain number of watts. The slower tires are eating more power away from the watts you produce from your pedaling. Check out www.bicyclerollingresistance.com. This site tests, reports, and ranks a large number of tires. A couple years ago, after some research, I found that just by changing my race tires, I could save up to 8 watts. To put that in perspective, I may train for a whole year to hold 8 watts higher in a race, but I can make myself that much faster instantly with the cost of two new tires. If you’re willing to make some changes, chances are, with some research and investment, you can engineer time off of your next race just through your equipment.

Nutrition –  The next most important area is nutrition. In the sport of triathlon, athletes often refer to race nutrition as the “fourth discipline” after swimming, biking, and running. To be honest, I’ve seen poor race nutrition result in more bad races than lack of fitness.  Having an optimal nutrition plan is critical to successful performance. Don’t limit yourself only to race nutrition. Think also about your fueling during training and recovery. If you can train harder and recover faster because of what you’re putting in your body, then you’ll get faster, it’s that simple. In a race situation, if you can take in more calories, or absorb more of the calories you’re taking in then you’ll have more energy during the race. That’s where a superior nutrition product like XRCEL Athlete Fuel can help. Because you’ll absorb more of the right fuel and calories when using XRCEL, versus conventional sports drinks or gels, you’ll have more energy to spend on the course. Now is the best time of year to make changes to your training and racing nutrition so by the time you’re in big training mode and race season, you’ve dialed in your improved nutrition plan.

If you look at the combination of equipment and nutrition this way you’ll get a good idea of what I’m talking about – You can have a super car, like a Ferrari, but if you put low octane gas in it, it won’t perform optimally. Think of yourself as the owner and driver of that super car. The combination of great equipment and great fuel is the under-pinning of great performance and helps to get the most out of all of those long training sessions.

Technique – Each endurance sport has its own unique movements. The timing and manner by which your body engages muscles, coupled with the positioning and angles of your limbs greatly impacts the power your body produces. There are always technique improvements you can make in each sport. Unless you’re a world record holder, you can make improvements. You don’t necessarily need to completely break down and rebuild your running form or swim stroke to create a benefit. Try focusing on one small improvement in each discipline. Stay focused on that one item until it’s ingrained in your technique.

Bike Position – The way you sit on your bike can hurt or improve both your power output and your wind resistance. Small changes to your bike position can lead to gains on the race course. During my off season is the time I play around with my bike position to see if I can make small gains. You can work with a professional fitter, or if you have a decent awareness of your own body you can try to make changes yourself. I once had a professional bike fitter raise my saddle to make it “perfect” by the numbers. Over time, I found I just couldn’t push the same power in that position, so I lowered my saddle a little. By doing this, I found I could engage my glutes more in my pedal stroke and produce more power.

On the aerodynamic side of your bike position, most athletes try to lower the front end (think handlebars) so they’re more aerodynamic. This can help, but it’s not the only place that can lower your drag in the wind. Look at your elbows, shoulders, and head. Think about the shape that your body presents to the wind. Yes, being lower helps, but if you can be narrow, that’s just as important. If you can bring your elbow pads closer together, you’ll improve your profile. Focus on shrugging your shoulders and tucking your head down (while still looking ahead). Instantly, you’re more aerodynamic. It’s not comfortable at first, but the more you practice and train doing these things, you’ve found more “free speed.”

Discipline – Let’s face it, what we do is hard. We all have a tendency to gravitate towards certain habits while training and racing that don’t help our performance because they represent the path of least resistance. If you make the effort to have the discipline to fix or improve some of these habits, performance gains will naturally follow. In running, I found if I don’t focus, I tend to tense and shrug my shoulders. If I concentrate on relaxing my shoulders, that loosens up my body and thus I expend less energy. In cycling, the most obvious example is staying in the aero-position. When you are not tucked into your aerobars, you are sacrificing a lot of aerodynamic drag. This translates into lost speed. The more time you spend in your aerobars, the faster and more efficient you will be. I see countless athletes sitting up in races, just wasting their energy and speed because they’re not in their aerobars. This is nothing but being lazy. Maybe they’re bored or perhaps their backs get stiff from being in the bars too long? Well, that means they’ve been lazy in training and haven’t spent enough time training in the aero-position. Or they’ve been lazy and haven’t worked on their bike positions to be comfortable in the aero-position. You need to have the discipline to spend hours and hours in that position in training if you expect to be able to do it on race day.

Mobility – You will become a better swimmer, biker, and runner if you can improve your body’s ability to create more power through mobility and muscular engagement. By working these areas, top level athletes have discovered and implemented these techniques into their training with great success. A friend of mine who is also a subject matter expert in this area has posted a number of how-to videos on his YouTube channel so you can learn how to do this. Lawrence van Lingen has created movements/exercises to work on your mobility. Take some time to watch his videos and incorporate his exercises into your training, gym, or stretching routines. I can tell you that every athlete I know who’s done this has seen improvements in one way or another. You can find his YouTube channel by searching his name or his user name: lorenzomojo1.

Strength – You’ll hear athletes every winter talk about spending time in the gym to work on their strength for next season. There can be massive benefits to your swimming, biking, and running speed by working in the gym. But is what you’re doing in the gym going to translate into performance improvements? Take time to do some homework to make sure you’re doing the right exercises, weights (heavy/light), sets, and repetitions to benefit your racing. There are a lot of great resources on-line if you spend some time to research. You could spend the same amount of time in the gym this year versus last, but see bigger improvements just by making sure what you’re doing translates directly to your sport.

Focus – Are you focused on getting the most out of each training session? Do you utilize your workout time to the maximum benefit? The best athletes I know are focused when the stop watch is going to get the most out of their training time. Show up on time, be the first one in the pool, and be serious about your session. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or joke around, you can do both. You can be relaxed and enjoy what you’re doing, but be focused at the same time. Concentrate on getting the most you can out of every session. Think about the purpose of that workout, then zero in on it and execute. This is a matter of mind set. If you have two athletes doing the exact same training plan and workouts, yet one is more focused than the other, the focused athlete will get more out of each training session and will see bigger performance improvements over time. Don’t just go through the motions of the workout. Make the commitment to yourself that you’ll be more focused in each session. You’re already spending the time, get the most out of it.

Transitions – Have you been racing as a professional in the fast and furious ITU Olympic-distance draft-legal racing for the last decade? I’m guessing none of us have. If that’s the case, I can pretty much guarantee that you don’t have the perfect swim-to-bike and bike-to-run transitions in a triathlon. There is free time savings waiting for you if you can streamline how you move from one sport to the other. Remember, the race clock doesn’t stop between each sport. You may train all year to take a minute or two off of your swim time, but you could take that much time off of your transition with a couple hours of work.  (Transition is an optimal time to quickly grab an XRCEL to top off … and GO.  In fact, back to my car analogy, the Pit Crew of the PENSKE auto racing understands the urgency of optimal efficiency, having less than 11 seconds to turn over a car.  That’s why they choose XRCEL to have a steady on-demand source of energy when they need it most. When there is no room for error they go with the best fuel for the pit crew just like they use the best fuel in their cars.)

Have you mastered the flying mount or flying dismount? That means getting on or off your bike without stopping running. Watch some

YouTube videos or talk to friends who know these techniques. Then go to a safe place and teach/practice yourself. Can you take your wetsuit off in a couple seconds? Practice sliding it off. You can cut a few inches off of the bottom of the wetsuit on each leg so that the hole is a little bigger and will slide off your leg and over your foot easier. Do you run with socks? I found that I can run up to and including a half-marathon without socks in a race if I slather the insides of my shoes with Vaseline before each race. No need to take the time to put on socks! For my second transition, I’ve learned to just take off my bike helmet, slide on my shoes and run. Everything else, putting on hat/visor, putting on sunglasses, putting electrolyte pills in my pocket, putting on my race number, etc, I do while I’m running on the course. Doing all of that while moving forward on the course instead of standing still in transition is free time. A little time thinking through how you can improve your transitions translates directly into real time savings in the race.

Weight – Most athletes know that they should lose a few (or many) pounds. If this is you, then do it this year. Stop talking about it and make it happen. Every pound you lose improves your power-to-weight ratio for both cycling and running. The more weight you lose without losing power is free speed. I’ve always heard that every pound lost is 1-2 seconds per mile improvement in your running speed. Would you like to run 10-20 seconds per mile faster without training harder? It’s “free speed” if you’re willing to lose those 10 pounds.

I’ve covered a lot of ground here, and in all honesty, I’ve only scratched the surface in each of these subject areas. You can see that if you just made a small improvement in each of these subjects over this winter, when race time comes and you add up all of those gains, you are setting yourself up for a big performance leap forward.