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How to become a better swimmer… without getting wet!?

In News,Training by Becca Blomquest / September 18, 2014 / 0 Comments

By Coach Troy Jacobson

If there were a way to improve your swim times without spending endless hours in the pool, would you do it? I think I heard a resounding “YES,” throughout the airwaves! The truth is that getting adequate pool time is a challenge, particularly for the busy triathlete! Business trips, family obligations, travel time to and from the pool and inconvenient lap or Masters swim hours can negatively affect your performance. It’s a good thing there’s dryland training to save the day. Here are a few ideas for all busy triathletes to consider as a way to round out their training program:

1. Invest in elastic tubing.
Elastic (or surgical) tubing offers a variable resistance throughout any given range of motion, and in this case the pull phase of the freestyle stroke. Simply attach the tubing to a door handle or other stationary object, place your hands in a swimming position, step back a few steps, bend at the waist and start simulating the freestyle stroke. The further you pull away from the anchor point, the more resistance there is in the band. Focus on using good technique (i.e. Early Vertical Forearm) and vary your tempo. The beauty of elastic tubing (of any brand) is that it’s affordable, convenient to pack in your travel bag and is an effective means for drilling proper stroke mechanics and building sport-specific strength. I recommend that business travelers always carry tubing with them while on the road and complete several sets of 15-25 reps every day. And better still, bands are a great tool to use for warming up, especially prior to staring a tri where getting in the water is not allowed.

2. Swim bench
The swim bench concept has been around for years and there are a few brands on the market. While all are credible, the one that most triathletes are probably familiar with is the Vasa. In recent years, Vasa has introduced the Vasa Ergometer. This clever bench, steeped in technology, not only provides the swimmer with a great workout that enhances both swim conditioning and technique (without getting wet!), but it also details the data, including stroke count, power per stroke, speed, etc. If you find it a challenge to get adequate pool time and you have the financial means, a swim bench in your basement is the ultimate in dryland swim training specificity.

3. Pump it up!
While elastic bands and swim benches offer very specific movement patterns for swimmers, let’s not forget the value of good ‘ole strength training! Most competitive swim programs have their swimmers undergo a steady regimen of core work (abs and lower back), stability training and explosive power training (e.g. box jumps, medicine ball work, etc.).

While there’s ultimately no substitute for quality time in the water, it’s possible for the busy triathlete to maximize their swim by incorporating a clever combination of ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ swim training.

Coach Troy Jacobson is the Head Endurance Coach for Life Time Fitness. A former pro triathlete, he’s also the co-author of the book, Triathlon Anatomy, a guide to strength training for triathletes, published by Human Kinetics. 

Free Mack Cycle Escape to Miami Tri Info Session on September 3

In News,Training by Becca Blomquest / August 29, 2014 / 0 Comments

Training for the Mack Cycle Escape to Miami Triathlon? Don’t miss this awesome opportunity to attend a FREE info session from the Life Time Athletic Events team. The event will be held at the Mack Cycle and Fitness store, so you’ll be able to pick up all your essentials for training and race day! This info session will be offered on the following date:

September 3
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Info session topics include:

  • Registration process
  • Schedule of events
  • Packet pickup process and location
  • Course review
  • Training tips
  • Nutrition tips
  • Course review
  • Q&A session

All attendees will receive a complimentary training shirt!

> Click here for more information

Intelligent Fueling for Race Day

In News,Nutrition,Training by Becca Blomquest / August 13, 2014 / 0 Comments

By Brooke Schohl, MS, RD

Learn to give your body the right amount of food and drink to perform at your best with these tips.

They say that nutrition is the fourth discipline in a triathlon. Under-fueling leads to bonking and over-fueling can translate to gastrointestinal issues. When you learn to give your body just the right amount of food and drink in order to perform at your best, then you have mastered the elusive fourth discipline. But alas, this is not an easy task.

Use the following intelligent fueling tips to help you conquer this challenge and have a great race!

Only Fuel When Necessary
Most athletes are fueling way too soon and with too many calories (translation: carbohydrates). This mistake negates the body’s ability to tap into fat stores for energy before switching over to carbohydrate as the major substrate utilized. Even in extremely lean athletes, internal fat stores vastly outweigh carb stores, making fat the nutrient of choice to burn. Remedy this by waiting to fuel – two to three hours into a workout or race is just fine. Fat stores jump into action, providing energy to the body during this time period. After two to three hours have passed, you can begin feeding the body calories – carbs as well as fat and protein.

Consider the Race Distance
This tip goes hand in hand with the previous one. For a Sprint triathlon or even an International distance for some athletes, no dietary fuel is needed during the race. Challenge your body’s internal fuel stores to catapult into action rather than relying on dietary carb right away!

Remember — Nutrition is Cumulative
Crappy nutrition throughout the year plus great nutrition in the week leading up to the race equals selling yourself short. The positive effects of a solid everyday fueling plan will shine through on race day. You’ve heard the analogy of an athlete’s body being equated to a high-performance car. Give the car low-octane gas and its performance is limited. Give the car the high-octane gas and it reaches its full potential. Conversely, great everyday nutrition and terrible training nutrition also fail the athlete come race day. Example: the clean-eating athlete who trains with Pop Tarts and soda. The key is to keep it consistent. Eat clean all day, everyday – training and racing included.

Hydrate Properly
It’s the day before the big race. True or false: You should be drinking everything in sight to be fully hydrated and primed for the big day. False! Just hydrate adequately, making sure to use urine color as your guide. A pale yellow color deserves a thumbs up. Anything darker than that and you need more water. Add electrolytes as needed, dependent on factors such as sweat rate, race climate and length of the race.

Consider Fueling Options
Athletes have many, many options when it comes to sports products used during training or racing. Make your selections count: read and understand labels and be comfortable with the ingredients. Check out some of the more natural sports products hitting the market (i.e. Huma Gel, Pocket Fuel, Ignite products). CLIF Bar, with their efforts to include organic ingredients whenever possible, is another worthwhile option. Because CLIF is the official on-course nutrition for Life Time Tri, training with the products you will be using during the race could help you avoid gastrointestinal issues on race day.

Another viable approach is to use real food for fuel. Dried fruit such as figs and dates provide excellent carbohydrates. Don’t use training as an excuse to wolf down doughnuts or that king-size Snickers. Using them during training doesn’t make them any healthier.

Moral of the Story
Less is more. Despite what your friends or sport product packaging may tell you, more is not more. You don’t need 400 calories per hour. You don’t need to drink a gallon of water pre-race. You don’t need to refuel with as many calories as you burned. Be smart and seek the help of a Metabolic Efficiency Training Specialist for more guidance.

Brooke is a registered sports dietitian and the owner of Fuel to the Finish Endurance Nutrition Coaching in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is an avid triathlete, having completed triathlons of all distances including 3 Ironman races. She integrates that personal experience and knowledge into developing customized, sport-specific fueling plans for her clients. Brooke and her husband, John, own Destination Kona Triathlon Store and Destination Kona/Triple Sports in Scottsdale, Arizona. For more information on her services and offerings, Brooke can be reached at

Running Laps – Learn How Triathletes Get Faster with Track Work

In News,Training by Becca Blomquest / August 13, 2014 / 0 Comments

By Coach Troy Jacobson

There’s an old saying that goes, “If you want to run fast on race day, you need to run fast in training.” And the best way to get faster is to hit the track!

Runners, whether focused on the 5K or the marathon, have long used track work as a tool to build speed, strength and a well developed sense of pacing. Hitting “the oval” on a weekly basis with an eye on the clock keeps one accountable and focused on improving. Add the competition and fun that training with a group offers, as well as the guidance and workout management of a good coach, and you have a recipe for future personal bests in your next running race or triathlon.

Triathletes who use the track have slightly different goals than those of ‘pure runners.’ In addition to having the need to recover for the training demands of two other sports, the triathlete needs to be mindful of avoiding injury, and overly demanding and fast track work can do just that. Furthermore, pure speed development for the triathlete isn’t as high of a priority as is running strong and steady off the bike on tired legs. Therefore, most of the work done on the track should target the enhancement of strength, endurance and holding a desired running pace. In most cases, reps (or intervals) aren’t run at a ‘sprint’ pace, but more so at ‘tempo’ and ‘lactate threshold’ paces, on shorter rest intervals. Also of importance is that the triathlete finishes track sessions with some gas left in the tank. This ensures adequate recovery for upcoming swim and cycling workouts.

The following is an example of track session for a triathlete in the mid-season form, targeting a late season Olympic distance race.

Warm-up (3 x 200 striders at 200 jog recovery)
Jog 1-2 miles easy. Perform some simple dynamic stretches, then do a set of 3 x 200 striders (focus on form and stretching it out) at 200 jog recovery.

Main set (1-mile tempo at ½ marathon pace / 2 x 800 (10K pace ) at 400 jog, 4 x 400 (5K pace) at 200 jog)
After the warm-up, start with a mile tempo effort at roughly your ½ marathon race pace. This pace is steady and hard, but not overwhelmingly hard. Jog at 400 easy after the mile.

Next, prepare for a set of 2 x 800 on a 400 jog recovery. Run each 800 at your 10K race pace, which is hard yet very sustainable. Jog another 400 easy recovery lap.

The last set is to be 4 x 400 at your 5K race pace, or slightly faster. Focus on good running form and try to even split each rep. Your recovery is an easy 200 jog, so get ready to dig deep in order to hold your splits.

Cooldown (1-2 miles easy, and light stretching.)
The conditioned triathlete in mid-season form should finish this workout tired, but with enough energy and strength to complete several more reps if tasked, while still holding pace.

Incorporate track work into your weekly training regimen and watch your performance take a leap to the next level!

A former pro triathlete and coach since 1992, Troy Jacobson is the creator of Spinervals Cycling and the Sr. National Director of Endurance Sports Training for Life Time Fitness. Learn more at

Join the Mack Cycle Escape to Miami Triathlon Team for a FREE Webinar on August 27

In News,Training by Becca Blomquest / August 7, 2014 / 0 Comments

The 2014 Mack Cycle Escape to Miami Triathlon is fast approaching. What better way to prepare for race day than by attending a FREE webinar hosted by a combination of industry professionals and local event producers, Wednesday, August 27 at 7:30 p.m. as they cover a wide a variety of topics to help prepare you for a stress-free weekend and your best triathlon yet!

Webinar topics include:

  •   Registration process
  •   Schedule of events
  •   Packet pickup process and location
  •   Course review
  •   Training tips
  •   Nutrition tips
  •   Course review
  •   Q&A session

Space is limited. Click here to reserve your spot now! After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 8, 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Mac®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer

Mobile attendees
Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet

How To Carb-Unload Your Favorite Pasta Dish

In News,Nutrition,Training by Abbie Yarger / June 3, 2014 / 0 Comments

By Brooke Schohl, MS, RD

It’s the night before a big race. A giant bowl of pasta is just what the doctor ordered, right? No – the carb-loading ship has sailed. Use these tips to make your favorite pasta dish more metabolically efficient.  

While endurance athletes absolutely need carbs in their diet, too much of this macronutrient hinders the body’s ability to burn fat for fuel. Fat is the preferred substrate for everyday fueling as well as training/racing. Think about it: your carb stores top out at two or three hours; your fat stores can carry you through up to 10 long-distance races.

Many training foods are heavy in the carb department (easily digestible simple sugars), as athletes need quick energy during training/racing. But is this the best fueling strategy for your day-to-day life? Instead fill the body with foods that stabilize blood sugar, keep energy levels consistent and improve satiety. Counteract carbohydrate blood sugar spikes by adding a fat and protein source to meals and snacks. Include carbs in your daily diet but make them the sideshow (along with fat, protein and vegetables) instead of the main act.

If you’re a pasta junkie, don’t freak out. Use the following tips to carb-unload your favorite pasta recipe and make it more metabolically efficient.

1. Swap regular pasta for quinoa or brown rice pasta.
When you do eat grains, make sure they are quality choices. Enriched flour pastas have little nutritional value and are high in calories.

2. Reduce pasta amount by half or 3/4.
You don’t need an entire box of pasta for a dish to taste great. Cut the amount and see if you even miss it.

3. Add more veggies.
Increase the ratio of vegetables to pasta. The fiber in the veggies will fill you up more than the pasta ever could.

4. Easy on the milk, butter and cheese.
Don’t eliminate these ingredients – you’d miss out on the delicious sauce and consuming fat is ok. Simply scale back a little (try cutting these ingredients in half). Again, you won’t miss it.

Bottom line: Experiment with recipes – don’t feel locked into the ingredients and amounts. This also holds true for restaurant dining. Be comfortable with the meal you select at a restaurant or prepare at home. There’s no need to eliminate favorite meals, just modify them to fit your healthy, super-fit lifestyle. Enjoy guilt-free, that’s the way it should be.

Brooke Schohl, MS, RD, METS, is a registered sports dietitian and the owner of Fuel to the Finish Endurance Nutrition Coaching in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is an avid triathlete, having completed many triathlons of all distances including three Ironman races. She integrates that personal experience and knowledge into developing customized, sport-specific, metabolically efficient fueling plans for her clients. Brooke and her husband, John, own two Scottsdale, Arizona-based triathlon stores named Destination Kona. For more information on services and offerings, visit her website at

7 Simple Truths for a Faster Triathlon Swim

In News,Training by Abbie Yarger / June 3, 2014 / 0 Comments

by Coach Troy Jacobson528b

Most people new to the sport of triathlon find that the swim leg is the most challenging. Images of arms flailing at iconic mass start events bring fear and loathing to many newbies as they struggle with the fundamentals. Putting oneself in the situation of having to navigate through rough waters while in hand to hand combat isn’t appealing to most folks, but the truth is, the triathlon swim is easier than you think and the following list of seven tips will help you get to that finish line faster, and in one piece.

1. Practice consistently and be dedicated to continual improvement.
If there’s one area where most triathletes struggle, it’s with consistency and getting adequate pool time. Triathletes learning the fundamentals of swimming should get into the water at least three days per week, if not four days. Only by putting in the time and energy will you improve and get more comfortable in the water.

2. Focus on the fundamentals of good stroke mechanics.
Swimming, by nature, is unnatural to people. We’re not built to ‘glide’ through the water effortlessly and must work to maximize our efficiency in the water as much as possible. This means focusing on developing proper swim mechanics by breaking down our stroke and practicing drills designed to improve our body position and various components of the freestyle stroke. And this focus never ends… even elite swimmers train and reinforce proper stroke mechanics with a steady diet of drills.

3. Get another set of eyes… use a coach.
As the saying goes, “seeing is believing.” The way you think you look when you swim is often far from how you actually look. Working with a coach who can provide feedback and keep you on track and progressing is important. Frequent video analysis of your stroke will also help you gain a better understanding of what you’re doing correctly and where you can improve.

4. Develop your kick.
Although most triathletes will swim with a buoyant wetsuit on race day, somewhat negating the effectiveness of the kick, the development in training of a strong kick is still essential. Not only will kicking enhance your overall conditioning, it will also help to provide some propulsion, as well as help to stabilize your body position in the water.

5. Join a swim program.
Most areas will have a local masters or triathlon-focused swim program led by a qualified coach. Join the program and use it regularly as the coaching, structured swim training and competition will help drive your performance to the next level.

6. Practice swimming in the open water.
While pool swimming is great for working on the fundamentals of proper stroke mechanics and for conditioning, practicing in open water helps develop specific skills needed on race day. These include sighting, navigating current, swimming in close quarters to other athletes, drafting on fellow competitors and more. And if you intend to wear a wetsuit on race day, be sure to practice with it first in the open water! There’s nothing more uncomfortable than getting to your race, starting the swim and realizing that your wetsuit doesn’t fit properly.

7. Incorporate strength training into your routine.
A stronger athlete is a faster athlete, and get’s injured less often. Adding a strength routine to your swim program in the form of traditional ‘dry land’ modalities using elastic tubing, bodyweight exercises and other tools like medicine balls is a great way to boost your performance.

Incorporate these simple suggestions into your swim program and you’ll be on track to a successful triathlon swim!

Coach Troy Jacobson
Head Coach – Life Time Tri

Troy Jacobson is a former pro, creator of the Spinervals cycling video series and Head Tri-Coach for Life Time. Learn more at