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Different Digestion Rates

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Mar 14, 2008

Working on the last pieces of the book "Bicycling for Women" this week. Thought you might find this intersesting....


Some athletes are ravenous throughout a training ride or race, while others can't make themselves eat because they always feel full. One study looked at the differences in gastric emptying rates of solid meals between 16 men and 14 women. In the study, men had faster emptying rates than women. The men's half-empty time averaged 47 minutes faster than the women's.


A second study utilizing newly developed radiological techniques looked at 83 subjects, 43 were women, to examine gastric emptying, small intestine transit and colonic transit. For all measures, the average values for women were significantly slower than for males at 30 minutes; 1 hour and 12 minutes; and 4 hours and 48 minutes respectively. While a few studies were inconclusive or found little difference, more studies found a statistically significant difference.


In one study on gastric empty times, when athletes consumed the same fuels, the time varied from 1.6 to 4.9 hours for the women. Times varied from 0.7 to 3.7 hours for the men. It is easy to see with these values why there is such variation in the optimal fuel and fueling technique among individuals.



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IOC Women's Conference

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Mar 14, 2008

A great photograph of Bronze medalist Susan Williams and her daughter Sydney on the Athens podium was used for the column on the International Olympic Committee's Women's Conference.

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Jenny's Light

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Mar 10, 2008

Over the weekend I received a note from Becky Lavelle, giving me an update on "Jenny's Light". This is a non-profit organization created by the families of Jennifer and Graham Gibbs Bankston in response to their tragic, unnecessary deaths from postpartum depression. Jennifer and Becky are twin sisters.


I know Becky from traveling to numerous World Cup events with her and she was a member of the 2003 Pan American Games team. She is a fantastic person and of course, a good athlete as well.



I want to help Becky get the word out about postpartum depression, an issue that is not often discussed. Perhaps more discussion could help provide better solutions and fewer tragedies.



Here is an excerpt from Becky's note:



Skirt Sports is launching a Philanthropy Campaign and for the month of March they are giving customers an opportunity to donate to Jenny's Light at check out. They have also donated $500 to our cause. They have a great selection of very hip and comfortable sports wear. Please check it out here.



Also, Ironman Coffee is kindly donating a part of their proceeds to Jenny's Light and will also be distributing a flyer of information with each shipment of coffee. If you decide to purchase some of their delicious coffee, be sure to enter "Becky" in the discount code field.



We are planning to have a lot more additions on the site on Wed Mar 12, so be sure to check back soon. In the meantime, we have numerous volunteers calling local hospitals in Minneapolis, San Jose, New Orleans, and Birmingham to find out what is currently being done with PPD (i.e. screening, literature, follow-ups, supports groups, etc). Once we gather this info we'll be able to figure out what areas are lacking resources and where we can help make improvements.



We are also in the works on getting articles printed in Inside Triathlon, Glamour Magazine, and Birmingham Magazine.



Thank you and all the best,









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Q: I have a niece that I think could cut the mustard as a triathlete for the next Olympic Games. I don't know how she does on the bike, but she seems to have a lot of horse power. In high school, she ran a 5:18 mile as a freshman and a 12:25 (indoor) 2 mile as a sophomore. She swims a 5:20, 500yd freestyle event.


I'm wondering if she should be involved in some athlete training program that can help her development?


A: Your niece definitely has potential. The time standards for Junior Elite Squad athletes associated with a program sponsored by USAT include a 12:30 for two miles and 5:35 for short course yards. She is within the time standards.


You can find the time standards on this link on the USA Triathlon website. Select the link titled, "Junior Elite Squad Criteria".



Know that a there are a couple of different classifications to help athletes get prepared to be an Elite Olympian. The first is a "Junior" and that is an athlete between the ages of 16 and 19. The second is called U23 (Under 23). There is some potential crossover between the Junior, U23 and Elite age ranges.



One example of crossover is Portugal's Vanessa Fernandes. Vanessa ended 2007 ranked number one in the World, at the age of 22. Her first World Cup win, racing as an Elite, came in Madrid in 2003 at age 18. She has won an incredible 19 World Cup races as an Elite, won World Championships and been on the podium numerous times. You can find a summary of her results here. Select "Athlete", then enter her last name.



Back to your niece and what can you do to help? If you can help her have some fun in short, local triathlons that is the first step. Help her fall in love with the joy of the sport. If she's having fun going fast, take it from there.






1,213 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: triathlon, olympic_triathlete, vanessa_fernandes, olympics_triathlon

A fellow I know posed the question below:


Q: Hello Gale, I was wondering if you would know how low a percentage of body fat someone could get down to without loosing power? I've got one of the scales that measure body fat and at 167 pounds it says I'm at 13% and wondering how low I should go. Thanks.



A: Good question. The chart below is one that is referenced often, from The American Council on Exercise:







Essential fat













32% or more

26% or more


I did not see any ages associated with these numbers.



The book, "Exercise Physiology" by McArdle, Katch and Katch lists body fat percentages for different types of athletes and professional cyclists (roadies) run 11.6 percent and distance runners go 11.8 percent. For the gals, distance runners go about 17.2 and there are no numbers on the chart for cyclists.



So, back to your personal question - how low can you go without losing power? First, let's assume that your scale accurately measures body fat and you are indeed 13 percent. That puts you on the top end of the athletic scale - a pretty lean guy.



My gut feeling, based on experience and knowing you, is that any lower than 10 percent would cause problems (loss of power). The only real way to know would be to gently work your way down a little at a time and keep tabs on how you feel, speed and power.



1,940 Views 7 Comments Permalink Tags: body_fat, optimal_body_fat, body_fat_percentage

Today we took advantage of the predicted 70-degree weather and headed to Estes Park on our bikes. That 70-degrees was predicted for the front range; but nonetheless, it was the first glimpse of 70 since...well...I can't remember when.


The weather last week was also reasonably warm for several days, with a couple of days in the high 50s. The warm week made a trip to Estes via Glen Haven possible. We haven't ridden via Glen Haven since November of 2007.



Estes via Glen Haven is hands-down, my favorite ride. I don't know how steep the road is and at some point, I'm sure one of the techies on the ride will get a good measurement; but it is steep enough to have a truck on a triangle sign at the top of the climb.



Steve Douglas, Scott Ellis and Dave McClure can be seen next to the "truck on a triangle" sign, looking back east.





Ah, but looking west is another story. This, the photo below, is my favorite view in the world - yes, the world. Longs Peak (on the right) and Meeker are the two tallest peaks in the photo. Longs is one of the legendary 14ers in the state.





Happy riders are seen in the second photo.





Our traditional monthly ride goes to Estes and makes a stop at the Notchtop Café. Just on the hill to the north and west of the Café is the Stanley Hotel. The hotel has a deep history and was built by Stanley of Stanley Steamer fame. On the national register of historic places, the hotel was made famous by Stephen King visit. On a stay at the hotel King was inspired to write The Shining.





No old hotel that looks like this one is complete without resident ghosts and the hotel is said to house several ghosts.



After having a snack at the Notchtop, we headed back down to Loveland and even enjoyed some tailwinds, a rare treat.






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I know there are many coaches that love 20-minute steady state efforts at lactate threshold. Some cycling coaches will work toward 2 x 20 minute threshold efforts as the gold standard.


I have always preferred broken efforts or intervals. An example for cycling and running is 4 x 6 minutes at threshold heart rate, power or speed. Recovery intervals are 2 minutes long. A second example is one effort at 20 minutes with 5 minutes of recovery.

That effort is immediately followed by 5 x 4 minutes with 1-minute recovery intervals. I've found the average power output or speed is much better with the final effort being intervals rather than a second steady 20-minute effort.


One study supports my personal preference, showing runners using steady efforts improved running speed by 7 percent and those using intervals improved by 9 percent. It is important to note that both groups improved running speed.



Interestingly, VO2max improved by 10 percent in the steady effort group and only 6 percent in the interval group. In this particular study, improvements in VO2max did not correlate to improvements in running speed.



1,528 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: runners, steady_state, lactate_threshold, vo2max, cyclists

Sandman or Smacktalker?

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Feb 21, 2008


You know at least one Sandman and at least one Smacktalker, I'm certain. They exist in all groups, athletic and non-athletic.






A sandman is the same as a sandbagger. If you want to be politically correct, you can say sandperson. I have to say, it just doesn't have the same ring though. When I write sandman, I'm referring to an athlete of either gender.



A sandman downplays the training they've been doing and their athletic ability...that is until it's time to perform. Then, look out.



Some common sandman sentences:



Gee, I haven't done _a thing _for weeks. No workouts at all. I hope I don't hold you back. If fall behind,  don't wait for me.



My longest ride has been an hour. I hope I can survive this three-hour ride. Don't wait for me though, I'll be okay.



I haven't been training at all. Too much work, my fitness is terrible.



After the sandman has sandbagged a conversation, the proof is in the performance. The sandman kicks butt.



If you were to put a spy camera on a sandman, he or she can be found training much more frequently and longer than they have admitted to in public. Perhaps they are even "secretly" training.



Not to be confused with a sandman is a subaerobic person. More information on a SAP can be found here.






The smacktalker is at the other end of the spectrum and comes in two varieties. In either variety, the smacktalker looks you up and down, sizing you up. With a surfer-stink-eye appetizer, the sandman follows with a full course of how he or she is going to outperform you. Yes, kick your a$$.



Common Smacktalker sentences:



Gained a little weight, have you? If you were XX  pounds lighter, you might be able to climb (or run) faster. Good luck today.



I can beat you with both hands tied behind my back.



I push more wattage on my easy days than you do on your best days.



Put your money where your mouth is, let's bet who will be first to climb that hill.



Now, the smacktalker comes in two flavors, smoked and extra spicy. The smoke-flavored smacktalker is all smoke and no fire. They can talk a big game, but cannot deliver the goods in terms of performance.



The extra spicy smacktalker can deliver an outstanding performance and is more that willing to tell you about it before it occurs. Ouch.



What has your sandman or smacktalker said to get attention? (Please, leave out the person's name or just use their initials.) You can tell us about their athletic or office line(s).



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Two issues that have been in the news in the past week are stuck in my head - the possibility of contaminated water coming from abandoned mines in Leadville, Colorado and the probability of contamination in supplements.


First, the issue closest to home for me is the potential disaster looming in Leadville, Colorado. I fell in love with the mountain town in 2005 when I did my first Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race. I've done some reading on the town, the history, successes and struggles. The National Mining Museum is located in Leadville and is worth a visit.


Leadville, like many of us, has an issue in that the very thing that makes us successful - has strong potential to be a problem. The mining industry that made fortunes (such as the Guggenheim fortune), supplied needed raw materials to many industries and helped provide community livelihood to the town, is now causing problems.


Before you go all high and mighty on me regarding the mining industry, take a hard look around you to see how many of the items you enjoy every day are a product made from the bowels of the earth.


That written, while the minerals such as gold, silver, and molybdenum extracted from the mines are valuable in manufacturing; poisonous chemicals are present as well. Leadville has been a Superfund site and 98 percent of the work has been completed.


More recently, within the past six months, a collapse was detected in one of the drainage tunnels causing a massive build up of water. This water pool contains over one billion gallons of toxic, heavy metal-laden water. If a blowout in the tunnel occurs, the water could spill out into the Arkansas River and would likely endanger the lives of over 400 Lake County residents.



The Arkansas River Basin provides over two million acre feet of water for Colorado agriculture a year, and is a key source of water for Colorado Springs, Aurora, Pueblo and the Front Range. The potential damage to the Colorado ecosystem is obvious.



The Bureau of Reclamation and the Environmental Protection Agency are working to secure the funding, estimated at between five and ten million dollars, to avoid disaster. More information can be found here.



I hope they can get the job done.



For the supplement issue, the study that was released in 2007 titled, "[Investigation into Supplement Contamination Levels in the US Market|]" made a big splash late last year on several news sites including Fox and USA Today. An excerpt from the report,



"Of the 54 samples that were successfully analysed by LCMS, 6 showed the presence of stimulant contamination. This corresponds to 11.1%. Of the 52 samples that were successfully analysed by GCMS, 13 showed the presence of steroid contamination. This corresponds to 25.0%."



(If you are unable to link to the actual investigation pdf, first click on the title of this blog, then access the attachment at the bottom of the blog.)



Manufacturing practices at supplement companies are obviously not up to snuff. A study done by the US Olympic Committee between 2000 and 2002 found that 18% of the 240 supplements purchased in the US contained steroids.



If you take supplements, know that they are NOT controlled by the tight standards of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).



Buyer beware.






1,080 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: steroids, steriod_contamination, contaminated_supplements

Love Town

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Feb 14, 2008


I grew up and currently live in Loveland, Colorado. Yes, the sweetheart city. Love town.



Valentine's Day is a big deal around here. In 1947, the Valentine remailing program began. The largest of it's kind in the world, people send their Valentine cards to Loveland so they can be stamped with the special Valentine cache and remailed to anywhere in the world.



If you want to have your Valentine stamped next year, put the appropriate postage on it for the final destination. Put that envelope in another envelope and send it to:



Postmaster Valentine Re-mailing

446 E. 29th St.

Loveland, CO 80538



Each year a contest is held to determine the winner of the Valentine cache (for the stamp), the poem (used inside a special card) and the cover design for the card.



The 2008 stamp cache reads:



"From mountains high to lakesides blue, this heart's from Loveland so dear one, to you!"



It is reported that more than 200,000 cards and letters were handled in 2007,  from more than 100 countries. More than 12 million valentines have been re-mailed since the beginning of the program in 1947.



You can find more information about the program at this website.



Happy Valentine's Day ~



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2007 Turd Trophy Awards Gala Party...sounds fancy doesn't it? It wasn't too fancy this year, we gathered in my driveway to get the trophies before riding to Estes for our February 2008 goal. Not too much of a fancy celebration this year...but there are some good ideas for next year.


Below is a shot of several of the 2007 Estes or Bust award winners. Left to right are Peter Stackhouse, Diana Hassel, Scott Ellis, Todd Singiser, Jo Campbell and me. Missing from the photo are Lee Rhodes, Pam and Kirk Leamons. The elk commissioned Pam and Kirk to make the 2007 trophies. A close shot of the 2007 trophies is below the group photo.
















Riding from Loveland to Estes Park is my favorite ride. I love the Big Thompson Canyon. When we were riding to Estes yesterday, I was admiring the ice formations on the river. After the ride, I had to drive back up the canyon to get some pictures and video of the Big Thompson River. Several sections of canyon are included in this video link: (no longer available)



The road to Estes parallels the Big Thompson River. The road used to be right next to the river and that changed after the destructive flood of 1976. A short story can be found here with futher information available through the links on right column.


To be treated with respect and caution in bad weather, the trip to Estes on a bike is still awesome.

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Gym Pet Peeves

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Feb 7, 2008





Since the temps in Colorado have been...well...brisk this week, it has been back to indoor training for me. Although not my preference, it's good for me to do weight training. I did more weight training than "normal" last year and it paid dividends later in the year, I believe.



At the gym, I mind my own business and get the workout done. I understand some people like the gym for the social aspects, which is fine as long as they are conscientious of slowing other people down or hogging machines. At my gym, this hasn't been a problem.



What is a problem is that a couple of people that enjoy their perfume, cologne and or very, very fragrant body lotion also think everyone else should enjoy it as well. Holy cow people, tone down the volume or don't wear that stuff at all. It's too much, really.



Overbearing fragrances at the gym is one of my pet peeves.



My second pet peeve is for people that leave five, 45-pound plates on each side of the leg press machine. Look, you put them on there and it is great for your conditioning if you also remove them. It is also a polite thing to do.



What are your gym pet peeves?



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I have had two people ask me this question in the last week, "What are you training for?"



While I do jump into some events now and then, my stock answer is, "Life. It requires tremendous endurance."



Really, I maintain a certain level of fitness so I can do the fun things I like to do, pretty much at the drop of a hat, and enjoy myself. I also believe that keeping a certain level of fitness gives me the quality of life now, and is an investment in my future quality of life.



When an event sounds fun I might rearrange my "training" to better suit a particular event. That written, I'm really training for life.



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Last Wednesday I traveled to San Diego to do some video work with the content team at the Active Network and meet with the Active Trainer team to see the planned enhancements to Trainer. It was great fun seeing people I've met during past visits and also meeting people I've communicated with on the net or via phone, but hadn't met until last week.


The video content will boost the Active library of skills, drills and tips for the Active audience. In the next few weeks look for video clips and tips on several topics; including how to improve your transition time. Maybe you can cut your T-1 time in half like Jesse? Jesse is the content manager that spiffs up my tri and cycling columns for public consumption each month and he agreed to be one of the models for the videos.


Belle demonstrated what it looks like to ride a straight line when checking over her shoulder for traffic or other riders in one of the video clips. She also agreed to be one of the video models. It was fun to meet her because we are working together as part of the "Get Active" program to get her ready for the Wildflower triathlon.



We did as much video and voice over work as we could in a day and a half. If the clips turn out as well as I expect, thanks to the work of Todd Lynch, there is more work to be done.



On Saturday night I was invited to join the Active team at the Annual Competitor Endurance Sports Awards. It is a fun event held at Sea World after hours. The evening begins with the game pavilion. Jon Belmonte, while holding three gigantic stuffed animals, kept trying to convince me how easy it is to toss a ball into a narrow-topped jug. Apparently I need some training in gaming skills. I finally convinced Mike Coleman to play my game card so I wouldn't go home to the dog without a stuffed toy.



Below is a photo of Toby, Jesse and I at the end of the banquet. Handsome gentlemen, don't you think?





878 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: competitor_awards, competitor_endurance_awards

The last couple of days I've been working on questions from a publisher in Germany. This publisher is translating two of my books, "Training Plans for Multisport Athletes" and "Workouts in a Binder for Triathletes" into German for the foreign market. This is pretty exciting for me.


Seems this year is going to be a big book year. I didn't really plan it that way, it just happened. A few weeks ago I finished working on edits for the second edition of my first book, "The Female Cyclist". The next step in the process there is to review the final assembled book in raw format before it goes to the printer. I'm not sure of the date it will be available on bookshelves, I suspect fall.


Cyclists have been hounding me for years to produce a cycling version of "Training Plans for Multisport Athletes". By the end of this year, you will have your book, "Training Plans for Cyclists." As some of you know, my early coaching success began with cyclists rather than triathletes, as most people assume. My early coaching success was with roadies and mountain bike racers. My first trip to the Olympic Games was to Sydney in 2000 to support Nicole Freedman, a road racer I coached.



If you've been following columns and blogs, you'll know that I've personally fallen, in more ways than one, for mountain biking in recent years. I love riding and running on mountain trails.



The current plan is to include 16 training plans in the new book. Not all of the plans are in final form, so that's why I say "current plan." Similar to the multisport book, there are beginner plans, short-distance event plans and long distance event plans. There are plans for touring riders, roadies, mountain bikers and some ultra-distance sprinkled in. I'm well over the half-way mark and that feels good. I'll have the lion's share of the work completed in the next two months, then it goes to editing.



After initial editing, it's back to me for final edit. The editors do the final, final edit before it goes off to printing. A long process indeed.



There is still a good chunk of work to be done on my end, and that makes me a little anxious. I've felt like this before and some how, some way, it always gets done on time. We're (VeloPress and I) aiming to have the book for you for before Christmas of this year. I know, it seems like a long time away-but producing a book is quite a process.



I'll keep you posted on all four projects.



Have a great weekend ~



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