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In Maryland, Triathlon Becomes Part of P.E.


TriColumbia, the Mid-Atlantic’s premier endurance event production company, today announced a partnership with the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) to implement elementary, middle and high school triathlon instruction during physical education courses in an effort to educate students on the lifestyle benefits of triathlon. The partnership was formalized with an official signing on September 28 at Wilde Lake Middle School in Columbia, Md.

The first program of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic, TriColumbia will collaborate with physical education instructors to pilot a triathlon (swim, bike, run) program for fourth grade students at Hammond and Talbott Springs elementary schools, sixth grade students at Burleigh Manor and Wilde Lake middle schools, and ninth grade students at Glenelg and Long Reach high schools. HCPSS will provide instructional assistance in swimming, cycling and running, as well as necessary equipment and transportation.

“The HCPSS partnership with TriColumbia provides a new opportunity for our students to be active in a fun and exciting way,” said Mary Schiller of the HCPSS Partnerships Office. “Students will learn that the sport of triathlon welcomes athletes of all abilities; that it is as much about embracing a healthy lifestyle and having a can-do attitude as it is about the finish line.”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Maryland¹s state obesity rate was close to 25 percent in 2010, about a quarter of Maryland residents. Furthermore, across the United States, only 3.8 percent of elementary schools, 7.9 percent of middle schools and 2.1 percent of high schools provide daily physical education or its equivalent for the entire school year. Twenty-two percent of schools do not require students to take any physical education at all. It has been proven that regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence improves strength and endurance, helps build healthy bones and muscles, helps control weight, reduces anxiety and stress, and increases self-esteem, all goals of this triathlon instruction program.

“Our goal is for students to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to carry on when they leave Howard County Public Schools,” said Jackie French, Instructional Facilitator of Physical Education for HCPSS. “This unique program further contributes to that goal by providing a foundation for youth to build an active lifestyle that will last a lifetime.”

Each program will be designed appropriately for the students ages and fitness levels, and modifications will be made as needed to ensure that all students, including those with disabilities, are able to participate successfully. TriColumbia will also sponsor 25 scholarships for age-appropriate triathlons, to be awarded by P.E. instructors to students at each participating school.

“Having the opportunity to work with the Howard County Public School System to educate students on the benefits of healthy lifestyles through triathlon is a tremendous honor for TriColumbia,” said Robert Vigorito, President and founder of TriColumbia. “It has always been a dream of mine to give back to the community and to educate our youth and I would like to thank HCPSS as well as our sponsors for making this possible.”

Sponsors of the pilot program include Howard County General Hospital, The Horizon Foundation and McDonalds Family Restaurants of Greater Baltimore.

TriColumbia is a 501 (C)(3) nonprofit and the Mid-Atlantic’s premier endurance event production company providing an array of events for all ability levels across the triathlon/multisport continuum. Founded by current president, race director and 6-time Ironman Kona finisher, Robert Vigorito in 1983, the organization makes a difference for participating athletes by providing superior events and memories to last a lifetime, but also gives back to the community by supporting many local and regional charities, which provide a full spectrum of support for citizens in need. For more, visit


Source: Lava Magazine


4 Tips To Increase Running Mileage Safely



Open any running book and flip to the chapter on mileage. You’ll inevitably find that the 10 Percent Rule is recommended for runners who want to run more.

The 10 Percent Rule states that you should only increase your weekly mileage (or volume) in increments of 10 percent. So if you are running 30 miles this week, you should only run 3 more miles next week.

There are smarter ways to increase your volume.

Unfortunately, the 10 Percent Rule is too general and doesn’t apply to many training situations. It brings up a lot of questions:

  • Are you being too conservative with your mileage?
  • Are you being too aggressive?
  • Where are you in your training cycle?
  • Does your training program have the right ancillary exercise to help you prevent injury?

Four Smarter Mileage Rules

1) If you’re a beginner, forget the 10 Percent Rule.

As someone learning how to start running, your main priority is to run consistently and allow your body to get used to running. Two or three days of running 1 to 4 miles works well depending on your fitness level. Don’t increase your mileage every week; instead, keep it consistent for two to three weeks to allow your body to adjust. When you’re comfortable, then you can run more.

If you run three days per week for 2 miles, 3 miles, and 3 miles and you’re ready for more mileage, you can add another day of running.

Simply add another 2 miler to your schedule. Even though this is a 25 percent increase, it’s entirely safe provided you were comfortable with your previous volume. Stick with your new running schedule of 10 miles for another two to three weeks, and then consider an additional jump.

2) Determine your mileage sweet spot.

Runners with more experience will find that they have a mileage sweet spot. This particular volume will be comfortable for you but running more will be a challenge. You may find yourself overly tired, prone to injury, or running poorly in workouts.

Let’s take a hypothetical runner who finds 25 miles per week easy. We’ll call her Meaghan. She can jump up to this volume quickly and get in fairly good shape.

But to reach big goals in longer races, like qualifying for Boston, Meaghan may need to run 35 or 40 miles every week. This is where she may run into (pun intended) problems. The injury potential beyond her mileage sweet spot of 25 per week is much higher.

To help Meaghan stay healthy, more conservative mileage increases of only 5 percent are more appropriate. She should also maintain her volume for several weeks instead of running more every week.

3) When you’re coming back from a brief break in training, skip the 10 Percent Rule.

Let’s talk about Meaghan again. If she takes a week off from running, she is not starting from scratch. She can easily start running 15 to 20 miles per week and quickly increase to her sweet spot of 25 miles.

If your break from training is longer than two weeks, you may want to be more cautious with increasing your mileage. Start at a conservative level and increase your mileage by 10 to 15 percent every two to three weeks.

4) Be more conservative when you’re in unchartered territory.

When you start running more than you have ever run before, you’re in a potential danger zone. Your body has never run so many miles and a long adjustment period is probably necessary. At least two to three weeks of the same mileage might be necessary before running higher volume.


Mileage Isn’t Everything

Ultimately, your mileage takes a backseat to the consistency of your training.  Running an extra 5 or 10 miles next week isn’t meaningful unless it’s done for months. Instead of always trying to do more, try to run consistently. Be patient and gradually increase your volume over months and years (not days and weeks).

There’s no magic number that will make you accomplish your running goals. Focus on consistency, not making stupid mistakes, and only moving up your mileage when you’re ready and comfortable. You may find yourself increasing your volume more or less than 10 percent, but in the end, always listen to your body.


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2 Swim Practices To Build Speed

Swim Start


Triathletes need the ability to settle into a steady pace and swim a long distance during a race. The goal of these two sets is to take that steady pace and make it faster!

Before launching into the workouts, you need to know the two biggest mistakes that can be made in these workouts. The first error is not going fast when it’s time to go fast. You must have a noticeable difference between your steady pace and your fast pace.

The second error is reducing the amount of recovery between swims on the first workout. Triathletes often feel that the least amount of rest during a set, the better. Not this time. You need the recovery so you can go fast.


Swim Set #1


  • 200 swim
  • 100 your choice of drills
  • 400 pull with or without paddles

Main Set

Depending on your fitness, swim speed and training time available, do three to five repeats of the set below. Before beginning, select a swim interval that is your current steady pace time, plus 40 seconds. For example, if your current steady pace is 1:40 per 100, the swim interval will be 2:20. That means leaving the wall every two minutes and twenty seconds. Actual rest time will vary depending on swim speed.

  • 4 x 100 with a full minute of rest between rounds:
    • #1 – Swim 75 at your current steady pace, then 25 FAST!
    • #2 – Swim 50 at your current steady pace, then 50 FAST!
    • #3 – Swim 25 at your current steady pace, then 75 FAST!
    • #4 – Swim 100 FAST!

Cool Down

  • Finish up with 300 pull, with or without paddles, and 100 very easy
  • Total distance = 2300 to 3100

Note: Workout adapted from Anaerobic Endurance workout #7 “Workouts in a Binder for Triathletes.”

Swim Set #2


  • 400 swim, 200 kick, 200 swim
  • Repeat the next round once or twice. Recover 10 to 15 seconds between swims.
  • 4 x 25
    • #1 – 12.5 easy, 12.5 fast
    • #2 – 12.5 fast, 12.5 easy
    • #3 – 25 easy
    • #4 – 25 fast

Main Set

Before beginning the main set, select a swim interval that is your current steady 200 pace time, plus 20 seconds. Notice that the swims are longer than in the first workout and the rest is shorter.

Your “fast” won’t be quite as fast for this workout as it was for the first one. That’s okay. Just be sure there is a noticeable difference in speed. For example, if current steady pace is 3:20 per 200, swim interval is 3:40. That means leaving the wall every three minutes and forty seconds.

Actual rest time will vary depending on the swim speed of each 200.

  • 7 x 200
    • #1 – Swim 50 fast, 150 easy (be careful not to go too easy or you won’t make the swim interval)
    • #2 – Swim 100 fast, 100 easy
    • #3 – Swim 150 fast, 50 easy
    • #4 – Swim 200 fast
    • #5 – Swim 150 fast, 50 easy
    • #6 – Swim 100 fast, 100 easy
    • #7 – Swim 50 fast, 150 easy

Take 1 full minute of rest and go right into 100s. Select a swim interval on this one that is 15 seconds over your steady pace. For example, if your current steady pace is 1:40 per 100, your swim interval will be 1:55.

  • 7 x 100
    • #1 – Swim 25 fast, 75 easy
    • #2 – Swim 50 fast, 50 easy
    • #3 – Swim 75 fast, 25 easy
    • #4 – Swim 100 fast
    • #5 – Swim 75 fast, 25 easy
    • #6 – Swim 50 fast, 50 easy
    • #7 – Swim 25 fast, 75 easy

Depending on your goals and fitness level, repeat a second round of the 100s.

Cool Down

  • Swim 200 very easy
  • Total distance 3200 to 4000

Note: Thanks to swim coach Doug Garcia for the main set.

Be sure to go into these swim sets relatively fresh. If you are wiped out from previous runs, bike rides or life chores it is best to just do an easy swim and come back to these workouts later when you can go faster.


Easy Pork Chops


Lean cuts of pork are high in protein and low in fat. Add a side of veggies and you’ve got a clean meal that delivers all the right nutrients without waist-expanding carbs.

Servings: 4

Here’s what you need…

  • 2 apples, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • cinnamon
  • sea salt
  • 4 lean pork chops
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  1. In a large skillet warm 1 Tablespoon of the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the apples and onions. Sauté for 5 minutes until the apples are tender.
  2. Remove the apples and onions from the pan.
  3. Add the remaining Tablespoon of coconut oil to the pan and leave the heat on medium. Sprinkle cinnamon and salt on both sides of the pork chops then rub in.
  4. Place the pork chops in the pan, sear on each side for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the apples and onions back to the pan, cover and cook for about 6 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle with the almonds and serve the chops with a generous helping of the apples and onions.

Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 296 calories, 12g fat, 94mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, and 21g protein




6 Core Components of Triathlon Training

Maximizing fitness, athleticism and performance in the world of endurance athletics is easier said than done. Many athletes focus too much of their effort on just the training component. To see consistent improvement, however, athletes should create an entire system to round out their training program.

Endurance athletes are tremendously hard workers, but sometimes this hard work will come back tohaunt them as injury and pain tend to creep up in those who work too hard. Training is the foundation to getting results, but there are other components that make up the complete system. These other components need attention; and when they are disregarded, an athlete does not maximize their true potential.

Work on these six components to round out your complete triathlon training system.


Component #1: Performance Nutrition

Solid nutrition principles are imperative to staying healthy and injury-free, and truly maximizing your performance. When your diet is incomplete and lacking the nutrients and vitamins the human body needs to perform, recover and stay healthy, your training program will become stagnate.


As training is crucial, the nutrition program is just as imperative to an endurance athlete. Vigorous training hours lead to fatigue, broken down muscle tissue, tired joints, a run down nervous system and an immune system fighting to stay healthy.

Without a proper nutrition plan to assist recovery and replenishment, your body will spiral downward to a state of overtraining, which can lead to inconsistent sleep patterns, lack of motivation, and ultimately injury.

I use this as component #1 because there isn’t enough focus on this tactic. Without changing any of the other training protocols, tweaking nutrition for peak performance can give endurance athletes an edge on their competitors.

An endurance athlete’s diet should be full of complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables and healthy whole grains; lean proteins like fresh and lean chicken, turkey, fish and occasional red meat; and healthy fats like natural peanut or almond butter, avocado, raw nuts and olive oil.


Keeping your food consumption to calories that are nutrient-dense and limited in saturated fats, high amounts of sugars and salts and empty calories is imperative for high-level performance.

Food timing is another critical aspect to understand. What you eat is important but dialing in your nutrient timing can expand your performance to optimal levels. Understanding what specific foods do for your system can assist your energy levels, increase the intensity of your workouts, and allow your body to fully recover after training.

Pre-workout food consumption is dependant on each individual and the needs of that person.  Find what works best for your body. Do not rely on what you saw in a magazine or read in a book. What works for you? The basic nutrient breakdown before training should consist of a 4 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. This ratio will top off the glycogen tank to prepare for the work ahead. This pre-workout meal should not be heavy, fiber-dense or packed with empty sugar and calories. Instead aim for calories that will give you the necessary energy and jumpstart you will need to begin training, without overworking the digestive system.

Within thirty minutes post-workout, your body is in an anabolic state and will be at its highest response to the calories you consume. It’s best to eat food that is easily and quickly digestible durin

g this period.  Whey protein, chocolate milk and your favorite supplement (HL 24 Recovery, hammer nutrition, etc) are all good choices.

After your post-workout snack immediately following the completion of your training, you now have a one-hour window to consume natural whole food. Aim for lean protein sources like eggs, chicken, fish or legumes and complex carbohydrates like quinoa, vegetables and fruit.  And don’t forget your healthy fats. Post workout is a time to nourish the body with omega 3 and 6 nutrients to repair muscle damage and decrease inflammation.


Component #2: Efficient Training

Training progressively and smart is a tactic many athletes do not follow. A randomized training schedule is the method most amateur endurance athletes tend to use. They train depending on what they want to do for that particular day. There isn’t a plan of action, no progressive build up, no planned rest days and limited structured workouts.

These are strategies that must change in order to fully reach an ultimate performance level. The first step is setting up a structured training program that fits your needs and goals. Write down the top three objectives that you want to accomplish over the training period.


  1. Get faster at the half marathon distance.
  2. Get stronger on the bike.
  3. Complete Ironman 70.3.

Having goals in place before you start a training plan will give you a target to shoot at instead of just guessing. When you start constructing your game plan, you must use these simple strategies:

Never increase volume more than 10 percent each week.

Every fourth week decrease your highest volume week by 40 percent.  This is a recovery week and will allow your body to fully adapt to the training block.

You never want to have back-to-back training days that are both high intensity workouts. Stick to the “easy/hard/easy/hard” set up for your workouts.

Find your “A” race and plan your training backwards from the scheduled day to the present. This will allow your peak to happen for your most important race. Trying to peak for every race of the year will lead to lack of performance and ultimately injury.

Listen to your body. If your body is in a fatigue state and just can’t get through a specific workout, call it a day. Recognize the difference between being a sissy and just having mental and physical fatigue.

You should implement a base phase to build your aerobic capacity, a build phase where you implement more race pace strategies, a peak phase where you are preparing for the demands of the race, a taper period where you allow for full recovery and adaptation from all of your training, and a transition period with time off to allow for full physical and mental regeneration. These periods will set you up for a successful training year.


Component #3: Recovery, Regeneration and Rest

The human body is very resilient and can take training loads at extreme rates. But the human body does break down and it’s what you do during your recovery time that allows you to build and improve performance.

Pro Triathlete Kenny Rakestraw said, “When you get to high levels of fitness, it’s not about putting in more time, we are all training high amounts of volume. It’s the athletes that are focused on recovery that will reap the benefits of their training program.”

During workouts, we break down muscle tissue, deplete our energy stores and we create nervous system fatigue. When our nervous system is fatigued it doesn’t matter what we do for our training, we will not get better. We will be in a constant state of overtraining, causing compensation, breakdown and ultimately injury. You must plan and schedule rest days, rest weeks and transition periods into a training program.

Here are strategies that are a must for recovery:

  • Foam Roll/Stretch: You need to schedule flexibility sessions into your training week. After long weekends of training your muscle tissue becomes inflamed and tight, and adhesions form throughout the fascia. Rolling and soft tissue therapy will help get rid of the small knots and adhesions that build up over time. Plus it will help promote blood flow, which gives you better movement and range of motion. Endurance athletes should focus on the quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, IT band and thoracic spine (mid-back). Stretching also needs to be implemented into the schedule. Stretching the muscle will help lengthen the fascia to allow for proper movement and range of motion. If your muscles are tight you may restrict movement, decrease your performance and eventually get hurt. Take time to roll and stretch.
  • Ice: After long and/or hard training sessions icing the legs is a great way to get them to recover at a more rapid pace. Icing will decrease inflammation and swelling, and enhance healing. But more isn’t necessarily better when it comes to icing. You should ice your legs for no longer than 15 minutes an hour. Any longer can cause damage to the surrounding muscle tissues. If you have a direct pain site (i.e. shin splints, plantar fasciitis, etc.), then ice massage is the way to go. Simply freeze a small water bottle, cut the bottom half of plastic off the bottle to expose the ice and then massage the affected area. Do this for only five minutes each hour.
  • Light movement: After a race or a big weekend of training, the best thing for your legs is to flushthem out the day after. Know the difference of a hard workout and easy moving. These lighter workouts can tremendously assist recovery as they will get your legs through a range of motion, help increase blood flow, decrease inflammation, and promote recovery. Just make sure to keep these workouts very light. Spinning on a bike or a light recovery swim on Monday, following a big training weekend or race, will assist the body to recover and allow for a better week ahead of training.
  • Corrective Exercise: I wrote an article called 6 Exercises for a Balanced Body. Implement these six moves into your routine to create a balanced and more functional body.
  • Consistent Sleep: When the body is at rest, it will be at its greatest state of recovery. If you are not getting consistent sleep throughout the week you will suffer, breakdown and be more prone to injury, fatigue and burnout. Endurance athletes are continually breaking down the body during training and it is a must to get adequate sleep. The key is consistency. So six hours of sleep every night is better than four hours one night, eight hours the next, and five hours another. Aim for six to eight hours each night. During the day, try to fit in short 15- to 30-minute naps to rejuvenate and recharge the body and mind.


Component #4: Flexibility and Mobility

When you lack functional movement and range of motion in your joints and muscles, you do not maximize performance. Swimming, biking and running are all repetitive sports that can create stress and imbalance, causing the body to compensation for lack of movement in other areas. It’s important to have adequate flexibility in the muscles, and mobility in specific joints, to decrease overuse injury in multisport.

When you become tight and restrict movement, your body starts to compensate, thus forcing other parts of the body to work harder than they have to, which will eventually cause pain and injury. Mike Boyle and Gray Cook came up with the “Joint by Joint” concept that looks at each joint’s function from the ground up.

Here are the basic functions of each joint:

  • Ankle – mobility
  • Knee – stability
  • Hip – mobility
  • Lumbar spine – stability
  • Thoracic spine – mobility
  • Cervical spine – stability
  • Glenohumeral (shoulder) – mobility
  • Scapular region – stability

Before every workout you should warm up using this joint by joint theory. You will set yourself up for a higher-level training session when you learn to warm up the entire system.

During the week, schedule times to foam roll, stretch, and work on your mobility. Just keep in mind, when you get hurt you can’t train, and if you are not training you will not get better. Implement flexibility and mobility work into your training program at least three times a week to see improvement and reduce injury.


Component #5: Functional Strength and Power

If you lack specific strength and power, you will not maximize your performance in your sport. Functional strength is having usable strength that will transfer to the “playing field”.  Plain and simple, the stronger athletes excel.

As endurance athletes are very focused on their specific training they tend to forget about their functional strength and explosiveness. These traits can lead to better performance and reduction of injury.  Implement strength workouts into the training program that promotes muscle balance, stability and explosiveness.

But strength and power is not lifting heavy weights with improper form. When done incorrectly you can create

imbalance, a weak muscle system and poor movement qualities. Plan and perfect your movements in the gym. For every upper pushing exercise, add an upper body pull. When lifting, focus on perfecting movement, not on high-repetition work. Do not let your form suffer.


Component #6: The Mindset

The first step to achieving any of your goals is the power of believing in yourself. You must create a positive mindset that consistently has you believing in your abilities. If you show up to the gym or to one of your workouts with a negative, non-believing attitude you will have a lack-luster training session.

Mental conditioning needs to be worked on just as much as physical conditioning.  We need to teach and train our thoughts to be positive. Did you know that 80 percent of most humans’ thoughts are negative thoughts?

The crazy thing about that is we can do something about it: We can change our attitude, our thoughts and our mindset. But just like we prepare and train for a 5K or marathon to get faster, we must put in the mental training to improve our mental performance. Just like training the body to get faster, stronger and more athletic, we have to train our thoughts to become more positive, energetic and confident.  It takes daily work for this to happen.

Here are several strategies to follow to improve your mindset:

Daily Affirmations. First, when you wake up you must create positive thoughts before you even jump out of bed. Do not wake up muttering, “ugh, another day.”  Say things like:

  • “Today I will be my best and give my best.”
  • “I will move closer to my goals.”
  • “Nothing will get in my way.”
  • “I will tackle my problems head on.”
  • “I will drop body fat.”
  • “I will improve my times in my workout.”

These thoughts will turn into actions and you will see a tremendous change in your mindset and your life. You have to be conscious of this exercise, as it is very easy to just get out of bed and “get through another day”. Remember each day is a new beginning, a fresh start, and a brand new chance to create greatness. We cannot focus on yesterday but having a good and better yet GREAT today will make for a better tomorrow.

Secondly, after a long day, when you are lying in bed about to fall asleep, finish the day with a positive thought.  “I did my best today”; “I am so happy to be alive and tomorrow will be another good day”; “Good job on your effort today”. Starting and ending your day with positive affirmations can be a game-changer.

Believe in yourself at all Times. You must learn to believe in yourself.  Do not put yourself down or have disbelief in accomplishing a certain project, or workout, or task. No matter the task at hand, do the work necessary to succeed. If you have the action and the mindset, you will accomplish it.  Believe in that and you will start doing big things.

Try meditation. Have you ever sat in a room or in your car with complete quietness, your eyes shut and focused on your internal thoughts? Try doing this for three to five minutes everyday. Do it before your workout, before you step into your office or before a big race.

Meditation can relax your mind, help get you centered and focused, and energize your thoughts. Focus on zoning out and direct your attention on your thoughts and your internal motivations. What drives, inspires and motivates you? This internal conditioning can be a supercharge in energy that you have been looking for.

Positive self-talk. This one goes hand in hand with endurance performance. During workouts and training you must create a positive self-awareness that will lead to successful performance. It’s easy to talk ourselves into stopping short of the recommended distance or the last few intervals.

Continually tell yourself that you can do the mileage and you can push through the tough intervals. This will transfer over to your racing as when you are pushing and giving it your all, you will be able to push through that uncomfortable zone and have a successful race.

When those negative thoughts enter your head, turn them into positive thoughts:

  • “Keep going.”
  • “Yes, I can.”
  • “I can hold this pace.”
  • “I can do one more hill repeat.”

Your performance goes in the right direction when you think positively.

Write down all of your goals. This can be a road map to a successful training program.  What do you want? A faster 5K? To train for an Ironman?

At the end of each season, you need to assess the previous season. What were your strengths? What were your weaknesses? What will be your goals for the next season? Goals are just random ideas and thoughts until they are written down. Create a game plan that you can look at everyday. If your goals are in sight every morning when you wake up, you are more likely to stay on track to accomplish those goals.

The next step is showing your goals to a mentor or coach.

This helps hold you accountable to achieving your goals. Meet with that person periodically to talk about where you are at and what you need to do to stay on track.

As you work toward incorporating the six elements of this training system, you may not only see a dramatic change in your performance, but also your vitality and the way you live life.

Find a triathlon training program.



By Justin Levine


Delineating the Perfect Swim Stroke

Should a swimmer’s arms serve as paddles or propellers? That question, abstruse as it might seem, underlies a long-running controversy in swimming about the best, most efficient technique for the freestyle and the backstroke. It also prompted a new study from a group of scientists at Johns Hopkins University that, in seemingly answering the question, is likely to provoke even more debate.

The concern about how best to position and move the arm during the freestyle stroke (also known as the front crawl) and its inverse, the backstroke, first gained prominence back in the 1960s, when James E. Counsilman, the famed Indiana University men’s swimming coach known as Doc, decided to apply scientific principles of propulsion and fluid dynamics to swim techniques.

The physics of swimming are simple enough. To move through the water, you must generate thrust. To do so, you can use dragging or lifting forces. Drag is created by, unsurprisingly, dragging back against the water and, in the process, pushing an object, like the swimmer’s body, forward.

Lift, on the other hand, is created mainly by the flow of fluid around an object moving at an angle through the water. The fluid flows faster around the more curved side of the object, lifting and thrusting it forward. Ship propellers work on this principle.

In the deep-catch stroke, illustrated at top, the hand pulls long and deep through the water. In the scull, below, the hand traces an S shape.

But until Doc Counsilman weighed in, it was widely believed that swimming, for humans, involved primarily drag forces. You pulled against the water, like someone paddling a canoe, your arm remaining straight, palm perpendicular to the body. This stroke technique is often called a “deep catch” style of swimming, since you pull long and deep against the water.

Coach Counsilman was convinced, however, that lift could and should provide a majority of the propulsion for human swimmers, and that the way to generate lift was to scull, or move the stroking arm through an S-curve underwater.

In his revised version of the freestyle, the arm, bent as it breaks the surface, pulls back against the water at first, as in a paddling stroke. But then the arm starts turning sideways in a gentle curve as it begins to trace an S shape, the thumb heading up as the palm turns parallel to the body. The arm reverses that motion to traverse a full S shape before emerging from the water.

Fluids would flow swiftly around the hand as it sliced through the water and, Coach Counsilman contended, create more lift than the deep-catch stroke.

Coach Counsilman instituted this new stroke technique for his swimmers, first at Indiana University and later as head coach of the United States Olympic team. His swimmers, who included Mark Spitz, won more than 20 Olympic medals and 23 Big Ten Conference titles.

In the years since, sculling during the freestyle stroke and backstroke became commonplace among elite and recreational swimmers.

But many coaches continued to question whether lift, generated by sculling, was really the fastest, most efficient way for swimmers to reach the wall.

So the Johns Hopkins scientists, who before the 2008 Summer Olympics had studied how best to perform the butterfly stroke (their conclusion: have extremely flexible ankles and, if possible, big feet), decided now to put the two strokes to the test in a series of complex computer simulations.

They began by creating a virtual animated arm, using laser scans and motion-capture videos from Olympic-caliber swimmers. “We decided to separate the arm from the rest of the body so the we could study, in isolation, the underwater flow dynamics” around a swimmer’s arm during the freestyle stroke or backstroke, says Rajat Mittal, a professor of mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins and a devoted recreational swimmer, who oversaw the study.

They then gathered underwater videos of elite swimmers, supplied by USA Swimming, which they categorized as displaying either a sculling or a deep-catch stroke.

The scientists ran their animated arm through multiple simulations of each stroke, requiring thousands of hours of computer time.

The result was “a bit of a surprise,” Dr. Mittal says. It turned out that lift was, as Doc Counsilman had maintained, important for efficient, and therefore fast, stroking. In all of the scientists’ simulations, lift provided a majority of the propulsive force.

But sculling did not supply much lift. In fact, it impeded both lift and drag. “Our shoulders won’t twist all the way around,” Dr. Mittal says, meaning our arms won’t lever about as ship propellers do, and the amount of lift we can create by sculling is small.

The better choice for human propulsion, he says, was the paddlelike deep-catch stroke, which actually produced more lift than sculling, along with a hefty dose of drag.

“All things being equal, our data show that the deep-catch stroke is far more effective,” Dr. Mittal says.

Of course, races are not won or lost by disembodied arms, and as Dr. Mittal points out, “all things are not equal, most of the time.” An effective deep-catch stroke requires considerable shoulder strength, which many swimmers lack, making a sculling-based stroke easier for them, at least until they develop robustly muscled shoulders.

“How you roll your body in the water with each stroke will also matter,” he says, as will overall fitness. “Sculling is less fatiguing,” so less-fit swimmers may opt to scull, he says.

But for fit, powerful swimmers, or those who aspire to become such, “my advice would be to use the deep-catch stroke,” he says.

“Anecdotally, we’ve been told that more and more coaches are moving to the deep-catch,” he continues, and his group’s findings suggest that for most swimmers, whether elite or recreational, “that is the way to go.”




By: Gretchen Reynolds

The Cycle Project Has Begun

The Cycle Project Has Begun

This was the first of  many races The Cycle Project competed in as a team!539951_324886554253760_1431434338_n


4 Important Core Exercises For Triathletes

All three disciplines of triathlon require core stabilization and strength. Strong core musculature helps you keep your body streamlined in the water, maintain a comfortable bike position, and complete an efficient run.

Core strength also assists with generating, absorbing and stabilizing forces that occur during your bike and run. Moreover, increasing your core strength will help decrease your risk of overuse injuries, such as low back pain and IT band syndrome. Your core is your foundation, and without it, your form will collapse and suffer. If your form collapses, your chance of injury increases.

Unfortunately, most athletes avoid or limit core exercises during their endurance training. After a long workout, resistance training or core work is the last thing on your mind. The great thing about core exercises, however, is they can be done in your home, at the gym or in your office.

The following exercises are designed to increase deep abdominal and back strength and stabilization. These muscles are key for proper hip and spine alignment. Perform these exercises at least two days per week. They can be added to your off day and your other light training day during the week. Again, a healthy core musculature will pay huge dividends during your long season of swimming, biking and running.

Core Exercise #1: Plank With Repetitions

As you perform the plank, make sure you keep your elbows at ninety degrees and looking down. As you lift your hips up, pull your belly button in to activate your deep abdominal muscles (touch your belly-button to your spine). Focus on keeping a straight line from your ears through your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.

The biggest mistake made with this core exercise is allowing your hips to sink or raise. This will cause pain in the low back and place pressure on the spine, so be sure to maintain proper spine alignment.

After lifting your hips and extending your legs, pause for two to three seconds and then slowly return to the starting position. Perform 12 to 20 repetitions without sacrificing form. And don’t forget to breathe.

Core Exercise #2: Side Plank With Repetitions

This exercise is performed exactly like the front plank only on your side. Again, maintain proper alignment of your head, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. Activate your core as you raise your hips and pause for two to three seconds, breathing throughout the movement. The side plank will emphasize the obliques more so than the front plank. Perform 12 to 20 repetitions on each side without sacrificing form.

Core Exercise #3: Ball Cobra

The ball cobra emphasizes the deep and superficial back musculature. Start prone (face down) on the ball in a relaxed position. As you lift your chest off the ball slowly, externally rotate your shoulders and retract your shoulder blades (squeeze shoulder blades together). Hold your finish position for two to three seconds and then lower yourself slowly back to the start.

To advance this exercise, simply add small dumbbells for added resistance. Perform 12 to 20 repetitions without sacrificing form.

Core Exercise #4: Cable Chop

The cable chop involves adding resistance, and therefore is more focused on strengthening key core muscles (as opposed to pure stabilization). This exercise also involves the chest and lats.

Using a cable machine, start in a relaxed position with your feet shoulder to hip width apart and your toes and knees straight ahead. Pull the weight across the body from your shoulder to your opposing hip. Rotate your hips and and upper-body as you perform the exercise. Return to the starting position slowly.

If you do not have access to a cable machine, simply use an exercise band in its place. Perform 10 to 20 reps on each side.

Remember, as a triathlete, great form and technique start with a solid foundation. The foundation is your core strength. Without it, you are limiting your potential. During a triathlon you need your running formand posture to become second nature. If your running form starts to go, chances are you let your core strength program go. Focus on your core and find yourself finishing strong at your next race.



Though triathlon is indeed “a” sport, triathletes must be able to do the three sports (swimming, cycling and running) in a manner that gets them across the finish line in the least amount of time. As a triathlete, you may or may not be aiming for a spot on the podium but you probably want to be fast—your personal definition of fast.

In order to be a fast triathlete you need to train like a triathlete, even in the offseason. You need to train for the demands of the sport of triathlon. Your winter or offseason training needs to compliment your training in the competitive season.

Here are six strategies for your offseason training to help you be a better triathlete when race season rolls around.

1) Optimize the number of workout sessions or your workout frequency.

If you have a single-sport history, say swimming as an example, more than likely you swam six days per week and sometimes you swam twice per day. If you try to apply that template to cycling and running for your triathlon plan, aiming for six sessions per sport per week, is a sure recipe for injury or overtraining issues.

Triathletes should aim to do two to three workout sessions per sport, per week. This means you will swim two to three times, bike two to three times, and run two to three times. If you are new to the sport, or it is your offseason, one or two workouts per sport each week is a great start.

As you gain experience, get closer to race season, and increase your triathlon performance aspirations, there may be times when you have four weekly workout sessions in one, or more, of the sports.

2) Strength train for triathlon, not body building.

There are differing opinions on the value of weight training in the offseason. I think most triathletes gain value by adding strength training to their offseason program. The value is increased power output on the bike, reducing the likelihood of injuries by correcting muscular imbalances and working on core body strength and stability.

In the weight room, focus on multiple-muscle movements that complement the sport of triathlon. Minimize the exercises that isolate a particular muscle.

3) Plan fast workouts.

It doesn’t matter if you’re doing six workout sessions per week or nine; plan to go fast in some of them. Your body needs the stress of fast workouts—and recovery—in order to make gains.

In the offseason, make the fast segments of your workouts short with long recovery intervals. Miracle intervals on an indoor trainer are a good example of this principle or the speedy segments can be just simple 20-second accelerations. Because the fast segments are very short and you can keep the number of repeats low, you can include some speedy segments in nearly all of your workouts.

I will say there are some coaches that make the offseason completely aerobic—no efforts above the aerobic level, whatsoever. I am not one of those coaches and I believe keeping some fast training in your routine in the offseason is critical.

4) Remove threshold intervals in the offseason.

Though you should keep some fast segments in your training for most of the year, do not keep flogging yourself with the same old lactate threshold workouts year-round. Repeating high-intensity workouts day in and day out leads to boredom, risk of injury and certainly a plateau in performance.

When do you begin to add threshold training back into the fold? The answer depends on your short term and long term goals.

5) Plan key workouts.

Make your “hard” workouts count towards performance increases. These hard sessions should be considered key workouts. A key workout can work on improving your speed, endurance or in some cases both. Depending on what you’re doing in the weight room, a key session may be a strength session in the offseason.

A good rule of thumb is to limit your key workouts to between two and four per week—total in all sports.

6) Consider a single-sport focus in the offseason.

If your swim is your weak link in your races, try swimming four or five days per week. Keep your swimming and cycling workouts easy and limit them to only one or two per week. If cycling is your weak link, try adding a weekly group ride as one of your key workouts. If running is your weak link, add one more run session per week, but keep an eye on injury indicators.

In all cases of single-sport focus, consider spending four to six months training for a single-sport event (a swim meet, a cycling event or a running race) while keeping the other sports maintained at a minimum level.

With some key changes to your training routine and consistency in the offseason, you will be a better—and faster—triathlete next season.


July 30 – Vineman Ironman

July 30 – Vineman Ironman

Ironman – 2.4mi Swim, 112mi Bike, 26.2mi Run

This is the second year in a row I have run Vineman and the only 2 Ironman races I have done.  Last year I finished in 12hrs 22 min.  This year my goal was to go under 12 hours.




















Official SWIM – 58.53  - 38th Overall

Official Bike – 5:58:38 (18.7 mph average) – 192 Overall

Official Run – 4:20:44 (9:58 min/mi pace) – 162 Overall






















OFFICIAL FINISH – 11:27.17 – 25th in Age Group – 92nd Overall  55 Min faster than last year!