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How to Use Standup Paddling to Train for Tri

Jenn Lee sitting on a paddleboard, text on left "How to use SIP to Train for Triathlon"

SUP can improve stability from your toes to your head, core strength and stability, leg strength and stability, which helps prevent injury, and it can also be used to develop cardiovascular fitness outside of the three main triathlon disciplines as a fun and easy way to cross-train. It can even be used to work on lat strength for your swim or maintain fitness while recovering from injury. But it takes a little bit of knowing what equipment to choose to effectively use SUP to help you to your next PR. In this guide to SUP, we’ll review how triathletes can benefit from standup paddling and how to find the right equipment.

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Pan-Am Championships Recap

Cincinnati Cyclocross race image, text "OVCX Cincinnati Cyclocross"

As the sun set on the final UCI race the Kingswood Cyclocross venue in Mason, Ohio Stephen Hyde (Cannondale Cyclocross World) crossed the finish line, arms aloft in front of a loud crowd to take his second victory in as many days of racing at the Cincy CX Festival with PanAm Championships. The men’s Pro UCI C1 (highest international category) at Kings on Sunday capped off two days of racing for amateurs and professionals alike.

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Meet Team INFINIT: Rob Barlow

Rob Barlow on mountain, text "Rob Barlow #IAmINFINIT"

I climbed Colorado’s 100 highest mountains without using a car. While most people who climb in Colorado wake up at about 5,000’ and drive a motor vehicle hundreds of miles to a trailhead at 9,000’ to 11,000’, I did not. On July 1, 2016, I started at the Four-Way trailhead outside of San Luis, Colorado, a full twelve miles north of the New Mexico border. On September 9, 2016, after climbing 104 peaks and biking peak to peak, I summited Longs Peak and finished my journey at the Longs Peak ranger station in Northeast Colorado.

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INFINIT Athlete: Josh Tostado 

Jost Tostado riding mountain bike through the woods, text "Josh Tostado: Professional Mountain Biker"

Josh Tostado, or as many know him, "Toast", is one INFINIT athlete unlike most people you will meet.  Josh thrives on pain and endurance, and this has led him to become one of the top distance mountain bikers in the world.  Josh grew up in Maine where he learned to cross country ski and mountain bike.  After a trip to Colorado, to ski the Arapahoe basin, Tostado was hooked.  He told his parents that he would be moving to Colorado to be a ski bum and live out his dreams there.

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AJ Baucco: Pro Triathlete & Coach

AJ Baucco Running, text "AJ Baucco Pro Triathlete and Coach"
After spending the better part of last decade as a student of the sport of triathlon, it has become very apparent that I thoroughly enjoy sharing my wealth of knowledge with others. I have been incredibly lucky to learn from some of the best athletes and coaches in the sport. My knowledge, coupled with an innate desire to teach others, makes coaching the perfect fit for me. Coaching mixes two of my strongest passions, education and triathlon.

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Ironman Coeur 'd Alene: Why Everyone Should Ride a Felt

Amber Ferreira on Bike, text "Ironman Coeur 'd Alene: Why Everyone Should Ride a Felt"

Ironman Coeur 'd Alene was my 14th full Ironman. I crossed the line in 9 hours and 58 minutes after partaking in one of the toughest Ironman battles of my career. The course topography, the Fahrenheit and fierce competition all stepped up to deliver a worthy engagement. 9 hours and 58 minutes is 35,880 seconds. The peculiar thing about this race is the second that stands out most in my mind is the one right before the starter fired the gun. That fraction of time between the command 'Get Set' and the start. Index finger flexed on the trigger.  I remember feeling immensely happy and excited. I was ready for the pain of racing and more than ever I was hoping for a battle. Well, Amber got what she wanted.

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Women For Tri: An Update

Woman for tri athlets and coach, text "Women for Tri"

By, Julia Polloreno

More than halfway through our inaugural year, we’ve set a solid foundation and are gaining serious momentum in pursuit our end goal: closing the gender gap in triathlon.

Back in May, about halfway through the Women For Tri Founding Advisory Board’s first term, we all gathered at Ironman Texas for a meeting and to bring some visibility to the new Ironman/Life Time initiative through an expo presence. We talked to a lot of triathletes and non-triathletes about our efforts to draw more women into the sport and even sold a decent number of T-shirts (with a dollar match by Ironman and Life Time) to support our broader fundraising efforts (more on that later).

I had an interaction at the expo that, to me, succinctly answers the question of what we’re trying to achieve with Women For Tri. A couple passing by our booth stopped to see what we were “selling.” The husband was racing, and his wife was there for Sherpa duty. I asked her if she was also a triathlete, and she said she wasn’t, and that she was there in support of her husband. Another board member asked her if she’d ever considered doing a triathlon. Her husband lit up. “I’d love for you to do this, too!” he said. It wasn’t that she was waiting for permission or encouragement from her partner to do a triathlon; you could tell she had just never really contemplated that potential for herself. And if she had, she clearly didn’t know where to even begin. This is the precise purpose of Women For Tri: to start a conversation with more women to plant that seed of possibility. Step two is to equip them with the information and motivation to begin the journey.

The Women For Tri Facebook group, now 7,700 members strong and growing at a rapid clip, is one of the best resources for female triathletes today. It’s a community of aspiring and existing triathletes who are tenacious and passionate in pursuing their training and racing goals, but also incredibly supportive and encouraging of other athletes. I think this grassroots community building is one of the biggest coups of our group of 12, led in this effort by board members Moira Horan and Meredith Atwood.

Moira is also one of three board members who have committed to a personal fundraising goal of $25,000 for Women For Tri programs to grow female participation in triathlon. In support of our ambitious fundraising goals, Ironman gave our group three entries to the Ironman World Championship to generate a minimum of $75,000 for specific W4T initiatives such as scholarships and tri club grants. Given that a Kona slot is a hard-earned, extremely limited commodity, there’s been some criticism around this move. I get it. But I also understand that the broader motives, time investment and personal commitment by these board members to advance this cause are truly significant and selfless. Racing in Kona is a privilege that is also an incredibly powerful platform for raising awareness and resources for an important effort to elevate the profile of the sport by making it a lot more inclusive of women.

The ongoing, day-to-day work of our group is done through sub-committees, and the Research and Development committee recently conducted national research to validate claims of the biggest barriers preventing women from participating in triathlon. If you look at female participation trends in endurance events, 61 percent of people who did a half-marathon last year were women, whereas only 34 percent of people who raced a 70.3 were women. For Ironman, the gender skew is 73 percent male. The gender gap closes a bit in the shorter distances, but overall, men are turning out in much greater numbers. We’re working to better understand the dynamics at play behind this trend.

Our recent survey and focus groups involved nearly 3,500 women, ranging from those who have never done a triathlon, to gym goers, to runners. Informed by this data, we can confidently articulate the most targeted, effective strategy for crafting the most compelling messages to other women.

The results from the survey and focus groups drove our first marketing effort. The #Whywetri campaign encourages women to focus on what triathlon adds to their life versus the barriers it may present. We know that the swim and time management challenges are two major obstacles, so education to reduce the intimidation factor is a big focus.

We also launched an Ambassador Program and have outlined specific steps any woman can take to help encourage more women to get into the sport. Those who pledge to complete a Top 5 list are recognized as 2015 Women For Tri Ambassadors.

There have been other efforts in which our board has served as a sounding board for Ironman, including the recent decision to split the male and female pro fields for select Ironman and 70.3 races next year. Paula Newby-Fraser, the triathlon great who now works for Ironman, sought our feedback on this move to create a fairer race for the female pros. While pro athlete input to Ironman was the main driver of this change (a pilot program for 2016), the Women For Tri board was supportive of this effort to improve the race experience for pro women. Additionally, we’ve had discussions about the disparity in Kona slots for pro men and women, but ultimately the issue and final decision-making authority rests with Ironman, and we remain immersed in work that allows us to act swiftly and decisively to advance our founding mission of bringing more women into the sport at the base level. In all of our efforts, the collective approach is brand agnostic; we didn’t sign up to play into anyone’s marketing agenda—we’re in this with the sincere desire to show other women the life-changing rewards of this lifestyle because we’re all passionate triathletes who live and breathe it.

Other things in the W4T pipeline: development of a website that will serve as the central hub for female triathletes of all levels; continued fundraising through merchandise sales; creation of scholarship and tri club grant programs to be launched in the fall; and a Bring a Friend challenge, wherein an individual recruits another woman to do a triathlon to share the transformative potential unique to our sport.

The Women For Tri Facebook forum is a great place to join the conversation. Introduce yourself, ask questions, share your own insights and celebrate the small, everyday wins that get us closer to our goals and make this not just a sport but a way of life.


Author Julia Polloreno is Editor-in-Chief of Triathlete magazine, Polloreno oversees the monthly magazine’s content and production. A Stanford University graduate with an award-winning track record in publishing, Polloreno is a two-time Ironman finisher and has been a competitive triathlete for more than a decade.