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.

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.

Coach Mel: Improving Flexibility Through Strength

I wrote this article for Triathlete Magazine a while back.  I have been advocating a lot of strength work lately for my athletes so this article may be food for thought for a lot of you building your 2012 programs.  Enjoy!

In order to be a good triathlete, an athlete needs to have strength, speed and endurance.  When an athlete chooses to race off road, it would be beneficial for that athlete to have agility as well.  Agility is a combination of coordination, flexibility, power and speed that would allow a trail racer to pick their way through technical terrain quickly and efficiently.  What many athletes are missing when they move to off road racing is adequate flexibility to allow them to stay loose while reacting to terrain.  CLICK READ MORE FOR THE REST

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All I Want For Christmas Is To Train In Italy

Melanie McQuaid and Fawcett & Company Cycling Expeditions Offer First Mountain Bike Specific Training Camp to XTERRA racers and Multi Day Mountain Bike Racing Participants


The first ever OFF ROAD training camp has been dreamed up and tested just in time for the 2012 season.  Looking for a way to put some miles in but have it be SPECIFIC to off road racing?  We have the tour for you which will fulfill your training objectives while ticking a box in your bucket list of lifetime adventures.  Tuscany, Italy will be the location of this incredible adventure.

Tour Overview

Fawcett & Company Cycling Expeditions is excited to offer an amazing 9-day mountain bike training tour from Rome to Florence. 3-Time Xterra World Champion, Melanie McQuaid will be our guest guide. There will be swim and run options throughout the tour.

Learn the MelRad Racing philosophy of training with coach and pro athlete, Melanie McQuaid while experiencing Tuscany – one of the most beautiful and history-rich areas of the world.

The 2012 tour will begin 2 days after Xterra Italy ( which takes place in Olbia on Sardinia, May 27th.

Participants on our tour will meet on the evening of May 28th in Rome at the tour hotel. We will start riding on May 29th. The tour will end on June 6th in Florence. The tour will be fully-supported with guides and vehicles.

Meals and accommodations are included in the price of the tour. We will be supported by our partners, Progetto Avventura of Italy.

Ride Overview

Our ride starts next to the Colosseum in the heart of Rome and concludes in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence.

This ride will incorporate ancient trails including Via Francigena – the pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome, forest roads, mountain biking trails, low-traffic secondary and unpaved gravel roads including the Strada Bianca or White Road, which criss-crosses Tuscany and passes through the most breathtaking scenery in the region.

The accommodations are a mixture of local farm-stays and small hotels. Tuscany is home to the Slow Food Movement and all of the food and wine provided is produced and prepared locally. e most challenging aspect of this ride is the cumulative climbing with an average 1,500 meters of climbing per day.

Participant Profile

This ride is designed to be challenging. Riders should be comfortable cycling off-road on mountain bikes for between 4-7 hours per day. This has been designed for XTERRA athletes with running and/or swimming options at the end of each day’s ride. However, pure mountain bikers are encouraged to join as well.  There is also a Companion Program which will feature visits to local points of interest – please contact us for details.



Price: $3,350 CAD$ per person Size: Between 7 – 16 riders


  • 9 days of training
  • Meals, snacks and water during those 9 days
  • 10 nights of accommodation (starting May 28)
  • Vehicle support and luggage transportation
  • Professional bike guides and drivers
  • Training tips from 3-Time XTERRA World Champion Melanie McQuaid

Does Not Include:

  • Flights (and baggage fees)
  • Services, transportation, food or accommodation before May 29 and after June 6
  • Meals on May 28 (arrival day)
  • Additional drinks or services at accommodations (you are on your own if you are REALLY partying)
  • Gratuities
  • Everything not explicitly listed under “includes”

Registration Procedure:

Procure and return completed registration form: chris AT fawcettexpeditions DOT com

Make a transfer of CAD$ 500 to secure your spot. Places will be reserved in the order of deposits received.

Minimum of 7 riders, maximum of 16.

Receive confirmation of registration e-mail from Fawcett & Co.

Send remaining balance of the tour cost at least 45 days before the start of the tour

Receive final confirmation e-mail from Fawcett & Co.





Substitute Spin Teacher – Coach Mel

I was the substitute spin class teacher last night at Procity Cycles as Mike Neill is in California pedalling his little booty off in Los Angeles.  Since I have a strong bias towards triathlon, I decided to give the class a fun session that also challenged the triathletes with some specific skills.

I heard more feedback about the music than anything else but I did see a lot of red, sweaty faces!  Mission accomplished.

If you want to try the workout I have posted it here for you to give it a go.  Good luck!  Click on Read More for Workout Specifics 🙂

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Off Season Focus (or not….)

Winter for those of us in the Northern hemisphere is a time of year to reconnect with your non-racing friends, reflect on the past season, and build some enthusiasm for the next season while giving your body a break from the traveling and racing.  Your body will have absorbed a lot of training and racing by the end of the triathlon season, so it is important to take a break in order to regenerate not only your muscles, but also your nervous system.  You need a mental and a physical break in order to be at your peak training potential.


Since our XTERRA season does not end until the end of October and Ironman pushes on even further, I think it is beneficial to take at least two weeks completely off, meaning NO training and sometimes this needs to be even longer, depending on your level of burnout.  I usually go by feel.  If I really don’t FEEL like training, I don’t do it.  I wait until I really want to go to a workout or for a ride and until then I drink coffee, hang out and do yoga.   This period of time varies from year to year and will vary from one person to another.  I think that during this break is a good time to start thinking about what your goals are going to be for the next season.


During this training break, create two lists of goals.  The first list should be your Outcome Goals, i.e. what are the results you would like to get (what place in a certain race or what time for a 10km).  The second list should be your Process Goals, i.e. how you are going to achieve those goals (what skills do you need to develop, injuries to clear up, muscle imbalances to correct, techniques to improve).  For example, one of my goals for 2011 is to qualify for 70.3 Worlds.  In order to do this, I have three process goals.  The first is to lower my race weight, the second is to improve my swim technique and the third is to work on my power on my time trial bike.  I invite you guys to share your goals on the forum so that you can all inspire each other next season and help each other achieve that success!

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Q & A With Coach Mel

I submitted this article to be published in Her Sports magazine in January of 2007.  Might be useful for some of you starting to plan your own season in the coming weeks…


1. I’m a triathlete and want to become faster in the cycling leg. I have a sprint tri coming up in a month. How can I get fast, quick?

The first rule in all endurance training is that you must be patient.  It takes time to effect change in your fitness.  Becoming a better endurance athlete is not just about becoming technically skilled; it is about becoming a finely tuned endurance machine.  You will not achieve your best potential in one month, period.

That said, you can choose to focus on the cycling leg of your upcoming sprint triathlon and train to have your best possible performance on the bike.  By focusing on cycling for the next month you will have time to discover your strengths and weaknesses.  When you go back to a balanced triathlon program you will be better able to prioritize workouts to either exploit strengths or minimize weakness. 

The first thing that you must do when planning training for a specific event is that you plan backwards from the day of the event to the present when you lay out your training schedule. If you start from race day you need to realize that you cannot gain any training benefits in the last 10 days before an event.  This leaves about 20-21 days until the event that you can use for training.  The last 10 days you will plan a taper where you focus on active rest to help you get the most out of the fitness you have.  The exact training you are able to do in those 21 days will vary according to your ability level.  It would be prudent to break up the 21 days into three seven day cycles with rest built into each one.  More training will not equate to better cycling if you don’t recover from the training.  Planning recovery is as important as planning the training.

My advice would be to focus a bit more of your attention to cycling in order to improve.  You might want to focus on improving your cadence, getting a better aero position or practice riding at race pace to determine your limits.  You are still training for a triathlon so don’t ignore the swimming and running if you want to put together your best overall race. 

To cycle better, you might want to devote a few more speed sessions per week at the expense of some of your run speed sessions.  You will find that increased fitness on the bike translates to a stronger run without extra run training.  Cycling fitness increases with mileage and experience which takes time to develop.  So in the short term, have reasonable expectations and plan carefully for your best results.

2. I’m training for a half Ironman coming up in six months. Should I schedule some shorter races (sprints, Olympic-distance, even 5k or 10ks) before then as practice? If yes, how many and how should I space them out?

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Do You Need A Coach? Do You Have The Right RADITUDE?

rad⋅i⋅tude  [rad-i-tood, -tyood] 

1. manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to complete awesomeness, a tendency or orientation towards being totally rad, esp. of the mind: a positive raditude

2. the extreme desire to race hard and have fun


In 2010, Melanie McQuaid is inviting 10 lucky amateur racers to Mel’s Rad Racing Team.  As witnessed in 2009, MelRad Racing is the most visible, most fun and most professional team any amateur could be on.  In 2010, it gets even better.

The team is getting even more pro with more pros being added to the roster with Melanie.  Announcements coming soon!

So, when do you get the chance to race on a professional team but be an amateur?  When you are on Mel’s Rad Racing Team and your job is to seek your regional, national or world championships title but still be a great mom, dad, nurse, doctor, teacher or whatever it is that makes you an awesome well-rounded and great ambassador for your sport and your team.

The first round of invitations are going out right now for coaching.  If you need a coach for 2010, are looking to win races and want to focus on XTERRA and 70.3, there are a limited number of spots to be coached by Melanie.  Athletes on the coaching roster will be offered spots on MelRad Racing FIRST.  If there are spots left after the coached athletes have chosen whether to accept a team spot we will then send out an invitation for NOMINATIONS to the team. 

The number of spots left is extremely limited.

So, ask yourself, do I want to get to the next level?  Do I want to qualify for Hawaii?  Do I want to focus one year of my life on my sport and my potential?  If you do, there may be a spot for you to work with a three time World Champion, three time National and Overall Series Champion and fearless leader of the Raditude movement.

Contact us through the website.  Applications for coaching and the MelRad Racing team will only be accepted in November until the program is full.

2010 Raditude Tour…. are you in with MelRad?

Life and Sport – It all applies

No matter what you do, if you do it well and have confidence you will succeed.  I love this video.  Everyone thought she was going to be terrible.  Everyone expected little.  Everyone, that is, but Susan herself….

Click Read More to click through to the video and see how cool it is for someone to believe in themselves, step up to compete, give it their best and outperform possibly even their own expectations.  Pretty motivating with the season just around the corner.

Swimming XTERRA Style


By Melanie McQuaid

May 12, 2007 — XTERRA has a reputation as the triathlon for non-swimmers – a designation often offered to Ironman as well. Strong bikers/runners figure that with good training they can earn back the time if strong swimmers falter in later stages in the race. It is true that XTERRA was invented with the cyclist in mind (a mountain biker in particular), but recent improvements in the quality of field have left the mountain bikers scratching their heads, wondering why they are not making much of a dent in the field after weak swims.


Well, obviously XTERRA athletes in general have improved in ability but also the numbers in the race are much larger, which has created a more interesting dynamic in the race. It’s no longer an option to simply ride your way to the front because traffic is an element of the race that needs to be considered. We ride on trails, not a wide open road, and even though drafting is legal, waiting for an opportunity to pass is mandatory.

You cannot win an XTERRA, or an Ironman for that matter, in the swim, but you certainly can lose the race there. Below are some thoughts on how to improve on, if not maximize, your swimming ability to get the most out of yourself on your next XTERRA race day.

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The “Dump” Race

I have not been able to attend some of the races I have planned this spring, for various reasons, so I decided to create a local “race”. I felt that I needed to ride my new mountain bike at race pace and no matter how strongly you adhere to the intention of riding at race pace for 3 hours in the trails, there is nothing like a looped course to keep you focused and on track riding fast for an hour or so. Luckily, I have my fantastic training partners Ross, Palmer and Kelly who kept the effort honest and made the day at the "Dump" (a popular Victoria trail network on a landfill next to the municipal dump) so much fun. We tried to convince Plaxton, Sydor, Virge and Cruikshank to join us as we all met early that morning and rode out to there together but I think just the whole “triathlete” thing freaked them out, haha! I think the four of us agreed that the race simulation was awesome training and the sore legs, sore arms and overall fatigue associated with it meant we had a solid day. I have done two of these race simulation efforts in the past two weeks which means I can compare lap times on my Fourstroke to my new Team Elite 01 and gauge my efficiency on each bike. So cool.

Why did I not go to the mountain bike races down south? First off, I wanted to make sure my bike setup this year is 100% right. Moving to a new bike took me a bit of time to get dialed in and the new hardtail just reached North America so I needed some time to get used to it. All part of a new bike, I guess and now we have the money set up. By staying home I could evaluate how I feel on the bikes under familiar circumstances at home… rather than going to a race and feeling terrible and not knowing whether it was bad legs on the weekend or an error in my setup, which was an error I made earlier this season. I stand by this decision now. Without travel and taper for big races I managed to fit another two weeks of hard running and swimming in with my mock “races” on the mountain bike. Pretty intense training and Ross has even been complaining of fatigue having only done the weekend portion of the schedule but he did awesome in our race regardless… so more on that….

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