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Who Said You Shouldn’t Play In The Rain?

With my (and many others’) major race for the year barely 8 weeks away, it’s time to crank up the training and put in more hours of swim, saddle and run time. But when it’s pouring outside, I couldn’t help but be tempted to skip the training.

But with IM 70.3 nearing and training in the build phase, this means braving the elements no matter what.

So what do I do?

Bike. When I need to ride in the rain, I park the tri bike and head out with my mountain bike. The disc brakes, knobby tires and full suspension make it safer to negotiate wet roads. Potholes could be hiding underneath puddles of water and disc brakes provide more predictable stopping power (fishtailing on a tri bike isn’t fun, wet roads make things worse!).

If you can, invest in a mountain bike. They are the perfect ride for rainy days (plus, you don’t want to get your shiny tri steed all scratched up from the small rocks and pebbles kicked up by your tires, right?) and riding on trails during the off-season improves your bike handling skills. Even in the middle of a training season, I would sometimes take my mountain bike out to Sta. Rosa since trail riding closely mimics interval sessions on a road bike.

Run. I love running in the rain as long as there isn’t any lightning and thunder that could cook me to a crisp. I wear whatever I would on a regular day but since I blister easily, I also make sure I wear socks that don’t absorb moisture. On dry runs, my socks of choice are Wrightsocks Coolmesh. But for rainy day runs, I switch to Drymax Running Lite Mesh socks. They wick moisture away from the skin and do a pretty good job at it. Of course, they won’t stay dry if you ran in the rain. In fact, after a recent 15k run in a downpour, they were soaked and muddy. However, my feet appeared less wrinkly (you know, that raisin-like appearance after being soaked for long periods of time) and more importantly, blister-free and that’s all that matters.

I save the rain shell for AFTER my run to keep my warm and dry.

Dry Max socks for rainy day runs.

Swim. The only thing that would prevent me from swimming in the rain is lightning. Otherwise, I jump in the pool and do my laps as I would on any other day. You’re going to get wet anyway, right?

Don’t let the rains stop you from training. Just train smart and prepare for the conditions.

-Wear high visibility clothing when going out for a ride or run. Use a blinker if you need one.
-Always bring a cellphone, ID and loose change. Place these in a weather-proof pouch or a resealable plastic bag.
-Hydrate. The refreshing feeling of the rain against your skin could lead you to think you don’t need to. Hydrate as you would on any other training day.

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This Is The Way We Roll

I’m no fan of bike rollers. And trainers don’t just cut it for me. The tire wear, the artificial feel and the mere fact that I’m getting on a bike but getting nowhere just bores the sh*t out of me.

But that doesn’t mean bike trainers are bad. I just haven’t come across one that won’t leave me wanting more.

I came across the LeMond Revolution while reading through my digital version of Triathlete Magazine (yes, be a green triathlete and subscribe to the downloadable version. It’s way cheaper too!). Put simply, it’s a wind trainer. Nothing new about that. What’s new though (for me, at least) is the fact that you have to take the rear wheel off your bike in order to use the thing. The Revolution is equipped with a standard 10-speed cassette (although you can get a version without it for much less and just use any 10-speed cassette that you may have) so you attach your bike the same way you would put on a rear wheel–a quick release skewer through the rear dropouts.

The official bike trainer of Team Garmin Cervelo.

So after a few emails to the manufacturer to learn more about the trainer, we decided to give it a shot and get a demo unit to put on our floor.

Three weeks later, a box arrived at our doorstep and we quickly went to work on assembling the Revolution. The trainer comes pre-assembled except for the floor stand and cassette (I ordered the model without one). Three bolts is all it takes to attach the body to the floor stand so after attaching that and procuring a cassette, i quickly got on the trainer to take it for a spin (excuse the pun). I only spent 15 minutes on the trainer but initial feedback is good. The bike felt stiff on the trainer, with no frame flex. Getting up to speed was pretty realistic–the heaviness when you start from a dead stop was there but as the cadence built up, pedaling became lighter. It felt way better than my magnetic trainer, no questions asked.

But there are a few cons. The hefty price tag, for one, is enough to dissuade all but the most discerning bikers and triathletes. Not everyone will want to shell out more than P20,000.00 for a bike trainer. But if you’re looking for a trainer for the long haul, this could be the one for you. It’s built like a tank and almost weighs just as much! Second, it’s noisy once you get up to speed. Since it’s a wind trainer, not only do you have to contend with the noise from the belt drive, you also have to deal with the wind noise generated by the fan (noise level is similar to that of an industrial fan). On the upside though, if you have a dog in the house, let it sit beside you as you train and he’ll thank you for keeping him cool on these hot, humid training days.

I intend to spend a few more days on the trainer and give full feedback soon.

Even Shoes Get Wrinkles

One question that is often asked about running shoes is “When should I replace my shoes?”.

Good question since running in old shoes can accelerate a multitude of overuse injuries such as shin splints or runner’s knee.

A general rule of thumb is to replace shoes every 450 kilometers. Problem is, not everyone logs their running miles per pair of shoes. So how can you tell when it’s time? Here are a few tips…

Listen to your body.
If you feel any muscle fatigue or joint pains, that may be a sign that your running shoes are worn down and no longer provide adequate cushioning and shock absorption.

Sole wear. If the soles and crash pads (the hard rubber usually found in the heel area) of your shoes look anything like this, for feet’s sake, get yourself a new pair of shoes!

Wrinkles.
Beyond the wear on the sole and crash pads, you should pay attention to the midsole, which is made of softer foam. Over time, this foam collapses and loses its ability to “spring back.” Take a look at the midsole of your shoes. If you see any wrinkles, that means your shoes are on their last few miles. Even if the soles don’t show signs of heavy wear, when you see deep creases in the midsole, take this as a sign to replace your shoes.

Deep creases in the midsole mean the foam has begun to compress and no longer provides the cushioning you need.

Mark your shoes. Take a permanent marker and write down the purchase date on the label usually found on the inside of the tongue. This makes it easier to keep track of how long you’ve had your shoes, long after you’ve thrown away the receipt and box (that is, IF you throw away the receipt and shoe box).

When it comes to shoes, remember that they play a large part in keeping you running injury-free. So pay close attention to the signs of wear and age. Better to replace them before they’ve reached the end of their usable life than do it too late and have to deal with an injury that could sideline you for the rest of your race season.

Multisport Magazine’s 101 Swim Bike Run Clinics

Multisport Magazine is hosting a series of triathlon clinics geared towards newbies to the sport. 14 coaches, including yours truly, will conduct talks on swim, bike and run basics. Venues are very accessible–Ayala malls such as Glorietta, Alabang Town Center, Trinoma and Bonifacio High Street.

Admission is free, all you have to do is subscribe to 12 issues of Multisport Magazine (the mag is free, you just have to pay 120 bucks for the delivery charge and that’s it!). Sign up here: http://multisport101.hip.ph/

-RF

Sofitel Moonlit Run on May 7


Sofitel Philippine Plaza’s Moonlit Run has been rescheduled and is definitely happening on May 7, 2011. Expect the same sumptuous post-race dinner buffet, free-flowing beer, 50% discount at spiral and a flat course you can probably set a new PR on!

Registration forms available at The Starting Line, Westgate. P2,000 per participant for 3K, 5K and 10K distances. All participants are entitled to the buffet and all the goodies.

TriGeek Alert: Dextro Energy ITU World Championship iPhone App

For triathletes and triathlon fans who own an iPhone, here’s an app you shouldn’t be without.

The official Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU Triathlon World Championship Series (whew!) iPhone app keeps you updated on the elite racing scene. News, rankings, photos, videos and race schedules are just a tap away with this app. Follow all 7 legs of the worlds and get live feeds and timing as the races happen.

We just downloaded this free app so no reviews just yet. We’ll post feedback after we try it this weekend when the championships kick off in Australia.

This app is available on the iTunes App Store as a free download.

-RF

Run and Have a Beer For a Cause on May 7

IMPORTANT UPDATE: This event has been moved to May 7, 2011. Tickets can be purchased at The Starting Line. Each ticket entitles you to a race kit, EAT-ALL-YOU-CAN DINNER BUFFET and FREE-FLOWING BEER.

If you need motivation to run, how does free-flowing beer at the finish line sound to you?

Sofitel Manila is hosting the Moonlit Run on May 7, 2011 (Saturday) at the Sofitel Harbour Garden Tent (it’s the tent adjacent to their open parking lot).

For 2,000 bucks per head, you get a race kit, a buffet dinner and best of all, free-flowing beer. To top it all off, the run is for the benefit of the Virlanie Foundation, which helps street kids.

Need more motivation? Here it is. Your race bib/badge entitles you to 50% off at Spiral until May 31, 2011. So you get to go on a massive food trip twice!

You can save the Spiral discount for a post-Subit or post-(enter your next race here) meal.

Click on the poster for details.
-RF

On Long Rides and Safety…

As preparations for upcoming races intensify, we start to do more long rides with our teams or training buddies.

Riding with a group has its own dynamics and is an entirely different discipline from riding solo. Group safety should be your primary concern when going on a group ride. I’ve encountered several close calls during several group rides in the past and had it not been for the safety briefing given prior to those rides, I probably would’ve ended up with tocino or much worse, broken limbs.

Group riding etiquette is, simply put, common sense. However, we tend to disregard many guidelines in our attempts to be more “focused” or “performance-oriented”. This focus on ourselves instead of the group can put you and the group in danger.

We put together 12 safety guidelines which will help ensure your and your group’s safety during pack rides.

1. Buddy system. Even when riding in large numbers, groups still tend to break apart into smaller groups especially during long rides. Find someone who rides at your pace and stick together. This way, you have someone to turn to when you need help with a mechanical and vice versa. Slower riders in a group shouldn’t attempt to close the gap on faster riders if the latter are accelerating or riding at a faster pace. This will only add more gaps to the group. Maintain your own pace and keep your own smaller group intact. That said, before taking off, make sure you brief everyone on their buddies, the pace per group and the regrouping points.
2. Don’t overlap wheels. Never ride with your front wheel alongside the rear wheel of the person in front of you. This is an accident waiting to happen. If he swerves into your wheel, not only will you go down, but you will take down those behind you as well. Leave a 12-inch gap when riding single file and stay to either side of the rider in front so you can see farther down the road.
3. Leave the iPod at home. You need to be extra alert when riding with a group. If riding with an iPod wasn’t dangerous enough, doing so when riding with a group is just plain stupid.
4. Don’t fixate. Stay alert. Watch for obstacles. Listen. Don’t keep your eye on the wheel of the rider in front of you or look down at the ground especially when in the drops or in an aero position. Speaking of aero, see rule number 5
5. Never go aero. Stay off the aero bars when riding in a pack. You can’t brake or steer fast enough in case you need to. Not to mention that you will already enjoy aerodynamic benefits from riding in a group anyway so you don’t need to go aero. Some will probably argue that they see teams riding in an aero position so why can’t they? Well, unless you’re racing in a team time trial or practicing for one with people you’ve been riding with for ages, this rule still applies.
6. Announce obstacles. Before riding, agree on a set of hand and verbal signals to warn others of obstacles on the road. For example, point down in the direction of an obstacle for others to avoid them. Hold a fist up to signal the group to slow down or stop. Warnings don’t always come from the front either. Riders in the rear should warn those up front of overtaking cars by shouting out “Car!” or “Car on the left!”.
7. Be steady and predictable. Keep your direction and speed steady. Not only will you irritate the people behind you when you veer from left to right or brake all of a sudden, you can cause a pile-up because the chain reaction behind you. Always pass slower riders on the same side as passing traffic (in our case, that would be the left) and announce yourself to warn others of your intent (shout out “On the left!” or “Rider on left!”).
8. Bring an I.D., cash and a cell phone. Leave the wallet in the car. Get a water-proof pouch or a ziplock bag to carry an I.D. (and your insurance card if you have one), some loose change for those mandatory water breaks and a cell phone. If you can, tuck a small first aid kit into your jersey pocket while you’re at it. Several gauze dressings, tape and wound dressing like Betadine will do. These are things you never want to use but will be glad you had with you in case you do.
9. Share your spares. Bring an extra tube or 2, tire levers and a multi-tool. You may not need them but if someone in your group does, be a good riding buddy and help him out. Charge it to good karma. If you find yourself on the receiving end because of a second flat or you simply forgot yours, make sure you replace your friend’s spare tube on your next ride.
10. Regroup at intersections. Do so just to make sure the group is intact at all times. There may also be new riders in your group who don’t know the way. Never leave someone behind.
11. Pull to the side whenever you stop. Pretty simple. Never stop in the middle of the road.
12. Relax and enjoy the ride. Tense riders are jittery riders. Not good when riding in a group. Relax and just keep these simple rules in mind.

Got any more to share? Do leave a comment and let us know.

-RF

PROTECT YOUR ASSETS

With the cost of bikes nowadays, we all look for ways to keep them looking as fresh as the day we took them out of the box. Simple Green, Pledge, car wax, citrus degreaser, you probably have all of these in your garage.

But this scenario has probably happened to you numerous times–you’re polishing your bike, running your hand down the downtube and you come a cross a nick, probably from a stone or pebble thrown up by the front tire. “WTF?!” you say. Bummer, right?

I’ve tried other means to protect my frame–the most popular being bathroom anti-slip tape. This gets the job done but the coarse texture doesn’t look good on a carbon fiber frame and because it’s thick, it doesn’t wrap around edges too well. After a few washes, the edges peel off and dirt starts to accumulate underneath. Ugly.

Then this came in a delivery one day–ICS Racers Tape. This protective urethane film comes in a roll and applies to almost any surface (not just your bike!).

I applied a strip of the tape to the underside of my bike’s downtube since that’s the area most susceptible to chips and scratches. Application is easy–just measure the length you need, cut the tape, clean the surface with alcohol (the rubbing kind, not the drinking kind), and apply slowly.

ISC tape conforms to the curves of your frame and is virtually invisible.

True enough, the tape conforms to any shape or curve. Now, my downtube–from the headseat junction all the way to the bottom of the bottom bracket–is now protected from wayward pebbles. Aligning the tape took a while but the end result is pretty cool (a tip for applying the tape–don’t remove the paper backing until you’re sure of the tape’s position on the frame. Do it slowly!)

The ISC Racers Tape is available for P1,500 per roll at The Starting Line. A good investment to keep your bikes looking brand-spanking new. Just don’t go overboard and tape your whole bike!

-RF

Coming to The Starting Line: Salomon XR Crossmax

As a trail running junkie, I keep several pairs of running shoes for both road and trail running. Because the demands of trail running are different from road running, having both types of shoes wasn’t a matter of choice. It’s simply a necessity. I couldn’t wear my favorite road running shoes on the trail because they lack the stiffness and support needed to protect against uneven surfaces, rocks and other what-have-you’s on the trail. Using trail shoes on the road, however, meant more weight and a stiffer ride due to trail shoes’ stable platforms. A shoe that could deliver on both road and trail was simply hard to come by.

Until the arrival of the Salomon XR Crossmax, Salomon’s answer to runners who run on all types of surfaces.

Forefoot sits low to the ground and makes this shoe feel like a road shoe.

Salomon Pilipinas’ Eric de Mesa talked me through the shoe and its unique construction. Sensiflex technology is used on the upper to eliminate seams that can cause chaffing and, as the name suggests, flexes to accommodate wider feet and bunions with no discomfort at all. An OS Tendon that runs down the entire length of the shoe provides additional support and energy return. The sole is constructed with various rubber densities for traction and impact protection.

So how does all this technology feel on a run? I got to test the XR Guidance, the stability version of the Crossmax, on a 10km run on asphalt and trails so I got a chance to find out myself.

The shoe uses Salomon’s signature lacing system and I’ve always found this to be both comfortable and convenient. The heel counter wraps around the back of the foot snugly once the laces are cinched tight. The forefoot sits low to the ground and because of the softer rubber, you feel more of the ground underneath your feet than you would with other trail shoes. This also makes the XR feels like a road shoe, a road stability shoe to be exact. Not too heavy nor stiff as normally expected from a trail shoe. On the trail, the XR was stable yet quick. The medial posting kept pronation at bay while the low forefoot made every step feel more precise.

The bottomline: if you include trail runs in your running routine, the Salomon XR Crossmax is a shoe you should seriously consider adding to your list of must-haves.

-RF