Top 5 Secrets Triathletes Don’t Tell You

As I was thinking about my 20+ years of triathlon training and racing during my run today, I thought about all the fun times, not so fun times (IMTX ’16), and successful times. I have learned a lot over the years. I have come up with some “Life Lessons of an Ironman Triathlete.”

I started thinking: Triathletes don’t tell you EVERYTHING that they know. I started going over in my head, ”What secrets do I have as a triathlete? How would this help other triathletes?” I came up with:

Top 5 Secrets Triathletes Don’t Tell You:

  1. Draft off Other Swimmers in the Swim Portion  
  • This is legal. Take advantage of it.
  • Place yourself in a group of swimmers that are similar to you. You cannot draft off a Michael Phelps-like swimmer if you don’t swim that fast. You will be done in the first 100 meters.
  • Best Position: Draft between the ankle and hips. Think of how dolphins will ride the bow of the boat. You essentially are doing the same thing.
  • Click HERE for the Key Principles of Open Water Drafting, from John Post.
  1. Learn to Pee on your Bike
  • Yes, I said it. Learn how to pee on your bike, especially during an Ironman Triathlon.
  • How? I will grab an extra water from the aid station, move to the side, slow down a bit, relax the lower half and “release.” During the “release,” I will pour the extra water over my shorts to “clean” myself. Off I go.
  • Why? Have you seen the lines during an Ironman race for the bathroom? That is time that you lost standing in line!
  • Click HERE for a SlowTwitch article about it!
  1. If you have G.I. distress on your runs during a race and training, figure out WHY!
  • Start eliminating foods. Breads. Grains. Fruits. Alcohol. Sugar. Etc.
  • Check out a Low Residue Diet for at least 2 days before a long run or race. My coach suggested I pull back on fiber. That has helped me tremendously. Everything that I was eating had fiber! Try it before training days, versus a race day.
  • IF, ONLY IF: Take an Imodium AD. I will NOT take this during training. I remember a women at a 10k running race told me she took 7 Imodium A.D.’s. At that point, you need to look at your diet!
  • Click HERE for this Runner’s World article.
  1. Hard intervals hurt for anyone!
  • Yes, intervals suck for everyone. While my bike TT power meter pace isn’t as “high” as my husband’s, it still freaking hurt.
  • This is based on what YOU can do, not what Chrissie Willington can do or what your training buddy can do.
  • Remember, your intervals are based on your work. This is why heading out on rides or runs by yourself, especially if you have interval work, is best for you and you alone!
  • Great article from Joel Friel.
  1. In an Ironman, start drinking Coke as soon as you can.
  • Flat Coke. It is delish after 8 hours of your other nutrition. I don’t know if it is the caffeine or the sugar, but it is sweet nectar!
  • I have heard to start drinking it after the 2nd half of your marathon in an Ironman. My husband, Chris, will drink it ASAP.
  • I know it can bother people’s stomachs, so I would suggest to TRY IT first in a practice run. Go buy a Coke, open it up at home to make it flat, and after 2:30 hours, come back to it and sip on it every mile. See how that works.
  • Click here for a SlowTwitch forum thread that can be interesting for some.

I hope that helps you for heading into YOUR Triathlon season, whether this is your 1st Sprint triathlon, 1st Ironman Triathlon, or your 10th Ironman Triathlon.

Do you have any “secrets” that you would like to share with other triathletes? Make a comment here, or shoot me an email HERE! And I will post them next week!

Interested in getting a FREE PDF about Strength Training for Triathletes? Click the photo below.


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Triathletes, Here to Help You Out in 2016 – Vlog #21

I wanted to share this TED Talk with you. It is with Amy Cuddy who speaks about Body Language and creating your OWN power pose. After every race I do, whether it is an Ironman Triathlon or an Olympic distance Triathlon, I will do a power pose. Check it out today.


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What Do I Wear for a Triathlon?

I ask myself this question all the time: “What do I wear?”

This may be for going for a run, heading out to dinner with some friends, a photo shoot, going out with the hubby, etc.

I also get asked the same question: “What do I wear for my triathlon?”

My answer is, “It is up to you and what you feel comfortable racing in.”  Then I ask, “What distance triathlon are you doing?”

Here are some tips for athletes. Once again, it is all based on your comfort.

Sprint Distance Triathlon:

  • Swimsuit (one piece or two piece) or a One Piece Triathlon Suit, or just cycling shorts for guys.
  • Race is short, so you really don’t need to spend a lot of time in transition. Your transitions should be fast and easy to get through, and less than one minute each.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable wearing a swim suit out on the bike and run, throw a tank top and a pair of shorts over your suit. Just be mindful about shorts and being wet; you may chafe a bit.
  • No changing tents for a sprint; no reason to.

Olympic Distance Triathlon:

  • One Piece Triathlon Suit that has a little pad in it, or a triathlon top with a pocket in the back and shorts that have a little bit of pad for a longer bike.
  • This bike is a bit longer; you may want a little bit of pad on the bum. BUT you don’t want to wear cycling shorts. WHY? If you swim in them, it will feel that you have a WET DIAPER when biking, and especially running.
  • Transition may be a little bit longer; depends on how far the swim is to the bike out. Goal would be to be under 90 seconds on each transition.
  • A triathlon top with a pocket in the back for the gels that you may need on the run. This is a little bit longer race, so after 90 minutes of racing you may need to start taking in some calories (That will be another blog!)
  • No changing tents for the Olympic.

70.3 Ironman Triathlon:

  • One Piece Triathlon Suit that has a pad and a pocket in the back for nutrition, or a triathlon top with a pocket and shorts that have a little pad for the longer bike.
  • I personally like a two piece suit. If I have to go to the bathroom, I would rather have to take just the bottoms off versus a whole one piece top off.
  • Transitions should take no longer than 2-3 minutes on a Half Ironman. You don’t need to change out of your clothes. Put your shoes on, put your helmet on, put glasses on for T1 and for T2, switch shoes, keep glasses on, grab your nutrition, and take your helmet off and put on a hat/visor.
  • No changing tents for 70.3 Ironman.

Ironman Triathlon: 

  • If it is your first Ironman or your 5th, I tell EVERYONE to be comfortable in what you are wearing. It is a LONG day!!!
  • There are changing tents for Ironman!!!
  • For the swim, wear a swim suit or your triathlon top plus your wetsuit.
  • For the bike, keep your top on but put on cycling shorts if you feel the need to have a thicker pad. It is 112 miles, right? Be COMFORTABLE!!!
  • For the Run, wear the same top but change into running shorts. In my experience, that was the most comfortable I have been on a run after being in tight bottoms for 8 hours!
  • If you are trying to qualify for Ironman Hawaii, wear the same clothes and don’t worry about switching out. You want fast transitions.
  • Once again, I am all about being comfortable in an Ironman.

While these are my thoughts and opinions, you as an athlete need to see what is best for you and your race. My suggestion is to try these out in the practice before you wear them in the race. Don’t try ANYTHING new in a race. You don’t know how it is going to feel, if you are going to chafe, if it is comfortable, etc.

Some brands to look at:

Remember, enjoy your journey into your triathlon. We do this because we enjoy it. All you need to do is smile!!!

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Top 5 Strength Training Tips for Runners

When I put together my strength and conditioning program for athletes, there really is a method to my madness. I try to look at all different programs and ideas out there, from “Starting Strength” by Mark Rippetoe, to NSCA “Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning,” and I love reading what Charles Poliquin, aka Strength Sensei, has to say on his blog.

Yes, these books are about strength and conditioning for people who specify in weight lifting, but shouldn’t I go to a source that is knowledgeable about weight training? And then I figure out how to work it with endurance athletes and THEIR strength program. After a ton of reading and doing, I present to you:

Top 5 Strength Training Tips for Runners (or Endurance Athletes):

  1. You will NOT get BULKY/BIG like a Weightlifter. ”Coach Jen, I don’t want to get bulky like a weightlifter.” Let’s talk about Exercise Physiology and the understanding of principle of overload and specificity.
  • Principle of Overload:
    • Overloading a system will cause it to respond and adapt.
    • Example: The more you run, the more your body will get used to running. The more you lift, the more your body will get used to lifting more weight.
  • Principle of Specificity:
    • Muscles will adapt specifically to what exercise you are doing.
    • Example: If you train your leg muscles, they will hypertrophy, and your shoulder muscles won’t.
  • Takeaway: As endurance athletes, we will be running, swimming, and cycling WAY more than lifting. All I ask is that you lift; 2x a week, for my program. You will NOT get bulky.
  1. Lifting heavy weights will be very different for YOU versus a weightlifter. ”Coach Jen, I can’t lift heavy weights like the weightlifters.” Look at #1 again.
  • As an endurance athlete, it will be very hard to do a TRUE max back squat with all that swimming, cycling, and running that you are doing.
  • YOUR back squat (deadlift/push press/clean and jerk) max will not be the same as other runners. It will be specific for you.
  • Takeaway: As endurance athletes, don’t worry about how much you should lift and compare it to everyone else. What I would like to see is you getting under a bar to utilize, trigger, and fire those muscles that you normally wouldn’t fire during your runs.
  1. Doing Planks will NOT get you a six-pack. ”Coach Jen, we need to do more core.”
  • Charles Poliquin talks about this: Strength training with traditional lifts like squats, deadlifts, and chin-ups will increase your core strength due to “tightening” the core during these lifts and body weight exercises.
  • Research has shown that plank exercises are performed in a static position, which is not used during a run or daily life.
  • Takeaway: Do traditional lifts in the gym. Check out my “Top 5 Strength Exercises for Triathletes.”
  1. If you are an athlete, you may get injured. “Coach Jen, I don’t want to get injured.” I’ve heard this one WAY too often!
  • As a runner, you may get injured as well. For example: Plantar Fasciitis, IT Band Syndrome, Runner’s Knee, etc.
  • If you do too much of something, you may get injured. Too much Zumba, knee injury. Too much weight lifting, shoulder injury; you get my point.
  • Takeaway: You are an athlete. Strength training will prevent future injuries, and help the imbalances that you may have if you are running too much.
  1. You will get FASTER with strength training. ”Coach Jen, I don’t want to get faster,” said NO ONE!
  • Charles Poliquin states that the #1 reason why runners need to strength train is to GET FASTER.
  • Strength training will increase your leg strength, which will apply more force heading up those hills and improve your body’s effectiveness in using energy and oxygen.
  • Takeaway: Strength training will improve your pace, help you with your body’s ability to use oxygen, and you’ll be able to apply more force to the ground.

I realize that there are 1000 ways to train for a marathon/13.1 marathon, and running in general, but how I look at training is: Quality over Quantity. Your strength needs to be quality, just like your run training.

Figure out how to implement strength training in your schedule. It is critical for your life today AND for your future. Looking for a way to add strength training in your program? Contact me HERE for a program, or a specific consult on how to organize and plan your strength program.

Click below to find out my details about strength training for triathletes/runners today!

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Ironman Texas Post Race Vlog

I tried to keep this very brief, but there was a lot to chat about during IMTX. There were a lot of lessons learned, a lot of smiles, and the realization that “You can’t control what you can’t control.” Enjoy!


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