The Coaches Corner Blog Series
Fleet Feet Sports Annapolis is STOKED to announce it's partnership with Todd Lawless, local triathlon coach for Team in Training, in order to bring you more information, guidance, and education as you pursue new levels of fitness! In addition to answering questions and providing information in our newsletter, Todd hosts in-store clinics for us periodically in the store. Check the newsletter for the next clinic coming up!
Todd Lawless, Biography
"In November of 2002, during my senior year of high school, I received terrible news as a result of a biopsy of an enlarged submandibular lymph node. Hodgkin's Lymphoma at age 17. I spent the next 8 months undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments until my cancer was put into remission. My muscular and endurance systems had taken a massive hit during my treatments but it was nothing compared to the toll cancer took on my confidence.
I had received so much support during my cancer journey that I began to search for a way to give back AND get back what was taken from me. Just after I was diagnosed, my Aunt had gotten involved with an organization called Team in Training (TNT), a charity endurance training program benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. At the time I wasn't too keen on running a marathon or half marathon so I turned my attention to triathlon. I couldn't swim and I owned a bike that was heavier than most cars so it seemed like a natural fit. I spent 4 months training through the Michigan winter during my junior year of college. The training was extremely difficult; I couldn't even run ¼ mile without hyperventilating. As if the cancer wasn't enough, it had given me a case of exercise induced asthma. But I persevered, learning the basics of the swim, bike, run, and the fourth sport, transition!
My first triathlon race was St. Anthony's Olympic Triathlon, a 1.5K swim, 40K bike, and 10K run. I completed the race in 2006 and raised more than $3000 for cancer research and patient support in the process. Crossing the finish line at St. Anthony's was the spark that I needed to take control of my life as it reignited my passion for athletics, healthy lifestyles, and self-improvement. Over the next five years I completed a number of triathlons, many with TNT, including a Half-Ironman in New Hampshire and full Ironman in Lake Placid, NY last summer. I also started my coaching career as a Team in Training coach leading hundreds of first-time athletes to complete their first triathlon.
This Fall I'll be celebrating....yes celebrating....my 10 year diagnosis anniversary by racing the Rev3 Anderson Half Ironman. After all, it was cancer that turned me on to the sport of triathlon and it was triathlon that has helped me keep cancer at bay. I continue with the sport today as part of TNT to put an end to blood cancers and to support patients currently going through treatments. TNT and triathlon are the main parts of my healthy and incredibly rewarding lifestyle!"
Have questions for Todd about how to train or complete a triathlon? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org - and yours could be featured in our next newsletter!
Bicycle Basics - Pedaling Technique and Cadence
by Coach Todd Lawless
So you have a bike that has passed a safety inspection and has been fit to your body…(as discussed last month AND at our clinic on bikes)…now what? Let’s go ride! Before you hit the road there are a couple of basic concepts you should know and practice as you begin your riding. These concepts will help ensure that you maximize your efficiency and keep away those pesky injuries!
First and foremost is what is commonly referred to as the “Power Cycle”, that is, the method by which you apply power to your pedals. Contrary to what you may have learned when you first got on a bike there’s more to pedaling than just pushing the pedals down. The proper pedal stroke should be a very fluid motion where you are constantly applying power that is perpendicular to the crank arm (that thing the pedal is attached to). An easy way to visualize this is to break down the stroke into 4 sections. When your pedal is at 10:00 begin pushing the pedal forward, at 2:00 push the pedal down, at 5:00 pull the pedal backwards, and at 8:00 pull the pedal up. It will take lots of practice and time for you to get used to this more efficient form but it will pay big dividends during races since you won’t burn out your main running muscles for the last leg of the triathlon!
Cadence is simply the number of full Power Cycles you do each minute, also known as turnover, RPM, etc. Dozens of studies and tests have been done over the years and have all concluded that the most efficient cycling cadence is somewhere between 85 and 95 rotations per minute. This may seem very fast for newer cyclists and may take some time to get used to but making the transition will help to limit the impact of long rides on your muscles and joints. This cadence also makes the transition from the bike to the run more comfortable. To measure your cadence you can purchase a cadence sensor that attaches to your bike or you can could your pedal strokes for 15 seconds and multiply by 4.
We will continue practicing these and other cycling concepts at our group rides so stay tuned! If you have specific questions about a discipline, triathlons in general, or are interested in joining our online triathlon community - please let Noelle know!
See you on the trails!
Bicycle Basics – Preparing for Training
by Coach Todd Lawless
The old saying “it’s as easy as riding a bike” is somewhat of a misnomer when it comes to endurance events. Similar to the way endurance running is much more structured than simply running around a playground, effective cyclists follow good form, do targeted strength training, and make sure they have a bike that fits them properly. So where should you start? Most new triathletes start their careers by dusting off the bike that has been hiding in the garage for a few winters. Before you hop on that bike for a long ride there are a couple of things you should do to make sure you’re going to have am enjoyable experience
Proper bike fit is one of the most important aspects of endurance cycling. There are a number of sizes of bike frames, seat heights, handlebar widths, etc. that need to be selected and configured to match your body. All bikes are able to be adjusted to accommodate a wide range of body styles and sizes but not every bike CAN fit every person. A good bike fit can make the difference between a perfectly comfortable ride and some unfortunate pain. If you have ANY pain during or after a long bike ride it can most often be traced back to improper fit! When getting your bike fit by a local shop make sure the fitter is certified to make sure you’re working with someone who has been trained!
Bike Safety Check
You don’t want to be barreling down your first hill only to find out your brakes don’t work right? It’s a good idea to have a local bike mechanic take a look at your critical systems to make sure you’ll be safe. Tires, wheels, brakes, helmet, and drive train are the important parts to inspect for defects or excessive wear. If you don’t remember when you last purchased a bike helmet….you’ll need a new one. The safety material in a helmet breaks down after about 3-5 years so even though you haven’t fallen your helmet may not be protecting you!
We will be covering bicycle fitting and safety in much greater detail at our next clinic. Please join Coach Todd Lawless at Fleet Feet on September 27th @ 6:00 PM for “Introduction to the Sport of Triathlon Clinic #2: All about the BIKE!” If you have specific questions about a discipline or triathlons in general please send them to email@example.com.
See you on the trails!
Getting Started with Triathlon
by Coach Todd Lawless
The sport of triathlon can seem intimidating at first since it incorporates three different sports and most people are only aware of the iconic race held in Kona each year for elite level athletes. If you think about it though, you’ve probably been swimming, biking, and running before. Putting the three disciplines together really isn’t that difficult! This month I’d like to address some common first-timer questions that seem to keep people away from the sport.
Q: How long is a triathlon?
A: The most common distance for triathlon is the Olympic (or International) distance. The event consists of a 1.5K swim, 40K bike, and a 10K run. Most people begin their triathlon careers with a Sprint distance event. These are usually a 500 meter swim, a 12 mile bike, and a 5K run. This is a great distance to race when learning the sport because it doesn’t require as much training as an Olympic and you probably already have all the gear you need to be successful!
Q: Do I need to buy a new bike?
A: For beginners in the sport of triathlon most any bike will suffice. If you don’t own a bike then you’ll need to purchase one! Whether you own or purchase a mountain bike, road bike, or a hybrid bike you’ll be able to make simple modifications to help you succeed in any Sprint or Olympic distance race. It’s best to get a couple of races under your belt before you decide to make the investment in a good road or triathlon bike.
Q: What gear do I need to participate in a triathlon?
A: Surprisingly little! For the swim you’ll need a pair of goggles. For the bike you’ll need a helmet and a bike. For the run all you need is a pair of running shoes. Most athletes wear a triathlon suit for the entire race but some wear swimsuits and shorts. You probably already own enough gear to make it through your first race. There are lots of pieces of optional gear that can make your race day experience more enjoyable but they are certainly not required.
For more information on the sport of triathlon please join Coach Todd Lawless at Fleet Feet on August 21st @ 6:00 PM for “The Nuts and Bolts: Introduction to the Sport of Triathlon Clinic”. If you have specific questions about a discipline or triathlons in general please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you on the trails!