Classic Top Tube Ink
With all the money you put into that gleaming TT bike your wife fights for space with, why wouldn't you want to add a few finishing touches? VeloInk stickers, printed on high-quality vinyl, will take years of abuse and still look classy. They are fully customizable with your name and flag and are offered in a variety of colors and fonts. VeloInk also has decals for your wheels and a few sweet phrases (FYI Santa, "Shut up legs" is one of my favorites) as well as custom options for your logo of choice. These well made stickers not only add some personalization to my bike, but I love the added security. No doubt someone in transition trolling for a quick steal, is going to look for an easier target when they notice my name clearly printed on my frame and wheels. This cyclist-owned company also has another bonus; turn-around is super fast. Within 24 hours, I had a proof in my in-box waiting for approval and five days later, the stickers were on my bike. The Classic Top Tube Ink and Classic Wheel Ink packages include 10 decals; half printed with the flags on the left, half on the right. In addition, the Classic Wheel Ink decals are slightly curved to fit your wheel's perfectly. A great gift idea for any bike-lover.
Retail $19.00 (free shipping worldwide!)
Roctane, Recovery Brew
What endurance athlete wouldn’t like to open up something from GU on Christmas morning? Two of the newest products will fit perfectly inside your gigantic stocking. Roctane drink has an amazing formula that's pushing the limits and has proven itself, helping athletes break records. It's a complete solution that can give you what you need for the duration of any punishing event. Ideal for the long course, it's packed with vital nutrients (Beta-Alanine, Branch Chain Amino Acids, key electrolytes, ideal carbohydrate ratio etc.) depleted during multi-sport activities. With all the research and experience GU packs into each mix, it's no surprise that triathletes are obsessed with Roctane; the taste is great and the results are amazing. Heading into winter time recovery, you also need the new chocolate Recovery BREW. Endowed with a delicious rich chocolate flavor, chocolate Brew tastes great and can be served cold or hot. Along with the great taste, GU research labs have loaded your recovery with Amino Acids, Carbohydrates, antioxidants and Protein; recovery never felt so good!
Named for a "steep, mogul strewn black diamond ski run in Tahoe", the H-Wall Wrap has quickly become a favorite of the TriEdge-Kestrel Women's Team. On the surface, Switch frames look like your standard, high-end sunglasses with well formed chassis and curved lenses to prevent light leakage. Vented nose pads assist with airflow to minimize fogging and anatomically shaped temples are rubber coated for maximum comfort and fit. What really makes the brand unique are the high-energy magnets embedded in the lenses and frame that make swapping lenses on the go in varying light, quick and easy. What struck me when I first got my hands on a pair of Switch sunnies were how strong the magnets are. The lenses stay in place as securely as the standard pop-in lenses, but without the mumbling and cursing that comes with changing lenses mid-run while trying to keep from breaking the frame. The H-Wall comes with two lenses; one polarized and one low-light and is available in a combination of various colored frames and lenses. While I LOVED this particular frame for running and riding my road bike, the top of the frame was right in my eye-line in aero position. The quality of the brand makes it well worth the money for me to try out another frame for aero. Switch also has a great selection of prescription and specialty lenses and with their fantastic customer service, it's a good solid buy for Christmas.
This foldable pocket sized flip flop fits perfectly into your cycling jersey pocket. It is definitely the most creative innovation in cycling accessories that I have seen in years. Invented by two friends that are passionate about cycling FOOTbrake incorporates comfort into the cycling lifestyle. Walking into a convenient store, restaurant, or bakery during a bike ride can be a bit cumbersome in your cycling shoes (and really pretty dangerous), not to mention the damage you're inflicting on your cleats. This flip flop is comfortable, portable, and great for going with you on any long ride. It's great for running errands to the store on your bike or just going on a long ride over the weekend and being able to put it on for a lunch stop. The footbed is very comfortable, and the FOOTbrake folds up to be about the size of a smart phone. Brilliant gift idea and will fit into even the most modest stocking.
Cool-Aide Cooling Sports Towel
Triathlon's are hot; sometimes, blazing hot. What started out for me as a luxury item, has quickly turned into a basic necessity for race day. Made with hyper-evaporative material, these towels are like nothing I've ever seen before. After wetting, all you have to do is shake and the temperature of the towel drops up to 20° and stays cool as long as it's wet. It's seriously one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. After the first use, I went home and immediately got online to buy more. I also called my brother in Florida and he purchased enough for his whole family. The ability to produce an icy cold towel at my convenience regardless of the outside temperature, is invaluable to me during race season. I have been using the towel after races, to get my body temp cooled down, but I do have friends that use them for long races in extreme heat and claim it was a key ingredient to getting them through the day. If you're one of those unlucky athletes that has a hard time with heat, this could very well be the answer. One of our testers commented, " It is the best thing ever!! When we finished the race yesterday in Green River it was around 90 degrees, no cloud cover, and bloody hot! After finishing I went straight over to transition to my bag knowing I had stashed this towel in there. I immediately dumped water on it and wrapped it around my shoulders...heaven sent! I couldn't believe how quickly it cooled me off. I spent the next 45 minutes walking around with this thing around me loving every minute of it. I love it! " Cool-Aide Sports Towel's are available in four colors.
I still have the first pair of Marino Wool Darn Tough socks I received 6 years ago and in all that time, I have never seen the first hint of a hole. Great socks! These socks have the best warranty in the industry. Simply put, they have an unconditional lifetime guarantee. What does this mean? Exactly how it sounds; if they aren't comfortable, durable or even the perfect color to match your lucky jersey you wear for every hill-climb, Darn Tough with take them back or exchange them no questions asked- for life. I have not been able to find a better sock period. If you have someone on your list that goes through socks like napkins, check out the great options they have especially the new 3/4 and the no show. They have a lot of great styles and a wide variety to choose from.
Taking any kind of tech with you is tricky, when you are in and out of the water, but with all the new apps it's hard to resist taking it along. Dry Case has an ipad case that has a vacuum seal. You suck the air out of the bag after it is sealed through a special valve, and this tells you that it is working. Because the air is all gone touch screen use is easy. The plastic protective case is really well sealed and has clear visibility. When I turn on my ipad it is very easy to see the screen. There is a headphone jack so the tunes are accessible while the ipad is still completely sealed. Dry Case makes protective cases for just about anything you need to keep from getting wet.
Over Under 49L, Groomer Bag
With the Holiday travel season upon us, the big question of packing has once again led me to the stack of suitcases in the storage room. This year, the answer is simple- DAKINE. I have never been disappointed with a backpack, suitcase, gear bag or from Dakine. The best roller bag I have ever used is the Over Under 49L. This roller bag has a split layout with zip top netting to separate 2 sides. The internal capacity is very surprising. The two outside pockets can easily fit a pair of Sanuk sandals, my miscellaneous electronic cords, and my favorite paperback. The Over Under expands to take on more. With one round of the zipper, it can increase the capacity by about 1/3. This option has saved me this year in my travels, more than once. The Carbon design is the best and makes travel wear and tear look cool in the design. The dark distressed color is classic and unique. I also highly recommend the Groomer. The Groomer is a compact bag, perfect for holding personal essentials. Do yourself a favor, and get rid of whatever you are using that looks like it has been sitting under your sink for most of the last 10 years. Check out the Groomer and you will be pleased with the new way to carry your stuff. Both items are available in multiple colors. Problem solved.
Retail $165, 49L Over Under
Retail $20.00, Groomer
Men's Board Room
The gift of comfortable footwear is always appreciated. The SANUK BOARD
"Maybe Jeff was unaware that the official time for finishing had passed; maybe he knew but didn’t care."
When the celebration is over, crowds and cameras are gone, and all that remains is what’s left of the finish line, will you have the courage to finish what you started? Jeff Schmidt did, and for that simple fact he leaves a significant imprint on us.
The last official Ironman finisher crossed the line in 16:59:33; Harriet Anderson —77 years old—gave the crowd plenty of drama and excitement. But the grand finale was still taking shape in the shadows along Ali’i Drive and wouldn’t become apparent until long after the TV cameras had gone home for the night.
At midnight in Kona, race organizers let runners who are still on course know that they are not finishers. Despite effort that is unimaginable for most, they are given the news that they will not reach their goal, at least for that day. It must be heartbreaking work for the organizers.
But somehow they missed Jeff Schmidt.
While a huge crowd celebrated the conclusion of this year’s Kona, Jeff Schmidt was, unbeknownst to us, still running along Ali’i Drive, cheered on by friends and family. By 12:20 AM, the crowd at the finish line had dispersed and volunteers had begun the late night task of preparing the street for morning.
That’s when I saw Jeff Schmidt. He was running through a finishing chute that minutes before was lined with people, but now was mostly empty, except for the volunteers who had begun to dismantle and stack sponsor signs.
About 20 feet from the finish, Jeff tripped on a small stack of those signs. But he kept moving forward, toward a finish line that seemed to be going away just as he was arriving. Maybe Jeff was unaware that the official time for finishing had passed; maybe he knew but didn’t care.
When he crossed the line, the only people left were organizers, several volunteers, and those spectators who couldn’t bring themselves to leave a place that had just been the scene of so much human achievement.
Yuri Hauswald from GU found Andrew Messick (Ironman CEO), who moved quickly to greet this year’s last finisher. Men’s winner Pete Jacobs was also still there. He congratulated Jeff for finishing, only to be congratulated by Jeff for winning.
Jeff Schmidt finished after midnight and therefore he may not be official. But sometimes what goes in the record books isn’t the only thing that matters. At Kona, it’s the heart and determination that so many show along the way.
Jeff finished without the huge crowd. He did it after the glare of TV was gone. He did it on one prosthetic leg and with one huge heart.
And for that, there’s really only one thing to say about his achievement.
Jeff Schmidt, you are an Ironman.
- Tal Johnson, GU President
(scroll down to watch Jeff Schmidt cross the finish line)
For more information about GU products, go to: GUEnergy.com
Amino acids are the building blocks of the body that make up protein, and protein is the base that makes up muscles, tendons, organs, glands, nails and hair (to name a few!). On top of that, the growth, repair and maintenance of all our cells is dependant upon amino acids. Did you know that next to water, protein makes up the greatest portion of our body weight? So, I would venture to say that amino acids are pretty, mighty, super, duper important!
There are 20 amino acids that regularly make up proteins. Our bodies are capable of making 9 of those amino acids, but we must get the remaining ten from outside sources- specifically our FOOD and supplements. These 10 amino acids are known as Essential Amino Acids. Amino acid supplements fall into two basic categories: Essential Amino Acids (EAA's) and Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs.)
ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS
A quick overview of each of the Essential Amino Acids will give us a better understanding of why each is SO important.
- Phenylalanine is traditionally marketed for it’s analgesic (pain-killing) and antidepressant effect, and is a precursor to the synthesis of norepinephrine and dopamine, two feel-good brain chemicals. This could be good because elevated brain levels of norepinephrine and dopamine may actually lower your “RPE” or Rating of Perceived Exertion During Exercise, which means you could be happier when you’re suffering halfway through a killer workout session or Ironman bike ride. Food sources include dairy, almonds, avocados, lima beans, peanuts, and seeds.
- Valine plays double duty because it is BOTH an Essential Amino Acid and a Branched Chain Amino Acid. Valine is an essential amino acid. It can help to prevent muscle proteins from breaking down during exercise. This means that if you take Valine during exercise, you could recover faster because you’d have less muscle damage. Dietary sources of valine include dairy products, grain, meat, mushrooms, peanuts, and soy proteins.
- Threonine is shown to play a role in liver function as well as assists in creating collagen. Because it is an EAA it will work in conjunction with the other EAA's to help decrease indicators of muscle damage and inflammation. This basically means that if you popped some essential amino acids, even if you didn't eat anything, you might not 'cannibalize' as much lean muscle during a fasted workout session. Dietary sources of threonine include dairy, beef, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds.
- Tryptophan is a precursor for serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter that can suppress pain, and if you’re taking some before bed at night, even induce a bit of sleepiness. The main reason to take tryptophan would be to increase tolerance to pain during hard workouts, games or races. But studies to this point go back and forth on whether or not that actually improves performance. Tryptophan can be found in oats, bananas, dried dates, milk, cottage cheese, meat, fish, turkey and peanuts.
- Isoleucine is another BCAA/EAA combo, has some of the same advantages of Valine (we'll learn more about this in a minute). Isoleucine is found in eggs, fish, lentils, poultry, beef, seeds, soy, wheat, almonds and dairy.
- Histidine is a precursor to histamine and could help you fight off the cell damaging free radicals you produce during exercise, and carnosine helps you get rid of muscle burn more quickly, and helps turn lactic acid back into useable muscle fuel. So hooray for histidine, it gets a gold star sticker.
- Arginine- most of the studies on arginine show that it really helps folks with cardiovascular disease improve exercise capacity, and like tryptophan, the studies go back and forth on whether it really helps with the athletic population – but it has a great deal of promise.
- Leucine is yet another BCAA/EAA combo (more on that below). Leucine is found in cottage cheese, sesame seeds, peanuts, dry lentils, chicken and fish.
- Lysine may assist with growth-hormone release, which could vastly improve muscle repair and recovery, although if you take lysine in it’s isolated form, the amount you’d have to take to increase growth hormone release would cause gastrointestinal distress. But combined with all the other essential amino acids, there may be a growth hormone response in smaller doses, and there is some clinical evidence that essential amino acid supplementation could stimulate growth hormone releasing factors. Lysine sources include green beans, lentils, soybean, spinach and amaranth.
BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS
Now, let's talk about the Branched Chain Amino Acids which consist of Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine (which are also part of the Essential Amino Acid group) BCAA's are interesting because they are metabolized in the muscle, rather than in the liver. What this means is that BCAA's can be relied on as an actual energy source DURING exercise, and could actually help prevent premature muscle breakdown. Several studies have shown that BCAA's could actually help increase red blood cell count, hemoglobin, hematocrit and serum albumin, which basically means, less inflammation, better red blood cell formation (more oxygen), and better formation of storage carbohydrate (more easily obtained fuel). BCAA studies by researchers Sugita and Kraemer also show that BCAA supplementation after exercise has been shown to cause faster recovery of muscle strength and the ability to slow down muscle breakdown even during intense training. In addition, when you supplement with BCAA’s they help maintain higher blood levels of amino acids which can make you feel happier even when you’re suffering during exercise. So as you may have guessed, low blood levels of BCAA’s are correlated with increased fatigue and reduced physical performance.
A study titled "Branched-chain amino acids supplementation enhances exercise capacity and lipid oxidation during endurance exercise after muscle glycogen depletion", by Gualano, et al. that showed that when taken prior to a fasted exercise session, BCAA’s could increase fat oxidation. Hmm... burn more fat while exercising? I'm on it!If all of the essential amino acids are present, muscle repair and recovery can start before you’re even done with your workout – and when you’re mentally stretched toward the end of a tough workout, game or race, high blood levels of amino acids (i.e. from the BCAA’s in sports gels) can allow the body and brain to continue to work hard instead of shutting down. So, if we want to have enhanced mental focus during a workout, keep our bodies from cannibalizing muscle during fasted morning workout sessions, burn more fat during those sessions, and decrease post-workout muscle soreness. We should be supplementing with BCAA's- but, how?
When racing triathlons or going out for a longer training day, GU has a product called Roctane that also has BCAA's. There are other products as well that have BCAA's; Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. You can even look at the ingredients of different products and determine for yourself which one you will use.
There is a product out there called MAP (Master Amino Acid Profile) that I have not used, but am considering trying because it would be an easy way to get the BCAA's pre-workout. I've been eyeing it for some time now, and after reading up more on this topic, I just might incorporate it into my training. It comes in capsules, so it is easy to take some right before your workout. I have also really liked a product called BaddAss Nutrition that offers many of these BCAA's in a pre-workout drink. I used this product ALL winter as I prepared for both Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico and Ironman St. George and have to say it was awesome!
You can also buy powdered BCAA's at pretty much any nutrition store (Good Earth carries them and I even have some at my studio along with the Whey Protein Isolate). This is a super easy way to just scoop some of the powdered form of these into your pre or post workout drink or smoothie. If you are struggling with feeling weak, tired, not making progress in your weight loss or athletic goals, or recovery, perhaps you should analyze what you are doing and eating and then consider adding some Branched Chain Amino Acid and Essential Amino Acid supplementation! It might just be the missing puzzle piece that you are looking for. Of course, this is all based on the assumption that you are already making those healthy food choices and getting in your quality FATS (omega 3 in particular), PROTEINS, CARBS (in the form of veggies, fruits, and complex carbs) and getting sufficient WATER (96 oz.+) and REST (7+ hours every night!) Ideally, you want to incorporate BCAA's before and during workouts and then utilize EAA's +whey protein AFTER your workout to ensure full recovery and absorption of the EAA's.
Just to clarify: Essential Amino Acids and Branched Chain Amino Acids are necessary for EVERYONE! This is not just for athletes looking to get faster, stronger, leaner, etc. (although that sure is a bonus). These are crucial for every living being! So, if you are just trying to live a healthier more vibrant and energetic lifestyle, be aware of your amino acid intake and ensure you are giving your body every advantage you can.
Coach Keena is a regular contributor at TriEdge and has 15 years experience coaching and training hundreds of individuals. She is a USA Triathlon Certified Coach and holds additional certifications from the National association of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the American Council of Exercise (ACE) as a certified personal trainer. If you would like to contact Coach Keena go to: www.coachkeena.com.
For the running newbie, it can be quite overwhelming seeing fellow training buddies carrying what appears to be a utility belt equipped with a diverse line-up of nutritional tools. Well, fret no more. This article provides a platform for the ingredients recommended for optimal energy levels and peak performance during long runs.
101: Put simply, carbohydrates are sugars and starches that fuel our bodies much like gasoline fuels a racecar. Each gram of carbohydrate contains ~4 calories worth of fuel. Just like a racecar stores its fuel in a tank, the human body stores carbohydrates as glycogen in both our muscles and liver. These glycogen reserves are relied upon to stabilize blood sugars and allow for optimal muscle function. Runners who balance out their meal plates with 45-65% carbohydrate while meeting daily energy demands can expect to store about 2 grams (8 calories) of glycogen per pound of muscle tissue and an additional ~100-125 grams (400-500 calories) within the liver. This amount of glycogen supplies the energy needed to run for ~2 hours at a moderate intensity, making addition of carbohydrates necessary during long run efforts to avoid depletion and consequent dizziness (aka “bonking”) and profound muscle fatigue (aka “the wall”).
How much? Aim for approximately 1/4 your body weight (lbs) in grams each hour of running. For example, an 180-lb runner should aim for ~45 grams of carbohydrate each hour of running.
Providing ~15 grams of carbohydrate per 8 ounces, sports drinks like Gatorade are the most common source of carbohydrate energy provided on race courses so if you are planning to use the aid stations on race day, be sure to practice with the race sports drink during training. Also popular amongst runners are energy gels (Power Gel, Clif Shot, Gu), providing ~25 grams carbohydrate per packet. Newer to the running circuit are energy chews (Gu Chomps , Luna Moons and Clif Shot Blocks , Powerbar Energy gel blasts, providing 15-25 grams per 3 chews. If you prefer solid nutrition, energy bars like the original Powerbar provide 40 grams of carbohydrate. If you prefer an alternate to sports food, try bananas (25 grams per item), oranges (15 grams per item), packets of honey (~10 grams per packet), and pretzels (~25 grams per ounce).
101: Scientifically speaking, proteins are large, complex molecules that make up 20% of our body weight in the form of muscle, bone, cartilage, skin, as well as other tissues and body fluids. During digestion, protein is broken down into at least 100 individual chemical building blocks known as amino acids that form a little pool within our liver and are used to build muscle, skin, hair, nails, eyes, hormones, enzymes, antibodies, and nerve chemicals. Some research has found that inclusion of small amounts of protein during prolonged activity can help enhance performance by sparing muscle glycogen as well as aiding fluid uptake. Protein also can help mute hunger that arises during long run efforts. Be careful about overdoing protein, however, as large amounts slow gastric emptying and can precipitate a ‘backlog’ of nutrients of gut and consequent stomach distress and muscle fatigue/cramping.
How much? If running longer than 4 hours, aim for up to 6 grams of protein hourly.
Runners consuming protein often do so in the form of sports drinks (Accelerade, Infinit Ironman Formula , Hammer Sustained Energy ) and energy bars (Pure Fit ). Beef and turkey jerky are also commonly used by ultra-runners as an alternate and easy-to-carry source of protein during long efforts.
101: Replacement of electrolytes becomes instrumental in endurance bouts lasting longer than 1 hour, especially when running in hot and humid conditions. The principle electrolytes include sodium (generally bound to chloride), potassium, magnesium, and calcium. These electrolytes are involved in metabolic activities and are essential to the normal function of all cells, including muscle function. An electrolyte imbalance has reported symptoms similar to dehydration: nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, muscle cramping, muscle twitching, overall fatigue, labored breathing, “pins and needles”, and confusion.
How much? Aim for 200-500 mg of sodium hourly as well as smaller amounts of potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Sports drinks generally provide 100-200 mg of sodium per 8 ounces, energy gels 25-200 mg sodium per packet, and energy chews 20-210 mg sodium per 3 pieces. Salt packets are often distributed on course and contain ~200 mg per packet. Electrolyte capsules, generally providing 100-200 mg of sodium per capsule, are also available; samples include Salt Stick, Thermolytes and Endurolytes.
101: Because water serves as the medium for all metabolic activity, helps to lubricate our muscles and joints, and also keeps our core body temperature in check, failure to take in enough fluids during a long run can have a dramatic negative impact on both health and performance. Therefore, determination of sweat rate and consequent fluid demands is extremely important for runners. Practice weighing in pre- and post-workout and drink fluids so that no more than 2% of your body weight is lost during runs.
How much? Aim for ½-1 liter per hour or so that urine runs pale yellow.
A standard bottle holds 20 ounces of fluid. A standard flask generally holds 6-10 ounces. Camelbak offers solutions for carrying fluids during long runs when fountains and aid stations are not available to refill bottles or flasks.
Extra Credit Ingredient: Caffeine
A central nervous system stimulant, caffeine may help maintain blood glucose concentration and reduce power loss through its effects on the active musculature and nervous system that reduce fatigue and perceptions of effort, discomfort, and pain. Specific flavors of energy gels and chews are caffeinated at a dose of 25-50 mg pack. It is important to experiment with personal tolerance to caffeine as some athletes do not respond favorably to caffeine with symptoms such as a racing heart beat, muscle twitching, stomach distress and anxiety serving as reason for avoidance.