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Triathletes Ultimate Gift Giving Guide


It’s no secret that triathletes need a lot of stuff for training and racing. As a long-time triathlon and running coach and athlete I have developed a list of favorites that are sure to please your triathlete for any special occasion; birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or just because. This list is chalk full of popular gadgets and must-have supplies for the triathlete or runner in your life, or yourself. This list has been conveniently divided into sections to meet anyone’s budget.

Low Cost Ideas (under $35):

Road ID ($20-35)
Safety first! Accidents are never expected…like when I was hit by a truck on my bicycle. It’s at this time I was grateful I have ID on me. Even though I was not knocked unconscious, I could have been. If you care about your loved one, buy them Road ID. This handy identification tag can let emergency personnel know who to contact and can even identify medical conditions like diabetes, asthma or medication allergies when you are not conscious to speak for yourself. This could quite literally save a life! They also have gift certificates. Check it out: Road ID Gift Cards

Basic Running or Cycling Socks ($5-22)
Check out the displays at your local running or cycling stores. You are bound to find a cute design that will bring a smile to any athletes face. Here are some of my  favorite local shops:   Bountiful Bicycle

Wasatch Running Center

RockTape

Most all athletes at one time or another have sustained some body injury.  RockTape has been a lifesaver for me with all my long course training.  I especially love all the cool prints they offer.  Check it out!

Wrist Wraps, Necklaces & Shoe charms ($10-35)
Many shoe charms can be customized with the name of a loved one to honor and wear on running shoes like many have done at the local Race For Grief event on Memorial Day  (virtual entry available). Or choose a favorite power word or saying for a wrist wrap or necklace. Check out these two great shops with lots of items to choose from:
Momentum Jewelry They also have fun themed gift boxes!
Charm Factory

Books ($15-35)
There are so many great books out there, I couldn’t even name them all, but I highly encourage you to asked your loved one and friends what they want. Or you could always buy gift certificates and they can shop for themselves. If you know they like cookbooks you might consider this one: The Feedzone Cookbook

Moderate Budget Ideas ($45 plus):

Wireless or wired Earbuds or Headphones ($20-99)
I hear good things about jaybirds wireless earbuds Jaybird Wireless Earbuds so you could look at them. If you are looking for a less expensive gift YurBuds have worked pretty well for me. Feel free to leave a comment on any you have found that are great.

Race entry ($25-125)
Any triathlete or runner would appreciate a gift race entry. Many races offer the option of getting a gift entry or gift cards. It’s the gift that gives back. Here are some of the local favorites:
Salt Lake Marathon – Use the code slcblonderunner19 to save 20%
Ogden Marathon – Look for the discount code coming out in January.
Get more race discounts


Noxgear Tracer 360 Visibility vest ($45 with code)
This is my very favorite light vest. It feels like you are having a party when you put it on and is especially great in the winter when it’s dark often. Be sure and use the code BLONDERUN to save 35%. They also have tracers for dogs!  Check it out:Tracer 360

Kodiak Cakes

Does your athlete like to bake?  Check out the great line of high protein products from Kodiak Cakes.  I particularly like their chocolate pancakes.

Running Shoes ($85-160)
As a long time runner, I can tell you there is no such thing as too many shoes. Runners need good shoes. Since shoes are highly individual I recommend getting a gift cert from local running store. One of my favorites in my area is Wasatch Running Center If you are not pleased with your current running shoes or aren’t sure what brand to look for I am personally a big fan of HOKA’s. They offer so many great shoes!

Compression Socks ($20-85)
Compression socks can really speed recovery and help prevent swelling. I really love the quality of ProCompression and they always have the cutest styles and prints. I know they have a sale going on most of the time. Check them out

Enso Roller ($52 with discount code)
Self myofascial release (SMR) techniques have been known to speed recovery. This practice increases blood flow, elongates tissue, can breakup adhesions, and release tight muscles for better posture and increase flexibility. This high quality, completely customizable roller really helps relax tired muscles and is the perfect gift. Be sure and use the discount code to save money and get free shipping. Check it out!
Learn more, read my Enso Muscle Roller Product Review.

Hire a Coach ($65 plus)
A coaches expertise is invaluable to elevate training and can be so helpful for all level of athletes. I offer one-time consultation gift certificates for $65; I also offer online training programs from 5K’s and up to Ironman events. Consultation sessions can cover swimming, cycling skills, running form, nutrition and race planning. Please inquire if you would like to learn more by messaging Coach Lora Erickson directly at theblonderunner@gmail.com or visit BlondeRunner.com

Xterra Wetsuits – Lava Pants or Shorts ($99 with code)
These buoyant pants and shorts are great for training indoor in the winter months. Especially for those new to swimming or those who struggle with kicking and their legs sink. This allows you to kick while maintaining streamline position. Use the code CO-BLONDE for 60% off (also works on wetsuits). What do you think? Xterra Wetsuits

Healthy or High Budget Ideas ($150-500 plus):


Hydration Pack ($65-200)
Running vests are particularly helpful for long runs or even hiking. One of my favorite packs is this Nathan VaporAiress Pack  It has pockets on the front with a sipper straw and magnetic button leading to the 2L hydrating sleeve conveniently tucked in special pocket. Others come with removable bottles in the front pockets. I especially love the cross-strap to keep it tight against me when I run so it doesn’t jump around. The side pockets are especially nice to carry a few extra things. This is very utilitarian. They also have many other packs to choose from.

Garmin GPS Watch ($65-$600)

While there is a large range of GPS watches I believe the Garmin brand watch is the best. GPS watches can track distance, speed and other metrics to help you train better. Prices range from $80 to $600 depending on how many bells and whistles you want. As an avid triathlete I highly recommend the Garmin 935xt with heart rate. Here is a great review that details all of the many things this watch can do. https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/03/garmin-forerunner-935-depth-review.html This is my go-to watch and always on my wrist showing me detailed metrics from current heart rate, average resting heart rate, power numbers and even tracks my sleep. Garmin also has kids watches that track exercise and allow you to set chore and health reminders. No matter the watch, you can’t go wrong with Garmin! Learn more

Garmin Bicycle Computer ($65 – $600)
For the avid cyclist in your life, I would consider gifting them a Garmin Edge computer. The different models range from $200-600 but they make a great addition to a cyclists quiver. Many are touch screen with turn-by-turn navigation and connects to a host of devices from power meters to smart light networks. This is a must have! Check out this great review from DC Rainmaker on the Garmin Edge Explore

Xterra Paddle Boards ($500 plus)
To aide your swimmers in the water and stay near them in case of an emergency I highly recommend a paddleboard. I particularly love the blow-up ones. They are very portable and easily fit into a car. Use the code CO-BLONDE for discounts. I prefer the stability of the Yoga board. Check it out 

Happy Shopping,
Coach Lora Erickson

BlondeRunner.com

Related blog posts: Beginner Triathletes Guide to the Off Season

Yoga Pose Fails, So Funny!

November 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Blonde Jokes, Fitness, News, Prevention & Safety

If you need a laugh, this Yoga Pose Fails video “We’ve Not All Flexible” is hilarious!  I hope nobody really gets hurt doing these poses!  I am sure if I tried some of them I would be in this video!  You know what they say, laughter is the best medicine. Enjoy!

Coach Lora Erickson

BlondeRunner.com

Five Steps to Cope With Marathon Boredom

October 25, 2018 by  
Filed under Fitness, News, Prevention & Safety, Weight Loss

As a long time coach and marathon runner, I can tell you that there are times when running seems boring. When this boredom happens during a marathon race, this can really be detrimental to performance. With careful planning and some coping techniques in place, boredom can be prevented. Here are some things that I use to help cope with Marathon boredom:

  1. Break the Marathon Into Smaller Distances
  2. Focus on Running Form
  3. Be Distracted by Nature
  4. Create Some Effective Mantras
  5. Dedicate Miles

STEP 1: Break the Marathon Into Smaller Distances

It can often be daunting to toe the line of a marathon and tell yourself you now need to run 26.2 miles.  I find that it is much simpler to tackle one 5K at a time or even pull yourself through each mile individually.  I love to do this because it helps me to stay in the moment and concentrate on the goal pace or heart rate average I am aiming for for that particular mile.

Another thing I like to do to cope with marathon boredom is to have preset intervals in which I “reset” myself.  By this I mean that I pretend that I just started the race over and clear my mind; I often shake out my arms and check my form head-to-toe. This is often done every 5K or 5 miles for me.

STEP 2: Focus on Running Form

This focus on running form really helps to take my mind off the pain and allows me to focus on one thing at a time.  I like to start with my head and work down by asking myself these questions:

  • Is my neck stiff?
  • Do I need to relax my shoulders or loosen my tights fists?
  • Are my arms floating back and forth with ease?
  • Are my elbows tucked in eliminating torso rotation?
  • Am I running tall with a good lean from the ankle?
  • Am I keeping my muscles engaged when I push off the ground?
  • Are my feet landing gently and not clomping on the ground? Etc.

You can develop your own series of questions to help.  If you’ve never had your running form analyses done by a coach I highly suggest it. To learn more visit BlondeRunner.com

STEP 3: Be Distracted By Nature

As with any marathon you are going to see a lot of terrain and generally it’s not all the same.  Allow yourself to get distracted by the trees, birds, pavement, trials and enjoy the scenery.  I also like to feel the wind on my skin or heat on my shoulders.  Being a nature-lover I often find this refuels me and gets me excited about running.  There is nothing boring about nature to me. If you are looking for a race with great views check out the Ogden Marathon in Utah.  This race offers amazing scenery.

STEP 4: Create Some Effective Mantas

Another thing that I really like to do to keep myself in the game and preventing my mind from wondering and getting bored in a marathon is to repeat some effective mantras in my mind I like to use words like; “strong”, “focused”, “motivated” or even motivating phrases like; “You’ve got this girl!” “You are capable.  This is your day!”

STEP 5: Dedicate Miles 

To complete a marathon for many may be a monumental feat and something they will always cherish and remember.  As the miles wear on it might be hard to stay focused on why you signed up in the first place.  Low blood sugar might not allow your mind to focus so clearly. I have found that dedicating the last 6 or 8 miles, when it gets really tough, to a person that has inspired me can really help.  It helps to think about that person for that full mile and run it for them.  I often will write names or initials on my forearms to help me remember and focus on them for that mile.  You can also wear their name on your shirt or back (as pictured at the Race For Grief event on Memorial Day).

In conclusion, as you plod along the marathon route allow yourself to break it up into segments to help you stay focused on a small portion of the race at a time.  Set intervals where you can do a reset. Keep your mind entertained by focusing on your form.  Also remember it is okay to be distracted by nature and enjoy your surroundings. Finally utilize mantras and dedicated miles to inspire you to continue when the going gets tough.

Happy Racing,

Coach Lora Erickson

BlondeRunner.com

Coach Lora is a certified running and triathlon coach and top-level All-World triathlete recently competing in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Africa.  She works will all level of athletes.  On-line training programs are available.  To learn more visit BlondeRunner.com

Conquering the World’s Toughest Triathlon

October 24, 2018 by  
Filed under Fitness, News, Prevention & Safety

This is such an inspiring triathlon story about a disabled women named Minda Detler who was crippled from polio and conquer the Ironman World Championships in Kona. This is quite an inspiring story. When you think life is tough, keep going because you just might succeed like she did. Listen in!
Coach Lora Erickson
BlondeRunner.com

Beginner Triathletes Guide to the Off Season

It’s that time of year when you have completed your final and/or big race for the season and are ready to “take a break”. To some beginner triathletes this may seem like I am saying to “do nothing” but really it means doing something different or mixing-it-up. As a coach, I have learned that this “off season training” is vital to the success of an athlete’s next season so it’s important to understand what to do. Here’s what you can expect to learn from this article:
– Why triathletes need an off season
– Track and measure your food consumption
– Have on-the-go portable nutrition handy
– Hydration is key
– Planning for the upcoming triathlon season

Why Triathletes Need an Off Season

The important thing to remember for the off-season is that you don’t want to completely get out-of-shape, lose muscle or gain fat tissue. But you do want to allow time for your muscles to fully recover as well as your mind. The day-after-day training grind can cause burn-out over time, so a yearly off season is important for athletes to keep them fresh and ready to compete the next season. It is still important to maintain some fitness and muscle tissue by continuing with daily exercise and eating regularly. Usually after the last big race of the year I take about 6-8 weeks “off” from traditional swim-bike-run type training and do “easy” training. These are not hardcore workouts, but more of a loose structure, like “what do I feel like doing today?” This is the time of year not to worry about pacing, speed or pushing yourself. It’s about just enjoying movement. I encourage my athletes to do other sports they enjoy most days of the week (5 to 6 days, 45 – 60 minutes each day). What they do usually includes things that can’t normally fit in during the race season while doing specific triathlon training; Possibilities may include rock climbing/bouldering, soccer, hiking, karate, pickle ball, Zumba, aerobics class, shooting hoops or just go for a nice walk or an easy jog. Yoga is also a great thing to do a lot of in the off season and helps aide recovery and maintain flexibility. Mix-it-up and have fun! It’s important to enjoy what you are doing.

Track and Measure Your Food Consumption

As mentioned, it’s important to maintain lean muscle tissue. This can be done through continued movement, basic core strength training and watching what you eat. Proper nutrition is actually a really big focus for me in the off season since I am not exercising as much or as long (no 3-plus hour Ironman workouts). It helps me to track my food consumption and eat nutrient dense foods which help my body recover. If you follow me on Instagram (@theblonderunner  or @coachloraerickson) you will see I recently posted info about a food tracking app which can keep you accountable. Proper nutrition is often neglected by athletes because they already look “thin” and “fit” but the body will breakdown without consumption and absorption of proper nutrients and this will eventually hinder performance.

A common mistake made by triathletes in the off season is to simply eat too much, especially empty carbohydrates. With lower exercise volume, calories need to be reduced, but many triathletes continue to eat the same amount. It’s time to start reading labels and break out the measuring tools. This way you can ensure you have the information to eat the proper amounts and make healthier choices. It also helps you identify hidden sugars and unhealthy foods. Many of my athletes are often surprised to see high levels of sugar or fat in foods they consume regularly. Another thing that can help is to start your day with a fruit or vegetable and make sure you incorporate 6-8 serving in each day. Those fruits and vegetables will give you the nutrients needed to repair muscle tissue and help your body get ready for the upcoming season.

Have On-the-Go Portable Nutrition Handy

While my race season is super busy with training, working, family and traveling; my off season is just as busy getting caught up on things I missed and prepping for the upcoming season so I find I am on-the-go a lot. This on-the-go life is often where athletes get into trouble and end up eating fast-food or other junk, so it’s important to have portable foods handy.
Some time ago I did several book reviews and I just fell in love with the nutrition concepts in these books, The Feedzone Cookbook for Athletes and Feed Zone Portables. The author simply nailed my thoughts on hydration and absorption as well as eating real foods or quick products made from real foods. The book teaches you how to make your own “portable foods”. Realistically I didn’t make as many of the recipes as I planned to but that even made me more excited when I learned about the meal bars they came out with. I have found it a good idea to pack foods to take with me on busy days. These bars are easy to stash in a gym bag or purse. They are also great to take on hikes and are super soft and moist as well as nutritious. Many are gluten free as well. My recent favorite is the savory miso. It’s so good! They also have other tasty flavors.

Hydration is Key

Hydration is the key to staying healthy and recovering in the off season. Often during the offseason triathletes don’t think about staying hydrated, but they need to consume water regularly to keep up with the body’s demands. We lose most of our moisture from breathing and winter air can be dry, sapping moisture from our bodies. A good rule of thumb for water consumption is half your body weight in ounces (about 8 cups for most people is a good rule of thumb). Depending on your exercise level and body composition you may need more. Sadly, on average, many people don’t consume enough and experience signs of dehydration like; nausea, dizziness, cramps, achiness, soreness, general sluggishness, sleepiness, etc . It’s important to get enough water and electrolytes, so you might consider tracking that as well.

I particularly like the light flavor of the Skratch portable sports drink mix (read my product review) is well balanced and makes boring water palatable. Recently I am getting creative and have loved mixing flavors like lemon & limes with oranges or strawberries with mango. #mixitup

One thing you might have noticed is the color. It’s not heavily pigmented, they simple use natural products, no fake colors. Plus they are low calorie to help keep things in check.

Planning For the Upcoming Triathlon Season

The off season is a good time to start mapping out what races you want to do for the upcoming season and evaluate how the previous training worked for you and how closely you met your goals. Identify areas that you would like to see more improvement in and set new goals. It is important to reevaluate progress and review your goals regularly through the season. Get your mind ready to start your training again with a base phase if you like to periodize your training. You may even want to set a “start” date, when you will start implementing more structured training. Training Peaks is a great tool for this. If you are not sure how to do this, you can hire a coach to help (let me know if I can help, I’d love to work with you) You will also want to check over your gear and make sure everything is in working order. Replace old, outdated equipment and upgrade things as necessary to set yourself up for a great upcoming season.
In conclusion, it’s important to focus on rest and recovery but still remain active in the off season mixing in new activities as well as eat properly with on-the-go nutrition handy and plan for the upcoming season and setting new goals.

Happy Training,
Coach Lora Erickson
BlondeRunner.com

Coach Lora is a certified running and triathlon coach and top-level AWA triathlete recently competing in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Africa. She works will all level of athletes. To learn more visit BlondeRunner.com or contact her directly at theblonderunner@gmail.com
Who is Blonde Runner? 

Join us at the My Gluten Free World Expo in October

September 20, 2018 by  
Filed under Health Classes, News, Nutrition, Prevention & Safety

I love to get involved in local events and have worked with many athletes that have Celiac Disease or are gluten intolerant.  This is a great expo that I have been to and very educational.  Come join us and tell all your friends and family members that might want to join in. Use the code GFWTWO for $2 off your tickets.  Learn more 

Want to win some tickets?  If so, visit Blonde Runner Health on Facebook and get your name in! Your chances are good! (see below)

Coach Lora Erickson

BlondeRunner.com

Race Report: Ironman 70.3 World Championships – Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018

September 8, 2018 by  
Filed under News, Nutrition, Prevention & Safety, Product Reviews, Races

What an amazing experience it was to travel across the world to take part in the Ironman 70.3 World Championship event in South Africa. It was great to experience another culture as well as see and interact with animals in the wild. I am in awe of these amazing creatures. My favorite part of the experience however was the race.

I loved being able to ride a portion of the route earlier in the week with fellow athletes and hear different languages and ride on the opposite side of the road. It was so nice that the WTC offered an escorted ride with police officers for the first 11K. It felt great to get my legs moving after many hours of catching planes, long lay-overs and lots of sitting. They did announce at our race briefing that we would be riding on the right side of the road as usual for American races, which I was surprised but glad about.

As usual with Ironman brand events the race was well organized. There were some differences that I really liked here verses the races I have done in the States. For instance, I loved how the racks were on the ground in transition; we didn’t hang the bike, so even though it got windy after the bikes were checked they were not swaying around hitting each other and getting damaged. They were also easy to remove from the rack during the race speeding up the transition. I also really liked how we hung our transition bags. For this race there were two transitions. It was so easy to find the bags hung in number order and run through transition quickly. 
After racking my bike and hanging my bags Friday night it was time to relax before the big event. I made sure and put RockTape on my knee and neck to help prevent neck chafing and give knee support. This stuff really sticks and helps, I love it!
The next morning came quickly and before I knew it I was waiting anxiously in my swim wave corral. Unfortunately my age division was the last wave (12 of 12) and this is when the time seemed to go by slowly! I choose to wear my sleeveless XterraWetsuit (use the code CO-BLONDE to save 60%) since it’s better for my shoulder and I am used to cold water. It was in the low 60’s, so not bad. Most people were in long-sleeve wetsuits however I made the right choice for me. Finally 8:58 a.m. came and we were organized into groups of ten leaving every 5 seconds. I was in the third set of this beach start. Soon the horn sounded and I was off digging my toes deep in the sand every push off until I hit deeper water. The swim starts we had practiced earlier in the week became useful now and I had a decent and cautious start swimming over the waves and quickly became accustom to the salt water in my mouth. I worked to sight the first yellow buoy and it seemed to come quickly. As I continued pushing through the blue water I noticed the waves becoming more choppy, the further I got from the shore, making it more difficult to site the bouys. I stopped a few times to get my bearings to make sure I could swim as straight as possible. As I rounded the last turn I could see the scuba divers under the water (I found out later they were there to keep the sharks away). Soon I was approaching the shore hoping to catch a big wave to ride in on but no such luck. I hurried through transition grabbing my bag and after getting my gear on I quickly made my way to my bike.
I was happy to get going on the bike and experience the whole ride; especially the parts by the ocean. What a beautiful ride! I learned from the practice ride that the roads were bumpy and there was potential for wind. After all, Port Elizabeth is know as the “The Windy City,” as implied, it was windy on race day. Wind always makes me nervous so I slowed down on many occasions during the race. Safety first! There were some climbs but mostly the winds caused the slow downs. Overall I was passing quite a few ladies and many in other divisions so I knew I have made up some ground from the swim. As I continued along the course I managed to get my nutrition as needed and take advantage of uphills and downhills passing many athletes as I pedaled my way to the next transition. My legs still felt a bit stiff and my hamstrings were tight from sitting so much on the long flights. As I came into T2 (the second transition) I was excited to experience this out-and-back run by the ocean. I love these type of routes! It allows for a lot of camaraderie with other athletes. I felt pretty good at first and tried to stay loose but as I ran along my hamstrings really tightening up more and became pretty painful. I had been nursing a strain so wanted to be careful not to push too hard. I tried to take one mile at a time and stay positive although I wasn’t hitting the pacing I had planned for. Thank goodness I was wearing my new Hoka Bondi 6’s which offers superior cushioning and undoubtedly helped me through the run much better. I was able to manage my nutrition well and was thrilled to be able to take water bags/satchets with me as needed. The water bags were new to me and I loved them! Ultimately it helped me to get more water and keep moving. They also had the usual sports drink (High 5 brand), gels, bars, Coke, RedBull etc… but no ice. At the start of the race it was mid-50’s as it was the first day of Spring in Africa so no need for ice. Also everything in Africa was in Kilometers. The speed signs for driving, and the race signs. I liked it because I always think of the half marathon in terms of 4 x 5K’s (I was a 5,000 meter runner in college) plus 1 mile so it was easy to know my splits. I pushed through each mile and was delighted to see the finish carpet and joyfully run to the finish strong completing my second 70.3 World Championships event.
There is so much to learn from each race I do; overall it was a great race and amazing experience. There is something about competing against the best in the world that really makes a person determined to continue to improve and get stronger and better. I am so grateful to those that made this race possible for me and it wouldn’t have been complete without a safari or two (more pictures below). Thank you to all those who support me!
See more pictures:
Instagram: TheBlondeRunner
Facebook: BlondeRunnerLoraErickson

Sincerely,
Lora Erickson

Race Results: 6:04:04, Division Placing: 105th/186, OA Placing 882 of 1,374

There were some other highlights outside of racing I wanted to mention. I loved petting a Cheetah as well as riding an elephant and seeing so many animals on safari.

Win a 10-Man Relay Spot ($750) at the Goliath Triathlon in September

August 7, 2018 by  
Filed under Prevention & Safety, Product Reviews

Have you ever wanted to do an Ironman event but the distance just seems too far or your just not quite ready?  How about gathering your friends and concurring it together?  Join in the fun at the Goliath Triathlon Relay on Sept. 15, 2018.  Check out this giveaway! Learn More

Let me know if you need help with training.  Can’t wait to get involved?  Use the code BLONDE to save 20%!

Train Well,

Coach Lora Erickson

Summer Fun with Xterra Paddle Boards

Summer is time to splash around and have fun at the lake.  Join the fun with Xterra Paddleboards!  Don’t miss out on these great deals!  Click to learn more

Wishing You a Summer Full of Fun!

Coach Lora Erickson

BlondeRunner.com

How to Pump-up a Road Bicycle Tire with Coach Lora Erickson

It may seem simple but when I started riding I didn’t know how to pump up my tires on a road bike so I thought I would explain it for the beginner.  It’s simple once you know but may be different than your bike when you grew up like me.

Coach Lora Erickson

BlondeRunner.com

 

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