Thursday, April 29, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Product Review 22 - Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance - 5 Step Plan for Endurance Athletes by Matt Fitzgerald
This is my first book review for the blog. It is the first book review I have ever written. Is a book review the same as a book report. If so, then the last time I wrote a book report was high school. Here it goes.
This is the first book I have read about diet and racing/training. I was going to write exercise instead of racing/training, but the book does more than discuss it in the context of exercise. I specifically bought this book because I am interested in losing about 10 pounds for race season. For someone who is an active triathlete, or other endurance athlete, this book is appropriate because it discusses nutrition within the context of training and racing. I think if you are active in any endurance sport, all of your nutrition needs to be considered within the context of your sport since they are so dependant upon each other.
The author, Matt Fitzgerald, is a marathon runner, triathlete, and certified sports nutritionist. He is contributor to Bicycling and Runner’s World and senior editor of Triathlete magazine. He is also a featured coach for Training Peaks and Active.com.
The book is broken into 14 chapters with an appendix that consists of recommended strength exercises for endurance athletes. In the introduction, the three parts that make up the chapters are laid out. The three parts consist of, “Finding Your Racing Weight”, “Five Steps to Your Racing Weight”, and “The Racing Weight Menu”. Many of us who have been active in endurance sports for awhile will read the five steps and think, “duh”, but they are things we either take for granted or don’t think about enough. So it is nice to see them laid out and discussed in depth. The five steps consist of, “Improve Your Diet Quality”, Balance Your Energy Sources”, Time Your Nutrition”, Manage Your Appetite”, and “Train Right”. Based on the five steps, you can tell this is not a diet book, it does discuss different, for lack of a better word, “fad” diets. It discusses both the good and bad points of those “fad” diets.
The book is about nutrition taken in the context of training and racing, and contains many references to studies that have been performed to test nutrition and training experiments. I like that the author references studies and doesn’t just reference studies that validate a point, but also points to studies that had no effect or the opposite effect than what was intended. Since it is not a diet book, but a nutrition book, it is more a discussion of recommendations on eating for performance. I am not going to go into any chapter in detail in this review, but there is a chapter on “Nutrient Timing” that discusses what and when to eat before, during, and after training or racing. Nutrient timing is looked at using both specific examples and from the standpoint of how the body uses nutrients when training and racing.
The book discusses racing weight considerations for not only triathlon, but running, biking, swimming, rowing, and cross-country skiing and what consideration have to be made for each individual sport. There is a chapter titled “What the Pros Eat” that gives a snapshot of a daily nutrition intake for pro athletes in triathlon, cycling, rowing, running, swimming, and cross country skiing. There is also a chapter that has recipes and these recipes are supplied by Pip Taylor, a pro triathlete who has an education in sports nutrition and writes the nutrition column for Triathlete magazine. There is also a chapter on supplements that discusses 7 different supplements that the author thinks are of important.
When it comes to books on nutrition, training, and/or racing I tend to read them and pick and choose what I need from them, which I think is something a lot of us do and that is how many books are written. We all have different requirements as athletes and most of us cannot follow a general plan laid out in a book, so we take what we think we need from them and build or own plan.. I think this book is a good reference book, it contains a lot of good information that a person can go back to and use throughout their season, and that is how I plan on using this book for my racing and training needs.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
The Finis Tempo Trainer (price $27 – $40) is a small circular device that resembles a watch without a band. It fits into clip that clips onto goggle bands. The tempo trainer is a metronome that emits a beep at a user set interval and aids the swimmer in keep a constant pace. The beep interval is set as seconds per stroke. I went to the Finis website (www.finisinc.com/P-105015/Tempo-Trainer) and watched the how-to-use video which was very useful for understanding how best to use the device. In the video they explain how to attach the device to your goggle strap and they mention putting it under the swim cap. I normally don’t swim with a swim cap on and I tried to use it without a swim cap. The tempo trainer fell off twice while swimming without a cap. When swimming with a cap, it did not fall off. I highly recommend wearing a cap as directed in the video. I also recommend that once the holder is clipped onto the goggle strap, do not remove the holder when changing settings. If you need to change settings and look at the tempo trainer while doing it, remove the tempo trainer from the holder, leaving the clip in place. It is hassle to clip the holder back on while in the water.
There are only two buttons on the device. One button increases the beep frequency, one button decreases the beep frequency, and pushing both buttons at once turns it off. It required some reps to determine the frequency for my “normal” swim pace. I started at about 1 sec/beep, or sec/stroke, the default setting, and found that about 0.90-0.95 sec/stroke was the best setting when swimming at a normal pace. My normal distance per stroke in a 25 yard pool is about 19-21 per length. If you look at my 50 yard time (if I were doing a pace to do 20-30x50) and you do the math with the 19-21 strokes per length, 0.90- 0.95 sec/stroke, plus flip turn, it works out very close to my average time. In the video they talk about the usefulness of the tempo trainer in maintaining a faster than normal pace. I found this to be very true. I did a set of 4 x (200 with 20sr, 150 with 20sr, 100 with 20sr, 50 sprint with 60sr), where each set of 4 lengths gets progressively faster. I started the tempo trainer at 0.95 sec/stroke for the first set and did the last set at 0.70 sec/stroke. The beeping of the tempo trainer kept me focused on my stroke and kept me moving at a consistent pace, where normally I might be more likely to drop off in the final set. When using the tempo trainer I found that I had to set the frequency and start swimming and let my stroke fall into place with the frequency. I found that if I concentrated on the beep of the tempo trainer I would end up with an awkward stroke. Also, by concentrating on my stroke I found that my stroke performance improved.
The tempo trainer has a second function, which I did not use, and that is you can set the timer to a total time that you want to swim a distance in, for example if you want to swim 500 yards in 7 minutes, you set it to that time and it beeps at a frequency to keep you on pace for that distance and time.
I found the Finis Tempo Trainer to be a surprisingly useful training tool. I think some patience is required to initially use the tempo trainer, but I think once you are used to using the device it can be extremely useful for improving swim speed and distance per stroke.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Admittedly, I have not used Speedo goggles in the last year. I had a number of different pairs of Speedo goggles in the past and had fit problems, leak problems, and fog problems. So, I looked forward to trying out a new pair of Speedo goggles tailored to triathletes. A few things I noticed about the Speedo (www.speedousa.com) Air Tri Mirror (price $19-$25) goggle before putting them on. The nosepiece has not adjustment, as opposed to other Speedo goggles I have had in the past. This is not a problem. The outside of the goggle appears to have a secondary coating or film over the lenses, making them thicker on the outside, this is the anti-reflective coating. Speedo employs their “wide-angle technology” to improve vision, and these goggle do have a very good field of view. The gasket around the lenses is thicker and more rubbery. I have put at least a few ten thousand yards in with these goggles and so far so good. They are comfortable and to fit nicely they don’t have to pinch my head or cut off circulation to my brain. This probably due to the fact that these goggles have “soft-frame technology” that allows them to form-fit around the face and head better. They have not fogged up and there have been no real leak problems. The only real leak problem occurred when the tightening strap on the back slipped out, which happened on a couple of occasions. When that happened, they leaked but did not fall off or slip down. I just have to remember to tighten the strap occasionally, which is easy with the strap system they have employed. Tightening requires you to pull on the loose ends of the strap that run through a clip on the back.
I have only had a chance to wear the goggles indoors so it is hard to tell how good the tint is on the goggles. It will be interesting to see how good they work outdoors in the open water on a nice sunny day. It will be interesting to see how well these goggles hold up over the course of the year. So far, I like these goggles and would consider purchasing another pair.