Monday, January 28, 2013

GU Recovery Brew Review

As I mentioned in a previous post, my wife took off for a few weeks for a work trip. I took this opportunity to really ramp up training. I did quite a few longer rides and bricks and hit 18-20 hours per week the last three weeks. A lot of my training is done away from home so I started looking for something convenient to consume in the hour or so between workout and getting home to eat. I am typically a fan of whole foods, but I just wasn't finding something that I could easily bring with me and have right when the workout was over (I just can't drink chocolate milk after a hard workout!).

I wanted something that I could just keep in my gym locker to make for right after a workout when I wasn't right next to the fridge. This prevents me from stopping at one of those lovely fast-food establishments on the way home! I ended up getting some Gu Recovery Brew from Trisports for about 30 bucks ( I figured $2 per serving is well worth the convenience. Here are my thoughts after two weeks of use.

Taste: Obviously this is somewhat important. With all of the "recovery" drinks out there now, if one doesn't taste good, I'll go to another. Actually, the Strawberry-watermelon flavor was the main reason I went with this. I typically crave something sweet right after a workout, and it sounded like this would hit the spot. I was not disappointed. The brew was just sweet enough to curb the craving and didn't leave a bad taste or cotton mouth after words. It also wasn't grainy like a lot of the drinks with protein in it.

Effectiveness: It doesn't matter how good something tastes if it doesn't do the trick (at least for me). Of course, this is all anecdotal thoughts, I didn't do any blinded studies. However, I often struggle with cramps (usually in my big toe) when I first go to bed after days with long or tough workouts. I never had any cramping the evenings I took the Recovery Brew. That was the most important thing to me as it prevents me from falling asleep right away. I don't know that I felt "better" the next day or not. Since I was hitting higher volumes than I previously had, DOMS was still working against me.

Overall: I do not have any evidence to support whether it made me be able to perform longer or at a higher intensity. I'll leave that to the researchers at GU! I decided to go with this particular drink because I think Gu is a reputable company, I appreciate the research that goes into their products, and they seem to have figured out how to make training and recovery nutrition taste better than most others. I know a little bit about nutrition to say the least, and the blend of simple/complex carbs and protein is spot on with current recommendations. I am sure I will venture out to see if I find anything I like better, but I am very pleased with the first recovery drink I have tried.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Champion Systems Cycling Shorts Review

I have always rode my longer rides in DeSoto 400 Mile bike shorts and bibs. I like everything about them, the pad, compression, look, and feel. I was given a voucher for $80 through an ambassador type program for a company and they use the Champion Systems bike gear for their clothing. Basically, I was able to get a pair of their bike shorts with an upgraded chamois for about $15 bucks after shipping. Definitely worth it. I have worn them for three 2 hour plus rides in them in the last week and here are my initial thoughts.

Feel: As I said, I am used to the DeSoto shorts (race in Riviera Forza's as well). The Champion Systems shorts felt pretty loose on my thighs. I definitely do not have monster thighs by any means but I expected a little tighter feel. Not necessarily a bad thing, just different than what I am used to.  I was worried the shorts would ride up a bit during the ride but they never did. The leg gripper is really comfortable. I didn't notice it once during any of the rides.

Chamois: I opted to go with the endurance chamois for an additional $10. They claim the pad is elastic which allows it to move around with the body while riding. They also made the shorts anti-microbial by weaving silver ions into the yarn rather than using chemicals like other companies. I haven't looked in to this too much, but I suppose it is a good thing not to have chemicals near the..ahem..sensitive areas.

The chamois is dimpled which again was different than I was used to. I could not tell the dimples were there once I put them on. While walking around, the pad seemed to sag a little, it just felt a little bulky (almost like I was wearing a diaper). This could be due to the upgraded thickness pad I opted for being a little too big for a size small. However, as soon as I jumped on the saddle, I forgot all about that. The pad felt pretty good, even after two hours of riding. I never noticed any discomfort. Some bike shorts don't fit well when riding in the aero position, which is were I spend 99% of my time when training. These really felt good throughout the whole ride, no matter what position I was in. Like so many other triathletes, I use the Cobb V Flow saddle which is a little wider than most saddles. I was happy about the feel of the shorts during the ride. I didn't notice the 'sagging' chamois after the ride either. It is possible this will go away after the shorts get broken in a little more.

Other: The color and graphics on the shorts were really nice. I was pretty impressed with how they looked. It is winter here in Iowa, so all of the rides were indoors. Despite the heavy sweating, the shorts remained comfortable the entire time. Sometimes as sweat rates increase, chafing increases as well. I didn't have any issues (thankfully!). I didn't give any thought to the waistband either, very comfortable and didn't cut in at all.

Overall, I would rate these a 7 out of 10. I will continue to use them on mid to longer rides. I will probably use these for the rides that are 50-70 miles and keep my DeSoto 400 Mile bike shorts for the longer rides since they are quite a bit more expensive. I am happy with them, but would probably opt to go a different route rather than paying full price (approximately $90 shipped with upgraded pad). I am intrigued by their "summer cycling short, " I hope I will be able to give them a try some day.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

2013 Schedule

Well, I think I have made some progress on my 2013 racing schedule. There are still a few things to figure out, but here is a draft.

Event Name Event Date Notes
Siouxperman Sprint Tri 5/4/2013  
Waverly Sprint Tri 5/5/2013  
Ironman Texas 5/19/2013 Already Registered
Lifetime Minneapolis Tri 7/13/2013  
Ironman 70.3 Racine Wisconsin 7/21/2013  
AG Nationals 8/10/2013  
Rev 3 Wisconsin Dells 8/11/2013  
HyVee 5150 Triathlon 9/1/2013  
Ironman 70.3 World Championships 9/8/2013 Hopefully Qualify
Redman Triathlon 9/21/2013 Possible If Do not KQ
Ironman World Championships 10/12/2013 Hopefully Qualify
Soma Triathlon 10/20/2013 Probable if do not KQ

A priority races are Ironman Texas, Ironman Racine, and whatever races I do in September/October. I am really excited to get back at it for a few full distance Tri's. I'm also looking forward to the HyVee 5150 in Des Moines. It has been on my to-do list for the last three years. It will be an interesting year trying to compete well at distances from OLY to 140.6. I will also try to add a few road races where I can (still looking to find on in Spain in June when I will be there for work).

It seems like the first competition is so far away. Plenty of time to make a few more strides forward in training!

Monday, January 14, 2013


I made a few decent strides in training the past few weeks. As I mentioned before, I am really upping the volume this year. I did some testing in the first week of the year to set the starting point as well as see how much progress has been made over since I started out last year. I am fairly pleased with the results, but not satisfied.

Swim- Jan. 2012 Threshold Pace- 1:20 per 100 yd
           Jan. 2013 Threshold Pace- 1:15 per 100 yd

Bike- Jan. 2012 FTP- 275 Watts
          Jan 2013 FTP- 301 Watts

Run- Jan. 2012 Threshold Pace- 5:27 per mile
        Jan. 2013 Threshold Pace- 5:24 per mile

Reflecting back on the year, I am fairly happy with my progress in 2012. However, when I look back at my training logs, I see a lot of waisted efforts and missed opportunities. I focused primarily on the swim and bike in 2012. I will go to a more even focused approach for my 2013 training regimen.

I tried a few new new things with training last year, expecially in the water. I went through the Finding Freestyle series, which I am still up in the air on. I am not convinced that it was worth the money. It did get me to swim a little more and gave me a strict schedule of intervals etc to follow. I think it was too many drills and way too much kicking for my type of swimming. I was recommended the program by a few different people and didn't research it enough first. Most of the flaws in my stroke are in the catch and pull, not kick timing. I think I am made more progress recently by reading forums and talking with a few different swim coaches and just swimming longer intervals and shortening up the recovery intervals.

On the bike, I did a few The Sufferfest videos during the indoor season (which I really enjoy and will continue doing!). When I could get outside I just rode at a steady pace. The terrain is really flat around here, and I struggled quite a bit when I got to some of the hillier races like Vegas and Kansas. Racine was really flat which probly is why I was able to bike almost 15 minutes faster there than the other two 70.3's despite having a flat tire. That is also probably part of the reason I was able to run much faster at Racine than the other two races (although there were certainly other factors...). I will be working on fixing that this year by doing more hill work, interval training, fartleks, and repeats on the bike.

Run training is pretty self-explanitory. I need to increase consistency in races in 2013. Much of this will be taken care of by getting a stronger bike, then staying within my target Watts during the race. I will also be doing repeats and hill work a minimum of once per week. I will continue mixing in long and tempo runs as well. Overall, I'll be upping my mileage about 20 percent this year.

I will be implementing strength training twice each week this year as well. I am not trying to get bigger, just increase strength endurance. I know research is sitll up in the air on this, but it certainly won't hurt.

 That's all for now. I have a nutrition shipment and a few other new products on the way. I hope to be throwing a few product reviews up in the near future.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Bachelor for 3 Weeks

Well, my wife left yesterday for a work trip for three weeks. So I guess that means it is just me and the dog. I will certainly miss her terribly, and the dog is going nuts already. She pulled out the DVD binder under the TV and proceeded to scatter DVD's around the house. I think she has the same taste in movies as I do, the only ones she destroyed were ones I don't watch....Sorry Ash :). Despite the obvious downfalls to coming home to an empty house for most of January, I hope to use this time as an opportunity to make the next step forward in my training.

I am putting the finishing touches on my skeleton training plan leading up to IMTX. I say skeleton because I am hoping to continually improve and will need to adjust times and intensities accordingly. Plus I will be traveling myself a few weekends here and there and heading on a trip to Haiti for a service project through work. I am not sure what I will have available for training on these trips. My 2013 schedule will average over 20 hours each week between the three disciplines. If I want to even get close to the times the pros are hitting, I have to start training like them. This will be a much higher volume than my 2012 program which averaged 13-17 hours each week. I will also be adding more Brick work and speed intervals than I have been doing in the past. It is time to make the next step.

Obviously, I can't just go all out in the next three weeks, that would be a recipe for injury. I have been building at about 10% total volume each week with a step back each 4th week for recovery. During January, I will be jumping forward at 15%. I have had a pretty good start to 2013 (and a pretty good weekend training). I have two other things on the agenda while my wife is away. First, I need to get a big start on planning and prepping classes for the second semester. This will help reduce stress and also open up the schedule a bit so I can train like I want to when my wife gets back. Second, I plan on trying a few new products and messing around with my nutrition plan a little. In the past, I have found something that works and stuck with it. The opportunity I have to work with should help me to find out what I like best, not just what works. Should be a fun process!!!