This section will contain advice on training and specific workouts to try.  Advice on swim, bike and run are included as well as more triathlon specific brick training and ideas on nutrition.

2019 Tri The Dirt Bear Mountain

The second iteration of Tri The Dirt Bear Mountain is coming April 27-29, 2019!  We are again partnering with Adam Walker and The Cycling Co to bring you world class technical coaching for all of your offroad skills!

Tri The Dirt Square Logo

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2018 XTERRA Maui MelRad

2018 XTERRA Maui Mudfest

The 2018 XTERRA Maui World Championship will be remembered for the epic muddy course conditions.

2018 XTERRA maui MelRad

Satisfaction comes from giving it your best effort for the day

Separation Is In The Preparation

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2018 Tri The Dirt XTERRA Victoria

Tri The Dirt XTERRA Victoria

Signup is open for TRI THE DIRT XTERRA Victoria and our second edition is going to be EVEN BETTER!  This camp is specifically focused on the XTERRA Victoria course and athletes who have signed up for XTERRA Victoria race save $25 and alumni from Tri The Dirt Bear Mountain save an additional $25!  We are rolling out the 2018 Tri The Dirt team gear so if you want to be part of the first year of TTD sign up quickly.

Tri The Dirt XTERRA Victoria edition is June 8-10!  You should plan to be in Victoria for a 5:30pm open water swim session on Friday night June 8.  The camp will run to approximately 4pm on Sunday June 10 with full days on Saturday and Sunday.  The final itinerary will be out in two weeks time.

The sign up INCLUDES TAX this time around 🙂

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 Video Preview

Whether you are a beginner who is just starting your adventures on the dirt or a veteran looking to find more free speed TRI THE DIRT is the camp for you!  This is also an excellent opportunity for riders to come to familiarize with the course and receive coaching on how to best race at this venue.  This is a NON COMPETITIVE skills based camp.  This is not about smashing yourselves with exertion, it is about mindful improvement through better execution.  Everyone will improve and will swim/bike/run/transition at their level.  The learning environment is positive, fun, and confidence building.  NO ONE GETS DROPPED and NO ONE FEELS LIKE THEY ARE WAITING!

The camp will all be based at Durrance Lake where the XTERRA Victoria event will be held.  This camp is skills based, so all of the training will be focused on technique, but will also include a thorough preview of the courses.

We will teach you skills to tackle what you will encounter at XTERRA Victoria – roots, rock rolls, hills, and tight corners.  All of these obstacles require nailing the basic skills of mountain biking and some good run technique.  You will leave the camp with the knowledge of how to train to be better at this sport – not just fitter.  Offroad racing rewards technically sound athletes – so we will make you technically better at swimming, biking, running, and transitioning.

Why Tri The Dirt—> See HERE

The camp will start with an OPEN WATER BUOY session.  This session will be in wetsuits at this time of the year.  Sighting, turns, pack swimming, and entry/exits of the water will be covered.

open water swim coaching

Then there will be a run clinic on AGILITY and UP/DOWNHILL running.  Mountain bike skills clinics will start with the basics and we will progress to some common maneuvers that incorporate all of the skills.

Tri The Dirt mountain bike skills coaching

Learn skills appropriate for YOUR LEVEL that make you a more confident rider

Also included in the camp will be a session on nutrition, transitions, and a tech session on suspension and tires.

This camp is supported by Clif Bar so we will have snacks on hand to avoid any hangry incidents…and at the end of the camp there will be an all out rock/paper/scissors war for prizes from Rudy Project.  We didn’t say it was all non-competitive!

Lunch will be provided! (as long as you are stoked on a massive Red Barn sandwich, cookie, and a drink because that is really all we can offer at this venue!)

Looking forward to meeting you all at Tri The Dirt.  Space is limited… so don’t delay.

 

2018 Bear Mountain Canada Cup

I kicked off 2018 by jumping into the elite race at the Bear Mountain Canada Cup on Saturday.  It was a lot of fun for every minute of racing I had.

I was happy to see my old pals from mountain biking out racing at Bear Mountain Canada Cup either in the elite or masters category. Catherine Pendrel absolutely demolished the field so it is great to see her not slowing down one bit.  Kate Button is working her way through the pro xc field after deciding a few weeks ago to really focus on her cycling and put the triathlon on the backburner.  I am stoked to help her in her goal to race World Cups.

View this post on Instagram

All smiles before kicking off the 2018 Canada Cup Elite National mountainbike scene. I decided to use my face as back up brakes (I’m fine) so my day ended a bit early. Buttons had a much better day 👍🏻Fun fact-I watched @cpendrel sign autographs for little kids until seconds before the race call up before beginning a clinic called: “How to crush singletrack like a boss and rip everyone’s legs off”. Lots of inspiration getting sprinkled around with that kind of awesomeness. Very impressive Catherine🙌🏻 So proud of my #melrad triathlon crew getting out of their comfort zones. Great first mountainbike race ever for @kablewie73! Thanks to the organizers of the @westinbearmountainresort Canada cup and to all the volunteers. Super fun to jump back into the mtb scene today, get 35’ of hard exercising, and get my obligatory crash ( all of us must crash every so often) outta the way😉

A post shared by Coaching By Melanie McQuaid (@melradcoaching) on

It was a pleasure working with a large group of the juniors and under 17s from all over Canada while coaching the Cycling Canada junior camp.  Seeing them put it all together to have great races on Saturday is amazing.   The future is bright in this sport.  Thanks to Ian Hughes for some coaching mentorship this week – the experience was invaluable.

Unfortunately, I only finished just under half the laps I was planning to race on Saturday….. Read more

swim leg itu multisport world Championship

2017 ITU Long Course World Championship

ITU Long Course World Championship

With the excitement of winning the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship fueling my excitement to hit a start line again, I was pretty oblivious to some signs from my body leading up to (and in the days following) ITU Multisport Long Course World Championship.  I managed to completely ignore that I had shingles.  Cue the geriatric jokes right now that will go nicely with all of my talk about racing after 40.  LOL.  Sigh.

swim leg itu multisport world Championship

Photo credit Kevin Mackinnon

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don't give up

The 12 Weeks Broken Ankle Recovery Video Update

The 12 Week Broken Ankle Recovery Update

It has been 12 weeks to the day since I had my bike accident and broke my ankle.  In this 12 week video update, I share a bit about the people that have helped me get back to speed so quickly and kept my attitude in check.  Staying positive and engaged in the process of recovery has been the key to getting back in shape quickly.

don't give up

Simple.

This injury has helped redefine and motivate my desire to race.  I feel like I am among a new generation of athletes who continue to race into their 40s and remain competitive as elites.  This isn’t “normal” and there is certainly some resistance to this notion.  Although I am more of an outlier at the moment, I don’t think this will always be the case.

I am thankful to have great sponsors and supporters who believe that fast after 40 means REALLY FAST.  I love the idea of helping to define what that is and work hard to set the bar as high as possible.  I look to my contemporaries, athletes like Jo Pavey and Gunn-Rita Dahle, who are competing as top level elites in their sports (running and mountain biking) to help me decide what level I plan to compete at.  The top level.

I am still looking at Kona in 2017.

Looking forward to setting some new benchmarks this season.

Thanks for following along.

xoxo  Melanie ???

 

 

Tips to help recover faster from triathlon training

 

Things You Can Do To Help Speed Your Recovery

Your body will not be ready to do another workout if it hasn’t adequately recovered from the last one.  In between hard workouts, pro athletes will take some steps to speed up their recovery – like completing active recovery workouts – to make sure their body is loose and adequately rested to handle the stress of another hard session.  Training is a process of stringing together sessions that challenge the body.  In between the challenging sessions the athlete needs to do everything possible to get ready for another one.  Here are some common practices to improve the process of recovery.

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Coach Mel: 60 Minute Workout – Four Minute Hills

This session was originally posted online with Triathlon Magazine Canada September 16, 2014 at http://triathlonmagazine.ca/racing/profiles/sixty-minute-bike-workout-mels-max-hill-reps/

2013 Utah champs

 With the XTERRAWorld Championships coming up for some of us, this week’s 60 minute training session focuses on working your maximum climbing power.  You can do it on the trainer or use a short hill that allows you to climb for a minimum of four minutes at maximum effort.  Your heart rate should reach over 90 per cent of your maximum by the end so don’t be afraid to really go for it.

 

Warmup (10 minutes):

Start with a 10 minute warmup slowly increasing cadence as you ride.  In the last five minutes increase cadence by  five rpm per minute up to the maximum cadence you can hold (aim for 130 rpm or more) in a relatively easy gear or low wattage:  something like 39 x 17 or 100 watts on the Powerbeam.

 

Final warm up preparation (10 minutes):

You can do these accelerations uphill or use the trainer to increase watts.  For a continuous 10 minutes, complete 15 second accelerations uphill or at high watts on the trainer, recovering for 1:45 after each.  Repeat five times.

 

Main Set (28 minutes):

The workout is a simple 4 x 4 minutes set with 3 minutes of recovery after every interval.  Push the hardest gear you can maintain at 80-90 rpm.

Don’t let your cadence drop below 80 rpm and try to keep at least the same gear or harder for each successive effort. If you’re on the trainer, hold your best average watts and be sure the last set is not lower than the first. You may want to start a bit conservative then blow the doors off the last one.   If you’re using a powermeter, these are meant to be above threshold efforts.

 

Finish (12 minutes):

Warm down is 12 minutes.  Ride the first five minutes at 120 rpm in a very easy gear to spin the legs out then easy warm down as you choose.

Visualize crushing the steep, stair-step climbs on the Maui course if you are preparing for Xterra.  The steep sections of the climbs on that course are between two and four minutes long before it flattens out slightly, so finding your max four minute efforts will be useful for that race.

Finding Flow In Racing

As published in the August 2014 issue of Triathlon Magazine Canada

 

At the 1992 NBA Finals, Michael Jordan sank his sixth consecutive three pointer, looked at the announcer and described his dominant performance as: “It’s beyond me. It’s just happening by itself.” As a triathlete, it might be difficult to imagine that it’s possible to have complete dissociation with the discomfort of racing for hours at a time, but it can happen. Many athletes have felt themselves fall under a trance or experience a level of focus where nothing but the act of racing enters their mind while performing. In this state of flow, the body can actualize the training that’s been absorbed without interruption by distracting thoughts or extraneous actions.

Flow, a feeling of being carried by a current of water, of invincibility, of unshakeable focus and of effortless performance is a term coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his 1990 book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Csikszentmihalyi was fascinated by artists who became so lost in their work that they would neglect sleep, food and water for hours or days at a time. In his research he developed this theory of flow and found it applied it to many facets of life including sports, work, education, music and spirituality.

An athlete with confidence in the preparation and training leading up to race day will have confidence on the start line. Remembering a key session or a race where you had a breakthrough performance, can do wonders for motivation.

Olympian gold and silver medallist Simon Whitfield knows much about the optimal mental state. He says:

“For me it was all preparation. If I felt I had done everything possible to prepare then my ideal mental state followed. I was able to relax. I arrived at the start line of my best races thinking it was simply time to express myself, to express my fitness and the result would follow.”

Smart goal setting and planning will also create small victories with which confidence is built. A good training plan and periodization will result in good workouts to build confidence in skills and preparation.

Simon Whitfield racing the 2006 Corner Brook BG Triathlon World Cup. Credit: Delly Carr/ ITU

Simon Whitfield racing the 2006 Corner Brook BG Triathlon World Cup. Credit: Delly Carr/ ITU

Whitfield explains he could tell when a good performance was imminent:

“I had indications, I used to call the feeling ‘I’m rolling,’ where my coach and I would get a sense from my training that I was on a roll and session after session was going well. Even the sessions that didn’t go as well I was able to ‘roll’ past. When I was able to carry this feeling into races I performed at my best. I remember in 2000 running a final workout before the Olympics with Jasper Blake at Bond University on the Gold Coast, in Australia. We rolled through a perfectly executed workout, hit the paces we were targeting, not faster or slower, but precisely and one week later I had the race of my career.”

Similarly, confidence can be immediately gained from feedback within the race. An emotional boost from a good performance will help narrow the focus on continuing that good performance. A good race strategy builds this feeling of control and keeps thoughts focused on the task at hand. A sense of control happens within the race if events are unfolding according to the race plan.

The second element in flow is distraction control. To be completely absorbed, block all but the most immediate and important stimulus, and to lose sense of time, thoughts must be trained on execution. Practicing distraction control is beneficial to achieve this level of focus. Pain, discomfort, other athlete’s performances and other factors that are uncontrollable must be eliminated from consciousness in order to lose oneself in the performance.

Minimizing thoughts to action items leaves no time for reflection and thus no distracting thoughts about the outcome. Thoughts that are poisonous to performance are thoughts that reflect on the race outcome before it’s over and poor management of the pain of maximal effort. Some athletes feel the most difficult situation to control is performing through pain or enduring “suffering.” Hillary Stellingwerff, a Canadian 1,500 m track runner and Olympian, offers her advice on achieving a better mindset while performing through pain:

“For me it’s about reframing the negative connotation around pain; I associate my ability to run through the pain as performing to my max ability and running as fast as I possibly can. I know if I’m running through pain

Csikszentmihalyi and his fellow researchers identified the nine factors necessary to experience flow:

1. Challenge-skills balance
Where there is confidence that skills meet the task at hand.

2. Action-awareness merging
The state of being completely absorbed in an activity, with tunnel vision that shuts out everything else.

3. Clear goals
When one knows exactly what is required and what one desires to accomplish.

4. Unambiguous feedback
Constant, real-time feedback that allows adjustment of tactics to adapt (for example, splits in a race or relative placing during the event).

5. Concentration
Completely blocking all distraction with laser-beam focus.

6. Sense of control
When one feels that actions can affect the outcome of the challenge.

7. Loss of self-consciousness
When one is not constantly self-aware of success during the event.

8. Transformation of time
One loses track of time due to total focus on the moment.

9. Autotelic experience
When one feels internally driven to succeed even without outside rewards (doing it “because you love it”).

I’m running as hard as I can and getting the most out of myself and that’s all I can expect on any given race day. ” Her husband, Trent Stellingwerff, a runner turned exercise physiologist, run coach and sports nutritionist, also understands how to work through pain. “For me, I try to not think about pain – pain is a feeling that is out of your control. Instead, I try to think about severe discomfort. Discomfort is something (at least for me) that I can manage and control. I also think about the limits of physiology. The body has evolved to protect itself by shutting down before critical status is met. In other words, it is very, very difficult to actually physically put yourself in the hospital. I use this reverse “logic” that I always have more to give when my brain says stop.”

Both of these perspectives are excellent for reframing the experience of pain. Thinking that pain of “suffering” is bad or dangerous might reduce performance due to perceived safety risk. Making the experience of feeling pain a positive part of racing, as Hillary Stellingwerff does, and imagining this reflects a good performance, will be a powerful tool on race day.

For Danelle Kabush,  mental performance consultant and pro triathlete with the Luna Women’s Professional team, knowing how to find flow in races to perform and to endure pain is essential to success. Kabush suggests using the following questions to help focus your mental preparation for racing.

Danelle Kabush Credit: Xterra

Danelle Kabush Credit: Xterra

• What will be the most challenging part of the training/race for you? What will you focus on to stay present?

• How will you break down the training/racing into manageable segments?

• Where can you take some mental recovery (just relax)? • Where will require 100 per cent mental focus?
• What are the things that could most challenge your

best mental focus such as unexpected success or an event not going well? What about the challenge of a technical, tactical or mechanical error? How will you refocus if this happens?

Achieving flow is possible for all athletes. The key to racing “in the zone” is to love racing and have fun while performing. Focusing on positive, constructive thoughts and immediate needs allows one to maintain distraction control for the duration of the race. To “suffer” well, turn all the sensations of pain into positive reinforcement that a great performance is underway.

In the end, attitude is a big determinant of outcome. The more an athlete loves competing the better that athlete will perform. There is a choice in attitude just as there is a choice in how one prepares for a race. Hearing that an athlete was having “the time of their life” or having “so much fun” often goes along with a performance that would be described as “in the zone.” The pleasure of competing can usurp all other feelings and distractions and instantly create flow. Chrissie Wellington was famous for smiling furiously while setting world records over the Ironman distance. Her supreme athletic talent aside – maybe her smile hints at her secret mental strength.

 

Home Remedy For Sinus Infection

(This article appeared in Triathlete Magazine 2011)

Those of us who suffer from allergies, cold symptoms, sinus infections suffer due to the increased congestion of mucus in the nasal passages.  Sinus rinsing can be an effective home remedy to reduce the length of time you have symptoms.  The yogis in India have been using neti pots to sinus rinse for centuries so this treatment has a long history of effectiveness.   Sinus rinsing is cheap, non-addictive and natural treatment for cold and allergy symptoms.

 When the sinuses are irritated or infected, a significant amount of mucus will accumulate in the nasal passages.  Since antibiotics are not effective in most viral illnesses, the only support you can offer your immune system during infection is to help clear mucus that collects in your nasal passages.  By using a saline solution to gently flush the nasal passages you can remove mucus blockage in your upper respiratory tract.  When mucus is cleared, your sinuses can flush properly and thus eliminate the infection that can become lodged in the cavities more quickly.  Those with allergies benefit from sinus irrigation by eliminating trapped allergens like pollen, dust or pet dander from the upper respiratory tract which cause the immune response.

There are a number of commercially available sinus rinse options including saline liquids in nasal spray bottles or atomizers as well as premixed powdered saline sachets which you mix with water at home in a neti pot or in a plastic bottle with a screw cap for nasal application.

You can make your own saline sinus rinse with common household ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon (5mL) of non-iodized salt (kosher salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1mL) baking soda
  • 1 cup (250mL) of filtered warm water

Shake the ingredients until they dissolve in a sterile sinus rinse bottle or neti pot.  I find that using the sinus rinse is most sanitary in the shower since all the mess is washed away when you are finished.    Squirt the saline solution in one nostril at a time.  If you have done it correctly the solution will come out of your other nostril or your mouth.  You do not want to swallow the solution.  Blow your nose gently to remove any excess solution but not too hard, you don’t want to drain solution into your ears.  You can expect your sinuses to drain for up to an hour after rinsing which is annoying in the evening when you are trying to sleep so keep that in mind when you are timing your sinus rinse.  It can take a bit of practice to get the angle of your head right so give it a few tries before deciding how effective this remedy is for you.

Consulting with a doctor to see whether sinus rinsing is right for your symptoms is always a good idea.  If you have severely blocked sinuses it is not a good idea to try rinsing.  Also, waiting an hour after rinsing to apply any other nasal spray would avoid loss of the medication while the saline solution is draining. 

I have found that saline solutions have lessened the severity of the respiratory infections I have had over the last few years and prevented the inevitable chest infection I would contract as the infection spread.  Hopefully this home remedy can be of use for you.