One of the many things that I love about the sport of triathlons is that I find it fun and enjoyable to swim, bike and run. For me personally, as long as I was able to monitor progress, set and achieve goals, I could remove "competition" from triathlons and still want to pursue triathlon training on a daily basis. As much as I love meeting new people and being in the amazing triathlon environment at a race, I truely love the mental, physical and emotional rewards from swim, bike and run.
Knowing that I need to exercise for good health, weight management and longevity, I find it extremely important that I am having fun while moving and using my body. Having said that, I do not need to swim, bike and run in order to manage my weight and relieve stress. I also find enjoyment in water jogging, using the elliptical, walking w/ campy, anything outdoors and strength training.
Although I work with a large number of newbie triathletes/runners, either wanting to lose weight, get more active or achieve personal goals, I strive to show others that it is possible to be competitive (at any level of fitness) and reach personal goals and still live a balanced lifestyle.
It should not be forgotten that great athletes, who demonstrate great performances, are not just putting in the miles. In order to find personal success, in both life and sport, there must be a balanced approach as to how you will set and reach your goals. Alongside balanced training, a successful performance comes from an athlete who sets realistic goals for training and has a realistic racing plan based on training.
Over the past few years, I have discovered that athletes are becoming extremely efficient with training. No longer is it "scary" for an athlete to do a 100 mile bike ride or 2 or 3 hour run. Although the distance may feel exhausting, many athletes are extremely caught-up in a game of numbers, often at the expense of adequate recovery. Taking into consideration that athletes progress over months and years, not weeks or days, it is important to recognize that only "putting in the miles" may ultimately result in an increase risk for injury, fatigue, illness and possibly, burnout from the sport that you started all because you wanted to do something that you never once thought was possible.
As a competitive athlete, I find balance extremely important in my training. Therefore, I do not create training programs (for me and my athletes) dedicated to volume. By understanding the principals of quality training and the physiology of the body, I absolutely love seeking ways to help me (and others) receive the most physiological performance gains with the least amount of training stress (as Matt Dixon from Purple Patch would say).
I'd like to share two key components of my "balanced" lifestyle that have allowed me to take my quality training to the next level. Today I will briefly discuss compression...tomorrow - TRAINING WITH POWER.
CEP compression bib shorts
CEP compression tri shorts
Karel turned me on to compression about 2 years ago. With CEP, Zoot and 110% Play Harder as my three favorite companies for QUALITY compression gear, I have to say that I am a firm believer in compression. I just finished an article on compression and can't wait to share it with you all next month.
This weekend Karel and I both tried out our new CEP active compression wear. Karel absolutely loved his cycling bibs and I LOVED the triathlon shorts. I rode in the tri shorts and ran in them and felt the comfort and compression was better than any product I have ever tried (and I have tried a lot!).
Although literature is ongoing, in terms of the ability of compression to enhance blood lactate removal, decrease risk for injury, improve coordination and biomechanics, we must keep an open mind with compression- as with any product, sports nutrition product or gear - in that research studies should be read with an open mind. Research is typically done in a laboratory with controlled situations and trained or untrained subjects. WE do not live in a laboratory, for most of us we have no idea how we will feel tomorrow or what tomorrow will bring.
For me personally, I have noticed a dramatic improvement in my recovery from exercise (alongside proper daily and sports nutrition) by wearing ZOOT compression tights while sleeping. Graduated compression (from tights and socks) ensures that the right amount of pressure, at the right spot, will help increase blood circulation. 110% play harder just came out with full-length ice pants (CLUTCH) and I'm super excited to try them out. CEP offers a wide range of compression clothing and I believe that quality clothing is worth the price in a balanced training plan.
My personal line of compression clothing:
Zoot compression tights
Zoot compression long-sleeve top
Zoot compression socks
CEP Calf sleeves
110% ice shorts
and soon 110% clutch pants
Once again, I love to train and exercise. However, training for triathlons is not my life..it is my lifestyle. Therefore, because I am not a professional athlete and do not aspire to be one, I enjoy finding quality gear that will help take my training to the next level. I once considered "cheap" compression but decided when I moved to compression in my every-day training and recovery-wear, "quality" compression was worth the money. Over the past 2 years my old chronic aches from my hip injuries, have subsided. Both Karel and myself find recovery from activity MUCH easier with compression, even as we age (I am 29, Karel is 35). From a training perspective, I always feel better with compression. Every time I wear compression when training, I feel an ability to train a little harder and smarter. Some people believe it is a fad but I personally believe that regardless of research, there is scientific proof in real-life settings, that compression works.
In my opinion, you have nothing to lose with compression. If it is a comfort issue, than perhaps try to get use to it and see if you like it. If anything, I would suggest recovery compression and at least compression socks or calf sleeves, as your first purchase to try out. It is important to discuss compression with a trained professional as compression gear has different purposes, based on the product. Additionally, compression is supposed to have the right "fit" so proper measurements are critical when finding the best compression wear for your body.
110% play harder
Zoot Sports Compression