Monday, December 29, 2008

Power Profiles of Elites, Others

I received this comment recently for this blog, and felt it asked a great question...

"Hi there

I was wondering what a pro male triathlete power profile looks like
if you don't mind that would be cool


Haley asks a great question, as many people don't know what good power values are. Many athletes think the higher the numbers, the better. Generally, this is true, especially when compared to a single person over time, but comparing person to person, this is not the case. Power is relative to two values, weight and aerodynamic drag.

Power to weight is a key value in general, but is especially meaningful when considering a hilly, or mountainous bike course. If a course is flat or lightly rolling, which allows athletes to stay in the aero position, then aerodynamic drag is the limiting factor. Weight can actually help in some instances, as the mass moving allows it to maintain higher speed much easier than a low mass person, especially on a flat course.

Also, the quality of these values depends on whether you are a cyclist or triathlete, as well as the distance or event you focus on. A match sprinter on the track would not care about their CP 180 value, and in contrast an Ironman athlete doesn't really care too much about their CP .2 -6 values.

Haley is an Ironman triathlete, so it would seem obvious she is looking for a good value to base on for that. She asked for males, so here is what I have come to find, as well as talked with other coaches to be the standard for CP 60, or what we call FTP, Functional Threshold Power. This is the value you can hold for 60 mins.

If you want to qualify for Kona as a male age-grouper in the more competitive age groups, you need to have an FTP very close to double your body weight in pounds. For example, a 150 lb male in the 30-34 age group needs to have a FTP of close to 300 watts.

If you're a male pro, wanting to be competitive and qualify for Kona, (which means top 7-8 places overall), you need to be over 2, closer to 2.2 times your body weight in pounds for FTP. For example, this year I had an FTP at Ironman Coeur d'Alene of 350 watts, and weighed about 165 lbs, giving a value of 2.12 times my body weight. I finished 7th at that race.

Heading into Ironman Arizona, I was seeking an FTP of 375, and weight around 160-162 lbs. This would give me a value of about 2.3, which would be very competitive.

It should be noted that my background is running, and this assumes you run competitively in your category, and swim middle of the pack to front of the pack. If this value of FTP to weight was the end-all, be-all, we wouldn't bother racing, we'd just all submit our FTP's and determine the results from that. So there is a lot to consider besides these values, but when someone comes to me and tells me their goals, this is a standard I use to see if their goals are realistic.

This was a very good question, and I will take the time to answer it over the course of a few posts, with regards to females and other age-groups. Thanks Haley!

Coach Vance

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Client blog...

An interesting post from one of my recently added clients...

This client doesn't even know that I know it's him, so it makes it even better.

Coach Vance

Monday, December 15, 2008

Critical Power Chart - Season Review

I use Training Peaks with my athletes, both WKO+ and also their online interface software, which acts as a great communication tool between them and I. One of the best charts for tracking how the season went, can be found in the online software of Training Peaks, called the Critical Power Report.

This chart illustrates some great data, to assess the season and how the training went. You can review the year according to the annual training plan and the different periods of training, such as Base 1 or Build 1, etc.

If you click on the chart to enlarge it, you can see this athlete had their best power performances of the entire season over 60, 90 and 180 mins on November 23rd. That was Ironman Arizona, which helps illustrate he reached a bike fitness peak on race day. I normally don't care if that is the best value on race day, since they still have to run after the bike, but you want to see the peak values still to be similar to the raceday performance.

You can also see that most of the shorter time CP values happened much earlier, which shows how the training focus changed over time to reach the more important values for Ironman, (CP60-180), later in the year and closer to the Ironman event.

I even highlighted the key things I saw, which was the pattern of improvement over the different periods of training for CP90 and CP180. It wasn't always an improvement, but in general the trend went up, which is what we want to see.

Just another example of how technology can give us feedback to see how the training response is for the athlete. As a coach, this information is invaluable.

Coach Vance

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Marathon Training Plan Emails

I recently had some email correspondence with a reader who was following my 20 week marathon training plan, which was published by Competitor in their September issue. For many of you who may have read it online only, the webmasters forgot to include the key to the initials in the plan, so I wanted to re-post it here, along with an email I received and my responses.

Here is the plan, as an image, click on it to enlarge:

Here is the key to the plan:

E - Easy jog
A - Accelerations of 15-20 secs at high speed, with quick turnover, plenty of recovery between each.
S - Steady paced run. Not easy, not hard.
F - Fartlek - Speed bursts as you like, from 1 to 3 minutes in length, unstructured. Allow time for warm-up and cooldown.
MGP - Marathon Goal Pace - Time spent running at goal pace for the marathon is in parentheses. (MGP 90) means 90 mins run at marathon goal pace.
T - Tempo Run - Hard effort at faster than marathon pace, around 10K to half-marathon intensity. (T30) means 30 mins of tempo.
TT - Time Trial test - 30 mins HARD, with average pace and HR measured for the last 20 mins. These should improve over the course of the program.
XT - Cross Training - Your choice of cycling, elliptical, stairmaster or swimming, as well as any weight training you might enjoy.
Off - Rest day - Focus on recovery techniques, (hydration, stretching, massage, nap, etc.)

I did a quick Google search on the plan, and found it listed as a plan on the Rock N Roll Arizona Marathon website, under their training guidance. That was a suprise to me!

Recently, I recieved the following email, along with my replies, for any of you who might be interested in something similar....

Hello Jim,
I found your 20 week training program in the Competitor So Cal magazine I picked up from a Jamba Juice facility. It was in the September 2008 issue titled " 20 weeks to your first Marathon". All I have to say is THANK YOU!! This training program is very amateur friendly and i love it!! I have one question though, i am on the 14th week of the 20 week program but I need to go one more week since I signed up for Carlsbad Marathon on Jan 25, 2008. question is do I repeat any week in the 20 week course to help make it to 21 weeks or rest for a week? I am at a loss and need your assistance. Once again thanks for this great training program i could not have done this without you!!


My response:


Thanks for the great email. I'm always happy to hear how my work helps people who need it. Believe it or not, I don't hear much, so sometimes I wonder if anyone takes my advice. :-)

Here is a week I've come up with which should placed between weeks 18 and 19, that helps stagger-down the taper a bit more. I call it week "18a".

Monday - off
Tuesday - 75 XT
Wednesday - 60 (T 30)
Thursday - 50 E
Friday - 60 A
Saturday - 90 E
Sunday - 120 (MGP 60)

The abbreviations are the same from the original plan. I think this is the best adjustment for adding in a week toward the end.

Let me know how the race goes, and good luck!


Her response:

Thanks for the feedback, i will definitely let you know how it goes.... your program changed my whole outlook on running,,, thanks again!

If you're following my training plan, I'd love to hear how it's going, as I'm always looking for ways to improve things, or see if something works for a lot of people.

Coach Vance

Saturday, December 6, 2008

WKO+ Software Consulting

For those of you out there who read this blog and like what you see from the charts and articles regarding WKO+ software, I also offer consulting on the software, to help set up the charts, athletes, read files etc. This is available for $80 for a single 60 min session, to help you learn all you need. TrainingBible clients and coaches get discounted rate.

Contact me at jvance at trainingbible dot com.

Coach Vance

Friday, December 5, 2008

New Video Training Plans Available - Core and Leg Strengthening

If you saw one of my earlier posts, you know I've been working on training plans which are iPod video compatible, for athletes to take with them to demonstrate the skills or exercises they are doing.

I have now completed my latest training plan, which is for core and leg strengthening exercises, which can be done at home or a gym, with minimal equipment.

One of the things I notice when I go to the weight room is how many people are using an iPod to entertain themselves as they work out. Now, with these plans, athletes can use the iPod not only for entertainment, but as a coach for certain exercises as well.

This plan consists of 30 exercises requiring only a swiss ball, medicine ball or just body weight.

There is a lot more information on the plans at:

If you're a coach, the two plans, (swim drills/skills and core/leg strengthening), are available as one package, for you to buy and add to your file library on Training Peaks, and use with your clients for years to come! You can also just purchase one plan if you're more interested in that.

If you've been looking for some new strength exercises in the weight room, at home, or are worried about not having quality instruction, this strengthening plan is for you!

Check it out and let me know what you think. Best of luck!

Coach Vance

Thursday, December 4, 2008

More Season Review Interesting Findings

This image I sent to a client of mine, who was pretty amazed at what he saw. In our talk, he told me this was the chart which showed him the most impressive aspect of coaching and his training.

This gentleman came to me about 2 weeks before Ironman Arizona in April. Because there was little we could do to physically prepare, we focused more on his race strategy, and I gave him some guidelines on designing his taper. I really didn't want to interfere with his training and his routines so close to the race, so there was no training plan written from me basically.

In the above image is the combined weekly TSS scores from bike and run workouts, (click on the image to make it larger), from when he first came to me before IMAZ in April, until now. As you can read in my comments, he was training at such a high level of TSS on a daily and weekly basis before, that when he started training me we were no where near the same TSS levels. He stayed very healthy all season long, and the result was a three and a half hour improvement!

In fact, I was able to show him power files from his bike workouts that were actually much better than what he did at IMAZ in April, despite the lower TSS scores. We were able to better balance the intensity and volume to get him to improve so dramatically.

When we talked, he said it best, "Just goes to show that more is not necessarily better." Well said.

Coach Vance

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Coaching Lesson Learned

I recently read an interview with Joel Filliol, who is the coach of the successful BAMF group, (Simon Whitfield - Olympic Silver Medalist, Tom Evans - 2 Ironman wins this year, and many more). He talked about being a development coach at the NTC in Victoria, BC. One thing he said which really resonated with me was, "as development coach I was working with a number of other coaches and didn't have the autonomy to make and be accountable for my own decisions."

I really appreciated this, because the way you learn is in the mistakes you make as a coach. (Show me a perfect coach, and I'll show you a coach who doesn't have any clients).

So many coaches don't take responsibility for their decisions with athletes. Because it's a two-person dance, it always seems easy for coaches to say the athlete was responsible for the performance when it wasn't as good as hoped. It's also easy for me to know what I'm doing right, but I think it's more important to know what I'm doing wrong. Most coaches will also never publicly expose their mistakes, so it makes it hard to learn from other coaches on what not to do.

It is the end of the season, and I feel it's important to look back on the season with my athletes, and see where I, the coach, went wrong. Where did I make mistakes? What could I have done better to prepare my athletes. I have sent some of my athletes these year-end reviews, but not all yet. (Be patient if you're reading this, these take some time!) These are becoming invaluable to me, especially for those athletes who gather data via power meters and speed-distance devices for running.

One athlete I finished the season with I was especially disappointed about, because they are the first athlete I've ever had who was not able to compete at their A-priority race. This athlete was doing extremely well, improving to levels which were surpising even me. Then in one big day on the bike, the back tightened up so bad, they were unable to move for a few days. We were about 4 weeks from the start line of IMAZ. It only seemed to get worse, and it became clear the race would not happen.

There were some signs of nagging tension with the back, and perhaps the athlete didn't communicate it well enough to me to make me take notice, but I had a sense something could have been done by me to prevent it. Or even worse, that I contributed largely to the injury.

When I went back and looked at the Performance Management Charts, it became evident that when I spiked the stimulus too much, the athlete did not respond well. I was too aggressive in this athlete's training.

Click on this image, the PMC, with my notes that I sent to the athlete:

This was a great tool for me, in seeing that I got too aggressive, and need to be more aware of the risks I am taking with an athlete's health and season. I've certainly had an excellent track record, as again this was the first athlete not to compete at their A-priority race, but sometimes you need to be reminded.

This is just another advantage of collecting data, not only as an athlete, but as a coach. I'm glad it's helping me "be accountable for my own decisions" as a coach.

Coach Vance

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Oceanside 70.3 and SuperFrog Half Training Plans

I have created a few new training plans for local San Diegans, who are training for the Oceanside 70.3 and SuperFrog triathlons. The plans are designed to help Tri Club of San Diego members who are registered for either race, and are looking for training guidance.

You can find the training plans available for purchase at:

The cost of the plans are $125, for the 4 months. If you're a Tri Club of San Diego member, then you can get a discount on the plans. Email me at for your discount code, which gives you a 20% discount. This means the cost of the coaching will be only $25 A MONTH! I repeat, $25 A MONTH for the 4 month plan! You won't find a better deal for a plan specific to those in San Diego. Even if you're not a Tri Club member, the deal is still only slightly more than $30 a month!

The training plans begin on December 1, and include all of the monthly tri club races and events for athletes who want to include those, and alternative workouts for those who can't or do not want to do the club races in their preparations. The plans conclude just after their main events.

Also, I will be monitoring the Training Peaks account of each person who purchases one of these plans, to help them adjust and modify the plans as needed to their schedule, on a once-a-month basis. A Training Peaks account is free with the purchase of each plan, so there's nothing holding you back!

Best of luck with your goals for 2009, and let me know if I can assist you.

Coach Vance

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Video Training Plans Available

I've been working on some new pre-built training plans, on Training Peaks. These plans are new and different than the standard plans you find though, as I've focused on swimming skills, using drills for technique and coordination improvement. The fact the plans are focused on developing skills, not just fitness, allows athletes to use the plans as they choose, and when they choose.

The biggest difference in these plans are I have attached videos to each of the drills to help people see and understand the drills better. (For example, try explaining sculling to someone, with just words. It's hard.)

Another unique aspect of these plans and videos are that they are iPod video compatible! This will allow athletes to take the videos to the pool with them, and not have to memorize them. Coaches can also use the videos on deck, when working with athletes. This will allow them to stay dry and clearly demonstrate the drills. has even done a blog post about the new plans, which you can read here. I'm the first person to do this, so I hope I'm setting new trends in the coaching industry. Stay tuned to some more video training plans.

You can purchase one of the plans here, or at my link to training plans on the right. Check it out, and let me know your thoughts if you purchase it.

Coach Vance

Monday, November 10, 2008

Race Ready?

I was reading a recent athlete's training log online, (via TrainingPeaks, which I use with my clients), and when I read something in it, I took quick notice.

It was the day before the Clearwater Ironman 70.3 Worlds, and the athlete had three short, simple workouts, of easy swim, bike and run, each with a few accelerations to race intensity for about 30 secs or so. The main point of the workouts is not to fatigue the athlete, but to keep them fresh and sharp, use up some nervous energy they'll probably feeling, etc.

The athlete had completed the bike and run portions, but when I read the swim portion, it said, "didnt get to the swim, as is often the case." I was floored! I believe I even said something outloud, such as, "what the hell???"

Now, it may not seem like a big deal, and physically speaking, it probably isn't. But what this represents to me is a bigger issue which needed to be addressed with the athlete, (more on that soon.) This was the World Championships! What in the world can be going on which is more important? Even worse, what is consistently happening at race events, the day before, that the athlete "didn't get to the swim, AS IS OFTEN THE CASE"?

To be fair, I only started working with this athlete in the 2 weeks prior to the race, so I am learning a lot about him. After the race, he called me, and it did not go as he had hoped. Most of this was probably due to racing Kona, and feeling pretty drained mentally after that. I listened to everything, before I asked about the swim, and what happened. He began to take me thru the day, and running around for this person and that person, here, there, everywhere.

Our discussion lead to me asking him how this might have affected his preparations, not just mentally, but physically as well. He hadn't realized how much energy he was expending by making his pre-race days so busy and stressful. He fights the feeling of being selfish, and hates telling people "No, I can't. I have to focus on my race." This is something he needs to get over, as he will only jeopardize his performances even further.

When an athlete is at a major event, especially an "A" priority race, that race is the most important thing. Even during the race week, everyday should begin with a plan based on the race as the first and foremost priority. Athletes need to ask themselves, "will this possibly hurt my race?" If the answer is yes, it is possible, then you shouldn't be doing it.

Ideally, you get up in the AM, get your workouts done and out of the way, take care of the pre-race prep for the bike check-in, bags, etc, and then relax. Massage, eating, and couch time are about the only activities I would approve of. It's with this time, athletes can really relax and prepare themselves mentally for their race.

I would encourage you to look at your race week activities, and especially those in the days immediately preceeding the race. Do you tend to make this action-packed? Or do you make them calm and race-focused? Think about it, and plan accordingly.

Don't kill your race before it starts, by stressing yourself out. There will be plenty of time for stress after the race, trust me.

Coach Vance

Thursday, November 6, 2008

U-turns on the bike, and power output

Recently, I raced the SOMA Half Triathlon, in Phoenix. This bike course was rather flat, but was 3 loops, consisting of 72 turns over the 56 miles. Many of these turns were U-turns, while others were 90 degree lefts and rights.

I am not complaining about the race, as each course presents its own challenges, and this is one of the great things about our sport.

One of the most interesting things I saw during the race had me shaking my head. When racing a multi-lap course, it's common to end up lapping some athletes who were in later waves, and maybe are not at the level of performance of some of the pro's, like myself. This is not an indictment against slower riders, but a statement of fact that traffic accumulates on a bike course such as this.

While coming to many u-turns on the course, I noticed a common behavior among the athletes I happened to be completing the u-turn with. I would begin to accelerate back to race speed and watts, only to see athletes clearly pull away from me. I would look down at my wattage meter and see numbers north of 400 watts, (values clearly higher than I could hold for the duration of the race), and yet many age-group athletes were still gaping me! This included males, females, young and old, lightweight and overweight. Because I was averaging over 300 watts for the race, I was with a different group of athletes for nearly every turn, and still, this behavior was common at every, single turn!

Apparently, many of these athletes are not aware of the importance of even pacing for a race like this, or were not disciplined enough to avoid the peer pressure of others around them pulling away at the turns, even if just briefly. The energy costs from this constant surging will no doubt prevent these athletes from performing at their best, unless they have specifically trained for the nearly 72 surges of 2+ times their FTP, before running a half marathon. (Doubtful).

This is just another example of the benefit of the use of a power meter, especially for the undisciplined athlete or inexperienced.

Next time you're doing a race and come to a turn, or u-turn, your goal should be to get thru a turn without losing speed, (or at least losing the least amount of speed), but also to do it as efficiently as possible. If you're struggling with this, practice these skills in your training. This includes going to a parking lot and practicing your u-turns, right turns, left turns, etc. (Chances are, you have a strong turning side and a weaker turning side. If you have a weaker side, there is something to work on as well!) This is an excellent recovery day, speed-skill workout.

Think about your racing and your movements, and try to assess what you're doing and why. Are you making these types of surges? Are you really benefiting from this type of surging?

Race smart, not just doing what those around you are doing.

Coach Vance

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Chris LeMieux

Congrats to Chris LeMieux, my client from New Orleans! Take a look at his improvement after signing up with me, at Ironman Florida this past weekend, compared to last year.

2007, 2008
Time 12:47:49, 11:04:33
Place 1305, 558
Swim 59:31, 59:23
Bike 6:21:21, 5:40:40
Run 5:16:37, 4:17:30

Quite an improvement, (1 hour, 43 mins), and this was done with little to no technology or data collection. He was consistent and committed, and reaped the benefits. He called me today, and already is signed up again for next year. He is pumped to start using more technology, like power meters and GPS, to get even faster for next year!

Congrats Chris!

Coach Vance

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Progression of an athlete...

This is one of my athletes, Ben. He struggled with his weight, due to his inconsistencies in training. Once he got a slot for Kona, he got serious. He went 12:56:00 on a very challenging day! Below is a photo of his weight loss progression, which he shared with me. I am really proud of all he's done, and hope to see it continue.

From left to right, March 06, March 07, June 08, July 08, October 08 (KONA!) Click on the photo to see it better...

Congrats Ben!

Coach Vance

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Free Swim Lecture coming up...

Learning and Understanding the 3 Most Important Technical Aspects of Swimming by Jim Vance.

The talk will include underwater videos and pictures to help explain the principles, and even some dry-land drills! Bring a notebook and come with your questions!

It will be held on November 3, 2008 @ 6:30 pm at B + L Bikes and Sports at 3603 Camino del Rio West, San Diego, CA 92110.

There will be food and beverages....about 25 chairs, so if you're not there early, bring a chair!

Coach Vance

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Congrats Scott Iott!

Scott Iott...You're the man! A flat on the bike at Ironman Wisconsin, and you kept your cool, able to run 3:00 off the bike, (1:29/1:31!).

Congrats on your 25th place, and Kona 2009 slot! You embraced all the things I brought to you, and you worked your tail off. You cashed it all in on Sunday.


Friday, August 15, 2008

The #1 plate at XTERRA Mountain Championships

Craig Evans and I started working together this year, and it's been a great season so far...

"Craig Evans will be racing with the No. 1 on his bike plate for the first time in his career and carries the burden that comes with it proudly. After battling through injuries last year, Evans is having a breakthrough season and is second overall in the points standings (points leader Dan Hugo from South Africa will not be racing in this one)."

Best of luck tomorrow Craig!

Coach Vance

PS - Notice the power meter on his mountain bike! KEY TO SUCCESS!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Off-Road Nutrition

There’s a saying about racing off-road, and how complex it is. To be a good off-road triathlete, you must master the art of off-road racing. And when it comes to the complexities of nutrition logistics, there is definitely an art that must be mastered.

Off-road nutrition is much more of a logistical mystery than a simple road triathlon, where you can use a bento box, carry a bar of some type or use gel packets. Off-road, you can’t take your hands off the bars to reach for a package, tear it open, and eat it anytime. Try doing that on a volcano in Maui, or on the twisty, winding roots of a single track trail and you’ll soon be licking fresh wounds.

More can be read at

Coach Vance

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It really isn't about the bike...

I am constantly amazed at how much I see people spend money on top of the line bikes, race wheelsets, aero helmets, wetsuits, and whatever else might give them an extra half second here and there.

Guess what? I've been blessed to ride and race on many of the greatest bikes in the world, (road, tri and mountain), and I've never once ridden one that has allowed me to train less, or be less effective in my training. Never even raced a bike where at the end of the race I said, "Boy, if it wasn't for this bike I never would have been even close to this performance!"

It's amazing how many athletes want to shave a gram or two off their bike, maybe even more than that, without ever even considering changing their way of training!

Ask the average cyclist or triathlete if they'd like to buy the latest Zipp wheelset, or carbon cranks for cheap, and they'll holler about it. Ask them to consider buying a power meter, and the typical response is, "Nah, I don't need that." God forbid if they didn't spend as much on their bike or equipment, but it actually helped them in their training to maximize the engine they have.

Matt Fitzgerald
recently interviewed 2000 Olympic Triathlon Gold Medalist, Simon Whitfield, where Whitfield said, "It’s the classic line: 'I know what I’m doing.' When I hear an athlete say that, particularly a pro, it’s like the kiss of death. I think there’s a touch of arrogance in there. And I think there is a touch of laziness. It’s easy to fall into that trap. With it comes a lack of accountability, and that’s very attractive to people, whether they want to admit it or not."*

Simon hits the nail on the head. So many athletes don't think they need help with their training, or don't want to try something new. They think the best way to have performance gains is to go hard, and have fast equipment.

Maybe it's the fact that quality training, speed and fitness are not tangible, or material. Since few people experience it at it's peak, it's even more elusive. And of course, without a commitment to consistent quality training, even when you do have it, it can disappear quickly. Meanwhile, you don't get on your bike for months, and you still own those fast wheels, frame, aero helmet, whatever, hanging in your garage.

If you're really serious about your goals and performance, invest in the things which will affect performance most, YOUR TRAINING! If you're on a budget, look for a quality coach, and training tools such as a power meter, GPS or foot-pod for running, WKO+ or other software, and buy a bike a few notches below the highest end. (If you can afford to do all of these anyways, then you're just wasting valuable time!)

In the end it is the engine, and not the chasis, suspension or aero-design which will make the biggest difference in performance. If your engine is slower than the competition's, you've got no chance. So invest in your engine, and the return on investment will amaze you!

Coach Vance

*Matt Fitzgerald interview with Simon Whitfield, Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

Congrats to Renata!

Congrats to an athlete I coach, Renata Bucher. She won XTERRA France this past weekend, with a strong performance on a tough course, and tough conditions. If we can keep her healthy, and consistent, another top 5 performance in Maui could well be in the works!

It's been a rewarding year for me so far, especially on the XTERRA circuit, with Renata, and Craig Evans big jump to 2nd in the US series.

Coach Vance

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ironman Profile on a client

A nice profile on a client of mine...

Sacrificing for Kona: Ben Dugas and family

Matthew Dale profiles an inspirational Ford Ironman World Championship qualifier

Published Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sacrificing for Kona: Ben Dugas and family

The salesman at the high-performance bike shop tried to steer Ben Dugas toward a road bike. "No, no, no," said Dugas, a Ford Ironman Hawaii lottery winner this year. "I want a tri bike."

Never mind that Dugas’ next triathlon would be his first. The San Diegan knew he would one day dive into the swim-bike-run scene. So off he pedaled three years ago aboard a high end titanium tri-bike for a test ride on South Coast Highway, one of the area’s most popular running and cycling roadways. About 2½ miles into the ride, Dugas hung a U-turn, pedaled a bit farther, came upon some sand, skidded, hit a curb, somersaulted and crashed.

Dugas walked the remaining two miles back to the shop, hoisting the busted bike, doing a nice imitation of Christian Sadowski at Kona in 2004. Upon reaching the shop, Dugas showed the salesman the crumpled bike and said, “I’ll take this one.”

You can read more at:

Coach Vance

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Can we please put an end to...

Goggle-line hand entry into the water? Please, if you're a swim coach and still preaching this out-dated, not-fast methodology, PLEASE STOP! Catch a quick look at the US Olympic Swimming Trials and tell me how many athletes in the meet you see doing this technique. (Are you listening TI???).

Check out the Trials, and look at their technique, and compare it with what you do. Don't fall for this, "I am triathlete, so I need to conserve energy" bologna.

I just did a session today with a trio of folks who have been taught outdated techniques. I basically spent all my time telling them not to do what they've been told for the past year-plus. I then told them to check out the Trials and see which technique they see, mine or the one I'm telling them not to do. (You can tell this really frustrates me!)

Coach Vance

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Time vs. Distance - By Jim Vance

From the early training days of Arthur Lydiard, runners have used miles to log their volume of workouts for a week. How many miles per week you ran were like badges of honor worn on your chest.

Some cyclists look at the distance of the Tour de France, over 2,000 miles in three weeks of racing, and compare their training to these distances – while others boast of century rides.

Now there is a new shift in the thinking of training, especially in terms of volume. Though distance was the standard way of measuring volume in the past, many eventually began to wonder if there was a better way to accurately assess the stress on the body.

More can be read here at Competitor Magazine.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Minimum Running, Maximum PR

Minimum Running, Maximum Marathon

Written by: Jim Vance
Posted: Thursday, 22 May 2008

We’ve all heard the stories of an athlete who got injured but was still able to cross-train and then came back to give a great performance at a marathon, maybe even besting a personal record. Then there’s that new triathlete we all know who, despite running less now that she is dividing her time into three sports, is still setting personal records for her run times.

Nowadays it seems that these improbable success stories are seen in greater numbers than ever before. Is there really something to this “less running equals faster running” concept? Cross-training has a long history (in fact it’s responsible for the birth of the triathlon), but can it really work for you? If you’re new to running in the past few years, cross-training and other non-traditional sessions may be exactly what you need to maximize the training time you put in.

Read the rest at Competitor Magazine

Coach Vance

Friday, June 13, 2008

Swim Clinic on Sunday, June 15th - Ironman CDA

For those of you who will be in Coeur d'Alene this weekend, I am doing a swim clinic at the race venue on Sunday, June 15th, at 1 PM. Email me for more details at jvance at trainingbible dot com.

Coach Vance

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A good weekend as a coach

Sunday was a great day for me as a coach. First, after my arrival to Coeur d'Alene to conduct my final preparations for the race, I held an open-water swim clinic and short Q&A on the race and it's logistics. One of the people who attended the race was a local news anchorman, Dave Erickson, who had it put on the news and on his blog...

The clinic went really well, with great response! I love the teaching moments where you see lights go on in an athlete's mind. Then, they suddenly realize the powers they have and the mental aspect of racing becomes so much clearer to them, it's like they're a different person or athlete.

Prior to the clinic, I had been out training on the bike course, and during my recoveries from intervals, I was checking the text message updates from XTERRA Southeast Championships. My client, Craig Evans, was competing, and his wife was sending me text messages on how it was going. Craig was first out of the water, first off the bike, ahead of Conrad Stoltz, (first time that's happened to Conrad in a long time), and then held on for 3rd. We have been working all year for Craig to make his mark on the XTERRA circuit, and he is certainly doing so!

The other great thing which happened was my client at Rockman, Scott Iott. Scott went to high school with me, and saw me racing Ironman online one day, contacting me. He did Wisconsin last year, and did fairly well considering it was his first. He wanted to get more serious, and signed up for coaching with me. He has improved tremendously, and won his first race OVERALL a few weeks ago, the Peanut Butter Duathlon. This past Sunday, coming off a lower leg injury from a poor choice of shoe change, won his 30-34 age-group in the cold, rainy conditions of the Rockman Half Triathlon! He finished 9th overall, and even beat a few pro's.

I also had an athlete compete in the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon, and finished in the top 10% of his age group, 35-39, with a bike split in the top 50 overall!

Good weekend for me, with a lot of satisfaction.

Coach Vance

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What? No posts?

So I'm sure many of you are wondering "What's up with the blog?" There is a good reason for my lack of quality posts though lately. Not only am I in my big Ironman CDA prep, but I have recently begun writing on a more official basis for Competitor Magazine, and have devoted much more of my writing time to them.

I'm sure you understand, smarter to write for money than for free, if the opportunity is there!

But there is good news! You can read my latest article in the newest issue, June, of Competitor Magazine. The article is titled, "How NOT Running Can Make You Faster".

Check it out, and let me know what you think. I've turned in a few more articles to them, so hopefully soon I can bring back some attention to the blog. In the meantime, there are some great articles in the magazine to check out. Stay tuned!

Coach Vance

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Speaking to Orange County Triathlon Club

If you're in the Orange County area, I will be speaking at the Orange County Triathlon Club monthly meeting on May 21st, on an array of topics. Come with questions, and I'll be happy to answer them.

More info can be found at:

Hope to see you there!

Coach Vance

Saturday, May 10, 2008

XTERRA West Course Profile

If you're doing XTERRA West next weekend, and want to see the course profile of the lap loop, here it is, complete with some details. (I calibrated the altitude sensor to zero at the bottom of the loop, to make the math easier when looking at the scale.) Just click on the image to enlarge it.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Kiss

A few weeks ago I had a client suffer a major heart attack.

He didn't know it, and walked around for a few days after, before another one nearly killed him. Hearing about it just scares the hell out of me. I couldn't believe it even, as he was very dedicated to his training. I was worried I might have killed him! Luckily that wasn't the case at all.

His name is John, "Hammo". He's incredibly positive, dedicated to his goals, and loves to write, so of course after this experience he sat down and typed away. Here's the story of Hammo's heart attack(s), as told by him. I think you'll enjoy this... He wrote it both with humor and education, and that is why I share it here. He calls it, The Kiss.

Coach Vance


The heart is a muscle that acts like a pump to move blood throughout the body. To function properly, the heart must receive oxygen. Oxygen is supplied to the heart by the coronary (heart) arteries that wrap around the surface of the heart. When coronary artery disease (CAD), is present, blood flow through the arteries can be reduced. When this happens, the heart muscle may not receive enough oxygen, and chest pain may be felt.

CAD is caused by the build-up of fatty substances, such as cholesterol, that collect along the lining of the coronary arteries, in a process known as atherosclerosis. You may hear this referred to as a “plaque,” “lesion,” “blockage” or “stenosis.” This means that there is a narrowing in the artery caused by a build-up of substances, which may eventually block the flow of blood. Because the coronary arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart, untreated blockages can be very serious and can lead to a heart attack, or even death. Over the course of a person’s lifetime many influences can cause one or more of your coronary arteries to become narrowed or blocked.


I find it amazing the power of the mind, and what it is able to achieve through one’s lifetime. I distinctly remember when I was 18 years old; I told myself I wanted to be in better shape when I turn 40, than I was back then. I always wanted to be that person who was in shape, active, and had something to live for. If I really dig deep, I am sure those thoughts and goals came from growing up with an ill father who had Coronary Heart Disease (CAD), heart attacks, bypass surgeries, cancer, stokes, etc.

Sometimes a decision is made within that remains dormant for many years, only to spring into action when the timing is right, or when one finally decides it is the right time.

At the age of 41, I far surpassed my goals I stated when I was a young lad; I am very physically athletic, weigh 158 lbs, body fat 7% (+ or - .5%), train 15-20 hours a week for triathlons, eat extremely clean, drink mainly water, drink 1-2 glasses of wine once every two weeks; pretty much living as healthy as I possibly can. In fact, I thought I was living so healthy that the thought of a Heart Attack never even was within the scope of my Doppler radar for well over 5000 miles, then……………………..

Prelude to the Kiss:

April 14th, 2008 (Monday)

I awoke Monday morning with a light training schedule on the calendar. I had an easy 1.5-hour bike ride in the morning, followed by some sprint drills in the pool later on in the afternoon for about 30 minutes. I rode my bike on my indoor trainer on Karl’s balcony (business partner) in Laguna Beach, as Stacey and I were watching his house and cat for the week. The balcony overlooks the Pacific Ocean, which is a breathtaking. It’s funny how the backdrop scenery reminded me of the gay exercise videos that showcases some fitness star and their posse’ of background flunkies imitating their movement in sync.

After work, I met Stacey at the gym to do my 30-minute swim to conclude my daily scheduled exercise plan. During my swim, I felt a very minor dull ache in my left shoulder, coupled with a slight shortness of breath. I did no even give this two seconds of my attention, as I am used to muscle fatigue due to my rigorous training schedule for an upcoming triathlon. I had just put in an 18-hour week, so I was a bit fatigued even prior to the swim.

April 15th, 2008 (Early Tuesday morning)

I went to bed early the night before to get a good night sleep. All of a sudden I awoke at 3:00am with my left shoulder, upper left chest muscle, and left lat muscle in pain. I knew right then and there that I tore a muscle from overuse! I knew in my core it was a muscle tear, for I experienced a pulled groin and was hospitalized for it some 18-months prior to this; so believe me you, I knew what a torn muscle feels like, and the pain associated with it!

For the next three hours, I was popping Vicodin, aspirin, moving from bed to bed, taking showers, walking; virtually anything to alleviate the pain. I recall being curled up in one of the spare beds and was moaning, “Please go away, please go away, please go away”. In my mind this evil pain was affecting me, and this chant was my way of warding off the evil spirits. The only way for this pain to temporarily subside was to get up and walk around; yet, I had already popped three Vicodin, and all I wanted to do was to lie down which seemed to intensify the pain. I felt like I was spiraling down the proverbial rabbit hole and didn’t know what to do. By 6:00am, I virtually passed out from mere exhaustion, and slept in till around 9:30am.

*I am sure if you are still reading this, you may be thinking: “Hammo, Why in the hell didn’t you go to the emergency room then and there to figure out what was causing this pain?” or, “Hammo, don’t be a dumbshit, don’t you know these are classic signs of a heart attack” Well, don’t be to pre-judgmental and sit at home being an armchair quarterback; remember, that the thoughts of this being the pre-cursors to a heart attack, or a heart attack itself was no where on my Doppler Radar. In addition, through this process, I learned that I actually have a high level of tolerance to pain.

I emailed Jim Vance, (Triathlon Coach), that afternoon and told him that I am going to take the next couple of days off from training because of the torn muscle in my shoulder area. He asked me what happened; yet, my only logical response was that I tore a muscle from overuse.

As the day progressed, the pain seemed to slowly migrate into my upper chest region; yet, not nearly the same sort of pain I experienced the night before. That evening I took a two more Vicodin so I could get a good night’s sleep.

April 16, 2008 (Wednesday – Also my daughter’s birthday!)

Today my shoulder pain definitely moved into my upper chest area. I was starting to think “For F**k’s Sake!” I was now going into the mental mode of I must have some sort of lung infection going on, for it was difficult to take a deep breath. At this point, I did recall a shortness of breath when I was swimming on Monday, which seemed odd being as cardio fit as I am.

Stacey and I drove back down to Laguna Beach to check in on Karl’s cat and to spend the night down at the beach.

Wednesday evening my upper chest pain moved down into my lower lungs. I drank some Nyquil and popped a couple of aspirin in an effort to get a good night sleep.

Lessons Learned

1) Listen to your body!

2) If you have any kind of pain or shortness of breath in the lungs or chest area, DO NOT IGNORE IT!

3) If you have any known family history of CAD, and you experience any unusual shortness of breath pain in your upper chest, torso, jaw, shoulder, back, jaw, neck, or lat muscle; these pre-cursors could be the first signs of an upcoming cardiac event. IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW HEALTY YOU THINK YOU ARE! WE HAVE ALL HEARD OF JIM FIXX (Famous Runner), OR OTHER YOUNG COLLEGE ATHLETES DROPPING DEAD ON A BASKETBALL COURT.

The Kiss

April 17, 2008 (Thursday)

En Route (Phase 1)

I awoke this morning at approximately 7:20am with the pain embedded in my lungs; I spoke to Stacey and we both agreed that I might have some sort of ‘walking pneumonia’. I distinctly remember saying that I think that I need to go see a doctor, for I was just not feeling very well and things were not going away by themselves. I asked Stacey to call my general practitioners office in Temecula and to make an appointment this morning. She called and said that they do not open till 8:00am; within 5 minutes I said “We need to Go!” We dressed, grabbed my pillow, and off we went to drive over the Ortega Hwy. En Route I called my Dr’s office and had an appointment set for 10:00am.

As we were going through Dana Point, Stacey noticed an Urgent Care and suggested that we stop; yet, after a quick self assessment (yeah, like I am a real professional in this department at this time) I thought “No, it’s okay, let’s just drive to Temecula, for there was no traffic what’s-so-ever.”

Doctors Office

Upon arriving at the doctor’s office, my doctor had a day off and the PA would see me. I was not feeling very well at this time, as I had no energy. The PA asked me what seems to be the problem in which he listened to my chest, and quickly ordered an ECG (Electrocardiogram). As I was hooked up to what seemed like 100 wires, I asked Stacey to take a picture with her cell phone; she looked at me like I had three heads, but she relented and took the picture. Upon reading the results of the ECG and conferring with another doctor, he suggested that I go down to Fallbrook Hospital and go to the emergency room so they can do a full workup. The PA said that I might have an infection of the heart lining which is causing me this pain, and that I could not be treated as an out patient at the doctor’s office. So off we went in search for the answers at Fallbrook Hospital.

*If you live in the area, you may be wondering why the PA said go to Fallbrook instead of a hospital in Murrieta. I can only surmise it may have had to do something with my insurance, or the doctors office affiliation with Fallbrook Hospital; that, and I did not have the where-with-all to question the doctors advice.

En Route (Phase 2)

As we were driving to Fallbrook Hospital (approximately a 25 minute drive), I was apologizing to Stacey that I may be ruining a perfectly good day by having to wait in a hospital emergency room for 3-4 hours, just to see a doctor who would give me some magic pills, slap me on the ass and say “follow up with your doctor in 2-3 days”. Along the way, I was making phone calls for work, and directing Stacey where to go and just managing with my current situation.

Lessons Learned:

1) If you have any symptoms relating to shortness of breath, pain in your upper chest, torso, jaw, shoulder, back, or lat muscle; this could be the first signs of an upcoming cardiac even

2) If you suspect the above as even a remote possibility, GO STRAIGHT TO A HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM! Trust me, they will put you in front of line and you will avoid the misery of a 3 hour wait in the waiting room

3) I should have requested ambulatory services to Fallbrook if I suspected a cardiac event.

Fallbrook Emergency Room

Stacey dropped me off at the front door to the emergency room as she was going to park the car. Upon entering, I spoke with the receptionist and before I knew it, I was quickly whisked away to the back where I was practically being stripped naked with wires being attached to me once again. This was all happening in a blink of an eye, even before Stacey had the opportunity to park the car and enter the emergency room.

As I lied there, everything was happening very fast, nurses were around me, doctor was making frantic phone calls, and all the while I was still thinking ‘What the f**k is going on?’ The nurses started to explain that I was going to have an angioplasty balloon and what not, and told me to relax and that everything was going to be okay. When the doctor returned, I asked him ‘What’s up’? He said that I was having a Cardiac event and that they are looking where to send me via Life Flight (i.e. helicopter). I mentioned that the other doctor at my general practitioner’s office said that it might be an infection of my heart lining; the emergency room doctor looked at me and said “No, you are having a heart attack right now”

*At that moment in time I was thinking to myself “This doesn’t hurt, why is everyone fussing and being frantic”. As I reflect back I now realize that I was being pumped full of medication which included Morphine and Nitroglycerin; therefore, my perception of the situation was somewhat distorted.

Lessons Learned:

1) Never panic no matter what the emergency is, everyone else was doing that for me.

Life Flight

Within 10 minutes a Life Flight Helicopter had arrived to transport me to Western Regional Medical Center in Santa Ana where there was a specialized ‘Cath Lab’. Once I was prepared for the flight I was casually chatting with the crew inviting them out to Skydive Elsinore, and asked them if they knew so and so, how many flight hours the pilot had, and even asked the pilot if he knew where he was taking me? He said “Not really; yet, I’ll figure it out”. As I moved from one gurney to the next, I was placed on this hard, uncomfortable one for the helicopter ride. As we all know, all helicopter rides are a smooth as butter! (Yeah right!)

I guess it was not until I was in flight that I started surmising the actual situation here. (Remember I was pumped full of morphine) Here I am lying in the back of a life flight helicopter as a patient, and know all too well that they do not Life Flight people who stub their toes, (Duh, is this why they call it Life Flight). I did not panic on the inside, as I knew I was in good hands and that deep down inside everything was going to work out.

*Thank god I have insurance, for I am going to estimate that this helicopter ride did not come cheap. I am going to make the following assumptions: 1) Helicopter Ride - $10,000.00 2) Max altitude – 500’ a.g.l. 3) 1000’ of field elevation difference between hospitals; therefore, I believe that I am paying approximately $7,500 per every thousand feet gained or lost for this ride to altitude, but the experience PRICELESS! (My math is probably off, but who cares?) Anyone who now complains about rising ticket costs in the skydiving industry and has a problem paying $24.00 for a lift ticket to 12,500’, please come see me as I will gladly exchange fares with you!

Lessons Learned:

1) Always be insured, even if it is for major medical, for you never know what can happen

2) Insurance can be a determining factor on where you are sent in an event of an emergency, and that can mean a ride in Life Flight versus an ambulance.

3) Never complain about the price of a full altitude jump ticket.

Cath Lab

Upon arriving to Western Regional Medical Center, I was quickly rushed into the Cath Lab. The Cath Lab is a specialized room with lights, cameras, x-ray machines, computers, and every other high tech equipment that modern medicine can offer.

As I was now transferred to the operating room gurney, I was curiously looking around the room in awe of where I was. In my mind, I was in the billion-dollar cardio room waiting to be worked on. I was watching all the people in the room and was assigning names to what they were doing. There was: Computer Dude, Nurse attending the monitors, Oriental guy managing the weapons and tools department, and then there was SHAVER GUY! SHAVER GUY came right at me with his newly sharpened implement of hair removal. When doing angioplasty, they enter your Femoral artery, which is located on your hip flexor, conveniently located near the ol’ crotch-ola, and from what I had now gathered; they do not want any unnecessary hair follicles in the region. SHAVER GUY was right there taking care of my business as I was squirming like a fish out of water! He kept saying “you need to relax”, and in my dubious drug inhibited state I responded “I am trying, I am just ticklish as hell!” If I only knew before hand that this was going to be a beauty contest, I would have taken care of my action well before this event.

As soon as shaver guy was finished, I rotated my head, and there was my Dr. ready to perform his feats of magic. I was in no position to check his credentials or ask him how many times he has done this procedure before.

Lessons Learned:

1) If you can ever predict a cardiac event, it may not hurt to take care of your action so that you to are cleanly shaven. This will help you avoid the SHAVER GUY.

The Procedure

I really had no idea how the procedure is done; yet, all I know was that I was given a local anesthetic in my hip area, and I am fully awake during the whole ordeal. There were three large monitors adjacent to the gurney, along with an odd camera encased in a rectangular plastic box which rotated over my chest cavity as the Dr. commenced with his duties. In addition, everything was encased with clear plastic sheets in the event that I sprung a major leak in the process.

It was so surreal, as the Dr. entered my femoral artery, I was watching everything on the three large monitors! I remember when I was a kid watching a show called something like ‘Journey to the Inside of your Body’, or something of that sort. I was lying there looking at my own heart as if I was watching it being done on someone else (What a trip). I saw exactly where the main blockage was (100% blocked), and watched as he inflated the angioplasty balloons and implant the Stent.

*I came to understanding that I could of never of had when I was watching the monitors as the Dr. was in my heart. Everything that I have heard of in the past all of a sudden really made sense to me now: Eat low fat foods, don’t smoke, no drugs, exercise, low cholesterol diet, etc. When you actually see the blood flow to your heart muscle, and you really think of the actual size of the diameter of the arteries, it really appears that the habits we develop throughout life will help us, hurt us, or actually kill us.

**What is a Stent? Stents are devices that can help to reduce the risk of re-narrowing of the treated artery following an angioplasty procedure. Stents are small steel tubes that are implanted into a coronary vessel and expanded to fit the size, shape and bend of the vessel wall, propping it open to help prevent further blockages. Hammo’s version: It is a small stainless steel, flexible tube that looks like a Chinese finger trap which works in the reverse direction. The Stent adheres itself the artery wall which acts like rebar does for the framework of a building.

During the procedure, I asked the doctor to just go and take care of the other one, which was 75%, blocked; yet, he said “no, that would be much too risky to do both arteries during the same procedure”. My inside voice was saying “come on doc, I know what I am talking about, let’s just knock it out!”

The actual procedure did not last anymore than 30 minutes, in which I thought I was out of the woods. The main blockage was taken care of, so I was sure the second procedure to clear the 2nd blockage was going to be a breeze……… I thought!

Lessons Learned:

1) Don’t watch the monitors during an angioplasty procedure if you are squeamish in any way.

2) Trust the doctor.



The Dr. said I officially had two heart attacks (One being massive): One in the Fallbrook Emergency room, and one during my second procedure that I did not talk about in this write up. I believe that I had three major events, for what happened on Monday night (April 14th) was as much painful as anything I experienced up to the Angioplasty/Stent procedure. I believe that I was actually living for two days with my heart in such distress condition, that I am counting my lucky stars that I am still here today!

There was much more that occurred during my hospital stay, and during my second procedure that I did not discuss in this write up; yet, if you are interested in learning about the whole picture, I will be more than happy to do an additional write up. In the follow up, I will discuss post Heart Attack recovery, changes in lifestyle, and ongoing tests well into the future so I will never have to go through an event like this again, along with additional educational information.

Hammo Out!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Best Advice I Can Give

Someone asked me for the best advice I could give someone training for a race, be it cycling or triathlon. Here it is...

1. ALWAYS wear a helmet.
2. ALWAYS carry your ID and health insurance info. (If you don't have health insurance, GET IT! If you ride enough, one day you'll need it.)
3. ALWAYS carry a cell phone for emergencies, when riding.

That's my best advice. It may not sound like much, but if you follow it, it may just save your life, or someone you ride with, one day.

Coach Vance

Friday, April 11, 2008


If you're doing Wildflower, especially for the first time, you have to read this article!!!

Coach Vance

Friday, April 4, 2008

Sea Otter Classic Anyone?

If you're thinking about doing the Sea Otter Classic, you should check out TrainingBible Coach Trevor Glavin's preview on the event at his blog. It's got a lot of great information:


Coach Vance

Thursday, April 3, 2008

TrainingBible Coaching Open Water Swim Clinic

Reposted from Jeff Vicario's blog...

Presented by TrainingBible Coaches Jim Vance & Jeff Vicario

Are you doing well in the pool, but having issues with your open water swimming? Want to make a big leap in your race performance? Come to the TrainingBible Open Water Swim Clinic presented by Jeff Vicario and Jim Vance and learn the skills Jim used to win 2 Amateur World Titles, and professionally with 3rd overall at the 2006 Ironman Florida.

After this simple clinic, we ASSURE you will know the skills to be faster in the open water for your next race, without any more effort than you’re already giving! No matter what your swim ability, advanced or novice, this clinic will help you!

Topics Covered:
Basic Swim concepts and techniques
Surf Entry
Surf Exits
Swimming straight in the open water!
Turning at buoys
Transitioning quickly - out of wetsuits, goggles, etc.
Pack swimming – dealing with crowds
Dealing with choppy water, big waves
Small tricks of the trade to help you swim FASTER!


Sunday, April 20th 2008

1:00 - 3:00pm (clinic begins at 1pm!)

Where: Bay Shore Ave and E 2nd Street, Long Beach. Click map below for directions.

Bring everything to swim in, wetsuit, goggles, etc. Don't forget your chaffing cream, as this will be a workout as well!

Cost: $40 per person, ($30 for Tri Club Members!)

Trust me this is no ordinary Ocean 101 Clinic, we'll go over every detail from A to Z. RSVP to reserve your spot, clinic will be capped at 20 people to keep instructional quality high. Email Jeff Vicario at or Jim Vance at to reserve your spot.

More information about Jeff and Jim and their coaching/racing background can be found at

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Active Spokes

I got a couple sets of Active Spokes in the mail today to test out. I realize I have been lagging on this blog and I need to keep it up. This is one item for sure I will need to post about, since I am sure many people are interested in hearing more.

These are weights placed on the spokes of a wheel, and help to generate more momentum and inertia on rolling courses, adding rolling momentum to the wheels. Interesting concepts, so we will have to see if it works as well as it sounds.

I also hope to soon update with other posts on the following products:

ISM Adamo saddle
Polar Power Meter
Look 986 mountain bike
Garmin Forerunner 305 continued
TP Massage kit

Look for some posts on these items over the course of the next few weeks.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Oceanside 70.3 Race Preview

**********This article was recently updated for the 2010 race, and now includes videos which can help to provide a clearer idea of the traffic flow, course, and race atmosphere. Please click here for the newest version.***********

Coach Vance

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


More and more, I am finding as a coach, the biggest factor in an athlete's success is motivation. I find it in my own training, but now as a coach, I see it clearly now.

At first, I simply thought it was consistency, as the athletes who workout consistently and follow the training plan tend to be the most successful. But with a deeper look, I see the biggest difference between my most successful and least successful is their motivation level.

Webster's dictionary defines motivation as "the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and direction to behavior."

The key aspect of this is the behavior, or training, working out. Many say they have the motivation and desire to do well, but if the actions of training do not materialize, then really they do not have the motivation.

Can motivation change? Can it be created? Can it suddenly begin to exist, or does it take a long time? Are we in control of it? I believe the answer is yes to each of these.

The problem is some people are intimidated by their goals, (motivation is related to confidence), thinking the task before them, either the main goal, or the goal of the workout which awaits them, is too great for them to really accomplish. They think about the difficulty of the workout, and the other possible choices around them, to substitute the workout with, which are easier.

The way you create motivation is to not be intimidated by the length or intensity of the workout. Too many people look at the length of the workout, and focus on the enormity of it. This is the same as standing on the start line of an Ironman, and thinking only about the fact that 140+ miles await you. Obviously, this is a daunting and enormous task! Not the best place for your focus.

Instead, if you are on the start line and thinking about your starting position, considering the currents, and thinking about your race strategy and stroke, you are now turning your attention to the details which will help you directly.

Now, let's apply this to the daily workout regimen. If you focus on the things you need to do to make the workout and your training a success, then you will probably be able to avoid any pitfalls. For most people, this is accomplished by simply focusing on getting out the door! The first, and most important step in a successful workout, is beginning it! If you are about to do a trainer workout when you get home, and you know if you turn on the tv or open the fridge to get that last beer, you will most likely lose motivation for the workout. Instead, focus on getting the bike set-up, filling your water bottles, etc. If you're going to do a run, get out the door ASAP!

This focus will help you to get the workouts started, and this is half the battle. Once the workout has been started, athletes tend to find it's not hard to finish them.

The other aspect of motivation comes from understanding yourself and what buttons need to be pushed, or not pushed, to help you stay motivated. For some, it's as simple as stepping on a scale every morning, or avoiding beer and junk food addictions. For others, it's a motivational poster or sign to remind them of their goals and how important it is to them.

Consider your motivation level, and what needs to happen to help your motivation. Maybe it's as simple as actively focusing on starting workouts, or passively reading a sign or poster, or avoiding distractions, (TV, fridge, friends).

Motivation shows inertial properties, meaning once it gets momentum it starts to roll on it's own, since athletes get excited with new fitness gains. Get your motivation started right by following some these ideas, and watch your training jump to new levels.

Best of luck!

Coach Vance

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Compression Socks

If you watched Kona online, on TV, or even saw photos, you noticed a big presence of compression socks at the event, especially among the elites. I was a little skeptical about these, but I am always one to embrace new ideas, technologies, and anything which may give me an advantage or help me go faster.

The need for compression socks became very clear to me in my Ironman Florida experiences. First, in leading up to the race my coach at the time, Peter Reid, warned me that I needed to wear shoes which would normally be a half-size too big, because I could expect my feet to swell during the race. Honestly, I never recalled my legs or feet swelling, and the pictures don't show it either, but apparently this may be an issue for some, especially if Peter Reid is suggesting it.

The other time was actually after arriving home from Ironman Florida and seeing my lower legs so swollen from the flight, I was literally SCARED! After it happened again, I ordered a pair and began wearing them on every flight for a race, or post-race. I have not had any swelling issues since during travels.

Joe Friel actually wrote a post on his blog about compression socks, and cited some research:

I was contacted during the off-season from a person associated with SLS Tri, to give their socks a "tri". They did not have any larges in stock, so he sent me a pair of mediums.

The first time I tried the socks was on a 2 hour run, in which I wasn't feeling great to begin with, (poor dinner choices the night before affecting my stomach), and the socks didn't provide any magical solution to that. Not fair to expect that of them though.

After the run, I was on the bike for 3.5 hours, and decided to continue wearing them for the ride. (They did nicely double as leg warmers!) I ran into the gentleman who sent me the socks, and he noticed the mediums were too small. The socks had started just below my knee, but during the run and ride they fell down to the top of the meaty part of my calf. I asked him if the larges would have a looser fit, and he explained no, the length is the only difference, not the width of the socks. This was good to hear.

The socks actually felt great on the ride, and I was really beginning to wonder if they were good for the bike ride too? I since learned that Popovich was wearing some last year, but was getting in trouble with the UCI for wearing them in competition. Not sure why, but the UCI is weird.

I gave the socks another try on a run, and tried to focus on the claim of the company, "Compression mechanics strengthen and stabilize muscles, tendons, joints, and help recovery." As I understood this statement, it says the socks will provide support during running. So I thought about this while I ran, and I seemed to go back and forth between thinking they support my lower leg, and that they also restrict it. Honestly, it all depended on how I was feeling at the moment. If my legs felt light and the pace was quick and easy, I felt the socks helped support me. When I felt sluggish and slow, the socks were easy to blame and think they restricted me.

Certainly, the compression seems to be a hindrance in the ankle joint movement, but really not much.

The company cites some research at their site, but the one issue is that the research they use to proclaim the benefits of their product with, is actually for compression of the forearms, not the lower legs.

It seems next to impossible to fully provide data which will say the socks make a difference in performance, if worn in the race. I even wondered how many seconds would be lost due to the time required to put them on, but with a little bit of practice I seemed to have them on fairly quickly.

I certainly believe compression socks are an invaluable recovery tool though.

With this, I will ask and answer the 4 big questions:

1. What need does this product serve?
The need it definitely serves is in recovery, be it from travels, or just for day to day training. If you work at a desk all day, or on your feet all day, and notice any swelling of the lower leg, this product certainly will help your need for better recovery and blood flow.

The need it tries to serve is in performance. The verdict is still out on this, and I will continue to experiment with the socks before I give a judgement one way or the other. I think having a pair that is the right size would help.

2. How well does the product do what it says it does?
The compression socks definitely provide excellent compression, making them great for recovery. Whether or not this product helps in race performance still requires more research, as well as more anecdotal evidence. (The main anecdotes that matter to me are coming from me!)

3. What is the cost-benefit value of this product? (For what the product does, is it worth the cost?)
The socks I tried retail at $57.95. If you're having swelling issues, either during training, or from being on your feet or at a desk all day, these will certainly be worth the cost.

4. How could this product be improved?
I am unsure about improvements, and don't feel I've made an accurate assessment on it yet, since I probably need a size L, instead of the mediums. I am pleased to see the company offers a regular sock, a cooling sock, and UV protection sock. This is a good start.

Hope this helps, and feel free to leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

Jim Vance

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Power 101 clinic again, B+L San Diego, Thursday night

I am doing another Power 101 clinic again, on Thursday evening, February 7th at 6:15. This time though, it will be at B+L in San Diego, in the Point Loma area. Hope to see you there! Bring an appetite, as free pizza will be served.

Coach Vance

Monday, January 28, 2008

More on the Garmin elevation correction and WKO+

In my last blog post, I talked about the elevation profile issues with the Garmin 305, but how it can be corrected with WKO+ software. I didn't go into how to do this exactly, because I figured the people at Peaksware would describe it well on their blog, and sure enough, THEY DID!

You can read about the procedure to fix your elevation profile for your run, step-by-step, with pictures to illustrate the process.