Family, life, Pain

What I Learned about FTP in HypnoBirthing class

It’s possible that you found this post hoping to learn something about “Functional Threshold Power”. While that’s not the FTP I’m referring to, in a roundabout way I’m confident you just might learn something about that too.

Nikki and I are expecting our third child in August. As a change-up, we decided to not find out the gender and to use the HypnoBirthing method to deliver the baby.

What exactly is Hypnobirthing?

Nikki was really intrigued by the idea of placing herself in an ultra-calm state using visualizations, music, self-hypnosis, and relaxation techniques, to give birth. She liked the thought of going through the process in a gentle and relaxing way. And without an epidural.

So she asked for my support and got it. Then we dove into a comprehensive training course. The course was designed around “The Mongan Method”.

Nikki was never under the illusion that childbirth won’t hurt; she’s gone through this twice and knows the reality! But, what if it was up to her to choose how she wants her body to handle the pain?


There have been a lot of funny moments in the class. For example, I learned from the HypnoBirthing instructor (aka “doula”) that the doctor doesn’t deliver the baby; he receives the baby. The mother delivers the baby.

I immediately liked the approach of empowering the mother by using language. At the same time I couldn’t help but chuckle! Why?

Because my dad is an OB/GYN and has been practicing medicine for about 36 years. It makes me smile when I think about correcting him in a future conversation, saying “No dad, you didn’t deliver five babies last night…you received them.” Haha!


The most memorable class was when we learned about the FTP syndrome.

It suggests that when a woman is in “Fear” this causes “Tension” in her body, which then results in “Pain”.

But that’s not all. It’s a vicious cycle as the pain then triggers more fear.

Interestingly, the abbreviation is the same as “failure to progress” – words used by the medical profession regarding labor.


I think it takes a lot of guts to approach a pregnancy this way.

I’m proud of Nikki and all the women in the class that have risen to this challenge – to face the “fear” head on and to equip themselves with techniques to use when the time is right. It’s been a great experience so far.

A takeaway: your fears (hidden or obvious) may be sabotaging your capacity to access your full potential.

Look within.

leadership, life

The Best Advice I Ever Received

Surely we have all gotten some good tips along the way from our parents, guardians, mentors, etc. All of it has helped to inform our choices in life and make us who we are.

But if you had to pick the one single piece of advice that has made the biggest difference for you in life, what would that be?


This didn’t come to me easily at first, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Clear as day.

2008 was a pretty busy year for me with a lot on my mind. My chocolate labrador Mandy passed away, I completed my first Ironman triathlon, Nikki and I got married, I coached my first community triathlon training program, and I was positioning myself to leave academia to be a full-time coach. I’m sure there was more but you get the idea.

With everything going on that year, one question loomed largest: How do I know if it’s the right call to leave SMU and pursue coaching full-time?

Certainly there were many things to consider in a transition like this. Ultimately I mulled over it for a couple of years before pulling the trigger.

I want to share with you one thing I learned along the way.


In 2010 I took on a personal development exercise with the Transitions Institute led by guru David Zelman in which I was asked to pick five people to interview. They could be family members, friends, former coaches or teachers, current supervisors, etc. The only criteria is that they needed to be a huge fan (a supporter, a backer) of me and someone who was fully committed to my success and not afraid to tell me the truth.

In thinking back to why I engaged in this exercise, I think I was searching for clues about myself that would help give me the confidence to jump out on my own as an entrepreneur. I thought that increasing my self-awareness through the activity would bolster my confidence enough to get me off the fence I’d been on for 3 years.

Needless to say, I was pretty focused on listening for the right nuggets of information from my interviewees that would empower me for my goal.


In my case, the best advice I ever received was completely unexpected. Perhaps that’s why it made such as impression on me. It seemed out of left field, and yet something was so refreshing about it too. I now know the reason for that is because it connected with me on a deeper level, in regards to what I truly value in life.

So I’ll cut to the chase. The questionnaire had questions like…

  • “What do you see as my key strengths?”
  • “What is a major weakness of mine?”
  • “When am I most powerful?”
  • “In what situations am I least powerful?”

One of the five people I chose to interview was the late Peter Gifford, a very special man who spent 41 years as department chair at SMU. Here is a tribute that The Daily Campus published in his honor. I greatly respected Peter and his no-nonsense, positive style.

The last question on the list was “If you could wish one thing for me in the next year, what would it be?”

I’ll never forget how Peter answered this. Partly because there was no hesitation. But also because of the passion that accompanied his response.

He said, “I wish for you a family of your own.”

And then he went on to describe his love for Diane, his wife, and his five children, and how much he enjoys life with them. He went on to give examples of how they congregate at his house, outside on the patio, and talk for hours into the night. His face lit up and you could sense that he couldn’t wait to get home that day to be with his family.

Here I was, ready for the pearls of wisdom related to career, and Peter shared his heart with me about what mattered most to him and how he wanted that for me too.

When he shared this with me, I was a little surprised and taken aback because my brain was in a completely different realm. It took me a little bit of time to actually absorb what he said.

The result was that in a way, it provided “permission” for me to move in a direction that I was already committed to deep down. Before the conversation, I’m sure I was like many in thinking “I’ll get around to that (starting a family). I’ve got goals for now!”


An hour later after the interview, I called Nikki and told her she needed to come by my office…that there was something I just had to tell her.

Upon sharing with her what Peter said, I added that I was moved by his words and that I was indeed ready to go down this path and start a family. Nikki’s response: “I’ve been trying to tell you that for over a year!”

We cried together, right there in my office. Immediately followed by lots of laughter as we dreamed about the great possibilities that lay ahead.


So, I didn’t get the answers that I was expecting or looking for, in regards to career.

But I got the answer to a much greater one: I’m a family man.

Thank you, Peter.

leadership, life

Getting Paid for Doing What You Love

Yes, perhaps a cliché title. But hang with me…

What others have found most interesting about my professional life thus far:

  1. I left corporate America after 1 year and to completely re-career and pursue coaching and education.
  2. After 7 years of teaching at the high school and college level, I left the academic realm to make my part-time triathlon coaching business into a full-time venture.

Once the ship set sail on each of these choices, I never looked back at the shore. I was totally focused on the task at hand and on learning as much as I possibly could in order to succeed.

Because of where my focus was directed, it was hard to empathize or even unpack my decision points to others that also were considering career changes. People were interested in WHY I did what I did. Some were even inspired.

So I answered their questions to the best of my ability and then moved on. (Remember: tunnel-vision focus!)


So, I came across a book the other day my mother handed me.

She said, “David, your childhood friend Dustin wrote a book – you should check it out.” I remembered Dustin of course, and was pleasantly surprised to hear that he had published a book. Out of curiosity and affection for an old pal, I dove in.

Very quickly in to the first few chapters, I thought, “YES! FINALLY! THIS IS AMAZING!!”

The reason for the excitement was because I finally have an incredible resource to share with people who need a step-by-step approach to guide them from “I hate my job” to “I can’t believe I get paid to do this!”

My advice was usually “Just do it. Jump off the cliff. It’s exhilarating (and humbling) and you’ll figure it out along the way.”

Where Dustin is gifted is in guiding you to dive into critical questions and in the perfect sequencing, too. I think he is able to do this so powerfully because 1) he’s lived it, and 2) he’s helped hundreds do the same through a decade of career and leadership coaching.

I got so into the book that I found myself loving the end-of-chapter exercises, as I was validating (and strengthening…it’s like a muscle) what I’ve already learned through experience, but I was also learning new things about myself — for a lifelong learner, the practice is always ongoing. I’m grateful for Dustin for being my teacher!


There was one exercise that was particularly meaningful to me. He took me through a reflection exercise where I had to look back at when I felt the most energized over the past 7 days. The ironic part is that one of those times was in the actual “doing” and participating in the activities he was suggesting (this is largely due to the fact that one of my top 3 values is PERSONAL GROWTH).

After coming up with some memorable and invigorating occurrences, Dustin then asked me to summarize “the thing(s) I was doing that gave me the energy”. Writing this down was somehow exciting and wonderful. Might sound weird but it’s true.

The last part of the exercise he challenged me to write a statement that would capture the energy of what I’d just written (see above sentence) but to be general enough to be widely applicable.

The result, my personal mission statement:

I love to empower others (through leadership, coaching, teaching, and speaking) to be true to themselves, to believe in themselves, and to take actions that are consistent with being or becoming their BEST possible selves.

If you like the idea of having your work be energizing and life-giving (i.e., not life-sucking and draining), then this book can really help you organize your thoughts to help you take meaningful actions towards “loving what you do”.

My favorite quote from the book: “There is always room at the top for those who love what they do.”

Reset: How to Get Paid and Love What You Do, by Dustin Peterson

For your success,


life, Teaching

A Moment of Spontaneity…

About 10 minutes before the last day of class, it hit me that I was going to greatly miss this special group of students.

I felt the urge to write a poem, in an attempt to convey what I was feeling to these leaders of tomorrow. I write these rhymes ever so often for Nikki but never before for one of my classes.

When the idea first popped into my head, my “resistant inner voice” scoffed at the lack of time I had to get it done. And even if I was able to get something written down, would it be cohesive and meaningful?

I started writing.

The short timeline forced me to focus my thoughts and energies ever so intensely.

I came up with something…

And it was received well! Pulled it off better than I could have imagined.

I’m glad I acted on the nudge and went through with it. The students seemed to appreciate it.

Cheers to another great year at the Hilltop,


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

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.


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


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.

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.


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.


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.

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.


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.