May 17, 2016

Sweet Spot Training
Over the last two months we have discussed Functional Threshold Power (FTP); learning what it is, how to test for it and how to begin training with it.  In this month we are going to dive into a segment of FTP training called Sweet Spot Training or SST for short.

Much of our training time is dedicated to riding mainly from 65%, and for some up to 90% of FTP.  Training here can help to improve the aerobic, steady state effort that characterizes FTP.  You might hear training in the upper levels (88% - 92% FTP) of this aerobic range referred to as "Sweet Spot;" the name coming from the balanced amount of intensity and volume that this level of effort provides.  Although you could possibly see additional adaptations, if you were to ride harder than sweet spot or a threshold effort level, long quality sessions spent from 65% - 87% of FTP are also essential for long course triathlon.

Let’s take a step back here for a moment and revisit the purpose of training, which is to create a physiological adaptation in the body.  This occurs by performing a variety of workouts, ranging from aerobic work to threshold work and interval training.  Most of us do not have unlimited time each week to spend on training and this is where SST can be incredibly valuable if it’s executed properly.  For example, instead of doing several hours of aerobic training and a multitude of interval work, all potentially requiring significant recovery time, SST provides one of the best “bang for your buck” training intensities as it is typically done in a shorter training block and can require less recovery time between training sessions.  

A good way to incorporate Sweet Spot Training work into your training plan is to do the following types of rides 2 times/week with varying intervals and duration; 3 x 10 minutes or 3 x 20 minutes through progressive builds.

Don't use a pencil; put these dates down in PEN! The EPT Training Weekend is set for May 20th - May 22nd!  You won't want to miss this! Packed with training, tips, food, friendship and Chris McDonald!  Yup Chris McDonald, seven-time Ironman Champion will be joining us for the weekend to offer tips, advise and training.  

Friday May 20th - 
     Group swim practice at MSA pool (8:30AM - 10:00AM)
     ~ Coffee & bagels to follow
     Group Ride from Paul Harrold's place (11:00AM - 12:30PM)
     ~ Lunch following

     Team Dinner at the Blakeney Chili's 
     ~ 6:00PM - 7:00PM Happy Hour for the team with Chris McDonald
     ~ 7:00PM - 9:00PM Dinner; spouses welcome to join

Saturday May 21st -     Group Ride out of Bike Depot Waxhaw (8:00AM - 11:00AM)
     Run with Chris McDonald (11:00AM)
     ~BBQ following

Sunday May 22nd - 
     Functional Stretch & Strength Session at Performance Therapy (9:00AM - 10:00AM)
     Q&A Session (10:00AM - 10:30AM)
     Group Run (10:30AM - 11:30AM)
     ~ Brunch to follow

There will be a lot of opportunities for everyone to pitch in to help execute the weekend.  Sign-Up Genisus' are out for you all to volunteer to bring in items for the various food functions.  We will also be looking for ride leaders and sweepers for the various groups on the Saturday Bike Depot ride.  Please direct questions about the weekend to Karen Wood or Paul Harrold. Have questions for Big Sexy? Scroll to the end of the attachments below and complete the survey. We'll take care of the rest.


Carb Confusion: To Gluten Or Not
By Mary Brooks     
There's a lot of confusion right now about gluten.  But before we get into that, let's talk just a little about carbs in general. Every few years, one food group or category seems to get a bad rap.  Right now it seems to be carbs. Of the three macro's (protein, carbs and fat), the carb is the least essential.  But eliminating carbs or even drastically reducing them isn't always a good thing.  It's really more about looking at the quality and the source of them as well as the timing of them. The amount you consume will ultimately depend on your body type, your training level and how you feel.  My one piece of advice is to make any decision about carbs not in isolation but in the overall context of the balance of protein and fats that you are getting.  When people tell me that they crave carbs, most often it's because they are not getting enough fat and are using the carbs to compensate.

What is gluten?  Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, oats and barley.  Wheat also contains a protein called gliadin that activates zonulin. Zonulin is known to weaken the barrier between the cell walls of the gut. For more on Zonulin, click here.

When making a decision about gluten, it's important to distinguish between an allergy and a sensitivity.  There are people with a pronounced allergy to gluten.  That means they will have noticeable symptoms and reactions when they eat it.  Then there are those that will have a sensitivity to it which may go undetected but can express itself in poor absorption, allergies, headaches, joint pain and other symptoms you may not realize are related to your diet.

Whether you are sensitive to gluten or not, it's important to understand that the very nature of the grain itself makes it a gut irritant.  The grain contains a naturally defense in it's coating which fights against digestion.  This is known as an anti-nutrient.  What that means to you is that it's hard to digest. When you combine a diet high in gluten with other factors that weaken the gut (antibiotics, OTC medications, processed sugar, stress and yes, exercise) chances are you won't have optimal gut function. Before swinging to a lot of "gluten-free" foods, it makes much more sense to heal the gut with whole foods, probiotics, good fats, and clean proteins first. Many people who just go gluten free don't experience results because they didn't actually heal their gut.  If you are craving carbs, look to sources like yams, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, beets, butternut squash, plantains, spaghetti squash and pumpkin. Also you can scratch your bread itch by switching to a sprouted bread like Ezekial or a sourdough which breaks down some of the gluten.

What’s Lurking in my Water Bottle?    
BPA is a chemical that is found in several plastics and plastic additives. It’s in the water bottles most of us carry around with us daily and use for training, and in the baby bottles moms use to feed their infants. It’s also in almost all of our bodies. A CDC study in 2007 found that 92% of 2,500 subjects studies had detectable amounts of BPA in their urine.  Additionally, a study published in 2002 by Masuno and colleagues demonstrated that relatively small amounts of BPA significantly reduced insulin sensitivity and accelerated the formation of adipocytes (fat cells) in lab mice. In other words, BPA made the mice fat.

Not only did BPA trigger the conversion of fat cells, it also stimulated the conversion process once triggering had occurred. This “double-whammy” effect caused a 1,300% increase in fat levels, compared with a 150% increase with insulin alone.

The worldwide obesity epidemic has been pretty much blamed on poor diet, decreases in exercise, and other lifestyle factors. However, this research raises the possibility that hormone-disrupting contaminants such as BPA may play a role in regulating weight. BPA triggers and then stimulates two of the key biological mechanisms underlying obesity. It increases the number of fat cells, and it enhances their fat storage. 

Scientists have known for decades that BPA has estrogenic activity. Various studies have linked low-level estrogenic activity associated with BPA exposure to all kinds of fun stuff, like diabetes, ADHD, heart disease, infertility and cancer.  There is now significant evidence suggesting that even low levels of BPA-exposure can cause harm, and this is particularly true in vulnerable populations like pregnant women, infants and the chronically ill. 

Because of this research, and the growing public awareness that BPA should be avoided, a new crop of “BPA-free” plastic food containers, water bottles, and baby bottles have been introduced. However, a recent study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives in July has shown that even BPA-free plastics have chemicals with estrogenic activity (EA), and can cause serious health problems as a result.

The best way to think of chemicals with EA is as a counterfeit key fitting into a loose lock. When these chemicals activate the estrogen receptor, they produce an increase in circulating estrogen, which in turn can cause problems such as early puberty in females, reduced sperm counts, altered function of the reproductive organs, obesity, increased rates of certain cancers and problems with infant and childhood development.

Unfortunately BPA Free is not also EA free.  In a recent study scientists bought more than 500 plastic products at places like Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Target, and other major retailers. They selected from all categories of plastic, including tupperware containers, bags and wraps.  They then cut the containers into pieces, put them into liquids that contain similar chemicals found in food and drinks, and subjected them to stresses that mimic normal use, like UV light (sunlight), microwaving, or moist heat (like boiling or dishwashing).

Their results showed that over 90 percent of the products leached estrogenic chemicals before they were even stressed, and after being stressed essentially all of the products showed estrogenic activity.

Should we be concerned about EA and BPA leaching from our water bottles?  While there are still a lot of unknowns here, many scientists believe that it is not appropriate to bet our health and that of future generations on an assumption that known cellular effects of chemicals having EA and BPA released from most plastics will have no severe adverse health effects.

Being aware of the potential harm is great but what could we or should we be doing instead of using plastics?  

~Use glass containers and canning jars at home for food storage. Be aware that the lids of Mason and Kerr brand canning jars contain BPA and chemicals with EA. There are BPA-free lids, but they still may contain chemicals with EA, and I’ve been told they’re made with formaldehyde. Weck makes 100% glass jars that are a good alternative. Crate and Barrel also sells them.

     ~ Use stainless steel containers in the freezer instead of freezer bags.
     ~ Use a stainless steel water bottle (like the Klean Kanteen) instead of plastic bottles.
     ~ Don’t drink bottled water from plastic bottles, especially when they’ve been exposed to sunlight.
     ~ Parents: use glass baby bottles instead of plastic. Evenflo is a commonly available brand you can buy at Target, 

Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, etc. and online at Amazon and other retailers.

     ~ Specifically for bottles used for training purposes CamelBak.....
     ~ Swell makes a stainless steel water bottle that is safe for everyday use in the car, to the gym, at your desk, etc... 

Above and beyond the everyday ways that we can limit exposure what options do we have for training purposes?  There are several brands of bottles that are BPA free that I have come across.  Nothing that is plastic is EA free it seems and unfortunately that's just something that we athletes will have to come to terms with as it seems there is no way to prevent this breakdown from happening.  While all of these options are good for biking and running if you are concerned about EA breakdown you'll want to stick with glass or stainless for everyday use i.e. that bottle in the car, at your desk, etc... But, we can limit our exposure to BPA during training by switching to a different bottle.  CamelBak, Purist and Novara are all brands of sport bottles that are BPA free.  Each of them can be found at REI in Pineville or through the links below.  

Specialized Purist Bottles

Camelbak Bottles & Canteens

Novara Water Bottles By REI

Tomato, Mozzarella Salad with Israeli Cous Cous and Cannellini Beans

0:30 Time · 15 Ingredients · 1 Steps

Another great grain based summer salad!

Greek Quinoa Salad

0:30 Time · 19 Ingredients · 1 Steps

Great summer salad featuring quinoia, fresh veggies and a great tangy dressing.

Jennifer Coira Giesber

dexterous: (adj) having or showing great skill or cleverness : showing dexterity

Karen Wood

limitless: (adj) without end, limit, or boundary.

OwnWay Apparel

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HIT Cycling

Official cycle studio sponsor for EPT Racing. Visit our new site at

Charlotte Running Co.

Official running store sponsor for EPT Racing

Big Sexy Experience

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