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News & Updates

The Importance of Recovery

As athletes, we often push to our limits when we workout thinking that this is where we can make the most fitness gains.  While the hard work does pay off, it is also important to focus on the post-workout recovery.

Stretch

Studies have shown that stretching post-workout can decrease recovery time, as well as the risk of injury, and can increase flexibility and range of motion.  According to the American College of Sports Medicine, stretches should be held for a minimum of 30 seconds, and no longer than 2 minutes. It is important to stretch immediately following a workout, while the muscles are still warm.  Use slow and steady application of pressure (static stretching) versus short, extreme, bouncing movements.  Be sure to control your breathing, and allow the stretch to deepen as you exhale.

Refuel

During exercise, the body utilizes glycogen stores as fuel.  What is glycogen? Glycogen is composed of mostly carbohydrates, and is stored within muscle tissue as an immediate, reserve fuel during exercise lasting longer than 45 minutes. It is important to replace these carbohydrates within 30 minutes to 2 hours post workout to maximize recovery.  It is during this period when glycogen replenishment occurs at roughly 50% above the normal rate. Anything between 2 and 4 hours will slowly taper to normal level of glycogen replacement.

So how do we replenish our glycogen stores?  Since many athletes have little or no appetite following workouts, it is wise to use liquids.  While glycogen is primarily carbohydrate in its makeup, most studies suggest that athletes replenish with a mix of carbohydrate and protein.  This can be done in various manners, however, low fat chocolate milk, with its mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat, is a favorite among many endurance athletes.  For those who are lactose intolerant, there is a lactose free alternative, Mootopia, available at HEB.

How much you need to replenish can be calculated using your bodyweight in kilograms. For every one kilogram of body mass, consume 0.4 grams of protein, and 0.8 grams of carbohydrate.

Rest

Sleep is one of the most often ignored tools of recovery.  Most studies agree that most people need 6-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.  A study conducted on college runners getting an extra hour or more of sleep a night found  significant improvement in performance while their training levels stayed the same. As athletes leading busy lives, it is easy to go to bed late and get up early.  This robs the body of its most important recovery tool.  During sleep, the body releases Human Growth Hormone which helps repair broken muscle tissue.  It is in sleep that our muscles grow stronger, not during the workouts!  Napping can be used as a supplement to insufficient sleep, and even a nap of 20 minutes can do wonders for your energy levels during the day.

Ice

Probably the most avoided of recovery tools, ice has amazing rehabilitative power.  Many elite and professional athletes testify to the power of ice water or cold water baths in decreasing recovery time, joint and muscle inflammation, and Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.  It may sound crazy, but it works!  A five minute soak of the legs in cold/ice water after long run or workout will reduce the swelling in the knees, hips and ankles, as well as muscle inflammation.  Ice can also be applied directly to any sore joints or muscles, such as the knees or low back.

Compression

We’ve all seen the athlete wearing knee high socks while out on a run, and many of us think to ourselves, “Hey buddy, the ‘70’s called, and they want their socks back!” Well, as it turns out, the latest fashion craze to hit endurance sports is more than just a fad.  Compression is a real and effective tool for recovery.  Compression on skeletal muscle increases blood flow, thereby speeding recovery.  Some athletes swear that wearing compression during exercise enhances their performance.  This may be a placebo effect, but know that compression does work after exercise.  There are various brands and apparel available, from compression socks and calf sleeves, to full body compression suits, so it important for each athlete to experiment for one’s self.

Elevation

Another useful tool to help reduce inflammation is elevation. It is often used along with the various other forms of recovery.  For runners, laying on your back, with pillows or a box propping your legs at a 90 degree angle often feels good and can help relieve some stress from our primary source of locomotion.



Recovery Workouts

Recovery workouts are often done the day following a long or hard workout.  Recovery workouts are usually done at a very easy pace for a short period of time.  The benefit of a recovery workout is that it helps increase blood flow to the muscle, allowing for removal of waste product and delivery of oxygen and glucose, to facilitate muscle recovery.  Swimming can be a great recovery tool for runners.  The cool water will help reduce muscle and joint inflammation, while the slow gentle movements and zero impact will help with muscle recovery.

Massage

Massage is a great tool to release tension from hard to reach muscles.  There are a variety of massage methods, and they must employ the massage therapists using his/her hands on bare skin.  An alternative is self massage, which can be done with a variety of tools such as tennis balls, foam rollers, rolling pins, and your own hands.

You can use one or all of these tools to help in your recovery.  Experiment and find the one that is right for you!

Patience and Planning for the Long Run

by Jeff Soileau, V.P. + Training Coordinator of Alamo 180

As our big race approaches and your training mileage gets longer and longer, it is important to remember a few simple tips to make the long runs and race day more manageable.

Fuel

Imagine preparing for a cross country trip in your car. You make sure your car is in great working order, your tires are properly inflated, your oil changed, and your antifreeze/coolant replaced.  But wait! You forgot to put gas in the tank! Guess you won’t be going too far after all… The same goes for your body.  You do your maintenance runs during the week. You take care of your shoes. You wear proper apparel.  Don’t forget to eat!  It can be catastrophic to go into a long weekend run without “gas in the tank.” It doesn’t have to be much either; wheat toast or a bagel with peanut butter, a bowl of oatmeal, or a scrambled egg with some juice.  Heck, even a donut is better than nothing!  Every athlete is different as to what they can tolerate, so start experimenting now to find what works best for you. The morning of your big race is the wrong time to change or start a new morning meal.  It is also important that you refuel during your run.  This can be accomplished with various gels and supplements, but most professionals agree that refueling is necessary in workouts exceeding 1.25 hours and should be ingested every 45 minutes to maintain peak performance.

Hydration

As an athlete exercises, the body’s core temperature rises.  The body responds to this increase in heat with a ‘unique-to-mammals’ cooling system: perspiration. As the body perspires to regulate temperature, water and electrolytes are released onto the skin. As the water evaporates, the body cools itself; at a cost.  Under extreme conditions like heat, humidity and prolonged physical activity, (marathon training in south Texas, anyone?) sweating causes the body to lose water and electrolytes, so it is important to hydrate during exercise.  Humans are uniquely developed for endurance events in that they can drink and eat while moving, so plan on taking some water with you.  Some good advice is to hydrate early and often, and to mix water with electrolyte replacement, as water alone will not be enough.  Hydrating early also refers to the day or days leading up to your big event.  Some things to limit or avoid are caffeine and alcohol, as they are diuretics, which can cause the body to excrete water (makes you pee).

Pacing

It is easy to run fast for short distances, however, many athletes have difficulty with runs in excess of 5-6 miles. This is where having a plan comes in handy.  Plan to use short, walking intervals to help conserve energy and to recover.  An example would be to plan to run for 5 minutes, walk for 1 minute.  Do this the entire duration of your run.  It doesn’t have to be exactly this formula, so work on what works for you.  You can plan your walking recoveries based on water stops, time, or distance covered.

Also be aware that pacing is often affected by things that are out of our control, like heat and humidity. It is suggested by Olympian and coach Jeff Galloway, that for every 10 degrees above 60, a runner’s pace may be affected by a much as 30 seconds. So based on typical temperatures in south Texas during the summer and early fall, (averaging 100 degrees!) a runner’s pace could be slowed by approximately 2 minutes per mile!

All of these things combine to make for harsh training and racing conditions, however, practicing in these conditions will help prepare for racing under the same conditions.  Start experimenting with different fueling, hydration and pacing methods, so that when your big day arrives, you will feel confident in your abilities and will have a great marathon or 1/2 marathon race experience!

Open Water Swim Safety Tips

With some triathlon races coming up, most of which have open water swims, it is important to go over some basic safety tips to ensure you have the best swim experience.

In a triathlon race, there are certified Lifeguards in kayaks moving about making sure everyone is fine. They are looking for signs of what’s called “Active Drowning” – lots of splashing in a vertical motion (body positioned head out and feet under and very little forward motion). So when athletes stop swimming for a second to tread water, they are keeping an eye out for you making sure you are OK and not drowning. This should hopefully give you some comfort during a race.

If at any point you are panicked in the water, raise your hand. This sign tells the Lifeguard to come over and assist you. You can hold onto the kayak for a short period of time and then proceed when you are ready. Check with the race because some may consider this immediate disqualification. It varies among different races.

Here are some good things to know:

1. Start the race in the back of the pack or to the side if you know you are not a strong open water swimmer. Doing so will keep you out of the way of numerous arms and legs moving about. Some athletes can be very aggressive and will swim over you if you are in their way. If an athlete is repeatedly kicking you or slapping your feet/body with their hands/arms, move over and get out of their way. The only time this is really an issue is in the beginning of a race when the pack is thick of athletes ready to go.

Keep in mind that some accidents of drowning have occurred with weaker swimmers getting in the middle or front of the pack at race start. They were submerged under water due to strong swimmers swimming over them and never got a chance to come back up. 2 years ago I competed at CapTex in the Elite division race. Elite men and women started the race together. While I am a strong swimmer, several men swam over me at race start and I was underwater for at least 15 sec. It felt like an eternity. It was scary, but I told myself to calm down because at some point I would be able to come back up for air. I remained calm and waited for the swimmers to pass. This experienced is shared because it can happen to anybody. The lesson to take from this is to remain calm.
2. Roll onto your back. If you get panicked for whatever reason, roll onto your back and flutter kick. This allows you to float, get air and relax. When you feel ready, roll back over and proceed swimming freestyle. Sometimes just stopping and treading water is a bad idea if there are lots of swimmers around. Essentially you are stopping while everyone around you is moving forward and they will swim over you. If you are on your back, you are moving with the flow and not getting in anyone’s way. Another great option is to swim breaststroke.

3. Practice in open water regularly. Some racers don’t practice in open water and on race day have no experience in it. Make a point to add it in your training! Open water is different than a pool – waves, currents, no black lines, murky water (hard to see through), no wall to take a quick break. If you live in the local area, join us on Sunday mornings at Boerne Lake. You need to practice it if your upcoming race has an open water swim.

Celebrate Your Accomplishments

We are constantly inundated with messages that tell us we need to be like the professionals. This comes from all angles: sport magazines, online articles, athletic websites and peers. Do we really need to be like them? Do we have to wear their training and racing gear, do their kind of workouts, and eat what they eat? Why can’t we be content with what we do? Why can’t we just celebrate the fact that we are active and be content with our level of fitness?

We read articles about the amazing things pros do – their training and racing schedule, accomplishments, etc. While it is amazing, so too is the average individual finishing a triathlon for the first time – that’s an amazing accomplishment!  What about the average individual working a 40 hour week job and still finding time to train – that’s amazing! These are the things that go unnoticed and uncelebrated. Take a moment to reflect on what you do on a daily basis. The run you managed to get in after a long 10 hour day, the long bike ride you did early Saturday morning when you could have stayed in bed sleeping, or the open water swim you did on a windy day. These are all amazing accomplishments and all deserved to be praised!

It’s about being content with where you are in your life and in your training. It’s not about looking at someone else and comparing your abilities to theirs. Celebrate what you have and learn to appreciate what you can do. You may never be a pro, but you are better than the individual that is sitting on the couch wondering if he can do it, because you are out there making it happen! You are doing what most deem impossible. Don’t allow for one moment marketing gimmicks to convince you otherwise.

Mock Triathlon – Aug 14th

Alamo 180 Mock Tri!

Come join Alamo 180 for a Mock Triathlon at Boerne Lake on August 14th at 8am. Non-members, the cost to join us is $15. Super cheap way to try a tri!

We will offer a Super Sprint (400m swim, 10 mi bike, 2 mi run), Sprint (800m swim, 15 mi bike, 3.1 mi run) and Olympic (1500m swim, 25 mi bike, 6.2 mi run).

We will mark both the bike and run courses and have cones at both the bike and run turn-around points. Water jugs will be provided on the run course.

If you feel unsure in the open water, purchase a water noodle(~$2 @ Wal-Mart) and tie it to your ankle using thin rope/string. Or, you can just skip out on the swim and ride and run with us!

Here are the maps for the course:

Super Sprint Swim   http://runkeeper.com/user/Alamo180/route/737222
Sprint Swim  http://runkeeper.com/user/Alamo180/route/737136
Sprint Bike  http://runkeeper.com/user/Alamo180/route/737151
Sprint Run  http://runkeeper.com/user/Alamo180/route/737178

Olympic Swim  http://runkeeper.com/user/Alamo180/route/737142
Olympic Bike http://runkeeper.com/user/Alamo180/route/737168
Olympic Run  http://runkeeper.com/user/Alamo180/route/737183

Tell your friends, spread the word! This will be a fun training event you don’t want to miss. Triathlons are expensive and this is a great way to experience it without emptying your wallet.

TriPearl Race

Alamo 180 Team Race Weekend: 1st Annual TriPearl Triathlon in the downtown San Antonio area!

A special shout out to our first-timers Bernadette Gomez and Miriam Medina. Congrats on racing strong and finishing your first triathlon! We are so proud of you!

Alamo 180 rocked it out there! Alamo 180 triathletes competing: William Gonzaba, Mario Luna, Gloria Luna, Lexa Rijos, Jamie Roadman, Amanda Chamberlain, Miriam Medina, Bernadette Gomez, Jeff and Bree Soileau!

Tri suits are in!

Alamo 180 Tri Suits are in! We are going to look fast and smokin’ hot come race day at TriPearl on Sunday, July 31. Go Alamo 180 Go!

Tour de France Party Night ~ July 22 @ 7pm

Blue Star and Alamo 180 present “Tour de France Party Night” at Blue Star.

Come see the Tour on the big screen. Enjoy craft beer and a party atmosphere! Don’t forget to wear your crazy spectator outfit! LOTS of door prizes and beer specials!!!

This is an event you don’t want to miss!

Free admission

Alamo 180 Tri Team Race – Heart of Texas #2

Congrats to our Alamo 180 athletes that competed at the Heart of Texas Triathlon #2 on June 26.

A special shout out to Gloria and Mario for doing their first triathlon and finishing strong!

Pictured from left to right: Mike Chen, Mario Luna, Will Gonzaba, Gloria Luna, Amanda Chamberlain, Jeff Soileau, Bree Soileau, Jamie Roadman.