Coach Tip Tuesday: Know Your Equipment. And Take Care of It!
I seriously can’t believe that it’s already been seven days, but here we are…Coach Tip Tuesday!
This week, I want to chat about something super-important: Know your equipment. And then take care of it!
Spring has sprung in a lot of the Northern Hemisphere, and that means a lot of folks are heading outside after a long winter indoors. It’s very important to know your equipment - whether that be running shoes, bikes, etc. - and to take care of it so that it will be safe for you to use and work well for you.
For your footwear: make sure that the tread is solid. A good tread means good traction, which keeps you safer out on the roads and trails that you’re running on. Also, be sure that the shoe is still supportive and doing you justice. I can’t even begin to explain the number of people who try to cheat this and get away with running more miles on their shoes than they should; I see this daily at Fleet Feet Syracuse. More often than not, your shoes will look good, but they will not be supportive anymore.
Do NOT judge this book by its cover; really pay attention to what your body is telling you, and if you know that you’re high on the miles on a particular pair of shoes, go ahead and replace those shoes. A new pair of shoes is cheaper than an injury, believe me. A general rule of thumb is to replace your shoes every 400-500 miles, but if you’re a larger-mass person like myself, you may beat up shoes more quickly than that (I can’t get more than 350 miles on a pair of shoes).
For bikes: be sure that your tires are good to go. If you’ve been using a trainer tire, be sure to switch it to an outdoor tire before you ride outside. DO NOT (under ANY circumstances) try to shortcut this and use a trainer tire outside. If you encounter even a little bit of moisture on the road, it won’t grip, and you’ll be a crash waiting to happen. It’s not worth crashing, trust me. (If you believe nothing else that I tell you, believe this. :D )
Also conduct a safety inspection of your bike’s frame, its brakes, and its overall condition. Make sure that it’s primed and ready to go outside - that the drivetrain is clean and free of debris, and that it’s lubricated and ready to function well. This is a safety thing, but it’s also a performance thing. If your drivetrain isn’t clean, it’ll slow you down.
A safety check of your helmet is also warranted. Helmets are good for one crash and one crash only. If you hit your head with any kind of force with a helmet on, it’s time to get a new one. Helmets do have an effective shelf life; how long that shelf life lasts depends on how well you take care of said helmet. If you store your helmet in a garage or in your vehicle (or in any space where temperatures fluctuate wildly over the course of a year), it will not last as long as a helmet that is stored in climate-controlled conditions. A helmet has saved my life twice, and a lack of a helmet cost my childhood friend her life. This is not something to take lightly. Take care of your helmet; it’s THE most important piece of equipment that most of you own.
If you conduct these quick checks regularly on your gear, you’ll know all of it well, which means that you’ll also know when something is wrong with any piece of equipment that you own. Just today, I saw some damage on one of my bikes. Cosmetically, it looks like a small amount of damage, but in reality, it’s probably enough to make the bike permanently unsafe to ride. If I didn't know my bike as well as I do, I might have ridden it outside (with potentially disastrous results).
Know your gear, my friends. Take care of it, and it’ll take care of you, both in terms of keeping you safe and in terms of helping you reach your full potential!
Coach Laura Henry
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.