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