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Sprint Triathlon Training 101

Group of individuals participating in a race.

Imagine your adrenaline pumping, sweat glistening on your skin as your stride quickens finally seeing the finish line up ahead—so close, yet so far. It’s like a scene right out of a movie, arms pumped into fists above your head as you cross the finish line, exhausted but feeling accomplished. Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer and Cardiovascular Pro Jonny Wright and Swim Pro Marni Kerner share tips for helping you cross the finish line to your first sprint triathlon.

The basics

First things first, what is a sprint triathlon? A sprint triathlon is a series of three athletic events typically including a 500-meter swim (pool or open water), 12- to 15-mile cycle and 5K run (3.1 miles). Combining three athletic events into one race can seem daunting but breaking it into smaller chunks will help you accomplish the challenge.

If you are starting from scratch, allowing yourself 12 weeks to prepare for the event is optimal. “I recommend my clients who exercise regularly to spend at least eight weeks preparing for their race,” says Wright. This allows proper time to train for each individual aspect of the race. Training three to five days a week (one to two days for each event) is plenty. Be sure to schedule regular rest days into your training as well to prevent injury.

  • Swimming. Swimming is the shortest part of the triathlon at only 20% of the total race. It is important to conserve energy and save your legs for the next two sections. Focus on correct form and steady breathing. You can often make up time in the bike and run portions of your race. A place to start when training for the swimming portion of the triathlon is practicing swimming for 20 minutes or so one to two days a week. Exclude your breaks from total swim time.
  • Biking. Biking is the longest part of the triathlon at 50%. For the bike portion, keep a steady pace throughout the 12 miles and focus on a smooth transition into running. When transitioning off the bike, give your legs a quick stretch to get your blood flowing. Focus on endurance when training for this portion of the race. Practice biking at a steady rate for long periods of time.
  • Running. Your last leg of the race, running, takes up 30% of your time. Instead of sprinting right out of the gate, it is best to slowly build your speed throughout this event and finish strong. When beginning your training, interval training is beneficial. Run for 30 seconds, walk for two minutes and then repeat. As your training progresses, increase the amount of time you’re running and decrease the walking time.

“Focus on your weakest event,” says Wright. “If you’re already an avid swimmer, your training program could include swimming once a week allowing more time for running and biking.” Training varies depending on your fitness level and limitations.

Being mentally prepared for your first triathlon is key. “You will likely hit a wall during your triathlon, especially during the running portion after having already completed the swim and bike part,” says Kerner. “Think about how far you’ve already come and the finish line up ahead to help motivate you to keep going.”

Top tips

Having competed in multiple triathlons each, Wright and Kerner share their top three tips for completing your first sprint triathlon:

Jonny Wright

  • Keep your training simple. The more complicated you make it, the less fun the event will be.
  • Don’t get caught up in the numbers and data. Focus on just completing each section, no matter how long it takes you.
  • Practice your transitions. Brick workouts can help you train for your transitions from swim to bike and bike to run. An example brick workout would be biking a mile and then transitioning to running 800 meters or so. Practicing this multiple times will ensure you are well prepared for race day.

Marni Kerner

  • Ensure you have proper gear. Local bike shops and triathlon shops such as PlayTri rent out necessary gear so you don’t break the bank purchasing for your first triathlon.
  • Consult with a credible professional such as a professional fitness trainer. They can help you build a training program to prevent injury.
  • Do your research. Researching will ensure you know what you’re getting yourself into and not biting off more than you can chew. When exploring specific races, pay attention to the course map, where the transitions are and start times.

Lastly, just have fun! Signing up for your first triathlon can be scary, so make it less intimidating by finding a training group. Running, biking and swimming clubs can be found in most major cities. PlayTri and other local triathlon shops can help connect you with a group and help you register for your first race. On race day, talk to other competitors. You may learn something about the course or gain helpful tips and tricks from seasoned triathletes.

Interested in training for your first triathlon? Get sport-specific and professional fitness training at Cooper Fitness Center. Learn more at cooperfitnesscenter.com. And it’s never too young to start. Get the whole family involved with our youth triathlon clinics.

Chronic Disease Management and Prevention

Backed by science and based on Cooper Aerobics’ 50+ years of health and fitness expertise, Cooper® Tracks is more than just a fitness program. Cooper Tracks combines exercise and education to form specialized programs focused on chronic disease management and prevention. With six tracks—four focused on chronic disease and two on prevention—there’s something suitable for everyone.

Chronic Disease Tracks

Adults with the following would benefit from Cooper Tracks:

  • Cardiovascular: Diagnosed with stable cardiovascular disease, completed cardiac rehabilitation or may not qualify for cardiac rehabilitation or those who have cardiovascular risk factors.
  • Arthritis: Diagnosed with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory arthritic conditions.
  • Diabetes: Prediabetes or those with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
  • Cancer: Diagnosed with cancer or those recovering from cancer at any stage.

Prevention Tracks

To help prevent illness and chronic disease, adults with the following would benefit from Cooper Tracks prevention tracks:

  • Immunity and Reconditioning: Desiring to follow a preventive approach to boost immunity or those recovering from COVID-19 or illness/immobility.
  • Well-Being: Who desire to follow a preventive approach to health, deconditioned or sedentary and inconsistent with regular exercise.

Watch the video below to learn more about Cooper Tracks.

Programs are eight weeks in length with two small group exercise/education sessions per week. Sessions consist of a 50-minute workout including a warm-up, cardiovascular exercise, strength-training and cooldown. Each program begins with a pre-program health assessment which includes testing cardiovascular endurance with a six-minute walk test and a body composition test. Throughout the duration of Cooper Tracks, participants are given a personalized exercise plan as well as education materials, including goal setting, to help them better understand how to manage their chronic disease and live a healthy life. At the conclusion of the program, the same assessment is performed to show individuals how far they’ve come over the eight weeks.

Lotty Repp Casillas joined the Cooper Diabetes Track at Cooper Fitness Center thinking it would invigorate her but she gained so much more. “It has been good to have a group who has diabetes to talk to and figure out how to deal with the good and bad days. I have loved this experience; it’s the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time,” says Casillas. Not only has Casillas gained a better understanding of exercise relating to diabetes, she also bonded with other participants and instructor Debi Wilkins, MS, professional fitness trainer. “Debi has been incredible. She has really taken the time to know and understand how we are dealing with diabetes.”

Cooper Wellness Strategies Programs Director Sheryl Brown, PT, MSPT, says “Cooper Tracks is not your typical small group training. The education component is specific to the chronic disease being addressed which promotes self-efficacy and independence with management of the chronic disease. Cooper Tracks focuses on all four domains of health and wellness—physical, mental, social and behavioral— which sets us apart from other fitness programs.” Addressing all domains of health ensures the participant’s physical, social and emotional needs are being met which fosters long-term compliance and better outcomes for the participant. These programs are individualized based on the needs of each participant while also providing community, accountability, fitness and education in a small intimate setting.

Carla Sottovia, PhD, Director of Fitness and Personal Training Education at Cooper Fitness Center, says “My favorite part of seeing Cooper Tracks come to life is the positive feedback we’ve been given. Participants have enjoyed the program structure and it has been great to see them grow from day one to the end of the program.”

While the chronic disease tracks are specific to individuals living with a chronic disease, Brown and Sottovia agree that the prevention tracks truly are for anyone. “The Well-being Track can apply to anyone because it consists of comprehensive educational content centered around mental health, stress management, body ergonomics and mindful relaxation techniques,” says Brown.

Whether you are diagnosed with a chronic disease or want to focus on prevention, Cooper Tracks is proving that fitness and wellness is for everyone.

Cooper Tracks is currently offered at:

To join Cooper Tracks, contact one of the facilities in your area. Interested in implementing Cooper Tracks in your facility? Visit the Cooper Tracks page on Cooper Wellness Strategies website, call 972.560.3263 or fill out the online form.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Cooper!

March 3, 2014 7 comments

Today at Cooper Aerobics we are celebrating Dr. Cooper’s birthday! He is known throughout the world for being a visionary and as the “father of aerobics.” To celebrate his 83rd birthday, let’s take a look at his accomplishments at age 82 and how he continues to stay young at heart.

Recently, Dr. Cooper participated in an interview with 1080 KRLD-AM radio on “being young at heart” for American Heart Association’s National Heart Month. During the interview, he was asked if he thought of himself more as a teacher or a physician. At first, he said, “both.” Then as he shared his daily and weekly routine, he narrowed it down—he is a teacher. He lives to teach and preach his message to inspire people to live longer, healthier lives.

For example,  Dr. Cooper speaks to a group of students from The Cooper Institute pursuing a personal training certification on the topic of “Exercise is Medicine.” On Feb. 26, Dr. Cooper visited Duncan, Okla., to give the same presentation to Duncan Regional Hospital in celebration of Health Week. The local newspaper’s headline was Aerobics guru: get off the couch to live longer and healthier life. The article reads, “Cooper…presented a rapid-fire PowerPoint presentation of statistics and studies that support a theory now embraced by all health professionals.”

When asked about retirement, Dr. Cooper said, “as long as you love what you’re doing, you will never work a day in your life.”

February 2014

Dr. Cooper was selected to be the honorary chairman for the 2014 Dallas Heart Walk.

He celebrated the completion of the multi-million dollar Cooper Fitness Center renovation with a ribbon run-through with his son, Dr. Tyler Cooper, and Dallas Cowboys Legends Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman.

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January 2014

Dr. Cooper took some time off and enjoyed a 23-day Antarctic cruise with his wife, Millie Cooper.

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December 2013

Dr. Cooper received his ninth honorary degree on Dec. 14 from Ball State University.

November 2013

More than 18,000 experts from around the world came to Dallas for American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions on Nov. 18. Dr. Cooper was the keynote speaker. See news coverage from Huffington Post, Good Morning Texas and KDFW-FOX.

October 2013

As a proud alumnus of University of Oklahoma, Dr. Cooper supported his team at the annual Red River Rivalry game on Oct. 12.

Later that month, Dr. and Mrs. Cooper took time off to visit sunny San Diego.

September 2013

Dr. Cooper is passionate about eliminating childhood obesity.

On Sept. 9, Dr. Cooper and The Cooper Institute’s CEO Blaine Nelson joined with members from the Hungarian government and FitnessGram to formally sign an agreement with the Hungarian School Sports Federation to implement a new International Youth Fitness Test based on FitnessGram.

And on Sept. 10 he celebrated and honored 51 Healthy Zone Schools with Troy Aikman, co-chairman of the Healthy Zone School Recognition Program.

August 2013

Dr. and Mrs. Cooper contributed to churches in Brazil and received a thank you photo from the kids.

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July 2013

Dr. Cooper had his first workout on Cooper Fitness Center’s new, state-of-the-art Precor cardio equipment. These machines were part of the multi-million renovation and are all programed with the latest technology console, called Preva® Networked Fitness.

June 2013

Every year, Drs. Cooper take a father-son trip. In June they traveled to Norway on the “Land of the Polar Bears” National Geographic Expedition.

May 2013

Dr. Cooper honored Fred and Barbara Meyer, long-time Cooper supporters who both passed away within the last year, by planting a new tree at Cooper Aerobics Center with Fred and Barbara’s daughter. The tree and plaque are located in front of The Cooper Institute.

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April 2013

At the BOAO Economic Forum in China on April 6-8, Dr. Cooper participated in a panel with two Nobel Prize laureates in medicine to talk about the importance of preventive medicine and share the Get Cooperized message.

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Dr. and Mrs. Cooper celebrated the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on April 25.

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March 2013

Along with celebrating his 82nd birthday, Dr. Cooper celebrated the 45th anniversary of Aerobics.
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In addition to all of his professional achievements, Dr. Cooper is also a caring grandfather of five to Ridge (11), Tenley (9), Clark (8), Lang (6) and Kai (4).
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Here’s to a happy, healthy 83rd year, Dr. Cooper!

Celebrating 45 Years of Aerobics

45thThis year is a big milestone for Cooper Aerobics. We are celebrating 45 years since Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, published his international best-selling book, Aerobics, inspiring millions of people across the world to join the fitness revolution.

Check out our new infographic to learn more about the impact of aerobics and Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s journey to help people achieve the best possible quantity and quality of life (we’ve included a sneak peek below).

Timeline of AerobicsTo celebrate, we are hosting a “45 and Cooperized” Giveaway on our Facebook page giving you a chance to win a Cooperized prize package!

We will be randomly selecting one winner each Friday throughout the month of March – so  you have four chances to win! Our prize package includes a signed copy of Drs. Kenneth and Tyler Cooper’s book, Start Strong, Finish Strong, a Get Cooperized t-shirt, a travel-size Beautiful Fit body wash from Cooper Spa and a one-month supply of Cooper Complete Health Nutritional Supplements.

To increase your odds of winning a prize, share the fun with your friends and family, so they can have the chance to win some Cooperized gear, too!

Stay tuned for more posts throughout the month on the history of Aerobics and it’s impact around the world.

And we want to hear from you! Leave a comment below to tell us how has Aerobics changed your life.

Interview with Cooper Clinic head of cardiology Dr. Nina Radford about HDL Cholesterol

August 27, 2012 3 comments

Todd Whitthorne recently sat down with Dr. Nina Radford, and discussed HDL Cholesterol. Click here if you would prefer to listen to the interview.

Todd:  Hello, and welcome to another Healthy Living podcast from Cooper Aerobics Center. This is Todd Whitthorne, and I’m joined today by Dr. Nina Radford the head of cardiology at the Cooper Clinic, and Dr. Radford we have a topic today that I think is going to interest a lot of our listeners. Generally when it comes to health, we like to distill things down to takeaways, and when it comes to cholesterol we have a tendency to think that LDL is lousy and the HDL is healthy. There’s a recent study published in May of 2012 in the Lancet that says, well maybe raising HDL is not all that beneficial.  What do we need to know about that?

Dr. Radford: Well Todd, that’s a great question. Historically, when we talk about cholesterol parameters, as you described, we look at LDL, and when it’s high it’s bad for us – it increases the risk of heart attack…, and when we look at HDL, if it’s too low, it increases our risk of heart attack. And those are associations – if we look at a group of people who’ve had heart attacks versus a group of people who haven’t, and you find that high LDL is associated with heart attacks and low HDL is associated with heart attack, but that doesn’t necessarily prove causation.

Now with LDL cholesterol, there have been a number of studies that have gone on from “association” to proving “causation,” and how do we do that? Well first we say “Gosh, if high LDL is associated with heart attack, if we lower it with drugs does that lower the risk?”, and in fact there have been many, many studies showing if you lower LDL cholesterol with diet or medication, you reduce the risk of subsequent heart attacks.

They can also look at from another angle, and that is the genetic angle. There are some people who are actually born with genes that cause their LDL to be low. So, they look in those families who have those genes that cause low LDL, and they ask the question “In those families, is there a reduced risk of having a heart attack?”, and in fact there is. So, whether or not your LDL is low because you take medicine, or you follow specific lifestyles, or it’s low because low LDL happens to run in your family…, either way, both of those situations are associated with a lower risk of heart attack. So you make the transition from “association” to “cause.”

Now investigators are trying to do the same thing with HDL. So we say “Gosh, having a low HDL is associated with heart attacks – having a high HDL must be good for you then!” So we look at studies: If I give you a drug that causes your HDL to increase – something like niacin, for example, will that reduce the risk of having heart? And in fact, there was a recent trial called the Aim-High Trial that took patients who already had a low LDL (so that is they were already on medicine to lower their LDL because they have heart disease), but their HDL was low. Researchers treated patients with a drug that causes the HDL to go and see if it would lower their risk of having another heart event even more! The study did not demonstrate any benefit from increasing the HDL with the medication. So, then all of a sudden, people started to wonder if raising HDL is a good thing, “Is high HDL really protective?” because we didn’t see it in this study. So, what these investigators did in the Lancet study was they looked at people who have a genetic cause of having high HDL – they had genes that ran in their family that actually blessed them with very HDL levels.

Todd:  Dr. Cooper calls that the Methuselah factor. I’ve heard him say that many times.

Dr. Radford: They’re just lucky they were born with a high HDL. Investigators looked at 21,000 people in one study and 12,000 people in another group, so they combined those groups and were looking at over 30,000 individuals who had this gene, and they predicted that the risk of having a heart attack should be lower in these people because they have HDL, and in fact they did not see that the risk was lower.

So here we have this Genetic Study, right on the heels of this Drug Trial, and all a sudden people are saying “Hey, I thought having a high HDL was good for you! What’s going on here?” Well, you have to be careful about dismissing decades of historical data based on a couple of studies.

For example, in this study where they gave a drug to increase the HDL to see if it would reduce risk, well we know that LDL, the bad cholesterol, is a bigger driver of risk than HDL. So if I lower your LDL and get it super low with a drug, plus you’re on an aspirin, and an ACE inhibitor, and fish oil, and you’re meditating, and you’re doing all the right things…, and on top of all those really good things, I add another good thing, it may be that the effect is not big enough that you can see it. Because you’re doing six other good things, and when you add the seventh the benefit isn’t big enough. And so, that may be part of.

But then when you look at this Genetics Study, and you add it to the Drug Study, what’s the story? Well, the story is this: It may be that having a high HDL is a marker for some other thing that you’re doing that’s good. So, for example, we know that if you want to increase your HDL and you exercise, you can do it. But what if exercise causes another thing to happen? So, and I’m going to make it up….. Let’s say exercise increases your “Todd” factor. So, if you’re a regular exerciser, your “Todd” factor goes sky high. Now, your HDL also goes sky high, and we can measure the HDL, but we don’t know how to measure the “Todd” factor.

Todd:  At least not yet!

Dr. Radford: So, it may be that HDL is kind of going along for the ride and the real benefit of exercise is the “Todd” factor that we’re not smart enough to measure yet. So, that’s what we’re not clear about.

Now, should you stop doing things we know will raise HDL? Like being at your ideal body weight, taking some fish oil, exercising regularly? Absolutely not! But whether or not you should take medications to raise your HDL, beyond the other good heart healthy things that you’re doing, is not clear, and what most physicians are doing is taking it on a case-by-case basis.

If you’re taking a medication to raise your HDL don’t stop it, because we’ve only got that one Trial that’s raised some questions…, but it’s a good thing to ask your doctor when you see them next. You’re reviewing all your meds – it’s a good thing to do every year – and say you’re taking this for your blood pressure, taking this for cholesterol, this for prostate, this to make your hair shiny, etc. Every year you’ll want to look at all those meds and talk with your doctor and say “Do I need to take each of these (medications)?” And, if you happen to be on a drug for raising HDL, it’s a good time to review (taking it) and decide if you still need it.

Todd:  So, where are we from your perspective – historically, it’s the question that comes up all the time – “Is at HDL? Is it LDL? Is it the combination, that atherogenic index, of total cholesterol divided by HDL?” Dr. Nina Radford, head of cardiology at the Cooper Clinic, what you think is the most important component? Or, is there a magic number we need to be thinking about, as the average patient?

Dr. Radford: Well, that is a great question! It depends a little bit on what your other risk factors are; what your age is; and what your gender is. So, for example, compared to men, HDL is probably a bigger driver of risk in women. But that has to do with probably differences in our hormones. LDL is still a driver of risk in women – it doesn’t mean you can willy-nilly have your LDL be high and super size your fries, but it looks like some studies suggest in women before they’re had their first heart attack or heart disease HDL is a big driver of risk.

In men, LDL appears to be a bigger driver. When you talk about patients who already had their first heart attack; had a stent; have heart disease…, LDL is a very big driver of risk, and needs to be very specifically controlled.

Todd:  In both men and women?

Dr. Radford: Absolutely! In both genders! So it depends a little bit on the age and the clinical background in terms of which factors I’ll be more concerned about.

Todd:  So the takeaway is case-by-case, patient-by-patient, one size does not fit all?

Dr. Radford: Absolutely.

Todd:  Very good. Dr. Nina Radford, the head of cardiology at Cooper Clinic, great information as always! We appreciate your time Dr. Radford.

Folks, if you want more information, you can always sign up for the Get Cooperized Newsletter. We’ll have more podcasts in the very near future. Stay with us. We’ll see you soon.