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Elk Turd Trophies.



While the highly sought after lacquered elk turd trophies are certainly a big bonus, most people aim to be a member of this group because the trophy represents a goal that isn’t easy, yet it’s not impossible. This is true for every level of endurance athlete.

The minimum distance to achieve the goal is roughly 21miles, nearly all of which is uphill. For those with loads of endurance and riding from the nearby city of Fort Collins, the round trip is more like 70 to 80 miles.

For the 2012 award cycle, 15 people earned (or will soon earn) their 12-consecutive-months-ride-to-Estes-Park trophy. Over the years, I’ve asked people what drives them to aim for the turd trophy goal. Here are some of the comments:

  • I knew someone else that achieved the goal and I was inspired.
  • A friend talked me into doing it. Without a buddy, I wouldn’t have made it that first year.
  • It seemed like a worthy challenge – not too easy, yet not impossibly hard.
  • It's just fun.
  • It helps me keep a longer ride in my training through winter.
  • All the cool people have elk turd trophies.
  • It motivates me ride outdoors in the winter. Without this goal, I wouldn’t be riding outside at all.
  • Once I started doing the ride, I became addicted.
  • Even though I seldom ride with others aiming for the same goal, I still feel like I’m part of the team or the group. I know others are out there rooting for me and doing the ride as well.
  • I like the ride memories created from some ofthe tough conditions. And, suffering is best done with others.


This isn’t an all-inclusive list by any means. If you’re having trouble keeping on track for your fitness goals, perhaps something in this list or in a past Estes blog will inspire you?





Loveland Cake Guy Chris Brown crafted the party cake.




Bill Frielingsdorf (L) wins the creative cycling outfit award. Kevin McSweeney, I suspect, is envious.




Party attendees Scott Ellis, Chris Brown, Gale Bernhardt, Pam Leamons, Bill Frielingsdorf, Lee Rhodes, Ron Kennedy, Jerry Nicholes, Kevin McSweeney, Brandy Staves, Todd Singiser and Peter Stackhouse. (The background model is not an elk, but a deer. Just in case you were wondering.)


Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

Comments can be added on Facebook.

Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

505 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: park, trophies, elk, bust, estes, estes_or_, turd

I was consulting with an athlete that wondered why his progress was stunted and he couldn’t gain fitness. He told me verbally what he was doing for workouts and strength training.

When we examined logged data, his volume was actually 30 percent lower than his memory recalled.

Log your workouts - no matter what system you use. If you’re not logging your workouts, your memory may be too generous and all that does is limit your progress.




Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

Comments can be added on Facebook.

Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

483 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, log

A couple of years ago, I sent out daily tweets that suggested people try to do something (nutrition, stress relief, exercise, knowledge growth, etc.) for just one day. This series is a twist on that concept in that there are fewer challenges – but the time commitment is longer.

Everyone has bad habits that get in the way of progress. Everyone can stand to improve diet, fitness, flexibility, strength, balance, or some other aspect of daily living. The concept is to commit to changing one thing for just one week. It might be something you want to continue doing or something that is done to just break a bad habit.


Those that are interested in publically sharing goals and seeing ideas presented by others can share on my Facebook page.

I’ll begin – I am giving up cheese for one week. I will bring it back into my diet in a week, but I’ve been enjoying too much of it.Too many calories have been going to this food item.


Here's another example, a local athlete that doesn’t have a Facebook account is limiting soda to one per day. His soda consumption has unwittingly grown.

Another athlete vows to run three times this week - just 20 to 30 minutes each time.

You? What do you want to do this week to break a bad habit or start a new, desireable habit?



Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

Comments can be added on Facebook.

Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

505 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Warning:  Before reading this blog, consider that I could be just another person looking to justify doing the things they love to do – in spite of some evidence indicating that very activity is potentially harmful to health.

About a month ago, I wrote a blog that looked at research asking if endurance exercise is actually detrimental to your health. Over the last few weeks, I’ve given this blog and the research considerable thought. One of the first things that came to my mind was research that indicated as much as 90-percent of research is flawed. I looked at this issue in my blog “Are researchers just a bunch of manipulative liars?”

I also went back and read the research paper I referenced in last month’s blog. A couple of thoughts came to mind:

  • Though the research noted, “Serologic markers of cardiac damage, including cardiac troponin, creatine kinase MB, and B-typenatriuretic peptide, have been documented to increase in up to 50% of participants during and after marathon running” – I kept thinking, “What about the other 50% of the people?” If this is a genetic issue – perhaps I’m one of the lucky ones? Maybe I'm one of the "other" 50%  that is not negatively affected?
  • I also considered the cardiac changes in mice forced to do endurance exercise via electric shock. My thought was, “Of course they would show stressful cardiac changes – they were being electrically forced to run!”
  • In none of the studies cited in the research paper were 100% of the people adversely affected by high intensity or long duration exercise. This leaves me to wonder about the people that were not adversely affected – did they live longer? Are their lives somehow better?

One of the athletes I coach sent me a link to a New York Times column noting that researchers believe due to our endurance capabilities as humans, we developed bigger brains. Our very existence is due to  endurance exercise.

Ah ha! There – proof that endurance exercise is good.

I also read a column about 91-year-young Sven Wiik that was an Olympian, “was always fixated on sports” and still skis nearly every day.

Ah ha! Here’s a living example of someone immersed in sport that is an excellent, healthy 91.

Then, across my desk came research that Olympic medalists live an average of 2.5 years longer than the general population.

Few athletes workout longer and more intensely than Olympians and they enjoy longevity. Perhaps some this longevity is due to endurance exercise  past the age of 40?

After mulling all of this around in my head for awhile, I decided that I enjoy endurance sport. I love doing long bike rides, long runs and hours of Nordic skiing. Research does interest me, but I also understand the limitations of any research on human beings. We are complicated and it is impossible to account for controlling all the variables in any research study, including genetic influences.


All things considered, I plan to continue doing the endurance sports and racing that I love to do – until the time when I no longer feel like doing those sports. I figure I’m on the earth for a limited amount of time and I plan to take personal responsibility for spending my time as I please while I’m here.

I might cut years off of my life or suffer cardiac changes that aren’t healthy.

Or, I might live to be over 100 still doing endurance sports making researchers ask “Why? How?”


How do you plan to spend your time on earth?





Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

Comments can be added on Facebook.

Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

554 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: endurance, to, health, exercise, longevity, detrimental

I wrote a recent column on balance exercises. Not only do these exercises help your balance and strengthen your ankles, they help with balancing coordination right to left side.

There’s an easy way to add balance work to your dailyhabits. It works best if you have an electronic toothbrush that alerts you to 30-second segments to brush each section of your teeth.

With each segment (inner lower teeth, outer lower teeth, inner upper teeth, and outer upper teeth) alternate left leg, right leg, left leg and right leg for 30-second segments. Of course you can go for one-minute per leg too.

Depending on how often you brush your teeth, you can get some two to six minutes of balance work accomplished every day!


Thanks to Janet Saxon for this trick.



Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

Comments can be added on Facebook.

Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

554 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: balance, running, cycling, skiing, exercises

Being injured is one of the hardest parts of being an athlete. If and when you do get injured, you’ll likely wonder how to eat better to heal better. My motherly advice is: Don’t treat good nutrition like a fire engine!


Rather than shaping up your diet when you get injured,strive to maintain a high quality food intake every day. That way, you'll have a hefty bank account of vitamins and minerals stored in your liver, ready and waiting to be put into action. For example, a well-nourished athlete has enough vitamin C (important for healing) stored in the liver to last for about six weeks. The junk food junkie who gets a serious sports injury (think bike crash,skiing tumble, hockey blow) and ends up in the hospital has a big disadvantage. Eat smart every day!


The fear of gaining weight plagues most injured athletes.Here are two myths, debunked!


MYTH: Muscle turns into fat.

Wrong. If you are unable to exercise, your muscles will shrink, but they will not turn into fat. Have you ever seen the scrawny muscles on a person who has just had a cast removed when the broken bone has healed? Those muscles did not get fat!


MYTH: Lack of exercise means you'll get fat.

Wrong. If you overeat while you are injured (as can easily happen if you are bored or depressed), you can indeed easily get fat. I know of many frustrated athletes who have quickly gained weight because they continued to eat lumberjack portions. But if you eat mindfully, your body can regulate a proper intake. Before diving into meals and snacks, ask yourself, “How much of this fuel does my body actually need?” Eat for fuel, not entertainment.


When injured, some underweight athletes do gain to their genetic weight. For example, a 13-year-old gymnast perceived her body was “getting fat” while she recuperated from a knee injury. She was simply catching up and attaining the physique appropriate for her age and genetics.


Whatever you do, don't skimp on protein and calories when injured ... that will delay healing.


With best wishes for good health,



For more information:

Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook

3,305 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: weight, injury, athlete, nancy_clark, weight_gain_while_injured




I finally picked up the second edition of TrainingPlans for Multisport Athletes, had to because the pages were falling out of the first one.  Anyway, one quick question please.  Can the 13 weeks to a half Ironman be adapted so it becomes 13 weeks to an Olympic distance?  I don't have the 26 weeks to train, my race is April 14th, about 14 weeks away. 

It's not that I procrastinate in picking my races, my students pick my races.  Every so often, usually once a year, one of my students challenges me to race them.  This school year they waited till just before Christmas break to issue the challenge, so I had to pick a race close to home and before they get out of school.  But, I ramble.  Any help you can give in this matter would be appreciated.  






Hi F.D. ~


Thanks for letting me know you enjoy my work. I have a few suggestions: 


  1. If you have the fitness now – you can use the last 14 weeks of the 24-week Olympic plan in Training Plans for Multisport Athletes. If you have the endurance but not the intensity, then you can use Zone 3 for the higher intensity efforts rather than Zone 4+ in that plan.
  2. Another option is to begin the 24-week plan where your current fitness is – that is pick a week that seems “doable” to you. It can be a stretch, but don’t make it a 50% increase from your current fitness. Work your way through the plan by sequential weeks until you are one or two week out from the race. Then use the last one or two weeks of the plan to taper into the event. I say one or two because it depends on where you start now and where that puts you near race day. The bottom line here is you want to be rested heading into the race.
  3. Also, my book Triathlon Training Basics has a fit beginner plan that is 12 weeks long. The training hours range from 5:15 to 8:00 per week for this one, so it’s not a performance oriented plan but rather one intended for “comfortable completion”.


Which option you use depends largely on your current fitness.


Hope this helps. Let me know how the race goes for you ~




Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.


Comments can be added on Facebook.


Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.







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One of my athletes doesn't have access to a cable or other seated rowing machine and needed an alternative exercise. He does have access to a Smith Machine.


The solution?


Inverted row.


I tried this exercise yesterday and it is TOUGH! Though I can do seated rows all day long, I was unable to lift myself from the floor to touch the bar even once. And, I could only do five reps getting my torso about six inches from the bar.


My first goal is to be able to do five consecutive movements, with a solidly planked body, touching my torso to the bar.


Anyone else tried this?





Detailed off-season plans for triathlon and cycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlon plans found here.


Comments can be added on Facebook.


Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

497 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Why is childhood obesity is on the rise?

Why are thin people “fatter” than they used to be?

Why is morbid obesity, type 2 diabetes—and even sex reversalis fish species—becoming common?

…Is something pervading our environment that is making us fatter?


Traditionally, we look at overeating and underexercising as the main contributors to the obesity epidemic. Diet and exercise are deemed to be the solutions to the problem. Maybe we are overlooking other factors? Do we need to pay attention to new research on “obesogens”?


Obesogens are chemical compounds found in food, drugs, and industrial products (like plastics) that may alter metabolic processes and predispose some people to gain weight. These compounds may contribute to more and bigger fat cells. Exposure to these compounds in utero may explain (in part) why childhood obesity is on the rise, why even thin people are “fatter” than they used to be, and why morbid obesity, type 2 diabetes, and sex reversal in fish species is on the rise.


Clearly, we need to explore all possible factors that contribute to weight issues, not just diet and exercise. Some of these factors include looking at ways to reduce potential environmental obesogens that might be in plastics, canned goods, nonstick cookware, air fresheners, laundry products, and personal care products. Obesogens may be yet another reason to eat less processed foods, particularly those that come packaged in plastic or cans. The research is in its infancy, so stay tuned—and until we know more, start eating more foods that are minimally processed!

For more information:

1,934 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: weight, obesity, body_fat, nancy_clark, plastic, obesogens, processed_foods

One of the athletes I’m currently coaching was expressing discouragement due to her seemingly slow progress as a swimmer. She was being very self-critical and I told her that though she’s been swimming for about 1.5 years training for triathlon, she is still a beginner - maybe an early intermediate swimmer.


She had done some swimming as a child, but that was around 20 years ago and she hadn’t done much swimming since childhood.


I told her that to reach the top of her triathlon game – in terms of personal potential – it would take some 10,000 hours of training or roughly 10 years. She was surprised.


The first time I heard the 10,000 hour number was at a presentation given by Istvan Balyi during the USA Triathlon Art and Science Conference for coaches about 7 years ago. In Balyi’s presentation he was referring to sport development in young athletes seeking to reach the elite level of sport.


Though my athlete isn't looking to reach the elite level of triathlon, she does need to be patient with her sport development. You may not be aiming to reach the elite level of sport, but perhaps you want to ahieve high levels of personal success. If you're feeling frustrated by your progress, be patient with your development as an athlete.


Champions - and achieving your personal sport potential - isn't achieved in a year or two.


You can find a paper written by Istvan Balyi here.





Detailed off-season plans for triathlon and cycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlon plans found here.


Comments can be added on Facebook.


Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.


534 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: hours, istvan, balyi, 10000

If you are doing a cable pull down exercise to work your abdominal muscles, you can consider a couple of modifications to the way many athletes do this exercise - shown here.


If you’ve been following the blog, you know I’ve been emphasizing balance exercises. The modifications I’m going to suggest to the cable pull down or cable crunch were driven my desire to improve my double-poling power while Nordic skiing. However, I think these exercises are good for other endurance sports as well.


First, move the pulley mechanism so the pulling force comes from in front of you rather than above your head. The force should come from roughly a 45-degree angle. The second modification is to stand on one leg while doing the pulling maneuver. (Yes, like using a double-polling technique while skiing.) Finally, when you rise up, don’t hyperextend your spine, rather keep it in a more neutral position.


This one works best with lighter weights.

580 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, weight, strength, skiing, cable, pull, down, nordic

The route for the 2013 USA Pro Cycling Challenge wasannounced today. Here are the city stages and dates:


2013 USA Pro Challenge stages
August 19 Stage 1: Aspen/Snowmass Circuit
August 20 Stage 2: Aspen/Snowmass – Breckenridge
August 21 Stage 3: Breckenridge – Steamboat Springs
August 22 Stage 4: Steamboat Springs – Beaver Creek
August 23 Stage 5: Vail Time Trial (ITT)
August 24 Stage 6: Loveland – Fort Collins
August 25 Stage 7: Denver Circuit


The Loveland-Windsor-Loveland-Estes Park-Fort Collins proposed (not final) route covers many of the roads that I ride on a regular basis. We do the route from Loveland to Estes Park a minimum of once per month. This stage, called "the penultimate stage" by VeloNews writer Brian Holcombe, will be fun to watch. The canyon leading to the small town of Glen Haven, is a perfect place to make abreak. The sight-distance lines are short. If a move can’t stick there – the switchbacks will break those who are near the edge.


Here’s the proposed route:

View Larger Map




Below is a link to a ride from Loveland to Estes Park viathe switchbacks and back on Highway 34. This is only a small piece of the stage and it has 3,858 feet of elevation gain:




Detailed off-season plans for triathlon and cycling, along withevent-specific running, cycling and more triathlon plans found here.


Comments can be added on Facebook.


Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

539 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: route, estes_park, loveland, glen_haven, fort_collins, usa_pro_challenge, switchbacks

Restricting food intake to lose weight is the common approach to becoming leaner. Yet, research consistently tells us that reducing diets are often unsuccessful and contribute to weight gain in the long run, to say nothing of depression and disordered eating behaviors. A growing body of research suggests that intuitive eating is a healthier alternative to current strategies of dieting to lose weight.


Intuititve eating is a sustainable approach that focuses on trusting your body to tell you how much to eat so you will stopping eating when you are full. Intuitve eaters eat for physical, not emotional, reasons.This is how normal-weight people tend to eat.


We were all born with the ability to eat when hugnry and stop when content. Unfortunately, our society’s food environment and lifestyle easily derail intuitive eating behaviors. We are often too busy to eat when hunger arises or fail to have food available. Many dieters even keep food “out of the house” due to lack of trust regarding their ability to stop eating when they are full. Fatigue and stress, in addition to the denial and deprivation associated with dieting, further compound the drive to overeat.


As a society, we need to step away from encouraging both young people and adults to diet and instead focus on—

1. teaching them how to eat mindfully (i.e., to connect with body signals: Does my body need this food?),

2. improving the food environment (such as having salad, not French fires, be the default side dish on menus), and

3. making sleep more of a priority.

As an adult, you can take steps to reclaim this innate behavior  and teach yourself how to eat intutively so you can better invest in your health and well-being.


For more information, enjoy reading Intuitive Eating by EvelynTribole and Elyse Resch.


With best wishes for a happy and healthy 2013.



2,036 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: dieting, nancy_clark, intuitive_eating, how_to_get_off_the_diet_roller_coaster, evelyn_tribole

For the athletes that I’ve coached for at least one season and for those with no access to a gym facility, I’ve added walking lunges to their strength training programs this off-season (base or preparation periods).

I’ve done this for several reasons:

  • It’s an easy exercise to do anywhere
  • You can use hand-held barbells or home-made weights (including rocks in a backpack) rather than a squat bar. 
  • This exercise is dynamic and works not only the gluteus maxiumus, but also quadriceps, adductor magnus (for those that had adductor cramps last season, working these muscles may help), soleus, hamstrings, gastrocnemius and also uses several other muscles as stabilizers.


You can find the simple strength training plan I use for my athletes under the free supporting download documents section here.

There is a great video on walking lunges on the site

PS…For those of you that ski in addition to cycling andrunning, this is also a good exercise for balance

PS2...Begin with 10 walking steps, no weight. Move to 20 walking steps, no weight. Once you get to 20, begin adding weight.




   Detailed off-seasonplans for triathlon and cycling, along with event-specific running, cycling andmore triathlon plans found here.


   Comments can be addedon Facebook.


   Ironman andhalf-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

774 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: running, cycling, strength_training, skiing, walking_lunges

A fellow coach, Steve Diggs, sent me the link to this research paper. Several years ago, Steve and I had a discussion about high intensity training (HIT) programs that other coaches were using, as well as repeated training for Ironman distance events. The short of the discussion is that we both had a gut feeling that there is some top limit for the volume of HIT and overall volume of endurance training where if you go over that limit, it is harmful to your health.

Now there is research that is backing up our gut feelings. Here are a few key plucks from the research paper:

· Mohlenkamp et al studied 108 middle-aged German long-term marathon runners and compared them with matched nonrunner controls. They observed a greater atherosclerotic burden in the marathoners as documented by higher coronary artery calcium (CAC) scores.

· Indeed, long-term sustained vigorous aerobic exercise training such as marathon or ultramarathon running or professional cycling has been associated with as much as a 5-fold increase in the prevalence of atrial fibrillation.

The conclusion of the investigation follows:

In some individuals, long-term excessive endurance exercise training may cause adverse structural and electrical cardiac remodeling, including fibrosis and stiffening of the atria, right ventricle, and large arteries. This theoretically might provide a substrate for atrial and ventricular arrhythmias and increase cardiovascular risk. Further investigation is warranted to identify the exercise threshold for potential toxicity, screening for at-risk individuals, and ideal exercise training regimens for optimizing cardiovascular health. For now, on the basis of animal and human data, cardiovascular benefits of vigorous aerobic exercise training appear to accrue in a dose-dependent fashion up to about 1 hour daily, beyond which further exertion produces diminishing returns and may even cause adverse cardiovascular effects in some individuals.

While it currently appears the researchers are saying “some individuals” – the endurance sports and intensities that some of us do repeatedly “may not” be good for overall health.

If it turns out that anything over an hour a day is bad for you – will you give up doing the distances and intensities you love so much?

Or – will you say everyone must die of something and if doing endurance sports year after year does it, I’m okay with that? (Comments can be added on Facebook. )



Note: Find the full article here, including a video interview with the author. The short video is worth watching.





Detailed off-season plans for triathlon and cycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlon plans found here.


Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.



1,005 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: sports, running, cycling, triathlon, endurance, health, risk