Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Transition Tips Part 1

Transitions are the easiest, most non-athletic way for beginners to shave time off of their races.  Here are some of my very basic tips to get you through T1 and T2 quickly during your first season.

1)  Get bike shoes with velcro and run shoes with quick tie laces.  The easiest thing to do with run shoes (in my opininon Yankz are overly complicated and a ripoff!) is get a couple cord stops, put them on your laces, tie laces in a knot and cut the extra off.  It is cheap and works extremely well. 

2) Go with just the necessities- Wear a waterproof watch that you put on prerace.  Go without the bike gloves for any race that is less than a Half Ironman and only use them if you have a road bike.  Forget the deodorant (I have really seen that!), put heavy duty sunscreen on beforehand and get tri specific clothes so you are not taking clothing on/off.  If you are a badass and the race is short, scrap the socks.  They just take up precious seconds and who cares if you have blisters when the race is done?!?!?

3) Set transition up as seen above- T1- Bike shoes closest so you can put them on right away.   Glasses and helmet on top of your run shoes facing the right way so you can throw them on as you are leaning over.  Grab your bike and go!
T2- Under the helmet are running shoes and to the side are race belt, hat and snacks.  Take bike shoes off and exchange for run shoes.  Take off helmet, grab race belt and snack and get organized as you are running out of transition. 

 Those are the basics and should get you in/out in under 2:00.  Later this week I have Transition Tips Part 2- this is for you experienced racers who want to shave off a few extra seconds and get those transitions closer to a minute.  It can be done!

Cheers to speed!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pleasant Prairie Triathlon Recap

Yesterday I competed in my first triathlon of the season.   It was a picture perfect day- a chilly 55 degrees at 5 am when I pulled into the race site, sun just coming up and the lake as smooth as glass.  As the race began the wind was literally one mile per hour and the temp never got over 70 degrees.  I could not have asked for better conditions.

I took my usual approach and set three goals for the race.  They were:
Happy Goal)  Finish under 1:15:00
Really Happy Goal) Finish Top 3 in my age group
Ecstatic Goal) Finish Top 3 Overall

Well, I managed to pull out at 1:11:40!! and get second in my age group and sixth overall.  While that was not my ecstatic goal, I was pretty darn happy with that time.

I also had the pleasure of seeing one of my clients start and finish his very first triathlon, and he rocked it!  We have been working hard to get him ready for this race and he went straight for the Olympic distance.  He set a few goals and managed to come close to his ecstatic goal, finishing in an impressive 2:48.  And that is with over seven minutes of transitions.  I already know where he can cut four minutes from his next race. (PS- Transition tips coming later this week- stay tuned!) 

The post race feeling I have had with me for the past 36 hours is the absolute reason that compete in this sport.  Finishing a great race can leave you feeling energized and focused for days.  It makes you eager to train and "sparks" your motivation.  I am already thinking about my next race...

It is, however, important to do a post race analysis.  Yes, I had a great race, but what can I do next time to improve?  My first transition was the pits (I could NOT get my wetsuit off - need to practice!) and I was struggling big time to keep up on the bike.  These are the two areas I will focus on before my next race.  Likewise, my client can easily speed up his transitions, but felt that he was overly conservative on the beginning of the run, as he was not sure how much energy he would have at the end.  Those are the things you learn from racing experiences.

For those of you that raced this past weekend, run through it in your head- where could you chop off a few seconds or minutes?  Where would you like to feel stronger?  Use your newfound motivation and fix those things- it will payoff in your next race!

-Coach A  http://www.sparkmultisport.com/

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Coach A's Essential Workout Tunes

I am training for the Chicago Marathon this year with the ultimate goal of qualifying for Boston. Their new qualification standards are tough and I may not even get into the race if I qualify, but at least I will have my pride and my playlist.  I have created a 3 hr mashup of fabulous songs on my Ipod for those long runs that I am facing this summer.  Below are my favorite tunes from that list, which is titled "Boston Bound 2011."  Grab the ones you like, name your playlist after your ultimate goal, and get busy!

"Hot-N-Fun" - N.E.R.D and Nelly Furtado
"What You Waiting For"- Gwen Stefani
"Le Disko"- Shiny Toy Guns
"Beautiful People"- Chris Brown featuring Benny Benassi
"Isaac"- Madonna
"Till the World Ends"- Britney Spears
"Heads Will Roll"- Yeah Yeah Yeahs Tommy Sunshine Mix
"Stereo Love"- Edward Maya & Viko Jigulina
"Imma Be"- Black Eyed Peas
"Just Dance"- Lady Gaga and Colby O'Donis
"On the Floor"- Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull
"The Way Life Used to Be" - Snoop Dogg
"Bright Lights Bigger City"- Cee Lo Green
"Don't Turn Out the Lights" NKOTBSB (don't judge me!)
"Maneater"- Nelly Furtado
"U Should Know Better"- Robyn featuring Snoop Dogg
"Speakerphone"- Kylie Minogue
"Beat Goes on"- Madonna featuring Kanye West

I hope this helps YOU get moving!
-Coach A http://www.sparkmultisport.com/

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

You: A Runner- Part 3 of 3

So, you read my blog last week and were so inspired that you went out and ran a mile.  Three times.  And you still hate running.  Read on to figure out how you can start to love it.

Be Consistent- As I mentioned in Part 2, you definitely need to get past that first month of running and over the 3 mile mark.  Are you going to love running when you get there?  Probably not.  But if you stay consistent for a few months and can do at least 3-5 miles consistently, it is going to get easier and more enjoyable.

Have a Goal- It is much easier to be consistent if you have a goal.  Sign up for a local 5k or 10k a few months out and work towards that.   Crossing a finish line can be a big motivator to keep you running.  And remember, the more you run, the more enjoyable it gets. 

Mix it up-  As a beginner runner, you may not realize that there are different ways of running besides leaving your house and just going.  There are speed workouts, tempo runs, fartleks and lots of other fun stuff to add variety to your workout.  After you get bored of "just running", consult a coach or experienced runner for advice on how you can spice up your workouts.

Make it Fun- If you prefer running on the treadmill, do it.  If you like to run outside when it is 10 degrees, go for it!  If you like to gossip with a friend while you run, recruit someone or join a running group.  Do whatever it takes to keep it interesting for you.   For many, some good tunes can make the workout - invest in an Ipod shuffle and load it with some fast beats.  And, on that note, tune in tomorrow for my list of "must have" workout songs for your ultimate playlist!

I hope I have inspired you to tie up those laces!
-Coach A http://www.sparkmultisport.co/

Friday, June 17, 2011

You: A Runner- Part 2 of 3

Yesterday I told you how I came from the "I'm not a runner" mindset and morphed into a serious and somewhat decent runner.  Today is when I tell you how.

Why-Figure out why you want to be a runner.  Do you need a stress reliever?  Need to torch some calories?  For me the reason was I needed a portable workout.   When I was in college all I had ever done for fitness was swim.  As I started traveling more and even on my visits home to my parents', finding a place to swim proved difficult.  And when I did find a pool, nothing was more aggravating than showing up and finding a hard core water aerobics class taking up the pool (is there such a thing?!?!?).  I needed a workout that I could do anywhere, and running was it. 

Get the Right Gear- At the very least, you need a pair of running shoes that fit well.  Running in your retro Pumas is not going to make it enjoyable-  especially when you wake up the next morning with the worl's worst case of shin splints.    If you have some extra cash buy a good pair of shorts and a good sports bra (for the ladies).  You are set.

Start Small-  I will never forget my first run.  I got on the treadmill and told myself I was going to get to 1 mile.  And I did.  I have no recollection of how long it took but I remember that it sucked.  I went back to the gym and did it twice more that week. I ran 3x per week, adding a half mile each week until I was at 3 miles.   Adding mileage like that is manageable and a good way to stay injury free.  No need to make your first run a 5 miler and then sit out for the next 6 months.  Start small and you are more likely to get it done.   

Get Past the Threshold-  The first month or so of running is not all roses and butterflies.  It is a new challenge for your body and it is hard work.   If you give up during that first month, or are not consistently running a few times per week, it will never become enjoyable.  Those first 4 weeks are crucial in the process of becoming a runner.  Likewise, the first mile or two of every workout is never when you feel amazing.  It takes your body a while to get warmed up and for those endorphins to kick in.  Do yourself a favor and get your runs at least 3 miles (once you are ready).  That is when the runners high kicks in and it gets fun.

Which brings me to the final portion of You: A Runner- the last part will tell you how to LOVE running.  I am serious!  It can be done.  Check in after the weekend to find out how-
-Coach A  http://www.sparkmultisport.com/

Thursday, June 16, 2011

You: A Runner- Part 1 of 3

I had am amazing day today.  It was a gorgeous 80 degrees and sunny with a cool breeze off the lake.  One of the few days in Chicago when it is neither too hot nor too cold.  I started my day this morning running a set of wicked fast mile repeats with one of my clients.  I have been working with him for some time now and he is getting so fast I can barely keep up with him anymore.  It was one of those workouts you just want to be over, and you feel awesome when it is.  This evening I had the pleasure of running a 5K with another one of my clients.  She is on the other end of the spectrum trying to establish a healthier lifestyle and this was her first race.  I gave her support along the course, kept her motivated and we crossed the finish line together.  I had a blast.

On days like these I cannot believe I get paid to do what I do.  Sharing my passion with others and transforming them into who they want to be is truly wonderful.  However, if you had known me a little over a decade ago, you would be astonished that one of my passions would be running.  I used to loathe running.  I hated being hot and sweaty and always touted that that is why I chose swimming as my sport.  When my swim coach used to make us run, I would bitch and moan like no other.  I sucked at running, I was not "a runner."

Everyday I try to talk people into doing triathlons.  The number one negative response I get is "I am not a runner."  I hear it all- I have bad knees, I hate running,  running hurts, etc.  Well, friends, I am proof positive that you can go from that statement to becoming a runner.  Over the next few days I am not only going to share with you how to become a runner, but also how to love running.   It can be done.

Before I share with you my steps to becoming a runner, think about why you want to start.  Weight loss?  Alone time?  To finish a 5k?   That is going to be your driving force and motivation to get your rear in gear.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2!
-Coach A  www.sparkmultisport.com

Monday, June 13, 2011

Why You NEED Someone to Kick Your A**!

Hi, my name is Angela Park.  I am a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and USA Triathlon Level II Certified Coach.  I swam competitively for 12 years and have been competing in triathlons for well over a decade.   I love working out and am one of the most competitive peple you will ever meet.  I will run until I puke if it means I come out on top- and there is nothing better than the feeling after that kind of race.  I won a triathlon when my baby was 6 months old and broke 4 hrs in the marathon when she was 9 mths.  I am not lazy.  But when I get into the pool to do a workout by myself, I am a downright sloth.

When I swim by myself I can think of every excuse in the book; this is my second workout for the day, I am already a faster swimmer than most other triathletes, swimming doesn't count for that much of the race, etc.  It is ugly.  Most of my swim is me thinking of why I don't need to be swimming.   Totally lame.  So yesterday I head to the pool for one of my half-ass swims and am greeted by a friend of mine who is lifeguarding.  She offers to write me a workout and I accept.  And then she is there watching me for the entire workout.  The entire workout where I bust my butt to make the intervals and act like I always work that hard.  It sucked, but I felt awesome when I was done.

There is NO doubt that I would not have worked that hard if I did not have an onlooker.   If you find that most of your workouts are you just going through the motions and not really putting in a great effort, it may be time to enlist some help.  It can be a friend or a trainer, but make sure it is someone who pushes you, and doesn't enable your lazy ways.  If you are a triathlete, it means you are probably a pretty hard worker.  However, we all have our workouts where we know we could be doing better.  Those are the ones where you want to join a group or hire a coach to help you out.

We are all busy and working out is tough to fit in- why waste the time you are spending on your training?  Make it count and make every workout worthwhile!

-Coach A http://www.sparkmultisport.com/

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Stay Safe, Baby!!

Once you get into the swing of training, it is easy to pick up some bad, and even dangerous habits.  Read on for some of the easiest ways to keep your training safe.

Swim- Once a few years ago I was visiting my parents who live on a man made lake.  We were at the beach and I decided it would be fun to swim home instead of walk.  I swam straight to the middle of the lake where, lo and behold, I had a bit of a panic attack.  Now, I have been swimming competitively for over 20 years and can swim for what seems like forever with no effort.   However, there is something about being in the middle of the lake all alone that is frightening, especially when you acknowledge your surroundings.  I made it to their house but will NEVER do that again.  No matter how great of a swimmer you are, you should never swim in open water by yourself.  

Bike-  Even the little girl above knows that you should always wear a helmet.  In addition you should always wear brightly colored clothing and obey traffic laws.  We all know someone who has been hit by a car and slightly or seriously injured.  As a result, when riding in congested areas (like downtown Chicago) ride defensively and assume that none of the drivers see you.   Biking can be dangerous and when I see cyclists blatantly blowing off rules of the road, I fear for what they have coming.   When riding on the glorious country roads bike with traffic and be weary when going over hills- some cars are used to having the road to themselves out there .

Run-  One of the most important things with running is to listen to your body.  Running is tough on the old bod, and if you are feeling pain that is severe or unusual, it is probably best to slow down or stop altogether.  To prevent unnecessary injuries, have someone who can give you tips look at your run form and let you know where you can improve.  As the temps heat up this summer, run early morning or in the evening.  Be smart about running in secluded areas or when it is starting to get dark, be aware of your surroundings, turn down the music, and fellow Chicagoans, look out for Flash Mobs (not of the dancing variety!!)

To a fast and SAFE summer!
-Coach A http://www.sparkmultisport.com/

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

First Race Tips!

Here in the Midwest, Tri season is about to get seriously underway.  I know lots of people heading off to do their first races in the next couple of weeks.  Here are my top tips to help you have a fun and successful first race!

1.  Pack early!  I have been to races with newbies who have forgotten helmets, sunglasses, shorts, and even their running shoes!  Triathlons take a lot of gear, have your bag packed and thoroughly checked the night before.  Use a checklist (such as http://www.usatriathlon.org/resources/multisport-101/race-day-checklist) and double check!

2. Bring backup!  This has two meanings to me:

  •       Things that could break- goggles, bikes tubes, swim caps, etc- bring extras.
  •       Bring someone along with you that will not let you turn around and go home when you see all the people and your nerves get the best of you.  You know you are ready and you have trained hard, but  your first race will still be very scary.  Bring along a supporter and remember there are lots of other newbies out there.
3.  Have goals.   Yes, the goal of your first race should be to just finish, but I like to set 3-tiered goals for each race.    The first goal is one that you will be happy with (ie-to finish).  The second one you would be thrilled with (ie-to finish and get my 5K under 25 minutes.  The third one you would be ecstatic, over the moon super excited (ie- to finish and get an award in my age group).  This three tiered system almost never lets me down and gives me more than one thing to focus on should things not go perfectly.

4.  Have a blast!  Only a very small percentage of the population even attempts a triathlon, so you are doing something pretty awesome. Enjoy the day and embrace that feeling of crossing the finish line.  Remember how great you feel so when you find yourself training for you next one you aren't wondering "What the heck am I doing this again for?!?!?!"

Race fast! -Coach A www.sparkmultisport.com

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My Favorite Run

When I travel I love to go for a run to see the sights and get in a good workout.  Over the years I have done some pretty cool routes- the Las Vegas Strip, the San Diego shoreline, and Cancun hotel zone to name a few.  However, to me, there is nothing like walking out my front door and running down to Lake Michigan.

My favorite run is about an 8 mile out and back that takes me three miles down Chicago Avenue.  In those three miles, I go through my Hispanic influenced neighborhood, past one of the hottest restaurants in the US (Japonais), along the remnants of Cabrini Green, across the heart of Michigan Avenue and end up on the lakefront path.   Once I hit the path I have a short jaunt south before I am on Navy Pier.  At 8 am on a Sunday morning, Navy Pier is absent of tourists and usually only a few fisherman and scattered runners are present.  After running the half mile out to the end of the pier I always like to take a minute and look around.  From here I can see endless miles of lake and an amazing view of downtown.   Usually in that minute I fall in love with Chicago all over again. 

I feel lucky to be alive and healthy and able to run this 8 mile route whenever I please.  What is your favorite run?   Have you run it lately?  If not, it is a beautiful day- what are you waiting for?
-Coach A www.sparkmultisport.com