Improving Endurance

by Doug Carr in Cyclocross, Road Cycling, Train With Grain, Triathlons

Merriam Webster defines endurance as the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially : the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity.

Joe Friel, author of The Triathlete’s Training Bible, defines endurance as: The Ability to Resist Fatigue.

In most athletic pursuits, endurance can be the determining factor of who is crowned the winner, and who must settle for second place. Endurance can be developed for an event lasting a matter of seconds, or one that lasts for days. Think of the sprinter versus the eco-racer. One common denominator in improving endurance is the fact that it happens in relatively small chunks, over a lengthy period of time. You can typically improve your endurance in three specific areas. Those are the Cardiovascular and Muscular systems, as well as the psychological system, or what would be considered Mental endurance. The cardio system includes both aerobic and anaerobic pathways.

Cardiovascular and muscular endurance are improved with the same type of overload principles used in resistance training. We’ll overload or stress the systems (go longer than previous sessions), then recover the systems in preparation for the next overload. Each subsequent session builds on the previous, and the systems adapt to increase the amount of time necessary to overload or fatigue. In turn, mental endurance is gained as the previous barriers or limitations are exceeded. One can be said to have Mental Toughness. I don’t consider this the same as Mental Endurance. An individual can be mentally tough, but to have the mental endurance to persevere through the training at longer and longer efforts, and be able to take that endurance out on the course with you, takes an amount of endurance that is only found by pushing through the fatigue.

Improving your endurance through consistent training will be stair-stepped effect, in that each session or “step” will take you that much further toward improvement. It’s a good idea to utilize the services of a qualified coach, someone who can look at your progress objectively, and determine when, where and how much additional stress can be applied to the next workout session. They can also test your endurance and determine when it might be time to back off so as not to risk overtraining. Think of it as a natural addition or infusion to your workouts. Just like gaining overall fitness, it’s a process that takes consistency, applied moderation and perseverance.

Train With Grain!!­

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Doug Carr Google: Doug Carr
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Druber’s Multi Grain Bread

by Mark Swartzendruber in Recipes, Road Cycling, Train With Grain, Triathlons

Every endurance athlete (this includes cyclists) needs healthy, whole gain carbohydrates to provide the fuel needed to practice our sport.  This easy to make bread is great toasting in the morning, eating with dinner or for bringing along with you on long rides in lieu of power bars.  The grains provide an easy to eat, easy to digest source of complex carbohydrates and protein.

As far as I know, this is an original recipe. All ingredients in bold type are Bob’s Red Mill brand

Dissolve 1Tbsp Active Dry Yeast into 1/4 cup of luke warm (100 degree) water

In a Kitchen Aid Mixer Bowl (or a large stainless bowl if you’re rockin’ old school by hand) combine

With bread hook (or with a spoon or whisk if not using mixer) stir all dry ingredients until fully blended using low speed.


  • 2Tbp Canola Oil


Start mixer on lowest speed and pour in dissolved yeast (do your best to get all residue in)
continue to mix slowly.


1 3/4 cup luke warm water slowly (about 1/4 to 1/3 c at a time) pouring in until the dough forms a proper consistency that is elastic but not sticky or dry. If it appears your dough is dry add more water one Tablespoon at a time. If your dough is very soft or sticky, add Whole Wheat Flour 1 Tablespoon at a time, allowing additional water or flour to fully incorporate before adding more.

Knead dough with bread hook at medium high (you may need to hold the mixer down to keep it on the counter) for 5 minutes, or vigorously knead by hand for 7-10 minutes.

Remove dough from dough hook and allow to rise in the bowl, covered with damp paper towel for 30 min.

When first rise is complete, if you choose, you can add herbs such as 1/4 cup freshly chopped chives or 2T chopped rosemary or thyme leaves.

Preheat oven to 350°F degrees

Punch risen dough with the dough hook and mix at low speed for two minutes. Remove from mixer and move to a floured surface. Hand knead lightly, and cut dough into two equal halves with a knife or pastry cutter. Form dough into the shape of your loaf pan – round or rectangular and place into oiled and flour dusted pan. Cover once again with damp paper towel and allow the loaves to rise for 10 minutes.

When second rise is done, bake at 350°F for 40 minutes.

Remove from pan onto cooling rack.

I’ve done this bread with both quinoa and millet and amaranth or spelt flour. It’s great either way or with any combination you choose of the 4. Also, I’ve done it with or without herbs – it’s great either way.

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Mark Swartzendruber Google: Mark Swartzendruber
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My Favorite Piece of Gear: Julian Pscheid

by Julian Pscheid in Train With Grain, Triathlons

Triathletes are all about their gear. Naturally, I have plenty of pieces of gear that I am borderline obsessed with. There has one piece of gear that really made a difference for me this season though.

Going into my second season of racing 70.3 distance events I was looking for a more effective way to manage my nutritional supplies throughout the race. During transitions I try to minimize the steps needed from one leg to the other as much as possible, and one thing that always worries me is the need to grab and stash all my nutritional supplies before heading out on the bike from T1. The solution I found was the XLAB Rocket Pocket–a little pouch that is strapped behind the stem of the bike and conveniently fits several packs of gel and bars. The rocket pocket has helped me with the following issues:

  • No need to worry about laying out the food supplies for the bike leg prior to the race at your transition spot. I can now pack them the night before and do not need to worry about them again.
  • One less thing I need to do during the T1 (loading up the supplies into your tri suit pockets) and T2 (emptying the garbage out of your pockets).
  • No more digging blindly through my tri suit pockets on my back in order to find the snack I am looking for during the bike leg of the race. Everything is right in front of me in my rocket pocket.

Another popular comparable product is the Bento Box, but I prefer the aero design of the Rocket Pocket. The Rocket Pocket is light weight and attaches to pretty much any bike via three Velcro straps. It was a great addition to my gear this season and has helped make race days a little more hassle free!

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Julian Pscheid Google: Julian Pscheid
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More Recommended Reading for Triathletes

by Doug Carr in Train With Grain, Triathlons

When it comes to triathlon, I always seem to have a new book or reading material to converge on. Whether it’s about coaching or training reference, new equipment, technical studies or biographies, the stack remains high. Magazines in the sport are abundant and keep me up to date on the latest trends, gadgets and results. I’ll list a few of my favorites and a couple of my “Go To” selections that seem to get pulled off the shelf more often.

Magazines ~

Triathlete & Inside Triathlon: Both bring the latest news and equipment offerings to the sport. Race tips as well as destination races one might consider.

Outside: It’s a view in to those other areas of life I like to explore. Whether it’s surfing in Bali, kayaking in Croatia or just reading about top athletes in the great outdoors. It provides a nice escape every month.

Reference Books ~

The Triathlete Training Bible by Joe Friel: Let’s face it, with a name like that, you better know your stuff, and if anyone does, it’s Joe Friel. I can always find a reference source in this book when looking for the whys and hows of training and racing.

Strength Training Anatomy by Frédéric Delavier: This book, and it’s counterpart for women, always seems to be at an arms length. It is the most comprehensive, well-illustrated and in-depth book on strength training I have ever found. Got something that’s hurts? Pinpoint what muscle it is with this book. Want to know how to do more specific strength training and which muscles are actually doing the work? It’s in here. When the Body Works exhibit came to Portland, I brought this book along to see how the printed page actually translated to the three-dimensional human body display. It’s the best!

Workouts In A Binder by various authors through Velo Press: These are reference books for Swimming, Biking and Running. Workouts are categorized or broken down based on goals and distances. They’re great for changing up your routines and keeping workouts interesting or at least different. The sweatproof pages are a great help too.

There are a lot more books than I have space for. If there’s a particular area of the sport you’re interested in, chances are there’ll be several books to choose from.

Train With Grain!!

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Doug Carr Google: Doug Carr
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Beerfest Do’s and Don’ts from Keyon

by Keyon Maljai in Train With Grain, Triathlons

In honor of Oktoberfest, which is in full swing all over the world, here are some great Beerfest Do’s and Don’ts from Keyon. Be sure to check out more Do’s and Don’ts from Mark over here.

Wow, Beefest Do’s and Don’ts.  There’s so many Don’ts that I hope I’ll be able to help with some of the Do’s.  I guess the Do’s and Don’ts are determined by if you’re in season or if you’re out of training season.

Do’s: Get a designated driver.

Do’s: Bring a lot of cash.

Do’s: Make a pretzel necklace, I don’t know why, but everyone else does.

Do’s: Remember to eat before you head out the door.

Do’s: Take a shower before you go.  I’ve been to way too many summer Beerfest’s where the overlying theme is awful B.O.

Do’s: Wear shoes.  Those things can get crowded and you have to protect your toes for your next race.

Do’s: If you’re still in training mode, rotate a cup of water every other beer. This will help cut down on the beer consumption and keep you within proper limits.

Do’s: Set a limit for how many beers you want to drink.  You can still have fun without drinking a ton during Beerfest.

Do’s: Take lots of fun pictures to remember the day.

Don’ts: Don’t drive home.  Seriously, get a Designated Driver.

Don’ts: If you’re a girl, don’t wear high heels to these things.  Especially if you have a race coming up, skip the heels.  How bad would it be if you couldn’t compete because you hurt your ankle walking on all that uneven grass during Beerfest.

Don’ts: If you have a race coming up its probably a good idea for you skip the beer altogether.  If you’re concerned with staying hydrated, skip the beer and just drink water and enjoy the scene.

Don’ts: Don’t wear your nicest clothes.  As the day progresses, spills are guaranteed, by you or by others.

Don’ts: Don’t be that guy…(you know what I mean)

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Keyon Maljai Google: Keyon Maljai
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Athlete Diary: Julian Pscheid

by Julian Pscheid in Train With Grain, Triathlons

I recently completed my last triathlon of the season, Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens. The race went great and was a great wrap to a very successful triathlon season.

My focus now shifts to training for Portland Marathon on October 9th, so my ratio of swim/bike/run shifts from 25%/50%/25% to 15%/25%/60%. This allows me to increase my weekly mileage and arrange my training week around my 20+ mile long runs on Saturdays. Since April I’ve been training with the Get Fit Live Fit marathon program offered by Fit Right NW, which has offered not only guidance around how to safely approach the marathon distance, but also helped me work around injuries throughout the season.

After the marathon is over I look forward to two months of strength and light base training before I kick back into high gear in January. The main race next year for me will be Ironman Canada in August, and I am extremely excited for the challenge of preparing for such a demanding race.

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Julian Pscheid Google: Julian Pscheid
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Recommended Reading for Triathletes

by Julian Pscheid in Train With Grain, Triathlons

No matter if you are a triathlon newbie or a seasoned athlete, there seems to always be more to learn and understand about how to best train and prepare for triathlons. If you consider yourself a self-coached athlete, books will quickly prove to be the best source of information about the sport. I learned almost everything I know about training from miscellaneous books and magazines I have read over the years, but as I have progressed as a triathlete, some books have stood out. The following three books guided me along the path from my first triathlon to training for my first Ironman:

As a newcomer to the sport of triathlon I needed a book that explained all the basics, while not overwhelming me with too much information. “Triathlete Magazine’s Complete Triathlon Book” provided me with all the knowledge needed to successfully complete my first few triathlons. The book covers everything from diet and health to equipment and safety tips.

Once I was comfortable with racing, I was ready to learn how to plan a complete season, using periodization to break up the year into different phases and correctly plan around races. The book that helped me take my training to that next level was “The Triathlete’s Training Bible.” One note though: This book has A LOT of information. Make sure you have a few triathlons under your belt before you attempt to digest it.

Over the coming year I am taking the next step–training for an Ironman. The requirements of training for that distance will add an additional levels of stress to my already busy life. Therefore I picked up “Be Iron Fit: Time-Efficient Training Secrets for Ultimate Fitness .” This book explains the most popular training and time management methods used by professionals with busy lives, allowing them to train 15 – 20 hours a week while still managing their careers and spending time with their family.

I highly recommend these books depending on your experience level. Also, don’t hesitate to look at your bookshop for other resources (I recommend Amazon)–there is a book for virtually every level of athlete.

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Julian Pscheid Google: Julian Pscheid
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Injuries: They’re a Pain!

by Doug Carr in Train With Grain, Triathlons

In any sport, injuries are a fact of life. Their causes are many and not always associated with stand-alone training or participation within your particular event. In 2005, elite runner Deena Kastor stepped on a large pinecone and rolled her ankle. For anyone who’s ever done this, I don’t need to tell you how painful it is, and how tentative you become as a result of it. Through the recovery process, you’re reminded of this fact with nearly every step you take toward getting better and fully healed.

I recall our daughter’s cross-country coach reading her the riot act for training for a marathon, in her last year of high school. It was a goal she had set to complete before graduation. Training started near the end of the spring track season, into summer, and the race took place halfway through the following fall cross-country season. I was her marathon coach, and no, her high school coach knew nothing of the training…until she crossed the finish line and word started to spread amongst her friends, who hadn’t known either. To make a long story short, the words that reverberated the most came from her coach, to the effect that she could’ve injured herself. I told our daughter, “That’s true. And you could’ve injured yourself stepping off a curb too.” The point is, injuries will come from anywhere, are unplanned and can happen at some of the most inopportune moments. What’s the alternative? Stay inside and injur your thumb on the remote control button, and trip over the cat when you go to get some ice? For some, maybe?

Dealing with injuries has a profound effect on an athlete’s mental state, sometimes more so than the physical pain from the injury itself. They don’t want to sacrifice any of their fitness level, lest they suffer detraining. However – and here’s the double edge sword – some injuries are a direct result of overtraining, caused when secondary and tertiary muscles are recruited as crutches, for primary muscles that have not fully recovered. You might consider this a “senseless” injury, because it’s so easily prevented through adequate rest and recovery. The athlete might then feel foolish, and at the same time is already dealing with the mental anguish of not being able to train at 100%.

So what do we do when we get injured? First and foremost we determine how serious the injury is. Is it something that requires attention from a medical professional? Maybe an opinion is needed from a professional to determine if the injury really is what we think it is, and not something associated with another condition or the improper use of a piece of gear. Does your foot hurt because you pulled something, or is it just the wrong shoe for you? Pain is the body’s best indicator that something just isn’t right. Our immediate task is to find out what’s wrong, and begin to correct the problem before causing further damage.

Second, what is the typical course of action for your particular injury? Does the diagnosis require R.I.C.E (Rest Ice Compression Elevation), stretching, alignment (chiropractic, physical therapy, etc.), heat/cold treatments? How long can you expect to be out of commission?

Third, what types of alternate training would you be allowed to do? With a lower body injury, can you swim to maintain aerobic fitness? How about riding the trainer to deal with upper body injuries? It may feel like it, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Ultimately, you’ll have to question whether continued training is helpful (even if only mentally) or harmful.

A pulled hamstring injury severely shortened my 2006 race season, when I couldn’t complete a run without pain. I thought I was doing myself a favor by only riding the bike, and completely staying out of the running shoes. Fact is, I wasn’t allowing it to heal at all. It wasn’t until I had an assessment done that I learned something in my back was tweaked just enough to affect that area.

We will all, at one point or another, experience injuries, obstacles and setbacks. It’s the price we pay for what we do out there. How we handle the recovery and healing process is up to us. We can prolong the agony and anguish by continuing to push too hard, or we can take a step back and look at the big picture, then figure out a way to come out stronger physically and mentally.

By the way, our daughter proudly wore her finisher’s medal attached to her Honors Graduate medal at her graduation. You think I was proud to see that? Just a little!!

Train With Grain!!

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Doug Carr Google: Doug Carr
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Rice and Almond Pilaf with Meredith Miller

by Meredith Miller in Recipes, Road Cycling, Train With Grain, Triathlons

Meredith shows us how to make one of her favorite recipes- Rice and Almond Pilaf. This recipe could be adapted to use brown Basmati rice; adjust cooking time according to brown Basmati rice cooking instructions. If you want to make it vegan, simply swap out the butter with a non-dairy spread such as Earth Balance and use vegetable broth. To make it gluten free, just be sure to use a gluten free soy sauce and check the ingredients on your broth.

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Meredith Miller Google: Meredith Miller
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Injuries: What to Expect and How to Respond

by Mark Swartzendruber in Road Cycling, Train With Grain

Unfortunately injuries are a part of life for most competitive athletes.  Injuries can be caused by things that range from simple overuse to traumatic impact.  How the athlete treats and responds to the injury depends largely on the nature of the cause and the severity of the injury.  I’m very fortunate to have been relatively injury free over the course of my athletic career, but, in the couple of instances that I have endured an injury, the treatments and recovery have been good lessons learned.

First, let’s break down into categories various types of injuries and potential problem issues.

SORENESS:  This can be caused by over use, or it can be caused by properly trained and worked muscles.  If you’re a cyclist in the weight room for the first off-season strength building sessions, you’re going to experience muscle soreness even if you’re doing things correctly.  Soreness can be treated by not over using the sore muscles alternating ice and heat and incorporate stretching and massage.  Some times the use of non steroidal anti-inflammatory meds such as Ibuprofen or Sodium Naproxen is called for.  At any rate, soreness eventually goes away, but if you continue to push soreness, it may become…

PAIN:  Pain is more indicative of a chronic problem.  I’m not speaking of the momentary or short lived pain we all put ourselves through in hard workouts.  I’m speaking here of pain that you experience when you aren’t working out.  Back, joint, or muscle pain that is consistent, persistent and long lasting can be an indicator that you’re either employing improper technique, bike position, have structural problems or an over-use injury.  Seek out the opinion and diagnosis of a doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist or athletic trainer and do what they tell you.  Pain is most often a leading indicator of a potentially chronic injury that you’ll have if you try to “push through the pain.”

INJURY:  This is the definite, diagnosed “I know exactly how it happened” thing we all hope to avoid.  Maybe you crashed and broke a collar bone, some ribs or had a concussion.  Maybe you pushed through the pain of a ligament or tendon sprain and now you need surgery for a tear.  Whatever caused your injury, you’ll be requiring medical attention.  In 2002 I had some knee pain and swelling.  I continued to race through and eventually the problem didn’t respond to ice, compression and elevation.  Turned out I had a meniscus tear that was exacerbated by the repetitive motion of pedaling.  It was a season ender that required surgery.

The first orthopedic surgeon I saw told me I had the knee of an 80 year old man said I must quit cycling and take up swimming, but that I’d never be able to race again.  I was devastated and sought a second opinion.  The second orthopedic surgeon had been the team ortho for the US Air Force Academy and worked with the US Olympic Ski team in Colorado Springs.  He’d seen knees similar and much worse than mine.  He assured me that I’d be fine, but the recovery was slow and had to be done right in order to avoid re-injury.  The full rehab took nearly 3 months before I was cleared to ride my bike again.  Even though I was going crazy with the inactivity I did what the therapist and doctor told me to do and 2003 turned out to be one of the best seasons of my life with a big win on the NRC race circuit and a silver medal at Masters Nationals in the time trial.

As athletes, we’ll all deal with soreness and pain from time to time.  Pay attention to what is causing the soreness or pain and treat it accordingly.  If you’re injured, give yourself time to fully recover before forcing your way back into full fledged competition.  Otherwise you’re risking pushing yourself into the category of being “chronically injured” which isn’t a season ending problem, it’s a career ending problem.

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Mark Swartzendruber Google: Mark Swartzendruber
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