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Understanding Lactate Threshold

LACTATE THRESHOLD EXPLAINED

The burning, aching sensation that accompanies intense efforts is all too familiar to athletes. This feeling can also occur when bikers begin to increase their mileage and biking pace. Most athletes have probably heard the terms lactic acid or lactate threshold thrown around by coaches. What do these terms actually mean? Lactate was originally believed to only be produced when the body lacks oxygen. It’s now known you produce lactate even at rest. Far from the cause of fatigue, lactate is shuttled around the body to areas where it is needed as a fuel source such as the heart, muscles, brain, and liver.

During high-intensity training, muscle contractions result in a build-up of metabolites and depletion of glycogen (the fuel inside muscles). This is when lactate is associated with fatigue. At rest and during low-intensity activity, lactate doesn’t build up in the muscles. It is shuttled to areas where it is needed faster than it is produced. Lactate threshold is the point at which the rate of production of lactate is greater than the rate of removal from the muscles. Athletes can only sustain exercise above this threshold for a limited amount of time before exhaustion. Pro tip: this is great information for boosting your mental toughness.

WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THIS

While lactate does not directly cause fatigue, it is still the best metric available for detecting when the body shifts away from mostly aerobic metabolism to rely more heavily on anaerobic metabolism. Anaerobic metabolism can only be sustained for a short period of time before fatigue occurs. Studies show that lactate threshold, or the point at which this transition occurs, is the best predictor of overall endurance performance abilities. If two athletes have the same VO2max, but one athlete can maintain a higher fraction of that VO2max without build up of metabolites (i.e. lactate, hydrogen ions), the athlete with the higher lactate threshold will always win. It’s an objective performance metric that gives invaluable information about your endurance abilities.

Dr. Allen recommends athletes measure their lactate threshold at the beginning of the training season to get a baseline. This can be used to establish training zones unique to their individual physiology, optimize performance, and avoid overtraining. Additionally, he recommends athletes come in for testing once every 3-4 months. This allows the team to monitor training progress and reestablish training zones. As the racing season approaches, the lactate threshold pace can be used to determine exact pacing strategies, no matter the distance. For example, marathoners usually set their race pace right around their lactate threshold. Measuring your lactate threshold gives you the ability to establish your race pace while knowing it’s truly what you’re capable of.

HOW THE MEASUREMENT IS PERFORMED

Lactate threshold can be performed in a clinical setting or in the field depending on the athlete’s preference. Ascension Seton Sports Performance adheres to the most stringent COVID-19 policies. They are also happy to offer the service outdoors if athletes would prefer that. The test involves either running on a treadmill or outdoor track or cycling on a stationary ergometer. As you exercise at increasing intensities their team measures the changes in various physiological parameters. This includes changes in lactate as measured from a drop of blood from the finger or changes in expired gases collected from a mask over your mouth.

ABOUT DR. JAKOB ALLEN

Dr. Allen received his Doctoral training from the nationally ranked University of Texas at Austin. He was an 8x All-American collegiate swimmer at Stanford, American Record holder, NCAA and Pac-10 Champion, and 2x Olympic Trials qualifier. Dr. Allen is now an avid cyclist and triathlete, frequently placing in the top-5 overall amateurs in Central Texas triathlons. He is driven to bring about the greatest potential of all athletes whether you are a weekend warrior or an Olympian.

Dr. Allen currently serves as the Sports Scientist for the Austin Bold FC team in addition to his work in the clinic. He believes that exercise remains one of the best ways to improve every physiological system in the body throughout the lifespan. Whether it’s helping prevent changes in mental acuity or improving muscle function, the benefits of exercise continue to be supported by scientific studies. Dr. Allen specializes in designing exercise training programs for improving muscle and cardiovascular health for aging wellness and masters athlete performance.

6 Best Places to Train in Austin

Here is a list of what we think are the 6 best places to train in Austin. We broke them down by favorite spots to swim, bike, and run. These are great for all levels of triathletes.

Swim

1.Big Stacy

Tucked back in one of Austin’s oldest neighborhoods, this pool has been keeping Austinites of all ages cool and entertained since the 1930s.  The best part is it is free to use year-round, with the added bonus of being heated during the winter months. There are a limited number of lanes so be prepared to share or come during non-peak hours.

 

2.Barton Springs Pool

Constructed in 1940, it has been a summer staple for many years and is known for being Austin’s no. 1 natural pool.  It’s easy to see why.  The 3-acre, spring-fed pool remains 68°F degrees year-round, making it a refreshing way to shake the heat. It is also a great way to practice open water swimming and swimming in a wetsuit. Get there as early as 5 am on weekdays to swim without the crowds.

Bike


1. South Walnut Creek Trail

The Southern Walnut Creek Trail is Austin’s first Urban Trail. Not a car in sight!  The trail is open for public use and begins at Govalle Park and ends in the vicinity of Johnny Morris Road and Daffen Lane. The trail is approximately 7.3 miles in length and consists of a 10′ wide concrete trail with 2′ shoulders. There are several creek crossings and trailheads on the trail. The lush surroundings can make seeing around corners difficult at times so this is not a great place for a speed workout.

 

 

2. Veloway

The Veloway at Circle C Ranch Metropolitan Park was constructed in the early ’90s and was the first facility of its kind in the United States.  The Veloway is a 23’ wide, 3.1 miles (5K) long bicycle tract that traverses the natural terrain.   People travel from all over the metropolitan region to cycle here on a daily basis. This path is great because it is for cycling and inline skating only. Still, be on the lookout for the rogue walker or slower cyclist, slower traffic keep to the right and always pass on the left.

Run

1.Violet Crown

After years of strategic land acquisition and planning, the first six-mile segment is now open and the VCT is on its way to becoming the longest trail of its kind in Central Texas. Once complete, the 30-mile trail will provide a unique recreational experience as it passes through the urban wildlands of the Barton Creek Wilderness Park, the City of Sunset Valley, and eventually into Hays County. Be sure to bring your own water and prepare for off-road bathroom situations as there are no water fountains or bathrooms on the trail.

 

2. Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake

The go-to spot in Austin. The urban path meanders along the water’s edge and passes by skyscrapers, neighborhoods, ball fields, and cultural attractions. With the completion of the Boardwalk portion of the Trail in June 2014, the trail no offers a full 10-mile loop. The different street crossings at Lamar, 1st Street, and Congress make scenic and convenient crossovers for making this distance you are looking for. With more than 1.5 million visits a year, the 10-mile trail is Austin’s most recognized and popular recreational area.

Wetsuit or No Wetsuit?

Let’s start by saying that wetsuits are completely optional at CapTex Tri. The water temperature is 75 on average, which is more than comfortable to swim in without a wetsuit. So what are the advantages and disadvantages to wearing one? We created a specific why or why not list for those who want to wear wetsuits for swimming but still aren’t sure if they should or shouldn’t.

Remember the golden rule: Nothing new on race day. Unless you have an opportunity to swim in the exact wetsuit you will wear on race day at least once before, it is advised to not try something new the day of the race. 

A Quick Overview of the Rules and Water Temps

Here are the USAT’s rule on wetsuits and water temps. (all temps refer to surface water temperatures)

Under 50 degrees: Not suitable for open water swimming, even with a wetsuit

50 to 65 degrees: Suitable for open water swim, but a wetsuit is highly advised

65 – 78 degrees: Suitable for swimming with or without a wetsuit. Sleeveless suits are popular at this temp.

78 – 84 degrees: Race directors use their judgment to allow or not allow wetsuits at this range. Usually not eligible for awards at this temperature.

Over 84 degrees: Wetsuits not allowed

Why Wear a Wetsuit

Help Swim Ability

Wetsuits provide buoyancy. This can come in handy for any open water swim “panic” as the wetsuit will give you extra lift and make it easier to float while you bring your heart rate down and your focus back to swimming.

“Free” Speed

The buoyancy of the suit allows the wearer to swim faster than without the suit. The better the swimmer the less advantage the wetsuit may show. A swimmer can expect to save anywhere from a few seconds to tens of seconds per 100. Usually the longer the distance the more the savings is noticeable. With less exertion in the water, you will feel less of an energy drain as you are heading up to T1. Hence, it’s a good idea to invest in some good swimwear.

Warmth

The wetsuit can provide warmth to the swimmer in the cold water. If you are sensitive to the cold this can be great at making you more comfortable in the water.

Why Not Wear a Wetsuit

Cost

Wetsuits can be a big investment costing anywhere from just over $100 to almost a $1000.

Constricting

If you are not very comfortable and used to wearing a wetsuit, they can be constricting. Imagine wearing a life vest that is a size too small. This tight feeling across the chest can cause panic if one finds themselves uncomfortable mid-swim.

Added Time For Taking Off

While they may save you time while swimming, you still have to get out of the suit. This can add minutes to your transition time.

So to sum it up, it is really a toss up to how you feel on race morning and what you have trained for. Pack it in your bag and if it comes time to leave transition and you don’t want to wear it, simply leave it by your bike.

What else should you wear on race day? Check here

How to Know the Difference Between Triathlon and Road Bikes

Triathlon Bikes vs. Road Bikes: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to triathlon, a bike is, well, a necessity. How are you supposed to know which bike is best suited for you if you’re new to triathlon or limited on options? In this blog, we’re going to talk about two types of bikes: road bikes and triathlon bikes. Keep reading to understand some key differences between triathlon bikes and road bikes so you can decide which fits your style best for your triathlon journey.

How They’re Different

The most notable difference is the design, or geometry of the frame of each bike. Triathlon bikes have a steeper angle of the seat. Seats on a road bike are positioned at, on average, 78 degrees while the angle on a triathlon bike is closer to 72 degrees. The steeper angle allows the user to travel at a faster rate because you can bend your body down lower which reduces wind resistance. Another huge difference is that a triathlon bike includes aerobars instead of regular handlebars and many models have specially shaped frame tubing and special wheels. These design features are intended to minimize drag and increase speed which is important in triathlon racing.

Triathlon Bikes

Tri bikes allow you to get into a more aerodynamic position by lowering your upper body and bringing your arms in-line with your torso. This is a result of the tilt of the seat in combination with aero bars that cause the cycler to lay lower on the bike with elbows rested. The goal here is to be in the optimal position for a smoother, faster ride.  Unlike other handlebar positions, aero bars serve as both handgrips as well as armrests, allowing you to significantly reduce the pressure on your wrists and hands throughout a race or riding for an extended amount of time.Key Traits of a Triathlon Bike

Key Traits of a Tri Bike

  • has aerobars
  • more aggressive frame geometry
  • can be more expensive
  • better for speed
  • more aerodynamic

 

Road Bikes

Road bikes are great when aerodynamics are not the top priority. These bikes are typically easy to maneuver during longer rides. Road bike frames are slim and also come with thin tires for riding on the road. The handles on road bikes offer different hand positions. Because of this, most people find road bikes to be more comfortable because you can alter your riding position as needed. For beginner triathletes, we recommended trying a road bike before a triathlon bike.

Key Traits of a Road Bike

Key Traits of a Road Bike

  • more versatile
  • less expensive
  • lightweight
  • can add clip-on aero bars
  • easy to customize

 

Now it’s Time to Make a Decision! Which Bike Will You Choose?

Now that you know the key differences between the types of bikes, take a moment to weigh your options before deciding which bike is better suited for your riding needs. Keep in mind: comfort is key, but you don’t want to compromise speed for comfort or vice versa. It’s all about finding a bike with a balance that works best for your body and your cycling needs. Whichever bike you choose, either will do for the day of your big race. Now, all there’s left to do is choose your bike, grab your shades, and start logging those miles!

Which type of bike do you prefer? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter and tell us what you decide to name your new set of wheels!

USAT-Certified: Why It Matters and How It Benefits You

Benefits to CapTex Tri being USAT-Sanctioned and having a USAT-Certified Race Director

When researching triathlon events, you’ve probably come across the terms USAT-sanctioned and USAT-Certified Race Director. So what exactly do these terms mean and why should you care about the benefits of a USAT Certified race?

USAT-Sanctioned

USAT is an acronym for USA Triathlon, which is the governing body of the sport of triathlon in the United States. Additionally, since triathlon is a sport featured in the Olympic games, USA Triathlon is part of Team USA. Therefore, they must adhere to the rules and guidelines of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committees. When you see the phrase “This is event is sanctioned by USAT” or “This event is USAT-sanctioned” it means that the event organizer has completed a thorough questionnaire regarding how they plan to conduct the event. They have also received approval from the USA Triathlon Events staff. As a potential participant in a triathlon, the term USAT-sanctioned should give you confidence. You are registering for an event that meets minimum standards for safety and fairness.  

Participant benefits of a USAT-sanctioned event:

benefits of a USAT-sanctioned eventAs a participant in a USAT Sanctioned event, you must have a current membership with USA Triathlon.  Annual memberships and one-day memberships (purchased per event) are available. Most adult triathlons in the United States are sanctioned by USA Triathlon. This helps the individual event. It also helps keep the national governing body strong so that it can support race directors, growth of the sport initiatives, and Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

USAT-Certified Race Director

Additionally, USA Triathlon has created a Race Director Certification program that goes above the standard sanctioning process. Race Directors who choose to become certified go through approximately 16 hours of coursework and complete an exam. They are required to recertify every two years and complete a background check through NCSI and take SafeSport training. The recertification and coursework ensures that the race director remains current in their knowledge and engaged in the triathlon community.  There are two levels of Race Director Certifications. Level II is the most difficult to obtain and retain. Only the most qualified race directors reach this level. Dan Carroll of High Five Events was among the first race directors to achieve Level II certification. He has maintained that certification since the program was created in 2007.

Choose USAT Certified for Your Upcoming Tri

So the next time that you register for a triathlon like CapTex Tri, look to see if the event has the benefits of being USA-sanctioned and if it is produced by a Certified Race Director. That way you’ll know you’re safe in good hands and you’re in for an awesome experience!

Swim Faster with Fins

Use fins during your swim training to become faster in the water

Do you want to improve your kick strength, ankle flexibility, body position, and increase your speed in the water? If you’re thinking, duh, try adding fins to some of your swimming workouts for your upcoming tri! With the right amount of training and the right tools, you’ll be on track to improve your swimming abilities for CapTex Tri in no time.

Why you should use fins

Wearing swim fins increases the amount of resistance your muscles experience as you kick, guaranteeing you’ll put your leg muscles to full use. Stronger legs and the additional strength will carry over into normal swimming when you’re not wearing your fins.use fins to become faster in the water.

Another benefit of using fins is improved ankle flexibility. This stems from the extra force the fins place on your ankles as you kick. Increased ankle flexibility will result in a more efficient flutter kick through better angles of attack in the water. When you are unable to fully flex your ankles into a streamlined position the ankles remain somewhat bent, catching water instead of propelling the body through it.

Do you have some other new swim equipment? This Rookie Tri blog shows you how to incorporate other swim equipment into your triathlon training.

Technique-focused workout

You’ll want to focus on a slow-motion, over-exaggerated flutter kick. During this workout, focus on slowing down the kick cycle and dramatically increase your range of motion. The over-exaggerated technique allows swimmers to more easily tune into ankle flexion and proper body alignment throughout the kick. As a bonus, this drill is also quite taxing on the legs and core – the increased workload of a large kick also makes for a great strength-building exercise.

2 Rounds

use fins to become faster in the water2 x 25 over-exaggerated flutter kick (with kickboard)
4 x 25 freestyle, easy
2 x 25 over-exaggerated flutter kick (no kickboard)
4 x 25 freestyle, mid-level effort
2 x 25 over-exaggerated flutter kick (with kickboard)
4 x 25 freestyle, easy

29th Annual CapTex Tri Canceled

Austin’s only downtown triathlon, CapTex Tri, canceled

Thank you for your interest in the 29th annual CapTex Tri presented by Life Time Fitness. We absolutely love Austin’s only downtown triathlon and were ready for another magnificent Memorial Day weekend with triathletes from across the country. We are so thankful to all the participants, volunteers, and event partners who join us every year. Let’s get the bad news out of the way so we can get to the good news.

Unfortunately, as a result of mandates by local/state governments and the recommended CDC guidelines, we are forced to cancel the CapTex Tri scheduled for May 25th. And, unfortunately, postponement is not a viable option based on permitting and venue availability. We know that CapTex Tri being canceled is disappointing and understand the time dedicated to training for your event. Please know that this cancellation was made with the safety of the entire community in mind. We appreciate everyone’s flexibility and understanding.

The Good News

All registered participants can transfer to one of our upcoming triathlons at no cost or request a full refund. Events that are open to transfer include:

Transfer

If the event you transfer to is also canceled we will offer transfers/refunds via a similar process. Participants who wish to upgrade distances at Kerrville Tri or 2021 CapTex Tri will need to pay the difference in registration for that distance. That request can only be filled after the transfer to the original distance is complete.

Refund

All merchandise and USAT one-day purchases will be refunded for the event, regardless of transfer or refund request. If you select to transfer you will receive a merchandise refund notice from EventDog.com before you receive instructions to transfer your registration to another event. To process everyone we need all responses no later than Friday, May 29, 2020. Please note the refund and transfer process will take up to two weeks for us to complete.

Participants may request a full refund if they do not wish to transfer registration to any of the above events. Current virtual participants will be refunded and are invited to join in the new FREE virtual event that will launch next week. We ask that all participants submit their request by Friday, May 10th. Anyone who does not fill out the request form will be automatically transferred to next year’s CapTex Tri at no cost.

Every participant should receive an email with details on how to complete this process. If you didn’t please check your spam folder. If you still can’t find it, email info@captextri.com and we are happy to resend you the link.

More Good News: Free Virtual CapTex for Everyone!

We will also offer a free virtual triathlon/duathlon to all participants and the entire triathlon community. There will be fun incentives, free downloadable personalized bibs, and finisher certificates. The free virtual event will launch next week, so keep an eye on your inbox!

We look forward to seeing you soon and will continue to post blogs and social media on triathlon, training, and everything you need for a healthy and happy lifestyle.

Austin Premier Virtual Triathlon!

Race CapTex Tri from anywhere in the world!

We know how hard all of our participants have trained for the CapTex Tri presented by Life Time Fitness to not be able to take to the course this coming Memorial Day Weekend.  We think all your efforts still deserve some acknowledgment and praise. It’s time to finish what you started and show off your skills by completing the Free 2020 Virtual CapTex Tri. This event is open to the public so be sure to challenge your friends and family to join you!

Completing a virtual triathlon is great motivation to accomplish your fitness goals and commit to healthy living habits! And, besides feeling good about yourself, you will also receive a downloadable personalized bib, finisher certificate, and digital finisher medal.

Participants will have the option to complete either the sprint or olympic distance events. If you do not have access to a place to swim you can complete the event as a duathlon. Participants will track their distance and time using their watch or a smartphone app.

Sprint Tri: 750 meter swim, 12.3 mile bike, 3.1 mile run

Sprint Duathlon: 2 mile run, 12.3 mile bike, 3.1 mile run

Olympic Tri: 1500 meter swim, 24.3 mile bike, 6.2 mile run

Olympic Duathlon: 4 mile run, 24.3 mile bike, 6.2 mile run

Registration is open for the Free CapTex Tri from April 29th through Monday, May 25th. You can submit your results through May 29th, the Friday after registration closes. The official results page with finisher certificates will be updated on April 28th, May 12th, and May 29th.

Want to take the challenge to the next level? Complete the Rookie Tri Virtual and the CapTex Virtual Triathlons by their respective dates and you will earn this limited edition Back-t0-Back digital finisher medal! Registration is open for the Free 2020 Virtual Rookie Triathlon from through May 3rd.

How to Participate

With this virtual tri, you can do it all at once or can complete each segment of the triathlon on your own schedule. For example, you can do part of the swim on Monday, part of the run on Wednesday and part of the bike on Friday. You can do each part in a location and time that’s convenient for you. Even if you weren’t planning on joining us for CapTex Tri, now is the chance to put yourself to the test at the pace you’re comfortable with.

  1. Register for the event on EventDog.com.
  2. Follow the link in the confirmation email to personalize & download your bib.
  3. Document your journey with a before and after photo. Optional but totally encouraged!
  4. Swim (Run), Bike & Run!
  5. Keep track of your time with your watch or a smartphone app like MapMyFitness. Complete your distances indoors or outdoors during the time frame.
  6. Post your results before May 29, 2020, to the link in your confirmation email.
  7. Connect with us on Social! Tag your photos on Instagram & Twitter with #RookieTriVirtual