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FASTER: Demystifying the Science of Triathlon Speed

FASTER: Demystifying the Science of Triathlon Speed

by Jim Gourley


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Triathlon is among the world's most gear-intensive sports. The gear you select and how you use it can mean big results--or bigger disappointment.

FASTER takes a scientific look at triathlon to see what truly makes you faster--and busts the myths and doublespeak that waste your money and race times. In this fascinating exploration of the forces at play in the swim-bike-run sport, astronautical engineer and triathlete Jim Gourley shows where to find free speed, speed on a budget, and the gear upgrades that are worth it.

FASTER offers specific, science-based guidance on the fastest techniques and the most effective gear, answering questions like:

  • Which wetsuit is best for me?
  • What's the best way to draft a swimmer?
  • Should I buy a lighter bike?
  • Deep dish or disc wheels?
  • Are lighter shoes faster?
  • Who's right about running technique?

Gourley reviews published studies in peer-reviewed journals to show what scientists have learned about swim drafting, pacing the bike leg, race strategy for short and long-course racing, and the fastest ways to handle transitions.

FASTER will change how you think about your body, your gear, and the world around you. With science on your side, you'll make the smart calls that will make you a better, faster triathlete.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781937715021
Publisher: VeloPress
Publication date: 08/13/2013
Pages: 216
Sales rank: 1,162,296
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Jim Gourley is an astronautical engineer, triathlon journalist, and triathlete. He is a multiple Ironman finisher and a finisher of the Race Across America, one of the most difficult endurance races in the world. Gourley earned a degree in Astronautical Engineering from the United States Air Force Academy and has written on the science and technology of triathlon and cycling for Triathlete, Inside Triathlon, LAVA, USA Triathlon, and 3/GO magazines.

Table of Contents


1 Physics and the Triathlete
The Triathlete's Battle Against the Universe
Getting a Grip: The Importance of Friction
Feel the Flow: A triathlete's introduction to aerodynamics

2 The Swim
Jumping in Head First: How the smart triathlete uses their brain on the swim
Everybody in the Water: The body and the medium
Catching a Clue: Is it better to cup your hands or keep them flat?
Fishtailing: The benefit of drafting other swimmers
Salty Dogs and Flash Freezes: Is there really such a thing as "fast" water?
Like a Sturgeon: Would I be faster if my suit had scales?

3 The Bike and Power
Going in Circles: How the smart triathlete crushes the bike with brainpower
Let's Roll: The body and the medium
Knowing What's Watt: The fundamentals of power on the bike

4 The Bike and Aerodynamics
A Weighty Matter: The (relative) benefit of lightening your load
Mass Effect: The ups and downs of being heavier on descents
Aero Head: The smart way to get fast
Heads Up: The finer points about aero helmets
Let's Have the "Crosswind Talk"
Light at the End of the Tunnel: Comparing wind tunnel numbers
Where the Rubber Hits the Road: Can my choice of tires really make me faster?

5The Run
Looking at the Run like Never Before: As a physicist
The Body & the Medium: The mechanics of running
From Kenyans to Clydesdales: The secrets of running economy
The Big Not-So-Easy: Heat dissipation versus athlete size
Don't Stand So Close to Me: Can you really draft on the run?
A Discussion Worth Repeating: Running on hills
Hermes' Sandals What's to be gained from lighter shoes, shorts and shirts
The Road Less Traveled: How treadmills, trails and beaches affect your run

6 A Scientific Approach to Racing Strategy
Finding Your Happily-Ever-After: Looking at the race from start to finish
Dropping (your concept of) the Hammer: How to finish faster by going slower
It's the Economy, Stupid: What the smart athlete knows about pacing an Ironman effort

About the Author

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