PART 2: Fall / Winter Considerations in your Training Plan

So, my hope is like I said in Part 1 of this series, you have taken or are taking the first step in your fall/winter training schedule = recovery.

I like to give athletes a bit to breath and regroup after a long season. Here in Texas, if we really wanted to, we can race up to 8-9 months a year of triathlon alone... yes, we are freaking lucky!  So where should our focus be right now.... 


NOW it's time for an assessment of how your body has compensated for repetitive motion, stress, breakdown, compensation, injury...

You get it- imbalances are inevitable. 

There are so many assessments that coaches, trainers, physical therapists like to perform on clients.  

The goal here is not simply to get the testing done- but you should expect an easy to follow and repeatable program to build on roughly every 6 weeks.

When testing clients, I like to incorporate the following into their personal program

A. 5-10 minutes of foam rolling & lengthening exercises

B. 10-12 minutes of core and activation exercises

C. Added bonus: I like to educate the client on a 5-8 minute dynamic functional warm up/ movement to get the client 'going' prior to their workouts.

NEXT, athletes need to readjust their daily nutrition and caloric needs!

I am not talking about restricting here... but rather, you should consider pulling out the majority of the simple sugar sports nutrition and opt for real food / nutrient dense sources for energy and repair. 

3 ways I personally monitor my clients metabolic needs and follow through:

A. Body composition testing (every 6-8 weeks)

B. Resting Metabolic Rate testing (every 12-16 weeks)

C. Reviewing daily food logs to ensure adequate nutrition and proper macronutrient timing around workouts and recovery

Time to set out some time for testing, analysis, and application to the details!

If you are interested in scheduling your muscular and/or metabolic testing- please contact me at

Look forward to hearing from you. 


Part 1: Fall / Winter Considerations in your Training Plan

So, maybe you just completed your first tri season, nailed your A race, and/or are already looking forward to 2019’s race season. 
What now?!?
Many triathletes get into a rut of either just laying this time of the year completely down or assume they should jump right into ‘base training’. 
Reality they forget and miss out on several aspects of yearly planning that will maximize their time, energy, and efforts in the “off season”. 

It’s been a long season (here in the south, nearly 8months of potential racing!).
You have asked a lot out of your family/friends, body, mind, & yes- sometimes you even left your soul out on the course(s).

With the fall/winter, the weather can be pretty rough, the days are shorter, professionally with the year ending- you might have a few projects to close up that need more attention, you have likely cut into a bit of your family/friend time, and truthfully you need some time to increase recovery mentally, muscularly, and metabolically.

We always recommend athletes take a step back (notice I did not say ‘step out’) and refocus on their personal priorities and first address weaknesses outside of swim, bike, and run. 

Few things I encourage athletes to do through the fall/winter:
* Increase sleep/sleep quality
* Make family / friends a priority again, weekly!
* Increase adventure and cross training
* Reduce sugar intake and return to quality nutrition/ listen to their body’s hunger and satiety signals 
* Increase massage/ chiropractic care- yes, you read that right 
* Reduce total training volume and let go of the metrics

There are many more factors that increase your recovery rate from the triathlon racing season- your goal, find your ways/modes that will bring back your bounce and balance.

Happy Training!
If you have further questions or comments, please email:

Coach Morgan's Holiday Gift Guide

Here are the top gift suggestions that Coach Morgan recommends:

Garmin Varia RTL510 - $199.99 (Bundle - $299.99)

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If your favorite triathlete's safety is important to you then the Garmin Varia RTL510 is a no-brainer. The current Varia functions as both a powerful taillight (daylight visibility with a 220 degree range) and as a radar device that provides visual and audio alerts to warn of vehicles approaching from behind up to 140 meters away. The device is USB rechargeable and has 15 hours of battery life in flashing mode, and 6 hours in solid mode.

Garmin 520 Plus - $279.99


If your triathlete was born to roam, the Garmin 520 Plus will be the perfect companion for his or her adventures by bike. The 520 features some of Garmin's most advanced navigation options, including turn by turn directions for both on and off road courses, and Strava Live Segments with real-time results on screen. Built-in incident detection provides peace of mind for family and friends back home. The 520 will also pair with power, heart rate and cadence sensors, making it a solid option for cyclists and triathletes alike.

Bike & Run Calorie Expenditure and RMR Testing Bundle - $300

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Does your athlete want to stop playing guessing games with his or her nutrition? Whether an athlete wants to lose weight, improve recovery or confidently toe the line at his or her next long course event, Playtri offers the most up to date calorimetry testing technology to assist athletes in nailing one of the most challenging (and personal) aspects of the sport - deciding what to eat! This bundle includes:

  • Bike Calorie Expenditure Test

  • Run Calorie Expenditure Test

  • Resting Metabolic Rate Test

  • 30 Minute Results Review and Consultation

2XU compression socks - $39.95-$49.95

 2XU Compression Socks

2XU Compression Socks

A long-time favorite of Playtri staff and athletes alike, the 2XU line of compression socks offers both comfort and enhanced performance and recovery to athletes of all levels. Graduated compression promotes circulation through the lower limbs, while anatomical left and right foot beds provide padding and support for maximum comfort.

Mountain Bike - Price varies


This off-season is the perfect opportunity for your favorite athlete to try something new! Mountain biking is quickly growing in popularity among triathletes due to its ability to build sport-specific fitness and skills, while allowing athletes to explore new trails and experience different formats of the sport such as single track riding, cyclocross and gravel riding. Entry level mountain bikes stocked at your local Playtri Store typically have a lower price point than road bikes of the same quality (and all of our bikes are always priced to compete), and will come equipped with an aluminum frame and front suspension. With our 30 day no-fees exchange policy, you can never go wrong with a new bike!

Bike Fit - $100 ($149 for Guru/Retul Motion Capture Fits - normally $250)

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Does your athlete ever complain of discomfort on the bike? Have difficulty handling their bike safely? Struggle to run well off the bike in races? These are all potential signs of an athlete in need of a new fit. Many athletes may not get a "full" fit when initially purchasing their bike, and very few athletes know that their bike fit needs to be updated once a year. Make sure your athlete can ride safely and comfortably with a Playtri bike fit, which includes the initial fit and two FREE follow up sessions.

New Wave Swim Buoy - $29.95-$39.95

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Is your athlete already dreaming of next year's open water swims? Make sure he or she is prepared to swim safe with a New Wave Swim Buoy. The New Wave Swim Buoy provides increased visibility, personal storage space and a flotation device that's available whenever (and wherever) your athlete needs it. Athletes with open water anxiety will experience improved peace of mind when using the Swim Buoy, while confident swimmers can enjoy swimming with increased convenience. The New Wave Swim Buoy is one of our best-sellers!

KICKR Core Trainer Bundle - $899.99


Wahoo Fitness is bringing direct drive smart trainers to the people this year with the KICKR Core Smart Trainer, and you can bring the ultimate indoor riding experience to YOUR athlete with the KICKR Core Trainer Bundle. Bundle includes a 10 or 11 speed compatible cassette (required for trainer use), wheel block and sweat net (to protect your athlete's frame and headset during those extra sweaty sessions!) 

Clean Your Bike Bundle - $125

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Every triathlete knows the bike needs a bit of TLC before the first race of the season, so make sure your athlete is set up for safe and fast early season riding. Our Clean Your Bike Bundle includes a Playtri Total Care Tune Up, 20 ounce bicycle degreaser and 4 ounce bicycle lube. 

Nutrition Sampler Box - $30

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For the athlete who wants to mix up his or her nutrition in the new year, try our nutrition sampler box. This box will come with a variety of gels, chews, waffles and drink mixes valued at $40 or more. Throw in a gift card so your athlete can purchase more of his or her favorites!

Zipp Firecrest 404 Wheelset - $2200 


We commonly have athletes ask us if carbon race wheels are "really worth it," - in one word, YES. A carbon race wheel provides a faster, more responsive ride that is also more comfortable. The current Zipp Firecrest 404 wheelset is one of our go-to wheelsets at Playtri due to its mid-range price point, all-around performer depth of 58mm, Zipp ShowStopper textured braking surface with unrivaled rim braking performance, a stiff and durable Zipp 77/177 hubset, and revised rim profile and dimpling pattern for even better and more functional aerodynamics than previous iterations.

Nathan Neutron Fire RX Runner's Headlamp - $54.99

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Most runners and triathletes we know will hit the roads (and trails) day or night, and in just about any conditions - if your athlete needs to get their runs in during low-light hours, make sure to equip him or her with our favorite headlamp, the Nathan Neutron Fire RX. With a 200 lumen LED spotlight for trail visibility, side strobes for increased athlete visibility, 5 lighting modes and 25+ hours of battery life all packaged in a lightweight, comfortable and weather resistant model, this head lamp will do the job for just about any athlete.

Have questions?! Feel free to email me at:

Morgan Johnson Hoffman

Fall & Winter Motivation

So in the good ol’ USA, 2018 triathlon season is almost a wrap... days are getting shorter... temps are dropping (in much of the country, it’s starting to rain/snow cats & dogs)... LETS GET REAL, motivation at times, not so much!

Check out a few ways to get your butt up stay engaged and motivated throughout the beginning of the off season months:

1) Bomb Proof the Body

The tri season is long, you asked a lot out of your body- it’s time to rebuild the machine.  

A. Make sure you either start or continue the strength building process both in swim-bike-run 

(Swim: paddles, buoys, bands, fins, snorkels/ Bike: hills and over-gear work/  Run: hills and drills)

B. Enjoy some Complimentary Sports/Activities: skiing, snowshoeing, rowing, tennis... the list goes on and on. 

C. Strength Routine: Hit the weights to maximize your time

D. Nutrition: as hard as it is through the holidays for some, nutrition is key to keep the immune system healthy and to allow the body to rebuild. Drop the gels and sports nutrition, and focus on whole, real, simple food... easy to remember, ‘drop anything from a box, bottle, or bag.’

E. Sleep: increase sleep and reduce caffeine. Listen to your natural body clock as much as possible. 

F: Massage/Chiro: just bc you aren’t training the body ‘as hard’ at the beginning of off season- you will start to ramp back up. You want that body ready to rumble!

2) Stop the Monotony

Keep your workouts short and sweet. No need at this point to be a slave to long hours. Throw out the idea of base work- think of first recovery (see above) and prepping the body & mind for the next phase of your yearly approach to training. 

3) Drop the Statistics

You have most likely and smart I might add, been guided by pace calculation and metrics. Give them a little break and revisit listening to your body. Most coaches know to give your athletes a balance of some space to play but also schedule out some quick ‘fartleks’/ intervals to stimulate both the body and mind again.

4) Make it a Happy Hour

Don’t go at the fall alone. Invite some friends to head out on one of your short sweat sessions or join a local group for a couple workouts a week. Even better, plan to grab a quick bite afterward. Make a workout part of your social life. 

5) Reality Check

Always remember- Race season will be fast approaching (esp here in the south)- as soon as the new year approaches. Races begin to sell out and kick start as early as March! (That is literally 10 weeks from New Years Eve!). I like to remind Athletes, “If you don’t do the work in the ‘dark’, you don’t get to gripe when you don’t ‘shine’ on race day.” 

Just a suggestion, through the next couple of months, pick one of the motivator points above each week, and write it down. Each day, tackle the ‘theme’ - get off the couch and make it happen- no excuses! : )

Happy Training!

If you have further questions/ comments, please email:

See more tips from our Playtri Coaches on the Coach’s Blog.

Off Season Training ~ Fall/Winter Running

The weather demands your running attention... time to head out!!! 

Try out these ~40-45min/workout, notice again, just like the swim & bike workouts, we are basing workouts on perception of effort, let loose a little bit and enjoy the freedom of simple running. 

If running is your weakness, build up to at least 3-4x/week. Wanna step it up a notch, brick it with weights.

Bonus if your week allows, grab some friends and enjoy some good convo over an easy zone 2/ low Training Pace workout on the weekends.

(Quick definition of a fartlek: short, sweet pace changes without specific distance or speed goals, rather this workout should emphasize and encourage a psychological and positive training experience) 

1) Hill Workout (next level- find a grassy hill to increase core and hip stabilization)

5-10min warm up with some quick cadence fartleks/ 5min cool down

25-35min repeats

1min-90sec climb at 80%/ easy jog down

1min-90sec climb at 90%/ easy jog down

1min climb at 100%/ easy jog down + 1min rest

2) Pick Ups

5-10min warm up with some quick cadence fartleks/ 5min cool down

30-35min repeats

1min @ fast (not sprint!)/ 1-2min easy jog

3) Drill/Skills
5-10min warm up with some quick cadence fartleks/ 5min cool down
25-35min repeats

3min build pace 
30sec single leg drill/ 30sec easy

30sec single leg drill/ 30sec easy

4) Basic Fartleks 
5-10min warm up/ 5min cool down

30-35min repeats

10-30sec work the leg lift and lean forward to increase speed/ 30-50sec easy jog

Grab those kicks and head outside!

Happy Training!
If you have any questions/comments, please email:

Off Season Training ~ Fall/ Winter Bike Workouts

Watts up = Let’s have some fun while making some gains this fall/winter.

Here are various 40-45min/workouts below. Notice, just like the swim workout post, we are basing workouts on perception of effort, not tied down by specific watts and/or heart rate here.

The goal: build up to at least 3-4x/week. Wanna step it up a notch, brick it with weights or a transition run... bonus if your week allows + the weather holds up, or you are used to sitting your hiney on the trainer, consider adding a long zone 2/ low Training Pace workout on the weekends with some company. 

1) Workout for Strength

5-10min warm up with some quick cadence fartleks

(quick definition of a fartlek: short, sweet pace changes without specific distance or speed goals, rather this workout should emphasize and encourage a psychological and positive training experience) 

25-30min repeat @ choice effort

3min @ 60-70rpm/ 3min easy 

1min @ 50-60rpm/ 1min easy

5min cool down

2) Workout for Max Power

5-10min warm up with some quick cadence fartleks

25-30min repeats 

10x30sec: all out power on your seat/ 30-60sec easy

10x30sec: all out power off your seat/ 30-60sec easy

5min cool down

3) Drill/Skills Workout
5-10min warm up with some quick cadence fartleks

25-35min repeats

30sec single leg drill/ 30sec easy

30sec single leg drill/ 30sec easy

1min seated @ 100+rpm/ 1min easy

1min standing @ 60-70rpm/ 1min easy

5min cool down

4) Workout with 40:20’s
5-10min warm up


40sec @ hard effort/ 20 @ easy effort

5min cool down

Get your cheeks on the saddle!!!

Happy Training!
If you have any questions/comments, please email:

Off Season Training ~ Time to Tackle the Swim!

“Off season”... Time to tackle your weaknesses. Unless you grew up swimming, we are all chasing “Nemo”. 

Our goal in Playtri is:

1) long term health & consistency

2) don’t waste your time

3) maximize your energy

4) have some freaking fun...

& all end with the same result = you WILL get FASTER!

Notice below, none of the swims are based on a specific pace but rather the perception of effort and focus on the details are the name of the game.

LAST NOTE: These workouts are short and sweet, ~35-40min/workout. The goal is build up to at least 4-6x/week in the water.

Wanna step it up a notch, brick it with weights, bike intervals, or a transition run... can’t go wrong, play a little bit!


200-300 WarmUp/ 100-200 Cool Down 
Repeat 25min
4-6x50: 15 kick Fast/ 35 easy swim- 10sec rest 
100: with buoy- as soon as your hand hits the water, pull through with a crescent elbow-10sec rest 
6-12x25: with snorkel and band- focus on keeping the body on top of the water, engaging in your core, and keeping the chin down- 10sec rest
100: with paddles and buoy- combine all the work and detail above- 30sec rest

WORKOUT FOR SPEED: (this swim is from one of the greats, so don’t quote me, just trust the results!)
200-300 WarmUp/ 100-200 Cool Down 
Repeat 25min:
4x50: 15sprint/ 35 easy- 10sec rest
3x50: 25sprint/ 25 easy- 10sec rest
2x50: 35sprint/ 15 easy- 10sec rest
50: Sprint!!!- 1min rest

200-300 WarmUp/ 100-200 Cool Down 
Repeat 25min
200-300: 25 single arm drill/ 25 single arm drill/ 50 easy swim 
200-300: 25 fist drill/ 25 easy swim
200-300: 50 catch up drill/ 50 easy swim
200-300: kick with snorkel and fins

Repeat 3-4x 
10min- moderate swim and throw in 15-35yd/meter sprints. Keep it continuous throughout the time frame- 1min rest between each.
Mix and match equipment, if desired.

No excuses- go put your face in some chlorine & make some gains.

Happy Training!
If you have any questions/comments, please email:

The whys, when’s, how’s of Smart Trainers and Power Meters

WHO is using a power meter / smart trainer?
The better question is: who isn’t using one! Right now there are so many apps available to the athlete, from recreational to professional alike, that are taking their cycling to the next level. And what’s even cooler, many of these apps are allowing you to ride ‘alongside’ the greatest in sport.
Name dropping here: Jan Frodeno (Olympic GOLD medalist), Lional Sanders (2nd place IM World Championships), Kristen Armstrong Savola (3x Olympic Time Trial Gold Medalist)... you catch the drift- road, gravel, time trials, mountain bike specialists, triathletes...everyone is doing :)

WHY are they such a great tool?
Safety, Consistency, Time efficiency, Measurable progressions, & Engaging/Entertaining

WHEN should/can you utilize them?
Year Round! But most popular during those cold, dreary days and when the days become shorter and there is far less sunlight.

HOW will taking advantage of a power meter/ smart trainer translate to increased fitness, power, and overall speed on the road?
The trainer/ power meter will create a consistent platform and motivation for you as an athlete to use. 
Because it is far safer than the road and literally in your ‘own backyard’/ staring at you, you are more far more likely to grab your shoes and hop on.
With consistency comes results! No doubt, structured programming built toward your goals comes progress and motivation.
And one last thing, riding with a purpose, while ‘hanging out’ with the best of the best (potentially world wide greats)- who wouldn’t love that!

WHAT now?
Get with a certified coach to find specifically fits your goals, experience, and budget. There are so many options. At Playtri, we do not simply sell the product. Rather we want to educate, guide, and maximize your potential, as you learn to love and see progressions with your trainer/smart trainer.

Happy Training- if you have further comment or questions, please email:

Shop Smart Trainers and Power Meters at

Training Safe During Shorter Days

Training Safe During Shorter Days

Fall means shorter days, which means less daylight for training sessions. However, the current available technology provides ample options for athletes wishing to maintain solid training volume year-round. Consider the following options when planning your training for the coming months:

Reflective gear and apparel: This includes any items with reflective surfaces designed to redirect light back to its source, creating greater visibility. Reflective items are highly recommended during low light or dark hours. Coach Morgan recommends:

·       2XU Reflect Compression Calf Guards

·       Nathan Bandolier Vest

Clip on lights and head lamps: Runners and cyclists alike can benefit from the wide variety of personal lighting currently available on the market. Many lights are now designed with clips or other generic attachments so they can be easily placed wherever it makes the most sense for the athlete. Coach Morgan recommends:

·       Nathan Runners’ Headlamp Neutron Fire RX

·       Nathan StrobeLight LED Clip

Bicycle lights: Cyclists are strongly recommended to have both front and rear lights on their bike for day and nighttime visibility. Many states require a functioning red taillight for low light or dark hours. In recent years, many bike lights have switched from being battery operated to USB rechargeable, making prolonged use easier and less expensive for athletes. Coach Morgan recommends:

·       Garmin Varia RTL510 Radar Tail Light

·       Lezyne Hecto & KTV Pro Drive Pair

Stationary cycling trainers: With smart trainers and apps like Zwift and TrainerRoad, the days of dreading the trainer ride are over! Trainers are a great way to get quality bike volume in on your race bike, even when you can’t get outside. Coach Morgan recommends:

·       Wahoo Kickr

·       Tacx Blue Matic

Yummy Fall Recipes You can Feel Good About

Well, the high's are in the 80's today, which means it's almost Fall in Texas! Seasonal food has always been a big part of Fall for me, and the  flavors that I find myself craving the most are apple, pumpkin and cinnamon. However, it seems like most often I find these flavors in pie, which isn't the healthiest fix!

So, I did some digging, and I want to share my finds with you - six awesome, healthy Fall recipes that you can feel good about sharing with your young Lions, and the rest of your family. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Leek Soup

Cinnamon Baked Pumpkin

Pumpkin Smoothie

Baked Apples (one of my favorites growing up!)

Ellie Krieger's Apple Muffins

Kale and Apple Salad

Remember, when you are eating foods like pumpkin and apple with the skin on it is important to make sure you wash them thoroughly, and if you can, buy organic (not that I have ever turned my nose up at a Red Delicious apple, regardless of its origins!).

Happy Fall!

Coach Morgan


The Short Course ~ RUN FOCUS

When  I recall last year's short course experiment (getting my butt kicked around) & experience (humbling yet absolutely invigorating)....I quickly realized short course triathletes are on a total different level when it comes to the run segment of the triathlon.

And, NO- I am not just stating a Captain Obvious Moment but rather they approach the entire race (including their warm ups) completely different than that of a long course athlete.

Here are just a few aspects that stood out to me. Plus skills and drills to implement in your workouts.



Have you ever been to an 140.6 or 70.3 distance event and watched the athletes warming up? Better yet, watch them about 2-3 days out from 'game day.'  Its fascinating how "fast" these athletes are trucking through the streets... before the race even begins.  Honestly, everyone knows they are not going to be running these paces (and we are talking just a few pick ups to stimulate the body).

Short course athletes on the other hand (much like professional runners) understand there is a difference between truly allowing the body to gently warm up on race day (including days leading into the race) compared to race pacing.  I noticed little bravado and far more focus on individual needs in both race preparation and race mentality.

Workout Skill / Drill to Implement in Training:

LEARN what your body needs to properly warm up and put you into the mindset to have your best day.  Although everyone is different, research has shown athletes need at least 8-12 minutes to warm up & to finish the warm up no earlier than ~5min before the gun goes off.  PRACTICE your warm ups before each workout as you near race day.  It sounds ridiculously easy, but you will teach your body and mind to 'turn on' automatically come race day, without the outside influences (AKA: testosterone or how many IM tattooed athletes you can get to look at you).


Again, T2 is no different- these guys/gals are lightening FAST! Long course athletes tend to get trapped into a mindset that slower is better.  I don't agree with that in long course on so many levels, but in short course if you take that route... good luck on catching them!

Workout Skill / Drill to Implement in Training:

1x/week at least, set up a mock T2.  Lay out all your stuff, and do at least 10 run throughs. Work on the dismount, with or without shoes, your choice, BUT make sure you actually practice this otherwise come race day pressure and people around you, you could create an unsafe dismount line both for you and other athletes.  Practice pushing the bike by the saddle, running to your 'rack', switching out bike gear for run gear, and hit the pavement with your race belt (penalty if your don't wrap one of these guys around your waist before you leave T2). Simply, practice.


Watching short course, you will see that these athletes do not slow down, look over their shoulder to check if anyone else is turning as they do, they for sure do not cut in wide and then be forced to swing out wide as they round a cone or barrier.... watch a race car driver, this is probably the easiest way to learn how we should be taking the corners :)

Workout Skill / Drill to Implement in Training:

EVERY run you go out for, you can practice this in training.  Teach your body to pick up the pace (NOT slow down) through quicker, slightly smaller steps as you approach a corner or U-turn.  Teach your body to 'attack' the round about by taking a wide angle and then cut sharply into the turn. When making your way out of the turn, keep the feet quick and under you as you gain stability and forward progression on the straight away.

Again, its about practicing this and doing it over and over- short, long, slow, tempo, hills... EVERY run, practice this approach


YEP, you CAN draft on the run- even if it is only for mental focus and to help you stay on pace.  Also consider that not every race is going to hand us calm winds and sunny skies.  Short course athletes have no problem 'sitting on others heels'.  They use others to block the elements, keep pace, get out of their own heads when they are hurting, takes the pressure off of them as they ascend and descend... in other words, they don't mind using one another.  But this is something that you should work on... it does not come natural for athletes to stay patient and also calm as someone is breathing down their neck when they are already on the brink.

Workout Skill / Drill to Implement in Training:

Your next group run, you don't even need to tell anyone you are practicing this skill... let someone else, who is similar to your pace or just slightly faster, lead the way.  Work on sitting on each side of their shoulder and right behind them.  Notice the more you practice, the less ego will eat at you and you can actually teach your body to 'calm down' knowing you are not the one having to set the pace or block the elements. 

The next level or step up would be sitting on another athletes heels and then picking up the pace or even working on short 1-2 minute surges, then backing off and returning to their heels.  It takes getting used to mentally and physically- work on it to take your racing to the next level- yes, even you long course athletes!


Short course teaches us HOW TO RACE... even when the goal is long course. 

Short course stimulates us mentally and physically in every aspect of race day.

And maybe what I love most about short course, that WE ALL can take away, short course athletes understand and live balanced... they work hard, train hard, race hard, and recover harder... all this and I will say it again like I did in the first article on this topic, "short course athletes show up, push really hard, and get to brunch by noon."

Worth it hands down!


If you have any questions, please email me at

Top 5 Questions with Coach Morgan

We asked our PLAYTRI Coaches, what questions they hear from Athletes over and are Coach Morgan's Top Five:

1) What should I eat during a race?

A light meal that will sit well the evening before, another light meal 2-3 hours before race start (mostly carbs - low fat/protein/fiber), then a gel or similar 15 minutes before race start. How much you eat during will depend on the distance, but remember the focus is always on replacing carbs, not fat or protein.

2) What should I wear during a race?

Whatever you wear, it needs to be something you've trained in prior. Tri suits are great if you are racing for a time (since no changing is required), but not mandatory. Some athletes just race in a swimsuit! The most important thing is comfort, and make sure if you are going to bike and run in the same thing you swim in that you are comfortable doing those activities while that attire is soaking wet! Self-conscious about parading around in spandex? We've got all shapes and sizes in triathlon, and the only thing triathletes care about is performance, so swallow your pride and wear what feels good.

3) Does it matter what type of bike I'm on?

Nope, as long as it is in good working order, has two wheels the same size (diameter) and working brakes, you are good to go.

4) Do I have to wear a helmet?

Yes - USAT says so.

5) What should I do for a strategy?

The safest strategy is to start easy and keep it easy. If you want to PR, start easy, then build sustainably throughout the course of the event. If you want to find your limits, it's ok to push from the start, but just remember that the risk of blowing up is much higher. Always remember - the solution to every problem is to slow down ; )

RUNNING SHOES: HOW, WHAT, & WHEN ~ Guest Blog by Dr. Kimberly Davis

DR. KIMBERLY DAVIS from RUNLAB™ give us some insight into Running Shoes: How, What & When


Probably more often than you think. We recently had a great guy come into the clinic with a hole in his shoe so big that his pinky toe was sticking out because…wait for it…the school pig had chewed on it a few weeks back. Yes, a few WEEKS back. Another lovely woman came in last week wearing Newtons with so little heel left on them that it was causing her to lean backward when she ran (in case the irony of this is lost on you, Newton’s big claim to fame is that they "teach" you to run on your mid/forefoot..a topic for another day). Even if you have managed to achieve sound biomechanics (rare), are extremely light weight (also rare), and a low mileage runner without a pet pig, it is still important to remember that your shoes have a shelf life. Those sweet (rad?) neon and splatterpaint Nike knock-offs you bought for 39.99 from may look really cool, but they probably aren’t doing you any favors from an injury prevention standpoint. Most people wait until they start to notice nagging pains before they think to replace their shoes, instead of doing it before the issues pop up. EVA foam hardens after 1-1.5 years, meaning that when you buy older model shoes on clearance or online it is possible for them to be “worn out” before you ever run in them. Most runners should replace their shoes every 300-500 miles depending on the weight of the runner and the efficiency of their mechanics. This means every 5-6 months for the average recreational or very lightweight runner, and every 2-3 for the higher mileage or heavier runner, and this assumes you ONLY RUN in your running shoes, not wear them to work or to the gym.


I am a huge fan of this concept. Not only does it allow your shoes time between runs for the foam to “bounce back”, but different types of shoes give you different feedback from the ground, and in my opinion, this is always a good thing from a neuromuscular standpoint. Your body adapts very quickly to a learned stimulus. By giving it different signals you are forcing it to constantly respond to outside stimuli instead of just “going through the motions” with learned patterns. I personally rotate through several shoes depending on the type of run and how fatigued my body is, and I find it works very well for keeping my body engaged with what is going on between my foot and the ground. If you would like some guidance on this please feel free to call us or stop by and chat. Everyone that works at RunLab is a dedicated runner and we love talking shop!


If you answered: "Well obviously, I choose the shoes that will match my tutu for the Goofy Challenge", then you my friend could probably get a job in any number of running retail stores...but I digress. Choosing the right shoe is much more complicated than most people think IF you have suboptimal structure, range-of-motion, and/or biomechanics, which most non-elite runners (and even many elite runners) are challenged with. "How do I choose the right shoe" is the eternal question that every runner (and shoe company, and retail employee) wishes had an easy answer, but at the end of the doesn't. At RunLab, we feel very strongly that it isn't so much about the shoe as it is about the foot that inhabits the shoe (and the knee and the hip and the body that live above the foot and for some reason get left out of most types of "gait analysis" done in shoe stores). Most elite runners with sound biomechanics can run in almost anything they want to run in within a certain range, typically avoiding extreme stability in most cases. They aren't great runners BECAUSE of the shoe, They are great runners because of the work they have put in on the strength side, and often because of the genetic gift they have been given on the structural side. Back to the question. First and foremost, if a shoe doesn't feel good in the store, it won't feel any better when you run. Second (maybe even first) stop choosing shoes based on color! Base your choice on what works with you structure, goals, foot shape, etc. If you fall outside the "norm" structurally, meaning you have bunions, very high or very flat arches, knock knees, are bowlegged, have retroverted or anteverted hips, super tight hamstrings or calves, etc, or if you have a history of injuries or trouble finding shoes that work for you, get a gait analysis. And I don't mean the kind where somebody watches you run for 10 seconds down the street, looks at your foot/ankle, and then starts talking about how much or little you pronate or supinate. That isn't a gait evaluation folks! A good gait evaluation should look at your entire body from multiple angles, ideally, both in shoes and barefoot, and should factor in what is happening with your unique structure, range-of-motion, goals, strengths, and limiters. This is not something most people have expertise in doing well. Think of it in bike-fit terms, you can get your saddle height adjusted, OR you can go through a lengthy process that looks at all the necessary angles and takes your individual needs, foot position, femur length, tibia length, reach, etc into account. Both of these things might be referred to as a "bike-fit" but one of them clearly takes your unique structural and functional makeup into account and requires expertise in biomechanics to really fit you properly. Gait evaluation is the same way. Remember: understanding what could go wrong down the road through thoroughly understanding your mechanics is a heck of a lot cheaper than the rehab to fix the issue when you break. Just sayin.... :)

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For more information about the RunLab team, please visit WWW.RUNLABAUSTIN.COM For gait evaluation services outside the Austin area, please visit WWW.RUNLAB.US

The Short Course ~ BIKE FOCUS

On my short course journey, I was reminded of really how great sprint & Olympic distance triathletes can ride a bike.

Just like the swim, from the moment they leave the bike rack, hustle to the mount line, leap (and I do mean leap for many of them) onto their bikes, and head out to tackle the course- it's no joke- they are moving and you learn to find your next gear in short course.

Here are a few bike details that short course athletes have mastered.  Plus skills and drills to implement in your workouts.



Bottom line, these guys/gals are lightning FAST!  At Nationals / World's we have had both ourselves and/or clients hit or miss the podium due to the efficiency of transitions.  Short course athletes know that the simple set up is key, you are NOT creating 'a residence' in transition. 

Workout Skill/ Drill to Implement in Training:

Practice transitions! Practice the setup and the execution both 'from the water' and 'to the run'.  To take it up a notch practice not only when you are fresh, but I love challenging athletes to do this as part of their warm down. 

The safest and most effective way to work on your swim-bike transition is to start with your shoes on the bike.

AGAIN, you will NEED to practice setting up the bike with our shoes attached (my preference is to use rubber bands), navigating the bike from the saddle, and how AND where you want to mount the bike.  Don't worry, you do not have to 'hurl' your body onto the bike- but you need to leave time in your training to focus and dial in how you want to attack your transitions.


Maybe the worst habits I see in long course athletes are a.) they don't focus on minimizing side to side movement, resulting in wasted energy, not to mention taking away their forward progression (aka adding time to the clock) b.) they forget bike handling 101 and simply glide through a corner only to hammer like all-get-out on the back half, wasting significant time and energy.

Workout Skill/ Drill to Implement in Training:

I say to my clients all the time- even if it is an easy recover spin, "Watch your line and practice proper cornering.  If you can train your body to do it every time you head out to train, come race day it will be automatic."  So two things you can practice, every time you are on the bike:

a.) Simply glance out in front of you, primarily look 6 feet out in front of your wheel and keep your chin down to minimize the neck strain.

b.) Try and hold your wheel parallel with the lane line on the road.  If you find yourself weaving back and forth, you are most likely loosing precious seconds and wasting a lot of energy on race day with your lack of bike control.  With attention to this detail, you will see that this is a quick fix. Long course athletes are just accustomed to logging long miles. Many times they not focused on the small details of bike handling that can really benefit the athlete.

c.) I could go on and on about cornering.  But for now, I want to focus on shifting and powering out of a corner.  When coming through corners, make sure you are not in your hardest gear- otherwise, you are going to have to hammer fest your way out of there and lose valuable energy for later in the race.  While not being in the hardest gear, whether sitting or standing once you are cresting the corner, increase your cadence and then shift into a harder gear only after you have regained momentum.  Do this in every ride- you will not only gain speed quickly, but you will be able to SUSTAIN that effort coming out of corners. 


"Drafting"- it's the cuss word that everyone hates in non-draft legal triathlon.  Have even heard it called comparable to doping.  Here is the gig, there is something called LEGAL drafting when passing or being passed by an athlete.  In short course, you have ~15sec to pass or drop back if you are being passed.  The difference in long course and short course, long course athletes (unless just deliberately sucking some one's wheel) typically do not utilize a slipstream approach when moving throughout the course. 

AGAIN, I am not encouraging you to hang on the back of another athlete's wheel.  Instead, when passing another cyclist, learn to approach from directly behind them rather than automatically moving to the left and trying to make a point as you grind right by them.  Get in their slipstream and then move to their front wheel.

Workout Skill/ Drill to Implement in Training:

Head out with either a small group or an area where there are plenty of riders (aka: opportunities to practice legal drafting).

When I go out with a client, we focus on both passing and being passed by another rider.  Both times, we focus on moving either forward or sitting back into the other riders slipstream or ~10sec and then learning to drop back within ~5sec in order to ensure we are not in danger of other athletes or ignoring the rules. 

The draft legal zone is 3 bike lengths- What does 3 bike lengths look like?

A way to measure the legal distance from your position to the lead rider is by using the white or yellow separator lines on the road (if available).

One line = ~3m long (and the distance between the lines is about 9 meters if you want a further reference). Therefore, you only need one white/yellow line and an extra 4-5 feet of space beyond that between your front wheel and the leader’s rear wheel to avoid a drafting penalty.

Practice both passing and dropping back- to keep it super simple:

If you passed 10 people x 10 sec/person of legal drafting and then 5 people happened to pass you x 10sec/person of legal drafting= that's over 2.5 min of 'drafting' and utilizing others to get you to the finish line faster. 

Short course athletes know the value of practicing and implementing fast transitions, proper handling & cornering ~ keep practicing!


Continue to train with a smile~

The Short Course ~ SWIM FOCUS

Athletes don't always applaud other triathletes when they say they are going to dip their toes back into the short course.

I will remind you again, the short course is no stinkin' joke!

It is demanding in a totally different way than the long course.  You don't see folks running around with short course tattoos and telling everyone at the office about their 'long ride' they did over the weekend.

But rather, I have found most of these athletes are extremely humble, consistent, headstrong, and freakin' fast.   

My hope and suggestion, before you 'turn your nose up' at the short course, read on. 

Remember that this sport has so much to teach us about ourselves and the dynamics of racing at every distance and every level.

Here are just a few things I learned about the swim in short course and the drills to help implement the speed and skill to survive :)




YEP, from the time that cannon/ gun goes off- IT'S A BURNER!

These athletes do not hold back or wait for others to 'go in front of them'.  I noticed that like we teach in Playtri, most short course athletes want a bit of space and head for the edge of the start line in order to give themselves enough room to chase for their 'open water'.  Once they settle into the swim, they are NOT slowing down- unlike the moderate effort of long course short course triathletes get comfortable real quick with the idea that they are going to be uncomfortable, THE ENTIRE SWIM.


Workout Skill/ Drill to Implement in Training:

Work on your deep water starts with sprint sets starting with 25's, all the way up to 300's.  Do not give yourself much recovery but then again, if your pace drops drastically, either step it back to a shorter interval or increase the recovery between each- ideally on the longer sets like 150-300's you would sprint the first 50-100 and teach the body to hold the pace as much as possible.



Every swimmer/ triathlete wants to talk about the 'glide/ pull' at calm water pool practices.  That's cute, but we don't have a black line of a calm pool to follow in our open water swim races.  So that essential 'glide' skill for pool, not so great for waves, current shifts, groups of athletes... short course athletes know how to move through the water regardless of the conditions.  Most short course athletes have a continuous arm cadence- don't freak out, I did not say the pull is not important.  What I am saying is that the continuous arm cadence is vital to move with fluidity through the water and around others.


Workout Skill/ Drill to Implement in Training:

Within the warm-up, I like athletes to do a 200-300yd/meter swim with a snorkel that purely focuses on the continuous arm cadence.  Visualize a fan- the fan may have 3 different speeds BUT regardless of pace - it continuously spins.  Within the workout, I encourage you to work this drill but implement it after speed or strength intervals to simulate how your body will 'default' come race day.

A great example would be to do a 10x100 pull set followed by 200yd/meter of the continuous arm drill with a snorkel.

What does this do? 1. Trains the body through fatigue to 'recover' in a forward progression, with far less effort 2. Teaches body fat efficiency 3. Teaches the body to stay on top of the water even through fatigue as the snorkel allows the athletes to focus strictly on the kick and arm cadence.



Right now, pull up a long course age group swim start, then watch age group Nationals swim start.  Notice something??? Long course athletes are spread out pretty far apart, even the top guys/girls are not so great at always finding themselves in a line and working with one another (until the last 200-300meters that is, but up until then, they have wasted a significant amount of energy and mental focus by swimming primarily in their own little bubble).  Now watch Nationals, short course athletes may 'fight' their way to the front, but quickly, you see small packs and/or swimmers slip-streaming off the lead athletes. Research has shown over and over the significant benefits of drafting off others feet and/or hip has not only physical but also metabolic and mental advantages. Its a skill to learn!


Workout Skill/ Drill to Implement in Training:

Grab a few friends, head to the pool and hit the workout but alternate who leads ad practice both slipstreaming and the hip and feet. Notice the difference between being the second, third, fourth... girl/guy in line.  Have the lead athlete (also useful for the slower swimmer) use fins in order to increase/ push the pace.  Have a slower swimmer in front, great- work on not hitting their feet, maintaining a small continuous kick and stroke.  No doubt, you want to practice drafting at all paces and positions on other athletes- WHY??? Because in a race, if another pack or swimmer from behind passes your group, you want to already be in proper position on top of the water to accelerate and respond to the other pack.


The other skill you want to work on while at the pool is your response time.  Effective sighting is key in short course racing and essential to work with others.  Instead of just doing your normal threshold intervals, ex: 5x300 @ pace- challenge your efforts with 5x300, sighting at least 1x every length.  When you first do this main set, your times will most likely not match your normal 300yd/meter time.  Don't freak out, but notice the discrepancy and keep practicing your sighting technique by slightly increasing your kick and simply glancing right above the water line each time you 'sight'. 



You know how you hear a lot of coaches and/or triathletes warn about not 'kicking too much or wasting their legs in the swim.' 

Ya, go ahead and nix that idea.  Short course specialists know the value of 'creating a wake' behind them, literally!

You are going to have to train both your body and mind on this one- it hurts, your heart rate skyrockets when you first start incorporating this in your training (as with anything new, introducing a new concept in any part of your training will first increase heart rate and then it will drop as you become more effective with the skill), and it no doubt it is the exact opposite of what our brain tells us considering we are about to hit the pavement in a mad dash to our bikes out of the water.


Workout Skill/ Drill to Implement in Training:

At the end of a strength or speed pool session, put on your flippers, and finish with 3-5x100's swim with an exaggerated fast kick. The next week increase distance to something like 2x250, and the following week or two attempt the 500 'finishing kick' swim.  No doubt, it's brutal, but it works!


I will say this, the absolute BEST way to practice triathlon swimming is through the obvious- GET TO SOME OPEN WATER SWIM PRACTICES. 

Don't settle on simply doing the distance in the open water, nor is it ideal to just go out there alone. 

But rather the more people you have to practice and push you, the better.

Pool swimming is good but again the best option is to get outside in the true elements of short course triathlon swimming.


Next up we will look at the dynamics of short course and racing and how the bike segment is DRASTICALLY different than the long course.

Until next time, train with a smile~

Cycling for Runners

Morgan Davis

Cycling for Runners

Hey RUNNERS...guess what!?!? You don’t have to ONLY run on training days. When I train and coach athletes for a half or full marathon, I always include a couple cycling days a week. My favorite thing about cycling is it gives my mind a break from the monotony of running

There are many benefits of cycling for runners! Cycling is a great way to increase aerobic performance, stay injury free and actually run faster! Cycling is non-impact but has several aerobic benefits! You can go a lot longer than running to build endurance without all the impact running has on the body. Runners can also use cycling as a recovery tool. It aids in recovery by flushing out your legs. Then again on the other hand, cycling can be a crazy hard workout. Run speed can increase by doing hard intervals on the bike!

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You don’t need a fancy high-end road bike to get the benefits of riding. There are six different styles of bikes: road, tri, hybrid, all-road, cruiser, and mountain. All these bikes are designed for different styles of riding. Decide where and what style of riding you want to do before selecting a bike. Your local bike shop can definitely help you with this! Or watch see our quick video series on types of bikes: PLAYTRI TV

Happy running! Happy cycling! Train hard, recover smart!

Find more cycling and running tips on our Knowledge Hub on


Orange Mud Product Review by Coach Raina

Muddy Waters
Orange Mud Review by Coach Raina

With temperatures comfortably hitting the triple digits these days, it’s tough to get through a run workout without needing crazy amounts of fluids.  Finding water fountains that are dispensing anything colder than luke-warm are few and far between. The problem, however, becomes how to carry enough water to make it all possible. Well thanks to Orange Mud, it’s now easier to get your hydration needs covered.

I have been running with a hand bottle for quite some time – I can hydrate, it forces me to not clench my hand, and I can even carry a few necessities, such as gels, a key, or even my credit card for a corner store stop. The problem I always have, however, is keeping the bottle cinched on my hand. It always loosens while running, so then all I can do it focus on my bottle and not my run. Orange Mud made it simple – elastic Velcro! With a wider band for comfort, and stretchy material making it possible for any size hand to use, OM’s hand bottle made the overall experience more enjoyable. With its larger, standard water bottle (such as like that on a bike), I had plenty of water for my run that I could easily get ice into. It was slightly heavier, but I’d take the extra few ounces in lieu of the ability to easily fill it with ice any day. It could even accommodate a larger bottle if I needed. Nutrition was tough to get in and out, but with some practice (and patience), a gel or two could be accessible as well.                                                             

So what happens when you need more than a bottle? Carrying bottles on bottles isn’t really possible, or practical. Enter the hydration vest. I wasn’t sure at first, thinking that the weight of the water would really bother me – won’t my back chafe, I’ll get too tired in my upper body, my arms won’t be able to move freely? Not at all! ONE run was all it took for the staff to become fans of the vest systems. The 1 liter option was perfect for me on quick runs, and the 2 liter option was a great choice for longer runs and the guys. The weight of the pack was perfectly situated on the upper back, and as the water sloshed around, the pack didn’t move at all (my favorite feature!). So many well-designed pockets for nutrition, a phone, and soft flasks. You can even hide your nutrition in the pockets over the shoulders! Overall, it was an awesome option.       


Orange Mud’s long line of products makes training a breeze, and they’re non-hydration products are so fun too. (Check out their Transition Towel/Car Seat wrap!) Come by and try out their latest styles today!



Benefits of THE SHORT COURSE training

After several years of doing long course, I realized that my speed (aka: tolerance for sucking it up) was sinking, dramatically.

It has been said, IRONMAN does NOT make you FAST... in fact, it will beat the crap out of you over time: mentally, physically, & metabolically...

And so my response was to kick the distance to the curb and put myself in the speed arena (short course: Sprint & Olympic distance racing).


For those who haven't truly raced at short course in awhile: it is humbling, daunting, and it hurts like all-get-out at times. 

BUT, it is also stimulating, refreshing in a sort of twisted way, and it TEACHES you so much about the sport and racing.

My goal last year: Top 5 AG at USAT Nationals.  This required me to race a lot and keep my eyes open to how these girls raced, if I was to hang on.

Here are just a few things I learned about training for short course.



As expected, the number of training hours were definitely reduced.  BUT, the sessions were easy when they were scheduled as easy, and very hard when I was suppose to go hard.  There wasn't a lot of wasted time just 'kinda' pushing the pace.  That is probably one of the biggest issues I have with clients and also at times I find myself defaulting to as an athlete.  We honestly think we are going hard when in all actuality, we might be uncomfortable out on a long ride with some threshold intervals during distance training. But guess what... in the big picture, that isn't eyeballs popping out of our head, lungs about to explode, that short course demands.  As painful as that sounds, the short course workouts are just that - short - so you know in the back of your head you can grit and grind your way through it!


Short course allows athletes to see improvements on a consistent basis.  With long course, there are many sessions that are more vague and the benchmark may simply be about more time hitting the pavement.  With short course, you can almost see athletes check off and push new limits on a weekly basis. Improvements come with the mental, physical, and metabolic stimulation. 

When an athlete talks about burn out or not being motivated, I always think, "When was the last session that they felt like a little kid?"  Not using metrics as a boundary but rather only later as a review, and just letting their body fly freely... I compare it to when you used to race your bike down the street against your friends.... remember, it was so fun to go fast!

When the build is done correctly and there are adequate recovery sessions or days between the harder efforts of short course, you most definitely see progress and motivation!


Another aspect of short training is less time training so more time for LIFE & balance.  With the growing number of "couch to long distance" triathletes, the idea of triathlon as a lifestyle is being missed.  Whether it be time, energy or money, long course takes a significant amount away from our daily life and commitments. 

Many sessions, I might have felt like my lungs and legs were going to implode at times IN the workouts, they didn't steal my entire day, nor do they take away from other many aspects of my life. I like to explain it like this- You could literally race almost every weekend, be done before noon, meet the family for brunch, check off some "honey-do's" (aka: chores), play with the kids, and grill up some dinner... that is a full day, but a balanced day.

I found in short course this awesome balance and it agreed with my philosophy as a coach, "We are all athletes of LIFE... health, fitness, training, it is all built around the idea of making you more available FOR life.

Triathlon and training are a part of a bigger picture. I love and want to help establish plans that allow athletes to create lives that are consistent and congruent to their goals, both in and out of sport!"


These are simply a few aspects of the joys of training from short course.

Next time, I will point out the significant differences between short course and long distance triathlon swimming.

Till next time, train with a smile~

10 Reasons to get RETUL/GURU BIKE FIT

Top 10 Reasons YOU should get a RETUL/GURU BIKE Fit at PLAYTRI:

1)    You will be more comfortable and efficient riding your bike.

2)    You can maximize your power and endurance with an optimal position.

3)    You can prevent injuries - the right alignment prevents knee and back issues.

4)   Because chamois butter is an accessory, not a necessity.

5)    Because riding on the hoods isn’t aero.

6)    You gain more control of the bike.

7)    Because that numbness in your hands and groin isn’t a good thing.

8)    You’ll gain confidence in your equipment as a complete equipment check is part of the evaluation

9)    You can get a custom bike without the custom price.

10)    Because your saddle should be your friend not your enemy.

Contact your local PLAYTRI Store today to schedule a Bike Fit.

Get all the details of a RETUL/GURU BIKE FIT watching our 90-second video or at

Have additional questions?! Give us a shout at: