Nick Keiser Memorial Bike Ride

Posted on October 31, 2014 by Christopher Vassiliades

Nick Keiser Memorial Bike Ride

Saturady November 8th - 7:00am

Join us for 15-20 mile casual memorial ride and Pancake Breakfast to honor our friend and colleague Nick Keiser. To participate in the ride, simply show up ready to ride at 7am. Ride starts promptly at 7:30 and leaves from the Element Multisport Chicago location. After the ride stick around for some pancakes and refreshments. 

Posted in Cold Weather, Cycling, Demo Ride, Free Clinic, Layering, Pancake Run

Triathlon Season is Over...Now What?

Posted on October 19, 2014 by Christopher Vassiliades

Off Season Training

For many of us, the triathlon off season is here! Finally! Off season can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I would guess the majority of people need some time off for mind and body to recover. You probably need a few date nights with the loved one or maybe to go out with some non-triathlete friends just so they know you are still alive. Whatever you need for some time off, it usually doesn’t take much time before that crazy triathlete part of your brain kicks in and you are ready to at least be semi active again. When that happens here are a few tips I try to follow when that urge to move comes back.

  • Do a different sport – Now is a great time for both mind and body to pick up a new sport or go back to a sport you were avoiding. Changing up the training method can really help build new muscle groups, especially when going from triathlon to a sport that requires lateral movement. Maybe you’ve been avoiding a pickup basketball game because you were afraid of getting injured. Well, dust off your Jordan’s and hit the open court! Also, opening soon is the Brooklyn Boulders facility in the loop if you ever wanted to get into rock climbing. Changing it up can also help mentally to break up the everyday swim, bike, and run that most triathletes do, while still keeping you in shape.
    • DO CYCLOCROSS!!! Cross isn’t exactly new to the cycling scene but it is growing really quickly. Think of cross racing like cross country running, you ride over grass, concrete, sand, gravel, through woods, up and over stairs, fallen trees, fixed barriers, and all kinds of other stuff. The race involves a rider dismounting their bike, running over a barrier, and then remounting to ride, which ends up being great practice for those transition mounts and dismounts. For a list of races in the Chicago area, check out Chicago Cross Cup.

Element Brandon Racing Cyclocross

  • Focus on a weakness – If/when you want to get back to swim, bike, and run now is a great time to overload a weaker discipline. Not a good swimmer? Bump your normal weekly swims from 3 a week to 6, and try to up the volume slightly from your previous workouts. Gaining some ground by overloading a discipline can carry fitness and strength over to the next training block when you go back to a normal workload. Always be careful not to hurt yourself. When you make this jump don’t go from 5,000 yards a week to 20,000 yards, implement the increase gradually. Consult a coach for some specifics, but in general don’t increase the volume more than 10% per week.
  • Work on technique – Off season is also a great time work on technique building. Hire a swim coach to analyze your swim technique or have someone look at your running stride. The relaxed atmosphere of the off season can let you focus on making some small technique changes without the rush of trying to get fitness or build speed.
  • Go off schedule and make it up as you go – Now is a great time to leave your Garmin at home, ditch the training peaks log, and get out and just have fun. Swimming, biking, and running ‘free’ as I like to call it can be a great mental break from the structured workouts of a hard training season.
  • Lift heavy weights – It’s a classic thought that triathletes and endurance athletes should lift light weights and high reps. I’m not going to get into that argument right now, but the off season is a great time to switch that up. Lifting heavy weights can go a long way to building muscle in sport specific muscle groups, which will translate into stronger swimming, biking, and running next season. Strength training can be a bit complex, if you are not experienced I HIGHLY recommend consulting a personal trainer before you start throwing around the iron and as always make sure you check with your doctor and are healthy enough to exercise.
  • Be social – Very often triathletes do all their training in very anti-social environments.   The off season is a great time to jump into a group ride, run, or masters swim practice. Get outside your normal gym and find some new friends. We have a group ride leaving from Element in Chicago every Saturday morning at 7:30am (details). Often a group training session can force you to train in ways you have not trained before. Maybe you get on a group ride and learn the physical toll a pace line can take on your body, or you have a new run group that forces you to run a bit faster than normal for a few sections. Either way, sometimes just being able to interact with others makes the training fly by.
  • Most important – Lastly and most important, whatever you do, HAVE FUN. Off season is a great time of year and can help set you up for success in the next season, but none of that means a thing if you are not enjoying what you are doing. 

This article is written by store employee, swim coach, and advertising guru Eric Turner. The post originally appeared on his blog

*Please consult with your  physician before starting any type of exercise or training program. If you are not an expert in any of the disciplines I mention above you need to consult an expert before taking part in any exercise. Even under a watchful eye lifting weights can be dangerous, hiring a personal trainer is highly recommended.


Posted in Cold Weather, Cycling, Training, Transitions, Triathlon

Fun Winter Training with the Wahoo KICKR

Posted on October 16, 2014 by Christopher Vassiliades

 Wahoo KICKR Power Indoor Cycling Trainer

Don't let winter weather stop you from getting in quality cycling training. The Wahoo Kickr power trainer is your way to exciting winter training and will get you ready for next season. The Kickr features wireless connectivity via ANT+ and smart Bluetooth, making it compatible with iPhone and Android phones and tablets. Combined the Wahoo Fitness App and Kickr will give a complete system for indoor cycling training this winter.

The Kickr is a direct drive system which requires less space in your apartment or condo, the direct drive also means the Kickr requires no rear wheel to operate, saving you the hassle of swapping out a trainer tire. The ANT+ connectivity means all data is transmitted wirelessly, so there are no wires and cables lying around for you to trip over. Download the Wahoo Fitness app for your smart phones or tablet, and you have yourself a training system for cycling at an affordable price.

The Wahoo fitness app controls the resistance for power base intervals, or to simulate hill climbs. You can control the resistance manually, or you can use one of the training aps to download a certain course to mimic while you are training. Ever want to know what it is like to ride Alp d’Huez? The course is available for simulation through the Wahoo Kickr. The app also shows current power output, heart rate, cadence, stop watch and timer. If you plan on using all the data from your smart phone, you will need a smart Bluetooth heart rate chest strap and cadence sensor in order to record data.

Although the Kickr weighs more than the other indoor trainers, it is portable. If it's nice out and you need a quick ride, but you don't want to deal with lake front crowds, you can move your Kickr out on the deck, and enjoy the nice weather on your bike.

If you're one that dreads indoor bike training, here's a quick entertaining workout idea for your Kickr:

  • Create a YouTube account. 
  • Create a play list of ITU races. Most highlight races are about 5 minute long.
  • Create a play list with races long enough for your goal ride.
  • Warm up for 10-15 minutes, about 2 or 3 race highlights.
  • Each of these races will have a swim, bike and run. Swim would be your recovery. Bike at threshold or race pace. Run at anaerobic.

Before you know it, your 60 minute or even a 90 minute ride is done.

Wahoo Kickr with Wahoo Fitness app saves your ride data and you can upload that data to your favorite online training log, Strava, TrainingPeaks, MapMyFitness, and may more. The Wahoo Kicker is simple and easy to use and gives you all the data you need for a complete and quality training regimen.

This blog post is brought to you by Jean Marasigan, Jean is a Cycling Coach and part time Element staff member. For more info or if you have any questions about the Wahoo Kickr, stop by the store or give us a call. 773-529-4874


*Please consult with your  physician before starting any type of exercise or training program. 

Posted in Cycling, Power Meters, Training, Triathlon

Metabolic Efficiency - Be lean, get faster.

Posted on October 15, 2014 by Christopher Vassiliades

Adapt this lifestyle over the off season and be faster next year. 

It’s that time of the year when most of us are entering our off season and getting ready to enjoy a much needed recovery period. We can let the body recuperate and perhaps put on a couple of pounds enjoying some of the things we may have forgone during our peak racing period. Others, like myself, may have ended the season a little early and are now laying base work for next year. Regardless of where you are, it’s not too soon to discuss nutrition. Whether your plans for next year involve doing your first tri, a PR at the Chicago Marathon or earning one of those coveted Kona slots, I have a nutrition strategy that we need to discuss.
It’s called Metabolic Efficiency. If you’ve been to the shop and have asked me about nutrition, then we’ve definitely talked about it. I’ve been training and racing with it since September, 2012, right after Ironman Wisconsin and if you know me, then you know that I dropped 50 pounds and have never raced faster in my life than I am right now.

There are several key benefits to adopting a metabolic efficient, or ME, lifestyle. First, body composition, as I’ll explain in a bit, ME burns a lot of fat. Second, stable blood sugar. Without all the simple starches and sugar in your regular diet there are no longer highs and lows in your blood sugar which means no more burst of energy and the inevitable “crash” that comes with it. But, what I think is the most beneficial aspect, less stuff to carry when you’re racing. As you become more and more metabolically efficient, your body learns to burn more and more fat at higher intensities. And less of your limited glycogen stores. All this means is that you eat less because you need is less! This is exciting stuff for anyone, racing any distance!

Hopefully by now I’ve got your attention and you want to know how it all works. I’m going to give you a 5,000 foot view because honestly, it’s a lot of information for the short space I have. Lets begin here: at various levels of exercise intensity, your body burns a mixture of fat and carbohydrates (glycogen). Everyone will burn a percentage of both but at some point, as the intensity increases, your body will look for the energy source that is most readily available and burns quickly. If you eat a lot of carbohydrates and train with a lot of nutrition then that’s going to be glycogen. Stored in our muscles and liver, we all carry about 2,000 calories worth of this very quick burning and very limited supply of fuel. As a side note, a very lean person carries roughly 30,000 calories of stored fat and a person who is a little less lean carries 50,000-80,000 calories of stored fat. As an example, what if you ran a 10 minute mile and burned 1,000 calories/hour of carbohydrate and then trained ME and six months later you could run a 7 minute mile and burn 600 calories/hour of carbohydrate, what would the implications be? You would be running faster, burning less of your precious energy source (glycogen), more of your nearly unlimited energy source (fat), replacing less of the glycogen you were burning, carrying less nutrition, going further and going longer! This is possible! It also means that if you train to be ME, it will be much more difficult to “bonk” at a race again. It means that you’ll burn fat like crazy. It means that your diet won’t be giving you blood sugar spikes and crashes. It means that you can race an Ironman distance triathlon and not have to pack four lunches to get to the finish line. This is great stuff, right?!

But why is this information relevant at this time of the year? Maybe you’re saying, “great Ed, can we talk about it in the spring or when I’m closer to my next race? Right now, I just want to drink a few beers, eat some donuts and do some of the easy aerobic work that my coach is sending me”. Well, there’s a very good reason I’m bringing this up right now, it’s because base phase is when there is the greatest mitochondria cell growth, both in number and size. Mitochondria are what allows the fat burning process to occur within our bodies. Preparing a diet that is without simple sugars and starches and one that is rich in vegetables, fruits and lean proteins along with your aerobic, base phase training, will allow for the quickest and most effective adaptation. While it’s true that you can see improvement in your metabolic efficiency in a little as three weeks, it is not permission to wait until three weeks before your “A” race to adopt this protocol and then proclaim that you’re ME. It’s a lifestyle and it will make you faster, more efficient and healthier with a better body composition.

As one of four Chicagoland certified Metabolic Efficiency Training Specialist, I’d be more than happy to discuss what ME can do you for you. Feel free to come by the shop or email me at and we can talk further.

Edward Dailey
USAT Level 1, METS Level 1

Ironman Wisconsin, September 2012. 208 pounds
Ironman Cabo San Lucas, March 2013. 182 pounds
Ironman Arizona, November 2013. 167 pounds
Ironman Cabo San Lucas, March 2014. 158 pounds.
Get the picture?

*Please consult with your  physician before starting any type of exercise or training program. 

Posted in Cycling, Metabolic Efficiency, Training, Triathlon

Skratch Labs Apples & Cinnamon, Warm and Delicious

Posted on October 08, 2014 by Christopher Vassiliades

Skratch Labs Apple Cinnamon

You’ve got your arm warmers, shoe covers, base layers, and windproof gloves, but what’s your hydration solution for the next round of polar vortex?

Hydration is critical in cold weather, and Skratch Labs Apple Cinnamon exercise drink mix is designed to be consumed hot, and used in cold wintry conditions.  Your body is well-equipped to handle itself in the heat, but not so much in the cold.  You might not realize it, but you can actually overheat quite quickly in the cold, and the cold dry air contains much less moisture than warm air.  So, hydrate!

Using actual apples & real cinnamon, this is a taste you’re sure to love on those cold rides where you can’t feel your hands or toes, and your nose is a solid frozen block.   At 80 calories per serving, this is your go-to hydration source without being so full of carbs that you feel bloated and don’t want to drink.  And for the over-21 crowd, we hear it makes a great post-ride recovery mixer.

Skratch Apples & Cinnamon is a staff favorite around here, and is sure to find it’s way on the front of your nutrition shelf.  For those mornings you probably should have stayed inside & rode the trainer, a little dose of apples & cinnamon will help your fingers and toes feel a little less frozen.

From Skratch themselves...“You know how great an ice cold drink tastes when it’s hot out?  This is exactly the same, except the complete opposite.”  

Makes sense to me! 


This blog post is brought to you by Chicago staff member, cat 4 cyclist, and part time triathlete Ed Gross. For more info or if you have any questions on the apples+cinnamon, stop by the store!

Posted in Cold Weather, Cycling, Skratch Labs, Training, Triathlon

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