Drills to Improve Your Bike Skills and Speed

Triathlon is Swim, Bike and Run but inherently there is something attractive about having a FAST bike split or the fastest bike split at a triathlon. The bike leg of triathlon is the one sport where you can buy speed as well as find FREE speed.

Free Speed:

  • Pedal Mechanics.  Most people MASH the pedals when they need to be spinning smooth circles.  To improve your pedal mechanics do single leg cycling drills and think about a square for your pedal stroke.  Up your bike cadence.  If you are not riding between 80-100 RPM you are losing speed. 
  •  Bike Handling. Triathletes are notoriously bad bike handlers.  Being able to corner and descend safely and quickly will take minutes off your time and decrease your perceived effort.  To corner better, brake before you enter the turn, start wide and look where you want to go.  If you are able to carry more speed through the turns and hills you will save your legs by not having to push hard to get back up to speed.
  • Ride with a cycling specific group.  Pure cyclists ride differently then triathletes who's goals are to ride at a constant pace.  Cycling pelotons are like living organisms constantly changing, speeding up, sprinting, and taking turns pulling at the front of the group.
  • Head for the Hills.  You may not live in the mountains of Colorado but you can find the biggest hill in your area and do hill repeats on that hill.  Doing these workouts will immediately increase your threshold for cycling.  

Pay for SPEED:

  • Race Wheels
  • Aero Helmet
  • Sleeved, Tight Fitting Tri Suit
  • If you are on a road bike a Tri bike will up your average speed.

If you have more questions about how to improve your cycling you can email me at wes@playtri.com.  If you enjoyed this article and would like to read more, you can go the www.playtri.com/wes


Tips and Tricks to Stay Safe on the Road!

  • First and foremost always wear a helmet when you are on your bike. Having an up to date helmet and always wearing it will be the number one thing to protect you on the roads.
  • Make yourself visible.  Wear bright colors and if you are riding in the early mornings or evening use bright headlights and taillights.
  • When possible ride with others. 
  • Wear a Road ID or download emergency type applications on your phone that can track you while riding as well as having your emergency contacts in the event of an emergency.

At Playtri we offer 8 FREE bike workouts every week.  To see all free workouts click here. 


5 Pillars of Open Water Swimming

One of the biggest barriers keeping people from entering triathlon is the open water swim.  Luckily pool swim triathlon have grown at record pace.  Eventually though, the majority of triathletes will dabble with racing in the open water.   The keys to success in the open water are being prepared and following 5 pillars below.

The 1st key to open water swimming is warming up and visualizing.  At a triathlon the majority of DNF’s occur in the swim.  This is due to a lot of reasons, many of which can be attributed to not warming up.  Warming up allows you to feel the water temperature and it ensures your muscles are warm and ready for action. 

The second part is visualization. Ask any sports psychologist if visualization improves performance and they will say it will.  Leading up to the race, look over the swim course and visualize yourself moving along the course. How you will turn around the buoys? What is your strategy?

The 2nd key is start position. I always tell athletes to start away from the big green washing machine (if you are in a lake).   Instead, I recommend you start on the front line on the opposite side that you breathe.  By doing this you will be away from the chaos and able to take advantage of sighting off other athletes.

The 3rd key to the swim is sighting.  We touched on this in the second key, but it is very important and deserves its own point also.  I always tell athletes the best place to sight is right next to you.  Being able to sight off the person next you will keep your body in a natural swimming position.  This will not only save you energy but also time in the long run by not having to engage many more muscles by looking forward.  If you are forced to sight to the front, try and keep it minimal. Study the course, and look for bigger objects that are easier to sight off of.

The 4th key is maintaining a continuous swim.  What I mean by this is, try your absolute best to never stop swimming.  You will save time by constantly keeping your arms moving.  One thing I always tell athletes is that the majority of people do not enjoy being hit in the swim. Most likely, if you bump someone that person will move of your course to ensure it doesn’t happen again. 

The final key to the open water swim is drafting.  For the beginner swimmer this may be tough at first but practicing will eventually save you quite a bit of time and energy.  If the water is clear like an ocean,  I recommend you get right behind someone’s feet and draft from behind.  If the water is murky, get on someone’s hip.  This will allow you to gain a draft benefit as well as a sighting benefit. 

If you follow the 5 pillars listed above you can save time and energy while also setting yourself up for a great race.  If you have more questions about the open water swim you can email me at wes@playtri.com.  If you enjoyed this article and would like to read more, you can go the www.playtri.com/wes


The Many Reasons to Race

Recently, I was talking with several athletes at a local sprint. I overheard one of them say, "Ya, I just got burned out... the sport got boring and the races were all the same.” I sat there and thought, how absurd- a sport that is designed for the ADD/ ADHD in mind... how does that get old- EVERY DAY/ RACE IS DIFFERENT. I even asked a couple teammates of mine that have been in the sport since the 'dark ages', meaning OVER 30years (yes, you read that right- 30+yrs as a triathlete/ active adult taking on insane challenges, motivated to stay healthy and have fun doing it). "Do you ever get bored???" They laughed in my face basically. Here are these highly successful: driven professionally, motivated personally, and many of them have incredible family commitments... Yet, they find the time, energy, and enthusiasm to wake up and hit the water or pavement, almost every day of their lives. So, I started thinking... besides the usual answers of why people train and race... Examples: training and racing to take off those extra LBS, having an outlet to manage life stress, stepping up into a new distance that 'scares' the hell out of them and into accountability, winning their AG, seeking that damn PR, moving up in rankings on a regional and/or national level, representing TEAM USA, qualifying for Kona ... really when you strip all this away... think about it... We are grown ass adults: waking up, moving some blood, maybe pushing some new limits... If you are getting bored, maybe you should start to rethink WHY am I doing this??? Here are just a few reasons, that might make you rethink your WHY and help you reconsider your motivation, when needed.

1. Race for something you believe in- Find a race that sets its proceeds aside for a local charity or non-profit. Your participation can and will make a difference. If you can't find one, help create something to support it with a local race director. Even your racing hobby can make an impact in others' lives!

2. Create new challenges- Yes Kona, IM 70.3 Worlds, Team USA- that’s all fine and well… but what else... Want to spend time outside, in a part of the country with like minded individuals, racing with folks you have never competed with= rent a bike and sign up. Don't over think or over complicate the day- go grassroots and enjoy the challenges ahead. What if you decided to compete at all your areas State and Regional Championship races- regardless of you are trying to qualify for Nationals or not... For example, USAT South Mid West Region: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana... there are over 10events: short course, long course, duathlon, aqua bike, etc... You get the opportunity of testing yourself on several types of courses, meet/ race with new friends, and I can promise you- you will learn something. What if you did back to back weekends and learned what you need to do: how you recover best, and prepare for the next weekend in order to conquer it all over again. Promise you will discover something new about your body, the science and response to the load, and you might surprise yourself- regardless part of all this hobby / life is the pure joy of learning. You have to continue to find a challenge to grow as both athlete and adult.  Still looking to win, what about stepping up the expectation- I have a teammate that set that bar pretty high; his goal: tackle all 3 IM 70.3's in Tx: Galveston, Lubbock, and Austin in 1yr. He nailed it and called it "His Triple Crown". - Mudgett. Get creative - there are way too many events and always so much to learn... Go back to the grass roots of the sport:  "Show up, put your stuff down, wait for the gun to go off, push hard, and see who gets to the finish line fastest. Guarantee you will have some stories to swap after and it just might lead to a new friend to catch a workout and beer with later."- Sears.

3. Do an event as a “guide”- If you are that experienced and are bored with all that time training by yourself... get out there and hit the course as a guide for a para-athlete in need of some assistance, to meet their goals. After so many years, you have an enormous base. BUT, if you are going to help another athlete, you want to be in the best condition and fitness as possible to ensure you are ready for whatever the race day demands. I have coached 'para-teams' and I am always up front with the 'aid/guide'- your job is to not get in his/her way... it is a privilege to be asked by the athlete- do your part to be in tip-top shape. No doubt you will experience the sport in a whole new light. How much more fulfilling can it be to be apart of another athlete's success?

4. Be a role model- So many of my clients talk about being a ‘role model’ for their children, family, or friends.  So I ask, why then you when you are putting on your shoes do you grumble under your breath or complain at the dinner table about how’ hard your workout was.’…  What if you approached your workouts as ‘recess’ from your everyday life. When you ask a kid what they did at recess, they light up. Do you light up when you workout? If you are motivated to influence- make sure you don't forget training and racing is your 'play date' that speaks loud and clear to others!

5. Remember: Being active and healthy is not a given in life- There have been weeks, months, almost entire race seasons that I wasn't given the choice- being truly injured or sick, you have no option but to wait.  There are no adjustments to made when life throws you personal injury/ illness, professional ups/ downs, family or friends' needing you by their side. Although training and racing may become mundane, I always have to ask, are we just making excuses and forgetting that health is a gift and responsibility to care of like any other relationship. It has been said, "Your lack of commitment, will lead to a lack in your motivation, and soon it will be your loss." So, you might say, training and racing still can get old... so what, you have a 'working relationship' with your health that you cannot cheat on- to maintain it, in the end, you have to take care of it. Training and racing is an easy way of to "show up" for your health. We are so very lucky in the DFW area to have a race almost every bloody weekend.  Take advantage of these events- race for something you believe in, get creative and be open to new self-made challenges, be apart of another's victory, remember that this is your time to play, and don't take anything for granted...

Bored, sit down with me... we can REDEFINE your WHY, otherwise... See you out at the races!" Questions/ Comments, Email: Amari@playtri.com


Ensuring Success on Race Day

June is here!  That means the summer races have arrived.  In the days and weeks leading up to your race, your nerves may slowly start to kick in.  Have I done enough training?  Will I finish?  To try and combat these common stressors, I have put together a brief guideline for race week and race day to ensure success.

Race Week

Race week will bring more than enough stressors, including travel and hotel stays.  That is why I always tell athletes to make as few changes to their daily routine as possible.

For race week, one of the more common mistakes I see are athletes over-training.  They start to worry that they have not done enough and crush themselves the week of the race.  You will not be gaining any fitness in the days leading up to the race so just try and take it easy. You will get far more out of plenty of recovery the week of.  Race day will be tough enough without being tired from a week of hard workouts.

Many people think that race week is some special, mystical beast and they need to do things completely different.  I always try and tell athletes to keep things as normal and simple as possible.  If you do not drink 8 bottles of water a day during a normal week why do you need to this week?   You have trained your body a specific way and your body is used to that.  Why change a good thing?

A day or two out, go over all of your equipment to ensure everything is working and in good condition. This will give you plenty of time to get anything fixed or replaced. The night before the race, I like to lay out my transition area in my hotel room and do a run through in my head as to how the transitions will go, just to ensure that everything is there and I am prepared.

Race Morning

The big day is here!  It is time to put all of your hard work to the test.  One of the most important things to do is know ahead of time where you are going and arrive early.  You can save yourself a lot stress and heartache by getting to the race site early.  This will give you ample time to set up your transition area and fix any last minute issues.  Once you have transition set up, do a walk through from swim exit to your transition spot and from bike in to your spot.  This will ensure you know quickly and easily how to find your spot in transition. 

Now that you have set up transition and done a walk through, it is a great time to get in the water and do a light swim warm up.  Know what the water is going to feel like and get the blood flowing.  After you have warmed up a little bit, it is time to relax, keep calm, and wait for your swim wave to start.

If you keep things simple and trust your training you will be in for a great day.  If you have any questions about your race plan, you can email me at wes@playtri.com.