The word ‘diet’ has many different contexts. For example:
restriction: “I can’t eat XYZ foods.”
a type of pattern or cuisine: “I eat in line with the Mediterranean diet.”
fad/trend: “I’m starting the Grapefruit Diet to detox!”
clinical prescription: “My doctor prescribed an autoimmune diet for my thyroid condition.”
Aside from the new year hubbub that is filled with trendy diet pitches and 21-day diet challenges, have you wondered whether it is time to change up your dietary pattern to support your health and performance goals? Let me provide a few considerations to help you self-assess a bit further.
What is the “issue” you are trying to improve or solve?
Weight loss is on the minds of many athletes this time of the year in advance of big races and events planned for 2019. If this is you, then I recommend taking some time to reflect on where you’ve been in your diet hopping experience and where you are now with your food relationship. Often times, athletes jump to the latest and greatest diet fad without pondering their past or how food fits into their life currently.
It may be surprising to some, but much of the research shows that there are many kinds of diets that can work to promote weight loss. The keys are finding what is sustainable for you (to avoid the yo-yo trend of loss-gain-loss-gain-rinse-repeat), what is safe and optimal (in terms of supporting your needs as an athlete), and what your habits and behaviors are around food that need to be modified (I call this the “nitty gritty that no one likes to address”).
If weight loss is not your primary goal, perhaps it is another set of signs and symptoms that you are experiencing. For example:
poor exercise performance (feeling flat, can’t hit intensities, fade quickly into an aerobic session)
energy lulls, poor concentration during everyday living
gut issues such as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea
sugar and/or caffeine cravings
Maybe you just intuitively know that it is time for a change – you are now a masters athlete, there are midlife hormonal changes, or quite frankly, your diet is pretty subpar.
What do you know objectively about your signs and symptoms? For example, do you have recent athlete-specific blood work to reveal any deficiencies? Have you changed your nutrition relatively recently that could be a contributing (negative) factor? Have you had a professional assessment from a Sport Dietitian to piece apart all of the “inputs”?
As you can hopefully see, there are potentially many reasons to move forward with a change in your nutrition. Similarly, there are many layers that makes the decision process as to which kind of dietary pattern a more complicated process than simply mimicking what a friend or training partner does. It takes some time and effort to think through where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to go… for both health and performance as they go hand in hand.
Those reasons often transition into causes and those causes are often taken on by a group of people working to help the same cause and obviously most of those causes involve medical conditions, awareness and advocacy.
Clearly many things motivate people to exercise, train and perhaps ultimately compete. We all know of someone inspired by unfortunate circumstances that might have impacted their life or of those they care about. The reasons are countless and often tear jerking and deeply personal.
This past week, 303radio sat down with Dr. James DeGregori PhD and Brett Kessler, DDS to talk about the community of like minded people they train with–Team and Training.
Team in Training is the largest charity endurance training program in the world. They have over 650,000 athletes that have raised over $1 billion to fight cancer, Leukemia and Lymphoma more specifically. Like many teams the connections and friends that are made ultimately make cause the greatest memories.
In this interview James and Brett talk about those connections, their own personal reasons and why’s, but more, they both know Leukemia and Lymphoma first hand as medical professionals that work directly with those effected and by doing research to help find a cure.
Not only will you learn how Team in Training helped them compete in century rides, marathons and even the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, but you will learn a little about the disease from people on the front lines and extremely driven advocates that will likely offer you some inspiration into your own why.
You’re probably already aware of the many benefits strength exercises have on your performance. But there’s another group of exercises that often go overlooked: mobility exercises.
According to Rod Murray, USA Cycling coach and owner of Body4Life Training, mobility exercises are anything that brings a joint (where two bones meet) through its full range of motion, improving your overall posture and flexibility—on and off the bike.
“Doing these types of exercises improves your performance so you can ride better, longer, and more comfortably,” Murray says. “You’re constantly adjusting yourself in the saddle—reaching for your water bottle, turning your neck to see cars—so you want to be able to do things comfortably and pain free.”
And while it’s good to start doing mobility exercises at any age, it’s particularly important for those in their 40s and older to do regularly. That’s because the older you get, the higher your risk of injury becomes. Adding mobility exercises into the mix can help bulletproof your joints and prevent such injuries from occurring.
Kyle Coon has been totally blind since age 6. That hasn’t kept him from rock climbing at 9, climbing Kilimanjaro at 15, and, oh yeah, becoming the fastest totally blind person to ever finish an Ironman race.
KUSA — When Kyle Coon lost his sight at age 6, he says he got depressed.
But that didn’t last long.
“I actually became a competitive rock climber when I was 8 or 9-years-old,” he said.
He climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro when he was 15, captained his high school wrestling team for two years and started doing triathlons a few years ago.
“It’s definitely become a passion and a real lifestyle, and just because I’m doing it blind, it’s just, you know – I’m just any other, any other athlete out there trying to have fun and compete against myself and fellow athletes,” he said.
Then, in 2016, he did his first Ironman race: 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles biking and 26.2 miles running. It all has to be finished under 17 hours.
“It took me just under 16 hours to complete the full thing, and I think I walked the entire marathon,” Coon said.
Brett Kessler was helping blood cancer patients long before it became personal. He did an oncology fellowship after dental school where his focus was on treating patients affected by blood cancer. Then, he moved to Colorado in 1999 and joined The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society‘s (LLS) Team In Training to meet new people, train and raise money for blood cancer research. He then went on to be a triathlon coach for the program.
Brett shared, “I did not treat this population anymore and still wanted to support them. I was hooked.”
Brett’s mom was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) eight years later. She took imatinib (Gleevac®) through clinical trials which were funded by LLS. Sadly, Brett’s mom passed away in 2016.
He shared, “I felt like I directly contributed to her care from the work I did with LLS. The universe works in amazing ways as Gleevec was not even approved when I started with Team In Training.”
The fundraising Brett has done for the LLS mission through Team In Training is in memory of his mom but is giving hope to future patients through the efforts of local researchers.
The work of Dr. Dan Pollyea and his team of clinical researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine is funded by grants such as those from LLS. Three years ago, the team began a clinical trial program for the first therapy that could effectively eradicate leukemia stem cell populations. Dr. Pollyea shared that if you can really eradicate the leukemia stem cells, then you can potentially cure this disease. The results so far have been described as “unbelievable” because they can get 80-90% of people into complete remission with their approach.
The work of Dr. James DeGregori at the University of Colorado School of Medicine has also been funded by LLS. He is researching how the human body ages and its effects on how cancer cells find a way to take hold. He is looking at how can we mitigate those changes and interfere with cancer growth with clinical intervention. Dr. DeGregori’s team has done some work on mice to reduce cancer incidences but will they will be approaching their work with humans a bit differently when the time comes.
“As a practicing dentist in Denver, several of my patients have had various forms of blood cancers,” shared Brett. “Knowing that we have some of the best treatments available here in Denver due to the research of people like Dr. Pollyea and Dr. DeGregori makes me feel good that they have a chance to beat this awful disease. Twenty-five years ago, many of these diagnoses were a death sentence. Now they are manageable.”
The success of local researchers continues to inspire Brett. He earned a coveted spot in the 2018 IRONMAN® World Championship event in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, crossing the finish line this past October. He is still raising funds for this event and has raised $67,000 and counting in memory of his mom.
“This is an emotional journey for me,” shared Brett. “I am able to honor my mom by bringing awareness and raising money to help eradicate blood cancers. I am also able to honor the many people who are connected to the disease that I have met along the way.”
Team In Training is the world’s largest and most successful endurance sports fundraising and training program. Since its inception in 1988, Team In Training has raised more than $1.5 billion, trained more than 650,000 people and helped LLS invest more than $1.2 billion in blood cancer research.
Team In Training offers a lineup of innovative high caliber domestic and international events, and prepares teammates for marathons, half marathons, and triathlons, as well as cycling, climbing and hiking experiences, with experienced coaches, training resources, a supportive community and world-class fundraising tools.
Back in late spring or early summer, I – saw an ad? got an email? – announcing the inaugural “Outspoken: Women in Triathlon Summit.” Outspoken: check. Woman: check. Triathlon: check. So while I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from the weekend, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I anticipated inspiring women, new connections, and stimulating conversation, but really didn’t know what else the weekend might hold, right up until I walked onto the rooftop deck at a hotel in Arizona for the first night of the inaugural Summit.
Meredith Kessler may not have realized it at the time, but she set the tone for the weekend as she stood at the podium to present the Opening Keynote and told us, “I need you to come closer.” And we did. Our group of 100, comprised of pros, both relatively new and deeply experienced age-groupers, coaches, and industry leaders, walked forward from corners of the rooftop and gathered together – that night and for the remainder of the weekend. We listened to speeches and panels and asked questions and participated in discussions, all of which were raw and honest and personal. We had come closer.
While I couldn’t possibly recount the entire weekend’s worth of stories and dialogue – and really, if you weren’t there you’re just going to have to accept that you don’t get all the details – here are some of my favorite takeaways from the weekend:
• Me, someone who thinks that wearing any attire not designed for sweating is “dressing up:” A conference that advises wearing comfortable shoes and includes morning coached swim and run workouts is my kind of conference.
• Sally Edwards, pioneering and incredibly accomplished endurance athlete and former spokesperson for the Danskin women’s triathlon series: Triathlon began in the 1980s with a fascinating cultural juxtaposition, both establishing a progressive policy of equal prize money for pro men and women while simultaneously judging female triathletes based on looks rather than ability, shunning pro female triathletes from magazine covers if they “weren’t pretty enough.”
• Kyrsten Sinema, Congresswoman and Senator-Elect from Arizona: In order from least to most difficult, it goes like this: run for Congress, train for and complete an Ironman, run for Senate.
• Meredith Atwood, a.k.a. Swim Bike Mom: “Words are the house you live in” (although she did attribute the quote to someone whose name she acknowledge she couldn’t quite pronounce). If we look in the mirror and criticize our body’s appearance rather than celebrate its strength, we are going down the wrong path.
• Me, a person who apparently doesn’t set goals unless I understand that they are achievable: I had no idea how many people’s stories include “I didn’t know how to swim or own a bike, but I signed up for a triathlon and here I am!”
• Dr. Stacy Sims, Environmental Exercise Physiologist and Nutrition Scientist specializing in sex differences with regards to performance: Women are not small men. It turns out that when you do tests and trials that only include male subjects, the results are often not applicable to women. For example: the common thinking on heat acclimation protocols and the effectiveness – or lack thereof – of ice baths is accurate for men, but not for women. (Want more info on what is applicable to women? Buy her book, ROAR – I just did.)
• Gabriela Gallegos, Race Director of the Mighty Mujer Triathlon: Let’s have the Wonder Woman version and not the Princess version. (Me: oh hell yes!)
Ultimately, the inaugural Outspoken: Women in Triathlon Summit was exactly what I anticipated it would be. I listened to stories from inspiring women, I made new connections with women across the spectrum of the triathlon community, and I had and heard stimulating conversations about where triathlon is today and where it needs to be tomorrow. The Summit provided an environment where one could raise provoking and sometimes challenging questions that might otherwise be reserved for one-on-one conversations. Panelists, speakers, and conference attendees alike stepped away from formal dialogue where certain topics are simply alluded to, and spoke in raw and honest and personal terms about sexism and empowerment, our strong and unique bodies, gender equality, and inclusion for minorities and transgender athletes.
Beyond that, the Summit provided an opportunity for each of us take ownership of growing the sport of triathlon and specifically the representation of women and minorities within the sport. After the closing brainstorming session, each participant – from the pro to the age grouper to the coach to the industry leader – left with actionable items, and a forum for reporting back on her progress. I am excited to see where these action items take us over the next year, and what stories and conversations those actions create for next year’s Summit.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon has increased its investment in anti-doping efforts for age-group athletes as part of an initiative launched earlier this year with support from the USA Triathlon Board of Directors. The USA Triathlon Compete Clean campaign, implemented in collaboration with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), focuses on education, awareness and accountability for amateur triathletes competing in USA Triathlon sanctioned events.
As part of the program, USA Triathlon has expanded its testing at age-group races across the country, including but not limited to national championships and ITU World Championship qualifiers in several multisport disciplines.
“I am really thrilled with the progress we’ve made over the past year in expanding our anti-doping programs to an entirely new level for age-group athletes,” said Chuck Graziano, USA Triathlon Board Member, Certified Coach and head of USA Triathlon’s Anti-Doping Steering Committee. “We are not only testing and deterring the intentional use of performance-enhancing substances, but also providing education and resources to our athletes on the ill effects of doping and what constitutes doping. Many athletes may not be aware that a prescription they’re taking might be banned — unless an exemption is granted — or that a supplement they’re taking might contain a banned substance. This important new program helps to protect the health of our athletes and ensure a level playing field.”
USA Triathlon supported the formation of an Anti-Doping Task Force to evaluate the organization’s clean sport programs and provide recommendations for future direction. The eight members included Graziano, who served as the Task Force Chair; Chris Bowerbank, USA Triathlon former Level II Race Director and Regional Chair; Matthew Fedoruk, Chief Science Officer at the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency; Andrew Getzin, USA Triathlon Head Team Physician; Courtney Kulick, USA Triathlon National Team Program Manager; Kate Mittelstadt, Director of the IRONMAN Anti-Doping Program; Steve Sutherland, Chair of the USA Triathlon Age Group Committee; and Jon Whiteman, USA Cycling Risk Protection Manager.
Based on the recommendations of the Task Force, the Board of Directors approved $100,000 in funding for USA Triathlon to implement significant new programming in 2018.
The Steering Committee, which is overseeing the timeline and implementation of that programming, retains many members of the initial Task Force — including Bowerbank, Fedoruk, Graziano, Kulick, Mittelstadt and Whiteman. Leslie Buchanan, Director of Anti-Doping at the International Triathlon Union, has also joined the effort.
“USA Triathlon is proud to have the support of the Board of Directors, as well as a diverse Steering Committee, in our efforts to protect clean athletes and prevent issues of doping in multisport,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “We look forward to driving awareness among our age-group community, while at the same time elevating the organization’s clean sport outreach as a whole.”
“We are very supportive of USA Triathlon’s efforts to promote clean sport across all levels of competition,” said Travis Tygart, USADA CEO. “In addition to its regular USADA-run anti-doping program, it is investing in anti-doping education for both elite and amateur triathletes. This not only helps ensure that athletes, coaches and others are prepared to compete clean, but also helps create a culture of clean sport.”
USA Triathlon has implemented the following as part of the Compete Clean campaign:
Hiring of Full-Time Staff Member Dedicated to SafeSport and Anti-Doping Initiatives: Shelbi Meyer was hired in June and serves as a direct liaison to USADA, working closely with USADA’s education and testing departments to implement best practices and coordinate testing at USA Triathlon-sanctioned events.
Education and Awareness Resources: USA Triathlon has communicated with its members on anti-doping topics throughout the year via e-newsletter, the quarterly USA Triathlon Magazine, social media and a promotional video featuring IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion Andy Potts and 2016 Paralympic gold medalist Allysa Seely. USA Triathlon is also sharing printed educational materials and video content to address age-group athletes’ most common anti-doping questions and concerns, such as checking medications, obtaining a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) and making smart choices around supplements. Athletes at the elite and age-group levels have been involved in the campaign as ambassadors, wearing “Compete Clean” shirts at events around the world including the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Gold Coast, Australia, and the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
USADA Education Staff at National Events: Representatives from USADA’s education department were onsite at the 2018 USA Triathlon Sprint and Olympic-Distance Age Group National Championships in Cleveland; the Art & Science of Triathlon International Coaching Symposium in Tempe, Arizona; and the USA Triathlon Multisport National Championships in Miami. At these events, USADA staff presented informational sessions to coaches and athletes, shared educational resources and answered questions at an expo booth. USA Triathlon will continue to coordinate with USADA for education and awareness at competitions and industry events through the 2019 season and beyond.
Increased Testing for Age-Group Athletes: Age-group athletes are now tested with more frequency and in higher numbers at collegiate and national championship events, especially those that qualify top finishers for the ITU Age Group World Championships. If an athlete has reason to believe a competitor is using performance-enhancing substances, he or she can submit a tip to USADA’s Play Clean Tip Center at usada.org/playclean with an option to remain anonymous.
Industry Collaboration: The organization continues to work closely with USADA, other Olympic sport National Governing Bodies, IRONMAN and additional triathlon industry partners to share resources, best practices and experiences in promoting clean sport.
Beyond its outreach to age-group athletes, USA Triathlon is also offering detailed educational opportunities to coaches, race directors, USA Triathlon staff, medical personnel and support staff.
For more information about USA Triathlon’s clean sport efforts, and for a list of USA Triathlon members currently serving sanctions for anti-doping violations, visit usatriathlon.org/antidoping.
Additional anti-doping resources are available at usada.org. For educational content geared toward youth athletes, visit truesport.org.
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
Zone 1 is commonly known as the recovery zone. We don’t think of it as a “training zone” like the rest of them. Usually zone 1 is described as “extremely easy”, “embarrassingly easy”, “gentle”, and “slow”. It’s basically one step above sitting on the couch. None of these words make us feel like we’re getting any work done so we tend to avoid zone 1 because it’s typical descriptors devalue its training worth.
In a study from the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance*, that compared training intensity distribution during the course of an Ironman season, statistically significant performance increases were shown when training time was spent primarily in zone 1, compared to zone 2 and higher. For the purpose of this study, zone 1 corresponds to heart rates below aerobic threshold, and zone 2 corresponds to heart rates at and above aerobic threshold (but below anaerobic threshold), which is the intensity in which an Ironman is primarily performed. The participants that spent the majority of their training time above their aerobic threshold (zone 2), had comparatively slower competition times than those who trained mostly below their aerobic threshold.