Training (or Chilling) with Music: What Moves You?

May 21st, 2015 - Posted by zoot
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Music has the power to inspire. While people and events clearly serve as inspiration, something as simple as songs inspire me daily. Music works as a conversation starter; it gives you deeper insight into who people are; it can even spark a bond between two people. I’ll never forget when I met my husband Derick. I was 24 at the time, likely ruminating about some triathlon related event in my life which I am sure was “massive” at the time but in the big scheme, a small bump in the road. (He was working for a coaching company at the time). I said to him over one of our earlier conversations, “You have to laugh at yourself, because you’d cry your eyes out if you didn’t.” This dude was good. Without missing a beat, he replies, “You’re an Indigo Girls fan, huh.” Well, he sure knew how to win a girl over… a GUY who knew this line from a song? Spark. Bam. Done. Here we are, some 13 years later!

 

Every evening when Derick and I make dinner, we turn on a Pandora station and catch up on our day with some good tunes in the background. Some of the frequent Pandora stations you’ll find in the Williamson household include the likes of Robert Earl Keen, John Fullbright, Jason Isbell, Ray Wylie Hubbard; Brandi Carlile, the Highwaymen radio. Clearly, pretty mellow stuff for the evenings. The wonderful thing about music that you can always find something to suit your mood; and on that same note, music also has the ability to change your mood. I can find myself enjoying a beer, making dinner, my mind running through events from the day, stressing out; then I find myself singing along with a song and it seems worries can melt away. It can allow us to shift our focus often to a more relaxed state without even consciously realizing it.  

 

Seeing that I love music and a good many hours of my days are spent training solo, it gives me massive time to spend with my good friend, Kelly’s Ipod. While I love good company for a long bike ride, I also get excited as I prep for a 5-6 hour solo ride, getting the bike ready, the nutrition set up, rolling out the door, and putting my music in my ear (right ear only of course). While I can appreciate solitude and silence, it makes some of that alone time a bit more pleasant when I can cruise through the Texas hill country being serenaded by some of my favorites. Likewise, when I have to crank out a tough set on the bike or on the trails, I turn it over to those who can get me in the mood to shut off the pain and dig as deep as possible. It seems there’s always a song for the occasion, be it a mellow 5 hours or a hard as hell 6 minutes. There is something about focusing on song lyrics and averting your attention directly from your effort that can allow you dig a bit deeper and enjoy the experience a little more.

 

On that note, I wanted to share some of my top song choices; broken down into two categories. Long endurance workout favorites, and hard session choices. Of course these lists are frequently changing, but some are tried and true staples. Maybe you can find a new song or two in here. But ultimately, find what moves your mood and go with it!

 

Long Mellow Sessions
I Like Birds (Eels)
Follow Your Arrow (Kacey Musgraves)
Whim of Iron (Slaid Cleaves)
Happy (John Fullbright)
People are Crazy (Billy Currington)
Old Before Your Time (Ray LaMontagne)
Gone Again (Indigo Girls)
My Hometown (Charlie Robison)
Enjoy Yourself (Todd Snider)

 

Hard Sessions
Back in Black (AC/DC)
GDFR (Flo Rida)
No Church in the Wild (JAY Z & Kanye West)
Glory & Consequence (Ben Harper)
In the End (Linkin Park)
We Can’t Stop (Miley Cyrus)
Dani California (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Ni**as in Paris (JAY Z & Kanye West)
Lonely Boy (The Black Keys)
Mainstream Kid (Brandi Carlile)
Dark Horse (Katy Perry)

 

-Kelly Williamson
@khwilliamson

5 Training Tips to Spring into Shape!

May 11th, 2015 - Posted by zoot

It’s time to spring into shape and begin a fresh training schedule with new ideas to get you stronger and ready to race.

Add a little spring into your step with these 5 training tips:

1)   Set Goals

Set one big goal for the spring season training, something to look forward to. It could be training for your first 5k, racing a half or full marathon you have always wanted to do, or reaching a personal best by the end of the season. Keep it simple and stick to what inspires you! Write it down and gain confidence in that goal.

Set mini milestone goals to motivate you to achieve that one big goal you set for your spring season. Milestone goals can be as simple as eat more greens, get 8 hours of sleep a night, take a few minutes out of the day to stretch & strengthen or finish a run a little faster than normal. It is important to be consistent with your goals and reward yourself!

2)   Track Your Progress 

Write down your weekly training in a training journal. Map it out and watch the progression. Write down weekly miles, hours of sleep, and how you felt in each workout. This allows organization to your training and a method to track what works and doesn’t work. It is also nice to backtrack and see what you did days, months, even years ago.

 3)  Mix Things Up

Workouts- A variety in your training can strengthen different muscles in the body and create an overall balance.

Hill Repeats- Is there one hill near your home that you despise walking, biking, or running up? Well, here is a great workout for you. One day a week confidently focus on that hill. Start slow doing 3 reps up/and recovery downhill. Eventually, you can increase the hill reps, allowing your muscle fibers to adjust to the alternative terrain. Hill repeats will increase your heart rate, strengthen and tone your glutes, and most importantly your mind and body will naturally adapt to the hills, allowing confidence to overcome every step of the climb.

Intervals- Interval training is a great way to mix up your workouts. Instead of going by distance, go by time. Set your workout to segmented intervals. For example, you can run 1 minute fast, with 1 minute recovery, 2 minutes fast, 2 minutes recovery, 3 minutes fast, 3 minutes recovery, etc. Intervals are a great way to see what pace is right for you. You can decrease the recovery time to see how well you adapt to recovering. Intervals are a great way to get you fit and in that racing mode!

Tempo- Tempo is also known as a lactate threshold run and is a faster paced workout to help you gain endurance. It should be at a faster pace than your normal run pace and a little slower than your race pace. It should be a pace that you can keep for a longer run and should feel comfortably hard. The more training, the higher you can push your threshold. So how do you find your threshold? You can start by adding 30-40 seconds to your average 5k-10k pace. If you average 8:00 per mile in the 5k your threshold pace will be relative to 8:30-8:40 per mile. It should be a hard yet comfortable pace you can do for 15-20 minutes continuously.

Location– Mix it up with the location of your runs. If you run the same route daily it could easily lead to burn out. Try to run on grass or trail for longer runs to reduce the impact, and recover faster.

Find a running friend– A friend running next to you can help keep the pace of the run honest and consistent. A friend to run with is a perfect way to motivate you and create a positive attitude. It is nothing like a good conversation to make a long run go by when you have a friend to talk to and reach out to. A running friend can also critique your form and help improve your stride.

4)   Strength- there is more to it than just running! 

Body mechanics – Work on the little things to strengthen for an overall balanced body. Each day focus on a part of the body to make it stronger!  

YogaStrength is not only important physically but mentally as well. Take a few minutes out of your day to stretch quietly and clear the mind through meditation. It not only relaxes you but freshens the body for your next run!

CoreThe core is the foundation to running. With a strong core your body can move mechanically, creating less tension in the hips, glutes, and legs. Even if it is 5-10 minutes of core while watching television, your abs can still get a nice workout.

5)   Race More, Race Faster       

April racing brings May personal bests! Do you get the nervous jitters at the starting line? Well, the common cure is to race. The more you race the more confident you become and your body gets accustomed to the adrenaline. Believe in your training and know that you are ready for any race!

 

ColoRADo by Ben Hoffman

May 1st, 2015 - Posted by zoot

 

When I went to university in 2002, triathlon was not even on my radar. Growing up in Western Colorado, my life was always based around exercise and being outdoors, but I can’t remember a time when I went swimming in anything other than a high alpine lake or the golden, flowing Colorado river to cool off in summer heat.  I did spend some time riding weeklong bike tours in the Colorado mountains with my parents while I was in high school, but the majority of my first 18 years were spent backpacking, camping, rock climbing, and generally exploring the landscapes of Colorado, Utah, and other surrounding states…essentially, “triathlon-free.” 

Some of my favorite memories are the trips we would take to the mountains, fly-fishing, sitting around the campfire, and just soaking in the beautiful landscape that surrounded us. Being outdoors wasn’t necessarily related to any kind of structured exercise, it was simply being out there and moving amongst it.  It was these trips throughout my formative years that laid the groundwork for my choice to live in Montana, then back to Colorado, and Arizona in winters.  In fact, I remember deciding that Missoula would be a good fit for college because it was like a Colorado with fewer people!

The surrounding environment has always had a big impact on my happiness and the structure of my days, especially now that my job is to spend countless hours outdoors on my bike, running, and swimming, I look to the landscape for inspiration and energy, for peace of mind and tranquility. Often it can be as simple as appreciating seasonal changes with wildflowers or snowstorms, spotting some wildlife, or just being thankful for consistent sunny weather. Other times, I use specific features to shape an adventure or training goal: Run up that mountain? Ride a big loop around the same mountain? Sure!

The landscape becomes a useful motivating tool for my workouts, and is constantly providing me with stimulation and inspiration.  Each person has their own vision of beauty, and level of connectedness with nature, but I will always gravitate towards the mountains, deserts, and open spaces that feed my soul. And when I’m not training in these places? Enjoying them in other ways, whether it’s camping, fishing, hiking, climbing, skiing, or just relaxing and watching the day unfold. Get out there and enjoy some fresh air!

-Ben Hoffman

A Well Earned Beer Just Tastes Better–Kelly Williamson

March 23rd, 2015 - Posted by zoot

 

‘Everything in moderation, even moderation itself.’- (Oscar Wilde)

One of my favorite sayings. Enjoy all things in life, a little of everything; exclude nothing that makes you happy; and at times, it’s ok to go a little overboard; it just may remind you of why you enjoy moderation.

Good beer is something that my husband Derick and I truly enjoy. It may have started in college, when I first really tried beer at all; and I somehow took to the dark ones. At that time, I thought Newcastle was amazing (well, only after I had gone through my Icehouse and Labatt’s Blue phases). My mom warned me that ‘keg beer will make you sick’, so I prided myself on always having my own stash of ‘good beer’ on hand in my latter college years. I went through my fruity stage; the raspberry flavored ones, even the ciders; until I got sick one night (it was college) on cider beer, which quickly ended the cider phase (it has since never returned). Soon after college I moved to Colorado Springs…craft brew mecca! We had Bristol Brewing, Phantom Canyon, Il Vicino; then of course we could always purchase the good beers that came from Boulder and other nearby towns. When I met Derick in 2003, it was he who got me into India Pale Ales, or IPAs; known for being very hoppy, a little bitter, and usually on the stronger side.

(Little known fact: The reason they are called IPAs is because they date back to 18th century England, when British troops in India demanded beer on their long sea journey (smart men). To prevent the beer from spoiling, more alcohol and more hops were added, acting as a natural preservative.)

Living in Colorado Springs for a few years, he and I bonded over cycling, running, and beer drinking. Of course at this time, I was there to train at the Olympic Training Center for triathlon, having  just started racing  as a pro. I call it ‘racing as a pro’ because I was hardly a true ‘professional athlete’; making very little income from the sport and holding down a few part time  jobs to make ends meet. We enjoyed all things Colorado; from of the high altitude trails running, group bike rides as I cut my teeth on ‘group riding’ (and  broke a few bones), and of course skiing. Much like enjoying good beer, I could not stay away from enjoying the incredible ski resorts just 2 hours from our doorstep. We created some incredible memories from trips in the mountains with good friends; and still to this day, one of my perfect days entails spending it on the slopes for 4-6 hours, only to pop into a nice brewery and savor a well-earned  burger and beer. Seems the beer tastes that much better with skiing-induced fatigue.

Derick moved us to Austin in 2006 for him to pursue graduate school, and we were shocked to find only a handful of local breweries here at the time. Little did we  know we would still be in Austin in  2015; and over the past 9 years, the craft beer  scene has grown exponentially. Of course I am still racing professionally, Derick is still coaching; but one thing has not changed. We still enjoy a good beer at the end of the day; yes, each and every day. I am still an IPA person, recently he has drifted towards darker stouts (though we can both enjoy a good Saison as well). Perhaps one of my proudest moments in my career thus far was recently, when I managed to secure a relationship with Hops & Grain, one of Austin’s newest (and in my opinion) best new breweries. I’ve known Josh Hare (founder) since when we first moved to Austin, as we connected through the running scene, when he was experimenting with home brewing at the time. Josh and myself have aligned beliefs in that one can enjoy a very active, healthy lifestyle yet at the end of the day still enjoy a good brew.


I often see triathletes ‘cut things out’ of a diet with the goal of being ‘healthier’, and aiming to achieve a peak performance. I’ll always say to each his own, but from my point of view, we do a heck of a lot ‘right’ by committing to an active lifestyle, setting goals, and working tirelessly to achieve them; whether it be triathlon, running or even your activity of choice. I think it’s quite healthy to allow yourself those small things that make you happy. To me, that is my end of the day IPA; when I start to prepare dinner, the workouts (good or bad) are behind me, and my husband and I can catch up with one another; shut off work and shift into an evening together. I have to give up quite a few things by choosing this lifestyle; but suffice to say, my regular enjoyment of good beer isn’t going anywhere; and I would have it no other way.

-Kelly Williamson
kellyhwilliamson.com
@khwilliamson

Ben Hoffman Shares His Engagement

March 9th, 2015 - Posted by zoot

2014 was a big year for me, and despite that others might see the biggest highlight being my 2nd place finish in Kona, my engagement to Kelsey Deery easily took the cake.

I had been planning out my vision for the best way to pop the question for over a year, so there was plenty of time to get things organized for the big day.  So naturally I waited until the last second to put it all together while I was still traveling for a couple of races at the end of the year. For the men out there looking to propose, remember that custom rings take a little while to make!

The big day came quickly, as we stepped off a seaplane on the private island of Highbourne Cay in the Bahamas. One of our favorite activities is to snorkel together, exploring the open ocean, so we dropped our bags and donned our swimsuits. The crystal clear water of the Caribbean beckoned on a perfect November afternoon.

A few minutes later we were in the water, exploring the reef, sunlight filtering down. I felt strangely calm, and swam out ahead of Kelsey to place the abalone shell and ring on the coral below. It wasn’t long before she came upon the glinting shell and dove for a closer look…

Returning to the surface with the ring, I asked her to be my wife, and she said yes. It was a special moment, a memory I will always cherish. We made our way back to the beach to enjoy some champagne and start the next chapter of our lives together. Engaged!

Ben proposed to Kelsey while snorkeling in the Carribean

Looking back on 2014, I can say without a doubt this was my highlight. Although, Kona wasn’t bad either…Here’s to an even better 2015. Keep doing what you love.

-Ben Hoffman

Runner’s World Best Debut – Zoot Solana

February 23rd, 2015 - Posted by zoot


“You never get a second chance at a first impression” …and we’re just getting warmed up. Solana – Runner’s World “Best Debut” for 2015.

We are absolutely thrilled that the Solana broke the ice for the new running lineup that’s launching March 1st. The Solana was built for the runner who racks up their daily mileage and appreciates the benefits of a lightweight shoe with structure. This shoe delivers impact protection from heel-to-toe, making for a smooth stable ride. The 8mm offset is ideal for your daily running needs. Whatever pace or distance you choose, the Solana is a great running shoe choice for any run.

A Runner’s World wear-tester shared her feedback: “The Zoot Solana is a great shoe. It’s lightweight and flexible, and wearing it feels like you’re running barefoot, yet there’s still a comfortable level of support and protection. It’s an ideal race shoe for mid-length events. Bottom line: Lace ’em and forget ’em.”

In October 2014, Ben Hoffman placed 2nd at Ironman World Championships wearing the Solana. He ran himself into 2nd place with a 2:51 marathon. He chose this shoe because “The shoe wraps around the foot with incredible comfort, offering ample support while simultaneously allowing it to be where it wants to be naturally. It’s secure while still being comfortable. There is no unwarranted restrictive aspect, or excessively overbuilt components.  The seamless bonds and stitching add to the sleeve feeling which is now distinctive in the Zoot lineup. Despite adequate support and comfort, it’s not at a weight penalty: these are lightweight shoes with a very responsive and stable ride providing immediate feedback to the athlete.”

KEY TECHNOLOGY:
– Proprietary Zoot injected ZVA provides incredible shock absorption while keeping the shoe lightweight.
– We build shoes from the inside-out with BareFit™ technology for ultimate comfort and a seamless internal fit to eliminate blister contact points.
– The 3D molded heel counter locks your heel in place for the best ride from heel to toe.
– Responsive Ground Contact provides a smooth and even ride – when you land you get the cushioning you need and the rebound to propel you forward.



Finding Balance: Filling in the Gaps – Kelly Williamson

February 12th, 2015 - Posted by zoot

To kick things off here, I figured I would start out by filling you all in on what I do ‘outside’ of training. I feel fortunate that about five years ago, triathlon actually ‘became’ my career; meaning, while I raced from 2002-2009 professionally, I worked one if not two part-time jobs to make ends meet. Prize money trickled in here or there but I considered myself part-time at coaching, triathlon, and usually something else random. Once the scales tipped in my favor a bit, I was able to dial back the odd jobs and focus more so on training, recovery, and doing the small things that help us be our absolute best. That said, I’ve always found a need and a desire to keep a balance in my life, outside of sport. I’ve often thought being a professional runner would be so much ‘easier’ in that you have only one discipline to train for; triathlon (especially Ironman training) leaves little spare time, but even in the thralls of heavy training, I crave to have a balance outside of sport.

So, what goes on in my regular day to day besides training? I feel that I carry a pretty sane training volume compared to some. I would say I’m in the 25’ish hour per week range; some weeks closer to 30, some a bit less. My ideal day consists of coffee, an early morning workout, breakfast and coffee, followed by a solid late morning session (usually on the bike). I prefer to knock out the major work by early afternoon, when possible. A third workout occurs probably 3-4 days a week. Sometimes it is the ‘third discipline’, but others it may be strength, or a very easy recovery session to flush the body. So, what do I do to fill in the time between sessions?

~Napping: This does not occur, in any facet; just to clear the air on this one. Yes, I know it’s good for you; but I don’t do it. I’ve never been a napper. I used to say in college, “You can sleep when you’re dead,” but then again I could make it on 5-6 hours a night. I like my sleep, but I prefer to do it at night. What I will do is sit in my recovery boots for 30-60 min here or there, often while catching up on emails, athlete schedules, and correspondences (I still retain a handful of athletes that I coach).

~Writing: This is something I love to do but I can only really do it when I feel like I have something to say. I try to keep my personal website (blog) updated regularly, but at times I’ll find myself writing something, then later coming back, scratching it and starting over. The bigger picture to this is, of course I do think about what I’ll do when I am doing racing; and writing is something I’ve always enjoyed, so the way I see it, when I have downtime if I can spend it writing (or reading) it is time well spent.

~Psychology: Not analyzing things psychologically…but this is something I’m potentially interested in pursuing in some facet post-racing. So in the past few years, I have taken classes here and there; at one point I took some pre-requisites at Austin Community College (for a Masters in Health Psychology), and most recently I took a correspondence course via Texas State; currently I’m taking a free Stanford Online writing course, which is great because I can do 15-20 minutes of it here or there. I plan to sign up for a Social Psychology course at Texas State here soon. I often say I feel at times like having been a pro triathlete for many years, my brain has gotten dull; it has become stagnant. J Even if it is small things I like to keep it stimulated and I’m a bit more motivated by being made to stay on task, thus classes are a great motivator, when time allows.

~Random tasks: How people with children do it, I have no idea! It seems that small things can keep me pretty occupied, cleaning up here or there, laundry, paying bills, planning race trips, grocery, etc. I guess this goes along with being a busy-body much like my father. Give me a few long days of training and I’m pining for a rest day; give me a rest day and I rarely sit down. Goes with the territory, I guess you could say. We eat pretty well, so I find myself running to Central Market at least every other day to get fresh food for dinner.

~Amico!: We have an Australian Cattle dog who requires a good bit of energy expenditure. If Derick is gone, I try to mingle with him a few times a day; and every evening, we finish our day by taking him to the field to play Chuck-It. Of course there are days I may still be wrapping things up at 6pm when it gets dark, but I try to make time for this as often as possible. On nice days we’ll pedal over to the field, about a mile. This along with enjoying our evening IPA while we make dinner is our favorite way to round out a good day.

So there you go…and on this note, it’s a recovery day, the sun is shining and there is a ton of water on the Green Belt. Our pup needs a swim! In my next blog I’ll inform y’all of how we go about enjoying our daily (yes, every single day) beers (usually IPA or something just as hoppy) in moderation and how they keep me happy and ‘balanced’.

-Kelly Williamson

Solana Shoe Review

June 16th, 2014 - Posted by zoot

Ben Hoffman Racing in the Solana, St. George 70.3

Ben Hoffman, 4-time Ironman winner and Pro Zoot triathlete, shares his experience with testing the new Zoot Solana running shoes.

As a Zoot Sports sponsored professional triathlete for the last 3 years, I have been fortunate to bear witness to some awesome changes in the company’s product line. Some of the most exciting progress has come in footwear, and it has been part of my job to wear new prototypes and help in the development of new technologies, offering input from my constant training and racing. The latest and greatest in the lineup is the Solana, and it scores big on many levels.

I’ve been running in the Solana now for almost two months, and as with virtually every new shoe on offer from Zoot, the first thing I noticed in the Solana is the glove-like fit. The shoe wraps around the foot with incredible comfort, offering ample support while simultaneously allowing it to be where it wants to be naturally. Secure while comfortable. There is no unwarranted restrictive aspect, or excessively overbuilt components.  The seamless bonds and stitching add to the sleeve feeling which is now distinctive in the Zoot lineup. Despite adequate support and comfort, it’s not at a weight penalty: these are lightweight shoes with a very responsive and stable ride providing immediate feedback to the athlete.

Finally, the new Solana ranks high on my shoe choices because of its versatility. Just over a month ago I opted to race in the Solana at Ironman St. George 70.3 for the US Championships, after testing it in a shorter sprint distance event in April.  With such a hilly and demanding run course, I needed the perfect blend of cushioned comfort, lightweight performance, and responsive ride to carry me through the ups and downs of one of the hardest courses around. The new blown outsole and seamless upper delivered, carrying me to a strong 1:13 half-marathon split and 7th place finish against the best athletes in the world.  For my training runs before the race and after?  The Solana, naturally.

To learn more about the Zoot’s newest running shoe, the Solana, click here.

Next up, Ben will defend his title and course record at Ironman Coeur d’Alene on June 29th.

 

 

Zoot Partners with Team Katusha

May 20th, 2014 - Posted by zoot

We are happy to announce that Zoot has partnered with UCI Pro-Team Katusha. We will be providing them shoes for both off bike training and the podium ­– where we hope to see them often!

Zoot – we make shoes so comfortable that even pro cyclists wear them!

Learn more on Team Katusha’s site

New Award Winning Gear? Yep, We’ve Got It!

May 13th, 2014 - Posted by zoot

Zoot Gear – Triathlete Magazine "Best in Class"

It’s that time of year and Triathlete Magazine has released their 2014 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide. The editors and contributors have once again done an amazing job surveying the width and breath of tri gear. As always, certain gear rises to the top and stands out against the rest for pure performance. These items are given the designation of “Best in Class.” This year they have awarded that honor to four items from the Zoot line!

Zoot gear designated Best in Class are:
–        Ultra Tri Bag
–        Women’s Ultra Tri Racesuit
–        Men’s & Women’s TT 7.0
–        Men’s & Women’s Z Force 3.0 Wetsuits

Learn more about this gear.