2017 Trimarni Greenville Skills Camp wrap-up

Well, that's a wrap! With our first Greenville skills camp behind us, we wanted to take an opportunity to share with you the highlights of the camp. 
Day 1 swim skills:
We met our eight campers at Furman University (Physical Activities Center - PAC) outside the building and then proceeding inside to a large classroom for a meet and greet, followed by a 90-minute discussion on swimming. We designed this skills camp to be a small, intimate and personalized camp to ensure that every camper was able to get one on one attention with lots of opportunities for questions.

Swimming topics discussed included:
  • Pool versus open water swimming 
  • Importance of body posture, alignment and propulsion as an open water swimmer
  • Framework of an effective swim workout
  • Tips to improve swimming as a triathlete and common swimming mistakes by triathletes
  • Detailed discussion of the phases of a swim stroke - catch, pull, exit, recovery
  • How to breath when swimming
  • Discussion of pool toys and importance of swimming with toys versus swimming with drills - ankle strap, fins, buoy, snorkel, fins
  • Open water tips 
After the discussion, it was time for our campers to get into the water for a 90-minute skill focused swim, followed by a "main set" to put all the skills to good use.

Here are some pictures from our first skills session, taken by Joey, who was our support throughout camp.

Day 1: Run skills
Following our swim skills session, it was time to head down the road to Poinsett Park for a run skills session. We had our campers get warmed up with a 1/2 mile EZ jog. We then started our run skills discussion on the following topics:
  • Posture and form
  • How to reduce risk for injury in running
  • How to improve running efficiency
  • Tips for food form running
  • Running drills
  • Busting some running myths: Shoe types, running styles, strength, stride rate/length
  • Up and downhill running tips
After our run skills session, we gave our athletes a workout to put everything together. 
Here are some pictures from our run skills session. 

Day 1 Bike skills: After a 2 hour break for food/recovery, it was time for our last session of the day - which was the one I was most looking forward to as I know how much triathletes need to work on bike handling skills. 
Karel did a phenomenal job working with our athletes on their bike handling skills and we had a variety of drills to practice in a safe parking lot at Trailblazer park. 

Knowing that many triathletes are afraid on the bike, and tend to spend a lot of emotional energy while riding, we spent a full hour working on bike handling skills so that our campers could ride more relaxed and confident on two wheels. 
A few reasons why triathletes should work on bike skills: 
  • To feel safe and confident on all types of terrain and conditions 
  • To ride comfortably around other riders
  • To be able to to safely pass other people and dodge obstacles in the road 
  • To improve safety and safety of those around you. 
Many crashes can be avoided with experience, skills and mental preparation. 

After helping our athletes learn how to sit properly on the bike while learning how to stay relaxed, it was time to work on some drills! 
  • Practice changing gears while riding – small ring to big ring, etc.
  • Anticipate stopping quickly and unclipping quickly. 
  • Hand skills – right turn, left turn, slowing/stopping, signal something on the road, grabbing bottles, rotating bottles
  • Look behind you and keep the bike in a straight line
  • U-turns – left, right
  • Figure 8’s
  • Standing up
After our drill session, it was time to take the bike riding to real conditions. We all rode 5 miles down the road to a safe and quiet location with a steep hill to practice climbing and descending. 

Here are some pictures from our bike skills session:

And what camp would be complete without a pic with Mr. Llama!

Day 2: For our second day of camp, we all met at Hotel Domestique for a 2.5 hour ride followed by a 20-minute run.

Karel first discussed a few terrain management tips for riding on the hills as well as why we want to learn how to stretch our available cadence to help ride more efficiently (rather than shifting to the smallest gear to "save your legs"). To apply this information, Karel gave the group a main set that we could ride with our campers to help with some one on one work.
We all rode together to the base of the Watershed and performed the main set on the watershed (up for each interval and then down for recovery)

MS 3x's:
9 minutes Z2 as 3 minutes 75rpm, 3 minutes 65 rpm, 3 minutes 55 rpm.
Then ride back down for recovery
6 minutes Z2/3 as 55-65rpm
Then ride back down for recovery
4 minutes Z3 as 45-55rpm

After the ride, we all rode back to the hotel for a quick transition to the run. We had our campers run a 20-minute hilly run to show them that even though they did a lot of mechanical work on the bike, they saved their cardio system for the run. Everyone did amazingly well and gave 100% for the entire 3 hour brick. 

Day 2 nutrition/training talk: 
After a few hours of recovery, we all met downtown Greenville for a 2-hour Q&A talk at Falls Park before dinner at Trio Brick Oven. This was a great opportunity for our campers to ask us questions and to talk about the application of sport nutrition for triathletes. Our campers asked great questions!

Day 3: Transition work
It's very common that triathletes put a lot of time into training but neglect the importance of having a plan and practicing the plan for a quick, effective and smooth transition. Because transitions can cause a lot of anxiety, stress and time, we want to practice transitions and to think of them as "free" time in your overall triathlon time. In other words, you don't have to be fit and trained to have a quick transition.

We gave our campers a few transition tips and then for their final workout, they had several opportunities to practice transitions.

We started with a run around a cement track, followed by transitioning to the bike. We set up a little course which included a mount line, a 2 mile bike course (with a descend and hill on this bike loop) and a run course that led to the track. Our campers had to set up their gear similar to a race and we even had a transition rack for them to practice their entire transition.

Our campers did a total of 8 transitions (run, bike, run, bike, run, bike, run, bike, run). Of course, knowing that transitions are never smooth, we made sure that "stuff" happened to our campers in transition - like another cyclist getting in your way on the mount line or your helmet getting knocked off your bike and one of your  shoes moving to another athlete's transition area. We made sure to think of all transition scenarios so that our campers could practice, practice, practice to build confidence for race day. 

What a successful camp! We could not be more proud of our campers who invested a lot to improve swim/bike/run skills. We overloaded their heads with information and they had a lot of one on one help. We have no doubt that our campers built a lot of confidence from camp and will feel more prepared for upcoming training and racing. 

And to finish off camp - awards for all of the campers!

What an inspiring group of athletes! Best of luck this season! 

We would also like to give a big thank you to the Trimarni sponsors and affiliates who continue to support the Trimarni team and camps:

-Run In - for helping us with all of our running needs
-New Wave Swim Buoy - for keeping us safe and seen in the open water
-Mg12 - for helping our muscles stay relaxed
-Clif Bar - for quality ingredients in quality sport nutrition
-Cheribundi - for providing a safe, natural and delicious way to reduce inflammation
-Veronica's Health Crunch - for the most delicious hand made crunch - ever!
-Infinit - for customizable sport nutrition
-Levelen - for helping us optimize our hydration needs through sweat testing
-Hot Shot - for keeping Karel cramp-free!
-Solestar - for maximum stability, better power transmission
-Boco Gear - for helping us race in style
-Canari - for the most comfortable, functional and stylish gear
-Xterra - for the fastest wetsuit ever (so fast, Karel is now beating me in the swim!)
-Alto cycling - for enginnering the fastest race wheels
-Swamp Rabbit Inn and Lodge - for keeping our campers happy with perfect lodging options
-Salem Anesthesia - for your Trimarni support


The 2017 Trimarni Triathlon Skills Camp is finally here!

When I started the sport of triathlon back in 2006, I was extremely dedicated to training my body to prepare for the sports of swimming, biking and running. I was obsessed with accomplishing specific workouts, at a certain pace/speed, while tracking my progress through completed distance/time. If I was swimming, biking or running faster than before, I thought I was improving. If I could cover more distance than a previous workout, I thought I was improving. With improvements, I thought I was becoming a "better" triathlete.

Eventually, I realized that this was a false sense of security of my athletic worthiness. While I did improve my fitness, it was only a matter of time before I found myself injured. My body was struggling. But like many athletes, when I was able to train again, I kept doing the same things over and over, hoping for a different result.

Although triathlon success continued to come my way through hard work and determination, I felt like I was always working so much harder than I should be working. While my work ethic and motivation was high, I never felt like I was making those big performance improvements to match my big dedication to training.

Something was missing. 

When we moved from Jacksonville, FL to Greenville, SC in May 2014, I found myself training on a very  new terrain. The terrain was challenging. Very challenging. At times, it scared me. I would often tell Karel "there's no way I can train here!"

With Ironman Austria and Ironman Wisconsin on my race schedule during the summer of 2014, I knew I had to face my fears and get outside and train. It was noticeable to me that my body was getting stronger and more resilient due to the new training stressors (hills), but I had no idea that with every workout, I was forced to improve my skills - whether I liked it or not. For the first time ever, I was focusing more on form, skills and perceived effort (and safety) than miles, pace, heart rate and power. I wasn't able to "zone out" and just bike or run but instead, I had to constantly stay present in what I was doing with my body. With every hill, turn and bump in the road, I finally understood the importance of having great biking and running skills to help me perform to my true athletic capabilities. 

Needless to say, when I went to Ironman Austria, I shocked myself with a huge Ironman PR - without changing my training, I was riding stronger than ever. Twelve weeks later, I went on to qualify for Kona (with Karel) at Ironman Wisconsin. With it being my second time racing on the IMWI course, I felt SO much more prepared for the challenging bike terrain, not to mention feeling more resilient on the run.

It was evident that improving my skills was the key to unlocking some untapped fitness in my body!

Without a doubt, moving near the mountains has been the missing link to my training. It's also made training SO much more fun. As you probably know, I absolutely love training in Greenville, SC. Although I am racing faster, stronger and smarter than ever before, I contribute so much of my physical improvements to improving my swim/bike/run skills.

I have the skills to swim better in open water thanks to lake swimming.
I have the skills to bike better thanks to our rolling hills, steep mountains, punchy climbs, bumpy roads, sharp turns and fast descends.
I have the skills to run better thanks to lots of hills to climb and to descend on.

Although I was forced to improve my skills so that I could train safe, happy and effectively in my new training environment, I knew that if Karel and I could bring other triathletes to our triathlon playground, they could also have the chance to embrace fears and to build confidence in order to perform better in training and on race day. Above all, improved skills brings more enjoyment for the sport of triathlon.

This was a long time coming but we are so excited that finally, we have our first skills camp here in Greenville, SC. Starting tomorrow, for 2.5 days, we will provide our campers with a lot of information, education and hands-on work to make triathlon training/racing more productive, effective, safe and fun.


Rice - An ideal carbohydrate for athletes

For almost half the world population, rice is a staple food.
But for much of the US population, rice is seen as a "bad" carbohydrate

There are many varieties of rice but what they all have in common is that they contain carbohydrates, protein, trace amounts of fat and sodium and are gluten free. 

Compared to white rice, brown rice is often viewed as the "healthy" rice. Whereas white rice appears to be nutritionally inferior to brown rice because it is a refined grain (bran and germ are removed during the milling process which removes B vitamins, iron and fiber), white rice is typically enriched with iron and B vitamins. Unlike brown rice, containing 3.5g of fiber per cup (cooked), white rice has less than 1 gram fiber. The noticeable difference between brown and white rice is that brown rice is a whole grain (the bran and germ are retained, which means it offers a good source of antioxidants, vitamin E and fiber). 

But having said this, athletes should recognize that fiber is often the culprit of many GI issues during training and racing. Thus GI-distress susceptible athletes are encouraged to reduce fiber (and fat) in the 24-72 hours before a race to minimize the residue in the gut. While 3.5g of fiber may not appear to be a lot of fiber, some athletes are more sensitive to fiber than others. Considering that white rice can be eaten alone or mixed with honey, syrup, eggs or even peanut butter to make for a great meal or snack - in training and or before a race - many athletes rely on rice as it is a cheap, easy to find, easy to prepare and easy to digest carbohydrate source. 

Although the lower fiber rice options are ideal before/after training/racing, let's not stop at white rice and brown rice. There are many varieties of rice that are great in the daily diet of athletes. Understanding that rice is often consumed with other nutrient dense foods, like fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, lean meats, poultry and seafood, I encourage you to include this low cost, versatile ingredient into your diet as it is easy to incorporate into any dish. I recommend to prep 2-3 rice varieties ahead of time (~2 cups cooked per person) and store in the fridge so that you have your go-to rice options available to you anytime of the week.

Tips on cooking rice
  • The shape and length of the rice kernel (short, medium or long grain) determines its texture when cooked, in addition to the type to use in dishes and cuisines. 
  • Long-grain, which cooks light and fluffy with the kernels separated, is often used for making pilafs, stuffing, rice salads and jambalaya. 
  • Medium grain is moist and tender, commonly used for making paella and risotto. 
  • Shorter grain rice is short with rounder kernels and becomes moist and "sticky", making it a great option for rice puddings, desserts and eating with chopsticks. 
Here are the suggested cooking times and water/rice ratio for rice varieties:

Types of rice varieties
  • Basmati - An aromatic long-grain rice grown in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Basmati comes in white or brown varieties. It has a distinct flavor and aroma and produces a tender, fluffy texture and grains do not stick together. It is often used in curries and stir-fries, but is also great for side dishes.
  • Brown - Available in short, medium and long grain varieties, a half-cup brown rice equals one whole-grain serving. It contains more magnesium, selenium and fiber than enriched white rice and can be eaten as a breakfast cereal, used in sushi and puddings.
  • Arborio - A medium or short grain rice with a high starch content used to make risotto. Arborio is also used for rice pudding and other desserts.
  • Red - This whole-grain rice is rich in nutrients and high in antioxidants due to its varying hues of red color. It is available as a long-grain variety from Thailand and a medium-grain from Bhutan. It's nutty, chewy texture lends well to rice bowls, pilafs, rice salads and stuffings.
  • Black - Also referred to as "purple" or "forbidden" rice, the dark hue of this grain is due to its high anthocyanin content. It is a whole-grain rice available in both short and long-grain varieties. The short-grain variety is often used to make sticky rice porridge and rice pudding.
  • White - Available in short, medium and long-grain varieties, most white rice in the U.S. is enriched with thiamin, niacin, folic acid and iron. Avoid rinsing white rice before and after cooking, in order to keep the nutrients from being washed away.
  • Jasmine - Originally from Thailand, this rice has a distinctive floral aroma and nutty flavor that pairs well with Mediterranean dishes. It cooks tender, light and fluffy and is available in both white and brown varieties. Steaming, rather than boiling, provides the best results.
  • Wild - Despite its name, wild rice is actually not rice at all, but a semi-aquatic grass species indigenous to North America. Its long, slender, dark kernels have a nutty flavor, chewy texture and contain more protein than white and brown rice. Wild rice is often mixed with brown rice or bulgur wheat, and it pairs well with fruits, nuts, meats, poultry and fish in salads, soups, stews and pilafs. 
Information from this blog was adapted from Food and Nutrition magazine. May/June 2013 issue. Pg 16 and 17, written by Rachel Begun, Ms, RDN, CDN.