Sunday, 16 February 2014

7 ways to get more aerodynamic on the bike

7 ways to get more aerodynamic on the bike

Beating the clock...are we not all looking to save those crucial seconds and even minutes in the end! Especially in triathlon where it is just all about getting the best time possible we are all looking for ways to save time. When looking at the professionals either during a time trial event or a long distance triathlon dreaming of their bikes and aerodynamic posture is inevitable. However there are several ways to tweak a road bike and your kit to be more aerodynamic. 

1. Aero bars
Aero bars are most defiantly the biggest improvement you can add to your bike. Bringing the chest in a forward position the air will flow better as it passes through the body. Experts claim it may save up to minutes over a 40km ride. Really worth its money, since the cheapest clip on bars are available for around 100 euros. 

2. Body flexibility
Having aero bars is great! but being able to stay in that position is not as easy as you would think. A simple way of improving the ability of staying in that position is to do some flexibility exercises every day. Already 15 minutes per day of improving the core stability and flexibility will make a large improvement on comfort and not to forget...better time.

3. Bending arms in the drops instead of straight arms in the drops
This is just a free trick for those who do not have aero bars (yet), it brings the body in a more aerodynamic position. 

4. Aero helmet
To be honest it makes you look a lot more serious and professional. Above that it save a massive amount of time. It has been claimed that non aero helmets cause 4x the drag of an aero wheel set. In other words for a far cheaper price of an aero helmet ranging from 120 to 250 euros you can save a lot more time than buying expensive carbon wheels. 

5. Aero wheels
The most expensive but amazing looking add-on are carbon aero wheels! By bringing more momentum it will be easier to keep a certain speed. The air flow through the wheels and spokes are better distributed, decreasing the flow of "bad air", therefore decreasing the resistance. 
However they do not come cheap for a wheel set they can range from 1000 to 2500 euros and more...
Watch out though to buy them cheaper online from private sellers. The wheels are fragile and may have internal or invisible cracks in them. 

6. Aerodynamic drink bottles
For me it is always a fight between having more than enough drinks with me or saving drag and weight for the triathlon. Now with aero bottles which can be installed on the bottom frame, between the aero bars or behind the saddle the situation has changed. It is always important to have enough with you to keep hydrated rather than leaving it. Dehydration especially in summer triathlons are dangerous, therefore better to have a bottle extra or a couple of aerodynamic bottles with you. 

7. Triathlon suits 
Triathlon suits are in some ways similar to skin suits used by professional time trialists. They are tight around the body, with one or two small pockets (not on skin suits) for nutrition bars/gels. For a person aiming at doing a couple of triathlons a triathlon suit is really worth its price! Starting from around 50 euros going up to more than 250 euros. Essential aspects are that you feel comfortable to move in and that the padding sewn is good enough for cycling but not too large for swimming (not to cause resistance). 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

8 foods that will help to recover faster

8 foods that will help to recover faster

If you have the ambition of taking a sport seriously, one important aspect of training not to be left aside are the recovery foods. Why so? The body needs to replenish its energy storages before the next workout.
After a workout the body's storage of glycogen (carbohydrate stored in muscles and liver) are on the low point. Without replenishing the storages it will be impossible to train correctly and improve efforts.
Furthermore fatigue will arise not only earlier at training but also during the day. Additionally it will prevent muscle soreness (caused by tiny tears in the muscles after high intensity workouts). When working out every day and even multiple times a day the storages need to be refuelled as soon as possible. 
Ideally a person should eat recovery foods within 30-45 minutes post training. The quantity is around 3/4 of a gram of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight.

Eating the correct nutrients at the correct times is crucial for the best possible recovery. However which are the recovery foods that will refuel the storage of glycogen of the body? 
The nutrients an athlete should be looking for are carbohydrates, healthy fats, lean proteins and antioxidants.

  • Complex carbohydrates
  • High soluble finer content
  • proteins
  • Long lasting flow of energy in bloodstream
  • Vitamin B
  • Minerals
  • Antioxidants
  • Rich in fiber
  • Proteins
  • Vitamin B
  • Antioxidants
  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Anti-Inflammatory nutrients
  • Rich in potassium
  • Vitamin B6, B12
  • Regulate digestion
  • Refueling of electrolytes
  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Proteins
  • Reduce muscle soreness
  • Proteins
  • Vitamin D
  • Muscle growth
  • Reduce muscle soreness
  • Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries,...
  • Antioxidants (Polyphenols)
  • Reduce muscle pain and soreness
Dark Leafy Greens
  • ex: kale, broccoli, Swiss chard,... 
  • Minerals
  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Antioxidants
Whole Grain Pasta
  • Loaded with carbohydrates
  • Longer lasting source of energy than regular pasta

Sunday, 19 January 2014

What are carbohydrates and how are they good for triathletes:

What are carbohydrates and how are they good for triathletes: 

As soon as you take part into any sport and want to do it seriously the diet becomes just as important as the physical training. Without the necessary correct fuelling no athlete can perform and improve his skills. 
In this post about nutrition we will examine in simple steps what carbohydrates are, where we can it and how it is good for the body.

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are organic compounds created by plants through photosynthesis and taken up by the body to make glucose, which is the fuel our body needs for muscle contractions. If the glucose does not need to be used it will be stored in the liver and the muscles as a form of glycogen. If the glycogen storages are filled up any extra storage will be fat. 
Glycogen is essential for short period intense muscle movement such as for weight lifting. Also in the first minute of a triathlon glycogen storages will be used up. 

Taking up sufficient carbohydrates into the body will prevent using proteins as a source of energy. Because the role of proteins is building blocks for muscles, bones, hair, skin, other tissues. 
Furthermore with sufficient carbohydrate uptake it is possible to shift back the wall of fatigue significantly. 

If the body does not take up enough carbohydrates compared to proteins it will limit the ability to build and maintain tissues. In other words performance will be reduced and the ability to improve skills.  

Therefore in a triathletes diet 50% to 60% should be carbohydrates. 

What is the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates? 

Simple carbohydrates - are absorbed and converted rapidly by the body and provide a quick source of energy. They are found in fruits and dairy products, are more easily digested by the body.

  • White bread/rice
  • White pasta
  • Quinoa
  • Yoghurt
  • Milk (low fat)
  • Chocolate milk
  • Dried fruits
  • Banana
  • Apple
Complex carbohydrates - Takes longer for the body to absurd and digest, also take longer to breakdown. Therefore provides a slower source of energy. Very important in long distance races.
  • Beans 
  • Sweet potato
  • Noodles
  • Brown rice
  • Whole pasta/bread
  • Corn products
What is carbo-loading, and how is it effective? 

Carbohydrate loading is the high quantity intake of carbohydrate nutrients a couple of days before the race.
Usually the 3 days leading up to a long (90+ minutes) race distance athletes will take up high amount of complex carbohydrates. By doing so they are loading the body with long lasting energy that can be used during the race. As said previously it will also push back the barrier of fatigue mentally and physically.
The type of carbohydrates is also important go for carbs with a medium level of fibers, and avoid processed foods.
Go for: Whole pasta/bread, brown rice, lean proteins, vegetables and fruits.
I myself always take 3 days for carbo-loading and really feel the difference if I have done it or not. If you haven't done it you may feel hungry and sudden fall in energy levels during the race.

"You can keep going and your legs might hurt for a week or you can quit and your mind will hurt for a lifetime." 
Mark Allen (6x Ironman World Champion)

What do you need for a triathlon?

What do you need for a triathlon?

For athletes who are new at triathlons it may seem humongous what all needs to be taken with when going to a triathlon. However for the people who have done a couple of triathlons but are not 100% sure of what to take with them here is a list of what I consider the most essential equipment. For what I will be talking about it applies to sprint and olympic distance, for longer distances more may be needed. 
Of course some people may take something else that I would not take to a race, which is perfectly possible. 
All equipment except for the bike and the wetsuit I mention all fit in a standard 20-25L backpack.

Before each race I like to set out everything on the table or bed in 4 sections for each part of the race:

First the swim:
  • Wetsuit (for cold water or from olympic distance and longer)
  • Swim goggles (clear lens (for little to no sunshine) and coloured lens (for a lot of sunshine))
  • Swimming caps (Usually these are given out for each race)

Second for the cycle: 
  • Race bike
  • Helmet
  • Sunglasses
  • Cycling shoes
  • Belt to hang race number
  • 2 drink bottles for during race

Third for the run:  
  • Running shoes
  • Cap (to block off hair, sweat and sun)

Fourth for nutrition and before/after:

  • Baby powder (to put in the cycling and running shoes to dry off feet and reduce friction)
  • 1 drink bottle for recovery after race
  • Cereal bars or gels (depending on personal preference)
  • Small towel (useful to dry feet before stepping into cycling or running shoes)

By getting everything together the night before it will reduce the chance of forgetting something. At the same time I go through a race in my head thinking of what I will be needing. 

"If it's hurting me, it's killing them" - Sebastian Kienle

Thursday, 19 December 2013

How to improve your times at the transitions

How to improve your times at the transitions:

In triathlon there are the 3 disciplines but there are also two transitions: the first one between the swim and the bike also called T1 and another one between the bike and the run called T2. In my opinion, and most triathletes will agree with me that, the two transitions are the fourth discipline of the sport! Practice and care are needed to master this time saving discipline.

Why? Most probably because the transitions can make or brake your race! A good performed transition can save for an amateur at least 30 seconds to a minute. For top end athletes it may either bring you closer to victory or cost you too much time.
In comparison to another sport, Formula 1 is rather similar with pitt stops. The fastest pitt stops are between 2-3 seconds, although any mistake from the pilote or the crew and several crucial seconds are lost.

Therefore I will be sharing 9 tips on how to shorten time during transitions:

1. Think ahead and place the gear for the cycling first, then the objects that will be needed for the bike part. Such as shoes, helmet, sunglasses and race number belt.

2. Then set up the gear needed for the run including running shoes, towel (not necessary but very nice), and hat if needed.

3. A towel is very handy not only does it kind off determine your space from your neighbours but it helps to clean the possible dirt and little stones from your feet.

4. Have a habit of putting all the gear always at the exact same place so it becomes a habit for the brain. During the race the succession of movements will therefore be smoother and you will feel less stressed.

5. Clipping the shoes onto the bike (The above video shows how to) and then using an elastic to tie the shoe to the bike is a simple trick that saves at least 10-20 seconds. Most often you see amateurs running with their cycling shoes until they are out of the transition area.
This is not the best idea because: 1. you are breaking the shoes quite badly and will have to replace the clips very often. 2. These shoes are not made for running, therefore they are slow and uncomfortable on the pavement.

6. Using baby powder in both running and cycling shoes will help to slide into the shoes and absorb sweat.

7. For the people racing with wetsuits, a simple trick to remove the suit faster is before putting on the suits is to at the end of the sleeves add some vaseline. This will make the arms and legs more slippery and the suits will drop off more rapidly.

8. When training for a triathlon you should not only focus on the three discipline but also on the the transition. That part of the training comes in two parts, one being the setting up of gear habit and the other being the getting on and off the bike! Which turns out to be an art on itself.
The first video here below shows how to jump on the bike. It does take a bit of time to get used to it, but it does same many important seconds!
The the second video shows how to get off the bike (with a bit of cheering from the parents and friends)
9. In my opinion the first transition feels the heaviest because of the hard muscles who have to adapt from the water on land and also having to catch your breath. In the second transition it is important not to loose focus due to possible fatigue and being uncareful. 

Now with that bit of help you should already be able to save critical seconds and feel a bit more like a true professional!!

"You can keep going and your legs might hurt for a week or you can quit and your mind will hurt for a lifetime." 
Mark Allen - 6x Ironman Hawaii record holder 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Midnight Run Lausanne

Midnight Run Lausanne:

What better to stay in shape during the winter period than a little race through a city. In lausanne this opportunity came at a perfect moment with the Christmas spirit at the Lausanne Midnight run through its streets. It were my friends Pauline, Adrien and Damien who told me about the event and who ran with me. With many uphills and of course downhills it was rather a challenge. Fortunately the streets were not frozen allowing the participants to run safely through the streets of the city.

The race itself was amazing even though the temperatures averaging zero degrees Celsius, warm clothing was a must and much appreciated. Although some seem to think shorts and T-shirts were enough!!!!
The setting was beautiful throughout the centre of Lausanne with the crowd cheering for all the brave runners with a cup of Glühwein in their hands.
Many of the participants were decorated in the most hilarious costumes such as presents, Santa in his sled with the reindeers, many many many Santa's and much more.
At the start of the race I trying to get as much as possible in front of the crowd as possible to have a little more space around me. In the middle of the mass it was just too dangerous, with over a thousand people at the starts. However after around 2 kilometres the cold started to enter my lungs and began to hurt my respiration causing my legs to feel heavier and heavier due to the lactic acid. What did keep me moving through the cold was especially the crowd, they were amazing filled with humour. Some people in the crowd would offer us a Twix or some strong liquor for the daredevils. The third kilometre was probably the most difficult one, whilst the four felt a little better with the finish in mind! By the time I could see the finish about 200 meters away the whole body was just dead and desperate for a cup of thee! However a last little sprint was still to be found in the legs with again the massive support of the crows cheering for us.

The organisation offered at the finish some soda and very welcoming thee (the heat of it was nice, the taste: buark!). After we all gathered in the giant tent to see the winners go on the podium and have a drink together in a christmas atmosphere.

Time: 20.47 min
Men overall: 83rd/414
Men Elite: 75th/350

For anyone thinking about going to the event as either a participant or just for the atmosphere I can only say: You should come! 

So when you're cold
From the inside out
And don't know what to do,
Remember love and friendship, 
And warmth will come to you.

Monday, 9 December 2013

The Heroes of the sport

The Heroes of the sport

Hey everyone, 
In this post  I will be sharing with you who are the heroes in the world of triathlon. 
All starting athletes as children have some person they look up to. They admire how successful the very best in the sport are.
For myself I had a couple of athletes who I admired such as: Michael Phelps (22x Olympic medalist), Michael Schumacher (7x F1 World Champion), Gella Vandecaveye (2x Olympic medalist), Richie McCaw (All blacks Captain) Tom Boonen (3x Tour of Flanders, 4x Paris-Roubaix) and Frederik Van Lierde (Ironman Hawaii). Driven by success and will they are addicted to what they are doing. All these athletes made me want to continue and grow in sport. 
However now we will talk about who are the Heroes in the sport of triathlon. Since the sport ranges in various distances so do the specific athletes who will be discussed.
 To begin with Luc Van Lierde, he was the first Belgian athlete to win the Ironman of Hawaii. For him once in 1996 was not enough so he won it again 3 years later again. His career did not start with the long distance, as many triathlete he began with sprints and soon focused on the olympic (1.5km, 40km, 10km) distance triathlon (the distance I want to compete in). What amazed me by his personality are two things: First in the same year that he won Hawaii he became European and World champion in the olympic distances! Second of all he did most of his career without coaches. At the times coaches did not exist since the sport was still so young and growing. Luc had to go himself to experts in each three areas of the sport to ask them how to develop his skills. He was an inspiration for many children who watched the Hawaii race...

In 1996 at the age of 17 a young man named Frederik Van Lierde ( was watching the Hawaii race and saw how Luc his name mate won his first ironman title. At that moment he told his parents: "can I please have a bicycle because I want to try to be a triathlete".
Already from his first races in 1997 the results showed he had to potential to win much more and bigger races. Often finishing in the top 3 positions at local and national races his career took a big jump when he won the Belgian championship in 2002 on the olympic distance and as well as Vice European champion olympic distance U23. From then on his career just keeps on become more amazing with this years win at the Ironman of Hawaii crowing him the absolute ironman champion of the year. However what amazes me about this person is how much workload he can handle and the intensity of his programs. Being coached by his former hero Luc Van Lierde he trains between 30 and 35 hours per week to stay on top of his sport.

Now in the Olympic distances two British brothers stand out from anyone else named the Brownlee brothers. Alistair Brownlee the eldest brother he is 2x European and 2x World Champion back to back, with on top of that gold medalist at the London 2012 olympics in his home country. On the side of that he current is doing a Masters in finance at the Leeds Metropolitan University. Being a student myself I am amazed how he find the perfect balance between top level athlete and be able to be a student. I hope some day I can find that balance myself to be able to compete in bigger races and at the same time succeed in my Marketing studies who have of course the priority!

Now being the brother of it must for most people not be easy, Jonathan on the other hand is just as competitive and talented as his brother being himself a bronze medalist in London 2012. Whilst his brother is king of the Olympic distance Jonathan is at the moment probably because he is younger too focused on the sprint distances being double World Champion in that discipline. 
The two brothers are training partners and are both currently enrolled at the Leeds Metropolitan University.

I hope to have brought you a little bit more insight into this AMAZING sport and hope to soon bring some more stories to you!! If you would want me to expand on a subject I have not covered yet (many still to go :) ) then please let me know.

To finish of this post I would like to end with a memorable quote in memory of the worlds most inspiring people who has just left us last week:
"Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do." Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)