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Here's your training plan - get race ready by August
March 14th, 2011
04:28 PM ET

Here's your training plan - get race ready by August

Throughout the 2011 Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge, we will be posting workout and meal plans so you can follow along at home.  Today's posting is the first four weeks of training.

The 6-pack are well into training for the New York City Triathlon. In just one month’s time we’ve seen their health improve and their fitness levels increase…dramatically! They are going longer with their workouts as they build their base, and soon they will head into going stronger! Are you ready to join them? Are you ready to get in shape for triathlon racing this summer? Let’s get started!

We'll post four weeks of workouts at a time. Follow the steps and then get it done…no excuses!

Step 1 – Go sign up for a sprint distance race sometime in June, then an Olympic distance race sometime in August. The program above will prepare you for these distances.

Step 2 – Enlist some friends and family to join you in the training (and perhaps racing). It’s more fun with a crowd.

Step 3 – Put the workouts below in your calendar and stick to them!!

Laura Cozik, athletic director for the CNN Triathlon Challenge, is the founder and CEO of Team Lipstick, LLC, an all female triathlon team, based in New York City with a chapter in Washington, D C.


Starting triathon? Here's your shopping list
February 28th, 2011
03:37 PM ET

Starting triathon? Here's your shopping list

Are you ready to train for a triathlon, just like the CNN 6-pack? Want to change your lifestyle? Become a role model? Get super fit and healthy? If you answered yes, then it’s time to go SHOPPING. Woo hoo!!!

Your first year in triathlon is an expense. You’ll need a bike, a wetsuit, cycling shoes, sneakers, a helmet, and a few accessories. You can opt to borrow stuff from friends, and feel free to start with the most basic gear for more savings. Once you have everything, though, you’re good to go for years to come.

Shopping…my favorite part! Here's your list:

FULL POST


So you want to do a triathlon. Here's how to get started, step by step
February 16th, 2011
01:59 PM ET

So you want to do a triathlon. Here's how to get started, step by step

Want to train for your first triathlon like CNN’s 6-pack, but don’t know where to begin? Here’s some advice from CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge Athletic Director, Laura Cozik on how to get started.

It’s soooo easy!!

Step 1 – Once you are cleared by your doctor to begin a swim/bike/run regimen of training, sign up for a race. Puts the pressure on!

Step 2 – Find some local tri clubs, running groups, cycling groups, swim teams, etc. Triathlon training is more fun with a group, plus you’ll be held accountable and you’ll meet other athletes training for their first race as well. Since these workouts are normally coached, you’ll have the guidance of an athletic professional to evaluate you, prevent you from training too much, ensure that you’re training enough, keep you injury free, and push you on days when you need it.

Step 3 – Insert these workouts into a weekly schedule you can adhere to. Then print out the schedule and hang it somewhere highly visible.

Step 4 – Figure out ways to make this FUN! Enlist friends and family to join you (triathlon caters to all ages). Pick local training races that are fun such as a St. Patrick’s Day 5k where everyone wears green, a swimming race whose course circles the Statue of Liberty, a bike ride that raises money for kids.

Step 5 – Show up! It’s that simple…just show up. A field cannot be plowed by turning it over in your mind, so get out there.

FULL POST


April 23rd, 2010
05:44 PM ET

Fit Nation Q-A with Trainer Laura

Four months ago, Fit Nation chose six CNN viewers to train with, and compete alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the Nautica New York City Triathlon in July. Angie Brouhard, one of those six participants, recently had a few questions about her training, so we asked Fit Nation athletic director Laura Cozik to weigh in.


March 12th, 2010
04:48 PM ET

Swim tips and drills for triathletes

By Laura Cozik
Athletic Director, CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge
CEO, Team Lipstick Triathlon

In a triathlon, the swim is the shortest part of the race, but mentally the swim can be the most difficult part of the competition. In my opinion, it is just that type of adversity that makes triathlon so rewarding. Bring it on!! You must learn to embrace the open water, make friends with it, find peace in it, and enjoy the camaraderie of those around you. And in order to do that, you must prepare.

The following drills focus on improving your upper-body technique as well as your breathing. Since you’ll be using your legs to bike and run, a strong upper-body swim is the way to go in triathlon. And improving your lung capacity will help you to calm down and breathe easy when swimming. I am listing a few of my favorite swim drills, plus a few tips for the swim portion of the triathlon, focusing on your race-day experience. You can type the drills below into YouTube to see video demonstrations.

*Catch-up drill: A very popular drill, for a reason. The catch-up drill teaches swimmers to delay their catch, keeping the body more streamlined, focusing on a long stroke and a long body position. One arm goes through a full cycle of the freestyle swim stroke, while the other arm remains extended forward. When the stroking arm “catches up” to the arm that is extended forward, the waiting arm then takes a turn.

*Tennis ball drill: This is a great drill for teaching swimmers how to use their entire forearm when pulling under the water. Swim regular freestyle, but with a tennis ball in each hand. In this closed-fist position, swimmers have to use their entire forearm to pull themselves through the water. After practicing for a while, get rid of the tennis balls and try to perform the same good technique, but now with the added power of your hand!

*Fingertip drag: This drill encourages a high elbow during the recovery phase of the swim stroke, when the arm is out of the water. As the arm exits the water, fingertips drag along the surface of the water before re-entering. This should be done very relaxed.

*Group swimming: The triathlon swim is a contact sport, so practice swimming in small, close proximity groups. You can swim 3-4 athletes side by side in one lane of the pool, or maybe a small cluster of 6-7 athletes. Get used to feeling other arms and legs while swimming. It’s nice to know you’re not alone!

*Sighting: There are many ways to practice sighting- the skills that allow you to swim in a straight line toward your intended location, while in open water. One of my favorites is to swim directly toward someone in your lane. Just before you bump heads, swim around each other (to the right or left, but that should be decided ahead of time), then swim back where you came from. You’ll have to sight a LOT.

*Hypoxic sets: Improving your lung capacity when swimming is key! When you bike or run, you can breathe as often as you like, but when you swim, you have to follow a timed pattern. Doing hypoxic drill sets will help to improve your lung capacity. One way is to try swimming a 25 meter lane, from one end to the other, without breathing at all! Take a break when you get to the other side until you feel completely recovered, then repeat. Do about 4 of these during every swim workout and watch them improve!

Here are some other tips that will be helpful during your triathlon swim:

*You must, must, must practice swimming in open water prior to race day. If the race allows you a practice swim the day prior, or minutes prior to start time, DO IT! Get rid of the fear of the unknown before the gun goes off.

*Wear a wetsuit, for warmth and buoyancy. Practice swimming in it, and especially removing it, prior to race day.

*Find the objects you plan on sighting during your swim, just prior to race start. Buoys are good, but sometimes it’s also beneficial to find a building, a particular object, or something that is not actually IN the water to sight.

*Choose your goggles according to the clearness of the day. Orange is my favorite tint as it brightens up a cloudy day, and also cuts the glare of a sunny day.

If you are nervous, think “just keep swimming, just keep swimming”, or whatever mantra helps you. You can also picture the cocktails and friends that will be waiting at the celebration that night.

Keep up the good work with your training, and please send any questions you may have about triathlon training.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


February 19th, 2010
10:10 AM ET

Get in the zone for your triathlon training

By Laura Cozik
Athletic Director, CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge
CEO, Team Lipstick Triathlon

There are seven common training zones. The most utilized for triathlon racing is Zone 3, or your Tempo Zone. This is the zone you will race in, so it’s also where you should spend a lot of your training time. Zones 6 and 7 are not often visited by triathletes, as they are really your short burst of power efforts, lasting no more than 20 seconds to about 3 minutes in length. There are, however, benefits to applying them from time to time.

· ZONE 1 – Active Recovery – You can spend all day here!

Active recovery is easy, so easy it can be hard to maintain without going overboard. This level is not for training endurance but for recovering tired legs after hard training or racing. No significant effort whatsoever.

· ZONE 2 – Endurance – This is also an all-day pace or classic long/slow distance training.

This is a no-frills effort where most athletes spend the majority of their training rides – base training, easier intensity, low-level leg fatigue, breathing is more regular than at Level 1, but continuous conversation is still possible. It remains a completely aerobic effort.

· ZONE 3 – Tempo – This is our triathlon race pace.

A medium/hard level aerobic exertion, slightly more difficult than endurance level. This will require more concentration to maintain the effort and conversation will be difficult.

· ZONE 4 – Lactate Threshold – This is time trial pace, or your best 20-minute effort.

Lactate is a byproduct of anaerobic metabolism within the muscle, although lactate is produced continuously, even at rest. As exercise intensity increases, more lactic acid is produced in the muscle and is released into the blood. Lactate Threshold, or LT, is the point at which muscle lactate production into the blood is higher than the rate at which the body can metabolize it.

· ZONE 5 – VO2 Max – This effort lasts 3-8 minutes in duration.

Everybody has a physiological limit to the amount of oxygen that can be transported and utilized, which is the VO2 max or maximal oxygen consumption. This is the largest volume of oxygen your lungs can consume and the highest end of aerobic training. Strong to severe sensations of leg effort/fatigue. Conversation not possible due to labored, ragged breathing. These are hard efforts that teach an individual how to suffer!!

· ZONE 6 – Anaerobic Capacity – Up to 3 minutes sustained, high intensity effort.

This level is above aerobic exertion and must be performed in short 30-second – 3 minute repeats at the highest intensity one can maintain for those time periods. This is a very intense exertion and is typically not repeated consecutively, as recovery is needed. For example, a 1-minute interval generally takes about 3 minutes to fully recover from. Severe sensation of leg effort/fatigue, and conversation impossible.

· ZONE 7 – Neuromuscular Power – 20 seconds or less!!!

Strength! As hard as you can push the pedals for a very short time – 20 seconds or less. This level has short, maximal efforts without specific parameters. Greater stress on musculoskeletal rather than metabolic systems. Complete recovery needed.

Next week we’ll discuss the benefits of each zone.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


February 12th, 2010
12:04 PM ET

More about learning to ride your first ‘road bike’

By Laura Cozik
Athletic Director, CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge
CEO, Team Lipstick Triathlon

Last week you learned about some of the basics - beginner skills for your road bike. Today we progress to advanced beginner skills.

Once you’ve figured out how to stop falling (I told you that would happen!), here are the advanced beginner skills you should start to master. Most have to do with bike handling, but focusing on technique should start to play a major role in your workouts.

Hill climbing: Easy gear, spin your legs comfortably at a high cadence. Learn how to get to the top of a hill without being completely exhausted.

Hill descending: Learn to love the free speed! In a hard gear, try to pedal your legs the entire way down, feathering your brakes (lightly squeezing them) to control your speed when necessary. No coasting.

Turns and cornering: Always look into a turn. Your body will follow where your eyes lead. If you are making a left turn, bring your left knee to the top of the pedal stroke while the right one remains at the bottom (and vice versa).

Riding in your ‘drops’: This is the most aerodynamic position you can achieve on a road bike. Hands come down to the lowest point on your handlebars, called ‘the drops’. Practice shifting gears and squeezing your brakes from this hand position.

Standing: Try this on an easy hill climb. Shift to a harder gear, stand up, and continue pedaling. At first you may only achieve 2-4 pedal strokes before needing to sit, but practice and you will improve.

Single-leg pedaling: This helps you to improve your pedal efficiency. While riding on a nice, easy flat, click one foot out of the pedal and extend it behind you. The other foot pedals solo. Try to eliminate any “dead spots” (most people experience these at the top of the pedal stroke). Your goal is smooth, even circles. Do both legs for 1 minute each, about 5 sets total.

Pace lines: This is for group riding only, when training with a team or with friends. While at first a bit scary, you’ll learn to love it. Try riding in single file, as close to the tire in front of you as possible. Eventually you should be able to maintain a maximum of 12 inches from tire to tire. There is a draft benefit here, so you can scale back on your effort. That is, until you are up front leading the group! Pedal continuously, don’t squeeze your brakes suddenly, don’t change the speed when you take over the lead. This takes a LOT of concentration. Google it for more info.

Practice, and let me know if you have any questions. Next week we discuss training zones.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


February 5th, 2010
01:14 PM ET

Learning to ride your first ‘road bike’

By Laura Cozik
Athletic Director, CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge
CEO, Team Lipstick Triathlon

Cycling is the second of three sports in a triathlon, and it can often be the most difficult for people with little experience on a bike. Here are my tips for getting started! This is the first of two articles.

The Basic Skills

• Clipping in – Yes, you must clip in. That means wearing shoes that clip into the pedals. Straddle your bike and squeeze your brakes for stability. Practice clipping in and out with the left, then the right foot, all while standing still.

• Taking off – Clip one foot in and pull that pedal to the 12 o’clock position. Push down hard to take off. Sit in the saddle and clip in with the opposite foot while you still have some momentum. Continue pedaling until you’re ready to stop.

• Braking – Softly squeeze both brakes simultaneously.

• Feathering your brakes – Try pedaling and softly braking at the same time. This slows you down, while allowing you to move forward with the greatest amount of control.

• Clipping out – The heel of your foot should move away from the bike when clipping out.

• Stopping – Squeeze your brakes, then with one foot at the top of the pedal stroke, and one at the bottom, clip the top one out. Come off of the saddle while leaning your inner thigh (of the still clipped in foot) to the top tube for support, then gently put your free foot down. Rule No. 1 = If you clip out LEFT, lean LEFT (or you will most likely fall).

• Falling – The bad news is, you’re going to fall. The good news is, you’ll be going zero miles per hour when you do. So just get it over with! And maybe dress for it – long sleeves, long/tight pants. There are less scrapes that way.

• Body position – It’s very important to be in a position that won’t cause any discomfort or pain. A proper fitting by a professional is definitely recommended. Then relax your upper body, elbows bent, shoulders down, and draw smooth, steady circles with your legs.

• Hydrate – Learn how to take a sip from your water bottle while riding or you will most likely dehydrate. Don’t look down (but for a split second glance), just reach down, retrieve your bottle, take a sip, and replace it carefully. Keep pedaling so you don’t tip over.

• No coasting – Always pedal, never coast. This is a road bike, it’s meant for speed. So pedal!

Stay tuned for Part II next week, Advanced Beginner Skills

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


January 29th, 2010
01:03 PM ET

You’ve decided to do a triathlon…now what?!

By Laura Cozik
Athletic Director, CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge
CEO, Team Lipstick Triathlon

1. Sign up for a sprint distance triathlon! I put this first as you will then have no option but to complete steps 2, 3 and 4, listed below.
* A good Web site for locating races is www.trifind.com.
* Give yourself at least 2 weeks to purchase equipment and find a local team, then give yourself about 12 weeks to train.
* Read about the race course and know what to expect (hills, flat, etc.).
* Check the water temperature for your swim. Low-to-mid 60s can be cold but doable, low-to-mid 70s is very comfortable.
* Find out how many participants there will be. A more intimate race, roughly around 300-500 racers, is better for your first experience. Save the 5,000-participant race for later.

2. Go shopping! This is the fun part. If cost is an issue, lots of stuff can be bought online, often at a discount. Remember that whatever you buy will last for years to come.
* Road bike – No mountain or hybrid. And no tri bike til you’re ready for your second bike.
* Helmet.
* Cycling Shoes – You must clip in! In order to pedal efficiently, you must connect to your pedal crank. No buts, just do it.
* Clipless pedals and cleats.
* Spare tube, CO2 cartridge/dispensor, tire lever – You will have to change a tire someday. Don’t get stranded 10 miles from home with a flat and no way to fix it.
* Floor pump – You should pump your tires before every ride.
* Sneakers and speed laces – You’ll never want to tie your shoes again!
* Swim cap and goggles.
* Wetsuit – So NOT fun trying these on as they are much more comfortable in the water.
* Extras that can wait, unless you decide to go for broke: Sunglasses, carry bag to attach to your bike, allen keys for bike adjustments, front and rear bike lights (if riding at dusk or dawn), water bottles for your bike, heartrate monitor, cadence/mph monitor for your bike (when your ready for the “gadget phase”), tri shorts (padded bottoms are nice), water-wicking clothes for training, hat or visor for sunny runs.
* Good Web sites for discounts: www.craigslist.org, www.nashbar.com, www.performancebike.com.

3. Find a local tri club that accomodates first timers. Most tri clubs will have beginner programs as they’re always trying to grow this sport. And the annual fees can be very affordable, anywhere from $50-$300 per year. Some good questions to ask:
* How many coached sessions do they offer weekly?
* Are there other beginners for you to train with?
* Do they have a pool facility?
* Do they offer open water swim clinics?
* Will they offer lectures such as “how to change a tire,” “nutrition,” “transition practice,” etc.?
* Do they receive discounts at any local swim/bike/run shops?

4. Show up and have fun! That’s all you have to do. Just show up to your training sessions and let the games begin!! See you at the finish line!

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


January 22nd, 2010
01:48 PM ET

Top ten things you need to know when considering your first triathlon

By Laura Cozik
Athletic Director, CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge
CEO, Team Lipstick Triathlon

Yes, anyone can do it. Take it from me! I was a competitive dancer, who didn’t own a bike, had no idea how to put my face in the water, and hated running. One finish line changed my life. You just need the desire.

No, it does not have to be an enormous commitment. For a sprint distance race, you can train an average of 3 to 5 hours per week.
It’s a safe, supportive environment. Not competitive, not intimidating. People actually stop to help one another, they shout words of encouragement, and they smile a lot. You’ll have about 50 new friends by the time you cross that finish line.

All ages participate. The youngest competitors are just 7 years old. However, some of the fastest triathletes are in the older age groups. This sport rewards experience! The oldest woman I ever met at a triathlon was 85. She came to my attention because she was arguing with the race director about how 70+ was not a fair age group. How was she supposed to race against a 70-year-old?! This woman actually wanted to win. I’ll never forget that moment.

All shapes and sizes participate. Triathletes are the most diversified group – tall, short, large, small. And looks can be deceiving in this sport! While it’s beneficial to be small when attempting a big hill climb, size is not an indicator of sheer strength and power - and that other little asset known as determination.

Cross training is healthy. Some sports have injury statistics that are staggering. With triathlons, you swim one day, bike the next, and run the next. The body does not experience the same type of over-use injuries it does if you only run everyday. Its variety is also a plus for those who have A.D.D. (either clinical or imagined).

You can eat a lot. And you can eat plenty of carbs! You’ll burn an average of 2,000 kcals every Saturday during your long bike ride. There’s a lot of replenishing that goes along with that!

Your first year is pricey. You’ll need a road bike, plus lots of gear, and someone to train you properly for that first race. If you enjoy shopping, this is more of a perk than a negative! After the first year, the costs are reduced to race fees and club dues.

There are sooo many benefits. Besides being fit and healthy, triathletes tend to be happy, confident, successful people. You cannot imagine what that finish line feels like until you actually cross it. Improved self confidence, increased energy and drive, feelings of satisfaction and achievement...all accompanied by significant cardiovascular and muscular conditioning.

And finally…triathlon is FUN. Race in St. Croix. Choose a course that has you running through the woods, biking through farm country or swimming in the Hudson River. Form a team and relay with friends/family. Have lots of fun adventures.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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