Polar Blog Tips, tricks and information about training, fitness, activity, meals, sleep and healthy living 2018-06-19T13:24:16Z https://www.polar.com/blog/feed/atom/ WordPress https://www.polar.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/cropped-polar-symbol-640x640-32x32.png Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[No coach? No problem. Must-try training tips for triathletes without a coach]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=7818 2018-06-19T10:31:05Z 2018-06-19T10:30:22Z Here are our top tips for triathletes who want a boost in performance without hiring a coach.

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Just because you don’t have a triathlon coach doesn’t mean you can’t have a PR-setting triathlon season. Here are our top tips for triathletes who want a boost in performance without hiring a coach.

Let’s face it, triathlon is expensive. Between amassing gear for three separate sports, your grocery bill and race registration fees, these expenses can leave little wiggle room for anything else. If you’re curious about taking your performance to the next level but can’t afford a triathlon coach (or simply want to go it alone), there are still some straightforward ways to get some serious results by tweaking your training approach yourself.

While nothing can make up for the knowledge and expertise a triathlon coach brings to the table, self-coaching is doable if you’re motivated enough and have the right tools.

These simple coach-free tips could be the difference maker in your triathlon season.

Know Your Weaknesses

A coach will be able to recognize your weaknesses almost immediately, but it can be tougher to be honest with yourself. In order to progress in triathlon, knowing said weaknesses and addressing them is key.

Take stock of where you’re at after your last training block – what did you struggle with? What did you not enjoy completing? How did you feel after certain workouts? Write down your thoughts and be more mindful of them as you work towards your goal.

Training Load

Quantifying your training sessions is the only way you can accurately analyze and track your progress as a triathlete. Comparing a two-hour run to a two-hour run is easy enough, but when triathletes throw three different sports into the mix, comparisons get a little more complicated.

Monitoring your Training Load is essential in comparing the loads of different workouts and provide feedback to adjust the intensity and duration of future efforts. (The Polar Training Load feature included in the Polar V800 GPS sports watch also gives you an estimated recovery time to ensure you’re recovered and ready for your next session.)

Ask Yourself “Why”

Simply going through the motions while training will yield minimal results on race day. Schedule your training plan and execute each workout with intention. Instead of completing a 45-minute swim, show up to the pool with goals for the workout and a detailed list of sets. Not surprisingly, your workout will look different depending on if you’re trying to get faster or trying to build an endurance base. Training is not a “one size fits all” approach, so don’t treat it as such.

Orthostatic testing

There’s more to a successful training session than simply the effort itself. Your body will react to training loads differently when exposed to variable factors like stress, sickness and lack of sleep.

The Polar V800 GPS sports watch includes an orthostatic testing feature that provides metrics on how your body is recovering in order to prevent burning out. When compared with previous tests, you’ll be able to see any fluctuations or changes in your status and adjust accordingly. A coach can help extrapolate the data further, but the interface is straightforward enough for the average triathlete to glean valuable data.

Work backwards

Whether you’re training for your first sprint triathlon, or you’re targeting your next iron-distance race, it’s important to create a manageable timeline by working back from your big day. A good coach will use a general formula that he or she tailors to each individual client that takes their needs into account.

By choosing to go without a coach, you’ll need to do serious research on frequency and intensity of your workouts. Start with a prewritten 12- to 16-week plan and adjust as needed.

Recovery Status

Striking the perfect balance between training and recovery is hard – especially without a coach. The Recovery Status as part of Polar’s Smart Coaching features will take your heart rate into account and rank your current status as Balanced, Strained, Very Strained or Undertrained and give you an estimated recovery time after each workout.

Every athlete has a different level of exercise tolerance, so by keeping track of your recovery you can stay healthy, energized and on track while you train for your next race.

Support system

Obviously not having a coach means there’s nobody besides your own willpower holding yourself accountable. If possible, connect with a triathlon group in your area and schedule some of your workouts around their group sessions for a little extra nudge in the right direction.

When you’re having a less-than-motivated day, your peers will help you push through the slump when you’re deep in a training block. Plus, your new training partners hold a ton of (free) triathlon knowledge you can tap into if a question ever presents itself.

Keep learning

Even the highest-caliber professional triathletes are fine-tuning their training and racing methods as they progress through their careers. Sites like TriathleteSlowtwitch and LAVA Magazine regularly post free articles and videos on new training studies and tips for race day that you can apply to your personal triathlon endeavors.

Aforementioned outlets aside, there are loads of resources and forums online where you can find all the answers to your triathlon-related questions. Don’t believe anything you hear and read though – make sure the article cites its information from credible sources. Everyone has their own spin, so separate opinion from fact to keep from potentially injuring yourself because of bad advice.

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Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[3 things to know about breathing while running]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=7834 2018-06-14T06:59:26Z 2018-06-14T06:59:26Z Running Coach Ryan McCann lists three things (with a bonus tweak) all runners need to know about breathing on the run.

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Photo credit: James Mitchell

There are plenty of factors that can derail an otherwise perfect run. And while wild weather, too-tight shoes, imperfect socks, or a not-quite-suited-to-your-mood playlist can all throw you off your game, one of the biggest run ruiners is something we all do every day. Something totally second-nature. Something you probably don’t even think about.

“The biggest mistake runners make is not being especially mindful of the usefulness and function of the breath, or forgetting to do it all,” says Ryan McCann, run coach at Mile High Run Club in New York City. “Always be breathing!” Here’s what all runners need to know about breathing on the run.

1. Those sharp, painful, run-ending side stitch cramps you feel on the run are probably because of the way you’re breathing.

“Side stitches are caused by pressure on the diaphragm,” says McCann. “But beyond making sure you are, in fact, breathing, the other way to avoid a side stitch is to make sure your core strength is up to par.”

“Side stitches are also typically the result of strength issues,” McCann explains. “These kinds of functional cramps may be prevented by strengthening your abdominal and other core muscles. Improper form, poor posture, a full stomach, or starting off too quickly can all over-stress the system and lead to cramping.”

2. You should be breathing through your nose and mouth.

“Inhaling through your mouth is key because it brings in more oxygen than your nose,” McCann says. “Forcing breath in through your nose can also create tightness in your jaw and facial muscles, and tension is never good for running. Exhaling through your nose is key because the lungs extract oxygen from the air we breathe primarily on the exhale, and that oxygen gives you energy.”

“Because your nostrils are smaller than your mouth, exhaling through the nose slows the air escape so the lungs have more time to extract oxygen and, in doing so, feed the beast,” McCann says.

3. Don’t worry too much about totally overhauling how you breathe.

You may have heard of techniques like rhythmic breathing or matching your breath to your running stride, but McCann says not to stress over giving yourself a breathing makeover.

“Breathing should always feel natural and rhythmic,” he says. “A steady, continuous rhythm in your breathing matched with a steady, continuous rhythm in your movement is great for your overall running efficiency.”

Forcing your breath can lock tension and stress into the nervous system, so McCann suggests keeping it simple on the run. “Quiet, soft, and deep,” he says. “Find your natural rhythm, but consider developing a formal practice of controlling the breath, like Pranayama, which is a great way to further cultivate your practice when you’re not on the run.”

Want to try a few tweaks? Try this.

McCann practices Qigong breathing every day. “It focuses on creating a circular breath that builds from the belly,” he explains. “This helps center my awareness in my body, rather than in my head, so I feel more physically and energetically grounded.” Namaste.

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Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[Key triathlon lessons learned after 4 Ironmans | A tale of a triathlete]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=7786 2018-06-19T13:19:39Z 2018-06-12T11:00:16Z Our very own multiple-time Ironman Jyrki Salokorpi shares the key lessons he has learned about heart rate training, recovery and planning your triathlon training.

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A few weeks ago, Polar’s very own Ironman Jyrki Salokorpi shared his story of how he got into triathlon. Now, he continues to inspire us with the lessons he has learned along the way. 

First of all, if you’re serious about triathlon, seriously consider getting a coach. I had a coach for three years and he was an invaluable support in all of these areas, especially planning my training schedule so that all three sports were balanced.

1. Know your heart rate

A heart rate monitor is essential in triathlon training. I always monitor both my continuous heart rate and my average heart rate when exercising. Based on my own experience,  I know which level of average heart rate I’m able to maintain, I can use heart rate monitoring to adjust the speed and intensity during training and in races.

Consider your first races as practice rounds when you get to know and understand your own limits.

When I’m racing, I usually keep my heart rate on zone 3, which for me is around 140-150 (Max HR for me is 183). It’s ok if my heart rate goes up momentarily as long as my average heart rate doesn’t get too high.

The average heart rate you can maintain is different for everyone so consider your first races as practice rounds when you get to know and understand your own limits.

A triathlon coach can help you monitor and learn which heart rate zone you can maintain during endurance performances.

2. Divide your training into phases

In the beginning of the training season, triathlon training is usually very different from what it is closer to a race. As a rule, all training is planned according to the main race day.

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The first part of the season is all about improving your aerobic fitness, endurance and personal weaknesses. During this period, try to maintain your strengths and improve your weaknesses.

After building the aerobic base, you start to decrease volume and increase intensity. The focus is now on muscular endurance and anaerobic capacity. However, aerobic training needs to continue throughout the season, but less frequently. You need aerobic sessions to maintain your aerobic capacity and serve recovery purposes.

A good aerobic level is the base for tolerating anaerobic training and helps you to recover from tough workouts.

One of the most challenging things for me was that I did not know how my body was going to react to a 10-hour sports performance.

One of the most challenging things for me was that I did not know how my body was going to react to a 10-hour sports performance. This is because triathlon training sessions are never as long as the races.

The longest training sessions I did with my coach was 5 hours of cycling. I’ve heard about people who have done almost 10-hour training sessions but that’s rare. Still, a training session is different from what you experience in the race.

In my first race, I had no idea if I could maintain my heart rate on zone 3 so there may be surprises for triathlon first-timers on race day.

3. Leave enough time for recovery

After a 10-hour training session, it’s advisable to rest and let your body recover properly. That’s why triathletes rarely do that long training sessions because the recovery time is so long that you actually lose the benefit of doing such a long session.

Only the race situation pumps up all the adrenaline and gets me into the real “I mean business” competitive mindset.

What I’ve found to be a good practice for me is to do a shorter race before my main race because only the race situation pumps up all the adrenaline and gets me into the real “I mean business” competitive mindset. Without the tickling excitement of a race, it may be difficult to know what it really means for you to give all you’ve got or know for sure how your body (or mind) is going to react in a race.

Before my first Ironman, I did a half-distance triathlon four weeks before but that was too tight.

Before my first Ironman, I did a half-distance triathlon four weeks before but that was too tight: It didn’t leave me enough time to recover and prepare before the Ironman.

Before the last three Ironmans, I raced half-distance six weeks before and I felt like that was a good schedule for me. After a half-distance race, I had a week of recovery, then three weeks of progressive training and two easier weeks when I started tapering and preparing for the main race.

The key is to make sure you have enough time to recover because there’s no point in going into the Ironman exhausted – rest assured the Ironman will be enough to wear you down for a good while!

4. Stick with what you know

You know how people always say “never wear new shoes to a race” and we all think “yeah, yeah, everybody knows that”. Well, I knew it and yet, for some reason, four weeks before my first Ironman I found new running shoes that felt absolutely amazing so I decided to wear them for a shorter race. In the middle of that race, I suddenly felt a penetrating pain on my calf.

Because of the pain I couldn’t run at all for four weeks, and this was right before my first Ironman race! Luckily, I was able to run in the race but I wore an old pair of Asics Kayanos which I knew for a fact were comfortable (although heavy) and didn’t cause any pain.

5. Customize your training

One of the cornerstones of triathlon training is that it needs to be personalized for you. We’re all different and have different strengths and weaknesses, which need to be taken into account in your training plan.

The most challenging part in planning your training is balancing all three sports.

The most challenging part in planning your training is balancing all three sports. As a basic principle, 60% of triathlon training should focus on the bike but if you’re a weak swimmer, you need to train the swim more.

This is where a coach helped me to plan my training to keep all three sports balanced and avoid any of them getting too weak.

That can be an overwhelming puzzle to solve: for example, if I wanted to shave 10 minutes off my swim time, I would have to spend 80% of my training on swimming. This would mean that my strongest sport, cycling, and running would weaken too much and the end result would be slower. This is where a coach helped me to plan my training to keep all three sports balanced and avoid any of them getting too weak.

There are a million ways and opinions so it’s hard to know who and what to trust.

There are a million ways and opinions so it’s hard to know who and what to trust. That’s where a coach steps in. A triathlon coach can help you interpret your sports data and tell you when it’s time to do something differently. I mean, the amount of information and resources out there is endless but how do you choose from all the options available the ones that are best for you?

For example, there’s this kick-ass book called ‘The Triathlete’s Training Bible’ written by Joe Friel. The book is awesome but goes into very in-depth detail to the extent that I had to ask my doctor wife to shed light on some of the terms and concepts discussed in the book.

The book describes thoroughly what happens in the muscles and offers different periodization methods, but without a coach it may be difficult to choose the best method for you.

Don’t go it alone – a triathlon coach is your guide and interpreter

At best, a coach is your guide on your triathlon journey, interpreting when you don’t understand something and getting you through the rough patches on the way. A coach can suggest new, inspiring training sessions that you never would have thought of on your own.

For me, it was a huge help that my coach created my training programs directly on Polar Flow and all I had to worry about was sticking to the programs.

For me, it was a huge help that my coach created my training programs directly on Polar Flow and all I had to worry about was sticking to the programs. It was also a great learning experience on how to communicate my subjective feelings to my coach, which is essential for adjusting the training plan according to individual needs.

When you have your training plans all planned out for you (with an easy access to those plans, for example via Polar Flow), you’ll have a lot more time and energy for the actual training and you don’t have to be all the time questioning if you’re focusing on the right things.

If you’re on your own, reliable training data and analysis are invaluable in monitoring your training load and recovery status. The key is to find the ways that work for you and make sure you have enough variation and balance.

Accurate training data with a coach is, of course, the ideal combo for any serious athlete (even if you’re not a pro). An experienced coach plans your training, interprets your data and tells you what you should keep doing or change – all you have to do is focus on doing.

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Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[Want to run longer? Spice up your running life (and here’s how to do it)!]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=7656 2018-06-07T09:36:54Z 2018-06-07T09:37:09Z How to run longer and farther? You’ll find a million different answers to this question but here’s one that really works for adding mileage to your runs.

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How to run longer and farther? It’s the same question time and time again when it comes to runners looking to take their running to the next level.

According to a team of sport scientists and running experts from the Swiss running company On, to add mileage, you need to spice up your runs and here they tell us just how to do it. 

‘How to add mileage to your runs?’ You’ll find a million answers to that question but here’s one that really works.

Look online and you’ll see all kinds of answers, from the “running rules” to math formulas for baseline starts and incremental percentage stacks. A million answers, but here’s one that really works for adding mileage to your training (without a calculator needed), and it’s called adding variety to how you run.

are you running in a rut?

So what exactly do we mean by variety and how is that going to help you mount those miles right up? Adding variety to your training is when you almost become a different kind of runner to who you usually are.

More than just changing the scenery or your running route, it’s about making running not feel like normal running at all. When you get to that stage, you benefit by more miles logged in more ways. But before you get there, it’s important to know where you are now.

Do you often find yourself running the same route you’ve done many times before?

Do you often find yourself running the same route you’ve done many times before? Are you running a certain number of miles you could track without the help of a GPS, at a steady, consistent pace?

Maybe sometimes you head out a bit faster or a bit further, but really, the route is as familiar as the back of your hand.

Maybe sometimes you head out a bit faster or a bit further, but really, the route is as familiar as the back of your hand. The terrain is usually a mix of concrete sidewalks and stone and dirt park trails, but not what you’d consider “off the beaten track”.

The gear you run in will be somewhere between proper athletic apparel and, especially the more you train in a week, some old shirts and shorts you just throw on when everything else is in the wash (the classic runner conundrum). As for shoes, you’re wearing your go-to pair of the worn out running shoes you bought a million years ago (and chose those running shoes based on something else than your present running goals).

Let’s be clear: This is a great run. You’ll work up a sweat, feel good and it gets you one step closer to reaching your running goals.

But over time, you become used to this run. It’s your bread and butter run. So, when you’re looking to add more mileage to it, just like adding more bread and more butter… you can only enjoy it so much.

how to spice up your running

Changing your mindset when it comes to increasing running miles is how you can breathe fresh life into your training plans.

The trick when doing one of these “different” runs is to imagine you’re a different kind of runner all together.

The trick when doing one of these “different” runs is to imagine (at least for the first few times) you’re a different kind of runner all together. The environments the runs themselves take place in can help with this, but are also just a starting point.

Changing your running habits  and your gear and shoes is what really brings about the change and, just like an actor in a new role, can bring out new levels and highs in your overall performance.

With the below guide, think of these runs as their own sports, complimentary to your usual running and training. It’s a simple trick, but if you do it right, the miles will go up, and so will your benefits.

1. Your “interval run” becomes your “speed session”

You’ve heard about them and might already do some form of them, but chances are when it comes to interval training you treat them just like a shorter, faster version of your normal running route.

To change it up, head to the athletics track for your interval run days.

To change it up, head to the athletics track for your interval run days. The home of the fastest people on earth, going to the athletic track once a week can add in the variety you need when it comes to really feeling like interval training is something different from what you usually do.

Treat it like you yourself are a sprinter, so don’t run to the track from home; get there and get changed trackside.

HOW TO SPICE IT UP WITH GEAR AND SHOEs?

Obviously you want to look the part, so choose a singlet and shorter running shorts as your speed-session gear. When it comes to shoes, you should opt for a more direct shoe with less cushioning than you would use on a longer run. This will help you develop different muscle areas that will benefit your long game in turn.

2. Your “off” day becomes your “in” day

By “in” day we mean “inside”. What may sound blasphemous to some runners actually can come as a welcome reprieve for others, looking to do something a little different when it comes to their training (what we’re all about today).

Heading indoors and tackling the treadmill and stepper can work muscles your regular run may not.

Most training plans for runners recommend one or two days in the gym session or some other sport to compliment your running, and it’s here the “in” day can help you add some more miles to your overall plans.

Heading indoors and tackling the treadmill and stepper can work muscles your regular run may not, and the other huge advantage of the gym is that it’s usually available 24/7 in all weather, so there’s no excuse to not train.

HOW TO SPICE IT UP WITH GEAR AND SHOEs?

Just like with the “speed session”, a new mindset when hitting the gym for a run needs to be as much a physical change as it as a mental one. Gym gear tends to be light and often varies to what the weather outside or season may call for. Compression clothing often is worn on the treadmill by runners in the know, as using the machines around you for warm-ups and exercises can help fire muscles up differently to how they would on a normal run.

Shoes for inside running should be similarly cushioned to your long-distance running shoe, as the repetitive nature of an even, flat surface on the treadmill can mimic the concrete of your usual running terrain. As rolling an ankle is unlikely to happen during an indoor training, you can opt for less support and lighter shoes.

3. Your “training” day becomes “trail training” day

If you have long-distance goals in mind, the kind of run that can get you there is heading out onto the trail. Trail running has been building in popularity as the uneven terrain helps work you out in ways your normal, flat, concrete running training cannot.

Hill sprints can be the fast-track way to have a short session with maximum effect (similar to intervals).

The advantage of trail running is that it often goes hand in hand with hill running, which, as every runner knows, is where you can really get your money’s worth on a tight training schedule. Hill sprints can be the fast-track way to have a short session with maximum effect (similar to intervals).

HOW TO SPICE IT UP WITH GEAR AND SHOEs?

People can get immersed into the world of trail running, wearing all sorts of gear and gadgets that we’ll save for another day. As a quick tip though, make sure your legs are covered with running pants and socks in case of wily bushes and branches. You should also take your phone with you and water if you don’t know the track that well, just to be on the safe side.

When it comes to shoes, think the complete opposite again of your “in” days. Ankles are things you need to be protecting with extra support especially if you’re going long and hard into the wilderness.

Trail running shoes often look different from normal marathon trainers, with the extra support, grip and protection as must-haves. That said, a great pair of trail running shoes shouldn’t weigh much more than your normal pair, thanks to the high-tech materials good shoes should use.

Slow and steady (and different) wins the race

Adding variety to your training sessions and routine can help you find easy, extra miles, but it’s important to start slowly.

Don’t just head out and mix in three more runs into your plan. Go slow and go steady. See what works for you.

Don’t just head out and mix in three more runs into your plan. Go slow and go steady. See what works for you.

If you’re following a training guide, use how you’re feeling to add in these run alternatives to help you run longer: Different running tracks, different running gear and different running mindset.

You’ll find that if you fall in love with one of these techniques, the training miles will stack up on their own and you won’t notice how far your training has come until race day finally arrives.

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Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[16 open-water swimming tips every beginner triathlete needs]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=7653 2018-06-05T07:51:20Z 2018-06-05T06:00:26Z Open-water swimming is totally different than swimming in a pool but fear not: Here’s advice from 16 triathletes who have been there, swam it, and lived to tell the victorious tale.

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You’re an avid runner and a solid cyclist  so adding “complete a triathlon” to your list of must-dos seemed like a no brainer. But now that you’ve picked your race (yay!), it’s time to start training. And, in addition to logging lots of miles on the run and in the saddle, it also means getting comfortable on the swim.

Whether you’re a seasoned swimmer or you feel like a fish out of very deep water, open-water swimming is totally different than swimming in a pool. Add in race-day elements  potentially choppy water, fellow racers jostling for position all around you, no lanes to keep your aim in check  and you’ll quickly see why many aspiring triathletes experience intense moments of panic once they hit the water.

But fear not: Here’s advice for open-water swimming from 16 triathletes who have been there, swam it, and lived to tell the victorious tale.

1. Practice

“Sign up for swim-only races before you do the full triathlon. Train in open water and do point-to-point tracks, forcing yourself to be out in the soup on your own.” – Christopher Baker

2. Take it easy

“Slow and steady may not win the race, but just ease into it and take your time.”– Betsy Leto

3. don’t freak out

“Someone once told me, ‘When the water is not clear enough to see, get ready to feel unidentifiable things with your hands, face, and feet, and don’t freak out.’ Just keep swimming and avoid getting punched or kicked in the face.” – Juan Becerra

4. BREATHE

“You’re always taught bilateral breathing, but when you’re out there and the waves are coming from your left, just stick to breathing on your right side. This seems obvious, but, well, it didn’t come to mind during my first race, that’s for sure.”– Kristen Green Seymour

5. Train in open water

“If your race is in open water, which it probably will be, spend most of your swim training in open water. Training in pools and controlled settings doesn’t give the true experience of what the open water is like. Training in open water allowed me to understand for myself how to effectively adjust stroke and form when there are different tides, choppiness, etc. And if you’re worried about the cold water, use cold baths to adjust to the water temperature. This helped me get more comfortable with cool water temperatures, and had the bonus effect of helping ease muscle soreness and promoting recovery.” – Christian Shaboo

6. just hop in

“If you’re jumping off a barge or a dock, you can just sit down and hop in or ease yourself in. Keep an eye out for your fellow racers, but I know that for me, the thought of jumping into open water and going straight into the swim almost gave me a panic attack the first time I did it.”– Shannon Otto

7. find a coach

“Train with a coach to learn how to breathe. For a long swim, in particular, that makes all the difference.”– Daphne Matalene

8. train with a partner

“Swim with a partner so you can work on getting used to getting bumped, jostled, and elbowed in the face.”– Elizabeth Carr

9. SWIM STRAIGHT

“Practice sighting and always keep track of buoys or other landmarks. During my first open-water swim, I zigzagged all over the place because I thought I was swimming straight when I definitely was not. It wasted a ton of time and energy.”– Kiera Carter

10. hang back

“I panicked during my first few tris so now I just let basically everyone start in front of me.”– Theodora Blanchfield

11. PRACTICE IN YOUR WETSUIT

“Practice in your wetsuit before the race.”– Teresa Webb

12. KNOW YOUR SAFETY STROKE

“It’s good to have a safety stroke. That way, when  not if  something happens that flusters you, you’ll know what to do. That may mean going to the backstroke or breaststroke for a bit to catch up and help you be more deliberate.”– Jonathan Cane

13. flip to your back if you panic

“Stay to the back and don’t be afraid to flip to your back. Much of the panic beginners experience is exasperated because they can’t breathe normally to calm down in the chaos. If you feel panicked, float on your back and catch your breath.”– Anna Rhea

14. ENJOY THE CHAOS

“Visualize a mosh pit. Enjoy the chaos.”– Johanna Bjorken

15. FIND A RHYTHM

“Sometimes it can feel like you’re breathing through a straw. Try to find a rhythm. What helps me is looking at the beautiful lake or surrounding nature at every stroke and remembering how lucky I am to be swimming in a gorgeous lake with lots of people.”– Whitney McFadden

16. “Don’t drink the water!”

– Joe Fox

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Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[The whys and why nots of barefoot running]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=7650 2018-06-01T12:17:54Z 2018-05-31T06:00:22Z Here’s what Physical Therapist Emmi Aguillard says about barefoot running – and whether it’s something you should consider.

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Around a decade ago, something weird started happening in the running world: Runners started ditching their beloved Brooks and awesome Asics in favor of running without any shoes at all.

Research at the time – not to mention the popular book Born to Run – showed that running barefoot could, in fact, make you a better, stronger athlete.

Minimalist running is beloved by some, but it isn’t for everyone.

Soon, racers were lining up at start lines across the world in Vibram FiveFinger shoes or, for the very bold, in nothing at all. The barefoot boom has since slowed considerably, but many athletes are still going shoeless, and are fascinated with the natural running trend. Minimalist running is beloved by some, but it isn’t for everyone.

Here’s what Finish Line Physical Therapy’s Emmi Aguillard, PT, DPT, FAFS, says running sans shoes – and whether it’s something you should consider.

Do you still see many barefoot runners these days?

Not so many, but we definitely still get a steady trickle of them. I’d say around 10 percent of my patients favor a more minimalist running style.”

Why do you think people run barefoot? What are the biomechnical advantages?

“From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense. Human beings were designed for endurance sports like running, and we definitely haven’t had a modern-day running shoe throughout history.

Wearing an overly-cushioned or supportive running shoe can ultimately weaken the intrinsic muscles of the foot.

Biomechanically, the foot is designed to handle the stress of running for prolonged periods without support. Sometimes, when a runner is wearing an overly-cushioned or supportive running shoe, it can actually limit the ability of the foot to pronate and supinate the way that it should, ultimately weakening the intrinsic muscles of the foot.

It can also cause a runner to over-stride or overly heel strike. This leads to decreased efficiency, increased ground reaction force – or impact – being absorbed with each step, and increased risk of injury.”

What are the pros and cons of running barefoot?

“The pros are decreased torque on the hip and knee, shorter step length – especially if you over-stride – increased mid-to-forefoot strike if you’re landing too hard on your heel, and decreased impact peak on landing. Natural running is a good option if you’re prone to shin splints, knee pain, or bone-related or stress-related injuries.

The major con is the increased torque on the foot and ankle. Minimalist running probably isn’t for you if you’re prone to plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, or calf strains.”

What type of treatment do barefoot runners require versus those who run in shoes?

“We don’t see many true barefoot runners in New York City – understandably so. What I do see are runners who favor a more minimalist shoe versus a traditional running sneaker.

Oftentimes, these runners are in rehab for foot, ankle, or Achilles tendon injuries ranging from neuromas to Achilles tendinitis, although other times there can be issues up the chain, like IT-band syndrome. Sometimes the injuries are totally independent of the footwear and stem from improper training, compensations from a sedentary lifestyle at work, or other biomechnical issues.

If the issue does stem from the footwear – or lack thereof – oftentimes part of the treatment is coaxing the runner to try a more traditional shoe, at least for a certain length of time, to give the body a chance to heal itself. Barefoot runners are stubborn! One of the hardest things to do is convincing them to change this.

Repetitive running on concrete or sidewalk is bad for nearly every runner, barefoot or not.

Other times, it’s simply about educating the runner on the importance of soft-surface training, and avoiding concrete and sidewalks in favor of asphalt, a track, or trails and dirt paths. Repetitive running on concrete or sidewalk is bad for nearly every runner, barefoot or not.

Practicing good soft-tissue hygiene in regards to stretching, foam rolling, and other methods of self-myofascial release is crucial.

Another component is teaching them proper maintenance for their calves, Achilles, and plantar. Because the load of this region is greater, proper recovery between runs is key. Practicing good soft-tissue hygiene in regards to stretching, foam rolling, and other methods of self-myofascial release is crucial.”

How exactly does the body react differently to the pavement pounding when you’re barefoot vs. when you’re running in shoes?

“Even though barefoot running does decrease the impact peak on landing, with pavement running it can simply be too much impact for the human body alone to handle, especially for someone who’s newer to running and hasn’t had the years under their belt to increase the tissue strength or bone density of the lower leg complex.

I’ve seen patients develop neuromas in their feet, stress fractures, calf strains, and knee pain due to too many miles spent pounding on the pavement without enough shock absorption from their shoes.”

Do different muscles need to fire and engage in order to offer the support you’re not getting from shoes?

“Yes! Running in minimalist shoes or no shoes at all increases the workload of the calf and Achilles tendon, as well as the muscles within the foot itself. That’s why it’s so important that, if you’re thinking about trying out barefoot running, you follow a proper training plan to help your body adapt.

The issue I see the most is people who have spent their whole lives in shoes, decide to try minimalist running. That’s three years of sleepy foot intrinsic muscles that are suddenly on fire!”

OK so ultimately, what’s your expert take on barefoot running?

“In a perfect world, it does make sense. I’ve read Born to Run, I’ve experimented with it myself, and I can definitely understand the perks of it.

What I tell my patients is that if we were still living like our ancestors did, or running on soft trains in Kenya or Central America, it has more of a place. But just as we’ve adapted over the years to create our modern society, so do we need modern shoes.

For life in most urban areas with the stress that concrete puts on our bodies, barefoot running is simply not sustainable on a regular basis.

For life in New York City or most urban areas, plus the stress that concrete puts on our bodies, barefoot running is simply not sustainable on a regular basis.

That said, I am a fan of the shift from minimalist to quasi-minimalist shoes.

That said, I am a fan of the shift from minimalist shoes to quasi-minimalist brands like Altra, creating shoes with a low- or zero-drop and a wider toe box to mimic barefoot running, but with that extra cushion and some support to help the body better react to hitting the pavement over and over again.

At the end of the day, every single body is different, as are every individual’s biomechanics. There truly is no one-size-fits-all approach to sneakers or footwear. Research actually supports that the shoe that feels the best on your foot is the one that has been correlated with the lowest risk of injury – and sometimes the problems have nothing to do with the shoe at all.

Barefoot running can have a huge benefit in a training cycle – it’s just important to approach it in moderation and when appropriate.”

The post The whys and why nots of barefoot running appeared first on Polar Blog.

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Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[Hips don’t lie | Strengthen your hips for running]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=7582 2018-06-01T11:44:30Z 2018-05-29T05:30:39Z Personal trainer Lucy Young (with firsthand experience of hip surgery) explains why you should stop focusing only on your feet and how you can start strengthening your hips.

The post Hips don’t lie | Strengthen your hips for running appeared first on Polar Blog.

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Personal trainer Lucy Young (with firsthand experience of hip surgery) explains why you should stop focusing only on your feet and how you can start strengthening your hips.

I don’t think I quite understood the importance of having strong, mobile hips, until I was forced to undergo a hip arthroscopy. It reminded me that our bodies, including the muscles around our hips, work synergistically, and if one muscle is outperforming another, trouble lurks.

What about you? Are you too focused on your feet?

Athletes (particularly runners), listen up! You might have been able to get away with avoiding hip-strengthening exercises in the past, but exercising with weak hips is a disaster waiting to happen…trust me, I know.

I feel it’s important I share my knowledge on why you should strengthen your hips for running and how you can get started with some simple hip-strengthening exercises.

Stop Looking At Your Feet

It’s no news to any avid runner that foot-strike plays an important role in cadence, running efficiency, and ease. However, many experts agree that the emphasis placed on foot-strike has distracted runners from understanding the pinnacle starting point for great running technique – it’s all in the hips.

The emphasis placed on foot-strike has distracted runners from understanding the pinnacle starting point for great running technique – it’s all in the hips.

A heavy concentration on the feet, as opposed to the hips and torso, has meant that runners prioritize the ‘end of chain movement’ rather than looking at the beginning, and zoning in on where the stride begins.

It seems that we should place more emphasis on the hips and their ability to extend with control because hip weakness can throw off stability and create excess movement in hips and knees. It also can lead to problems down the chain, like shin splints, Achilles tendinopathy, and plantar fasciitis.

HIP Extension Over Flexion

Maintaining a neutral pelvic position is fundamental given the pelvis is a crossroad for forces in the body. If the pelvis falls out of alignment, or hips are tight, then the trunk and legs can stop moving efficiently and adversely impact the running gait.

The pelvis is a crossroad for forces in the body.

When we run, the hips predominantly drive the extension pattern, they then help the gluteus maximus create momentum through the mid-to-late stance and drive us forward.

Unfortunately, if you have a relatively sedentary job, spend a lot of time in the saddle (triathletes), or waste an enormous amount of time sitting down commuting to work each day, your body becomes accustomed to the static flexion position.

An excess amount of time spent in hip flexion won’t help you work on hip extension which is vital for strong running technique.

Why does this matter? Well, an excess amount of time spent in hip flexion won’t help you work on hip extension which is vital for strong running technique.

The Strong Alliance- The Core & Hips

Your core is married to your glutes when it comes to optimal running efficiency, and a weak core can quickly drive your hips and pelvis forward.  This ultimately limits hip extension and impedes running adeptness. When your core is strong (and no, strong doesn’t always mean rocking 6-pack abs), then your pelvis, hips, lower back and legs work in unison.

Strong doesn’t always mean rocking 6-pack abs.

Need a more convincing reason to work on your ‘abs’? Then consider that your core muscles help keep your torso upright and when your core is weak your hips, pelvis and upper legs don’t function optimally. A runner whose hips are unable to remain aligned when they run is a perfect example of someone who has not learnt the importance of the ‘hip-core’ or ‘deep hip stabilisers.’

The ‘hip-collapse’ takes place due to a weak core-hip connection. It can simply bu due to your core not knowing when it’s time to ‘switch on’ because it has never needed to, as compensating muscle groups are doing all the work!

A lack of deep core muscle strength has resulted in an increased workload for the hips and buttocks, creating knots and tightness.

In other words, a lack of deep core muscle strength has resulted in an increased workload for the hips and buttocks, creating knots and tightness. This also leads to poor pelvic posture and pain in the lower back.

In summary, a heightened concentration on foot-strike, too much sitting, and a weak core will inevitably result in hip complications.

In summary, a heightened concentration on foot-strike, too much sitting, and a weak core will inevitably result in hip complications.

To combat this, begin performing hip exercises 2-3 times a week minimum to strengthen your hips for running. Also avoid prolonged sitting (stand-up desk anyone?) and don’t skip plank exercises post-run.

3 simple exercises to strengthen your hips for running

If you’re not quite sure how to start strengthening your hips, here are three simple hip exercises to kickstart your program:

1. Single-leg deadlift

Starting with your feet hip-distance apart, bend one leg slightly and kick your other leg back as you bring yourself parallel (or close to parallel) with the floor.

Come back up to standing, this is 1 rep, perform 2-3 sets of 12 on each leg.

Single-leg deadliftSingle-leg deadlift

Single-leg deadlift bend

2. Side lying leg lifts

Working your oblique’s (outer abs), your outer glutes (bum) and hips, this exercise is sure to strengthen your muscular strength and endurance.

Start on the floor lying on one side with your bottom arm extended and the other on your top hip. Then, lift your top leg upwards with control and back down towards the floor. For more of a challenge, point the toes of your top leg towards the floor as your leg goes down and up (ouch!).

Aim for 2-3x sets of 30-seconds on each side.

     

3. Single-leg hip bridges

This move is perfect to strengthen your lower back, glutes and hips. Begin on your back with one leg bent and the other extended, use the bent leg to drive your hips upwards until your back and bum form a straight line. Then, come down to the floor and repeat. Ensure your pelvis does not rotate as you lift, and you are breathing out as you come up.

Don’t arch your back, make sure you tail-tuck your pelvis in and engage your core! Aim for 2-3x sets of 15 on each leg.

 


Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals or physicians. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.

The post Hips don’t lie | Strengthen your hips for running appeared first on Polar Blog.

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Anna Lind http://www.polar.com/blog <![CDATA[Running data highlights from 45 million runs [infographic]]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=7402 2018-06-14T07:00:10Z 2018-05-24T07:24:22Z Can you keep up with the pace of the fastest runners? Take a peek into your fellow runners' running data (anonymized, of course).

The post Running data highlights from 45 million runs [infographic] appeared first on Polar Blog.

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Running data is invaluable when you want to keep track of your training and progress. And more often than not, it’s enough and advisable to keep your eyes on your own track.

But, being the curious cats that we are, sometimes our attention wanders off to what others are doing. Many of us would give an arm and a leg to take a glance at our neighbour’s running data and indulge ourselves in a little playful (or serious) comparison.

The problem is there’s no way to get your hands on actual cold hard numbers of your fellow runners’ performance.

Or is there?

We cracked the door to our (anonymized) data vault and pulled out some numbers to reveal the hidden wonders of the world of running.

CHECK OUT THIS POLAR running data wrap-up TO DISCOVER:

  • What’s the most popular running distance around the globe?
  • Who run farther: The French or the Italian?
  • Can you keep up with the pace of the Polish?
  • Which places in the world offer runners the most ups and downs?
  • How time spent in different heart rate zones differs in maximum training and tempo training?
  • What’s the best time of the day to run?

 

There’s more where this came from so make sure you don’t miss our next data splash and other cool articles  sign up for our newsletter (on the upper right corner of this page) and we’ll send you a weekly digest (no spam, only our latest blog articles)!

The post Running data highlights from 45 million runs [infographic] appeared first on Polar Blog.

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Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[No rest, no gain | How to optimize rest and recovery]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=7647 2018-06-14T07:00:22Z 2018-05-23T12:10:46Z Read how professional triathlete Kaisa Sali monitors training load and boosts recovery.

The post No rest, no gain | How to optimize rest and recovery appeared first on Polar Blog.

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Pro triathlete Kaisa Sali shares her thoughts and experiences on the importance of rest and recovery as part of training. This post was originally published in Finnish on Kaisa Sali’s website on November 13, 2017.

Finding the balance between training, rest and recovery has always been challenging for me. Being hard-working and persistent by nature with loads of passion to achieve set goals easily leads me to do more than I should.

It helps a little to know that I’m not the only one struggling with this – many athletes are inclined to skip rest and recovery. Every ambitious athlete knows that hitting your goals requires long-term planning and consistent training every day.

The athlete who trains the most isn’t automatically the one who wins the race.

However, the athlete who trains the most isn’t automatically the one who wins the race. The champion is usually the athlete who works as hard as possible but also makes time for rest and recovery.

Speeding up recovery and optimizing the amount of rest are key for top athletes but just as important for regular exercisers and non-professional but serious athletes.

Many endurance sports enthusiasts go with full blaze on all the time, juggling a full-time job and family while taking sports seriously and working ambitiously to achieve their athletic goals.

While coaching enthusiastic non-pro triathletes, I’ve noticed that finding the balance between exertion and rest is even more challenging for them than for pros. Many endurance sports enthusiasts go with full blaze on all the time, juggling a full-time job and family while taking sports seriously and working ambitiously to achieve their athletic goals.

If your day-to-day life becomes all about performance and not at all about enjoying the ride, you’re in a risk of burning out and losing all joy and quality in what you’re doing.

How to monitor training load, rest and recovery

It’s surprisingly difficult to objectively monitor your body’s training load. During a tough training period you sort of wind up in a cycle  your body is extremely tired but you no longer realize it. You may even start to enjoy feeling tired if fatigue insidiously becomes the normal state for you.

Interestingly enough, at least for me, overtraining feels pretty much the same as not training enough.

For example, it’s typical for us endurance athletes that we feel better physically during a tough training period than during a resting period. Interestingly enough, for me overtraining feels pretty much the same as not training enough.

metrics THAT best help me monitor my recovery

I measure my performance every single day by comparing my running and swimming speed and my cycling power with how I’m feeling in general.

If my performance is not as good as usual for several days in a row, I know I have to change something. Measuring this with the Polar V800 GPS sports watch is extremely easy and the recovery status feature allows me to continuously monitor my recovery.

If my heart rate is clearly too high or too low compared to the exertion level, I know something is off.

I use a heart rate monitor in every training session and have been doing so for nearly 20 years now. If my heart rate is clearly too high or too low compared to the exertion level, I know something is off. Also, distinct changes in heart rate variability tell me something is off.

I regularly measure my heart rate in the mornings with an orthostatic test that is reliable and easy to do with the Polar V800. These days I don’t do it quite as frequently because I have learned to rely on my overall feeling. But a few years ago, I did the orthostatic test every day and it gave me and my coach valuable insight into my training and recovery.

For exercisers and beginner athletes just starting out their careers, measuring heart rate every morning can help guide their training and recovery to the right path.

Signs that tell me I need to rest

The people close to me usually tell me if I’m tired. I’m not always all smiles but if I’m irritated and cranky all the time, it’s a clear sign I need rest.

  • The job of a pro athlete is not always easy and sometimes enormous willpower is the only thing to get you through exhausting training days. However, if there’s a long period when I have to force myself up and moving and training doesn’t feel good anymore, some extra rest is the best cure to get my motivation back.
  • As a woman, my body tells me how well I’ve recovered. For me, changes in my menstrual cycle and especially if my periods become less frequent are a sign of overexertion. However, menstrual cycle is very individual and our bodies react differently so what’s true for me, may be different for you.

How to boost recovery

When you’re an athlete, you’re an athlete 24/7. When you’re not training, you’re trying to optimize your actions so that recovery would be as fast as possible.

These are my go-to means to speed up recovery:

  • I plan my daily schedule well ahead so that it’s as optimal as possible for my training. For example, during tough training days I always make time to take a nap during the day. On days that are less demanding training-wise, I invest in my social life and spend time on office duties.
  • I make sure my diet supports both my performance and recovery. I eat healthy food regularly. The key ingredients of my diet are vegetables, quality protein and carbs timed right according to my training.
  • My training is divided into heavy and light exercises, training days and training weeks. I never train more than what my training schedule says. I keep my easy runs extremely light so that I can go all in for the heavy ones.
  • Massage, stretching, workout and hot-cold treatments are part of my daily routine.
  • We are inextricably psychophysical and social beings so it’s important to balance these aspects that are so seamlessly intertwined in all of us. Even though my day-to-day routine is carefully planned, it shouldn’t be written in stone – it’s okay to enjoy a nice glass of wine every now and then or stay up an hour later than planned. When your mind is balanced, your body is healthy, too.
  • At least for me, social recovery is one of the factors that has a crucial impact on my results. I get strength and energy from the people close to me.

What we should all keep in mind is that sufficient rest is just as important as training. It’s worth it to prioritize rest when necessary but how much is enough and how to optimize rest and recovery is different for everyone – we all need to find the best ways for ourselves.

Of course, rest and recovery doesn’t necessarily mean a complete shutdown, lying passively on the couch. A great way to boost your recovery is to replace a heavy, long run with a nice, short walk in the forest or a relaxing dip in a swimming pool.

When was the last time you took the time to pause and listen to your mind and body: Are they balanced and ‘on the same page’? How do you really feel? What does your body need right now?

If everything is just right and in place right now, use that energy to push harder. If you feel like you need some time to rest, take it – resting is a key part of training.

Recovery load and orthostatic test are Polar Smart Coaching features that offer expert guidance to improve your training and useful feedback on your progress. Read more about Polar Smart Coaching and take your training to the next level.

 


Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals or physicians. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.

The post No rest, no gain | How to optimize rest and recovery appeared first on Polar Blog.

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Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[How a chubby engineer started triathlon training | A tale of a triathlete]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=7635 2018-06-14T07:00:34Z 2018-05-22T08:36:12Z You don't have to be a pro athlete to start triathlon training. Read how a chubby engineer got into triathlon and why he got hooked for life.

The post How a chubby engineer started triathlon training | A tale of a triathlete appeared first on Polar Blog.

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You don’t have to be a fitness freak or a pro football player to start triathlon training. This is the story of a triathlete, Polar’s Technical Account Manager Jyrki Salokorpi, who got into triathlon at the age of 45.

When I started triathlon, my background in table tennis didn’t exactly lay down the strongest foundation for the ultimate swim-bike-run challenge. Yup, at the time, I had mostly played ping pong, which isn’t considered to be the most demanding “endurance” sport there is.

Triathlon will take you to your limits and beyond, whether you’re a professional athlete in some other sport or a chubby engineer, like I was.

I could have just sticked to what I knew but something about challenging myself to the extreme fascinated me. 

The best thing about triathlon is that it offers more than enough challenge for all levels of athletes, despite their background.

Triathlon will take you to your limits and beyond whether you’re a professional athlete in some other sport or a chubby engineer, like I was.

Why did I start triathlon training?

The turning point for me was at 38, when I realized I weighed 102.5 kilos. That’s where I drew the line: I had to do something.

At the age of 38, I weighed 102.5 kilos. That’s where I drew the line: I had to do something.

I had been cycling as a kid, so going back to cycling when I needed to lose weight was natural for me. I took out my old Crescent bike from the storage and started cycling and paying attention to my diet.

My efforts paid off and after 1.5 years, I was down to 78 kilos. I had made huge progress with my weight but I didn’t stop there.

In 2012, I had the most inspiring encounter with a 59-year-old triathlete who was completing full triathlons in the time of 10 hours. 

In 2012, I had the most inspiring encounter with a 59-year-old triathlete who was completing full triathlons in the time of 10 hours. By then, triathlon had crossed my mind but I thought I was too old and it was way too late for me to get into that heavy training and racing.

As I was listening to this 59-year-old guy talking about triathlon, I couldn’t find excuses airtight enough to explain myself why I couldn’t do it, too. After all, I was only 45 at the time.

That’s when I set my goal: To complete one Ironman before I turned 50.

After the first taste of Ironman, you get hungry for mORe

Six months after my decision I signed up for my first Ironman, which took place a year from the sign-up. At that point, I was confident that I could handle the bike but how to survive the swim and the run was still a complete mystery to me.

I was not a great swimmer so the first step for me was to learn how to swim. I took swimming lessons and monitored my heart rate during all my swims.

I was not a great swimmer so the first step was to learn how to swim. I started taking swimming lessons and monitored my heart rate during all my swims.

At first, I could only do 25 meters of freestyle and then I had to take breast strokes back to lower my heart rate again. I never learned to be a fast swimmer but after training for a year or so, I improved enough to be able to swim freestyle.

There’s nothing like the feeling of stepping onto that red carpet for the first time and hear the words: “Jyrki, you’re an Ironman.”

I crossed the finish line for the first time in Ironman Kalmar. My race wasn’t perfect but I made it. There’s nothing like the feeling of stepping onto that red carpet for the first time and hearing the words: “Jyrki, you’re an Ironman.”

I immediately signed up for my next Ironman, in which I hit my PR of 10:24. I was the second fastest cyclist of my age group with an average speed of 36.5 km/h for 180 km, and completed the run in 3:48.

Inspired by my progress, I signed up for Ironman Maastricht.

Inspired by my progress, I signed up for Ironman Maastricht. I completed the swim in 1:16, which was 10 minutes better than ever before.

Completely over the moon by this unexpected success, I started the bike overly enthusiastic and full of adrenaline, which of course then backfired.

Because I felt like I nailed the swim, I forgot to monitor my heart rate during the bike and started cycling way too fast.

Because I felt like I nailed the swim, I forgot to monitor my heart rate during the bike and started cycling way too fast. The route was difficult with bumpy roads and a puncture on the second lap slowed me down for 10 minutes. After that, it was all downhill from there for me.

Unfortunately, the downhill didn’t apply to the actual run, which had a couple of tough climbs. The run was a disaster for me but I made it to the finish line with a time of 11:00.

I didn’t think it was too bad, but it was evident that my dream of racing in Hawaii would remain exactly that – a dream.

I went way beyond the goal set for myself back when I was 45. Instead of one, I completed 4 Ironmans before I turned 50.

So, I went back to Kalmar in 2017 but the run wasn’t flowing because I had gained 7-8 kilos more again.

But, what’s important is that I went way beyond the goal set for myself back when I was 45. Instead of one, I completed 4 Ironmans before I turned 50.

Even the strongest passion can wear you out – know when it’s time to take a break

I had a coach for three years but as my training started to get more and more serious and strictly structured, I noticed that I was getting more and more frustrated. My training routine didn’t allow any exceptions. I couldn’t even go for a run with my friends anymore because I had a schedule for all training sessions. 

Training started to feel lonely and it affected those around me, too, as my whole family’s vacations were planned around my training and racing schedule. I decided that taking a year off would be the best thing to do.

When training and racing gets too serious, the sport that was once your passion becomes a heavy obligation.

When training and racing gets too serious, there’s a risk that you’ll lose the joy that inspired you in the beginning. That’s when the sport that was once your passion becomes a heavy obligation. 

Now that I’ve had a moment to breathe, I find myself checking out triathlon websites again and feeling the familiar race itch. However, the next race for me is going to be about enjoying the event and the amazing atmosphere and not so much about how well I perform.

I have now slowly started to discover the fantastic feeling of exercising again.

Why triathlon gets you hooked for life

One of the great things about triathlon is that it’s so versatile and it never gets boring – you’re training three sports, plus additional gym workouts.

The most addictive thing about triathlon is challenging yourself. For me, it all started from thinking: Could I do it? Do I have it in me?

The most addictive thing about triathlon is challenging yourself. For me, it all started from thinking: Could I do it? Do I have it in me?

First, I tried a half-distance race because a friend suggested. Then, I moved on to race Ironman distance and the hunger grew as I went on. The next challenge was to start increasing speed: Could I do the Ironman faster?

In triathlon, there’s always the next challenge waiting around the corner. It’s a never-ending story.

In triathlon, there’s always the next challenge waiting around the corner. It’s a never-ending story.

The overall atmosphere and the sense of community in the Ironman races is beyond compare. I have never experienced anything like it.

I was blown away by the show going on during the ‘Heroes Hour’, which is the last hour of the race (if you don’t complete the race in 16 hours, you’re not officially an Ironman).

The way people encourage each other and show their support for those crossing the Ironman finish line during the ‘Heroes Hour’ is one-of-a-kind.

The way people encourage each other and show support for those crossing the finish line during the ‘Heroes Hour’ is one-of-a-kind.

One time I witnessed a woman finishing the race after the time was up, meaning she was going to go home empty-handed. But then, to honor her accomplishment, the winner of the race walked up to her and gave her his medal. That was a beautiful moment and a touching gesture.

Triathlon training may be lonely but in the race, we are one, striving for the same goal together.

The Ironman community is absolutely amazing. We’re not there to compete against each other but against ourselves, all in the same boat. We all have a shared goal: To outdo ourselves.

The training may be lonely but in the race, we are one, striving for the same goal together.

Stay tuned for the key lessons I’ve learned during my triathlon endeavours. I’ll share them with you guys in another blog post in the next few weeks.

Make sure you don’t miss it by subscribing to our weekly blog digest (on the upper right corner of this page) – no spam, only our latest articles straight to your inbox.

The post How a chubby engineer started triathlon training | A tale of a triathlete appeared first on Polar Blog.

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