By | Coaching, Fitness | No Comments

Last week, I attended a USA Weightlifting coaching clinic. I learned proper techniques for weightlifting movements such as squats, deadlifts, cleans, jerks, and snatches. I also learned a lot about effective coaching in the sport of weightlifting. But, most of all, I learned that I still have a lot to learn about this sport–both as a coach and as an athlete.

Why weightlifting? When I was a freshman at UCLA, I was a walk-on with the women’s varsity swim team. These ladies are not kidding around! They train 20+ hours every week–not just in swimming, but also in yoga, weightlifting, running, and other “dryland” workouts. That was where I was first introduced to the barbell, and I loved it! But, I decided not to continue swimming after my first season, and so my weightlifting career was on pause. A couple of years later, this time as a triathlete, I came back to my old friend Mr. Barbell, and was instantly reminded of the extreme soreness that he inflicts after long absences. We hung out a few times, and I felt extra strong again, but then I graduated from college and bid farewell to my friend once again.

This fall, I started to miss those good old times, and decided to buy a used barbell on Craigslist. I figured that if I wanted to start lifting again, I’d better learn to do it correctly. Plus, I enjoy broadening my general knowledge for my personal coaching and training.

Who is weightlifting for? I am so glad that you asked! Weightlifting is not just for bodybuilders and CrossFitters. You don’t have to enter weightlifting competitions or go on the Paleo diet to enjoy the benefits of weightlifting. It is actually an excellent strength, power activity for everyone–triathletes, runners, swimmers, cyclists, numerous other athletes, and those seeking general fitness. You can add weightlifting into your training schedule and expect to see improved performance because it utilizes muscle groups and movements that are key components of pretty much every other sport. Another carry-over of weightlifting into other sports is improved technique and injury prevention via strengthening weak or under-used muscles and improvement of balance, stability and coordination.

But, isn’t weightlifting dangerous? It can be dangerous if done incorrectly. Please don’t just show up at your gym, pick up a barbell, and start lifting because you once saw a weightlifting competition on TV. Ideally, you should learn proper technique and skills from a certified weightlifting coach. A qualified coach can assess your readiness to lift and take you through each movement step-by-step at an appropriate pace.

In one of my favorite parts of the coaching course, our instructor showed us a scientific research-based table documenting sport-related injury rates.  Interestingly, weightlifting carried lower injury risk than other sports within the study (Hamill 1994).

Sports Injury Rates (Hamill 1994)
Sport Injuries (per 100 hours)
Soccer (school age) 6.20
UK Rugby 1.92
USA Basketball 0.03
UK Cross Country 0.37
Squash 0.10
US Football 0.10
Badminton 0.05
USA Gymnastics 0.044
USA Powerlifting 0.0027
USA Volleyball 0.0013
USA Tennis 0.001
Weight Training 0.0035 (85,733 hrs)
Weightlifting 0.0017 (168,551 hrs)

What is the difference between Weightlifting and CrossFit? Great question! While I do not mingle with many weightlifters or CrossFitters, I believe that both sports have their unique benefits and drawbacks in terms of fitness goals, environment, etc.

Whether you choose to lift weights, do CrossFit, join a bootcamp class, run, bike, swim, or take up yoga, I hope that you find an activity where you can challenge yourself, have fun, stay fit, and be safe!

Meet the Athlete: Katie

By | Coaching, Meet the Athlete, Triathlon | No Comments

I can’t wait for you guys to meet Katie Hosch– top collegiate triathlete, UCSD student council representative, and Awesome gal all around.  I have the sweet honor of calling her my friend…

When you head into the Transition Area at your next triathlon, watch out for this lady–just in case she happens to also be there (and even if she isn’t, because you just never know).  Katie could probably quit everything and become an overnight success story in professional transitioning if she wanted.  She rehearses transitions during her study breaks, and has won multiple awards for her speedy metamorphoses between disciplines.  She once changed superhero costumes and savored a cup of coffee in T2 and came out 24 seconds before her nearest competitor could tie her shoes. That’s pretty much what happened.

Current place of residence:  La Jolla, CA

Hometown/place of birth: Oxnard, CA

Day job: Student, at UC San Diego

Favorite sports or hobbies (besides triathlon): Playing guitar or lounging at the beach reading a book

Current (2015/2016) triathlon/race goal: Earn an elite license/ Place in the top 10 at NCAA Women’s Nationals

Best triathlon race leg (swim, bike, run, T1, T2, beer garden): Definitely beer garden… but if we are being serious… T1

Dream race: Olympics

Race mantra: Keep going–you can die after you cross the finish line

When/how/why did you start triathlon/endurance sports? I became obsessed with swimming after watching a swim meet, and I’ve always been running; it seemed like a logical step once I realized my hand-eye coordination is not good.

Hardest race and/or workout you’ve ever completed: Swimming with the Olympic hopefuls on the “D-Squad”

Most memorable training and/or race moment(s): Racing my first draft legal race and being around all the people with elite licenses

If you had to remove one leg of the triathlon and swap in a new sport, what would you subtract, and what would you add, and why? I would’t change it even if I had to. Thats how much I absolutely love this sport.

Words of wisdom to someone considering training for their first triathlon/endurance event: Remember to breathe

Something you’ve learned about yourself through triathlon/endurance sport: I am capable of basically anything

Pre-race ritual or superstition? Quadruple-checking my transition area

Training/racing “secrets”/tips? Never forget about training for transitions

Training/racing pet peeve(s)? When people wear their swim caps sideways *shiver*

Why do you keep Tri-ing/running? Because I am certain I would lose my mind if I didn’t

What does “Fuel” mean to you? Something that will push me to be my best– good food and goals included

What does being “Fit” mean to you? Feeling good about myself and my body, and feeling good while out training

Quick Picks:

Long swim, long ride or long run? long swim
Open water or pool? I cannot possibly make this decision
Trail or track? trail–the track is evil
Solo or group training? group
Chocolate or cheese? chocolate
Watch on your left wrist or right? left
Morning or evening workout? morning– sunrise > sunset
Hat or visor? snap-back hat worn backwards
Swim cap or no cap? swim cap
Cheerios or Wheaties? Cheerios, although still dreaming of one day being on a Wheaties box
Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? COFFEE

Meet the (French) Athlete: Guillaume

By | Coaching, Fitness, Meet the Athlete, Triathlon | No Comments

This edition of Meet the Athlete features French triathlete Guillaume Germain.  When he’s not training, Guillaume enjoys bulking up his triceps and writing his phone number on them with a Sharpie.  Ladies, if you see him out on the beach, jot down his digits and give him a call!

Current place of residence:  Ventura
Hometown/place of birth: Reims, France
Day job: Engineer
Favorite sports or hobbies (besides triathlon): Surf, ski, hike
Most recent race: Escape from Alcatraz
Best triathlon race leg (swim, bike, run, T1, T2, beer garden): Bike
Dream race: Half Ironman in the Alps

Race mantra: The faster I go, the quicker I get to that cold beer!

When/how/why did you start triathlon? Some friends had been doing triathlon for years, but I never really took the time to look into it. One day while in a gondola in Mammoth, I heard those people talking about a triathlon in June Lake. It seemed like a good reason to go there during the summer and “tri” it on a fun course. So, the next year I signed up, got me a bike and started training. It also helped that I landed in the “lovely”  town of Bakersfield for my job (for some obscure reason) and had a lot of free time after work then…

Hardest race you’ve ever completed:  Lake Tahoe Xterra triathlon. While the scenery was amazing, the 25 mile mountain bike leg felt like it was just uphill all the way! At each corner I was hoping for the uphill to end. It was my first time on the trail, and I learned since to go check out the race before if possible…

Most memorable race moment(s): Escape from Alcatraz- halfway through the swim realizing I was in the middle of the San Francisco bay. Wildflower triathlon- training partners and other racers supporting each other, and having friends waiting for us at the finish line. It makes a big difference to have friendly faces at the finish line to share your joy with.

If you had to remove one leg of the triathlon and swap in a new sport, what would you subtract, and what would you add, and why? (I’d swap) the run out for surfing cuz I’d rather train to go surf…

Words of wisdom to someone considering training for their first triathlon/endurance event: Follow a plan, train regularly and don’t start too hard at the beginning.

Something you’ve learned about yourself through triathlon/endurance sport: With the right training, you start building your confidence to tackle the race on the right foot, and be able to achieve or out-perform your goals.

Pre-race ritual or superstition? Put my time chip on the night before

Race tips: Check the transition area the day before and get your bearings as it can be pretty overwhelming after the swim. And ride/run the course prior to the race if possible.

Training/racing pet peeve(s): Pet what?

Why do you keep Tri-ing? Because of this feeling of accomplishment once you cross the finish line!

What does “Fuel” mean to you? Food that’s good for you (recovery, protein, etc) but that also tastes good.

What does being “Fit” mean to you? Loosing another 5-10bs!

Pick one:

Long swim, long ride or long run? Long ride
Open water or pool? Open water
Trail or track? Trail
Solo or group training? Group
Chocolate or cheese? (French) cheese
Watch on your left wrist or right? Left
Morning or evening workout? Morning
Hat or visor? Hat
Swim cap or no cap? Swim cap (too much hair)
Cheerios or Wheaties? Croissant!
Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? Strong Coffee

Want to see yourself featured in a future edition of M.T.A.? All BrittFit Athletes are eligible. You could be next!

Triathloning on a Budget

By | Coaching, Triathlon, Uncategorized | No Comments

After growing up swimming, running cross country in High School, swimming a bit more, and running my first marathon in 2007, a friend suggested I try triathlon.  While hesitant at first, I slowly began attending UCLA Triathlon Club swim and run practices, eventually bought my first road bike, and gradually acclimatized into the tri culture.  I have been triathloning pretty much ever since, and I have concluded that triathlon is an inexpensive hobby.

Just kidding.  It is a huge investment–especially at first.  There are a lot of “big” items needed in triathlon training and racing.  Then, there are even more “not so big” items that are equally necessary.  Then, there are heaps of big and small items/services that aren’t required, but are highly encouraged.  Finally, if you are still not scared off, and you are really into it, you can invest in even more optional things to (hopefully) enhance your aerodynamics and/or performance.

This can be a bit overwhelming.  For example, I recently had a friend come to me for a little advice.  She had just signed up for her first triathlon.  Naturally, I bombarded her with lists upon lists of the items she should start buying and things she should start doing in preparation.  Note to triathletes: Never do this if you ever want your friends to do triathlons too!  If I ever have a friend ask me for help in this area again, I will probably send them some slightly-less-intimidating lists somewhat like the ones below…

Splurge on things that are worth investing in:

[Quality Equipment]
  • Road bike: If you are just “checking out” triathlon, I recommend borrowing or buying a used road bike vs. paying for a super fancy one.
  • Helmet, new and CPSC approved (if you ever race ITU, the CPSC approval sticker is required)
  • Run shoes: Get a qualified run shoe expert to watch you run in them before you buy–most specialty run stores do this.
  • Bike shoes, cleats & clipless pedals, if you are comfortable with that…otherwise, just use run shoes and a platform pedal.
  • Cycling gloves, to protect your hands
  • Swim cap, preferably silicone (they can last for years)
  • Goggles that fit your face (try before you buy).  I love these.
  • Watch with desired functions (heart rate, GPS, etc)
[Quality (and comfortable, well-fitting) Clothing]
  • Swimsuit, one piece or two piece that won’t fall off while training! Check out Swim Outlet for deals.
  • Cycling Jersey with pockets
  • Cycling Shorts with padding
  • Run Shorts–preferably with a small pocket to stash your key and maybe even a mid-run snack
  • Run/Cycling Socks that don’t give you blisters
  • Triathlon race kit (optional)–or just race in your swimsuit with shorts on top
[Quality Services]
  • Custom, frequently adjusted, training program to avoid over-training (Can be private or group-style coaching)
  • Technical instruction in private or group environment (again, highly recommended, especially for those who are new to running, biking, and/or swimming)

Save on the rest:

  • Run Top–you can use plain old t-shirts for now.  After you’ve done a few races, you’ll end up with more race tech shirts than you can count!
  • Simple strength training tools (surgical tubing, Theraband, hills)
  • Super snazzy race tattoo remover tool (aka. duct tape)
  • Super duper snazzy race belt (aka. shoe string with safety pins)
  • Homemade Sports Drink: 1/4 c. boiling water + 1/4 c. sugar + 1 t. salt + 1/2 c. orange juice + juice of 1/2 lemon + 2.5 c. cold water to fill 1/4 gallon jug
  • Homemade Pre-workout snacks: banana, oatmeal, crackers, dates, cereal, toast, bagel, juice, etc.
  • Homemade During-workout Fuel: banana, pb&j, cookies, crackers, gummy candy, licorice, cooked sweet potato, etc.
  • Homemade Post-workout Fuel: chocolate milk, cereal, pasta with meat sauce, turkey sandwich, etc.
  • Borrow or rent a triathlon wetsuit, if one is needed, for your event.  Just make sure it fits, first.  If you plan to be in the sport for a while, buy one that fits comfortably.
  • Use Vaseline, Blistex, or Carmex on your spots that tend to chafe (e.g. neck, underarms, inner thighs) instead of buying the anti-chafe sticks/sprays.
  • Cheap Sunglasses for eye protection on the bike (like these), if you prefer not to invest $50-$200 in cycling shades.
  • Self/Spousal massage: Avoid overuse injury with regular massage of your legs, back, and shoulders.  Self-massage equipment–foam rollers, lacrosse ball, etc–works great.  That being said, an occasional professional massage is a special treat!
  • Local races: Stay nearby as much as possible to avoid large travel/hotel/food expenses.
  • Single sport races, e.g. cyling TT, 5k run race, Masters swim meet: Add some extra races to your season without the heightened cost of a triathlon race.
  • Outdoor/living room gym: SO much strength can be gained with just your body weight and a couple of simple pieces of equipment, if desired.
  • YouTube or blog tutorials for a plethora of triathlon-related skills, tips, and tricks.

Okay, so maybe these lists are still frighteningly long.  I am not sure this insanity can be avoided, since triathlon is a combination of three sports, plus transitions and nutrition and recovery–so kinda like 6 sports.  Anyways, I hope this helps your future triathlete friends.  I’m sure that I’ve left out some things, so please let me know of any other ways to be a frugal triathlete that I haven’t listed.

On another note, I cannot mention the relative expensiveness of triathlon without being oh so grateful to all who have helped me along the way.  I have been incredibly blessed with phenomenal gifts of training/racing equipment, coaching, advising, massage, chiropractic, and other services–not to mention ridiculous amounts of support from my family and training buddies throughout the years.  Thank you (you know who you are)!