“Performance Nutrition for Swimmers” – an eBook by Jenn O’Donnell-Giles

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A couple of months ago, I had the unique honor of being asked to read a preview of a book that one of my Team Rev3 teammates, Jennifer Giles, had written regarding optimal nutrition strategies for swimmers.

Jenn is a registered dietitian and board certified specialist in sports dietetics.  She has an impressive background – double masters in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Columbia University.  Additionally, as a majorly awesome athlete in her own right, she is, in my opinion, uniquely qualified to write a book advising proper nutrition strategies for athletes…in this case swimmers.

The book is a really good read.  It’s a relatively short read, packed full of good insights and information.  Jenn devotes a full chapter to water & hydration – elements that swimmers in particular often neglect to focus on.  I particularly enjoyed several other aspects about the book – I loved her discussion of both macro and micro nutrients and how we need each.  As a parent, I also really appreciated Jenn’s focus on the family dinner as a training table.

I’d encourage you to go download a copy of the eBook and read it.  I’m sure that you will walk away with the same conclusions that I did – that far too often we are self-imposing limitations on performance through improper diet and nutrition strategies.

The book retails for $19.99, but you can get a $10 off coupon on the eStore.  Click HERE to check out the book.

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Product Review: Block Island Organic Sunscreen

I live in Florida.  You’d think that I’d have a symbiotic relationship with sunscreen – that I’d put it on every time I walk outside – that I own stock in sunscreen production companies – that I never expose any of my skin to the sun.  Well, you’d be wrong in that thought.  Until the last decade or so, I hardly ever wore sunscreen.

Growing up, my idea of the perfect sunscreen was a bottle of baby oil with a few drops of iodine in it.  I was perpetually in search of the perfect suntan.  And like many others of my generation, I endured more than a few sunburns in my day.  There’s nothing quite as painful as a hot shower on freshly sunburned skin!

As a triathlete and a parent of three really active kids, I do spend a considerable amount of time in the sun.

Luckily, so far I have not had any conspicuous-looking areas or any skin cancers.  Given that I know other 40-somethings who regularly have things cut off of their skin, I know that I’ve been fortunate.  I’ve learned that it’s a good idea to wear a hat to protect my scalp due to my thinning hair and to wear copious amounts of sunscreen.  It’s exceedingly rare that I don’t slather myself up with sunscreen anytime that I’m outside – sunny or not.  But to be honest, I’ve never really put much thought into what I’ve been putting on my body.

Coppertone.  No Ad.  Hawaiian Tropic.  Generic bottle from CVS.  Whatever was available.  Over the past couple of years, I’ve even used a fair share of the spray sunscreen.

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by a company that makes and sells organic sunscreen – Block Island Organics.  I agreed to do a product review, and then set out to do a little research as part of the due diligence for my review.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (www.aad.org), there are just three things one should look for in a sunscreen: that it covers the broadest spectrum available (protecting you from both UVA and UVB rays), carries a SPF of at least 30, and is water resistant for at least 40 minutes.  Luckily for me, all of the sunscreens I’ve used in the last year or two meet each of those recommendations.

What I didn’t realize was exactly what goes into a bottle of sunscreen.

Here’s a few names:  Avobenzene, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene, Oxybenzone.  Those five words are certainly a mouthful of really complicated-sounding chemicals.

AAD’s website said that any ingredient in sunscreen has to have been approved by the FDA for use on humans.  That approval implies safety, no?

Therein lies the fundamental question – and the premise behind Block Island’s products.  There are groups out there that claim that many of the chemical compounds in commercially produced sunscreens are hazardous not only to humans, but to the broader environment as well.  None of Block Island’s products contain any of the similar chemical compounds that you’d find in most commercially available sunscreens, and that is based, at least in part, upon research conducted by the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org).

The EWG tests and reviews lots of chemical compounds and rates them based on their level of hazard to people and the environment.

Remember Oxybenzone?  It’s one of the main active ingredients in sunscreens – certainly in the one that has been my “go to” sunscreen (Coppertone Sport SPF 50).  Well, according the EWG, Oxybenzone is a “high hazard”.  EWG references research done by the Centers for Disease Control that indicates 97% of American bodies are contaminated with this chemical that could show reproductive and developmental toxicity.  Oxybenzone also appears to have some allergic and immunotoxicity risks.  The bottom line, according to EWG, is that this chemical is just one that is included in sunscreen that isn’t so good for you.

Well, Block Island’s sunscreen doesn’t contain any item that’s on EWG’s “naughty” list.  The main two ingredients they use are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.  (Wait…isn’t zinc oxide that white stuff that was on Jeff Spicoli’s nose in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”?  Yes.  It is.)

The Product:

Block Island sells a variety of goods.  They sent me a bottle and some sample packs of their SPF 15 sunscreen.

BlockIsland_SPF15Crp

The bottle contains 6oz and retails on their website for $23.99.  They also sell SPF 30 (for $25.99) and SPF 40 (for $27.99).

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The product is white in color and does not really have a fragrance at all (if you’re looking to smell like a coconut, this is NOT the product for you).  It’s thicker than most commercial sunscreens.  In fact, compared to the liquidy-lotiony feel that commercial sunscreen has, I’d describe Block Island as almost a paste.  Well – that might be overdoing it….it’s thicker, but not so thick that you need a putty knife to spread it or anything.

In fact, Block Island rubs in really easily.

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Given the zinc oxide and the titanium dioxide, it does take a little bit of rubbing to get all the “white” to go away.  I especially noticed this on the more hairy parts of my body.  Even with some serious rubbing, there was still a white “sheen” to me.  I didn’t resemble a dark eye liner, pale white, black wearing gothic person or anything, but I did have some residual whiteness.

The Results 

I exclusively used the sample Block Island sunscreen over the past month.  In fact, it’s the only sunscreen that we used in our house (my kids and wife used it too).  Swim meets, hanging out at our pool, working out, long bike rides, yard work…you name it….if we were outside and wearing sunscreen, it was Block Island.

All in all, Block Island’s sunscreen seemed to work effectively.  By that I mean, none of us got sunburned.  At all. And that’s a good thing in my book.

The one thing that disappointed me in my month of testing?  Block Island’s sunscreen isn’t sweat proof.  Actually, I don’t suppose that any sunscreen is really sweatproof.  The only downside to Block Island not being sweatproof is that you sweat white sweat.  I guess that’s the zinc oxide or titanium dioxide mixing with sweat.  I’m a heavy sweater though, and the by-product of this was some slightly unattractive sweat stains on some of my clothes.  I also am now the proud owner of aero bar pad with a white titanium dioxide stripe in them.

That being said – these cosmetic (no pun intended) issues I had in no way seemed to diminish the effectiveness of the sunscreen.

My Verdict 

Overall, I liked Block Island’s sunscreen.  At first, I was a little gun-shy about using a “non-commercial” product, but after I did my research and learned about some of the chemical compounds in commercially available sunscreen my concerns were buoyed.  I like the idea of not exposing my body to any more yucky stuff than I need to.

Would I buy this product for my family?  That’s a little more difficult question to answer.  While my heart and mind tell me that I should  buy an organic sunscreen like Block Island for lots of the reasons I have spelled out in this post, the miser in me tells me that it might be a little difficult for me to spend more than $20 on a relatively small bottle of sunscreen given how much sunscreen my family uses and how affordable other (non-organic) products are.  Luckily, Block Island seems to go a long, long way – the bottle that they sent me is no where near even halfway empty.  And even more importantly – if you compare Block Island against other organic sunscreens, you’ll find that their price point is VERY competitive with others.

The bottom line – if using an organic sunscreen is important to you, then Block Island is a good alternative for you to consider.

A Few Details & a Discount for you: 

  • If you’re interested in purchasing Block Island’s sunscreens, they have agreed to offer a 20% discount for the next seven days (until July 21st).  Be sure to use the promo code joelp
  • Be sure to check out Block Island online, on Facebook or on Twitter
  • FTC disclaimer:  I was provided free product by Block Island for the purpose of this review.  I was not compelled or required by Block Island to write a favorable review in exchange for this product.  I am not receiving any additional financial compensation for the review or for any sales generated using the promo code noted above.  All opinions expressed herein are mine and may not represent the opinion of Block Island, Revolution 3 Triathlon or any other company providing sponsorship consideration to me.

Product Review: Waves Gear Micro Towel

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I have a slight problem.  I am a towel snob.

I am very super picky about towels.  They can’t be too thick (because they start to smell bad fairly quickly).  They can’t be too thin (because they feel like cheap hotel towels then).  They need to be good-sized (because, let’s face it, I’m not the smallest guy on the planet).  I change my home shower towels way too frequently – resulting in a whole lot of laundry.

These quirks of mine also follow me to the pool.

I’m typically reluctant to try a new towel – especially a micro fiber towel.  My immediate reaction to non-cotton towels is that I connect the towel to the teeny towels that Olympic divers use.  Or to a Sham-Wow.  Typically, those micro-fiber towels are way too small, never really dry you off that well, become stiff as a board once you use them, and tend to hold on to odors no matter how frequently you wash them.

Imagine my trepidation about trying the Waves Micro Towel.

I suspected more of the same.  Stinky, hard, un-fulfilling towel experience.  I certainly did not go into testing this towel expecting that I’d like it.

But, you know what?  I was unexpectedly very (VERY) surprised!

The Waves Micro Towel is built 85% Polyester and 15% Polyamide.  No doubt you are familiar with Polyester.  I’d never heard of Polyamide before – but according to Google, Polyamide is a type of nylon fiber that is often used for mono-filaments and yarns.  This material is apparently extremely resistant to wear and tear.

As you can tell from the photo above, The Waves Micro Towel is not small.  In fact, the towel is down right large.  My “Regular” sized towel measures 27.5″ x 55″ (70 cm x 140 cm).  The “X-Large” is even bigger.  I found that this towel is large enough to really envelop me when I’m drying.  And, the towel is surprisingly light.  My towel tipped the scales at just 7 ounces (about 200 grams).

I was additionally surprised at how effective the towel was at actually drying me off.  Sometimes I’ve felt almost soaking wet after using other similar products.  Not so with the Waves Micro Towel.  My Waves towel soaks up water like a dry sponge.

As you might suspect, the Waves towel dries really quickly – much faster than a cotton towel.  Unlike some other micro fiber towels, the Waves towel does not get stiff.  You also don’t need to pack it into a plastic bag to retain moisture.  I hang my towel up just like any other pool towel and let it dry.  When I go to retrieve it the next time, it’s completely dry, soft, and perhaps best – DOES NOT SMELL!

There are two aspects about the Waves towel that I really like:  how small it packs and that it seriously works just like any old cotton towel.

I’ve used my towel extensively over the last six weeks or so, and I’ve honestly not been tempted to revert back to my old style cotton towels at all.

The Waves Micro Towel is not inexpensive – especially if you compare it to beach towel prices from a local surf shop or Wal Mart – but it won’t break the bank either.  The regular towel sells for $25 and the X-Large sells for $30.  You can purchase the towel through the Waves Gear online store (HERE).  Waves also sells some other products (sunglasses and some small duffle bags), so be sure to check those out too.  If you use the discount code Rev3-15off, you’ll save $15 on any order you place.

In short, I have been really pleased with my Waves Micro Towel – much more pleased than I expected.  This towel has become my go-to, and is honestly the only towel I take to the pool with me now.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Five Things NOT To Use TRISLIDE For

What TRISLIDE does for endurance sports-related chafing is what a hungry teenage boy does to a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos.  TRISLIDE makes chafing disappear!

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TRISLIDE is a continuous spray  anti-chafe skin lubricant that is all the rage in the multi-sport community.  This stuff seriously is bottled awesomeness.  This non-sticky all-day lubricant is used anywhere you might have chafing…wetsuit neck openings, saddle area, feet.  Basically – you spray and forget!  TRISLIDE isn’t like that gooey stick stuff that other competitors offer; it’s a spray-on silicone that works wonders!  Ever have a hard time getting out of a wetsuit?  Spray TRISLIDE on the outside of the cuffs and ankle openings, and you will literally fly right out of your suit!  You can share this (without fear of contracting some pesky critters or having someone else’s extra “hairs” latch on to your body).  TRISLIDE won’t stain your Tri-Kit, and it won’t melt in your transition bag either.

I’m not going to lie – TRISLIDE is SERIOUSLY slippery!  The product comes with a warning to not spray Tri-Slide on the floor as it will make the floor extremely slick and could lead to falls.

So, with this knowledge, here are the top five things that you COULD use TRISLIDE for – but you really SHOULDN’T use TRISLIDE for…

# 5:  Rusty bolt un-stopper

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Yes, you could use TRISLIDE to loosen up those rusty bolts – and this stuff would probably work as good, if not better, than your trusty can of WD-40 or a massive amount of elbow grease.

# 4:  Personal….ahem….lubricant

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Now, we all love some lovin’, but please…..don’t go there with TRISLIDE.  It’s for external use only.

# 3:  Saucer Sled Accelerant

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We’ve all watched the movie “Christmas Vacation” and seen what Clark Griswold can do to a saucer sled with his cereal varnish.  TRISLIDE would make Griswold’s varnish look like glue.  Beware if you do try TRISLIDE as an accelerator for your sled.  If you use too much at one time, land speed records could be broken.

# 2:  Hair Pomade

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Every triathlete wants to look great when they leave transition, and who doesn’t like the “slick” look in their hair?  But seriously…instead of TRISLIDE, go to the drugstore and purchase some Dippity-Do or some other hair gel.  Heck, even Vaseline would look good.  Just don’t use TRISLIDE….because if you do, instead of your girlfriend slowly running her fingers through your hair, her hands are likely to slip right off and hit you in the eyes.  And no one wants to get poked in the eye.

# 1:  Flamethrower

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Who hasn’t wanted to light some aerosol aflame and use as a firestarter?  Why not try your hand at a little welding?  Meet a pesky dog on your run?  OK.  There MIGHT be some potential good uses if you could use TRISLIDE as a flamethrower.  But, don’t do it.  Use a can of Aqua-Net Hairspray instead.  Besides, I’m not even sure if you can set TRISLIDE on fire.

OK.  It’s settled then.  Don’t use TRISLIDE for any of those five things.  Do use TRISLIDE to prevent chafing and hot spots.  Do use TRISLIDE to help get out of wetsuits in a jiffy.  Do share your TRISLIDE with others and not worry about some space-suit wearing dude from the Centers for Disease Control showing up to escort your lube away to some quarantined location.

 

Just so you know, TRISLIDE is one of the amazing sponsors of the Rev3 Triathlon AG team.  They periodically send me products to use.  I LOVE their products and would use them even if they didn’t send them to me…they are THAT GOOD.  To learn more about TRISLIDE and other products made and sold by SBR (namely Tri-Swim Anti Chlorine shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion) and Foggies (anti-fog towelettes), click on their website:  www.sbrsportsinc.com.

 

Product Review: Athletes Treating Athletes – Solid Injury Treatment Advice Online

Since the advent of the internet, way too many of us like to self diagnose our illnesses so that we can make somewhat informed decisions about what sort of treatment we’d like to think.  The reality is, though, that there is no shortage of websites or material online.  Far too often, we find information that leads to a misdiagnosis or a perspective that we’re more (or less) injured than we might be in reality.

The problem with endurance sport injuries is that some of the “mainstream” sites only scratch the surface of the injuries that we tend to get.  Some sites, unfortunately, even give incomplete or bad advice – or at least lead us to making improper decisions.

How do I know this?  Well – over the past 16 months, I have been dealing with a variety of lower leg ailments – notably plantar fasciitis and peroneal tendonitis.  While I have absolutely sought the opinion and treatment of physicians (both a podiatrist and an orthopedic surgeon), I have done more than my fair share of research online.  Far too often, I’ve been disappointed in what I have found.  Essentially, it has been difficult for me to find a singular source for diagnosis and treatment plans.  Until now.

Over the weekend, I stumbled across a really awesome site – which I have since fallen in love with.  It’s called Athletes Treating Athletes, and can be found at http://athletestreatingathletes.com/.

The site was founded in 2010 by Leigh Boyle – a doctor of Physical Therapy and certified strength and conditioning specialist.

The site is geared towards endurance athletes, and is really slick.  The goal of the site is to help athletes like you and me not only treat injuries but also strengthen our bodies so that we don’t end up with injuries in the first place.  The website is easy to use and navigate.  There’s a blog (that contains posts called “injury of the week”) and a really intuitive body map that will help you pinpoint the specific area of your body where you are injured.  You can also search the site for a particular injury if you already have an idea of what you have going on.

The site carries a five-part approach towards self treatment:  (1) self massage (2) mobilization techniques (used to break up soft tissue and adhesions), (3) stretching, (4) KT taping, and (5) strengthening.  Basically, it seems that the treatment approach is exactly what you’d experience by going to a local physical therapist…just without the office visit and insurance co-payment.

Finding your injury is pretty darn easy.  As I noted above, if you know what your injury is, you can search for it.  You can also leverage the “Body Map” page to find and link to the specific area of your body that is hurting.

BodyMap

 

When you click on a body part, you go to a webpage that is detailed for that section of your body.  There’s usually a nifty graphic that shows the interior anatomy of that body part.  Since I’ve been dealing with peroneal tendonitis, I looked for it by clicking both the “foot” link and the “shin + outer leg” link.  Alas, peroneal tendonitis is found under “Shin + Outer Leg”.  Once you land on the page for the specific body part, you’ll find a ton of information, including a diagram of the body part and a listing of injury treatment plans available.  The example (of the Shin + Outer Leg page) below shows both the bones and muscles of the anterior portion of your lower leg.  You can see that there are two specific injuries listed on the Shin + Outer Leg page:  Peroneal tendonitis and Shin Splints.

ATXA leg

 

Since I’ve been dealing with Peroneal Tendonitis, I clicked that link:

ATXA peroneal

All you have to do to gain the information you need to treat your injury is to click the hyperlink for it.  I clicked the link for “Peroneal Tendonitis”.  Once you land on the page for the specific injury, the site gives a good description of the anatomy of that area, the potential causes of the injury, and then a detailed treatment plan.

ATXZ peroneal tx plan

As you can tell, each treatment plan contains some pretty easy to follow (and non-scientific) language about how to treat the injury.  There are typically a plethora of hyperlinks to videos.  For example, in the post above, you will find links to videos about how to correctly apply KT tape to help provide stability.

Even cooler – You can download an injury-specific treatment plan that includes hyperlinks, exercise descriptions, sets and examples, and a full suite of treatment steps that you should take to heal an injury.

In short – this is a self-treater’s Mecca!

Even better, the information is generally free!

Hope you enjoy the site.  As I noted above, you can subscribe to a weekly newsletter that the site sends out.  They also have a Twitter (@A_Tx_A) and like most other companies these days have their own Facebook, YouTube channel and Pinterest page.