Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday: Butt and Lower Back Exercise

>> Thursday, February 26, 2015 recently showed an exercise that I need to start doing. It's called a "Bird Dog," and it's for stabilizing the muscles around the hips and lower back, "thus reducing the risk of injury to those areas" as it says on their site.

Check out this short video to help your hips and lower back:

Direct link:

For more "Thirsty Thursday" posts that highlight workouts, body science, and all kinds of interesting information, CLICK HERE.


Vote for Steve's "Coolest Bike in Triathlon!"

>> Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I submitted a photo to a Triathlete Mag contest a number of weeks ago and forgot about it. Then I got an email yesterday saying I was in the "top 50." (Probably out of about 52 entries.) Now the public needs to vote me into the top 10 to get into the next round!

Here's the link to the top 50 "Coolest Bikes in Triathlon" contest. In the 52 pages of bikes, I'm way back on page 47. But you don't even have to scroll through to find me - you can just vote for "Steve S" at the bottom of this link. Here's what page 47 looks like:

If you can't read the text, it says: "I have a seven-year-old gold Specialized named 'Goldilocks.' A bike mechanic friend offered to redo my bar tape a few years ago, and he promised to make it 'real nice.' Goldilocks came back with four different colored bars: pink, yellow, orange and sea-foam green. She seems to clash horribly with bright tri shorts, but no one seams to mind - I've been racing that way now for years."

Here's a bigger pic for your ocular enjoyment:

Top: 2014 Trinona TT and 2014 Lake Marion Tri.
Bottom: Waseca Triathlon (2012 or 2013?) and 2013 Lake Marion Tri.

So CLICK HERE and cast your vote for STEVE S!! And big thanks to Sean "Easy" Pease from Gear West Bike and Tri for making Goldilocks "real nice."


New "Friendly" Showdown!

>> Monday, February 23, 2015

I recently called out a friend to race. You might remember seeing this blurry photo of Lisa at the 24 Hour Relay for Aaron:

Over those 24 hours and 194 miles (total) around the track, she had the 3 fastest female mile splits: 6:18, 6:22, and 6:27. She's fast.

She's been doing the YWCA Indoor Triathlon "series" this winter, and she's been winning all of them. In fact, she was 3rd overall and 2nd overall in her first 2 this winter. She cranks out the 600 yard swim in sub-8:00 (which I could NEVER do), puts down a speedy split on a spin bike, and then runs a 5K on the track between 20 and 21 minutes. Beast.

So, I figured I'd politely challenge her to the next race on March 8:

Well, it turns out she has a big half marathon coming up the week after the indoor tri, so she told me she couldn't race me. Dang.

But then when I got out of class, I saw these 2 text message from BFF Devon just 11 minutes apart:

I logged back into Facebook to see what he meant. This is what had happened:

We set some rules (well, 1 rule for the bike), had the race director (Nicole) chime in and relieve Lisa of her volunteering responsibilities, and we decided to race:

As Lisa's final comment mentions, we will spin with the bikes set at a resistance of 12 (on a 0-24 scale I believe). The bikes just count revolutions as "distance," so most people just set it super low and spin their brains out at like 120-150 RPM. We'll tone that down a little to keep from blowing out our legs and to make it a *little* more like actual cycling.

Then other people started weighing in, and someone mentioned a wager (not seen in these comments):

I really had no idea for a wager - I was just in it for the race. But then Lisa's sister had a great idea for the 2 of us (who each have 2 kids):


I suppose the "smack talk" started yesterday when I saw Lisa's sister swim at a Masters meet. I Instagrammed this photo:

"Took the boys down the street to creep on @hlendway at the
Masters meet at St Thomas. Henry didn't want to leave."

We never got to talk to Heather, but she told me via Instagram that we just missed Lisa and her kids. I commented back "Shucks. Would have been nice to have the kids meet before she has to come over to babysit my boys."

I'll be polite. But there might be smack talk. Might.

Stop by the Midtown YWCA of Minneapolis on March 8th to see the race. Better yet, click here to register as a volunteer as you watch the race unfold. High stakes, people. High stakes.


Big Breakthrough in Running (Only in Japan)

>> Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Tokyo Marathon was earlier today. And luckily, this was invented in time:

"A Japanese food manufacturer has invented a wearable tomato dispenser for runners at the 2015 Tokyo marathon. The device allows runners to consume up to seven tomatoes on the go, all at the click of a button. Designers from Kagome, a tomato-based food manufacturer, says they wanted to find a way to incorporate tomatoes into running."

It's about time.


Swim Meet Weekend...

>> Saturday, February 21, 2015

This weekend is the Masters swim meet at St. Thomas - it's the meet that I've swam in the last 2 years. (My ONLY 2 swim meets.) It's where you all got to see my first dive start:

Much grace. Such wow. Many speed.

(Here's a link to my first swim meet in 2013 where I swam a 31.03 50 free [and where you can see video of that superb dive], and here's a link to last year's swim meet where I swam a 1:09.88 100 free.)

I did NOT sign up for the meet this year for 2 main reasons:

First of all, knowing I had a meet coming up in years past was the push I needed to get in the pool and swim more. But that hasn't been an issue lately. I've been putting in solid months of swimming since the end of October (as I showed in this recent post).

Secondly, my diving is horrendous, and I'm pretty embarrassed by it. I don't get embarrassed too easily (see also: the clothes I race in), but my diving "skill" bugs me. In that GIF above (from 2 years ago), I didn't do TOO bad (yes, that's considered not TOO bad) because a swim coach friend gave me a half-hour diving lesson a few days before that swim meet. Before that, I'd never learned how to dive. Like never. I quit swimming lessons as a kid right before the level where I'd learn how to dive. Then last year, my diving was horrible because I hadn't done it in a year - if you remember, it kept knocking my goggles off. Here are 2 photos from before last year's swim meet:

After those horrible practice dives, my chest looked like this:

This is not altered in any way. Unfortunately.

About 90 minutes later as I was getting ready to race, it looked like this:

Some bruising starting to the middle-left and the lower-left.

I've considered asking the lifeguard to let me do some practice dives off the blocks at Hamline University (where I've swam a few times this semester between my classes), but I'm even a little embarrassed to try that. AND the dive team has been practicing in the same pool where a few of us are swimming laps, so that'd be EXTRA embarrassing!

BUT I STILL HAVE AN EVENT ON THE HORIZON!! You've maybe seen the banter on Facebook… yes, there's a "throw down" in the works. The race is 2 weeks away. Check back for all the details on Monday.

Happy weekend!


Friday Funny 877: Adulthood (and funny links!)

>> Friday, February 20, 2015

Like I do every few weeks, here are some of my recent favorite posts from my tumblr page:

Athletic-Related Funnies:

Guys are idiots at the gym.

[GIF] Awesome martial arts kick.

When a runner is in denial about an injury.

A sassy twitter account about doing more pushups than you.

I run...


It's so cold outside...

[GIF] Gym goals.

Awesome cyclist.



[GIF] A "hard body of the day:" some awesome 1-handed pushups.


Kids and sports.

The daily struggle.

Non-Athletic Funnies:

A life lesson from your dog.

A Harry Potter Valentines.

[GIF] A good introduction for Leonardo Dicaprio.

My kind of food pyramid.


My life.

[GIFs] Men vs Women in commercials.

Life in Minnesota right now.

[VIDEO] Related to that last "funny," turn up the volume and enjoy this 6 second vine.

Life Hack: this is a great, great, great idea.

Awesome waitress from back in the day (like in the 80s or something).

Bob Ross pregnancy announcement.

This would offend me if it weren't so true.

NASA is awesome.

[GIFs] Buster Keaton was a badass.

Gross (from The Simpsons).


[GIF] Awesome/horrible pick-up line.

Dirty (but to-the-point) Valentine's Day card.

And as always, stop by for funnies all week long. Happy weekend!!


Friday Funny 876: Urban Dictionary

Here are the 16 best/worst definitions found on Urban Dictionary:

Find more funny stuff on!


Friday Funny 875: Dad Land

Someone created a fake pamphlet for the ultimate "Dad Land" and stuck it with a lot of other pamphlets while on a trip. Man, I wish this place were real...

Check out more funny things posted all day long on!


Friday Funny 874: Disney Princesses on Tinder

CollegeHumor shared what it might look like if Disney characters met on Tinder:

Lots more funny stuff on!


Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday: 3 Swim Mistakes

>> Thursday, February 19, 2015

Iron Swimming has been posting some interesting things lately. Today, I'd like to share his 3 common swim mistakes that new swimmers make and how to correct them:

1. Crossing hands

When many swimmers swim freestyle, their hands cross in front of their face as they extend their arms instead of in a straight line parallel to their body. This is a problem that I see with most new swimmers and is a problem that can be difficult to correct without someone watching you swim. When I tell swimmers that they are crossing their hands when they swim, they fervently insist that I am wrong. They have trouble believing they are doing this incorrectly, until I show them a video of their swimming. It's fairly obvious from the outside when swimmers are crossing their hands, but just as difficult for swimmers to realize they have this problem.

There are several reasons that crossing your hands when you swim is ineffective. One of the keys to having a strong pull is getting full extension of your arms during your stroke. When your arms cross, you are not able to extend your arms completely and get all of the power from your pull. Swimming with your hands crossing over can also cause significant strain on your shoulders and can also cause you to wiggle while you swim. Pulling across your body, instead of straight along your body, will cause your body to “fish tail” from side to side. This extra movement will cause you to expend more energy and tire you out more quickly than if your body moved less.

You'll have to head to Iron Swimming's post if you want the tips on how to avoid this.

I remember a super-speedy swimming buddy warning me about this YEARS ago. He told me a lot of people were taught to make an "S-shape" when grabbing water to grab "more," but that the "best" stroke is straight forward and straight back. And he's way faster than me in the water, so I tend to believe him.

The next point perfectly describes me:

2. Weak Kicking

This mistake is very common when runners and cyclists get in the pool to swim. Your legs are so used to the motion of running, that it is difficult to get them to do a proper flutter kick. New swimmers will either kick only with lower leg, with the power for the kicking coming from the knee, or they will “run” in the water.

The best analogy that I give my swimmers as to why kicking from the knee is less effective than a proper flutter kick comes from soccer. If you watch a soccer play take a free kick, they drive their leg through the ball, using their hip as a pivot point to propel it through the air. In order to chip the ball a short distance, the same player will kick the ball mostly with their lower leg, with their knee providing the torque. The same idea is true in swimming. If you want to produce greater power with your kick, most of the force needs to come from you hips and your thighs.

The way to get rid of “runners kick” is to point your toes while kicking. This may be difficult for runners so I highly recommend doing ankle mobility stretches and exercises, if you have trouble completely pointing your toes. There are two strategies to help you fix your kick. First, practice swimming or kicking with fins on. It is nearly impossible to kick improperly while wearing fins. The fins will help to keep your toes pointed and you will soon notice that kicking with your whole leg is easier and more effective that kicking with just your lower leg. Second, get in the deep end of a pool and practice vertical kicking. Vertical kicking is a drill similar to treading water, but you only use your legs to keep your head above the water; no using your hands. You will struggle to keep yourself from sinking unless you properly flutter kick. This drill not only helps improve your kicking technique, it is also a great way to increase the strength of your kick. If you find you have a weak kick, end each practice with :30 vertical kicking/:30 treading water. For more help improving your kick, check out this earlier post dedicated entirely to this topic.

Once at the pool I was told I had "flexible ankles for a runner." Now that's making more sense.

So finally, here's his last point:

3. Head Position/Breathing

One complaint I hear from a lot of new swimmers is that they struggle to stay afloat while swimming. They feel as if they are sinking, no matter how hard they kick.


This causes them to expend more energy fighting through the water instead of gliding on top of the water. One of the causes of sinking while swimming is poor head position. Keeping your head high in the water can lead to lower hip position, which causes your legs to sink. Poor head position is often a result of inefficient breathing while swimming. Breathing while swimming can be difficult for new swimmers but mastering this skill can also improve your hydrodynamics in the water.

How should your head be positioned while swimming to keep your body afloat? First, you should be looking straight down to the bottom of the pool. By looking down, your body and spine will be kept horizontal with the water, bringing your hips up into the proper position. Beginner swimmers will keep their head and eyes up, so they can see where they are going, but this angles your spine down, causing your hips to sink. Once you have the correct head positioning, you can work on improving your breathing. To properly breathe while swimming, rotate your head to the side while rotating your body. Your nose and mouth should just break the surface of the water. Picking your head up to breath will ruin your body position and cause you to sink. Some people over rotate to breathe because they get water in their nose. Over rotating to breath will negatively affect your streamline position and cause extra drag. Exhaling through your nose while rotating your head can help to keep water from getting in your nose. If you still are having issues, swimming with a nose clip until you are comfortable breathing properly, can be a lot of help.

Looking DOWN and not FORWARD was a tip in a post from a few months ago, and I've been working on that myself. Again, he has a drill to help work on this in his original post.

For more "Thirsty Thursday" posts that highlight workouts, body science, and all kinds of interesting information, CLICK HERE.


Recent Workouts

>> Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Not too much to report, but things are moving along nicely.

SWIM: I'm starting to plateau in the pool. For pretty much all of December and January, each swim was another workout PR. But finally, my last few workouts have NOT been my fastest ever.

Last week, I did 3 swims, and my first swim was STILL a major PR: I did 4x500 with a 7:44 average, which is crazy fast for me. (I usually do 3x500 and average barely sub-8. And the last time I did 4x500 was back in June of 2011, when I averaged 7:55.75/500.) The 2nd and 3rd swims were slower: 9x200 with a 3:00.15 average (slower than 2:59.7 two weeks ago), and then a random descending interval swim where most of the intervals were a second or so slower than that same workout last month.

BIKE: After not being on my trainer all winter, I've now been on it 4 times since the end of January. (Remember back on Nov 1st when I said I'd like to bike twice a month? That FINALLY got going!) Sure, that's not a lot, but it's SOMETHING. The first time, I just spun a bit. But the last few times, I've been doing 30-60 minutes of Spinerval workouts.

Heartrate from my FitBit last week. Let's play "spot the 6x90 sec intervals."

RUN: I've built my long run up to about 6.5-7 miles nearly 2 months ago, and I've been holding it there. My ankle still aches a bit, and my sacrum/hip can get achy too. I've been stretching and rolling a lot, and that seems to help.

Twice recently I tried to add in a little speed: first on a 6 mile run with Charlie at the end of January where I did 3 "harder" miles in 6:32, 6:22, and 6:12. And more recently (yesterday) on a 6.7 mile run between classes where I "built" for a mile at 6:58 pace, and then went right into 2 harder miles at 6:12 and 5:52. Today, my sacrum feels OK, which was the REAL test of the run. I've been doing a decent amount of easy running, and I've been thinking how it will be nice when my running can start to feel like "training" again.

I have an event on the horizon. Maybe just a few weeks away. Stop back soon for more details on that!


Cold, cold run.

>> Monday, February 16, 2015

Saturday morning, I decided to run to the Y and meet Pharmie and the boys there. It was windy and cold. My eyelashes started to freeze together when I would blink, and I could see ice forming on my cheeks on my facial stubble. But I made it just fine. I tweeted this shortly after getting to the Y:

After doing the math, it was more like only -28.

Sorry for missing a word. I was still cold. And blood-flow was going elsewhere at the moment.

But really, after 6.4 miles of running on SUPER popular running trails, I spotted NO other runners. And actually only 2 walkers. The trails were dead.

But maybe thats because all of the other "crazies" were here:

A friend tweeted this to me, saying "Why do I think you were probably part of this?!" The news article online starts with "A severely underdressed group of people ran through downtown Minneapolis today..." Ha! I *SHOULD* have been a part of this!

Here's a link to the video, and the underwear-clad runners can be seen in the first 60 seconds.

Stay warm everyone! Happy running!



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