Posts Tagged ‘Biking’

Tips for tackling hills

April 5, 2011

Competed in my second half marathon this past weekend.  Covering those 13.1 miles were just as hard as I remembered them being the first time, except this time around I had the added pleasure of tackling 4 monster hills (well, actually 2, but we ran them twice since the course was a loop).  As I chugged up the hills, I noticed many of my fellow runners took the climb as a walking break and I don’t blame them.  Hills are tough, especially if you haven’t trained for them, but you can conquer them, the trick is…you have to not think like a runner. 

It’s instinctive for a runner to lean into a hill while trying to run up one.  We think that by throwing our weight forward we’re somehow helping to propel ourselves forward, but we’re actually making it harder.  When you lean forward, you force your quads to do all the work, not to mention you’re putting a lot of pressure on your knees.  Meanwhile, your other leg muscles (your gluteus maximus and hamstrings) are just along for the ride.  Considering your butt is your body’s biggest muscle, it would make sense to use it, right?  That’s why I suggest you think like a cyclist.

The next time you’re faced with a hill, keep your upper body upright and lean back…using your hamstrings and butt to keep moving.  The sensation is the same as sitting back in the saddle when riding a bike up a hill.  You’ll find if you do this, you’ll get up those hills faster and you’ll be less tired once you reach the top because you’re exerting less effort by using those bigger muscles.

Another technique you can take from cyclists is to power through the downhills.  It’s easy to ease up on your pace when you don’t have to work too hard, but maintaining a steady pace, even speeding it up a bit, while running downhill will help to make up the time spent on walking breaks.

Oh and there’s one more biker trick I want to share.  If you find your knees/hips hurt during a run, it’s probably because you aren’t aligned properly.  To keep everything where it should be (and minimize injury), concentrate on keeping your knees forward as you run.  Imagine you have headlights strapped to your knee caps and focus on illuminating the path right in front of you. 

Just so you know, all these tips helped me turn in a decent time of 2:41:25 on Sunday.  That averages out to about a 12:20 mile.  I may not be fast, but I finished!

How to keep that healthy New Year’s resolution

January 3, 2011

It’s a new year!  Odds are you’ve made a resolution to lead a healthier lifestyle.  Good for you!  Here are some tips to stick to that promise for the next 12 months.

1) Set realistic goals.  Instead of vowing to lose 30 pounds before next New Year’s Eve, focus on losing 10 percent of your body weight by year’s end.  That’ll ensure you lose the weight slowly, which means you’re more likely to keep it off.

2) Incorporate change slowly.  Quitting cold turkey is hard whether it’s giving up smoking or cutting out junk food.   Don’t swear off all of your unhealthy habits all at once , instead phase them out gradually.  If you make changes one at a time and are happy with the results those new choice yield, you’re more likely to make more improvements and stick with your new (and healthier) lifestyle.

3) Moderation is Key Too much of anything, even healthy stuff, isn’t a good thing.  Restrict your diet too much and your more likely to slip back to your old ways.  Spend too much time at the gym and you risk side-lining yourself with an injury.  As for the unhealthy stuff…indulging every once in a while isn’t going to wreck your plans, just don’t make a habit out of it.

4) Get moving!  The biggest and best thing  you can do for yourself is to get more exercise.  And I’m not just talking about hitting the gym every day.  It’s recommended to get between 30 and 60 minutes of aerobic exercise a day and that could be anything…walking the dog, running, biking, yoga, etc.  The point is to move and get your heart rate up.  Do that 7 times a week and not only will you be healthier, but you’ll also be happier — exercise causes your brain to release endorphins which in turn boosts your mood.

And to help you along with that last tip…here are this week’s Monday Music Mayhem picks.

Who Dat Girl — Akon

Black and Yellow — Wiz Khalifa

Club Can’t Handle Me — Flo Rida feat.  David Guetta

Undo It — Carrie Underwood

12 days of sporty gifts — Day 10 — Staying warm

December 22, 2010

Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean you have to hang up the bike or running shoes and stick to working out indoors.

Sure you can’t wear shorts, but that’s what winter gear is for…and it makes the perfect holiday gift.  Here’s a list for what each athlete might need:

The Cyclist:

Winter Tights — because you can’t feasible move very comfortably dressed in tons of layers, winter tights are a must.  A good pair could probably set you back $100.

Lights — it gets darker sooner and so if you’re going to be outside in the afternoon, you’re going to want to make sure people can see you.  Get lights you can mount to the front and back of the bike.

Runners:

Thermal Hat — if you only get one piece of winter gear…this is the one to get.  Hats help to prevent the heat from your body from escaping.  Brooks makes a basic and decent hat for only $15.95

Chapstick/Vaseline — makes a great stocking stuffer…use it to prevent windburn and chapped lips

Thermal underwear — pick up the kind that wicks away moisture like DryFit or Thinsulate.  You can easily find these clothes at any ski shop if the running store doesn’t carry them.

Socks — stay away from cotton!  Cotton socks don’t wick away moisture meaning your feet will stay cold and wet.  Instead, opt for a good pair of wool socks.

Only 3 shopping days left!

12 days of sporty gifts — Day 9 — Basket full of joy

December 21, 2010

So you’ve left your holiday shopping to the last minute and are running out of time, but you still want to get a personal gift (not a gift card).  So what can you do?

How about a basket full of sports drinks, supplements and accessories?  It’s like one of those gourmet foodie baskets, but with the athlete in mind.

Instead of bottles of wine, buy bottles of Gatorade, Powerade and/or Vitamin Water.  Skip the chocolate and instead go for protein bars and energy bars.  If you’re shopping for an endurance athlete, throw in some packets of Gu or Cliff Shot Bloks.  You might also want to add a pair of running socks, a hydration belt, a water bottle, some muscle cream or one of those books from Day 6 to round things out.  Arrange it in a basket, slap on a Christmas bow and voila! you have a gift any athlete would be happy to receive.

And remember…you only have 4 shopping days left!

12 days of sporty gifts — Day 6 — The gift to top all gifts

December 18, 2010

If you’re really looking to impress that sporty person on your gift list, look no further than the Garmin Forerunner 310xt.

At it’s core, the Forerunner 310xt is a heart rate monitor.  But oh is it so much more than that!

Garmin, as I’m sure you’re well aware is known for it’s GPS navigators.  And they’ve packed that GPS technology into the Forerunner.

No more mapping outdoor running or biking routes.  All you have to do is get outside and go, the Forerunner takes care of the rest, tracking your mileage as you travel.  Not only can you use it to track your runs and rides, but it’s also waterproof which means open water swimming practices are now completely accurate to the foot or meter.  (You can set it to standard or metric distance measurements means you can forget about converting that 10k into miles).  Also, you can set the Forerunner to beep or vibrate at whatever distance interval you prefer making it easy to be track and also (and this is huge for cyclists) allowing you to  keep your eyes on the road!

The battery life on this thing is long, lasting upwards of 20 hours on one charge which means you don’t have to worry about it dying during the middle of one of your long workouts or training sessions.

My absolute favorite feature is the virtual pacer.  Set it to the miles/km per hour you want to keep up with and the Forerunner will beep or vibrate to let you know if you’re keeping up.  I used the pacer during my last triathlon and it helped me turn in my best time ever.  It’s like having a trainer there with you yelling at you to pick it up.

Another noteworthy feature is the back to start map option which means you’ll never get lost.  If you get so into a run that you lose track of where you’re going and how to get back home, simply select “Back to Start” and the Forerunner will guide you back home via the way you came. — Awesome, right?

In the few months Garmin let me test out the Forerunner, I really only came up with one con.  The thing is huge…about the size of wearing two wristwatches next to each other.  That also means it’s a little heavier than most heart rate monitor watches, but the extra weight is hardly noticeable.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.  Check out this review from a marathoner friend of mine who used the Forerunner in the final months of his training for this year’s New York City Marathon.

One run with the Forerunner was all I needed to erase any concerns I had and convert me forever. It was supposed to be a post rest 4 miler, a brush up after two weeks of pool running, but quickly turned into a 6 miler. What impressed me right off the bat were the vibrating mileage alerts. Set at a beep every half mile, the alerts made the run feel quicker and broken in down into segments, so as opposed to a 6 mile run it was more like 12 half mile runs rolled into one. The real luxury of the Garmin turned out to be the heart monitor. I never knew what my heart rate was, let alone even cared, and felt any monitor was just another tool to bog a runner down. Yeah….I was wrong. The addition of a heart monitor in the final month of training, including three 14 plus milers, was invaluable. It felt like that 3 digit heart rate was a tiny digital coach. When my rate went to high, I knew I needed to slow down. When it dipped to low, I knew I could speed up. I was now running at my goal pace and removed any post run questioning, such as did I push too hard? Did I go to slow?

 An obvious attribute is the GPS. I don’t even need to spend much time here and can sum it up with one sentence. No more logging on to ‘Google Maps’ or ‘Map My Run’ and trying to remember what street I turned down when figuring out my day’s mileage.

As race day approached, I became more reliant on the Garmin and started to realize how foolish I was for questioning anyone who spent money on one. On race day, I wish I had spent it years ago. I didn’t try do anything different from my training runs, but as mile 21 approached and the inevitable wall loomed, I caught myself staring at it every few steps. Looking back on the race, I don’t even think I was staring at my pace, but my heart monitor and became lost in it, an ultimate distraction. And in a sport that can be full of external distractions, it really helped me focus.

 I finished 2 minutes under my goal pace.

 It’s been a month of running without the Garmin and its back to Google maps and choppy paces because I can’t target my heart rate on my own. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

 I’ll end with one quick note, the watch does not feel as big as it looks. I always thought people with Garmin’s looked like Inspector Gadgets niece, Penny. It fits like an Ironman and after a few miles you forget it’s even on your wrist.”

So as my friend alludes to, the Garmin Forerunner 310xt carries a weighty price tag, retailing for around $399.  But trust me, the athlete on your list will remember the gift for years to come.

Only 6 shopping days left until Christmas!

Snow, schmo

November 23, 2010

If you think snow would keep a triathlete from competing, you’d be wrong. 

Since 1997, something called winter triathlon has been gaining popularity among those people who want the thrill of the triathlon even though they live in areas where temperatures routinely hover near the freezing mark.

Photo: USA Triathlon

Like your normal triathlons, these November-March races involve biking and running, but thankfully no swimming.  Instead, competitors strap on cross-country skis for the third leg of the race.  The distances are also a little shorter than

your regular races.  This very thorough description comes from the USA Triathlon website:

“In winter triathlon, the running is contested on hard-packed snow courses (usually packed ski trails) with distances ranging from 5-9K. Racers typically wear normal running shoes or cross country spikes.

The mountain bike leg is held on packed ski trails for a distance of 10-15K. Competitors ride standard racing mountain bikes, often equipped with relatively wide tires run at low (about 15-20 psi) pressure. Tires with spikes are legal, though most competitors shun their use because of the additional weight.

The final event of winter triathlon is cross-country skiing. Courses are usually 8-12K in length and are contested on groomed Nordic ski trails. Classic or freestyle (skating) techniques are allowed, though most serious competitors use the freestyle technique as it is faster. Athletes wear Nordic ski suits or tights and long sleeve jerseys, gloves, and hats or head-bands depending on conditions.”

If I’ve piqued your interest, you’ll naturally want to know where you can sign up for one of these awesome races.  Most are held in the Rocky Mountain area, but races in the Northeast can also be found.  There’s two being held in Massachusetts and another in New Hampshire in January. (Info can be found here.)   In New York, the place to be is Belleayre Mountain on March 20th.

So, see, there’s still time to train!

Wanna Race?

August 24, 2010

If you’ve ever competed in a race, whether it be a 5K or a triathlon or a full marathon, you know the high crossing that finish line brings.  And once you’ve had a taste, it’s over.  Just like Lays potato chips, you can’t just have participate in one.  This new feature is for you.

Every week I’ll highlight a race somewhere around the country.  It’ll be one that’s coming up in the next few weeks and still open to competitors.  Maybe you’ll decide to sign up.  Maybe you won’t.  But hopefully you’ll be inspired to find new ways to challenge yourself physically.  If anything, you’ll be able to start a free T-shirt collection!

My pick this week is a race that’s close to home (for those of us in NYC, at least).  It’s the New York City Biathlon. 

Happening September 5th, athletes will first run 2 miles in Central Park, then bike 12 miles through the park, and then finish with another 2 mile run.  The fee is $65, $75 on race day with registration limited to 500.   And did I mention you get a free T-Shirt?  Go here to sign up.

Monday Music Mayhem

August 2, 2010

I’ve been running a lot more lately.  Mostly because I’m training for a half marathon in October.  What I’ve noticed is that music matters more to me when I’m running than when I”m biking.  That’s probably because running isn’t my most favorite form of exercise and I need the extra motivation good music provides.  So this week’s list contains some really boppy songs that keep me going on the treadmill.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Thinking About Somethin’ — Hansen

King of Anything — Sara Bareilles

Beautiful, Dirty, Rich — Lady Gaga

Shake Your Tailfeather — Blues Brothers feat. Ray Charles  (In case you didn’t know, the video for the Hansen video above pays homage to this song’s movie scene.)

For Once in My Life — Stevie Wonder

Ode to the Triathlon

July 13, 2010

This is it!  The last week before the NYC Triathlon.  The last few training sessions before race day.  Even though I’m competing as part of a relay team this year, I’m beat!  I can’t wait to say goodbye to  hour plus workouts three times a week.  In honor of the end of this year’s training season, I’ve written a triathlon haiku.  Hope you like it!  (I’d also like to send a special shoutout to my relay partners.  Go Newsflashers!)

Swim! Bike! Run!

Race day is Sunday!

Trained hard.  Hope I finish fast,

and don’t fall off bike!

Just like Queen, I want to ride my bike

July 6, 2010

I’ve been spending a lot of time on a bike lately.  Mostly it’s because I’m in the final stretch of training for the bike leg of an Olympic length triathlon.  (After two  years of doing the NYC Triathlon solo, I decided to form a three person relay team this year.)  The other reason is because I enjoy biking so much more than running.  And now I have even more incentive to keep pushing those pedals.

One bike, two bike, red bike, blue bike.

According to findings, based on the second Harvard Nurses’ Health study, bicycling may help women control their weight during their 30s and 40s.  (The study, by the way, started in 1989 and is currently tracking more than 100, 000 nurses who fill out questionnaires about their health from time to time.)

What they’ve found that is that over the last 16 year period, women who upped the time they walked briskly or bicycled each day by 30 minutes maintained their weight.  Some even dropped pounds.

Conversely, women who decreased the time they spent walking briskly or bicycling to less than 15 minutes a day, gained weight (about 4 1/2 pounds).

Researchers aren’t quite sure why this is, but as one tells the “New York Times”, “[sic] it’s highly suggestive that bicycling is highly beneficial in women.” 

To that I say, “Bicycle!  Bicycle! I want to ride my bicycle!”