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Foam rolling: explanation, techniques, and benefits

A foam roller can be your best friend. Is yours stashed in a closet or sitting somewhere gathering dust? Get it out! If you don’t have one, visit our friends and partners at Fleet Feet Austin. They’ll get you set up with what you need! Whether you’re training for an upcoming triathlon or exercising to stay in shape, proper foam rolling has many benefits. It can help you relax, prevent injury, and speed up your recovery. We’ll explain what foam rolling is, breakdown effective techniques, and highlight various benefits. 

What is foam rolling?

It is an SMR (self-myofascial release) technique that is designed to help you relieve muscle pain. Foam rolling is an excellent form of warming-up or cooling-down after swimming, cycling, or running. You should schedule a massage as needed and let a professional work out the kinks. But for all the in-between time, you should foam roll at home. It’s easy and can take less than 10 minutes.

Techniques

Foam rolling is an excellent way for athletes to recover after low- or high-intensity workouts. The best part? It’s very easy to do too! Here are a few foam rolling technique explanations to get you started. For more, refer to our handy downloadable PDF.

  • Lay down on the foam roller and gently put your leg on it; gradually use your bodyweight to regulate the pressure.
  • When you find a painful spot, hold the foam roll right there for a few seconds; gradually apply pressure for 10-20 seconds; continue moving up & down slowly.
  • Repeat the same process with all muscle groups, especially those most involved with the workout

Benefits

  1. Helps with muscle repair recovery

An easy way to speed up your recovery process.

Provides sore muscles with relief by breaking up lactic acid and increasing the flow of fresh blood to the muscles. It also helps reduce muscle inflammation. According to this study, 20 men foam rolled after a high-intensity workout. These participants reported a decrease in delayed onset muscle soreness. Not only that, but later on they performed better during an exercise than those who didn’t foam roll. Pro tip: proper hydration can also help with blood circulation. Learn about the different ways to carry hydration during your run.

  1. Promotes relaxation

Visit our friends at Fleet Feet Austin for all your foam rolling and recovery needs.

This is the most prominent benefit of foam rolling. A majority of athletes find it to be helpful in relaxing. How? It breaks down the tightness of the muscles, reduces inflammation, and even reduces stress. When your body feels good and your muscles aren’t sore you can concentrate better during the day and sleep better at night. Taking the time to foam will is even more beneficial after a brick workout, when you’re asking more of your body.

  1. Additional benefits

  • Relieves back pain
  • Improves flexibility
  • Increases range of motion
  • Reduces cellulite appearance

Foam rolling is the simplest choice to recover from sore muscles or to even relieve back pain. The best part?! It doesn’t take long and can help you recover faster before your next workout. However, we advise that you always be careful while performing this action. Don’t continue to roll an area if you experience sharp or prolonged pain. Consult with your doctor if needed.

Graduate from walking to running with this simple advice

Is one of your goals to get active? Are you looking for a way to intensify your exercise? Give running a try. It can burn more calories than walking alone, can strengthen your heart, and lower your cholesterol levels. Running can also reduce stress levels and lead to developing a healthier lifestyle. Most importantly, running can help you clear your mind and find peace within yourself. But how do you even begin to transition from walking to running?

The right running shoes can make all the difference.

Our advice below will get you on the right path! This is a journey that will take time. Just remember, you’re not alone on your journey! We’re here to help you transition from walking to running.

Running gear

First, the transition from walking to running may not be as difficult as you think, but you will need some gear. 

  1. Running shoes – Make sure you have a pair of comfortable shoes that are specifically for running. If you have an older pair, be sure to read through this article to make sure they don’t need to be replaced. Proper fitting running shoes can also help prevent painful shin splints and injuries that could sidetrack you from your goal. Once you have your pair, use them only for your upcoming walk/run workouts, wearing your running shoes for other activities can cause bad wear patterns, and wear them our faster.
  2. Clothes – Wear workout gear that allows you to move freely, is lightweight, and wicks sweat. You will want to stay away from cotton.
  3. Water Bottle – Keep a water bottle nearby to stay hydrated and replenish lost fluids. If carrying a water bottle is uncomfortable, check out these different ways of carrying water with you while you run. 
  4. Extras – hat, sunglasses, headphones if you like to listen to music, and lights and reflective gear if you are going out in the dark.

Begin your journey from walking to running

Slow your jog back to a walk if you feel exhausted.

Let’s assume you walk four or five days every week and want to begin running. That’s a great start! The helpful steps below will help you during your transition from walking to running. You can always take breaks in between if you are out of breath or feel exhausted.

This is just the beginning, but when you’re ready to train for your first triathlon add in these 7 tips.

Have a plan and set goals

  1. Develop an exercise schedule if you don’t currently have one. The goal is to become more comfortable being on your feet for extended periods of time.
    • Week 1 – walk 30 minutes/day for four days
    • Week 2 – walk 40 minutes/day for four days
    • Week 3 – walk 50 minutes/day for four days 

Take the next steps

  1. Now it’s time to crank it up a bit! But don’t get too excited just yet. You want to slowly incorporate jogging into your schedule. You will want to complete these 4 days a week. On your off days, you can include recovery workouts like yoga, cycling, or even just short walks like we did in week 1 & 2.
    • Week 4 – 10-minute warm-up walk, alternate 30-second light jog/4-minute walk for 15 minutes, 5-minute cool down walk
    • Week 5 – 10-minute warm-up walk, alternate 60-second light jog/4-minute walk for 20 minutes, 5-minute cool down walk
    • Week 6 – 10-minute warm-up walk, alternate 2-minute light jog/3-minute walk for 25 minutes, 5-minute cool down walk

As you get more comfortable, increase your time spent jogging.

Start to increase your jogging

  1. Next, increase your jogging intervals, and decrease your walking intervals as you see fit. Set a goal for yourself before you begin. Feel free to pick up the pace during your jog if it feels good. If you feel overwhelmed or exhausted, cut back the time in small increments. Try and stay above what you accomplished the week before even if it just 20-30 seconds longer. 
    • Week 7 – 5-minute warm-up walk, alternate 3-minute jog/2-minute walk for 25 minutes, 5-minute cool down walk

Pick up the pace

  1. After that, as you continue to feel comfortable, extend the duration of your intervals as you see fit. Alternate your jog and walking like previous routines. Continue to set small goals to reach. Feel free to pick up the pace during your jog if it feels good. If you feel overwhelmed or exhausted, cut back the time. If you want to continue to increase your speed during your jog, these 6 tips will get you started.
    • Week 8 – 5-minute warm-up walk, alternate 5-minute jog/1-minute walk for 30 minutes, 5-minute cool down walk

By now, jogging for longer periods of time should become more and more comfortable. Congratulations, you’ve made the transition from walking to running! Continue to extend your jogging time. Maybe even quicken your stride and break into slow runs. In the end, you’ll eventually eliminate the walking portion of your intervals. Ready for your next challenge? tThis helpful advice will get you started on cycling! 

5 tips on how to get over your fear of open water

The fear of the unknown and uncertainty of open water can create anxiety in beginner swimmers. Beginner triathletes have to overcome this before race day to have a successful swim. Swimming pools are nothing like a lake, but they are still beneficial for training. What you learn in the pool can be easily transferred to open waters, just without the clear water and straight black line. You can overcome your fear of open water if you have a successful strategy and the willingness to execute it. Prepare for the swim with these five tips to get over your fear of open water.

It’s important to swim in open water before race day. Credit – Tom Marek.

Pro tip: wetsuits can help with your buoyancy in the water. If you invest in one, take proper care of it so you get the most out of it.

  1. Practice makes perfect

The best swimming abilities in the world won’t mean a thing if you can’t remain calm when things don’t go as planned. Staying relaxed and maintaining your form is critical during a triathlon. You might pass people. People might pass you. You could veer off course. You might get accidentally kicked or hit by another swimmer’s stroke. While none of this is intentional, it can still throw you out of rhythm.

Find an open body of water before race day. Practice so you understand what it feels like to not have the benefits of a pool. Focus on maintaining your form and breathing evenly. Know what it feels like for the waves to splash over you. Be specific in your open-water practice and familiarize yourself with what the pool can’t provide. Practice sighting and become familiar with these tips so you understand how it’ll keep you on course.

  1. Anticipate and plan ahead

Create “if-then” plans before you enter the water. Credit – Tom Marek.

Be proactive and create “if-then” plans for your swim. If you begin to feel nervous, then resort to slower strokes and calm your breathing. If you feel lost, adjust your stroke and focus on sighting. This will help you get back on track. Implement anxiety-reducing tactics that can help you during the swim. For example, some swimmers count their strokes. This allows them to focus on a short-term goal, regain control of their breathing, and focus on what they can control.

Have a physical checklist of items you’ll need. Plan ahead and make sure you have what you need for all practice swims and race day. It’s important to make sure everything fits, like your swim goggles. Make sure you have a backup pair just in case! Create a mental checklist of things to focus on and you’ll have a productive fallback when things turn bad. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

  1. Go with the flow

Most swimmers exhaust themselves fighting waves or veering way off course. Learn how to not swallow water and maintain sighting when you swim in open waters. Create a plan that accounts for the circumstances around you, but be prepared to adjust. Focus on what you can control, like your breathing and your sighting. Alternate between sighting, stroke speed, and relaxing when the opportunity presents itself. There is a time and place for everything. Don’t forget, humor helps. These triathlons memes can give you a good laugh and remind you of what you’re capable of accomplishing.

  1. Talk to other triathletes

Talk to veteran triathletes. Their information will be valuable. Credit – Tom Marek.

Veteran triathletes can help you improve your technique, reduce any anxiety, and catch any and all errors you might make during an open-water swim. Another pair of eyes can spot things you can’t. They can also share stories, advise on certain practice techniques, and give race-day tips. You can learn more from others. This is more of the mental component to swimming, but any helpful information is beneficial. Read about William’s first-ever triathlon. High Five Events’ Communication Manager breaks down his race-day experience, including the good and bad of the swim. 

  1. Practice one skill at a time

Fall back on your training. Next thing you know you’ll be done. Credit – Tom Marek

Practice and skill-development are reliable confidence boosters. Isolate your swimming skills such as sighting, stroke, breathing, and form. Practice them individually to zero-in on becoming better at them. All of these can be worked on in the pool, where you might feel more comfortable. Those skills can then be transferred to your practice swims in open water. Then practice putting them all together in action holistically. The simple act of refining each of your skills and working on them can produce positive results and boost your confidence. Pro tip: incorporate these 7 tips when you begin training. They’ll help with your journey, including overcoming your fear of open water.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. A beginner triathlete has to face the open water someday. A great plan, the right amount of practice, and the patience to tolerate fear and failure until you succeed are all you need to become a successful swimmer. Keep in mind, getting over your fear of open water will not happen overnight. It’ll take several swims and consistency. With hard work and dedication, you’ll overcome your fear of open water in no time!

This advice will help you save money on triathlon

Are triathlons expensive? This is what most athletes that start triathlon training wonder. However, this is one of many misconceptions about triathlon. Triathlons can be inexpensive when you smartly plan things. Most triathlon essentials can be found used and purchased at a discount. Best of all, you can start triathlon training if you have a pair of good shoes, a swimsuit, goggles, and any bike in good condition. Follow the advice below to save money on triathlon.

Here are tips to help you save

Don’t buy more than you need

Buy only what you really need. For instance, you don’t need to buy a bike! That’s right, you can rent a bike race weekend from a local bike shop. Or you could borrow one from a friend who isn’t racing that day. Pro tip: this triathlon equipment checklist will get you started.

Also, don’t buy a swim cap if you don’t have one. You will get one when you pick up the packet from your triathlon. As far as the other swimming gear is concerned, you don’t need to purchase fins or a kickboard. You can borrow them from your friends or at your gym’s pool. Read about what Jack Murry, co-owner of High Five Events, used for his first triathlon!

Find a free workout plan online

You don’t need to spend a fortune on hiring a trainer. Save money by opting for a free online workout plan instead. There are many triathlon training plan options available. They are designed by experts and give you the confidence and training needed to help reach the finish line. You can also tailor the workout plans to suit your needs and schedule. Start today with this free triathlon training plan

Register early

Triathlons have price increases as they get closer to the event date. We suggest you register and start triathlon training early. This will save you money and gives you time to prepare and increase your endurance. If you are lucky enough, you can also grab good deals by registering before a certain date. For instance, we offer a combo deal where you save $10 when you register for both the Rookie Tri and CapTex Tri. Just select Combo Deal during checkout when registering for either event.

Participate in local triathlons

Find local triathlons that fit your budget. You’ll avoid spending heavily on travel and other travel-related expenses. Some excellent Austin triathlons are CapTex Tri and Jack’s Generic Tri. They offer the same amount of fun at a far lesser price.

Join a club

Become a member of a gym or a group to take advantage of their discounts and deals. Some are entirely free, while you need to pay a nominal fee for several others. Austin Triathlon Club is a great, local nonprofit group. Their members include triathletes of all levels and they have programs to introduce beginners to the sport.

Register for Rookie Tri, select the CapTex Tri Combo Deal, and start training for two of Austin’s favorite triathlons today!

Follow these wetsuit care instructions to extend its life

Wetsuits are a big investment. But they’re worth it because they’re helpful in the water. Proper wetsuit care is important so you can extend its life and get the most out of your investment. Whether you have a full suit, sleeveless, or compression shorts proper wetsuit care can make a big difference. Whether you’re swimming in a pool or open water, follow the wetsuit care instructions below and take proper care of your wetsuit. Pro tip: read about William’s first triathlon (2018 Rookie Tri) and see the difference a wetsuit can make.

Steps to follow

  • Wetsuits can be used in all open water conditions. No matter the water, you should always rinse your suit in clean, cool water after each use. Pro tip: if possible, don’t use your wetsuit in a chlorinated swimming pool. Over time the chlorine can damage the seams and degrade the fabric of the suit.
  • To preserve the life of the wetsuit, always store your wetsuit laying flat or hanging in a dry place on a thick plastic hanger. Wetsuits can be heavy so make sure the hanger is sturdy. You don’t want to find your wetsuit crumpled up at the bottom of a closet.
  • Make sure your wetsuit is completely dry before you put it away or it will mildew and STINK! Turn your wetsuit inside out to help it dry faster. Never leave your wetsuit out in the sun to dry. Pro tip: incorporating a swim-to-bike brick workout is a great way to practice taking off your wetsuit after exiting the water.
  • Periodically wash your wetsuit with wetsuit shampoo. This will keep the integrity of the fabric as well as keep it from becoming mildewy and stinky. Try Jaws Slosh Wetsuit Shampoo the next time you wash your wetsuit.
  • Only use approved lubricates when putting on your wetsuit. Like chlorine, unapproved lubricants can degrade the fabric and have your wetsuit falling apart at the seams. Petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or any other petroleum-based product will literally eat holes in your suit lining. Try TRISLIDE Spray the next time you put on your wetsuit.
  • If you have to travel with your wetsuit, fold as stated below. Folded seams and a crumpled suit can lead to more tearing when you are putting the suit on.
    • Fold the legs halfway up.
    • Make an X when you fold the arms.
    • Fold the remaining legs over the arms and torso.
    • Unfold when you arrive.

Start cycling now and begin training for your first triathlon

For those wanting to train for their first triathlon, having a set training pattern is important. You must spend time focusing on all three disciplines, swim, bike, run. This blog will focus on the bike portion and how to start cycling. Whether you’re a new rider or have been riding since you were a kid, training and racing on a bike is different. Welcome to How to Start Cycling 101. Pro tip: check out these other tips to start your triathlon training!

Helpful tips

  • Start by cycling a little on a daily basis
  • Build a habit of cycling, it helps to train the mind and the body
  • Follow a daily routine, establish accountability
  • Track your progress daily
  • Increase your training intensity gradually
  • Focus on lower body workouts to increase strength, helps avoid leg-related injury
  • Stay motivated
  • Ride hills and follow these tips

Cycling gear

It helps to have the proper gear before you start long-distance cycling. The right equipment can keep you comfortable, dry, and safe. 

  • Bike shorts – Probably the most important piece. They’re made specifically for cycling. Bike shorts are designed to fit tight (with hybrid material to enable airflow) and be comfortable (extra padding). 
  • Jersey – Can wick sweat, keeping you dry and sweat-free. The underarms and torso regions need to be kept dry and allow for air flow to avoid rashes and infections post triathlon. Pouches on the back allow you to store nutrition.
  • Helmets – Safety is always a priority. Helmets are a must for training cyclists. It helps keep the cyclist safe in case of any emergency. Along with safety, helmets are also designed to allow airflow.
  • Lights – Front and back lights are vital for riding during any time of the day. They help you maintain visibility at night. Lights also help drivers see you. Proper LED torch lights and rear red lights are a must for safety.
  • Saddlebag with a flat kit – A saddlebag is a handy little addition. It provides extra space to carry food, water, maps, phones, and other such essentials. A flat kit is also handy in case you have a flat.

Buying the right bike and other tips to start cycling

  • Choose the bike based on your height
  • Take the bike for a test ride
  • Research the type of bike you need and the brands available in the market
  • Learn how to fix a flat
  • Learn all the road rules and always follow them
  • Always remember to hydrate and have nutrition with you
  • Don’t go beyond your comfort zone too quickly
  • Know when it’s time to get your bike a tune-up

Understand what clipless pedals are and how they can increase your speed

Here’s why you should trade in your rubber pedals for clipless pedals. First, you will be able to generate more powerful pedal strokes. More power and these tips can help you master the hills on your ride. Second, you will gain better control over your movements. Third, mounting and dismounting will become easier after you practice. Pro tip: if your bike hasn’t had a tune-up in the last 12 months schedule one today!

How do clipless pedals work?

Clipless pedals are made of cleats that you attach to the soles of your clipless cycling shoes. All you need to do is thrust your heels forward to start operating. The pedals never detach from the soles of your shoes, which works in increasing your power output.

Recommendations

LOOK Keo Classic 3

You can clip on and off with ease with these clipless pedals. The Classic 3’s spindles and axles go through a rotational test of 2 million cycles to get approval. So, you can rely on their durability. Plus, the spacious contact surface ensures stability while pedaling.

Shimano PD-M520L

These lightweight pedals support effortless step-in and are ideal for road and mountain biking. The cartridge axle does not require a lot of maintenance and the pedals perform efficiently on muddy trails. Increase the release force of these without worrying about losing your grip.

Shimano PD-R7000

These pedals are designed to increase power transfer thanks to the spacious carbon body. It offers optimum contact with your shoes. You can ace your cycling game even with high pedaling loads due to the wide surface. That, however, does not mean that this is a piece of heavyweight equipment. On the contrary, these are quite lightweight. The axle is made of stainless steel with a sealed cartridge unit. These are ideal if you are new to clipless pedals. For instance, you can lower the tension to match your level of comfort.

Shimano Ultegra

If you are a more experienced rider, upgrade to the Shimano Ultrega R8000 SPD-SL Carbon Road Pedals. You can even use these on road shoes and still remain well connected. Clipping and unclipping come easy. These are by far the most lightweight of pedals with a reduced tack weight; so that is an additional feature. They can sustain extreme biking ventures.

Now that you have an understanding of clipless pedals and various recommendations, it’s time to decide! First, make sure you’re ready to make the switch. If you’re just starting out, become more familiar with your bike and use these 7 tips to start your triathlon training.

Brick workouts build your endurance and prepare you for race day

Triathlon is an extensive physical competition that tests endurance in swimming, biking, and running. Including brick workouts in your training can help you significantly improve your endurance. Brick workout consist of consecutive sessions of two triathlon activities, usually biking and running, in any order. These workouts help you develop the ability to complete one physical activity after another. They can also help you prepare for swim-to-bike and bike-to-run transitions. Remember, ensure your helmet properly fits before every ride with these easy steps.

Swim-to-bike

This is usually the first transition you make in a triathlon. When you pedal the bike after a period of swimming, the labor shifts from your arms to your legs, causing some discomfort. This discomfort is down to abruptly switching from a horizontal position while swimming to an upright position for cycling. So, for reducing the transition impact during the event, it is reasonable to do this brick. If your brick workouts include hills make sure you follow this expert advice for riding hills.

If you are preparing for a Sprint or Super Sprint event, you can try a 200-300 m swim followed by cycling for 10- to 25-minutes. For Olympic distance, a swim session between 300 and 600 m with a 20-40 minute cycling period is ideal. 

Bike-to-run

This is probably the most common of brick workouts. It is also arguably the toughest. After biking, your legs feel heavy and difficult to move. However, after getting a few brick sessions under your belt, your leg muscles shall start recovering well from the wear and tear of biking, letting you run easier. Learn how taking an ice bath after your brick workouts can speed up the recovery process.

For short distances like Super Sprint and Sprint, a 30- to 20-minute cycling session, followed by a 15-minute run is a good place to start. Pro tip: you’ll be thirsty. Check out these different ways to carry hydration on your run.

Run-to-bike

You are not likely to face a run-to-bike transition in a triathlon. But this brick certainly helps you build endurance and stamina. This is especially useful for duathlons which include a run-to-bike transition followed by a final run.

A 10- to 20-minute run, in build-up to a 30- to 120-minute cycling session, is preferable for Olympic distance and less. In case you are training for anything beyond Olympic distance, a 20-minute run followed by cycling for 75 to 120 minutes is fairly competitive.