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News & Updates

Master the Open Water Swim

Open water swimming can be intimidating if you do not train and prepare for it properly. (But it can NEVER be as bad as this! Click here for video)

A quote we like, “In a challenging situation you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training.” We have compiled a list of tips and drills that you can start using in your swim training. When it comes to the swim portion, if you do not prepare for it, you are likely to have a miserable experience.

Sighting & Navigation.

One thing about swimming in open water is that there is no black line at the bottom to guide you in the right direction. If you do not sight frequently and effectively, you are likely to swim off course and this can be very discouraging. We suggest you sight every 3-5 strokes. You can lift your head while swimming freestyle, or swim breaststroke or doggy paddle as you sight the buoy (or similar marker) in the distance. Tip: Be mindful of the swimmers around you during a race. If they are sighting frequently and not swimming off course, let them do the majority of the work. Stay right behind them and watch their feet. At this point you can save energy by drafting and sighting every 10 or more strokes (to make sure they are still on track and that you know where you are going).

Race Breathing.

If you breathe on one side in freestyle (unilateral breathing) you are in for a world of trouble. Case in point, you breathe on your right side. During the race, the wind is blowing and waves are coming at you on your right side. Are you going to keep breathing on your right side into the waves? Only if you want to swallow water! At this point, it’s imperative you feel confident and comfortable breathing on your left side. If you have not been practicing it in your workouts, you are going to have a miserable swim. We suggest that you learn bilateral breathing – breathing on both sides. When we have athletes that prefer one side over the other, such as right side breathing, we tell them to swim the entire workout breathing on their left side only. Seems harsh, but it works. They learn to feel confident and comfortable breathing on their non-favorite side. We want them to be ready for whatever may come during a race.

Swim Start.

Some races require athletes to enter the water before the race starts. At this point you are treading water for about 30 sec – 1 minute. If you have not prepared for this, you may find yourself exhausted before the race has even started! We recommend you learn how to tread water (if you do not already know).  Youtube has great videos demonstrating the egg-beat or rotary beater kick technique. Click here for a video demo. Other effective techniques can be floating on your back or if permitted, holding onto the dock until the race begins.

Swim Exit.

The exit of the swim race can be easy and fun if you do it right. When you approach the shoreline, just because your feet can touch the bottom doesn’t mean you should start trying to run. Keep swimming freestyle until your hands and elbows are scraping the bottom. At that point, plant your feet, stand up and start running. When you use the latter technique, the water is very shallow (below your knees) and makes it easier and faster to run out. The fun part is passing all the other athletes hardly moving in waist-deep water!

The swim portion of the triathlon can be fun when you are ready and prepared for it. Regularly practice sighting, bilateral breathing, and treading water in your swim workouts. The more often you do them, the more natural they will feel. Also, on race day, practice a few swim exits during your warm up. All these are important factors to a great open water swim! Good Luck!

Green Smoothie

A green smoothie is simply a green colored smoothie. Add your favorite fruits and vegetables, throw in some spinach, blend it up and what you have is a healthy, delicious green smoothie!

Nutritional benefits:

By adding yogurt, Kefir, and spinach, green smoothies are rich in calcium and protein. Perfect for post-workout recovery!

Spinach is a good source of omega-3 unsaturated fats, contains all essential amino acids, and calcium, dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium. That is a lot from a tiny, green leafy vegetable!

How to make:

Green Smoothie = Liquid Base + Leafy Greens + Veggies + Fruit + Special Ingredients

Liquid Base: Organic White Grape Juice and Kefir (Kefir is amazing for the protein content and a superb probiotic source!)

Leafy Greens: Spinach leaves. The more you add, the greener the smoothie (and healthier). You can even add fresh kale.

Veggies: To add some healthy fats, throw in some avocado. You can even add carrots, and red or yellow bell peppers.

Fruit: Bananas, apples, oranges, mangos, grapes, etc. To ensure your smoothie has a beautiful green color, keep the fruits in the orange and yellow category.

Special ingredients: To make the smoothie even more nutritious and creamy, we add plain yogurt. This adds additional probiotics, protein and calcium. We never measure out the ingredients on purpose. Each one tastes slightly different and that’s the appeal for us. We also add local honey to boost our immune system (by exposing us to local allergens).

**No smoothie has all the stuff listed above.  We never make the same smoothie

Here at Alamo 180, green smoothies have truly changed the way we fuel and snack throughout the day. We use them as post recovery as well for a quick snack during the day.  It has helped with our training, nutrition, and hydration. We hope by sharing our recipe, you get the same benefits we do! Enjoy!

Marathon Training Program

Alamo 180 Marathon Training Program

Program Start Date: June 18th  2011      

San Antonio Rock N Roll Marathon & 1/2 Marathon

Unlike most fitness activities, training for a marathon and 1/2 marathon is serious business. Fail to train properly, and you not only risk not finishing the race, you also risk seriously injuring yourself. The marathon is not a race you decide to do a few weeks before the event. It is something you train and prepare for over a several month period. But, that doesn’t mean that training for a marathon shouldn’t be fun – because it is!

The biggest question most beginner, and many experience marathoners have is: “How long should my training runs be and how many times per week should I run?”

The answer, of course, varies for the individual person and their goals, but there are some general rules and suggestions to follow. While an elite marathoner might run two workouts per day and over 100 miles per week while training for a marathon, the body of most mortals could not take such pounding (and who can find that time anyway?). The important components in a marathon training program for most people are these:

  • Gradually increase the overall weekly distance until two to three weeks before the marathon.
  • Include two long runs spread across the week, one midweek, the other on the weekend.
  • Include one day of faster running and/or integrate strides into your regular runs.
  • Try to run six days per week.
  • The runs between your long runs do not need to be any longer than 3-6 miles.

The point is this: Your body won’t get used to running long distances, unless it has run those distances on a regular basis. So you need to make your run workouts a priority and stay focused. More importantly, the body needs rest between those runs, which is why we suggest no more than two long runs per week and moderate distance on the other days. Our philosophy is “hard day/easy day/hard day/easy day/etc…” At the beginning of your training program, those long runs could be 6 miles each. Then, as the weeks go by, gradually increase them. Perhaps week two would see the long runs as 6 & 8 miles, week three 7 & 9, week four: 7 & 10, etc.  At this point you have built an good, strong base of miles and your body will be prepared for the marathon event. You can even through in some strength workouts in the form of Boot Camp or weight training at your local gym to build additional muscular endurance. It’s all about patience, hard work and determination. Grab a partner and enjoy the marathon journey!

Faster Transitions

6 Ways to Develop Faster Transitions:

 

Please don’t let this be you <-Click to watch video

Age group athletes need quick transitions to be competitive at Sprint and Olympic distance racing. Just a few seconds lost in transition might cost an athlete a podium position. Here are some pro techniques you can use to make your transitions faster.

Begin practicing fast transitions now

Too often, athletes wait until the week before the race to practice transitions. That is too late. You need to practice now to execute the fastest transitions possible and have them be second nature.

One way to do this is to include transitions in your brick workouts. Also, set aside some practice time to work exclusively on faster transitions–don’t worry about an aerobic workout that day.

Leave your shoes in the pedals and use rubber bands

Elite athletes leave their shoes in the pedals for the first transition (T1). After exiting the swim, they put on their helmets, grab the bike and run out of the transition area.

In order to keep the crank arms and shoes from rotating and jamming into the ground, they use thin rubber bands to hold the shoes and the crank arms parallel to the ground. They attach one end of the rubber band around the shoe or through the heel loop of the shoe, and the other end to a rear stay on the side of the bike.

Do the same with the other shoe. You will have to experiment to see which locations are best for your rubber bands depending on your shoe size and frame size.

The thin rubber bands easily break away when you mount the bike and begin pedaling with your feet on top of your shoes. Slide your feet in your shoes once you are rolling at a good pace.

Put your sunglasses on while pedaling

Instead of putting your sunglasses on in the transition area, put them on once you are rolling on the bike. If your helmet has front air vents, see if you can secure the sunglasses there.

From the front, it will look like your helmet is wearing sunglasses. If your sunglasses are not secure on your helmet, fasten them to the top of your frame with a small piece of tape.

Use a flying mount and dismount

World Cup racers are going as fast as possible at every moment during a race. They are running relatively hard when they exit T1. They mount their moving bicycle with a flying mount, which looks something like a cowboy jumping onto a galloping horse.

Before they approach the dismount line at T2, they remove both feet from their shoes and continue pedaling in a manner similar to when they began the bike leg. Near the dismount line, they swing one leg back and over the bicycle so it’s behind the other leg on one side of the bicycle. At the dismount line they are off the bike and running to the transition area. This particular move is advanced and takes plenty of practice.

Use elastic laces and no socks

There are elastic laces available at most stores that stock triathlon supplies. Elastic laces allow you to easily slip your feet into your shoes, wasting no time to secure Velcro or old-style lace locks on regular laces.

Before you decide to race with no socks, do a few practice runs at home. Some athletes can run with no socks and not have a single blister. Other athletes will develop hot spots on their feet that eventually bloom into blisters.

On your test run, carry a lubricant such as Body Glide. When you feel a hot spot beginning to develop, stop and apply the lubricant to the shoe surface causing the hot spot. This is the same location you will apply the lubricant on race morning when you set up your transition area.

Use a movie camera

When you are trying to improve your transition speed, have someone record your T1 and T2 in a practice session or during a race. Use a watch and time both transitions. After reviewing for ways to improve, do the transitions repeatedly until you think you have the fastest transition time possible.

If you’re a spectator at an event, tape some of the top age-group and elite racers to see how they’re doing transitions. You may pick up some additional tips.

If you’re looking to get the edge on your competition without additional training, take a look at your transitions. Strategizing where you can save time during transitions is fun and it may even put you on the podium.

Article adapted from Gale Bernhardt. USA Triathlon
This article originally appeared on Active.com

To Workout or Not to Workout?

Training Question: “When I feel tired and drained, should I skip the workout or just push through it?”

We as triathletes ask a lot out of our bodies. When we demand too much without enough rest and recovery, our bodies talk back to us. But, our bodies also talk back to us when we push our training to new limits and attempt to do more than we have previously done (principle of overload).

So…you show up for your training session and don’t feel quite up to par. You may then wonder if you should go through with the workout as scheduled, or save it for another day. You don’t want to be a wimp, but at the same time, you don’t want to push through it if resting would be more beneficial. What should you do?

To determine whether or not you should do a workout, it is helpful to investigate the following three areas: Sleep, Nutrition, and Goal Setting

  1. SleepHow much sleep have you gotten in the past five days? Take an inventory and you may find you are in need of a nap. It is no secret that athletes perform better with more sleep.
      • Adults usually require seven to nine hours daily, and adolescents and teens need more at nine to ten hours daily.
      • Triathletes love the key workouts and the big training days, but if only they had the same enthusiasm for sleep and recovery.
  1. NutritionHave you eaten A) enough calories, B) the right kinds of calories, and C) at the right times throughout the day? Nutrition is a big reason why people bonk and feel lack of energy for their workouts.
      • Enough calories? – Determine your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) so that you can have a starting point for managing caloric intake. If you don’t eat enough, you can forget feeling charged up for a workout.
      • The right kinds of calories? – In addition to eating enough total calories, the percentage breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats can affect your energy level. Tracking the percentages can be useful as it often points out you are too low in one area. The exact amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats needed depends on what training phase you are in. Just as your annual training plan is periodized, nutrition should be periodized as well.
      • At the right times throughout the day? – Three squares a day won’t cut it anymore! Aim for five to six smaller meals throughout the day with pre-workout and post-workout snacks in mind.

The best way to determine your nutritional needs is to log your food intake on a daily basis. It will allow you to see just how much fuel it takes to sustain a hard training week. It will also allow you to see what foods your body responds to positively. If you want to take your nutrition (and performance) to the next level, then you must be willing to log. Do a Google search for online logging sites and find one that you like so that you can begin experimenting with logging food intake.

  1. Goal Setting Have you clearly defined your goals? Often times when workouts lack purpose, motivation goes out the window. You start missing workouts left and right. Having a plan and executing it will give you confidence and momentum.
      • When you write down and have someone hold you accountable to your goals, you are more likely to achieve them. This is one reason why athletes with a coach consistently outperform those without a coach.
      • Make sure your commitments are enough to achieve your goals. Having a goal that you cannot devote enough time or money towards to achieve will only result in dissatisfaction and stress. If you have lost the “fun” factor in your training, then it is time to reassess your goals.

Tip: Look beyond the current season. Strive to grasp the big picture. It seems that the narrower the scope of the goal, the more likely the athlete is subject to disappointment or burnout. There is nothing wrong with short-term aggressive goals; they keep some of us highly motivated. But to complete the goal setting repertoire, add a five-year goal and a ten-year goal as well. This way if you happen to fall short of specific goals for the season, you can maintain the perspective that you are making progress towards five-year and ten-year goals. Consistency is the key for long-term success in triathlon.

To know your body well takes a lot of time and practice. Mastering the three areas of sleep, nutrition, and sound goal setting will equip you with the knowledge for more effective discernment when it comes to the original question posed: “When I feel tired and drained, should I skip the workout or just push through it?”

Training Tip Summary: Show up. Go the pool. Lace up and head out the door on your run. Get on the trainer. Start your strength workout or Boot Camp workout. Start warming up and see how you feel 5 to 10 minutes into it. If you feel better and forgot you were tired, then you probably just needed to harden up! If you feel worse and/or that you cannot maintain proper form, then take it to the house with no guilt and focus on rest and recovery.

Article adapted from USA Triathlon

Triathlon Training Tips

Triathlon Training Tips

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned veteran, the following triathlon training tips will help prepare you for race day.

Train on the Bike you Race.
Your bike does not need to be expensive, so long as it’s reliable. One thing it must be is the bike you will use on race day. Don’t spend months training on one bicycle, then upgrade to an unfamiliar bike for the race. Same can be said of training on your “training bike” and then racing on your “race bike”. Race on the bike you train with. You want familiarity when racing.

Invest in Good Shoes.
Depending on the triathlon you are racing, you may be on your feet from 5K to 42K. Spend the money on a good pair of shoes from a store that specializes in running. The expert employees will be able to fit your feet with the perfect shoe for your gait, foot shape and race ambitions. Run Wild Sports is one of our sponsors and Alamo 180 athletes receive 10% discount.

Train for the Water you will Race.
If the triathlon has an open water start, try practicing in a lake, rather than the pool. The closer you can mimic the conditions you will have at the race, the more prepared you will be on race day. During your training, focus on your swimming technique as this makes the largest difference in your results on race day. Make sure your breathing, kick, body position, and arm rotation are in the proper form. Poor form kills momentum in the water.

Train for Transitions.
By training for transitions, you can save precious minutes on race day. Time how long it takes to change from your wetsuit (if you plan to wear it in your race) to your cycling gear, then find ways to decrease this time such as stepping out of your wetsuit while fastening your helmet, or putting your feet in your cycling shoes while they are already strapped into your pedals. Make transition practice a regular event to ensure a smooth, seamless transition come race day.

Come race day, make sure you know where you racked your bike. You don’t want to come out of the water and into transition lost and confused because you cannot remember where you bike is.

Don’t Over Train.
It is easy to get swept up in the excitement of training for a triathlon, but don’t forget to plan days of rest in your training program. On race day, your adrenaline will help carry you onward – don’t risk injury for a few extra hours of training. Rest up and taper down – your body will love you for it.

Vary your Workout.
Just as your body will fail to progress if subjected to the same level of intensity at each workout, so will your mind become bored doing the same workout. Keep your motivation high by varying your workouts. If you typically train indoors, head outside for a trail run.

Lubricate Your Body.
You have no trouble gliding through the water without resistance. Such is not the case when it comes to your thighs against the bike seat. Lubricate all contact points on your body with any number of commercially available body glides. You can find these at any fitness or running store. Another great option is Vaseline. Perfect for placement on the thighs and even on your ankles to prevent blisters from your cycling and/or running shoes.

Fuel Your Body.
Energy gels and blocks are easy to carry in the pouch of a fuel belt and will keep your energy level high and your performance at its peak on race day. After 45 minutes to 1 hour of racing or training, you need to fuel your body with carbohydrates and electrolytes. Don’t wait until race day to try a new energy gel. Practice with different brands and flavors during practice to determine which works best for you.

Slow and Steady Start Wins the Race.
Many a racer has burned out midway through a race because they started out too quickly. Since the first leg of a triathlon is in the water, plan to train and swim at a steady pace that you can sustain for the entire swim portion. Stay relaxed and maintain proper breathing. Do not get caught up in the pace of faster swimmers. Let them go and focus on your form and pace. By not over-expending energy in the water, you will be refreshed for the cycle portion. You just might catch up to them on the bike portion!

Alamo 180 offers team and individual triathlon training services. We also offer swim sessions designed to improve your swim technique and make you more efficient in the water. If you are thinking about getting into triathlon racing this season, train with Alamo 180!

Article adapted from Beginner Triathlon Training

Spin To Joy

Alamo 180 proudly volunteered at the Ironman For Kids ‘Spin To Joy’ event Saturday, Feb 12.   The event passionately seeks to raise awareness for Trisomy, a chromosomal disorder, as well as the proceeds going towards providing special bikes for these precious, deserving children.

Jeff led a portion of the All Day Spin-athon from the instructor spin bike.

See how you can get involved with Ironman For Kids and make a difference.

Bike Storage and Safety

Secure Bike Storage

As triathlon season picks up and the weather becomes nicer for outdoor bike rides, it is important to be mindful of bike storage and security. Most of us know someone whose bike has been stolen or even worse you have had yours stolen. Here are a few tips to keep your prized possession out of the arms of a thief:

* Verify the serial # that is on the bike. Typically it is underneath the bottom bracket or on one of the chain stays. Some bike shops record the serial # at the time of purchase; consider contacting the original bike shop to verify the #.

* Let your insurance company know about your important investment. Provide your insurer with photos to verify ownership as well as original sales receipt and serial #. This helps you in the event your bike is stolen. The police and your insurance company need this information to expedite the process.

* Never leave your bike unlocked and unattended outside any building – this includes your local bike shop. Unfortunately bike theft can happen even in your backyard. You just never know who might be passing through.

* Avoid locking your bike outside for an extended period of time. If you ride your bike to work on a consistent basis see if your employer will allow you to bring your bike inside or to a more secure place that is visible to more people.

* If locking your bike outside is unavoidable invest in a quality lock. Avoid the thinner cable locks. Look for the beefier U- Lock style lock. In addition to the U-Lock, commuters should consider carrying a heavier cable lock as well so you can lock your bike to almost anything.

* If you need to leave your bike unattended in your car consider covering it with a blanket and/or keep it out of plain view as much as possible. For optimum coverage, get a flat sheet that matches the interior color of your vehicle.

* If you need to leave your bike on your bike rack for an extended period, make sure to lock it on the rack. Some racks come with an existing lock which works great. The other option is to use a heavy cable lock.

* Register your bike with the National Bike Registry (NBR). The NBR is the only true national database where bikes can be identified by police and returned to the rightful owner. Register today!

Information adapted from Jack & Adams Bicycles Newsletter

Why Should I Take Your Boot Camp?

Our Boot Camp has been mentioned twice in the SA Express News!

No Gym Fees

Most gyms offer boot camp classes, but they are associated with a higher cost. Not only are you required to pay a registration fee to join the gym, but you are also stuck with a reoccurring monthly membership rate. If that doesn’t sound expensive already, many times you have to pay for the boot camp class as it is not included in the basic membership.  Alamo 180 charges $90 for a 5 week boot camp session that meets 2 times a week. Or try our convenient $15 drop-ins. No hidden fees, no contracts. We even offer discounts throughout the year. Good luck getting that from your gym membership.

Smaller Class Size

Alamo 180 caps the boot camps at 15 participants. This ensures quality instruction and personalized attention. Classes at gym facilities can range anywhere from 20 to 30 participants. Can you imagine getting quality instruction with that many people in the class? Need help with your push up form? The gym would recommend you pay extra for a personal trainer. Need help with your push up form in an Alamo 180 boot camp? No problem!

Convenient Location

Alamo 180 trains at Maverick Park on Broadway just across the way from Cavendar

Reliable, Former Military Instructors

Alamo 180’s instructors are former military service members. They didR not attend a weekend workshop to learn how to teach boot camp. They have been through boot camp, so they know what it’s really like. You get the “real deal”. Additionally, our instructors are certified in personal training and group exercise. Reliability? Former military, need we say more?