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.