TeamRunningFree pic
TeamRunningFree info

My Day with Robyn Benincasa

Recently, Annette took part in a special training day with the legendary Robyn Benicasa, currently of Team Merrell/Wigwam Adventure. Below are her observations and notes from that day. Although they’re in no particular order you should find them very enlightening! Enjoy! 

  • Wow, that woman is chiseled out of granite.
  • Cola syrup. The same stuff that goes into good ol’ Coke and Pepsi. Available at the pharmacy supposedly, although I haven’t made a trip to verify. Works wonderfully for quelling nausea (eg. From going too fast, food not sitting well). Note to self, find a bottle of this and pack away in gearbox for emergencies.
  • “Mysterioso” shirts, tights, socks etc. Originally from the surf industry. Robyn says this gear keeps you warm when it’s cold out and comfortable when it’s hot. Located in the US, I haven’t found any retailers here although you can buy online.
  • Zanfel. Great for those that suffer from poison ivy. Another reason to take a road trip to the US. Claims to relieve itching in 30 seconds. From the website there is a bit of a “process” to using it. Would be especially convenient if someone could find it in single shot packets. Buy a tube and throw it in the gearbox and hope to never need to use it.
  • Time saving tip: Sew a “pocket” onto the back of your pfd to hold your hydration bladder. Use wire/coat hanger bent in such a fashion to keep the drinking tube right at mouth level. No more excuses to stop paddling to fish your bladder out of the bilge in the canoe. On the other hand… no excuses to stop paddling….
  • Alpine Aire foods. Self-heating food, useful for unsupported transitions. Don’t know how it works, maybe magic. Sure sounds better than a squashed PB&J sandwich packed in the bike box with the best intentions.
  • Carbo Pro by Sportquest. A taste free, non-textured carbohydrate additive that can be combined with any drink to add calories (112 cal per 1 oz of powder). Enhanced gut absorption. Robyn recommends 3 – 4 scoops per Camelbak or 1-½ scoops per water bottle. While it won’t eliminate the need to eat entirely, it will ensure that calories are getting in at a reasonable rate over the course of a long race. I will definitely give this stuff a try.
  • Xinix water purification. 1-866-XINIX4U Orders need to be placed on the phone. Not sure how this compares to products available in Canada such as Pristine. Different strength formulas are available for wound care, disinfection etc..
  • Pacing. Robyn says “don’t go crazy until the last 25% of the race, then cut loose”. Well, I need to stay at 115% of my maximal heart rate for the entire race, just to keep up with my teammates
  • Sure sign that you’re going too fast – loss of appetite, nausea. That explains a lot…. See point # 2 about cola syrup.
  • Sustain electrolyte tablets. Available through Zee Medical ( 2 tablets per waterproof packet. The theory is that these are less likely to succumb to soaking/decomposition in your pack than other electrolyte tablets.
  • Bike racks. For bike sections of 6 hrs+, Robyn and her teammates move as much “stuff” as possible off their backs and onto bike racks. You know, the ones that you used to carry your books after school (dorks unite!)
  • Retractable dog leash tow system. This one gets handed over to the “engineer” of the team. I’m not sure how it gets attached to the bike, but this should make a fun wintertime project. The addition of a section of shock cord to lessen the impact of any hard starts is recommended.
  • Jandd Stem Bag (available at Running Free) or Bento Box for easy access to snacks while biking. After Robyn’s talk, the group went on a casual bike ride and one of the riders commented on my Jandd Bag. I replied that it made eating on the road a lot easier since my teammates won’t allow me to stop to get food out of my pack. Robyn, riding beside us said, “You should NEVER stop”. I think that’s when I lost my chance to join Team Merrell/Wigwam……
  • If you need to stop to attend to “issues” – shoelaces, bladder, maybe a little poison ivy treatment…. Run ahead of your team a sufficient distance to deal with it rather than making them stop and wait. This assumes you aren’t busting a lung just trying to keep up with them.
  • Headlights. Don’t cheap out with the small lights during a night section. You may feel burdened with the extra battery weight but you will more than make up with speed in movement over the teams using penlights to navigate. (See Petzl MYO XP)
  • Fitness and training. For a 24 hour+ race follow the same regimen you would for an Ironman length triathlon. An added benefit is that you can toss off an Ironman just for fun.
  • Swimming is an excellent way to work on VO2 max without subjecting your body to the constant pounding you get from running. Join a Master’s swim program.
  • Navigation practice. Join an orienteering club. Go out to their events, have fun bashing around in the woods and be back in time for lunch. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning. 

I’m sure that this barely scratches the surface of the information Robyn downloaded to us in a casual afternoon. It was great to see that although we have a long way to go, we’re on the right track. Funny, that sounds like the same sort of encouragement you might hear during a race. Thanks to Running Free for sending Rob, Liz and myself out and to Merrell for organizing this great event.

Related Posts

No related posts found.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.