Chilly mornings, leaves changing color, and decreasing daylight hours
signal that the local triathlon race season is coming to a close.
Twenty-four of the twenty-five events on the 2009 FIRM Race Calendar
are done. And what a season it has been!
See you at the races!
Wendy and Bill
Quadmultisport, FIRM’s official bicycle mechanic and support vehicle, has moved to 1346 Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington on October 1. It’s just across the street from their previous location.
By Don Vescio, Vescio Multisport Performance Services
In a recent article, I looked at how moving to a shorter crank length could have a positive impact on power output by opening up hip angle while in an aero position. The idea is that by shortening crank length by x-amount and by raising aerobars and seat heights by the same amount, a rider can maintain his/her current aero position with less hip impingement. For those who are struggling to get into a lower aero position, reducing crank length enables a lower frontal position for the same hip angle. The concept is relatively simple:
Shortening crank length means that seat height needs to be raised in order to maintain the same overall extension of the leg. Once this is done, the rider can decide whether to raise his/her aerobars the same amount, thus opening hip angle and possibly enabling greater power generation, or to leave the aerobars at the same height, which will result in a lower, more aerodynamic position.
Selection of crank length is somewhat of a combined black art and science. There are many who support the proportional crank length argument, that crank length should be matched to a specific morphological characteristic, such as inseam length. For instance, Dr. Michael Fararri (who has some degree of notoriety for reasons other than his biomechanical analyses of cycling) recommends:
He then further refines the recommendations above by factoring in a femur/tibia ratio—that is, if “the ratio femur/tibia is superior to 1.13, it might be suggested a slightly longer crank (usually by 2.5mm) than the one indicated by the inseam measure.”
Finally, pedaling style needs to be accounted, too. Dr. Ferrari suggests that “rouleurs,” those who prefer to pedal in a seated position, might opt for slightly longer cranks, as opposed to those who climb out of the saddle (typical of lightly built climbers).
All of this can get overwhelming. There are, though, others who advocate a simple formula approach. Such formulas are based on the notion of an average femur length:
Inseam Length in mm x .219 = Crank Length
So far we have accounted for inseam length and physical morphology; we still need to account for predominate muscle fiber type. In very simple terms, there are two types of muscle fibers: Type 1, slow twitch (recruited during endurance events); Type 2, fast twitch (recruited during explosive, anaerobic events, such as sprints). Two basic principles need to be kept in mind. All exercise initially will recruit Type 1, slow twitch muscle fibers; if the event is long in duration and short in intensity, then Type 1 fibers might be all that is used for the entire session. Second , each athlete has a different proportion of Type 1 and Type 2 muscle fibers; research is inconclusive as to whether the proportion of Type 1 and Type 2 fibers is a genetic or acquired trait.
While a needle biopsy is necessary to determine with any specificity the fiber type of a specific muscle, athletes can gain a general sense of their fiber type ratios by performing the following test as outlined by Jason R. Karp:
An indirect method that can be used in the weight room to determine the fiber composition of a muscle group is to initially establish the 1RM (the greatest weight that they can lift just once) of your athletes. Then have them perform as many repetitions at 80% of 1RM as they can. If they do fewer than seven repetitions, then the muscle group is likely composed of more than 50% FT fibers. If they can perform 12 or more repetitions, then the muscle group has more than 50% ST fibers. If the athlete can do between 7 and 12 repetitions, then the muscle group probably has an equal proportion of fibers
What does all of this mean within the context of crank length selection? According to Dr. Ferarri,
In simpler terms, I recommend the following as a starting point:
In a future article, I will explore the final variable in crank length selection, which is cadence and foot speed.
Don Vescio, a cycling coach at Vescio Multisport Performance Services, has set numerous course records in cycling events in the United States and Canada. You can reach Don at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nutrition Periodization for Endurance Athletes by Bob Seebohar, MS, RD, CSCS, is a useful resource for people who are looking to match their nutrition to their current training focus. Just as an athlete’s physical training should vary throughout the year to allow the athlete to be in top shape for specific events, the athlete’s nutrition plan could vary to complement the physical training as it changes throughout the year. Plus in Nutrition Periodization for Endurance Athletes, the author provides the reader with the tools to develop his or her own periodized nutrition plan based on personal data.
By Elaine Vescio, Vescio Multisport Performance Services
Maybe you have been thinking about trying to lose weight as a way to improve your racing. Or perhaps you who have experienced gastrointestinal issues during long course events and want to explore ways to minimize the chances of that happening again. The fall and winter months tend to be the best time in the training cycle to lose weight and/or address dietary issues that may increase the likelihood of GI issues during training and racing. Part one of this Fuel Talk article focuses on losing weight; part two addresses GI issues and will be in the November issue of the FIRM Racing Newsletter.
Losing Body Fat
There are a plethora of weight loss approaches available. The approach that would be best for you depends upon a number of variables including how much weight you want to lose, any medical factors, genetics, metabolic issues, tolerance for hunger symptoms, and ability to address the psychological aspects that surround food. The purpose of this article is not to review the various weight loss approaches, but rather to discuss the basic principles of losing body fat and steps that may be taken to improve the probability of success with a weight reduction program.
Some basic principles hold true when it comes to losing body fat. Your body must be in negative calorie balance to lose weight, i.e. your body must use up more calories than you take in through food and drink. Specifically it takes a calorie deficit of 3500 calories to lose one pound. So if you maintain a calorie deficit of 500 calories each day for one week, you will lose one pound.
Creating a calorie deficit can be accomplished by decreasing the amount of calories you consume and/or increasing the amount of calories you expend. The calories you consume come from the food and drink you take in each day. The majority of calories expended come from three areas: (1) the amount of calories your body uses for basic functions like breathing, (2) the amount of calories your body uses for normal daily activities like your job, and (3) the amount of calories used by your body during workouts.
There are limits to the amount of body fat that you can lose in one week. Losing more than one to two pounds of weight per week means that you are losing muscle and/or water along with body fat. So if you don’t want to lose some of that muscle that you worked so hard to develop, keep your daily calorie deficit to between 500 and 800 calories.
Over the years, I have found the following ten tips to be useful when helping my athletes to lose body fat:
Part two of this article will focus on reducing you body’s dependence on glycogen for fuel. Look for part two in the November issue of the FIRM Racing Newsletter.
Elaine Vescio, a USA Triathlon Level 1 Certified Coach at Vescio Multisport Performance Services, has helped numerous athletes achieve their athletic goals. Elaine has a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Nutrition, and interned at Massachusetts General Hospital. You can reach Elaine at email@example.com.
Established in 2002, Zone Labs Inc. has quickly risen to become an industry leader in the development and sales of innovative, patented nutraceutical products. Located in Danvers, MA, the company is based on the vision of Dr. Barry Sears, a leading authority on the dietary control of hormonal response. Zone Labs combines cutting-edge technology with the latest scientific research to develop a wide range of performance products, including foods and dietary supplements. Every product produced and sold by the company has been independently tested and adheres to Dr. Sears’ research.
Zone has helped countless elite athletes find an edge. Zone athletes use Omega 3 fish oil and polyphenols to fight inflammation and recover faster. This summer Zone athletes have competed in some of the most grueling and challenging events in the world. Zoners have taken top spots in races ranging from the Tour De France to Ironman triathlons. Zoners Christian Vande Velde, Brad Wiggins, Andy Potts, Becky Lavelle, Matt Charbot, Morgan House and Lisa Bentley have all found success this season with the help of Zone products.
By Marc Saucier, Vescio Multisport Performance Services
This article is the first installment in a series about making your Ironman dream come true.
So, you’ve signed up to do an Ironman. Now what? The good news is that you have twelve months to get ready for it. The bad news is that you have twelve months to get ready for it.
The ever growing demand to “do an Ironman” results in entries selling out faster than a U2 concert, often within a few hours of registration opening the day after the race. For some races, like IM USA, the next year’s race fills up with on-site registrations at the current year’s event. It never even makes it to on-line registration! For those of you who haven’t registered for an ironman, spots are still available for Ironman Louisville KY as well as several European and Asia races. Community Foundation entries are still available for Ironman Lake Placid, Florida, Wisconsin, Utah, Idaho and Canada. Ironman Community Foundation entries involve an additional $550 tax deductible charitable donation for local charities in addition to the regular entry fee of $550. Go to www.ironman.com for more information.
As a result of races selling out quickly, most Ironman registrants have to commit to the race one year ahead of time knowing that a lot can happen in twelve months: jobs change, relationships start and end, injuries happen, finances collapse. A lot can happen that can derail your dream of finishing your first Ironman. On the bright side, now you have twelve months to put everything in place to make the dream come true. So focus on that aspect--twelve months to be perfectly prepared so that you may join the elite club of people called “Ironmen”!
With twelve months to go, many people figure there is plenty of time to get ready so why start now. It has been a long season, time to kick back and take care of those chores around the house that have been neglected all summer long. “I’ll start my training after the first of the year,” these procrastinators say. Well, January comes along and then it seems way too cold for the procrastinators to do any serious training. Preparing for an Ironman seems daunting so they keep putting it off and putting it off, and before they know it, the race is twelve weeks out and they haven’t done a thing to prepare. So the procrastinators rush out and find a “12 week to becoming an Ironman” plan, ramp up the swimming, biking and running, get injured, do the race anyway, and finish by walking the “last” 22 miles of the marathon, dehydrated, exhausted and in the medical tent. Yes, they finished, but was that really their dream race?
Others take the opposite approach. These eager beavers get right into Ironman mode for twelve months, pounding out 15 - 20 mile runs every week, 80 – 100 mile bike rides and 6000 yard pool sessions. Unfortunately they usually end up getting injured, fired, or divorced by race day. Yes, they may end up finishing, but again was that really the way their dream was supposed to unfold?
Whether your goal is to finish just under the seventeen hour time limit or to earn a Hawaii “IQ” spot, you should start today to make your dream a reality. Proceed in a well thought out and proven manner, but start your Ironman preparation today. Consider reading this article step one, and moving forward with the recommendations in this article as step two.
Your preparation needs to center around a plan that balances the demands of everyday life with the demands of training for an Ironman. Begin building this plan by looking at basic considerations such as:
After you address the basic considerations, then you can start thinking about the actual physical training. The initial three to four months of your “twelve month” plan should be spent working on your weaknesses. Whether it’s developing a more efficient swim stroke, generating more power on the bike or learning to run stronger out of T2, these first few months are the ideal time to go in maintenance mode on your strengths and concentrate on your weaknesses while keeping your whole training load and time fairly light.
An easy and objective way to determine your biggest weakness is to look for trends in your past race results. Are you typically in the top 20% in the swim and bike, but only the top 50% in the run? Or maybe it’s your swim or bike segment that lags behind. Making all three segments more “even” will go a long way toward your becoming a more “efficient” triathlete which is key to successfully completing an Ironman. A comfortable swim leaves you with plenty of energy for the bike, an efficient bike leaves you strong for the run, and a strong run means crossing the finish line with a smile instead of a frown from doing the Ironman “shuffle” for the last 15 miles.
After you have determined what areas to work on, become a “single sport” athlete. That doesn’t mean completely giving up the other events, but you want to go into your focused training sessions well rested and ready to go. Getting outside help is usually the most effective way to develop the expertise and skills needed to make improvements in your weakest sport. You can get help through coached workouts with your triathlon club or local health club, or better yet by signing up with a personal triathlon coach. The right coach can provide the technical instruction and guidance needed to help you improve your weaknesses as well as help you put together the rest of your plan for getting ready for your Ironman dream.
In the next issue of FIRM Racing, the IronDreams section will cover time management and how to find more time to train while actually improving your relationships, family life and job performance.
Marc Saucier, a USA
Triathlon Level One Certified Triathlon Coach at Vescio Multisport
Performance Services, has been a competitive triathlete for over
twenty-five years. He has competed in eleven ironman triathlons,
including three Hawaii Ironman World Championships. Marc can be reached
The drawing for the Vasa Swim Ergometer (Retail value $1899) will take place on Sunday, October 25, 2009 after FIRM’s Halloween Duathlon in Wrentham, MA. The person whose name is drawn must be present at the awards banquet to claim the swim ergometer. No exceptions or proxies, please!
Throughout the 2009 race season, people had the opportunity to earn entries by competing in FIRM’s multisport races.
Vescio Multisport Performance Services
Sign up for either the Vescio MPS Platinum Level Triathlon Training Service or Gold Level Triathlon Service by September 30, 2009 and get 20% off the first month’s coaching fee. To receive the discount, enter “FIRM20” in the appropriate space on the client sign-up form. This offer may not be combined with other offers.
Zone Labs offers a variety of performance products including foods and dietary supplements including fish oils, polyphenols, cereal, pasta, and meal replacement bars and shakes. Click here to get 10% off your Zone Labs purchase. Choose your products on Zone’s website, click checkout, and then click “submit” for the 10% to be deducted from your order.
FIRM Triathletes take 10% off your entire purchase at Wilderness Experiences. This includes any purchase of regularly priced in store items. This offer cannot be combined with any other offers or discounts. If you need an item ordered, we’ll remove any special order fees such as shipping. We are dealers of TYR, Aquasphere, and Cressi who are manufacturers of goggles and swim attire. And of course we are a specialty store for kayaking and scuba diving. Offer expires 12/31/09. Visit our website for more information: http://www.weu.com
Please contact us with any questions. 413-569-1287 or firstname.lastname@example.org