Ben Hoffman Shares His Training Essentials

February 20th, 2014 - Posted by zoot

Today we have a guest blog from Zoot Pro triathlete, Ben Hoffman. In 2013, Ben won Ironman Coeur d’Alene and set the course record with a time of 8:17:31 – now that’s fast! He followed that race up with a win at Branson Rev3 and a 15th place finish at the Ironman World Championships. Today, Ben shares what gets him through those other 360 days a year – his training days.

Zoot Training Essentials

Although Zoot may be known best for their race day equipment, I am outfitted in their training gear head to toe virtually every day in preparation for my events (Like we say, “Train as you race!” – Ed.). The hundreds of hours that go into preparing for an Ironman require equipment that is durable, comfortable and provides an extremely high level of performance for each of the three disciplines. An average training week, while building into a full-distance race, includes roughly 35 hours of training. Broken down that is approximately 18 hours on the bike, 8 to 9 hours running, 6 hours in the pool and 2 hours of strength training. Here is a rundown of some of the gear I use for my preparation.

On My Feet

Running is one of man’s most primal forms of exercise, but it’s not all about going barefoot and naked. My go-to training shorts, when the weather is nice, are the Ultra Run Icefil 8”. Not only does the spandex Icefil liner ventilate well, but it also provides a little extra support on long runs and completely eliminates chaffing. I seriously can’t believe how long I put up with the irritation that other liners create – these are a true epiphany. Finally, the Ultra short has side pockets, and for days when I need a little company in the form of music, I can slide the iPhone or iPod in the pocket for bounce-free carrying. They serve well for car keys or gels. too.

The most comfortable and versatile shoes I have worn for training purposes are the Ultra TT Trainer WR. They have additional cushioning, are still relatively lightweight, and are the perfect compliment to my Ironman race shoe, the Ultra TT 7.0,

For up top, I’m a fan of the Ultra Run Icefil Mesh Tee in warmer weather, and the Performance Run Microlite ½ zip when temps get colder. And when it’s really cold I wear the Ultra Run Biowrap Thermo Tights to keep my legs warm.

Finally, for race day, it’s all about the Zoot custom one-piece kit, visor and Ultra TT 7.0 shoe. I switch out the Ultra TT 7.0 for the Ultra Kiawe 2.0 for half-ironman races.

In the Saddle

My longest hours come in the saddle, and here it’s all about the custom Ultra Cycle bibs and jersey. When it gets cold, I throw on the thermo top, thermo leg warmers and Megaheat jacket.  Fortunately, there is ample pocket space for food, phone, etc., and the fabric wicks moisture like a sponge.

For racing, I rely on my custom Zoot kit for superior comfort and aerodynamic fit.

In the Water

It’s been a long haul learning how to swim with the front pack, but I couldn’t have done it without countless hours in the Ultra swim brief, chasing the black line and playing wall tag. When it comes time to hit the open water, I can be found in my Prophet 2.0 Wetzoot, or the Speedzoot for warmer days. The Prophet provides unmatched range of motion, incredible buoyancy, and is easy to peel off for quick transitions. Finally, it’s Zoot’s Swimfit cap that covers my dome.

The Rest of the Time

Not every hour of every day is spent training, but triathlon is definitely a lifestyle, and I have some other pieces of gear that fill in the gaps between workouts. Recovery is priority number one when I’ve finished my harder sessions, so I love to toss on the Recovery 2.0 CRx sock after long runs and rides, or during long travel days. As the Californians have taught us, a hoodie is one of the most versatile pieces of clothing made, and fortunately Zoot’s looks great, too. One last staple in my Zoot arsenal are the Recovery Slides, which are on my feet before and after every swim.

So there you have it! Zoot has me covered head to toe for my longest training days and the time between. No matter whether you live in a cold or warm climate, Zoot has your back with their comprehensive lineup of comfortable and high performance products.

Introduction to Building your Training Base

February 12th, 2014 - Posted by zoot

It is hard to believe that we are already two weeks into February 2014. As we plan our training and races for the year we can’t forget to look at the fundamentals, especially building our preseason base.

Aptly titled, the goal of the base phase portion of a training plan is to create a strong foundation for us to build our harder workouts and races efforts off of. Why is this so important? Not only does a proper base phase help minimize the potential for injury, more importantly it builds the muscular, cardiovascular and bio-chemical processes that our bodies need to reach our full potential.

The principle component of a proper foundation is the LSD (Long Slow Day). The goal is to get out and put the miles in while keeping our efforts aerobic. Think conversational pace. In fact, this is the perfect time to do group runs and catch up with friends. If you can’t carry a conversation, you are going too fast!

As our foundation becomes stronger we can start throwing in limited efforts, such as a fartlek once a week, to spice things up and prepare the body for the higher intensity work down the road. However, these types of workouts should be saved for the latter portion of the base phase. For example, if we have planned our base phase to last a month (the minimum time period required to build a proper base) the first three weeks would be made entirely of LSDs, with the third week having a workout with an effort.

The secondary component of preseason training is to hit the weight room and work on muscular deficiencies that we might have, specifically our core and upper body strength. This is the perfect time to do this because as the season develops, and our training becomes sport specific, we won’t have the time to work on focused strength training. Again, here it is important to add weight slowly. The goal is not to build explosive power, but consistent strength.

These are just the basic fundamentals for developing your preseason base training. For additional information on how to plan your training cycle we recommend contacting a USA Triathlon Certified Coach.

4 Tips for Sticking With Your Fitness Resolutions in 2014

January 3rd, 2014 - Posted by zoot

Happy 2014! With a new year also comes a fresh start, an opportunity to evaluate 2013 and establish new fitness, professional and personal goals. These goals (resolutions) are often set with the best intentions, but still nearly 75% of them last only one week. Here at Zoot, we want to change that. We want 2014 to be your best year of health and happiness, so we are here to share our tips for sticking with your fitness resolution.

1. Be realistic: Of course we encourage you to dream big – just not unattainably big. Make sure whatever resolution you strive to achieve is something you are actually capable of. If you feel overwhelmed, you are much more likely to ditch it and move on.

2. Write down your goals: People who write down goals are actually more likely to achieve them. Write yours somewhere accessible where you can easily check in on your progress. It may also help to share them with someone you trust: a workout buddy, spouse, best friend – anyone you feel can be supportive, encouraging and help keep you accountable.

3. Be specific: When you write down your resolution, define who, what, when, where, how and why. Making your goal as specific as possible helps with planning and sets you up for success.

4. Make it measurable: When you decide on your resolution, ensure that you are able to measure the results. For instance, “run better” is not measurable. Define better – does that mean faster? Farther? Maybe it’s “I will cut one minute off of my mile time” or “I will PR in my half marathon this year.” Set benchmarks so you know whether you’re successful.