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It has been a long time – at least 10 years – since I’ve gone downhill skiing. Last fall, one of my goals was to downhill ski at least two times in the upcoming season.


One down, one to go.


Yesterday, my friend Michele Stumbaugh and I went to Copper Mountain. I have to say the snow gods must have been conspiring to encourage me to continue Alpine skiing because the conditions were absolutely perfect. It was a sunny day, no wind and some locals we rode the chairlift with said they haven’t had this much snow since 1982.


I did a really bad job of taking photos, mostly because while riding the lift I had a phobia of dropping my cell phone. You might wonder why I didn’t take a photo at the top of the lift and that’s a reasonable question. The short answer is focus.


I was so focused on proper unloading, steering my skis in the right direction and avoiding crashes with small children that taking photos was the last thing on my mind. The only photo taken was in the parking lot.





I got a new Giro helmet for Christmas and yesterday was the inaugural outing. Before the trip I was somewhat concerned that I’d find a helmet annoying; but I have to admit it was really comfortable. Once I had it on, I never gave it a second thought.


Eyeballing the skiing and boarding crowd, I was surprised how many people wear helmets these days. I was expecting around 50 percent, but if yesterday's group was a reasonable sample size I’d guess the number to be closer to 90 percent.


I could go on and on about the number of things that have changed in the sport of skiing the last 10 years, but one thing remains the same and that’s the stunning beauty of the Colorado mountains.


I promise, more photos next time…

720 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: colorado, giro, skiing, copper_mountain

Back in August, I wrote a column that asked if the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race was becoming the next Ironman phenomena. It looks like that story is one step closer to reality.


Traditionally a lottery pick, with the entry deadline coming up on Monday, January 31, race organizers have added three qualifying events to help riders enter by performance rather than luck. The currently unnamed qualifying events will be held in California, Colorado and a Northeast location. Each event will have 100 qualifying slots, totaling 300 riders out of a 1500-rider field. (website paste below) notes that “The three qualifying races will expand to an eight-race series by 2013 with additional races added in Texas, the Southwest, Midwest, Southeast and an additional California event.”




From the Leadville Trail 100 race website FAQ section:


Is there a limit on the number of participants in the race?

Yes, here are the caps for each race:

The Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race has a limit of 1,500 cyclists.

The Leadville Trail 100 Run has a limit of 750 runners.

The Leadville Trail Marathon has a limit of 1,000 runners.

The Leadville Trail Heavy Half Marathon has a limit of 500 runners.

The Silver Rush 50 Mountain Bike Race has a limit of 1,000 cyclists.

The Silver Rush 50 Trail Run has a limit of 750 runners.

The Leadville Trail 10K Run will have a limit of 500 runners.

1,214 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: leadville_100_mountain_bike_race

I'm really excited to be one of the presenters at the Triathlon America conference in sunny San Diego at the end of February. Triathlon America is a newly-formed organization dedicated to promoting the sport and business of triathlon.


My session is:


Marketing, Media & Alternate Revenue Streams for Successful Coaching Business
How do you grow a coaching business? How do you use multiple forms of  media to grow your business? What does it take to get a book published?  Is it necessary to have alternative revenue streams to supplement your  coaching business? What is your strategy? Bernhardt will share how to  develop a business strategy that helps your business grow and adapt to  change.


For coaches attending the session, I'd like to customize the the presentation for you. If you are registered, thinking about attending or even if you're not attending, but have some questions on media-related issues - please send them my way. Here are a few requests that I've received so far:


- What are typical fees charged by freelance fitness writers?

- What are an author's rights to a column?

- When should I write for "free exposure"?

- What if my "free exposure" column shows up on another website? Who is really benefitting?

- What are typical royalties for books?


If you have requests, please post them here or send them to me at

981 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: triathlon_america

Today I was off the back of the group ride. Waaaaaay back. It’s interesting how not riding your bike can, and will, make you slow when you get back on the bike. This is particularly true for rides over an hour and when compared to other people that have been riding.


I was kind of thinking (secretly hoping?) that I’m not like all the rest of you humans – I’m special.


Ah, special indeed.


Turns out, I’m just like everyone else. Dang.



Two of today’s group, Peter Stackhouse and Bruce Runnels, are seen riding through “The Narrows” towards Estes Park, Colorado. 


It has been three weeks since I’ve been on the bike for over an hour. In that three weeks, I’ve been on a spin bike twice and no rides outside.


Sure I’ve been doing a bit of skiing, a little running, a dab of excuse making (reasons why I skipped an indoor ride). Sometimes a harsh visual, such as no other riders in sight, is enough to motivate me. Yes, this afternoon I feel more motivated. Will it last?


Time will tell.


One thing I can say for sure is that not riding the bike definitely makes me slow and I’m certain it does the same for you.


Will you ride this week?



Appropriately named a Colorado kickstand by Carl Ciacci

1,088 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: colorado, estes_park, cold_weather_ride, colorado_kickstand

In case you didn’t know, detailed financial statements are publically available for your sporting organizations.


You can select the hot links included here to find the main pages for financial statements for USA Swimming, USA Cycling and USA Triathlon.


Some quick pulls from the statements include that in 2009, USA Swimming spent $1.3 million for legal services. In the same year, USA Triathlon claimed $8.3 million in contributions and grants. Also in 2009, USA Cycling collected $4.5 million in membership dues.


The CEOs of USA Triathlon and USA Cycling make annual salaries less than half that of the USA Swimming CEO at a total compensation package of $731,581.


If there are world-class expectations and world-class performance there should be high, world-class, compensation.


I’m happy to see the organizations associated with swimming, cycling and triathlon increasing income and salaries. It may be awhile before we reach the levels of baseball, football and basketball – but – there has been significant improvement in the last 10 to 15 years. 

1,220 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: usa_triathlon, usa_cycling, salaries, usa_swimming, financial_statements

Some of you might be thinking that a good frosted donut can solve many pain issues.


Others might be thinking about the pink, frosted kind of ankle donuts – like the ones offered by SockGuy…


Ankle donut.jpg



No, I was searching for a donut-shaped piece of foam to protect my prominent medial malleolus bone (the ankle bone that is just above the arch of your foot) during Nordic skiing.


I used to get medial malleolus pain after downhill skiing, but I hadn’t really noticed it during Nordic skiing until recently. Those of you that have had pain in this area know it makes proper skiing form impossible.


In an effort to protect the bone from pressure and friction from my boot, I went looking for ankle donuts. There is one company out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado (Ski Trends) that makes ankle donuts so I picked up a pair at the local ski shop.


It turns out that the donuts didn’t solve my particular problem.


After taking a break from skiing, I decided to try solving the problem with a combination of fixes I’ve learned through working with ultra-runners. The first thing I tried was to cover both medial malleolus bones with moleskin. That solution bought me a little more time skiing, but didn’t completely resolve the problem.


The second fix I tried was to put moleskin over both medial malleolus bones, then wear a knee-high nylon, followed by my ski sock. This solution offered padding for the bone and helped dissipate some of the friction. This solution did allow me to ski about twice as long without pain; but I still had noticeable ankle pain after skiing.


I’m still in search of a solution that completely solves the problem. When I find it, I’ll let you know.


In the mean time, I may have to test the theory that a good frosted donut can solve many pain issues...

2,945 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: nordic_skiing, medial_malleolus_pain

This post is a place to share your personal findings on pulse oximetry data.


I'll gather up a bit more information to post in a week or so, but here is a start:


My home (~5000 ft. elevation) readings (about six days of data  readings) on oximetry ranges between 97-98% for me (96-97% for Del, my husband that does not have asthma and he is not an endurance critter). Arrival to  Frisco, Colorado I was 91-92% pre-asthma meds (Del@ 95%). Same day I was 95% post-asthma meds and post-skiing.


The next morning I was at 94% pre-asthma meds, 97% just 30-minutes post-asthma meds, 93% at 9:30 pm (about 12 hours after asthma meds). The third morning at Frisco, near 48 hours after being at altitude I was bouncing between 96-97% pre-asthma meds. The next two days at Frisco produced the similar results at 95-96%. Returning home, I was pretty consistently at 98% every morning for four mornings. Know that I've been at altitude about once every 21-28 days for the last year. I'm there an average of two days at a time. It would be interesting to see numbers for me about 1.5 years ago before the monthly altitude pops. June of 2009, I really felt the altitude with almost a year of non-exposure I was huffing and puffing going up two flights of stairs. Exercise intensity was quite compromised. 


For this schtick at altitude, Del remainded pretty consistent at 92-95% in Frisco, 95-96% at home. His reduction was less than mine. Asthma? Or just individual differences in tolerance?


Comments or data sharing are certainly welcome here ~

930 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: altitude, exercise, asthma, pulse_oximetry

I received this question on Facebook. It is a good question and the answer is somewhat complicated.


Before we get into symptoms, first let’s define “overtraining.” Take a look at the section titled “An Unknown Fatigue” in the column Examining Chronic Fatigue. Of course, no athlete wants to experience chronic fatigue.


Before chronic fatigue and overtraining, there is overreaching. Overreaching is a response we want during a normal training process. The body is stressed in such a way that after recovery there is improved performance. A partial list of some of the normal symptoms of overreaching includes:

  • Elevated morning heart rate
  • Elevated resting heart rate (sitting on your couch)
  • High perceived exertion, with an accompanying low heart rate
  • Low strength, speed or power output with high perceived exertion or heart rate
  • Feeling flat, tired, depressed or grumpy (most often noticed by others)
  • Not mentally sharp, feeling “dull”
  • Low motivation for training or other activities
  • Muscle or joint soreness
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Changes in body temperature


With a few days to a week of recovery training, the symptoms of overreaching disappear and performance improvements can typically be seen within a week or two of recovery. In some cases, such as recovering from an Ironman, a marathon or an ultra-distance cycling event, the symptoms improve over the course of a couple of weeks; but performance improvements do not come for some three to four weeks after the recovery process began.


Overtraining symptoms are often the same as overreaching symptoms, which makes diagnosis of an undesirable response tricky.One major difference is that the symptoms listed above do not improve after a week of  recovery and improvement may take several weeks.While there’s not a line of delineation between overreaching and overtraining, additional markers are often present in overtraining:

  • Excessive, undesireable, changes in body weight
  • Changes in digestion (diarrhea, constipation, nausea)
  • Absence of menstruation
  • Overall performance degradation (including early onset of lactate accumulation and an inability to complete regular workouts)
  • Changes in biochemical markers (such as lower levels of plasma glutamine)
  • Changes in hormonal markers (decreases in total and free testosterone, increases in cortisol levels and an unfavorable ratio of testosterone to cortisol)
  • Decreased immune system (more or more severe colds, flu and other illnesses)
  • Increased injury rates (more frequent and/or more severe injuries)


Again, the above list is far from complete and this is not a full discussion; but hopefully it gives you some take-away ideas.


Key points include:

1.      Know what your baseline markers are when you’re healthy.

2.      Basic blood tests provide some information.

3.      At-home testing for heart rate and normal-for-you body temperature is also easy to get.

4.      Keep a training journal so you can track performance and trends.


Hopefully, you are just experiencing overreaching and a bit of rest will get you back to feeling healthy and strong. Keep me posted on what happens.



Rowbottom, D. et al, Monitoring for Overtraining in the Endurance Performer, “The Encyclopaedia of Sports Medicine, Endurance in Sport, Second Edition” by Shephard & Astrand, an IOC Medical Commission Publication.

1,149 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: chronic_fatigue_syndrome, overtraining, overreaching

I love sweat

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Jan 4, 2011

It is the glistening, sweet, salty proof that I’m motivated to do what it takes to get what I want.


Last Sunday late afternoon I headed for the gym. I felt that I wanted and needed a workout. There were a few people there, but it wasn’t crowded by any means. The spinning class room was dark and chilly, class members finished their workout hours ago.


I turned one of the bikes around to face the back side of the room, which is a panel of windows. I could look out into the gym and watch other people working on their routines. Donning my iPod and an indoor cycling workout, I settled in and began turning the pedals.


After a warm-up and some harder efforts, a drop of sweat ran down my forehead, past my eyebrow and it began creeping down the side of my nose. I caught a glimpse of it heading down my nose and I thought to myself, “I love sweat. I love to sweat.”


I allowed that bead of sweat to run down my cheek before I wiped it away with my sleeve. Yep, I love exercise sweat, to be specific.


The sweat that comes from exercise is something no one else can give me. I must earn and produce it myself.


Sweat means I’m healthy enough to exercise.


It is proof that I’ve made a commitment to myself to get fit, keep fitness or reach for a new goal.


Sweat is a product of work and a reward of one kind or another always follows long after it has evaporated.


When work begins, I can see its moisture shimmer on my arm. I enjoy feeling rivulets running down my back.


I can see, feel and taste it. Sometimes I can smell and hear it.


It is the glistening, sweet, salty proof that I’m motivated to do what it takes to get what I want.


Yes, I love sweat.


Do you?

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