Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Ultimate Swim Goggle Guide


Finding the perfect pair of goggles can be a little tricky, but fear not, goggles are fortunately less tricky than finding the perfect pair of sunglasses. The first obstacle you should be prepared to tackle is how many goggles you should own. The answer is at least four. If you are committed to only open water, or only pool water you can get away with owning three. One should be your perfect pair for open water, one should be your perfect pair for swimming pools, and the other two should be acceptable back-ups. If you are going to a race; pack your perfect pair, an acceptable back-up, and a pair of good deed goggles just in case another swimmer is in need.

Facial Fit

There are two different ways typical goggles will fit your face, and your choice depends on what makes you the most comfortable. One fit is where the gaskets will rest against your bones and the other fit is where the gaskets will rest in the eye socket area. The goggles that rest in the eye socket area will be face suckers, but most people say that they are more comfortable. Again, this is preference to you, so feel free to choose either.


                                                            picture courtesy of The Wirecutter


Picking the Right Tint

Open Water Swimming

When it comes to open water swimming, you should consider getting two different types of goggles. If the sun is high in the sky, or even just glaring, you want to choose your darker tinted goggles to help you see better and reduce the amount of glare from the sun you get, kind of like sunglasses. When the clouds are out and no sun is to be seen, consider wearing a color-tinted goggle like the color blue. The colored pair of goggles will make obstacles clearer when the sky is not clear.

Indoor Swimming

As far as tint goes in indoor swimming, party it up. Freedom of choice in tint of goggles reigns here. Clear goggles work here too, it all depends on preference.  If your indoor pool has bright lights shining down on the water, I’d recommend some sort of darker tinted goggles to help reduce glare.

Before Diving In

There are a few features of goggles to consider before diving in and buying your first pair. Features are broken down into where you are going to wear your goggles.



Open Water

For open water, there are arguably two best features to look for in a pair goggles. The first is anti-fog. Anti-fog treatment on goggles helps prevent fog from building up on your open water swim. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like swimming in the ocean without visibility due to my own goggles fogging up. The anti-fog treatment on goggles will only last if you take care of your goggles, so avoid touching the inside of the goggles.

The other best feature for open water goggles is a double strap design. The double strap design makes it harder for another competitor to accidently kick or punch your goggles off of you. This may not seem like a huge deal at first, but if you’ve had your goggles kicked off and salt water in your eyes it becomes a lifesaver.

Another feature some goggles offer that you should keep in mind is UV protection. If you are outside, you are getting hit by UV rays, protect your eyes like you do on the bike and run portion.

Inside Pool

Features for goggles are mostly made for open water swimming, so there is more freedom for choice for swimming in pools. It’s best if you can find a pair of goggles that fit you comfortably and have reduced drag.  

Durability in pool water is something to keep in mind. Plastic gaskets, or the method of water tightness in goggles, is the best way to go if you are in chlorine treated waters. The gaskets made with silicon or rubber will wear away. This isn’t an ultimate deal breaker, since a decent pair of goggles is fairly cheap, but it is something to consider.

Fog Rolling In

Maybe you’ve done your best to keep the anti-fog coating on your goggles, but you are still experiencing the dreaded fog. There are a few solutions to help clear up your goggles. Rub a little bit of toothpaste inside your goggles and wait. Then after a few minutes wash out the excess, mostly so you don’t get mint burning in your eyes. This will help create a coat in your goggles to decrease condensation from forming, eliminating the fog problems.

Goggle Care

Although they are not the most expensive pieces of gear in your bag, it’s nice not to replace them every month. To get the most out of your goggles, wash them in cold water after every single use. Let them dry naturally by hanging them somewhere out of sunlight, but with plenty of airflow. Pools degrade rubber and silicon so make sure to be extra vigilant in washing your goggles after your swim in chlorine.  

Once you have selected your pair, or pairs depending on where you swim, it’s time for the best part. The actual swim! Putting your goggles to the test can tell you a lot of information about what you like and don’t like in a pair of goggles.


Blub…Blub. Happy Swimming!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Shifting into Gear: Maintaining Your Bike for Longevity

After spending your hard-earned paycheck, or couple of paychecks, on a bike the last thing you want is for it to break down on you. Prevent your bike from blundering by taking proper care of it before and after you ride. While most maintenance for your bike is easy, it’s important not to skip over any of the small details.

Become a Sponge

The first and most important rule to maintaining your bike is to know how to maintain your bike. If you would rather have a bike shop fix your bike anytime there is a problem that’s up to you. If you want to learn how to maintain the mechanics of your bike watch your local bike shop mechanic repair your bike. Ask them questions if you have any. Learning how to properly tighten and loosen the different components of your bike like a headset, or repair your brakes can save you money and give you a feeling of accomplishment.

The Bike Wash

The first thing you want to do when giving your bike a bath is to remove the wheels and attachments like bike bags, so you can access the frame more directly and to prevent rust. It’s a good idea to wipe down your bike after each run, but if you are riding in stormy conditions you might want to consider the full bath. It’s as simple as rinse, soap, rinse, dry. To prevent scratching up your frame, give it a light hose down before you attempt to wipe off the grime. You will probably want to wipe down the frame of your bike and the spokes of your wheels. The chain should be washed when you wash the rest of your bike. There are products that clean off your bike chain, but the old-fashioned way works too. Remember to reapply chain lube after you dry your bike. Chain lube is important to remember so you don’t accidently brake your chain on your next ride.


                                   picture courtesy of roadcyclinguk.com

The Chain

It’s good to keep your chain lubed up, but it’s a little debatable about how often you should lube up your chain. I wouldn’t go a week without lubing up the chain to make sure that it stays coated, but some people will lube their chain right after their rides. Do the style that works best for you, just try to remember to lube the chain up at least once a week, and wipe off the excess. Too much chain lube can be just as bad as no chain lube.

Two Friends

Think of the cassette and the chain as two best friends who are inseparable. That means when it’s time for a new cassette, it’s also time for a new chain. This is because they wear fairly evenly together, so when one is ready to be replaced the other is probably on its last leg too. Replace them at the same time to reduce the chance of one breaking.

Tire Inflation

Before every ride you want to check your tire pressure. Tire pressure affects the way you ride, so having too little tire pressure will hurt your timing. Tire pressure will also vary with temperature, so if it’s been a particularly hot few days don’t skip the check before you ride. Your tires can also change pressure from temperature when they ride, so avoid any unnecessary excessive braking.

Hold Up

Brakes are essential on every ride, which is why they should be properly maintained. Check your brakes to make sure they are decent before you strap on your helmet. If you are riding in rainy weather or wet roads, brakes take a whole new turn. In wet weather, your brakes wear down extremely quickly, so after any rainy ride make sure you dry your brake pads as soon as possible. If your area is prone to rainy weather make sure you keep brake pads on hand, so you can change them instead of cancelling your riding plans.

On the Road Maintenance

Sometimes we do everything we can to prevent having to do maintenance on the road, but then we are faced with a flat. Alright, no biggie just make sure you have the proper tools on hand. Part of good bike maintenance is preparedness. The kit you should always have attached to your bike may need a little attention too. Check to make sure that your patch glue hasn’t dried and that you have the proper tools for taking off your wheels in case of a flat. Checking your bike bag essentials can help prevent a second crisis of not having the proper necessities to make repairs. Have a spare derailleur on hand too, because if that goes out then your ride is over.

Maintaining your bike can mean longevity of its life. A proper maintained bike will perform well and reduce the risk of breakdowns during your much-desired rides. Going the extra mile for your bike will help the bike go the extra mile for you.


Happy Maintaining!

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Pre-Race Essentials

With the grueling hours of training underneath your belt and the race just a couple weeks away, it’s time to start planning out the day of the race. Training plans make it easy to prepare for the actual race itself, but what about the logistics of race day? Planning out exactly how the time before the race goes is a bit tricky, but manageable with these tips and friendly reminders.

What to eat?

First things first, if it’s an hour before the race starts, you don’t want to be eating a meal. It takes the body longer than an hour to digest the food you ate, which means you’ll be feeling sluggish and bloated when the race starts. That being said, eat your meal at least three hours before your race starts. Within the last hour before your race you can eat more manageable foods like bananas. 

Carbs

Carbohydrates are your pre-race friend. Why? It’s because carbohydrates will provide energy for your body to break down during the race. There are many different ways to get carbs in your diet. Oatmeal and bananas are great foods for getting the carbohydrates that you need without bogging you down like a pasta meal would. If you want something more substantial on race day try eating a bagel.

Proteins, Fats, and Fibers

Don’t completely ignore these groups, but do avoid foods high in proteins, fats, and fiber before the race. Foods high in fat and fiber will have the tendency to leave you feeling full through the start of the race, which makes it uncomfortable to preform your best. Proteins are fine and dandy, but you want most of your stomach to be digesting carbs, so that you can benefit from more energy. Protein is best for after the race.

Re-Read

It’s a good idea to check certain aspects about the race you signed up for. Re-read your entry form or the details on the website a few days prior to the race. Make sure that if you plan to pick up your race packet the day of that that option is available. Check the different designated places for rehydration, meeting spots, and where to check-in your baggage.

The Warm-Up

It’s always a good idea to warm-up your body before a race. This helps your brain communicate with your muscles and gets your body ready to exert itself. Skipping a warm-up results in a delay of performance, because your body hasn’t connected how much fuel you need for the energy output you want. Try a few of these pre-race warm-ups.

High Knees

As simple as the name states, you are trying to get your knees as high as possible. To do this start in a standing position and almost as if you are trying to run in place, bring your right knee up towards your chest and then set it back down. Then bring your left knee up towards your chest and set it back down. This is a fast-paced movement so alternating your legs fast is key.

Lunges

Lunges are great for limbering up before the race. To do forward lunges start in a standing position with your back straight. Step with your right foot a few steps in front of you and bend your right knee. Your right knee should remain perpendicular to the ground, so your knees should not go over your toes to make sure you do not injure yourself. Switch legs to stretch both sides. A good variation on this lunge is side lunges. Instead of stepping forward with your right leg, step to the side with your right leg. Bend your right knee and let your body move to the right, which should force your left leg to be straight. It should look like you are almost attempting to do a spilt.

Spine Stretches

Stretch out your spine before the big race to smooth out any kinks in your back. A great stretch is to touch your toes, making sure to go slowly so you can feel the stretch in your spine. From touching your toes, go into the opposite position and bend yourself towards the sky.

Got Nerves?

Pre-Race nerves and anxiety is common amongst runners, especially if you are new to the activity or the particular race. Here are a few of the best ways to calm your nerves, so you can perform your best on race day.




Visualize the Victory

A great way to calm your nerves is to plan everything out before the day actually comes. For me, that means making lists ahead of time, so a week in advance I’ll start a list of what to pack for the race. Then if I suddenly remember days later that I forgot to pack my goggles, I can add that on the list. After you have a packing list, visualize the morning of the race. What are you going to have for breakfast? What time will you leave the house? Once you have the morning down think about the race. Imagine the course and the transitions you’ll need to make. If you have a laid out visual of how you intend the morning and race day to go, it’ll make it easier for you to calm your nerves.

Get a Motto

Recently, I called my sister in a state of anxiety and asked her what to do. She suggested to repeat a mantra over and over in my head and slowly it will calm me down. This applies to racing as well. If you find yourself getting nervous, figure out the detail that most worries you and then refute that detail with your personal mantra. Maybe your worried about open water, repeat a mantra geared towards that fear, like “no sharks will hurt me”, “The ocean is strong, but I am stronger”. Something that helps you control your anxiety.

The Unknown

Never ever, ever, try out new shoes, clothes, or consumables the day of the race. New shoes will end up giving you blisters if you try to break them. Clothes might affect your race day potential by chaffing unexpectedly. New food, gels or hydration might mess with your stomach, which might leave you more focused on getting to a bathroom than the finish line. Save your new goodies for training.

All Aboard!

Don’t forget about transportation to the event. If you decide to take public transportation research if the chosen method typically runs on schedule or not. Maybe you’re local and prefer to drive yourself to the race. Where will you park? Will you be able to leave after you are done with the race or will all the roads that exit your parking area be blocked off till after everyone finishes? The last thing you want is to be stuck in a parking lot exhausted and ready to go home. There is also the consideration of if you want someone to drive you home or carpooling. Will they know where to meet you and where they should park? Consider your transportation options and preferences before you head out on race day.

Now that you have your pre-race planned out and you’ve re-read the details of the event it’s time to get your head in gear so you can perform the best you can. Remember not to fret the small stuff if it doesn’t go the way you visualized.

Good Luck!