I simply remember my favorite things...
and then I don’t feel, soooo bad. Sound familiar? I loved watching the Sound of Music growing up and this song is fitting for the list of my favorite things when training or racing. It’s true, these favorite things make me feel better some way, some how for LONG days and workouts. I truly believe the key to the long journey of endurance sports is to be comfortable. Well, there’s nothing comfortable about 50+ miles of riding or going through a 140.6 mile course, but at least some things make it more tolerable. It’s a personal opinion, but if you’re going to go LONG, you really need comfort and to pace yourself. No need to rush, get your heart rate up and shorten your energy bank. When training, you can mix up your intensity but for long racing days, it’s not a time to sprint. After doing a new sport you learn patience by pacing yourself and reap the rewards of meeting new personal goals.
Regardless if you’re a newbie to working out or simply reading for pleasure, I’d like to share a list of my favorite things that you may want to try if you haven’t already. Please note, these things may not be suitable for all…it’s simply my favorite things that help make these LONG days of training and racing a little more tolerable:
· Socks – I’m picky about socks. I don’t like thick socks but I do love me some simple, cheap, non-cotton thin socks you can find at Target (for about $5 a pack). My first pair came from Bass Pro Shop a couple years ago and they’re socks I wear biking in every race…they even have holes in them! If you like thicker socks or simply need to fill your shoes, I have gotten accustomed to the Experra socks where it’s padded in the heels and balls of the feel. My feet are narrow, so these actually fit quite well in my new running shoes. These socks can be found at any sporting goods store for about $15 ,but you can catch them on sale. I got my pair at Sports Authority during their buy one get one free sale.
· Running gear – I’m not a branded gal but I do love the Nike shorts or any shorts that are lined with underwear. I’m not sure how guys feel, but I sure do like NOT having on an extra pair of undies while running. Plus, less under garments = less chaffing (in some cases). I tend to shop for these on the clearance racks or even outlet stores. Ladies, Champion sports bras are great and comfortable, however, keep in mind that’s coming from a small chested girl. They do have some sort of wicking effect and feels pretty seamless. You can find these on sale at Target. I get these sports bras because I’m not paying so much for the brand. However, it doesn’t hurt to have one higher end pair for the races.
· Compression – I thought these were a fad until I did some scientific research and tried them out myself. It’s true, it helps with circulation and even helps with preventing clots which endurance athletes are at risk for. In addition, it’s good for recovery. So you can race/train in compression and/or wear them after a long workout. I’m not so sure about the effectiveness for shorter races but it’s worth trying these out if you experience cramping or would like to simply improve your circulation. CEP compression is a common brand and you can find these at most local running/bike stores. However, they are expensive so you can either find them on eBay or even Amazon for better pricing. Tri compression shorts can cost $130 while the socks range up to $50-60.
· Warmth – Early spring or late fall the weather can be a bit chilly. I find myself thinking “oh, it doesn’t feel so bad” when testing the temperature outside. It does not feel the same when biking! I’ve even had to borrow a male friend’s jacket during our crazy, cold spring. I was told I looked like a marshmallow (his jacket was white)! Stow away jackets can block wind although not really water repellent. These really do keep you warm and traps the heat while riding. Arm warmers are nice because you can just take the sleeves off when you get warm. Both are small enough to stow away in your bike pouch or fit in the back pocket of your biking shirt. These can be found on sale or end-of-season clearance at Amazon or outdoor sporting stores.
· Nutrition – I like to bring a bottle of water with Endurolytes on hot days. Believe me, you will need all the electrolytes you can take. When you sweat, you lose sodium and other nutrients that cannot be replenished through water alone. One can experience Hyponatremia if they drink too much water and not enough electrolytes during workouts especially in the heat. In addition, sometimes I do get a little nauseous on hot days and drinking electrolytes has always helped alleviate the discomfort. Since I do not tolerate food with texture, I like to stock up on Honey Stinger chews and waffles. The Cliff Shot Blocks are just as good as well but I find harder to chew through a block rather than the smaller Honey chews on the bike. Justin’s almond butter (found at Whole Foods) is a great source of protein before the workouts or if one needed more calories during the workout, they can bring a packet along for the ride. Almond butter is easier to digest than peanut butter so it can be a little easier on the GI before those long days. Plus, they come in different flavors…the chocolate one is yummy! I like eating mine on a banana pre-workouts or races. All nutrition can be found in sporting stores or even grocery stores. I do pay attention to the prices for they vary quite a bit between all the stores. The cheapest I’ve found Stinger products are at REI for $1.25.
· Snacks – Since I’m somewhat Gluten Free (meaning, I’m not allergic to gluten but experience more sensitive symptoms), I love carrying rice cakes and Kind bars for in between meals or if I simply get hungry at various times throughout the day (which is quite often). They are easier on my stomach. My favorite food is strawberry so I love eating them fresh or blended in a smoothie! Peaches are great if they’re in season because they have more juice to it!
· SPF – Summer can be brutal to our bodies physically and physiologically. We get ugly tan lines and do not look very attractive in a bikini or swim trunks. In fact, you will hardly find me in a bikini by the pool during summer training. I apply sunscreen 50 all over. Experts advise that sunscreen greater than 50 is not necessarily more effective. In fact, they may have more harmful ingredients/chemicals. Also, make sure sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB. If you want to learn more about ingredients in the sunscreen and protection levels see article here: Health Sunscreen Report. I also wear a visor or cap along with some polarized Native sunglasses (UV protected) and even arm coolers (awesome!). These Zoot Arm coolers have UPF and SPF in them and they keep you cool! However, you must keep them wet to keep you cool in the heat. And keep in mind, there’s a certain percentage of sun protection in clothing so it doesn’t mean to eliminate sunscreen underneath the clothes. It’s critical to protect your skin especially if you’re out for MANY hours or can only train in the heat of the day. Cheap sunscreen works just as well as the branded so you can save some $$ if you stock up. Arm coolers can be found on Amazon at a lower price than you find in most stores while the Native sunglasses can also be found on Amazon or even at REI/outdoor stores.
· Safety – ALWAYS wear a Road ID while riding and running. When I get up early to workout outdoors, I sleep in my Road ID bracelet since I have a tendency to forget to put it on early in the morning. They can be purchased online and personalized however you’d like: RoadID
· Goggles – I love TYR pro-nano goggles! They’re anti-fog and are metalized to dim sun in your eyes during open water swims. Plus, they feel more comfortable during long swims and keep water out. These can be found cheaper on Amazon rather than sporting stores. Otherwise, they can cost $25 if you don’t find them on sale in stores.
· Ear plugs – These not only keep water out of your ears but will keep you from getting dizzy if you experience dizziness when swimming. Water in ears can make you feel a little weird and throw off your balance. Check any sporting goods store for ear plugs for about $5.
· Plastic baggies – These are great to put your swim workout plans in to prevent them from getting wet. In addition, baggies are wonderful for cell phones or to throw your nutrition packets into while riding to keep from littering.
· Watch – The Garmin 910XT is amazing and can record your heart rate, pace, time, distance, and you can view your route on a map online. It can also tell you your strokes in swimming. Data can be uploaded online to compare your times throughout training and racing. The downside, it’s pretty pricey at $450 but you can find it on sale especially during Black Friday at most sporting/outdoor stores and Amazon!
· Epsom Salt – AMAZING after LONG workouts! Put in tub of warm-hot water and soak in it for about 30 minutes…feels awesome! Good for recovery as well since it can help ease muscle soreness. I typically like to buy the tubs at a wholesale store such as Sam’s Club. Get more for your money. Otherwise, you can find smaller sizes at almost any store with a first aid section.
· The Stick – Again, I didn’t want to get sucked into a sales pitch at a race expo (when they can easily convince you that it will make you feel good). Since my husband and I like to have the evidence that it works, we did some research and found that the Stick can be effective in rolling out knots or easing tension in the muscles. My husband is not easily convinced during these spills, but once he found out professional baseball players use them…he was sold! I got mine off Amazon for a better price and it’s similar to the foam roller.
· Chaffing – I never knew what was going on last summer until my sister-n-law, a nurse, told me about the Anti-Monkey Butt powder! I shouldn’t have to explain here but can be found at any drug store. For prevention on any areas of the body (especially if you wear a wetsuit), the Body Glide does wonders to prevent or minimize chaffing discomfort. If I wear a wetsuit, I like to glob it on over my neck and wrist as well as ankles to make sliding on and off easier. This is great for bike shorts as well! Can be found at most sporting good stores.
· What to do with a small plastic bag? – If you wear a wetsuit, put over hands and feet to get your limbs through the holes of your suit. Or, simply put your wet clothes in after swimming or those profuse sweaty days.
My husband and I rarely pay full price for products. The secret is to research the products and check out sales. We love to shop on Amazon and even though the prices aren’t always lower, they have a good return policy and we get free shipping with our Prime membership. In addition, we get cash rewards through Discover and our REI membership so it can be applied toward future purchases!
Quote of the day: Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. ~ Mother Teresa
Bible verse of the day: Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” ~ Luke 17:19