Triathlon Training, Gear, Nutrition, Photos, Race Results & Calendars Sat, 28 May 2016 01:00:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Faces In The Pack: Age Grouper Emily Holcroft Sat, 28 May 2016 01:00:36 +0000

Emily Holcroft. Photo: Kelli Wilke Photography

A couple health scares couldn’t keep this age-grouper from racing her first triathlon.

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A couple health scares couldn’t keep this age-grouper from racing her first triathlon.

At 41 years old, Emily Holcroft was in the shape of her life while training for her first triathlon. A year prior, the nurse and mother of four almost lost her life when an artery was nicked during a hysterectomy. “After a long recovery, I made up my mind that I was going to live life and get back to the things I once loved prior to having children,” she says. “Knowing that running wasn’t my strength, a friend recommended looking into a triathlon.”

While training for that first triathlon in August 2013, she started noticing shortness of breath during her workouts—her bike rides went from 25 miles to 5 miles; she could barely swim 500 yards when she was used to swimming 3600 and her 3-mile runs were reduced to a half mile. Then she started having pain in her left arm. “I was extremely frustrated—I thought I pulled my bicep muscle while swimming,” she says. “Never in a million years was an impending heart attack on my radar.”

The morning of her heart attack, four weeks out from the race, she was barely able to swim one length of the pool, and her coworker insisted she go to the ER, where she was diagnosed as having a panic attack and sent home with a prescription for anti-anxiety medication. Two hours later, she collapsed on her living room floor. She woke up three days later in the ICU after having emergency open-heart surgery for a quadruple bypass. Despite no family history of heart disease, she was diagnosed with coronary artery disease.

“My cardiac surgeon was standing at the end of my bed and all I can remember saying to him was, ‘Does this mean I can’t do my triathlon?’” Holcroft recalls. “He smiled and said, ‘No, not this year.’” Even so, a month later, barely able to walk, she showed up on race morning to pick up her race number and swag—if they wouldn’t refund her registration fee, she wanted to at least enjoy the pre-race celebration.

During the following two years, Holcroft underwent cardiac rehab and faced several setbacks along the way. “But if anyone knows me, they know that I’m not a quitter,” she says. She was finally able to race her first triathlon in June 2015 at the Tri-It Festival in Bear, Del. “Crossing over that finish line was the most exhilarating feeling I could have ever imagined,” she says. She raced four triathlons in her first season, finishing on the podium in her age group in two of them.

Her biggest motivation has come from finding fulfilling friendships in her tri club and the bonus of training and racing with her husband. “It has strengthened our marriage and is inspiring for our children,” she says.

Holcroft, who lives in Middleton, Del., is signed up for five short-course races in 2016 and would like to do a half-Ironman in 2017. “And, of course, I have the full Ironman dream!” she says. “We’ll see what God has in store. But I know one thing for sure—when I do sign up for an Ironman, it won’t be on the East Coast. I’m going tropical!”

RELATED – Faces In The Pack: Team Every Man Jack’s Ritch Viola

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Quick Set Friday: Strong And Descending 100s Fri, 27 May 2016 22:00:41 +0000


Hit the weekend with this creative swim workout from swimming all-star Sara McLarty.

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Triathlete contributor and swimming all-star Sara McLarty has a blog with more than 500 creative workouts used in her Masters swim program in Clermont, Fla. We’ll feature a workout every Friday so you have new ideas to take to the pool. On her blog (, you can pick a Monday set for a long distance focus, a Wednesday set for sprint training, or Friday for creative open water skills.

300 swim/100 kick/300 pull/100 kick
6×100 swim @ 1:30 (descend 1-6)
6×100 pull @ 1:30 (descend 1-6)
500 (50 swim/5 pop-ups/25 kick/25 Sailboat Drill, repeat)
400 (50 free/50 non-free)
6×100 swim @ 1:20 (all strong)
6×100 pull @ 1:20 (all strong)
200 choice cool-down
*4300 total*

RELATED: Sprints, Kicks, Dives

200 swim/100 kick/200 pull/100 kick
4×100 swim @ 2:00 (descend 1-4)
4×100 pull @ 2:00 (descend 1-4)
400 (50 swim/5 pop-ups/25 kick/25 Sailboat Drill, repeat)
300 (50 free/50 non-free)
4×100 swim @ 1:50 (all strong)
4×100 pull @ 1:50 (all strong)
200 choice cool-down
*3100 total*

200 swim/50 kick/200 pull/50 kick
4×100 swim w/:20 rest (descend 1-4)
4×100 pull w/:20 rest (descend 1-4)
300 (50 swim/5 pop-ups/25 kick/25 Sailboat Drill, repeat)
300 (50 free/50 non-free)
200 choice cool-down
*2100 total

RELATED: 500 Fast For Time

Sailboat Drill

Hold a kickboard between your thighs. Make sure half of the board is sticking below your body when you swim freestyle. Use your core muscles to control your hip rotation (while the board tries to prevent rotation).


Face the wall and place both hands on the top of the edge of the pool. Push up and out of the water until your arms are fully extended and then drop back down into the water. This will be harder or easier, depending on how high the edge of the pool is in relation to the surface of the water.

More swim workouts.

Follow Triathlete on Twitter @Triathletemag for inspiration, new workout ideas, gear reviews from our editors and more.

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Six Steps To Developing a Psychology of Success Fri, 27 May 2016 19:00:19 +0000

Photo: Scott Draper

Coach Alan Culpepper shares mental tips for success.

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This article was excerpted with permission from Alan Culpepper’s new book, “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian’s Approach For Every Runner” (VeloPress, 2015). Although this article was written specifically for runners, its advice is relevant to all triathletes.

1) Recognize Your Incentive

To reach your full potential as a runner and achieve your short- and long-term goals, it’s important to honestly explore and embrace your primary incentive for running. It is that singular motivating factor that you will fall back on when the training gets hard, when you naturally start to lose some of that initial excitement and motivation, when you get into a training rut or when the weather is bad and you don’t feel like lacing up your shoes. Why do you want to go through all that is necessary to reach your goals? Is it out of joy? Anger? Loss? Faith? Freedom?

For some, the motivation is crystal clear. Some of the greatest athletes on the planet run to escape poverty, using the financial incentives of running fast to create life-altering changes in their future economic status. Most runners, however—whether at the high school, college, or recreational level—will never pursue running as a profession for monetary gain. To achieve your best as a runner, you have to dig hard to find out where your desire really comes from.

My own incentive was always centered on an unwavering pursuit of excellence. I knew I had a gift for running, and I wanted to get at every single ounce of my talent. I wanted the assurance that I had accomplished all that was physically and emotionally possible. In order to honor that gift, I had to see how good I could get, and after my first year and a half of college I never again doubted that I was going to see it all the way through.

Without a true and clear understanding of your primary incentive, you may fall short of your ultimate potential. Being honest about your desire and true to your incentive will lead to your best performances.

2) Know What You Want to Accomplish

You have to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve as a runner—a specific end goal that is important to you. Breaking 3 hours in the marathon or qualifying for the Boston Marathon are clear, focused goals. Vague statements such as “I just want to finish well” or “I want to get fit” or “I want to run fast” are not. Those statements might be true, but they’re not ultimate goals. In this way, you will create a laser-sharp focus and achieve the best possible results.

Don’t be swayed by peers or friends or training partners. Instead, think about what will give you the continual motivation to see your goals come to fruition. Focusing on a specific time for race distances is a good, clear goal, but it’s important that your goals be both realistic and challenging—not too easy or too hard to attain. Narrow in on your race goal based on previous efforts, training, and running history. These are all good indicators of what is realistic.

Your goals and aspirations are really important only to you, so you need to own them and live by them. Write them down in a notebook, on a calendar, on your smartphone. Pick the top five things you want to accomplish for a given year or training period. These can be time goals, placing goals, qualifying marks, age-group accomplishments, records, or new personal bests. These goals should be something to reach for but not unattainable—lofty yet realistic. Writing them down gives you a reference point, a reminder that this is important to you, and will allow you to reflect back on and rekindle your baseline motivation. It’s normal to lose enthusiasm during the course of your training, so having your goals written down can be a vital tool to refocus and constantly remind you of your ultimate purpose.

3) Commit to Reaching Your Goals

Once you’re clear on what you want to accomplish, you have to make the commitment that you will do everything in your power to achieve those goals. That might sound extreme or even obsessive, but if you want to achieve something significant, something lofty, then you must have a clear and unwavering commitment from the onset. That includes developing or following a training plan, going out of your way to make time to run and doing the extra stuff (strength work, cross-training, diet, etc.) to make it all happen.

You must fine-tune your goals, state your intentions, and commit to them 100 percent. In doing so, you will create self-perpetuating momentum because once you commit, you are less likely to go back— only forward. You can’t erase the fact that you’ve said you are going for it, nor will you be able to easily let yourself off the hook. Your goals become a powerful source of long-term motivation and allow you to use the passion connected to them to do the necessary work on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

That means there’s no room for excuses, laziness, or self-doubt. Sure, you will have doubts, setbacks, and obstacles along the way. Every runner does. But continually invigorated by your goals and long-term progress and galvanized by your psychological commitment, you will be able to face those challenges head-on. Develop mantras to reinstate your commitment, and use verbal reinforcements to maintain your momentum. On a regular basis, remind yourself, “I am not going to let a fear of disappointment, a doubt in my ability, a fear of getting injured, or momentary lapses in focus stop me. I am ready to do what it takes to not get derailed and will maintain my consistent commitment to the goal.” Or it can be something as simple as “I am physically strong, mentally powerful, and committed to my goals, and I can conquer minor setbacks along the way.”

4) Track Your Progress

Habitually recording your workouts in a training log is much like keeping a diary or journal. People keep diaries and journals for reflection, and a training log is similar in many aspects. By reflecting on your training, you stay engaged and focused on not only the goal but also the process.

A training diary is a psychological aspect of training that is often underestimated. Some runners brush off the idea of keeping a record of what they did in the buildup to a particular event. “What’s the point?” they wonder. Meanwhile, other runners are in upload overload with GPS devices or other modern technological tools. Uploading data from your training has become a substitute for keeping a training diary. But, as in the case of writing down your goals, the practice of actually writing down your daily training activities can have a profound influence on your actually reaching them. Keeping a journal is another step in creating significance and psychological purpose for your running.

It is hard to remember the workouts you did last week, much less where you ran, what times you hit, or how you felt. By keeping a training log you not only create significance through an intentional act of recording your training but also have a record, an accurate account of what you are doing in preparation. You can refer back to any point in your training log to compare your workouts or simply to reflect on your training to build confidence.

5) Keep It Fresh

Rough patches happen in training. Even if you are a highly motivated and determined individual, there will be times during your training when you may find your enthusiasm waning and your mental strength getting flimsy. That’s normal. All runners go through periods where they feel like they are physically or mentally flat and are merely slogging through workouts, going through the motions.

You need your fire to be burning hotter than ever as race day approaches so that when the time comes, you can push yourself beyond perceived physical and mental limits. Your mental approach to training should be modeled with that end goal in mind, which means implementing measures that allow you to stay mentally fresh and fired up throughout the training process. Strategies for staying mentally fresh include being clear about your priorities, maintaining a balanced (rather than obsessive) perspective, and doing your best to craft a lifestyle that fosters your training along with everything else. A positive and focused mental approach will help you hurdle barriers that are bound to arise, such as dealing with the weather, combatting illness, training while traveling, and juggling family and work commitments.

To prohibit them from becoming bigger problems, it’s key to foster and maintain a strong and positive mental approach. Training well takes not just physical exertion but mental exertion as well. But that’s OK; you need pressures and challenges to become mentally stronger, a tool in your toolbox that will serve you well on race day. However, your training should not leave you mentally flat come race time. Your objective is always to be ready when it counts, and being mentally fresh will help to make that possible.

6) Trust Your Instincts

Sometimes small decisions can affect the emotional toll of a given run or workout. Questions you ask yourself include: Where should I run a particular session? What loop should I choose on a given easy day? Should it be an out-and-back? Should I do the workout on the track, on the road, or on a trail? Should the run be hilly or flat? Should I run on a treadmill?

Choices you make depend on such variables as your schedule, the weather, or the requirements of the session. Trusting in your inclinations for a particular day (provided the decision does not jeopardize the productivity of the run or workout) will lift some of the mental burden associated with the actual training.

This is not an excuse to let yourself off the hook and avoid the hard efforts required in training. Much the opposite, actually. Taking the edge off psychologically whenever possible by making choices that reflect how you feel on a particular day will allow you to run with focus and intention during those hard workouts and will give you the mental bandwidth to dig deep without repercussions. There are certainly times when you have to just get the workout done because it is the type of session that requires a measured course, calls for being on the track, or has other constraints. But training is hard enough without making it harder by adding emotional stress. When you have a workout that can be accomplished in a variety of settings, choose with your mental disposition in mind.

These signals get easier to read over time, but some folks still choose to ignore them. In contrast, I have known athletes who take a few days off at any sign of discomfort, fatigue, or running nose. Be realistic and honest; your instincts about your own body and system are the best counsel.

Two-time U.S. Olympian Alan Culpepper won national titles from the 5K to the marathon. He coaches a wide range of runners through

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How To Become A Cyclist Fri, 27 May 2016 16:00:46 +0000

Photo: Kevin Thompson/TriRock

Take your bike skills from cruising to race-ready with these tips.

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Take your bike skills from cruising to race-ready with these tips.

The simple act of pedaling a bike is easy enough to pick up even after years away (“just like riding a bike,” right?). The difficulty comes in turning your leisurely riding into a race effort. In order to improve, you need to shift your mind-set from laid-back, easy riding to training with intention. Follow these guidelines to get ready for the bike leg of your first race.

Ride more frequently.

Time in the saddle is the first step to building your fitness. If you’re only riding one day a week for an hour right now, make that twice a week for the next couple of weeks and work up to three times per week. From there you can make your individual rides longer and/or add some higher-effort intervals.

RELATED – Triathlete Beginner Kit: The Bike

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How To Approach Fueling On The Road Fri, 27 May 2016 13:00:06 +0000

Although eating well on the road requires more planning and thought, it can certainly be done.

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How should i approach my fueling (especially race morning) on the road?

A: Don’t let travel derail your stellar fuel plan. Although eating well on the road requires more planning and thought, it can certainly be done. The key is preparation and ensuring you are consuming balanced meals and snacks, which contain fiber, protein and fat. Follow these general travel fueling tips:

  • Check out restaurants at your destination online ahead of time. Have healthier restaurant options in mind before you even leave home.
  • Grab a menu before a table. Check out the menu before sitting down, and secure a couple healthy options.
  • Avoid fast-food establishments. Need I say more?
  • Make modifications to the menu. Make the menu item what you want it to be. Replace breaded chicken with grilled chicken, or throw avocado and walnuts on your salad for added healthy fat.
  • Share something with a friend. It’s a given that your restaurant entrée could feed a small pack of wolves. Take half of it back to the hotel or split with a comrade!
  • Avoid gas station or airport snacks. Bring your own snacks! Some non-refrigerated snack options: trail mix, nuts, seeds, Justin’s individually packaged nut butters, fruit and Larabars. If you have a fridge or cooler available to you, include these items: hummus, raw veggies and plain Greek yogurt. Avoid added sugars with all of these snack ideas.

A healthy race-day breakfast on the road is also important. If you are staying at the race’s host hotel, it just may open its kitchen early and offer a nice spread for racers. Score! Call ahead to find out what options are available race morning and what time breakfast starts. If this service isn’t being offered, ask questions about your room—is there a kitchen? A stove? A refrigerator? I’ve been known to bring a toaster with me to destination races—do what needs to be done!

  • Full kitchen or microwave: Eggs with fruit, oatmeal with nuts
  • Fridge: Plain Greek yogurt with nuts and fruit, hard-boiled eggs with fruit, overnight oats (cover oats with almond milk, soak overnight, add toppings in the morning)
  • Toaster: freezer waffles with almond butter and chia seeds
  • No appliances: granola bars topped with almond butter, Larabar, trail mix

Use the resources available to you and focus on consuming a breakfast that contains fiber, protein and fat to stay full, maintain consistent energy levels and perform your best on race day.

Brooke Schohl, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., METS Level II is a board-certified sports dietitian and the owner of Fuel to the Finish Endurance Nutrition Coaching ( in Scottsdale, Ariz.

RELATED: What Do I Eat The Night Before A Race?

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How To Overcome The Compensation Effect And Lose Weight Thu, 26 May 2016 22:00:34 +0000

Matt Fitzgerald explains why the compensation effect is real and how it can be worked around with the right guidelines.

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Matt Fitzgerald explains why the compensation effect is real and how it can be worked around with the right guidelines.

More “Racing Weight” articles and videos.

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Recipe Of The Week: Salmon Burgers Thu, 26 May 2016 20:37:05 +0000

This creative way to use salmon is a cinch to whip up - plus the secret ingredient, tzatziki sauce, delivers big on flavor!

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This creative way to use salmon is a cinch to whip upplus the secret ingredient, tzatziki sauce, delivers big on flavor!


Serves 4
20 oz salmon, skin on
1 TBSP olive oil
2 shallots, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 TBSP dried parsley
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup tzatziki sauce
1 lemon
Salt and pepper
*Serving Recommendation: kale, spinach, almond slivers, favorite vinaigrette

RELATED RECIPE: Mediterranean Salmon


1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place salmon on a large sheet of foil and season with salt and pepper. Seal foil around salmon, place on a baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes until just underdone.
2. Remove salmon from oven, open foil to let steam out and let salmon rest. Leave oven on.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and celery, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes, until golden.
4. Add the parsley, basil and garlic powder and sauté for one minute, until fragrant. Remove ingredients into a bowl. Save the skillet, do not wash.
5. Remove the salmon from the skin into the bowl, and use a fork to flake the salmon into small pieces.
6. Add the tzatziki to the bowl (suggest to remove any cucumber pieces).
7. Zest half of the lemon into the bowl. Then cut the lemon in half and add the juice to the bowl.
8. Thoroughly combine the ingredients until the mixture becomes slightly sticky.
9. Spray skillet heavily with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Form 4 burger patties with the salmon mixture and place in the hot skillet.
10. Sear for one minute per side, until a golden crust forms, and then place skillet into the oven for 5-6 minutes, until the patties are heated through. Remove from oven and serve as desired (serving recommendation below).
* In a large bowl toss together some chopped kale, spinach, almond slivers, and favorite vinaigrette. Serve salmon burgers over the top.

More recipes from Jessica Cerra

Jessica Cerra is the owner of Fit Food by Jess, a private chef and catering company in Encinitas, Calif., and the co-founder of Harmony Bar. A former professional XTERRA triathlete, Cerra now races for Twenty16 Women’s Professional Cycling Team.

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Should You Try Cryotherapy For Recovery? Thu, 26 May 2016 19:00:58 +0000


An extreme version of an ice bath, cryotherapy chambers are becoming an en vogue recovery method for athletes of every ilk.

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An extreme version of an ice bath, cryotherapy chambers are becoming an en vogue recovery method for athletes of every ilk, from LeBron James to Justin Gatlin. The idea behind cryotherapy is that brief exposure to sub-zero dry air vapors—reaching anywhere between 160 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit below zero—can help prompt a circulatory response that decreases inflammation and improves recovery.

Research has indeed shown that runners report being less sore after workouts when they utilize cryotherapy. Donna Phelan, a professional triathlete based out of Encinitas, Calif., has experienced the positive effects of this recovery method firsthand.

“I definitely felt more refreshed and energetic after the sessions and felt that I recovered faster for the following day’s training,” she says. “I had a bit of a hamstring injury at the time, and I can’t say for sure if the cryotherapy made a difference or not, but it definitely helped with recovery on a day-to-day basis from hard workouts.”

Even with many top athletes agreeing with Phelan, a 2014 study demonstrated that whole-body cryotherapy was fairly comparable to more traditional recovery techniques, like ice baths.

William Adams, director of sport safety policies at the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute, says that there just isn’t much research currently available for us to determine the effectiveness of cryotherapy.

“In my opinion, the time in which the body can be in the cryotherapy chamber, less than two minutes or so due to the extreme cold temperatures, does not elicit a great enough cooling effect on the body to assist with recovery,” he explains. “Whereas an ice bath allows individuals to achieve levels of body cooling that may assist with enhancing recovery.”

While the jury is still out regarding its usefulness, anecdotal results from athletes will continue to draw people to experiment with cryotherapy. If you plan on giving it a shot this season, Adams suggests keeping several things in mind:

– Ensure that the cryotherapy session is monitored by a trained professional.

„- Be wary of health risks associated with extremely cold temperatures, such as frostbite and hypothermia.

„- Limit the time you spend in a cryotherapy chamber—no more than two minutes per session.

RELATED: 6 Myths About Triathlon Recovery

Want to try the cryotherapy method?

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New York City

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How To Break Through A Running Plateau Thu, 26 May 2016 16:00:43 +0000

Try a new approach to your training to gain an edge in your next race.

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Try a new approach to your training to gain an edge in your next race.

Looking to get from T2 to the finish a little quicker this year? Perhaps you’ve hit a plateau, or feel like there’s a missing ingredient in your run training.

When manipulating the basic ingredients, or tenets of training—volume, frequency, intensity and duration—there are literally thousands of combinations you can utilize to change your approach. If your running is stuck in a rut, consider one of these approach tweaks to help you breakout this season.

The Approach: High Frequency

High frequency leads to increased durability, which makes you more resistant to injury and better able to hold pace and form at the end of the race. A triathlete only running a few times per week can reap benefits by gradually increasing to 5–6 runs.

One benefit of upping the frequency of your runs is that it helps you build muscular endurance while allowing you to take some of the emphasis off of very long runs (like those 20-milers before an Ironman). Avoiding the steep recovery cost of lots of super-long weekend runs will allow you to focus on adding in more quality down the road while avoiding injuries.

One potential downside to frequency is the transition time (driving, showering) required by adding in additional workouts, but this can be alleviated by making many of your workouts bricks. Also, you still need to find the balance between quality and quantity. If you’ve fallen into the trap of doing all your workouts hard, then running daily will force you to nix that habit.

How to: Start by dividing your current volume into more runs before adding in additional time. For triathletes running 20-plus miles per week already, increasing frequency can simply mean dividing your current weekly mileage into five or six runs instead of 2–3 runs. This may mean you have a lot of 20–30 minute runs, but the focus is on frequency—the small stuff adds up.

RELATED: Learn To Love The Pool (Really!)

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6 Common Strength Training Myths Thu, 26 May 2016 13:00:08 +0000


Despite its benefits, some athletes are reluctant to begin strength training.

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Jeff Horowitz takes a look at some of the misconceptions in regards to strength training.

In his book Quick Strength for Runners, running coach and personal trainer Jeff Horowitz shows that just a little strength training can go a long way toward making endurance athletes stronger, faster, and more resistant to injury. In his 8-week program, athletes spend less than an hour a week performing simple exercises that build a well-balanced, strong body.

Despite its benefits, some athletes are reluctant to begin strength training because they believe it will cause them to bulk up with unwanted muscle mass that will make it harder to run. Horowitz busts the six most common myths about strength training for runners.

Myth: Strength training will make me bigger, and I do not want to be bigger

Strength training can enlarge your muscles—known as “hypertrophy”—but that is not an inevitable outcome of strength training. Think of doing strength training as using a tool: It will do what you ask of it. If you ask it to build muscle mass, it will do so. But if instead you ask it to build only lean muscle without adding mass, it will do that instead. The key is in how you strength train.

Generally speaking, if you work against greater resistance for fewer repetitions of an exercise, you will encourage hypertrophy. Conversely, if you keep resistance moderate and perform a high number of repetitions of each exercise, you will improve strength and muscle endurance without experiencing a significant improvement in muscle size. The choice is yours.

The strength training plan presented here is not focused on building muscle mass. In these pages, you will not find such bodybuilding staples as heavy bench presses or dumbbell rows. In fact, you could have an entire strength training session without picking up a single weight.

Keep in mind, too, that you are naturally limited by your genetics and body type. If you are a lean runner who has always had difficulty gaining weight, you might not be able to put on much muscle mass even if you wanted to. The odds of you getting bulky accidentally while following a runner’s strength training plan are very low.

But what if you tend to put on weight easily? Should you avoid strength training altogether? Certainly not. That would be like throwing away the baby with the bathwater. The smarter approach is to structure your strength workouts to emphasize high-repetition exercises.

As an added benefit, the research increasingly shows that relatively low-resistance strength training — the kind we are going to be talking about here — can lead to significant improvements in cardiovascular fitness. That means targeted  strength training can help improve your form and your endurance.

Myth: Strength training will make me less flexible

Athletes who have inelastic, overdeveloped muscles, are usually described as “muscle-bound.” They are characterized as being rigid and inflexible. This label is often applied to weight lifters and bodybuilders and is cited by wary athletes who avoid strength training because they do not want to become inflexible.

This is a myth.

It is simply not true that strength training leads to shortening of tendons and ligaments or loss in their pliability.

The truth is that an athlete either stretches and is flexible or is not. Strength training will not dictate flexibility one way or the other. This is certainly true of the program presented here, which, as we just discussed, is not designed to lead to big increases in muscle mass.

Myth: I will have to go to a gym and use barbells and machines

Those modes of training can certainly be effective, but there is more than one way to skin a cat. You do not need to join a gym and use machines in order to strength train. With a minimal amount of equipment, you can do everything you need to do almost anywhere you choose to do it.

Myth: Strength training will take up too much time

When I do presentations on strength training to large groups of runners, I start by asking, how many people had a running injury over the previous year? A forest of hands go up. I then ask, how many injuries involved a layoff of at least a week? Most hands stay up. A month? A lot of hands remain in the air. Three months or more? Some hands are still up.

Then I pose this question: If you could have avoided the injury by spending just 15–20 minutes, 2–3 times a week, doing strength work in your own home, would you have been willing to do it?

For most of us, taking up strength training is a no-brainer when we look at it this way. In the long run, strength training will give you more time to hit the roads, not less, and that is exactly what this book will provide. By following the structured workout plan presented here, you can fit all the strength training you need to do into a minimal amount of time and also avoid the injuries that are responsible for the real disruptions to your workout schedule.

Myth: Muscle turns to fat if you stop lifting weights

This is a persistent misconception supported by many examples of former weight lifters who have gotten fat after they stopped working out. But this conclusion mistakes coincidence with causality. Muscle can no more turn into fat than lead can turn into gold. They are different types of tissue. But if you get in the habit of eating more to support the extra calorie burn that strength training provides and then fail to dial back the eating when you stop strength training, those extra calories will be stored as fat, not because you stopped strength training, but because you’re taking in more calories than you are using.

Myth: Strength training is not for women

Obviously, this myth applies to only half the population, and fortunately it is a myth that is rapidly dying out. It wasn’t that long ago that women were considered physically unable to compete in long distance running, and that strength training was considered “unladylike.”

Today, that view has been largely replaced by acceptance and encouragement of female participation in sport, prompted in large part by the enactment in 1972 of federal legislation barring sexual discrimination in any higher education program that receives federal financial assistance, known colloquially by its chapter heading, Title IX.

Nevertheless, for that minority of people who still believe that sweating and grunting and pushing for athletic excellence is something suited only for men, they need only take a quick glance at the women who are participating on pro sports teams, at women’s Olympic achievements, and at their road racing success to become convinced that there is nothing unfeminine about striving for athletic excellence.

Republished with permission of VeloPress from Quick Strength for Runners by Jeff Horowitz. Download free strength exercises at

RELATED: Should I Strength-Train During The Season?

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ProFile: Holly Lawrence Thu, 26 May 2016 01:00:57 +0000

So far this year, Holly Lawrence, who trains in Los Angeles, has finished fourth in Oceanside and second at St. George.

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When a female pro in an unmarked black kit took the lead for the majority of last year’s Ironman 70.3 California in Oceanside, even fellow pro athletes did a double-take wondering who the mystery racer was. Turns out, it was England-born Holly Lawrence. Last year, the 25-year-old went on to take third in Oceanside and finished second at Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant. So far this year, Lawrence, who trains in Los Angeles, has finished fourth in Oceanside, second at St. George and, plans to race at Escape from Alcatraz and the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. 

“I swam from a young age and dabbled a bit in cross country. I hit the plateau in swimming where most teenagers start dropping out—spending early mornings and late evenings at the pool, putting all the hard work in, but it’s not paying off anymore. That’s when I tried a local triathlon and just fell in love with the sport and never looked back.”

“I started racing the domestic elite short-course series in the UK around the age of 17–18 and progressed through the ranks on the British circuit. I did my first 70.3 in 2012 [Ironman 70.3 UK] just to give it a try. I rocked up on my road bike with my little draft-legal tri bars, which got a little bit of attention before the race being the only pro on a road bike instead of a TT. I came in fourth and loved it.”

“I love the idea of non-drafting where the fastest swim-bike-runner wins. There’s no making front pack in the swim, being a passenger for the bike and gearing up for a blistering run.”

“I remember saying after my first 70.3—well crying, actually—that it was such a long way and I don’t think I could ever do that again. … I still think it’s a hell of a long way!”

“I started working with [coach] Matt Dixon a little over a year ago. … I wanted someone who would help me have a long career instead of being impatient and sacrificing that for short-term success. Matt believes in me like no coach has before.”

“Last year my Pearl Izumi tri suit didn’t arrive in time for [Oceanside] so I decided to race in a plain black suit. It created a bit of a buzz, which I was obviously totally unaware of, but makes me giggle that no one knew who this unmarked girl was out in front. I had no expectations going into the race, but definitely didn’t expect to be out in the front on my own. I raced my own race and didn’t look back—pretty much how I go into every race.”

“This past winter’s focus has been to achieve consistency, be patient and evolve the technical aspects of my riding and running by embracing the details. On my recovery days I like to soak up the sun and chill out on the beach!”

RELATED PHOTOS: 2016 Ironman 70.3 St. George Pro Race

Holly’s Favorites

A build tempo run on the treadmill

Coffee! I am a bit of a coffee addict. I have a Nespresso machine and wouldn’t like to admit or count how many I have in a day!

Vacation destination:
Biarritz, France. I love French culture.

The Chimp Paradox and Fifty Shades of Grey (I would hide the cover inside a magazine while reading on a plane to avoid those knowing looks!)

Movie or TV shows:
Trashy TV shows like “The Real Housewives” or series I can get [sucked into] like “The Good Wife”—basically anything I can watch mindlessly

Family tradition: Being a triplet and from a close-knit family, [I like] just spending time together, family gatherings, etc.

Post-race meal: A burger

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Eat And Run: Watching Sugar Intake Wed, 25 May 2016 22:00:24 +0000

Photo: Jon Davis

In this video, Dr. John Berardi teaches us how to control our sugar intake.

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In this video, Dr. John Berardi teaches us how to control our sugar intake. Watch the video above and learn how limiting the amount of sugar in your diet will lead to lower body fat percentage and a healthier overall lifestyle.

More “Eat And Run” advice from Dr. John Berardi.

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Feed Zone Recipe: Pasta Salad With Walnuts And Blue Cheese Wed, 25 May 2016 19:00:21 +0000

Start with chilled cooked pasta, and this salad can come together in under five minutes.

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Dr. Allen Lim is a sports physiologist who has worked with the biggest riders in professional cycling. One of his most influential contributions to the sport has been changing how the traditionally pasta-fueled peloton thinks about food.

Lim and professional chef Biju Thomas tested hundreds of recipes with Tour de France cyclists to find out what worked: what was easy to make, delicious to eat, and friendly to high performance. They share their favorite dishes in The Feed Zone Cookbook: Fast and Flavorful Food for Athletes, now available from VeloPress.

Servings: 2

Time: 5–15 minutes

Start with chilled cooked pasta, and this salad can come together in under five minutes. It makes a great entrée with the addition of cooked meat or grilled vegetables.

2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons chopped
fresh parsley
1 tablespoon coarse-ground
prepared mustard
1 tablespoon crumbled
blue cheese
3 cups cooked fettucini
2 cups mixed baby greens
fresh lemon juice

Optional Additions
roasted chicken
grilled vegetables
fresh basil
In a large bowl, combine olive oil, walnuts, parsley, mustard, and blue cheese. Fold in chilled pasta, along with any optional ingredients.

Serve greens with pasta on top. Add lemon juice and salt to taste.

Toasting the walnuts makes this salad more flavorful and takes only a few extra minutes. You can do this in a small dry pan or in a 350-degree oven. Watch them closely so they do not burn!

PER SERVING: Energy 660 cal • Fat 28 g • Sodium 503 mg • Carbs 89 g • Fiber 6 g • Protein 20 g

This recipe from The Feed Zone Cookbook used with permission of VeloPress. The Feed Zone Cookbook features 160 athlete-friendly recipes that are simple, delicious, and ready to go. For more sample recipes, please visit

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Photos: 2016 Ironman Lanzarote Age Groupers Wed, 25 May 2016 16:12:59 +0000

Just one of many intense and dramatic climbs on the Lanzarote course.

Photographer Paul Phillips shares images from Saturday's Club La Santa Ironman Lanzarote age-group race.

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Photos: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image

Photographer Paul Phillips (@Compimagephoto) shares images from Saturday’s Club La Santa Ironman Lanzarote age-group race. The event is known for featuring the toughest bike course on the circuit. See images from the pro race here.

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5 Tips To Improve Your Focus Wed, 25 May 2016 16:00:06 +0000

Photo: Delly Carr/

Head into the triathlon season with a sharper mental edge.

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Head into the triathlon season with a sharper mental edge.

Laser-like focus is a hallmark of champions in sport, and a strong mental focus in the late stages of a race gives a competitor a winning edge. Mental focus, like fitness, can be trained. Here are five tips to train your attention and improve your focus:

1. Use self-talk.

The internal monologue set in motion during races has a powerful influence on performance. A recent study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise showed that positive self-talk increased time to exhaustion. The signals our bodies use to determine when we’ve had enough are complicated—they are not just governed by our muscles but also determined subjectively by our brains. Pick a mantra such as “feeling good” or “smooth and strong,” and repeat it at regular intervals during a workout or competition to help tap into that last bit of energy needed for a PR.

RELATED: Embrace The Suck

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Finding The Balance: Aerobic Work Vs. High-Intensity Training Wed, 25 May 2016 13:00:55 +0000

Photo: iStock

Going all-out as often as possible is not the answer.

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Q. My coach prefers more aerobic work over a lot of threshold and high-intensity training. Am I missing out?

A: I get that training in your base zone isn’t sexy, can be frustrating at times (especially when your friends #humblebrag about their hammer fests), and can feel like you’re not doing all that much. However training between 60 and 80 percent allows for similar training adaptations to the upper zones, helps balance other stressors and allows you to train consistently for long periods of time without interruptions like fatigue or injury.

Similar benefits: You’re still increasing plasma volume, lactate threshold, muscle glycogen storage and your VO2max while training in your aerobic zones. When implementing higher intensities—FTP wattage, 5–10K pace work on the run, etc.—I keep the durations fairly low and sprinkle it in when appropriate for personal development. It’s probably less time than you think.

Physical stress: Trying to balance all of life’s stressors (crabby boss, relationships, lack of sleep and training) can be very challenging. By backing off the intensity a bit, you greatly limit the risk of injury, sickness and fatigue from stretching yourself too thin. The days surrounding higher intensity will be fairly light to help balance that single day overload.

Consistency: It is far more effective to string together days, weeks, months of consistent workouts of appropriate stress versus having 2–3 smashfest workouts per week that leave you too tired or sore to do anything else. Your body fares far better with a steady load of training.

RELATED: Train Slower To Race Faster

Sample Workouts

Long ride or run with Zone 3 and 4 segments
Warm-up: 20 min easy
Remainder of ride: Repeat 5 min at 80–90 percent, 15 min low/mid-Zone 2.
Use the last few minutes to cool down.

10K build run
Warm-up: 15 min building into Zone 2
Main set (four times through): 45 sec building to 10K pace (last 30 sec at 10K effort), 4:15 in low/mid-Zone 2
Cool-down: 5 min easy jog
Follow up with 3×50-meter strides, with a walking recovery back to the starting point.

Andrew Shanks is the head triathlon coach at Concordia University and founder of Shanks Coaching in Germantown, Wis. He also has a master’s degree in exercise science.

More Dear Coach

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Quick Look: CeramicSpeed’s New System Wed, 25 May 2016 01:00:16 +0000

Photo: John David Becker

CeramicSpeed’s new system uses bigger pulleys to minimize friction for watt savings.

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CeramicSpeed’s new system uses bigger pulleys to minimize friction for watt savings.

CeramicSpeed Oversized Pulley Wheel System


Larger pulley wheels reduce the amount of friction in the chain by minimizing sharp curves and the twists that the chain has to make. The use of top-grade pulley bearings further reduces friction (independent lab tests from Friction Facts in Boulder, Colo., show about 3 watts of average savings).

  • The system is compatible with all (mechanical and Di2) Shimano Ultegra and Dura-Ace 10- and 11-speed derailleurs.
  • The pulley cage is made out of carbon fiber to maximize stiffness, lower the weight and even to allow for an airfoil shape in the cage.
  • The carbon cage and hollow minimalist alloy pulleys mean the system stays light at 56 grams.
  • CeramicSpeed offers an optional ultra-thin 2 micron thick coating on the races of its high-grade pulley bearings that is designed to optimize performance and maximize durability for an additional $100.
  • Oversized alloy pulleys with 17 teeth are substantially bigger than the standard 11-tooth pulleys found on many derailleurs. The idea is that bigger pulleys force less bend in every link, so there is less tension (and therefore friction) on the chain.

RELATED – 2016 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Components

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Recovery: The Importance Of Sleep Tue, 24 May 2016 22:00:39 +0000

Sleep is an important part of the recovery process and is one area where every one of us can improve.

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Sleep is an important part of the recovery process and is one area where every one of us can improve.

Check out the entire Race Recovery video series.

RELATED: Foods To Help You Get A Better Night Sleep

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Why You Should Stop Doing Crunches Tue, 24 May 2016 19:00:18 +0000


It might come as a shock that a good core strengthening program should not include crunches!

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Adapted with permission of VeloPress from Core Envy: A 3-Step Guide to a Strong, Sexy Core by exercise physiologist and personal trainer Allison Westfahl. Learn more at

Stop Doing Crunches!

It might come as a shock that a good core strengthening program should not include crunches! 

As an exercise physiologist, I omit crunches from my personal training programs because they don’t utilize a significant percentage of your core musculature.

While it feels like you’re working hard when you’re 70 reps into a grueling round of 100 crunches, you are predominantly working a single muscle group—the rectus abdominis (rectus). In actuality, the true “core” of the body includes countless other muscles. It’s all the core muscles that affect how well you move—and how good you look.

This brings up the issue of function versus vanity. Why wouldn’t you want to focus your gym time on developing a rockin’ rectus? Aren’t those the beach muscles that look great with a spray tan? If a well-developed rectus is what turns heads, do we really need a well-rounded core routine that works all the other muscles?

The short answer is that a high-functioning core leads to a better-looking core. 

Focusing on only a few core muscles can lead to poor posture (which makes your tummy stick out) and injuries (which will inhibit you from being able to work out). Build a solid foundation for your core with a well-rounded core routine, and you will accomplish the dual goals of looking good while being strong and pain-free.

What is a “core workout” anyway?

A good core workout works a lot more than just your ab muscles. 

When I talk about the foundation for your core, I’m not referring just to the intricate musculature beneath your abs. Your glutes and hamstrings are also involved. These muscles are traditionally categorized as “lower-body” muscles, but they serve a dual function in helping to stabilize and move the pelvis, which makes them part of the core. In fact, any muscle that is attached to either the pelvis or the spine is technically part of the core. Add to the major muscle groups all of the smaller, deeper muscles in this area, and the count of how many muscles are in the human core easily reaches into the hundreds. If your core strengthening routine is based solely on crunches, you’re neglecting 95 percent of your core musculature.

When a large percentage of your core muscles is routinely ignored, it creates a muscular imbalance in which a muscle or group of muscles becomes tight and overactive, therefore causing a neighboring or opposing muscle to become weak and underactive.

Overworking one core muscle group will weaken the others.

Core imbalances are problematic because our muscles control our joints and bones, and when a certain muscle is doing too much work, it will start to pull the bones and joints it is attached to into uncomfortable positions.

Feeling The Burn Doesn’t Mean You’re Burning Calories!

The term “burn” has been associated with exercise for a long time: Feel the burn, burn away fat, calorie burn, burning muscles . . . the list goes on and on. We all want to feel that the exercises we are doing are effective and worthwhile, and that burning sensation we get while doing a specific movement helps us feel that we are working hard, burning lots of calories, and therefore tightening the muscles that are burning. But what exactly is that burning sensation, and is it really a barometer for the effectiveness of a workout?

Contrary to popular belief, the burn that we feel in our muscles during exercise is not directly related to caloric burn or the amount of fat that is being burned. Just because you feel a burn in your abdominal muscles during a crunch, it does not mean that your body is burning fat in that area.

That sensation in your muscles is actually something else: an indication that those muscles are out of ATP, a cellular fuel your muscles burn for quick energy. That’s all it means. It doesn’t mean you’re burning a ton of calories; just that your muscles have burned all their stored ATP.

What you need to know for the purposes of fat loss is that the higher you get your heart rate, the more calories you will burn. It’s tempting to base the effectiveness of a workout on how much “burn” you feel in the muscles, but it’s the intensity and duration of the workout that will truly determine how many calories—and therefore how much fat—you are melting away.

You can’t lose much fat doing crunches!

Most traditional core exercises are not scorching a lot of calories. 

You can do crunches all day long and see no change to the fat you store around your midsection because your heart rate isn’t high enough, which means you aren’t burning calories at a significant rate. Again, it might feel as if you’re working hard because your ab muscles are burning and you can’t do more than 20 reps, but if you were to wear a heart rate monitor during crunches, it would show that your heart rate rarely gets above 90 beats per minute. When it comes to burning fat and losing weight, your heart rate is the prime indicator of success. It’s simple math: The higher your heart rate, the more calories you burn, and the more calories you burn, the more fat you lose. One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories, so you need to focus on exercises that will get your heart rate high enough to burn the maximum amount of calories in the shortest amount of time.

The higher your heart rate, the more calories you burn, and the more calories you burn, the more fat you lose.

How will you know which types of workouts are maximizing your fat loss? In 2005, the Journal of Sports Sciences published a study that outlined an equation to predict the number of calories burned per hour based on your average heart rate. We can apply this equation to different types of sculpting and cardio routines to determine which ones deliver the best results. As the oft-used adage goes: Don’t work harder, work smarter.

Let’s take the old crunches-based core routine as a starting point for caloric burn. If we assume an average heart rate of 90 beats per minute (which is the heart rate most of my clients exhibit while doing crunches), a 40-year-old female who weighs 160 pounds will burn approximately 195 calories in an hour. You could burn that many calories in 20 minutes by doing a moderate jog. Plus, when was the last time you did crunches for an hour? Most of us can last about 1 minute, which translates into 3.25 calories burned— that’s less than the calorie content of a breath mint. This is one of the myriad reasons why you won’t see standard crunches in my Core Envy sculpting routines. Instead, I’ve focused on exercises that recruit more of the muscles in the core, therefore burning off calories faster by elevating your heart rate. Keep in mind, however, that in order to truly maximize the fat burn around your belly, these sculpting workouts need to be paired with cardio. Sculpting routines alone cannot ensure optimal caloric burn.

You have to lose it all.

We all store fat in different areas of our bodies; women with pear-shaped bodies tend to store more in the hips and thighs, while women with apple-shaped bodies store more in the abdomen and upper arms. When you want to reduce fat in a specific area of your body, it would seem reasonable to do exercises that work the muscles in that region. So if you want less fat on your thighs, you do lunges; if you want less fat on your arms, you do biceps curls; and if you want to burn off that spare tire, you do core exercises. Seems perfectly logical, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this approach to fat reduction is simply false. The reason we can’t microtarget fat areas is that fat is stored primarily in the form of triglycerides. These triglycerides might tend to collect more in certain areas (such as the abdomen or thighs), but that doesn’t mean the muscles of that area are using those specific triglycerides for fuel.

When we need energy to move, our body will call upon the stored energy in our fat cells and convert that energy into fuel that our muscles can use. Just because we have fat cells in our stomach doesn’t mean our body will choose those particular fat cells to convert to energy when we’re doing core exercises. In short, the fat cells in our stomach don’t “belong” to the muscles of the stomach. The body will pull energy from fat cells in many different areas of the body and will use that fuel to help power whatever activity we are doing. For this reason, the key to burning fat as quickly as possible is to choose activities that burn the highest number of calories, in turn eliminating the highest amount of fat. In the next chapter, we will look at which types of workouts are the most effective for burning fat calories, and we’ll examine why manipulating your heart rate is the key to losing belly fat.

Work your whole core!

Most core exercises, especially any exercise that includes “crunch”, are not, in fact, going to create the sleek, toned belly you want. So why should we do core exercises at all?

Since doing high-intensity cardio burns fat more effectively than crunches, why shouldn’t we just do cardio all day long and ditch the brutal core routines?

Here’s why:
Working the core in a functional, progressive manner will give you nice, lean muscles that will be on display once that layer of fat is burned off by doing cardio and cleaning up your diet.

You don’t want to spend months burning off that spare tire to reveal, well, nothing underneath.

While core exercises are not the most effective way to burn subcutaneous and visceral fat off your belly, they are the answer to toning the muscles underneath. As stated earlier, spot-reducing fat from your body is not realistic, but spot-toning your muscles most certainly is. For example, you can absolutely make the muscles in your legs stronger and more toned by doing lunges and squats; this maxim holds true for any muscle in the body. Putting repetitive stress on a muscle causes positive adaptations in those muscle fibers that range from improved cardiovascular efficiency to increased bone density and neuromuscular control. The bottom line is that if you put repetitive stress on your core muscles by doing the sculpting exercises in this book, you will improve the strength, power, endurance, and coordination of those muscles.

All of these benefits are just lovely side effects of sculpting a gorgeous, enviable core!

RELATED: 10 Variations Of The Plank For A Stronger Core

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Should I Do Intervals During Ironman Training? Tue, 24 May 2016 16:00:59 +0000

Craig Alexander running in Boulder, Colo. Photo: Nick Salazar

When training for a 70.3 or Ironman, should I do short intervals or just try to log as many miles as I can?

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Q: When training for a 70.3 or Ironman, should I do short intervals or just try to log as many miles as I can?

A: The reality is that any single stimulus or training approach will reach a plateau in terms of response and improvements in fitness, with results either coming in very small increments, or worse, an actual regression of fitness. This can be expected after about 16 weeks of training, maybe sooner. Be able to recognize when you are reaching this plateau, and change the type of training and stimulus you give your body in order to keep improving. If you’ve been doing a lot of miles, interval training will likely help, and vice versa.

RELATED: High Intensity For High Performance

But make sure the training approach and intensities specifically match the demands of the race. For instance, attacks and surges don’t match the steady-state activity of a long-course triathlon bike or run leg. Also consider your goals. If you’re a new triathlete and just looking to finish an event, simply putting in miles and volume will likely be an effective strategy, as training intensity is basically the same as race-day intensity. The more competitive athlete can benefit from interval training, to better represent the higher intensities of race day.

Given the general aerobic volume of training for long-course triathletes, especially in Ironman training, an early-season approach that includes shorter, more intense interval training will likely benefit many triathletes, especially those who haven’t utilized this type of training in many seasons.

In general, your body responds well to variance, so keep this in mind when planning your training, and you’ll likely be successful using either or both strategies.

RELATED: Interval Workouts To Try On The Track

Follow Triathlete on Twitter @Triathletemag for inspiration, new workout ideas, gear reviews from our editors and more.

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