Races and new triathlon recovery tool

After three races this year: Tyler Half, Raleigh 70.3, and Eagleman 70.3 I noticed lots of the guys I ride with pushing huge gears with slower RPMs than I was pushing. I immediately realized I was not as strong as I needed to be. I could hang with the bunch, but the efforts were taxing. So getting stronger in both the bike and run was the main focus heading into Steelhead and Lake Stevens 70.3



Riding in Austin is great and even better if you live on the out skirts, you avoid lots of city traffic. The only negative is the lack of long sustained climbs. So how do you get in lots of big gear work on hills to get stronger? You find a 2km stretch a ride it over and over and over. Just down the road from my place is Mansfield damn. Luckily there is a lower water crossing or else this set wouldn’t be as long. In the past three weeks I have done 80 x 2km reps up this hill! The set is pretty mentally challenging, especially when I only had one training partner for 15 of the 80 reps over the three weeks. I like to think I resembled Jan Ullrich riding up and down this climb at 70 rpm. This set better make me stronger.

I also recently went in for a bike fit as I felt my splits weren’t as good as they should be considering my FTP and w/kg in races. Seat was dropped nearly 2cm! Can’t wait to see how this affects ride and my trunk feels much more stable.


Running has been the toughest. I have resorted to waking up at 4-5 am just to get out the door for the tough session. There is one set I do x2 weekly that also consists of lots of hill reps. Even though can take 8 bottles of ice cold water, your splits don’t even come close to running in cooler conditions.

I have resorted to running more distance and aiming to get in as much vertical meters as I possible can. It is irritating to me when I can’t it goal splits, so I found so nice trails. I call this my Alpe d’ huez of Austin running. Lots of switch backs and great views.


I have found this block that more strength and small bouts of speed is the ticket for me. With out being extremely strong, speed is rather useless and can’t be supported or sustained. If you can run with a fast turn over but you stride length is short, your not going to be going any where too fast. Same as the bike. Plus, all the strength work keeps the HR lower, for me anyways, and I have found I can get away with a lot more volume without feeling as smashed as a high HR workout.


The following post is sponsored by Fit Fluential LLC on behalf of PowerPlay US

There is a new company out called PowerPlay US and I received my unit a while back and am loving it. It is portable cold/compression unit that is very affordable and doesnt cost an arm and a leg to purchase. So you go out and buy more triathlon equipment while preventing injury and recovering faster.

I have used other cold compression units but PowerPlay is much quicker and convenient to get going. There is an inner ice sleeve that you simple attach to the compression sleeve. Then a touch of a button gets the unit compressing.

The unit will give you the opportunity to select a range of 50-70 mmHg of pressure to build up to. The unit will build from to 50-70 mmHg then release. This cycle takes 20 minutes all together.

I chose the knee and ankle sleeve in my bundle. I really like how fast I could get into the unit and get it started with the removable ice pack. The compression feels great and would be nice if it went up to 80-or 90 mmHg. However, a little tip though. I will remove the ice pack 10 minutes before I’m going to use it. This allows the sleeve to have so more movement to it. I was able to wrap the sleeve that much tighter making the compression feel even tighter. This unit has three slots allowing you to use three pieces of compression, or share with friend.

My knee injury from years ago still requires lots of maintenance.  If I’m not doing my strength and icing routines I eventually start feeling small amount of pain. The PowerPlay unit has done a great job at keeping pain at bay after hard workouts and has kept swelling down to minimums. So check them out of you are looking to add a great tool to speed up your recovery.

Nice carry bag that fits your compression gear and unit.


The knee compression sleeve with the unit that allows 50-70 mmHg of compression


The removable ice pack inside of sleeve.



Drip Drop Review and Race Day Hydration Tips

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Arriving at the start line of your race fit and ready to cover the distance is easy for majority. But arriving hydrated and staying hydrated is where we all can sometimes fall a little short and in the end can really hurt your performance.

I’m sure you all have read the stats about how our performances suffer with the smallest amount of dehydration. When we sweat we also loose water and salt from the blood. Once this happens the blood gets more viscous, your heart has to pump faster and it leads to the whole stall, spin,crash , burn, fall to pieces. We as athletes want to avoid this scenario at all costs.

So during any race it is crucial to remain hydrated leading up to the event, during the event, and after to help promote better recovery. This will help you get back to training (post race) sooner. I like to keep my hydration levels at optimal levels using a supplement called Drip Drop. Not only does it help keep you hydrated during races, it is great for using during traveling. Living in Texas during the summer can be very testing during long training days. Drip Drop has meet and exceeded the hydration demands of long training days.

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Drip drop has very low osmolarity so it is easily absorbed into your system. The latest information out there says you drink to hydrate and eat to fuel. The caloric count in drip drop is low which helps with your gastric emptying rate, so your chances of suffering from GI issues during racing are greatly reduced.


Here are so tips to go into events hydrated to perform at your best:

  • Night Before: one to two packet of drip drop on 18oz of water as a little load as drip drop contains 2 times more sodium than leading sports drinks.
  • Race Morning: Very cold 18oz of water with on pack drip drop. I find cold solutions keep the gut cooler before the race when your core will really start to heat up. Being cool is just as important as hydration.
  • Race: I will use drip drop in one bottle during the bike. Then i will make sure to have a cooler in T2 waiting for me before the run. Again this will be chilled as well to help cool the gut with cold fluid.
  • Post Race Recovery: Instead of getting a post race IV during a long car ride or flight home, another pack of drip drop will do the trick =. This will help to get the levels of hydration back to optimal levels

**I was asked to review drip drop during his racing and training, all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own**


James Cotter

Elite triathlete and head coach at Hard Yards Training

Eagleman 70.3 report

Finally a solid showing. I went into these two races with a goal of capturing a top 10 overall and it was accomplished. 7th overall at Eagleman.

On Sunday the result in my mind was fantastic, but today it’s just good. Now it the focus goes back to how to get faster.  The competition is very talented and fast. I raced the mix, but I need to try and get closer to the front.

Was great getting to see athletes I haven’t scene in some time. Great race by Starky! How amazing is he?

I have no pictures from the race, but I would like to introduce you to my new love for the 2014 season. Beautiful, right?



Ironman 70.3 Eagleman
Cambridge, Maryland
June 8, 2014
1.2m swim / 56 bike / 13.1m run


1. Andrew Starykowicz (USA) 3:47:27
2. Tim O’Donnell (USA) 3:47:32
3. Leon Griffin (AUS) 3:52:11
4. Bevan Docherty (NZL) 3:52:51
5. Eric Limkemann (USA) 3:53:30


1. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 4:11:03
2. Caitlin Snow (USA) 4:11:39
3. Rachel McBride (CAN) 4:17:37
4. Radka Vodickova (CZE) 4:19:01
5. Ashley Clifford (USA) 4:23:39

Raleigh 70.3 race report

A few days before I left for the start of the racing season, a swimmer said to me, “you know, you’re not that good.”

In my mind it was my fuel. I though, I will show you. I haven’t trained my ass off and done sessions that have scared me up until the moment i push start on my watch. I’m back, and I will show you I thought daily. But then, the fear of what happens if I don’t perform to my expectations after all these massive training weeks?

Well, I didn’t perform to my expectations or even close to the numbers I have executed in training. I was outclassed by a top notch field of athletes. I swam poorly and am most embarrassed about that (although my wet suit didn’t arrive and i swam wetsuitless).  My bike was bad, although I was aboard my brand new Cervelo P5, I think I need a few more rides on it to really get my position dialed in. I have ridden lots of great bikes, But I’m very happy to be back on a Cervelo. I remember now why I may have shed a tear when I got rid of my last P3. Then my run was solid for a few miles on and off. This gave me some hope as it felt pretty good.

I’m a little bummed about the performance but I know there better and will be better. I have swam 2k at sub 1:10/100m pace, biked 80km at 4.5 w/kg, and have run sub 1:15 for a half marathon in training sessions recently so I now I’m fit.  I have faced fear in training, and have hit numbers I never thought I could hit in training and have reached new levels of fitness. So don’t rule me out yet :)

I’m looking forward to facing and concurring the fear of eagleman this weekend and breaking through to new levels of confidence. Congrats to the podium finishers at Raleigh 70.3 this past weekend.

Ironman 70.3 Raleigh
Raleigh, North Carolina
June 1, 2014
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi. 



1. Matt Chrabot (USA) 3:52:07 
2. Lionel Saunders (CAN) 3:52:47
3. Callum Millward (NZL) 3:55:11
4. Eric Limkeman (USA) 3:56:21
5. Paul Ambrose (AUS) 4:03:12


1. Amy Marsh (USA) 4:21:39
2. Linsey Corbin (USA) 4:22:50
3. Mary Beth Ellis (USA) 4:26:11
4. Margie Shapiro (USA) 4:27:31
5. Hallie Blunck (USA) 4:31:33

Day in the life

Hi, my name is James Cotter, and I’m an Enduropacks elite triathlete. We thought it might be interesting to do a “day in the life” post. I picked a key training day one week out from my first of three half ironman events coming up. You will see training, nutrition, and when I add enduropacks into my day.



Nice session to open after swim time trial yesterday.


-200 Swim, 200 Kick, 200 IM, 200 Pull, 200 swim

-12×50 as 3 of each stroke


Main Set: x4 rounds

Pull on 1:10/100 yard base pace

300 Pull

200 Pull

100 Pull

12×25 on :20

Cool Down:

200 Easy



I like to get out the door and get riding sooner than later since temperatures are heating up. I grab a smoothie with 400-500 calories and bowl of cherrios. I top this off with my tablespoon of them multivitamin.




Two hour ride today with 8×6’ just below goal race pace wattage. Alternating between pushing the big gear and spinning at high cadence.

I like to supplement my bottles with 3 squirts of the concentrated electrolyte spray. For calories we have switched more to real food now. My wife has been creating all types of new rice cakes for rides. The results have been very nice when running off the bike. Plus, your 6th cake is so much better tasting than your 6th gel when the temperatures get 30+C






Straight of the bike was an hour run with intervals. We have a great hilly loop which I call my “Texas Waitaks” after the famous hilly loop in New Zealand that legendary Arthur Lydiard used. Once this loop is completed, you end up at our local intermediate school track. It was 8x1km faster than goal race pace with small rest.









Once I’m done with tough workouts I like to apply two Enduropack amino acids patches on. If session is steady aerobic work I apply one.



Later on in the evening, right before bed I will take my Glutamine. Again, depending on intensity and duration will determine how much I take. On hard days during big weeks, I have been using 2 pills 2-3 times daily. The Glutamine product has been very beneficial to the hard yards and hard weeks.



My Knee Strength Routine

I’ve been putting in some big miles the past two week. Lots and lots of strength endurance sessions which have been a challenging both mentally and physically. I put all the hard work to the test in the coming days with some long Time Trials in all three events. Hope they go well!

For this post I just wanted to share with you a few routines I do each week to keep my body in check and working. Once you have had an injury, you really learn how important it is to incorporate some strength into your routine. Now, the routine I will show you is what I have developed for me and my past knee issues. They may work for you if you have knee issues, or maybe will give you some new exercises to add into your current routine.

I use this  routine three times a week and try and do them in the evenings after key sessions.

1. Foundation Training


When you begin Foundation training the poses look easy, like the “founder” pose I’m in above.  However, after 10 seconds of holding poses your lower back gets worked. Foundation training really tagets the back and core. If you sit a lot and suffer from lower back pain, this is for you. It retrains your movement patterns and establishing new muscle memory. You learn how to support yourweight using the posterior chain muscles. It has helped me with more upright posture, getting more power on bike and run, and just makes me feel taller.

2. Ankle Weights

I alter between weekly between 2 foundation sessions/1 ankle weight session


I use a 10lb ankle weight and have progresses the holding duration of each position. This hold targets the quads. I haveprogressed from barley being able to hold 20 seconds, to now over a minute. I normally go 5x1min with 20 seconds rest between. You can start from 20 seconds hold and build up duration or reps.


Single leg bridge going after the glutes. I found that my glutes were not all that strong and were causing my knees to flare in a wee bit medially. Once my glutes became stronger they could support every thing and keep my knees stable during initial contact with ground while running. This is my least favorite position of all. I do 3×45 seconds hold on each leg with 15 seconds rest. I need to do more duration and reps with this one.


The classic Jane Fonda leg lifts. I use to just do this drill with my top leg parallel to the bottom leg but have recently added in some variation to this move. I start with the weighted leg in front of the bottom leg, then parallel, then behind the bottom leg. Really gets a solid burn. I either do 25 reps in each position (front, center, back) then switch to the opposite leg.


Working the VMO. I really enjoy doing this pose. I alternate between lifts and just holding.


Last one to work the glut again. I keep a 90 degree angle at the knee and do 20-30 lifts, a 30 second hold with my leg in the air as shown, then back to 30 lifts.

Eliminating disappointment+X2 supplement review

A week has past since the Tyler Half Ironman and I’m still rather disappointed with my performance, especially with how the run went.  When you have a plan to execute, and you fail to execute that plan, a number of things go running through your head. Did you ride too hard, did you not consume enough calories, did you underestimate the course difficulty, or are you not as fit as you though? I became consumed with the fear of not being as fit as I thought I was. So this past weekend I went out to try and eliminate the lack of fitness factor with a half marathon time trial. The result…I’m fit and I was able hit my goal race pace split rather comfortably. I just needed confirmation.

Although not the exact the road, my course was a mentally challenging 11 loops of a 1.9km out and back stretch.


I think nutrition was a big factor in my stall, spin, crash, burn, die sequence of events over 21km of running. The lack of calories due to losing some on the bike most likely depleted all glycogen stores before departing. The Sherpa wife has been in the kitchen creating some new recipes for the next race.

The point of this ramble, Time Trialing in training before events can tell you a lot. It can eliminate doubts, or make you realize what needs to be fixed/addressed. Don’t be afraid of failing Time Trials either, because failing lets you know what needs to be changed to reach your goals.

After the TT I just happened to stumble upon a new running trial as well. Love me some new trials!


X2 Performance Review

I have been testing out the new  X2 Performance  supplement the past few weeks.  Taking supplements can always be a little risky, because the last thing you want is to test positive for a illegal supplement. X2 has been looked over by NSF and Informed sport. So you know you are ingesting is clean and legal. Very simply, X2 big claim is that is helps with the regeneration of ATP, this allowing you to train harder, train longer, and recovery faster.

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**Disclaimer: I was compensated (can’t complain) for testing out the X2 product,  my opinions are my own and are not influenced by X2. Below are my thoughts on the product. these statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. This product is not indented to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.**

I had six servings to use during my trial. I used these during my “monster sessions” where intensity and duration were both relatively high. The run session was 2.5 hours of running up and down a hill, and the bike was hill repeats at specific watts and rpm for same duration.

Taste: Very easy on the palate. It is recommended you consume on empty stomach 30 minutes before workout. Obviously, this isn’t ideal because you need so calories going into bigger sessions. I ate a big meal, wait 30 minutes, then would consume X2 walking out the door heading to session. This never seemed to be an issue or cause an gastrointestinal distress.

Performance: I have done the hill sessions both on the bike and run before using X2. So there was baseline data I was looking to hit. On the run I have markers along the course to see if I’m on track for goal time+heart rate. The two bike and run sessions I performed are by no means fun. It is a key workout and it takes it out of you. During both bike and run, my numbers stayed the same each week while the duration and reps increased and I was’t by any means Super James. What I did notice,was a feeling of having just a little more in the tank. This was a nice feeling since the sessions involved lots of strength to replicate the previous effort. I was impressed with X2 and enjoyed supplementing  with X2 during my key sessions. I didn’t notice any thing with recovery time. Recovery was the same as if I had not taken supplement

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you take this supplement thinking your times are going to drop instantly by taking X2. You’re going to be very disappointing. However, if you want to be able to maintain effort and intensity from rep 1 till the end, then this product is for you. I found despite being fatigued I was still able to push a little harder and my body could respond. In training the goal is to havethe last rep be as good as the first. X2 helps acheive that goal.

Try a free sample of X2 by clicking the following link. Free sample of X2


Tri Tyler Half Ironman+X2

Firstly I would like to thank the Tri Tyler crew for putting on a fantastic event.  Steve Farris, Jeremy Brown, and John Cobb put on a class event this past weekend. Very honest and challenging course with some cash involved. Can’t go wrong supporting these events, plus the event was just up the road.

Plan, execute, measure, correct is how I like to approach training and racing even if the truth (measure) isn’t what you like, if can always be fixed (correct). In training you can measure how you are responding to blocks of training with time trials. If you fail to accomplish what you are training for, you address it to succeed next time. Same goes with racing, once you have your data you can see what went right or wrong and fix it for next time.

Going into Tyler I was very confident with where my fitness was at. I had completed my monster sessions, hit new PRs for time trials over increasingly longer distances, and had some long lost confidence back. The field had a strong contingent from the Tyler/DFW area and I had a few guys on my radar.

  • Chris McDonald:  The big hitter in the field. Chris is top notch guy and I always love racing and catching up with him. Very strong bike/run combo.
  • Ben Hall:  Returning from a dominate bike ride at last years event. Very good guy. Had a nice chat with him after race. Watch out for him in the coming years.
  • Clay Emge:  Won the 25-29 AG at Kona last year. Very strong bike/run. Has been running very well coming into this event




  • Bowl of love grown hot oats+Banana
  • x2 Performance- New supplement I have been trying out. Have been using this for my bigger key sessions and have been liking the results. Will post more on this later. Disclaimer: I have been compensated to use this product, but all future posts and opinions of this product will be my own.

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Swim start was nice and calm due to the small elite field. We all had our lines and it was a nice slow build the first 400 meters with no contact between us at all. My plan was to start picking up the pace after the first turn. I wanted to get a little gap so I could fumble around in T1 getting ready for the bike. I accomplished this and was first out on the bike.


Bike plan was to sit on wattage I thought would be competitive and allow me to ride comfortably with Chris and still run well off the bike. With the course being very hilly and Chris being bigger than me, I though my power/weight would keep me in the mix with him. I was very wrong. I sat on my numbers and watched Chris ride away.

NUTRITION: x2 water bottles with x2 scoops each of Skratch labs/x2 packets of enervitine


Brutal, brutal, brutal. The elevation profile made it look like a quick run. It really was long climb followed by an endless amount of rollers. First 5km were spot on the numbers planned. 5-10km was starting to hurt with stride length fading, 10-18km wheels were falling off. 18-21km Ben Hall has me in his sight and started hunting me down. I’m running as hard as I can but I’m going nowhere looking ugly and looking for Ben too often. 20km Ben catches me and executes a beautiful surge. I try and match it and move backwards. 21km I finish in 3rd place.


I was beaten by better guys at the Tyler Half. I have lots of reasons in my head why I failed to perform to the level I had hoped to. Maybe I didn’t consume enough calories for such a demanding course.The fitness in there based on time trials done a few weeks back. I will due another half iron sim this weekend and run at goal race pace. If I can hit that pace for 21km, I will say I just had an off day. If I can’t hit pace, then I shall alter training plans to address issues.

How I Train with Heart Rate

Training has been going very well since getting going mid November. Always amazes me how long the season seems to be looming away in November. However, you blink and next thing you realize is that we are all in the thick of it now! There have been some fantastic races in New Zealand and Australia with new faces up front winning.  I love seeing the hard men like Cameron Brown and Richie Cunningham still continuing their dominance in the sport while proving age is only a number.

I get a few questions every now and then regarding  training with heart rate monitors. The beautiful thing about training is that there is so much information out there, and their isn’t one specific way to train an athlete. You simply need to look at training advice coming out of science labs, and then look at what coaches of elite athletes are doing in the real world. It is the complete opposite to what is coming from the labs! HR often gets knocked for not being the greatest tool to train with, but I love training  with my Polar heart rate monitor. You may or may not like training with heart, but if you do here are some of the ways I like to monitor my training with heart rate.


I’m a huge fan of Arthur Lydiard and his training  principles. Lots of slow aerobic work in the prep/base phase of training and this ties in perfectly with using a heart rate monitor. Ever since getting injured, you learn very quickly you are not invincible and you really have to note what works and what doesn’t. Using a heart rate monitor for me is essential in early phases of training because it keeps you from going too fast too soon. It’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing early season, especially after watch the 70.3 and Ironman events in the southern hemisphere.  The problem is your cardiovasular system develops faster than your musculoskeletal system. If you start chasing faster paces too soon, and you haven’t developed the strength to support the speed work, the chances of you getting injured increase.  The heart rate monitor keeps you in check as long as you keep your ego in check. First thing to do is determine your HR ceiling. Can you do this with pace, yes, but personally prefer heart rate. Here is how I determine my heart rate ranges

I like to use the  Phil Maffetone method for the first three months of training. Which is 180-Formula

180-age then you make the modifications to that number.  180-25=155

-Subtract 5 if you have been injured..150

-Keep the same number if things been going well past few seasons..155

-Add 5 if you are a competitive athlete training with no issues at all the past two sessions..160

That number ends up being your ceiling and you try not to go over that number. Then if you want to track improvement use the same courses regularly. I have 4 loops I use and monitor my times in relation to average HR. Once you log your data in your log  book you start painting the picture of what your body is telling you once you have enough data

  • If HR in zone and time normal for course, then things are fine
  • If HR in zone and time on course quicker, you’re getting faster/fitter
  • If HR is elevated and time for course faster, you went too fast
  • If HR can’t be reached and you are really slow, take the day off

My history with injury influences how strict I am with base training . My HR monitor is my dictator early on in the  base training block. I will even walk hills to keep HR in the desired zones. I do this because I really believe all the early slow work preps and strengthens your body for all the heavy load and speed to come. I have found by training with low HR early it helps develop my aerobic and muscular system better than running by pace. It also helps me with my recovery time, and has allowed me to increase my total weekly training volume slowly over the past two years. However, once that initial three months is up I use HR as a guide instead of a dictator. If I’m feeling great but HR doesn’t look right, I will continue to run strong or not ease up as much while running hilly loops. Key sessions move to pace as you do need to be very specific to race pace during training, but I still like to take note of HR. Most all other sessions are done at a specific HR though.

Until next time, Train safely and injury free




Through the Lens Tuesday


Welcome to a new post and a newer flashier design of kiwicotter.com!

I thought this picture  looking through the lens was going to be a little bit cooler, but I will learn how to get better shots with the GoPro in the coming weeks.

Training has been coming along very well and I’m happy with my progress. It has been a very long aerobic build with no pain. I’m a huge fan of doing very specific HR with the Polar  the first few months when getting back into training. The lighter paces helps my musculoskeletal system catch up to my cardiovascular system. Has kept all injuries away and I’m sticking to it.  Here is a little glimpse into training.

Lots and lots of repeats on this hill.


I recruited my wife to drive me down to bottom after 2  hour of running up and down. I won’t tell you how much longer I kept running up and down the hill. Can’t thank Lindsay enough for helping me out in training and life. Oh,  compression is essential and amazing. We had a family get together while my legs slowly came back to me.

hill finB1

I consume lots of Reboot after monster sessions

reboot B1

Yesterday was was specific time trial work in swim, bike, run so today was a nice long recovery ride. I love slow easy days because I always end up riding new routes. Today I found an amazing new road. Lots of potential and more kilometers I wasn’t able to explore.


A little action shot


New roads ahead


Happy training until next time.