Tools of the Trade
So, as I wind down my training in preparation for race day (now, a whole 14 days away…), I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite training tools that I’ve either loved for years or acquired more recently. Some are for training, some are for recovery, but I have to say that they have made me feel stronger, faster, and better along this Ironman journey.
First, I’ll start with the training tools.
Since swimming is my weakest event, Adam bought us each a pair of paddles from Keifer for some serious lap time in the pool. Paddles are great for people with good swim technique, and do an amazing job at strengthening shoulders. For those who aren’t sure if their technique is spot on, and even those who are, it’s probably not a good idea to use paddles when tired. Once the technique starts to go out the window, which usually happens (at least for me) when tired, using paddles can be a hinder more than a help. Anyway, my favorite workout with paddles:
100yds without paddles, 100yds with paddles, for a total of 1000yds. This makes for a great warmup. I use a pull buoy, and focus on rolling my hips so that when my left arm is stretching forward, the front of my stomach is parallel to the side wall of the pool.
I also got a kettlebell early this summer. Although I don’t use it nearly as much as I should (Kettleworx suggets three times per week!), I am really looking forward to incorporating it into my “off-season” (whatever that is…) training.
As a side note, I will be picking up yoga again soon, after the race of course. There’s no sense in starting something this soon before race day. Anyway, I love Rodney Yee’s Yoga for Endurance Athletes, so I hope I will stick to doing yoga at least once a week.
Recovery tools have been a big part of my preparations, too. A while ago, I bought my first Stick, which is a recovery stick with rollers that is used to alleviate muscle tension post-workout. I have always borrowed a friend’s, but now that I have my own, I’m pretty excited.
My diet is also really important for recovery. I make sure I get food into my system, and usually something fairly calorie-dense, within an hour after every workout. My foods of choice: HoneyStinger Protein bars (Peanut Butta Pro flavor), Larabars, or plain ol’ cheese and crackers. Goat cheese is probably my favorite cheese on rice crackers. I also drink cherry juice (Montmorency, from Traverse City!), eat a lot of whole foods (have an exchange with a local CSA), and drink a boatload of milk (we go through 2 gallons/week!). And of course, the one thing I will miss most during my upcoming taper: Ice cream. Is it possible to go through a gallon of ice cream a week? Or shall I say, should we? Probably not… but we do.
Other than my bike, helmet, and cycling/running shoes, there are some other essential racing tools that I use when the time comes. I have an off-the-front water carrier that fits perfectly between my aero bars, designed by Revolution. It has two compartments, so I can put Nuun in one side and Cytomax in the other. It’s the perfect volume (50 ounces) for a half-iron distance event, and easily refillable with a water bottle for a midrace refilling in Ironman (I hope!).
I love running in a running hat after the bike, because my hair can get in really rough shape, matted to my face, after wearing a helmet for several hours. Although I lost my last one at Chisago Lakes Tri in July, I recently acquired a new one (and flashier, too) from Brooks Running Company, from whom I get all my running gear.
Speaking of the tools, I’m gonna roll out the Stick now for some post-run recovery. Booya!