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Pro Triathlete Michael Raelert on the Asia Pacific Ironman 70.3 Champs and the year ahead

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Following the pre race conference trizone.com.au sat down with Michael Raelert to talk through the race and the year ahead.

We started by asking him about Phuket and his plans for the Asia Pacific Championships.

Michael Raelert in Phuket

“Before the start I will think through my strategy and also consider what can go wrong and how I will handle such things. I can’t control what others do, only what I can do. But my plan will be to stay close to the front group but if there is a break off the front during the bike and I am not in it I will not stress too much as I have plenty of confidence in my run. I just hope that I handle the heat and humidity well. I expect Lieto to attack us through the hills as he will want to start the run with a good start on myself and the other strong runners. I feel really good right now and am feeling a different kind of tension to usual pre-race tension due to Phuket being such a relaxed atmosphere but my confidence is high. I was a little surprised at how hot and humid it is here but I won’t change my nutrition plans. Ultimately it will come down to about 75 minutes of running hard and I expect I’ll hang on OK.”

Your biggest dangers for Asia Pacific 70.3 Champs?

“Each and every pro on the start line can have their day. I will purely focus on my race and given it is the end of the year you can have people that have bodies that have had enough and others that will be well rested and ready to fire…I hope to be the later.”

Your plans for 2012?

“For next year I am working on my schedule over the next 2 weeks with my brother Andy and we will plan out my year but it all comes down to Vegas and Kona which will be my two targets. Everything else will be purely preparing myself for those two races. My dream would be to win both and hopefully finish one and two with my brother Andy in Kona.” When asked who he felt will be the danger men for Kona in 2012 the German didn’t hesitate. “Andy and I both feel that whilst there are many danger men in Kona it will be hard to go past Crowie and Pete Jacobs. Crowie will be the defending champion and he showed how strong he is but if people think Jacobs will not be at the front they will be wrong. He swims with ease at the front, has proved he is the fastest runner twice and look at his bike improvement. He will just get better.”

What did it feel like to be on course and watching your brother in Kona. What did you learnt from it if anything?

“I’ve been on course and watched Kona the last two years and learnt a lot about the race. My brother has prepared so well the last 2 years yet that 1% has made the difference and you can do all you can but if that 1% doesn’t go your way there is nothing you can do. This year Crowie had the perfect race and Andy did all he could but could not get the better of two of the world’s best triathletes. It is still an honour to be on the podium behind two great athletes especially when one is a three time champion and the fastest ever in Kona and the other one of the fastest runners of all time in Kona who will probably be a future Kona champion as well.”

Hypothetical situation, Kona 2012, you and your brother are leading the race running side by side. What happens?

“This is our dream, for my brother and I to get to the last few hundred metres side by side and then we will show people what will happen. What we would do in that situation will be a surprise but we have spoken of it and know what we would do in that dream situation. Hopefully you will get to see but like I said, it all comes down to that extra 1% that makes the difference and there are also things you cannot control. I think that in future years you will see more of us pro’s together towards the end of the race. It is becoming more competitive and more strategic. This year it became very hot on the run and that made a big difference, some guys seemed strong but the heat hurt them and you can see how the sun and humidity got to them as others that handled it better ran through the field so well.”

Your plans post race in Phuket and the year ahead.

“I would like to stay here for a week and enjoy more of a holiday but I have a commitment in Germany that I need to get back for mid week. Next year hopefully I can come back, do this race and enjoy the Thailand people’s hospitality and the beautiful scenery here. I can get used to the lifestyle here and it would be a great way to finish the year. As for next year, we’ll see what Andy and I come up with but I will want to do European and US races to prepare me for Vegas and Kona. I don’t know which ironman I will race to qualify my spot for Kona but I will probably just do one and compete in 70.3’s and shorter for the rest of the year. I will have to make sure I stay healthy and injury free.”

 

 

 

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.

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Gear & Tech

Review: Suunto 3 Fitness. A Fitness Watch for Beginners

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The Suunto 3 Fitness is the latest release from Suunto, a brand well known to triathletes. Straight away you can tell by its sleek looks that Suunto wants you to be wearing this watch 24×7, in direct competition with the Apple watch and the latest Garmin. Its looks belay its price, and you will seriously struggle to tell that its a fitness watch at all once on.

To that end, I would say the Suunto 3 Fitness is more of a fitness companion for the fitness and wellness crowd (you know those people in activewear taking up valuable coffee shop spots) instead of a dedicated triathlon watch, and in this area, it does a reasonable job.  However, this is a triathlon specific website and content, so I’m going to review the watch from a triathletes perspective.

Suunto 3 Fitness is a cool looking watch for everyday use.

 

Top end features

First off the positives. The Suunto has a few surprising top-end features, given the price. The first is it has an integrated heart rate monitor, which for me when compared to my Garmin Fenix 5, was very accurate. During my runs, it seemed to capture my heart rate accurately, within a few beats of my Garmin heart rate strap.  It’s a pleasing feature, which means you can go strapInbuiltt of the time.

Inbuilt heart rate monitor with high-end features

Battery Life

This is where the Suunto shines. Suunto officially says that the watch will last 30 hours when connected to the phone for GPS and five days with standard health tracking and Bluetooth notifications etc.

My testing showed far better numbers with the watch lasting a good two weeks, packed full of full distance Ironman training. For those that hate charging this watch is a godsend.

Movescount is gone, tell your mates, when you can connect

Suunto took the opportunity to update their rather sparse Movescount platform with a new updated Suunto App. It’s indeed a huge step up and in my opinion visually better than Garmin Connect.

It measures the usual suspects, heart rate, calories etc., but also EPOC – which measures post-exercise oxygen consumption. An interesting stat that is based on the fact that your body uses more oxygen post-exercise than during (for a period of ~48 hours), therefore burns more calories than during the event. I can see this reasonably handy for exercise-induced asthmatics, to help regulate their use of medication.

One feature that I quite enjoyed was the ability to track pace and effort on the Google map of your run, which helps to explain to your coach why your pace dropped up the hills.

Track your performance using Google maps

Also, you have the option of posting your run’s Strava style within the app. Its a bit kitschy given we all use Strava, but it can help if you’re looking for local running buddies.

Ability to post publicly is a cool, albeit scary proposition

One major problem is that I struggled to connect the watch to the App, most of the time. It is an arduous process that I found would only work if I deleted and re-paired the watch – a fiddly workaround for sure.  To be fair though, the product is new, and I recall early Garmins having the same problem, so I’m sure it will sort itself out over time.

Peripheral connectivity

I’ve always struggled with Suunto’s decisions around limiting connectivity in their watches, and this is no different.  To use an external heart rate monitor or monitor cadence or speed on your bike, you need to buy yourself one of the Suunto Pods.

Now, this is in a similar vein to traditional fitness watches such as Apple or Samsung, however, as a triathlete, this closed system doesn’t cut it.  Personally, I have an ANT+ power meter, Bluetooth smart trainer, ANT+ and Bluetooth heart rate monitors, ANT+ bike head units, the list goes on, and I cannot connect any of these peripherals that I use day to day.

Now one can say that most triathletes tend to go overboard on gear, to which I can personally attest, however, all my equipment actually gives me an idea as to how to race and train, and not being able to talk to it is a big no-no to me.

Now the big hairy no-no. No inbuilt GPS

The watch pairs to your phone to leverage the inbuilt GPS of the phone and contains only an accelerometer in the watch. This, in my opinion, is a critical oversight, particularly for triathletes.

The first thing that I noticed was the huge discrepancy between the accelerometer and the GPS. The accelerometer was almost, 1min/km quicker, which had me on an easy run running 4min/km pace. While this is great for my ego, it’s terrible when trying to prepare for a race.

Pairing the watch to my phone didn’t give much better results with a 30-second difference. Given the watch uses my phone’s GPS, you’re always going to get vastly different results when compared to both Suunto’s and Garmin’s higher grade watches.

Secondly, as triathletes, for the most part, were not allowed to race with a phone, which effectively means you need to get a watch for training and one for racing. Inconceivable!

Overall

As I mentioned at the start of this review, the new Suunto 3 Fitness polarised me somewhat. On the one hand, its a pretty solid fitness watch packed full of top end features at an entry-level price.

But as a triathlete, its lack of GPS and dependency on the phone effectively eliminates it use during race day. So, unfortunately, it’s a big thumbs down from me. Save your pennies and get a Suunto Spartan, or even better choice a Garmin 935XT.

  • Price
  • Features
  • Applicability

Summary

Lack of GPS makes this a triathlon deal breaker

Pros
- Well priced
- Top end features given the price
- Better app

Cons
- Why no GPS?
- Suunto connectivity
- Connection drop outs

3.3
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News & Racing

Major League Triathlon Adds 3rd International Team

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Major League Triathlon, the first and only professional triathlon league in North America, has announced a 9th team (3rd International franchise) for the 2018 season. For the first time in the league’s history, a National team from Mexico will participate in MLT.

The new franchise, dubbed, Guardianes de Guadalajara (Guadalajara Guardians), will consist of many of the top Mexican National Team athletes. The team will include:

Pro Men

  • Crisanto Grajales
  • Irving Perez
  • Abraham Rodriguez
  • Aram Peñaflor
  • Leonardo Saucedo

Pro Women

  • Cecilia Perez
  • Vanesa de La Torre
  • Adriana Carreño
  • Andrea Gutierrez
  • Lizeth Rueda

“We are thrilled to welcome this team to Major League Triathlon.” Said Daniel Cassidy, CEO of Major League Triathlon. “Triathlon Mexico and their athletes have established themselves as one of the world’s top federations leading up to Tokyo 2020. We are extremely excited to continue to increase the level of competition and give our athletes the opportunity to race Mixed Team Relay at the highest level possible. “

Major League Triathlon will host nine professional teams and will host many of the World’s best elite triathletes including international teams from Australia, Canada, and Mexico. MLT will host four events, making stops in: Atlantic City, Vail Valley, Tempe and Charlotte. The third year league specializes in the Mixed Team Relay format of racing, which will make its debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. At every event, each athlete will swim 300 meters, bike four miles and run one mile, one at a time, before tagging their next teammate. The first team to have all four athletes cross the finish line will win.

Guardianes de Guadalajara

Guardianes de Guadalajara is the only Mexican/Latin-American Team competing in Major League Triathlon. They represent the City of Guadalajara. The Guardianes de Guadalajara will feature experienced triathletes like Olympians: Crisanto Grajales (London 2012 and Rio 2016), Irving Pérez (Río 2016), Cecilia Pérez (Río 2016) and the future of the extremely strong Mexican National Team including: Junior and U23 triathletes like Vanesa de la Torre, Abraham Rodriguez and Aram Peñaflor.

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Training

How to Build Strength on the Bike

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Taking a break from triathlon over the winter months? Put this time to good use and learn how to build strength and power on the bike.

How do I build strength on the bike? This is probably the question I get asked the most as a coach, and it’s the toughest to answer – especially when dealing with time-poor athletes, as biking is so time-consuming and few of us have the time to tap out two-to-three hour rides in the hills each day to gain the necessary strength needed to improve our ironman or half-ironman bike time.

As a pro athlete, it’s quite easy to lay down a strength-specific bike block to top things up if needed, which generally takes four-to-five weeks of specific work, provided the athlete has a good five-year base behind them. As an age grouper though, a 600-kilometre strength-focused week is not realistic. So, how do you build strength from a 200-kilometre bike week?

This is a tough proposition, but here are a few tips to increase your strength and hopefully improve your bike time. I am not saying that you will be pushing a 58-tooth chainring and riding at 45km/ph, but even if we’re just squeezing a small amount of juice from the orange, we are still getting somewhere.

Hill reps

This is probably the best way to increase strength. It is the most used and the most uncomfortable – but generally, the sessions that you find the most uncomfortable are the most beneficial. I see hill reps as the paddles/band session you do in swimming converted to cycling. Both sessions add specific stress on certain muscle groups of the body that are critical to the areas that need to be worked.

Much like this swim session will add stress to the shoulders/back/core, strength sessions on the bike will increase the work on the glutes and hamstrings, which is where the main power on the bike comes from. In saying this, when doing strength efforts it’s important to stay seated and place the chain ring in a large gear (one that is hard to pedal). If you have a cadence meter on your bike computer you will want to see around 60-to-70 RPMs on it while you are in the saddle. A gradual climb of around two-to-three kilometres is perfect for this session and should be completed two-to-three times with a submaximal heart rate of around 70 percent of your maximum. This effort should not be a lung-busting torture test, as it’s not designed to stress the cardio system but to build the muscular and central nervous system.

Gym

Hit the gym for an extended period of time during a break in racing and focus on specific muscle groups like the glutes, hamstrings and lower back. Not only will this assist with the increase in power development but also, perhaps, more importantly, it will help in the prevention of injury through strengthening the associated tendons and connective tissue around the muscle groups. This type of program should only be attempted after a consultation with a qualified coach or PT who can guide you through these exercises and ensure they are done correctly. I am a big believer in the benefits of a well-constructed and consistent weights program periodised with a structured program within the training phases.

Trainer sessions

Most people refer to these as the Devil. They are widely detested, particularly by athletes with sadistic coaches who program two-to-three hour solo sessions on the machine. As for strength benefit, these sessions are great as strength endurance sessions and can be added in if you find it hard to get to the hills. Just drop the gear down, stay in the saddle, and get the heart rate into the zone that you need.

Generally, trainer sets are a strength session in and of themselves as there is no freewheeling, no traffic lights and no downhills so you are constantly placing power down in a consistent manner. So, if you are time poor, increase your trainer sets during the week for a short block of time to increase strength. Double bike days are a good way of increasing your kilometres without having to utilise a three-to-four hour block of time. If you are crazy enough to double down and do two sessions in a day, then go for it as the benefits will show in your riding.

Block it up

Talk to your coach if you have one, or if not, plan a bike-specific block into your schedule. The only downside to this is that you might have to drop a few swim and run sessions. This is fine as long as they don’t drop off completely as the fitness will still be there from the increased bike mileage. This type of block should be done in the offseason for a few months. Don’t go overboard as a small increase in training of a particular discipline will have other effects on the other two disciplines – so plan it well and do it smart.

Use a power meter

This relatively new tool is great for monitoring power in training and providing a realistic target to attain and race to in a long-distance competition. It can be used in training for gradual goal setting and to set targets that are attainable and realistic for the athlete. By setting incremental power targets over a longer period of time, you should be able to hit an increased and ‘visible’ goal.

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How To

How to Stay safe, Warm and Motivated During the Winter Months

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It’s always important to think about your safety on the road and now that daylight savings has come to an end, it’s important to ‘light up’ your bike.

With winter fast approaching, your early morning and/or evening rides will be done in the dark or with very little daylight, so you need to get some lights on your bike. My motto is that you can’t overdo it, and so as a minimum, you should always have a front light and back light. I also clip a red flashing light to the back of my helmet to help vehicles see me.

Find yourself some bike lights

There is a vast array of lights to choose from so head down to your local bike shop and see what you can find. If you are riding in complete darkness, you will need a front light that transmits a strong beam of light well ahead of your bike. You don’t want to put yourself in danger by not being able to see very far in front of you, especially if you are riding at high speed. Your reaction time will be somewhat reduced by the darkness, so ensure you have a light that allows you to see well up the road. Some lights will have rechargeable batteries that require recharging after each ride. Other lights will be fitted with either AA or AAA batteries, depending on the size of your lights. As a helpful tip, it’s cheaper to buy batteries in bulk and this way, you will always have some on hand if a battery runs dry.

I like to get extra flashing lights and secure these to the front forks and rear chain to help vehicles from side streets see me. There are tiny frog lights that come with a rubber band and simply stretch around any part of your bike. I always leave two of these clipped to my bike, so if I get caught out at dusk, I have some lighting to help vehicles see me on the road.

Choose your clothing wisely

Not only do you want to train in warm, lightweight, sweat wicking lycra, but by choosing a brighter or lighter colour for your winter training, you will increase your chances of being easily seen on the road. Try not to train in dark plain colours as you will more easily blend into the black tarmac and be difficult to see. A lot of cycling clothing, such as wind vests, rain jackets and arm warmers, are made with reflective fabric or reflective taping, which are great for night-time rides.

Your local bike shop will have a good selection of clothing to help you dress properly for winter training. Remember that for cycling, it is better to wear layers of clothing. After your warm up, you can remove some external clothing to do your training session, without overheating. Most cycling jerseys have back pockets to carry excess clothing and food. If the weather changes or you are cooling down, it’s easy to rug up again and not get cold.

How to get motivated

The triathlon season is coming to a close and it’s time to think about your winter training. This is a good time to plan some new goals. Write down your goals and keep them somewhere visible so you can read them. Remember to set realistic goals – there is no point hoping to become an elite level world champion if you work a 40-hour week, have a mortgage, three kids and you can only train eight hours per week. Perhaps a more realistic goal is to progress from finishing in the top 30 to finishing in the top 20. Maybe you would like to improve your bike time from last season.

By setting goals, you will have given yourself a purpose for training. For many people, getting fit or losing weight is their primary goal. Sometimes it helps to add to this goal by setting yourself targets in each discipline of the triathlon over the winter. For example – measure out a five-kilometre run course and time yourself. See if you can improve on this time each month. As your time improves, you will realise you’re getting fitter and stronger.

Finding inspiration

People find inspiration in many forms. Some watch Tour de France videos and get so inspired they could run out and ride in rain, hail or snow, as they try to emulate their hero. Other athletes imagine the person they want to beat next season, and this inspires them to train hard in all weather conditions. The trick is to find something, a poster of your favourite athlete, uplifting music or something else, that motivates you to train during winter.

Whatever inspires you to train over winter, you will benefit from enjoyment and better health and fitness through exercise.

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Gear & Tech

The Sufferfest Releases a New Range of Indoor and Outdoor Plans to Cover Just About Anyone

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The Sufferfest, a comprehensive training app for cyclists and triathletes, announced the release of 67 new training plans on TrainingPeaks, creating a library of over 100 free plans for a novice, intermediate, and advanced endurance athletes. The plans incorporate indoor sessions from The Sufferfest’s catalogue of structured workouts, technique drills, and outdoor weekend sessions to better accommodate year-round structured training. Integration with TrainingPeaks—the industry leader in digital training solutions—allows athletes to take advantage of advanced data analysis and performance management features.

Designed by elite coaches Mac Cassin and Neal Henderson at APEX Coaching, the new collection of training plans from The Sufferfest includes plans designed to prepare athletes for specific events like triathlons, time trials, metric centuries, full centuries, mountainous gran fondos, and sportives. The outdoor workouts are built using TrainingPeaks’ Workout Builder, allowing them to be easily exported to compatible cycling computers or fitness devices. Optional yoga and mental toughness sessions can be added to any plan, further cementing The Sufferfest as the only training platform to provide comprehensive training for an athlete’s body and mind. To access all 102 plans, all users need is a subscription to The Sufferfest and a free account with TrainingPeaks.

“Many athletes lose focus and structure when they transition to riding outside in the warmer months,” said Cassin. “The new event preparation and outdoor/indoor plans are perfect for athletes who don’t want the quality of their training to go out the window when they head out the door. And because the plans are designed around an athlete’s Four-Dimensional Power profile, they are much more effective than generic plans that don’t take a rider’s unique strengths and weaknesses into account. Once an athlete completes the Full Frontal fitness test in The Sufferfest app and gets their comprehensive power profile, they can choose a plan that is tailored to develop their overall fitness while driving improvements in the area they need it most—whether it’s sprinting, sustained efforts, VO2 efforts, or repeated efforts.

“A training plan is only as good as the coach who designed it,” said David McQuillen, CEO of The Sufferfest. “Our partnership with APEX Coaching gives every athlete with a subscription to The Sufferfest access to the same coaches who train the best cyclists and triathletes in the world. By adding these new training plans we’ve expanded the ability for endurance athletes to take advantage of the most innovative, cutting-edge sports science available, no matter what the weather or time of year.”

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News & Racing

Rudy Project Launches Project Podium for Age Group Athletes

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Rudy Project North America, the exclusive distributor of Italian-made endurance sports gear, and the most worn helmet at Kona 7 times in a row is launching Project Podium, an initiative that rewards North America’s fastest age group triathletes with award-winning performance Rudy Project eyewear and helmets. All age group racers that win their age group in any sanctioned long distance triathlon in the United States and Canada are eligible to receive a free, top-of-the-line Rudy Project Boost 01 road aero helmet and a pair of Tralyx sunglasses. Winners will also be featured on Rudy Project’s website and lauded on social media as the top long-distance age group triathletes on the continent.

“A full-distance, 140 miles plus race is nothing to sneeze at, and attempting one is a feat in of itself,” said Paul Craig, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Rudy Project North America. “To win your age group, to come out on top, is something exceptional, and we want to reward the best, with the best.”

The program is open to all age group triathletes that compete in a sanctioned long distance triathlon race, in Canada or the United States, that is included in Project Podium’s list of eligible races. Athletes must be legal residents of either Canada or the United States in order to be eligible to win. The prize pack being offered is worth up to $625 USD, and triathletes that win their age group can submit their results online for verification at www.rudyprojectna.com/pages/project-podium in order to redeem. Athletes will be able to choose from the entire Boost 01 road aero colour line up, which includes Stealth Black and eye-popping Pink Fluo. Rudy Project’s new road aero helmet is quickly becoming an athlete favourite, following wind tunnel testing by ProCycling Magazine that demonstrated the Boost 01 was faster than any competitor helmet tested. To complement their helmet, athletes can also select a frame from the entire award-winning Tralyx family, including the regular Tralyx, Tralyx XL for additional coverage, or the new Tralyx SLIM, designed specifically for athletes with narrower faces. That, coupled with customer-forward warranties like Rudy Project’s 6 Year Crash Replacement Guarantee and Lifetime Replacement Lens Guarantee, make this an unbeatable prize package for the age grouper at the top of their game.

“Rudy Project is simply the best,” said Paul Craig. “We’re choosing to celebrate athletes who power the sport – the age group athlete and rewarding those that get to the top, the pinnacle of success. It may seem too good to be true, but we’re serious. If you win your age group in one of our listed races, we want to give you a helmet and sunglasses. If that extra push is all it takes to motivate someone to train a little harder, run a little faster down the chute toward the finish line, then we’ve done our job.”

Winning athletes can submit their information and race results for verification online. Athletes that won their age group in any 2018 full distance triathlon prior to the announcement of the program are also eligible to redeem retroactively. Full terms and conditions of the initiative can be found online, as well as a full list of eligible races. The program will run until December 2018.

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