January 23, 2018

New Year’s Resolutions – Episode 15

In this edition of TriChatter Ron welcomes triathlon coach Al Gaspari. Al and Ron discuss their New Year’s resolutions. They also discuss what they recommend to athletes and what they do to stick with their resolutions.

iTunes PodcastA lot of us make New Year’s resolutions but few of us stick to them. That’s why you’ll often hear triathletes talk about the great workout they “planned” to do but never quite find the time to do.

Sure, we’re not different than the rest of the population – we make, and break, resolutions just like everyone else. The thing that we do have, that not everyone has, is a really good reason to stick to ours.

By this time you’re probably quite aware that I’m a planning nut. I love to have things planned out. Like my mom, I’ll frequently start packing for a trip weeks in advance. You also know that I encourage YOU to develop your own plans to help make you a better triathlete.
For example, you should have the majority of your triathlon year already planned out. You should already have registered for all of your “A” races and know the other races you may do. If not, do it now, before your key races fill up.

The “thing” we have to help motivate us is our races. While one person may have a resolution to lose a certain number of pounds and another to go to the gym a certain number of times a week, we have our races to help motivate us.

The fact that our races are looming helps keep us motivated. In my case, I signed up for Ironman St. George. This may be the toughest Ironman course in the entire world so I have that haunting my memory every day. And because of that it keeps me motivated to get up at 4:00 a.m. to jump into a freezing cold swimming pool.

You see, these very specific events help keep us motivated so we are extremely lucky in that regard.

So go on and make your resolution – you’ll stick to yours,


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Triathlon Swim Series, Part 1: Feeling the Water

To the disappointment of many, I don’t think you need drills or a bunch of accessories to be a fast swimmer. I know how much you love to repeat those drills every week but I wonder how much they really help.

I also question the sense kick boards, pull buoys, paddles, snorkels and all the other swim junk and if they really help you. We refer to them as “swim crack” because people get hooked on them and think they can’t live without them.

When it comes down to it, swimming isn’t all that complex. When you break it down to its simplest elements you’ll see what I mean. In this series of articles I’ll address each of the primary elements to show you just how easy it is.

Yes, I know, this sounds like one of those infomercials where the guy who’s a concert pianist is going to teach you how to play perfectly in three easy lessons. Being a fair swimmer myself perhaps a good swim stroke comes naturally to me . . . but in fact it hasn’t.

I swam competitively from the ages of seven to 17. In all that time none of my swim coaches talked to us about our form. We just did what we thought we were supposed to do. And like a lot of other kids, I developed problems in my shoulders because we were swimming “flat” in the water (no body rotation). I’ve had surgery on my left shoulder and my right could use it as well.

Since that time I’ve had some swim coaching and two different philosophies have emerged and another I never tried (credited to the YMCA). Having been a student of the freestyle swim stroke I’ve come to my own conclusions which I’ll share with you in the next several editions of the newsletter.

The first thing I want you to try is to “feel” how you’re swimming. Be conscious of everything you’re doing in the water. For example, in the pool just this morning, I was swimming next to a guy whose hand entry went from the surface of the water and dove straight down to the bottom of the pool. In essence he was slowing himself down by doing this because his entire hand and arm were blocking his forward progress.

The elements you should be thinking about while you’re swimming are the following:

  • What is my body doing? Am I flat in the water or is my body gently rocking from side-to-side like I might do in a canoe? Your body will move faster through the water on your side than flat in the water.
  • What are my arms doing? Where are they entering the water? How deep are they going? What position are my arms when I “catch” the water? How far back are they going before I start my stroke? Your arm position can make all the difference in your speed.
  • Where is my head? Is my head still or is it moving? Where your head goes your body will go. If you’re moving it up and down your body will follow.
  • What are my legs and feet doing? How much of your speed is coming from your legs?

Next week we’ll delve into one of these elements and help you get faster immediately.


Discover the secrets to improving your swim technique, avoiding painful injuries, and shaving minutes off your best triathlon times to date! Are You Ready To Make A Change In Your Athletic Life?

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Smack Talk

We really don’t cut each other much slack in the gang of triathletes I hang out with. We all talk “smack.” You know the disparaging comments you make about others, particularly the ones you’re good friends with.

The way we use “smack” is to help motivate each other. We’ll “dis” (disrespect) the training methods used by the other guys and remind them how we beat them at a particular race.

Naturally, it’s all in fun, but it does motivate us.

For example, even though I’ve had some good success in my racing this year I’ve decided to change my training for next year. Well my good pal Larry “Lar Dog” Davidson was giving me a ration of sh** about the changes I’m making. While he clearly doesn’t agree with my changes I know he supports me totally (even though he’s aging up into my age group January 1st).

That’s how it is. You have some good fun by giving the other guys crap while really supporting them and enjoying their accomplishments. Now, I don’t expect Larry to “let” me win at Ironman 70.3 California but I know he’ll want me to have a good race and if that means beating him, he’ll be happy for me.

Of course, the reverse is true as well. If I beat him I hope he’ll feel like he was at the top of his game and that I just had the better race that day.

I believe in using as many forms of motivation you can get your hands on. Find others to inspire you. Find others to train with. Seek out “peer pressure.” Have others hold you accountable. Log your workouts and keep a diary. And of course, the proverbial favorite, keep the “smack” train rolling!

And speaking of Ironman 70.3 California, Larry, how much did I beat you by again last year?


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Proper Triathlon Bike Fit

There are several schools of thought regarding proper triathlon bike fit. One school says you should be as aero as possible. Another says you should be as comfortable as possible. I say, it really depends.

The first thing you should know is that your success in the bike segment of your triathlon has a lot to do with your bike fit. A good fit will not only make you fast but will help you conserve energy. While you’re never going to feel completely “fresh” when you get off the bike in a triathlon, you want to feel as fresh as you can.

Proper bike fit really begins with the right size frame. I remember Dan Empfield said at his annual bike fit camp that this same guy would come every year to have Dan look at his fit. And every year Dan told him simply that he had the wrong size frame. If you’ve got the wrong size frame you simply can’t get a good bike fit.

So how do you assure that you get the right size frame? Go to a reputable bike shop. A great bike shop, like Edge Cyclesports in Laguna Hills, will never sell you a bike that’s the wrong size. Hank would send you somewhere else to buy it rather than sell you the wrong one. Ask around; if you talk to enough people you’ll find a good bike shop.

One of the first questions, in my opinion, a bike fitter should ask you is what your primary race distance is. This has everything to do with how you’re fit to your bike. The reason is that you can afford a little less comfort if you race mainly sprint races. A more aero position will help you slice through the wind better so what you give up in comfort is made up by being faster.

On the other hand, if you’re racing mainly Ironman distance triathlons your comfort is critical. To try to race in an extremely aggressive aero position for 4 – 7 hours would be too much for anyone. Here, you’re looking for a balance between being aerodynamic and comfortable (that’s assuming you can actually be comfortable while riding for 7 hours).

While it would be nice to say that there was a perfect set of metrics you could use to optimize your bike fit it simply doesn’t exist. Yes, there are surely guidelines that provide a good place to start but it’s a very personal thing.

I’ve been fit on my Cervelo P3 by two very good fitters. The first was Hank at Edge. I totally respect Hank and what he knows about the sport. He got my fit in the ballpark and I was quite happy with it.

As my cycling progressed I wanted to know if I could possibly get more power out of my bike by tweaking my fit a bit. This time I went to one of the true icons in cycling and triathlon, John Howard.

John is a “trip.” He’s 60 something now and still a tremendous cyclist. He’s definitely an old school guy and goes by gut but still uses much of today’s technology in his bike fitting.

John will size you up and will make some general observations about your fit. He’ll then pull out his goniometer and take some measurements. Then he’ll put your bike on the CompuTrainer and give you a couple of power tips after he’s tweaked your fit. After about 2 ½ hours you’ll be on your way with a great fit.
Since the time John fit me I’ve only made one adjustment to my seat height – I raised it about one centimeter. That’s it. Today I’m totally confident I’ve got the right fit for the kind of racing I do.

How’s your fit?

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Have you ever been snubbed while on a run?

You know what I mean, when you see another runner coming the other way and you say “hello” and they completely ignore you? What’s up with that?

I’ll never snub another athlete (purposely). In fact, I go out of my way to say hello. Here’s what I do: I’ll attempt to make eye contact with you, and if I do, I’ll say hello or at least give you a quick wave. If you’re looking at your feet I probably won’t say anything . . . unless . . .

Years ago, on one of my old running routes I used to pass this same woman nearly every time I went out. She ignored me every single time! I really thought this was odd behavior because we were both out there and saw each other all the time.

One day, I’m not sure why, perhaps just for fun, I said a loud “hello” and scared the crap out of her. Well, at least I got a good laugh from it. She continued to snub me.

Here’s how I look at it: We’re both out there and we’re working hard so why not be sociable. Hell, what if one of us has heart attack out there? I’m more likely to execute my CPR skills for someone I know as opposed to someone that snubs me all the time. Well, maybe I’ll do the CPR but don’t make me work too hard!
The funniest example of the “running snub” was in the 2001 or 2002 Ironman World Championships (I don’t remember which is was) when Tim Deboom (who won both years) was in the lead on the run and passed Nichole, his wife, on the course. She yelled and waved and he totally snubbed her. I’ll bet he had some explaining to do later that day!

Now, I do have to say, that when I’m racing the odds that you’ll get the running snub from me is 50/50. Please don’t take it personally but I can really get into the zone sometimes and just don’t pay attention to what’s going on around me. So please accept my apologies if I don’t flash the “shaka” when we pass.
One of the absolute best elements of the athletic community is how we support each other. I’ve made lots of friends through my athletics and I cherish each one. Seems only right that we at least say hello to one-another.


Ron Saetermoe

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What to Ask For Christmas – Episode 14

Still wondering what to ask for, for Christmas? Or, maybe looking for something for your significant other to satisfy their inner triathlete?

iTunes Podcast Sherry and Ron talk about some great gift ideas for you or for the triathlete on your shopping list. They’ll talk about everything from stocking stuffers to the some insanely expensive triathlon gadgets.
Tune in weekly!


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2010 Ironman NBC Show: December 18

Don’t miss the dramatic coverage of the Ford Ironman World Championship

For Ironman athletes around the world, the coverage of the Ford Ironman World Championship on NBC (December 18th, 4 – 6 PM EST – check your local listings) has proved to be a life-changing experience. Countless people cite the show as the inspiration that got them into the sport.

This year’s coverage of the Ford Ironman World Championship from Kona, Hawaii, promises to be every bit as exciting. With one of the most exciting professional races in history as a backdrop, the coverage will also include features on Kathleen Allen, Lew Hollander, Kyle Garlett and Clayton Treska.
“Each year we look to inspire our viewers with the raw power and competitive nature of the professional athletes along with the impressive stories of courage and determination demonstrated by all participants,” Peter Henning, vice president of television production for Ironman, says. “The course might not change year to year, but the drama continues to intensify.”

We’ll have more on the upcoming NBC show in the coming weeks here on Ironman.com. Make sure to mark your calendars for the big day.

Here’s a preview of the show:

Originally from: http://ironman.com/mediacenter/this-years-show-airs-on-december-13-from-230-4-pm-est/dont-miss-the-dramatic-coverage-of-the-ford-ironman-world-championship#ixzz1894E2YDF

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Interview with Russ Jones – Episode 13

This week the “Sultan of Speed,” Russ Jones, tells us about his amazing history in the sport of triathlon as well as his secrets to racing fast.

iTunes Podcast At 50, Russ was the top rated triathlete in the nation and has raced against the best including Mark Allen. His marathon PR of 2:18 had him on the path to the Olympics until he was hit by a car. Learn all about this and more in this week’s podcast.

Tune in weekly!


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10 Tips On How To Make Your Next Half Marathon A Training Success

Half Marathon TipsI love to race! All types of races and all distances. But my favorite running race is the half marathon. And if you’re considering doing a 70.3 or Ironman distance race it should be one of your favorites too!

The reason I like the half marathon for endurance triathlons is because it’s long enough to really challenge you while allowing you to recover in a relatively short time.

Here are some tips on how to make your next half marathon a complete training success:

1. If your half marathon is on Sunday keep your long Saturday bike ride. This will allow you to run on well-worked legs and will help simulate the fatigue you’ll feel when you get off the bike.

2. Pick a pace that will be significantly faster than your projected pace for your 70.3 or Ironman. This will vary for each athlete but to give you an example, my normal half marathon pace is around 7:00 per mile while my pace at Ironman 70.3 California was 7:46. So a target for your half marathon might be between 30 seconds and one minute faster per mile than your 70.3 pace. For an Ironman your pace might be one minute to two minutes faster.

3. Keep track of your pace on every mile. Make sure you use the lap feature on your sports watch so you can see how you’re doing. I don’t know about you but math becomes very difficult when I’m breathing hard so I let my watch tell me how I’m doing.

4. Most courses aren’t perfectly flat so you’re going to see some variance in your pace. However, if the course isn’t too hilly, I actually try to maintain the same pace throughout the run. I accelerate up the hills and coast down the hills. Yes, this is more challenging than allowing the terrain dictate your pace but when I’m training, I want challenging.

5. Start out with a slightly slower base and build from there. For example, you might run your first mile 10 seconds slower than your goal pace, the second mile 5 seconds slower and then run your goal pace until you reach mile 11. At mile 11 you’d go 5 seconds faster than your goal pace and at mile 12 you’d go 10 seconds faster. That way it all evens out and you finish with your goal pace.

6. How do you figure your goal pace? Try going to www.mcmillianrunning.com and use their race predictor. The figures seem a little aggressive, but I guess that’s what you want. For example, I put in a 10K best time of 40:18 which is a pace of 6:30 per mile. Based on their formula, I should be able to run a half marathon at 1:29:41. Sounds good!

7. If you’re going to run your half marathon less than three hours don’t be too concerned about your nutrition. More is not better when you’re racing under three hours. You won’t need solid food or even gels – both of which can cause GI distress you really don’t need. Trust me; if you’ve eaten well the night before and had a good breakfast, you’re only going to need the calories the sports drink on the course will provide. Your goal should be to grab a cup of sports drink at every aid station. That will be plenty.

8. Find someone going your same projected pace if you can. A lot of the larger half marathons have “pacers” that you can run with to help you reach your target time. If not, try to find someone you know, or perhaps, someone you’d like to know, and run with them. Once the crowd thins out you can usually find someone to key off of . . . preferably someone that doesn’t want to hold a conversation.

9. Allow yourself at least three to four days to recover from your half marathon. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work out, but make your workouts a bit easier and stay away from running.

10. Don’t do a half marathon any closer than three weeks prior to a 70.3 or Ironman event. You really want time to properly recover before your big event.

Check your race calendar now. There are lots of half marathons coming up between December and March.

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Your Triathlon Coach

USAT triathlon coachIn my opinion, every triathlete should have a coach. If you read the triathlete magazines you’ll see that even the elite in the sport have coaches; even those that have been in the sport many years.

Naturally, being a triathlon coach, I’m biased to coaching but I firmly believe that if you want to do your best you’ll get one.

This time of year I talk to a lot of athletes that are interested in obtaining the services of a coach. I enjoy these conversations because they’re filled with so much hope for the coming year. Which races should I enter? How much training will I have to do? What equipment do I need? It’s all really great.
Of course, being motivated now is the easy part. The tough part is all the hours and thousands of miles of training ahead.

Here are some of the people that have coached me: Dave Scott, Mark Allen, and Michael McCormack and Michael Collins. Not too shabby, right? Here’s the thing, they all have different styles and different opinions. So what do you do?
Here’s how to get the most out of your coach:

• Interview him/her to make sure there’s a connection on a personal level. If you’re not compatible on a personal level just find another coach. Is there a Match.com for triathlon coaches? Hummm!

• During the interview have him/her discuss their coaching philosophies. For example, what do they think the appropriate volume of training should be for your primary race distance? If you don’t think there’s a fit, move on.

• How long have they been in the sport? I hate to say this but anyone can get certified as a triathlon coach. Personally, I’ve been doing triathlons since 1983.

• Do they have an organized approach? One thing they don’t teach you in triathlon school is how to put together an organized training approach. At Triathica we start by assessing your fitness and develop a plan based on your fitness and your key races. Are their workouts clear? Do you understand EXACTLY what you’re supposed to do?

• Do they give you feedback? Feedback is critical to your improvement.

• Are they excited about the sport? If triathlon is just a job to them it won’t be much fun for you. You want someone that’s going to get excited about hearing about your plans and your accomplishments.

Now is the time if you’re going to do it. I’m working with my athletes right now on their calendars and their training plans for 2011. Make next year your best year in the sport yet and get yourself a coach.

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