Wednesday, October 18, 2006

How to Handle Waves

Entering waves in at the start:
The key to making it through waves is to not get caught where the wave crashes, duh! The hard part is knowing when and where to be to avoid it. This is tricky because a wave is moving so you can get pulled into a break that throws you into the crashing white water. Anticipation is key here.

When wave breaks are decently spaced apart take your time to watch the time between breaks. Also watch for where the waves are crashing because they will generally crash in the same general area. They won't always break and crash in exactly same spot so it's good to learn how to read a wave. The best way to learn this is to be around and watch watch waves. (If you don't have the option to watch and practice around waves keep reading and I'll give you some tips.) If you swim like mad between crashes you may make it through without getting tossed. This takes a certain amount of experience and good judgement.

When you can't avoid a breaking wave you'll want to dive into the wave towards the ocean bottom and grab the sand until you feel the wave pass. Then you pop out and swim past the wave to calmer water. It's very important to note that you don't want to get caught right where the waves are crashing. You'll want to dive a little before or a little after it crashes. Otherwise you'll get caught up in it and tossed. If you feel like you're being lifted into a wave even just a little play it safe and dive. It's always safer to dive into the wave rather than to try and swim over it and find out after the fact you couldn't make it ;) Also, you won't always be able to reach the ocean bottom. This is ok, you just want to be moving in the opposite direction of the crashing wave.

Swim safe and let me know if you have any other questions.

If your interested in seeing a few pictures and videos of waves at other races check out these two links:

LA Tri Wave Videos
Straberry Fields Wave Pictures

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Touchy Subject - Stomach issues

In my past few races I discovered an unpleasant trend of getting an upset stomach. If this has happened to you it may be due to nerves. I'm generally not the type of person who gets nervous about stuff and you may not be either, that's why I'm writing this post. I had a hard time identifing what my problem was. I kept attributing it to rotten food or some other excuse. It finally made itself apparent to me when I had a stomach episode exactly at the time I went to scope out the race venue the day before. I would've never thought and you may not either. So I started doing all the calming excercises that my wife does and I've been in better shape since. I'm looking forward to better races now because the nutrition stays in ;)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Triathlon Wetsuit Shopping Guide

Triathlon Wetsuit Shopping Guide

(Update 3/20/11: For an updated version of a tri wetsuit shopping guide visit the following Triathlon Wetsuit Buying Guide at The Buying Guide is updated every year. The information below was created Sept 1, 2006.)

Step 1 – Why a triathlon wetsuit?

It’s important to know why and how a triathlon wetsuit (wetsuit) will help you. Here are some benefits a triathlon wetsuit (wet suit) has over a diving, swimming, or no wetsuit at all.
- The buoyant properties of a wetsuit help lift your body out of the water so you expend less energy.
- Triathlon wetsuits are designed to produce less drag helping you to swim faster.
- A wetsuit can provide warmth in cold water swimming.
- A well designed triathlon wetsuit will help you through a transition faster than a diving or surfing wetsuit.
- A buoyant wetsuit assists in better swimming form and technique for beginners. This doesn’t mean you don’t need to train anymore ;)

Here are some of the major triathlon wetsuit brands: Orca, 2XU, De Soto, BlueSeventy,TYR, Ironman, Aquaman, Synergy

Step 2 – What type of swimmer are you?

There are many triathlon wetsuits to choose from. To help narrow down your search let’s determine what type of swimmer you are. I created 3 basic categories to easily identify your level, these levels nicely fall in line with how much you will spend on a wetsuit.

- Level 1: Generally beginners fall into this category. If you’re just getting start in swimming you’ll need a solid suit that will get you through training and a race. Luckily you won’t need to spend much to satisfy these needs. A general rule is that the more expensive suits are designed for speed so if that’s not what you’re looking for then you can save some money. You will be considering these wetsuits:
o Orca: Orca Evo Fullsleeve Triathlon Wetsuit for Men and Women
o 2XU: 2XU Comp2 Triathlon Wetsuit for Men and Women
o De Soto: De Soto T1 Black Pearl Pullover Triathlon Wetsuit, De Soto T1 Black Pearl Vest Triathlon Wetsuit, De Soto T1 Black Pearl Bibjohn Triathlon Wetsuit

- Level 2: Generally considered intermediate swimmers. If you swam a couple triathlons in the past or you have a swimming background you’d most likely consider yourself a Level 2 or Level 3 swimmer. Level 2 swimmers are looking for a wetsuit that will enhance their speed without breaking the bank.
o Orca: Orca Sonar Fullsleeve Triathlon Wetsuit for Men and Women
o 2XU: 2XU Comp1 Triathlon Wetsuit for Men and Women
o De Soto: De Soto T1 First Wave Pullover Triathlon Wetsuit, De Soto T1 First Wave Bibjohn Triathlon Wetsuit

- Level 3: A.k.a. Speed Seeker. If you’re looking for the fastest wetsuit with the newest technology then I consider you a Speed Seeker. If you’re looking for every little edge and don’t mind spending a little more for the top of the line wetsuit then you are Level 3.
o Orca: Orca Apex Fullsleeve Triathlon Wetsuit for Men and Women
o 2XU: 2XU Men's Elite Triathlon Wetsuit for Men and Women
o De Soto: De Soto T1 First Wave Pullover Triathlon Wetsuit, De Soto T1 First Wave Bibjohn Triathlon Wetsuit

Step 3 – Determining the right wetsuit for you.

At this point you’ve narrowed down your price point but which wetsuit should you purchase? The best way to find the right suit for you is to try on all the wetsuits that you are considering. However, if you don’t have this option; then try to stick to the manufacturer’s suggestions as closely as possible. Here are some things to consider when trying on or selecting the right wetsuit:
- Proper Fit: When selecting a wetsuit you’ll want to make sure that it is not loose and fit you well between your crotch and shoulders. Arm and leg lengths will vary and is ok if they are shorter. In fact a shorter leg may allow for quicker removal of the suit. Also, look out for a good neck and wrist seal so water doesn’t flow into the suit. To increase speed you don’t want your triathlon wetsuit to take in water and slow you down. Be sure to note the arm and shoulder reach for a wetsuit. This area is most important to make sure you have an unrestricted swim stroke.
- Material and thickness: Most wetsuits will vary in thickness (2mm-5mm) and stretch ability throughout. You’ll want thinner and generally more flexible material around your shoulder and arms where you will be moving most. You’ll want thicker material in the chest and leg area’s to help with float. The various brands will for the most part offer the same type of rubber/neoprene for the price ranges. If you’d like to learn more about the differences in rubber check out this article.
- Other considerations:
o Sleeved or Sleeveless: This is mostly up to personal preference but some would argue that sleeveless arms allow for freer arm movement thus a faster suit. A bigger consideration for sleeved versus sleeveless would be temperature. You’ll see more sleeveless suits in warmer waters.
o Special Features: Specially coated rubber, break away zippers, reverse zippers, special panels, etc… There are a lot of features to consider and again these are personal preference. Once you’ve determined that a fit is good the rest is up to you.
o Looks: This has nothing to do with function but I mention it because I consider the “cool” factor of any gear I purchase. If nothing else I must feel comfortable in what I wear and that plays a psychological role in my purchasing decision.

Step 4 – Buying the best triathlon wetsuit for you.

A triathlon wetsuit is not a trivial purchase but it is one that will make difference in your race. So when you are purchasing make sure you get it from a source that will assist you after your purchase to make sure you have the right suit. If you purchase online you’ll want a policy like that allows you to exchange the suit for another if it doesn’t fit.

If you are brand new to wetsuits try on a friend’s or find a rental company if possible. Unfortunately wetsuit rental locations are designed for “trying-on” wetsuits so you won’t have a large selection. However some stores offer rentals of specific brands and you may want to rent it first if it’s the specific model you are considering.

More Information
If you’d like to find out more about triathlon wetsuits here are more Resources: – Guide to Wetsuits - Buying a Triathlon Wetsuit for the Swim Leg of a Triathlon – How to care for your De Soto wetsuit

Created: 9/1/06
Updated: 7/27/09 - added link to buying guided
Update: 3/20/11 - added verbiage to say triathlon wetsuit buying guide updated every year

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bring your Bike on the Metrolink

I recently started taking the train to work so I can train and save on gas. My point here is that riding to work is a good option to get in time on the bike. Some of you may not ride to work because it's too far or takes too long. I fell into this category but riding to the train station to and from work cut back the distance. It does take me longer to get to and from work (about 30-45 mins longer) however I feel the time spent here is better than the 1-2 hours I'd be spending later to do a bike workout. So try riding to work someday and look into the Metrolink as an option if you had the concerns I did. For those who don't already know the Los Angeles / Orange County Metrolink system has really grown over the past few years. Check out their website to see all the stops.

Here's a picture of my bike on the Metrolink. There are 2 open spaces per car on each train. So far I've never run into an issue where I didn't have space for my bike.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ride with a group

I recently started riding with the New Century MS150 training group. It's a great way to get in my cycling training. So far I've enjoyed it because there are both people faster and slower than me. Here are some of the benefits to cycling with a group:
- Riding with faster guys gives me something to push towards.
- Luckily I was with the group when I got a flat because my replacement was also flat. Thanks Pat for the good tube.
- I get to learn more about cycling being around more experienced cyclists.
- I get to train with my wife so she doesn't continue to blow me away on the bike.
- It's fun.
- There are plenty of other reasons why riding with a group is beneficial. I suggest you go out and try it to find out for yourself.

Pictured left to right: Sean O'Leary, Jaweed Bari, David Alvarez, Pat Jesson, Peggy, Phil Thomas, Eric Millspaugh

Friday, May 05, 2006

Polar HR not dispaying

Have you ever been on a run where your HR monitor won't display the HR? I have, here's my story and how I got it to work again.

I go on runs with a friend in the morning. Usually I get dressed put on my Polar s625x HR monitor and wait for him to show up at my house. After getting started on the run I pushed the start button on my HR monitor and waited for it to display the HR only it never got one and stayed at 0. I shrugged it off and thought that it either got to dry or it was running out of batteries. By chance I ended up putting the watch to the chest strap while running and noticed that my HR started showing again. My hypothesis is that while waiting for my friend the chest strap went idle and putting the watch to the chest strap activated it again. If you didn't already know, putting your Polar watch to the chest strap activates a function, in my case it shows the HR limits that I set.

Of course all this and more can probably be found in the manual and on Polar's online FAQs. Lucky for me I stumbled across the solution before having to go look it up. I hope this helps even if you don't have the Polar s625x.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Nutrition of the Bad Type

It may be obvious to most of us but being human I can't help myself. I'm talking about resisting the good tasting bad-for-you types of food. When you're training for something or taking your workouts seriously it's easy to stay on track. However I'm currently not training for anything and I don't have a set work out schedule so... even though I ran 10 mile in 2 days I knocked myself back a couple notches on the health-o-meter by ordering tons of buffalo wings for lunch and succumbed to sweet potato fries for dinner. At any rate my advice is to keep a good balance of exercise and nutrition. At least from my experience doing hard workouts does not mean I can go eat whatever I want. After eating all that bad food I didn't loose weight, I didn't feel refreshed, and I didn't get stronger like I usually do after runs. I'm not going to stop treating myself to the occasional indulgence but I definitely won't continue to eat so poorly. Be sure to train healthy for your next triathlon.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Learn to change a flat

For the beginners starting to bike, I'd like to stress the importance of learning how to change a flat before doing a race. I'm not going to tell you how to change a flat here but I will give you an example of why you need to learn. Even if a race has sag support you still want to learn because you never know how many other problems, accidents, traffic issues are going to keep support from reaching you on the course. My brother recently did his first sprint tri and got a flat 3 miles into the race. Unfortunately for him he hadn't learned to change a flat before hand and didn't have the right gear (tube, tire lever, pump). The sag support never came by, but fortunately a volunteer came by to pick him up. Needless to say he didn't finish the race. Don't let this happen to you, grab a friend and learn how to change a flat, it should take less than 20mins.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Picking up training again

I recently had about a week of downtime due to work and weather, not good excuses but either way I haven't been working out. I just did a short 2 mile run in the moring to ease back into things. It's always a good idea to ease back into your workouts. Many people have a tendancy to go gunho right off the bat from a long period of inactivity. This is a dangerous thing to do because your body is more prone to injury after a long hiatus. So be safe when starting up again. I hope to see you at triathlon race soon.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Be an ambassador for Triathlons

I didn't realize how important it was to support local races until the Newport Beach triathlon was recently cancelled. Fortunately a drive has been started to help bring it back. The triathlon community must stand together because although our sport is growing, it is still relatively small. If we just stand by without being an advocate or without supporting the growth, more races will disappear. When races disappear so will the athletes, the beautiful locales, the gear, and the fun. Let's not let this happen, share the joy. Remember that not all triathletes are hardcore. Some do it recreationly or for fitness. We need to welcome all people, of all types, for all reasons. In the end it benefits us all.

Here's a fun article on being a gracious Triathlon Ambassador.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Pick a race to suit your stregnths

I recently did the Redlands Tri which had a super short swim leg. This may be great for some but it wasn't good for me becuase my strongest leg is the swim. My suggestion to others is to pick races with distances that suit your strong points. It will make the race more enjoyable and you'll get a faster overall time. Happy Racing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Swimming with a HR Monitor

I like most would recommend not swimming in a pool with a HR monitor. Here is the reason: I tried swimming with my HR monitor last night. I have the Polar s625x. This is the second time that I've tried swimming with my HR monitor. While I'd do it again I'd have to say that it consistently slips down to my waist when pushing off the walls doing flip turns. I pretty much have to gently tap off the wall to prevent it from slipping. In the future I plan to get a full suit to train in so the water doesn't catch the HR monitor.
Also, most swimmers don't rely strongly on HR as much as they do time. Timing the intervals of your sets is a better indication of how fast you are getting over time. However, I'm not discounting the use of monitoring HR. You can also try wrist or neck and count your rate if you don't want to hassle with a HR monitor. Just know that this method isn't as accurate.
I would train with it under my wetsuit when doing open water. Note that the HR isn't consistently measured through out the work out. I use it to look at my HR between sets to help gauge my effort level.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Training with a plan

If your serious about completing a triathlon, any distance, it's important to get in regular training. It's not hard with a set training schedule or plan. I don't stick 100% to my plans but it sure does help. For those of us who work and have busy lives I recommend a work out plan that can be found in many books and online sites.