life, Training

Memorable Faces at White Rock Lake

I’ve lived near the lake most of my life. But it wasn’t until the last 12 years that I could call myself a “regular” in regards to cycling or running around Lawther or the lake path.

This post is dedicated to the people I’ve seen the most during that time frame (and that are memorable). I don’t know any of their names, but maybe you do.

THE WAVER – This man must be the happiest of all lake rats. He usually rides a hybrid bike, perfect for taking one hand off the handle bars and using it to wave to every human he sees. One time I saw him wave to 10 people individually in less than 5 seconds it seemed! He will wave at you regardless if you are facing him or not. Just smiling away and waving, determined to not allow any walker, runner, cyclist, or stroller, to go by him without receiving a wave. Although I’ve never seen him standing, he seems tall and usually wears a white sleeveless tee. Parks near Boy Scout Hill I think. Friendly dude!

THE FREE ADVICE GUY – How can you not see this guy and his entourage? He bring chairs and a big sign that reads “Free Advice”. When heading south on West Lawther from Mockingbird, you’ll see him near a parking lot on your left before you reach Branchfield. Only weekends I believe. Sometimes he is alone when no one wants free advice, but most of the time there are several people sitting with him. I’m still not sure if it’s the same people every time or if he’s attracting new customers. At any rate, this man is helping people with what he knows I suppose! A staple at the lake.

THE MAYOR – The runner (or shuffler) gets his nickname because I’ve never seen him running too long without stopping to chat it up with folks. He also usually has a small group running with him. I imagine if he’s looping the lake it must take him 3 hours or so, given his pace and inclination for wanting to be mayor-like and all. For some reason I want to say his name is David but I’m really not sure. I really like this guy because he sports the calf-high, white tube socks!! It looks cool; at least I think so. Haven’t seen him as much lately, so I almost omitted him but due to past consistency and the tube socks he made the cut. Must be nice to be the “mayor” of the WR hike and bike trail.

THE ASIAN ULTRA-RUNNER – Not much to say here. He is light as a feather. Always running. I’m sure multiple loops. Always there! Did I mention grasshopper, light as a feather? Not very fast but I get the impression he might do 50 and 100-milers. Just a hunch. Parks at TP Hill. If you run at the lake then you’ve definitely seen this guy at some point.

THE CYCLIST – Since I live very near the lake, I am fortunate to use it a lot and there are times when I feel like I have it all to myself…it could be super early, or just about to rain, or a little on the cold side, whatever the case you get the point. Just as soon as I’ve have the thought “It’s nice to be here all alone,” this cyclist turns up! He is most always wearing a Dallas Bike Works kit and glasses. Not sunglasses. Glasses. He is always usually traveling against the grain. Either he rides all the time and nets 400 miles a week or is a cyclist brother from a different mother and prefers the unusual times to utilize the lake like me.

THE INDIAN KoM – This endurance athlete usually wears a full-zip jersey but always leaves it unzipped. Even in cold weather (if my memory serves me right), he will layer up but will still wear the jersey like this. It’s his flair I suppose! He is KoM for “King of the Mountains” in the Tour de France – on the hard climbing stages, it’s not uncommon for the riders to unzip their jerseys. I see this athlete running occasionally too, but he seems more in his element on the bike. Always training and usually traveling against the grain (counterclockwise).

Who am I missing?

See you out there!

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coaching, Training, triathlon

Notes from Day 3 of USA Triathlon’s Elite Coaching Mentorship Program

Ken Axford – Observation of Elite Athletes’ Swimming Session and Swim Discussion

Coach Ken Axford coaching elite (Hunter Kemper in orange cap, near side).

Coach behavior: chit chat and loose on deck before workout begins; very active during workout with “signals” organized with the athletes beforehand so he can give them feedback during a long swim set without them stopping; method of delivery confident yet not overbearing, respectful, providing evidence and reasons as to “why” for every drill and set; there is purpose and something for each athlete to focus on for each swim set; very engaged throughout

Good swimmers hold their form when they’re tired.

Tuesday and Wednesday Elite Squad swim workouts

BPA = best possible average

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Bike handling “push the bike away” drill: take body as far as you can to one side of the bike, coast and then steer; hear the side wall of the tire on the ground

Cycling mentality: race your way into shape. In triathlon if you do that you race your way out of shape.

Tempo blocks – work up to 6 X 10 minute intervals

Threshold blocks (never more than 30 minutes) – work up to 6 X 5 minute intervals from 6 X 3 minutes

All elites on long runs are doing the cycle of 9 minutes run, 1 minute walk. Walking is also worked into tempo runs as well.

There is always dynamic warm up before running.

One brick a week generally works well.

Workout plans done based on time not mileage.

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Melissa Mantak – Developing an Elite Squad: Balancing Elite and Age Group Performance and the

Different Performance Models

“Late Starters” and “Career Changers” – because triathlon is in its infancy as an Olympic sport, there are initiatives to help guide athletes that didn’t start triathlon until their teens or twenties

Important for youth to experience racing at high levels to get used to the pressure and to learn how to get to the place where the pressure is more of a non-factor.

In assessing an athlete’s capacity to be an elite, you must consider: Do they have the time for it and the ability?

You bring on athletes to a squad for different reasons. Must think about the chemistry of the group. Compatibility is very important.

The cross support between age groupers and elites provides for great interaction among a squad. Inspiration and motivation carries across the board. (e.g., Siri Lindley’s group)

Discussion around why the US’s best ITU athletes are all coached by International coaches. US triathlon coaching education is behind the curve.

There is support available ($) for those wanting to develop elite squads but it has to be 99% your initiative to start and to maintain it.

In running squad you must balance Team Dynamics vs. Individual Needs (with various adaptation rates) – all makes for a tough balance.

–2013 ITU Science & Triathlon Coaching–

Case Study of Elite Britain Tri Team in Leeds: atmosphere of extreme competition; exceptional athletes w/ exceptional coaching; exceptional attention to detail (e.g., Malcolm Brown leading up to 2012 London games, once a month he would go to the hotel the team would be staying in during the Olympics to meet the staff, get used to the food, stay a night, etc. – went to great extents in attempt to “control the environment”!); use Alter G for speed work; would bring in outside athletes to “stir the pot” that were great champions to challenge the team; Always training in rain and cold (mental toughness); no culture of ENTITLEMENT; intentional effort to empower the athletes to be decision makers (discussion around the controversy of when Johnny took his penalty during the Olympics); Manages the “noise” around the athletes; Alistair has a friend be the filter of all communication and only brought him the important stuff; feeling of we are “in it together”; always show confidence even when you’re not; team went to Switzerland and higher altitude; “old school” mentality: no power meters so athletes could not obsess over it.

The Alistair and Johnny dynamic was one of love but extreme competition. Before Olympics, Alistair was in a boot for 10 weeks and only did 3 races and 10 run workouts before winning the Gold Medal. He did lots of aqua jogging and used the Alter G.

Case Study of Darren Smith’s squad: works with a lot of the career changes and late starters; has a very robust pre-screening process (which includes financial, behavioral, potential to improve, motivation, coachability, skills, etc.); creates a culture of respect; doesn’t do a lot of training competitions; does a complete synthesis of racing skills day-in and day-out; uses respiratory work and accelerometers; no power meters or LT testing; does NOT use periodization

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Melissa Mantak – Periodization and Long Term Planning for the Elite Triathlete

You need to plan – you need to be flexible – and you need to change it up!

It’s important to create a plan and to have confidence in it. Include your athletes in the planning and remember to be flexible with it.

There is no such thing as spending too much time with the basics. There is no detail too small.

The dosage of hard efforts is important to get right (within the workout, within the week, etc.).

Before Gwen Jorgensen was full-time triathlete, MM remembers being at the airport with a team of professionals and the other athletes were napping and Gwen at the time was still an accountant so she was working. This impedes ability to recover!

Tudor Bompa and the concept of Super-compensation

Detraining or Reversibility (e.g., When coaching Matt Chrabot, she emphasized rest too much – the goal is enough recovery not too much to where you detrain!)

General rule of thumb is not very much taper with elites because they will detrain very quickly.

Bike skills one of the most important things to plan for in ITU racing.

What type of RESPONDER is your athlete?

  • Fast adapter – low volume: responds quickly to hard training doses but can only handle small amounts
  • Fast Adapter – high volume: responds quickly to hard training and can handle
  • Slow Adapter – low volume of intensity: typical Ironman athlete… responds slowly to hard training doses but can only handle small amounts
  • Slow Adapter – high volume of intensity: responds slowly to hard training and can handle a lot

Don’t pigeon-hole your athletes into these categories as they will move through them sometimes as they progress.

Concept of non-linear training is that you never have one system that falls behind. Keep the critical energy systems moving year-round.

One drawback to traditional periodization is that it’s an oversimplified planning model.

No one best model for all individuals.

Emphasis or “Block” periodization (a non-linear) – Verkhoshansky and Issurin

Laying out a yearly plan is not derived from scientific research. Periodization is not a science. Apply the principles of planning and “change it up” frequently.

Look up Jon Kailey – Periodization and Paradigms in the 21st century – most important thing is to CHANGE IT UP! Conclusions: high volume and threshold is the foundation of the plan all year.

Nordic ski and biathlon German model of periodization: similar conclusions of the need for aerobic volume and interval training.

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coaching, Training, triathlon

Notes from Day 2 of USA Triathlon’s Elite Coaching Mentorship Program

As a reminder, these notes are not comprehensive; the merely reflect what I personally found most interesting or helpful. Enjoy!

Daily Training Environment – Ken Axford

USA Triathlon’s Elite squad – current training load volume of ~22 hours a week:

  • 5-6 swims a week (60-75 minutes at 3200-4200 meters) – (Ken’s approach is very technique based)
  • 4-5 hours a week of running (35-45 miles), usually over 6 days a week
  • 6-7 hours a week of biking over 5-6 days a week
  • 5-2hours a week of strength over 2 sessions a week

Crash recovery skills are very important – the Elite squad practices these (e.g., how fast can you change out a wheel, put chain back on, etc.)

The athletes need the OW simulation in the pool, not only for specificity but for CONFIDENCE (e.g., particularly in knowing they can get out fast and hang on to the pace).

Some athletes don’t swim on Saturday because they do fine on 5 days a week and are coming out with the first pack very easily. It’s important to remember the principle of individuality though; for example, Katie Hursey leads the ITU females out of the water and swims only 3 days a week. But when she had a bike crash and broke some ribs, she upped her swimming to 5 days a week so that she could maintain and then increase her aerobic capacity.

KA mentions this is not a formula for every squad; it’s just what works for his group, given their ages, maturity level, school schedules, etc.

Currently, athletes preparing for the ITU race in Monterrey are acclimating by starting trainer rides with sweatshirts and other layers and then de-robing as they get excessively hot. For the ultra-committed athletes, he might have them set up their trainers in the bathroom with a hot shower running to simulate hot AND humid conditions.

How Ken sets up cost for athletes: 20% of race winnings with a minimum of $300/month

On the high end, some ITU coaches are commanding close to $800 to $1k a month and on the low end, $200 a month.

AURUM project – goal is to bridge the gap between Junior/Collegiate Elites and the USAT High Performance pipeline.

How can Youth/Junior programs compete with swim and run scholarships that athletes are being offered? How can those athletes be kept in the pipeline with triathlon as their priority when the allure of these scholarships is so strong?

From Andy Schmitz: Have a thoughtful conversation with the athlete and the parent.  What is the athlete’s priority? There are many considerations, with financial only being one of them. It must be the right environment, with the right style of coach, at the right time, with the right student body, etc.

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Barb Linquist – College Recruitment Program (CRP)

Posed the question: If you could methodically recruit swimmers and runners from the college realm, how might that be done? Then someone came along and said, “How’d you like that to be your job?”

Three Arms of CRP:

  • Recruitment (How do we get the word out?)
  • Assessment (Do these athletes have Olympic medal potential?)
  • Mentorship (Now what do we do with them once we believe in them?)

USAT Coaches can help Barb in identifying athletes across the nation. A simple email with a link to a recent race is great. Know the standards, know the testing protocols, and know the goal of CRP: Olympic medalists.

It’s not just number crunching with the swim and run assessments – there are many “intangibles” to consider: Is the athlete coachable? Organized? Do they respond quickly? Do they ask good questions? Do they have to be motivated to do a simple recovery run? Can they respond well to a long email she sends them? (If not then it’s a good “weed out” process).

The Ideal Recruit: swimmer from age 8 to 15 and then in high school at age 15 switch over to running and improve skills to be good enough to run in college. Some mountain biking (or cyclocross) is a plus to develop bike handling skills. This is the ideal situation.

Steeplechasers are now being looked at as they tend to be a bit stronger than the distance-only folks and these athletes tend to be good on the bike as well.

The fatigue index of the best runners is somewhere between 3% and 5%, when doing the assessment of [400m all out, 7-minute rest, then 200m + 1600m].

As of late, USAT has leaned more towards recruiting the runners than the swimmers.

Men take longer than women to develop: women can race WTS within a year of being in the sport while male runners will spend more time developing the swim and bike.

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Running in ITU – Lindsay Hyman

Referencing The Lore of Running, by Tim Noakes – There is a chart, given optimal body weight and fitness, which predicts the potential that an athlete can reach for running events of varying distances. (The chart may also account for differing weather conditions and other variables).

In the last 12 months of ITU racing for Continental Cups:

  • The Top 30 Men for a sprint race ranges from 4:40 per mile to 6:07 per mile.
  • The Top 30 Men for an Olympic race ranges from 5:31 per mile to 6:07 to mile.
  • The Top 15 Women for a sprint race ranges from 5:29 per mile to 6:27 per mile.
  • The Top 15 Women for an Olympic race ranges from 5:58 per mile to 6:27 per mile.

The athletes that do the best on the run tend to fade the LEAST, with a 3-5% fatigue ratio (roughly 10 seconds per mile, even though the data can be misleading as it’s more common for the first two miles to be similar in time with the third further off).

Negative splitting on the run is not common in Continental Cups.

In the last 12 months of ITU racing for World Cups:

  • The Top 30 Men for a sprint race ranges from 4:40 per mile to 5:14 per mile.
  • The Top 30 Men for an Olympic race ranges from 5:00 per mile to 5:24 to mile.
  • The Top 15 Women for a sprint race ranges from 5:14 per mile to 5:48 per mile.
  • The Top 15 Women for an Olympic race ranges from 5:38 per mile to 6:09 per mile.

In WC’s it’s not about “fading the least” as much as it is RACING THE RACE.

More tactics come in to play, so that doesn’t always mean racing the “fastest” race.

In the last 12 months of ITU racing for WTS Cups:

  • The Top 30 Men for a sprint race ranges from 4:40 per mile to 5:19 per mile.
  • The Top 30 Men for an Olympic race ranges from 4:43 per mile to 5:09 to mile.
  • The Top 15 Women for a sprint race ranges from 4:53 per mile to 5:51 per mile.
  • The Top 15 Women for an Olympic race ranges from 5:21 per mile to 5:48 per mile.

Going from WC to WTS racing on the men’s side takes about 2 years; on the women’s side it could take as little as 3 months.

Case Scenario: How did your athlete originally get to a 17-minute 5k? Was it volume or was it speed? If we want to get back to that speed, do we use the same approach as before or different?

Considerations for effective running:  head position, arm carriage, forward lean, foot contact position, and range of motion for hips, knees, and ankles.

Many coaches become a jack of many things and master of nothing. Build a team of experts around you and be a master of something and don’t feel like you have to do it all yourself.

Speed before distance. (When LH polled 6 elite ITU high performance coaches in her network, 4 answered speed before distance, 2 answered distance before speed).

Stride Rate – less ground contact time is the goal

It’s harder to run off a volatile bike than off a steady bike (i.e., the more steady they can keep the LT [and the fewer spikes in VO2 and peaks in power] the better).

Athletes that only ride the trainer tend to be more inconsistent on the race course and have higher fear factors on the road.

Peripheral elasticity is critical in turning big engines into running speed. Neuromuscular training is very important!

4 book recommendations (in order of importance!): Science of Running, Lore of Running, Jack Daniel’s Running Formula (book #2), Road To The Top

Cycling Power – Lindsay Hyman

Power = (Force X Distance) / Time

Make sure you use a device that measures the power NOT that calculates it.

Why use power? To track and assess training and racing.

Power meter prices are now coming down. Stages may be most affordable now.

Interesting notes: If a professional in a race has a TV camera on him/her (via motorcycle or car) then his/her power meter may not work (it will cut in and out) because the signals get crossed. At the velodrome, wired power meters are better than wireless because of all of the devices in the crowd that will potentially cross signals.

For intervals, using heart rate is an inferior method when compared to using power.

If you have different power meters on different bikes, then you need to test your power on each bike.

LH always does blood LT AND a field test to create custom wattage zones.

File Analysis Example– WKO+ Scatterplot overlayed with 3 different triathletes:

Being inefficient on 180 degree turns will require more wattage to then keep up with the pack and thus negatively affect the run. Higher cadence and limiting power spikes (to only “when necessary”) are keys to running optimally off the bike.

Example Race Preparation PowerPoint (for Gold Coast): pictures (LH watches TV coverage and takes screen shots AND/OR uses Google Maps) of the start line for athletes to visualize (including counting how many steps it takes to get to the water), pictures of each buoy and how wide the turns are, surface quality of the roads, sighting landmarks, # of turns on bike course and at what angles, elevation charts and visuals of each spike, landmark at which there is 60 seconds to go in the race, and other detailed course reconnaissance. Details details details!

Benchmark Testing and Mechanics Assessment: How Often to Test, What Kinds of Tests, and What to Do with the Data – Lindsay Hyman

We don’t test for the sake of testing. We test so that we can apply and use it in some way in the future. The results of testing should be able to tell us something.

The first rule of testing is to do it often and consistently so that eventually it’s just “another day” for the athlete (and so that test anxiety is a non-factor).

Application of the test – Move forward with the plan? Change training? Add in more recovery? Change system focus?

Goal of LAB testing: be able to control almost every variable (closed environment).

Do lab testing on back-to-back days to minimize the loss of training that occurs due to spreading out the tests.

Heart rate tends to be higher when testing outside vs. testing in a controlled lab environment.

Benchmark testing: not always consistent (the same test every time) but done in a testing environment.

LH makes a year calendar mapping out lab testing, fielding testing, benchmark testing, acclimatization, and racing.

BSX evaluation: Good noninvasive test but doesn’t provide all the information along the way (during the test) that she likes to analyze. It currently only provides break point (and an accurate one, at that). She thinks it might be better applied in a training (not lab) environment.

Showed how she uses VO2 max and LT tests to determine how training plan might be altered based on the results of these tests (i.e., more LT vs. top end work).

Many times when testing reveals that the athlete is not improving, the athlete is doing more training on his/her own which is getting in the way of the actual improvements.

Body composition is really taboo among athletes and coaches, and that’s a shame. When athlete is in a good state of mind for the testing, monitoring is very advantageous.

If you’re on a bike or run focus and you’re not seeing improvements, then after a dedicated recovery phase, you ought to be seeing improvements then.

Perhaps age 15 is the first time a junior might consider doing LT testing and even then, maybe once a year.

Telling someone to hold a certain power number during an LT test is NOT going to produce reliable data! You need a CompuTrainer or KICKR so that you can control the wattage.

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coaching, Training, triathlon

Notes from Day 1 of USA Triathlon’s Elite Coaching Mentorship Program

This week I am one of seven coaches nationwide fortunate to attend a unique offering from USAT at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. While the knowledge is fresh on my mind, I want to share with you some key points or “quick hits” about what we learned during today’s session.

I tried to capture the essence of each topic and write down the items I personally found most interesting and helpful.

Today’s presenters were Chris Baker and Mike Ricci – both outstanding. Here are a few takeaways…

Chris Baker – ITU Points

Knowing the different between ITU points and ITU rankings is paramount.

Great opportunity in 2015 if you think you want to coach elites: Go to Chicago this year for Grand Championship to observe athletes and coaches (e.g., where are coaches standing, how are they interacting with the athletes, etc.)

It is interesting that more emphasis is put on Grand Final (GF) than on the Olympics from the athlete perspective; this is mainly due to financial considerations (500k at GF vs. 25k at OLY).

It is a 10-15 hour-a-week job just to manage the points and the rankings for the US team alone!

If you haven’t won a Continental Cup (CC), then why would the athlete be moving up to a World Cup (WC)? … “I believe in experiencing the stages of success.”

Going from CC to WC to World Triathlon Series (WTS) and then GF and experiencing this success at each level is so important because of the CONFIDENCE it brings.

Current RIO 2016 Strategy: Men’s US Olympic field not as deep, so for the 3 available Olympic spots, coaches will pick one person to win and then 2 to support as domestiques – at the Olympic level it’s a team sport not individual! Many elites do not like this. However, women’s field much stronger and can pick three athletes to contend.

Steve Kelley is great to work with and one to know for anything related to youth/junior development.

Important coaching objectives for youth and juniors:

  1. Skill/technique (flip turn, turn a buoy, mount/dismount, the list goes on and on!)
  2. Games, fun and challenges, structured PLAY vs. a training session (it’s got to be fun and dynamic)
  3. Use the word “challenge” instead of “workout”

Video and Mechanical Analysis – Chris Baker

Best reasons to use video: 1) performance enhancement and 2) injury prevention (they go hand-in-hand)

The Olympic Training Center uses the upgraded version of Ubersense.

Video is the most important tool you can utilize as a coach.

Every training session has a purpose and objectives (e.g., A recovery run (4min run, 1min walk) with a focus on arm mechanics – Athletes always have a FOCUS for each s/b/r set). Not as important with other populations perhaps but a necessity with elites. Sessions must be designed around improving technical skills, efficiency, economy, and other factors.

Have an athlete watch a video of another athlete that is doing something well; then immediately have that athlete close their eyes and visualize doing the same skill from multiple angles. HIGHLY, HIGHLY EFFECTIVE. Within a session, pull athlete out of water and use black-out goggles to enhance visualization experience.

Show side-by-side video analysis of one athlete with another, and side-by-side with the same athlete showing today and 6 months previous – great way to show progression and to give feedback.

Look at run mechanics after a hard bike, after a hilly bike, with regular run shoes, with racing flats, etc. Form changes (sometimes drastically) after all of these situations (and in different ways), and so there are lots of areas to show the athlete where improvements can be made.

Shoe selection – take video camera to run shop and if a treadmill is available, take multiple angles with 4-5 pairs of shoes to determine ground force reactions on physiology, susceptibility to pronation, etc.

Keep a video library (one for skills/drills AND one for each individual athlete). Create key points to focus on with voice-over.

Make sure that you value your service and charge accordingly for video as most coaches do not offer this service.

Video is extremely useful for buy-in on getting athlete to incorporate recovery techniques (stretching, etc.) because you can show them how their gluts are shutting down or alignment issues, etc.

Each style of wetsuit has different drag, so video each wetsuit and the impact on form to see which is best.

Katie Hursey was terrible on handling the bike in 2013 and would fall down at 180 degree turns. She got better at OTC, now on the ITU circuit she is really good. Showing the youth and juniors that you can get better at skills by using Katie’s videos as proof and as motivation.

There are significant benefits to drafting on the run. Use video to show athletes how they are or are not doing this properly.

Video is also a great way to see if the changes we are asking athletes to make are actually working; we are not perfect so not everything we suggest is going to result in the performance we had in mind.

Key points:

  • Swim – video athletes sighting and then without sighting – this is very race specific. Every swim workout Chris writes has sighting in it – e.g., 6 times per 50 for a 500).
  • Bike – video athletes on the trainer and the open road, before and after a hard swim. All of his elites race crits once/twice a week – it’s a very important skill set. Compare power data with more and less hip angle (tweaking bike fit) and the impact it has on the run.
  • Run- video athletes on the treadmill, road, and track, in training and racing shoes, and before and after a hard bike.

Summary : Video Analysis is a continual, integrated process dealing the following five areas – preparation, observation, evaluation, feedback, monitoring.

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The Business of Coaching– Mike Ricci

The #1 way of advertising after 15 years is still: WORD OF MOUTH. Be nice to people and do a great job and others will find out about you.

Writing an article is better advertising than paying for an ad in a magazine.

Credibility will allow you to charge more but be aware that when you do, you must BE MORE yourself in order to justify the jump.

It’s possible that you don’t know why you’re clients really stay with you…you think it’s the results but don’t underestimate the power of the relationship, the friendship, the hand-holding, the listening – these reasons are why people will STAY with you.

Diversify revenue streams.

Along his way to the goal of 100 clients, he imploded at 53. Since then he’s gone from 53 to 30 to 20 to 15 and now less than 10. Of course he charges more now but with 53 clients he had a strong relationship with about 5-6; the rest just floating out there, so he advises against doing this!

Mike writes training plans for Training Peaks – soon he will have more than 300 and is moving towards his goal of $10k/month.

A business mentor challenged him to list 50 things he could do to increase his revenue (i.e., 50 different ideas). He got to 23 and then was stuck. The mentor said, “What about ‘buying CTS’?” The point is not about CTS but rather, to dream big and think outside the box of things you can do to have a thriving and growing business.

You have to take a step back from your business (out of the minutia) in order to take two steps forward. Read the E-Myth.

What separates you from the next guy? Product differentiation very important.

Be able to justify why you’re more expensive. Sell others on VALUE not price.

Weak sales people usually depend on brochures and websites (as opposed to explaining to people what the actual value is).

The favorite and ONLY station your client listens to is WIFM – What’s In it For Me!!

You can be Wal-Mart (everything to everyone) or you can be Mercedes-Benz (sell to a specific person). Over 95% of d3 clients are executives, which makes it easier to get more executives because they hang in the same circles.

Google “Hedgehog Concept” from Jim Collin’s book Good to Great – Find your “sweet spot”.

What Mike did at the beginning for a newsletter was to force himself 1) to write 2 articles a month…now after 12 years lots of content (500+ articles). And 2) build relationships. Those two things are critical.

Write down the type of athletes you want to coach. Gotta know where you are going.

Follow your passion, the money will come.

Team Leadership and Organization – Mike Ricci

Mike Ricci’s style – loves discipline and structure and that’s what brings out the best in his athletes. Must find what works for you and what is empowering for the athletes.

The “ability to inspire” is one of the most important leadership qualities to have.

Coach and athlete philosophies must align. You must convince the athlete that what you’re going to do will work. This is a constant process and requires a great relationship with the athlete.

Of course the plan has to be good, but you have to be able to EXCEED their expectations of what they even have of themselves (e.g., an athlete that wants a 20-minute 5k…Mike is thinking “how can I get him to 19:30”)

Treat everyone fairly, but don’t treat everyone the same.

Once a Runner – great book to put on your reading list.

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life, Training

One-Trick Pony

Jordan Spieth (21 years old) won the Masters yesterday. There’s something about the humility of this young man I really like.

His mother, Chris Spieth, is quoted as saying “Jordan wouldn’t be where he’s at today if he didn’t grow up with Ellie.”

Ellie is Jordan’s 14-year-old sister with neurological disorder putting her on the autism spectrum. When reflecting on the legacy he will leave, Jordan said “I’m a professional golfer, but I want what I do on the course I was to be secondary to what I do off the course.” And I believe him.

What Jordan’s mom said rung my bell a little bit. She said that one of the reasons Jordan is successful is because he realizes that real life isn’t at the Masters. He’s a great golfer but has made it known by his actions that he has higher callings – of being a brother, a son, and a philanthropist. No one-trick pony here. There is something very inspiring about all of this.

Even with his priorities in order, I’m sure it hasn’t been easy and that he has missed important birthdays, weddings, and other family events…failing those closest to him many times over perhaps. To get to the highest level of anything requires sacrifice, and surely he isn’t perfect.

But when you get beyond the reality of it all he has seemingly struck a balance that has allowed him to keep the important things in perspective while achieving greatness in his sport. A real rarity.

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There are many parts of myself that I want to develop. If I’m not careful, I’ll focus on one thing and one thing only; neglecting many other colorful parts of myself.

Over the last decade or so I’ve been really immersed in the endurance and triathlon culture and have loved it. Where I can improve is in the sheer amount of attention I give to it, leaving space so that I don’t experience an incompleteness in other areas.

When the clues presented themselves years ago I chose to ignore and “double down”, determined to stay focused and apply even more time and energy to the endeavor.

The unfounded fear is that by giving up time in my core competency, that I’ll become weaker (in knowledge) and fall behind.

By exploring other areas, I’ve found it has strengthened my mind and made me that much sharper in the areas where people rely on me the most. Being a one-trick pony reminds of Nicholson in The Shining, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”! At least, that has been the case for me.

Some things I’ve explored, Googled, and/or even purchased lately to change it up:

  • Historical fiction
  • Masticating juicers
  • 529 & Vanguard Index funds, Saving
  • Starting a compost pile
  • Higher Education doctorate
  • Non-beef/chicken/fish protein
  • Journaling and meditation
  • Minimizing footprint on planet
  • Living simply

Very few have mastered the art of balancing the pursuit of excellence with having an authentic, deeper sense of meaning and purpose.

The key seems to becoming more aligned with your mission in life. Then with the right steering and direction, performance gains come easily.

Smile and Live Free,

David

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coaching, leadership, Training, triathlon

A Chat with Mark Allen – 6 time Ironman World Champion

Mark Allen is one of the most recognizable names in triathlon. He’s probably best known for winning in Kona 6 times.

Listening to Mark speak is quite a treat because he makes every word count. He has the gift of communicating in three sentences what might take others three paragraphs. Speaking simply and methodically, he offers profound lessons from his days as an athlete and now a coach.

Here are the highlights from my conversation with Mark: (Note: Because the interview was NOT recorded, many of the answers are paraphrased. I’ve done my best to be as accurate as possible.)

David Bertrand (db): What originally drew you into coaching and what do you enjoy most about it?

Mark Allen (ma): I got an email from a guy in Chicago, and he asked if I’d coach him. I thought, ‘Why not?’ So I started with one client and grew from there. The most I’ve had is 20 to 30 people. The idea for online coaching came from that.

db: What is your coaching philosophy and what if anything, do you consider to be unique or core to your approach?

ma: Everything people get is based on 15 years of personal experience racing at the highest level.

I sifted through lots of information over those years. Most of it didn’t work. Or it may have worked short-term but not long-term. 

One thing that’s unique is the deep, personal experience that happens when I coach athletes.

All training intensities are based on heart rate…it’s the #1 thing you can do to help you regulate training intensity. Some coaches only use watts and pace; I don’t do it that way as it doesn’t address the physiological aspects of where you’re at with your fitness on that day.

db: Did you receive any advice from early on in your coaching career, which has been something you draw strength from and/or something you consider to be a great piece of wisdom?

ma: The thing that’s helped me the most is the questions I get from my athletes. If I get the same questions over and over, then I have to be willing to looks at things differently.

Coaching is so multi-leveled…depending on how personally engaged you are, it becomes more about helping athletes through your wording and stories and helping them to stay in that calm place when they are training.

Helping them get physically fit but also helping them with weak points in their inner character as well…that can help tremendously in a race, the human being stuff.

db: Do you have any tips for athletes or coaches in regards to getting through injuries / difficult patches?

ma: An injury is just the end result of something that was out of balance. You have to ask “What led to it?”

Help them find out where it stemmed from. Go back to where imbalance started. Be disappointed for a while. It’s OK to be disappointed, but after a week, let’s circle back. It’ll be more clear maybe after that and we can look at it differently.

db: Regarding the business of coaching, what do you see as the biggest challenge to establishing a successful coaching practice?

ma: The biggest challenge is to stand out among all the noise out there. Asking questions like the following will help: “What’s my niche? What am I offering that will attract folks? What type of service does the client want and need? Do I need to train with my clients?”

My niche is providing customized training programs online.

db: What are the most common mistakes you see coaches make?

ma: Not providing the availability of support they they’re going to provide. Lack of integrity.

Next would be coaches who take too much out of the physiology textbook and try to implement it directly into practice, without real world experience.

It’s hard to tell athletes to hold back and to slow down. I see new coaches struggle with this a lot. Triathlon attracts Type A folks, coaches and athletes, so it’s a huge challenge to continually remind them that they need to slow down a little bit.

db: Where do you see the sport of triathlon headed?

ma: It seems like there’s still steady growth in the sport, in regards to the # of races. I think a cohesive Olympic-distance series will surface. Eventually somebody will figure this piece out.

In regards to coaching, we must continue to educate as there’s a lot of free stuff on the Internet…people will try these free programs out, and then they’ll need a real coach.

db: If you could wish one thing for an ATHLETE that may be new to the sport, what would that be?

ma: Start from where you’re at, not from where someone else is at. Build slowly and gradually.

You want to talk about Ironman? OK great, but you can barely finish a sprint properly. Make the journey a positive one (and don’t rush it).

db: If you could wish one thing for a COACH that may be new to the sport, what would that be?

ma: Figure out what your core training philosophy is that you will build on. Don’t get caught up in the latest and greatest. Lots of folks train by the “article de jour” whiplash, so don’t be a coach that does that too.

Understand that you’re going to deal with different personalities and not everyone is going to need the same approach to get the results they should. You’ve got to be willing to be part psychologist, so be ready for that.

Lastly, don’t feel like you need to know everything. We as a collective coaching community don’t know everything. There’s a lot of complexity out there. I’m asking the experts things all the time. I’ve got to be humble to do this.

Navigating this area can be confusing for a new coach because you will encounter some “know-it-all’s” that seem to get a lot of clients and do quite well. Some athletes feel more secure with that. But it’s these coaches that get stuck in their ways and don’t grow.

db: Any final thoughts?

ma: Just keep learning as a coach and as an athlete – about the sport AND about your physiology. USAT Level 1 certification doesn’t mean you’re “arrived”.

The learning keeps going and going. Get the experience.

A big thank you to Mark for helping us all get BETTER!

For your success,

David

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If you liked this article, then you also might appreciate interviews with the following:

Dave Scott

Brett Sutton

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All triathlon coach interviews were conducted in April and May of 2014.

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coaching, Fitness, Training

Video Response to 5k Training FAQ’s

On January 1st, I offered something new to the community to help folks get the year started off on the right foot: a 5k run/jog/walk/crawl program.

Training starts today.

In a three-part video series, I’ve addressed many questions the participants have had up until this point.

5k training program FAQ’s:

VIDEO #1 – 8:15

  • What if the “Novice” program seems a little more than I can handle, but the “Walking” program seems too easy?
  • Would you please suggest run walk intervals for either the novice or the walking program?
  • I’m trying to decide which plan to go with. I had my longest run ever this weekend. I ran 20 minutes straight and went a mile and half. Typically I run 3 minutes and walk 2 minutes. Should I go for the “Novice” plan and build up my run? I really want to improve my run!
  • How cold is too cold to run?
  • At what point is it okay to substitute an indoor run for an outdoor one?
  • How do I handle days where my training plan says to do a large number of miles, but my body is saying “You have got to be kidding me!” (In other words, I am too fatigued from previous training or unexpected work obligations.) Should I do the workout or would resting be better?

VIDEO #2 – 8:43

  • I am in charge of meal planning for my family, and it can all be a bit overwhelming. What are some good, healthy foods to have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? I obviously want to fuel my running, but it’s also important that I drop about 10 pounds from baby weight.
  • I have time to work out on my lunch hour. Do you suggest I eat before noon and then again after my workout (around 1:30pm) so that I don’t crash?
  • FEAR processed sugars!

VIDEO #3 – 11:00

  • What level of effort (i.e., HR zones) will the 3-5 mile runs be in? Should I mix in any walking or even more intense efforts during the regular runs?
  • How much faster can I expect my 5k time to get in 8 weeks of training (if everything goes well in training)?
  • Do you use a metro timer of any kind when you run?
  • What do you do to stay on plan when an injury strikes, such as plantar fasciitis?
  • In the past I’ve gotten shin splints. What’s the best way to avoid them?
  • With weather being so cold, I have a hard time with motivation. I like jogging outside, so sometimes running on a treadmill is not as fun. Any suggestions?

Happy Training,

Coach David

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