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Tech helps athletes (and reporters) prepare for triathlon

Posted at 5:53 AM, Jan 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-16 11:26:08-05

WYOMING, Mich. — Michigan’s largest triathlon is less than five months away. Athletes are looking for the best way to optimize training with science and technology at Mary Free Bed Sports Performance Lab.

“Data is a triathletes bread and butter, especially as you get further into the sport,” said Jon Conkling, Race Director for Grand Rapids Triathlon.

Anyone can lace up their shoes and hit the pavement but without a specific plan tailored to your own body, you could be running useless miles and even worse, end up hurting yourself.

Todd Buckingham Ph.D., an elite athlete and physiologist at Mary Free Bed’s Sports Performance Lab at Spartan Nash YMCA in Wyoming gives athletes a better understanding of their body’s capabilities with science.

“You’ll actually get measurable data to show you how far and how fast you should be running, what pace, and how many times a week to optimize your training,” Buckingham Ph.D. said.

The performance lab is a unique one-stop-shop giving athletes access to a sports psychologist, physical therapist, and physiologist. The lab offers an I-DXA scan; showing a person’s bone density, fat and muscle percentage. A sweat test calculates a hydration plan based on the electrolytes lost during training. And the VO2 max test helps identify your body's oxygen efficiency. These are the most common tests used to introduce and athlete to their own physiology.

“If you think you can’t do a triathlon, you’re absolutely wrong,” Conkling said.

More than 2000 triathletes are expected to take to the starting line for the Grand Rapids Triathlon's 10th anniversary in June, including our own Brody Carter who is competing in the Olympic Triathlon, a mile swim, 25 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run (10k).

With data and knowledge from Mary Free Bed’s Sports Performance Lab, he’ll put his training to the test on race day; hopeful to be a lean, mean, triathlon machine.