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Making Fitness a Lifestyle – Jeanne Minder’s Story

Making Fitness a Lifestyle – Jeanne Minder’s Story

From her earliest memories of growing up in South St. Paul, Minnesota, Jeanne Minder has been active.  Her love for moving, whether through biking, running, swimming, walking, skiing, or you-name-it, has led to impressive accomplishments in triathlon.

Following is Jeanne’s triathlon story and information about triathlon training for seniors that she shared with Joy and me over coffee.

 

Accomplishments On and Off the Course

I was first introduced to Jeanne through an article in an online newspaper covering the northern suburbs of St. Paul, Minnesota.  However, when Joy and I met with Jeanne over coffee and tea at the Caribou Coffee in Arden Hills, Minnesota, we learned a whole lot more about her.

A sampling of her accomplishments tells part of the story:

  • Over 400 triathlons including three at the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
  • Minnesota Senior Sports Hall of Fame inductee
  • Gold medalist in triathlon at the 2015 National Senior Games
  • Mother of an active son and daughter
  • Leader of the County Cycles Triathlon Club for 24 years
  • Personal trainer for 28 years, including 23 years with the New Brighton Community Center
  • University of Minnesota graduate
  • High school track & field and cross country skiing coach
  • And, an on-going participant in endurance events involving running, skiing, and biking.

But that’s not all.  In talking with Jeanne, we were able to see her personal side – her passion for endurance sports and her love for helping people, especially seniors, “make fitness a lifestyle”.

“Anybody who does triathlon or any sport is doing good.  As a personal trainer, I try to get people to work out three times per week and make it a lifestyle.”  Jeanne Minder

 

Getting Started in Triathlon

Jeanne did her first triathlon, the Turtleman Triathlon in Shoreview, Minnesota, in 1982.

“I had been training with local athletes Mary Lou Schmidt and Roy Carlsted and they encouraged me to do a triathlon.”

Like so many of us, she caught the ‘triathlon bug’ after completing her first.  There was no turning back.

 

A Mother’s Example

But the seed for her triathlon excursion started years earlier.  Jeanne credits much of her love for being active to her mother.  Growing up in South St. Paul, Minnesota, Jeanne’s mother taught her and her three sisters how to manage without a second car.

“We walked or biked everywhere that we needed to go.”

During the summer, they made the daily bike ride to the pool where they spent their afternoons.  Swimming, biking, and running were a natural part of her lifestyle as a child.

“When we were at home, my mom would tell us to ‘Go outside and play’.  So we would go outside, ride bike, swim or play kick the can in the summer, and go tobogganing in the winter.   We were literally outside whenever possible.”

Even though she did not participate in organized sports in high school, the foundation for future activities had been built.

 

Triathlon and More

Since 1982, Jeanne has done over 400 triathlons.  These have included six Ironman distance races of which three have been at the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.   Qualifying for Ironman Championships in Hawaii meant that she won her age group at qualifying Ironman triathlons in Lake Placid, New York; Cape Cod, Massachusetts; and Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Along the way, she has amassed a large number of interesting stories.  The first one which she shared during our conversation was from the Ironman Cape Cod.

“Cape Cod was tough with 40 miles per hour winds in every direction.  Oh, yes, and they forgot to tell us until the next day during the awards ceremony about the sharks that had been around the swim course.”

She has also completed 26 marathons.  These have included the iconic Boston Marathon, the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota.

On top of this, she has finished countless long distance bike rides across her home state of Minnesota (TRAM, Bike Across Minnesota, MS150), the Birkebeiner cross-country ski race, and bike rides across long stretches of the USA and Canada.

And then, there was her 2015 first-place finish in women’s triathlon at the National Senior Games.

Jeanne-Minder-awards

A sampling of Jeanne Minder’s awards and recognition. Clockwise from the upper left: 2018 ‘Breaking Barriers Award’ (upper left), finisher medal from the 2015 National Senior Games (upper right), the award from the 1995 Turtleman Triathlon (lower right), and the award from the 2004 Lake Minnetonka Triathlon.

 

Minnesota Senior Sports Hall of Fame

Despite this fantastic list of accomplishments, Jeanne told us that she was surprised to receive a call from a representative of the Minnesota Senior Sports Hall of Fame one day in early 2016.  The caller informed Jeanne that her accomplishments had been noticed and that she had been nominated to the Hall of Fame.

“When the caller told me that I had been nominated for the Senior Sports Hall of Fame, I asked ‘For what?’. ‘For triathlon’ was his answer.”

On May 13, 2016, Jeanne received the award recognizing her accomplishments in a ceremony at Jimmy’s Food & Drink in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota.

Jeanne-Minder-Hall-of-Fame-article

Jeanne Minder was inducted to the Minnesota Senior Sports Hall of Fame on May 13, 2016.

 

The Minnesota Senior Sports Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Minnesota Senior Sports Association.  According to their website, the Association is “dedicated to encouraging and supporting men and women from Minnesota in their pursuit of competitive athletics.”

 

Triathlon Training for Seniors

There are several approaches to training for a triathlon.  These include self-training (developing a training plan on your own), training as part of a triathlon club, and training under either a virtual or live coach.

While I have used self-training based on research and reading from a select group of books and websites, I have never been sure that this is the best approach or that it has helped me to be the most competitive.

Since Jeanne has been a personal trainer for 28 years and is an accomplished triathlete, I decided to get her thoughts.

Frankly, I expected that she would recommend hiring a trainer or triathlon coach.   However, this has not been her approach nor one she recommended.  In fact, I left feeling hopeful since she has followed a self-training approach with 2-3 group workouts per week.

 

Group Training Options

“There are plenty of options for group training.  Most running stores offer group runs.  Masters swimming clubs (such as U.S. Master Swimming) provide group swim training.  And many bike shops put together group rides.”

“Or, you can do what I did this morning.  When I got to the community center pool at 6 o’clock, there were already eight people in the pool.  I asked them if they wanted to do a workout, which they did.  So we ended up swimming 3,000 meters using a workout that I quickly put together.”

“As you get to know people in each of these, you will inevitably find those interested in triathlon.  You can put together triathlon specific sessions such as brick (e.g. bike followed by a run) workouts with these new found friends.”

“For example, we would bring our bikes to White Bear Beach (in White Bear Lake, Minnesota).  After a swim (in White Bear Lake), we would bike from the beach to Somerset, Wisconsin; eat lunch; and return home, having biked roughly 70 miles round trip.”

While triathlon is an individual sport, triathlon training provides plenty of opportunity for being social.

There can be no question that one factor in Jeanne’s success is her love for being with people.  She told us repeatedly of the thrills that have come from meeting and spending time with people, whether training together or camping at a multi-day biking event.

“Triathlon has allowed me to meet some really neat people.” Jeanne Minder

 

It’s Not About the Competition

If we are truthful, we all want to be competitive and even win some races, or at least finish in first place in our age group once in a while.

However, most seniors who do triathlon or are active with other sports – Jeanne Minder included – mostly want to see others share in the benefits of being active.  Not just as validation for their sports activities but because they (we) have seen the benefits of it.

“Anybody who does a triathlon or any sport is doing good.  As a personal trainer, I try to get people to work out three times per week and make it a lifestyle.

 

Let’s Not Forget the Volunteers and Race Directors

On several occasions, Jeanne stopped to point out the importance of volunteers and race directors to triathlon.

“Triathlons wouldn’t even be around were it not for the volunteers.  And, as for the race directors, most people do not realize the amount of work that goes into a triathlon.  There is not only the race but the work to organize the volunteers and all of the pre-race and post-race activities.”

Jeanne singled out Randy Fulton for his support of triathlon:

“For a while, Randy was running every triathlon around here (Minneapolis-St. Paul area).  He was really great for promoting the sport and giving us great races to do.  He was a great person.”

By the way, next time you are at a triathlon, thank the volunteers.

 

What’ Next?

Jeanne loves being with people.  She has high energy and loves to be active.

She also loves her dogs.

“Today, my inspiration for running comes from my three Golden Retrievers.  Goldens are runners.  They love to run.”

“After coming home from a hard day, these guys give me a look that tells me ‘You need to take me for a run’.  How can I say ‘No’?”

 

Questions?

Please send any questions or comments through the comment box below or by emailing seniortriathletes@gmail.com.

 

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Product Review: Tyr Ergo Nose Clip for Swimming

Product Review: Tyr Ergo Nose Clip for Swimming

 

If getting water in your nose during swimming leaves you sneezing, with a runny nose, or, worse yet, congested, then you and I have something in common.  You will also find my experience with a nose clip useful for your triathlon swim training.

 

I Love Swimming, But

I am comfortable when swimming, whether in a pool or the open water.

My breathing during both pool and open water swimming is comfortable and relaxed.  I exhale through my mouth and nose while my face is in the water.  This keeps me from taking in much water during the swim.  But, there is always some water that gets into my mouth and nose.

The pool water that gets into my nose will invariably result in a runny nose and, occasionally, sneezing over the next few hours.

When I swim in lake water, even the slightest amount of water in my nose will leave me with a plugged nose, making sleeping the next night difficult.  I blame it on an allergy to the algae in the lake water.

While a nasal decongestant will help reduce the congestion, I avoid using one until it is necessary.

In the past, I had tried a nose clip that I dug out of my wife’s gym bag.  However, it was more hassle than good since it slipped off my nose after a short time in the water.

 

Rethinking the Nose Clip

Recently, I came across an article about Olympic swimmer and gold medalist Missy Franklin.  The article showed her wearing a nose clip.

This got me thinking.

Since I live near a lake, open water swim training is very accessible.  I decided that I wanted to solve the problem.

I took to the internet to review various nose clips.  For every positive review, there was an equally negative one.  In most cases, the reviewers with negative comments wrote of the clip falling off their nose.  Several even lost their clip during its first use.  No brand seemed to have a completely positive review.

In the end, I went to local sporting goods stores, finally finding a clip at a local REI store.  I purchased the last unit of the only model they had in stock, the TYR Ergo Swim Clip.

You can also purchase the TYR Ergo Nose Clip at SwimOutlet.com.

Tyr-Ergo-nose-clip

My experience with the TYR Ergo Swim Clip has been positive, especially with the clip attached to my swim goggles.

 

Protecting My Investment

The nose clip was inexpensive (around $5) so it would not be terrible if I lost it in the lake.

However, I preferred not to have to keep running around shopping for another if I were to lose this one.  Remember, my experience with nose clips thus far was that they tended to fall off.

I decided to find a way to keep from losing the clip in the lake.  The first attempt was to use some good quality dental floss to secure the clip around my neck (like a necklace).  This was similar to the design of the clip that I had borrowed from my wife, except that hers used a rubber strap.

I secured the floss to the clip using a loose knot around the bridge of the clip.  The knot was smaller than the ends of the clip so that it would not come off.  For reference, see the inset in the picture in this article for which the caption begins with “Here is what worked for me“.

 

First Open Water Swim

In my first open water swim of one mile, the clip came loose two times, the first time after swimming more than a half mile.  Since the process of coming off my nose was relatively slow, I could stop and reattach the clip before it came completely off.

 

Pool Swim

The second time, I used the clip in the LA Fitness swimming pool.  Again, I found that the floss holding the clip around my neck would catch on my face, occasionally tugging on the clip.  I was certain that this is the reason the clip started to come off my nose.

While in the pool, I also found that the nose clip did not sink to the bottom of the pool when dropped in the water.  Instead, it floated somewhat below the surface of the water.   Still, I was not giving up on securing it.

 

Second Open Water Swim

The next time, during an open water swim in a nearby lake, I attached the floss holding the clip to my goggles (see picture below).  The floss was still the original length; throughout the swim, I could feel the floss dancing around my face, occasionally catching momentarily on my skin and tugging on the clip.

Tyr-Ergo-nose-clip-attached-to-goggles-with-long-connection-for-triathlon-swim-training

Swim goggles with TYR Ergo Nose Clip connected by dental floss. In this case, the floss is longer than needed which caused it to catch on my face during the swim.

However, over the course of a mile, the nose plug came loose, but not completely off, only once.  Progress!

 

Third Time’s a Charm

Before the next lake swim, I reduced the length of the floss holding the clip to the bridge of my goggles so it was not brushing against or catching on my face.

Tyr-Ergo-nose-clip-to-goggles-solution

Picture 3: Here is what has worked for me for triathlon swim training. Swim goggles with Tyr Ergo Nose Clip connected by floss. The floss is secured to the nose clip by a knot that prevents the floss from passing over either of the two larger ends of the clip.

The result was exactly as I hoped.  The clip stayed on my nose throughout a one mile lake swim.  And, more importantly, there was no runny nose or congestion.

 

Conclusion

If you have problems with water getting in your nose during swimming, the swim clip may be the solution.  You can avoid losing it—or worrying about losing it—in the pool, lake, river, or ocean by clipping it to your goggles using a short piece of floss or string.

 

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Book Review – Train to Tri: Your First Triathlon

Looking to complete your first triathlon? Want to inspire and motivate your children, grandchildren, parents, friends, or co-workers?

If so, Train To Tri: Your First Triathlon by Linda Cleveland and Kris Swarthout is for you.  This 246-page guide provides the essential information needed to prepare for your first triathlon.Cover of "Train to Tri - Your First Triathlon"

Authors: Linda Cleveland and Kris Swarthout, both USA Triathlon Level 2 coaches with lots of experience competing in triathlon and coaching triathletes.

Publisher: Human Kinetics

Who is this book for?

Train To Tri is written primarily for those considering or already committed to completing their first sprint or standard (formerly called Olympic) distance triathlon.

Even though it is aimed at first-timers, it is not just for those doing their first triathlon.  While I have completed over 40 sprint triathlons, I found several useful training tipsI have already put some of them to use.

 

What does the book cover?

The book opens with a 24-question Triathlon Readiness Assessment.  Results of the self-assessment help the future triathlete identify with one of three categories – bronze, silver, or gold – and select the training plan included later in the book.  This initial section also provides guidelines for choosing the specific race for your first triathlon.

I like the basic strategy of the first triathlon training plan laid out by the authors – to focus most of the training effort on your weakest leg.

You should focus the most time and effort on [your third strongest sport] to develop strength and endurance as well as improve technique. (page 9)

Gear

Once you decide to do a triathlon, you will quickly learn about the incredible amount of clothing and equipment (called ‘gear’ in the triathlon world) surrounding the sport.  Since not all the gear is necessary for your first triathlon, the authors distinguish between the ‘necessary’ and the ‘nice to have’ or ‘you can wait and decide after your first race’ gear.

 

Your Triathlon Support Group

Training with a group can provide the extra motivation needed to push through a training program and reap the rewards of completing your first triathlon.  A group can also help you to improve your technique more quickly.

In this chapter, the authors suggest ways to create a support network for your training in swimming, biking, and running that includes various clubs and your family, friends, and co-workers.

You may have various support group options.  For example, if you live in a retirement community, such as The Villages, Florida, you have a built-in support group in The Villages Triathlon Club.  Members train and race together with encouragement galore.

If you are working in an area without a triathlon training club in the area, you can create your own support group through a local fitness center, community pool, bike shop, and running store.  This provides flexibility to follow your specific training plan while enlisting the support of instructors and others with experience from which you can benefit.

Swim

The chapter on swimming covers the basic elements of an efficient stroke with illustrations for a proper freestyle technique.  I appreciated the suggestion for traveling and swimming, especially the advice for making use of the typical small hotel pool.

Interestingly, many triathletes find swimming to be their weakest sport.  If you are in that group, get comfortable being in the water and with swimming with other people as you will experience on race day.  Whether swimming in a pool or in open water, you will inevitably come close to, if not in contact with, other swimmers.  Staying calm is the key to finishing the swim.

If the race you choose includes an open water swim, you will want to practice swimming in open water to become familiar with ‘sighting’.   For safety reasons, I recommend adding the ISHOF Safe Swimmer (see also below) to your list of gear.

 

Bike

Most of us know how to ride a bicycle.  However, many have never ridden in a large group at speeds associated with a triathlon.

Therefore, the focus of this chapter is safety.  According to the authors, safety in biking begins with a review of the various components of the bicycle to make sure that they are each in good working order.   They also describe the most important cycling skills and suggestions on how to hone these, both individually and in group rides.

When riding on the road in traffic, you need to follow the rules of the road as if you were driving a car. (page 78)

Run

We all know how to run. Right?  Well, not necessarily in a way that is the most efficient or that minimizes the possibility for injuries.  About half of this chapter is dedicated to proper cadence (steps per minute) and body form.  The rest of the chapter introduces training with a heart rate monitor and training involving the three-run types included in the weekly training plans.

If you take one thing from this chapter, remember to progress slowly (the ‘10% per week’ rule) to minimize the likelihood of injury.  Unfortunately, we need to be reminded of this every so often.

 

Strength and Flexibility

Building strength and increasing flexibility are two keys to increasing your performance in triathlon.   For many of us who spend a lot of time sitting during their workday, lack of flexibility can be the major root cause of injury.   The authors show that a relatively small amount of time spent in strength training and stretching can lead to better performance and fewer injuries.  Plus, these are another way to ‘mix it up’ and keep the training interesting and fresh.

 

Nutrition and Rest

If we all know how to run, most of us are even better at fueling (aka eating).  The challenge is to eat properly.  It becomes even more complicated when we are exercising, burning more calories, trying to build muscle, and recovering from the stress of training.

Triathlon training can be a great way to shed pounds and improve your health.   Eating the right foods in the right amount and at the right time is the focus of this chapter.  The authors are clear: “Although your daily caloric burn will certainly increase based on your training volume, you don’t have a license to hit the buffet for every meal”.

The chapter begins by showing us how to calculate two important numbers related to exercise – resting metabolic rate (RMR) and caloric burn rate.  The authors discuss how to eat (or ‘fuel’ as they define it) throughout the day. This includes eating before, during, and after workouts.  Sample menus for triathlon training days help to illustrate the principles of proper fueling.

The chapter concludes with a discussion about the importance of rest within a process known as periodization.  The authors even provide a simple test to help us determine when our body is telling us to take a day of rest.

If you do not get adequate rest, the muscles will fatigue and eventually fail, resulting in injury. (page 139)

Training plans

It’s now time to put the information from the previous chapters together and begin to train for your first triathlon.   Sample 8-week training plans are provided for bronze-, silver-, and gold-level athletes for both sprint and standard distance triathlons.    I appreciate that the authors show readers how to tailor the plans to meet their particular strengths and weaknesses and their individual schedules.

 

Preparing to race

I love this section.  Here, the authors take the new triathlete down the ‘home stretch’ to completing their first race.

Filled with practical advice, the authors walk us through the two weeks leading up to the race.  With greater detail for race day, you can feel the thrill that begins upon waking and includes crossing the finish line and heading to the refreshment area for a cold drink and banana.

 

Why get this book?

Train To Tri is pragmatic and focused.  It includes essential information for each of the sports of triathlon.  The authors season the information with the nuances of practicing them within a triathlon.

You can trust the USAT-certified coaches with this ‘no-nonsense’ guide.

 

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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.

 

This post was originally published on January 21, 2018.  It was updated on September 20, 2019.

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5 Common Mistakes in the Pool Swim of a Triathlon

5 Common Mistakes in the Pool Swim of a Triathlon
Mizzou Aquatic Center at University of Missouri, Columbia MO, venue for the swim leg of the TriZou Triathlon.

Want to prevent fellow triathletes from becoming annoyed with you during a race? Avoid these mistakes commonly made during a pool swim.

From my experience with sprint triathlon, here are the top five mistakes, in no particular order, that occur doing a pool swim:

  • Reporting too aggressive or conservative pace/time

This mistake most often occurs during registration when you are asked to provide an estimate of the time that it will take to complete the swim.   You definitely do not want to be swimming with triathletes who are significantly faster or slower than you.

If you are worried about the registration filling before you can time your swim, give your best estimate.  Then, after later measuring the time, contact the race organizer to make any correction.

In many cases, you will also have opportunity on race day to make any correction.  You will likely be asked to line up with those of similar pace (if the start is one at a time) or to join a group with those of similar speed (if swimmers start in a group, typically of five or six) .

Just don’t make the mistake on race day.

 

  • Starting too fast

With adrenaline rushing and the crowd roaring (even a small crowd can be deafening in an indoor pool), it is tempting to start swimming too fast too soon causing your heart rate to spike or breathing to become difficult.  The next thing you know, you are swimming much slower than planned or even stopping to catch your breath.  Better to start out at what you consider to be a bit slower that you think you should until you are in a rhythm.  Once your breathing is at a normal race pace and you are ‘warmed up, give it your all.

 

  • Not drafting, if it is possible

Drafting is considered by many to be one of the keys to conserving energy during the swim while at the same time turning in a respectable (for you) time.  The problem with drafting is that it can be difficult to practice unless you swim with a group.

To take advantage of drafting, swim with your hands just behind the feet of the person in front of you.  (Avoid touching their feet which sends the message that you want to pass them.)

 

  • Not staying in your space

This is especially important when swimming in the same lane as one or more athletes and remaining in the same lane during the entire swim.  Stay on your side (usually the right side) of the lane.  You do not want to be the cause of a head-on crash.

Even if the swim involves a single length of each of several lanes in a Z-pattern, stay to the right as a matter of courtesy to faster swimmers.  You will appreciate this if you are the faster swimmer.

pool swim

Staying within your space during a pool swim will allow faster racers to pass.

  • Not allowing faster swimmers to pass when they let you know that they want to

Another courtesy to fellow racers is to allow faster swimmers to pass.  Let them pass as soon as possible once they have signaled that they want to do so.  Typically, faster swimmers will tap one of the feet of the swimmer that they wish to pass.  If you can, move to the right side of the lane to allow them to pass.  In races in which the entire length of swim involves multiple laps within a given lane, it is typical for the racer who is being passed to pause at the end of a length.  Allow the faster swimmer or swimmers to pass you, and then resume your swim.

 

What is your experience?

Have you identified other mistakes or have experience with those I have listed? Leave your comments below.

 

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