Fit Factory Blog

Tips on staying active and healthy

Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) is super fun...because there is mud involved. There is something about getting dirt all over you that makes you feel like a kid again! Plus, recent studies have shown that soil contains microbes that act in the same way as antidepressants, making you feel a lot happier! So you can use this as an argument the next time that someone tells you that you're crazy.


No matter where you live, chances are good that there’s a mud run (or several) coming up near you. Some races are particularly noteworthy. We really like the following five!

 

Our Favorite 5 Mud Runs in 2016

  1.  Warrior Dash - this race is a great option if you are new to mud racing or haven’t done too many races yet. In the Warrior Dash, you'll run a 5K and take on 12 obstacles in this course, and you’ll get a sense of how addicting getting muddy can be!        
  2. Rugged Maniac - with 25 obstacles over 5K, the Rugged Maniac is a good “next step” as you take on many more varied types of obstacles while getting dirtier than ever. Designed with the help of Navy Seals, the course features obstacles like a giant slide into a big pool of muddy water and crawling under barbed wire. 
  3. Tough Mudder Lake Tahoe - you’ve probably heard of Tough Mudder by now, but not all of them involve running up ski slopes at altitude. That’s exactly what happens at the Lake Tahoe event. Go through 20 or more obstacles over 10-12 miles and experience things like crossing through areas with high-voltage live wires and icy cold water. Fun!  
  4. Spartan Ultra Beast Hawaii - the Ultra Beast is like running a marathon...except during this particular Spartan Race, you’ll face 60 obstacles over your 26.2. What better place to do this than Hawaii, where the whole course takes place on a ranch. Not everyone finishes, but everyone enjoys the green grass and beautiful view of Pali mountain range when the going gets tough. And the best part is that you can hit the beach when you finish (though it might be nighttime.) 
  5. Battlefrog Xtreme - a typical Battlefrog obstacle course is 8K (almost 5 miles) and has 22 or more obstacles designed by Navy SEALS and Seabees, and it has the reputation for being brutal. When you do the Xtreme, you get a special pass to complete as many loops of this course as possible during the day!

What’s your favorite mud run? There are so many out there that it was hard to choose just five. Tell us about it or tag us on Instagram @fitfactorygear in one of your photos!

 

 

Okay, so you’ve decided to sign up for a triathlon and start training. Congratulations! The hardest part is over. Once you actually start sticking to a training cycle, you’ll start feeling really good, because you’re doing it! It’s happening! You’re going to do a triathlon! You’ll feel your muscles start to tighten up in the first few weeks, so make sure that you stretch as much as you possibly can (check out these great stretches, by the way) and you may notice that your immunity takes a hit. Don’t worry, that will go away as your body adjusts to your new regimen. 


 

Now It's Time to Buy Gear.

 


At first, it’s pretty easy - you’re starting to train in late winter/early spring, so you don’t really need to worry about gear too much. If you’re taking spin classes to train on the bike, swimming in an indoor pool, and running as usual, you probably haven’t bought any “serious” gear yet. You have your running shoes, your gym clothes, and a bathing suit (watch out - the thing might disintegrate a lot faster than you think if you run it through the spinner too many times) but now it’s time to get serious!

Time to start open water swimming! 



Swimming

 


At some point, as the weather gets warmer, you’re going to want to start doing some open water swims. You really need to do these to feel comfortable in a race. When you swim in a pool, you can see everything beneath you and you know where you’re going. The first few times swimming in open water, you’ll probably feel like you’re swimming blind. Everything below the surface of the water is a mystery! So you’ll have to learn how to sight. You’ll also feel pretty constricted in the wetsuit and it’s easy to panic in that situation, so definitely don’t do your first few swims alone - go with some experienced triathletes.


By the way - once you get over the initial fears of open water swimming, you’ll love how much easier it is to swim when you’re floating in a wetsuit!


Gear You'll Need:


  • wetsuit: If you’re on a budget or are not sure whether you’ll continue with the whole triathlon thing, consider buying a used wetsuit, which you can find for under $100 at sports stores or sometimes online. Otherwise, be prepared to spend about $300 on one. Triathletes overall seem to like brands like Blueseventy and Xterra, but don’t get too caught up about the brands, just get something that works, to start with! If you run cold, go for a full-body wetsuit -- if you run warm, are swimming somewhere with warm water or want to spend less time taking the darn thing off in transition, go for a shorter one!

  • goggles: try a mirrored goggle for your open water swims, assuming that you aren’t going out in the dark. The sun is very bright on the water, so you’ll want to feel comfortable. On race day, depending on your swim start time, you might want to use a clear goggle if you’re starting early in the morning!

  • cap: If you’re practicing in cold water, consider getting a neoprene cap to keep your head warm! This works wonders. On race day, you’ll be given a swim cap with a certain color for your age group, but while you’re practicing, just wear whatever you want. :)

 

Be as prepared as this guy on the bike course.

 

 

Biking

 


This is probably the most intimidating part of triathlon gear purchasing because there is just so much to consider...especially if you’ve never ridden on a road bike before. Take deep breaths. Give yourself time and patience. Walk into the bike shop and confess that you know absolutely nothing and need help.


Gear You'll Need:

 

  • Road bike: definitely set a budget here. During races you’ll see beautiful bicycles that cost thousands upon thousands of dollars. You’ll see a lot of gorgeous time-trial bikes that sound like a car on a race course. If you’re planning to ride a lot, go for the gold and consider getting a bike from a top brand like Cervelo...or buy something used for under $1000. Look at brands like Felt, Specialized, Giant, and Trek. Don’t get a tri bike until you’re committed to the sport.

  • Clip-in pedals and bike shoes: learning how to clip in is definitely a process, and you’ll probably eat it a few times. Ride with friends, get a tutorial at your local bike shop, and every time you’re about to clip out, keep that mental dialogue going. It sounds like this: “I am clipping out on my right foot, therefore, I’m going to lean to the right side.” Out right, lean right. Out left, lean left. Repeat the mantra. Meditate on it.

  • Flat kit: don’t be that person out there that gets a flat and has nothing to fix it -- and besides, you may get a flat in your race! Assemble a kit that includes CO2  canisters, one or two spare tubes, levers, and tools. Then take a class (or watch an online tutorial) about how to fix a flat, and practice it a bazillion times.

  • Bike computer: see how far you’ve gone, how long it’s taken, and measure your cadence with a bike computer (check these out, for example.) You’ll want this both in training and in racing.

  • Helmet: you’re not allowed to race without one. To start with, check out road bike helmets - save the super fancy time trial ones for later, when you have decided to dedicate your life to the sport!

Look like a total pro in the run portion of your race.

 

 

Running

 


You’re probably more-or-less set on the run portion as long as you have running shoes. During training, try a few runs not wearing your socks and see how it feels - putting socks on in transition slows down your time.


Gear You'll Need:

  • Garmin Forerunner (or similar timing watch): you can wear a Garmin the whole time to track your distance and speed (and even bike cadence) but it’s really important to pace yourself in the run, especially during a longer distance, so you don’t crash and burn before the finish line!

  • Race number belt: you have to wear your race number during your run, and a race number belt is a super easy way to clip it on without taking too much time.

  • Hat or visor: nothing is worse than the sun beating down into your eyes.

  • Decent sunglasses: you probably threw these on already before getting on the bike. Check out the shades at Rudy Project - they have products that are adjustable and near-impossible to destroy!

 

Transition

 


Make transition work for you with a few easy things:


  • A towel: Organize everything on your transition towel. Take a beach towel or a hand towel - you won’t have a lot of space to work with.

  • Spray sunscreen: protect your skin from the sun as quickly as humanly possible.

  • Extra food: a just-in-case gel or two is good in case you need a pick-me-up.


Last but not least, you'll want to get a tri suit. They come in one or two pieces and are made to withstand everything during a race. 

So, those are the basics of tri gear! Start small, don’t get too fancy, and just get out and enjoy yourself. Coming next - fueling during a race!

Spring is around the corner, but we’re still facing winter weather for another month or so. This is really not the best time of year for easy training - especially with going to Daylight Savings Time! Just when it was starting to get a lot easier to get out of bed in the morning, all of the sudden, it was way darker again.


Then there’s the rain and snow. There’s something about waking up to the sound of rain that suddenly makes you feel so much more tired. Your bed has never felt as warm and comfortable. It’s so easy to hit the snooze button and go back to sleep. But then the guilt gets to you later, and you feel terrible!


So how do you keep yourself motivated when the last thing you want to do is work out in the cold, dark, rainy or snowy weather? We’ve put together a few pieces of advice that can help you with motivation.

 

Tips To Stay Motivated to Work Out in the Rain

 


  1. Stay accountable by working out with friends When you make plans to work out with friends, you’re a lot less likely to bail on the workout. By combining exercise with social hour, the time flies. Hills seem less steep. Rain seems less wet. The miles fly by. Just be sure to pick your most motivated friends if you see bad weather coming in the forecast.
  2. Make a list about all the ways you feel great after you work out...and keep this close to your bed. When the alarm goes off and it feels way too early, have the list standing by. Create it after a particularly good day with sentences like “I can focus so much more at work when I work out in the morning” and “I feel so relaxed after I work out” and “I like to eat that extra snack after I work out” so that you have something to look forward to. Because everything is better after a workout!
  3. Bribe yourself with a reward. Don’t go too crazy here, but bribes can get the job done if you’re really struggling to get out the door. Promise yourself that you’ll go get a massage the same week (they’re so good for athletes, anyway, and you always could use one) or treat yourself with a pedicure. (This is totally applicable for women and men, by the way!) Promise yourself your favorite dessert in the mid-afternoon. Whatever gets you out the door. And besides...after you’re done, you might not feel like you even need it anymore! 
  4. Think about your goal. There is no better feeling than getting to the start line of a race and saying, “I trained in THE WORST CONDITIONS to get here!” It feels so good. All that hard work you put in will pay off on race day and you’re so much more of a badass because of it.

What’s your preferred method of get-out-the-door motivation in bad weather? Tell us all about it!

It’s March, spring is coming, and it’s time to shake off your winter blues and start training! If you want to train for your first triathlon, now is the time! It’s fun, it’s positive, and when you cross the finish line (no matter the distance) you’ll feel like you’ve really accomplished something.

It can be really intimidating to start training for a tri, though. First of all, there’s the gear. Then there is the actual training. This week, we’re going to focus on the disciplines of triathlon and how to get started and feeling confident. Next week, we’ll go through the gear checklist.

Basic Tips for Training for Your First Triathlon

Start of the race - you'll be here in a few months!

1. Identify your goal. How much time do you have to train? What kind of prior experience you have? Most people start with training for a sprint triathlon, where you swim just under a half mile (750 meters), bike 14 miles (20 km) and run just over three miles (5 km.) The next distance up is an Olympic/International Distance, which is more time-consuming. To train safely, you should budget about three months to train for your first sprint and four and a half to train for your first Olympic Distance tri.

2. Find a tri club and pick a training plan. The best place to start with this is your local triathlon club! Tri clubs exist in most cities in the United States. Some are very structured and you follow a strict schedule, while others are more loosely-organized. Either way, this is a great way to make friends to train with, and to come up with a training plan. You’ll meet experienced triathletes who can share their plan with you and most likely the club will be affiliated with coaches who can help you with your plan. Or, search for plans on the internet. There are so many free ones available like this sprint plan from Tri Newbies, or this four-month Olympic Distance plan from Leon’s Triathlon. 

3. Get a coach. If you are participating in a highly-structured triathlon club, this isn’t necessarily what you need to do, but if you’re planning to train a lot on your own, it is a great idea to work with someone that can help you craft a plan based on your body. If you can’t afford it, no worries - you can totally still complete a triathlon! Coaching is also great for individual disciplines, particularly swimming. A lot of people haven’t been in a pool in a long time and are afraid to start tri training for that reason. Gyms have masters swimming classes and private lessons that will help you get back into the pool. When you start practicing open water swimming, be sure to go out with other people to stay safe and learn how to do it.

Core strength is an important part of your training regimen.
4. Join an awesome gym. You’ll be spending a lot of time training, so you might as well do it somewhere where you’re happy to be. It’s really convenient to have spin classes and a swimming pool in one place so that you can knock out two workouts in the same trip to the gym - and to have a home base and a group of supportive people cheering you on! Take advantage of the yoga classes a couple of times a week to stay stretched out, especially as your muscles tighten early in your training. Plus, once you're there, then there's really no excuse to work on core strength. ;)
5. Embrace the other disciplines. It’s more than swimming, biking, and running - there are a lot more other disciplines that are part of the mix. Triathletes call transition - the switch from swimming to biking, or biking to running - the fourth discipline of triathlon. You’ll want to practice quick changes before your race. But some other disciplines include hydration (you’ll want to up your water intake significantly during training), sleep (you’ll need as much as you can get, and will need to wisely plan your time if you’re waking up early in the morning), nutrition (no, training is not a license to eat all the crap that you want - you need to eat loads of fruits and veggies and treat your body like the Ferrari that it is), and strength training. Try to get in the gym at least twice a week to work on building your core strength. This will help you so much in the long run! 
6. Believe in yourself! This is the hardest part of starting anything at all! The first step to victory is having the self-motivation to start, the self-courage to walk into a room full of triathlete strangers and introduce yourself, and the self-determination to understand that you’ll become such a better athlete through your training. You’ll be amazed that in a few short months, you’ll be swimming better than you ever thought you were and crushing your old running times. The most important thing is to understand and believe that you are capable - because if you want to do it, you already are!

Cross the finish line feeling proud and strong!


Fit Factory exists to help athletes achieve their fitness goals by rationalizing their space and being able to bring everything with them, all the time! Check out the MobilityPack, which is designed for your active lifestyle. Need motivation? Want to say hi? Talk to us on Twitter, we love hearing from you!