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“Which Triathlon Has Been Your Favorite?”

“Which Triathlon Has Been Your Favorite?”

You have probably been asked about your favorite triathlon, especially if you have completed even a few of them.

First, a little background. I did my first triathlon on my doctor’s advice to lose weight and become more fit. However, as I have done more triathlons, spending time with family and friends through these and experiencing the USA from the perspective of triathlon have grown in importance.

Nevertheless, after my first triathlon, there have been a few races that have been particularly memorable. Following are my top five.

Favorite Triathlons for Family Connections

#1 First Triathlon with Our Daughter and Youngest Son

Our youngest son, Ben, and his wife Lindsey along with our daughter, Liza, and her husband Scott joined me in completing the 2014 Maple Grove Triathlon.

picture of family members who competed with me in the 2014 Maple Grove Triathlon
Completing a triathlon with family members makes for a memorable day!

#2 Colorado Triathlon

The Colorado triathlon was fraught with challenges. Nevertheless, it was the one opportunity I had to participate in a triathlon in front of my parents.

Terry with parents at IHOP
Enjoying ice cream and memories with my parents. Photo courtesy of Joy.

#3 Wyoming Triathlon

The Wyoming triathlon was memorable for two reasons. First, it was the last time we would see Joy’s aunt Evelyn. She passed away shortly thereafter.

It also provided my ’15 minutes of fame’ as a local newspaper writer interviewed me and published a story about our Triathlon Across the USA quest (see below).

Gillette-News-Record-article-about-Razor-City-Splash-and-Dash-Triathlon
Gillette News Record article about the Razor City Splash & Dash Triathlon

Most Memorable Races

#4 First Crash

During the Rhode Island triathlon, a slow leak in my front tire led to a crash that left my right arm and leg bleeding. Thankfully, a bike maintenance aid arrived shortly after I had started to replace the tube. He completed the repair and I finished the race.

#5 First Podium Finish

In my first triathlon, I learned about the importance of having the right bike to race competitively. Before my second triathlon two months later, I purchased a triathlon specific bike.

Thanks to a competitive bike split in this race, I finished third in my age group in this second triathlon.

Ranking to Find Your Favorite Triathlon

Early in my discussions with Laurent Labbe, I asked about his favorite races. Being a technical guy, he answered with a spreadsheet for rating the long course triathlons he had completed.

The table below illustrates Laurent’s approach for ranking triathlons.

spreadsheet showing Laurent Labbe's approach to ranking triathlons he has completed.
Laurent Labbe’s approach to evaluating and ranking triathlons.

Laurent’s approach is quite detailed. His quantifies the quality, difficulty, and aesthetics of the course for each of the three legs. He also rates the overall management and race location.

Ranking Factors

  • Management (‘Mgmt’) – The following factors all lead to higher rankings in the various Management categories:
    • easy check-in and packet pickup
    • orderly swim start
    • clear marking of the bike and run courses
    • bike and run courses that are completely closed to traffic; even partly closed courses are better than those on which motor vehicles are near racers.
    • plenty of volunteer support
    • high quality food and drink on the course and after the race
    • prompt communication with racers before, during, and after the triathlon
  • Ease – This ranking relates to the race course. A low score in this category comes from high waves on the swim course and high wind or steep hills on the bike and run courses.
  • Layout – A single lap course is much preferred to one with two or more laps. The greater the number of laps in each of the legs, the lower the ranking in this category.
  • Overall Location – This relates to the cost and ease of getting to and from the race, the ease of arranging lodging, and the quality and diversity of food.
  • Ambiance – This factor scores factors such as the natural beauty of the race venue and friendliness of the people.
  • Overall Ranking – This number is derived from the product of the other rankings.

Knowing that family is important to Laurent, I imagine that any race involving his sons or daughter will have higher rankings.

Laurent Labbe and his oldest son on the beach in front of the swim course at the Strongman All Japan Triathlon.
Laurent Labbe and his oldest son on the beach in front of the swim course at the Strongman All Japan Triathlon. Picture courtesy of Laurent Labbe.

What Has Been Your Favorite Triathlon?

Tell us about your favorite races leaving a comment below. If for any reason you have difficulty leaving a comment, please email us at seniortriathletes@gmail.com.

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Book Review: The New Psycho-Cybernetics

by Terry VanderWert 0 Comments

“The New Psycho-Cybernetics” is an updated edition of a book that has sold over 30 million copies since being originally published in 1960.  The time-tested ideas originally put forth by Dr. Maxwell Maltz have become the basis for personal development, education, sales training, and sports coaching .

cover of the New Psycho-Cybernetics

About the Author

Dr. Maxwell Maltz began his career in a field of medicine sometimes called cosmetic surgery or plastic surgery.  Early in his career, Dr. Maltz learned the tremendous impact that cosmetic surgery could have on a person’s performance.  He saw “F” students becoming “straight A” students after surgery.  He saw shy, insecure people become confident and extroverted with even minor surgery.  This led to him publishing “New Faces, New Futures” in 1936.

Through continued work in cosmetic surgery, Dr. Maltz came to realize that cosmetic surgery alone could not change a person’s performance.  There needed to be a corresponding change in self-image.

This was the genesis of psycho-cybernetics.

 

What is Psycho-Cybernetics?

To be transparent, I am not a believer in self-help, ‘you-can-do-anything-on-which-you-set-your-mind’ philosophies that too many authors promote.

Psycho-cybernetics is different.  Psycho-cybernetics defines our ability to achieve goals or a desired level of performance in terms of a “goal-striving servo-mechanism consisting of the brain and nervous system, which is used and directed by the mind” (quote from “The New Psycho-Cybernetics”).

In the industrial world, a servo-mechanism is part of an automated machine.  The servo-mechanism causes the machine to zero in on its target through a series of measurements of position and corrections to the path as it makes its way toward the goal.  The example of a servo-mechanism used in the book is a guided missile.  The guided-missile works by locking onto its target and continuously adjusting its trajectory en route to its target.

The goals you attempt to communicate to this servo-mechanism must first pass through a filter of the individual’s self-image.  If the self-image is negative, results of the servo-mechanism will be negative or, at least, less than ideal.  Just as a faulty sensor can cause the guided-missile to miss its target, a negative self-image will lead to less than ideal performance.

Or, think about setting up to hit a golf ball over a water hazard when you are sure the ball will end up in the water.  More than likely, it will.  (The book contains many examples of psycho-cybernetics applied to golf.)

The good news is that the converse is also true – a positive, accurate self-image will promote positive results.


How is Psycho-Cybernetics Relevant to Triathlon Training?

There are at least three ways that we can apply psycho-cybernetics to preparing for and racing in a triathlon.

 

Believing You Can Succeed

As noted above, our self-image is the filter through which our built-in servo mechanism views our goals.   For me, consistent, structured training gives me a positive self-image and confidence that I can complete a race.  The more races I have completed, the more confident I have become that I will finish any race.

Think about being whacked on the head or yelled at during an open water swim.  A positive self-image will help us brush off these challenges and focus on finishing the race.   A negative self-image will set us back or cause some to drop out of the race.

 

Visualizing Stronger Performance

Dr. Maltz cites a study that reveals the power of visualization.

Researchers studied the performance of three groups of students in shooting free throws.    Their assignments and results on day 20 were:

  • Group 1 – Practiced shooting free throws every day for 20 days.  The result on Day 20 was 24% more free throws made compared to Day 1.
  • Group 2 – Did not practice; shot free throws on Days 1 and 20 only.  The result on Day 20 was no improvement over Day 1.
  • Group 3 – Shot free throws on Days 1 and 20; on days 2-19, students visualized throwing free throws and correcting their aim when they missed. The result on Day 20 was 23% more free throws made compared to Day 1.

The group that visualized shooting free throws improved as much as those who actually shot free throws each day.

Admittedly, shooting free throws is not an endurance sport.  However, we can still improve our performance in triathlon by visualizing certain activities in transition.  Some even say they rehearse, or visualize, how they will respond to the inevitable contact during an open water swim or to pain that sometimes occur during a race. 

Not Letting Others Define You

Albert Einstein’s colleagues considered him to be a daydreamer and even “dumb” at mathematics.  Fortunately, he did not let their opinion affect his success.

Some may consider us to be too old to take on a new challenge such as a first triathlon or even longer distance.  Or they may consider our goals to become a stronger athlete to be pointless.

Don’t let another human limit you.

 

In Case You Choose to Read or Listen to “The New Psycho-Cybernetics”

There is a good possibility that your local library has a copy of “The New Psycho-Cybernetics”.  I first consumed this material through an audio version of the book downloaded from our local library to my smartphone.

However, if you want to purchase a copy of the book or audiobook, you can do so at Amazon.com using the link below.

Disclaimer: Please note that SeniorTriathletes.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.  This is an affiliate advertising program that provide a way for sites to earn advertising fees.  They do this by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Amazon, the Amazon logo, AmazonSupply, and the AmazonSupply logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.  As an affiliate, I will receive a small commission for any purchases of this product that you make through Amazon.

 

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Favorite Swim Training Tools & Gear

Favorite Swim Training Tools & Gear
FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro

What if you are not from a swimming background though want to be more competitive in the triathlon swim? One answer is to add more structure to your swim training.

I Want To Be A More Competitive Swimmer

There are many triathletes whose goal for the swim is to “just get through it so that I can get on the bike”.

I am not one of these.

Swimming is enjoyable to me. I have spent many hours reading books and blog posts and watching videos about swimming in order to be a faster swimmer. I have also gotten advice from my son, a former college swimmer, on how to improve my swim.

As with most sports, improvement comes by developing better technique, a more efficient form, greater full body strength, and aerobic fitness.

Increasing Stroke Rate Using the FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro

According to Swim Smooth, there is an ideal relationship between swim speed (time per 100 m) and swim stroke rate (strokes per minute). A swimming stroke that is too high (RED zone) hints at too short a stroke. On the other hand, a slow stroke rate typically indicates too much glide with each stroke and a tendency to create a hand position in the latter part of the stroke that causes one to slow.

My swim currently falls in the upper left portion of the BLUE region. Using my FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro, I am training to increase my stroke rate while paying close attention to the catch phase.

Graph showing the ideal stroke rate for various times for swimming 100 meters.
The ideal range for swim speed vs. stroke rate chart is in white between the blue (too low stroke rate) and red (too high stroke rate). Source: Swim Smooth

About the FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro

The FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro is a waterproof metronome. The choice of one of its three modes depends on the training plan. For example, one mode allow you to set a time per lap for use with interval training.

I set the device to transmit an audible tone for each of the strokes in the targeted pace. For example, I set the Trainer to beep every 1.0 second for a stroke rate of 60 strokes per minute.

The pace is adjustable in 1/100th of a second increments giving plenty of resolution for every situation.

The small, waterproof device easily secures beneath a swim cap and transmits a clearly heard, audible beep. It floats in water to help avoid it being lost in the pool or open water.

The Tempo Trainer Pro also comes with a clip for ‘dryland’ training. For example, it is used in bike (cadence) and run (foot turnover rate) training.

The FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro includes a replaceable battery. I have had the device for more than five years and replaced the battery one time by taking it to a local BatteriesPlus store.

My journey toward becoming a better swimmer continues by working to increase my stroke rate. With strength training and more structured time in the water, I am confident that I will be more competitive in the triathlon swim.

You can find the FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro at SwimOutlet.com

Or at Amazon.com

Check Back Next Month for Reviews of Other Swim Tools

Meanwhile, You May Also Be Interested in These Posts

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Review of Mark Allen’s Strength Training for Triathletes

Review of Mark Allen’s Strength Training for Triathletes

(updated August 13, 2019)

After competing in sprint triathlons for eight years, my training had become sloppy.  I had lost the discipline of the early years.  I had nearly stopped strength training, focusing instead on cardio and endurance training.  And to top it off, my performance was poorer.  I was slower than ever and struggling with knee pain while running.

 

Credible References for Strength Training

So, the article entitled “Mark Allen’s 12 Best Strength Exercises” jumped out at me as I skimmed my emails on a recent winter morning.    Having read about triathlon for over eight years, I knew of Mark Allen and considered him a credible source of information.

I became even more interested in the plan once I realized that this strength training plan had also been a turning point for Mark.  In the first full season after following this strength training program, Mark won the three international multi-sport endurance events, including IRONMAN World Championship in Kona-Kailua, Hawaii.

Around the same time, I read about Judy Cole, a 73-year-old ultra runner.   Judy had started running every day during her early 30s.  However, early on, she had problems with her knees.  Following the advice of her running partner to strengthen her quads and hamstringsbecame a game changer”.

Judy’s experience sounded oh-so-familiar , so I committed to Mark’s plan.

 

My Initial Experience with Mark Allen’s Strength Training Program

This post is a journal of my experience with Mark Allen’s strength training program. 

I first published this post after completing four sessions of the first, or adaptation, phase.  I eventually finished eight sessions.

Now in the second, or endurance, phase, I am continuing to feel stronger.   Exercises that were especially difficult in the first sessions are now easier.  And, for the first time in months, I am running without knee pain.

 

Mark’s Best Strength Training Exercises

The table below lists the twelve exercises in this program.  The table also shows the triathlon event(s) most impacted by the exercise.  The original article includes videos that show how to perform each of them correctly.

Exercise Helps most with . . .
Lateral Pull-Downs Swim
Leg Extensions Run
Leg Curls Bike, Run
Bench Press Swim
Squats Bike, Run
Lateral Dumbbell Raise Swim
Calf Raises Run
Dumb-bell Pullover Swim
Backward Lunges Run
Bicep Curls Swim, Bike
Tricep Extensions Swim
Leg Press Bike, Run

 

 

Strength Training Restarted – Warmup and Cooldown

I start each session, no matter the Phase, with core exercises and 10 minutes of cardio to warm up.  In August 2019, I made some changes to the core exercise routine based on the recommendation of Tri Swim Coach.

The latest core exercise portion includes one minute each of:

  • Plank — one minute.
  • Side plank — one minute on each side.
  • Bridge – one minute.
  • Abs — one minute of bicycle crunches – go to 3:00 in the Tri Swim Coach video.  (Before August, I did a static crunch sitting up on the floor with the back at about 45 degrees off the floor and legs extended and on the floor.  This is an alternative to crunches that have recently fallen out of favor with trainers.)

Before starting with the weights, I spend 10 minutes to finish warming up.  This involves walking, jogging on an elliptical machine, or riding a stationary bike at an intensity high enough to break a sweat.

Throughout the journey, I have recorded the number of repetitions and weights for each of the exercises of each session in a Google Sheet.  I have also noted when I could use a heavier weight in the next session and any pain or soreness I felt during or after the session.

After each session, I complete another 10-15 minutes of cardio.  I then complete a sequence of static stretches of my hamstrings, quads, calves, and upper and lower back.

Progress is coming – slowly but surely.  I have increased weights while doubling the number of repetitions.  The amount of soreness in the days after the session has been much less.  And, I have started to run again.

Periodically, I re-read the original article and watch the videos to make certain I perform each exercise using the correct form and breathing.

Leg exension exercise machine

Machine used for the leg extension exercise. Mark Allen’s program involves a mix of exercises that use free weights, weight machines, dumbbells, and body weight.

 

Endurance Strength Training – Phase 2

The main difference between the first two phases is that Phase 2 involves two sets of 12 to 15 repetitions (“reps”) of each of the exercises with 90 seconds rest between sets, rather than one set in Phase 1.  As in Phase 1, I completed two sessions per week with at least one day, but usually three days, between them.

During Phase 1, I selected weights for each of the exercises for which I could complete 15 repetitions with good form.  For some of these, I was able to increase the weight slightly during the four weeks.

In transitioning into Phase 2,  I used the same weights as at the end of Phase 1.   However, in the first two sessions, I completed only 12 (rather than 15) repetitions in each of the two sets (except for the squats for which I completed 15 repetitions).   I did this following the principle of injury prevention that calls for increasing intensity gradually.   

Increasing the intensity, time, or type of activity too quickly is one common reason for a sports injury. To prevent this, many fitness experts recommend that both novice and expert athletes follow the ten percent rule, which sets a limit on increases in weekly training. This guideline simply states that you should increase your activity no more than 10 percent per week. That includes distance, intensity, weight lifted, and length of your exercise session.”  Source: Very Well Fit

Continuing with this principle, I increased the number of repetitions to 15 for the first of two sets in week 2; the second set still involved 12 repetitions.  In week 3 and beyond of Phase 2, I completed 15 repetitions for both sets. 

 

Restarting to Run

Also, early in Phase 2, I ran indoors on the LifeTime Fitness track for 10 or more minutes after weight lifting and before stretching.  Another pleasant surprise has been the absence of knee pain during the run.  This seems to confirm the theory that my knee pain resulted from weak hips and other leg muscles that are being strengthened in this program.  How motivating! 

Throughout this phase, I have increased weight gradually when appropriate following this guideline – whenever a weight is ‘easy’ in two consecutive sessions, I will increase the weight for the next session by 10% or less.   I have increased the weight for some, not all, of the exercises balancing adding more weight and avoiding injury.

During this phase, I took a two-week break from the program because of illness, not injury.   I expect to resume the schedule within next week.  However, I expect to have lost some ground but also to regain it quickly.  Stay tuned for the next update.

 

Lessons from Strength Training for Triathletes

I have learned some important lessons while using this plan:

  1. Be patient – the results one should expect from this training, and all training may seem to come slowly.  Keep at it and you will eventually see results.
  2. Become familiar with the specific equipment you will use in the program.  I did not seek an introduction from a trainer and found that I was learning how to adjust it by observing others, experimenting.  I learned some things by accident, like how to add weight in 5 lb. increments on the machines.
  3. Add weight when after a few sessions (minimum of two) the weight seems easy.  You can tell that it is easy when you can maintain good form throughout all the repetitions.

Interested in Joining Me?

If you would like to join me in following Mark Allen’s strength training program for triathletes, comment below or email me at seniortriathletes@gmail,com.  I will share the Google Sheet with you so you can record your results and we can track our progress.

 

New to Strength Training?

You may be interested in this article from Silver Sneakers with advice on how to begin a strength training program.

 

To Be Continued . . .

This post was first published on March 14, 2019.  The latest update was published on August 13, 2019.

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